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Philippines SEC begins Binance ban countdown

The head of the Philippines SEC clarified that Binance and any other unregistered exchange issued with an advisory has three months before they're banned from the country.

The Philippine Securities and Exchange Commission head Kelvin Lee clarified in a panel on Dec. 13 that the ban on Binance would come into effect three months after the advisory was issued.

According to a report from local news BitPinas, Lee said there has been a lot of confusion on the internet about the ban after regulators issued an advisory to the cryptocurrency exchange for operating without a license on Nov. 28.

He was asked to clarify the matter and that the ban was “supposed to be three months from the issuance date,” which he said was given on Nov. 29.

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Singapore releases national AI strategy 2.0, plans for 15,000 AI experts

Singapore released an updated version of its national AI strategy that includes plans for boosting government competency, building a smart nation and increasing compute capacity.

The Singaporean government released its updated national strategy for artificial intelligence (AI) 2.0 on Dec.

Singapore structured its AI strategy into three distinct systems, consisting of ten “enablers,” which drive those systems and then 15 action steps to make the system work.

The updated plan's systematic approach focuses on three main areas of its society, including what it calls “activity drivers,” “people and communities,” and “infrastructure and environment.”

Building a smart nation

Among the action steps is Singapore’s plan to develop new AI “Centers of Excellence” (CoEs) across companies operating in the country to foster “sophisticated AI value creation and usage in key sectors.”

The updated AI plan also has benchmarks of equipping governmental agencies with “specialized knowledge, technical capabilities, and regulatory tools” and "sharpening” AI proficiency in all Singaporean public officers.

According to the vision, Singapore plans to use its government capacity to create resources to support AI adoption in the public sector.

Additionally, it said it plans to boost its quantity of “AI practitioners” or local experts to 15,000 through scaling up AI-specific training programs and technology and AI talent pipelines, and that it “remains open” to global talent.

The report said that various tech training programs centered around AI development have placed over 2,700 individuals in “good jobs” to date.

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South Korean financial authorities solicit reports on unlicensed crypto exchanges

Financial regulators in South Korea have opened a window of time for people to come forward and report any unlicensed cryptocurrency exchanges operating in the country.

Financial regulators in South Korea released an update on Dec.

The Digital Asset Exchange Association (DAXA) and the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) of South Korea collaborated on the initiative. DAXA includes five of the major virtual asset exchanges operating in the country, such as Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, Korbit and Gopax.

According to the regulators, the goal of receiving these reports is to find domestic and foreign virtual asset business operators targeting Korean citizens and not working per Article 7 of the Specific Financial Information Act.

Reports will first be reviewed by DAXA, and then the results will be forwarded to the FIU, after which it will respond to the former to determine the status of the operator and whether it needs to be notified.

An official from DAXA said that if operators continue to engage in “undeclared business activities,” then the FIU “plans to take necessary measures, including notifying the investigative agency.”

Related: North Korean hackers have pilfered $3B of crypto over past six years: Report

DAXA said reports can be filed through its tip email address, and should include all the information related to the business, reasons for suspicion, and evidence of its undeclared business activities. 

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APEC finance ministers to share perspectives on crypto at meeting in San Francisco

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said she is looking forward to hearing from the finance ministers of some of the world’s most crypto-forward countries.

The weeklong Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit began on Nov. 11 in San Francisco. The highlight of the event will surely be on the sidelines, when United States President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Ping meet on Nov. 15. But with the focus of the organization being on the regional economy, the finance ministers’ meeting is also of primary importance.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in her opening speech at the finance ministers’ meeting on Nov. 13 that they will discuss “priority areas [that] are oriented toward the long-term,” with a heavy emphasis on sustainability. They will also hold one session devoted to supply-side economics and another on digital assets. Yellen mentioned unbacked crypto assets, stablecoin and central bank digital currency specifically.

“Sharing insights and engaging with the private sector has enabled us to deepen our collective understanding of the tools that policymakers can use to facilitate the responsible development and use of digital assets,” Yellen said. She added:

“I look forward to hearing your perspectives on the long-term role that digital assets and blockchain technologies can play in our respective financial systems, as well as how your authorities plan to approach regulatory oversight of their development and use.”

Yellen met with top Chinese economic official He Lifeng on Nov. 9 and 10. While cryptocurrency trading has been effectively banned in China since 2021, the country has taken a world-leading role in the development of central bank digital currency.

