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A Record $1 Million In Crypto Ceased By Drug Suspects in Australia

A Record $1 Million In Crypto Ceased By Drug Suspects in Australia

Last Updated on December 4, 2019

The Western Australia Police Force has recently seized a record amount in cryptocurrency. The police seized the funding, totaling up to a hefty AU$1.52 million, or about US$1 Million, in a recent drug probe concerning two people.

Busted By The Address

A 25-year-old woman and a 27-year-old man were arrested by the Australian Border Force (ABF) due to allegations of importing MDMA. The substances themselves, 55 grams of MDMA spread evenly across drug tablets and powder, were hidden within a children’s toy painting kit. The drug-loaded toy was sent from the UK, heading to the Australian city of Perth.

Upon investigation of the property of the two suspects, the police seized electronic devices and stumbled on AU$ 1.52 million worth of cryptocurrencies.

A New Record for Crypto Seizure

Paul Matthews, detective senior sergeant and the man in charge of the drug and firearms squad of the police force, considered the seizure to be the highest of its kind. He stated Western Australia (WA) Police Force has previously ceased millions of Australian dollars in the form of property and bank assets. Matthews noted that it was especially prevalent in “established criminal networks.”

However, Matthews states that the “identification and freezing of over $1.5 million in cryptocurrency in these circumstances highlights the current digital environment.” He points in context to the environment law enforcement agencies operate within.

Both suspects were charged with attempted possession of drugs with the intent to sell or supply (MDMA). Coupled with that, they’re charged with the possession of prohibited drugs with intent to sell or supply (cannabis). The two have appeared in court twice beforehand, once on the 5th of November and again on the 20th. Their next court date is today, the 4th of December, 2019.

Australia Gearing Up against Drugs

Matthews stated that the WA Police force was making use of the “latest technologies and digital forensics techniques” to further their investigation. In the context of this case, he is referring to “all possible methods of holding financial assets” and thus the possible forms of wealth for illegal activities.

Rod O’Donnell, the Regional Commander of the ABF’s WA branch, stated that the officers at the Perth Gateway Facility made use of x-ray and trace detection. This was to prevent the inflow of multiple small concealed packages of illegal drugs sent through the mail every day.

O’Donnell stated that every little bit of drugs that the ABF can prevent means “one less hit that could potentially ruin someone’s life and the lives of those around them.” He explained that the ABF’s officers were “awake to the many creative methods” that criminals use to try and push these drugs into the country. He noted that the officers would do “everything they can” to stop the illegal imports at the border.


WazirX CEO on Crypto Regulations in India: ‘Crypto is Not Illegal’

WazirX CEO on Crypto Regulations in India: ‘Crypto is Not Illegal’

India has been widely recognized as a market with huge potential for the cryptocurrency industry–millions of unbanked individuals, burgeoning penetration of mobile phone and internet usage, and a massive remittances market.

However, regulatory uncertainty and widespread reports surrounding proposed legislation that would effectively ban the use of crypto within the country has caused the nation of India to remain largely untouched by the global cryptocurrency market–until recently.

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Indeed, in November, Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange Binance acquired WazirX, a peer-to-peer crypto trading platform that has grown to be India’s largest cryptocurrency exchange since its launch in March of 2018.

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Recently, Finance Magnates spoke with Nischal Shetty, founder and CEO of WazirX, about the challenges and opportunities associated with operating a cryptocurrency business in India, as well as what Binance’s entry into India could mean for the future of crypto in the country.

WazirX aims to fill the holes in the Indian cryptocurrency ecosystem

Nischal began by explaining that “WazirX is a peer-to-peer exchange as well as a crypto-to-crypto exchange, so it’s an all-in-one platform built primarily for Indians. When we launched, it was only for Indians–now, we are international, but we launched with only Indian users in mind” Shetty explained. “You could start directly with fiat currency, buy crypto, and then continue to trade it and buy all sorts of cryptocurrencies.”

Nischal said that there were several reasons behind the decision to build WazirX. “Before WazirX, we had a few exchanges in India, but the user experience was not on par with other global products–that’s what we saw lacking in the ecosystem.”

