LONDON, July 13 (Reuters) – British police have seized record hauls of cryptocurrency totalling 294 million pounds ($408 million) as part of an investigation into money laundering after organised crime groups moved into cyptocurrencies to wash their dirty money.
London police said on Tuesday they had seized 180 million pounds of an undisclosed cryptocurrency less than three weeks after making a 114 million pound haul on June 24 as part of a money laundering investigation.
“While cash still remains king in the criminal word, as digital platforms develop we’re increasingly seeing organised criminals using cryptocurrency to launder their dirty money,” said Metropolitan Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Graham McNulty.
A 39-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of money laundering after the first haul was discovered and has been interviewed under caution over the 180 million pound discovery.
“Today’s seizure is another significant landmark in this investigation which will continue for months to come as we hone in on those at the centre of this suspected money laundering operation,” said Detective Constable Joe Ryan.
As cryptocurrencies are largely anonymous, convenient and global in nature, some of the world's biggest criminal groups have bet big on them as a way to launder money and stay one step ahead of the police, tax and security forces.
Binance, the world's biggest crypto-currency exchange, has been banned by the UK's financial regulator.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has ruled that the firm cannot conduct any “regulated activity” in the UK.
It also issued a consumer warning about Binance.com, advising people to be wary of adverts promising high returns on cryptoasset investments.
Binance said the FCA notice would have no “direct impact” on the services it provides from its website Binance.com.
Binance's existing crypto exchange is not UK-based so despite the FCA ruling, there will be no impact on UK residents who use the website to purchase and sell crypto-currencies.
The FCA does not regulate crypto-currencies, but requires exchanges to register with them. Binance has not registered with the FCA and therefore is not allowed to operate an exchange in the UK.
The FCA move comes amid pushback from regulators around the world against crypto-currency platforms.
Binance.com is an online centralised exchange that offers users a range of financial products and services, including purchasing and trading a wide range of digital currencies, as well as digital wallets, futures, securities, savings accounts and even lending.
Binance Group is currently based in the Cayman Islands, while Binance Markets Limited is an affiliate firm based in London. The firm has multiple entities dotted around the world and Binance Group was previously based in Malta.
The FCA said that Binance Markets Limited (BML), which is owned by Binance Group, is not currently permitted to undertake any regulated activities without the prior written consent of the FCA. It has until Wednesday to comply with the ruling.
The regulator also stressed that no entity in the Binance Group holds any form of authorisation, registration or licence to conduct regulated activity in the UK.
Controversies over Binance's activities
This is not the first time that Binance has come under scrutiny by regulators over its global operations.
In the US, one of the firm's entities – Binance Holdings – has been the subject of a probe by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), specifically by its officials dealing with money laundering and tax offences, according to Bloomberg.
The SEC issued a similar warning to US consumers in April about the platform.
On Saturday, Binance announced it was pulling out of Ontario, Canada, after the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) accused it and several other crypto trading platforms of failing to comply with province regulations.
And on Friday, Japan's Financial Services Agency (FSA) warned Binance for the second time in three years that it is operating in the country without permission.
One service Binance offers is the ability to use local currency to purchase digital currencies – known as fiat on-ramp in the industry. In mid-June, Binance's US partner Silvergate Bank decided to stop processing US dollar deposits and withdrawals for the firm, according to CoinDesk.
While the crypto-currency exchange says its entities are not all connected to it, Nick Saponaro, a long-time cryptocurrency investor and entrepreneur tells the BBC this is a handy tactic for avoiding regulatory problems.
“Binance has over the course of their operations, moved several times to new jurisdictions,” he said.
“That's not uncommon for these fledgling crypto businesses…if the regulations don't suit their needs, they just move their operations.”
Another of the firm's entities – Binance.US – is currently one of the biggest digital currency exchanges in the US, and Binance is one of the biggest firms in the global fintech industry, he says.
“I do believe they are trying to comply with regulations, but often with these businesses it's an ‘ask for forgiveness' model, [where] they hope they can make enough money so if they do incur a fine, it's negligible comparatively to what they've earned.”
