South Korea position on ICOs out by November

The South Korean government will have an official position on initial coin offerings (ICOs) by the next month, even as the country’s top regulator maintains its desire to uphold the existing ban.

Local outlet The Investor reported that Office for Government Policy Coordination Chief Hong Nam-ki said at a parliamentary audit that the government was just waiting for results of a survey of local blockchain companies conducted in September by the Financial Supervisory Service.

“We have had several discussions [on ICOs]… Once the survey results are in by end-October, we plan to finalize the government’s stance,” Hong said, adding that the survey was done “as some companies are conducting or preparing for ICOs despite the ban here.”

ICOs have been prohibited in South Korea since September 2017, even as cryptocurrency exchanges have been allowed to operate. The country’s National Assembly has recommended the lifting of the ban, with an eye on coming up with a regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies in general. As things stand, South Koreans have simply availed of ICOs abroad, in lieu of local offerings.

Meanwhile, the Financial Services Commission remains dismissive of moves to once again allow ICOs, according to a report by news agency Yonhap News. FSC Chairman Choi Jong-ku said that “Although many people call for the government to allow initial coin offerings, there are still uncertainties related to such a move as well as the possibility of serious fallouts.”

Choi also said that the government wants to promote the blockchain industry, but that cryptocurrency exchanges are to continue to be strictly regulated.

Several South Korean exchanges have been the target of hackers, who have managed to take $30 million worth of cryptocurrencies from Bithumb, and about $40 million from Coinrail, just last June.

In spite of regulatory uncertainty and recent vulnerability of exchanges, the cryptocurrency trade has managed to thrive in the country. Last week, news came out that Singaporean blockchain consortium BK Global will be purchasing a majority stake in Bithumb for KRW400 billion ($354 million).

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Bithumb launches crypto indices as new partner gets onboard

Bithumb, South Korea’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trade volume, is on a roll lately.

This week, the exchange opened Bithumb Crypto Index (BTCI), which contains two separate indices—Bithumb Market Index (BTMI) and Bithumb Altcoin Market Index (BTAI), news.bitcoin.com first reported.

Bithumb began calculating BTCI last July 1. BTMI tracks all coins listed on the crypto platform with a goal of providing “an overall view of the price changes in the cryptocurrency market,” while BTAI tracks “all non-bitcoin cryptocurrencies” on the platform to give “a view of the price changes in the cryptocurrency excluding bitcoin.” The index is calculated in real time and is updated every 10 seconds, according to Bithumb.

Like Bithumb, Upbit—the largest crypto exchange in South Korea in terms of the number of cryptocurrency listed—also launched two indices: Upbit Market Index (UBMI) and Upbit Altcoin Index (UBAI). From the two indices, Upbit has over 20 sub-indices grouped into either market, theme or strategy.

Upbit was quoted by Business Korea saying, “The index is designed to help investors grasp the movements of the cryptocurrency market at a quick glance.”

Singapore consortium bets big on Bithumb

In addition to launching an index, Bithumb also found itself a new investor.

On Friday, Yonhap reported that the BTC Holdings Company, which has held 75.99% stake in Bithumb, has signed a deal to sell 50% plus 1 share for KRW400 billion ($354 million) to Singaporean blockchain consortium BK Global. This effectively makes BK Global the majority owner of the South Korean crypto exchange.

Once the deal is complete, Bithumb will be valued at more than KRW1 trillion, or around $880 million.

BK Global is described as a Singapore-based medical group that operates plastic surgery and aesthetic clinics in South Korea and Singapore. Its chairperson, Kim Byung-gun, is a “plastic surgeon and blockchain platform investor,” according to Reuters.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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South Korea’s Cashierest hit with lawsuit over price pumping schemes

A cryptocurrency exchange in South Korea has been sued over its alleged price-pumping schemes that involves token issuance. According to ZDnet Korea, Aone, a South Korean law firm, filed a complaint against Cashierest operator Newlink Co. Ltd., claiming that the exchange’s token violated the capital markets laws in the country.

