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MoneyGram shares jump on partnership with bitcoin rival Ripple

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, January 12th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: A MoneyGram kiosk is seen in New York, U.S. January 3, 2018. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo

(Reuters) – Shares of MoneyGram International Inc (MGI.O) jumped 10.5 percent on Thursday, after the money-transfer company said it partnered with blockchain firm and bitcoin-rival Ripple.

As part of the arrangement, MoneyGram will test the use of Ripple’s cryptocurrency, XRP, to move funds in a faster and cheaper way.

Ripple, created by the founder of bitcoin exchange Mt Gox, has risen 31,000 percent over the past year, overshadowing bitcoin’s 1,200 percent increase.

XRP rose 13 percent to $13.38 on Thursday, according to coinmarketcap.com.

Many see it as a close contender to bitcoin, which is by far the biggest cryptocurrency with a market value of more than $250 billion. (reut.rs/2D0S11W)

XRP allows banks and payment companies to send money quickly, no matter the location. Its transaction fee, at just “fractions of a penny”, is also comparable to bitcoin’s $30 per transaction fee.

Several companies such as UBS (UBSG.S) and Santander (SAN.MC) already use Ripple’s products to enable payments. In November 2017, American Express Co (AXP.N) also launched an instant blockchain-based payment system using Ripple.

China’s Ant Financial’s deal to buy MoneyGram for $1.2 billion collapsed last week. (reut.rs/2D1nYqT)

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Singapore explores rules to protect investors in cryptocurrencies

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, March 2nd, 2018

Representations of the Ripple, Bitcoin, Etherum and Litecoin virtual currencies are seen on a PC motherboard in this illustration picture, February 13, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

SINGAPORE (Reuters) – Singapore’s central bank is assessing whether additional regulations are required to protect investors in cryptocurrencies, an official said in a speech released on Thursday.

The city-state – which is aiming to be a hub for financial technology and so-called initial coin offerings in Asia – does not regulate virtual currencies and last year called for the public to exercise“extreme caution” over investment in cryptocurrencies.

Its central bank does regulate activities involving virtual currencies if they pose specific risks. For example, it imposes anti-money laundering requirements on intermediaries providing virtual currency services.

“We are assessing if additional regulations are required for investor protection,” Ong Chong Tee, deputy managing director (Financial Supervision), Monetary Authority of Singapore said.

Other countries such as South Korea, where trading in cryptocurrencies is more popular, are looking at ways to regulate that activity.

Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan and John Geddie; Editing by Kim Coghill

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Uniform global curbs on cryptocurrency trading may be hard: BOJ official

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Friday, January 26th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: Photo illustration of Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange website taken September 27, 2017. Picture taken September 27, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

TOKYO (Reuters) – Policymakers around the world may debate ways to deal with the volatility of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies but imposing global, across-the-board regulations on their trading won’t be easy, a senior Bank of Japan official said on Thursday.

South Korea and China have tightened regulations but Japan wants to ensure any rules that it adopts won’t hinder innovation, said Hiromi Yamaoka, head of the Japanese central bank’s division on payment and settlement systems.

“There’s undoubtedly growing interest among global policymakers on how to deal with cryptocurrencies,” Yamaoka, whose division also oversees cryptocurrencies, told Reuters.

“Japan’s approach would be to think about how to curb excesses without discouraging innovation,” he said.

Bitcoin BTC=BTSP soared more than 1,700 percent last year to a record high as investors snapped up the virtual currency on expectations of further steep gains.

Alarmed by the global boom, national authorities across the globe, particularly in Asia, have attempted to put the brakes on trading of cryptocurrencies. Fears of a wider clampdown pushed bitcoin down nearly 20 percent last week.

Yamaoka said while there were some “speculative moves” in the cryptocurrency market, it was hard to say whether bitcoin was experiencing a bubble because cryptocurrencies have no underlying assets to measure their real value.

It will also be hard to define which cryptocurrency needs to be regulated and for countries to agree on a uniform set of rules, given it isn’t easy to come up with common regulations even for traditional banking services, he said.

“It’s uncertain whether global cooperation would mean global regulation…It may mean sharing a common view on the risks involved in cryptocurrency trading and seeking to send out a common message,” he said. “Global harmonization may not necessarily mean global regulation.”

NO MAJOR PROBLEMS SO FAR
France has urged for debate on bitcoin at a meeting of G20 major economies in Argentina in March. Germany has also said any attempt to regulate cryptocurrencies must be on a global scale.

Yamaoka said while cryptocurrency prices have been volatile, they have yet to disrupt Japan’s banking system as cryptocurrencies are hardly used for payments and settlements.

As long as they are not used much for payments and settlements, they won’t affect monetary policy much, he said.

But policymakers need to check how much exposure banks have, how much funds are investing in them globally, and how much leverage investors are taking, Yamaoka added.

“So far, I don’t think there are any big problems. But we need to look carefully,” he said.

“If the exposures turn out to be huge, we may need to follow up and work to maintain financial stability together with the Financial Services Agency.”

Japan’s global share of the bitcoin market jumped after a clampdown last year by Beijing. The government in April granted cryptocurrencies legal status as a means of settlement and recognized several digital currency exchanges.

Additional reporting by Yoshifumi Takemoto; Editing by Jacqueline Wong

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Russia ready to regulate, not ban cryptocurrencies

by UNTV News   |   Posted on Thursday, January 25th, 2018

FILE PHOTO: A coin representing the bitcoin cryptocurrency is seen on computer circuit boards in this illustration picture, October 26, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s Finance Ministry said on Thursday it was working on legislation to regulate cryptocurrency transactions without fully banning them or legalising digital FX as a means of payment in Russia.

Russia had initially said it would ban crypto-currencies as they could be used to launder money and finance terrorism. But as such currencies and particularly Bitcoin grew popular worldwide, Russian authorities have changed tack.

The ministry said it had prepared a bill that would permit trade in cryptocurrencies through digital exchanges which met certain conditions and would also cover initial coin offerings (ICOs).

Doing this, the ministry said, would reduce the risk of fraud and make it possible to tax cryptocurrency transactions to support the state budget.

The ministry highlighted that digital currencies and tokens would not be allowed to replace the Russian rouble.

“It should be noted, that the use of cryptocurrencies in the territory of the Russian Federation as a means of payment is not being suggested,” the ministry said in a statement.

Authorities around the world, particularly in Asia, have attempted to rein in the global boom in trading bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies – a form of digital money created and maintained by its users.

Chinese authorities have banned initial coin offerings and shut down local trading platforms, while South Korea – where speculation on cryptocurrencies is also rife – is working on plans to ban virtual coin exchanges.

The Russian ministry stopped short, however, of proposing a full ban.

“Trades with cryptocurrencies have become so widespread, a legal ban on such activity would lead to the creation of conditions for the use of cryptocurrencies as an instrument to service illegal businesses, launder criminal incomes, and finance terrorism,” the Russian ministry said.

Reporting by Andrey Ostroukh and Jack Stubbs; Editing by Toby Chopra

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