Mr Saponaro, who co-founded the crypto-currency Divi and the blockchain payments ecosystem Divi Project, says the real problem with crypto-currency exchanges is that they are still centralised, in that there is still a central authority that takes custody of the users' money, almost like a bank.
This is counter to what the crypto-currency and blockchain technologies were designed to do, and he feels that all exchanges should be totally decentralised, enabling users to have complete control over their digital coins.
But he stresses that digital currencies are not a scam and eventually the fintech industry will get there.
“We're 12 years into the crypto adoption cycle, these things just take time – the exact same things were said about the internet initially,” he said.
“Governments of each jurisdiction, especially the G7, need to with full transparency and confidence give us the full regulations about what we can and cannot do, and it needs to fit what the technology actually does.”
LONDON, June 17 (Reuters) – More people see crypto assets as a mainstream investment rather than a “gamble” as ownership of bitcoin and similar crypto currencies has risen to 2.3 millon adults in Britain this year, the Financial Conduct Authority said on Thursday.
Regulators have repeatedly warned consumers about the “speculative” nature of largely unregulated crypto assets, with bitcoin hitting a high of around $64,899 in April before a sharp drop left it trading around at $39,344 on Thursday morning.
But people increasingly see crypto assets as a potential investment, even though the level of understanding of the sector is declining, the FCA said in its fourth study into crypto assets ownership.
The number of UK adults owning crypto assets has risen quickly from 1.9 million in 2020, the FCA said, adding that the number of people who view them as a gamble fell to 38% from 47% over the same period.
The average holding has risen to 300 pounds ($419.58) from 260 pounds, reflecting price rises, while ownership remains skewed to professional men over 35 years old, the FCA said.
Enthusiasm is growing, with over half of crypto holders saying they have had a positive experience so far and are likely to buy more, the FCA said.
Sheldon Mills, the FCA's executive director for consumers and competition, said it was important for consumers to understand that the assets are largely unregulated.
“If consumers invest in these types of products, they should be prepared to lose all their money,” Mills said in a statement.
The latest survey also looked at stablecoins like Facebook's Diem for the first time. Stablecoins seek to avoid volatility by being tied to an asset such as a currency.
Ownership of stablecoins is much lower, with 87% of crypto users saying none of the crypto currencies they bought were stablecoins.
Brazil-based giant paid ransom in bitcoin after ransomware attack shut down operations across world
JBS, the world’s biggest meat processor, has paid an $11m (£7.8m) ransom after a cyber attack shut down operations, including abattoirs in the US, Australia and Canada.
While most of its operations have been restored, the Brazilian-headquartered company said it hoped the payment would head off any further complications including data theft.
JBS, which supplies more than a fifth of all beef in the US, reportedly made the payment in bitcoin.
“This was a very difficult decision to make for our company and for me personally,” said JBS’s chief executive, Andre Nogueira. “However, we felt this decision had to be made to prevent any potential risk for our customers.”
The meat producer was forced to stop all cattle slaughtering at its US plants for a day last week, in a move that threatened to disrupt food supply chains and lead to further food price inflation in the US, where labour shortages, high demand, and Covid-related disruptions are taking their toll.
The hack also disrupted the company’s operations in other countries, including Australia, although less severely.
JBS, which spends more than $200m (£141m) on IT and employs more than 850 tech specialists, said the FBI described the cybercriminal group that carried out the attack as “one of the most specialised and sophisticated” in the world. White House officials said last week the criminal organisation responsible was probably based in Russia.
The ransomware attack against the meat producer is the latest to temporarily devastate operations at a US company. Last month, an attack on Colonial Pipeline, the country’s largest fuel pipeline, crippled fuel deliveries in south-east US for several days.
Colonial Pipeline also paid a ransom of $4.4m, but a specialised ransomeware taskforce created by the Biden administration has since recovered most of the cryptocurrency payment.
JBS said a third-party investigation is ongoing, but a preliminary investigation confirmed that none of its company, customer or employee data was compromised as part of the attack.
