Fireblocks Integrates Astar Network, Boosting Secure DeFi Access for Institutions

Digital asset management platform, Fireblocks, has now incorporated Astar Network, Japan’s leading blockchain, marking an expansion in the company’s secure services for institutional investors. With the new integration, over 650 banks and financial institutions can now tap into Astar’s thriving DeFi ecosystem, as well as trade, swap, and lend digital assets on Astar via Fireblocks.

Astar Network has rapidly become a preferred choice in Japan owing to its support for the popular Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) environment, as well as the addition of WebAssembly (WASM), transforming it into a multi-chain platform supporting interoperable applications.

Fireblocks, well-known for its commitment to security, has managed to have its digital asset infrastructure system certified by the Cryptocurrency Certification Consortium (C4), making it the first service provider to receive such recognition. Its multi-party computation (MPC) technology has won over traditional financial clients including BNY Mellon, ANZ Bank, and NAB, as well as Japanese trading platforms such as CoinTrade.

Stephen Richardson, Managing Director, Financial Markets and Head of APAC at Fireblocks, commented on the integration saying, “Fireblocks has always focused on facilitating institutional adoption in the digital assets industry. By leveraging our highly secure network and MPC-based wallet infrastructure, banks, exchanges, OTCs, and hedge funds can now seamlessly access Astar’s assets.”

The integration was celebrated at a special event during WebX in Tokyo, attended by more than 200 guests, including executives of global enterprises, web3 founders, and venture capitalists. The attendees gained valuable insights into the application of web3 technology in the corporate sphere, and the growing role enterprises play in web3, particularly in Japan, where the government is progressively exploring ways to utilize web3 technology.

Maarten Henskens, CEO of Astar Foundation, emphasized the impact of the integration stating, “We’re looking forward to leveraging this integration to enhance adoption while giving institutions looking to build on Astar a secure and robust way to safeguard their digital assets.”

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KuCoin Report Reveals 3.8 Million Japanese Engaged in Cryptocurrency

KuCoin has recently released its 13th edition of the ‘Into The Cryptoverse’ report, focusing on the rapidly growing cryptocurrency market in Japan. The report provides a detailed analysis of the trends, preferences, and behaviors of Japanese crypto investors.

The survey involved 400 Japanese adults aged between 18 and 60, who are actively investing in cryptocurrencies. The key findings of the report include:

Crypto Adoption in Japan: The survey reveals that approximately 3.8 million Japanese adults, constituting 5% of the adult population aged between 18 and 60, are actively engaged in crypto investments.

  1. Youth and Crypto: An impressive 39% of Japanese young crypto investors hold over JPY¥10,000 in crypto, demonstrating a strong inclination towards substantial crypto investments.
  2. Women in Crypto: Women represent a significant 29% of young investors in Japan, reflecting a growing interest in the potential and opportunities offered by crypto investments.
  3. Active Trading: Nearly half (49%) of young Japanese crypto investors trade multiple times weekly, indicating the active participation of younger investors in the crypto market.

The report also highlights Japan’s innovative tax policies, fostering a thriving crypto ecosystem, attracting startups, and driving innovation. “Japan’s crypto landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace, and we at KuCoin are committed to staying at the forefront of this transformation,” said Johnny Lyu, CEO of KuCoin.

The report further explores Japanese investors’ preferred crypto assets, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, and the growing interest in NFTs, Metaverse, Stablecoins, GameFi, DeFi, and Meme coins. It also emphasizes the significant role of social media influencers in shaping crypto investment decisions, with YouTube and Twitter emerging as the most trusted platforms.

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SEC Proposes New Rules to Address Conflicts of Interest in AI Usage by Brokerage Firms

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has proposed new rules to address potential conflicts of interest that may arise when investment advisers and broker-dealers use predictive data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI). Regardless of the technology used, the plan, which was presented on July 26, 2023, wants to stop businesses from putting their own interests ahead of investors’.

The proposed rules would require firms to analyze and identify any conflicts of interest that may emerge when using predictive data analytics to interact with investors. If such conflicts are found to place the firm’s interests ahead of investors’, the firms would need to eliminate or neutralize the effects of those conflicts. The rules would also mandate firms that use this technology for investor interactions to maintain books and records regarding their compliance with these matters.

The proposal comes in response to the increasing ability of predictive data analytics models to make individualized predictions about investors. This capability facilitates efficient, large-scale communication and can influence investors’ decisions. However, it also raises the possibility of conflicts of interest if advisers or brokers optimize to place their interests ahead of their investors’.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler highlighted the transformative age we live in with regard to predictive data analytics and the use of AI. He noted that these advances open up significant opportunities across various sectors, including healthcare, science, and finance. However, he also stressed the potential risks, stating, “If a firm’s optimization function takes the interest of the firm into consideration as well as the interest of the investor, this can lead to conflicts of interest.”

The SEC has also adopted new rules requiring publicly traded companies to disclose hacking incidents within four days of determining their materiality to investors. The rule, first proposed in March 2022, is part of a broader SEC effort to strengthen the financial system against data theft, system failures, and cyber intrusions.

The proposed rules on AI usage have been met with dissent from Republican commissioners, who argue that existing disclosure requirements are sufficient and that the new proposal could stifle the use of new technologies. However, the SEC maintains that the complexity and opacity of these technologies necessitate a special rule.

Commissioner Hester Peirce, one of the dissenting voices, argued that the proposal seemed to suggest that investors, when confronted with these technologies, “just melt into puddles of incompetence and so disclosure doesn’t work for them.” However, William Birdthistle, the SEC’s director of investment management, countered that the proposal would not replace any disclosure requirements.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has underscored the need for a unique regulatory approach to manage the use of highly scalable, intricate, and often non-transparent technologies in the financial sector. This statement comes in light of the SEC’s recent proposal to mitigate potential conflicts of interest arising from the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and predictive data analytics by investment advisers and broker-dealers.

The proposed rules are set to be published in the Federal Register, initiating a 60-day period for public commentary before a final decision is made. This process marks a significant milestone in the ongoing discourse surrounding the convergence of technology and financial regulation. It highlights the necessity to strike a balance between fostering innovation and safeguarding investor interests.

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