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Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, and Fintech News Headlines Update on May 31, 2022

WeWork’s Adam Neumann-backed blockchain startup Flowcarbon raises $70 million

Possibly the most cited news in blockchain this week. The latest venture of former WeWork CEO Adam Neumann, Flowcarbon, has raised $70 million for its carbon credits platform and trading tools. The round was led by Andreessen Horowitz’s crypto unit and also included a token sale. The company said “Flowcarbon’s mission is to drive billions of dollars directly to projects that reduce or remove carbon from the atmosphere by creating the first open protocol for tokenizing live, certified carbon credits from projects around the globe”. “Through Flowcarbon’s protocol, project developers can immediately access a marketplace of buyers interested in their credits by bringing them onto the blockchain. Buyers are then able to purchase live carbon credits directly from project proponents.” Vox has said it ‘sounds like a scam within a scam’. We shall see.

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JPMorgan trials blockchain for collateral settlement in after-hours trading

JPMorgan is reportedly trialing the use of its own private blockchain for collateral settlements. The investment bank reportedly conducted a pilot transaction on May 20. JPMorgan’s global head of trading services Ben Challice said “What we’ve achieved is the friction-less transfer of collateral assets on an instantaneous basis”. Read more: JPMorgan trials blockchain for collateral settlement in after-hours trading

Bitcoin Found To Produce More e-Waste Than Even Some European Countries

An analysis has found the amount of e-waste produced by bitcoin to be five times more than is produced by some entire nations. The analysis by StockApps found that Bitcoin produces close to 30,700 metric tons of e-waste a year. This equates to five times more e-waste than is produced by the entire nation of Luxembourg, which produces roughly 6,000 metric tons. Read more: Bitcoin Found To Produce More e-Waste Than Even Some European Countries

Russia considering allowing crypto for international trade for ‘friendly’ countries

Russia’s Ministry of Finance is now reportedly considering allowing the use of cryptocurrencies for international trade. This isn’t the first time Russian officials have discussed this possibility. Chairman of the country’s Congressional energy committee, Pavel Zavalny, said that Russia was open to accepting bitcoin for its natural resources exports but that only “friendly” countries like China and Turkey would be given the option to pay in crypto, as Putin had said the day before that “unfriendly” countries should pay for Russian gas in rubles. This is presumably as a result of sanctions that began in February. Read More: RUSSIA ‘ACTIVELY DISCUSSING’ THE USE OF CRYPTOCURRENCY IN INTERNATIONAL TRADE: REPORT

Venture firm a16z launches $4.5 billion crypto fund

The crypto division of Andreessen Horowitz venture firm, a16z crypto, has announced its fourth crypto fund with $4.5 billion to invest. A third will go to seed investments, and the rest to venture investments. This follows its launch of a $2.2 billion fund last June and brings its total funds in the sector to $7.6 billion. Read More: Venture firm a16z launches $4.5 billion crypto fund

The Crypto Community Says the UK’s FCA Is Finally Starting to Listen

Many, if not most of the UK’s crypto companies have gone or are looking to go abroad, taking skilled jobs and tax with them, due to what most in crypto consider to be an inefficient regulatory space in the UK. Since realising this, it seems that its regulator the FCA has backed down a little from its anti-crypto stance and held a first ‘CryptoSprint’ earlier this month. Numerous attendees have complained of being shocked by how little was known at the event, but at least some left feeling that at least something is now happening that might work before the entirety of the industry leaves. We’ll see. Read More: The Crypto Community Says the UK’s FCA Is Finally Starting to Listen

Spam in the crypto space has reportedly increased by 3,894% since 2019

Spam in the crypto space has reportedly increased by 3,894%, according to a report by crypto intelligence provider LunarCrush. The firm found that not only is spam at an all-time high, it’s also “the fastest growing metric on social media.” The report states that “more spam accounts than you would think are actually people” which makes it hard for software to detect and flag spam. The company also found there had been an estimated 1,374% increase in Twitter spam volume over the past two years. Read More: Crypto spam increases 4,000% in two years — LunarCrush

Tether Enters Latin America With Mexican Peso-Pegged Stablecoin

Tether has capitalised on Mexico’s multibillion-dollar remittances business and difficulties in transferring money to launch a Mexican peso-pegged stablecoin. The new MXNT token, which it says is pegged to Mexico’s peso, will initially be supported in the Ethereum, Tron and Polygon blockchains. This is Tether’s first foray into Latin America and joins its other pegged coins — USDT (U.S. dollar), EURT (euro) and CNHT (China’s yuan). Mexico was the world’s third-largest recipient remittances, after China and India, with nationals living abroad having reportedly sent $51.6 billion to the country. Read More: Tether Enters Latin America With Mexican Peso-Pegged Stablecoin

Investors dumping on Terra as LUNA 2 tanks 70% in two days

Luna investors, who have cumulatively lost billions from its collapse, were airdropped new Terra 2.0 tokens. The value of these promptly crashed by around 70% as investors sold them in an attempt to recoup some funds, under the general belief that the company’s second attempt at a token would also crash. Terraform Labs’ revival plan saw new LUNA tokens, referred to as LUNA 2, airdropped to investors that previously held Luna Classic (LUNC), TerraUSD Classic (USTC) and Anchor Protocol UST (aUST). Read More: Investors dumping on Terra as LUNA 2 tanks 70% in two days