Related: Vietnamese Web3 coalition Ninety Eight launches $25M ecosystem fund

The perspectives Yellen will hear at the Nov. 13 meeting may be at odds with her own position, as the Biden administration is widely seen as not strongly favorable to crypto, and many consider Asia to be taking the lead in blockchain development. Asian economies have made notable strides in the metaverse, crypto trading and adoption.

APEC is made up of 21 Pacific-region “economies” in Asia, North America and South America. Membership is open to economies rather than countries to allow Hong Kong and Taiwan a place at the table without controversy. Ripple was a major (diamond-level) sponsor of the summit.

Magazine: China’s surprise NFT move, Hong Kong’s $15M Bitcoin fund: Asia Express

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Kazakhstan’s authorities confirm they blocked access to Coinbase: Report

The authorities cited the Law on Digital Assets, enacted in February 2023, that forbids the issuance and trading of digital currencies and the crypto exchange operation without a national license, according to reports.

The Ministry of Culture and Information of Kazakhstan has officially confirmed they have blocked the Coinbase website in the country. The authorities of Kazakhstan have been blocking local IPs' access to Coinbase since September at least.  

According to a Nov. 7 report from a local news outlet, Kursiv, access to the Coinbase website was blocked by an order of the Ministry of Culture and Information. Ministry representatives explained to journalists that the request came from a different government body, the Ministry of Digital Development, which accused Coinbase of violating the Law on Digital Assets.

The Law on Digital Assets, enacted in February 2023, bans the issuance and trading of digital currencies and the crypto exchange operation without a national license. The in-principal approval to operate is granted by the authority of the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC), a special economic zone of Kazakhstan.

Related: Kazakhstan establishes regulatory agency to implement CBDC

So far, Binance, Bybit, CaspianEx, Biteeu, ATAIX, Upbit and Xignal&MT have been approved by the AIFC Financial Services Authority.

The first reports about the problems with accessing the Coinbase website appeared in September, when the local Telegram media Finance. kz wrote that the “great Kazakh investment firewall” blocks access not only to Coinbase but also to Kraken and other major international crypto exchanges.

Kazakhstan has taken a stringent regulatory approach to crypto, including around its mining sector which is one of the largest in the world. In October, eight major cryptocurrency mining operators signed an open letter to President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, claiming ​​that the crypto-mining industry is in a “very distressful situation” because of high energy prices for miners.

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Crypto Exchange Associated With Binance Seeking License in Hong Kong: Report

Crypto Exchange Associated With Binance Seeking License in Hong Kong: Report

A digital asset exchange platform with ties to crypto titan Binance has reportedly announced its intention to apply for a license in one of Asia’s leading finance hubs. According to the South China Morning Post, HKVAEX was created as a separate entity under the company BX Services Limited, but Binance is behind it. HKVAEX was […]

The post Crypto Exchange Associated With Binance Seeking License in Hong Kong: Report appeared first on The Daily Hodl.

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Hong Kong securities regulator updates crypto policies, citing market developments

The notice came more than a month after more than a thousand users reported losses from the JPEX crypto exchange.

The Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong announced it will update its policies on virtual currency sales and requirements “in light of the latest market developments and enquiries from the industry”.

In an Oct. 20 notice, the SFC said under the updated guidelines, certain virtual currency products will only be available to professional investors. In addition, intermediaries in the crypto space “should assess whether clients have knowledge of investing in virtual assets” prior to handling any transactions.

“Although virtual assets are becoming more popular in some parts of the world, the global regulatory landscape remains uneven,” said the SFC. “The risks associated with investing in virtual assets identified by the SFC back in 2018 continue to apply.”

The updated requirements considered virtual assets “complex products” under the SFC and subject to the same guidelines as similar financial products. The commission specifically mentioned crypto exchange-traded funds and products issued outside Hong Kong as examples of complex products.

Related: Less than 50% of Hong Kong retail crypto investors aware of relevant regulations: Survey

Many crypto users in Hong Kong are still reeling from the scandal surrounding the JPEX crypto exchange. In September, the SFC announced that it had received more than 1,000 complaints related to JPEX, with users claiming losses totaling millions of dollars. Local police later arrested six JPEX employees for operating an unlicensed crypto exchange.

