Binance Gets Preliminary Approval For Abu Dhabi Operations

Key Insights:

  • Binance received in-principal approval from Abu Dhabi Global Market.
  • The company is planning an aggressive expansion in the Middle East.
  • Binance’s boss wants to be based in Dubai, where the firm will be headquartered.

Binance Holdings has received in-principle approval from Abu Dhabi Global Market to operate as a crypto asset broker. The preliminary nod is a stage closer to full regulatory approval. The company still needs to complete the application process, according to Richard Teng, head for Binance Middle East and North Africa.

Once granted, a full license for the United Arab Emirates would enable Binance to expand across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region via a subsidiary, according to the announcement.

Middle East Expansion

Teng added that the firm has been working with regulators in the region to tap into the emerging crypto market.

“Binance has been actively engaging global regulators, such as ADGM [Abu Dhabi Global Market], as part of its ongoing commitment to uphold global standards and collectively foster the developments and sustainable growth of the crypto ecosystem,”

The ADGM is an international financial free zone that regulates and oversees financial services within its jurisdiction. On its official website, the ADGM claims to be the world’s first jurisdiction to introduce and implement a comprehensive virtual assets regulatory framework. It also reported that there were 4,258 active registered licenses as of Q4 of 2021.

It stated that the IPA (in principle approval) is part of Binance’s plans to establish itself as a fully-regulated virtual asset service provider in an internationally recognized and well-regulated financial center. Dhaher bin Dhaher, ADGM Registration Authority CEO, commented:

“Binance’s participation will add to its vibrant and trusted ecosystem of virtual asset trading venues, global exchanges, and service providers.”

Eyes on Dubai HQ

Binance has big plans for Dubai after being awarded a limited virtual assets license in mid-March.

Speaking to Bloomberg last month, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao said that Dubai will be his base for the “foreseeable future” and that by “any common interpretation,” it is also the company’s headquarters.

One of the firm’s major competitors, FTX, also received a virtual asset service provider (VASP) license in Dubai last month. Crypto.com and Bybit are also expanding their presence in the region.

Cryptocurrencies Have Gone Downstream

Ethereum lost 4.9%, and other leading altcoins fell in price from 3.5% (BNB) to 9.7% (Solana).

Hydra servers were arrested

According to CoinMarketCap, the total capitalization of the crypto market sank by 4.7% overnight to $2 trillion. The Bitcoin Dominance Index added another 0.1pp to 41.3% on the back of more altcoins weakening. The crypto-currency index of fear and greed grounded at 34 by Thursday morning, having lost 14 points and turning into a state of fear. This is the lowest value in last two weeks.

News about the arrest of the servers of the darknet resource Hydra with the confiscation of 540 bitcoins, as well as sanctions against the Garantex crypto exchange could have a negative effect on the whole crypto market.

The FxPro Analyst Team emphasised that after several days of sliding, the fall of bitcoin accelerated during trading in Europe, reaching two-week lows just above $43,000. The negative dynamics of the cryptocurrency market was facilitated by the fall of global stock indices. The published minutes of the Fed meeting showed tougher rhetoric than expected, which put pressure on all risk-sensitive assets.

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DOGE: this dog is not able to swim yet

According to Glassnode, the number of bitcoins on exchanges has fallen to the lowest since August 2018. Investors have been withdrawing coins since the beginning of March, which is often taken as a signal to keep Bitcoin out of the market for a long time. This reduction in active supply often pushes the price up. However, now we are also seeing increased sales from institutionals.

Reports that Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk had become Twitter’s largest shareholder initially caused Dogecoin to soar more than 20%, as Musk had previously used the coin to pay for small Tesla goods. Potentially, there could be more applications for Doge on Twitter. However, by Thursday morning its price returned to the levels of the beginning of the week, still showing that this “dog” is not yet able to swim against the current, just as Bitcoin cannot become a meaningful fish against a big pond of stock markets.

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by FxPro’s Senior Market Analyst Alex Kuptsikevich.

UK Crypto Exodus Looming as Regulatory Deadline Approaches

Key Insights:

  • FCA deadline for crypto company registration is fast approaching.
  • Several companies are already planning moves to friendlier European countries.
  • Britain may see an exodus of talent and lose its financial status.

The United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) plans to close its temporary registration program for crypto asset businesses on March 31. This could leave some big names such as digital bank Revolut and crypto custodian Copper Technologies in limbo.

According to Bloomberg, there are 12 companies still on the temporary register as of March 29. They will have to suspend their services if they do not secure approval by the deadline on Thursday.

Exodus to Friendlier Climes

Just as crypto miners left China in droves when Beijing banned mining, the same could happen with fintech firms based in the U.K.

The Bank of England and the Treasury have ramped up their anti-crypto rhetoric in recent months as markets have gone through another bull run and prices have surged. Only 33 firms have achieved permanent registration with the FCA, leaving many others facing a move to Europe or beyond.

Six firms, including crypto market maker B2C2 and crypto digital banking apps Wirex and Trastra, were recently removed from the temporary register after failing to secure approval. The FCA may extend the deadline, but crypto companies have already started to plan their moves to countries such as Switzerland and Croatia, which have a more welcoming approach to digital assets.

