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Bitcoin ban could backfire on Pakistan

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Pakistanis were third biggest crypto adopters in 2021, pumping up digital currency holdings to more than central bank’s foreign reserves

Pakistan’s central bank has proposed a ban on all forms of cryptocurrency, saying the risks involved in trading Bitcoin, Ethereum and other crypto coins far outweigh the potential benefits.

The State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) “risk-benefit analysis” committee, constituted under a High Court directive, recently announced that cryptocurrencies were depleting national foreign reserves and encouraging illicit financing.

The body, comprised of representatives from the Ministry of Finance, Information Technology, Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) and Security and Exchange Commission of Pakistan (SECP) recommended a complete ban on virtual currencies and other related activities in Pakistan.

India, which has the second-highest crypto holdings worldwide, is moving in the same direction and plans to ban most cryptocurrencies as part of a proposed Cryptocurrency and Regulation of Official Digital Currency Bill, likely to be debated in the parliament’s winter session. The legislation aims to establish a framework for an official digital currency to be issued by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

However, Pakistan does not plan to introduce its own official digital currency to replace existing digital money. Instead, authorities intend to ban all forms of crypto, with proposals on the table to block even the websites dealing in cryptocurrencies.

The SBP committee believes a clampdown is necessary because existing laws governing electronic crimes, foreign exchange remittances and anti-money laundering lack provisions for criminalizing the misuse of cryptocurrencies.

Business leaders, blockchain experts and crypto influencers have countered with a proposal for a digital currency regulatory framework. A blanket ban, they claim, would backfire badly and further damage the economy, which is already in tatters.

Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) former president Majyd Aziz told Asia Times that the government’s mindset of imposing bans to deal with emerging risks was highly flawed. “The authorities seldom figure out the outcome to analyze the risks and benefits of such an action,” he said. “You cannot ban digital currencies before evaluating its impact on the huge investments people made in the digital economy.

“In my opinion, there is an imperative need for an International Cryptocurrency Regulatory Authority that could run the crypto-related activities in the country. We do not need to ban crypto because the people would still invest in digital currency despite a ban,” Majyd added.

At the same time, he echoed regulators’ concerns in warning, “Greed and lust for fast bucks always result in big-time losses and I pray that cryptocurrency investment may not become another Ponzi scheme.”

Opinion is mixed, however.

Waqar Zaka, a prominent crypto influencer with related online platforms with over four million followers, recently tweeted, “There are minds who are claiming that 20 billion dollars {had} left Pakistan because of Crypto, incorrect. When there is Hundi {system in place}, why {would} anyone want to be on {the} FATF radar? By the way, Facebook {and} YouTube ads are dragging out more dollars from a country where a majority still have no idea about crypto.”

Federation of Pakistan Chamber of Commerce & Industry (FPCCI) estimates total cryptocurrency investments in Pakistan at US$20 billion, or more than the country’s total foreign currency reserves now held by the central bank.

A FPCCI policy brief, compiled in late December, underscored the risks endemic in the lack of crypto-related legislation and other digital assets in the country. It also noted Pakistan’s trading and lending partners such as China and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) have both warned unregulated blockchain technology is susceptible to money laundering and other digital crimes.

The report also noted that the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental body that fights money-laundering globally, has called on Pakistani authorities to better regulate its crypto industry, as most investors currently use a peer-to-peer (P2P) crypto investment mechanism that renders crypto assets almost undetectable.

Chainalysis, a blockchain data platform that provides data, software, services and research analysis, reported in October last year that Pakistan recorded 711% growth in crypto-related investments during the 2020-21 fiscal year, even higher than India’s explosive 641% growth.

The robust growth in digital currency holdings has made Pakistan one of the most robust crypto markets outside of Europe and the United States, with Chainalysis ranking the country third on its Global Crypto Adoption Index for the year 2021.

Chainalysis opined that Pakistan’s actual crypto holdings could be even higher than the official estimates because many citizens purchase bitcoin through P2P deals, which mostly remain undocumented.

Meet TripleA, a cryptocurrency and blockchain technology outfit, estimates that over 9 million people, or 4.1% of Pakistan’s total population, currently own cryptocurrencies. The firm claims that interest in Bitcoin, judging by online searches and other measures, has risen following the government’s discussion of new cryptocurrency regulations.