Crypto exchange Binance registers with Italian regulator

Binance Italy, the legal unit of the crypto exchange in Italy, has registered with Organismo Agenti e Mediatori, the Italian regulatory agency responsible for overseeing the listings of financial institutions. Binance is one of 14 virtual asset operators registered with the OAM in Italy. This is seen as a major part of its expansion plans in Italy. Read More: Binance Gets Clearance To Operate In Italy After 2021 Ban

Deepfake Video Of Elon Musk Promoting Crypto Scam Goes Viral – Avoid

A new scam involving a Deepfake video of Elon Musk promoting a dodgy crypto investment opportunity has gone viral. The fake – but realistic looking video – shows Musk encouraging people to invest their money and guaranteeing roughly 30% dividends daily for life. Musk has denied the video. To be clear- it’s a scam. Steer clear. Read More: Deepfake Video Of Elon Musk Goes Viral – ‘Yikes. Def, Not Me’

eBay Enters The NFT Space, Launches First NFT Collection

eBay is the latest company to jump on the NFT bandwagon by launching its first collection of NFTs. Their Non Fungible Tokens will be launched in partnership with web3 platform OneOf. Ebay’s “Genesis” NFT collection will feature 3D and animated versions of athletes who have featured on past years’ Sports Illustrated covers, and will sell for $10 each. This is no doubt part of the e-commerce platform’s bid to compete with other pre-existing NFT marketplaces. Read More: Ebay Enters The NFT Space, Launches First NFT Collection

How to create algo stablecoins that don’t turn into Ponzis or collapse – by Vitalik

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has shared two checks to get an idea if an algorithmic stablecoin is sustainable, sparked by the multi billion dollar losses caused by the collapse of the Terra ecosystem and its algorithmic stablecoin. He said not to wipe off all algorithmic stablecoins, adding that “While there are plenty of automated stablecoin designs that are fundamentally flawed and doomed to collapse eventually, and plenty more that can survive theoretically but are highly risky, there are also many stablecoins that are highly robust in theory, and have survived extreme tests of crypto market conditions in practice.” His checks: 1: Can the stablecoin ‘wind down’ to zero users? I.e. if the market activity for a stablecoin project “drops to near zero,” users should be able to extract the fair value of their liquidity out of the asset. 2: that an algo-stablecoin should to be able to implement a negative interest rate when it is tracking “a basket of assets, a consumer price index, or some arbitrarily complex formula” Read More: Buterin: How to create algo stablecoins that don’t turn into Ponzis or collapse

US healthcare recovery firm partners with Web3 solution to tokenise healthcare

Miami based healthcare recovery firm, MSP Recovery LLC, has partnered with Web3 solution Tokenology to launch a fraud-prevention blockchain platform. The platform, called Lifechain, aims to use blockchain to enhance the accessibility of healthcare charges, claims and medical records for patients and industry professionals. A tweet posted by Polygon says it is the ‘first-of-its-kind commercial platform for fully tokenising healthcare services.’ Read More: MSP Recovery joins forces with Tokenology to release tokenized healthcare initiative

Tokenizing genomic profiles to give data owners ownership of how their data is used

Asia-based genomics firm Genetica has partnered with Web3 data management firm Oasis Labs to tokenise genomics profiles intending to enhance genomics-based precision medicine. Genetica has said it will migrate 100,000 genomic data profiles to the Oasis Network so that data owners have full control and knowledge of how their genetic data is being used. The partnership is backed by Vietnamese government officials. Read More: Vietnamese officials back new partnership to tokenize genomic profiles

Court documents reveal Do Kwon dissolved Terraform Labs Korea days before crash

The story of the Terra (LUNA) crash has taken yet another turn as information obtained from the country’s Supreme Court Registry Office shows that two South Korean offices were liquidated and the Terraform Labs Korea Corporation was dissolved in the days before the collapse of the Luna token and the TerraUSD stablecoin. The Busan headquarters and the Seoul offices were put for dissolution during a general shareholders meeting on April 30 and actioned on May 4 and May 6, respectively. These timings have raised suspicions due to their potential correlation to the events surrounding the collapse of the company’s two cryptocurrencies. Read More: Court documents reveal Do Kwon dissolved Terraform Labs Korea days before LUNA crash

Terra creator Do Kwon faces prosecution in South Korea

Do Kwon, the creator of the recently imploded stablecoin TerraUSD (UST) and its sister token Luna, is facing legal prosecution in South Korea over the collapse of the two coins that caused investors to lose billions of dollars of losses. The Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office has reportedly started an investigation on Terraform Labs, the organization behind the coins in question and assigned the case to its Financial and Securities Crime Joint Investigation Team, known as the Grim Reapers of Yeoui-do, due to the high profile cases the team has handled. The team consists of members from various financial regulators and is designed to prosecute securities fraud and unfair trading schemes. Read more:

