The Japanese government said today that inspections will take place at 15 unlicensed cryptocurrency exchanges in light of a recent major hack. According to the Japan Times, the country’s financial services minister Taro Aso said at a news briefing that on-site inspections will take place at the exchange providers that have filed for licenses but have not yet been approved. The move comes after the Coincheck exchange lost NEM tokens worth $533 million at the time in a major breach in late January. The minister indicated the inspections will examine the exchanges’ technical safety procedures and management of users’ funds, the report indicates. The country’s financial watchdog, the Financial Services Agency (FSA), had previously ordered all the licensed and unlicensed exchanges in the country to report on their security protocols and resistance to hacking in response to the Coincheck theft. The FSA has now decided that on-site inspections are required for unlicensed operators after appraising their reports.
Having found weak hands above the $10,200 mark in Asian hours, bitcoin has slipped back into four figures. The cryptocurrency rose above $10,000 at 17:29 UTC yesterday, but ran into offers at $10,218 and dropped to $9,865.29 at 21:59 UTC. Another attempt to score gains above the $10,000 mark ran out of steam at a high of $10,293.44 at 02:14 UTC. As of writing, CoinDesk’s Bitcoin Price Index (BPI) is seen at $9,960. Despite the pullback from a 16-day high of $10,293.44, the cryptocurrency is still up 1.56 percent on a 24-hour basis, according to data source CoinMarketCap. On Bifinex (the biggest exchange by volume), trading volumes surged as BTC rose above $10,000 yesterday. However, as seen in the chart below, the volumes have dropped in the subsequent hours, explaining the failure to post solid gains above $10,000.
Notable ethereum stakeholders are joining forces to create a fund for projects building on the world’s second-largest blockchain. Called the Ethereum Community Fund (ECF), the effort is the result of a collaboration between Cosmos, Golem, Global Blockchain Labs, Maker, OmiseGo, Raiden and Tendermint, with those involved agreeing to work to connect ethereum projects with companies that could benefit from the blockchain services they offer. It will also support the projects in the form of a grant program that will function as “a permanent financial endowment” for selected projects, according to a release.
An alleged scam involving investments in bitcoin in Austria has reportedly affected over ten thousand investors in the country and around Europe. Details are emerging about an Austrian investment scheme, dubbed “Optioment”, where its operators have reportedly stolen some 12,000 bitcoins (approx. $116 million in current prices) from over 10,000 victims invested in the scheme. The scheme ran a website, now offline, claiming to be a ‘premier global Bitcoin investment product’ stemming from a ‘private Costa Rica-based bitcoin fund’. The scheme also claimed to have its ‘investment’ platform backed by assets over 35,000 BTC. A Die Presse report reveals investors were lured by the promise of soaring returns of 1.5%-4% per week on their deposited bitcoins. Investors were also rewarded for bringing new users into the fold. “OPTIOMENT pays you Bitcoins when you share it with your friends and business colleagues,” an excerpt from the now-defunct website, available on the Internet Archive. ‘Our unlevel compensation plan’s first level pays you 7%, second level 4%, third level 3% and way more. And it pays you everytime a member in your downline makes a deposit, not only for the first time but for every time. Active and Passive!’
The central bank of South Africa has launched a new proof-of-concept (PoC) project to replicate interbank settlements on an Ethereum-based blockchain. The South African Reserve Bank (SARB), the country’s central bank, has announced a new FinTech initiative that will include ‘Project Khokha’ – a blockchain PoC endeavor via a partnership with Ethereum coder collective ConsenSys, an official announcement revealed. As the central bank’s technology partner, the Brooklyn-based Ethereum blockchain developer will enable the ‘processing of wholesale payments using Quorum’, an Ethereum enterprise blockchain developed by JPMorgan and EthLab, an Ethereum developer startup. The development to explore blockchain technology comes despite statements to the contrary by the central bank’s deputy governor who claimed the issuance of a blockchain-enabled central bank cryptocurrency would be “too risky”, in August 2017.