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Cryptocurrency, Blockchain, and Fintech News Headlines Update on 2022-10-14

a16z’s newest bet on Twitch co-founder’s Web3 startup

Twitch co-founder Justin Kan’s newest venture, Rye, is an ecommerce marketplace that wants to be the “Spotify for ecommerce.” Read more: A16z Crypto Leads $14 Million Bet On Rye, New Web3 Commerce Startup From Justin Kan

Singapore gets sweeter on crypto

Coinbase Singapore and Blockchain.com have earned the Monetary Authority of Singapore’s in-principle approval this week to provide crypto services in the country. The city-state has emerged as one of the top crypto hubs in Southeast Asia, especially as China banned cryptocurrencies in 2021. Read more: Coinbase gets MAS nod for crypto services

Ban ban ban in China

Speaking of China’s ban on crypto, the country has gone all out and barred 13 underground cryptocurrency trading apps, took down 23 crypto media websites, and banned 440 online accounts promoting crypto. China’s central bank also blocked 10 addresses for downloading crypto exchange apps, a cryptocurrency trading platform, and 32 crypto-related domain names. Read more: China shuts 13 underground crypto trading apps, a year after ban

Scrutinizing the apes

The US Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly looking into Yuga Labs, the company behind the well-known NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club, to find out if some of its NFTs had run afoul of federal securities rules. The broader theme of the investigation is to determine if NFTs can be considered as securities. Read more: SEC Probing Bored Ape Creator Yuga Labs Over Unregistered Offerings: Report

Blockchain-powered police reports in India

The Indian police have launched a pilot web portal using Polygon to file complaints that cannot be erased or manipulated. A corruption-proof system to file police reports is a pleasant surprise for India, where bribery is rampant among enforcers. Red more: Firozabad Public Grievance Management System

Tokens, NFTs, and yield generators we’re noticing.

Deep Objects

This is a decentralized design studio founded by designer David Stamatis, who has worked with Nike, Yeezy, and Uber Eats, among others, on several projects. Read more: DEEP OBJECTS IS USING ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE TO DEMOCRATIZE GOOD DESIGN

The platform’s first job: developing a design for sneakers. NFT holders take part in the process by looking through a million AI-generated designs and then voting until one winner is selected.

Deep Objects

YuGiYn

This is a virtual world that aims to create a digital economic zone based on Tokyo’s culture. Its NFT acts as a pass to enter the virtual world, where players can move back and forth between the space’s four districts and engage in conversation with one another through games, manga, anime, fashion, and music elements.

YuGiYn

Cocky

Launched by UK-based payroll company Parasol Group, Cocky is an NFT lifestyle club that offers exclusive access to music events. It hosts in-person events twice or thrice a year as well as virtual activities.

Its NFTs are depicted as cans with three lids. NFT holders can receive travel and lodging deals, extra invites, bar tabs, and unique merchandise based on the color of the lid.

The royalty problem in NFTs

DeGods, a Solana-based NFT collection, recently said it will switch to a zero-royalty scheme. Read more: DeGods Solana NFT Collection Joins Zero Royalty Bandwagon

What that means is it will be traded in marketplaces where creators will receive no royalty fees, a decision that has spurred debate about the ethics of royalty-free trading.

The move helps lower the costs of NFT transactions, resulting in more trading volume. However, it may deprive artists of being fairly compensated for their work.

While the popular Ethereum NFT collection, CryptoPunks, has also advocated for zero royalties on NFTs, NFT marketplace Magic Eden has taken a different route.

Magic Eden launched MetaShield, which discourages consumers from buying NFTs without paying royalties to creators. The company said the new tool aims to protect artists, rather than punish buyers. Read more: Magic Eden defends launch of NFT royalty enforcement tool

It later surprised and dismayed many by joining forces with CoralCube, an NFT marketplace where royalty fees are optional.

On the other hand, charging zero royalties for NFTs, some say, is the “fastest cash grab” method for promoting NFT mints and is seen as a “huge win” for the ecosystem.

This is exactly what crypto exchange FTX did last year after it said it wouldn’t list NFTs that pay secondary market royalties to their holders.

Zero royalties on NFT projects could also push teams to diversify their sources of income in the crypto space.

Google joins the crypto club

At the Google Cloud Next conference, the tech giant said it will use Coinbase’s services to let some customers pay for cloud offerings with cryptocurrencies early in 2023.

This will be done through an integration with Coinbase Commerce, which helps merchants anywhere in the world accept crypto payments.

