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Digital Currency and Blockchain Weekly Round-up – February 2nd, 2018

US agency uses ‘blockchain exploitation tools’ to clampdown cryptocurrency-based illicit opioid purchases

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is keeping a close eye on the use of cryptocurrencies for the illicit procurement of opioids. ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Office of Illicit Trade, Travel, and Finance Deputy Assistant Director Greg Nevano outlined the agency's efforts to monitor use of cryptocurrencies for illegal purchases of opiods.

Europe gets Blockchain Observatory and Forum

The European Commission (EC) on February 01 launched the EU Blockchain Observatory and Forum to boost blockchain activities in the region. The initiative is being backed by the European Parliament, represented by Jakob von Weizsäcker.

Draft bill on ‘Cryptoruble’ submitted to Russian State Duma

A draft bill seeking to create the foundation for a national cryptocurrency “Cryptoruble” in Russia has been submitted to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, ETHNews reported. The proposed bill defines cryptoruble as: “A digital financial asset (cryptocurrency) – an analog of the ruble, which has circulation in the territory of the Russian Federation, which is protected by cryptographic methods and used by participants in a distributed registry of digital transactions.

Russian Ministry of Finance publishes draft law on digital assets and ICOs

The Russian Ministry of Finance has published a draft federal law on the regulation of digital assets and token offerings, CoinDesk reported. The ministry has outlined a set of prerequisites for both, the issuer of tokens and the investors interested in participating in these initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Indian Finance Minister: Government to embrace blockchain; Bitcoin is not legal tender

Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has announced the government’s intention of tapping into blockchain technology in its digitization efforts. Jaitley presented the Union Budget 2018-19 on February 01 in the Lok Sabha, the lower house of the parliament. He announced the government’s blockchain and cryptocurrency plans in his annual budget speech.

Canadian government to trial biometrics and blockchain in air travel

The government of Canada has announced the launch of a Known Traveller Digital Identity prototype, which will test the application of biometrics and blockchain technology in the area of air travel. The prototype, developed in collaboration with Accenture, was launched at the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 48th Annual Meeting. The government is collaborating with the WEF and partners for the project.

Taipei partners with IOTA to tap blockchain for smart city efforts

Taipei City has partnered with the IOTA Foundation, an open-source non-profit foundation, in order to drive the efforts towards reaching smart city goals. Under the partnership, IOTA and Taipei City will explore the possibilities of adapting IOTA’s technology to meet the smart city needs through a number of projects, aimed at improving data integrity and authenticity concerns in public services and other domains. The first project will be digital citizen cards with built-in TangleID.

Venezuelan President signs petro cryptocurrency whitepaper, pre-sale starts February 20

Despite Venezuelan parliament declaring Petro cryptocurrency as illegal, President Nicolas Maduro is marching ahead to launch the cryptocurrency. Bitcoin.com reported that Maduro has announced the pre-sale of petro and has presented and signed petro’s whitepaper.

China’s NIFA warns against engaging in overseas ICOs

Following the ban on initial coin offering (ICO) activities in China issued last year, the National Internet Finance Association (NIFA) has issued a warning against participating in overseas ICOs and virtual currency transactions.

South Korean Customs Service investigates illegal cryptocurrency trade

The Korean Customs Service (KCS) is investigating the use of digital currencies in illegal foreign exchange business in the country. In an official announcement, the KCS said that a total of 637.5 billion won (approximately $600 million at current exchange rate) have been exchanged illegally in foreign currencies till date, which includes transactions involving cryptocurrencies.

Digital Rupiah: Bank Indonesia to trial national cryptocurrency

The Bank Indonesia (BI) is going to trial “digital rupiah” this year, an assistant to the central bank’s executive director said recently. The BI is considering issuing the cryptocurrency which may be used as a payment instrument, The Jakarta Post reported quoting local media outlet kompas.com as the source.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck to refund customers after major hack

Japanese cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck last week suffered a major hack in which it lost around $500 million in NEM tokens, according to reports. In a blog post, dated January 28, Coincheck has announced its intention to compensate the customers who have lost their funds in the latest hack. The company said that it has lost 523 million XEM (NEM’s token) which has affected around 260,000 token holders.

Conferences/Meetings:

Global crypto experts discuss ICO regulation at Blockchain & Bitcoin Conference India

SEC and CTFC chairs to testify U.S. Senate’s hearing on cryptocurrencies

Central bankers likely to discuss cryptocurrencies at G20

Investments/Acquisitions/ Fund-raising:

Hong Kong-based blockchain investment fund acquires bitcoin startup BTCC

Partnerships/Consortiums:

SBI Ripple Asia and 18 Japanese brokerage firms formDLT-focused Securities Consortium

Blockchain-focused Crypto Valley Association announces Southern Alps Chapter

Digital Currency and Blockchain Initiatives:

IHS Markit, Cambridge Blockchain join forces to enhance KYC management

Japanese chat giant LINE to set up cryptocurrency exchange

NASA funds blockchain research to improve space communications

WWF announces blockchain supply chain project in Pacific Islands’ tuna industry

ConsenSys, Amalto announce new blockchain venture to automate oil and gas order processing

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