Huobi Resumes Trading in Japan as FSA-Licensed Exchange

Huobi Resumes Trading in Japan as FSA-Licensed Exchange

Cryptocurrency exchange Huobi — currently the world’s 7th largest by daily traded volume — has relaunched as a fully licensed platform in Japan after merging with BitTrade. The news was announced in a press release published Jan. 17. As reported, Huobi Global’s wholly owned subsidiary, Huobi Japan Holding Ltd, acquired a majority stake in BitTrade last September. At the time, BitTrade was one of only 16 crypto exchanges in the country to have secured a license from national financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency (FSA). Leon Li, Huobi Group Founder and CEO, has said that securing the license represents a significant milestone for Huobi, given the importance of the Japanese market. Huobi’s press release takes pains to emphasize security provisions, outlining that Huobi Japan “features specialized distributed architecture, a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack countermeasures system, and A+ ranked SSL certification (the highest available).” According to the press release, Huobi Japan supports trading of Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Litecoin (LTC), Ripple (XRP), and Monacoin (MONA). While a license has been mandatory for all crypto exchanges operating within Japan since the amendment of the country’s Payment Services Act back in April 2017, the FSA has continued to ratchet up requirements for applicants throughout 2018, in the wake of last January’s industry-record-breaking $532 million theft of NEM tokens from Coincheck. Ahead of Huobi’s majority stake deal — BitTrade became Japan’s first FSA-licensed platform to be fully acquired by an international investor, the Singaporean multi-millionaire and entrepreneur Eric Cheng. The investor also acquired BitTrade’s affiliate company, FX Trade Financial Co., Ltd — one of Japan’s leading forex trading platforms. Following the Huobi deal, FX Trade Financial retained 25 percent of the BitTrade’s shares. Founded in China in 2013, Huobi Group has been headquartered in Singapore since Beijing’s crackdown on domestic crypto-fiat exchanges in September 2017. As part of its ongoing overseas expansion efforts, the platform has recently rebranded its United States-based strategic partner trading platform HBUS to the better known Huobi name. Following Coincheck’s very recent acquisition of an FSA license, the total number of regulator-approved exchanges in Japan stands at 17. Last fall, an executive from leading U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase made positive remarks about Japan’s crypto regulatory climate, saying that the FSA’s intense…

OKCoin Founder Star Xu Seeks to Acquire Public Firm for $60 Million

OKCoin Founder Star Xu Seeks to Acquire Public Firm for $60 Million

Star Xu, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin, may be seeking a possible backdoor IPO for his firm by buying a majority stake in a Hong Kong-listed company. On Jan. 10, Xu (under his real name Xu Mingxing) filed with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange (HKEX) for approval to buy a 60 percent stake in a construction engineering firm called LEAP Holdings Group Ltd. Through his company OKC Holdings Corp., Xu is aiming to purchase approximately 3.2 billion shares of the company for HK$0.15 (around $0.02) per share. In total, the acquisition, if approved, would cost more than $60 million. To avoid the news affecting LEAP Holdings’ stock price, the firm is currently suspended on the HKEX. While the effort has yet to be approved by the stock exchange, the successful purchase of the stake could provide a route for OKCoin to become a public company in Hong Kong via a back-door listing. That is, rather than go through the process of applying for an initial public listing (IPO) and jumping through all the necessary regulatory hoops, they would simply buy a firm already listed in Hong Kong. Last August, crypto exchange Huobi took a similar step, becoming the largest shareholder of a HKEX-listed firm called Pantronics Holdings for around $70 million. Other major firms in the crypto space, specifically mining companies Bitmain, Canaan and Ebang, have filed for IPOs in the same jurisdiction, but seem to be making little progress with the HKEX. Canaan has now let its application expire, while a HKEX insider told CoinDesk in December that the stock exchange was “hesitant” to approve the offering for Bitmain. A Bloomberg report early this month suggested that Canaan is now seeking to IPO in New York, but nothing has been officially made public to date. Wolfie Zhao contributed reporting. HKEX image via Shutterstock

