SWIFT Network To Begin Exploring Cross-Border CBDC Payments

Key Insights:

  • SWIFT, in collaboration with Capgemini, is testing interlinking domestic CBDC networks.
  • CBDCs are currently being explored by economies that account for 90% of the global GDP.
  • China’s Chongqing municipality recorded $43 million worth of CBDC transactions as of this month.

Central Bank Digital Currencies have become a government favorite tool to usher the advancement of web3 and digital currencies.

Whether or not the countries looking into CBDCs legalize crypto has no impact on the rapid growth of the newest form of currency.

SWIFT To Connect CBDCs

With most countries now beginning to understand the demand and applications of digital currencies, CBDCs have been added to most of the countries’ agendas.

As per a report from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), nine out of 10 central banks are actively looking into bringing CBDCs to the general public and into circulation.

Thus since the number of countries participating in digital currencies has increased significantly, SWIFT is seeking a way to bring them all together to create an interconnected network of CBDCs.

The Chief Innovation Officer at SWIFT, Thomas Zschach, said,

“Facilitating interoperability and interlinking between different CBDCs being developed around the world will be critical if we are to fully realise their potential. Today, the global CBDC ecosystem risks becoming fragmented with numerous central banks developing their own digital currencies based on different technologies, standards and protocols.”

SWIFT is a core part of global transactions, and it believes that fragmentation of CBDCs could hamper the ability of businesses and consumers to make cross-border payments using digital currencies.

Therefore, in collaboration with IT services company Capgemini, SWIFT will begin solving the interoperability issue.

By testing the network for its capability of interlinking, SWIFT intends to explore whether a highly scalable and easily integrated solution to make CBDC networks’ cross-border payments ready’ is achievable or not.

Use of CBDCs

While about nine countries have already brought CBDC into use, China’s digital yuan (e-CNY) has been one of the most widely experimented with digital currency.

By debuting it during the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China noted high volumes of usage among citizens and foreigners alike.

Recently China’s southwestern municipality Chongqing observed a total e-CNY trading volume of  288 million yuan or about $43 million from its 1.576 million transactions.

China’s central bank remarked that the usage of the CBDC in the Chongqing region was starkly higher than that of other regions.

This is because Chongqing is the host of 1.1 million e-CNY wallets, with over 96% of these wallets belonging to individual holders.

So if in a country such as China, where freedom of choice is questionable, CBDCs can flourish significantly, it leaves no room for doubt that the same could happen in other countries as well.

Crypto Exchange FTX’s US Arm Set To Introduce Stock Trading

Key Insights:

  • FTX. US is set to launch the stock trading feature over the next few months.
  • Binance, after an attempt in 2021, failed to continue its operations, citing regulatory concerns.
  • FTT has been stuck in the bearish zone for more than a month now.

In a press release today, cryptocurrency exchange FTX announced its newest venture, one that has been uncharted territory for its competitors.

Bringing regulated stock trading onto its platform, FTX will be deploying the feature for the users of the crypto exchange’s US arm FTX.US.

Stocks X Crypto

Combining crypto and stock trading is not a new attempt, as last year, Binance pioneered this field in its own unique way.

Instead of directly bringing US equities onto the exchange, Binance introduced crypto assets that were tied to the value of shares of stocks such as Tesla, Apple, and Coinbase.

However, after the exchange began facing pressure from regulatory authorities from all around the world, Binance stopped offering this facility to investors.

But unlike Binance, FTX will not be offering crypto tokens tracking stock prices, instead, it will directly provide regulated US equities.

Being an affiliated broker-dealer registered with the SEC and a member of FINRA/SIPC, FTX will be offering these services through FTX Capital Markets.

Commenting on the launch, FTX US’ president Brett Harrison stated,

“Our goal is to offer a holistic investing service for our customers across all asset classes. With the launch of FTX Stocks, we have created a single integrated platform for retail investors to easily trade crypto, NFTs, and traditional stock offerings through a transparent and intuitive user interface.”

Expected to be available within the next few months, stock trading on the exchange will be completely commission fees-free.

Furthermore, FTX US will also allow its clients to fund their accounts with the stablecoin USD Coin (USDC),

This will be a huge opportunity for the exchange to arise as a prominent player in the crypto as well as potentially the equity trading space.

FTT on the Charts

While the exchange is making strides in its own ways, its native token, FTT, has not been particularly impressive over the last few days.

After declining by 25.27% during the week-long crash of May 5, FTT managed to make a 10.46% recovery, but the same was invalidated yesterday after the price fell by 7.63%.

As a result, FTT has not been able to come out of the bearish zone that it has been stuck in since the first week of April, and neither has it been able to mark a bullish crossover at the same time period despite repeated attempts.

FTT is still recovering from its 25% fall in prices during the crash

Thus as FTX expands its operations, it could potentially positively affect the price of FTT as well.

After the $623M Hack, Axie Infinity’s Discord Bot Gets Compromised

Key Insights:

  • The hack was confirmed by Axie Infinity earlier today.
  • MEE6 official channels denied allegations of being exploited.
  • Axie Infinity is still recovering from the $625 million hack.

As it appears to be, social media hacks and exploits seem to have become the new meta in cybercrime, with more and more crypto blockchains and DeFi protocols facing this issue this year. Axie Infinity became the latest target of the same.

Axie Infinity Blames MEE6

In a tweet today, Axie Infinity stated that the MEE6 bot which was installed on their main Axie server was compromised.

According to the investigation, the hacker used the MEE6 and added fake permissions to a fake Jiho account, after which fake announcements regarding a mint were posted on the channels.