UK FCA Will Fight Fraud by Canceling Permissions in 28 Days

The U.K.’s FCA has announced that it will use new powers to swiftly cancel or change what regulated activities firms are permitted to do. The new powers give the regulator the ability to cancel any permission given to a regulated entity, or change it, 28 days after the first warning if the firm has not taken appropriate action. The change means that businesses will now be required to prove they are carrying out the regulated activity they are permitted to or face losing this permission. This follows 15 warnings the FCA has published in the last 2 days alone, including against 7 crypto companies and 8 companies cloning regulated firms in the last 2 days, about unauthorised companies that are targeting people in the U.K. Read More: UK FCA Will Fight Fraud by Canceling Permissions in 28 Days

Meta trademark filing hints at plans for crypto payments platform

Facebook’s parent company, Meta, has filed five applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for its name to be used in a platform called Meta Pay. The filings included Meta’s name for use in a “online social networking service for investors allowing financial trades and exchange of digital currency, virtual currency, cryptocurrency, digital and blockchain assets, digitized assets, digital tokens, crypto tokens and utility tokens.” This has sparked rumours that the company may be planning to launch a payments platform with support for cryptocurrency. Read More: Meta trademark filing hints at plans for crypto payments platform

Crypto giants co-launch Chainabuse platform to water down rising scams

Seven crypto companies have partnered to launch a community-driven scam reporting tool called Chainabuse. The platform, which will be free to use, aims to ‘enable crypto users to issue warnings and discuss ongoing fraudulent activity such as scams and hacks in real-time’ in order to counter the ongoing scams plaguing the crypto ecosystem. The platform will also maintain a database of illicit activities that will, in the future, be able to be used by crypto users to investigate projects. The crypto firms participating are Binance.US, Circle, Solana Foundation, The Aave Companies, Hedera, TRM Labs and Civic. Read More: Crypto giants co-launch Chainabuse platform to water down rising scams

Russia to remove the prohibition on crypto

Cryptocurrencies have been legal in Russia since 1st January last year, but cannot be used to purchase goods or services. Russia has recently enacted a new cryptocurrency law that softens this prohibition on using crypto, but still maintains rigorous limits on the usage of cryptocurrencies as a form of currency. Moscow has also announced plans to establish a central bank digital currency. The governor of the Russian central bank, Elvira Nabiullina, has recently said the bank cannot accept cryptocurrency investments, which account for approximately $5 billion in annual transactions by Russians, and has recommended prohibiting their trading and mining. Read More: Russia To Legalize Cryptocurrency As Form Of Payment, Minister Says

South Korean Agency Fines Terraform Labs for Tax Evasion

Do Kwon, the founder of Terraform Labs (behind the collapsed Terra stablecoin) is in the news yet again, this time for a 100 billion won ($78 million) fine for alleged tax evasion. In the days before the LUNA crash, it has reportedly been confirmed that he was trying to liquidate a domestic corporation and relocate abroad, raising suspicions to the South Korean authorities that he was evading taxes. Read More: South Korean Agency Fines Terraform Labs for Tax Evasion

Luna Foundation Guard adviser says Do Kwon hasn’t reached out since UST crash

Luna Foundation Guard (LFG) has said there have been close to no conversations between founder Do Kwon and his team with advisers, and that stablecoin TerraUSD (UST) is “pretty much defunct at this point” according two Jonathan Caras, an LFG governing council adviser. It has now been almost two weeks since Terraform Labs’ cryptocurrency LUNA and algorithmic stablecoin Terra USD (UST) collapsed by over 99% bringing down the crypto markets with them. Read More: Luna Foundation Guard adviser says Do Kwon hasn’t reached out since UST crash

Brazil crypto exchange uses its own funds to refund its customers for TerraUSD

A crypto exchange in Brazil has used its own funds to refund its customers for their TerraUSD coins at their full dollar rate. Nox Bitcoin has refunded all UST holders at a $1 rate with Tether’s USDT, paying 620,000 Reais ($127,000) to compensate all its customers who lost money due to the Terra ecosystem collapse. Read More: Nox Bitcoin To Refund UST At $1 To Their Customers

Shopify Expands Crypto Payment Options With Crypto .com Pact

Shopify merchants can now also use Crypto .com as another way for accepting cryptocurrency payments with over 20 tokens. John Lee, Shopify’s lead of blockchain ecosystem, said “Our growing blockchain ecosystem demonstrates our commitment to supporting merchants with alternative payment methods on their storefronts, helping to further expand what’s possible in commerce.” Read More: Shopify Expands Crypto Payment Options With Crypto.com Pact

RE/MAX Estate Agency Chain Will Accept Payments in Crypto Through Partnership

Estate agency chain RE/MAX will be accepting cryptocurrency payments through a partnership with a crypto-to-fiat payments company Swapin. The company is looking into accepting “high-value crypto belongings” in trade for property. Read More: RE/MAX Will Accept Payments in Crypto Through Partnership With Swapin

People supposedly want to be paid crypto to exercise in the Metaverse: Survey

A new survey of 1,001 Americans claims that 81% of people would be motivated to take up more physical exercise if they were paid in cryptocurrency for their efforts. The study says that 40% of people surveyed would be willing to cancel their current physical gym membership for one in the Metaverse. This goes against the more logical findings of a study conducted by the National Bureau of Economic Research which concluded that money alone would not be enough to motivate people to go to the gym. FitRated’s research had 63% of respondents agreeing that fitness motivation was a “primary benefit” of blockchain technology. This is crazy. One struggles to see how the metaverse, crypto or blockchain will help in any way here. Read More: People want to be paid crypto to exercise in the Metaverse: Survey

