BlackRock CEO Larry Fink Says Firm Had Invested $24 Million in FTX

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Wed, 30th Nov 2022) London, Uk – –

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BlackRock CEO Larry Fink specified that the asset management giant had invested $24 million in FTX before its collapse, according to Reuters. Fink was speaking at the New York Times Dealbook conference on Wednesday.

Fink also said it looked like there were misbehaviors in FTX, but would not speculate on whether BlackRock and venture capital firm Sequoia, which had invested $213.5 million in FTX and has since marked that amount down to zero, had been misled by FTX, Reuters reported.

FTX owes its top 50 creditors more than $3 billion and has an estimated 1 million creditors in total.

By Nelson Wang

Binance.US to Bid for Crypto Lender Voyager, CZ Confirms

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 24th Nov 2022) London, Uk – –

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CoinDesk reported last week that Binance.US would be preparing a bid for the bankrupt lending platform

Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao has confirmed that the exchange's U.S. wing will be making a fresh bid for crypto lender Voyager now that the defunct FTX is unable to follow through with acquiring it.


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CoinDesk reported last week that Binance.US would be preparing a bid for the bankrupt lending platform, which Zhao confirmed in an interview with Bloomberg on Thursday.

“Binance.US will make another bid for Voyager now, given FTX is no longer able to follow through on that commitment,” he said.

Following Voyager's bankruptcy, FTX emerged as the front runner to acquire the lender, with Binance's bid said to be held back by concerns that it would represent a national security concern for the U.S. government.


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“I think the U.S. national security concerns were rumors spread by FTX to try and push us out of the bid,” Zhao said. “There was never any concerns about us participating in the bid.”

Binance has been dogged by claims that it is a Chinese company, given it is the country of Zhao's birth, though he grew up in Canada. “I am a Canadian citizen, period,” he wrote in a blog post in September.

By Jamie Crawley

 

Bank of England says better regulations needed after FTX collapse

Better regulations are needed to protect the financial system after the collapse of the FTX cryptocurrency exchange, a senior Bank of England official has said.

Digital currencies are still too small to pose a threat but that will soon change, said Sir Jon Cunliffe.

FTX filed for bankruptcy last week and owes its largest creditors almost $3.1bn (£2.6bn).

Thousands of its users are also waiting to get their money back.


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Sir Jon, who is deputy governor for financial stability at the Bank, also said the recent volatility in the value of cryptocurrencies posed a threat.

The value of Bitcoin, the world's largest digital currency, has dived by almost 70% in the last year.

He said the crypto world was, at present, not “large enough or interconnected enough with mainstream finance to threaten the stability of the financial system”.

But he said its links with mainstream finance were developing rapidly.

“We should not wait until it is large and connected to develop the regulatory frameworks necessary to prevent a crypto shock that could have a much greater destabilising impact.

“The experience in other areas of digitalisation has demonstrated the difficulty of retrofitting regulation on new technologies and new business models after they have reached systemic scale,” he told an audience at a Warwick Business School event.

It comes as the UK is set to approve laws in the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which is currently in Parliament. The bill will introduce regulation for stable coins – a cryptoasset backed by an asset such as a currency – and the marketing of cryptoassets.

In his speech, Sir Jon noted that the UK's financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority, had been warning for several weeks before FTX's collapse that “this firm may be providing financial services or products in the UK without our authorisation… you are unlikely to get your money back if things go wrong”.

FTX did not have a licence to operate in the UK, but its implosion has caused shockwaves around the world.

The company's filings have revealed that more than one million people and businesses could be owed money following its collapse.

Analysis: Joe Tidy

Before FTX collapsed, its then-CEO Sam Bankman-Fried took every chance he could to describe his firm as “the most regulated” in the industry.

It's true that FTX had collected dozens of permissions to operate in many countries and to offer many different crypto services.

But clearly, in the end, those certificates were useless at protecting customers and investors.

Every time there is a major crisis in crypto the cries for regulation grow, but it's the type of regulation that matters.

The chief concerns for authorities seem to be about protecting customers from crypto firms going bust and ensuring that they don't run off with people's money.

But as ever with cryptocurrency there is a tension between safety and freedom.

Regulating crypto firms to ensure they are safe and responsible entities would bring them a step closer to the traditional financial system – a huge no-no for crypto believers.

But whatever the true believers want, the FTX chaos may well be the point of no return.

On Saturday, FTX said it had launched a review of its global assets and was preparing for the sale or reorganisation of some businesses.

Last week, new FTX chief executive John Ray hit out at the way the failed crypto exchange was run, saying he had never “seen such a complete failure of corporate controls”.

Mr Ray, who replaced the company's founder Sam Bankman-Fried, criticised what he called a “complete absence of trustworthy financial information”.

Mr Bankman-Fried was one of the crypto world's most high-profile personalities, with the 30-year-old becoming a billionaire in 2021.

His FTX crypto exchange grew to be the second largest in the world, with $10bn-$15bn traded a day.

It spent millions on advertising, including during the Superbowl, and last year it acquired the naming rights for the Miami Heat NBA team's arena.

Mr Bankman-Fried also projected an unconventional approach to business, tweeting pictures of himself sleeping on a beanbag next to his desk in the office.

Digital pound

Despite the ructions in the crypto world caused by FTX's collapse, Sir Jon said the need for a UK digital currency was still being considered by the Bank of England.


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He said the work on a digital pound was driven by “the reducing role of cash, and more generally in the increasing digitalisation of daily life”.

Sir Jon said the Bank planned to issue a consultative report around the end of the year setting out the possible next steps.

 

Binance to Relaunch Bid for Bankrupt Lender Voyager: Source

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 17th Nov 2022) London, Uk – –

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The previous Voyager sale saw FTX emerge as the “white knight,” beating out Binance.

Binance.US, the American arm of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, is preparing to bid for bankrupt lending platform Voyager Digital, according to a person familiar with the plans.


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A previous auction, which was completed around the end of last September, saw the now defunct FTX emerging as the “white knight,” winning out against rivals Wave Financial and Binance. At the time, CoinDesk had also reported that Binance's bid for the U.S.-based Voyager had been shut out due to national security concerns.

Following FTX’s announcement last week to file for bankruptcy, Voyager said it had reopened the bidding process for the company, and is in active discussions with alternative bidders. Wave Financial and trading platform Cross Tower are reported to be in the running.

Voyager did not return requests for comment by press time.

Voyager's native token VGX jumped as much as 50% after CoinDesk's report was published, at the time of writing VGX was up over 40% at $0.4066.

