WeChat Joins the Digital Yuan Pilot Program

Key Insights:

  • WeChat to support China’s digital yuan.
  • Digital yuan usage to grow following the move.
  • China expands digital yuan pilot to 11 more cities.

WeChat, the popular Chinese messaging and social media service, is one of the first major apps in China to support real-world currency payments. As part of the pilot project, WeChat will allow users to make digital yuan transactions. The central bank digital currency (CBDC) program has recently expanded to include 11 additional cities.

In an announcement, it was stated that WeChat, China’s most popular social media app, will participate in the digital yuan pilot program. This shows the Chinese government’s desire to boost the usage of their virtual currency.

In early 2022, the firm began developing digital yuan support. WeChat is one of China’s most popular apps, with over 1 billion active users. As a result of this implementation, the adoption of the e-CNY may rise. The program already offers various services, including food ordering and taxi hire to its vast users.

Can WeChat Integration Drive e-CNY Usage?

It can become a major boost for the use of the digital yuan. With closer integration with other services, it may be a real boon to its adoption. The CBDC is already flourishing as a daily usage fad, with the pilot program’s expansion continuing apace.

The digital yuan pilot project, which was extended to include additional cities, will be utilized in the 2022 Asian Games. It was also put to the test during the recent Winter Olympics. There hasn’t been much talk about how effective it was in the most recent competition, though its usage in a showcase event shows development progress.

The digital yuan pilot project, according to most accounts, was a success. Since its debut, it has reportedly recorded digital currencies in total transaction volume, although some reports say some accounts are simply opened and unused.

China Cracks Down on Crypto As Digital Yuan Continues to Chug Along

The country’s regulators have taken a hard line on cryptocurrencies, with exchanges being shuttered and trading activities banned. Mining activities have also been hit. Despite this, the digital yuan is still being trialed and used in the real world.

It’s not just China that’s looking into digital currencies. The likes of Japan, South Korea, and the European Union have all been researching or are in the process of launching their own versions. The United States is also reportedly investigating a digital dollar.

While several countries are ahead of others, digital currencies are still in their infancy. However, as more trial runs occur, we may see them become increasingly popular soon.

BAYC Floor Prices Touch 90 ETH As ApeCoin Token Lists Today

Key Insights:

  • BAYC launched its utility and governance token ApeCoin yesterday.
  • Holding APE NFT will be the only requirement for membership in the ApeCoin DAO.
  • ApeCoin floor price touched 90 ETH today.

The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection has launched its ERC-20 utility and governance token, ApeCoin. This is a step toward diversification for profile-picture projects (PFPs) to focus on culture, gaming, and commerce in the Web3 space.

The asset was created and released by the ApeCoin decentralized autonomous organization (DAO), a distinct legal entity from Yuga Labs, which has established a six-month tenured council committee led by Alexis Ohanian, Amy Wu, Maaria Bajwa, Yat Siu, and Dean Steinbeck to manage the DAO.

The ApeCoin team said that obtaining APE will be the “only requirement for membership in the ApeCoin DAO.” BAYC NFT holders, including prominent personalities like Neymar and Eminem, will get a part of the overall supply as an airdrop.

Bored Ape Yacht Club (Bayc)

Bored Ape Yacht Club is a community of 10,000 NFT Apes with distinct characteristics. Some characteristics are rare, which means collectors place a higher premium on them. As a member of BAYC, you may acquire future collections and other benefits and special access to other exclusive features.

The official Twitter account of ApeCoin announced Thursday that the members of the BAYC ecosystem would get 90 days to claim their share of 10,000 tokens beginning at 12:30 p.m. UTC on Thursday.

Consequently, investors rushed to buy BAYC NFTs to acquire the new token. According to Opensea, the floor price of BAYC NFTs rose from 92 ETH to around 107 ETH within a day or so.

This indicates that each BAYC NFT was worth roughly around $300,000. However, the same had declined and, at the time of writing, stood at 90 ETH. 

Regardless, others have taken advantage of the market frenzy by releasing similarly named tokens, such as APECoin.dev. The project has over $1.5 million market capitalization and is selling at $0.145.