Meet TripleA said that despite Pakistan’s surging interest in cryptocurrency, the country’s potential was is being hampered by low banking penetration and limited proof-of-stake (POS) terminals for processing transactions and creating new blocks in a blockchain. Even so, the outfit said the bitcoin market is a “fast-growing sector of the economy.”

Regulatory screws are already tightening on crypto-trading platforms. Last week, Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) said it approached Binance Holdings Limited, one of the world’s biggest Bitcoin hubs, as part of an investigation into a suspected $100 million scam.

The agency claimed that several thousand Pakistani investors had been cheated through “fraudulent online investment mobile applications” and money transferred to at least 26 suspect Binance blockchain wallet addresses. The agency directed Binance to give the details of these blockchain accounts and mark a lien on the funds.

Soon thereafter, FIA director-general Sanaullah Abbasi said during an SBP briefing in Karachi on January 15 that the agency would soon block websites dealing in cryptocurrencies to prevent fraud and possible money laundering.

The meeting was informed that there was no section of law available in the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2016, Foreign Exchange Remittance Act 1947 (FERA) or Anti-Money Laundering Act 2010 (AMLA) to criminalize the misuse of cryptocurrency.

The meeting also observed that there was no regulatory framework for virtual asset service providers to comply with FATF requirements.

China, Bangladesh, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq, Qatar, Oman, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia have all already banned crypto transactions, while 42 other countries, including Algeria, Bahrain, Bolivia, India and Pakistan have implicitly banned digital currencies by restricting banks and cryptocurrency exchanges from dealing in the digital assets.

In 2018, Pakistan’s central bank declared that it had not authorized or licensed any individual or entity for the issuance, sale, purchase, exchange, or investment in virtual currencies like bitcoin and others. Digital currencies, SBP said at the time, were not a legal tender issued under the bank’s guarantee.

The SBP not only prevented banks from processing, using, trading, holding, transferring value, promoting and investing in virtual currencies but also advised them not to facilitate their account holders’ cryptocurrency transactions. Now, that regulatory noose will likely tighten into an outright crypto ban.

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Honda: Pioneering the Metaverse with New NFTs in Japan

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Introduction

In a world that is constantly evolving, one company has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation and embraced emerging technologies to engage with its loyal fan base. Honda, the renowned Japanese automaker, has once again taken a bold step into the digital realm by introducing a new collection of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) in Japan. These NFTs are not just about art; they represent Honda’s commitment to Web3 and the metaverse, signalling a groundbreaking shift in how brands interact with their audience. In this blog post, we will delve into the exciting world of Honda’s NFTs, exploring what NFTs are, how Honda is utilizing them, and the potential impact on the automotive industry and the metaverse itself.

1: The Rise of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs)

Before we dive into Honda’s groundbreaking venture, it’s essential to understand the concept of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). NFTs are unique digital assets that are indivisible and cannot be replicated, making them ideal for representing ownership of rare or exclusive items in the digital world. These tokens are built on blockchain technology, which ensures transparency, security, and authenticity. NFTs have gained immense popularity in recent years, with artists, musicians, and even sports teams using them to monetize their digital creations. The concept of owning a piece of the digital world has created a paradigm shift in how we perceive and value art, culture, and collectables.

2: Honda’s Vision for Web3 and the Metaverse

Honda, a company with a rich history dating back to 1948, has always been at the forefront of innovation. From their early motorcycles to the latest electric vehicles, Honda has consistently embraced technological advancements. However, their foray into the metaverse and Web3 represents a new frontier altogether. With the advent of blockchain technology, the company sees an opportunity to engage with its fans and customers in a more immersive and interactive manner.

Honda envisions a future where NFTs are more than just digital collectables; they are gateways to a metaverse where fans can connect with the brand on a deeper level. Imagine owning an NFT that grants you access to exclusive virtual events, virtual showrooms, or even virtual test drives of their latest vehicles. This bold vision reflects Honda’s commitment to embracing the digital age and staying ahead of the curve in a rapidly changing world.