CoinBurp Chief Executive Peter Wood told Bloomberg that it is not providing crypto services in the U.K., but it is “in the process of restoring this” shortly. The firm fell off the register on March 25, and several others, such as Wirex Digital, which plans to serve U.K. clients from a Croatian subsidiary.

London-based crypto custodian and trading services provider Copper, which has more than 150 employees, is pursuing regulatory approval in Switzerland. In recent years, the country has become a hub of blockchain, fintech, and crypto activity.

Falling Behind

Earlier this year, former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said that it was “frankly quite shocking” that the country is so far behind its European counterparts with regulations for crypto assets. He warned that the U.K. might face losing talent and its long-running status as a finance hub.

U.K. head of the already approved Gemini crypto exchange, Blair Halliday, commented:

“Our concern with any legislation is where it unfairly impacts firms going about it the right way in the jurisdiction, and by definition, drives customers to an easier location off-site. That’s a potential byproduct of some of these proposals — how on earth can that be positive?”

Binance (BNB) is probably the largest crypto firm that pulled its application to operate in the U.K. last year. It is still grappling with regulators to this day but may take the easy option and service British crypto traders from a friendlier nation.

Coinbase Could Reportedly Buy Mercado Bitcoin’s Parent Company

Key Insights:

  • Coinbase could reportedly acquire Brazilian Giant 2TM.
  • 2TM is valued at $2.2 billion and is Latin America’s largest crypto brokerage.
  • Crypto adoption saw a boom in Brazil as stablecoin trading tripled in 2021.

American cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase Global is in conversation to acquire 2TM, the firm behind Mercado Bitcoin – Brazil’s largest crypto exchange.

Coinbase to Acquire Brazilian Giant

A Brazilian newspaper Estadão reported on Sunday that negotiations between Coinbase and 2TM have been taking place since last year, and an agreement could be announced by the end of this month. No sources have been cited for now.

Estadão is the third-largest newspaper read by almost 212 million Brazilians. In 2021, Mercado Bitcoin had 3.2 million customers, with close to 1.1 million added just last year. Furthermore, the firm reached $7 billion in trading volume in 2021.

Mercado Bitcoin is one of Latin America’s largest crypto brokerages, owned by 2TM. It got its unicorn status as a billion-dollar company in 2021. 2TM is valued at $2.2 billion, and acquired firms like Meubank, MB Digital Assets, CriptoLoja, Bitrust, Blockchain Academy, MezaPro, Wuzu, and Portal do Bitcoin under its umbrella.

Furthermore, 2TM aims to expand its operations in Latin America through acquisitions in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. Earlier this year, the Brazilian giant acquired a controlling stake in CriptoLoja – Portugal’s first regulated crypto exchange.

2TM raised $200 million in a Series B funding round and $50 million in a second closing of the funding in November last year. The funding rounds in 2021 took the firm’s value to $2.1 billion.

Exchanges Eyeing Latin America

As crypto adoption across the globe and in Brazil continues to rise, enterprises are turning their eyes towards Latin American countries. Notably, the Brazilian crypto adoption boom tripled stablecoin trading in 2021 as global exchanges such as Coinbase, Binance and Crypto.com turned their eyes to the Latin American country.

In November last year, Coinbase announced the creation of an engineering hub in Brazil and announced the expansion of its team in the country.

One of the most retail-friendly exchanges, Binance, plans to acquire banks and payment processors in Brazil. Recently, the firm signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to acquire Brazilian securities brokerage Sim;paul Investimentos.

It is also reported that Coinbase also identified Mexican crypto exchange Bitso as an acquisition target. Still, no deals have been made for now.

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.

MoonPay Freezes Operations in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus

Key Insights:

  • MoonPay has suspended operations in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.
  • The firm has said that it’s impossible to continue operating owing to the sanctions.
  • However, Exchanges like Binance and FTX have argued against suspending payment options. 

In a direct statement released to customers, the MoonPay team informed that they have decided to suspend operations in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus due to recent events in Eastern Europe.

The Miami-based firm no longer supports customers’ accounts with physical addresses in the regions mentioned above. 

Russia, Ukraine, Belarus see Another Ban

On March 10, the MoonPay team informed all customers that owing to the political tension and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the firm had suspended operations in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. 

Reportedly, the firm explained their recent move by saying that they couldn’t continue operating in these regions and adhere to the current sanctions by countries across the world.

Notably, nations worldwide are tightening their sanctions on Russia, the US, the EU, and the UK are among the few doing so. 

The US and UK are banning Russian oil, and the EU has pledged to end its reliance on Russian gas. Responding to these sanctions, Russia has banned the export of several foreign-made products.

Earlier this week, FXEmpire reported US-based exchange Coinbase blocking over 25,000 addresses related to Russian users who were supposedly engaged in illicit activities.

Additionally, in late February, crypto exchange Binance highlighted how it was looking to block the accounts of any Russian clients targeted by sanctions. 

However, more recently, exchanges such as Binance and FTX argued that preserving the access of Russians to crypto is essential as the ruble falls amid heavy sanctions against Russia. 

MoonPay and Its NFT Craze

MoonPay launched in 2019 powers more than 250 wallets, websites, and applications in over 160 countries. In November 2021, the firm closed a Series A funding round at $555 million, bringing its valuation to $3.4 billion.

The firm claims that the funding was the largest and highest valued Series A for any bootstrapped crypto company. 

