Morning Update: Buffett on Blockchain; Credit Card Crypto Block
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.
Buffett Railroad Venture Joins Blockchain Alliance
Warren Buffett’s, an American business magnate, BNSF Railway Company has joined the Blockchain in Transport Alliance. The alliance comprises over 200 companies, including the likes of Bridgestone, UPS and FedEx. The companies say they are committed to introducing blockchain technology and distributed ledgers to the transport industry. The move marks the first time a major American railway enterprise has taken a significant step in the world of blockchain technology.
US Credit Card Companies Making Life Harder for Crypto Investors
Visa and Mastercard are “doing their best to make it harder, slower and more expensive for people to invest in cryptocurrency” in the United States, per TechCrunch. The IT news site says California-based exchange platform Coinbase confirmed that the code “for digital currency purchases was changed by a number of the major credit card networks.” The site also claims that additional 5% fees are now applicable on many credit card cryptocurrency purchases – with card companies also purposefully slowing down their processing times on crypto-related transactions.
S Korean Exchange Platform Suspends Operations over Gov’t Regulations
South Korean currency exchange platform Coinpia has announced that it has suspended transactions following the introduction of government guidelines that require exchanges to use investors’ real names during transactions. Per a statement posted on its website, Coinpia stated, “We have not been able to establish a real-name verification system with domestic banks due to stability issues. We looked into the idea of enabling Korean won deposits by using standard corporate accounts, but have concluded that doing so would not allow us to guarantee stable service.” Per Financial Services Commission guidelines, all cryptocurrency exchange-bank transactions must be conducted using investors’ real names, social security numbers and bank account information.
South Korea: “North Stealing Millions from South, Could Be Behind Coincheck Hack”
South Korea’s government says hackers from the North have stolen millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency from the former’s exchange platforms. Kim Byung-kee, of South Korea’s parliamentary intelligence committee, said, “North Korea sent emails that could be used to hack into cryptocurrency exchanges and their customers’ private information, and stole funds worth billions of Korean won [millions of US dollars].” Reuters also claims that an unnamed source close to the committee said, “It’s a possibility that North Korea was behind last month’s Coincheck] theft,” but also added that the committee had “no hard evidence” of Pyongyang’s involvement.
Kim said that virus attacks sent via email attachments were the North’s weapon of choice in its raids on South Korean exchanges. He alleged that the emails were created as part of a clever scam that coincides with South Korea’s hiring season, which falls in February. Kim explained, “The attachments were made to look as though they had been sent by major South Korean companies, with attachments disguised as application forms.” Hackers hoped that unsuspecting exchange employees would open these virus-containing attachments, affording them access to online wallets and user data.
Japanese Exchanges Beefing up Security
Japan’s top cryptocurrency exchanges have said they are stepping up security in the wake of January’s high-profile Coincheck hack. Companies like BitFlyer and BITPoint say they are increasing the use of cold wallets and multisignature wallets to avoid a repeat of last month’s 526 million XEM raid on rival platform Coincheck. Experts in Japan have been highly critical of Coincheck’s continued use of hot wallets and failure to apply multisignature technology in the lead-up to the hack.