Tether launches crypto and blockchain education program in Switzerland

The city of Lugano in Switzerland will host a blockchain- and cryptocurrency-focused school as part of a partnership between the local government and the stablecoin Tether, which has been in the news lately… Topics will ‘include basic introductions to stablecoins and cryptocurrencies as well as blockchain analysis and regulatory policy around digital assets.’ This is the crypto equivalent of McDonalds running educational causes on animal welfare, rainforest protection and health. Read More: Tether launches crypto and blockchain education program in Switzerland

Crypto-hack #1

Users of the SpiritSwap and QuickSwap cryptocurrency platforms were redirected to phishing sites over the weekend when trying to access the platforms’ legitimate domains. Both companies confirmed that the incidents took place after threat actors socially-engineered GoDaddy employees into transferring ownership of the domains. The hijacks lasted for a few hours before both companies managed to regain control over their official websites. While the platforms tried to warn users via social media and other channels, several users had their accounts hacked and emptied by the attackers.

Crypto-hack #2

However, this wasn’t the only incident that took place over the weekend. About the same time as the SpiritSwap and QuickSwap incidents, a threat actor also deployed a malicious ad via the CoinZilla advertising platform. The script appeared on sites like CoinGecko, DEXTools, and Etherscan and prompted users to grant the attacker access to their Metamask wallets. CoinZilla confirmed the incident shortly after and said that the malicious ad was only live for “less than an hour” before they took it down.

Major US healthcare provider explores blockchain for health compliance incentive

US healthcare provider OSF Healthcare, which serves more than 900,000 people a year, is looking to see if it can use of blockchain and cryptocurrency to incentivise people to stick to medical advice. A 2014 US study estimated avoidable health costs from non-adherence to be up to $100 to $300 billion a year. The system plans to look at using Zero Knowledge Proofs to maintain anonymity. However, paying incentives for non-adherence of medical advice is far from controversy-free. An NHS study from fifteen years ago found that paying people to comply is an all round bad idea and open to fraud. There’s the potential for medical practitioners to falsely mark people as having a health condition to receive incentives, it would signal that compliance isn’t in people’s best interest and might make naturally compliant people not comply until they get incentives. Read More: Major US healthcare provider OSF explores cryptocurrency for health compliance incentive

China has been quietly building a blockchain platform. Here’s what we know

China has been quietly working on its own blockchain platform, called Blockchain-based Service Network (BSN), which it aims to use to facilitate the deployment of blockchain for companies. This follows a 2019 speech where Chinese President Xi Jinping said blockchain was an “important breakthrough in independent innovation of core technologies” and that the country needs to “seize the opportunities” blockchain presents. China aims for BSN, which has links to the Chinese government, to go global but this could face challenges. Read More: China has been quietly building a blockchain platform. Here’s what we know

NY Major Eric Adams: Using blockchain for birth certificates, deeds ‘way of the future’

New York Major Eric Adams has said that making use of blockchain is “the way of the future”. At an event he told investors “To have, to use blockchain from everything — to look at deeds, to deal with birth certificates, other records, this is the way of the future and we’re excited about it”. Read More: Eric Adams: Using blockchain for birth certificates, deeds ‘way of the future’

El Salvador President announces 44 countries met there to discuss Bitcoin

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele said representatives met in El Salvador this Monday, May 16th, to discuss the benefits of the country’s Bitcoin rollout. He tweeted: “Tomorrow, 32 central banks and 12 financial authorities (44 countries) will meet in El Salvador to discuss financial inclusion, digital economy, banking the unbanked, the #Bitcoin rollout and its benefits in our country”. This follows El Salvador being the first country to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender in September. Read More: Nayib Bukele says 44 countries to meet in El Salvador to discuss bitcoin

Germany declares crypto gains tax-free after 1 year, even if used for staking, lending

The German Ministry of Finance has confirmed that the sale of crypto assets is tax-free after one year even if the coins are used for staking and lending. Germany views crypto as a ‘private asset’ which means “it attracts an individual income tax rather than a capital gains tax” according to crypto tax firm Koinly. The firm said Germany “only taxes crypto if it’s sold within the same year it was bought.” Crypto gains are completely tax-exempt in Germany after holding of one year and profits on crypto sales up to €600 per calendar year remain tax-free. The tax-free holding period is a minimum of 10 years for staked crypto. Read More: Germany Declares Crypto Gains Tax-Free After 1 Year — Even if Used for Staking, Lending

Portugal to lose crypto tax haven status as state announces gains duties

Portugal is set to reverse a tax law set in 2016 that said that since crypto is not legal tender, gains cannot be taxed. Finance Minister Fernando Medina has confirmed that Portugal will begin taxing cryptocurrency, but has not set a date for the tax to start, or a rate. He has said that it will be levied on investment gains made from cryptocurrencies. Until now, Portugal has been seen as a crypto tax haven and has seen many crypto holders move there. It will be interesting to see how many recent crypto movers will now stay in Portugal in this new twist of the law. Read More: Portugal to lose crypto tax haven status as state announces gains duties

