Decentraland’s MANA Slips Despite Increased Metaverse Interest

Despite the growing interest in the metaverse and its related spaces in recent weeks, the native token of Decentraland, MANA, has seen its value drop by over 10% in the last 24 hours and is currently trading for around $2.57.

MANA Down by Over 10% in 24 Hours

This price movement can be tied to the broader crypto market, which fell by over 7% within the same period. During this 24 hour timeframe, flagship digital assets like Bitcoin, Ethereum, Binance Coin, and others also lost a substantial part of their value.

The current massive decline further shows that it would take beyond the current level of interest in the space to sustain the price growth of digital assets linked to the metaverse concept.

MANA is used to purchase virtual lands and other virtual goods and services on Decentraland and also serves as the governance token of the ecosystem. The token had once witnessed a steady rise in its price and, at one time, traded for as high as $5.90.

Interest in Metaverse Remains High

The metaverse has become a popular concept to the broader public in the past few months. Developers, investors, and institutions alike have been looking at ways of integrating this growing niche into their projects. 

Earlier today, we reported that a club in the English Premier League, Manchester City, announced its plans of building the first football stadium in the metaverse.

Aside from this, other innovative ideas have been fighting for mainstream attention in the space.

One of such is the idea of land tax for metaverse real estate. With virtual real estate on metaverse projects worth over $100 million, some experts have urged projects to incorporate a land value tax and citizens’ dividends. 

They believe that this will help solve the land crisis problem where some speculators buy virtual lands to hold for future gains.

Recently, a virtual real estate game, EVE, had a land crisis. Creators solved the problem by introducing a “use it or lose it” fee. This led many of the speculators to sell their lands.

Concepts like this show the extent to which the metaverse can mirror reality in the future. The quest not to miss out for several organizations has led to several initiatives and recruitments to actualize their lofty goals.

A Dogecoin-Inspired Virtual Restaurant Opens in Dubai

In a move similar to what Welly’s did with Shiba Inu, a Dogecoin-inspired restaurant, Doge Burger, has opened in Dubai. 

Doge Burger Live in Dubai, Accepts Crypto Payments

Rockets Kitchen, a popular chain of virtual restaurants, is behind the new restaurant. Like its other establishments, this one is also virtual, which means customers can only order online and pay in cryptocurrencies.

Its meals are all-American favorites inspired, and Dogecoin won’t be the only virtual currency accepted. The restaurant will also accept other major coins like Binance Coin, USDT, XRP, and even popular meme coin rival, Shiba Inu.

The decision to develop a Doge-themed restaurant resulted from the founders’ successful bet on Dogecoin in its early days. 

According to available information, the virtual restaurant was established with profits from Dogecoin. Their goal is to further drive crypto adoption in the UAE, a country making efforts to become more crypto-friendly.

It’s worth noting that Doge Burger isn’t the first restaurant in the country to accept crypto payment. In fact, some have been accepting crypto as far back as 2014. But a Doge-themed restaurant is a first and would likely drive adoption and similar initiatives in the country.

Like Shiba Inu, Like Dogecoin

Crypto-themed restaurants are becoming increasingly popular as crypto adoption becomes more mainstream. Earlier this year, Welly’s partnered with Shiba Inu to establish a Shiba Inu-themed restaurant in Naples. 

The restaurant is also looking to become a chain after putting out an application form for those who want to apply for franchise licenses. However, Welly’s restaurant is a bit different in that it only accepts Shiba Inu and has a physical location.

With the establishment of a Dogecoin-themed restaurant, the adoption of the meme coin continues to increase.

Just recently, SlingTV announced that it’d accept Dogecoin with other cryptos for its TV subscription. Elon Musk’s Tesla also accepts the leading meme coin for its product and revealed that the coin would soon be accepted at its charging stations soon.

This spate of adoption makes Dogecoin one of the most popular crypto-assets, and the moves would likely positively affect the asset in the future. 

As of press time, the token is currently trading for $0.1279 after dropping over 8% of its value in the past 24 hours. This drop mimicked the broader crypto market, whose market cap fell by around 7% in the last 24 hours.

Huobi Co-Founder Says the Next Bitcoin Bull Run is in 2025

In what represents one of the most gloomy short-term predictions of Bitcoin, a significant player in the crypto-financial world has claimed that the leading digital asset price performance might not recover until 2025. 

The prediction made by Huobi co-founder, Du Jun, paints an unimpressive financial return for crypto investors over the next few years. 

Expect Bitcoin Bull Run in 2025

According to Du Jun, Bitcoin is not likely to record any major bull run until 2025. His prediction is based on the belief of some crypto analysts that the current bull run of the coin is over. 

He added that the previous bull run of the asset had always happened in the year when the Bitcoin mining reward was cut in half

Interestingly, Bitcoin’s bull run history has always coincided with the above. The 2020 bull run, which culminated in the asset’s value rising to as high as $69k, was months before the mining reward of the asset was cut from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC.

