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.

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Japan’s Mizuho Financial Group plans to introduce a digital currency to be used for remittances and payments in March, English-language Asian media Nikkei reports Dec. 26.

According to the article, the fees that the retail shops will be required to pay for accepting the currency will be significantly lower than the fees charged for credit card usage. The transfer of funds back and forth between the digital wallet and the bank account will reportedly be free, as will be sending funds to other users.

Furthermore, according to Nikkei, the bank brought “about 60 regional banks on board” to promote cashless payments. Moreover, regional banks will reportedly be able to provide the service under a common name, which hasn’t been established yet.

The currency will reportedly be managed by a dedicated smartphone app, and the payments will be made using QR codes. The token will be a stablecoin fixed at a price of 1 yen per unit, Nikkei writes.

Mizuho Financial Group is a public banking holding company that reported 1.45 trillion yen of revenue in 2017, equivalent to over $13 billion. The virtual currency is the result of the development of J-Coin, announced in September 2017 by Mizuho.

As Cointelegraph reported in January, Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG), the world’s fifth-largest bank, will also launch its own digital currency: MUFG coin.

In regard to crypto legislation within Japan, the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) is considering placing cryptocurrencies into a dedicated legal category called “crypto-assets” to prevent confusion with legal tender.

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Oásis Supermercados, a supermarket chain store in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil has made it known that it now accepts payment in the form of bitcoin cash (BCH), Litecoin(LTC), and bitcoin core (BTC). By doing this, it has joined the growing list of businesses in Brazil which now receives payments in the form of digital currency.

Oasis Supermercados Start to Accept Cryptos

Oasis Supermercados has announced that, since 18th of December 2018, its customers can now make payment for products using Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Bitcoin. Once a customer selects which crypto to pay through, the system receives the digital coins and converts them to its equivalent in FIAT using a crypto payments processor called Coinwise. After three days, the payment processor will send Brazilian reals to the supermarket.

In Brazil, the acceptance of cryptocurrencies as payment for services rendered is now becoming a norm. However, this move by the supermarket a very important one.

A co-manager of the store, Douglas Andrade disclosed that Thiago, who is also his brother and co-manager developed the notion of accepting virtual currency at the supermarket after seeing a video on the subject and taking a further step of consulting a cryptocurrency brokage firm for more enlightenment.

He explained further that cryptocurrency purchase is similar to paying using credit cards, in a statement which reads:

“The client says which cryptocurrency he wants to pay, the operator types in reals and the system immediately converts to that crypto. Then just get the QR code and you’re done,”.

Training of Employees

The supermarket chain which consists of 2 stores with 90 employees out of which 20 are cash operators has a yearly turnover of up to $6.45 million (25 million reals). All the workers have received lessons on how to manage cryptocurrency purchases.

So far, no virtual currency payment have been completed since the payment method got launched, the public has however shown significant interest.

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Crypto hardware wallet supplier Ledger has signed an agreement with crypto payment startup Crypto.com to allow users to pay for its products with crypto, according to a press release shared with Cointelegraph on Dec. 19.

Hong Kong-based Crypto.com has reportedly signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Ledger that will enable Ledger to adopt their service Crypto.com Pay. The payment platform will purportedly allow Ledger clients to pay for products with cryptocurrency.

Crypto.com Pay will purportedly be incorporated into Ledger’s online store, where customers will able to make purchases via Crypto.com Wallet and Card application.

While the press release does not specify which cryptocurrencies will be supported by the new payment solution, Crypto.com’s Wallet features seven fiat currencies and six cryptocurrencies, according to their website.

According to Crypto.com Medium, the wallet supports Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple (XRP), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), as well as Binance Coin (BNB), Monaco (MCO), and its own Crypto.com Chain token (CRO).

Ledger CEO Éric Larchevêque stated that introducing a crypto payment option for products purchases is a “natural step,” and this payment method is “just what [Ledger] customers are seeking.”

Ledger recently opened a new office in New York to develop its institution-targeted custody offering called Ledger Vault. Ledger appointed former Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) executive Demetrios Skalkotos to lead global business unit operations for the project.

In November, Ledger added support for privacy-focused altcoin Monero (XMR) to its Nano S wallet device, having previously resumed support for Bitcoin Cash (BCH), following a suspension of service in mid-November.

This post is credited to cointelegraph

The CEO of crypto merchant platform BitPay Stephen Pair stated that speculation on future adoption drives Bitcoin’s (BTC) price more than “actual utility,” in an interview on CNBC Dec. 13.

Speaking on the reasons behind Bitcoin’s current value, compared to its historic price highs, Pair told reporters:

“A very big component of the [Bitcoin’s] price is certainly speculation. It’s investors that are speculating on the future usage and adoption of this technology. I’m sure a small component of that price is the actual utility.”

When asked about a Bitcoin ETF’s potential to stimulate a price rally, Pair argued that “not just ETF adoption or ETF launches” could be catalysts for price movement, but that “adoption will push the prices higher,” adding optimistically:

“I do think we’ll see those kinds of prices at some point in the future, if history is any guide.”

Answering a question about blockchain-based currencies’ use in daily transactions, the BitPay CEO told CNBC that he expects such adoption to occur on a mass scale in under half a decade, stating that:

“I used to say 10 years, but now I think it’s more like 3-5 years until you can go into a restaurant, a retail establishment, and just everybody’s going to expect that that store will be able to accept a blockchain payment.”