QuadrigaCX Crypto Exchange Users Still Can’t Get Their Money Out

QuadrigaCX Crypto Exchange Users Still Can’t Get Their Money Out

QuadrigaCX customers are complaining they still can’t get their money out more than a month after the cryptocurrency exchange won a court dispute that had held up $19 million of funds. While that would be worrisome enough, users’ concerns were compounded by the company’s announcement Monday that its CEO and founder, Gerald Cotten, had died more than a month earlier. In a statement attributed to Jennifer Robertson, Cotten’s wife, the exchange said he died on December 9 from complications arising from Crohn’s disease while traveling in India. The same statement also said QuadrigaCX was working through a backlog of withdrawal requests and had set daily withdrawal limits. Then, on Tuesday, QuadrigaCX sent its customers an email, a copy of which CoinDesk obtained, stating that it was processing withdrawals “slowly” and that the team is “actively working on having the funds deposited and distributed.” “While we don’t have a specific update pertaining to this situation, our goal was to resolve this issue within the next two weeks and we remain committed to that goal,” says the email, which was signed by Aaron Matthews, QuadrigaCX’s interim president and CEO. QuadrigaCX user and Canadian resident Xitong Zou told CoinDesk that he had filed multiple support tickets in recent weeks and received a response saying the withdrawal could take a week or two each time. “If only the [QuadrigaCX] customer support were better I think it could go a long way, and it’s not like they aren’t active,” he said. “I see them on Reddit and Facebook and Twitter answering minor questions about cash pickup times etc., but they don’t answer any of the big questions we have regarding the CEO’s recent death,” he wrote in an email, adding: “The fact that it happened a month ago, and they just announced it now, and no proof of death, no obituary, no linkedin profiles of any of the staff, no physical addresses, limited crypto withdrawal limits, etc all makes people suspicious.” As a result, “there’s a bunch of warning bells going off in most people’s heads right now,” Zou said. QuadrigaCX did not respond to multiple requests for comment. When contacted by CoinDesk, a spokesperson for Global Affairs Canada, the government agency that manages diplomatic relations, appeared to confirm QuadrigaCX’s account of…

Crypto Investor Names Primary Suspect in $24 Million SIM Swapping Case

Crypto Investor Names Primary Suspect in $24 Million SIM Swapping Case

A 21-year old American has been accused of stealing millions of dollars in crypto via a method known as SIM swapping, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph Jan. 17. As reported, plaintiff Michael Terpin — a long-time blockchain and crypto investor — first filed a lawsuit against AT&T last August, accusing the firm of negligence that allegedly allowed the suspect to gain control over Terpin’s phone number and steal almost $24 million worth of crypto. SIM-swapping — also known as a “port-out scam” — involves the theft of a cell phone number in order to hijack online financial and social media accounts, enabled by the fact that many firms use automated messages or phone calls to handle customer authentication. According to Terpin’s declaration, which was filed with the United States District Court in Los Angeles on Dec. 31, 2018, Terpin and his legal team allege they have identified the primary suspect who initiated the SIM swap — 21-year old New Yorker Nicholas Truglia. The suspect has previously been arrested on a separate SIM swap-related criminal charges involving the alleged theft of $1 million in crypto from Silicon Valley executives in the Bay Area. According to Terpin’s lawsuit against Truglia, filed Dec. 28, 2018, Truglia is currently incarcerated in Santa Clara County, California, in connection with this prior case. The lawsuit alleges that Truglia, alongside a host of alleged accomplices, perpetrated the SIM swap against Terpin on Jan. 7 and Jan. 8, 2018, resulting in crypto losses estimated to be worth $23.8 million. Amongst the evidence presented in the lawsuit are statements and text messages purportedly sent by Truglia on the date of the Terpin SIM swap, in which he is alleged to have explicitly told friends that he had stolen a cryptocurrency wallet with holdings worth $20 million. In one purported text message, he texted an individual allegedly boasting “I’m a millionaire. I’m not kidding. I have 100 Bitcoin.” He is also alleged to have confessed to friends that the Terpin heist was his largest, deeming that day to be when “his life changed forever.” The lawsuit claims Truglia is estimated to have total stolen assets worth in excess of $80 million.   Terpin’s complaint notably includes charges against Truglia and his alleged…

Wyoming Introduces Bill Permitting Tokenization of Stocks

Wyoming Introduces Bill Permitting Tokenization of Stocks

A bill allowing corporations to issue blockchain-based tokens that represent stocks was introduced in Wyoming on Jan. 16, according to the official state legislature site. House Bill 185 is sponsored by Representatives Olsen, Brown, Hunt, Lindholm, Western and Zwonitzer and Senators Driskill and Rothfuss. If passed, the bill will become effective on July 1, 2019. The current draft of the bill states: “The articles of incorporation or bylaws of a corporation may specify that all or a portion of the shares of the corporation may be represented by share certificates in the form of certificate tokens.” The bill lays the groundwork for storing so-called certificate tokens representing stocks on a blockchain “or other secure, auditable database,” and permit digital transfer of them. As Cointelegraph recently reported, Wyoming passed two new house bills that aim to foster a regulatory environment conducive to cryptocurrency and blockchain innovation. One of the bills establishes a new asset class, defining “open blockchain tokens with specified consumptive characteristics [as] intangible personal property.” The other bill pertains to the creation of a fintech regulatory “sandbox” — a supervised and flexible testing environment that provides waivers for certain statutes and rules that would otherwise hamper innovation.