Coinbase Commerce supports 10 currencies, including Bitcoin, Ethereum, USDC, USDT, and ApeCoin.

As part of the deal, Coinbase, which depends heavily on market-leading Amazon Web Services, will now transfer data-related applications to Google.

A handful of clients in the Web3 world who want to pay with crypto will now be able to do so through Google Cloud Platform.

This year, Google Cloud has also announced the creation of teams that will work to integrate blockchain into its services and create tools that can be used by third-party developers to run blockchain apps.

Crypto is definitely having its moment among big tech firms.

Read more: Google To Allow Crypto Payments With New Coinbase Deal

Indonesia’s crypto exchanges face fuzzy future amid new regulations

Indonesia, where crypto is wildly popular for its speculative nature, has proposed new rules that could make survival incredibly tough for the smaller crypto firms that exchange tokens. We analyze what the broader implications of these rules are.

Partnership to Operate Malaysia’s National Blockchain Infrastructure Sealed

Malaysia has launched a partnership to launch a national blockchain infrastructure for all levels of its government and commercial sectors. It’ll be jointly created and operated by a Malaysia-based layer 1 blockchain structure, Zetrix, and MIMOS Technology Solutions. Read More: Partnership to Operate Malaysia’s National Blockchain Infrastructure Sealed

$4M in Crypto Sent to Pro-Russia Militias in Ukraine: Report

An estimated $4.2 million in crypto has been sent to sanctioned pro Russia military groups. A report combining input from cryptocurrency-tracing firms Chainalysis, Elliptic and TRM Labs, along with investigators at Binance found that at least $4 million has been sent to groups supporting Russia’s military in Ukraine. According to the report, Chainalysis traced roughly $1.8 million in funding to the militias in just the past two months, where in the five months prior, the groups received $2.2 million. Binance found that $4.2 million in crypto was sent to Russian military groups since February, with the findings between the two firms not entirely overlapping. Read More: $4M in Crypto Sent to Pro-Russia Militias in Ukraine: Report

Latest EU Sanctions to Restrict Russians’ Access to Crypto Services in Europe

EU member states have discussed new sanctions against Russia which allegedly include restricting European companies from providing crypto wallet, account, or custody services to all Russian citizens and entities, according to a report. Earlier this year, the EU banned only “high-value” crypto-asset services to Russian residents and companies, with restrictions applied to digital funds exceeding €10,000 (now $9,803). The new measures aim to further restrict the ability of Russians to transfer wealth using digital assets. Jewellery and precious stones are also allegedly on the list, according to a confidential source. Read More: Latest EU Sanctions to Restrict Russians’ Access to Crypto Services in Europe, Report Unveils

Mastercard launches new crypto fraud protection tool

Mastercard has launched a new crypto service aimed to help banks find and prevent fraud on crypto merchant platforms. Mastercard’s Crypto Secure platform, run by Ciphertrace which it acquired last year, uses artificial intelligence, blockchain data and public records of crypto transactions to gauge crime-related risks of crypto exchanges within its network. Read More: Mastercard launches new crypto fraud protection tool

Citi Dips Toe into Crypto Waters, Leading $6 Million Round in xalts

Citi Ventures has led an investment round in Hong Kong-based digital asset investment startup xalts, which received $6 million in funding. The round, co-led by Citi Ventures and Accel, was the first digital asset manager Citi has invested in. xalts, founded earlier this year, is a global digital investment firm that helps financial institutions across the globe access digital assets while remaining compliant. Read More: Citi Dips Toe into Crypto Waters, Leading $6 Million Round in xalts

Crypto Used in Alleged $5.4M Drug Peddling Conspiracy Case

Cryptocurrency including Bitcoin was allegedly used to launder more than $5.35 million for a drug trafficking organisation. Drug sales reportedly included counterfeit pharmaceutical pills and other controlled substances across the US. The San Francisco man charged had used the dark web as a marketing portal. Read More: Crypto Used in Alleged $5.4M Drug Peddling Conspiracy Case

Crypto Exchange Huobi Global to be Acquired by About Capital

Crypto exchange Huobi Global has agreed to be purchased by Hong Kong-based investment company About Capital Management’s M&A fund. Huobi, top-10 exchange by trading volume, and one of the largest in the Asia markets, said About will “control the majority stake” of Huobi once the deal closes but that the ownership transfer will have no impact on trading operations. It’s believed that its globalisation push will now accelerate on the news, on which Huobi’s native token HT rose sharply. Read More: Crypto Exchange Huobi Global to be Acquired by About Capital

