BLOCKCHAIN

Messaging App LINE Launches Crypto Exchange For Its 81 Million Users

Messaging app LINE has launched a cryptocurrency exchange for its 81 million users based in Japan.

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Available through the Wallet tab on the LINE app—used by 81 million MAU in Japan alone—BITMAX is a simple and secure cryptocurrency exchange that makes getting started easy even for beginners at cryptocurrency trading.

Putting peace of mind and security at the forefront, the BITMAX exchange will allow users to trade five types of cryptocurrencies: Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Ripple (XRP), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and Litecoin (LTC).

BITMAX is a separate service from the BITBOX cryptocurrency exchange, the latter of which is already available worldwide (excluding Japan and the US).

LINE is making money more accessible to people around the world by developing and delivering a wide range of financial services unique to LINE.

As part of these efforts, the company’s Singapore-based subsidiary LINE Tech Plus PTE. LTD. has been operating the BITBOX cryptocurrency exchange since July 2018.

In the lead up to BITMAX’s launch, LVC became a registered cryptocurrency exchanger under Japan’s Payment Services Act.

Messaging app LINE has launched its cryptocurrency exchange for its 81 million users based in Japan.

“Under its corporate mission of “Closing the Distance,” LINE strives to create value for its users by making the LINE app into a gateway for a “Smart Portal” that seamlessly connects all types of people, information, content, and services—both offline and online—as close as they want, anywhere they are,” the company stated in an official press release.

“In the Fintech domain, LINE is aiming to provide a highly convenient user experience by connecting people and money at the most comfortable distance. To that end, the company is taking on new challenges in business areas such as payments, investment, securities, insurance, household budgeting, and loans.”

In recent years, Japan has been shifting more and more towards a cashless society. At the same time, technological advances have also generated a bevy of Fintech services, changing the very way people think about money.

Among these Fintech services, LINE sees the cryptocurrency industry as one with new user needs waiting to be met and the potential to deliver next-generation technological paradigms.

Additionally, proof of concepts for blockchain—the core technology of cryptocurrency—have been flourishing in many different areas, demonstrating the technology’s potential to change future ecosystems and economic systems.

LINE itself has also already unveiled its LINE Token Economy concept, which will use the company’s proprietary blockchain network LINK Chain in building an ecosystem that fosters a co-creative relationship between users and service providers.

Having anticipated Fintech’s changing user needs and technological background, LINE (through LINE Tech Plus) launched the BITBOX cryptocurrency exchange globally last year.

This time around, the company has completed registration as a cryptocurrency exchanger in Japan and launched the BITMAX exchange for the domestic market.

While numerous existing exchanges already have a large customer base, LINE sees cryptocurrency exchanges as still in their infancy, and believes the industry has potential for even greater growth.

Along with the various services offered on the LINE app (currently used by 81 million users in Japan and a total of 164 million users across LINE’s four key markets), the company has been one of the heaviest investors among Japan’s internet businesses into security measures.

This approach has extended to BITMAX, offering users a reliable and stable service that prioritizes security and safety above all else.

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ETHEREUM

Santander Launches First End-to-End Blockchain Bond on Ethereum

Spanish bank, Banco Santander, has issued the first public end-to-end blockchain bond utilizing Ethereum.

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Banco Santander is itself the issuer of the $20 million bond, while one of the Group’s units purchased the bond at market price.

José García Cantera
José García Cantera

“Santander is at the forefront of the profound digital transformation of the financial sector and this transaction is one example,” stated José García Cantera, Chief Financial Officer at Banco Santander.

“We want to take advantage of any technology that can accelerate that process, so that our customers thrive and be faster and more efficient, and blockchain is one of those technologies.”

The bond carries a quarterly coupon of 1,98%. Santander Securities Services is acting as tokenization agent and custodian of the cryptographic keys.

Santander Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), the bank’s global division that supports corporate and institutional clients, acted as dealer for the issuance, continuing the work which started in Santander’s blockchain lab in 2016.

“Our clients are increasingly demanding the best thinking and technology in how we serve them in their capital-raising efforts,” said José María Linares, global head of Santander Corporate & Investment Banking.

“This blockchain-issued bond puts Santander at the forefront of capital markets innovation and demonstrates to clients that we are the best partner to support them on their digital journey.”

Santander used the public Ethereum blockchain, one of the more advanced open source blockchain technologies.

This allows Santander to achieve the milestone of tokenizing the bond securely and registering it in a permissioned manner on the blockchain.

The cash used to complete the investment (on-chain delivery-versus-payment) and the quarterly coupons have also been tokenized, i.e., represented digitally on the blockchain.

Thanks to this automation, the one-year maturity bond has reduced the number of intermediaries required in the process, making the transaction faster, more efficient and simpler.

The goal for Santander CIB is to engage with our most innovative clients as we move from the project stage to product development.

For this project, Santander received support from London based startup Nivaura, a regulated fintech company which builds innovative solutions that digitize and automate key processes in capital markets, as well as legal advice from global law firm Allen & Overy.

Santander InnoVentures, the $200 million venture capital fund, invested last February in Nivaura.

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ALTCOIN, BLOCKCHAIN

France to Block Facebook’s Libra Cryptocurrency in Europe

French Economy and Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire stated the nation will block Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency, after recent concerns regarding the threat to the sovereignty of national currencies in the EU.