“The second most important thing is that if you wanted to buy crypto in India (before WazirX), you had to pay at least 10-15% in premium,” Nischal explained, adding that the reason for this premium was the lack of a platform that was well-built and widely accessible to Indian users. He said that today, WazirX’s rates are the lowest for crypto in India

“It’s not a 0% premium,” he said. However, “it’s still usually in the 2-3% range, so it’s a massive shift.”

Building the right infrastructure

Nischal said that another source of inspiration behind the creation of WazirX was the lack of a cryptocurrency exchange for Indian users that had a dependable mobile application. “When you look at India as a [financial] market, India is very heavy on the mobile side of things,” rather than brick-and-mortar institutions, such as banks.

“India has, I think, skipped the tech-stop revolution and moved directly to the mobile revolution. Everyone has a mobile phone here,” he continued. “At the time when we were launching, you’ll be surprised to know that there was no [exchange] that had mobile apps on both platforms–either they had it on iOS or Android, and these were all buggy, with really low ratings.”

“So, we focused primarily on mobile phones as our primary user interface, and everything was focused on mobile. And [with] that, I’m happy to say that we are the top-rated app in India, with about [a] 4.4-4.5 rating,’ Nischal said, continuing to say that WazirX’s crypto exchange app is also the most-downloaded exchange app in India.

“There can only be one anonymous person that we all trust, and that’s Satoshi.”

“This is all organic, by the way,” he added. “We haven’t spent any money on marketing or ‘buying users’ or anything like that. It’s just word of mouth.”

Nischal said that transparency and trust was another “not-so-secret” ingredient that helped to bring new users into the ecosystem. “When you’re going to buy crypto from an exchange, you’d rather know what that exchange is all about, who the people are–and that was something that was really missing from the Indian ecosystem.”

Nischal explained that as WazirX’s founder and CEO, he has put himself at the front of this effort towards building trust and connecting with users through personal and product branding.

“If you look at my profile, I have been very active online talking to people, telling them what we are building…the way to [establish] trust is to be very open about what you do, who you are, and who the people [involved] are.”

“I believe in crypto,” he added. However, “there can only be one anonymous person that we all trust, and that’s Satoshi. Apart from that, I don’t think we should be trusting anyone anonymous.”

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On crypto regulation in India: “you do not know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

We asked Nischal what it has been like to operate a cryptocurrency exchange in Indian given the regulatory uncertainty that has been present in the market there over the last several years. Earlier this year, reports of a proposed bill that would sentence crypto users to 10 years in prison circulated through crypto news media.

As a result of this regulatory uncertainty, a number of Indian cryptocurrency exchanges, including Crypto Kart and Koinex, have shut down over the last year.

How has WazirX been coping? Nischal said that since WazirX launched in March 2018, “it’s a very interesting thing–it’s like you do not know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Nischal explained that prior to the launch of WazirX, “things were always really ok in India” in terms of crypto regulation. “There were always these rumors that there might be a ban or things might go sideways, but when we launched, there was banking access available for all the exchanges, so you could create a bank account, accept fiat deposit, process withdrawals–you could do all of that.”

Surviving the end of banking for crypto exchanges in India

However, in April of 2018–just four weeks after WazirX’s launch–”the Reserve Bank of India issued a circular to all the banks that are under them (which is practically every bank in India)–stating that none of the banks should have any working relationship with any crypto-related business.”

“So, that was when all of the excitement started in India–all of the banks were given three months to [end] their working relationships with all exchanges.” WazirX, along with every other cryptocurrency exchange, lost their bank accounts.

“During these three months, every exchange…was worried about what [they] would do next. Because, as an exchange, one of the most important aspects [of business] is how to get people to buy crypto with their fiat currency,” Nischal said.

Rolling with the regulatory punches

“So, everyone was facing this issue–some decided not to do anything,” hoping that the worst had passed. “However, we decided to build a peer-to-peer [platform]. Because we said, ‘alright, the problem at hand is that we cannot have a bank account–but that doesn’t mean that our users don’t have bank accounts.”

