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Morning News: Giant's OK to Crypto, Blockchain stars, Mining Fire Sale

  • Giant to Start Accept Crypto Payments
  • Pension Service “Indirectly” Invests in Crypto
  • “Blockchain Stars of 2018” List
  • Robinhood to Start Bitcoin, Ethereum Trading
  • Former Chinese Miners “Flooding” North American Market with Used Hardware

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.

Japanese Electronics Giant to Start Accept Cryptocurrency Payments
Japanese consumer electronics retailer Yamada Denki has announced it will begin accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies beginning January 27. Yamada Denki will initially begin accepting cryptocurrency payments at two of its Tokyo branches (Shinjuku and Tokyo Station) for purchases of up to 300,000 yen (USD 2739). The company says that it hopes to begin accepting cryptocurrencies at other stores around Japan later in the year. The move follows hot on the heels of rival electronics retailer, BIC Camera, which also recently began accepting cryptocurrencies at Tokyo branches. Yamada Denki is one of Japan’s biggest companies, and last year placed at No. 1,574 on Forbes’ Global 2000 list.

South Korea’s National Pension Service “Indirectly” Invests in Crypto Exchanges, Sparks Outrage
South Korea’s National Pension Service (NPS) has invested around USD 2.5 million in Korean cryptocurrency-related companies, according to official data. The NPS says its investments were “indirect,” and made by independent financial services companies acting on behalf of its venture capital arm, the National Pension Fund. Among the cryptocurrency companies that received NPS funds were the likes of exchange platforms Korbit and BTC Korea. The news was met with fury by Korean internet users. It also came as a very unwelcome surprise for the government, which is currently mooting the potential shutdown of the country’s cryptocurrency exchanges.

Ethereum Founder and Indie Musician Feature on “Blockchain Stars of 2018” List
Media outlet International Business Times has named its “Eight Blockchain Stars to Watch for 2018.” Included on the list are ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, JP Morgan’s Blockchain guru Amber Baldet, Stellar co-founder Joyce Kim and Maxine Ryan of Bitspark. Harvard’s Primavera De Filippi, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and Maiden founder Rain Revere also made the list. IBT also included Shelita Burke, a singer-songwriter who has sought to convince fans to pay for her music using cryptocurrencies. Burke is currently working on a blockchain-powered publishing platform with sometime Snoop Dogg and Britney Spears producer Marcus Bell.

American Investment App Robinhood to Start Bitcoin, Ethereum Trading
Commission-free investing app Robinhood will begin offering cryptocurrency trading from February. Initially, the service will only be made available to the US residents in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana and New Hampshire. Bitcoin and ethereum will be the only two currencies available on the platform. However, Robinhood says that it is hoping to expand coverage nationwide in the United States, and will also look to allow trading in other cryptocurrencies soon.

Former Chinese Miners “Flooding” North American Market with Used Hardware
China’s recent crackdown on cryptocurrency mining is providing North American crypto miners with a chance to get their hands on hard-to-get servers and other hardware, easing a “demand bottleneck,” per Bloomberg. The media outlet quotes a Canadian mining company’s CEO as saying, “I’ve had different Chinese groups show up at my office saying, ‘Hey, we want to get 50,000 machines out of China.’ Guys who have invested millions and millions of dollars are looking to get their machines out of the country.”

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