3: The Honda NFT Collection

Honda’s NFT collection is a testament to their dedication to innovation and their fan community. The collection features a wide range of NFTs, each representing a unique aspect of Honda’s legacy and future. Here are some highlights from the collection:

  1. Historical Milestones: Some NFTs showcase iconic moments in Honda’s history, such as the launch of their first car and the introduction of their revolutionary VTEC engine. Owning these NFTs allows fans to own a piece of automotive history.
  2. Virtual Showrooms: Honda is pioneering the concept of virtual showrooms where fans can explore their latest vehicles in a digital environment. NFT holders will have exclusive access to these showrooms, allowing them to experience Honda’s cutting-edge technology from the comfort of their homes.
  3. Exclusive Events: Honda plans to host virtual events and product launches exclusively for NFT holders. These events will provide a platform for fans to interact with Honda’s team, ask questions, and get a closer look at what’s coming next from the automaker.
  4. Limited-Edition Concept Vehicles: Some NFTs will grant the owner virtual ownership of limited-edition concept vehicles that may or may not become a reality in the physical world. This innovative approach blurs the lines between the digital and physical automotive realms.
  5. Collaborations with Artists: Honda is collaborating with renowned digital artists to create NFTs that showcase the brand’s fusion of art and technology. These collaborations serve as a testament to Honda’s commitment to creativity and innovation.

4: The Impact on the Automotive Industry

Honda’s venture into NFTs and the metaverse is not just a marketing gimmick; it has the potential to disrupt the automotive industry in profound ways. Here’s how:

  1. Immersive Customer Engagement: By offering virtual showrooms and exclusive events, Honda is pioneering a new way for customers to interact with their vehicles. Potential buyers can explore a car’s features, take it for a virtual test drive, and get answers to their questions without visiting a physical dealership.
  2. Global Accessibility: The metaverse knows no borders. With Honda’s NFTs, fans and customers from around the world can access the brand’s offerings, reducing geographical limitations and expanding their customer base.
  3. Innovation and Competition: Honda’s move into the metaverse will likely encourage other automakers to follow suit. This healthy competition could lead to even more innovative ways for customers to experience and purchase vehicles.
  4. Digital Ownership: Owning an NFT that represents a concept car or a limited-edition vehicle blurs the lines between physical and digital ownership. In the future, customers might not just buy a car; they could own a digital twin of their vehicle in the metaverse.

5: The Metaverse and Beyond

Honda’s exploration of the metaverse is a clear indicator of the direction in which our digital world is heading. Beyond NFTs, the metaverse encompasses a vast ecosystem of virtual reality, augmented reality, online communities, and digital experiences. Honda’s foray into this space positions them as pioneers in a landscape where traditional industries are converging with the digital realm.

In the metaverse, owning an NFT is just the beginning. Brands like Honda are exploring the possibilities of virtual reality test drives, augmented reality maintenance tutorials, and even the creation of virtual brand ambassadors. The metaverse promises to be a space where brands can tell immersive stories, create interactive experiences, and build lasting connections with their audience.

Conclusion

Honda’s introduction of NFTs in Japan represents more than just a marketing strategy; it’s a bold step into the future of customer engagement and brand loyalty. By leveraging blockchain technology and embracing the metaverse, Honda is at the forefront of a digital revolution that is reshaping industries across the board.

As we look ahead, it’s clear that the metaverse is not a distant dream but a rapidly emerging reality. Honda’s NFT collection is a glimpse into what the future holds for brands that dare to innovate and embrace the ever-evolving digital landscape. It’s a testament to the fact that in the metaverse, the possibilities are limited only by our imagination, and Honda is leading the way toward this exciting new frontier.

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Justin Sun, Founder of TRON, Illuminates the Milken Institute Asia Summit

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Introduction

In the realm of blockchain and cryptocurrency, few names shine as brightly as Justin Sun. As the visionary founder of TRON, he has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation, making significant strides in the blockchain industry. Recently, Justin Sun had the honor of speaking at the prestigious Milken Institute Asia Summit, where he shared his insights, vision, and the future of blockchain technology. In this blog post, we’ll delve into Justin Sun’s remarkable journey, his accomplishments, and the key takeaways from his enlightening speech at the Milken Institute Asia Summit.

The Rise of Justin Sun

Before we delve into his recent appearance at the Milken Institute Asia Summit, it’s essential to understand Justin Sun’s remarkable journey and how he became a prominent figure in the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Justin Sun was born in 1990 in the vibrant city of Qinghai, China. His journey in the world of technology began at a young age when he attended Peking University and later the University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Master’s degree in Political Economy from the prestigious Wharton School.

Justin’s fascination with blockchain technology led him to become a disciple of Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba Group. Justin had the privilege of studying under Ma, learning valuable insights into entrepreneurship and the digital landscape. He emerged from this tutelage with a deep-rooted passion for blockchain technology, and he soon embarked on his path to becoming a leader in the field.

