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Thursday’s blockchain news, from Asia and beyond

Projects like Tron ‘just garbage’ says Stellar, Ripple co-founder: Jed McCaleb, a co-founder of the defunct and controversial Bitcoin exchange Mt Gox, who also helped develop the Ripple and Stellar crypto-currencies, has given a revealing interview with Yahoo Finance. In a damning assessment of the digital currency scene, McCaleb said: “Ninety per cent of these projects are BS. I’m looking forward to that changing. Things like Tron, it’s just garbage. But people dump tons of money into … these things that just do not technically work.” Predictably, the outspoken head of China-based Tron, Justin Sun, was quick to tweet back his response. “eDonkey, founded by @JedMcCaleb,” wrote Sun. “Guess we’re doing pretty well for ‘garbage’.”

Mizuho Financial Group launching retail-focussed stablecoin: Japan’s Mizuho Group is reportedly launching a stablecoin that will be convertible into yen and will be used via mobile applications and QR codes. Nikkei reports the crypto-currency will launch in March, with 60 domestic regional banks on board. The group aims to offer retail shops using the currency lower fees than credit cards and the value of the stablecoin will be fixed at 1 yen (1 cent) per unit.

Thailand develops blockchain voting system: While distributed ledger technology has already been trialed in elections in Thailand, as well as in numerous other countries across the world, a new Thai initiative, launched by the National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (Nectec), has created a blockchain technology platform that will combine with the 5G cellular mobile communications to bring secure e-voting to “national, provincial or community elections.” While Nectec says the goal is “to reduce fraud and maintain data integrity” others have said blockchain voting platforms will destroy public trust in elections and will be a “disaster for democracy.”

Indian police warn public against crypto-currencies: Jammu and Kashmir police are the latest Indian government authority to wade into the country’s long-running saga on digital currencies. Citing “heightened risk” in investing, police warned the general public “not to make any type of investment in crypto-currencies [or] virtual currencies such as Bitcoin.” India has for many months see-sawed in its approach to crypto-currencies, going from being on the verge of approving them via regulation to then dragging its feet by indirectly banning them.

IBM and Maersk work on Saudi shipping project: A Saudi Arabian government platform for cross-border trade has launched a blockchain-based customs pilot project to enhance global shipping capabilities. The pilot, jointly developed by IBM and Maersk, aims to offer “immutability, traceability, reduced reconciliation, auditability and compliance,” according to the Saudi government. The initiative, says the government, is in line with the country’s strategy “that aims to facilitate trade and enhance security levels, while working to establish the kingdom as one of the world’s premier logistics hubs.”

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