Remitano Weekly: First crypto Visa debit card to Singapore, Malaysia explores Blockchain in big industries

Remitano gladly brings you some of the most highlighted news and insights this week.

One of the biggest and also most puzzling stories of the week has to do with Goldman Sachs. After months of speculation and hints, the company appeared to put to rest the idea of its launching a cryptocurrency trade desk in the foreseeable future earlier this week. However, a senior-level Goldman executive, Martin Chavez, later indicated that the report of the bank’s plans to shift away from a crypto desk were “fake news”.

1. Malaysia explores how Blockchain technology can be used in three biggest industries

The Malaysian government believes that blockchain technology will not only help boost its economy but that it will also help to streamline the Islamic finance sector.

Initially, the task force will investigate its renewable energy sector, palm oil industry (Malaysia’s biggest export) and the use of blockchain technology in Islamic finance.

Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB), Malaysia’s sole utility provider, is also exploring how it can use blockchain technology. The company is currently interested in the technology’s use in the renewable energy sector–with energy sellers having to declare how electricity is sourced, giving consumers the option of where to buy energy.

While TNB is the only energy provider in Malaysia, the hope is that blockchain technology will drive it to produce more sustainable energy.

The palm oil industry is another area where the government believes blockchain will have a significant impact. By placing certificates for palm oil on blockchain, it will allow users to track their palm oil source.

Additionally, the government will be able to see which palm oils are sustainable and which areas need to be regulated.

Sharia law forbids interest collection and dictates that debt creation must be backed by material goods like gold. This is a very different approach compared to Western banks, which use intangible assets like futures, meaning the Islamic banking system is a more complex, with higher legal and administrative costs.

Each loan agreement, for example, requires at least three contracts with multiple parties to be valid. Blockchain will help to automate the contractual process, allowing banks to cut costs and pass savings on to the end customer.

There has been a lot of debate surrounding whether or not cryptocurrencies are Halal. However, Malaysia and Dubai are exploring pegging cryptocurrencies to gold as a possible solution.

2. Asia’s first cryptocurrency Visa Debit card coming to Singapore

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A Hong Kong based blockchain startup is preparing to roll out the region’s first cryptocurrency Visa debit card. It has applied for licenses and plans to issue 100,000 cards starting in Singapore over the next two months.

Crypto.com, previously known as Monaco before a name change in July, also plans to apply for money lending licenses in Singapore and Hong Kong before expanding its crypto debit card services to include crypto backed money lending.

Holders of the firm’s crypto debit cards and users of its crypto wallet services can also take out loans backed with Bitcoin and its own native MCO token. A stored-value facility license has already been granted by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the cards are issued in partnership with Wirecard Bank from Germany.

The debit card will be linked to fiat and crypto wallets supporting BTC, ETH, LTC, MCO and BNB in addition to seven fiat currencies including US, Singapore and Hong Kong dollars.

3. Google adds Ethereum blockchain dataset to its Big Data Analytics platform

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The Google Cloud team has officially made the Ethereum (ETH) dataset available in BigQuery, the company’s big data warehouse for analytics, according to a post published on Google’s official blog.

The Ethereum blockchain data is posted in the dataset and updated on a daily basis. The tool was created to help make business decisions, prioritize improvements to the Ethereum architecture itself (for example, to prepare updates), and balance sheet adjustments, e.g. how quickly a wallet can be rebalanced.

As Google explains, the Ethereum blockchain contains APIs for random functions such as checking transaction status, looking up wallet-transaction associations, and checking wallet balances. Still, the API endpoints cannot be easily reached. Therefore, BigQuery’s OLAP features help aggregate such types of data and and visualize it.

Furthermore, the software based on Google Cloud synchronizes the Ethereum blockchain to computers running Parity — a UK-based provider of infrastructure software for interacting with the Ethereum network, which performs a daily extraction of data from the Ethereum blockchain ledger and stores date-partitioned data to BigQuery for exploration.

Google has already expanded into blockchain-based tools and services this year. In February, the company created a similar tool for the Bitcoin (BTC) blockchain to visualize transactions, detect anomalies, and extract necessary data from the blockchain ledger.

4. Washington-based lobby group established by blockchain and crypto companies

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A group of U.S.-based blockchain and crypto companies have announced they will form the Blockchain Association, the “first” lobbying group representing the blockchain industry in Washington D.C., the Washington Post reported September 11.

The Blockchain Association is comprised of companies such as crypto exchange Coinbase, technology startup Protocol Labs, as well as the Digital Currency Group and Polychain Capital. The lobbying organization will represent entrepreneurs and investors who are engaged in blockchain-powered projects.

The Blockchain Association will represent mainstream companies that look to operate within the political system, primarily addressing policy issues and the treatment of cryptocurrency by U.S. tax law.

At the same time, the group will work closely with lawmakers on anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) policy development within the industry.

Jerry Brito, executive director of the non-profit research and advocacy group Coin Center, reportedly said that the rise of a purpose-specific trade group shows the industry is maturing.

5. Terrorists failing to raise funds via crypto – U.S. Congressional hearing

The U.S. Congress Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance has discussed various methods of terrorism financing with cryptocurrency, according to an official press release on the U.S. House of Representatives Financial Services Committee September 7.

In order to monitor threats and methods of terrorist financing, the hearing considered major means of transferring funds by terrorists, including traditional financial institutions and semi-formal methods, such as the hawala exchange system, as well as cryptocurrencies.

Yaya Fanusie, director of analysis for the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance, stressed that most terrorists, especially those that serve on “jihadist battlefields”, are currently living in environments where crypto is not operable, which means that fiat use is preferable for buying goods.

Although various terror organizations like al-Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other terrorist groups have all attempted to generate funds through cryptocurrency, they have not had great success, as Congress concluded in the meeting. As of now, fiat money is still seen as the most anonymous method of funding, Yaya Fanusie claims that it is very popular among terrorists.

6. IBM joins decentralized ‘Yellow Pages’ for Blockchain projects

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IBM has joined a decentralized cross-blockchain registry initiative which it states is a Yellow Pages analogue for blockchain projects, according to an announcement September 13.

The initiative called Unbounded Registry will be led by blockchain startup HACERA, and is designed to provide “a decentralized means to register, look up, join and transact across a variety of blockchain solutions, built to interoperate with all of today’s distributed ledger technologies.

The project will reportedly address major issues in the field, including reserved naming for blockchain projects, the discoverability of blockchain networks and applications, and a catalogue of domain-specific functions and services.

Other members of the registry include Intel, Chinese tech giant Huawei, Batavia, Hitachi, and the Australian Blockchain Association.

IBM is known for its openness to the study and application of blockchain technology across various fields. Earlier this month, the tech giant revealed a Stellar-based “near-real-time” blockchain payment network called Blockchain World Wire (BWW). The solution is developed to facilitate international settlements between banks.

Collected by Remitano