FBI: Crypto ATMs are Becoming a Prominent Scam Tool

The FBI’s field office in Miami has warned that crypto ATMs were becoming a prominent tool used by scammers to get cash from their victims. One trend has been scammers using ‘pig butchering’ scams- ie dating scams- where they gain their victims’ trust, before directing them to make transfers using crypto ATM machines. Previously, prepaid cards and wire transfers were the primary means used to extract funds from their victims. Scammers posing as staff of local utility companies, law enforcement agents, or public officials have also long been using crypto ATMs, tricking victims into sending them payments to avoid further penalties. Read More: FBI: Crypto ATMs are Becoming a Prominent Scam Tool

Korean police reportedly arrest first person involved in Terra collapse

Korean police have reportedly arrested the first person involved in the Terra blockchain ecosystem’s $40 billion collapse, after months of investigation. Do Kwon, the founder and main man behind the ecosystem collapse still appears to be on the run with his location unknown. Read More: Korean police reportedly arrest first person involved in Terra collapse

Global Interest in Crypto Jobs Is Down 62% Since the Beginning of 2022

The employment sector in the cryptocurrency industry has witnessed a significant decline over the last year with crypto jobs reportedly down 62% since the start of 2022. The trend began earlier this year with ‘crypto winter’ when crypto prices started to crash, which has led many firms to either reduce their workforce or stop hiring new staff altogether. Read More: Global Interest in Crypto Jobs Is Down 62% Since the Beginning of 2022

Is This Satoshi Nakamoto’s Long Lost Earliest Version Of The Bitcoin Code?

A bitcoin enthusiast claims to have found “the lost Bitcoin v0.1 raw data and files.” Satoshi Nakamoto’s original code disappeared from search engines and was considered lost for ten years, but “using some browser hacking”, a guy who goes by Jim Blasko claims he realised the files were still available. Read More: Is This Satoshi Nakamoto’s Long Lost Earliest Version Of The Bitcoin Code?

Moon Mortgage Raises $3.5M to Bring Crypto Mortgages to Market

A cryptocurrency mortgage lending platform has raised $3.5 million in a seed round and aims to bring a mortgage lending product that will allow investors to collateralise crypto holdings for real estate investment. Moon Mortgage’s CryptoMortgage product says it will take the investor’s digital assets as collateral and provide 100% of the financing for owner-occupied and investment properties. Read More: Moon Mortgage Raises $3.5M to Bring Crypto Mortgages to Market

Over 12,000 Brazil companies declare crypto holdings in record high

The number of companies holding cryptocurrency in Brazil has reached new record highs as of August.This is attributed both to increased trust in cryptocurrencies and high inflation rates. 12,053 unique organisations declaring crypto on their balance sheets in August 2022. However, the number of individual Brazilian investors holding crypto fell down to 1.3 million in August, due to the state of the crypto market. Read More: Over 12K Brazil companies declare crypto holdings in record high

Sport tops the NFT charts by volume

In terms of transaction volumes, sport NFTs are dominating the charts. With Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) turning over $32.8 million over the last 30 days despite having ‘just’ 296 NFT transactions, sports is following closely.

Sport tops the NFT charts by volume

NFL All Day is second on the charts volume-wise, with 482,000 transactions and revenues of $15 million. Fantasy football collectibles Sorare, and NBA Top Shot are in slots four and six by number of transactions. Of the top 10 NFT collections by transaction volume, five are sports, three are games, and one is a game-related collectible. Read More: Sport tops the NFT charts by volume

New Law Allows Californians to Store Vital Records on Blockchain

A new law in California will soon allow Californians to choose to store their vital records on blockchain. The law aims to make the technology an integral part of state record keeping. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who recently vetoed a crypto licensing and regulation bill, has approved a bill to enable county records offices to allow for blockchain to be used for birth, death and marriage records. This would mean PDFs could be sent immediately instead of waiting on a a 10-day postal delivery. Read More: New Law Allows Californians to Store Vital Records on Blockchain

Deutsche Telekom provides Ethereum blockchain staking

Deutsche Telekom is the latest institution to launch Ethereum staking services with its T-Systems MMS subsidiary which will host validator nodes for the blockchain. It will also provide a hosting solution to liquid staking solution StakeWise. This would allow its users to lock up tokens for a specified period of time in order to support the validation of blockchain transactions, for which they would get paid, similar to interest payments but with generally higher rewards. Deutsche Telekom has said it will participate in the governance of the StakeWise DAO. Read More: Deutsche Telekom provides Ethereum blockchain staking