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“I want to be absolutely clear: In these conditions, we cannot authorize the development of Libra on European soil,” stated Le Maire, during the opening of an Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) conference on blockchain.

“It would be a global currency, held by a single player, which has more than two billion users around the world. The monetary sovereignty of states is under states is under threat.”

Le Maire’s concerns revolve around an idea that Libra may “substitute itself as a national currency” causing financial disruption.

“I don’t see why we should dedicate so much effort to combating money laundering and terrorist financing for so many years to see a digital currency like Libra completely escape those regulatory efforts,” he said.

Earlier this week, the Libra Association stated it will “maintain Anti-Money Laundering (AML) guidelines, which its members will be expected to comply with if they choose to provide financial services on the Libra network.”

“The association will set standards for its members to maintain AML and anti-fraud programs, and to cooperate with legitimate law enforcement investigations.”

Le Maire’s anti-crypto views have remained consistent, as this is not the first time he has commented on Libra.

In June, during the debut of Libra, the French minister stated “it is out of question’’ that Libra should “become a sovereign currency. It can’t and it must not happen.”

According to a CNBC report, Le Maire stated today that he has discussed the possibility of a “public digital currency” with outgoing European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi and IMF Chairman Christine Lagarde, who will take over the ECB later this year.

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ALTCOIN, BLOCKCHAIN

Mastercard, R3 Partner to Develop New Blockchain Cross-Border Payments Solution

Mastercard and R3 have announced a strategic partnership to develop and pilot a new blockchain-enabled cross-border payments solution that will initially focus on connecting global faster payments infrastructures, schemes and banks supported by a clearing and settlement network operated by Mastercard.

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Earlier this year, Mastercard strengthened its cross-border network reach with its acquisition of Transfast.

Today’s announcement complements the company’s formidable capabilities by providing access to R3’s Corda ecosystem, which includes more than 300 of the world’s leading financial services firms, technology companies, central banks, regulators and trade associations.

Peter Klein
Peter Klein

“Developing a new and better cross-border B2B payments solution by improving worldwide connectivity in the account-to-account space is central to Mastercard’s ambition,” said Peter Klein, executive vice president of New Payment Platforms for Mastercard.

“Our goal is to deliver global payment infrastructure choice and connectivity as demonstrated through our recent strategic acquisitions and partnerships, including our relationship with R3. It confirms our commitment to innovation, both home-grown and through partnerships and acquisitions, to support advances and innovation in the increasingly complex global payment infrastructure space.”

The partnership is the latest step in Mastercard’s multi-rail strategy, providing customers with unrivalled choice in how they move money.

By combining R3’s expertise in blockchain with Mastercard’s existing payment systems assets, brand and distribution, the partnership will provide increasingly innovative, value add services for customers, addressing factors such as high processing overheads, liquidity management and the existing lack of standardization and processes between banks and domestic clearing systems.

David Rutter
David Rutter

“We are excited to partner with Mastercard to help shape the future of the digital payments ecosystem,” said David E. Rutter.

“All institutions – large or small – rely on the ability to send and receive payments, but all too often the technology they rely upon is cumbersome and expensive. Cross-border payments can be a particular pain point. Corda was designed specifically for enterprise use cases such as this, and we look forward supporting Mastercard in bringing blockchain-enabled payments businesses across the globe.”

R3 is an enterprise blockchain software firm working with a global ecosystem of more than 300 participants across multiple industries from both the private and public sectors to develop on Corda, its open-source blockchain platform, and Corda Enterprise, a commercial version of Corda for enterprise usage.

R3’s global team of over 200 professionals in 13 countries is supported by over 2,000 technology, financial, and legal experts drawn from its vibrant ecosystem.

The Corda platform is already being used in industries from financial services to healthcare, shipping, insurance and more. It records, manages and executes institutions’ financial agreements in perfect synchrony with their peers, creating a world of frictionless commerce.

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BLOCKCHAIN

Catalonia to Utilize Blockchain Technology for New ID Platform

The government of Catalonia announced it will develop a blockchain-based identity platform in an effort to give citizens control of their digital data.

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The IdentiCAT project was announced by the minister of Digital Policy and Public Administration Jordi Puigneró to “qualify and digitally empower Catalan citizens so they may carry out activities with full assurance and security in the digital society of the 21st century.”

The new platform will utilize blockchain technology, with the government acting as the validator for the network.

Because the platform utilizes blockchain, the government will have no way to collect users’ personal data.

“The ‘IdentiCAT’ will be the first digital identity at European level, which will be driven by the public sphere and managed by citizens themselves with the aim of becoming standard use in Catalonia,” the government stated in an official press release.

This blockchain system will allow citizens to use mobile apps to “create and manage their own identities, with full legal effectiveness and privacy.”

Now citizens can use the blockchain system to verify legal age without anyone knowing the date or place of birth.

IdentiCAT will follow the 2014 EU’s elDAS rules on electronic identification and trust services for electronic transactions.

This will allow users to access services and finalize electronic transactions anywhere in the EU.

No release date was given; however, the project is confirmed to be underway.

Once development is complete, IdentiCAT will be deployed and distributed for use by Catalan citizens, public organizations and companies.

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