Of late, user-friendly payments infrastructure provider has made some bold moves in the NFT space. Recently, the startup spent $754,340 at the London Evening Sale at Christie’s auction house for a rare item in the World of Women (WoW) collection. 

The price paid by MoonPay makes the piece one of the most expensive WoW pieces ever sold.

Biden to Sign Long-Anticipated Crypto Executive Order This Week: Report

Key Insights:

  • Biden to sign an executive order this week outlining the U.S.’s plans for cryptocurrency.
  • The order will assign federal agencies with examining regulatory changes, national security.
  • The plan will involve the Treasury, State, and Commerce Departments.

President Joe Biden will reportedly sign the executive order for cryptocurrencies this week to strengthen regulatory measures, sources familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Crypto Executive Order: What to Expect

The Biden order comes amid pressing concerns about using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin by Russian elites to circumvent the sanctions imposed against Russia over its Ukraine invasion.

In the long-anticipated crypto order, federal agencies will be directed to oversee a series of studies over the next nine months, Reuters reported. Studies include digital assets regulation, national security, and the economic impact of digital assets.

The source also told Reuters,

“We could see a significant shift in policy in 180 days. This is a likely step toward the creation of a central bank digital currency,” 

The Biden order will key in digital currency study inputs from the Treasury Department, Justice Department, Commerce Department, Department of Homeland Security, and others.

For instance, the order will task the Justice Department to study if new legislation is required for a digital dollar. The Environmental Protection Agency will conduct a study on the impact of bitcoin mining.

The Biden administration recently requested crypto exchanges, including Binance, FTX, and Coinbase, to help ensure that Russians are not turning to crypto to escape U.S. sanctions.

Industry Consider Ways To Limit Crypto Use To Evade Sanctions

Western sanctions that aim to squeeze Russia’s economy have sent the Ruble to historic lows and have closed the country’s stock market. On top of that, the U.S. has barred Americans from doing business with Russian banks, oil and gas developers, and other companies.

Global crypto markets have grown rapidly since then, enabling nations worldwide to take measures to ensure that cryptos are not used to evade financial sanctions.

U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren called upon U.S. regulators to clamp down the use of crypto to evade sanctions by saying,

“Cryptocurrencies risk undermining sanctions against Russia, allowing Putin and his cronies to avoid economic pain,” 

Many of the world’s largest crypto exchanges, including Binance, CoinbaseKraken, have stopped short of a blanket ban on Russian users. They said that they would block users targeted by sanctions.

The U.S. officials are increasingly aware of the potential for digital currencies to lessen the impact of sanctions and are stepping up their scrutiny of crypto assets.

Coinbase Blocks Over 25K Russian Wallets Linked to Illicit Activity

Key Insights

  • Coinbase blocked 25,000 addresses related to Russians.
  • These users were allegedly engaged in illicit activities.
  • Coinbase’s CEO recently stated they would comply with the sanctions against Russia.

Amid several monetary sanctions imposed on Russia in light of the Ukraine invasion, there has been much debate around the country’s citizens’ usage of cryptocurrencies.

Following the sanctions, the US-based cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced that it blocked access to more than 25,000 addresses related to Russians suspected of engaging in illegal activities.

Coinbase Freezes Russian Wallets

In a blog post shared on March 7 by Coinbase, the company revealed that it is committed to ‘building a safe and responsible financial system that promotes economic freedom.’

Thus, complying with recent sanctions, the organization is developing a multi-layered, worldwide sanctions program.

Furthermore, the firm revealed that it had blocked over 25,000 Russian addresses supposedly linked to Russian individuals or enterprises engaging in criminal activities. The blog post read:

“Today, Coinbase blocks over 25,000 addresses related to Russian individuals or entities we believe to be engaging in illicit activity, many of which we have identified through our proactive investigations. Once we identified these addresses, we shared them with the government to further support sanctions enforcement.”

Coinbase further highlighted that the Russian central bank alone holds over $630 billion, mostly in immobilized reserve assets. The firm said:

“That’s larger than the total market capitalization of all but one digital asset, and 5–10x the total daily traded volume of all digital assets.”

What’s Next For Russians?

Recent coverage by FXEmpire pointed out that Russian denominated crypto purchases have dropped despite fears that Russians could use cryptocurrencies to evade sanctions.

The drop in crypto transactions in the Russian ruble debunks theories that the country could pivot to digital assets to avoid sanctions.

That said, Brian Armstrong, CEO at Coinbase, said:

“We don’t think there’s a high risk of Russian oligarchs using crypto to avoid sanctions. Because it is an open ledger, trying to sneak lots of money through crypto would be more traceable than using U.S. dollars cash, art, gold, or other assets.”

For now, the recent ban by Coinbase could potentially push Russians to different exchanges such as Binance.

Notably, after Ukraine requested significant crypto exchanges to a complete prohibition, Binance said ‘it would not freeze all Russian accounts.’ This could push BNB’s price if a transition from Coinbase to Binance is seen in Russia.

Binance CEO CZ Calls It ‘Unethical’ To Block All Russian Accounts

Key Insights:

  • Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance exchange, said it would be ‘unethical’ to block all Russian accounts.
  • Binance follows sanction rules very closely, says CZ.
  • The exchange has registered corporate headquarters, CEO declined to reveal the location.