South Africa’s Central Bank Proposes Rules for Crypto Companies

South Africa’s Central Bank Proposes Rules for Crypto Companies

Crypto exchanges and wallet providers would have to register with regulators under rules proposed by South Africa’s central bank. In a consultation paper published Wednesday, the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) said that regulatory action on crypto assets needs to be prioritized to protect consumers and investors, stating that consumers “are left vulnerable as sellers of crypto assets are not regulated.” Discussing the possible regulatory approaches that could be taken, and citing the “reputational risk” that is faced if mistakes are made, the central bank proposes walking a middle line between doing nothing and stringent regulation or a ban – a level of oversight it describes as “limited regulation.” “At this proposed level, an official body places specific requirements on providers of certain services in respect of crypto assets, without setting predefined conditions for formal authorisation to provide crypto assets-related products or services,” SARB says. As such, the bank suggests that a “useful starting point” for regulating the space would be the introduction of a registration scheme for crypto asset service providers such as exchanges and wallet providers. It would follow that with a review of existing rules and how they can be applied to crypto assets, with possible amendments or new rules to follow, and finally a review of the regulatory actions implemented at that point. “The phased approach, starting with the registration requirement, could lead to formal authorization and designation as a registered/licensed provider for crypto asset services operating in South Africa at a later stage,” SARB states. The central bank also recommended that crypto assets should remain without legal tender status and should not be recognized as electronic money in its proposal. A detailed process for registration is expected to be issued and implemented by the first quarter of 2019. Registered crypto entities would also need to report suspicious and unusual cash transactions of 25,000 South African rand (or $1,820) and above, according to the proposed rules. The central bank’s consultation paper is a joint effort with the Intergovernmental Fintech Working Group (IFWG), consisting of several South African regulatory authorities, and is open for public comment until Feb. 15. Back in April, the South African Revenue Service, the country’s tax agency, said that normal tax rules are applicable to crypto earnings – that is,…

Circle Releases Third Audit Report of Stablecoin USDC’s Dollar Reserves

Circle Releases Third Audit Report of Stablecoin USDC’s Dollar Reserves

Cryptocurrency finance company Circle has released the third audit attestation of the reserves of its fiat-backed stablecoin, USD Coin (USDC), according to an official statement Jan. 16. The third-party audit of Circle’s United States dollar reserves was issued by independent accounting firm, Grant Thornton LLP. According to the report, as of Dec. 31, 2018 at 11:59 p.m. UTC, 251,211,148 USDC tokens were issued and outstanding, while the firm holds $251,211,209 in custody accounts, a $61 surplus in USD reserves. Circle’s statement concludes: “As of the Report Date and Time, the issued and outstanding USDC tokens do not exceed the balance of the US Dollars held in custody accounts.” The USDC stablecoin is an Ethereum (ETH) based ERC20 token, first announced in May last year, shortly after the company raised $110 million in an investment round. Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire described USDC at the time: “It’s a version of fiat that can move at the speed of the Internet with global reach, with much less cost, with high levels of security. It’s a huge improvement for how fiat money transmission can work around the world for consumers and for businesses who might want to collect digital payment with tokens.” As Cointelegraph reported in December, the company released the stablecoin’s second third-party audit — also issued by Grant Thornton — showing the firm also held a surplus of U.S. dollar reserves to back the circulating coins. The first audit was published Nov. 20 and provided information through Oct. 30. Also in December, the token was added to the combined stablecoin market of major cryptocurrency exchange Binance, aftering being listed on OKEx and Huobi in October.