The lawsuit, filed last Oct. 5, alleged that Cashierest engaged in “criminal pumping, the so-called ‘cage pumping,’ which induces price increases while restricting the withdrawa” of its dividend coin called CAP,” according to the news outlet. Aside from paying dividends, CAP also offers rebates on transaction fees.

Aone claimed the crypto exchange was involved in two illegal acts: the first was “violation of the securities issuance procedure,” under Article 119 of South Korea’s Capital Markets Act. The second was violation Article 178, which prohibits unfair trading.

The token in question was first issued in August. CAP has three features—dividents, referral mining, and trade mining. Its whitepaper claimed that CAP investors “can receive 100% of profits of Cashierest’s exchange charges,” while charges issued with each currency (KRW, BTC, ETH, and TUSD) will be 100% refunded in applicable currency.

On its website, Cashierest explained that CAP “pays the first dividend in KRW,” and that 100% of Cashierest transaction fee revenue” will be paid “in proportion to the customer’s CAP reserves by two snapshots a month.”

Aone claimed these, along with the other features listed on the Cashierest website, violate South Korean laws.

It seems Cashierest is not the only exchange involved in these illegal activities. According to Money Today, the law firm also plans to extend the lawsuit to include other exchanges such as Coinzest, Bithumb, and Coinbit.

Early this year, Cashierest made headlines after it was revealed that its users were allowed to withdraw up to five times their coin holdings due to a system glitch.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Mayor reveals $108M plan for blockchain smart city in Seoul

Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon is planning to invest KRW123.3 billion ($108 million) to turn the South Korean capital into a blockchain-powered smart city, CoinDesk reported.

During his visit to Zurich, Park revealed his five-year Blockchain Urban Plan, which will cover 14 public services in five major areas—election voting, labour welfare, vehicle history management, donation management, and certification issuance.

According to the official, the technology can be utilized to protect part-time workers who are not covered by employment insurance. Park revealed his blockchain smart city plans several months after winning his re-election bid in June. It would be recalled that during the election campaign, Park made a commitment to support blockchain startups via the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park and Mapo Seoul Startup Hub. He also promised to increase support for blockchain development in Seoul by developing the city’s Mapo district as a centre for blockchain incubation.

Park pointed the complexities the blockchain would solve for the metropolitan city, saying, “There are about 1.15 million people in Seoul who receive various welfare funds, like basic pensions, welfare support for those with disabilities and more. The paperwork can be complicated because one needs to submit information about one’s background and identification to various governmental agencies to receive welfare support.”

However, Park is confident that blockchain technology would pave the way for individuals to share their data securely and with less paperwork.

Seoul’s blockchain blueprint is also in line with the plans of the South Korean government. Earlier in June, the South Korean Ministry of ICT had announced that it would invest $9 million following years to lead blockchain adoption in six major public services. Park also revealed that his administration will spend an additional KRW60 billion ($53 million) by 2021 in building two complexes that will house 200 blockchain startups at the Gaepo Digital Innovation Park and Mapo Seoul Startup Hub.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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South Korea’s Bithumb to launch decentralized exchange

Bithumb, South Korea’s second biggest cryptocurrency exchange, has announced plans to bring forward a new decentralised exchange in the coming months, in the wake of a similar move from rival Binance.

Bithumb DEX will target global cryptocurrency markets, and is being developed in partnership with One Root Network, which has already pioneered its own DEX which launched earlier this year, Business Korea reported.

According to sources close to the firm, the move is designed to compete with other cryptocurrency exchanges in targeting a global audience for the cryptocurrency brand.

The report noted, “Bithumb is one of the leading global exchanges in terms of transactions but it is true that most of its users are Korean. The latest decision seems to be the company’s strategy to compete with other leading exchanges in the global market by opening a decentralized exchange that receives attention in the global market.”

Cryptocurrency exchanges like Bithumb are traditionally been centralised, earning fees for the platform operator with each transaction. However, in the case of decentralised exchanges, the central party is removed from the transaction, with fees instead delivered by smart contract.

Discussing the scope for decentralised exchanges to become more prominent in future, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said that decentralised exchange technology would eventually overtake centralised exchanges.