It’s unclear if SFC’s updated policies are the direct result of the events surrounding JPEX, but the regulator said in September it would increase its efforts to keep crypto investors informed of risks. In October, the Hong Kong Police Force and SFC formed a working group aimed at monitoring and investigating potential illegal activities involving digital assets.

Magazine: Bitmain’s revenge, Hong Kong’s crypto rollercoaster: Asia Express

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Asian and European stocks rally amid a wave of risk appetite

Asian and European stocks registered a bullish surge on Tuesday owing to the Fed’s hawkish outlook on interest rates.

Oct. 10 saw major Asian and European stocks surge higher owing to a wave of risk appetite.

Another major factor that played a key role in the bullish resurgence of European and Asian stocks was the United States Federal Reserve’s optimistic outlook on bond yields.

U.S. Treasury yields fell sharply on Tuesday, with Federal Reserve officials hinting that the central bank may be done raising interest rates. Fed Vice Chair Philip Jefferson said the institution may “proceed carefully” in determining whether any additional rate rises are necessary, while Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan suggested that rising Treasury yields might prevent the Fed from doing so.

The early-week rush into supposedly safe assets like the dollar, gold and government bonds calmed considerably on Tuesday, while oil prices also saw a retreat from their spike on Monday.

Asian stock market regains bullish momentum led by Japan

The Asian stock market surged higher on Tuesday, led by Japan’s bullish momentum. Japan’s benchmark index, the Nikkei 225, registered a rise of more than 2.4%, closing the day at 31,763.50 points and leading stock advances in the region just a day after the nation returned from a national holiday.

The rise in Japan’s benchmark index was fueled by a surge in oil and gas exploration company Inpex Corporation, which registered the largest increase of 8.6%.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 price chart. Source: Investing.com

South Korea’s leading Kosdaq Index fell 2.62% to close at 795 — its lowest level since March 16 — while the Kospi Index reversed previous gains to dip 0.26% and finish at 2,402.58, its lowest level since March 21.

Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index saw an increase of 0.84% in its final hour due to Fed’s hawkish comments. On the other hand, mainland Chinese markets were down, with the CSI 300 index declining 0.75% to 3,657.13, marking a third consecutive day of losses.

Hang Seng Index daily price chart. Source: Investing.com

European markets see a bullish surge

Tuesday saw a significant recovery in European stocks owing to dovish remarks from U.S. Federal policymakers, which boosted the morale of the market.

Europe’s benchmark STOXX 600 index rose 1.5%, approaching its largest single-day percentage gain in nearly four weeks. After a spike in oil prices, and as investors looked for refuge in Treasurys and gold, the index was on its way to recover from Monday’s 0.3% decline.

STOXX 600 index daily price chart.Source: Investing.com

The United Kingdom benchmark FTSE 100 Index rose to a one-week high on Tuesday owing to the Fed’s bullishness and expectations that the Bank of England would hold off on raising interest rates. On the other hand, the more domestically focused FTSE 250 Index rose by 1.6%, while the globally focused FTSE 100 jumped 1.4%.

Vintage Markets is dedicated to the in-depth exploration and reporting of traditional financial news, tracing the journey of global markets and economies from Stone Age to Stoned Age.

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Kazakh crypto miners plead with President to cut energy prices

Eight major cryptocurrency mining operators signed an open letter to the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev.

In Kazakhstan, the world’s third-largest market in terms of Bitcoin mining hash rate, the local crypto-mining operators are complaining about the high energy prices to the national leader. 

According to the local media, eight major cryptocurrency mining operators signed an open letter to the President of Kazakhstan, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. This list includes BCD Company, TT TECH Limited, KZ Systems, AI Solutions, Green Power Solution Ltd., VerCom, and KINUR INVEST.

Related: Kazakhstan establishes regulatory agency to implement CBDC

The letter states that the Kazakh crypto-mining industry is in a “very distressful situation” because of high energy prices for the miners. According to the text:

“As of today, all major industry players have suspended their activities and plan to completely cease their business in the Republic of Kazakhstan by the end of the year.” 

The executives who signed the letter believe that the situation with prices derails the government’s efforts to regulate the crypto industry in general and mining in particular. According to the letter, the problem is a consequence of the decision to raise taxes on energy for crypto miners. Because of the taxes they levy, the country has already lost its position among such crypto mining leaders as the United States, Russia, and China, and the industry stands on the brink of extinction, the letter claims:

“If the government does not take urgent measures, the digital mining industry in the Republic of Kazakhstan will cease to exist.” 

