MUFG Bank Issues First Blockchain-powered Letter of Credit + More News

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Crypto Briefs is your daily, bite-sized digest of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related news – investigating the stories flying under the radar of today’s crypto news.

Source: iStock/winhorse

Blockchain news

  • Japanese financial behemoth Mitsubishi UFG (MUFG)’s banking arm has announced that it has issued its first blockchain-powered letter of credit. MUFG is using a blockchain platform created by Komgo, a company that has also partnered with companies such as ING, Citigroup and BNP Paribas. MUFG says its first blockchain-powered letter of credit was issued to a branch in London, while Nikkei states that the new system could reduce issuance time by up to 80%.
  • Elite South Korean university Korea University has struck a blockchain deal with domestic startup DoubleChain. The two parties will work together to create a new blockchain-powered medical data management platform, per the university’s news outlet. The university also operates one of Seoul’s largest hospitals. The parties say that the new solution will look to resolve a number of compliance-related issues pertaining to medical data management.
  • The Ethereum Foundation (EF) revealed that developers are working on a new implementation of the Vyper compiler (an alternative programming language for Ethereum), as there are multiple serious bugs in the current version. The blog post says that the codebase has a high level of technical debt which will make addressing these issues complex.
  • Spanish multinational telecommunications company Telefonica has partnered with the Association of Science and Technology Parks (APTE) for a three-month trial of blockchain technology. Through the partnership, around 8,000 country’s companies will have the chance to access their blockchain network and will be encouraged to develop their own applications for use on the blockchain network, as well as allowed to experiment with their own digital tokens.

Exchanges news

  • On Friday, Cobinhood said it is “shutting down and auditing all accounts’ balances from Jan 10 to Feb 9 in 2020” and “it will be re-opened on Feb 10, 2020.” “All Cobinhood users can then retrieve their funds accordingly,” the company said without elaborating any further.
  • Latin American cryptocurrency exchange and e-pay operator Daexs has announced that it will close. The exchange, the first-ever to be established in Colombia, also has a branch Panama, and took to Twitter to make the news public. The company described the closure as “indefinite,” and says it will begin to wind down operations next week, with webpages going offline from January 21.
  • Major crypto derivatives exchange Deribit is moving to Panama due to the regulatory pressure. Per the announcement, on February 10, 2020, the platform that users are using via or related interfaces will no longer be operated by the Dutch company Deribit B.V., but by DRB Panama Inc., a 100% subsidiary of the Dutch entity. The reason behind it is that the Netherlands will most likely adopt a strict implementation of new EU regulations (5AMLD), which would mean that Deribit has to demand an extensive amount of information from the current and future customers.

Crypto adoption news

  • The Venezuelan government claims that 40% of its citizens now have experience with cryptocurrencies following a series of giveaways of the state-issued Petro token, reports state media outlet Correo del Orinoco.

Libra news

  • Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg posted a list of ‘challenges’ or his vision for this decade, not mentioning Libra at all, at least not by name. He discusses in his post a new private social platform, a new computing platform, as well as new forms of governance and an opportunity for decentralization, saying that the company hopes to build the commerce and payments tools so that every small business has easy access to the same technology that previously only big companies have had.

Regulation news

  • The U.S. state of Illinois recognized smart contracts and other blockchain-based records as legal instruments. The Blockchain Technology Act, sponsored by Rep. Keith Wheeler, took effect on January 1. It states that blockchain-based contracts are now admissible as evidence in court and recognized as an alternative to paper-based records and statutorily exempt from local taxation, saying that a smart contract, record or signature may not be denied legal effect or enforceability only because a blockchain was used to create, store or verify it.
  • According to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, individuals who make high-value cryptocurrency donations must have those amounts verified by a qualified appraiser just like most other types of donated property. This stoked fears that the requirement could discourage charitable giving, per Bloomberg Law.

Career news

  • Voice, the decentralized media network being developed by EOS developer, has appointed Forbes’ global Chief Digital Officer, Salah Zalatimo, as Chief Executive Officer, effective January 20, 2020.
  • Payments and cryptocurrency platform announced that former Binance executive Mariana Gospodinova is the platform’s new General Manager in Europe. In Binance, Gospodinova headed the operations in Europe and looked after the launch of the crypto to fiat exchange and other local initiatives.
  • Marie Wieck, blockchain lead at IBM, who was influential in steering financial services companies’ early explorations of blockchain technology, has stepped down after 30 years with the global computing giant, Financial News reported.

Crime news

  • A popular South Korean cryptocurrency YouTuber has been seriously injured in an attack by armed assailants who aimed a gun at him. Per YTN, the man, whose name has been withheld from the media, was attacked in an elevator in the apartment block he lives in by two men who handcuffed him to a railing. The victim began streaming crypto-related content in 2017, and is said to be in his 30s.