However, the asset has since shed over 40% of this high. To put this in perspective, Bitcoin’s previous bull run in 2018 led the coin to rise to as high as $20,000 before dropping by over 80%.

Judging by this, Bitcoin’s next bull run should be expected in 2024, when the mining reward would be cut by half.

Bitcoin, Ukraine, and Canada

Bitcoin’s price plummeted to new lows during today’s trading as the asset’s price dropped to as low as $37,200 —a level it last touched on February 4.

This current price action reflects the current political tensions between Ukraine, Russia, and Canada. The ongoing face-off between Ukraine and Russia has lessened investors’ appetite for risk-sensitive digital assets like Bitcoin.

Reports have also emerged that authorities in Canada were considering making their financial surveillance regulations permanent. However, despite the threat of this, Canadians have instead embraced Bitcoin as a means of bypassing whatever restrictions the government might be imposing.

Sling TV to Accept Dogecoin and Other Digital Assets for its Subscriptions

Popular meme coin, Dogecoin, has witnessed a new addition to the list of firms accepting it as a payment method. 

Sling TV Partners With BitPay

According to available information, Sling TV has announced that it is partnering with crypto service provider BitPay, to accept crypto payment. This means that users can subscribe to the streaming service using crypto payment options.

Sling TV is a US-based streaming service owned by Dish Network and has over 2 million subscribers in the United States.

The firm’s addition of crypto payment option also means that the firm would accept payment through Litecoin, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Wrapped Bitcoin, and Shiba Inu. It would also accept 5 USD-pegged stablecoins, including GUSD, USDP, BUSD, DAI, and USDC.

Crypto Payment Option is Available for Existing Users Only

Presently, the crypto option would only be available to existing users as new subscribers have to first sign up for the service using American dollars. However, subsequent renewals can be made via crypto.

Also, users cannot automate their crypto payments presently. Instead, they’ll have to make a manual repayment each time the existing one expires. The manual prepayment option ranges between one to six months, so users don’t need to renew every month if they don’t want to.

Sling TV has also set up a support page that provides users with all the necessary information about paying in crypto.

The comprehensive page will guide users through the process of making payments. In addition, it will help to reduce any errors that are likely to arise for first-time users of this technology.

Sling TV’s decision to support crypto payments is part of its desire to give users more flexibility and ease of use. 

Apart from Sling TV accepting Dogecoin, Elon Musk also confirmed that Tesla will soon be accepting Dogecoin for its charging stations in the future. The carmaker is already one of the few institutions that accept DOGE payments for its products.

The growing acceptance of Dogecoin is yet to tell on its price, which is currently trading at $0.1385 after a 0.4% rise in the last 24 hours. During the last seven days, the asset’s value has dropped by over 7%.

Sifu Launches Own Token After Being Forced Out of Wonderland

Recently ousted treasury manager of Wonderland DAO, 0xSifu, has launched a new token named after himself. 

On February 18, he deployed one million eponymous SIFU tokens into Uniswap V3 pool and paired it with Ethereum

Sifu Forced out of Wonderland

Sifu was the treasury manager of Wonderland and worked closely with the Frog nation founder, Daniele Sestagalli. 

However, the community was alerted that Sifu was Michael Patryn, the cofounder of the failed Quadriga exchange, where the other cofounder, Gerry Cotten, disappeared with almost $200 million in investors funds. 

Although Sifu claimed not to be involved in this, he was previously convicted of credit card fraud in 2004 and spent some months in prison.

The news of his identity led to panic for the DAO and other Sestagalli projects. Many people blamed Sestagalli for hiding such crucial information from DAO members. Eventually, more than 80% voted that Sifu should be off the project.

Launches own Token

By launching his eponymous token, Sifu shows that he has put what happened at Wonderland behind him. He recently announced that he wouldn’t go back to Wonderland. 

According to available data on Etherscan, there are currently around 192 holders of the token, and it currently trades for around $99.

Interestingly, one of the wallets that bought the token is associated with Zachxbt, the whistleblower who revealed his previous anonymous identity.

Other notable information about holders shows that Sifu himself holds 49,000 of the tokens while one trader spent almost $500,000 to buy 4,835 SIFU tokens.

Crypto Community “Skeptical” About SIFU

While some are buying into the new token, some are still skeptical about his involvement in a DeFi project, given his past. He has challenged those people to prove that he was guilty of any fraudulent activity while at Wonderland. 

According to him, he has “paid his debt to society,” and his past no longer represents what he stands for.

Presently, there’s no information on the purpose or function of the SIFU token. Clearly, those buying it do so based on Sifu’s reputation alone. Sifu is a verifiable whale with a public wallet balance of around $146 million. 

For some, this is enough proof that this new venture wasn’t motivated by money.

Shiba Inu Team Announces Investigation on OpenSea Hack

After the recent hack of OpenSea, the Shiba Inu team has called for calm among all Shiboshi holders while it investigates the incident.