The country introduced taxes on digital mining on Jan. 1, 2022, based on electricity consumption by mining entities. The law emerged amid growing national frustration with crypto miners’ undertaxed usage of the national power grid

Even at the highest mark, 1 kWh of taxed electricity in Kazakhstan costs miners around $0.067, significantly lower than the average of $0.12 per kWh before any taxes in the United States. According to the data from the Kazakh government, it received only around $7 million (3.07 billion tenges) in tax payments from crypto mining entities in 2022.

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Indian state governments spur blockchain adoption in public administration

Numerous initiatives by local and state governments in India — from data management systems to verifiable certificate issuances — currently use blockchain technology.

Ever since Bitcoin (BTC) popularized blockchain technology worldwide, the tech has found its way into myriad processes, from finance to public administration.

What started as a flex statement for early adopters has now become a way of revamping legacy systems and improving immutability, transparency and decentralization.

Despite its proven real-world use cases, most government agencies continue to take a cautious approach to adopting and infusing blockchain into their paper-based processes, given its predominant link to the cryptocurrency ecosystem.

However, a change of heart is underway as emerging economies see blockchain as a rare opportunity to establish a trust-based system for society.

While still reluctant to legitimize cryptocurrencies fully, India has generally accepted blockchain technology.

Numerous initiatives by local and state governments in India — ranging from data management systems to verifiable certificate issuances — currently use blockchain technology at their core.

India’s expedited blockchain adoption is supported by an active developer and startup community, which builds custom solutions to tackle specific use cases.

Cointelegraph’s pursuit to decipher India’s affinity for blockchain led to a conversation with Ankur Rakhi Sinha, the co-founder and CEO of Airchains, a Web3 startup focused on a middleware software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Ankur explained India’s massive appetite for blockchain and how elected leaders have been driving the change.

Cointelegraph: What is the primary driver behind India’s blockchain adoption spree?

Ankur Rakhi Sinha: The driving force behind India’s blockchain adoption is the multitude of benefits it offers to enterprises and institutions. Within their ecosystems, organizations recognize the immense benefits of incorporating blockchain technology. It addresses various challenges at different levels, such as enhancing transparency, traceability and establishing trust.

These factors contribute to the growing interest and widespread adoption of blockchain within India.

India is one of the fastest-growing blockchain markets globally, with over 56% of Indian businesses reporting an inclination toward adopting blockchain technology. With a developer base of a whopping 10 million, the Indian talent pool has been recognized globally by leading Web3 firms with the aim of fostering Web3 innovation and growth.

CT: In your discussions with the government agencies, are there any talks of crypto adoption?

ARS: No, currently, regulatory clearances surrounding cryptocurrency adoption are still uncertain. However, government agencies are actively exploring various avenues and seeking improved regulations. They are open to the idea and are diligently working toward creating a conducive environment for cryptocurrency adoption.

CT: Can you share any data and/or use cases that show improvements from older systems?

ARS: Yes, our recent collaboration with the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) showcases the real-life adoption of blockchain. With a vast expanse of 27,000 acres of land and a staggering 50,000 NFTs [nonfungible tokens] representing one million ownerships, the NKDA’s adoption of NFTs for land mutation [the transfer of property titles] has revolutionized the traditional approach, and these initiatives demonstrate the growing recognition and commitment to harnessing the potential of blockchain to drive innovation and efficiency across various sectors.

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CT: Is India betting big on blockchain? Are there any government initiatives that help drive this cause?

ARS: Yes, India is definitely betting big on blockchain. Various government agencies and bodies within India are actively seeking to collaborate with blockchain solutions. While there is yet to be a high-level blockchain initiative from the government of India thus far, there is a strong demand from government entities that Airchains is actively addressing. One of the profound use cases of blockchain adoption includes the remarkable first-ever NFT-based land mutation in India.

Additionally, in January 2020, NITI Aayog’s two-part report titled “Blockchain: The India Strategy” made it apparent that while regulations regarding cryptocurrencies and other digital assets are under consideration, the government is significantly aware of the promise of core blockchain technology to transform various systems. 