Changpeng Zhao (CZ), the CEO of Binance crypto exchange, said that his exchange complied with sanctions on Russian users. It would be ‘unethical’ to block all Russian accounts.

In an interview with Bloomberg, CZ made these comments as to why not Binance ban all clients from Russia. He said:

“It’s not our decision to make to freeze user accounts. Also, from an ethical point of view, many Russians don’t support the war, so we should separate the politicians from the normal people.”

He cited examples of other major platforms such as Facebook and Google, saying that they didn’t block users from Russia and followed the rules by regulators.

On another note, CZ said that Binance is “strictly enforcing the sanction rules and anyone on the sanction list cannot use our exchange.”

This is achieved by full user verification checks to ensure that sanctioned crypto addresses cannot transact on the platform and are blocked completely.

He also stressed that Russians avoiding financial sanctions are not a “crypto-specific issue,” and banks and crypto companies follow the same rules.

When asked whether sanctioned Russian oligarchs could be trading on the Binance platform anonymously, Zhao said that Binance trusts identity verification. The exchange has increased its KYC requirements last August.

Other Exchanges Follow Sanctions

Previously, Binance rejected to honor the Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister’s request to freeze the accounts of “ordinary” Russians.

A Binance spokesperson told Reuters that the crypto exchange would not “unilaterally freeze millions of innocent users’ accounts.” The representative added,

“Crypto was meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe.”

Until now, Binance has blocked accounts of those Russian users upon which sanctions were imposed.

At the same time, Kraken exchange CEO Jesse Powell also commented on the matter, refusing to freeze user funds unless it was legally required to do so.

Coinbase also made similar statements Tuesday, stating that it “will not institute a blanket ban on all Coinbase transactions involving Russian addresses.”

New Registered Center

Zhao said that there had been necessary registrations made for establishing a Binance corporate headquarters.

In addition, Binance’s CEO also stated that he spends most of his time in Dubai. However, he declined to reveal the location of a new Binance headquarters before an official announcement.

FXEmpire reported last December that the world’s largest crypto exchange could place its headquarters in France after regulators globally put the exchange under intense scrutiny.

Binance was booted by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and was under investigation by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). Also, the exchange closed its trading platform in Singapore, halting all trade of its digital stock tokens.

Gal Gadot Backed Cardano DEX AdaSwap Raises $2.6 Million

Key Insights:

  • AdaSwap raised $2.6 million from various investors, including Gal Gadot.
  • The DEX will be building an entire ecosystem, including an NFT marketplace and staking pools.
  • Among other investors was the Cardano stablecoin Djed’s issuer, Coti.

AdaSwap announced its latest funding round in a press release.

Leading the round were multiple investment firms and angel investors such as iAngels, Shima Capital, Pluto Digital, GBV, Stardust, Efficient Frontier, Finova, Banter Capital, and Coti.

Along with these investors, actress and producer Gal Gadot and her husband, Jaron Varsano.

The Future of Cardano DEX

AdaSwap has been in a development rally for more than a year now. Since the first quarter of 2021, the protocol has been through seed rounds, stablecoin partnerships, and more.

The next target on its roadmap is to release the ASW token to exchanges, introduce staking protocol, and launch the ADANFT marketplace before March.

In line with the announcement of the funding, Gal Gadot and Jaron Varsano said in a joint statement:

“This is an exciting investment opportunity for us in the crypto space.”

The DEX platform also intends on introducing the AMM (Automated Market Maker) interface for AdaSwap DEX, Stake & Forget protocols. Additionally, the team plans on creating bridges for Cardano with Ethereum, BSC, and Casper tokens by March 2023.

The $2.6 million raised through this funding round will be used to execute this roadmap, starting with the NFT marketplace.

AdaSwap described this marketplace as the first of its kind platform, which will sell curated collections from famous artists on Cardano.

Using these DeFi services, AdaSwap plans to build an entire ecosystem on Cardano, which will enable others to develop on the chain.

Cardano and DeFi

Despite having just 6 DeFi protocols on the chain, Cardano has already amassed $134.86 million in the total value locked. Decentralized exchanges have been emerging as a preferable protocol by developers.

This is because many people are shifting to DEXs to avoid the regulations and fees of centralized exchanges such as Binance, Coinbase, etc.

Interesting enough, four of the six protocols on Cardano are decentralized exchanges. SundaeSwap leads the band with $120.4 million in TVL.

SundaeSwap DEX’s TVL | Source: DeFi Llama

Cardano is still new in the DeFi game and needs a variety of DeFi protocols to develop other than just DEXs. Once that happens, there is some chance it could prove to be a good enough competition to other chains.

Polkadot Founder Donates $5.6M As Ukraine Begins Accepting DOT

Key Insights:

  • The tweet specified that Polkadot donations are now being accepted.
  • Polkadot Founder Gavin Woods mentioned his donation of 298,367 DOT in reply to the same.
  • His donation became the highest crypto donation for the country yet.

As the world bears witness to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the crypto community has been at the forefront in terms of support.

Cryptocurrencies from all around the globe continue to pour in for Ukraine as it fights back the Russian Federation. The latest to join the list is Polkadot’s founder.

Ukraine Welcomes Polkadot

Since the war began, Ukraine has been very active and vocal on its social communication channels.

