DRAM Sales Decline Amidst Crypto Market Stutter

Sales of DRAM chips in Japan and the rest of the world have declined. The lull in cryptocurrency prices and the decline in smartphone sales are likely responsible for the decrease in sales. Lower Prices Cool Crypto Enthusiasm According to a recent Morgan Stanley report, the decline in cryptocurrency prices has negatively impacted the semiconductor market. With crypto prices falling, miners can end up operating at a loss. Morgan Stanley previously stated that Bitcoin mining

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Post-Hack, Coincheck Reveals Plans to Expand to U.S. Market

Monex Inc, parent company of Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck, has revealed plans to expand the crypto exchange to U.S. markets.

Monex Inc, the company that recently acquired hacked Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck, has revealed plans to expand the exchange to the U.S. in an interview with Bloomberg today, May 18.

Monex CEO Oki Matsumoto said he expects Coincheck will receive an official license from Japanese authorities next month, but – without specifying a timeframe – he revealed the company now has its sights beyond Asia:

“Japan may seem like it’s one step ahead in crypto, but in terms of deciding what’s a security or a token and attracting institutional investors, the U.S. and Europe are moving ahead.”

Japan has long been at the vanguard of crypto adoption – the country was the first to recognize Bitcoin as a form of legal tender back in 2016 – but Matsumoto considers that the U.S. and Europe have now taken the edge in terms of crypto-specific regulatory momentum. He compared Japan’s hefty 55 percent levy tax on crypto with France’s recent initiative to tax crypto at a favorable capital gains rate of 19 percent, telling Bloomberg that:

“At [Japan’s] level, it’s hard to even think of crypto as something you’d put in your portfolio. That means it’ll just remain a plaything for speculators.”

More crucially still, the CEO argued that U.S. federal regulators now wield the biggest influence on deciding the future status of crypto in the world economy, referring to the ongoing debate as to whether digital assets should be regulated as securities or commodities. An eventual decision would provide much-needed clarity for the emerging industry, and ultimately foster growth and institutional investor confidence, he told Bloomberg.

Monex’s decision to target overseas markets is the latest in a series of upheavals in Coincheck’s checkered history since its unprecedented $532 mln hack in Jan. 2018. Coincheck was subsequently acquired by Monex in April, with the latter’s shares surging 98 percent since the acquisition, according to Bloomberg.

Recent figures released by Monex showed that notwithstanding the mammoth post-hack writedown that Coincheck issued as a refund to affected customers, the exchange still closed the fiscal year in the green, netting ¥6.3 bln (about $56.7 mln) revenue on sales of ¥62.6 bln.

Earlier this month, Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA), laid out yet further stipulations for the already stringent regulatory measures that have been imposed on the country’s crypto exchanges. An FSA source nonetheless judged that the crypto regulatory process in Japan has been unfolding “without the necessary know-how – we been feeling our way through the dark.”

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Subsidiary of Korean Search Giant Naver Launches Blockchain Venture For Decentralized Apps

Line Plus has announced a partnership with crypto, blockchain platform ICON to develop dApps and Line’s blockchain mainnet.

Line Plus, the mobile platform subsidiary of Japan’s most popular messaging app Line, has launched a joint blockchain initiative – Unchain – with crypto platform ICON, Cointelegraph Japan reports today, May 16.

In the beginning of April, Line Plus had also released its blockchain affiliate Unblock in South Korea, in order to integrate blockchain tech into Line’s cross-market system. Line is itself a subsidiary of South Korean search engine giant Naver, but is based in Tokyo to avoid competition from Kakao.

Line’s press release notes that Unchain will work with Unblock to bring Line’s blockchain mainnet and its DApps closer together by using ICON’s blockchain technology. ICON’s Hong-kyu Lee, who will be Unchain’s CEO, said in in the press release that they “expect to promote an array of blockchain-based dApp services for daily use”:

“The rise of these services is expected to catalyze the growth of LINE and the ICON blockchain ecosystem.”

ICON is currently ranked 19th on Coinmarketcap, trading for around $3.87 and down about 10 percent by press time.

At the end of March, Line competitor Kakao officially announced their own blockchain subsidiary as part of their Kakao 3.0 business plan.

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Japan: Nomura Bank Announces Crypto Custody Solution For Institutional Investors

Japan-based global investment bank Nomura has announced a joint venture to establish a custody offering for digital assets.

Japan-based global investment bank Nomura has announced a venture to establish a custody offering for digital assets, Cointelegraph Japan reports today, May 16. The new project aims at removing barriers to institutional investment in the crypto space.

Nomura’s joint venture will be conducted in partnership with digital asset security company Ledger and investment house Global Advisors, according to reports.

The partners allege that a shortage of robust and legally regulated “safekeeping solutions” is currently preventing traditional asset managers from building investment vehicles in the crypto ecosystem, emphasizing that overcoming custody and security obstacles is crucial given that “one in five finance firms are [allegedly] considering launching digital asset trading and investment businesses in the coming year.”

The new digital asset custody venture is dubbed “Komainu,” and will provide infrastructure and an operational framework for institutional investors to integrate their traditional investment vehicles into the “frontier” crypto industry.

Just yesterday, major US crypto wallet provider and exchange service Coinbase announced its own custodian solution to address security and regulatory compliance concerns, with Coinbase VP Adam White saying that the product could “unlock $10 bln of institutional investor money sitting on the sideline.”

Earlier this month, New York Stock Exchange owner ICE revealed its own plans to offer crypto swap contracts that would be settled in BTC, suggesting it too has come up with an SEC-compliant custody solution for institutional holders.

The narrative that custody and regulatory obstacles are the last remaining obstacle for the crypto market to “mature” and draw major institutional investment is widely shared, and led CNBC’s Robert Kelly to suggest recently that cryptocurrencies now “look to be becoming an emergent asset class,” with custody solutions a significant milestone that could soon herald widespread crypto adoption in the traditional financial sector.

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World’s Fifth Largest Bank To Trial Own Cryptocurrency In 2019, Report Says

Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group is planning a 100,000-user trial of its new cryptocurrency, local sources report.

The banking unit of Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) plans to trial its own cryptocurrency as early as 2019, Cointelegraph Japan reports today, May 15.

Cointelegraph Japan quotes local news media outlet NHK saying that a test phase of the cryptocurrency, known as MUFG Coin, could involve around 100,000 account holders.

Currently the fifth largest bank in the world by assets, MUFG originally signalled its intention to launch a token in January this year, in so doing becoming the first Japanese bank to issue one. Plans for the move stretch back further to 2016, Cointelegraph reported at the time.

MUFG Coin is designed to offer currency functionality first and foremost, with test customers to download an app that will automatically convert their deposits. According to NHK’s report, one MUFG will be equal in value to one yen.

According to NHK, users “will be able to use the currency to make payments at places like restaurants, convenience stores and other shops,” as well as “transfer the currency to the accounts of other participants.”

The bank joins a steadily increasing swathe of major Japanese entities preparing inroads into the cryptocurrency industry. The exchange sector has dominated the headlines in 2018, with names such as DMM and Yahoo! at various stages of involvement.

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