Soon after, the MEE6 bot was removed, and the fake messages were deleted. Still, as per one user, their NFT and domain were already stolen.

Although the MEE6 team stated that the allegations being directed towards MEE6 were “fake news”, as neither did they spot any unusual activity nor were they were contacted by any real community owners.

The MEE6 support server although stated that the admin accounts of Axie Infinity’s Discord server were compromised, which enabled the hacker to use the MEE6 bot to post phishing messages and links in the channels.

Regardless of what the case may be, Axie Infinity investors’ community is losing their patience since this is the second attack on the platform, the last being the $625 million hack.

Known to be the biggest hack in the history of crypto, Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge exploit accounted for half of all the crypto attacks that took place throughout the first quarter of 2022.

Going forward, Axie Infinity needs to make itself more secure before investors start exiting to protect their funds.

Social Media – The New Target

As reported by FXEmpire, multiple official servers and accounts fell victim to these hackers, who used the platforms to execute phishing attacks on the users throughout April and May.

In the second quarter, the first to witness this was the NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) after its Discord was compromised and hackers managed to steal $69k worth of NFT.

The same month, BAYC’s Instagram account was hacked, which was used to promote a fake airdrop to lure investors into signing away their NFTs. As confirmed by the founder of BAYC, about 4 Apes, 6 Mutants, 3 Kennels, and some other NFTs were stolen.

Similarly, Opensea’s Discord was hacked as well, with hackers promoting fake YouTube-based NFTs to steal their private keys. Although no loss occurred in this instance, it made platforms reinforce their social media security.

Crypto.com Expands Services With Shopify Offering 0 Transaction Fees

Key Insights:

  • Shopify will use Crypto.com Pay to enable crypto payments.
  • The facility will allow merchants to receive cryptocurrencies with 0 transaction fees.
  • Crypto.com is pushing adoption by recently announcing a five-year partnership with AFL.

In an announcement today, one of the world’s best-known cryptocurrency exchanges, Crypto.com, enabled Shopify merchants to receive payments in cryptocurrency with the help of Crypto.com Pay. 

Crypto.com Expands Merchant Reach

With this integration, Shopify merchants will be able to tap the market of customers who prefer to pay in cryptocurrencies and also open up opportunities for the current users who are looking to make use of this facility.

Crypto.com is even offering to waive the 0.5% settlement fee for the first month after integration on all transactions to incentivize Shopify merchants further. This will also help Crypto.com expand its payment services to other Shopify users as well.

Currently, Crypto.com enables users to make payments all around the world with 0 transaction fees, and they also incentivize individuals to make use of its native token, Cronos, with its payment platform. Users who pay through Crypto.com using Cronos receive a significant amount in crypto-cashback, which can run up to 10% during certain periods.

Going forward, Crypto.com users will be able to pay Shopify merchants using 20 cryptocurrencies ranging from Bitcoin to Apecoin, including Ethereum, Cronos, Dogecoin, and Shiba Inu as well.

Commenting on this announcement, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Crypto.com, Kris Marszalek, stated,

“Providing more customers and merchants the ability to engage in commerce using cryptocurrencies is a priority for Crypto.com. We are incredibly excited to integrate into Shopify, and to bring this capability to even more customers and merchants around the world.”

Crypto.com Furthers Its Partnerships

Marketing and advertising are the strongest suits of Crypto.com with brand ambassadors like Matt Damon. The exchange is thus building on it to reach a wider audience. 

As per that strategy, the most recent play was Crypto.com’s five-year partnership with Australian Football League, becoming the Official Cryptocurrency Exchange and Official Cryptocurrency Trading Platform for both AFL and AFLW.

But while it excels on the expansion front, it might not be doing so well on the investor front as Cronos holder try to recover from the devastating crash of May 9.

Although CRO is up by 16.64% over the week, it will be hard for the altcoin to counter the 43.35% plunge in price during the crash.

Cronos lost over 43% during the recent market crash

Indian Regulatory Body SEBI Ceases “Celebrity Endorsement” for Crypto

Key Insights:

  • India’s Securities and Exchange Board has suggested against using celebrities to promote crypto.
  • Crypto is not yet regulated in India, and use without understanding it may cause a violation of the law.
  • Currently, the country has deployed a 30% tax on crypto transactions.

In a suggestion to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance last month, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) stated that no prominent public figures, including celebrities and sportsmen, should be allowed to promote cryptocurrencies in the country.

“No High Profile Promotion”

Cryptocurrency, although it has been prevalent in India for years now, from a regulatory standpoint, is still in its infancy.

Furthermore, due to a lack of overseeing authority body, any and every legal responsibility and decision making falls at the hands of the SEBI.

Thus, the regulatory body recently suggested that its best to avoid mass promotion of an asset class that is neither regulated nor recognized currently.

The SEBI also suggested that the advertisement disclosure should also talk about the possible violation of laws that may occur from the rampant use of cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.).

In line with the suggestion, a source cited SEBI stating,

“Given that crypto products are unregulated, prominent public figures including celebrities, sportsmen, etc. or their voice shall not be used for endorsement/advertisement of crypto products.”

Beyond this, the regulatory body also suggested adding to the disclaimer that “dealings in crypto products may lead to prosecution for possible violation of Indian laws such as FEMA, BUDS Act, PMLA, etc.”

The original guidelines pertaining to advertisements related to cryptocurrencies in the country read,

“Since this is a risky category (VDAs), celebrities or prominent personalities who appear in such advertisements must take special care to ensure that they have done their due diligence about the statements and claims made in the advertisement, so as not to mislead consumers.”