BlackRock launches EU blockchain ETF

BlackRock has launched a European ETF five months after launching a similar ETF in the US, which has attracted $6 million in investment so far. It is listed on Euronext, the iShares Blockchain Technology UCITS ETF. In August, BlackRock also launched a private Bitcoin trust for institutions. Read More: BlackRock launches EU blockchain ETF

SWIFT aims to provide interoperability between banks & blockchains for digital assets

Cross border payments system SWIFT’s Strategy Director Jonathan Ehrenfeld Solé has said it is considering using both public and private blockchains to enable banks to issue, clear, trade and settle digital assets. SWIFT claims to be looking at Chainlink’c CCIP, which has integrated with 15 blockchains so far, rather than choosing one specific blockchain platform. Read More: SWIFT wants to provide interopability between banks, public blockchains for digital assets

Bitcoin, British pound trading volume soars 1,150% as pound risks dollar parity

The volatility and crashing of the British pound has reportedly led to a 1,150% increase in trading volume with Bitcoin. CoinShares head of research James Butterfill said trade volume for the GBP/BTC pair on exchanges Bitstamp and Bitfinex, usually worth a combined $70 million per day, hit $881 million on Sept. 26. This comes as the pound hit its lowest on record at nearly $1.03. Read More: Bitcoin, British pound trading volume soars 1,150% as UK’s currency risks dollar parity

Terra Co-Founder Tries To Cash Out 3,300 Bitcoin Following Interpol Alert, Report Says

Terra co-founder Do Kwon allegedly tried to cash out thousands of Bitcoin following an Interpol alert. He allegedly transfered 3,300 Bitcoin to KuCoin and around 1,950 to OKX, according to a report from CoinDesk Korea. Authorities in South Korea have since reportedly ordered crypto exchanges OKX and KuCoin to freeze funds connected to him. The exchanges jointly froze over 5,000 BTC then worth $60 million. This follows Interpol’s issuance of a “Red Notice” arrest warrant against him. Read More: Terra Co-Founder Tries To Cash Out 3,300 Bitcoin Following Interpol Alert, Report Says

Stanford Proposal for Reversible Ethereum Transactions Divides Crypto Community

Stanford University blockchain researchers’ latest proposal to create the potential for reversible transactions on Ethereum has divided the crypto community. Some welcomed the proposal, believing that the current levels of theft, and the risks of basic mistakes frequently costing millions make crypto unsustainable and pose barriers to mainstream adoption. Others believe a “decentralized set of judges” should be used to arbitrate transaction disputes, although some argue that decentralised court systems are rife with corruption. Read More: Stanford Proposal for Reversible Ethereum Transactions Divides Crypto Community

Kim Kardashian fined $1.26 million for promoting security without saying she was paid

Kim Kardashian has been fined $1.26 million for promoting a security to her 225 million Instagram followers without disclosing that she had been paid $250,000 to do so. EthereumMax, or EMAX, a cryptocurrency token that many deem to be dubious at best, has used several big promises and buzzwords in its promotions, but never registered with the SEC. Of the case, attorney Nelson Rosario said “The SEC can have their pick of the litter in terms of tokens that they deem securities, but only one is associated with Kim Kardashian,” “You can make an example of her. You reach a lot of people – it’s kind of a bang for your buck situation.” Read More: What Is EthereumMax? Inside the Crypto Kim Kardashian Lost $1.2M Promoting

Report: Crypto Is Quietly Thriving in Sub-Saharan Africa

A report by Chainalysis shows strong crypto usage and adoption rates in Sub-Saharan Africa. Many see crypto as “a way to feed their family” in a region of highly educated young people and low job prospects, according to Convexity founder Adedeji Owonibi. The region has the world’s highest proportion (80%) of crypto retail payments of less than $1,000, according to the report. It also says peer-to-peer transactions are more common in Sub-Saharan Africa than anywhere else in the world. Read More: Crypto Is Quietly Thriving in Sub-Saharan Africa: Chainalysis Report