A tweet through its official account stated the “Defense Breed is investigating an incident pertaining to Opensea and in relation to X2Y2.” The team further recommended that users disconnect their wallets from the platform and revoke the connection to their NFTs.

OpenSea Suffers “Another Attack”

This announcement comes after hackers stole millions worth of NFT from OpenSea. The world’s largest NFT marketplace has already been the subject of about two attacks this year. The CEO, Devin Finzer, described the latest one as a phishing attack.

Available information on the attack shows that the hacker uploaded the smart contract used for the attack almost a month ago. They sent emails telling people to migrate or log in to a new OpenSea smart contract using phishing websites. 

Anyone who logged in unknowingly signed the private sale of their NFTs to the hacker. The hackers finally executed the smart contract on Saturday, allowing them to steal the NFTs.

The hackers have already sold some of the tokens with estimates that about $3 million worth of NFTs were stolen during the attack. Given that Shiboshi is also listed on OpenSea, it’s become necessary for the Shiba Inu team to call attention to the incident.

Shiboshi NFTs

Shiboshi is a collection of NFTs released by the Shiba Inu team in 2021. It launched the token through its ShibaSwap platform and allowed users to get more insight and involvement in the Shiba Inu ecosystem. The collection has 10,000 NFTs with a floor price of 1 ETH. 

Around 3,600 people currently own the tokens.

Shiboshi NFTs is just one part of the grand plan by Shiba Inu devs to create an encompassing ecosystem. Apart from the meme coin, the project already has Leash and Bone tokens. 

Furthermore, it recently announced plans for the Shiba Inu game in partnership with Playside studios. According to the developers, the game will be influenced by Shiboshi NFTs art, and the NFT will be useful within and outside the game. 

Shiba Inu is also working on its Metaverse project, called the Shibverse by the ShibArmy. The team intends to have more utility for the Shiba Inu token with all these plans. 

Currently, the token is trading at $0.00002735, with an 8% rise in 24 hours after recovering from its drop yesterday. While holders weren’t affected by the hack, the meme coin struggles due to market conditions.

China Identifies Metaverse Risks and Scams

The Chinese Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission has issued a subtle warning to the public on the risks of frauds and scams associated with the burgeoning Metaverse space.

China Warns Against Metaverse Scams

The warning details how the niche has become a new home for bad actors to perpetrate illicit activities to illegally raise money, duping unsuspecting individuals of their hard-earned money. 

While highlighting the various methods that scammers use in the metaverse business, the official warning mentioned projects promising high high-tech integration, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality support, saying they only come to lure investors into robbing them.

The warning identified that metaverse scams could also come in the form of play-to-earn projects, which often promise participants huge returns on their investment.

It stated that once such a project reaches a specific target, they abandon the project and run with people’s investments.

It further added that metaverse scams could also take the form of hype. In this situation, scammers will regularly talk about the metaverse project to give it false popularity and importance and force people to invest. An example of this case is the level of hype surrounding metaverse real-estate.

A translated version of the Office of Inter-Ministerial Joint Conference on Disposal of Illegal Fund Raising statement urged the public to be wary of such projects and report any suspicious activity to necessary authorities:

The fraudulent activities under the banner of “Metaverse,” which is more attractive and deceptive, and participants are prone to property damage. The public is requested to enhance their awareness of risk prevention and identification capabilities, and beware of being deceived.

China Anti-crypto Crusade

This is not the first time the Chinese government will be warning against the metaverse. Sometime in December, the country’s state media issued a warning on virtual property sales, arguing they are risky in terms of volatility, fraud, illegal fundraising, and money laundering.

Notably, we recently reported that the Chinese authorities arrested eight people involved in a crypto scam and seized digital assets, houses, cars, and other expensive items gotten through the scam.

China in 2021 greatly cracked down on the entire cryptocurrency industry. The country banned crypto mining activities and later declared crypto trading illegal with the threat of sanctioning defaulters.

Crypto.com Coin (CRO) Rebrands to Cronos

Following Binance renaming its blockchain network, Crypto.com has also followed suit as it announced that its coin would now be known as Cronos.

CRO is now Cronos

According to the network, the name change reflects the decentralized nature of the CRO token and the massive growth of its ecosystem. CRO is the utility token of Cronos EVM Chain and Crypto.org Chain.

The Cronos Chain is an EVM-compatible chain and was launched in November 2021. The chain is Web3 oriented and was built for the creator’s economy. It supports DeFi, and GameFi dApps; analysts have also described it as a foundational infrastructure for the metaverse.

Cronos Chain is on Ethermint and supports porting of smart contracts and decentralized apps from Ethereum and all EVM compatible chains. 

It offers cheaper and quicker transactions than the Ethereum mainnet, making it a better option for several users. It’s also interoperable with the Cosmos ecosystem.

The growth of Cronos has been driven by user adoption. It has over 350,000 unique wallets connected to it, and 120 decentralized applications have been built on it.