This is why the SEBI is also looking to put an end to the use of celebrities for crypto endorsement.

India and Crypto

The government has had its run-ins with the crypto community in the past.

However, after recognizing the expanse of crypto in India, the Finance Ministry decided to levy a 30% tax on transactions concerning cryptocurrency.

The decision came without establishing any law or regulatory authority.

Recently, the country’s Goods and Service Tax (GST) Council reportedly considered an additional 28% tax on all cryptocurrency-related activities.

While no formal confirmation has been received yet, it does worry the country’s crypto community about the future of digital assets in India.

World’s Biggest Bitcoin Holder Grayscale Launches ETF in Europe

Key Insights:

  • Grayscale announced the Future of Finance UCITS ETF yesterday.
  • The ETF will be listed on three exchanges and passported for sale across Europe.
  • Institutional investors have been pretty interested in Bitcoin recently.

In an announcement today, the world’s largest digital currency asset manager, Grayscale, confirmed that it would be bringing its first European ETF called the Grayscale Future of Finance UCITS ETF (GFOF).

Europe Gets a Slice of Grayscale

The launch of the ETF is coming right after the crypto market witnessed one of the worst crashes in its history, which even took Bitcoin below $30k at one point.

However, unlike Grayscale’s other ETFs that track a cryptocurrency asset, the GFOF ETF will be tracking the investment performance of the Bloomberg Grayscale Future of Finance Index.

This index comprises of companies from three sections of the industry – Financial Foundations, Technology Solutions, and Digital Asset Infrastructure.

Set to be listed on three exchanges initially, the GFOF will be available on the London Stock Exchange (LSE), Borsa Italiana, and Deutsche Börse Xetra.

Commenting on the launch, the CEO of Grayscale Investments, Michael Sonnenshein, stated,

“With growing global demand from both institutional and individual investors for Grayscale products, we’re thrilled to be expanding our offering in Europe through the UCITS wrapper. This product draws upon our historical strengths, while furthering our evolution as an asset manager that helps investors build portfolios that can stand the test of time. GFOF UCITS ETF is the natural next step in our global strategic journey.”

The Right Time To Jump In?

The overall condition of the market worsened significantly earlier this week after the market crashed and lost $500+ billion. Since then, the king coin has been making some recovery rising by 8.23% in the span of 3 days.

Even at the time of writing, BTC has increased by 2.3% and is trading at $30.8k.

Bitcoin recovered by 8% and is currently trading at $30k

Incidentally, this crash was a golden opportunity for institutional investors who bought almost $300 million worth of Bitcoin this week from the market-wide sell-off.

Up until the market bottomed, mostly this cohort of investors was focused on dumping their holdings, but that changed after almost every asset fell by a significant margin after May 9.

CoinShares weekly net flows registered $247 million in inflows

But Grayscale’s flagship Grayscale Bitcoin Trust ETF (GBTC), on the other hand, is not noticing as much interest from investors since the ETF is losing demand with the growing bearishness in the market.

Trading at a discount of 31.38%, GBTC is at its lowest point since February 2020.

GBTC is trading at a 31% discount

Meta Begins Testing NFTs on Instagram, Set to Launch on Facebook Too

Key Insights:

  • Mark Zuckerberg has announced the testing of NFTs on Instagram.
  • The company has been looking into this feature since December 2021.
  • Twitter launched this feature earlier this year for a fee, while Meta is doing it for free.

The explosion of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) last year engulfed not just crypto niche organizations but also every major mainstream company, platform, and brand.

Meta brings NFTs

After revealing the beginning of exploring NFTs for its social media platforms, Meta finally announced today that the feature is now in the testing stage and will be deployed to Instagram and Facebook soon.

As reported by FXEmpire, Meta has been eyeing this space since December last year, when Instagram’s CEO stated that the platform intends to make NFTs accessible to a wider audience.

And today, the CEO of Meta, Mark Zuckerberg himself, stated that they are actively testing the same. Zuckerberg, on Facebook, commented:

“We’re starting building for NFTs not just in our Metaverse and Reality Labs work, but also across our family of apps. We’re starting to test digital collectibles on Instagram so that creators and collectors can display their NFTs.”

He also stated that the company would soon be bringing the same functionality to Facebook as well, in addition to integrating augmented reality with the NFTs to enable users to project them into 3D physical spaces in their Instagram stories.

Twitter leads the race

Earlier in January this year, Twitter enabled the option of displaying one’s Ethereum (ETH)-based NFTs as their profile picture with a distinct frame.

While Meta plans on doing this for free, Twitter made it available to its users for a fee of $3, which was criticized by many people, including current owner Elon Musk.

Calling it a waste of engineering resources, the Tesla CEO even went to the extent of making a collage of BAYC NFTs as his own Twitter profile picture recently to show that the feature doesn’t do much for NFT owners.

In line with the same, Musk tweeted:

Following the social media giant, other platforms such as Reddit and OnlyFans also announced their intention to enable similar functionality.

Terra’s Luna Foundation Guard Dumps $750M Worth of Bitcoin

Key Insights:

  • The LFG attempted to downplay this dumping by calling it a “loan” to OTC trading firms.
  • Terra’s founder stated that the sold assets would eventually be repurchased.
  • LUNA, affected by the broader market bearish cues, has declined by 12% in 24 hours.

Terra’s growing presence in the public eye has subjected it to be more transparent with its investors. However, the most recent decision made by its non-profit organization has ticked off a bunch of UST and LUNA holders.

