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Friday’s blockchain news, from Asia and beyond

Ten years since first Bitcoin block was mined: Yesterday, the world’s leading digital currency marked a decade of existence. While it was on October 31, 2008, that a paper was published outlining a new “electronic cash system,” it was on January 3, 2009, that the first block of Bitcoins was mined. While many things have changed, one remained constant. The world still doesn’t know, for certain, who Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto actually is. So, what does the future hold? The jury on this is most certainly out. While Time Magazine last week published an upbeat and supportive story that argued how Bitcoin and its supporting “decentralizing technologies” can “provide a countering force” against the “tools of surveillance and control,” there are many others are not so optimistic. Time, as ever, will tell.

Chinese banking industry launches blockchain trading platform: The China Banking Association has launched a “China Trade Finance Inter-Bank Trading Blockchain Platform.” Media reports indicate that more than 10 banks, comprising most of the country’s major operators as well as The United Nations Development Bank, have joined the project that is setting out to improve inter-bank transactions with the use of digital data. The platform is yet one more example of China’s support of blockchain and fear of crypto-currencies.

Singaporean man pays for half of $61,000 car with crypto-currency: Singaporean David Lau used the crypto-currency Ethereum to pay for his new Honda Vezel. Lau said he has about $36,000 worth of crypto-currency after having only started with $360 in 2017. “I was riding on the hype and saw it grow,” he told media. Lau bought the car from MHG Cars, a dealership that only started operations in December and has partnered with Bizkey, a blockchain-based payment solution. Bizkey acts as a broker, collecting the crypto-currency payments from consumers and, in return, dispensing cash to partners. In doing so, it says it can cut down on transaction fees. MHG Cars director Lydia Ang said it is the only dealership in Singapore to accept crypto-currency payments, adding that “it might be a niche market now, but I believe this is going to be a major thing in the future.”

BitTorrent launches TRON-based token: TRON acquired p2p service BitTorrent in 2018, so it comes as no real surprise that the two are launching a crypto token. Called BTT, the token will be available to non-US account holders only, via leading crypto-currency exchange Binance. BitTorrent is estimated to have more than 100 million users, so the market could be considerable. “BitTorrent token is the first in a series of steps to support a decentralized internet,” Justin Sun, founder of TRON and CEO of BitTorrent, was quoted saying by Medium. “In one giant leap, the BitTorrent client can introduce blockchain to hundreds of millions of users around the world and empower a new generation of content creators with the tools to distribute their content directly to others on the web.”

Maduro says Venezuela’s petro coin is booming. Really? Venezuela state-backed crypto-currency the petro was launched by President Nicolás Maduro in 2018 to help solve the country’s disastrous economic situation, that reportedly saw hyperinflation hit 80,000% per annum during 2018. But, despite the doom and gloom the petro, at least according to Maduro’s administration, supposedly saw a fivefold increase in value on January 2. Really? “Bitcoin is turning 10 years old. Its price fell by 30% in one month, 50% in six months and 80% in one year,” said Venezuelan economist and Maduro critic José Toro Hardy. “If that happens with Bitcoin, are we going to believe the story of the explosive rise of the petro?” He does have a point.

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