Tesla Inc (TSLA.O) will no longer accept bitcoin for car purchases, Chief Executive Elon Musk said on Wednesday, citing long-brewing environmental concerns for a swift reversal in the company’s position on the cryptocurrency.
Bitcoin fell more than 10% after Musk tweeted his decision to suspend its use, less than two months after Tesla began accepting the world’s biggest digital currency for payment. Other cryptocurrencies, including ethereum, also fell before regaining some ground in Asia trade.
The use of bitcoin to buy Tesla's electric vehicles had highlighted a dichotomy between Musk's reputation as an environmentalist and the use of his popularity and stature as one of the world's richest people to back cryptocurrencies.
Some Tesla investors, along with environmentalists, have been increasingly critical about the way bitcoin is “mined” using vast amounts of electricity generated with fossil fuels.
Musk said on Wednesday he backed that concern, especially the use of “coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.”
“Cryptocurrency is a good idea on many levels and we believe it has a promising future, but this cannot come at great cost to the environment,” he tweeted. Tesla shares fell 1.25% after hours.
Tesla revealed in February it had bought $1.5 billion of bitcoin, before accepting it as payment for cars in March, driving a roughly 20% surge in the cryptocurrency.
Tesla would retain its bitcoin holdings with the plan to use the cryptocurrency as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy sources, Musk said.
Bitcoin is created when high-powered computers compete against other machines to solve complex mathematical puzzles, an energy-intensive process that currently often relies on electricity generated with fossil fuels, particularly coal.
At current rates, such bitcoin “mining” devours about the same amount of energy annually as the Netherlands did in 2019, the latest available data from the University of Cambridge and the International Energy Agency shows.
Analysts said Musk's about-face was inevitable.
“The environmental impact from mining bitcoins was one of the biggest risks for the entire crypto market,” said Edward Moya, a senior market analyst at currency trading firm OANDA.
Meltem Demirors, chief strategy officer at digital asset manager CoinShares Group, said Tesla was unlikely to have sold many, if any, cars using bitcoin and the backflip generated positive publicity while simplifying payment processes.
“Elon was getting a lot of questions and criticisms and this statement allows him to appease critics while still keeping bitcoin on his balance sheet,” Demirors said.
Mark Humphery-Jenner, an associate professor of finance at the University of New South Wales, said he was more concerned about Tesla management's “very hasty and precipitous” decision-making.
Musk did not say in his Twitter comments whether any vehicles had been purchased with bitcoin and Tesla did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Some bitcoin proponents note that the existing financial system – with its millions of employees and computers in air-conditioned offices – uses large amounts of energy too.
Musk reiterated he remained a strong believer in cryptocurrencies.
“We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use <1% of bitcoin's energy/transaction,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
Just a day earlier, Musk had polled Twitter users on whether Tesla should accept dogecoin, a currency he has helped turn from a joke into a valuable commodity.
He announced on Sunday that his commercial rocket company SpaceX will accept dogecoin as payment to launch a lunar mission next year – just hours after he sent the cryptocurrency spiraling downward when he called it a “a hustle” during a guest-host spot on the “Saturday Night Live” comedy sketch TV show.
The dominance of Chinese bitcoin miners and lack of motivation to swap cheap fossil fuels for more expensive renewables could mean there are few quick fixes to the cryptocurrency's emissions problem.
Chinese miners account for about 70% of bitcoin production, data from the University of Cambridge's Centre for Alternative Finance shows. They tend to use renewable energy – mostly hydropower – during the rainy summer months, but fossil fuels – primarily coal – for the rest of the year.
Officials in Beijing are conducting a check on data centres involved in cryptocurrency mining to better understand their impact on energy consumption, sources told Reuters last month.
In theory, blockchain analysis firms say, it is possible to track the source of bitcoin, raising the possibility that a premium could be charged for green bitcoin.