LFG sells treasury’s Bitcoin

A couple of hours ago, Terra’s Luna Foundation Guard (LFG) announced that due to the uncertain macro conditions across the market have pushed the foundation into selling about $750 million worth of Bitcoin (BTC) from its treasury.

They described this action by labeling it as a “loan” to OTC trading firms in order to protect the UST peg and said that they would eventually “loan” another 750 million UST to buy back the sold Bitcoin when market conditions normalize.

Further explaining this move, the LFG tweeted:

“Relative to Terra, $UST has experienced notable directional flow over the weekend, accompanied by similar volatility in both $LUNA and $BTC. While this flow has currently evened out, it is prudent to prepare for potential future volatility. Per the LFG’s mandate, the LFG will proactively defend the stability of the $UST peg & broader Terra economy, especially under volatility and the uncertainty of macro conditions in legacy markets.”

When a user demanded clarifications on how much BTC was sold and more details on the extent of defending the UST peg, Terra’s founder, Do Kwon, replied.

He said that should a UST imbalance occur, the present Bitcoin will be used to rebalance, and if the demand is surplus again, BTC will be bought back.

The total reserve balance in the LFG treasury has since declined to $2.89 billion after peaking at $3.9 billion a few days ago.

The Luna Foundation Guard reserve is currently at $2.92 billion

LUNA continues its downtrend

While Terra and LFG struggle with the UST, the blockchain’s native toke LUNA is itself struggling. Trading at $60.45, at press time, LUNA has plummeted by 12.12% in the last 24 hours after having already slipped from $82 four days ago.

LUNA has slipped by 12% in the last 24 hours

The crypto market’s bearishness is clearly visible on the charts, and it is dragging down every cryptocurrency in the market. A recovery for LUNA will only be possible when the broader market recovers and not by external factors.

Opensea Confirms Discord Hack As Spambots Promote “YouTube” NFTs

Key Insights:

  • NFT marketplace Opensea’s Discord server has been hacked.
  • Spambots have been posting links to limited YouTube NFTs
  • Social media channel hacks have been on the rise this year.

While the Decentralized Finance space is prone to hacks and exploits, it’s unusual for their centralized social media platforms to go through something similar.

However, over the last couple of weeks, the crypto space has been observing the latter, with the latest addition to the mix being Opensea.

Opensea Hacked Again!

The Ethereum-based NFT marketplace confirmed that their Discord server had been compromised a few hours ago. The same was verified by PeckShieldAlert and Serpent, accounts associated with blockchain security.

Being the first to bring this exploit to life, Serpent shared a screenshot of the Discord channel where spambots seemingly posted links to a page titled “yoytubenft.art”.

By claiming these NFTs to be limited with only 100 in existence and over 80% minted out, the hackers tried to lure investors towards the phishing website.

Opensea Discord server spambot | Source: Serpent

PeckShieldAlert posted the image of the same website with an alert warning people of the possible attempt by hackers to steal their private key, tricking users into giving them token approval and/or buying scam tokens.

At the time of writing, the most recent update from Opensea was as follows,

“Do not click links in our Discord. 

We are continuing to investigate this situation and will share information as we have it.”

This is, however, not the first time Opensea users have been the victim of a hack. As reported by FXEmpire, Opensea users lost about $1.7 million worth of NFTs in a phishing attack earlier this year.

A victim even sued the marketplace with a $1 million lawsuit claiming the platform continued operating instead of shutting down and rectifying the issues. 

Opensea Is Not Alone

Last month the second biggest NFT collection, Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), witnessed two hacks compromising its social media accounts.

The first attack took place on April 1, compromising the NFT collection’s Discord server, followed by a second attack on its Instagram account on April 27.

With the latter hack, the hacker managed to swipe 4 Apes, 6 Mutants, 3 Kennels, and some other valuable NFTs.

Thus this pattern of attacking social media accounts seems to be picking up the heat. Still, investors can be safe if they understand the difference between a fake announcement and an actual announcement. As highlighted by Serpent,

Binance, Fidelity, Sequoia, and15 Others Invest $7.1Bn in Twitter

Key Insights:

  • 18 co-investors combined have invested $7.1 billion in Twitter.
  • CEO of Binance CZ confirmed the same, calling it a “contribution to the cause.”
  • Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter might soon bring a fee for commercial and government users.

Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter is one of the biggest highlights of this year, since one of the topmost social media platforms is now the property of the world’s richest man.

But while many have opposed this monopoly over Twitter, many others have seen this as an emancipation from the control of the Board.

Now, Musk has not stated any intentions of turning it into a public company, but Twitter is already receiving financial commits from major organizations.

Binance commits $500 million

In an amendment to Schedule 13D filing, Musk announced that the social media platform received financial commits worth $7.1 billion from 18 investors subject to the conditions set forth in the Co-Investor Equity Commitment Letters. 

Among these investors was Binance, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, which committed about $500 million. However, it wasn’t the highest amount, since a few others committed much more.

These included VyCapital at $700 million and Sequoia Capital Fund, L.P. committing $800 million.

However, the highest contribution came from the Lawrence J. Ellison Revocable Trust, which invested about $1 billion. Among the other investors were Brookfield, Fidelity Management, as well as Qatar Holding.

The contributions came in at or immediately prior to the closing of the merger.

The same was also confirmed by the Founder and CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao.

Ever since Musk purchased Twitter for $44 billion, both the billionaire and the social media platform have been making headlines for various reasons.

But this development, where major industry players are showcasing support for Musk’s purpose, makes it seem like there is potential for improvement.