What happened to the $3.5 billion Terra reserve? Elliptic investigates

What happened to the $3.5 billion Terra reserve that had been bought to supposedly hold up the now collapsed stablecoin? A report by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic shows that 52,189 Bitcoin were moved to a single account at crypto exchange Gemini and 28,205 Bitcoin in Terra’s reserves were moved to an account at Binance. One can’t see what happened to those Bitcoins after these moves. These funds would make up a good chunk of the reserve…. It will be interesting to see what happens. Read More: What Happened to the $3.5 Billion Terra Reserve? Elliptic Follows the Bitcoin

No rescue for Terra: Swiss asset manager denies $3B LUNA/UST bail-out talks

Rumours that a Swiss asset manager would step in to invest $3 billion into a bailout of failed stablecoin project Terra have been shown to be fake news. It seems the announcement that GAM Investments would invest $3 billion to help Luna/UST recovery efforts were fabricated, even including fake quotes from GAM CEO Peter Sanderson. This comes after Terra’s algorithmic stablecoin, UST, lost its U.S. dollar peg, causing the collapse of what had been a popular decentralized finance (DeFi) project. Read More: No rescue for Terra: Swiss asset manager denies $3B LUNA/UST bail-out talks

Do Kwon proposes Terra hard fork to save ecosystem

Founder of the collapsed Terra Luna blockchain, Do Kwon, has announced a revised plan to try and restore the ecosystem. Terraform Labs will put the proposal up for a governance vote on 18th May. In the plan, the new chain would not be linked to the TerraUSD stablecoin, rather the old Terra blockchain would continue to exist and be renamed as Terra Classic. Under the proposal, new tokens would be airdropped to old token holders, UST holders and essential developers The Luna Foundation Guard said that it used up an overwhelming portion of its cryptocurrency reserves trying to defend UST’s peg during market sell-off. We shall see. Read More: Do Kwon proposes Terra hard fork to save ecosystem

Another Stablecoin Follows LUNA $UST, Crashes Within Hours

The collapse of stablecoin Terra resulted in traders (finally) questioning the trustworthiness of stablecoins, including DEI Price, which has now also lost its dollar peg. The $DEI stablecoin dropped from its dollar peg to a low of 52 cents, according to CoinMarketCap, and as of writing was trading at 61 cents. The DEUS Finance DAO, which backs the $DEI stablecoin tweeted “Our team is working around the clock to restore the DEI peg. Mitigation measures were implemented immediately and solutions are being developed for long-term stability.” It will be interesting to see which will be the next stablecoin to collapse or lose its peg. Read More: Another Stablecoin Follows LUNA $UST, Crashes Within Hours

Coinbase Witnesses Major Outage Amidst Continued Crypto Bloodbath

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase reported a major outage, with users complaining about difficulties in withdrawing their funds amidst the recent crypto market crash. Some users allegedly were unable to access the app or site, which led to investors panicking. Coinbase said that they were working on the issue and that funds were safe and tweeted “We’re seeing recovery after implementing a fix, but our teams are continuing to monitor the situation.” The rush to withdraw and the network outage followed a disclosure which had warned users that if Coinbase were to go bankrupt, they might lose access to their crypto. Read More: Coinbase Witnesses Major Outage Amidst Continued Crypto Bloodbath

UK High Court of Justice recognizes NFTs as ‘private property’

The High Court of Justice in London has ruled that nonfungible tokens (NFTs) represent “private property” but added in a caveat in the court’s ruling that this private property status does not extend to the actual underlying content that the NFTs represent. Recognising NFTs as property means that one can claim damages against theft. Judge Amanda Michaels said in the decision that NFTs are not like ordinary digital data, such as music or photos but rather are “unique and scarce digital items.” This means that artists and content creators could now register their content on their blockchain and have their ownership legally protected. This also has implications for NFT owners, such as now having to ensure that they have clear ownership title and that they transfer all rights associated with the asset, in the case of a sale. Failure to do so could leave the owner facing criminal charges. Developers may now also be liable if they fail to provide adequate security measures to protect NFTs. Read More: UK Court recognizes NFTs as ‘private property’.

De Beers’ diamond provenance blockchain Tracr launched at scale

De Beers has rolled out its diamond provenance blockchain platform Tracr at scale, enabling diamonds to be tracked from the mines through to consumer purchase, and ensuring they are ethically and sustainably mined. Read More: De Beers’ diamond provenance blockchain Tracr launched at scale

NEAR Foundation launches Kenyan blockchain hub

Swiss non-profit NEAR Foundation, the Swiss non-profit that oversees the governance and development of the NEAR protocol, has partnered with the local Kenyan blockchain community, Sankore, to launch a regional hub. The hub aims to develop blockchain innovation, education and talent development throughout Africa and has already made connections with local universities. Read More: NEAR Foundation launches Kenyan blockchain hub

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency Prices Plummet To Lowest Point In 2022

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have had a treacherous weekend seeing over a 20% loss since the Fed meeting last week, which has taken the price of Bitcoin to its lowest point all year. The sell off has also been attributed to Asian markets which are responding to movements in China. Liquidations have been in the hundreds of millions, suggesting that traders were caught by surprise by the market.