Cronos Wants to Dominate DeFi TVL

With a community roadmap for 2022, the network aims to be one of the top 5 public blockchains by TVL by the end of the year. It has already devised a way to do this: providing better infrastructure for developers, better interoperability, and expansion of its DeFi, Metaverse, GameFi, and NFT ecosystems.

Available data from DeFiLlama shows that the total value of assets locked in the chain has an ATH of around $2.5 billion, though the figure is now currently around $2.4 billion.

Already, the team has set aside $100 million to fund projects on the chain. Particle B’s ecosystem fund is available for developers who want to build on Cronos and get exposure to Crypto.com users.

It’s unlikely that the rebranding of the token name will have any significant effect on the price action. Similar to what Binance did with BNB, this move only disassociates Crypto.com from the token. 

As of press time, the CRO token has lost over 3% of its value within the last 24 hours and it is currently exchanging hands for $0.45.

WazirX Co-founder Denies Leaving the Company

The co-founder of WazirX, Nischal Shetty, has denied abandoning his duties in the exchange for another project. 

Shetty Denies Leaving WazirX

Shetty, who serves as the CEO of WazirX, was accused by a local news outlet of leaving his active role in exchange to focus on a new blockchain project named Shardeum. But Shetty has denied this, claiming to still be working actively with the Binance-backed exchange. 

According to him, he’s dividing his time between the two projects. Shetty announced the launch of Shardeum earlier this month. The new blockchain project seeks to solve the scalability issue by offering cheap and fast transactions while also ensuring decentralization. 

Shardeum is an Ethereum Virtual Machine compatible blockchain that uses sharding technology.

The beta version of the project is set to be launched by the end of this year and it will be funded by selling some native tokens to private investors. 

In a statement from WazirX, Shetty remains with the exchange even as he’s focused on the new project. This is contrary to the report from Money Control that Shetty and another co-founder, Siddharth Menon, will be leaving their active roles in the exchange to focus on the blockchain project. 

Another co-founder, Sameer Mhatre, the current Chief Technology Officer, will remain an active part of the company. Shetty went on to state the exchange now has several senior executives with expertise in various areas of operation. 

One top WazirX Executive to Become Less Involved in Running the Firm 

While Shetty and Mhatre will remain active, Menon, the current COO for the exchange, plans to transition into a passive role by the end of 2022. He recently announced a game project known as Tegro.

In his words, “I’m not going to walk away right away, but slowly. I think we have a very strong team working on some interesting things while I focus on new markets and try to grow the Web3 ecosystem in India.” 

Presently, the crypto industry in India is facing scrutiny from the government as it drafts regulatory actions for the sector. The government recently announced a 30% tax on digital assets starting from April 2022 and they are also currently drafting regulations for the crypto sector.

UAE Planning Nationwide Crypto Licensing Regulations

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is set to have a general crypto regulation that’ll cover every part of the county. 

UAE to Introduce Broad Crypto Regulations

According to a report from Bloomberg, the country will be issuing a federal crypto license for virtual assets service providers in the first quarter of the year. It claimed that the UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) is already in the final stages of formalizing the legislation.

This new law will make it possible for crypto companies and businesses to operate in the country. It’s believed to be part of the country’s attempt to establish itself as a crypto-friendly nation.

In drafting the new laws, Bloomberg stated that authorities considered cryptocurrency regulations in countries such as the U.S., U.K., and Singapore. It also got guidance from the Paris-based Financial Action Task Force (FATF) guideline.

The SCA and Central Bank will regulate the industry but each region would have the freedom to determine licensing requirements and operations within their zones. It is expected that such a hybrid approach will further fast-track the development of crypto regulations in the country.

The report also hinted that UAE authorities were also planning to develop a regulated crypto mining system.

UAE Free Trade Zones Attract Crypto Firms

While this would be the first nationwide regulatory action, several free trade zones already have their crypto regulatory frameworks. 

In 2018, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority introduced digital assets regulations for Abu Dhabi Global Markets. The government also declared the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC) as a comprehensive zone and regulator for digital assets in 2021.

A broader crypto law will undoubtedly encourage more digital assets firms to move to the country. Already, Binance signed a memorandum of understanding with the DWTC last year to help other companies and service providers access the UAE market. 

UAE is currently the third-largest crypto market in the Middle East after Turkey and Lebanon. 

NVIDIA Mining Chip Revenue Plummets by 77% to $24m

Popular chipmaker NVIDIA has revealed that revenue from the sales of its crypto mining processor dropped to $24 million from $105 million in the fourth quarter of the year, which ended on January 30. 

This marked a 77% drop in value from the $105 million revenue realized in the third quarter of last year. 

NVIDIA Revenue Drops by 77%

The microchip maker started producing mining processors for cryptos in February 2021. This was an attempt to protect its GPUs for gamers so that they won’t be converted for crypto mining uses.

According to the company, the overall revenue from CMP in the fiscal year was $550 million.