ApeCoin Ape Price Drops by 80% on Its Debut Day

The Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection’s native token, ApeCoin (APE), rose to $40 before falling to $6.4 following its listing on various crypto exchanges. The price of the ApeCoin is fluctuating between $10 and $20 presently.

APE Chart FXEmpire
APE/USD price action source: Coinmarketcap

On the first day of trading, APE holders suffered as the price for their coins dropped rapidly right after listing. At the time of writing, The APE coin was trading at $8.23 with a market capitalization of $2.3 billion.

Argentina To Regulate Crypto Firms To Fight Money Laundering

Key Insights:

  • Argentina is set to include cryptocurrency firms in its anti-money laundering regulations.
  • Argentinian crypto community has condemned a prospective anti-crypto measure that comes with the IMF agreement.
  • Crypto and money laundering regulations across the world are tightening.

According to the Buenos Aires Times, Argentina is preparing to include cryptocurrency businesses in its overall anti-money laundering (AML) regulatory scheme.

Argentina’s Unidad de Información Financiera (UIF), which is in charge of money laundering risks, is reportedly considering adding crypto companies to the list of businesses that must submit AML reports.

If these rules are passed, it will significantly impact the way cryptocurrency companies deal with regulators in Argentina. These businesses are currently only required to follow tax reporting guidelines for 2019.

According to a source familiar with the situation, the new law is set to go into effect in 2022. Crypto businesses will be required to follow KYC standards and report unusual transactions in cryptocurrency.

The State of Crypto in Argentina

Argentinians working in the cryptocurrency industry have slammed a prospective anti-crypto restriction that the IMF agreement has introduced.

The deal, which restrains and provides more resources to Argentina to pay its $45 billion debt to the IMF, also suggests a series of steps intended to suffocate the growth of the crypto industry in the country.

According to some in the country, this implies implementing rules and measures that may dampen cryptocurrency adoption in the nation.

Following the reports of regulations targeting cryptocurrency, a non-profit organization called Bitcoin Argentina has written to the government requesting all data regarding implementing these new measures intended to stifle bitcoin adoption in the country.

Franco Bianchi, CMO of Lemon, an Argentine startup that provides cryptocurrency payments solutions, said,

“Work in a context of clear rules that encourage the adoption of crypto assets.”

Another well-known crypto enthusiast, Franco Amati, stated that he thinks this was intended to stifle a possible effort at bitcoin financing, such as the one El Salvador is considering.

Crypto and Money Laundering Regulations

This is not the first time a regulatory authority responsible for combating money laundering has targeted crypto companies.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom implemented a similar policy in March 2021.

Crypto firms – as determined by the FCA – have been compelled to submit annual financial crime reports since then, which include statistics on the number of suspicious activity reports filed during that period.

The United States and the European Union have recently made significant regulatory changes to cryptocurrency policies.

Ethereum Focused ConsenSys Closes $450M Series D Funding Round

Key Insights:

  • Consensys closed a $450 million Series D funding round led by ParaFi Capital.
  • The deal more than doubles its valuation.
  • Ether price broke above a key bearish trend line with resistance at $2,580.

On Tuesday, ConsenSys, an Ethereum-focused and decentralized protocol software firm with products like MetaMask, Infura, and Truffle, announced the closing of a $450-million Series D funding round co-led by ParaFi Capital.

The new participants were the SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Microsoft, Anthos Capital, Sound Ventures, and C Ventures. Since raising $200 million in a Series C financing in November 2021, its value has doubled.

The cash will be used to continue its remarkable expansion in its core infrastructure offerings. ConsenSys will use a portion of the money raised in this round to equalize the proportion of ETH to US dollar equivalent treasury assets.

The firm is looking for opportunities to earn returns on such assets through DeFi (decentralized finance), protocols, and staking.

ConsenSys To Use the Funds To Develop MetaMask Wallet

The fresh funding validates the company’s impressive growth in core infrastructure offerings.

The funds will also be used to enhance MetaMask, with a major overhaul planned for release later this year. 

