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.

Preview: What To Expect From Zoom Q4 Earnings

The San Jose, California-based communications technology company Zoom is expected to report its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings of $0.67 per share, which represents a year-over-year decline of nearly 24% from $0.88 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The company, which provides video telephony and online chat services through a cloud-based peer-to-peer software platform, would post revenue growth of 19% to $1.05 billion.

“Reasons To Buy: Zoom Video is benefiting coronavirus-induced remote working trend. Its efforts to eradicate security and privacy flaws are expected to aid it to expand its userbase,” noted analysts at ZACKS Research.

“Reasons To Sell: Stiff competition with the entry of Facebook and Verizon in the video communication space and massive repercussion from customers due to security and privacy lapses are concerns.”

Zoom stock rose over 2% to $129.61. The stock fell over 30% so far this year after falling more than 45% in 2021.

Analyst Comments

“We have seen a reluctance of investors around Zoom given recent performance of WFH winners. Look to FY23 guide as opportunity to reset Street expectations, giving investors a cleaner path to getting involved. Remain OW on early days company at upselling large installed base with ancillary products,” noted Meta Marshall, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

Zoom has established its position as the leader in video conferencing, now a growth market. Company has meaningful competitive moat built on more than just architecture. Position within customers makes an attractive opportunity to expand into broader UC market. Early wins encouraging. Opportunities to expand platform remain. Manageable churn post-COVID as move to hybrid work setups continues.”

Zoom Stock Price Forecast

Twelve analysts who offered stock ratings for Zoom in the last three months forecast the average price in 12 months of $207.08 with a high forecast of $300.00 and a low forecast of $130.00.

The average price target represents a 63.09% change from the last price of $126.97. Of those 12 analysts, seven rated “Buy”, four rated “Hold”, while one rated “Sell”, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley gave the base target price of $165 with a high of $230 under a bull scenario and $100 under the worst-case scenario. The investment bank gave an “Overweight” rating on the communications software company’s stock.

Several analysts have also updated their stock outlook. Citigroup cut the price target to $147 from $250. Mizuho lowered the target price to $190 from $300. Baird slashed the price objective to $250 from $300.

Technical analysis suggests it is good to sell as 100-day Moving Average and 100-200-day MACD Oscillator gives a strong selling opportunity.

Check out FX Empire’s earnings calendar

Former Diem Team Working on New Aptos Blockchain

Key Insights

  • Aptos is being developed by former Meta programmers
  • It aims to compete with Ethereum and others
  • The blockchain project is entering an already crowded space

A number of programmers and executives that worked on Facebook’s now-defunct stablecoin project have announced a new venture that they claim will be the “safest and most scalable Layer 1 blockchain.”

On Feb. 24, CEO Mo Shaikh unveiled Aptos with a mission to create “universal and fair access to decentralized assets for billions of people.” Although hundreds already exist, Shaikh said that a new Layer 1 blockchain is needed to solve the issues that existing ones have such as scalability, reliability, and safety.

He added that the team was not working from scratch as they have already done the groundwork for Facebook.

“We are the original creators, researchers, designers, and builders of Diem, the blockchain that was first built to serve this purpose. While the world never got to see what we built, our work is far from over.”

Reviving Diem

The embattled cryptocurrency project started off as Libra in mid-2019 but was rebranded to Diem in 2020. However, it faced an avalanche of regulatory backlash across the globe due to the firm’s already tarnished reputation when it comes to personal privacy and data security. The project was finally axed earlier this year with assets being sold to Silvergate Capital for $200 million.

Shaikh added that since departing Meta, the team has been able to “put ideas into motion, ditch bureaucratic red tape, and build an entirely new network from the ground up,”

Aptos will use a programming language called Move, which was the basis of the Diem token and blockchain. A developer network will be launched in the coming weeks, he added, then a testnet and mainnet launch “later this year”.

He also mentioned a number of partners but did not specify. Citing anonymous sources, Coindesk reported that the team is raising $200 million at a $2 billion valuation to develop the network. It added that venture capital giant Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and several other crypto venture capital firms were involved.

A Crowded Space

Aptos is entering an already crowded space in which Ethereum (ETH) dominates. The world’s largest smart chain platform has had scaling uses recently but it will be alleviating some of them this year with planned upgrades.

There is also a slew of competing blockchain platforms such as Solana (SOL), Polkadot (DOT), and Cardano (ADA), to contend with, all offering essentially the same thing. The success of Aptos is likely to hinge on how much it can distance itself from Facebook (Meta).

Russian Social Network VK to Aid NFT Trading and Monetizing

The NFT hype continues to take over the market as traders, investors, and organizations jump on the NFT bandwagon.

However, the more recent trend has been social media giants catering to their NFT crazed crowds. The Russian social network VKontakte (VK) also recently announced the launch of NFT support for users to monetize content.

VK Jumps On the NFT Craze

VKontakte, one of the most famous Russian social media networks, recently announced that it would support NFTs.