Musk wants to charge fees

The barrage of ideas that Musk had with Twitter, including turning the headquarters into a shelter, slowly turned more serious recently when Musk tweeted:

“Twitter will always be free for casual users, but maybe a slight cost for commercial/government users.”

And given he is acting on his previous decisions of eliminating bots from the comments, he might even act on charging commercial and government users.

Recently, Twitter introduced a new downvote button for its mobile application through which one can identify a spam bot and report it.

Thus, Musk and his supporters will only stop once they’ve completed their mission of fixing Twitter.

After El Salvador, IMF Raises Concerns Over CAR Legalizing Bitcoin

Key Insights:

  • The Central African Republic recently adopted Bitcoin (BTC) as a legal currency.
  • IMF believes that this decision might cause significant economic challenges.
  • The IMF has previously urged El Salvador to reverse its decision to make Bitcoin a legal tender.

El Salvador’s revolutionary decision to make Bitcoin a legal tender was met with a lot of criticism and objections from various government authorities around the world. 

Making crypto a legal currency is still a novel attempt at financial inclusion, which in some ways threatens the traditional financial operations leading to these concerns. 

CAR is now under IMF’s watch

As previously reported, the CAR adopted the Draft Law Governing Cryptocurrency favorably by acclamation and unanimity on April 25.

This made it the first country in the region to legalize cryptocurrencies and second in the world after El Salvador. 

The purpose of creating the bill was to eliminate the control of the Central Bank, as stated by the Minister of Digital Economy Gourna Zacko. 

Now, this did not sit well with many people since the law was passed without the consultation of the regional central bank responsible for handling the issuance of a common currency also used by the CAR.

In line with the same issues, the IMF told Bloomberg:

“The adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender in CAR raises major legal, transparency, and economic policy challenges. IMF staff are assisting the regional and Central African Republic’s authorities in addressing the concerns posed by the new law.”

Not the first time

When El Salvador adopted Bitcoin as legal tender, the IMF did not hold back with its objection and even urged the country to reverse the decision.

The IMF board warned El Salvador President Nayib Bukele about Bitcoin’s risk to the financial stability, financial integrity, and consumer protection to the extent of stalling El Salvador’s request for the $1.3 billion loan from the IMF. 

This is proof that as long as the traditional financial systems do not understand the opportunities and advantages of cryptocurrencies and continue to see them as a threat than an advancement, crypto will not become the future of finance.

Uzbekistan Mandates Solar Energy as the Only Power Source for Miners

Key Insights:

  • Cryptocurrency mining can only be done by solar power now. 
  • Perspective Projects Agency will be overseeing the crypto industry in Uzbekistan.
  • No license will be required for mining crypto now.

In two different announcements in the last 24 hours, the government of Uzbekistan, led by President Shavkat Mirziyoyev, announced a set of regulations for crypto-related operations in the country.

Uzbekistan to make crypto “domestic”

Firstly, the country set a regulatory framework for its crypto industry participants, and in doing so, it also renamed the National Agency for Project Management agency to be called the Perspective Projects Agency (PPA), which will oversee the crypto space. 

Supervised by the PPA, local crypto exchanges have been directed to store the transaction data of the users that register on the platform after verifying their identity through the KYC process.

Going forward, the PPA will also be responsible for establishing new policies concerning crypto and preventing illicit uses of the technology and cryptocurrencies.

In line with this announcement, Uzbekistan also legalized solar-powered crypto mining. In doing so, companies using solar energy for crypto mining and the companies affiliated with crypto in any form or manner will be exempted from paying income taxes.

Since environmental concerns stemming from crypto operations’ power usage have been a consistent discussion in the world, Uzbekistan is doing its fair share in cutting down excessive power consumption.

Cryptocurrency miners have been mandated to use only solar energy for mining.

The government wants to keep tabs

Before the Uzbekistan government announced exchanges would need to store user transaction data, India released a similar directive two days ago.

As reported, the IT Ministry asked all virtual asset service providers, exchanges, and custodian wallet providers to maintain all information of the users, as well as the records of financial transactions for a period of five years.

Polkadot Launches Cross-Consensus Messaging to Streamline Communication Between Parachains

Key Insights:

  • Polkadot XCM went live to support communication among its parachains.
  • This will enable contact between the network’s 500 chains, apps, and services.
  • Polkadot’s price hit a nine-month low this week.

In a press release today, Polkadot announced its latest milestone, the launch of XCM, a messaging system that allows for communication between its various parachains.

Serving as a cross-consensus messaging system, XCM has fulfilled Polakdot’s foundational objective to be a fully interoperable multichain ecosystem.

Now, parachains can transfer assets and data among themselves, through the use of XCM. It is expected that the development will benefit over 500 chains, apps, and services that have been developed on Polkadot and its parachains.

Currently, messages sent and received across the XCM channels are secured at the same level as the Relay Chain. But going forward, this will change with the arrival of XCMP, which will allow data to be sent across parachains, without the need to be stored on the Relay Chain.

Polkadot deployed this service to the Statemint parachain enabling users to mint non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and teleport them from one chain to another and even track them across chains.

Commenting on the launch, Hoon Kim, chief technical officer of the Polkadot native dApp and parachain auction winner Astar, said:

“I see traditional smart contracts on isolated layer 1 chains like setting up shop in a kingdom surrounded by walls. Then we have bridges which are like a trading route that first connected nations from nations. Now we have XCM, which is like a free trade agreement for blockchains. This is the natural future.”

Polkadot on the charts

While Polkadot is making strides in the decentralized finance (DeFi) environment, pioneering game-changing systems on the spot front, it has not been impressing its investors.