The Daily: Crypto’s Latest VR World, New Blockchain Analytics Tools

The Daily: Crypto’s Latest VR World, New Blockchain Analytics Tools

The Daily As the maxim goes, bear markets are good for building out cryptocurrency infrastructure – or “buidling” as the meme of the meme goes. Thursday’s installment of The Daily is rich in examples of the sort of development work being undertaken across the industry. From dapp trackers to virtual worlds, there’s a little bit of everything in today’s news roundup. Also read: Bitpay Reports Processing Over $1 Billion Transactions in 2018 Blockchain VR World Beachhead Enters the Fray The blockchain-based virtual reality realm is getting crowded. Decentraland, which resides in the virtual metropolis of Genesis City, has got itself a competitor in the form of Beachhead City. BH2020VR, as it’s also known, aims to blur the line between gaming and roaming a virtual world of commerce and adventure. Income can be earned in-game through protecting the city or supplying defense weapons and other resources. Just as video games like Grand Theft Auto have a main storyline complemented by side missions and mini-games, Beachhead has a primary narrative running through it, but participants are at liberty to interact with the world in a multitude of ways. This includes participating in the cryptoconomy within BH2020VR, purchasing real estate, and upgrading virtual turf by incorporating theaters, shops, and cars including user-generated content. Virtual assets will be tradable within Beachhead as non-fungible tokens, with a tokenized rewards system making BH2020VR feel like the crypto world’s equivalent to The Sims. Dappradar Adds Crosschain Metrics Virtual worlds such as Decentraland and the forthcoming Beachhead are the sort of decentralized applications (dapps) that can be monitored at Dappradar.com. The popular Ethereum dapp tracker has just had an upgrade, allowing it to track onchain activity on the Tron and EOS protocols too. The site now boasts of having stats on 1,700 dapps including decentralized exchanges, crypto collectible marketplaces, and gambling dapps. According to Dappradar’s statistics, the top Tron and EOS dapps are seeing significantly more usage than their Ethereum counterparts in terms of the number of reported daily users. Predictably, betting dapps seem to be faring the best across all blockchains featured on Dappradar. Cryptohound Follows the Money Trail ORS Cryptohound, a blockchain analytics firm, has been sniffing around in the Ethereum network in a bid to identify the source of six “highly…

BitPay Says It Processed Over $1 Billion in Crypto Payments Last Year

BitPay Says It Processed Over $1 Billion in Crypto Payments Last Year

U.S.-based crypto payments processor BitPay says it processed over $1 billion-worth of transactions last year. Announcing the news on Wednesday, the firm said this is the second consecutive time it’s reached the billion-dollar mark in its over seven years of existence. “To process over a $1 billion for a second year in a row despite bitcoin’s large price drop shows that bitcoin is being used to solve real pain points around the world,” said Stephen Pair, BitPay co-founder and CEO. Giving further highlights of the past year, the firm said its business-to-business venture saw revenue growth of about 255 percent year-on-year as new clients including law firms, data center providers and IT vendors signed up to accept crypto payments. Notable new customers added in 2018 included subscription TV provider Dish Networks, online organization of security experts HackerOne and the U.S. state of Ohio, which became the first state in the nation to allow taxes to be paid in bitcoin back in November. The firm also added settlement support for bitcoin cash (BCH) and stablecoins from Circle (USDC), Gemini (GUSD) and Paxos (PAX), while its focus still remains on bitcoin (BTC), according to the announcement. “Bitcoin has the network effect around the world and we are still extremely bullish on bitcoin and the bitcoin ecosystem,” said BitPay head of product Sean Rolland. During the year, BitPay also raised $40 million in a Series B round, bringing its total capital raised so far to over $70 million. Bitcoin payments processor image via Shutterstock

Crypto Markets Stabilize With Scant Price Action Across the Board

Crypto Markets Stabilize With Scant Price Action Across the Board

Thursday, Jan. 17: crypto markets are stable, with major coins seeing negligible price change over the 24 hours to press time. Most of the top ten cryptocurrencies seeing only mild losses, capped within a 2-3 percent range. Almost half the coins in the top ten-twenty range have tipped slightly into green, as data from Coin360 shows. Market visualization by Coin360 After an intraweek tumble to ~$3,550 Jan. 13, Bitcoin (BTC) is down a mild 0.9 percent on the day to press time, slipping from a 24-hour high of $3,685 to its current price point around $3,630. On the week, Bitcoin is down 5 percent; monthly gains are at a solid 10.5 percent, according to CoinMarketCap. Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap Ripple (XRP), which has recently regained its rank as largest altcoin by market cap, is down fractionally more, shedding 1.4 percent on the day to trade at ~$0.33 to press time. Ripple’s market share is currently $13.5 billion — as compared with Ethereum (ETH)’s $12.7 billion. After a volatile and jagged week, Ripple is about 5 percent in the red on its 7-day chart, with monthly gains nonetheless at a solid 13 percent. Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap The second largest altcoin, Ethereum (ETH), is down a slightly less mild 2 percent on the day, and is trading at ~$122 to press time. The alt has correlated closely with Bitcoin’s trading patterns, seeing an intraweek low of ~$116 Jan. 13, and recovery to ~$131 Jan. 15. On the week, Ethereum is down a hefty 9.6 percent, but monthly gains are at an impressive 41 percent. Ethereum 1-month price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap The remaining top ten coins on CoinMarketCap are all in the red, but losses are capped at 2-3 percent. Seeing the most volatility is Litecoin (LTC), down 2.86 percent at $31 to press time, and recently-forked Bitcoin SV (BSV), which is down 1.83 percent at $77. Bitcoin Cash (BCH), too, is down 1.6 percent at about $128. The remaining coins in the top twenty by market cap are seeing more scatterings of green, capped at 2 percent, with the highest losses capped under 4 percent. Among alts seeing some growth are Cardano (ADA), up 1.9 percent on the day at ~$0.05, privacy-focused…