AirAsia Planning Cryptocurrency-Based Rewards Program

AirAsia Planning Cryptocurrency-Based Rewards Program

Nikhilesh De   
 Mar 30, 2018 at 18:00 UTC  |  Updated  Mar 30, 2018 at 18:01 UTC

Malaysian low-cost airline AirAsia is launching a cryptocurrency-based rewards program.

AirAsia chief executive Tony Fernandes told Nikkei Asian Review that its frequent-flyer rewards program is being converted into a cryptocurrency platform called BigCoin. The move is part of a broader effort to improve the airline's digital services and move the company toward a cashless system.

In the Nikkei article published Thursday, Fernandes described a system in which customers could buy seats, in-flight meals, seat upgrades and other services using BigCoin, in addition to existing fiat currency options.

Most notably, he told Nikkei Asian Review that he sees AirAsia launching an initial coin offering (ICO) at some point. While Fernandes did not provide a firm timeline, the article says the token could be offered within the next three to six months.

No details have been released yet on whether AirAsia is developing its own blockchain or utilizing an existing platform.

Other airlines have looking at blockchain as a possible rewards program model in recent months.

Singapore Airlines announced last month that it was planning to launch a private blockchain for its own frequent-flyer program, thought it did not specifically state it would be developing its own cryptocurrency.

However, Singapore Airlines did note it had successfully concluded a proof-of-concept trial with KPMG and Microsoft, and a fuller implementation of the system could see the airline working with merchants to enable customers to spend their miles at various stores or restaurants.

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Huobi Officially Launches in South Korea with 100 Cryptocurrencies

Huobi Officially Launches in South Korea with 100 Cryptocurrencies

Block Explorer

Huobi has officially launched in South Korea. The platform facilitates the trading of 100 cryptocurrencies and 208 markets. The exchange is also creating an investor protection fund and program to immediately compensate for any losses that are not investor error.

Also read: Japan's DMM Bitcoin Exchange Opens for Business With 7 Cryptocurrencies

Huobi Korea Launched

Huobi Korea, a subsidiary of the Beijing-based crypto trading service provider Huobi, announced that it has officially launched on March 30.

Huobi Officially Launches in South Korea with 100 Cryptocurrencies

"Huobi Korea will list 100 coins and 208 markets (33 USDT markets, 98 BTC markets, 77 ETH markets)," Zdnet detailed. The exchange stated that it stores 98% of its customer assets in cold wallets. Furthermore, the exchange's internal access procedure has been strengthened, according to the publication. "In order to open the repository, we have added security to complex procedures that require multiple people to authenticate together," the news outlet conveyed, and quoted an official of the exchange explaining:

We are also creating an investor protection fund and run an investor protection program to immediately compensate for losses that are not investor error.

100 Cryptos

Huobi confirmed on Thursday that "In Huobi Korea, 100 coins can be traded," noting that the exchange "will try to support more and more coins trading."


Korean Won Support Coming Soon

Huobi Officially Launches in South Korea with 100 CryptocurrenciesAs for the Korean won trading, Huobi Korea wrote, "the KRW market is in the process of being prepared and will be available soon."

The lack of won trading is likely due to the South Korean regulation which enforced the real-name system at the end of January. Since its implementation, Korean banks have only been issuing virtual accounts to the country's largest four exchanges – Upbit, Bithumb, Coinone, and Korbit. However, Money Today reported on Thursday that a major bank in Korea, Shinhan Bank, is in talks to start issuing virtual accounts to a smaller crypto exchange, Coinplug.

The official from Huobi Korea was quoted by Zdnet saying:

We are concentrating our ability to prepare for the rapid opening of the Korean won market…All employees will work hard to provide safer and more stable trading services.

Huobi's Global Expansion

Huobi is currently the third largest crypto exchange globally with a 24-hour trading volume of $1.32 billion at the time of this writing. South Korea's largest exchange is the Kakao-backed Upbit with a trading volume of $745 million during the same time period.