They have made the most of this technology, from requesting blocking Russian crypto accounts to accepting crypto donations. And it has paid off as well.

After accepting crypto donations, over $36 million has already been donated to support Ukraine.

Although initially, the crypto donations were only limited to Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Tether (USDT). Today the country announced that it would also begin accepting donations in Polkadot

In response to this, Polkadot founder Gavin Woods linked a Polkadot transaction of 298,367 DOT.

This transaction was Woods fulfilling his promise of donating $5 million once Ukraine enabled Polkadot donations. As a result, the total DOT donated came to be valued at around $5.6 million.

In response to the donation, Ukraine tweeted:

This contribution marked the single largest donation from both an individual and an organization.

Recently, Binance also stated that Binance Charity would donate $10 million for on-ground support and aid using its charity arm.

Payment processor Coingate also enabled direct donation links to Ukraine on the platform. Litecoin endorsed it, stating donations could now be made using LTC.

Enabling Polkadot would further help Ukraine and return to the altcoin itself.

Polkadot Under $20

The altcoin has been keeping its movement surrounded by $20 for a while now. The level has been serving as a critical resistance and essential support simultaneously.

While yesterday’s recovery did push the coin closer, it did not test or breach it yet.

Regardless, crossing it would still only be a tiny step in the altcoin’s recovery. Polkadot fell from its ATH in November and continues to be 64.9% away from returning to it. 

Polkadot price is still 64.9% away from its ATH – Source: FXEMPIRE

White House Requests Binance, FTX To Cut Off Russia’s Access To Crypto

Key Insights:

  • The order comes from the White House’s National Security Council and Treasury Department.
  • The administration said they are looking to block every possible escape for Russians from the sanctions.
  • The administration is apparently in discussions with Binance, Coinbase, and FTX.

In a report from Bloomberg, it has been revealed that Joe Biden and his administration are pulling out all the stops to ensure the Russians pay for the invasion of Ukraine.

Apart from the SWIFT ban and blocking Russia’s money, they are now looking towards the digital asset class and how the U.S. can use it to enforce sanctions.

No Crypto for Russians

The White House’s National Security Council and the Treasury Department have issued orders to some of the biggest crypto exchanges. 

These exchanges have been requested to ensure that Russians do not use crypto as an escape as per the order. The country has recently imposed heavy sanctions on the Russian Federation and wants to make sure they feel the heat of the same.

A White House official was reported saying:

“Cryptocurrencies aren’t a substitute for the heavily used U.S. dollar in Russia, but that American authorities are aggressively continuing to fight any misuse of digital assets to avoid sanctions.”

Some of the crypto exchanges apparently in talks with the White House include Binance, Coinbase, and FTX.

Although both Binance and Coinbase recently stated that they wouldn’t be blocking crypto accounts of Russians, there has been a change to that decision since.

As per Bloomberg, both the exchanges are only looking to take action on the sanctioned accounts. Only the addresses identified by the Treasury’s Office are being flagged and blocked from conducting transactions.

Ukraine Continues Fighting

While the invasion worsened today with airstrikes at Kyiv’s T.V. tower, ceasefire negotiations continue. But despite the possibility of ending the war, Russia continues to go ahead with its invasion.

Ukraine is fighting back and is also supporting the White House’s decision. Three days ago, the Vice Prime Minister initiated the request by asking all major crypto exchanges to block all Russian accounts.

He even went on to say that ordinary Russian citizens must also be “sabotaged” this way.

However, the likes of Kraken denied this request saying that until a legal requirement occurs, the exchange would not do this.

The CEO of Kraken, Jesse Powell, also added that this legal requirement could be coming soon. And that Russian citizens should remain vigilant concerning the same.

Central Bank of Russia Launches SWIFT Replacement With 399 Users

Key Insights:

  • The Russian parallel of SWIFT will be the Financial Message Transfer System of the Bank of Russia (SPFS).
  • This network will be open to mostly Belarusian banks.
  • The SPFS network already has over 399 users, and Russia is in negotiations with China to join the SPFS.

Russia decided to counter SWIFT with its SPFS following its SWIFT ban due to its invasion of Ukraine.

The Financial Message Transfer System of the Bank of Russia (SPFS), which already has over 399 users, will now become the international payment settlement network.

Russia Fights the World

With every major power in the world condemning Vladimir Putin and his recent actions against Ukraine, the strain is falling on the economy of Russia. The myriad of sanctions placed on them is already looking brutal.

To add to that, the worldwide payment settlement service provider SWIFT also excluded Russian banks recently.

Thus to ensure that the Russian financial infrastructure does not collapse, the country launched the SPFS. While initially developed as an internal financial structure, the SPFS will also be extended for international payments.

The head of the Bank of Russia, Elvira Nabiullina, announced that SPFS is open to participants from abroad. She also stated that the cards of international payment systems would continue to work as usual.

The SPFS

Although the SPFS has existed for over six years now, it was restricted to domestic bank users. However, in April, over 20 Belarusian banks, the Armenian Arshidbank, and the Kyrgyz Bank of Asia joined it.

Currently, the network has 399 users. The SPFS also boasts of conducting over 2 million messages monthly in 2020, which would place it 20.6% ahead of SWIFT.

The only problem is that not many countries’ banks would want to join SPFS for multiple reasons. Firstly, the possibility of getting kicked off SWIFT would handicap their reach.

