A long-span suspension bridge, Hunan, China. Source: iStock/Orientfootage
Crypto Briefs is your daily, bite-sized digest of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related news – investigating the stories flying under the radar of today’s crypto news.
- The government of Hunan Province, China, will create a blockchain special zone in an industrial park, reports Chinese media outlet VOC. The media outlet says it has learned that the central Ministry of Industry and Information Technology has approved the construction in Wanbao, a small rural town on the outskirts of the city of Loudi. The province is already home to 788 blockchain-related companies, with more now expected to relocate to the new zone.
- Contour, a blockchain-based trade finance platform developed by eight banks, including HSBC and Standard Chartered, is set for commercial launch in the second half of 2020, following over USD 30 million worth of letter-of-credit transactions during its trial period last year, reports South China Morning Post. Letters of credit using blockchain have reportedly helped companies to continue their commercial trade during the current coronavirus epidemic.
- The Auburn University RFID Lab in the U.S., working with information standards organization GS1 US, completed a proof-of-concept that demonstrates the effectiveness of blockchain and radio frequency identification (RFID) technologies to improve serialized data sharing in the retail industry, says their press release. Participating companies included Nike, PVH Corp., Herman Kay, Macy’s, Kohl’s, Mojix, Avery Dennison, SML, IBM, and Collaboration, LLC, while the findings confirmed that a blockchain network was capable of sharing item-level data encoded in RFID tags between the participants. The findings are available in a new white paper.
- Digital asset custody company BitGo is now offering institutional digital asset lending services, following a several-month private beta. The press release states that, with BitGo’s lending, customers get to work with regulated custodian BitGo Trust, while BitGo platform is SOC 2 Type 2 certified.
- Chinese cryptocurrency lending startup Babel Finance reported that their outstanding loan balance broke new record high, reaching USD 380 million on February 18, 2020. According to the startup, they have added to their business matrix a capital management platform for VIP clients and a private banking service that has attracted dozens of high-net-worth clients to sign up, with total net asset value over 50 million USDT.
- Square Crypto, the Bitcoin-focused division of U.S.-based major payments company Square, has awarded two more grants on Wednesday, following two previous ones. The team also provided interested parties with steps, rules, and examples of projects they might support, which could help a Bitcoin project get funded by the company.
- The Uruguay-based cryptocurrency exchange Cryptofacil has announced that it will close later this month, and has given customers a deadline of March 15 to withdraw any funds they have in accounts on the platform. Per Criptonoticias, the exchange has already stopped accepting deposits on the platform, and says customers should withdraw funds “as soon as possible.” The exchange sent its users an email, saying, “This was not been an easy decision and we have thought it through comprehensively, after looking into a range of different alternatives.”
- Crypto exchange Gate.io has announced the upgrade of the native token GT to an exchange based token. Per the exchange, GT will no longer be generated or issued, a deflation model will be applied, the GT buy-back process will start on September 1, and 200 million GT allocated for PoS mining will be burned. Gate.io also plans to launch GC as its new mainnet token once GateChain mainnet is live.
- An intervention from the South Korean parliament’s Legislation and Judiciary Committee of the National Assembly made a further amendment to the Act on Specific Financial Transaction Information on the eve of its approval by the National Assembly members. Jubilant South Korean crypto companies have welcomed the news, but it will likely spell complications for many exchanges. As Bloter reports, under the terms of the Judiciary Committee’s amendment, all exchanges in the country will need to conduct business operations using real-name accounts provided by banks and verified with customers’ social security numbers.
- Financial regulatory body in the UK, the Financial Conduct Authority, issued a warning which says that cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX has, in their opinion, been providing financial services or products in the UK without the regulator’s authorization.
- Seoul Techno Holdings, the IT investment arm of the elite Seoul National University, in South Korea, has made an undisclosed investment in digital asset management platform AmonD. Per news outlet Wow TV, industry insiders expect that a raft of big-name tech companies in South Korea will also look to move into digital asset management business this year – with Samsung, web giant Naver and chat app provider Kakao all named. AmonD claims to have some 15,000 active users on its platform.
- Zachary Salter, the co-founder of Zima Digital Assets, has pleaded not guilty to charges of money laundering and conspiracy to commit wire fraud, a week after John Michael Caruso has done the same. The two have allegedly ran a cryptocurrency investment scheme that was a classic Ponzi scheme, used to defraud customers of more than USD 9 million.