Before China closed down cryptocurrency exchanges, Huobi was among the largest in the country. Today, the company has a presence in six countries – Korea, Singapore, USA, Japan, Hong Kong and China.

Last week, Huobi registered with the U.S. Financial Crimes Enforcement Network in preparation for its U.S. launch. Meanwhile, Japan's SBI Group has stopped the capital and business tie-up with Huobi Group.

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ERC20 Tokens Surge Ahead of New Coinbase Listings

ERC20 Tokens Surge Ahead of New Coinbase Listings

Coinbase is poised to list its first new crypto assets of 2018 and one coin that's unlikely to make the list is ripple. The U.S. exchange, whose CEO Brian Armstrong is known for his love of all things ethereum, has all but confirmed that its next additions will be ERC20 tokens. 0x and REP (Augur's native token) surged in price as investors hone in on the likeliest tokens to make the cut.

Also read: 80,000 New Merchants in Europe Gain Option to Accept Crypto

New Coinbase Listings Cause a Ripple

Crypto traders have been starved of positive news for weeks. Thus they leapt on the news, released Monday evening, that Coinbase was set to list new tokens. The last time the U.S. exchange added a new asset was back in December in the form of bitcoin cash. That one didn't go so well, with accusations of insider trading that pumped the price in advance of the news leading to a lawsuit. This time around, Coinbase has sought to break the news gently, confirming that it will add support for ERC20 tokens, leaving only the question of which assets it will anoint. The exchange wrote:

We're excited to announce our intention to support the Ethereum ERC20 technical standard for Coinbase in the coming months. This paves the way for supporting ERC20 assets across Coinbase products in the future, though we aren't announcing support for any specific assets or features at this time.

Coinbase Loves Ethereum

Brian Armstrong's love affair with the ethereum ecosystem is well documented. The CEO was previously pilloried for tinkering with ethereum dapp browsers at a time when bitcoin transaction fees were sky-high and Coinbase had yet to implement batching or Segwit. It makes sense that Coinbase would add ethereum tokens ahead of, say, ripple, which has pumped at least twice this year over false Coinbase rumors.

ERC20 Tokens Surge Ahead of New Coinbase Listings

Diar's weekly crypto newsletter, released on Monday morning, appears to have called it right. It contains an analysis of the criteria Coinbase uses to decide which assets to list. Ripple may not qualify because Coinbase decrees it essential that "the ownership stake retained by the team is a minority stake", and as everyone knows, most of the XRP in existence resides with Ripple. The same reasoning could also preclude stellar from being added, while dash, despite its high liquidity and existing fiat trading pairs (another Coinbase requirement), may be ruled out due to its anonymity features.

Diar's tip for Coinbase inclusion, augur, seems likely, as does 0x, a project boasting three advisors who are current or former Coinbase employees. Both assets, together with ERC20 tokens such as OMG and SNT, jumped in price off the news, but were unable to sustain their momentum amidst another red day for the markets. Having just featured in the intro to HBO's Silicon Valley, Coinbase has been having a good week.

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An eerily quiet Friday night; More Ingraham fallout; Will lawsuits curtail flow of conspiracy theories online?; Ralph Peters op-ed; 'Roseanne' renewed

By Brian Stelter and CNN's media team
View this email in your browser right here!
Good evening on this Good Friday, and welcome to the Reliable Sources newsletter! It's Oliver Darcy filling in for Brian Stelter, who's visiting family for Passover and Easter, so please do feel free to send any hate or love letters my way:

All is quiet on Florida's eastern front

We begin tonight with a deafening sound: one of silence. It has been eerily quiet today. No bombshell headlines from major news organizations. No startling tweets from President Trump. All is quiet in the world, and it feels weird. As if something is off. I was texting a White House reporter earlier who remarked that it feels "definitely odd."