Thomas Braziel, managing partner at investment firm 507 Capital said matters are complicated by the fact Voyager is going to have a claim against the FTX estate for breach of contract.

“The problem is that the claim is only going to be against FTX US,” said Braziel in an interview. “I worry a lot of the collateral is going to be held in trust. So any cause of action they have could end up being behind all the customers. And the problem is that if customers aren’t going to be made whole, then what’s your unsecured claim going to be worth? It’s going to be worth bupkis.”

Earlier this week, Binance CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao said his exchange is setting up an industry recovery fund to help rebuild the industry.


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“Binance is not looking to be the ‘white knight’ of crypto,” said Binance chief communications officer Patrick Hillmann in a message to CoinDesk. “There are no Luke Skywalkers or Darth Vaders in business. This is a company, with the most to lose as it's market leader, looking around to see where we can help bolster the industry through a black swan event.”

By Ian Allison

Kris Marszalek moves to reassure customers confidence in Crypto.com

(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Mon, 14th Nov 2022) London, Uk – –

Boss Kris Marszalek moves to reassure customers that the crypto.com exchange is sound and takes no risks as a crisis of confidence remains evident across the sector.

The boss of cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com has hit out at “naysayers” questioning its financial health as the market jitters after the collapse of rival exchange FTX.


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Kris Marszalek, chief executive of Singapore-based crypto.com, insisted it had a robust balance sheet and took no risks after investors took to Twitter over the weekend to question a transfer of $400m of ether tokens to another exchange.

He used a “ask me anything” discussion via YouTube to address the speculation over the 21 October transfer, which the Wall Street Journal reported had sparked a series of withdrawals, saying the tokens had been recovered.

“At no point were the funds at risk of being sent somewhere they could not be retrieved. It had nothing to do with any of the craziness from FTX,” he told the 7,000-strong audience.

Mr Marszalek first moved to reassure them that the exchange was on a sound footing.

He promised an audited proof of reserves report to be published within weeks, adding that crypto.com did not engage in any “irresponsible lending products”.

Commenting on the spectacular public collapse of FTX last week, with at least $1bn of client funds missing according to a Reuters news agency report, Mr Marszalek said: “This has set the industry back a good couple of years in the reputation that we have built.

“Trust was damaged, if not lost, and we need to focus on rebuilding trust.”

He said that crypto.com had about $10m exposure to the FTX collapse.

Crypto.com is among the top 10 exchanges by turnover globally but smaller than FTX and market leader Binance.

Bitcoin and ether were trading about 1% higher early on Monday at $16,650 and $1,226 respectively.


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Susannah Streeter, senior investment and markets analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “Although the immediate storm following the collapse of the huge exchange FTX, has subsided, the destruction left in its wake has been considerable and crypto speculators hit hard by these recent losses, will be licking some painful wounds.

“This is a painful reminder that the crypto wild west is still a fragile niche in the larger financial system, where money is being bet on highly speculative assets.

“In this opaque world, fraud is rife and although the clamour for greater regulation will mount, this whole debacle also comes with a sense of relief that the deep scepticism among regulators about crypto's stability has ringfenced larger more established financial institutions from contagion.”

 

EXCLUSIVE Behind FTX’s fall, battling billionaires and a failed bid to save crypto

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 10th Nov, 2022) London, UK —

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On Tuesday morning, Sam Bankman-Fried, owner of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, caught his employees off-guard with a somber message.

“I’m sorry,” he told them. “I f@#*d up.”

The reason for the mea culpa: His announcement half an hour earlier that FTX’s arch-rival, Binance, planned to mount a shock takeover of its main trading platform to save it from a “liquidity crunch.” Binance founder Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, whom the billionaire had accused of sabotage, would now be his White Knight.


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The seeds of FTX's downfall were sown months earlier, stemming from mistakes Bankman-Fried made after he stepped in to save other crypto firms as the crypto market collapsed amid rising interest rates, according to interviews with several people close to Bankman-Fried and communications from both companies that have not been previously reported.

Some of those deals involving Bankman-Fried’s trading firm, Alameda Research, led to a series of losses that eventually became his undoing, according to three people familiar with the company's operations.

The seeds of FTX's downfall were sown months earlier, stemming from mistakes Bankman-Fried made after he stepped in to save other crypto firms as the crypto market collapsed amid rising interest rates, according to interviews with several people close to Bankman-Fried and communications from both companies that have not been previously reported.

Some of those deals involving Bankman-Fried’s trading firm, Alameda Research, led to a series of losses that eventually became his undoing, according to three people familiar with the company's operations.

Neither Binance nor FTX responded to requests for comment. Bankman-Fried told Reuters on Tuesday that “I'll probably be too swamped” to do interviews. He didn't respond to further messages.

Binance earlier said it decided to pull out of the deal as a result of its due diligence on FTX and news reports about U.S. investigations into the company.

Zhao's unveiling of the planned takeover capped a stunning reversal for Bankman-Fried. The 30-year-old had set up Bahamas-based FTX in 2019 and led it to become one of the largest exchanges, accumulating a near $17 billion fortune.

News of the liquidity crunch at FTX – valued in January at $32 billion with investors including SoftBank and BlackRock – sent reverberations through the crypto world.

The price of major coins plummeted, with bitcoin slumping to its lowest in almost two years, heaping further pain on a sector whose value has fallen about two-thirds this year as central banks tightened credit.

By ditching the deal, Binance had also avoided the regulatory scrutiny that would likely have accompanied the takeover, which Zhao had flagged as a likelihood in a memo to employees that he posted on Twitter.

Financial regulators around the world have issued warnings about Binance for operating without a license or violating money laundering laws. The U.S. Justice Department is investigating Binance for possible money laundering and criminal sanctions violations. Reuters reported last month that Binance had helped Iranian firms trade $8 billion since 2018 despite U.S. sanctions, part of a series of articles this year by the news agency on the exchange's financial crime compliance.

RELATIONSHIP SOURS

Zhao and Bankman-Fried’s relationship began in 2019. Six months after FTX’s launch, Zhao bought 20% of the exchange for about $100 million, a person with direct knowledge of the deal said. At the time, Binance said the investment was “aimed to grow the crypto economy together.”

Within 18 months, however, their relationship had soured.

FTX had grown rapidly and Zhao now viewed it as a genuine competitor with global aspirations, former Binance employees said.

When FTX in May 2021 applied for a license in Gibraltar for a subsidiary, it had to submit information about its major shareholders, but Binance stonewalled FTX’s requests for help, according to messages and emails between the exchanges seen by Reuters.