Although the gaming GPUs can be used for crypto mining, the company decided to provide CMP. This is so that mining demands won’t reduce the number of GPUs available for gaming customers. 

NVIDIA states that it doesn’t have sufficient information on how crypto mining affects overall demand for GPUs.

In order to stop crypto miners from using GPUs, NVIDIA added hash rate limiters to its GeForce GPUs. The company further stated that it’ll introduce hash rate limiters for all its ampere-based products. This will prevent those products from being used for crypto mining.

Authorities Question Demand for Crypto Mining 

The drop in revenue of NVIDIA CPMs over the year results from various factors, including the overall reduced demand for mining. The high energy consumption resulting from Bitcoin mining has led to many stakeholders criticizing the space. 

In recent times, the demand for a switch to a Proof of Stake mechanism has increased.

Recently, the Vice-Chair of European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) Erik Thedéen called for a ban of proof of work mining in Europe saying that proof of stake was a better option. Furthermore, the Hungarian Central Bank has also called for a ban on crypto mining among EU nations.

Several countries have also banned crypto mining for this exact reason. Kosovo recently banned crypto mining after it caused blackouts due to high electricity use. 

Kazakhstan, a country that’s been the hotspot for crypto miners after China banned the activity, has also pushed back against crypto mining in January. This followed the shortage in electricity supply amidst the political protests in the country.

Binance Users Can Now Auto Invest Fantom Blockchain’s FTM

Binance users can now use the auto-invest feature for the native token of the Fantom blockchain, FTM. The exchange announced this early today, stating that the token has now joined the growing numbers of crypto assets with the auto-invest feature enabled. 

With the feature, users can automatically use a dollar-cost averaging strategy to invest their tokens.

Binance Adds Auto Invest Option to FTM

Auto invest is one of the newest features on Binance. Users can automate their crypto investments while also earning passively through it. The auto-invest option is available on the Binance app, and it enables users to manage how volatility will affect their investments.

Binance launched auto investment in November 2021 as part of its Binance Earn suite. At the time of the launch, the feature supported only Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the exchange native token, BNB

But since then, the crypto firm has added other crypto-assets like Solana, Polkadot, Cardano, Algorand, Terra, Litecoin, and others.

According to Binance, by the end of 2021, there were more than 100,000 auto-invest plans with a total trading volume above $10 million. This shows that many users are adopting the feature.

FTM Price Declines by 0.8% in 24 Hours

The Fantom blockchain is one of the few high-performance open-source platforms with smart contract capabilities. The network considers itself an improvement on other blockchain networks due to its novel consensus mechanism.

It was recently in the news for a new governance proposal seeking to reduce the amount of self-staked tokens needed to be a validator on the network. The platform is home to several decentralized applications and has a TVL of over $8 billion, according to data on DeFiLlama.

Thus, the addition of FTM is likely to help boost the token’s value in the long run. In the last 24 hours, FTM’s value has dropped by 0.8% and is currently trading for $2.06.

This continues the recent poor price performance that has seen it lose 8.5% of its value in the last seven days and around 30% over the previous 30 days.

Shiba Inu Scores Second Listing in Brazil With Foxbit

Shiba Inu has scored its second big listing on a Brazilian exchange after Foxbit started trading it. 

The listing doesn’t come as a surprise, given that the exchange announced a few days ago that it’d be listing the meme coin on February 16. 

Foxbit Lists Shiba Inu, Others

However, Shiba Inu wasn’t the only coin listed. The crypto exchange also listed Gala’s ecosystem native token (GALA), Fantom (FTM), and the native token of fast-rising NFT marketplace, LooksRare, (LOOKS).

Foxbit crypto exchange is based in São Paulo, Brazil, and has been in existence since 2014. The exchange has almost one million registered customers making it one of the biggest in the region. 

With the listing, Shiba Inu is now available for trading on two Brazilian exchanges. Brazil’s biggest exchange, Mercado Bitcoin, added Shiba Inu to its platform in December. Other crypto exchanges in Latin America like Bitso have also listed Shiba Inu. 

The listing had significant impacts on the cryptocurrency’s price action when it was first announced on February 09.

After Foxbit tweeted the news, Shiba Inu was the 4th most traded cryptocurrency 24 hours after that. This followed an almost 70% rally in the week leading to that.

Shiba Inu Price Drops by Over 2% in 24 Hours

But the actual listing doesn’t appear to have impacted Shiba Inu’s price. In the last 24 hours, the value has dropped by 2.3% to $0.00003047. Its seven-day price action isn’t also that encouraging, its value has declined by 2.3% within that period too. 

This is in line with the general trend in the market where most crypto assets have dropped slightly in value. Presently, the overall market cap has fallen by 1.4%

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean the listing could not later positively affect the price. Generally, token listing on a new exchange means more people will have access to it, boosting its trading volume. 

While its prices might be down, over 435 million Shiba Inu tokens have been burnt in the last 24 hours. This is part of the Shib burn pledge by several businesses using Shib. 

