Hong Kong\u2019s Central Bank collaborates with R3 to work on its own digital\u00a0currency The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) has started collaborating with local banks and the R3 Consortium for the purpose of creation of central bank\u2019s own digital currency. The plans were announced in the document published by the Legislative Council Panel on Financial Affairs this week. Previously the Authority has been working closely with the Bank of China, Bank of East Asia, Hang Seng Bank, HSBC, Standard Chartered Bank, and Deloitte to test applications of the distributed ledger technology for trade finance carrying out a proof-of-concept. It has recently announced that the working group has entered the first phase of the project which involves thorough research of the feasibility of a central bank digital currency utilizing distributed ledger technology. This phase is expected to be completed by the end of this year. It doesn\u2019t mean, however, that the digital currency will be tested on a larger scale. The completion of the first phase will be followed by further evaluation and decision whether it is worth to continue with the project. Working group initiated this partnership to study the potential of central bank\u2019s digital currency for the use in domestic inter-bank payments, inter-corporate payments in the wholesale market, and delivery versus payment debt securities settlement. India\u2019s government establishes a special Committee to research digital currencies Things are clearing up in India, as the National Ministry of Finance announced that the government has established a special committee dedicated to researching digital currencies. The decision to create a special Committee for researching digital currencies comes after a few members of Indian Parliament raised concerns about the lack of regulatory structure and legal status of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Thus, Kirit Somaiya has recently urged upon the government to take a closer look at Bitcoin calling it an illegal currency. The interdisciplinary committee is established by the Department of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Finance, chaired by Special Secretary and includes representatives from a number of state bodies (Department of Economic Affairs, Department of Financial Services, Department of Revenue, Ministry of home Affairs, Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Reserve Bank of India, and the State Bank of India). The Committee will monitor the current status of digital currencies both inside the country and globally, study existing regulatory practices and legal structures in the cryptocurrency space, and suggest policies for regulating digital currencies especially in the areas of consumer protection and anti-money laundering. It is asked to submit their final report along with recommendations within three months. Things just got serious: an academic journal focusing on blockchain launched in Pittsburgh Blockchain technology is maturing and attracting more and more interest from financial and tech giants, Central Banks, and regulators, who launch their research institutes and centers focusing on blockchain. Financial institution Fidelity Investments has recently joined the research and industry group The Initiative for Cryptocurrencies & Contracts, the global auditing firm Deloitte established its own Blockchain Institute facilitating research and adoption of technology. Now the industry has its own academic journal solely dedicated to blockchain technology as it was launched in the US. Chris Wilmer, Assistant Professor of Chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh has noticed that there was no place for people passionate about the technology to publish their research papers and decided to launch one. He explained his motivation in the interview to Pittsburgh\u2019s NPR News Station: \u201cAlmost every sub field in the academic world seems to have an academic journal, until now there hasn\u2019t been an academic journal for folks researching blockchain technology. They tried to get their research published in other journals though, but perhaps haven\u2019t been fully understood or taken seriously. Besides, the fact that there was no central repository, made it very hard to search for scholarly papers in the industry.\u201d The premiere issue of Ledger was published in March and focused on economics, finance, law, math, cryptocurrency, and engineering. Wilmer believes that the blockchain technology will transform all aspects of life, just the way the Internet did, changing the way we practice law, filing patents, trading stocks, and going to concerts. Wilmer points out that Bitcoin is so far the most successful application of blockchain technology and the largest socioeconomic human experiment, but he emphasizes that we just scratched the surface and there is a great scope of opportunities to explore and write about it. Ledger already generated some interest and Wilmer expects it to continue rising, as the industry is maturing. According to him, technology definitely has social and political dimensions, therefore the focus of the journal won\u2019t be only on very technical aspects, but will also cover a sociologist\u2019s view of blockchain technology. Ohio prisoners got caught plotting a cybercrime using\u00a0Bitcoin The cryptocurrency space isn\u2019t free from all sorts of mishaps. According to a report published this week by the Ohio\u2019s Office of the Inspector General, a pair of Ohio prison inmates plotted a cybercrime using bitcoin. Using stolen information from a former employee and computers obtained from a hardware salvage program carried out in the prison, the prisoners were able to attack the Department Offender Tracking System (DOTS) portal and create inmate passes. State investigators found bitcoin wallets, bank accounts and credit card accounts what eventually pointed toward possible identity fraud, and maybe other cybercrimes. Report, however, does not disclose further details concerning how the cryptocurrency was used. Writer: Alisa Tciriulnikova, Content Editor at Prasos Ltd Alisa Tciriulnikova is an explorer curious about the future of cryptocurrencies, blockchain, and fintech. Alisa holds a MSc in Social Sciences from the University of Tampere (Finland) and is currently pursuing a PhD researching integration of PPP model into pension industry.