The introduction of a plugin extensibility system is also planned to enable access to numerous blockchain protocols and account security methods.

In January, ConsenSys’ MetaMask wallet’s monthly usage surpassed 30 million users for the first time, indicating a 42% increase in MetaMask users in just over four months.

ConsenSys founder and Ethereum co-creator Joe Lubin made the following remarks regarding the new funding round,

“I think of ConsenSys as a broad and deep capabilities machine for the decentralized protocols ecosystem, able to rapidly capitalize at scale on fundamental new constructs that emerge.”

Ether (ETH) Price Analysis

Ethereum’s price started the day positively, reaching a high of $2,733 earlier today. The cryptocurrency was able to establish a foundation above the $2,520 mark.

ETH began a new rally and passed the critical $2,600 and $2,620 resistance levels. There was also a push above the $2,700 mark.

ETH/USD FXEmpire
Ethereum price action

The altcoin king reached as high as $2,790 before correcting. On the other hand, there was a break above a key bearish trend line with resistance at $2,580 on the hourly chart of ETH.

However, the bulls were unable to hold gains above $2,720. The price reached a high of $2,733 before declining sharply.

Stellar Development Foundation Forms $30M Fund for Blockchain Startups

Key Insights:

  • SDF launches new Matching Fund for early-stage blockchain projects.
  • The Fund is seeking to invest in pre-seed and Series B projects.
  • XLM price is on the verge of a breakout.

The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) has established a new $30 million Matching Fund to provide more early-stage firms access to funding.

According to a news release today, SDF is seeking to invest in pre-seed and Series B firms interested in using the Stellar blockchain. It has established this Fund as a means for these businesses to access funding.

Also, it revealed four new projects it funded in the payroll and remittance industries across the world.

The four projects include Trace Finance, Bitwage, Afriex, and FanVestor. The funds also focused on NFTs and cross-border remittance solutions.

The Matching Fund is a way for SDF to attract investors by assisting with early-stage experimentation for real-world practical use instances that benefit more consumers, according to Andrea Lo, SDF’s Head of Investments. He added,

“In 2022, we’re putting our funding behind more innovators in geographies that need blockchain-powered solutions. The Stellar ecosystem is working to address challenges like inflation, affordable remittances and the high cost of capital, and we’re investing in solutions to these problems through the Matching Fund.”

The Crypto Market and Venture Capitalists

While the number of global venture capital firms investing in the cryptocurrency industry has increased over the last year, some of the world’s leading players in the blockchain industry have launched their venture capital arms to help facilitate the developing market and new platforms.

Cake Defi, a Singapore-based financial technology firm, announced the creation of a $100 million venture capital arm last week to invest in projects focused on Web3, Metaverse, Blockchain, and Fintech spaces.

Stellar Lumens XLM Price Analysis

In recent weeks, XLM has seen a succession of higher lows and lower highs. This type of compressive price action suggested that a breakout was imminent.

Trading at $0.179, a close above $0.188 or below $0.174 would be required to validate the next move’s direction.

xlm/usd chart FXEmpire
Stellar price action

Ripple Welcomes 4000 Creators to Its $250 Million Creator Fund

Key Insights:

  • Ripple has added 4000 creators using its $250 Creator Fund.
  • The Fund will support independent creators such as artists, musicians, game designers.
  • XRP Price is on the brink of breakout as investors await SEC lawsuit to conclude.

Ripple (XRP) has announced the enrollment of nearly 4,000 creators in various non-fungible token (NFT) projects through its $250 million Creator Fund, which it hopes will help to accelerate the sector’s expansion.

On March 10, 2022, Ripple released a statement, claiming that independent creators such as artists, musicians, game designers, and builders would benefit.

The money has helped well-known creators such as Justin Bua (filmmaker), Steven Sebring (film director), and xPunks (band).

According to Ripple, its Fund is the first to link creators with marketplaces and creative agencies like Mintable, MintNFT, and VSA Partners.

The Creator Fund will continue to support artists on a per-batch basis as new “waves” of applications are released.