Steven Cooper, the CEO of Bigger Entertainment, one of the companies part of the burn pledge, said that about 1 billion SHIB tokens would be burnt this week.

Binance New UK Partnership Worries Regulator

Binance‘s recent partnership with PaySafe doesn’t sit well with the UK’s top financial regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

PaySafe is a retail payment processor which would allow Binance to facilitate pound sterling deposits for its customers.

FCA Expresses Concern on Binance new Partnership

The UK regulator, in June, last year, had ordered the exchange to stop all its operations in the UK because it considers the exchange as a significant risk. 

This led to prominent banks in the country, including Barclays, suspending their banking services support for CZ-led exchanges. This also meant that the exchange users in the UK couldn’t make Pound Sterling transactions with the exchange.

However, the exchange is now looking to solve that problem with its new partnership with PaySafe.

The partnership gives it access to Faster Payments Services, which means it has access to the retail payments network. On January 26, Binance started offering Single Euro Payments Area transfers again.

While the FCA didn’t make any comment on the partnership, it instead stated that PaySafe is aware of its concerns and “subject to close ongoing supervision consistent with our approach for firms of its size.” 

Binance, however, has insisted that it is working with the authorities to become more regulatory compliant.

Binance regulatory issues have been one of the banes of its accelerated progress because authorities in Japan, Hong Kong, The Cayman Islands, Thailand, Singapore, the United States, and South Africa have repeatedly warned their citizens about using the platform.

US SEC is Investigating Binance

Earlier today, we reported that the United States arm of Binance is currently facing investigations from the country’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). 

The SEC is investigating the relationship between the exchange’s CEO, Changpeng Zhao, and two trading firms. The two firms are Merit Peak Ltd. and Sigma Chain AG.

Both companies serve market makers as market makers for Binance US. Market makers help to provide liquidity for exchanges and, at the same time, help to manage volatility.

The current investigation centers on whether the companies got preferential treatment from the exchange and if the crypto firm duly informed its customers about their ties to the CEO.

Australia’s SelfWealth to offer Crypto Investment Options This Year

A publicly listed company, SelfWealth, will become the first online share trading platform to offer crypto trading services in Australia. 

This came after the company partnered with the local cryptocurrency exchange, BTC Market. The move means that the 120,000 customers of SelfWealth will now be able to invest in crypto using the platform.

SelfWealth Offers Crypto Investments

According to the CEO of BTC Markets, Caroline Bowers, investors will be able to invest in five crypto assets starting from the second quarter of 2022. 

However, the finalization of the offerings depends on the approval of AUSTRAC, the leading financial regulator in the country. 

None of the parties involved also disclosed which crypto assets will be available for the investments. But one can expect that top assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum would be included in the offering.

SelfWealth also announced the partnership on its Twitter page and claimed it’s a result of its customers’ high demand for exposure to the crypto industry. 

The CEO, Cath Whitaker, stated that the company carried out exhaustive due diligence before picking its crypto partner. 

According to her, “In BTC Markets, we have found a partner that we want to open up to our 120,000 active investing members.” She added that the decision to partner with BTC markets is to make cryptocurrency investing as seamless as possible.

Interest in Crypto Remains High

SelfWealth is the fourth biggest online brokerage platform in Australia. The company has a similar operation to Robinhood and is worth $8 billion. 

It first showed interest in cryptocurrency last July, when a report showed that 30% of its users have crypto in their portfolio while 38% think of adding crypto later on.

On its part, BTC Markets is also one of the biggest crypto exchanges in Australia. According to the exchange, more than 300,000 Australians have traded over $21 billion worth of crypto on its platform.

Partnerships between regulated financial organizations and crypto platforms further show the growing mainstream adoption of the space. 

Several online brokerage companies have added crypto to their offerings as the demand for variety increases. A good example is Robinhood which started offering Dogecoin trading in 2021. 

Since then, companies like StockTwits and others have also pivoted into offering crypto-related services to their customers.

Binance Smart Chain Rebrands to BNB Chain, Reveals Multi-chain Goal

The number one crypto exchange by trading volume, Binance, has renamed its blockchain network. The Binance smart chain will now be known as the BNB Chain. 

In addition, Binance also changed its native token name, BNB, formerly the Binance coin, to Build and Build. The move is a sign that Binance wants to disassociate directly from the network and allow it to develop on its own.

Binance Smart Chain now BNB Chain

According to BNB Chain ecosystem coordinator Samy Karim, the BNB ecosystem and use cases now exceed the parent company, Binance.

He further added that BNB has always meant Build and Build, pointing out that Binance founder and CEO has said this multiple times in the past:

In his words, “Over the years, we’ve realized that BNB has evolved into something beyond Binance, and in fact, BNB means Build and Build (not Binance Coin), it’s something CZ has tweeted before. The BNB ecosystem is bigger than Binance and has transcended Binance in terms of its use cases.”

