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Morning News: Venezuela’s Petro Confusion, Japanese FM Speaks out

  • Venezuelans Struggling to Buy Petro, Second ICO to Be Launched
  • Japanese Minister Calls for More Exchange Inspections
  • “Zero-fee” US App Begins Crypto Trading
  • Language Academy Chain Will Allow Pay in Crypto

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.

Venezuelans Struggling to Buy State-issued Crypto, Second Currency to Be Issued
Confusion continues to reign in Venezuela as the government pushes ahead with an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) for the Petro, its state-issued cryptocurrency. The government had hoped to raise considerable funds with the new oil-backed currency – but the scheme appears to have hit a roadblock. Bloomberg reports that Petro purchases can only be made in US dollars, euros, bitcoin or ethereum, with no support provided for the country’s own currency, the bolívar. However, buying foreign currencies is illegal in the country, which means Venezuelans themselves may be frozen out of the sale. The ICO ends on March 19. The country’s president Nicolás Maduro has also announced that public services such as gas stations, tourist services and hotels should begin accepting cryptocurrencies. Maduro also said he wishes to launch a second cryptocurrency in the week ahead – this one backed by the country’s gold reserves – named the Petro Gold.

Japanese Finance Minister Calls for More Exchange Inspections
Japan’s finance minister Taro Aso has warned Japan’s cryptocurrency exchanges that they may face further regulations and more inspections from bodies such as the Financial Services Agency (FSA). Aso told reporters after a cabinet meeting, “We need to protect users by building an internal management system. We need to bolster security through on-site inspections." Under Japanese law, the FSA is allowed to request on-the-spot reports or conduct full-scale inspection raids on the country’s exchanges. Aso was responding after it was revealed earlier in the week that a Tech Bureau exchange had mistakenly allowed zero yen to crypto transactions to seven customers.

“Zero-fee” US App Begins Crypto Trading
“Zero-fee” American stock trading app Robinhood has officially begunoffering bitcoin and ethereum purchases to customers in California, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana and New Hampshire. The company says it has plans to expand coverage to more US states in the near future, and says that customers not based in these five states can now “monitor” markets in 16 cryptocurrencies.

Language Academy Chain Will Allow Pay in Crypto
A large chain of South Korean private language schools has signed an agreement with a blockchain startup. The move will allow students to pay for their tuition in cryptocurrencies. Jungchul Language, which has some 300 branches across the country, struck a deal with Sigana, a Daegu-based tech company. Sigana says it will allow Jungchul students to access its own exchange platform, which, the company claims, does not suffer from the sort of “hacking and server-related difficulties that frequently occur in commercial South Korean exchanges.”

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