That said, things could change by the morning. "Chance of rain in Palm Beach is high tomorrow," the White House reporter I was speaking with noted, referring to where Trump is staying for the weekend. "Tweet storm could be on the way." Indeed, it is certainly possible the president could unleash some fiery tweets. As CNN's Kaitlan Collins noted on Twitter earlier, Trump left many of his senior aides back in Washington, and Hope Hicks is no longer around to act as a restraint...

Will Trump's 'mini me' fill the void of Hope Hicks?

Speaking of Hicks, her departure has prompted widespread speculation about who might fill her role. As NY Mag's Olivia Nuzzi reported earlier this week, there has been a "cutthroat battle" for the formal position of communications director. But in the meantime, it's possible that Dan Scavino, the last remaining Trump campaign original, could fill the void Hicks leaves behind. That's according to the latest piece from CNN's Kevin Liptak and Kaitlan Collins, in which Scavino is described by aides as Trump's "mini me" -- a man who can channel Trump's moods and voice better than most others.

>> From the piece: "Trump and Scavino speak multiple times throughout the day, and the President is known to summon him into the Oval Office on a moment's notice. His new office...will put him well within earshot."

More fallout from Ingraham's attack on David Hogg

Tom Kludt emails: The weekend can't come fast enough for Fox News, where I'd imagine there was some surprise that the advertising boycott against Laura Ingraham spilled over into its second day. We're still not in Bill O'Reilly territory, but the number of companies to publicly distance themselves from Ingraham's show swelled to double-digits.

Will the advertiser boycott continue through the weekend? The leader of the boycott, David Hogg, is showing no signs of stopping. Appearing on "New Day" Friday morning, Hogg rejected Ingraham's apology and expressed satisfaction that "corporate America is standing with me and the rest of my friends."

The list of advertisers keeps growing...

As Kludt noted, the list of advertisers ditching Ingraham's show continues to grow. Mediaite has a running list: Office Depot, Nutrish, Jenny Craig, Hulu, TripAdvisor, Expedia, Wayfair, Sitch Fix, Nestle, Johnson & Johnson, Jos A Bank, Miracle Ear, Liberty Mutual, and Principal...

Has this gone too far?

As I was talking with people throughout the day, I heard one sentiment consistently: Ingraham's tweet was in terrible taste, but calls for an advertiser boycott were perhaps taking things a bit too far.

>> Ben Shapiro wrote a column on Friday that perfectly encapsulated this sentiment: "Ingraham never should have tweeted what she did. But the advertiser boycott was overkill from the beginning, and it's particularly overkill after she apologized."

>> Mediaite founder Dan Abrams on CNN: "I also think we should be careful. I think it's a little dangerous for anyone of either side to start celebrating advertisers pulling out."

The Washington Times publishes an ugly op-ed

"David Hogg would've made a good brownshirt." That was an opinion piece published on Friday by The Washington Times. One I won't be linking to in this newsletter. As The Daily Beast's Andrew Kirell tweeted, "I get disagreeing with the guy. Happens. I get thinking it's weird how any criticism of even his politics is met with 'you're being mean to a child.' But this? This is Broken Brain Syndrome."

And if you thought the author of the piece, Cheryl Chumley, might have regretted going too far, think again. On Friday evening, Chumley tweeted, "Left going nuts on this, so let me clarify: Once again ... David Hogg would've made a good brownshirt."  

Will the legal assault on fringe media curtail conspiracy theories?

Over the last few months, a spate of lawsuits has been filed targeting fringe internet activists and far-right outlets for spreading baseless theories. Entangled in the legal drama? Some of the most notorious individuals and organizations on the right, including: Alex Jones, InfoWars, Jim Hoft, Gateway Pundit, Chuck Johnson, and Fox News

So I wanted to know, will these individuals tone down their rhetoric to avoid further scrutiny in the courts and potential payouts? Quoted in the story are Jim Hoft, Erik Wemple, Charlie Warzel, John Ziegler, and a trio of First Amendment attorneys. Some quick highlights: 

>> Gateway Pundit founder Jim Hoft told me that, yes, the lawsuits against him had caused him to be more careful. "I did speak with my writers," he said, adding that he told them, "I don't want any more lawsuits so we have to be really careful with what we put up."