This Alux.com video we will be answering the following questions: Is Bitcoin anonymous? Is Bitcoin used for criminal activity? Do You need to buy a full bitcoin? Are Bitcoin and Blockchain the same? Can Bitcoin be hacked? Is Bitcoin a pyramid scheme? Is Bitcoin complicated and do you need to know code? Is Bitcoin regulated? Is Bitcoin illegal? What is so special about Bitcoin? Is Bitcoin a good investment? How do Bitcoins work? Who owns most bitcoin? Does Amazon accept Bitcoin? How many Bitcoins are left? How long does it take to mine 1 Bitcoin? How many Bitcoin should you own? What are some facts about bitcoin? What does Bitcoin actually do? Are Bitcoins dangerous? Does businesses accept Bitcoin payments? What happens if I invest $100 into Bitcoin? Is Bitcoin is anonymous?
Head of the lender’s risk committee categorised cryptocurrencies as ‘high risk’
NatWest will refuse to serve business customers who accept payment in cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, which the UK lender has categorised as “high risk”.
Morten Friis, a NatWest board member and head of its risk committee, said the bank was taking a “cautious approach” to cryptocurrencies, and would closely monitor any change in tone from the UK regulator, which has warned that consumers stand to lose all their cash by investing in crypto assets.
“We have no appetite for dealing with customers, whether taking them on as new clients or having an ongoing relationship with people, whose main business is backed by an exchange for cryptocurrencies, or otherwise transacting in cryptocurrencies as their main activity,” Friis said during an online shareholder event on Wednesday.
“We think of cryptocurrencies as high risk and we’re taking, for that reason, a cautious approach to this. It’s an area where regulation is very much in evolution and we’ll obviously respond to that as things change,” he added.
NatWest’s position could mean turning away major clients who have recently announced plans to accept cryptocurrency payments alongside those made by debit, credit cards and cash. Notable companies with such plans include ethical cosmetics firm Lush, office sharing firm WeWork, and electric car giant Tesla.
It pits the lender against other major banks like JP Morgan. The US bank’s chief executive, Jamie Dimon, once called bitcoin a “fraud” that was only fit for use by drug dealers, murderers and people living in places such as North Korea. However, more recently he said that some “very smart people” were getting involved in the cryptocurrency, which has surged in value and jumped 93% since the start of the year to $56,000 each.
Earlier this week the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a top-level taskforce to explore the benefits and risks of a Bank of England digital currency for the UK – which has been dubbed Britcoin.
However, the Financial Conduct Authority issued a warning to would-be investors in January, saying consumers should be prepared to lose all their money if they invest in schemes promising high returns from digital currencies like bitcoin. Cryptocurrency investments are not covered by UK schemes that help investors reclaim cash when companies go bust.
Friis said Natwest would have to conduct extra financial crime checks for any personal customers who wanted to dabble in cryptocurrencies, which have previously been linked to money laundering and black market dealings.
“We expect to continue to take a cautious approach, but we’ll watch how the market evolves,” he said.
The Bank of England and the Treasury have announced they are setting up a taskforce to explore the possibility of a central bank digital currency.
The aim is to look at the risks and opportunities involved in creating a new kind of digital money.
Issued by the Bank for use by households and businesses, it would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them.
No decision has been taken on whether to have such a currency in the UK.
However, the government and the Bank want to “engage widely with stakeholders” on the benefits and practicalities of doing so.
The taskforce will be jointly led by the Bank's deputy governor for financial stability, Sir Jon Cunliffe, and the Treasury's director general of financial services, Katharine Braddick.
The Bank has previously said it is interested in a central bank digital currency (CBDC) because “this is a period of significant change in money and payments”.
The use of cash in financial transactions has been steadily declining in recent years, while debit card payments have been on the rise. Use of credit cards and direct debits have also been increasing.
The Bank also sees having its own digital currency as a way of “avoiding the risks of new forms of private money creation”, including crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin.
“If a CBDC were to be introduced, it would be denominated in pounds sterling, just like banknotes, so £10 of CBDC would always be worth the same as a £10 note,” the Bank said.