A week ago, Changpeng Zhao tweeted that BNB stands for “Build’N Build,” which means Build the community and let the community also build. 

By removing Binance from the chain, it is believed that this would help it facilitate more opportunities and provide additional freedom for innovation.

BNB Chain to Become More Decentralized

Changing the name also means that the network is set to scale. As Karim pointed out, the BNB Chain will be home to large-scale applications within the SocialFi, GameFi, and Metaverse space.

It’ll also set the stage for it becoming multichain, and the validators will now increase to 41 from the current 21. 

The rebranding might be very beneficial to the network and could encourage more growth now that it’s not directly linked to Binance. Binance Smart Chain has been criticized on multiple occasions for being too centralized, leading to several exploits on the network. 

With the rebranding, which also includes plans to increase the number of validators, the network will become more decentralized.

Binance also coined the MetaFi concept to describe what the BNB Chain ecosystem could provide. The word combines Metadata and DeFi and simplifies the BNB Chain community goal to have the infrastructure for projects on one network.

As of press time, the BNB is currently the fourth largest crypto asset by market cap, and its value has risen by 0.5% within the last 24 hours to $432. This price movement has likely been swayed by the general market sentiments, which have added 1.5% to the overall market cap of the industry.

IRA Financial Trust Loses $36 Million in Clients Funds

IRA Financial Trust has reported that it lost $36 million in crypto to a hack. The US-based regulated financial institution provides self-directed retirement accounts for its clients. 

IRA Loses Clients Funds

Earlier on February 8, the official Twitter account of IRA stated that it had discovered suspicious activities affected some customers with accounts on the Gemini crypto exchange.

It further noted that it had notified each customer affected and those who weren’t affected. But investigations were still ongoing.

It appears that the investigation is now complete, and the institution has discovered the extent of the loss. A source close to the matter told Bloomberg the loss was around $36 million, with BTC accounting for $21 million and the rest being ETH.

But IRA itself hasn’t released any official statement. The last release from the financial institution was on February 13, and it came from the founder, Adam Bergman. 

Then, Bergman acknowledged suspicious activities on very limited accounts and added that all other “customers accounts and funds are safe and secure.” He further stated that the institution is taking all the necessary steps to address the situation, including involving law enforcement and forensic experts.

Individual retirement accounts are quite common in the US and offer several saving instruments for US workers. They also invest in stocks, mutual funds, and bonds. However, IRA Financial Trust distinguishes itself from its competitors by partnering with Gemini crypto exchange to allow clients to buy crypto assets.

Gemini also acknowledged the suspicious activities but claimed that it wasn’t hacked.

According to the platform’s fraud and security team, while IRA Financial’s accounts are serviced on the Gemini platform, Gemini does not manage the security of IRA Financial’s systems.

Affected Users Hint at “Insider Knowledge”

Some users affected by the hack have claimed on Reddit that their funds were transferred to a Roth IRA account under the name of Benjamin Choe. This has led to speculation that the hacker compromised the account of an employee who has admin privileges to perpetrate the act.

This hack further shows the growing prevalence of crypto crimes. Building on their record earnings last year, cybercriminals have doubled down on their efforts this year. 

This year, several crypto-related hacks have already happened on various platforms ranging from Open Sea to Crypto.com and even YouTube. 

Bitfinex “Money Laundering” Couple Gets Different Bail Decision

The couple accused of the Bitfinex money laundering had a contrasting lover’s day experience on February 14. 

A federal judge ordered that the husband, Ilya Lichtenstein, should remain in jail until trial while the wife, Heather Morgan, was released on a suspended release bond of $3 million. 

Wife to be Released on Bail While Husband Remains in Detention

According to the judge, the decision was because Lichtenstein had the resources and intention to flee while Morgan had fulfilled the conditions for bail. 

However, a lawyer for the couple reportedly argued that they had no plans to leave the country because of their family ties and future plans.

Both husband and wife stand accused of laundering 119,754 Bitcoins stolen during the Bitfinex hack in 2016. The amount is now worth over $5 billion at the current rates. The US Department of Justice arrested the couple earlier this month, seizing the Bitcoin stack.

The Bitfinex scam dates to 2016, when the Hong Kong-based exchange lost 119,756 Bitcoins to hackers. The tokens were worth $72 million at that time. But it was impossible to cash out the stolen cryptocurrency due to every exchange blacklisting the hackers’ addresses. 

The nature of blockchain made the tokens traceable even if they were transferred to other wallets.

The Couple Tried to Launder Funds Through NFTs and Walmart Gift Cards

After several years, someone started moving Bitcoin from the hackers’ wallets to other wallets in August 2021. Over $760 million worth of Bitcoin was moved, putting authorities on red alert. US authorities traced the transactions to wallets controlled by the couple.

After moving the money to their wallets, the couple started laundering it through various means such as buying NFTs, gold, and even getting a $500 Walmart gift card. They used privacy coin Monero, darknet marketplaces, and even split transactions into smaller pieces to further cloak their actions.

