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.
S Korea’s Financial Regulator to Step up Cryptocurrency Trade Monitoring
The Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), South Korea’s financial regulator, says that it will be stepping up its scrutiny of the country’s finance sector, making specific mention of the cryptocurrency industry. Beginning in June this year, the FSS says, financial businesses can expect a “60% increase” in focus on ensuring correct business practices as the FSS looks to limit stock and cryptocurrency market manipulation. The FSS says it will also double its workforce this year, and will increase the amount of incentives it offers for anyone who comes forward to disclose information on unfair stock or crypto trading. Companies that fall afoul of the FSS can have their business licenses suspended or even face closure.
Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Launches Latest Blockchain Pilot
Japan’s Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance says it is testing a scheme that allows customers to submit insurance documentation online via a blockchain platform. The pilot is being conducted in conjunction with currency platform BitFlyer. Currently, Japanese insurers require customers and branches to submit hard copies of documents, often calling for materials to be sent by fax. The new scheme, if successful, would allow the company to fully digitize its dealings with customers. Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance has previously tested digitizing documentation for trade transactions in conjunction with IBM Japan. The scheme made use of a blockchain-based application that enables the sharing of digitized trade agreements.
S Korean Universities, Gov’t Training Centers Offering Cryptocurrency, Blockchain Courses
South Korean universities have begun offering courses to cater for crypto- and blockchain-curious students. Seoul’s Sogang University has begun offering a graduate program in blockchain technology, while rival Dongguk University plans to offer blockchain modules as part of its Information Security program from next year. The government has also begun offering training courses on cryptocurrency and blockchain technology, aiming to provide specialized training for university students and industry professionals. Meanwhile, the country’s Korea Internet Promotion Agency says it will offer a whole range of courses at its new Blockchain Academy.
US City to Launch ICO as Part of Bid to Help the Homeless
The Californian city of Berkeley is set to launch an initial coin offering (ICO) as part of a bid to fund housing for the community’s homeless. The initiative is being led by city council member Ben Bartlett, who claims the scheme will help aid Berkeley’s 1,000 homeless people, and has teamed up with the University of California Berkeley’s Blockchain Lab and a fintech startup named Neighborly. The council says that, under the scheme, city residents could buy digital tokens backed by municipal bonds on a blockchain platform. This would allow the city to raise money for a whole host of city improvements. Bartlett says, “It could be one block getting some trees – or an ambulance.”
Canadian Gov’t Sites among those Hit by Browsealoud Hack
Canada’s Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health were all forced to run cryptocurrency mining programs for around four hours during last weekend’s massive Browsealoud plugin hack. The plugin offers accessibility and translation services, but hackers successfully added a code to it that forces users’ web browsers to secretly mine digital currencies. Motherboard quotes a source at Ontario’s Office of the Information and Privacy (IPC) as saying, “We know that no IPC data was accessed or lost, and the [malicious] script has been disabled. The IPC regularly reviews its security systems to ensure that our network remains uncompromised.” The hack also struck public computers in the United States[/URL], including the government’s law courts website, with government sites in the UK and Australia also affected.