Backing NFT creators

The Fund has backed a wide range of creators, including author, producer, entrepreneur Justin Bua, filmmaker Steven Sebring, and xPunks (a set of 10,000 distinct NFTs).

The most recent beneficiaries deal with metaverse, gaming, art, and collectibles. The subjects are generally linked based on existing and upcoming NFT use cases on the XRP Ledger.

The Fund, which was established in September of last year, aims to assist creators in developing cutting-edge NFTs.

Ripple’s blockchain is now integrated with NFT Pro, Ethernal Labs, and OnXRP marketplaces to speed up transactions. The integration also includes royalty structures and co-ownership functionality as part of the deal.

In addition, it consists of a built-in decentralized exchange (DEX) that allows for the rapid settlement of asset tokens of all types—including NFTs.

XRP Price Ready to Breakout

The XRP community thinks that Ripple is more likely to win the SEC vs. Ripple lawsuit. The price of the coin has positively reacted to the good news, and investors are waiting for a decision by Federal Judge Sarah Netburn.

Proponents anticipate that the case has almost concluded, and the payments behemoth may win.

XRP buyers are amassing the altcoin, moving coins off exchanges to private wallets. A whale wallet recently transferred $55 million in XRP to an unknown account.

Despite a slow start in March 2022, the altcoin quickly recovered from crypto carnage and increased 0.37% in the last 24 hours.

Ripple Chart
XRP/USD Price Chart

According to analysts, the XRP price is on track for a maximum upside of $0.80 as traders wait for the SEC vs. Ripple lawsuit to be settled.

Stripe Re-Initiates Crypto Support As It Partners With FTX

Key Insights:

  • Stripe is offering businesses the ability to use it as a payment method for crypto and NFT transactions.
  • The company will also provide support for more than 135 cryptocurrencies. 
  • Stripe is bouncing back to crypto after ending Bitcoin support in 2018.

Stripe, a global payments firm, has revealed that it now supports crypto enterprises, including exchanges, wallet providers, and NFT marketplaces.

Stripe announced on Thursday that it had enabled fiat payments API integration for crypto businesses to handle cryptocurrency-to-fiat currency transactions.

The payments giant also says it provides adaptable exchange on-ramps as part of the cryptocurrency company’s toolkit.

According to Co-Founder John Collison via Twitter, the move could allow crypto exchanges to take fiat deposits and make withdrawals and make withdrawals.

The Stripe website explains that the firm’s solutions will enable customers to purchase more than 135 cryptocurrencies with fiat currencies in 180 countries.

Stripe’s crypto offerings, however, are presently only accessible in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Its NFT services for marketplaces are likewise available in these areas and Japan.

Stripe Partners With FTX

Stripe has an agreement in place with FTX, FTX U.S., Nifty Gateway, Just Mining, and Blockchain.com to make it easier for users to access its Web3 services.

It also introduced Cube Thingies, a collection of NFTs created as part of its crypto suite, with funds donated to Watsi, a nonprofit healthcare provider.

The announcement also stated that the partnership will include Stripe providing payment services for the exchange.

Users of FTX and FTX.US will be able to acquire cryptocurrency using debit cards and direct bank transfers via Automated Clearing House (ACH) transactions through the partnership.

History With Crypto Assets

Stripe has had a checkered relationship with crypto in recent years, deciding to stop Bitcoin support in 2018 and branding it “less useful” as a payment method after first supporting it in 2014.

In October, the firm announced plans to launch a crypto team and added venture capitalist Matt Huang to its board. 

The company’s re-entry into the sector has tremendous implications for existing Bitcoin payment processors that lack the firm’s vast network.

Singapore Finance Minister Confirms Income Tax Will Apply to NFTs

Key Insights:

  • Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said current income tax rules apply to NFTs transactions.
  • Capital gains on NFTs will not be taxed.
  • Singapore has some of the lowest income tax rates in Asia.

In a parliamentary answer to Yip Hon Weng of the Singaporean Member of Parliament, Lawrence Wong, Singapore’s finance minister, stated that the income tax treatment for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will be decided based on their nature and use.