>> John Ziegler was less than convinced: "I think it may take someone losing a big judgment for behavior to radically change because, unfortunately, engaging in nutty conspiracy theories which make ignorant people feel better about what they already want to believe is now clearly a lucrative niche business."

>> Attorney Michael Gottlieb said he's not worried these cases will erode away important First Amendment protections for journalists: "I think what you are seeing is lawsuits being filed against activists who are masquerading as journalists and news organizations."

Sunday on "Reliable Sources"

Brian Stelter emails: This Sunday I'll be joined by Steve Cortes, Jill Colvin, Josh Campbell, Noor Tagouri, David Zurawik, Michael Isikoff... Plus Anthony Atamunik of Comedy Central's "The President Show..." See you Sunday at 11am ET...
For the record, part one
-- CJR's Pete Vernon writes about how Fox News has been "defying doomsday predictions" and "continues to dominate..." (CJR)

-- ESPN's next big move? A morning television show... (LA Times)

-- "All In With Chris Hayes" turns five years old on Sunday: "Believe me, no one is more amazed then I am that we're still here," Hayes tweeted... (Twitter/@chrislhayes)

-- With an A- CinemaScore rating, "Ready Player One" raked in $12 million on Thursday and could debut at $50 million or more... (THR)

Murdoch to host dinner for Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Oh, to be a fly on the wall. Dylan Byers scooped this morning in PACIFIC that Rupert Murdoch is hosting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at his estate on Monday evening for dinner. And the guest list is star studded. It includes Disney CEO Bob Iger, Warner Bros. Chairman Kevin Tsujihara, 21st Century Fox President Peter Rice and media investor Peter Chernin.

>> Dylan's big picture take: "The 32-year-old prince is courting American business leaders and investors as part of his effort to modernize Saudi Arabia's economy. His West Coast swing also includes meetings with Jeff Bezos in Seattle and Tim Cook in Silicon Valley."

"Roseanne" renewed

Brian Stelter emails: Just days after "Roseanne" made a blockbuster return, ABC has announced a second season of the sitcom. A no-brainer! The network was in need of a new hit show, and "Roseanne" is the biggest out-of-the-box hit to come along in years...

 --> ABC's announcement on Friday actually called it an "11th season" renewal -- a nod to the show's roots in the 1990s. Read more...

Updated #'s

Stelter adds: The overnight # for the "Roseanne" premiere was 18 million. With one day of DVR and video-on-demand viewing counted, the new total is 21.9 million viewers. Joe Adalian tweeted: "Between DVR replays, streaming and Sunday's rebroadcast, there's a shot the #Roseanne premiere will end up with more viewers than the 2018 Oscars..."

 --> Related: Adalian's latest: "The Roseanne Revival Shows How Network TV Can Survive the Streaming Age"

Uh, can someone translate this?

@therealroseanne at 9:17 p.m. ET on Friday night: "President Trump has freed so many children held in bondage to pimps all over this world. Hundreds each month. He has broken up trafficking rings in high places everywhere. notice that. I disagree on some things, but give him benefit of doubt-4 now."

>> BuzzFeed's Brandon Wall points out that the tweet sounds like a "very popular talking point in MAGA circles online." He offered a few examples and reminded us that Barr has promoted the QAnon conspiracy theory... 
For the record, part two
By Daniella Emanuel:

-- Tarini Parti, White House reporter for BuzzFeedtweeted: "As the battle for the WH comms director job continues, a source close to the admin texts: 'It's like fighting over a ticket for a ride on a rocket ship that's due to fly into the surface of the sun.'"

