News Summary for March 2023: Gambling, Crypto & Payments

Fast Offshore brings you the top news from Gambling, Fintech, and Crypto for March 2023.

iGaming regulation in Japan, far away minister says

The prospect of establishing regulated online casinos in Japan remains distant, according to the general manager of gaming firm Bay City Ventures. Last June, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida stated that online casinos were “against the law,” while the Consumer Affairs Agency and the police agency have made it clear that “unregulated online gambling is illegal.” Bay City Ventures’ Joji Kokuryo said unregulated gaming has a maximum fine of JPY500,000 ($3,825) for first-time offenders, but it remained unclear what long-term preventative measures the government intended to take.

Telgram users can sent Tether via platform

Telegram users can now send Tether (USDT), the world’s largest stablecoin by market cap, within chats in the messaging app, as USDT has been added to the @wallet bot on the app. This expands Telegram’s capabilities for buying and selling crypto, with bitcoin and toncoin also added to the @wallet marketplace last April. Integrating crypto payments into messaging apps could be a positive development for the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies. Stablecoins like USDT offer the benefits of other cryptos without the price volatility, making them valuable to users who want to keep their cryptocurrency in the ecosystem without risking significant swings in value. Telegram’s cryptocurrency journey goes back several years to the development of the Open Network (TON) blockchain project, but this was abandoned in 2020 due to legal battles with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The TON Foundation continued to advance the project, keeping TON alive. Telegram continues to maintain an interest in the network, exemplified by building its blockchain-based auction platform Fragment on it late last year. The announcement was made on Wednesday afternoon by Telegram’s blockchain team, The Open Network. “Imagine being able to buy and sell crypto via a messaging app,” they wrote in a tweet. “Now imagine it’s already here.”

Portugal gambling revenue hits all-time high

Portugal’s online gambling revenue hit a record high of €195.3m ($234.5m) in Q4 2020, according to figures from the country’s regulator. The National Gaming Authority (SRIJ) revealed in its latest report that Q4 revenue was up by 58.8% year-on-year and 7.8% from the previous quarter. Sports betting was the largest contributor, generating €113.2m in revenue, up 70.1% year-on-year, while online casinos and poker rooms recorded combined revenue of €82.1m, a rise of 44%. Overall, the three operators, Betclic, Betway and PokerStars, which hold licences for all gaming verticals, accounted for 94.9% of online revenue in Q4, with Betclic the largest, claiming a 39.5% market share. The surge in online gambling activity in Portugal during the pandemic is likely to have contributed to the significant revenue increase. The country’s land-based gambling industry has been severely hit by closures and restrictions associated with Covid-19. In September 2020, the SRIJ reported that land-based revenue for the first half of the year was down 60.9% due to the pandemic. However, online gambling looks set to continue its current upward trend, with Portugal’s government planning to implement a new regime for online gambling in 2021, which hopes to further boost market growth.

iGaming market set to reach $150 billion by 2027

A new report has found that the online gambling market is set to grow by $150.5 billion until 2027, with the Asia Pacific region expected to be the fastest-growing market. The report by Zion Market Research also found that the global online gambling market was worth $60.1 billion in 2020 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 11.5% between 2021 and 2027. Factors driving this growth include the increasing popularity of online gambling, the rise in the use of smartphones and tablets, and the growing number of online betting and gaming platforms. The report also noted that the availability of payments through digital wallets and cryptocurrencies is another key driver of growth in the online gambling market. However, there are concerns about the impact of online gambling, including addiction and the potential for money laundering, which highlight the need for regulation and responsible gambling measures.

Dutch regulator fines iGaming affiliate

The Dutch regulator has imposed a €675,000 fine on an online gambling affiliate for operating without a license. The company was found to be promoting various online casinos to Dutch customers through its website. The regulator stated that the company had violated the country’s Remote Gaming Act, which prohibits the promotion of online gambling services without obtaining a license from the regulator. The affiliate was also found to have failed to take responsible gambling measures to protect customers from gambling harm. The regulator has been targeting illegal online gambling in the country for some time as it prepares for the launch of its online gaming market in October 2021. The regulator has stated that it will continue to enforce its anti-gambling laws and take action against those who violate them.

NatWest limits crypto payments

UK bank NatWest has announced that it will limit the amount its customers can send and receive from cryptocurrency exchanges over concerns regarding fraud and scams. The bank said it would also decline to provide banking services to new crypto exchanges that do not have robust anti-money laundering (AML) policies in place. NatWest’s move comes amid increased scrutiny from regulators and financial institutions towards the cryptocurrency sector. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the UK is set to crack down on unregulated companies offering cryptocurrency investments, and last year the Bank of England raised the alarm over the potential risks associated with cryptocurrencies to the stability of the financial system. Cryptocurrency firms have been urged to enhance AML measures and improve their transparency about where customer funds are held to help address concerns over fraudulent activity.

US bank launches biometric card replacement

JPMorgan Chase has announced the launch of a biometric payment system to replace physical payment cards in the payment cycle. The technology will use a merchant’s smartphone camera or terminal to recognise the customer’s unique facial features or fingerprint identity. This new payment system hopes to streamline the payment process for customers, who will no longer have to worry about losing their payment card, and also for merchants, who will be able to deal with larger amounts of transactions in a shorter amount of time. The pilot programme will expand on the bank’s existing contactless payment system and will initially include select merchants in the US. The bank company said that over time, the technology could be launched in many other locations. JPMorgan hopes to launch the new payment system in the middle of 2020.

Crypto companies criticise US SEC

Crypto companies have criticized the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Washington government for not providing clear guidance on cryptocurrency regulations. Many crypto firms believe that the lack of clarity on digital assets has prevented innovation and stunted growth in the crypto-industry. Additionally, the SEC has been accused of regulatory overload, with overzealous scrutiny of initial coin offerings (ICO) hindering development in the field. During a recent hearing, the Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee acknowledged the need for updated regulations that take the fast-evolving nature of crypto into account. However, the SEC has yet to provide a clear rulebook for crypto companies to operate within and critics are also concerned about a lack of consistent enforcement of existing rules. Some industry experts have called on the SEC to expand its staff and form more departments to handle the high volume of complaints and doubts from regulatory agencies in different states.

Startup aims to put world’s assets on blockchain

Avalanche, a blockchain startup, aims to digitize all the world’s assets using blockchain technology. The company wants to transform financial markets by creating a platform that allows for the creation of digital assets representative of real-world assets such as stocks, commodities, real estate, and more. These assets will exist on a decentralized platform, providing transparency, security, and speed of transactions that traditional financial systems cannot match. They will be traded using Avalanche’s native token, AVAX. Avalanche’s platform aims to remove traditional barriers to entry by enabling real-time settlements, lower transaction costs, and easy access to liquidity. The company has already launched a number of digital assets offerings, including AVAX tokens for staking, incentivization, and ecosystem development. With this new platform, Avalanche is setting its sights on competing with other blockchain platforms like Ethereum and Ripple in the digital asset marketplace.

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