In 2017, Justin founded the TRON Foundation, a blockchain platform that aimed to create a decentralized internet. His vision for TRON was ambitious: to build a platform that would provide content creators with a direct, peer-to-peer connection to their audiences, bypassing the middlemen and gatekeepers that often control the distribution of digital content.

TRON’s Rise to Prominence

Under Justin Sun’s leadership, TRON quickly gained traction in the blockchain community. TRON’s native cryptocurrency, TRX, became one of the top cryptocurrencies by market capitalization. The platform also acquired BitTorrent, the world’s largest peer-to-peer file-sharing network, which further strengthened its decentralized ecosystem.

One of the defining moments for TRON was the launch of the TRON Mainnet in 2018. This marked TRON’s transition from being an ERC-20 token on the Ethereum blockchain to having its independent blockchain network. The Mainnet launch brought TRON increased autonomy and flexibility, allowing it to pursue its mission of creating a decentralized internet more effectively.

Justin Sun’s leadership and strategic partnerships played a pivotal role in TRON’s ascent. His notable partnerships with companies like Samsung and leading blockchain projects demonstrated his commitment to expanding TRON’s influence and creating real-world use cases for blockchain technology.

Keynote at the Milken Institute Asia Summit

Justin Sun’s invitation to speak at the Milken Institute Asia Summit was a testament to his growing influence and the relevance of blockchain technology in today’s world. The Milken Institute is renowned for its role in convening thought leaders, policymakers, and visionaries to discuss pressing global issues. Justin Sun’s keynote address at this prestigious event was eagerly anticipated.

During his speech, Justin Sun highlighted several key points that shed light on the future of blockchain technology and its transformative potential:

  1. Blockchain’s Role in Financial Inclusion: Justin emphasized the importance of blockchain in addressing financial inclusion. He discussed how blockchain technology has the potential to provide financial services to the unbanked and underbanked populations worldwide. By leveraging blockchain’s efficiency and transparency, we can create a more inclusive financial ecosystem.
  2. DeFi and the Future of Finance: Justin Sun discussed the rise of Decentralized Finance (DeFi) and its impact on traditional finance. He pointed out that DeFi projects built on blockchain technology are democratizing finance, allowing individuals to access a wide range of financial services without relying on traditional intermediaries.
  3. NFTs and Digital Ownership: The discussion about non-fungible tokens (NFTs) was another highlight of Justin Sun’s speech. He emphasized how NFTs are revolutionizing the concept of ownership in the digital age. NFTs enable creators to retain ownership of their digital assets, which can include art, music, and even virtual real estate, through blockchain technology.
  4. Sustainability in Blockchain: Justin Sun addressed the issue of energy consumption in blockchain networks, especially proof-of-work (PoW) blockchains like Bitcoin. He highlighted TRON’s commitment to energy-efficient consensus mechanisms like Delegated Proof of Stake (DPoS), which consume significantly less energy than PoW systems.
  5. Global Adoption of Cryptocurrencies: Justin Sun discussed the increasing adoption of cryptocurrencies worldwide. He highlighted how countries like El Salvador have embraced Bitcoin as legal tender and predicted that more nations would follow suit. He also touched on the potential for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) to play a significant role in the future financial landscape.
  6. Regulation and Compliance: Addressing concerns about regulatory challenges in the blockchain space, Justin Sun emphasized the importance of working closely with regulators to establish clear guidelines. He advocated for a balance between innovation and compliance to ensure the industry’s healthy growth.

Conclusion

Justin Sun’s keynote address at the Milken Institute Asia Summit was a testament to his vision and the transformative power of blockchain technology. As the founder of TRON, he has been at the forefront of blockchain innovation, working tirelessly to create a more decentralized and inclusive internet.

Through his speech, Justin Sun highlighted the potential of blockchain to reshape finance, digital ownership, and global commerce. His insights on sustainability and regulatory compliance underscored the need for responsible and sustainable growth in the blockchain industry.

As Justin Sun continues to lead TRON and advocate for blockchain’s potential, the world eagerly awaits the developments and innovations that will undoubtedly shape the future of technology and finance. His presence at the Milken Institute Asia Summit serves as a reminder of the profound impact that visionaries in the blockchain space can have on our rapidly evolving digital world.