In the last month, DOT has dropped by 37.55% from $23.2, to trade at $15.23, at the time of writing.

Polkadot is currently at its 8-month low price of $15.23

But by falling to the lowest DOT has been at in almost eight months, DOT has set itself up for recovery in the coming weeks, making $20 as its next target.

SEC Allots 20 New Positions to Expand Its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit

Key Insights:

  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission will add 20 new positions to the Cyber Unit.
  • The SEC is doubling down on its war against crypto.
  • SEC’s decision comes just as judge Torres moved the SEC v Ripple calendar up.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has developed a reputation in the crypto industry for being hostile in many ways. And now, the regulatory body is seemingly taking it up a notch with its newest announcement.

SEC adds backup

In a press release on May 3, the SEC announced that it would be allocating 20 additional positions to the newly renamed Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit (formerly known as the Cyber Unit).

This unit is responsible for protecting the investors of the crypto market, as well as keeping them safe from cybercrimes.

In the five years of its existence, the Cyber Unit has managed to take enforcement action against 80 fraudulent and unregistered crypto-asset offerings and platforms, which resulted in monetary relief worth more than $2 billion.

With the additional positions, the unit will grow to 50 dedicated positions and increase its focus on securities law violations such as:

Commenting on this expansion, SEC Chair Gary Gensler stated:

“[…]as more investors access the crypto markets, it is increasingly important to dedicate more resources to protecting them. The Division of Enforcement’s Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit has successfully brought dozens of cases against those seeking to take advantage of investors in crypto markets. By nearly doubling the size of this key unit, the SEC will be better equipped to police wrongdoing in the crypto markets while continuing to identify disclosure and controls issues with respect to cybersecurity.”

The SEC in the past

Cryptocurrencies and platforms are still a developing space given their novelty in comparison to securities that have existed for more than a century now.

As reported in February, lending protocol BlockFi was subjected to the largest ever penalty in the history of $100 million for violating the Investment Company Act of 1940.

Furthermore, the ongoing SEC v Ripple lawsuit is well known by everyone in the crypto space, and as per the most recent updates, Judge Torres is looking to bring the trial to an end by November by moving the calendar up from December.

Regardless of who wins the lawsuit, it is certain that SEC is not going to slow down its pursuit against crypto.

Indian Crypto Exchanges Mandated to Store User Info for 5 Years

Key Insights:

  • The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology has issued a new directive.
  • All crypto-related businesses have been told to keep user details stored for at least five years.
  • The decentralization aspect of crypto is losing touch with the worldwide governments’ interference.

As much as crypto has been cheered, its rapidly increasing adoption has also raised concern from authoritative bodies. As a result, crypto is losing one of its biggest USPs of being decentralized and private.

Indian government interferes

As per a new directive issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) will be responsible for handling all the aspects related to cybersecurity, inducing the following particulars:

  • Collection, analysis, and dissemination of information on cyber incidents.
  • Forecast and alerts of cybersecurity incidents.
  • Emergency measures for handling cybersecurity incidents.
  • Coordination of cyber incident response activities.
  • Issue guidelines, advisories, vulnerability notes, and whitepapers relating to information security practices, procedures, prevention, response, and
    reporting of cyber incidents.
  • Such other functions relating to cybersecurity may be prescribed.

But beyond these responsibilities, the ministry has also focused specifically on the crypto-related business since crypto crime has grown immensely over the years.

Just this year, the crypto space witnessed the biggest hack ever when Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge was exploited for $625 million.

However, in doing so, the IT ministry has asked all virtual asset service providers, exchanges, and custodian wallet providers to maintain all information of the users, as well as the records of financial transactions for a period of five years.

Explaining the reason further, the new directive read,

“[…] so as to ensure cybersecurity in the area of payments and financial markets for citizens while protecting their data, fundamental rights and economic freedom in view of the growth of virtual assets.”

The country’s stance on crypto continues to lean in an unfavorable direction ever since the government came up with the 30% crypto tax. The tax has already been criticized by citizens since it is intended to push people away from using crypto.

But India isn’t the only country to interfere in crypto operations.

America and Japan were the first to do so

After Russia invaded Ukraine, countries across the globe began slapping sanctions on the Russian government and oligarchs. But in order to ensure that they are blocked off financially, with no means of escape, many countries started suspending their access to crypto.

The US began the trend, after the White House asked most of the top cryptocurrency exchanges to block Russian sanctioned accounts. While at first there was some back and forth, the exchanges such as Binance, Coinbase, and FTX caved and ended up blocking the accounts.

Japan took a step further, and the country’s Financial Services Agency warned its crypto exchanges that the government would impose penalties if crypto exchanges failed to comply with sanction rules.

Thus, while, on the one hand, crypto makes an advancement, it is forced to take a step back with such incidents.

Solana NFT Minting Bots Trigger Seventh Network Outage in 4 Months

Key Insights:

  • Metaplex confirmed Solana’s recent outage was caused by botting on the Candy Machine program.
  • This is the seventh outage observed by Solana in the last four months.
  • Solana NFTs have been noticing a waning interest from investors.

Solana (SOL) is one of the biggest decentralized finance (DeFi) chains in the world, built with the capabilities of creating and selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the chain itself. Combine that with the growing craze for NFTs in the last few months, and it’ll bring us to where the network is today.

Solana faces another outage

In a confirmation on Twitter, Solana stated that the most recent outage, which hit the mainnet on April 30 and lasted for seven hours into May 1, had been corrected yesterday morning, after validator operators successfully completed a cluster restart of Mainnet Beta.

