Banks in Finland are turning down business with a large Nordic cryptocurrency exchange. Prasos, based in Finland, has now had four bank accounts closed and is now dependent on just one account. The platform exchanges cryptocurrencies for euros and relies upon banks for its service, but they’re becoming increasingly wary due to uncertainty regarding the legality of the operations. Cryptocurrency regulation is currently unclear, but banks are erring on caution. They’re particularly wary of involvement with money laundering, believing the anonymous or pseudo-anonymous nature of virtual currencies to be shaky legal ground. An agreement was reached at the European Union last year which we would see cryptocurrency fall under the same anti-money laundering regulation as fiat funds, and whilst this is not yet being enforced, banks are keeping well clear of involvement. The Prasos platform has lost its connection with banks following a tenfold increase in volume since the prior year, with the $185m sum raising suspicions among institutions.
To some people, cryptocurrencies are the stories they go through while sipping a hot cup of coffee early in the morning. But to others, it is an ecosystem that is developing slowly and is bound to engulf the entire world. One such individual is venture capital investor, founder of Draper Associates and Stanford graduate Tim Draper. Draper is not your average bull – he can break the internet by simply stating that, “In five years you’re going to walk in and try to pay fiat [a government-backed currency like the U.S. dollar] for a Starbucks coffee, and the barista is going to laugh at you, because they’re going to say, ‘What is this? Are you counting out pennies? Give me shells?” To show his unwavering support, Draper wore a tie with printed bitcoins while he continued his interview on CNBC’s segment ‘Fast Money’ on Tuesday. He talked about how digital currency “is not subject to the whims of some political force or another”, and how the world “international” will be substituted by “global”.
Asia Business, an influential finance-focused media outlet in South Korea, has reported that Kakao, one of the two largest internet companies that operate KakaoTalk, KakaoPay, KakaoStory, KakaoTaxi, and a subsidiary company which runs major cryptocurrency exchange UpBit, will integrate cryptocurrency within 2018. An exclusive coverage released by Asia Business revealed that Kakao’s fintech application KakaoPay, which registered 3 million users within its debut month, will integrate cryptocurrencies into its local application to allow users to send and receive cryptocurrencies. Kakao is also planning to launch its own cryptocurrency, similar to the model of Binance’s Binance Coin, within this year. Once KakaoPay integrates cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and Ethereum, all the other Kakao apps would become compatible with cryptocurrency payments. If Kakao pursues its plan to integrate cryptocurrencies into KakaoPay by the end of 2018, millions of KakaoTaxi, KakaoTalk, and other Kakao applications will soon be able to utilize cryptocurrencies.
South Korean news agency, Yonhap, has reported that according to a recent survey, people in their 20s are the front-runners in cryptocurrency investment. The results are not surprising – younger generations from all around the world prefer investing in this new industry rather than stocks and bonds. Korea Financial Investors Protection Foundation surveyed 2,530 people, between the ages of 25 and 64, and found that 22.7% of 20-somethings bought cryptocurrencies. They were followed by people in their 30s by 19.3%, 40s by 12%, 60s by 10.5% and 50s by 8.2%. However, 60-year-olds were the ones who invested the largest amount of money in cryptocurrencies with an average total of 6.58 million won ($6,119). 50, 40, 30 and 20 year olds invested 6.28 million won ($5,840), 3.99 million won, 3.73 million won ($3,710) and 29.3 million won ($2,724) respectively. Altogether, 70.2% bought cryptocurrencies as a means of investment, while 34.1% bought it to pay for goods and services.
With bitcoin, ethereum and other big name digital currencies regularly making the news for their role in controversies and developments, it is often easy to overlook the rest of the cryptocurrency market, even those rising in prominence like as IOTA. With a market cap of around $5 billion, it is currently the eleventh most valuable cryptocurrency. Unlike others, however, IOTA has its own unique spin on the blockchain tech, called Tangle. It is also able to boast zero transaction fees. In recent times, IOTA’s heritage in the German capital has clearly attracted several indigenous companies with deep pockets. For instance, the Chief Digital Officer of Volkswagen Group, Johann Jungwirth, is one of the board members of the IOTA Foundation. Bosch Group, through its venture capital arm, RBVC, has also invested an undisclosed amount and works closely with the foundation. When interviewed by Bloomberg, IOTA co-founder Dominik Schiener shared his belief that with these new partnerships, IOTA is heading for the “next growth cycle”. There are also rumors circulating in the crypto community surrounding a possible smart contracts-like feature in IOTA. Setting up multiple offices around the world, including ones in Canada, Japan, Norway and South Korea, is perhaps in anticipation of explosive growth following these changes.