Several Indian government bodies are supportive of blockchain technology adoption and have collaborated with Airchains to incorporate novel blockchain-based systems ensuring accountability and security. The Raigarh District Authority has collaborated with us to create a blockchain-based tree plantation monitoring system for the betterment of CSR [corporate social responsibility] initiatives, whereas the Firozabad Police Department worked with us to create a blockchain complaint management system to prevent tampering of reports.

CT: What type of understanding do Indian officials have about blockchain and associated tech?

ARS: Indian government agencies, state governments and bureaucrats possess a profound understanding of blockchain and Web3 technologies. They are well-versed in the latest developments and trends within the blockchain space, including liquidity, private chains and zero-knowledge rollups. [...] Their comprehension of blockchain extends beyond surface-level knowledge, as many officials have in-depth insights into how the technology functions. While some officials contemplate how blockchain should ideally operate, others are actively exploring ways to leverage this technology to address their unique challenges.

CT: What is the role of blockchain in India’s overall growth?

ARS: Blockchain technology is poised to play a huge role in India’s future growth, propelling the nation to a prominent position on the global stage. The increasing number of developers, enterprises and institutional use cases emerging in India underscores the significant growth potential of blockchain in the country. As blockchain adoption continues to expand, it is expected to drive innovation, foster economic development and create new opportunities across various sectors.

Another key push to India’s growth has been the entry of various global Web3 players into the Indian developer market. India is home to 450+ Web3 startups and has received over $1.5 billion in investments between 2021 and 2022, according to a 2022 NASSCOM Indian Web3 Landscape Analysis report.

Additionally, the report also highlighted that 11% of global Web3 talent is in India, making it third worldwide. Blockchain in India has the potential to contribute significantly due to the vast developer talent and the active Web3 community present in the country.

CT: We have seen numerous instances of state-wide blockchain implementations over the past three years. Are there any nationwide implementations of blockchain in India or any such plans for the future?

ARS: Yes, there have been significant discussions at various levels regarding nationwide blockchain implementations in India. For instance, organizations such as the National Payments Corporation of India and the Unified Payments Interface are exploring the potential of blockchain technology and conducting tests. Public sector banks are also actively experimenting with blockchain to determine how they can harness its capabilities.

These initiatives indicate a strong likelihood of nationwide blockchain use cases emerging in the near future. Airchains recently executed a state-wise use case with NKDA, and we are currently working on multiple state-level use cases that have the potential to impact the nation as a whole.

CT: How do you convince a government body to accept a new system?

ARS: Government [...] bodies are actively interested in adopting blockchain solutions to address their specific challenges. However, they emphasize the importance of operating within regulatory frameworks. Demonstrating transparency, efficiency and improved outcomes is key to gaining government support in the development journey.

CT: Which countries are ahead of India when it comes to wide-scale blockchain adoption? What measures must a country take to expedite blockchain adoption?

ARS: There are several countries in Central America that are actively pursuing wide-scale blockchain adoption within their ecosystems. India, being a large nation, is actively striving to accelerate the adoption of blockchain technology through numerous use cases. The country has established itself as a center of excellence in blockchain, with multiple agencies exploring various applications.

To expedite progress, implementing clear regulations is crucial. This includes defining guidelines for blockchain implementation and determining permissible use cases, which will facilitate faster execution and broader adoption.

CT: Can home-grown blockchain technology be used in off-shore use cases?

ARS: Many projects originating from India, such as Polygon and various layer-1 and layer-2 solutions, have gained global recognition. Airchains has also successfully collaborated with government agencies globally, including in Central America and Europe. Currently, there are several offshore projects in the pipeline for Airchains, scheduled to be completed within the next six to seven months. Utilizing home-grown blockchain technology for offshore use cases is indeed a goal being pursued.

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CT: How does funding work? What are your investors looking for?

ARS: Investors primarily seek scalability and feasibility in blockchain adoption, among other key factors. Funding in the blockchain space typically involves investors who believe in the potential of the technology and its ability to bring about transformative changes.

CT: What is your advice to fellow blockchain entrepreneurs in India?

ARS: My advice [...] is to focus on building a wide range of use cases and driving blockchain adoption to a higher scale. By creating innovative solutions and demonstrating the real-world benefits of blockchain technology, we can accelerate its adoption and drive positive change in various industries.

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