According to a report by Business Insider, this will apply to individuals who derive income from NFT transactions or trading in NFTs, the finance minister said. The news clarifies those looking to invest in or trade fungible tokens in Singapore.

However, since no such framework exists, capital gains on NFTs will not be taxed. The United States, which has among the world’s largest cryptocurrency holdings, applies income and capital gains taxes on investing and trading NFTs.

Singapore – A Tax Haven

Singapore has some of the lowest income tax rates in Asia. The highest tax is at 22% for high-income individuals. For context, Indonesia’s maximum rate is 45%, whereas the Philippines’ is 35%.

The lack of a capital gains tax makes the city-state an attractive haven for many high-value individuals, despite its 2022 budget proposing to raise taxes for high earners.

Singapore’s monetary watchdog (MAS) also has stringent regulations to safeguard cryptocurrency investors. 

On Thursday, Paxos announced preliminary approval for a Major Payments Institution license from the MAS, becoming the first blockchain infrastructure platform to obtain regulatory oversight in New York and Singapore’s financial centers.

Startups in Singapore may benefit from a tax exemption of up to $125,000 on their first $200,000 of earnings for the first three years of business.

Companies must be incorporated in Singapore and have no more than 20 shareholders to qualify for the startup tax break.

A Hotbed for Crypto Activity

The country’s laws are among the most permissive in the world for cryptocurrencies, thus making it a hive of activity for crypto startups.

Digital currencies are not recognized as legal currency, but investors can use them in regulated trading. Singapore’s monetary watchdog (MAS) also has stringent regulations to safeguard cryptocurrency investors.

After the Chinese government’s crypto crackdown in 2017, several exchanges and companies fled to Singapore. After the clampdown, Huobi too moved its headquarters to Singapore.

According to Piyush Gupta, CEO of Singapore’s largest bank, DBS, cryptocurrencies will grow in popularity. However, they are unlikely to replace traditional currency soon wholly.

StarkWare Reportedly Raising $100 Million at $6 Billion Valuation

Key Insights:

  • StarkWare is reportedly raising another $100 million.
  • The fresh funding will triple the company’s valuation to $6 billion.
  • Just three months ago StarkWare raised $50 million in a Series C round.

StarkWare, an Israeli firm that creates blockchain technology solutions, is anticipated to triple its value, according to reports. 

The company is said to be raising around $100 million, according to Calcalist. However, details pertaining to the investors of the funding round remained undisclosed.

The fresh cash injection, which is yet to be concluded, comes only three months after StarkWare raised $50 million in a Series C funding round to reach a $2 billion valuation.

Furthermore, last year, StarkWare raised another $75 million in its Series B round, which valued it at a few hundred million dollars at the time.

StarkWare’s Next Step

When the firm was valued at $2 billion in November, according to a source who spoke on condition of anonymity, StarkWare considered it to be a remarkable accomplishment.

However, since then, there’s been a whole new level of momentum as per the source. Adding to the same they said,

“NFTs have taken off big time, and the company was ready with efficient minting, plus more and more DeFi inactivity uses STARK technology. StarkNet, which is giving every dev the power to use this scaling solution, has new projects constantly joining.” 

According to the insider, as developers are paying attention to this growth investors are also keeping a close eye on such news.

“And while we haven’t been told that a deal is being made, nobody will be surprised if we arrive at work one morning to be told the value of the company has jumped and there’s a big new investment,” the company insider added.

Ethereum Layer-2 scaling solution

StarkWare is one of the few layer-two scaling methods for Ethereum that has recently increased in popularity, despite the rise in gas costs.

StarkWare’s current investors include the likes of Coinbase, Intel Capital, Amnon Shashua, the Technion, and Altshuler Shaham. Vitalik Buterin, Ethereum’s co-creator, was also one of its investors.

The L2 solution’s StarkEx L2 scalability engine has allowed partners like trading platform dYdX to conduct on-chain transactions in zk-Rollups thanks to its StarkEx L2 scalability engine. The lower fees are achieved by reducing the amount of gas required.