Between May and July, FTX lawyers and advisors wrote to Binance at least 20 times for details on Zhao’s sources of wealth, banking relationships, and ownership of Binance, the messages show.

In June 2021, however, an FTX lawyer told Binance’s chief financial officer that Binance wasn’t “engaging with us properly” and they risked “severely disrupting an important project for us.” A Binance legal officer responded to FTX to say she was trying to get a response from Zhao’s personal assistant, but the requested information was “too general” and they may not provide everything.

By July of that year, Bankman-Fried had tired of waiting. He bought back Zhao’s stake in FTX for about $2 billion, the person with direct knowledge of the deal said. Two months later, with Binance no longer involved, Gibraltar’s regulator granted FTX a license.

That sum was paid to Binance, in part, in FTX’s own coin, FTT, Zhao said last Sunday – a holding he would later order Binance to sell, precipitating the crisis at FTX.

“TRYING TO GO AFTER US”

This May and June, Bankman-Fried’s trading firm, Alameda Research, suffered a series of losses from deals, according to three people familiar with its operations. These included a $500-million loan agreement with failed crypto lender Voyager Digital, two of the people said. Voyager filed for bankruptcy protection the following month, with FTX's U.S. arm paying $1.4 billion for its assets in a September auction. Reuters could not determine the full extent of losses Alameda suffered.

Seeking to prop up Alameda, which held almost $15 billion in assets, Bankman-Fried transferred at least $4 billion in FTX funds, secured by assets including FTT and shares in trading platform Robinhood Markets Inc, the people said. Alameda had disclosed a 7.6% share in Robinhood that May.

A portion of these FTX funds were customer deposits, two of the people said, though Reuters could not determine their value.

Bankman-Fried did not tell other FTX executives about the move to prop up Alameda, the people said, adding he was afraid that it could leak.

On Nov. 2, however, a report by news outlet CoinDesk detailed a leaked balance sheet that allegedly showed that much of Alameda’s $14.6 billion in assets were held in FTT. Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison tweeted that the balance sheet was merely for a “subset of our corporate entities,” with over $10 billion of assets not reflected. Ellison did not return requests for comment.

That failed to douse growing speculation over what Alameda’s financial health might mean for FTX.

Then Zhao said Binance would sell its entire share in the token, FTT, worth at least $580 million, “due to recent revelations that have come to light.” The token's price collapsed 80% over the next two days and a torrent of outflows from the exchange gathered pace, blockchain data show.

WITHDRAWAL SURGE

In his message to staff this week, Bankman-Fried said the firm saw a “giant withdrawal surge” as users rushed to withdraw $6 billion in crypto tokens from FTX in just 72 hours. Daily withdrawals normally totaled tens of millions of dollars, Bankman-Fried told his employees.

After Zhao’s tweet that Binance would sell its FTT holding, Bankman-Fried projected confidence that FTX would weather its rival’s attacks. He told staff on Slack that withdrawals were “not shockingly, way up,” but they were able to process the requests.

“We’re chugging along,” he wrote. “Obviously, Binance is trying to go after us. So be it.”

But by Monday the situation became dire. Unable to quickly find a backer, or sell other illiquid assets short-notice, Bankman-Fried contacted Zhao, according to a person familiar with the call. Zhao later confirmed that Bankman-Fried had called him.

Bankman-Fried signed a non-binding letter of intent for Binance to buy FTX’s non-U.S. assets. This valued FTX at several billion dollars, two people familiar with the letter said – enough for the exchange to cover all withdrawal requests but a fraction of its January valuation.

Zhao announced the potential deal several hours later, with Bankman-Fried tweeting “a huge thank you to CZ.”

“Let’s live to fight another day,” Bankman-Fried told staff on Slack.


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His employees were shocked. Even executives had been in the dark about the Alameda shortfall and takeover plan until Bankman-Fried informed them that morning, two people working with him said. Both people said they had been unaware that the withdrawal situation was so serious.

Then came Binance’s announcement on Wednesday scrapping the takeover. “The issues are beyond our control or ability to help,” Binance said. Zhao tweeted “Sad day. Tried,” with a crying emoji.

Reporting by Angus Berwick and Tom Wilson

 

Crypto Exchange Huobi Tweets Plan to Move to Caribbean

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 3rd Nov 2022) London, Uk – –

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Dominica, Panama and the Bahamas are the frontrunners, according to Justin Sun, who advises the company.

Crypto exchange Huobi Global, one of the largest cryptocurrency platforms in Asia, appeared to confirm that it plans to move to the Caribbean by retweeting a post by Justin Sun, founder of the Tron blockchain network and an adviser to the company.


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The exchange, founded in China in 2013, is currently based in the Seychelles. Last month, it agreed to be bought by the M&A fund of Hong Kong-based investment company About Capital Management for an undisclosed amount.

Sun, who stepped down as the Tron's CEO to become Grenada's ambassador to the World Trade Organization last year, said in an interview with the Financial Times earlier this week that the Caribbean's “super-friendly” crypto stance, use of English and common law-based legal systems, made it an attractive region to set up shop. He added that Dominica, Panama and the Bahamas were the frontrunners.

Dominica may be the most likely destination should Sun's influence come to bear. Last month, Tron entered into an agreement with the Dominican government to issue a national fan token to promote the island's heritage and tourism.


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The move would mark the latest instance of a crypto exchange migrating from Asia to the Caribbean in search of a more helpful regulatory environment. Last year FTX moved its headquarters from Hong Kong to the Bahamas.

By Jamie Crawley

 

Dogecoin Soars as Elon Musk’s Twitter Deal Nears Completion

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 27th Oct 2022) London, Uk – –

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The billionaire entrepreneur is supposed to close his purchase of the social media platform on Friday.

Popular meme coin dogecoin (DOGE) was up nearly 16% over the past 24 hours as billionaire Elon Musk's purchase of Twitter approached the finish line.

The Tesla founder's $44 million deal is supposed to close Friday.

Musk has been a major supporter of DOGE, which has become a proxy for sentiment about him. The entrepreneur's statements about the token have also consistently influenced its price.

DOGE was most recently trading at slightly over 7 cents. It had been languishing below 6 cents for much of the past six weeks. A year ago, DOGE was trading at 25 cents.

By James Rubin

 

Binance Denies Allegations That it Intends to Use Users Uniswap Tokens for Voting

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 20th Oct 2022) London, Uk – –

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Crypto exchange Binance denied allegations of misusing its users’ token holdings to exercise voting power on the Uniswap decentralized autonomous organization (DAO).

