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.
Yesterday, the Litecoin price achieved the $200 mark and raised LTC/BTC to its highest value in nearly three years. Today, Litecoin’s bullish advance continued, and LTC rose as high as $236 on Bitfinex, notching its highest mark since Jan. 15. At the time of writing, Litecoin was trading at $219 and boasted a market cap of $12.4 billion. Litecoin’s trading volume remains relatively decentralized, with no single exchange accounting for more than 16 percent of global LTC trading volume. Notably, LTC volume has surged on South Korean exchange Upbit, from about $62 million on Wednesday to $237 million today. Fellow Seoul-based exchange Bithumb experienced a comparable increase, and the two exchanges — each of which currently prices Litecoin at a five percent premium — now account for a combined 16.5 percent of LTC’s daily trading volume.
Sophisticated hedge fund traders are drawn to speculation, as evidenced by a more than a twofold increase in the number of crypto-driven hedge funds in recent months. Fintech analysis firm Autonomous NEXT told CCN hedge funds are currently overseeing between $3.5 billion and $5 billion in assets under management (AUM) across 226 crypto funds, in the four-month period leading up to today. Indeed, while much of institutional capital remains sidelined from the cryptocurrency market, the tide is beginning to shift. For instance, the most recent Autonomous data compares to 110 crypto hedge funds as of Oct. 18 and about three dozen at the start of 2017. Meanwhile, crypto funds have risen alongside the BTC price over the same period, over which time the bitcoin price advanced 70%. But there have been peaks and valleys, including 2017’s record 1,300% run, December’s near $20,000 high and a rocky January in which the BTC price shed about 30%. Hedge fund strategies thrive on this type of activity as they aren’t limited only to betting on the rise in the BTC price.
Japan’s two primary cryptocurrency industry groups are merging to form a new self-regulatory entity following the recent $530 million hack of Tokyo-based exchange Coincheck. The unnamed new entity is set to launch April 1, the Nikkei reports, a year to the day after Japan’s revised Payment Services Act – which recognizes bitcoin as a legal method of payment – kicked in. The self-regulatory body will see the unification of the Japan Blockchain Association and the Japan Cryptocurrency Business Association. The former is notably founded around bitFlyer, Japan’s largest cryptocurrency exchange. The new entity aims to quickly enforce self-imposed rules surrounding the protection of exchange users’ assets, system downtimes, insider trading and even advertising. Additionally, penalties for breaches will also be considered. All of which sums up to a transparent foray to foster confidence from the public and the conventional financial industry in the cryptocurrency space, particularly in the aftermath of a major hack.
The Spanish government is reportedly preparing legislation that includes possible tax incentives to lure blockchain companies into the country. The People’s Party (PP) of Spain, the country’s ruling party, is weighing up legislation to specifically attract blockchain firms due to the technology’s potential in a number of industries including finance, education, and health, according to lawmaker Teodoro Garcia Egae. Speaking to Bloomberg, the lawmaker also pointed to ‘specific regulations’ that would make Spain a destination for entrepreneurs and firms to carry out initial coin offerings (ICOs) using blockchain(s).