“CBDC is sometimes thought of as equivalent to a digital banknote, although in some respects it may have as much in common with a bank deposit.
“Any CBDC would be introduced alongside – rather than replacing – cash and bank deposits.”
Most of the world's central banks are looking into the possibility of creating such a currency, but the only one already in existence is China's digital yuan, which is currently undergoing public testing.
Among the objectives of the UK taskforce is monitoring international developments, “to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global innovation”.
The Bank also announced the creation of a CDBC engagement forum and a technology forum, as well as a CBDC unit within the Bank itself, overseen by Sir Jon.
No timetable was announced for the taskforce's operations.
The cryptocurrency exchange coinbase started trading on Wednesday at a valuation of nearly $100bn (£72bn), in a major boost to supporters of digital currencies such as bitcoin.
Coinbase shares opened at $381 (£276) on the Nasdaq, racing past the $250 reference price, and valuing the exchange at $99.6bn (£72bn).
The valuation means that Coinbase is worth more than traditional financial institutions such as HSBC, Barclays, and Standard Chartered.
It is the first time a major cryptocurrency business has been publicly listed, and is a landmark moment for a technology once considered trivial.
Coinbase earns money from transaction fees and has seen its profits soar as cryptocurrency trading has boomed since the start of the pandemic.Advertisement
Record levels of cash have poured in to digital currencies such as bitcoin and ethereum, plumping up Coinbase’s margins. Both have seen their prices climb meteorically in the past year, rising over 800% and 1,300% respectively.
Thanks to this, Coinbase booked an estimated $730m (£530m) to $800m (£580m) in net profits in the first three months of 2021, while it reported $1.8bn (£1.3bn) in revenue during the same period.
“The Coinbase IPO is potentially a watershed event for the crypto industry and will be something the Street will be laser focused on to gauge investor appetite,” said Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives in a note to investors.
The company is a “foundational piece of the crypto ecosystem,” he said.
Coinbase was founded in 2012 by Brian Armstrong, a software engineer at Airbnb, and Fred Ehrsam, a trader at Goldman Sachs.
The pair set out to simplify the process of buying and selling bitcoin, at a time when the currency was largely used by hobbyists fascinated by its technology, and criminals attracted to its anonymity.
Investors turn to cryptocurrency after Erdoğan’s sacking of central bank governor caused further fall in lira
The neighbourhood teahouse is a focus of daily life across Turkey, an Ottoman tradition that has endured through the centuries. At the Red Lightning teahouse in Çorum, the enterprising owners have one foot in the past and one in the future: it’s the first one in the country where customers can pay in bitcoin.
“Everyone we know in Çorum is starting to invest in cryptocurrency. We think that in five years or so regular currency will be in decline, it will be replaced by digital ones. So we wanted to be in a good position now,” said co-owners Hüseyin Nalcı, 38, and Kerem Kutay Yıldırım, 28.
“The older customers think it’s a bit absurd. They made fun of us. But now the dürüm [wrap] shop next door is asking us to teach them.”
The Turkish lira slumped dramatically last month after President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s shock decision to fire the central bank governor, Naci Ağbal. The reserve is now on its fourth governor in less than two years, and the lira has lost half its value since a 2018 currency crisis.
Inflation reached a six-month high in March of 16.19%, well above a 5% target, and unemployment remains high, at 12.2%.
The latest economic turmoil has led to a surge in cryptocurrency trading in the country, with investors hoping to gain from bitcoin’s rally and shelter against inflation.
Data from the US researcher Chainalysis analysed by Reuters showed that trading volumes between the start of February and 24 March hit 218bn lira (£19bn) with a spike on the weekend Ağbal was sacked, up from just over 7bn lira in the same period a year earlier. Cryptocurrency worth 23bn lira was traded in the first few days after the shock announcement, the data showed, versus 1bn lira in the same timespan in 2020.
Turkish Google searches for cryptocurrency also hit a record high in the week before Ağbal was removed. The governor, who took over the post in November, was reportedly at loggerheads with Erdoğan’s over interest rate hikes: contrary to mainstream economic thinking, the president has repeatedly said that he believes high interest rates cause inflation.
