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Fintech weekly recap: bitcoin ETF falls flat, fintech in the UAE and South Korea, blockchain securit

Regulator rejects bitcoin ETF

Plans for a bitcoin ETF have met opposition in the US. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected the proposal citing an inability to effectively monitor bitcoin as well as the cryptocurrency’s unregulated nature. The ETF is sponsored by the Winklevoss twins, infamous for their spat with Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg. The justification behind the decision implies that the refusal stems from the inherent nature of bitcoin. As such, its impact may have a negative cascading effect on other similar projects such as the two other bitcoin ETFs currently under review by the SEC.

Fintech developments in the UAE

Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to take steps toward establishing themselves as global fintech hubs. To this end, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) has released a fintech consultation paper to help contribute to the growth of the industry in the region. The third in a series, the paper sets out the DFSA’s approach to companies looking to deploy their solutions within the Emirate’s special economic zone. The approach mirrors that in other jurisdictions in that the regulator will remain relatively hands off, intervening only when needed. Not to be outdone, Abu Dhabi has taken similar steps to promote its own ecosystem with the conclusion of a cooperation agreement with Singapore. As is usually the case with these, both parties will assist companies to “better understand the regulatory regime in each jurisdiction and provide support through the application and authorisation process.”

Blockchain based bond trading in Singapore

Building on a successful proof-of-concept for domestic inter-bank payments using distributed ledger technologies (DLT), the Monetary Authority of Singapore now intends to concentrate efforts on blockchain settlement of bond trades. The project is led by the Singapore Exchange and aims to facilitate the trading and settlement of fixed income securities. In addition, the central bank announced that Deloitte will produce a report highlighting the best use cases for DLT in the context of settlements.

South Korea pushes ahead with fintech

Speaking at a meeting with the heads of 15 fintech companies, South Korea’s top financial markets regulator pledged to expand support to local companies. Though the details of the project were scarce, the chairman of the Financial Services Commission indicated that authorities would make US$2.6 billion available over a three-year period. The move is an attempt to bolster the country’s standing in fintech and maintain the global competitiveness of its home-grown companies which have recently attracted funding by industry heavyweights.

Australia reports on blockchain standardization

Mass adoption of blockchain has numerous detractors. Though confidentiality concerns stemming from sharing of information with other nodes ranks high among the list of complaints, market fragmentation is close behind. Whether from the efforts of consortia or other companies, there is no shortage of applications to confound potential adopters. To this end, Standards Australia has released a report outlining the roadmap to the adoption of blockchain standards. Among other topics, the report tackles the technical issues associated with “developing, governing and utilising blockchains and Distributed Ledger Technologies”.

Abraham Tachjian

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