“Binance doesn’t vote with user’s tokens. In this case, there has been a misunderstanding of what happened during the transfer of a large balance of UNI (around 4.6 million) between wallets,” a Binance spokesperson told CoinDesk this morning.


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“We’re currently in discussions to improve the process to prevent any further misunderstandings from happening again,” they added. Separately, Binance pointed out in a Thursday tweet that its wallet had never voted on any Uniswap governance proposal.

The statements were in response to Uniswap creator Hayden Adams claiming on Wednesday that Binance delegated some 13 million UNI, Uniswap’s native tokens, from its books, to become the second-largest UNI delegate.

A group of core developers maintains the Uniswap codebase, but key protocol decisions are governed by the Uniswap DAO, which grants users voting rights according to how many UNI tokens they hold.


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Users may also “delegate” their tokens to other entities, thereby enabling those entities to vote on their behalf.

Binance currently retains 5.9% of the voting power on Uniswap, second only to venture capital giant a16z, which controls 6.7%, as reported.

By Shaurya Malwa

 

Asset Management Giant GoldenTree Discloses $5.2M Investment in SushiSwap

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 6th Oct 2022) London, Uk – –

The credit-focused firm has been ramping up its commitment to cryptocurrency, unveiling a new investment manager and fund in recent months.

GoldenTree has invested about $5.2 million the SushiSwap governance token, the asset management giant said in a SushiSwap forum announcement on Wednesday.

The company, which has about $47 million in assets under management, said it it had been “following Sushi for a while” and with the start-up of its crypto-focused GoldenChain Asset Management arm, was “psyched to be more active in all things Sushi.”


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Sushi was created as a copy of Uniswap, with added liquidity mining and governance features. Although aiming to improve on the original, it has appeared to be falling behind competitors.

Still, GoldenTree said in its forum post that “Sushi had incredible potential.”

“Although the community has certainly been through some tough challenges, we’ve been amazed at the resilience of both the core team and the community in the face of these speed bumps, as you all have continued to build and release top-tier products.”

The announcement came just three days after a leadership change. On Monday, Sushi community members elected Jared Grey as CEO, transferring power within the decentralized exchange after months of realignment and controversy surrounding the protocol’s governance.

The election followed a year of organizational difficulties at Sushi. In September 2021, the de facto CEO and founding member, pseudonymous 0xMaki, left for an external advising position. In December, Chief Technology Officer Joseph Delong departed to serve in the same role at NFT (non-fungible token) lending platform Astaria.


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The firm has been ratcheting up its commitment to crypto for more than a year. In July 2021, the company added an undisclosed amount of bitcoin to its balance sheet, and earlier this year, it introduced its new digital investment strategy, including GoldenChain and a team of what it referred to as “10 crypto natives” the forum post.

By James Rubin

 

Amazon Involvement in Digital Euro Project Attacked by EU Lawmakers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 29th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

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Cross-party lawmakers cited worries over data privacy and taxation as they demanded a U-turn on the controversial European Central Bank decision to let Amazon build a prototype app for a digital euro.

A cross-party coalition of members of the European Parliament on Tuesday turned their fire on the European Central Bank for picking U.S. retail giant Amazon to help develop the digital euro.


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Fabio Panetta turned up to a morning meeting of the Economic and Monetary Affairs committee with a pre-prepared speech on the currency’s design features – perhaps expecting the usual placid exchange of views over plans for the central bank digital currency.

Instead he was met with demands from furious lawmakers to backtrack on his decision to pick the U.S. company – the subject of numerous controversies – to develop a prototype for e-commerce applications of the putative new CBDC.

“We know that the reputation of Amazon in terms of social and tax policy is questionable, I have to say,” said center-left lawmaker Eero Heinäluoma, citing a record-breaking fine of 746 million euros ($720 million) the company received from data protection regulators last year for allegedly breaching privacy rules, which the company has since appealed. “What does Amazon have that could not be found in the European Union?”

Other lawmakers questioned whether the choice would undermine the stated goals Panetta has for the digital euro – to keep EU payments competitive and free from foreign meddling.

“How do you explain this choice really?” asked Stéphanie Yon-Courtin, a lawmaker from French President Emmanuel Macron’s centrist Renew Europe coalition. “In July 2022, you were saying about the digital euro that it would protect the strategic autonomy of European payments and monetary sovereignty… You were also saying that a digital euro would help to avoid market dominance. Three months later, we've been announced that Amazon has been selected over 54 companies.”

Lawmakers from the Green Party went further, calling for the ECB to reverse the decision to avoid undermining the entire project.

“I would like to know whether you would consider revising the decision,” said the Greens’ Ernest Urtasun. He drew parallels with the now-abandoned Libra initiative, in which the involvement of the “big American company” Facebook (now Meta) in a cryptocurrency project drew “strong opposition.”

If there was no change of heart, Urtasun asked if Panetta wasn't worried that “this project – which is essential and that the parliament supported – will not start with a very strong lack of credibility.”

Panetta defended his decision, arguing that Amazon had been chosen based on pre-issued criteria which he was powerless to now change, and that the prototypes Amazon develops would not be re-used later on.

“We wanted to have one merchant, and only one merchant applied” to the call for tender, Panetta said. “We want to learn [from] the best technology not from the worst one… there are not many companies in Europe that could show their experience in dealing with hundreds of millions of users.”

“There is no impact of this prototyping exercise on the future development on the actual participation to the terms of the digital euro,” Panetta said. “You are concerned what could be the consequences of this exercise? Zero.”

Panetta also stressed that, for its participation, the company received neither financial rewards, nor privileged data about the project or its users – but if anything, those assurances seemed to increase lawmakers’ disquiet.


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“Honestly, I am now more worried than before,” said the socialist party’s Jonás Fernández, since the lack of a financial reward implied the company was profiting in some other way.

Amazon declined to comment on the hearing itself but reiterated a previous statement that it was “excited to work with the European Central Bank on their digital euro prototyping exercise.”

By Jack Schickler

The Ethereum Merge Is Done, Opening a New Era for the Second-Biggest Blockchain

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By Sam Kessler

The historic upgrade casts aside the miners who had previously driven the blockchain, with promises of massive environmental benefits.

The massive overhaul of Ethereum known as the Merge has finally happened, moving the digital machinery at the core of the second-largest cryptocurrency by market value to a vastly more energy-efficient system after years of development and delay.

It was no small feat swapping out one way of running a blockchain, known as proof-of-work, for another, called proof-of-stake. “The metaphor that I use is this idea of switching out an engine from a running car,” said Justin Drake, a researcher at the non-profit Ethereum Foundation who spoke to CoinDesk before the Merge happened.


