Major Swiss Banking Firm Julius Baer Launches Services for Cryptocurrencies
Major Swiss private banking and wealth management group Julius Baer has launched a digital assets trading and custodial service via a partnership with regulated crypto-specialist Seba. Julius Baer announced its new digital assets offering on Jan. 21, the result of its 2018 minority equity stake acquisition and later partnership with crypto startup Seba Bank AG in February 2019. Seba, which was founded in April 2018 by former UBS bankers, was granted a securities dealer and banking license by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority, known as FINMA, in August 2019.
Iranian Authorities Have Issued 1,000 Licenses for Cryptocurrency Mining
Iran’s Ministry of Industries, Mining and Trade has issued over 1,000 cryptocurrency mining licenses to domestic operations. According to a report published on Jan. 24 by Iran’s Banking and Economic System Reference Media (IBENA), a member of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Guild Organization’s blockchain commission, Amir Hossein Saeedi Nai, informed the public of the number of licenses issued.
Week Two of RBI Vs. Crypto at the Supreme Court of India
The Supreme Court of India has this week listened to further hearings in the landmark case against the Reserve Bank of India’s ban on banks’ dealings with crypto-related businesses. On Jan. 22 and Jan. 23, proceedings continued with arguments presented by Ashim Sood, the legal counsel for the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). In the wake of both public and industry-led petitions, the IAMAI brought a consolidated case against RBI’s imposition of a blanket ban on banks’ services to crypto businesses back in April 2018, which came into effect in July of that year.
Hawaii Introduces Bill Authorizing Banks to Offer Crypto Custody
The Hawaii State Senate has passed the first reading of a bill authorizing banks to hold digital assets in their custody. The bill was introduced on Jan. 17 by five state senators, including the only Republican member of the Senate, Kurt Fevella. It passed the first reading on Jan. 21 and was then referred to the committees on Judiciary and Commerce, and Consumer Protection and Health on Jan. 23.
Blockchain-Based Shopify Plugin Ensures Consumers Receive Authentic Products
A San Francisco-based startup called “Real Items Foundation” is beta testing a Shopify plugin to ensure that authentic items are being sold to online shoppers. The plugin –- powered by a combination of blockchain technology and a cloud-based application called “TAM” –- enables brands to generate non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that are pegged to physical assets. Consumers who purchase a product containing an NFT can scan that item to verify its authenticity.
Hong Kong and Thailand Pilot DLT-Based Project for Cross-Border Payments
Hong Kong and Thailand’s central banks have stepped closer to implementing a joint central bank digital currency (CBDC) for cross-border payments. On Jan. 22, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Bank of Thailand (BOT) officially announced the outcomes of a joint CBDC research project called Project Inthanon-LionRock. Alongside publishing a joint press release, the banks have issued a detailed 90-page report providing an exhaustive analysis of the potential risks and benefits of CBDCs for real-time money transfers, liquidity management, regulatory compliance, and other aspects of finance.
Blockchain Used by Budweiser Owner InBev to Help African Farmers
AB InBev, the company behind the Budweiser brand, is helping local African farmers to prove their income using blockchain, Yahoo Finance reports on Jan. 21. A blockchain-based system developed in partnership with BanQu tracks all the local suppliers of AB InBev, replacing the paper trail. AB InBev is a multinational conglomerate born out of the merger of several established beer producers. It includes Budweiser, Stella Artois and Corona as some of its most recognizable brands.
Six Major Central Banks to Collaborate on Digital Currency Research
The central banks of Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, European Union, Sweden and Switzerland created a group with the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) to jointly research central bank digital currencies (CBDC). According to a press release published by the Bank of England on Jan. 21, the aforementioned institutions will share their experience with other group members as they study potential use cases for CBDCs in their respective jurisdictions.
Raiz to Offer Bitcoin Fund to Australian Retail Investors in 2020
Australian micro-investment startup Raiz is set to bring Bitcoin (BTC) fund options to its users, Australian Financial Review (AFR) reports on Jan. 20. The firm cleared the last legal hurdle with the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC), the country’s financial watchdog agency. Raiz is a fintech startup offering micro-investment services to its 300,000 registered accounts. Like the United States-based Acorns and other worldwide startups, it “rounds up” the spare change from the users’ purchases to invest it in a set of investment products, generally comprising exchange traded funds (ETFs).
Indian IT Minister Requests Blockchain Solutions to Improve Government Schools
The Indian Telecoms and IT Minister, Ravi Shankar Prasad, has tasked the National Informatics Centre (NIC) with developing a blockchain-based solution for improving the quality of government schools. According to a Jan. 20 report by the Press Trust of India, the minister made the request at the inauguration of a blockchain technology center of excellence, set up by NIC in Bengaluru, on Jan. 18.