Morning News: Crypto Dogs v. CryptoKitties, Exchanges Warned in the US
– Prices “Soaring” in Baidu’s Blockchain Dog Game – US Regulator Hits BitFunder with Fraud Wrap – Ripple Adds More Banks to its Network – 669 Suspected Money Laundering Cases in Japan
Catch up on the most essential cryptocurrency and blockchain news stories breaking in Asia and the Americas while the rest of the world was asleep.
Report: Prices “Soaring” in Baidu’s Blockchain Dog Game
A blockchain technology-powered dog game is the talk of the town in China, reports Chinese media outlet Yicai – even though developers say it is still in the beta testing phase. Baidu’s Laici Gao, a dog-themed trading game, is threatening to rival the popularity of Ethereum-powered CryptoKitties. The Baidu game features a key difference from CryptoKitties, however – its in-game currency is Baidu points, which can only be redeemed against other Baidu services. Yicai quotes a Baidu official as saying, “Laici Gao has been developed by our financial blockchain laboratory, and is still in the testing phase.” The company says it has been promoting Laici Gao during the Spring Festival, China’s biggest public holiday – with the country welcoming in the Year of the Dog. Baidu says it is also set to introduce a breeding function to the game in the near future. One user is quoted as saying, “Dog prices are now very high. People who bought early now have pooches worth far more than what they originally paid.”
US Regulator Hits BitFunder with Fraud Wrap; Other Exchanges Warned
American regulatory body the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and New York prosecutors have charged now-defunct cryptocurrency exchange BitFunder and its founder with fraud, perjury and obstruction of justice. The SEC accused founder Jon E. Montroll of operating an “unregistered securities exchange.” Both the SEC and Manhattan Attorney Geoffrey Berman also said Montroll had “lied to regulators,” hiding the fact that hackers had raided over 6,000 BTC from users’ accounts. The regulator also issued a word of warning for exchanges that fail to play by the rulebook. An official stated, per CNBC, “We will continue to vigorously police conduct involving distributed ledger technology and ensure that bad actors who commit fraud in this space are held accountable.”
Ripple Adds Brazilian and Indian Banks to its RippleNet Blockchain Network
RippleNet, Ripple’s blockchain-based cross-border payment platform, has announced it has signed deals with five new partners in Asia and the Americas. The new partners include Latin America’s biggest bank, Brazil’s Itaú Unibanco, as well as Mumbai-based e-banking expert IndusInd Bank. RippleNet has also struck deals with three fintech companies: Brazilian BeeTech, Singaporean InstaReM and Canadian Zip Remit. InstaReM said that the move would let InstaReM “facilitate quick and secure payouts for RippleNet members in Southeast Asia.” Bloomberg quoted a Ripple official as saying, “Emerging markets are where the opportunity is most acute, because there are high volumes of low-value transactions.”
Japanese Crypto Exchanges Report 669 Suspected Money Laundering Cases
Japan’s National Police Agency (NPA) says the country’s cryptocurrency exchanges reported 669 instances of suspected money laundering last year in the period April to December. According to a law passed in spring 2017, Japanese exchanges must report suspicious transactions to the country’s financial regulator, the Financial Services Agency. Earlier this month, the NPA said that it had arrested four Vietnamese nationals for cryptocurrency fraud. The group was charged with illegally reselling wallet passwords and IDs obtained in Tokyo. The NPA said the group sent some of its cryptocurrency gains to a destination in China.