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The payoff is potentially gigantic. Ethereum should now consume 99.9% or so less energy. It's like Finland has suddenly shut off its power grid, according to one estimate.

Ethereum’s developers say the upgrade will make the network – which houses a $60 billion ecosystem of cryptocurrency exchanges, lending companies, non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces and other apps – more secure and scalable, too.

When the Merge officially kicked in at 6:43 a.m. UTC, more than 41,000 people were tuned in on YouTube to an “Ethereum Mainnet Merge Viewing Party.” They watched with bated breath as key metrics trickled in suggesting that Ethereum's core systems had remained intact. After about 15 long minutes the Merge officially finalized, meaning it could be declared a success. The price of ETH – whose current market value near $200 billion makes it the second-largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin (BTC) – was largely flat after the Merge.

The update, which ends the network’s reliance on the energy-intensive process of cryptocurrency mining, has been closely watched by crypto investors, enthusiasts and skeptics for the impact it is expected to have on the wider blockchain industry.

Mark Cuban, investor and billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks basketball team, told CoinDesk he would be “watching [the Merge] with interest like everyone else,” pointing out that it might make ETH, the network's native token, deflationary.

The idea was there from the start that Ethereum would eventually make the switch to proof-of-stake. But the transition was a complicated technical effort – an endeavor so risky that many doubted it would happen at all.

“There’s a part of me which hasn’t completely realized that this is actually happening,” Drake said. “I’m somewhat in denial, you know, because I’ve trained myself to just expect it to happen in the future.”

The update’s complexity was compounded by the fact that it may have been one of the largest open-source software endeavors in history, requiring coordination across dozens of teams and scores of individual researchers, developers and volunteers.

Tim Beiko, an Ethereum Foundation developer who played a key role in coordinating the update, said to CoinDesk, “I think the Merge can genuinely get those people who were interested in Ethereum, but skeptical of the environmental impacts, to come and experiment with it.”

Goodbye, miners

In 2008, Bitcoin introduced the world to the idea of a decentralized ledger – a single, immutable record of transactions that computers around the world could view, alter and trust without the need for intermediaries.

Ethereum, introduced in 2015, expanded upon the core concepts of Bitcoin with smart contracts – or computer programs that effectively use the blockchain as a global supercomputer, recording data onto its network. That innovation was the essential ingredient behind decentralized finance (DeFi) and NFTs – the main catalysts of the most recent crypto boom.

The Merge retires Ethereum’s proof-of-work system, where crypto miners competed to write transactions to its ledger – and earn rewards for doing so – by solving cryptographic puzzles.

Most crypto mining today happens in “farms,” though they may be more aptly described as factories. Picture massive warehouses lined with rows of computers stacked on top of one another like shelves of books at a university library – each computer hot to the touch as it strains to pump out cryptocurrency.

This system, which was pioneered by Bitcoin, is what caused Ethereum to guzzle so much energy and is responsible for fueling the blockchain sector’s reputation as an environmental menace.

“My daughter and I spoke about NFTs a few months ago,” recalled Ben Edgington, a product leader at the Ethereum research and development firm ConsenSys. “At the dinner table I rather foolishly mentioned some NFT projects, and she was yelling at me, ‘How can you boil the oceans with this nonsense? This is terrible. I can't believe that you do this for a living.’”

Edgington, who began his career researching climate science before eventually landing in crypto, understood where his daughter was coming from. “Rightly or wrongly, she'd absorbed a very toxic environmental narrative,” he said. “I mean, it's kind of hard to defend ‘stickers for grownups’ that emit, by some estimates, a megaton of [carbon dioxide] a week.”

Hello, stakers

Ethereum’s new system, proof-of-stake, does away with mining entirely.

Miners are replaced by validators – people who “stake” at least 32 ETH by sending them to an address on the Ethereum network where they cannot be bought or sold.

These staked ETH tokens act like lottery tickets: The more ETH a validator stakes, the more likely one of its tickets will be drawn, granting it the ability to write a “block” of transactions to Ethereum's digital ledger.

Ethereum introduced a proof-of-stake network in 2020 called the Beacon Chain, but until the Merge it was just a staging area for validators to get set up for the switch. Ethereum’s transition to proof-of-stake involved merging the Beacon Chain with Ethereum’s main network.

According to Beiko, the energy consumption of proof-of-stake is “not even a rounding error in terms of environmental impact.”

“Proof-of-stake is like running an app on your MacBook,” he said. “It's like running Slack. It's like running Google Chrome or running Netflix. Obviously, your MacBook plugs into the wall and uses electricity to run. But no one thinks about the environmental impact of running Slack, right?”

Edgington pointed to the environmental impact of the Merge upgrade as the benefit he is personally the most excited about. “I feel very proud, you know, that I'll be able to look back and say I've had a role to play in removing a megaton of carbon from the atmosphere every week. That's something that meaningfully affects my family and others,” he said.

New incentives

Rather than a single piece of open-source software, the Ethereum network is better understood as a nation-state – a kind of living organism that comes together when a bunch of computers talk to one another in the same language, all following an identical set of rules.

Ethereum’s new system introduces a new set of incentives for the people operating these computers to follow the rules as written, thereby securing the ledger from any unwanted tampering.

“Proof-of-work is a mechanism by which you take physical resources and you convert them into security for the network. If you want your network to be more secure, you need more of those physical resources,” Beiko explained. “On proof-of-stake, what we do is we use financial resources to convert to security.”

Although Ethereum had thousands of individual miners operating and securing its proof-of-work network, computers from just three mining pools dominated a majority of the network’s hashrate, a measure of the collective computing power of all miners.

If a few of Ethereum’s big mining firms colluded to amass a majority of the network’s hashrate, they would have been able to execute a so-called 51% attack, making it difficult or impossible for anyone else to update the ledger.

In proof-of-stake, the amount of ETH one stakes – not the amount of energy one expends – dictates control over the network. Proof-of-stake boosters say this makes attacks more expensive and self-defeating: attackers can have their staked ETH slashed, or reduced, as punishment for trying to harm the network.

Not everyone buys into the proof-of-stake hype. There are no signs that Bitcoin, for instance, will ever abandon proof-of-work – which proponents insist remains the more battle-tested and secure system.

And although control of the Ethereum network will no longer be concentrated in the hands of a few publicly traded mining syndicates, critics insist that old power players will just be replaced by new ones. Lido, a kind of community-run validator collective, controls over 30% of the stake on Ethereum’s proof-of-stake chain. Coinbase, Kraken and Binance – three of the largest crypto exchanges – own another 30% of the network’s stake.

