The cryptocurrency industry in East Asia has been hit with yet another scandal, this time involving Changjiang Currency Exchange, a prominent money transmitter business based in Australia. In a shocking turn of events, the exchange has been implicated in a staggering money laundering case worth 230 million Australian dollars ($145 million).
On October 26, a massive police operation involving 300 officers took place across five major cities in Australia. The operation resulted in the arrest of seven individuals, including four Chinese citizens and three Australian nationals. This culmination came after a lengthy 14-month investigation into the exchange’s activities.
Authorities have accused Changjiang Currency Exchange of assisting in the laundering of illicit funds and tainted cryptocurrency obtained from investment scams and unregistered crypto exchanges. The exchange, which operated under the guise of a legitimate currency exchange business, has been deemed responsible for facilitating the flow of dirty money. Shockingly, in one instance, a 37-year-old Chinese national is alleged to have laundered an astounding 100 million Australian dollars ($63 million) through Changjiang’s services, funds acquired from a multinational Ponzi scheme.
This investigation was triggered by the suspicious activities observed at Changjiang kiosks across Australia during a period of strict COVID-19 lockdowns. In addition to the arrests, law enforcement confiscated a substantial amount of evidence, including 21 million Australian dollars ($13.27 million) in cash and various luxury items that were believed to have been purchased using the proceeds of crime. As the investigation unfolds, authorities are determined to bring all individuals involved to justice.
In the midst of a declining industry, Bitget, a crypto derivatives exchange, has managed to rise above the rest and position itself as the fourth-largest exchange by volume. The only platforms surpassing Bitget in terms of trading activity are the well-established industry giants Binance, OKX, and Bybit.
According to Bitget’s transparency report released on October 20, the exchange’s market share has spiked to an impressive 9.43%, a significant leap considering it held negligible volume just two years prior. During the third quarter of 2023 alone, Bitget onboarded over 9,000 traders and attracted 85,000 followers or copy-traders, generating a noteworthy net trading profit of $6.7 million. However, despite Bitget’s remarkable achievements, the overall trading activity in the industry experienced a 23% decline year-over-year, amounting to $4.8 trillion in the quarter.
To ensure the safety and protection of its users, Bitget established a user protection fund that reached its peak at $368 million during the third quarter. Currently, the fund stands at $350 million. The exchange proudly states that it operates without any outstanding debts and boasts a proof-of-reserves ratio exceeding 200%. Demonstrating its commitment to expansion and development, Bitget launched the $100 million EmpowerX Fund in September, dedicated to fostering ecosystem growth. Furthermore, the exchange actively pursued its Middle East expansion plans by recruiting an additional 60 staff members in July.
China, known for its stringent regulations on blockchain and cryptocurrencies, has made a surprising move by relaxing its stance on nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Alibaba’s flagship peer-to-peer marketplace, Xianyu, has lifted its censorship on keywords related to NFTs in its search tool, allowing Topnod NFT collectibles minted on Alibaba’s Ant Blockchain to be relisted. Previously, due to regulatory uncertainties, Topnod digital collectibles were prohibited from being listed on secondary markets.
Last December, it was reported that the Chinese government was planning to launch an official NFT trading platform. Although the platform is still under development, the removal of censorship on Xianyu indicates a potential shift in China’s attitude towards NFTs. It is worth noting that China has implemented strict regulations on various crypto-related activities, making almost all forms of cryptocurrency involvement illegal except for personal ownership.
The adoption of blockchain technology continues to revolutionize various industries, and the health insurance sector in China is no exception. In the regions of Shanghai, Zhejiang, Jiangsu, and Anhui, residents can now benefit from submitting and validating their health insurance claims through blockchain technology. A partnership between Alibaba’s Ant Insurance and the aforementioned regions enables users to submit their claims online. After undergoing blockchain verification for authenticity, claimants can receive their reimbursements within hours.
This innovative system has already produced remarkable results. Mr. Wang, an individual who sought reimbursement for lung cancer treatment, received the full reimbursement of 130,000 Chinese yuan ($17,800) within a mere two hours of submitting his claim. The streamlined process not only provides convenience to the people but also enhances the efficiency of insurance claims, effectively preventing fraudulent activities.
Ant Insurance has been at the forefront of blockchain-powered claims processing since 2019. Over the course of four years, the platform has successfully processed more than 2.25 billion medical claims, improving information sharing and collaboration between insurance providers and medical professionals. This integration of blockchain technology has ushered in a new era of digitization and efficiency in the insurance industry.
The Jianpu People’s Court in Huaian, China, has implemented an all-purpose surveillance system incorporating AI recognition, big data, and blockchain technology. The system, operational as of October 25, revolutionizes law enforcement surveillance by monitoring the activities of visitors entering and leaving the court premises. In cases where a visitor is identified as trespassing in an unauthorized area, the system immediately alerts court bailiffs for prompt action.
Surveillance efforts are significantly enhanced through the system’s capability to analyze visitor behavior intelligently. By employing intelligent behavior analysis technology, the system can detect and provide early warnings related to potentially dangerous behaviors such as abnormal gatherings, strenuous exercise, and fights. This advanced system prompts judicial personnel to promptly attend to and address these situations.
The surveillance system ensures comprehensive monitoring of visitors’ movements and details within the court premises, granting court bailiffs unparalleled access. Augmented reality technology further augments the system, enhancing visibility in hard-to-see areas, ultimately improving the resolution and effectiveness of surveillance efforts.
East Asia’s cryptocurrency and blockchain landscape is witnessing profound developments that both challenge and redefine the industry’s norms. As the region grapples with money laundering scandals, emerging exchanges, shifting regulations, innovative uses of blockchain technology, and enhanced law enforcement, the future of the industry remains unpredictable. However, one thing is certain: East Asia continues to shape the global cryptocurrency and blockchain narrative.