Secondly, SPFS doesn’t have a lot of mainstream international banks. Even its supporter China is yet to join SPFS. Thus this limitation would also limit their capabilities.

Besides, if the SPFS system fails, the Russian economy would collapse. As it is, the USD/RUB pair skyrocketed to 104.60 Rubles after yesterday.

And with more sanctions, bans to foreign reserves access, blocking crypto access to Russians, the situation will only worsen.

Many major crypto exchanges such as Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, and KuCoin previously outright rejected the appeal of banning accounts.

The White House and The United States Treasury Department are now officially asking these exchanges to block crypto access.

The ongoing peace negotiations between Russia and Ukraine are yet to conclude. And if that fails to happen, the Russian people will be the ones to suffer.

Uncle Sam Turns to Crypto Exchanges to Impede Russian Sanction Evaders

Key Insights:

  • The White House wants crypto exchanges to block sanctioned individuals.
  • Binance, Coinbase, Kraken, and KuCoin refuse to blanket ban Russians.
  • Crypto markets rebound 12% adding $225 billion to the total market cap.

The U.S. government has asked cryptocurrency exchanges to ensure Russian organizations and individuals are not using digital assets to circumnavigate sanctions imposed on them.

According to a March 1 Bloomberg report citing “people with direct knowledge of the matter,” the White House’s National Security Council and the Treasury Department have turned to crypto trading platforms for assistance in the financial blockade.

The Biden administration has stepped up its efforts to regulate the usage of digital assets and this latest push may give them the reason they’ve been looking for to impose further restrictions.

Industry analyst Alex Krüger commented that it would be “dreadfully bearish” if Russia adopted crypto to evade sanctions stating “US regulators would be pushed to crush the industry as a matter of national security,”

Major Exchanges Refuse Blanket Ban

Citing a White House official, the report added that cryptocurrencies “aren’t a substitute for the heavily used U.S. dollar in Russia,” but authorities are aggressively continuing to fight any misuse of digital assets.

U.S. authorities have specifically urged Binance, Coinbase, and FTX to take a targeted approach and focus only on those that have been sanctioned, which many appear to be doing.

Binance, which is beyond jurisdiction aside from its smaller U.S. exchange, has refused to block Russian users but said it will take action to identify accounts of sanctioned individuals. In a statement, the firm said, “We are not going to unilaterally freeze millions of innocent users’ accounts. Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe.”

Coinbase stated that it is only blocking transactions to or from prohibited addresses identified by Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control. In a similar move to Binance, it will only target sanctioned individuals or organizations.

Kraken CEO, Jesse Powell, echoed the sentiment on Monday stating that the exchange “cannot freeze the accounts of our Russian clients without a legal requirement to do so.”

Johnny Lyu, CEO of KuCoin, also refused a blanket ban stating that “as a neutral platform, we will not freeze the accounts of any users from any country without a legal requirement.”

According to CoinDesk, Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation is sending official letters to eight cryptocurrency exchanges asking them to block Russian users. The ministry is reaching out to Coinbase, Binance, Huobi, KuCoin, Bybit, Gate.io, Whitebit, and Ukrainian exchange Kuna.

Russia Unlikely to Turn to Crypto

There is not enough liquidity in crypto markets for a country as large as Russia to harness as an alternative to fiat. Therefore, it is unlikely that Russia will fully adopt digital assets to avoid sanctions according to some industry observers.

Either way, markets have rebounded strongly during the Tuesday morning Asian trading session with a 12%, or $225 billion, surge in total market capitalization over the past 24 hours.

Binance Rejects Ukraine’s Appeal To Freeze Russian Accounts

Key Insights:

  • A Ukrainian crypto company DMarket froze all Russian and Belarus crypto assets and NFT skins.
  • Binance stated explicitly that they wouldn’t be following suit, citing a threat to crypto’s essence of financial freedom.
  • Many other exchanges are providing support for crypto donations to Ukraine.

The ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine has made crypto an integral part of the resistance. Ukraine has been consistently appealing to people worldwide to support their country and sabotage Russia altogether.

Freeze the Motherland

FXEmpire recently reported on the Vice Prime Minister and the Minister of Digital Transformation of Ukraine appealing to all the major cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide to block Russian investors.

He cited that not only should the Russian and Belarusian politicians’ accounts be blocked, but even ordinary citizens should be sabotaged.

In response to his request, one of Ukraine’s crypto and NFT, Metaverse items exchange, announced that they would be adhering to his request. DMarket stated:

“Ukrainian-born startup DMarket cuts all relationships with Russia and Belarus due to the invasion of Ukraine. The registration on the platform is prohibited for users from Russia and Belarus;  Accounts of previously registered users from these areas are frozen;”

However, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world refused to do so. Binance, in a statement to Cointelegraph, said:

“We are not going to unilaterally freeze millions of innocent users’ accounts. Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe.”

Similarly, cryptocurrency exchange Kraken’s CEO, Jesse Powell, also said that the platform would not be freezing any Russian accounts.

However, Powell did say that should a legal requirement arise to do the same, the platform would block the accounts then.

Binance’s relationship with Russia has always been positive. Even during the crypto regulation debacle, Binance gained support from the administration.