Ripple Labs scores a victory in its ongoing legal battle with the US SEC

Ripple Labs seems to have scored a victory in its case against the US SEC, with Court Judge Analisa Torres ruling to release the documents written by former SEC Corporation Finance Division Director William Hinman. Hinman had stated in a speech that Ether was not a security, a fact which Ripple Labs considers a key piece of evidence the case the SEC has brought against it alleging that sales of Ripple’s XRP violated U.S. securities laws. It isn’t yet clear whether the language used in the speech will be as meaningful as Ripple suggests, given that circumstances surrounding the speech and Hinman’s actions leading up to it are still a source of confusion. Read More: Judge orders SEC to turn Hinman documents over to Ripple Labs after months of dispute

Terra could leave a similar regulatory legacy to that of Facebook’s Libra

The United States House of Representatives has proposed to impose a two-year ban on new algorithmically pegged stablecoins such as TerraUSD (UST) which depegged and has continued to unsettle the crypto markets. New draft legislation on stablecoins has been in the works for several months now, with the new draft bill delayed on numerous occasions. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has repeatedly citing the Terra collapse when calling for tighter regulation of the crypto space. Read More: Terra could leave a similar regulatory legacy to that of Facebook’s Libra

Transit Swap ‘hacker’ returns 70% of $23M in stolen funds

Less than 24 hours after a $23 million hack of decentralised exchange aggregator Transit Swap, the hacker has returned 70% of the stolen assets worth $16.2 million to two addresses. A quick response from a group of blockchain security companies helped facilitate the return by working out the hacker’s IP, email address and associated-on chain addresses. Transit Finance has said “the project team is rushing to collect the specific data of the stolen users and formulate a specific return plan” but also remains focused on retrieving the final 30% of stolen funds”. The security companies are still tracking the incident and are communicating with the hacker through email and on-chain methods in an attempt to recover more assets. Read More: Transit Swap ‘hacker’ returns 70% of $23M in stolen funds

US Regulator Chases DAO

The Commodities Future Trading Commission (CFTC) has filed a law suit against voting members of Ooki DAO alleging they were operating an unregistered exchange. The CFTC took the unusual and unprecedented step of treating the DAO like an unincorporated organisation, naming individual Ooki members as defendants. Critics say this would put a chill on DAO participation and is yet another strike against the US regulatory environment. Read More: Interpreting the CFTC’s Lawsuit Against Ooki DAO

Kazakhstan completes first crypto purchase with local currency, eyes regulation

Kazakhstan has made its first purchase of cryptocurrency with its local currency, the tenge. President Tokayev said “If this financial instrument shows its continued demand and security, it will certainly receive full legal recognition”. Kazakhstan will continue running a pilot program through this year to test demand and security. Bitcoin mining is already prevalent. Read More: KAZAKHSTAN COMPLETES FIRST CRYPTO PURCHASE WITH LOCAL CURRENCY, EYES REGULATION: REPORT

Celsius Founder Reportedly Withdrew $10M in Weeks Before Bankruptcy

Crypto lending platform Celsius Network founder Alex Mashinsky allegedly withdrew $10 million from the company in May, weeks before it froze customer accounts and unraveled on its way toward seeking bankruptcy protection. Mashinsky allegedly withdrew the money at about the same time customers were pulling their funds from the company, according to a Financial Times report. Mashinsky resigned as chief executive last week, with the timing of his knowledge about the company’s peril reportedly being unclear. Read More: Celsius Founder Reportedly Withdrew $10M in Weeks Before Bankruptcy

Regulators Reject Celsius Motion to Sell Stablecoins and Reopen Withdrawals

The US Department of Justice has objected to Celsius’ motion to sell its stablecoin holdings, as well as to allow some of its users to withdraw funds. The DOJ claims Celsius’ financials lack transparency, and important decisions like these should be avoided pending the filing of an independent examiner report. The Texas Department of Banking, Texas State Securities Board, and the Department of Financial Regulation of the state of Vermont are also against Celsius selling its stablecoins. They claim the firm could use the proceeds to relaunch operations in violation of state legislation. Read More: Regulators Reject Celsius Motion to Reopen Withdrawals

Celsius Creditors Move to Subpoena Lending Firm for $439M Collateral Repayment

Creditors of crypto lending firm Celsius have moved to subpoena a lending firm, Equities First, which has become embroiled in its bankruptcy. Celsius had borrowed money from the lender, and when it attempted to repay the loans Equities First was unable to return the collateral. Former Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky said it still owes Celsius $439 million. The creditors are seeking information regarding the loan agreements between the two firms and to find the reason behind Equities First’s inability to pay back the collateral. Read More: Celsius Creditors Move to Subpoena Lending Firm Equities First for $439M Collateral Repayment

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