WazirX went onto create a three-party system where “we, as an exchange, will escrow the crypto, and make the buyer transfer the money directly into the seller’s bank account, not to our bank account.” Nsichal said that as the first peer-to-peer crypto exchange in India, the platform attracted a large number of new users.

“The important factor here to understand is that regulation–not just in India, but in the whole crypto ecosystem if you look at it globally–regulations will always play a very different kind of a hand on you. And you, as a business working in crypto, will have to figure out how to navigate it.”

Setting the record straight: crypto is not illegal in India

“If you look at it from a country’s point of view, regulations are not clear in the space–no one has made a [blueprint] that other countries can copy. So, everywhere, companies are going to have to navigate,” Nischal said, “which we did, by bringing in peer-to-peer.”

Nischal said that along with a number of other cryptocurrency exchanges, WazirX is currently working on appealing RBI’s decision not to allow banks to have working relationships with cryptocurrency exchanges.

Additionally, for all of the media reports around the Indian government’s allegedly bearish attitude toward cryptocurrency–including the proposed crypto ban bill that would hand out 10-year jail sentences for crypto users–not much has happened on a legislative level.

“But, to set the record straight on the issue…Bitcoin and crypto trading in India is not illegal. It is not illegal for you to hold crypto, sell crypto, or do anything with crypto, because the government has never come up with anything negative or positive. It’s on more of a neutral ground,” Nischal said.

Is India crypto’s land of opportunity?

Therefore, “there’s a lot of opportunity” for the cryptocurrency industry to grow in India. Malta-based cryptocurrency exchange Binance has certainly taken note of this–the exchange, which is one of the largest in the world, acquired WazirX last month as an apparent sort of “first step” into Indian markets.

“If you look at the adoption of crypto in India, the first opportunity that exists is [banking] the unbanked,” Nischal said. “There are 300 to 400 million people in this country–or even more–who do not have a bank account today.”

He explained that the reason for this is that “banks have to have physical infrastructure built in every city, every village, every locality in India in order for people to get a bank account. But if you look at the penetration of mobile phones and the internet in India, we have over 500 million people already online–people in every part of India.”

“So, instead of banks having to build physical infrastructure, I see banks as a raid adoption mechanism for bringing the unbanked online into the online financial ecosystem.”

However, “we definitely need some positive regulations for any company to work in this aspect, but as of when that happens, I’m pretty sure that banking the unbanked is going to be a big thing in India.”

Nischal said that WazirX doesn’t have any definite plans to explore banking the unbanked as of yet. However, “mow that we are part of Binance–if you look at Binance, it’s turning into an ecosystem of crypto-related activities. I think that in a way, that’s probably the bank of the future.”

This was an excerpt. To hear Finance Magnates’ full interview with WazirX Founder and CEO Nischal Shetty, please visit us on SoundCloud or YouTube. Special thanks to Nischal and the WazirX team.


South Africa’s Central Bank Addresses Illicit Money Transfers in Bitcoin

South Africa’s Central Bank Addresses Illicit Money Transfers in Bitcoin

Governments around the globe are trying to regulate cryptocurrencies to the best of their abilities. Particularly where criminal use cases of Bitcoin are concerned, some new rules need to be introduced.

The South African central bank is currently working on a way to prevent the evasion of currency controls.

Another Central Bank Focusing on Bitcoin

According to the Reserve Bank of South Africa, cryptocurrencies are used on a “regular basis” for this type of purpose.

This news isn’t entirely surprising, as other banks in the country have begun to clamp down on cryptocurrencies as well.

There is currently no plan to ban the use of digital money in the country.

However, introducing a new law could help legitimize the industry even further.

The new proposal is expected to go into effect as of March 2020.

As part of the proposal, the central bank will continue to limit the amount of money to be moved out of South Africa.

Although most citizens never move over 1 million rand to other countries, it is an important first step regardless.

For those who do not wish to declare their transfers to the Revenue Service, cryptocurrencies are considered to be an alternative.

It is that train of thought that the central bank wants to eradicate altogether. 