Skepticism around proof-of-stake fueled Chandler Guo, a prominent crypto miner, to announce in the lead-up to the Merge that he would launch a fork of Ethereum’s old proof-of-work chain – a clone of Ethereum’s blockchain that hums along using the old miner-based mechanism.

Ethereum’s core developers have generally derided proof-of-work forks as sideshows and scams, but Guo’s “ETHPOW” effort and others like it have gained modest traction in certain corners of the crypto community.

Trading the Merge

In crypto markets, the Merge had become an object of speculation since at least mid-July, with traders initially viewing the event as a catalyst for a steep rally in the price of ETH. The market for ETH options started pricing in post-Merge gains, a welcome respite following the crash in digital-asset markets earlier in the year.

The prospect of a fork of the Ethereum blockchain by irate crypto miners spurred a wave of new activity, this time as traders tried to lock in value from the theoretical airdrop of a new “ETHPOW” token.

In general, it is impossible to predict with certainty how the markets will react to a successful Merge. The upgrade has been on Ethereum’s roadmap since its inception, so there’s the possibility that it has already, by-and-large, been priced in by the market.

“I think if you asked me maybe about three weeks ago, I would say that not only is it priced in, it’s overly priced in,” said Kevin Zhou of Galois Capital. “Now the market is roughly 70/30 in favor of this being a positive event for ETH.”

What’s next?

“This is the first step in Ethereum's big journey towards being a very mature system, but there are still steps left to go,” said Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum's co-creator, as he reflected on the Merge during Thursday's viewing party. He went on to mention Ethereum's relatively high fees and slow speeds, which were not addressed by the update, but remain as much a barrier to growing the network's user base as environmental concerns ever was.

Buterin, Ethereum's most visible figurehead, previously outlined a set of next steps for the network that includes “sharding” – a method that should help address the network’s sluggish transaction times and high fees by spreading transactions across “shards,” like adding lanes to a highway.


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That upgrade was initially slated to accompany the transition to proof-of-stake, but it was deprioritized given the success that third-party solutions – called rollups – have had in solving some of the same issues.

Rollups foreshadow the likely future for Ethereum development, where community solutions – rather than updates to Ethereum’s core code – play the primary role in expanding the chain’s capabilities.

For Buterin, the Merge is just the beginning. “To me, the Merge just symbolizes the difference between early stage Ethereum, and the Ethereum we've always wanted … to become,” he said on Thursday's live stream. “So let's go build out all of the other parts of this ecosystem and turn Ethereum into what we want it to be.”

By Sam Kessler

 

Ethereum cryptocurrency completes plan to reduce its carbon emissions by more than 99%

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur, 15th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

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Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency, has completed a plan to to reduce its carbon emissions by more than 99%.

The software upgrade, known as “the merge”, will change how transactions are managed on the ethereum blockchain, a public and decentralised ledger that underpins the cryptocurrency and generates ether tokens, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency after bitcoin.


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Vitalik Buterin, ethereum’s inventor, announced the completion of the plan on Twitter on Thursday morning, tweeting “Happy merge all”.

The move means that ethereum will no longer be created by an energy intensive process known as “mining”, where banks of computers generate random numbers that validate transactions on the blockchain and generate new ether tokens as part of the process. The process, known as “proof of work” in the cryptocurrency world, will now move to a “proof of stake” system, where individuals and companies act as validators, pledging or “staking” their own ether as a form of guarantee, to win newly created tokens.

Ethereum mining used up as much electricity as Austria, according to the Digiconomist website, at 72 terawatt-hours a year. Alex de Vries, the economist behind the website, estimates that the merge will reduce the carbon emissions linked to ethereum by more than 99%.

De Vries added that the move could represent 0.2% of the world’s electricity consumption disappearing overnight. However, he said bitcoin remained the biggest single contributor to the crypto world’s carbon footprint.

“All eyes will be on bitcoin. It remains the largest polluter in the crypto space. Even today bitcoin is responsible for as much electricity consumption as Sweden. And we know that’s not going to change,” said De Vries.


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Ethereum rose 2% to $1,630 (£1,417) after the move, according to website coinmarketcap, valuing the currency at just under $200bn. Bitcoin is worth $387bn, having fallen sharply from its peak of more than $1tn last year.

Carol Alexander, professor of finance at University of Sussex Business School, said the merge was a significant event for the crypto industry

“The merge is the most important event in blockchain history,” she said. “In my opinion, today marks the beginning of the end of bitcoin’s dominance over crypto assets. Ethereum is achieving something that bitcoin never could because bitcoin is a purely speculative asset and its mining network would never agree to drop that source of income.”

By Dan Milmo

Crypto Lender Voyager to Auction Off Assets on Sept, 13th

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 8th Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

The firm will liquidate its assets via auction as it moves through the bankruptcy process.

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Insolvent crypto lender Voyager Digital will auction off the remainder of its assets on Sept. 13 as it moves through the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, according to a Tuesday court filing. The auction will take place at the New York offices of Voyager’s investment bankers, Moelis & Company.

The auction results will become final during a court hearing approving the results on Sept. 29, according to the filing. Sept. 6 was the deadline for bids to have been submitted.


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The identity of bidders has not been revealed but exchanges FTX and Binance are known to have had interest in acquiring Voyager’s assets. According to a presentation from Voyager’s company lawyers in early August, at least 22 investors had gone through due diligence and indicated their interest in bidding for Voyager’s assets, but it was not known how many had submitted formal bids by the deadline.

In a tweet on Wednesday, Voyager confirmed that it had received multiple bids for its assets as part of its restructuring process.

Voyager did not immediately respond to a request for additional comment.

By Elizabeth Napolitano

District of Columbia Suing MicroStrategy Founder Michael Saylor for Tax Fraud

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 1st Sept 2022) London, Uk – –

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The attorney general’s office is also suing the business software company for allegedly helping him evade taxes on his earnings in the district.

The District of Columbia is suing MicroStrategy (MSTR) founder and Executive Chairman Michael Saylor for allegedly never paying any income taxes in the district in the more than 10 years he has lived there, Attorney General Karl A. Racine announced in a tweet on Wednesday.

In addition, Racine tweeted that his office is suing MicroStrategy “for conspiring to help him evade taxes he legally owes on hundreds of millions of dollars he’s earned while living” in Washington.

In a follow-up tweet, Racine also wrote that the action is “the first lawsuit brought under [the district’s] recently amended False Claims Act encouraging whistleblowers to report residents who evade our tax laws by misrepresenting their residence.”