“I believe that decentralized exchange is the future. I don’t know when that future will come yet. I think we’re at an early stage for that so I don’t know if it’s a year, two years, three years, or five years. I don’t know but we got to be ready for it,” Zhao told CNBC’s Crypto Trader.

Hester Peirce, a commissioner at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, said that investing through crypto exchange platforms required specialists knowledge many investors lack.

“This complexity means that only a very particular type of investor can pursue the diversification opportunities such assets can provide. Entrepreneurs are developing new products through which people can access cryptocurrencies indirectly or hedge their cryptocurrency holdings. Bitcoin futures, for example, began to trade recently,” Perice said.

Decentralised exchanges only exacerbate this issue, and as such, it is expected to appeal to Bithumb’s savvier customers. On the plus side, the decentralised exchange will improve security, by removing the centralised point of weakness—especially important in light of recent hacks of the Bithumb platform.

Although no specific timeline has been published, the new platform is expected to launch over the next few months.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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South Korea says crypto exchanges aren’t venture firms, increases taxes

This past August, the Ministry for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and Startups in South Korea delivered a proposal to the government. The proposal included a change to existing laws for the blockchain industry, as well as cryptocurrency exchanges, that would see entities in the spaces be permanently added to the government’s official list of certified venture firms.

Unfortunately for the industry, that proposal has now been shot down. Not only does it mean that the SMEs and startups won’t have access to financial incentives offered to other businesses, but it also means that blockchain-businesses could be on the hook for more taxes.

As it stands now, the majority of the exchanges in the country, including Upbit and Bithumb, are classified as venture firms. Toward the end of next year, however, this classification is set to expire, which can seriously hamper future growth of the industry in South Korea.

When the classification expires, crypto exchanges could see their income and corporate taxes increase by 100%. They would also no longer qualify for a 75% reduction in acquisition taxes and will not have access to any financial privileges, including credit guarantees.

“Under the new government policy, cryptocurrency exchanges that will be newly set up this month or later cannot be certified as venture firms,” asserts the government.

According to an earlier statement by blockchain and crypto lobby groups —including the Korea Blockchain Association, the Korea Blockchain Startup Association and the Korea Industry Promotion Association—“The measure will discourage the industry as a whole.”

Without the tax benefits, there will be little incentive for new players to enter the industry. Startups, and even established businesses, could ultimately pursue moving their operations abroad where the tax liabilities are not so heavy.

Upbit could already be looking to relocate. It opened an office in Singapore earlier this year and is expected to launch operations there in October. In the wake of the government’s denial of the proposal, it’s conceivable that the exchange will pack up and vacate the South Korean market completely. The exchange’s CEO, Sigroo Lee, said about the expansion a month ago, “We felt the timing was right to expand globally despite various uncertainties surrounding the Korean market.”

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Block Seoul 2018: More blockchain-centered discussions, less crypto talks

The inaugural Block Seoul 2018 kicked off in South Korea last September 16, delivering discussions mostly centering on Korea’s crypto industry as well as blockchain technology and its footprints in certain industries, couple with a few dialogues about cryptocurrencies.

The event attracted attendees from blockchain-focused companies, investors and a lot of peers from media coming from all over the world. Sponsored by blockchain-optimized dating app Luna, the event was poised as a summit to connect investors and innovators into creating impactful projects within the blockchain space and discuss how the technology can disrupt and accelerate traditional industries.

The four-day summit opened with a party welcoming delegates with beats and music by DJ Dguru, one of South Korea’s most influential DJs. This night also served as an avenue for networking and establish businesses among attendees. All of these—networking and parties—continued all throughout the days of the summit.

The opening night was followed by a three-day conference at the picturesque Some Sevit Island Complex where keynote speeches and panel discussions from influencers were heard and seen.

The conference days may have been slower than expected compared to other Seoul-based blockchain events, gathering only less than a hundred people on the floor but it did capture some insightful thoughts, anecdotes, learning and tips from the thought leaders themselves.

Leading the array of speakers were Wikipedia co-founder James Wales, former New York Governor David Paterson, former United States Director of Intelligence James Clapper, and BTCC co-founder Bobby Lee.

