Monthly Archives: January 2018

SoftBank Group to take majority stake in Line’s mobile unit

Thanks;Sam Nussey

Published;JANUARY 30, 2018 / 7:05 PM / UPDATED 20 HOURS AGO


TOKYO (Reuters) – Line Corp said on Wednesday that it had entered an agreement with SoftBank Group Corp to give the telecoms and technology firm a majority stake in Line’s mobile unit.

Line said SoftBank would hold a 51 percent stake in the mobile business after the issuance of new shares, with Line holding the remaining 49 percent.

Japan’s Line to launch cryptocurrency exchange amid hacking fears/THANKS..Thomas Wilson

Line said in a statement on Wednesday that it has applied to Japan’s financial regulator to operate an exchange, with the application under review.

Japan’s Financial Services Agency, which oversees registrations of new exchanges, said on Monday it would investigate all cryptocurrency exchanges in Japan for security gaps after the hack at the Coincheck exchange.

The theft on Friday of 58 billion yen ($532.84 million) of NEM coins from Coincheck has highlighted the security vulnerabilities in trading an asset that global policymakers are struggling to regulate.

It has also drawn into focus Japan’s approach to regulating cryptocurrency exchanges. Last year, it became the first country to regulate exchanges at the national level – a move that, at the time, won praise from cryptocurrency traders and exchange operators for boosting innovation while protecting consumers.

“We should be aware of the need to balance between communicating, to beginners or inexperienced users, the value of these financial products and the risks they entail,” a Line spokeswoman said.

The FSA has registered 16 cryptocurrency exchanges so far, with another 16 awaiting clearance as they continue to operate.

Cryptocurrency trading in Japan has spiked in the last year, with the country’s army of retail investors emerging as a major force in bitcoin’s spectacular rally.

The country’s global share of the bitcoin market has jumped after clampdowns by authorities in China and South Korea, presenting the prospect of lucrative business for cryptocurrency exchanges.

Shares of Line, which is controlled by South Korea’s Naver Corp, jumped 4 percent by early afternoon, against a 0.25 percent gain for the benchmark Nikkei average.

Line said it will start trading cryptocurrencies through “Line Financial”, a new company that will also provide loans and insurance via its Line messaging app. Line currently provides money transfer and payment services to 40 million users through its app.

The app, known for electronic stickers of a brown bear and his rabbit girlfriend, is ubiquitous in Japan, Line also has a strong presence in Taiwan, Thailand and Indonesia.

Line went public in the largest tech initial public offering of 2016. After initially struggling to maintain investor enthusiasm, strong sales of advertising space on its messaging app have seen its stock gain almost 60 percent from its IPO price.

($1 = 108.8500 yen)



American banks continue to phase out free checking accounts

Thanks;Maria LaMagna

Published;Jan 23, 2018 12:55 a.m. ET

Bank of America has shut down one of its checking accounts, used by some low-income consumers

Bank of America has eliminated one of its checking accounts.

Bad news for low-income consumers: There’s now one fewer place where you can store your cash for free.

Bank of America BAC, +0.69%has gotten rid of a free checking account called eBanking, The Wall Street Journal reported. More than 45,000 people have signed an online petition protesting its elimination, on

Instead, the account holders will be charged a $12 monthly fee if they don’t have at least a $250 direct deposit that month, or a daily account balance of $1,500 or more. The eBanking accounts debuted in 2010 and offered an affordable alternative to consumers without a lot of cash.

Bank of America, the second-largest U.S. bank by assets behind J.P. Morgan Chase JPM, +1.17% has not allowed customers to open that account since 2013, a bank spokeswoman said. And it was free only if consumers used online services exclusively. Since 2014, it’s offered “SafeBalance,” which costs a flat fee of $4.95 per month and does not allow overdrafts.

Many low-income Americans were already having trouble finding places to keep their money. Approximately 10 million U.S. families don’t use a bank at all. One reason: Monthly maintenance fees triggered by low bank balances, a fear of overdraft fees and a general distrust in banks.

When consumers don’t use a bank, they often end up paying more for individual services that banks provide for free, such as check cashing, said Thaddeus King, an officer of the consumer finance division at Pew Charitable Trusts, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit.

Free checking accounts are rare in areas where low-income consumers need them the most, according to a 2017 analysis by Moebs Services, a firm that researches financial services companies.

Consumers should shop around for low-cost banking options that work for them, said Kimberly Palmer, a credit card and banking expert at the personal finance company NerdWallet.

