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Blockchain Can Help in Fight Against COVID

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Japanese Finance Minister Taro Aso suggested blockchain would be key in the world’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic as the technology can be used for contact tracing while ensuring privacy.

Aso gave the opening remarks for the Blockchain Global Governance Conference, also known as the FIN/SUM Blockchain & Business, on Aug. 24 in Tokyo.

“In the battle against widespread infectious diseases, blockchain provides one solution for contact trading,” he said, while referring to the coronavirus.

There are almost 24 million COVID-19 cases around the world, with more than 60,000 in Japan. Despite the topic of Aso’s speech, a limited number of people were allowed to physically attend the blockchain conference, with others watching speakers through livestream coverage.

The finance minister acknowledged that while the threat imposed by the coronavirus has not subsided, blockchain can provide privacy for anyone testing positive through contact tracing. In addition, the technology could give authorities a better measure of what needs to be done regarding containment, preventing possible outbreaks in the future.

Aso added that any conflict between the blockchain community and Japanese regulators needed to be addressed to make any progress in this regard.

“Some of the blockchain communities may still be hostile to regulators because of the belief they may hinder innovation due to a lack of understanding of the technology,” he said. “What we need is to work together and collaborate to consider the best use of the technology under the best governance.”

Japan’s finance minister is not the first regulator to propose blockchain as a solution for some of the problems the country is facing under COVID. The CEO of financial giant SBI Holdings said in May that the technology could be useful in tracking and tracing the supply chain of essential materials, including masks.



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London Stock Exchange-listed firm inks FCA’s approval for crypto services

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Mode Global Holdings, a London Stock Exchange-listed fintech group, has secured major regulatory approvals for cryptocurrency and fintech operations in the United Kingdom.

The company announced Thursday that Mode has secured its Electronic Money Institution license and AMLD5 registration from the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority.

The AMLD5 registration has been granted to Mode’s crypto arm Fibermode Limited, establishing it as an official crypto asset firm in the United Kingdom, pursuant to the amended regulations on money laundering, terrorist financing and transfer of funds.

The AMLD5 registration is a requirement for crypto-related businesses in the country that fall within the scope of money laundering regulations. According to the announcement, Mode is the fifth company to have received this registration to date since the FCA became the official AML supervisor of the crypto industry in the U.K. in January 2020.

Alongside the AMLD5, Mode’s subsidiary Greyfoxx Limited also acquired the EMI license, which enables Mode to offer a “range of innovative financial services” to both businesses and consumers in the United Kingdom, the announcement notes.

Following the acquisition of new regulatory approvals, Mode is planning to further expand its crypto services, including decommissioning its investment product known as the “Bitcoin Jar.” The product aims to allow Mode customers to use Bitcoin (BTC) to generate BTC interest rather than simply holding it in a wallet or on an exchange.

Mode CEO Ryan Moore noted that the new regulatory developments provide a major step in Mode’s mission to deliver a trusted and regulated environment. “It means we now have the ability to scale our operations and continue delivering innovative payments products for our customers under our own EMI licence. Both the EMI licence and the AMLD5 registration ensure business transparency, strong oversight and give our customers confidence in our offering,” he said.

Related: UK regulator warns against 111 unregistered crypto companies… and FOMO

The latest news comes shortly after a member of the British Parliament pointed out major difficulties in the process of registering crypto firms under the FCA’s AML regulations in late May. Economic secretary John Glen elaborated that FCA was not able to process and register all applications by its previous deadline due to a significant number of firms failing to adopt robust AML control frameworks as well as employ proper staff.