Bitcoin’s climb to a new record of just under $62,000 (or more than £44,000) has seen interest in the digital currency soar worldwide: investors and companies have embraced the emerging asset despite warnings about its volatility.
“Turkish people like stable assets due to our history of high inflation,” Özgür Güneri, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange BtcTurk, told Reuters. “That is why generation after generation of Turks invested in gold, real estate and dollars.”
Turkish interest in cryptocurrencies has been growing steadily for several years, in large part because they are finite resources with a reputation for being immune to inflation.
So far, Ankara has not made any moves to regulate or tax the digital currency space, which adds to the appeal for Turkey’s youthful, tech-savvy population.
Erdoğan recently reiterated calls for Turks to invest gold and foreign currencies kept under the mattress in order to shore up domestic financial markets. The country’s recent economic troubles have had significant implications for his ruling Justice and Development party: its support has fallen away with the abrupt end of years of strong economic growth.
At Sirius Coin, a cryptocurrency cashpoint near the gold dealers of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, Mehmet, 35, said business was booming. The shop’s owners are getting ready to launch their own trading exchange by the end of the year.
“Everyone wants to get rich quick. Turks are no exception to that,” he said.
The International Monetary Fund’s special drawing right (SDR) – the international reserve asset created in 1969 to prepare for a new dollar crisis – is undergoing a renaissance with important worldwide repercussions says Willem Middelkoop, author of the Big Reset. “The announcement of the largest-ever increase in SDR allocations, which will greatly improve the liquidity of many developing nations, signals alignment between the US and China in a key area of global monetary power,” he tells our Daniela Cambone.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via news.sky.com– Wed, 24th March 2021) London, Uk – –
Tesla's chief executive Elon Musk has said that the company will now be directly accepting Bitcoin from consumers wishing to purchase cars.
The pay by Bitcoin system is currently only available in the US, but the billionaire has said the feature will be expanded to other countries later this year.
It follows the car company last month announcing that it had invested $1.5bn (£1.09bn) in the notoriously volatile cryptocurrency, sending it to a record high.
A single Bitcoin is currently trading at just over £41,000 – up from the £5,600 it was worth on this date last year.
Bitcoin paid to Tesla will be retained as the cryptocurrency, Musk said, not converted to cash.
It is the latest vote of confidence in the cryptocurrency to come from the billionaire since he gave its price a boost by adding a “#bitcoin” tag to his Twitter profile page.
He removed the tag a few days later but has continued talking up Bitcoin, saying it was “on the verge” of being more widely accepted by investors.
Announcing the investment, Tesla said in its regulatory filing that its decision was part of a broad investment policy aimed at diversifying and maximising its returns on cash.
It said it had invested a total $1.5bn in the cryptocurrency and could “acquire and hold digital assets from time to time or long-term”.
The disclosure comes after Tesla recently reported that it had made an annual profit for the first time after years of losses.
At the time analysts said the move by the car company – which last year overtook bigger-selling conventional rivals to become the largest by value as its share price surged – could prove a gamechanger for Bitcoin.
Eric Turner, vice president of market intelligence at cryptocurrency research firm Messari, said: “I think we will see an acceleration of companies looking to allocate to Bitcoin now that Tesla has made the first move.
“One of the largest companies in the world now owns Bitcoin and by extension, every investor that owns Tesla (or even just at S&P 500 fund) has exposure to it as well.”
Bitcoin has set new record highs at the start of this year after a bumpy ride for investors over the past decade, with major financial institutions starting to offer support.
Central banks such as the Bank of England have remained sceptical but some suggest that as it becomes more accepted it could become more attractive as a store of value.
(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 12th March 2021) London, Uk – –
The first digital-only art auction by Christie's auction house has netted $69m (£50m) for the artist Beeple.
The digital art was sold as an NFT – the latest tech craze which has boomed in popularity in recent weeks.