AmazonAMZN, +2.53%   and Wal-MartWMT, +0.82%   have also created their own financial services programs to cater to customers who don’t use banks. U.S. Bank USB, +1.42%   offers a low-cost checking account. Like Bank of America, it requires a $1,500 minimum balance or monthly direct deposits of $1,000 or more. It also charges $2.50 for out-of-network ATM fees.

Consumers should make sure the institution they choose is insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), Palmer said. They should also be sure they know in advance how to access their money, whether that’s through an ATM fee reimbursement program, or with a debit card, she said.

Chinese FM calls for further cooperation between China, Latin American and Caribbean states

Thanks;  Pengying/Xinhua

Published;2018-01-23 13:31:36

SANTIAGO, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Monday hailed the achievements made in the cooperation between China and Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) countries in the past three years and called on relevant countries to keep the momentum.

Wang was attending the second ministerial meeting under the framework of China and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) Forum. The inaugural meeting of the mechanism was convened in Beijing in January 2015.

In his speech, Wang read a congratulatory letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping, who spoke highly of the development of the China-CELAC Forum in the three years following its inception and proposed that the China-LAC partnership be led by joint efforts to implement the Belt and Road Initiative.

Wang said Xi’s letter reflected China’s sincere willingness to advance cooperation with countries in the region to realize common development.

Cooperation under the China-CELAC Forum, Wang noted, has achieved fruitful results thanks to both sides sticking to the principles of mutual respect and equal treatment, as well as their consistent commitment to jointly seeking cooperation and development.

Wang said the mechanism achieved early harvests in 13 key projects in the past three years covering such areas as trade, finance and energy, adding that China has been steadfastly implementing a package of financing arrangements for its partners.

In addition, Wang said the social foundation for the China-LAC partnership has been further consolidated, with China delivering its promises by granting government-sponsored scholarships to students from LAC countries, organizing personnel training and promoting exchanges among political parties.

Exchange programs between the two sides have also benefited young scientists and people in the media industry, according to the foreign minister, who further pointed out that the ministerial-level dialogues, the national coordinators’ meetings, as well as the 17 rounds of forums covering a broad spectrum of areas have built the mechanism into an institutialized one.

As the partnership sails toward the next phase, the foreign minister suggested that China and the LAC countries seize the opportunity of jointly building the Belt and Road, promote cooperation under what is known as the “1+3+6” framework, and strive for an upgrading and innovative development of China-LAC cooperation.

In July 2014, Xi laid out the “1+3+6” cooperation framework in his keynote speech at a China-LAC summit held in Brasilia, Brazil.

The “1” refers to the China-LAC Countries Cooperation Plan 2015-2019 by which specific cooperation projects should be guided. The “3” identifies three driving forces for cooperation, namely trade, investment and finance. The “6” prioritizes six fields of cooperation, including energy and resources, infrastructure construction, agriculture, manufacturing, scientific and technological innovation, as well as information technology.

Specifically, Wang made a four-point suggestion, saying China and the LAC countries should jointly build “grand connectivity” covering both sea and land, cultivate “grand markets” that are open and reciprocal, create “grand industries” featuring advanced and independent technologies, and launch “grand communication” based on equality and mutual trust.

The foreign minister called on the two sides to make Monday’s meeting a fresh starting point for a new phase of China-LAC partnership characterized by expanded cooperation, more favorable structures, a stronger driving force and better qualities.

Officials representing LAC countries at the meeting lauded the cooperation outcomes in the past three years and the active role the China-CELAC Forum played during the process.

They unanimously agreed that the Belt and Road Initiative has provided their countries with ample development opportunities. They expressed the hope that by learning from China’s experience and joining the Belt and Road Initiative, the LAC countries will achieve common development with China.

Pope Francis arrives in crisis-hit Peru




*Pope Francis was greeted by thousands of people on the streets of Lima

Pope Francis has arrived in Peru on the final leg of a two-nation trip to South America.

He was met at Lima airport by Peruvian President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski, who appealed to the pontiff to help resolve a continuing political crisis.

Peruvians have been protesting against the authorities’ decision to pardon former President Alberto Fujimori.

The Pope arrived from Chile, where he met victims of sexual abuse by priests in the country.

The 81-year-old Argentine pontiff said he felt “pain and shame” over the scandal, asking the victims for forgiveness.