The Association of Banks of Russia even declared the Director of Binance in Russia, Olga Goncharova, as head of the Expert Center for Digital Financial Assets and Digital Currencies.

On the Other Hand

Binance, while opposing the request of banning, proceeded to help the suffering Ukrainians. Binance’s charity arm Binance Charity announced yesterday that they would be donating $10 million to Ukraine. 

Similarly, payment processor Coingate also announced its direct donation service to the National Bank of Ukraine. The donated money would help and fund the Ukrainian armed forces. Litecoin endorsed the same on Twitter.

Thus, while the conflict of interest continues to divide the priorities of individuals, the only important matter is a ceasefire of the invasion. As negotiations continue to decide the same, the world waits anxiously on a decision soon.

Ukrainian Govt Has Raised $19M in Crypto Donations So Far

Key Insights

  • Crypto donations pouring in after Ukrainian Vice President’s appeal
  • Binance sets up a crowdfunding page and donates $10 million
  • Crypto community rallies to the cause as Russian banks see sanctions

According to blockchain data firm Elliptic, the total amount raised so far is $18.9 million as of Feb. 27. 23:50 UTC.

Crypto assets have been the currency of choice for fundraising as they can be sent instantly and circumvent any banking or cross-border obstacles that may be in place.

The firm added that there was one single donation of $3 million in Bitcoin (BTC). It continued to report that several million dollars in crypto donations have also been received by Come Back Alive, a Ukrainian NGO which supports the military.

There was also a single $1.86 million donation that appeared to have originated from the sale of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) originally intended to raise funds for Julian Assange, it added.

The breakdown of digital assets donated is around 56% BTC, 32% ETH, and 11% stablecoins according to the latest Elliptic data.

Binance to Donate $10M

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange has also pledged a sizable sum in the way of donations towards the Ukrainian humanitarian crisis. On Feb. 27, Binance announced that it was donating $10 million with a focus on providing on-the-ground support through charity and collaboration.

The firm stated that the donation will be split between major inter-governmental organizations and nonprofit organizations already operating in the country. These include UNICEF, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, the International Strategic Action Network (iSans), and People in Need.

Binance added that it has also launched a crypto crowdfunding website, called Ukraine Emergency Relief Fund. The platform allows people to make donations in crypto which will go towards helping to provide emergency relief to children and refugees. It will also help to fund and support ground-based logistics such as food, fuel, and supplies. At the time of writing, the platform had accrued $5.8 million from 214 donors. Binance itself pledged most of that with a 16,000 Binance Coin (BNB) donation.

The company added that it is also working with a number of local refugee groups who are “actively working to expedite Ukrainians’ passage across the border into safety in two neighboring countries.”

Binance founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao, commented:

“Watching this conflict escalate over the past four days has shocked our community to its core. We are proud to have been able to quickly rally our network to provide relief and support on the ground to those in need.”

Crypto Donations Pouring In

Binance is not the only entity working to rally the crypto community to the cause. Late last week, the founding member of Russian anti-establishment rock band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, announced UkraineDAO.

The DAO will mint and auction NFTs of the Ukrainian flag with proceeds going towards local NGOs. At the time of writing, the highest bid was 1,102.5 ETH worth approximately $2.87 million

DeFi Protocol Yearn Finance (YFI) Expands to Ethereum’s Arbitrum

Key Insights

  • Yearn.Finance (YFI) recently added support for Arbitrum, a Layer 2 network for Ethereum
  • This integration is set to aid Yearn Finance’s growth by reducing transaction costs and transaction fees involving Ethereum-based tokens
  • Other DeFi platforms that added support for Arbitrum include Uniswap and 1inch

Yearn Finance, the 14th ranked DeFi protocol by total value locked, recently announced its expansion into the Ethereum-based Layer 2 solution Arbitrum. With this expansion, Arbitrum became the first Ethereum Layer-2 to be integrated by the DeFi protocol.

Yearn Finance Integrates with Arbitrum

Yearn Finance is a platform for yield-optimizing DeFi protocols anchored on the Ethereum blockchain. The platform’s primary goal is to maximize returns on your cryptocurrency by arbitraging different lending platforms in search of the best available yield.

Yearn Finance also aids shifting between protocols like dYdX, Aave, and Compound, as interest rates differ between these platforms.

The protocol’s decision to support Arbitrum will allow users to transact Ethereum-based tokens without moving those coins on the Ethereum blockchain itself. The project claims that the integration with Arbitrum could drastically reduce gas costs or transaction fees by a factor of 10.

Yearn Finance’s Twitter account revealed on February 24 that it had deployed its initial instruments to Arbitrum.

What Difference Does Arbitrum Bring?

Arbitrum is an inaugural Ethereum Layer-2 solution that Yearn Finance will add (YFI). This integration comes just a few weeks after the release of Yearn’s vaults on Fantom.

The team revealed that the reasons behind choosing Arbitrum were that the solution is Ethereum’s largest L2 with close to $3 billion in total value locked. Furthermore, the team claims that the deployment will bring gas costs by almost ten times.

That said, major crypto exchanges like FTX and Binance will support Arbitrum’s deposits.

Additionally, the project says that the decision to support a Layer 2 network strengthens its ‘first true love: Ethereum.’ In its inaugural release, Yearn Finance noted that it offers a single vault dubbed Curve’s triCrypto.