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Cryptocurrencies Won’t Save Russia From Dodging Sanctions, Moody’s Says

Many have worried that Russia may be able to avoid Western sanctions for invading Ukraine by using cryptocurrencies. However, a new report by credit rating agency Moody’s has said that the relatively small scale of the cryptocurrency market, and especially the low liquidity of the ruble-to-cryptocurrency market plus the difficulty of being able to convert meaningful sums of crypto into fiat mean it is unlikely that Russia will be able to benefit from crypto to avoid sanctions. It doesn’t think it will be possible to replace the hundreds of billions of dollars that have been frozen. It seems also that so far Russian oligarchs have ‘largely refrained from trading in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies since the implementation of sanctions, indicating either that they have decided to wait until the sanctions do the most damage or that they view the cryptocurrency industry with heightened suspicion.’ It seems that other sanctioned countries, such as North Korea and Iran, have been able to get around sanctions using crypto far more extensively than Russia will be able to. Read More: Cryptocurrencies Won’t Save Russia From Dodging Sanctions, Moody’s Says

How Big Is Crypto Crime, Really?

Estimates of the extent of crypto crime have ranged from an optimistic 0.15% (Chainalysis) to almost half of all crypto payments at 46% of transaction volume, which is possibly rather far fetched. Those in the crypto industry seem to be the ones quoting the more optimistic figures, saying that crypto is involved in less crime than fiat. Given how much easier it is now to trace crypto, this may well be true. Around $2 trillion a year is laundered through fiat, more than the current total market cap of all cryptocurrencies combined. A 2019 paper “Sex, Drugs, and Bitcoin” estimates that a quarter of bitcoin users are involved in illegal activity. One can’t quite imagine this to be the case. The differentiator is what is classed as crime. Some studies dismiss anything other than pure proven fact, others consider anything with any trace of ambiguity to be crime-related. Read More: How Big Is Crypto Crime, Really?

90% of Central Banks Reportedly Working on CBDCs

A survey by the Bank for International Settlements has found that 90% of central banks are exploring the creation a central bank digital currency (CBDC), and around two-thirds of the 81 banks surveyed, representing 90% of the world’s economy, said they are developing or actively experimenting on CBDCs. A study released last month by PwC also found 80% were at least considering a CBDC and that 26% are actively developing or piloting digital versions of their currencies. These figures are pretty scary. Read More: 90% of Central Banks Working on CBDCs, BIS Reports

Copy-Paste Error Sends $36M In Crypto To Wrong Wallet

A copy-paste error, where programmers from Juno incorrectly pasted the wrong destination address, accidentally sent $36 million worth of JUNO crypto tokens to the wrong wallet. The action was meant to revoke the tokens from a “Juno whale” who is accused of gaming the Juno airdrop for $120 million, and send them to a Unity wallet that was controlled by the community. Over 120 validators failed to notice the mistake, which means that neither the whale or the community can now access those tokens. The developers hope to rewrite Juno’s code so the funds can be reassigned to the Unity address, an upgrade which would first need to be approved by the community. Read More: Copy-Paste Error Sends $36M In Crypto To Wrong Wallet

New licensing requirements in Estonia could see its crypto community slashed by 90%

Estonia, known for having been a digital assets- friendly regime and claiming to host 55% of the world’s registered virtual asset providers is bringing in a tough new crypto law. This new legislation will make crypto firms such as wallet providers and exchanges keep large capital reserves, be properly governed and check customer identities. It is thought to be onerously tough and that it could cause up to 90% of crypto firms to leave the country, and up to half to not survive. The new law took effect in March but existing companies have until mid-June to renew their authorisation, for which they must submit business plans and financial data. The effect is clear. ‘As of May 3, no company had yet sent in any new application and some have even sought to surrender their license’ Matis Mäeker, director of Estonia’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) said. He says companies will have to “start early and be prepared, because we are going to ask many, many questions”. Read More: In Estonia, the Party’s Over for ‘Hippie’ Crypto Firms

Portugal Allowing Real Estate Buyers to Pay With Bitcoin

Portugal is now accepting – and even promoting- payments with crypto tokens including real estate purchases, since relaxing its laws relating to crypto. A buyer has now completed the purchase of a two-bedroom apartment in Braga, Portugal for 3 bitcoins (then about $116,000). Read More: Portugal Allows Real Estate Buyers to Pay With Bitcoin

Crypto mixer Blender.io hit with United States Treasury sanctions

US crypto users will no longer be able to use Blender.io Cryptocurrency mixing service. It has been hit with a crackdown by the United States Department of the Treasury, after having been sanctioned after having allegedly assisted cybercriminals linked to North Korea who stole nearly $620m in the March attack on play-to-earn game Axie Infinity’s sidechain Ronin Bridge. This means US users will no longer be able to use the mixer, which had added an additional layer of anonymity to their cryptocurrency transactions by “mixing” tokens. It is thought the blender helped to launder around $500 million in funds since 2017 and helped facilitate transactions with various Russia-linked ransomware groups and comes amid broader crackdowns on Russia-related crypto crime. This is apparently the first time a virtual currency mixer has been sanctioned. Read More: Crypto mixer Blender.io hit with United States Treasury sanctions

Gucci To Accept Cryptos in Select Flagship U.S. Stores

Italian luxury brand Gucci will soon be the latest chain to start accepting payments in crypto. Gucci will accept cryptocurrencies including memecoins Shiba Inu and Dogecoin at some of its flagship stores in the U.S. To pay in crypto in store, customers customers will be sent an email with a QR code to use with a digital wallet. Read More: Gucci To Accept Cryptos in Select U.S. Stores

