The week in review: Bitcoin back in India ?
Who needs some excitement in their lives? We’ve scoured the internet high and wide for the most thrilling headlines the press has fired out into the universe this week. And they did not disappoint. It. Is. Happening. India and South Korea are charging full steam ahead, Facebook is switching up its cryptocurrency plans, and much more. Enjoy! Learn! Succeed!
Facebook ‘rethinks’ plans for Libra cryptocurrency
It was reported in The Information this week that Facebook’s Calibra wallet is pivoting plans for its Libra cryptocurrency project. Instead, the wallet would support a set of fiat-backed digital currencies for different regions, such as the dollar, pound, and euro.
The world’s largest social media company moved fast to deny the reports they were replacing Libra, with a spokesperson saying they remain fully committed to the project. Instead, they are considering proposals whereby the fiat-based digital currencies will be supported alongside Libra.
The move follows a challenging first year for the project. Having launched in June of last year with 27 members in its association, several major companies, including Mastercard, Visa, and Paypal, have since dropped out. The project has also faced criticism from a number of governments, with France claiming that the scheme threatened the “monetary sovereignty” of governments.
Dante Disparte, head of Policy and Communications at the Libra Association said: “The Libra Association has not altered its goal of building a regulatory compliant global payment network, and the basic design principles that support that goal have not been changed nor has the potential for this network to foster future innovation.”
It was also reported that Calibra’s launch date has been pushed back to later in the year, from summer to October. Will they stick to the launch date? How do you think the project will look by then?
India reverses ban on cryptocurrency trading
The Supreme Court of India has overturned the Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) controversial ban on Indian banks’ dealings with crypto-related firms, after justices ruled that the RBI’s action was “disproportionate”.
The central bank imposed the ban on cryptocurrency trading in April 2018, barring banks and other financial institutions from facilitating “any service in relation to virtual currencies” .
The challenge was brought before the Supreme Court by the Internet & Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) and hearings were held over two weeks in January. One of the central arguments in the case focused on the central bank’s contention that cryptocurrency is a digital means of payment and that the institution was “empowered by law” in its intervention.
Speaking to News18, Dr. Garrick Hileman, Head of Research for Blockchain.com, said, “Opening the doors wider for cryptocurrencies won’t only expand their daily use in India, but also bring in new talent and innovation that would otherwise choose a more crypto-friendly country. In the long-term that’s a clear benefit for the Indian economy and its competitiveness globally.”
Exciting times for India and a massive new market open for business! With the halving coming up, what impact will it have?
South Korea gives green light to crypto with new law
The National Assembly of South Korea’s legislation and judiciary committee has approved new legislation which provides a framework for the regulation and legalisation of cryptocurrencies and crypto exchanges.
The ‘Special Financial Information Law’ effectively tightens quality control in the crypto industry. It will require local exchanges to comply with Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) guidelines on anti-money laundering (AML) and terrorist financing prevention. Exchanges will have to register with local financial authorities to operate. They will also require approval from the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and the Korea Internet & Security Agency to operate in the country.
“If this passes in Korea, blockchain companies and cryptocurrency will officially be regulated but accepted in Korea. Bad news for scammy ICOs and exchanges. Good news for blockchain professionals in Korea,” tweeted Doo Wan Nam, who works with MakerDAO.
Square Crypto launches Bitcoin grants
Last week, we reported news that Twitter founder Jack Dorsey could be on his way out at the micro-blogging platform. There was better news this week, though, as his payment firm, Square, officially announced that it is supporting Bitcoin (BTC) development through a grant program.
In a recent announcement, the company said that the Square Grants program would be made publicly available. The criteria for proposals includes improvement of Bitcoin’s user experience, scaling, privacy, security or “something else we haven’t thought of,” according to Square. The developers must also be “in good standing” within the Bitcoin community.
Square kicked things off by issuing two new grants – to Bitcoin developers Jon Atack and Tankred Hase. It did not disclose the sum involved. Atack is a bitcoin core contributor and protocol researcher, according to his GitHub profile, while Hase is a Germany-based software engineer, according to his personal website.
EY, Microsoft, and ConsenSys launch enterprise platform on Ethereum mainnet
Ernst & Young (EY), Microsoft, and ConsenSys have unveiled a new open-source protocol designed to empower enterprises to adopt the public Ethereum blockchain in order to “enable confidential and complex collaboration between enterprises without leaving any sensitive data on-chain”.
The so-called Baseline Protocol will support tokenisation and facilitates “blockchain applications that link supply chain traceability with commerce and financial services”. It applies zero-knowledge proofs, and uses off-chain storage and distributed identity to ensure sensitive data is not shared with outside parties.
ConsenSys’ John Wolpert, who was also on the founding team of Hyperledger Fabric, explained: “This is not a platform. It’s not a product. It’s not a coin, a token. It is a way of using the main net (public Ethereum) that will be acceptable, we think, to very conservative corporate CSOs (chief security officers), CIO, CTOs, where they can finally say, yep, it’s okay to use the main net in this way.”