The event’s highlight was the high-caliber panel discussion of representatives from the government and technology enterprises moderated by Lee. In spite of the session topic focusing on the future of cybersecurity, Lee was able to stir the discussion not just around blockchain alone but also cryptocurrencies.

The one key takeaway among all the sessions and presentations at the Block Seoul 2018 is that segments of the public—from government to media, tech and blockchain communities—have a vital role in understanding the emerging technologies in a pace where all will be able to keep up with the enduring changes, and actually do something to support and improve them.

For tech and blockchain communities, understanding what the technology means for the people in their daily lives; for the media, delving deeper into these new tools and not only its surface to be able to construct the right messages the general public has to know; and for the government, enabling support on these new inventions, and efficiently creating regulations which will ensure protection and safety of public while taking into account the potentials for growth and benefits of these technologies to the nation and its people.

Watch the Block Seoul 2018 panels here: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Coinnest execs face bribery charges over unfair crypto listing

Two executives of South Korean crypto exchange Coinnest have reportedly been indicted over bribery charges.

According to news outlet Korea IT Times, Coinnest CEO Kim Ik-hwan and COO Cho have received a total of KRW1 billion ($890,000) worth of BTC and S Coin from the CEO of the alt coin, a man also named Kim, in exchange for S Coin’s “unfair” listing on the exchange. By unfair, authorities said Coinnest listed the alt coin without examining its technology to hasten the process.

The Financial Investigation Department of the Seoul Southern District Public Prosecutor’s Office said that the two Coinnest executives have been charged with ‘accepting and receiving a bribe,’ while the S Coin CEO has been hit with charges of “giving bribery… to help with the virtual currency listing process.”

Investigators said the duo from Coinnest initially received 110 BTC worth KRW860 million ($771,270) last Feb. 5 and 6. The two also received 2 million S Coins worth KRW70 million ($62,778) each on Feb. 12 and 14.

According to Yonhap, “The prosecution believes that the executives provided the issuer of S coin with the ‘unfair’ convenience of listing the coin.”

This wasn’t the first time the two Coinnest executives were accused of controversial dealings. In April, Kim was arrested in Seoul over allegations of embezzling customer funds. The executives were also suspected of selling none existent coins, and Coinnest’s Kim has been accused of siphoning funds from customer trading accounts and funneling them into his own account.

Around the same time, Coinnest announced that it would opt out of self-regulation under the guidance of the Korean Blockchain Industry Association under which all major crypto exchanges in South Korea are jointly guided. Of the 23 exchange members, 12 announced that they had completed self-inspection under the auspices of the Blockchain Industry Association, and Coinnest was conspicuously missing from the list.

The Korea Internet and Security Agency (KISA) and the Korean Ministry of Science and Technology however announced in August that Coinnest was one of the crypto exchanges that successfully implemented short term security measures.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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Squire announces Samsung electronics as foundry partner to manufacture ASIC chips

VANCOUVER, British Columbia, Sept. 25, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Squire Mining Ltd. (CSE: SQR; OTCQB: SQRMF) — Squire is very pleased to announce Gaonchips as our design house and Samsung Electronics as our chosen foundry partner to manufacture our ASIC chips in Korea.

On August 1, 2018, we announced that Squire had engaged an undisclosed arm’s length design fabrication firm to perform the back-end design, testing and initial mass production run of our next generation ASIC chip for mining Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin, and other associated cryptocurrencies. We are delighted that we are now able to disclose Gaonchips as our design house and Samsung Electronics as our foundry partner.

Our front-end development team of engineers and programmers is currently working with Gaonchips to develop the Company’s initial ASIC chip to mine Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin, and other associated cryptocurrencies using a wafer process technology that, once confirmed and accepted as meeting certain prescribed specifications and criteria, will form the basis of an initial mass production test run of the ASIC chip by Samsung Electronics.

In addition, once a working FPGA prototype of our initial ASIC chip is developed, we will be able to aggressively accelerate the design and development of our initial mining rig for Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin, and associated cryptocurrencies.