Metaplex explained this to be the result of botting on the Metaplex Candy Machine program. In order to deal with this, the NFT minting platform deployed a penalty of 0.01 SOL worth approximately $0.87, as per Solana’s trading price of $87, at the time of writing.

Metaplex further justified this penalty stating:

“Botting penalties that are collected will be given to the config account for the Candy Machine instance. The creator of the Candy Machine will then have discretion on how to use the funds collected from these penalties. In addition, the Metaplex Foundation will continue to invest heavily in evolving the Candy Machine program to discourage botting in support of creators and collectors.”

As mentioned above, this is the seventh time Solana investors have had to suffer from this problem. Back in January, the network was victim to multiple outages due to high usage.

The instances of network outages throughout January

This time around, the need and hype for NFTs apparently caused the outage, which brings us to the current status of NFTs on Solana. There was a time when the demand was at its peak, but it has been withering since, which is noticeable in the last month.

Except for a few spikes around mid-April, NFT transactions on a daily basis have plummeted significantly, with the last 24 hours only noting 3,000 NFT transactions down from over 16,000 in March.

 

Daily Solana NFT transactions | Source: Dune

Solana on the charts

While NFTs are heading in their own direction, downwards, so is Solana’s price, which has observed a 38.17% decline in price since the beginning of April.

Solana price has declined by 38% in the last month

Although the altcoin did mark a 6% recovery yesterday, it did not make much of a difference since SOL will have to add $50 to its current price in order to make its investors somewhat happier.

75% of Brazil’s 34.5 Million Crypto Investors Are Monthly Buyers: Report

Key Insights:

  • Over 34.5 million people in Brazil have been identified to be cryptocurrency investors.
  • About 53% of investors treat cryptos as a long-term investment, while 40% view it as a cash cow.
  • The Brazilian Real’s depreciating value is increasing interest in cryptocurrencies in the country.

KuCoin’s latest report on crypto consumers – Into The Cryptoverse – highlighted the state of cryptocurrencies in one of the biggest countries in the world.

The findings make it apparent that it’s not just the developed countries who look at crypto as financial liberation, but that sentiment is actually shared more amongst the population of an under-developed country.

Crypto Grows in Brazil

With over 212.5 million people, Brazil is the sixth biggest country by population. Naturally, it becomes interesting to know how many of these people are actually versed in crypto.

The answer, surprisingly, is more than that of the United States. While over 16% of all people in Brazil are invested in cryptocurrencies, the United States has only 13% of its people doing the same.

Interestingly, 53% of Brazil’s 34.5 million crypto investors consider cryptocurrency as an investment vehicle and a reliable store of value. Whereas about 40% of them only look at it as a way of mining profits, but out of noble intentions of improving their living conditions. 

The impact of crypto has been such that about 75% of these investors buy cryptocurrencies every month.

But this impact has influenced people to the extent that 64% of the 34.5 million investors intend to increase their cryptocurrency investment within the next six months.

But this adoption of cryptocurrencies hasn’t been as old as one might expect it to be. According to the report, of the surveyed individuals, only 33% of the people have been trading cryptocurrencies for more than a year.

The remaining 67% of the traders have only been involved since April 2021

However, this growth over the last year sparked an interest in the people of Brazil, men and woman alike, which is how we are seeing the gender gap close.

At the moment, 63% of the investors happen to be men, and 37% of them are women. Still, women account for being more curious about cryptocurrencies representing 56% of the lot. But as dependence on crypto grows, these figures will rise as well.

As it is, investors are allocating about 40% of their earnings on an average to cryptocurrencies, with 16% of investors even allocating more than 90% of their money towards crypto.

Thus, the financial revolution in Brazil is only going to be fuelled further as crypto becomes more mainstream.

Crypto Around the World

While Brazil is a budding hotspot for crypto investment, it is still far behind when it comes to profits.

As reported by FXEmpire, the top 10 countries that have realized the most gains thanks to cryptocurrencies do not even include Brazil.

Led by the United States of America with $46.9 billion in profits, the report claims the UK to have witnessed the second-highest gains in 2021, followed by Germany, Japan, and China.

Brazil only managed to realize gains worth $2.5 billion, with most of it coming in the form of Ethereum and Bitcoin

Investors hailing from Brazil, thus, might be able to put the country higher up on the list next year since crypto adoption in the country is growing pretty quickly.

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Dogecoin Become Eligible As Form of Rent Payment

Key Insights:

  • Jamestown has partnered with BitPay to enable crypto as a payment option for its tenants.
  • Cryptocurrencies accepted for the same include assets ranging from Bitcoin to stablecoins.
  • The crypto market itself has been losing money over the last few days.

The adoption of cryptocurrencies for facilitating payments across stores and merchants was the first step in making these digital assets a part of our regular life.

But thanks to the expanding use cases, including tax payments and payments for government services, and now rent payments, crypto will integrate itself into everyone’s life sooner than expected.

Jamestown To Accept Crypto

In an announcement today, the design-focused real estate investment and management firm Jamestown stated that it will now be accepting rent payments from its tenants in the form of cryptocurrencies.

To facilitate the same, the firm partnered with BitPay, which will act as an intermediary exchange.

Stating the reason behind enabling this provision for their tenants, the President of Jamestown, Michael Phillips, said,

“Blockchain technology and the digital assets it enables, like cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens, are key components to the evolution of real estate. Allowing for cryptocurrency payments is part of our commitment to innovation and larger digital asset strategy to optimize and maximize our physical real estate through technology and virtual integrations.”