Pair then further noted that he was not just referring to “Bitcoin or the various tokens that we see today [but] also about issuing dollars on a blockchain or euros on a blockchain.”

According to Hester Peirce, a commissioner for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the approval of a Bitcoin ETF is not necessarily close at hand. As Cointelegraph recently reported earlier this month, Peirce said that an approval “could be 20 years from now” or “tomorrow,” urging the crypto community to not “ hold [its] breath.”

A study published by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance this week stated that the number of verified cryptocurrency users nearly doubled this year. A Bloomberg analysis of the study claims that the increase in crypto’s user base, despite prices declining, “could signal that an eventual recovery could be coming.”

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The New York-based commercial bank has created a payments solution that is powered by a permissioned version of the Ethereum blockchain.


Signature Bank, a New York-based full-service commercial bank, has partnered with trueDigital Holdings, LLC, a New York-based global financial technology firm, to launch a new digital payments platform.

The new platform is dubbed “Signet” and will enable real-time payments for commercial and asset management clients of the bank.

The platform leverages a permissioned version of the Ethereum blockchain to allow institutional clients to make payments in U.S. dollars 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

Signature Bank generated $155.4 million in net income for the third quarter of 2018 and currently manages $45 billion in assets.

U.S. dollars

Issues with the Currently Used Systems

Currently, banks use the Swift interbank platform or the Automated Clearing House (ACH) network for cross-border transfers. These systems take around 3-4 working days to process payments and are generally unavailable during weekends.

The Signet platform lets users of the service move funds in 30 seconds by converting U.S. dollars into ERC-20 tokens. However, only the bank’s customers can use the service currently. In the future, the bank may be able to connect to other financial institutions that adopt the system without the need of an intermediary.

Signature bank co-founder and CEO DePaolo said:

We have to do this, otherwise we’re not going to exist. If you’re not involved in blockchain, in five years, you won’t be around as a bank.

Solution Design and Launch Details

The digitized U.S. dollars called Signets are designed to work only on the Signet platform and would not interoperate with other exchanges or applications built on the Ethereum blockchain.

According to the announcement on trueDigital’s website, the firm plans to launch additional currencies and paired transactions in early 2019.

Blockchain

“This will significantly reduce costs, counterparty risk and settlement times,” said Sunil Hirani, founder and CEO of trueDigital.

The Signet Platform will be ready for use by commercial clients of the bank on January 1, 2019, at 12:01 am ET. Only customers who have a minimum balance of $250,000 will be able to use the service. Initially, the transactions are reported to be free of any transfer fee.

Customer funds on the Signet platform will be FDIC insured, up to permissible amounts defined. Users of the platform must comply with the bank’s anti-money-laundering and know-your-customer requirements.

The platform has been approved by the New York State Department of Financial Services.

Maria T. Vullo, Superintendent at the Department of Financial Services, says:

New York continues to support and help advance innovation through sound state regulation. And with products such as Signet, which provide lower-cost ways for businesses to efficiently make payments.

What are your thoughts on this development? Let us know in the comments below.

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In 2014, the Revenue Department of Thailand had arrested many individuals and investigated about 60 companies for defrauding the department out of $18.29 million worth of baht in value-added taxes (VAT). Since and before, the department has been unable to track a majority of such tax defaulters, losing billions of dollars in the process.

So could blockchain be the solution that could minimize tax frauds? The director-general of the Revenue Department believes it can.

Ekniti Nitithanprapas, in his latest comments to the Bangkok Post, revealed that their department is conducting a blockchain trial to explore its use case in tracking VAT payments. The tax compliance officer recognized that there was an increase in the number of cases that involves fake VAT invoices. He said that they have set up a particular innovation lab to test blockchain’s potential in minimizing such cases while drawing inspirations from its use-case in the verification of bitcoin transactions.

“The blockchain is expected to help verify VAT invoices which would help root out fake invoices for VAT claims,” Nitithanprapas said. “For example, when a company buys products from a second company, the former will issue VAT invoices to the latter, and both firms can use blockchain to confirm the transactions.”

Blockchain Marries Tax Auditing

Since its launch, blockchain has outpaced other emerging technologies regarding both hype and investment-influx. The enterprises and government bodies, in particular, have shown interests in adopting the technology mainly to make use of its core attributes, which are transparency, security, and real-time information.

PwC, one of the Big Four auditors, has also recognized blockchain for detecting errors and frauds in tax filing more efficiently than traditional systems, stating:

“Blockchain makes fraud and errors far easier to detect because the system provides clear and transparent information about transactions and items in the network. This could be particularly useful in tracking if and where VAT has been paid, and in doing so reduce VAT fraud.”

Thailand’s blockchain pilot marks a step towards achieving a full-fledged solution to minimize tax evasion, indicated Nitithanprapas. The chief revealed that their anti-tax fraud solution would combine the digital ledger’s prowess with that of machine learning and artificial intelligence “to learn and study tax-cheating practices to efficiently examine tax payments and compel more people to enter the formal tax system.”

Before Thailand, tax authority in China had also initiated a similar blockchain trial in May to detect tax evasion in the country. They partnered with internet giant Tencent to create digital invoices on the blockchain, which could be verified by participating nodes in the real-time.

This post is credited to ccn

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.

https://twitter.com/CryptoCoinsNews/status/933259165257961473

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.”

This post is credited to ccn