We anticipate completing a FPGA prototype of our initial ASIC chip by September 30, 2018.

The Canadian Securities Exchange accepts no responsibility for the adequacy or accuracy of this news release.

For further information contact:

Simon Moore, President and Chief Executive Officer

Telephone: (604) 929 – 090

CAUTIONARY STATEMENT REGARDING FORWARD-LOOKING INFORMATION: This news release includes “forward-looking information” under applicable Canadian securities legislation. Forward-looking information includes, but is not limited to, statements regarding the future development, manufacture, distribution and sale of the Company’s next generation ASIC chips and mining systems for Bitcoin and the timing thereof. Forward-looking information is necessarily based upon a number of estimates and assumptions that, while considered reasonable, are subject to known and unknown risks, uncertainties, and other factors which may cause the actual results and future events to differ materially from those expressed or implied by such forward-looking information. Such factors include, but are not limited to: general business, economic, competitive, political and social uncertainties, uncertain and volatile equity and capital markets, lack of available capital, risks related to chip and rig design, development and manufacturing (including design flaws, manufacturing delays, inability to source components on a timely basis or at all, etc), technological change, obsolescence and the marketability of any chips or rigs developed by the Company. See also the Company’s Form 2A Listing Statement dated July 31, 2018 (the “Listing Statement”) filed with the CSE and SEDAR for a more detailed discussion of risk factors facing the Company and its development and manufacture of ASIC chips and mining rigs. There are no assurances that the Company will successfully design and develop a commercially viable ASIC chip or mining rig as contemplated. Actual results and future events could differ materially from those anticipated in such forward looking information. Accordingly, readers should not place undue reliance on forward-looking information. All forward looking information in this news release is made as of the date hereof and qualified by these cautionary statements and those in our continuous disclosure filings available on SEDAR at www.sedar.com including the Listing Statement. The Company disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise such forward-looking information, whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, except as required by law.

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South Korea’s Upbit to open Singapore crypto exchange in October

Kakao affiliate Dunamu, which operates South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Upbit, is gearing up to open a Singapore-based exchange in October, Yonhap News reported.

According to the South Korean news outlet, Dunamu opened a branch in Singapore in February, and now plans to launch a new crypto exchange in the country as part of its bid to tap into the Asian market.

Upbit Singapore head Kim Kook-hyun was quoted by Yonhap saying, “As Singapore has proactively supported blockchain technology, our advancement into the nation will help us secure many chances to lead a variety of relevant projects and to have global competitiveness.”

In a statement, Kim said the new exchange will support crypto-to-crypto pairs as well as integrate the services of its partner exchange, Bittrex, to its system. For enhanced security, Upbit will have 24/7 real-time security monitoring and a firewall system.

Dunamu CEO Sigroo Lee said Singapore’s strong support for blockchain was one of the reasons they chose the Asian country as its first overseas destination.

“We don’t want to lose out on the opportunities now…If we wait until the Korean crypto exchange environment improves, we could lag behind our global competitors,” Lee said in a statement. Dunamu is also looking at expanding to other countries in Southeast Asia, as well as adding more crypto-to-fiat trading pairs to its system. Upbit, however, has no plans to create its own token, according to Lee.

Upbit is not the only firm interested in tapping into Singapore’s crypto friendly ecosystem. Japanese instant messenger, Line, chose Singapore as the home of BitBox, its crypto trading that launched in July. Binance is also running a beta test of Binance Singapore its recently launched exchange. Binance will also be pairing its native token with the Singaporean dollar.

As part of its launch, Upbit Singapore is offering free trading on the SGD market for 30 days from the launch date. To qualify, users will have to complete the sign-up process, including Know-Your-Customer (KYC) process Verification level 2, by Oct. 5.

Note: Tokens on the Bitcoin Core (segwit) Chain are Referred to as BTC coins. Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is today the only Bitcoin implementation that follows Satoshi Nakamoto’s original whitepaper for Peer to Peer Electronic Cash. Bitcoin BCH is the only major public blockchain that maintains the original vision for Bitcoin as fast, frictionless, electronic cash.

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