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One Year After Trudeau’s Bitcoin Warning, BTC Still Beat Inflation and S&P 500

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ripple etehereum and bitcoin and micro sdhc card

In the ever-evolving world of cryptocurrency, Bitcoin stands as a beacon of resilience, continuously defying sceptics and naysayers. One year after Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau issued a stark warning about the perils of investing in Bitcoin, the digital currency not only weathered the storm but emerged stronger, outperforming both inflation and the S&P 500. This article delves into the remarkable journey of Bitcoin over the past year, analyzing its performance and shedding light on why it remains a formidable investment option.

The Warning That Shook the Crypto World

In May 2022, Justin Trudeau sent shockwaves through the cryptocurrency market when he cautioned Canadians about the potential risks associated with investing in Bitcoin. His concerns revolved around the volatility and speculative nature of cryptocurrencies, prompting many to reconsider their investments. However, what followed was a testament to Bitcoin’s resilience and its ability to withstand adversity.

Bitcoin’s Year-Long Resilience

Despite the initial apprehension triggered by Trudeau’s warning, Bitcoin remained unyielding in the face of adversity. Its price, which experienced a slight dip immediately after the warning, quickly rebounded. Bitcoin’s supporters and enthusiasts rallied behind it, emphasizing its unique qualities as a decentralized digital asset and a hedge against inflation.

Beating Inflation at Its Own Game

One of Bitcoin’s most compelling attributes is its ability to preserve value in the face of inflation. Traditional fiat currencies often lose their purchasing power over time due to inflationary pressures. Bitcoin, on the other hand, operates on a deflationary model, with a capped supply of 21 million coins. This scarcity has proven to be a boon for Bitcoin investors.

Over the past year, as governments around the world injected massive amounts of money into their economies to combat the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, concerns about inflation soared. Investors sought refuge in assets that could protect their wealth from the eroding effects of inflation. Bitcoin emerged as a clear winner in this regard, with its value surging as the dollar weakened.

Surpassing the S&P 500

The S&P 500, a benchmark index comprising 500 of the largest publicly traded companies in the United States, is often seen as a gauge of the overall health of the stock market. Historically, it has been a reliable indicator of long-term investment performance. However, in the past year, Bitcoin has managed to outpace this renowned index.

Bitcoin’s remarkable gains have attracted a new wave of institutional and retail investors alike. Its decentralized nature and limited supply have created an enticing narrative for those seeking an alternative to traditional financial instruments. As a result, Bitcoin’s performance has consistently outshone the S&P 500, drawing attention from a broader spectrum of investors.

The Role of Institutional Adoption

Institutional adoption of Bitcoin has played a pivotal role in its impressive performance over the past year. Notable financial institutions, including Tesla, Square, and PayPal, have allocated substantial portions of their balance sheets to Bitcoin. This institutional endorsement has provided a level of legitimacy and confidence in Bitcoin that was previously absent.

Furthermore, the acceptance of Bitcoin as a means of payment by companies such as Starbucks and Overstock.com has propelled its mainstream adoption. As Bitcoin integrates itself into the traditional financial ecosystem, its long-term prospects continue to brighten.

Regulatory Developments

One of the concerns raised by Prime Minister Trudeau was the need for effective regulation in the cryptocurrency space. Over the past year, governments and regulatory bodies worldwide have taken significant steps towards clarifying the regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. This increased regulatory clarity has, paradoxically, contributed to Bitcoin’s growth by providing a sense of legitimacy and security for investors.

The Future of Bitcoin

As we reflect on Bitcoin’s journey over the past year, it becomes evident that it has not only survived but thrived. It has weathered regulatory scrutiny, shrugged off market volatility, and proven its worth as a store of value and a hedge against inflation. While its journey has been remarkable, the future holds even more promise.

The continued expansion of the cryptocurrency market, growing institutional interest, and increasing mainstream adoption all bode well for Bitcoin. Its status as digital gold and a decentralized asset remains unchallenged, making it a compelling option for both short-term traders and long-term investors.

Conclusion

One year after Trudeau’s Bitcoin warning, it is clear that Bitcoin has not only defied the odds but has also exceeded expectations. Its resilience, ability to beat inflation, and outperformance of the S&P 500 demonstrate its enduring value in the world of investments. As Bitcoin continues to evolve and mature, it remains a beacon of hope for those seeking financial freedom and stability in an ever-changing economic landscape.

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