HSBC and DBS banks trial blockchain trade platform GSBN for trade finance

The Global Shipping Business Network (GSBN) has launched proofs of concept to integrate its blockchain network with trade finance platforms in trials in which Bank of China (Hong Kong), DBS Bank and HSBC are participating. They see this as part of the solution to closing the gap in trade finance. Read More: HSBC, DBS trial blockchain trade platform GSBN for trade finance

Samsung Asset Management to launch blockchain ETF

The Hong Kong arm of Samsung Asset Management (SAM) will launch a blockchain ETF. At the end of March SAM also agreed to buy a 20% equity stake in Chicago-based Amplify blockchain and crypto ETF, which has $800 million in assets under management, for $30 million. This gives SAM exclusive rights to provide Amplify products in Asia as part of the equity deal. Read More: Samsung Asset Management to launch blockchain ETF

Following the money: Russian sanctions leads to cashing out at OTC desks instead

Sanctions placed against Russia have limited individual users to EUR 10,000 in crypto assets. The limited liquid of cryptocurrencies and decentralised finance means that it will be almost impossible for Russia to entirely circumvent SWIFT-based systems by using crypto. However, Russians could still hold up to $200 Billion USD in crypto assets. The country also runs the world’s third-largest crypto mining industry giving it a lot of new crypto. It is thought that the prevalence of OTC (over-the-counter) crypto exchange desks in Russia – where users can meet in person to exchange crypto for physical cash- means that people and companies will still be able to cash easily out of their crypto. Read More: Sanctioning Russia On The Blockchain: Following The Money To A Network Of OTC Providers

100,000 Cubans Are Using Bitcoin In Response To U.S. Sanctions

A new report has found that over 100,000 Cubans are using bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to escape harsh conditions created by international sanctions, which mean that payment services such as PayPal or international banking aren’t available to citizens. The adoption of crypto has been largely driven by mobile internet access which was only provided to Cubans three years ago. It seems that now Cubans are able to take monetary policy into their own hands with crypto. Read More: 100,000 CUBANS ARE USING BITCOIN IN RESPONSE TO U.S. SANCTIONS

More than $1.6 billion exploited from DeFi so far in 2022

Decentralised finance (DeFi) has seen a record number of hacks and exploits with over $1.6 billion in crypto stolen from users already in 2022, surpassing the total amount stolen in 2020 and 2021 combined. March 2022 alone saw the most value stolen at $719.2 million, over $200 million more than what was stolen in all of 2020, largely due to the Ronin Bridge exploit where alleged North Korean attackers stole over $600 million worth of crypto. Read More: More than $1.6 billion exploited from DeFi so far in 2022

NFT Sales Drop 92% Since September’s High

The NFT market has dropped from an average of 225,000 daily sales in September to a daily average of 19,000 this week – a drop of 92%. The number of active wallets for NFTs also dropped around 88% from a high of 119,000 in November to 14,000 last week. Suspected reasons for this drop include rising interest rates, which have put a squeeze on riskier bets in the financial markets, in which NFTs are some of the riskiest, as well as many NFT owners seeing the value of their NFTs end up as much lower than they expected and than when they bought them. Read More: NFT Sales Drop 92% Since September’s High

Craig Wright’s latest lawsuit: Coinbase And Kraken Promote “Fake Bitcoin”

Craig Wright, who claims to have invented Bitcoin, has filed yet another lawsuit. This time, he is asking for £500 million in compensation from Coinbase and Kraken crypto exchanges, saying that they have misled investors by marketing alternative cryptocurrency under the Bitcoin name. This comes as Wright alleges that his own brand of Bitcoin, a fork of Bitcoin known as BSV, is the only real Bitcoin…. He claims that the other Bitcoin that has been promoted as Bitcoin, is actually ‘Bitcoin Core’. The lawsuit document adds: ‘The Claimants contend that this misrepresentation by Coinbase and Kraken has led to confusion among digital currency asset holders as to the authenticity of the assets many have purchased and traded in.’ ‘Wright and his legal representation seek an “injunction” that could prevent major exchange platforms to offer BTC to their clients, depending on the court’s verdict. The claimants believe that their case is “likely to be worth several hundred billions of pounds”. ‘ There are no words……… Read More: Coinbase And Kraken Promote “Fake Bitcoin”, Craig Wright Lawsuit Says So

Binance Invests $500 Million In Elon Musk’s Twitter Acquisition

Crypto exchange Binance is reportedly the fifth biggest contributor to Elon Musk’s Twitter takeover bid, having reportedly put in $500 million. Binance CEO CZ tweeted that it was ‘A small contribution to the cause’. Read More: Binance Invests $500 Million In Elon Musk’s Twitter Acquisition.

BitMEX Co-Founders Slapped with $30 Million Fine for operating without a license

The three co-founders of crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX have been each been ordered to pay a civil penalty of $10 million, totalling $30 million. They are now awaiting sentencing on criminal charges, for having operated in the US and offered trading services to US residents without a license. The exchange ‘also operated as a Futures Commission Merchant (FCM) without registration and failed to implement customer information program (CIP) and know-your-customer (KYC ) procedures, along with anti-money laundering (AML Anti-Money Laundering (AML)’ . BitMEX already settled with the US regulator earlier, paying a monetary penalty of $100 million. Read More: BitMEX Co-Founders Slapped with $30 Million Fine

Crypto suspicious activity reports are climbing. Here’s some reasons why.