Beeple – real name Mike Winkelmann – creates a new piece of digital art every day, and was selling the first 5,000 days (13 years) of his work.
That success puts Beeple “among the top three most valuable living artists”, Christie's said.
The company said the sale was the first NFT-based work of art sold by a “major” auction house, and set a new world record for digital art.
The collection is a collage of the thousands of individual daily images which Beeple, an American graphic designer, started in early 2007 and has done every day since.
Many of the individual pieces are surreal or unsettling, and he uses a variety of digital modelling and artistic programmes for them.
The auction had attracted a great deal of attention, with bidding ramping up to $10m earlier this week. But on the final day of bidding, it skyrocketed to a final price of $69,346,250.
Christie's told the AFP news agency a record 22 million people watched the final moments of the auction's livestream.
That may in part be down to the current hype surrounding NFTs – or “non-fungible-tokens”. They are a unique identifier of ownership for non-physical objects such as digital art.
Beeple responded to the sale by tweeting a series of expletives.
Critics say the digital tokens have a huge environmental impact, since they are stored on a Blockchain, similar to crypto-currencies including Bitcoin and Ethereum. Others have suggested their current popularity is an investment bubble.
But the unique tokens allow value to be assigned to digital art, and they can be sold and traded in a similar way to physical art being used as an investment.
The current craze surrounding NFTs has seen the musician Grimes sell a collection of her artwork for more than $6m at the beginning of March. The founder of Twitter has also put his first tweet up for sale, with a bid of $2.5m so far.
And in one of the most controversial cases, one group burned a genuine Banksy original before putting its digital token up for sale, for $380,000 (£274,000).
(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Thu, 25th Feb 2021) London, UK —
(Reuters) – Coinbase Global Inc on Thursday disclosed its regulatory filing to go public, revealing surging revenue growth and healthy earnings and setting the stage for a landmark stock market listing for the U.S. cryptocurrency exchange.
The procedural step of making its filing with U.S. regulators public brings Coinbase a step closer to listing its shares on the Nasdaq stock exchange, which would represent a landmark victory for cryptocurrency advocates vying for mainstream endorsement.
Coinbase said in December that it had confidentially applied with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to go public.
Reuters was first to report last July that Coinbase started plans for a stock-market listing and was exploring going public through a direct listing instead of a traditional initial public offering.
Many cryptocurrencies have struggled to win the trust of mainstream investors and the general public due to their speculative nature and potential for money laundering.
The landmark decision from the SEC could be a major boon or blow to the legitimacy of cryptocurrencies, and determine which ones are allowed to trade on the platform.
In its latest filing, Coinbase cautioned that it was yet to receive the relevant approvals from regulators that would allow it to trade certain securities.
“Although we have applied to operate an ATS (alternative trading system) in the United States that would allow us to trade crypto assets that are deemed “securities” under U.S. federal securities laws, we have not yet received regulatory approval to, and do not currently, operate an ATS for trading of crypto assets deemed to be securities,” Coinbase said in its filing.
The listing would come after the price of bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, ended 2020 up more than 300% and earlier this month hit a record high of $58,354 with a market capitalization above $1 trillion.
Bitcoin has come off its recent highs this week as investors grew nervous at sky-high valuations.
For the year ended Dec. 31, Coinbase pulled in total revenue of $1.3 billion, compared with $533.7 million in the year-ago period. It also reported net income of $322.3 million, compared with a loss of $30.4 million during the same period last year, according to the filing.
Coinbase is eschewing a traditional initial public offering where a company raises money by selling new shares, opting instead to go public through a direct listing where no new stock is sold and existing shareholders can sell stock.
Founded in 2012, San Francisco-based Coinbase is among the most well-known cryptocurrency platforms globally and has more than 43 million users in more than 100 countries.
The New York Stock Exchange, BBVA and former Citigroup Inc chief executive Vikram Pandit are among those that have invested in Coinbase, which was valued at more than $8 billion in its latest private fundraising round in 2018.
Reporting by Joshua Franklin