But it was impossible to hide such transactions on the blockchain as the DOJ quickly observed a pattern. In its investigations, the DOJ discovered over 2000 wallet addresses and private keys on Lichtenstein cloud storage. 

It appears that this evidence was enough to convince the judge that there’s a smoking gun.

Even though the duo lawyer tried to argue that the DOJ case was flimsy and premised on indirect evidence, the judge agreed with the prosecution’s argument that finding crypto wallets and private keys linked to the funds is substantial evidence.

However, there’s no evidence of whether the couple was behind the hack or just helping others move the money. A trial is likely to reveal more information about the crime and the actual masterminds. 

Bitfinex revealed that it’s working with the DOJ to establish its right to the funds and reclaim the stolen funds.

The Sandbox Allows Staking on Polygon, Rises by 8% in 24 Hours

The Sandbox has announced that users can now stake its native currency, SAND, on Polygon. It announced this today, only a few days after its airdrop campaign. 

SAND Hodlers Can Now Stake on Polygon

The launch now means that players and investors can stake SAND on Polygon by using the Polygon version of the token, mSAND.

Sandbox’s partnership with Polygon started as far back as last year. The gaming ecosystem went into the partnership as part of its attempt to be more eco-friendly. Using Polygon also meant lower transaction costs and faster speed.

Since then, the Sandbox has doubled its efforts to promote the partnership and get more users to cross over to Polygon. Earlier, it airdropped SAND tokens to gamers providing liquidity for the mSAND/MATIC pool. This staking opportunity is a continuation of that effort.

Before users can take advantage of this staking opportunity, they’ll need to bridge their SAND tokens to the Polygon network. The Sandbox has an integrated bridging service making it very easy for users. Anyone who wants to stake will also add Polygon RPC to their MetaMask wallet.

SAND Incentivizes Staking With “Gasless” Transactions

What makes the new staking opportunity even better is that it’s gasless. With the new single token staking mechanism, players and investors won’t have to pair their SAND with another token.

The team further promised that there’d be 500,000 mSAND rewards for each of the next four weeks starting from February 11. Stakers would be able to get their earnings once a week.

SAND is the native token of The Sandbox, a virtual gaming ecosystem based on the blockchain.

The token has risen significantly in the past year, with the platform getting more popular due to its metaverse idea. The growing popularity of the Sandbox corresponds with the rise of play-to-earn gaming platforms.

Polygon, the Layer 2 platform, continues its quest to become a major blockchain in the web3 space. With more than 7000 dApps on it already, there’s a lot of room for growth.

The news of this staking opportunity has had a significantly positive effect on both the Sandbox and Polygon tokens. In the last 24 hours, MATIC has increased by 10%, and it is currently trading at $1.77 while SAND has also risen by 8% to reach $4.72.

Canada Targets Crypto Donations Via Emergency Act

Canadian authorities are determined to end the Anti-Vax campaigns by any means necessary, including cutting access to crypto donations by invoking the Emergencies Act. 

Deputy prime minister. Chrystia Freeland, who’s also the finance minister, announced that digital assets contributions would also be covered under the new law.

Canadian Protesters Seek Bitcoin Refuge

This move comes days after protestors moved the crowdfunding campaign to Tallycoin, a platform that accepts donations in Bitcoin. 

This action was necessary after GoFundMe canceled the Freedom Convoy Campaign on its platform. It claimed that this was due to reports of violence by protestors, but many believe it was due to government pressures. 

The protest started weeks ago after Canada issued an order mandating cross-border truck drivers to be vaccinated. What began as a simple protest by truck drivers soon turned into a nationwide anti-vax protest. 

In the beginning, several of the groups participating in the protest started using GoFundMe and GiveSendGo to ask for donations. Although they raised about $19 million, the funds couldn’t reach the protesters after the platforms blocked access.

This led some of the protestors to opt for crypto donations. HonkHonk Hodl group started crowdfunding on Tallycoin and raised 22 BTC worth nearly $1 million. The group closed their campaign today after exceeding their target.

Authorities Invoke “Emergencies Act”

However, the government believes that the only way to end the protest is by cutting access to funds for protesters. Hence, it invoked the Emergencies Act.

The Act, which was initially for Terrorist financing, now gives the prime minister the power to freeze protesters’ accounts and monitor “large and suspicious transactions.”

Not everyone agrees with the move to invoke the Act. According to the BBC, the Premier of Quebec Francois Legault warned that this could further escalate the issue. 

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association also claims the government didn’t meet the standards to invoke the law. 

Those in the crypto community, including Preston Pysh of Pylon Holding Company, Nayib Bukele, and Neeraj Agrawal of Coin Center, have also commented on the issue believing that the move would serve as a major catalyst for crypto.

However, the move is unlikely to have any negative impact on the crypto market. In the past 24 hours, the global market cap has risen by 4.3%, with the price of leading assets like Bitcoin and Ethereum rising in tandem.