How all of this will play out in the real world, is difficult to predict.

Proposals often look good on paper, but prove difficult to enforce in the real world. 



Indian Province Trials Blockchain for P2P Solar Energy Trading

Indian Province Trials Blockchain for P2P Solar Energy Trading

Real-world use cases for blockchain technology can be found all over the world. In India, the state of Uttar Pradesh will allow for blockchain-based solar energy trading. 

India can become a crucial region regarding the development of blockchain technology.

Peer-to-peer Trading of Solar Energy

One of the country’s newest ventures focuses on the trade of solar energy.

Two state-owned solar energy companies in the state of Uttar Pradesh will begin utilizing blockchain technology to that extent.

It is the first pilot project involving solar energy generated by state government buildings.

The first phase of this pilot project will begin in March or April of 2020.

Once the results of this solar energy trading become apparent, the involved parties will determine if it is a viable option to explore further.

Introducing the peer-to-peer trading of this energy through blockchain technology provides many benefits.

In an ideal scenario, it will cut out the middleman altogether and lower costs.

Moreover, it can provide solar energy to those who need it, rather than letting it go to waste.

All of this is made possible with the help of PowerLedger and India Smart Grid Forum.

Regardless of this venture’s success, India will push forward where solar energy is concerned.

The government wants to install 40 Gigawatt of electricity-generating hardware in the country by 2022. 

Globally, the quest to find renewable energy sources remains in full effect.

More and more ventures focusing on solar-based options have become apparent across the Eastern and Asian region over the years.



Binance Adds DappReview As Latest Acquisition, Expanding Dapp Arsenal

Binance Adds DappReview As Latest Acquisition, Expanding Dapp Arsenal

Last Updated on December 3, 2019

DappReview, a Beijing-based research firm, has now been acquired by one of the world’s largest crypto exchanges: Binance. With the acquisition, Binance plans on developing existing dapps and creating brand new blockchain use cases.

The Mandatory Good Words

Viktor Radchenko, the founder of Binance’s Trust Wallet, gave a public statement about the matter. He explained that Trust Wallet and DappReview’s APIs would integrate in the near future. This will provide a more accessible platform to explore new crypto games and Dapps as well as give more insight into decentralized finance (DeFi) use, analytics, and services.

Binance itself gave a public statement regarding this. The company stated it would offer DappReview its support in various non-technical fields. Things like business development and marketing will be handled, while DappReview will remain autonomous in both operations and technical development.

Vincent Niu, DappReview’s Founder, had a few things to say about the deal as well. He explained that working with Launchpad and Binance’s developer network, aptly named Binance X, will bring many opportunities for DappReview. Niu cites the ability to bring in more Dapp developers and helping promising Dapp projects through fundraisers. Nia also mentions the possible synergies with companies like Binance Research, Trust Wallet, and more.

Developing The Dapp Ecosystem

Niu further stated that the DappReview service would partner up with the world’s public blockchains and protocols that make use of Dapps. They will do this through Binance and its ecosystem, Niu says.

Niu made it clear that the dapp platform will unveil a suite of new products come 2020’s first quarter. However, Niu declined to reveal the exact nature of the products, merely stating that it’s an analytical tool.

With this new acquisition in mind, Niu states that DappReview has plans to expand its footprint in the global market. Niu states that Binance will serve as the perfect partner by providing the needed support when it comes to branding and marketing.

Binance’s New Beijing Offices

A more interesting note is that Binance now officially has a subsidiary within China’s borders. Last month, Binance, the Block, and Chinese media collided with each other when the Block pushed out an article about Binance’s Shanghai offices being shut down after a police raid. The problem was that Binance didn’t have a Shanghai office to begin with. With a new subsidiary in Beijing, it’s unclear how the future will be like within China’s anti-crypto borders.

Binance has declined to provide information about the financial terms of the deal. They’re also tight-lipped about the entity that made the acquisition itself. All in all, it’s unclear about what is and isn’t the truth anymore. What this will mean for the future remains to be seen, but for now, Binance has added a vital tool in the Dapp market.