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Today’s Highlights on Bitcoin, Blockchain and Cryptocurrencies

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Ripple Surges After Teaming up with MoneyGram on Cryptocurrency-enabled Payments (CNBC)
U.S. money transfer giant MoneyGram is teaming up with blockchain firm Ripple to test payments using the latter’s cryptocurrency XRP. MoneyGram, based in Dallas, Texas, will use the XRP cryptocurrency to speed up and reduce the cost of transferring money through Ripple’s payment network xRapid. XRP was seen surging on the news, and flew almost 15 percent higher to $2.22 at 9:55 a.m. ET, according to Coinmarketcap data. The move marked a recovery following downward pressure across most major cryptocurrencies Thursday after reports of South Korea preparing a bill to ban cryptocurrency trading.

Bitcoin Prices Drop As South Korea Considers Banning Cryptocurrency Exchanges (Los Angeles Times)
Bitcoin slumped to its lowest level since Christmas Day as South Korea’s justice minister reiterated his proposal to ban local cryptocurrency exchanges, fueling concern that a crackdown will erode demand for digital coins in one of the world’s biggest markets. The minister’s comments to reporters Thursday were later downplayed by a spokesman for President Moon Jae-in, who said that the proposal is one among several and that nothing has been finalized. Korea’s government unveiled multiple options for cryptocurrency exchange regulation Dec. 28, including allowing trading to continue under tighter supervision.

In The World of Cryptocurrency Buzz, Blockchain Is The Real Winner (CNBC)
The investment world hasn’t seen a party quite like bitcoin and cryptocurrency until 2017. Bitcoin rose about twentyfold in value last year, ethereum surged more than 11,200 percent and ripple, the rising new coin, skyrocketed almost 10,000 percent. Consumed by the growth, many investors are seeing the cryptoworld only in the lens of price movements. But for those who aren’t interested in buying and selling and managing cryptocurrency portfolios, there’s another way to invest in the space – learning and investing in the blockchain technology.

China’s Largest Cryptocurrency Thrives Despite Intense Crackdown (Bloomberg)
A digital coin from China that takes its name from a character in The Matrix has become one of the world’s most valuable cryptocurrencies. And it’s done so by defying many of the principles that underpinned bitcoin’s meteoric rise. NEO has surpassed $12 billion in market value, ranking 12th globally despite hailing from a country that’s banned digital coin issuances in one of the world’s harshest crackdowns on crypto-speculation. But founder Da Hongfei, 37, thinks Beijing is mostly done and he can focus on developing his underlying technology.

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