It also said that it accepts liquidity in three tokens, namely WBTC, WETH, USDT.

Some other DeFi platforms that added support for Arbitrum include Uniswap and 1inch. Notably, Uniswap began adding support for the Layer-2 solution in May 2021, while 1inch added support for Arbitrum around September last year.

77% Crypto Investors Prefer Gaming, Exchange & Blockchain Projects

In an exclusive research report provided to FXEmpire from BDC Consulting, various aspects of the process behind an investor’s decision-making have been analyzed. The research focused on just five essential questions that encompass investor psychology.

The “How” Behind a Decision

BDC Consulting selected 16 individuals, each with a different timeframe of experience in the crypto space. This focus group included eight people with up to one experience in crypto investments.

Another four people have been investing in crypto for between one to two years, and four more investors have been in this space for more than two years. 

The game, created with a simple objective of maximizing profits through investment distribution, brought forward some interesting insights.

Firstly it was observed that the focus group tended to approach the group choice when it came to investing.

Coincidentally this decision also benefited them as each individual gained 15% higher benefits. In line with the same, the report stated:

“ – The opinion of the group will allow paying attention to the details of the projects that were not touched upon in the first study; 

– Project discussions can also demonstrate an unexpected and attractive investment decision; 

– Also, by participating or taking into account the group discussion, one can more accurately determine the most profitable project from the set.”

Secondly, when it came to alluring factors while choosing a project, the research found that individuals also focused on the more intrinsic details beyond the common profitability characteristic.

Transparency, a strong development team, community support, understanding the mechanics of the project, and stability were some critical factors in their decision-making process. Other expectations from the project included the following:

Biggest expectations from a project | Source: BDS Consulting

The most interesting outcome was the focus group’s choice of project based on its functionality.

About 34% of choice came for Exchange projects (Binance, Kraken, Gemini, etc.), 22% for Blockchain projects, and 21% for Gaming (GameFi) projects (Axie Infinity, Decentraland, etc.).

On the other hand, DeFi and MEME projects (Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, etc.) accounted for just 7% and 15% preference, respectively.

Investors did not prefer DeFi and MEME projects as much | Source: BDS Consulting

Furthermore, on the discussion of how a group investment decision is formed, the research found that ‘group decision is an ambiguous tool.’ Adding to the same, the report stated:

“The basics of DAO principles allow one to build the most effective communication according to two advantageous strategies: a deep review of each project or selection by key weaknesses. The first strategy is better suited for a small set of projects, and the second is suited for working with an array.

Analytical and logical arguments are important. They allow you to adjust the willingness to take risks. However, the group is more susceptible to misconceptions and biases that do not correlate with real data, making this practice potentially dangerous for making high-risk decisions”

Finally, BDC Consulting highlighted that different market categories’ projects are identified based on their yield in the last observation.

Although, a group selection better distinguishes projects of higher yield than lesser profitable projects.

In the prevailing market conditions, these factors play a significant role when it comes to deciding upon crypto investments.

Director of Binance in Russia Voted To Head Digital Asset Expert Center

An announcement from the Association of Banks of Russia declared today that they will be creating an Expert Center for Digital Financial Assets and Digital Currencies.

This center will be built with the core focus of maintaining communication with the federal authorities of the country.

Russia’s Crypto Expert Center

As stated by the association itself the purpose for its creation will be to ‘prepare professional judgments on the turnover of digital assets’.

The Expert Center will also be a means of spreading awareness and educating members of the Association on the complex nature of crypto by providing them with analytical materials about the same.

In regards to the announcement, the Vice President of the Association of Banks of Russia, Anatoly Kozlachkov stated:

“The Association has extensive experience in interacting with Russian regulators, representing the interests of the banking community, so we want to take a more active position on this issue, and contribute to the development of balanced regulation taking into account the interests of the market and ensuring the protection of citizens from unscrupulous actions”

To head this Expert Center the Presidium of the Association Council appointed the Director of Binance in Russia, Olga Goncharova.

Under her leadership, the Expert Center is planning to conduct an examination of the turnover of cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.

At the same time, they also aim at organizing events on the same to discuss the expert community’s approach towards regulation and development of digital assets.

The Chairman of the Board of Association of Banks, Anatoly Aksakov added:

“The banking community cannot stay away from the discussion that has unfolded in the professional community on the regulation of the turnover of digital financial assets. Legislators are very lacking in the professional view of financial market experts on the turnover of cryptocurrencies in order to form a balanced approach to their regulation on their basis,”

Binance’s Debacle With Authorities

Just yesterday, FXEmpire reported that the Capital Market Authority of Israel demanded clarifications from the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange Binance concerning the application for a license in the country. 

Owing to the absence of the same, Binance had to cease all activities in Israel including marketing of any kind. 

Just last year Binance suffered a similar crackdown from UK’s Financial Conduct Authority after the exchange failed to meet the standards of the authority’s anti-money laundering system. This led to Binance’s ban in the country.

Although the native token of the exchange, BNB hasn’t observed any immediate implication of Russia’s announcement yet, the coin is performing slightly better than yesterday. BNB is up by 1.63% at press time, recovering from yesterday’s 5.84% dip.

Binance Coin seems to be recovering from yesterday’s 5.84% dip – Source: FXEMPIRE

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.