Since Jamestown will not be receiving or holding cryptocurrencies directly, BitPay will convert the cryptocurrencies received from tenants into fiat.

The cryptocurrencies acceptable for the rent payments initially include Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ethereum (ETH), Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), Dogecoin (DOGE), Litecoin (LTC), and five USD-pegged stablecoins (GUSD, USDC, USDP, DAI, and BUSD).

Jamestown will be beginning by providing these services to tenants of its real estate assets throughout the United States of America. Eventually, they will also expand this service to their assets in Europe.

Would People Opt for It?

Given the state of the market, it is pretty uncertain if people would be willing to opt for paying in crypto. This could be because the market’s volatility is wildly unpredictable and can harm anyone’s holdings within a matter of hours.

For example, any tenant who purchases crypto to pay their rent the next could potentially lose their money within those 24 hours since it has happened in the past.

An instance of the same can be found in the red candle of April 26 when within 24 hours, Bitcoin, along with most of the other altcoins, lost more than 5% of its value, some even touching 12%.

Bitcoin’s price in the last few days has been very uncertain

Depreciation as such is concerning and could also keep people at bay from taking any risks.

After Losing $625 Million, Axie’s Ronin Set To Offer $1M Bug Bounty

Key Insights:

  • Going forward, Sky Mavis will be ramping up validator nodes to 21 in 3 months, with a long-term target of 100 nodes.
  • Sky Mavis is also launching a $1 million bug bounty.
  • The Ronin Bridge is expected to reopen by mid-late May.

Last month the crypto world witnessed the most devastating hack in its 13 years long history. This one instance certainly left many developers shocked and worried about their own projects, leading to introspection and necessary upgrades.

One of them is the victim of the hack, Ronin itself, who has come up with a plan of action for the future.

Ronin Bridge Is Set To Bounce Back

The hack, which wiped out 173,600 Ethereum and 25.5M USDC from the Ronin bridge, was conducted by the North Korean cybercriminals Lazarus. As reported by FXEmpire, this was confirmed by the US department of treasury itself. 

And since these criminals will certainly not entertain a plea of a bargain, the Ronin Network has taken things into its own hands, starting with the execution of its Security Roadmap.

Among the many things highlighted by Ronin, a few things are set to make a significant impact on the market and the bridge. Firstly, Sky Mavis will be increasing the number of validator nodes to 11 from 5 as it prepares to onboard three more soon.

The network aims to establish 21 validator nodes within the next three months with a long-term goal of creating 100 validator nodes.

Secondly, the bridge will be implementing Stricter Internal Procedures and explaining the same the report read,

“We are inspecting every area of security, including our internal procedures. We are putting a strong emphasis on security for all employees which includes more robust training courses to combat external threats and the use of work-only devices to further mitigate risks.”

Furthermore, Sky Mavis is also launching a Bug bounty program. Clearly, the last exploit was enough to break confidence, but Sky Mavis is looking to prevent the occurrences of any such situation.

For the same, $1 million worth of bounty has also been offered to encourage responsible disclosure of security vulnerabilities.

Ronin Bridge Set To Reopen?

Although Sky Mavis did not give out a confirmed date as to when they could re-start the Ronin bridge, it seems like they are aiming for mid-May or later next month, only when the Ronin contracts’ upgrade would be 100% finished.

In the meanwhile, Axie Infinity users can deposit and withdraw their wETH and USDC as they did on the Ronin Bridge via Binance

Algorand Awards Flare 7-Figure Grant To Develop a Bitcoin Bridge

Key Insights:

  • Flare received the grant from the Algorand Foundation SupaGrant.
  • The bridge will offer greater security through consensus and risk mitigation.
  • Flare will also add Bitcoin as a FAsset, which can be leveraged to build dapps on Flare.

As the fear of DeFi hacks and exploits continues to grow, investors and developers alike are finding ways of being wary of protecting their assets and projects.

And building on the same DeFi chain Algorand has tapped just the right network to make that happen.

Algorand Gets a Touch of Flare

In a press release, the interoperability-focused Flare network announced that it had been awarded a 7-figure Algorand Foundation SupaGrant to develop a Bitcoin bridge into the Algorand ecosystem.

The reason behind this bridge is the constant threat that looms over the DeFi chains of being hacked. As it is just this year, two major crypto hacks left the investors with billions of dollars of their money stolen.

Earlier last month, Axie Infinifty’s Ronin bridge lost over $625 million, which became the biggest hack in the history of cryptocurrencies.

Thus, to avoid that, Flare is focusing on making sure that the new bridge is much more secure and that it will enable secure, trustless interoperability between ALGO and BTC, plus other non-smart contract tokens such as DOGE, LTC, XRP, and XLM.

Flare will achieve this by using the network’s Flare Time Series Oracle and the State Connector.

Commenting on this bridge, the Head of DeFi, Algorand Foundation, Daniel Oon, said,

“Our grant partnership with Flare will develop key DeFi infrastructure with a bridge to Bitcoin, opening up opportunities for further collaboration and innovation. We look forward to our partnership bringing value to our respective communities.”

Not only this, but the Flare network also announced that they would be bringing Bitcoin as a FAsset onto Flare. This way, developers could use this token as a means of developing Dapps by leveraging their FBTC.

Algorand on the Chart

While the bridge might open up new roads for the chain, its primary function as an investment vehicle isn’t doing that well at the moment. After falling consistently throughout the months, ALGO is now trading at $0.66 at a 14-month low.

Algorand’s price is currently at a 14 month low

ALGO might need more than this to recover the losses it has endured throughout 2022