-- Twitch, the video game live streaming service owned by Amazon, has fired about 25 employees "to make 'adjustments' in its content and marketing teams..."  (Variety)

-- Some at least partially favorable gender pay stats from a Hollywood studio: While men are paid 3.2% more at NBCUniversal in the UK, women make 5.5% more in bonuses...(Deadline)

-- With April 1st around the corner, Poynter's Daniel Funke asks "In the era of fake news, is April Fools' Day funny anymore?" (Poynter)

-- ICYMI: Under Armour announced Thursday that a data breach "affected an estimated 150 million users of its food and nutrition application, MyFitnessPal..." (CNBC)

Here are those 'manipulative' media-bashing Sinclair ads

Earlier this month, Brian Stelter reported that Sinclair was mandating local TV news anchors be featured in a promotional campaign that parroted anti-media talking points you'd expect to hear from the Trump White House: "This is so manipulative," one of the anchors told Stelter.

Those ads have started to air across the country. Media Matters found at least 62 Sinclair stations in 29 states and DC had aired versions of the promo. I watched a few of them earlier and, well, just take a look for yourself. Media Matters has a few of the ads available for viewing here...

Ralph Peters blasts Fox News in WaPo op-ed

If the scathing exit note former Fox News analyst Ralph Peters wrote earlier this month didn't get the message across, his piece published Friday morning in The Washington Post certainly will. In it, he laces into the cable network, saying he had "no choice but to leave" and that his "error was waiting so long to walk away."

Peters also seemed to touch on the recent trend of Fox News signing up pro-Trump contributors while simultaneously not renewing the contracts of those critical of Trump: "This wasn't a case of the rats leaving a sinking ship. The best sailors were driven overboard by the rodents." Read Peters' op-ed here...

An awkward on-screen juxtaposition

Trump on Friday declared April to be National Sexual Assault Awareness Month -- and it made for one awkward on-screen juxtaposition on CNN.

At one point during "Outfront," a graphic was displayed of all the women who have accused Trump of sexual misconduct with a chyron reading, "TRUMP DECLARES APRIL IS NATL SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS MONTH." Television writer Steve Marmel tweeted, "CC: @TheOnion, Just giving you a heads up that CNN scooped your April Fool's Day story." 

'Clueless' star Stacey Dash leaves congressional race

Stacey Dash has -- wait for it -- dashed out of the race for Congress. The former Fox News commentator and "Clueless" star said in a statement Friday, "After much prayer, introspection and discussions with my family, I am withdrawing my candidacy for California's 44th Congressional District."

Dash added, "At this point, I believe that the overall bitterness surrounding our political process, participating in the rigors of campaigning, and holding elected office would be detrimental to the health and wellbeing of my family. I would never want to betray the personal and spiritual principles I believe in most: that my God and my family come first." CNN's Saba Hamedy has the full story here...
For your weekend listening:

A pod all about fact-checking

PolitiFact editor Angie Holan and International Fact Checking Network director Alexios Mantzarlis are the guests on this week's "Reliable Sources" podcast. The peg: April 2 is International Fact Checking Day! Listen to the episode via Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or TuneIn... And you can read Julia Waldow's recap here...
For the record, part three
-- CBS News is airing an interview with the three surviving children of Martin Luther King Jr. next week, the week of the 50th anniversary of his death. The interview will air Monday on "CBS This Morning," "CBS Evening News," and CBSN... (CBS)

-- "HQ: Inside the Game Show App Phenomenon: In just a few months, host Scott Rogowsky has led millions to tune in each day – but amid controversy, can the wildly popular app find its footing?" (Rolling Stone)

-- "Is there more than a whiff of bias in the media's coverage of Facebook?" (CJR)
The entertainment desk
By Lisa France: 

-- Cameron Diaz has been off the Hollywood scene since 2014 and now she says she's "actually retired."

-- The Weeknd's new album and Selena Gomez are forever connected as fans try to dissect lyrics they believe are about her.

-- Ben Affleck has a message to The New Yorker which wrote about him being "sad." The actor says "I'm doing just fine."
What do you think?
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