The National Bank of Kuwait (NBK) has launched a cross-border remittance product based on RippleNet’s blockchain technology, according to an announcement published Dec. 27.

Established in 1952, the NBK is the largest financial institution in terms of assets in Kuwait. Per the bank’s 2017 annual report, the NBK has over $86.3 billion in total assets.

The NBK has reportedly become the first financial establishment in Kuwait to implement a remittance product — “NBK Direct Remit” — for international live payments based on RippleNet’s blockchain technology. The product will purportedly speed up cross-border money transfers.

Dimitrios Kokosioulis, the deputy CEO of group operations and technology, said that the blockchain-based solution allows the bank’s customers to “make money transfers within seconds” and “anytime of the day.” Kokosioulis added that the service will also be available in Jordan, and will subsequently expand to other countries.

In November, Malaysian lending giant CIMB Group Holdings Bhd joined RippleNet. CIMB will integrate Ripple’s XCurrent product, a software solution for expediting cross-border payments, for its “SpeedSend” remittance product.

Also that month, Japanese bank and financial services firm Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. said it will use Ripple to create a new cross-border payments service to Brazil through partnership with Banco Bradesco. The product aims to “assist the banks as they work toward commercializing a high-speed, transparent and traceable cross-border payments solution between Japan and Brazil.”

In October, Ripple launched its real-time settlement platform xRapid for commercial use. xRapid is a platform designed to speed up international payments, while eliminating the need for a pre-funded nostro account.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

A new bill which will impact electronic wallets and digital payment tokens such as bitcoin has been tabled in Singapore’s parliament.

The Payment Services Bill will place the providers of payment services that are not under the regulatory oversight of Money-Changing and Remittance Businesses Act and the Payment Systems Oversight Act under the umbrella of Singapore’s central bank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

This has come about following the growing usage of cryptocurrencies and the realization that the existing legislation does not cover them adequately.

Scope of Payment Services

Besides regulating cryptocurrencies, other activities that are set to be covered by the Payment Services Bill include both domestic and international money transfers and foreign exchange transactions.

“The payment services regulated under the Bill are: a) account issuance service; b) domestic money transfer service; c) cross border money transfer service; d) merchant acquisition services; e) e-money issuance service; f) digital payment token service; g) money-changing service,” said a statement from the MAS.

To offer the listed payment services, providers will be required to acquire licenses which will correspond to the risks that the payment services offered pose. Payment services will be classified as major payment institutions, standard payment institutions or money-changing institutions. The difference between a major payment institution and a standard payment institution is transaction volumes with the latter limited to transaction amounts not exceeding $3 million per month and electronic money float not exceeding $5 million.

Business Presence in Singapore

Among other conditions, applicants of the above licenses will be required to be companies (either incorporated overseas or in Singapore) that have a permanent place of business in the Southeast Asian country or at least a registered office.

With regards to the grace period offered to ensure compliance, the MAS will be stricter with payment services dealing in cryptocurrencies. While other payment service providers will have up to 12 months to comply once the bill is signed into law, providers of digital payment tokens will only have six months to ensure compliance.

As previously reported by CCN, the second consultation on the Payment Services Bill was launched last year in November by the MAS.

Then, the MAS hoped that the bill would cover more payment service providers while offering regulatory clarity to the sector:

“The new framework will expand the scope of regulation to include domestic money transfers, merchant acquisition and the purchase and sale of virtual currencies. Only payment activities that face customers or merchants, process funds or acquire transactions, and pose relevant regulatory concerns will need to be licensed.”

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An Israeli study group exploring digital currency options has recommended that the country’s central bank not issue its own token, a press release confirmed Nov. 6.

The interdepartmental team, set up in November 2017 by the governor of the Bank of Israel to “examine the issue of central bank digital currencies [CBDCs],” revealed its findings in a full report this week.

“Central banks around the world are examining the possibility of issuing digital currency and/or using distributed technologies in the payment systems, but no advanced economy has yet issued digital currency for broad use,” it summarizes, adding:

“The team does not recommend that the Bank of Israel issue digital currency in the near future. It is necessary to continue examining the field and to follow developments around the world before there are proper grounds for a decision to recommend issuing digital currency.”

The result comes as little surprise for the banking sector, multiple jurisdictions including the European Union similarly deciding this year that the atmosphere was not conducive to launching a central bank digital asset for the time being.

In a communique in September, the European Central Bank highlighted the continued popularity of cash and a lack of full risk assessment as key factors behind its decision.

However, a Cointelegraph analysis of the possibilities for CBDCs showed that the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) has been actively looking into the technology, as well as the Bank of Canada and Sweden’s central bank.

Israel has continued to adopt a proactive approach to cryptocurrency more generally this year, with the Supreme Court in February preventing banks from deliberately jettisoning ties with industry businesses.

This post is credit to cointelegraph

A top-level executive from the Bank of Japan (BOJ) revealed that the country’s central bank doesn’t plan to issue a digital currency. The BOJ justifies this decision by identifying major obstacles which prevent their further widespread adoption.  

Spoken Like a True Banker

Masayoshi Amamiya, a deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, revealed the bank’s position on cryptocurrencies. Speaking at a lecture during the autumn annual meeting of the Japan Society of Monetary Economics, the banker said that it’s questionable whether cryptocurrencies have any serious merit to improve the existing financial system:

There are many aspects we need to look into, whether it would actually contribute to improve efficacy of financial policies or financial stability.

Apart from that, however, he also outlined that if cryptocurrencies replaced cash and deposits, this would “have an impact on the bank’s ability to steer the economy” because its function as a financial intermediary will be “sharply reduced.”

Needless to say, removing unnecessary intermediaries is one of the driving principles behind the majority of cryptocurrencies.

Bank of Japan

Serious Barrier to Entry

Apart from expressing his concerns over the impact of cryptocurrencies on banks, Amamiya also said that there is a serious barrier to entry when it comes to widespread adoption:

It seems to me that the hurdle is extremely high to popularize (a cryptocurrency) as a payment system.

Despite BOJ’s rather distant position on digital currencies, the country has moved to shed regulatory clarity on the matter of cryptocurrency exchanges.

In May Bitcoinist reported that the Financial Services Agency (FSA) of Japan is set to introduce stricter legislative guidelines for cryptocurrency exchange platforms.  The move followed one of the biggest hacking attacks against Japanese cryptocurrency exchange platform Coincheck which result in the theft of more than $500 million worth of digital currencies.

In fact, FSA’s position on crypto has been rather reasonable, refraining from excessive regulations. In August the Agency noted that it “would like to see it [crypto] grow under appropriate regulation.”

What do you think of the position of the Bank of Japan on cryptocurrencies? Don’t hesitate to let us know in the comments below!

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