Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.
Largest money laundering scandal in Australia unravels
Changjiang Currency Exchange, a money transmitter business based in Australia, has beenbustedin a 230 million Aussie dollar ($145 million) money laundering scandal.
On Oct. 26, a 300-strong police operation spanning Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth arrested seven individuals — four Chinese citizens and three Australian nationals — after a 14-month investigation.
Operating under the front of a legitimate currency exchange business, police say that Changjiang Currency Exchange helped launder dirty funds and tainted cryptocurrency from investment scams and unregistered crypto exchanges.
In one single incident, a 37-year-old Chinese national was accused of using Changjiang’s services to launder AU$100 million ($63 million) worth of funds received from a multinational Ponzi scheme.
The investigation began after law enforcement officials noticed irregular traffic at Changjiang kiosks across Australia during a time of strict COVID-19-related lockdowns. Police have since seized AU$21 million ($13.27 million) in cash and various luxury items believed to have been purchased using proceeds of crime. The investigation remains ongoing.
Bitget’s colorful Q3
Crypto derivatives exchange Bitget hasrisento become the fourth-largest by volume, trailing behind only Binance, OKX and Bybit.
In an Oct. 20 Bitget transparency report, Bitget claimed that its market share had risen to 9.43%, compared to negligible volume just two years ago. During Q3 2023, the exchange says it onboarded over 9,000 traders along with 85,000 followers or copy-traders, who together achieved a net trading profit of $6.7 million. However, the combined industry trading activity fell by 23% year-over-year to $4.8 trillion in the quarter.
From July to September, Bitget’s user protection fund peaked at $368 million and now stands at $350 million. The exchange claims that it has no debt alongside a proof-of-reserves ratio exceeding 200%. In September, the firm launched a $100 million EmpowerX Fund dedicated to ecosystem development and hosted a namesake summit in Singapore. It also hired 60 staff in July for its Middle East expansion plans.
China partially lifts bans on NFTs
After a year of harsh crackdowns on private blockchain enterprises, it appears that China has softened its stance somewhat.
According to local news reports on Oct. 25, Xianyu (literally “Bored Fish”), Chinese internet conglomerate Alibaba’s flagship peer-to-peer marketplace, has removed its censorship of “nonfungible tokens” related keywords in its search tool and relisted Topnod NFT collectibles minted on Alibaba’s Ant Blockchain.
Due to regulatory uncertainty, Topnod digital collectibles were prohibited from listing on secondary markets. Last December, Cointelegraph reported the Chinese government’s official NFT trading platform was planned to launch this year. The exchange is still in development at the time of publication. Since 2021, China has officially banned almost all crypto-related activity saved for outright ownership of cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain connects interprovincial health insurance in China
Residents of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces can nowsubmitand validate their health insurance claims using blockchain technology.
In a partnership with Alibaba’s Ant Insurance, users in the aforementioned regions can submit their claims online and after blockchain verification for authenticity, receive their reimbursement within hours.
In one instance, an individual known as Mr. Wang submitted his claim for lung cancer treatment in Anhui and received the full 130,000 Chinese yuan ($17,800) reimbursement within two hours. Su Fang, director of the Financial Insurance Institute of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, commented:
“This time, all electronic financial and medical bills in the Yangtze River Delta have been opened and applied on a large scale in commercial insurance claims, marking the true application of the digital Yangtze River Delta construction. This not only brings real convenience to the people but also improves the efficiency of insurance claims and effectively prevents moral hazard.”
Ant Insurance has operated a blockchain-powered claims portal since 2019. For the past four years, the platform has processed over 2.25 billion medical claims and improved information sharing between insurance providers and medical professionals.
Huaian uses blockchain to improve surveillance
The Jianpu People’s Court in Huaian, China, isusinga combination of AI recognition, big data and blockchain technology to improve law enforcement surveillance.
Starting Oct. 25, the Jianpu People’s Court will create an “all-purpose” system for monitoring visitors entering and leaving court premises. As soon as a visitor is identified to be trespassing in an unauthorized area, the system will alert court bailiffs for their immediate apprehension. Officials say that the system can drastically reduce the patrolling of hard-to-monitor areas:
“Outside the court walls and in the public rest areas outside the courtroom of the main building, etc., intelligent behavior analysis technology can be used to capture and intelligently analyze the behavior of the parties, provide early warning of possible dangerous behaviors such as abnormal gatherings, strenuous exercise, fights, etc., and remind judicial police and other staff to pay attention and deal with it promptly and appropriately.”
Through the system, court bailiffs would gain access to all visitors’ movements and details within court premises. Augmented reality will also enhance hard-to-see areas for better resolution.
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