He has been criticised in Chile for a decision to ordain a bishop accused of covering up sexual abuse by a priest.

Pope Francis landed in the Peruvian capital on Thursday.

Before his arrival, President Kuczynski called the pontiff a “messenger of peace and hope”.

He said he hoped the Pope’s visit would help to heal the nation.

The protests in Peru began after Mr Kuczynski pardoned the former president on health grounds on Christmas Eve.

Mr Kuczynski later acknowledged the anger at his decision but said he could not “allow Alberto Fujimori to die in prison”.

Fujimori, who was serving 25 years for human rights abuses and corruption, has low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat.

In Peru, Pope Francis will visit the cities of Puerto Maldonado and Trujillo, before holding a Mass in Lima on Sunday.

80 Percent of the Total Bitcoin Supply Have Now Been Mined

Thanks; Jamie Redman

Published; January,15

This weekend marks a milestone for bitcoin as 80 percent of the currency has now been mined into circulation, this means there’s only 20 percent left to mine. Satoshi Nakamoto’s protocol was one of the first to introduce digital scarcity and soon enough the digital asset will become even harder to obtain.

This weekend marks a milestone for bitcoin as 80 percent of the currency has now been mined into circulation, this means there’s only 20 percent left to mine. Satoshi Nakamoto’s protocol was one of the first to introduce digital scarcity and soon enough the digital asset will become even harder to obtain.

Solving the General’s Problem

This has given individuals reason to believe that Satoshi solved one of the hardest computational equations, the Byzantine General’s problem, a security flaw that had plagued computer scientists for decades. Essentially the problem exists with distributed networks as the issue brings certain faults or security flaws making it easy to attack. This, in turn, makes it hard for protocols to prove something because there is an unsolvability proof within the network.

With Satoshi’s Proof-of-Work in the original bitcoin protocol, the economic measure makes it difficult to attack by making threats to the network costly, and time-consuming. For the first time ever in the world of digital computing, Satoshi introduced an asset that couldn’t be copied or double spent. And at the same time, he limited the supply which also introduced digital scarcity like no other technology before it.

Digital Scarcity and the Next Halving

Because there are only 21 million bitcoins the cryptocurrency’s limited availability make the asset harder to acquire the more scarce it becomes. In most cases when an asset is limited and resources are harder to come by, the supply causes demand for the market. The supply of bitcoin shows a significant gap between how many there are and those who want to obtain some. A great majority of bitcoiners believe digital scarcity will make bitcoin more valuable over time, and with 16.8Mn mined so far it will get harder.

In addition to the difficulty in accessibility miners themselves are going to have to up their processing power constantly. In two years or less depending on hashrate speed, the next miner reward halving is approaching. This means instead of miners getting 12.5 BTC for every block they mine they will get 6.25 BTC in two years time. This network consensus agreement of a halving every four years will make bitcoins more difficult to obtain even for the large warehouses all over the world filled with data processors. Every one of them and ASIC technology itself will have to progress for mining operations to continue profiting. Of course, the price per bitcoin should also be higher than the cost to mine the currency as well.

Unlike Ripple’s 100 Billion There Will Only Be 21 Million Bitcoins

Another thing to consider while observing the vast blockchain environment is that Satoshi’s creation unlike the 1,300 other cryptocurrencies in existence has only 21 million. Other digital currencies have billions already in circulation and billions more to come using other less tested consensus mechanisms like Proof-of-Stake. So in essence bitcoin’s inventor created something unique and different than the digital goods we all swap today. Unlike your MP3s or digital movies, bitcoins cannot be copied, and this weekend 16.8 million of them have been mined, hoarded and a large number of them have been lost. To many cryptocurrency investors, this makes Satoshi’s invention a very valuable digital asset, unlike anything the world has ever seen.

What do you think about 80 percent of the bitcoins being mined into existence this weekend? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

North Korea Hit One of Its Own Cities With a Missile

Thanks;Daily Deast


A North Korean ballistic-missile test that failed in flight crashed and caused considerable damage to a complex in the city of Tokchon in April of last year, according to the online magazine The Diplomat. Though the failure of the launch was reported at the time, it wasn’t clear until Wednesday’s report that the Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile came down in the populated area, about two hours outside Pyongyang. Using Google Earth and satellite images, The Diplomat said it found the errant missile struck a complex of facilities—either agricultural or industrial—that are adjacent to a residential area. The news site was not able to determine if there were any casualties caused by the explosion.