The number of suspicious activity reports involving cryptocurrency has gone from 10,377 in 2017 to 42,782 in 2020 to roughly 92,000 in 2021, according to the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or Fincen. This comes as the Biden administration is looking for better ways to regulate and scrutinize digital assets and the extent to which they’re being used for money laundering and fraud. Fincen is constrained by budget, in its ability to hire analysts to ‘do the type of analytics that’s required to understand how cryptocurrencies are flowing and contributing to illicit finance” acting Director Himamauli Das said. It seems that licensed crypto exchanges are themselves finding and flagging unlicensed entities, due to stronger 2019 Fincen requirements to do so. Read More: Crypto suspicious activity reports are climbing. Here’s why.

Institutional Investors Exit Market As Crypto Declines, New Report Reveals

The recent slight slump in the crypto market has seen an outflow of institutional cash in recent weeks. Coinshares’ latest figures show over $339 million leaving the crypto market owing to institutional investor withdrawals in a month, seemingly mostly made up of Bitcoin withdrawals. Read More: Institutional Investors Exit Market As Crypto Declines, New Report Reveals

Rhode Island Dangles Crypto Rewards For Home Builders With Low Carbon Emission

Rhode Island’s House of Representatives has introduced a bill that hopes to reward home builders with a cryptocurrency for lowering the project’s carbon footprint as a remedy to the state’s housing crisis. The Green Housing Public-Private Partnership Act of Rhode Island was enacted to encourage the development of more LEED-certified buildings and homes by crediting developers for any carbon reductions they achieve. The bill says: “Any reduction in utility expenses owing to any housing building project undertaken pursuant to this chapter shall be credited in the form of a green coin to be provided by the department to the property owner.” The effort will be funded through a pool of contributed monies totalling $625 million from bank donations and the government. Read More: Rhode Island Dangles Crypto Rewards For Home Builders With Low Carbon Emission

Nym Technologies raises $300M to advance internet privacy

Swiss privacy startup Nym Technologies has secured $300 million in commitments from venture capital partners to support its NYM Innovation Fund which intends to issue grants to developers and incentivize them to build on top of its decentralized infrastructure. Nym hosts a system of network protocols that aims to protect its users’ against mass surveillance by obscuring individuals’ metadata footprints and protecting the privacy of applications, as well as their coins and wallets. ‘Applications built on Nym work to improve upon third-party privacy services offered on virtual private networks (VPNs) and Tor.’ Read More: Nym Technologies raises $300M to advance internet privacy, sending token price up

Half of investors would miss signs of screen sharing scam with 86% increase

New research from the UK’s FCA (Financial Conduct Authority) has shown a new and fast growing trend in screen sharing scams which it found that 47% of investors would fail to identify. The FCA has seen an increase of 86% in cases in one year. These scams use ‘platforms including Teams, TeamViewer and Zoom and not only involve consumers sharing their financial data – but scammers have also been able to embed themselves in victims’ digital devices to access online banking and investment details.’ These scams also target crypto users with fake bitcoin and other advertisements, claiming to be financial advisors. Read More: “Sharing my screen cost me £48,000” – half of investors would miss signs of screen sharing scam as FCA warns of 86% increase

Crypto in Romance Scams: Tinder Crypto Scammers

Crypto romance scams are flourishing on Tinder and other dating apps. Features used to scam victims include verifying profiles, where scammers send links that appear to be Tinder verification but instead forward victims to a third-party website to enter personal information such as name, email, birth date, and credit card number which they then use to gain access to crypto accounts. Other cryptorom (crypto romance) scams ‘catfish’ users, creating fake profiles and trick users such as by establishing emotional connections and offering to give nude photos or videos in exchange for access to or information on their crypto wallets. Read More: Tinder Crypto Scammers: On Emotional Manipulation And Taking The Love Bait

Hundreds of NFTs listed on OpenSea from Shanghai residents during COVID lockdown

An enforced lockdown holding 25 million citizens in Shanghai stuck in their homes – increasingly worried about food and their pets taken and killed by authorities- has left citizens unsurprisingly frustrated. Government authorities have reportedly been censoring videos that have surfaced showing people’s confinement, leading citizens to use the immutable ledger of blockchain to protest. In rebellion, citizens have left NFTs showing videos of their experiences on the blockchain, where they are harder for the government to take down. One example: a video called Voices of April was published on YouTube with voiceovers of experiences from Shanghai residents during the lockdown, which was shortly after was minted into an NFT and listed on NFT marketplace OpenSea. Read More: Hundreds of NFTs listed on OpenSea from Shanghai residents during COVID lockdown

Starbucks latest to jump on NFT bandwagon as marketing ploy

Starbucks has announced its plans to enter the web3 space with the launch of its own NFT collection later this year, planning to give NFT access to exclusive content experiences and other benefits. Starbuck aims for its NFTs to help the brand extend its concept of the “third place” between home and work. Another NFT marketing ploy. Read More: Starbucks to launch NFTs this year, offering access to ‘unique experiences and benefits’

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