Cryptocurrency markets and news round-up 11 October
The cryptocurrency markets have had a little accident.
The markets have taken a turn for the red, and that tightening wedge of previous weeks seems to have snapped and given way to a fall.
It's mostly red across the board with drops of about 10% being today's norm in the altcoin markets, but with bitcoin remaining relatively insulated at about 3.8% down over the last 24 hours.
Stablecoins became hot property as the drop hit, with Tether, Dai and TrueUSD all briefly trading at a premium. It's interesting to note that TrueUSD is trading at a remarkable $1.03, suggesting that it might be one of the most reliable-feeling stablecoins to hold in a downturn.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission finally set a timeline this week to review nine bitcoin ETFs. The SEC has set a deadline of 5 November 2018 to review the ETF proposals. Following that announcement, the SEC has also asked for the public to come forward with comments in support or opposition of the proposals.
Many traders are pinning their hopes on a rise of approval of bitcoin ETFs, but in the meantime, bitcoin is down 3.8% in the last 24 hours, currently trading at $6,314.
The altcoin market is, as usual, leading the drops, with double-digit losses being the norm.
Ethereum is down 10.75% in the last 24 hours, currently trading at $202. XRP is down 13.5% in the last 24 hours, currently trading at $0.40. There's still a lot of movement, and it will probably have changed by the time you read this.
Exchanges, exchanges, exchanges
In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Roger Ver says that BTC- and BCH-services outfit Bitcoin.com is looking to set up (or even buy) its very own crypto exchange.
And in other exchange news, Singapore-based exchange EurekaPro has launched in Singapore (as a beta), allowing some of the first fiat-to-crypto trading in the region, and allowing users to purchase crypto using the Singapore dollar, Malaysian ringgit and Indonesia rupiah.
Seoul Mayor announces $100 million blockchain-powered city
In South Korea, the Mayor of Seoul has announced a five-year plan to turn the nation's capital into a blockchain-powered smart city. Park Won-soon revealed that over $100 million of funding would be allocated under his plan and it would cover 14 public services, ranging from electoral voting to labour welfare.
In addition to this, Won-soon also expressed his government's desire to spend another $50 million or so developing two buildings complexes, which would be large enough to house 200 blockchain startups by 2021.
This follows the announcement by the South Korean federal government in June this year to dedicate $9 million to support blockchain development in the country to help improve public services.
China plans blockchain standards
Moving over to neighbouring China now, where the government has announced plans for a blockchain standard to help standardise development in the country. According to CryptoCoinsNews, the China Electronics Standardisation Institute will be in charge of drafting three standards to help streamline development across smart contracts, security and deposits. Drafts are expected to be completed by the end of this year.
With a quick search of CoinMarketCap showing that there are now well over 900 blockchain platforms, each running unique versions of software, it's no wonder China wants to bring harmony to the industry somehow.
Venezuela forces adoption of the Petro
Last week we brought you the news that Venezuela was, at last, launching its oil-backed state cryptocurrency, the Petro. Well this week news has come in that the economically stressed nation has announced that passport fees must be paid with Petros, starting this week.
Passport fees will be increased to 7,200 Sovereign Bolivars for new passports and 3,600 Sovereign Bolivars for extensions. This is expected to equal 2 Petros and 1 Petro respectively.
Anywhere else in the world, this might look like a clever way to encourage adoption of new technology amongst the populace, however, in Venezuela, the move looks somewhat sinister. According to Bloomberg, the new fees are roughly four times the average minimum wage. Furthermore, Petros are not expected to go on sale via exchanges until early November. How anyone will pay for a passport with an unlisted cryptocurrency is anyone's guess.
Unfortunately, that may be exactly what the government wants. Bloomberg estimates that 5,000 people flee Venezuela each day, amid its ongoing economic crisis.
Pundi X helps Dubai to launch Emcash
Moving across to the Middle East now, where Dubai is set to release it's Emcash payments system. Emcash is a state-backed digital currency, which was developed by a subsidiary of the Dubai Department of Economic Development and several international blockchain firms.
Emcash is a stablecoin pegged to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) fiat currency, the dirham.
Cryptocurrency payment provider Pundi X will be rolling out 100,000 point-of-sale units across the country in the next three years, to enable consumers in Dubai to spend Emcash. Citizens of Dubai will also be able to use the digital currency to pay for utilities, government bills and schooling.
The United Arab Emirates to enable ICOs
And more news out of the UAE, where the national securities regulator has identified an opportunity for ICOs within the financial landscape. Noting weak equities markets, low oil prices and poor IPO performance, the national regulator has identified ICOs as a way of bringing further capital into the nation and diversifying the ways in which companies can fundraise.
The UAE is making sure to do things properly though, and while regulations are being developed, they are not expected to be finalised until Q1 2019. The CEO of the national securities watchdog, Obaid Saif al-Zaabi, said to Reuters that:
Interestingly, it appears that the UAE has already decided that tokens sold via ICOs will constitute securities, while several nations in the west are still debating the legal status of tokens sold in ICOs over recent years.
Al-Zaabi also noted that they are working with both the Abu Dhabi and Dubai stock markets to build an ICO trading platform. It is unclear whether this exchange would extend to other cryptocurrencies or just securities tokens launched within the UAE.
Australia wants to tokenise disability welfare
And at last, turning our attention to home now, where a collaboration between the CSRIO and Commonwealth Bank of Australia is aiming to make life easier for those on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS).
You might remember that the CSRIO is Australia's peak science body, which last week announced to the world that its Red Belly blockchain had reached speeds of up to 30,000 transactions per second.
In this new project, dubbed "Smart Money", the CSRIO and CommBank aim to code blockchain tokens with smart contracts that inform insurance providers of what payments a client is entitled to. According to a press release by the CSRIO, participants on the National Disability Insurance Scheme were chosen because these individuals often have highly specific payment conditions, which is a perfect test for the technology. The announcement explains that:
"In the NDIS, participants have individualised plans that can contain multiple budget categories – each with different spending rules. The prototype app supports participants to manage their plan by enabling them to find, book and pay for services from NDIS service providers without the need for paperwork or receipts."
Results of the trial will be released next month in addition to further details about the design and limitations as well as ideas for future applications of the system.