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MicroStrategy shares were down more than 4% following Racine’s tweets. In a statement, Saylor said that although MicroStrategy headquarters is in Virginia, he had moved to Miami Beach. “Florida is where I live, vote, and have reported for jury duty, and it is at the center of my personal and family life,” he said. “I respectfully disagree with the position of the District of Columbia, and look forward to a fair resolution in the courts.”

According to a copy of the complaint shared with CoinDesk, Saylor lived in a penthouse in Washington while “masquerading” as a resident of Florida or Virginia, by purchasing property and registering to vote in these states. However, he still lived in the district for at least 183 days per year, which is the minimum to be a “statutory resident.”

The district attorney general's office also alleged that Saylor had MicroStrategy report his residency as being in Florida in forms filed with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.

“Concerned about MicroStrategy’s involvement in Defendant Saylor’s fraudulent scheme to avoid District taxes, in or about 2014, MicroStrategy’s then-Chief Financial Officer undertook a count of the number of days that Defendant Saylor spent in Florida as compared to the District and found that because Saylor spent the majority of each year in the District, MicroStrategy could not justify misreporting Saylor’s residency to federal tax official,” the complaint said.

The attorney general's office alleged Saylor avoided paying more than $25 million in taxes to the district and is seeking back taxes, treble damages, civil penalties, expenses and fees.


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Saylor is a bitcoin (BTC) maximalist who has bet the business software company’s future on bitcoin, amassing billions of dollars of worth of the cryptocurrency over the past few years.

Saylor recently stepped down as CEO of the company to focus on MicroStrategy’s bitcoin plans.

In a statement, MicroStrategy called the District of Columbia case “a personal tax matter involving Mr. Saylor.”

“The Company was not responsible for his day-to-day affairs and did not oversee his individual tax responsibilities,” MicroStrategy said. “Nor did the Company conspire with Mr. Saylor in the discharge of his personal tax responsibilities. The District of Columbia’s claims against the Company are false.”

By Nelson Wang

NFTs worth more than $100m have been stolen since July 2021, according to statistics

 

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Thur,  25th Aug 2022) London, Uk – –

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Criminals took an average of $300,000 worth of non-fungible tokens per scam, says cryptocurrency firm

More than $100m (£85m) worth of non-fungible tokens were stolen in the year to July, research shows, with criminals making off with an average of $300,000 per scam.

Criminals have stolen valuable NFTs – crypto assets that confer ownership of a unique digital item, often a piece of virtual art – in a variety of ways, according to a report by the cryptocurrency analyst Elliptic.


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“The most valuable NFT ever stolen is CryptoPunk #4324, which was sold by scammers soon after the theft on 13 November 2021 for $490,000,” Elliptic reports. “Meanwhile, the largest single heist from an individual victim resulted in the loss of 16 blue-chip NFTs worth $2.1m on 28 December 2021.

“Emphasising the persisting problem of scams, assets #9650 and #5759 in the CloneX collection have been stolen twice in the space of three months – in two unrelated scam incidents – having been worth around $50,000 on both occasions.”

Phishing scams, the most common type, entice users to accidentally hand over the credentials to their cryptocurrency wallets, with which a fraudster can initiate an irreversible transaction.

Sometimes that can be done through a hacked social media account, as when $3m of NFTs from Yuga Labs’ Bored Ape Yacht Club collection were stolen after an Instagram hack, and sometimes it can be through domain squatting or impersonation.

“Scammers have also been known to pay to advertise their sites on search engines,” the Elliptic report notes, “meaning that unwitting individuals searching for the impersonated NFT platform will see a host of phishing links at the top of their search results.”

However, other scams are more unique to the NFT space. A Trojan horse NFT, for instance, uses the unique features of a “smart contract” to create a booby-trapped token: if the user accepts it, it can immediately drain their account.

NFT swap scams, meanwhile, work by abusing the fact that counterfeiting an NFT is trivial. Simply creating a new digital asset with the same name and image as a high-value NFT means some can be fooled into accepting what looks like a “like-for-like” swap, only to find they’ve been left with nothing.

The $100m total does not even include the single largest NFT-related theft, of $500m of digital currency from NFT-based video game Axie Infinity. Those hackers, believed to be North Korean state actors, left the Pokemon-like NFTs alone, and instead stole the money that players had deposited in the system to power its in-game economy.


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Those hackers – as well as 52% of the NFT scammers Elliptic tracked – turned to one service, Tornado Cash, to launder their proceeds.

The service, which was put on the US sanctions list this month, “was the source of $137.6m of cryptoassets processed by NFT marketplaces and the laundering tool of choice for 52% of NFT scam proceeds before being sanctioned by OFAC (US Office of Foreign Assets Control) in August 2022,” Elliptic says. “Its prolific use by threat actors engaging with NFTs further emphasises the need for effective sanctions screening by NFT platforms.”

By Alex Hern UK technology editor

Crypto.com receives regulatory approval from the UK

(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thur, 18th Aug, 2022) London, UK —

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Singapore-based cryptocurrency platform Crypto.com has registered with Britain's financial services regulator, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Joining the Financial Conduct Authority's (FCA) register means that Crypto.com has approval to offer crypto asset services and products to customers in the United Kingdom in compliance with anti-money laundering and “terrorist” financing rules.


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The United Kingdom is a “strategically important market for us”, said Crypto.com CEO Kris Marszalek, citing an increase in crypto adoption in the country and the government's agenda to make Britain a hub for crypto assets.

As authorities around the world are grappling with how to regulate the crypto sector, firms are racing to register with financial watchdogs.

Cryptocurrencies are not regulated in the United Kingdom and there is no compensation for consumers who lose their digital assets.

The FCA has previously faced a backlash in the crypto sector after turning down registration applications from scores of crypto companies.

Last month the watchdog said it would always be “hawkish around consumer protection” when it comes to crypto.

More than a trillion dollars has been wiped off the global cryptocurrency market capitalisation so far in 2022, according to CoinGecko data, as major central banks have raised interest rates, prompting investors to ditch riskier assets.


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Crypto.com, which has 50 million customers globally, registered in South Korea last week and in Italy in July.

Reporting by Elizabeth Howcroft

Bitcoin R&D Center Vinteum Launches in Brazil

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 11th Aug 2022) London, Uk – –

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Vinteum, a nonprofit Bitcoin research and development center dedicated to supporting Bitcoin developers in Brazil and the wider Latin America region, launched today. Co-founders Lucas Ferreira of Lightning Labs and André Neves of ZEBEDEE will serve as the foundation’s executive director and director of partnerships, respectively.


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Vinteum’s mission is to train and fund open-source developers across Brazil and Latin America to work on Bitcoin and the Lightning Network, an area that has become critical in recent years as bitcoin matures beyond hobbyist use cases.

Vinteum’s first cohort of sponsors includes institutional investor John Pfeffer of Pfeffer Capital; Xapo Bank founder and early Bitcoin champion Wences Casares; Sebastian Serrano, CEO and co-founder of Bitcoin blockchain company Ripio; crypto-exchange Okcoin; and the Human Rights Foundation (HRF). The total amount in funds that Vinteum now holds is undisclosed.

In addition to announcing its launch, Vinteum named its first grantee, Bruno Garcia. Garcia is a Bitcoin Core developer and a Brink grant recipient. Garcia will act as Vinteum’s director of education, dedicating himself to educating promising developers while also continuing his technical contributions to Bitcoin, which include reviewing and testing pull requests, extending and improving test coverage, and working on improvements for the peer-to-peer wallet and REST API modules.

Brazil experienced an economic crisis when hyperinflation took hold in the early 1990s. As such, bitcoin supporters in Brazil have taken root – given the cryptocurrency’s sound money principles.


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Likewise, across Latin America, countries including Argentina and Venezuela are in the throes of hyperinflation. On top of that, bitcoin is viewed favorably in Argentina, according to survey data from Block. Vinteum will look to take advantage of this to enact meaningful change through a grassroots educational effort.

By George Kaloudis

MicroStrategy Shares Surge as Michael Saylor Puts Full Focus on Bitcoin

(qlmbusinessnews.com via coindesk.com — Thur, 4th Aug 2022) London, Uk – –

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Company operations will now be led by Phong Le, while Saylor will become executive chairman with sole focus on Bitcoin strategy.

MicroStrategy (MSTR) stock is up nearly 15% on Wednesday, helped by a modest rally in bitcoin (BTC) and news late Tuesday that Michael Saylor is stepping down as CEO to become executive chairman. The software company's president, Phong Le, will become CEO.

The management changes will allow for the company's enterprise business to have the full focus of the CEO, with Saylor devoting his energies to strategies for corporate bitcoin (BTC) adoption.

“In my next job, I intend to focus more on bitcoin,” Saylor tweeted early Wednesday in a tongue-and-cheek response to those who think the moves might mean he has become less bullish on the crypto.


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Meanwhile, Le said investors shouldn’t expect any surprises in strategy. On the company’s earnings call late Tuesday, Le said he has been aligned with Saylor on the enterprise and bitcoin strategy throughout their time together. The changes, he said, will free up time for him to run the company. “I would sort of see this as a business-as-usual transition,” Le told analysts.

“We think this transition was underway for quite some time with Mr. Le's appointment as president two years ago,” Joe Vafi, an equity research analyst with Canaccord Genuity, told clients in a note Wednesday. “Overall, we don't expect any material change in the strategic direction of the company.”

Vafi rates MicroStrategy a buy, although he did trim his price target to $372 from $453 (current stock price is $317). MicroStrategy stock, said Vafi, is the “most streamlined play” for equity investors to gain bitcoin exposure in the public markets.

Of last quarter's $917.8 million impairment charge on bitcoin holdings during the second quarter, it's “essentially meaningless,” said BTIG analyst Mark Palmer, noting it has no impact on the company’s inherent value. “That value can be easily ascertained as it stems from just two sources,” said Palmer, “the market value of MSTR’s bitcoin holdings and the value of its enterprise analytics software unit.” Palmer reiterated his buy rating and $950 price target.

Still, the impairment could have had some impact on Saylor's role change, according to some crypto industry participants. “There was no doubt that there was going to be external pressure from stakeholders to see some sort of response from the company,” said Tanim Rasul, chief operating officer of crypto trading platform NDAX.


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Rasul said Saylor was a key proponent in advocating for corporate bitcoin adoption, although impairment losses may have spooked other publicly traded companies, especially considering the uncertainties across the global economy and markets.

“Michael Saylor’s response was to push himself into an executive chairman role so that a new CEO could focus more on core operations for MicroStrategy,” Rasul said, contrasting Elon Musk and his company, Tesla (TSLA), which opted to sell a good chunk of its bitcoin holdings.

By Michael Bellusci

As cryptocurrency falls, Robinhood fires over a quarter of its employees


(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Wed, 3rd Aug 2022) London, Uk – –

Trading platform Robinhood is cutting nearly a quarter of its staff due to high inflation and the falling cryptocurrency market.

The company said the economic climate had reduced trading activity, which had boomed at the height of the pandemic.

The move comes after the firm reported quarterly revenues of $318m (£260m), 44% down on $565m a year earlier.

In April, the firm slashed 9% of its workforce, which its boss Vlad Tenev said “did not go far enough”.


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“Last year, we staffed many of our operations functions under the assumption that the heightened retail engagement we had been seeing with the stock and crypto markets in the Covid era would persist into 2022,” said Mr Tenev.

“In this new environment, we are operating with more staffing than appropriate. As CEO, I approved and took responsibility for our ambitious staffing trajectory – this is on me.”

The latest cuts will affect 780 members of staff, and come in addition to the cuts announced earlier this year.

Mr Tenev said all staff would receive “an email and a Slack message with your status – with resources and support if you are leaving”.

He added workers, called “Robinhoodies” in the California-based company, would be able to stay in position until 1 October, be offered a severance package and given help in searching for another job.

“We know that this news is tough for all Robinhoodies, and we are also offering wellness support to those who would like it,” he said.

Robinhood's commission-free trading proved hugely popular with amateur traders during the Covid lockdowns, which saw the number of account holders double.

But its customer base has been spooked by the cost of living rising and higher interest rates, which have hit global markets and sent cryptocurrencies slumping.

Its monthly active users also appeared to fall by roughly a third, at 14 million for June 2022 compared with 21.3 million in the second quarter of 2021, Reuters reported.

The online brokerage's mission is to “democratise finance for all”, but it hit the headlines in January 2021 for restricting the buying of shares in the US games firm GameStop, which caused outrage among Americans buying the company's stock with the aim of pushing up the price.

Mr Tenev apologised to customers at a US congressional hearing in which lawmakers said the move had raised questions about fairness in financial markets.


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The platform has also faced criticism for exposing amateurs to risky products such as meme stocks – shares which become popular via social media – and cryptocurrencies.

The company said in its drive for “greater cost discipline” it would restructure the organisation by having general managers taking up “broad responsibility” for its individual businesses.

Mr Tenev said the change would “flatten hierarchies” and “remove redundant roles and positions”.

By Michael Race