According to media reports published on February 18, the technical director of the platform, Alexander Tobol, revealed in an interview that NFTs would be used to monetize user-generated content and protect copyrights.

That said, Tibol confirmed that VK would not create its blockchain but act as an intermediary and assistant. Furthermore, users will be able to sell NFTs on platforms like OpenSea.

As per data, VK hosted nearly 650 million users as of April 2021; the number would be much higher now. The platform aims to encourage NFTs generation for user content creation and, by extension, their value. Tobol further said:

“Our task is precisely to provide the ability to download content easily, create an NFT token, then place it on the exchange. Our task as the largest service in Russia for interacting with an audience with an incredible amount of user content is to provide it with this opportunity. And then you can trade on various platforms, be it Solanart, OpenSea or any then more stories.”

However, the platform appears to be worried about infringing copyright regarding music and videos. For now, VK will use its existing content ID system to verify the authorship of all downloaded music and videos.

NFTs and Social Media Giants

The Russian social media giant’s entry into the NFT space marks another well-known company’s venture into the NFT market.

Facebook’s Meta rebrand started the trend was then picked up by Twitter, Reddit, and even YouTube. Even OnlyFans, globally famed for its services about adult content, recently launched the ‘verified NFT profile pictures’ feature on the platform.

Twitter, however, was the first to initiate this trend last month when it debuted the NFT profile picture feature on the social media platform for $3. However, the move received bitter-sweet reactions from the industry and slight criticism from people like Tesla Chief Elon Musk.

While the NFT craze continued, the global crypto market didn’t look in very good shape with Bitcoin, Ethereum and other altcoins mostly consolidating.

Why Roblox Stock Is Down By 24% Today

Roblox Stock Retreats After Disappointing Earnings Report

Shares of Roblox gained strong downside momentum after the company released its quarterly results.

The company reported revenue of $568.8 million and a GAAP loss of $0.25 per share, missing analyst estimates on both earnings and revenue. Importantly, the company’s bookings of $770.1 million have also missed analyst estimates. Average Daily Active Users (DAUs) totaled 49.5 million, up 33% on a year-over-year basis, while Hours Engaged grew by 28%.

The market expected better results from the company which is viewed as one of the leading metaverse plays by many traders. As a result, Roblox stock declined from $73 to $55.

What’s Next For Roblox Stock?

Roblox is in the growth phase, and the company is not expected to become profitable in the next few years.

Metaverse-related stocks have been moving lower in recent months. Meta Platforms is down by almost 45% from its peak that was reached back in September 2021, while Unity, the owner of a popular game engine, is down by almost 50% from the highs that were reached in early November 2021.

The key reason for the major pullback in many growth stocks is the rapid increase in Treasury yields and the anticipation of aggressive moves from the Fed.

In this environment, Roblox has to show strong growth to keep the bullish thesis alive. At the first glance, Roblox’s growth remains strong, as the company’s revenue increased by 83% on a year-over-year basis in the fourth quarter of 2021. However, it’s the market that decides whether the company’s growth is strong enough, and it is clear that traders expected better numbers.

In case the general market pressure on growth stocks continues, Roblox stock may gain additional downside momentum in the upcoming weeks. The company’s growth stays strong and Roblox will likely have many opportunities in the developing metaverse segment, but the near-term trend of its stock will change only if the market becomes less hostile towards unprofitable high-growth companies.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Coinbase Welcomes Former SEC Official Scott Bauguess

Regulation is very important when it comes to new investment assets, such as cryptocurrencies because it gives investors regulatory clarity. 

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ex-employee announced on his Twitter account that yesterday was his first day at Coinbase. He is now the new VP for Global Regulatory Policy in the cryptocurrency exchange, as you see below:

In his new position, he will work with the authorities in order to have a better regulatory environment for new investors that want to enter the crypto world.

Coinbase keeps investing in its global adoption, last Sunday, Coinbase paid $14 million on a commercial ad during the Super Bowl game. 

The ad was a QR bouncing for 1 minute that gets you to a Coinbase’s webpage. The commercial got so much attention that the ad got 20 million visits in just 1 minute and crashed the website, but moments later Coinbase announced that they were back online.

About Scott Bauguess

Scott Bauguess graduated in 1992 as an Electrical Engineer from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. 

His previous experience before Coinbase was working 12 years in the SEC.

He was the Deputy Director of the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis for 6 years. Before that, he worked as an Assistant Director and as a Senior Financial Economist in the SEC.

In his earlier days, he worked six years as an electrical engineer at Motorola Solutions. Then he was a Doctoral Candidate at Arizona State University for five years. 

Besides his new position at Coinbase, he is a faculty member at the University of Texas’s McCombs Business School.

It’s Not the First Time That a Former SEC Employee Joins Coinbase

Last month, Thaya Knight, the former counsel to Commissioner Elad Roisman at the SEC, joined Coinbase to work as its senior public policy manager. Knight was also the counsel of the SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce between 2018 and 2019.

Earlier this month, Brian Rocha, a former Netflix, Warner Bros, and The Walt Disney Company employee joined Coinbase as the new Head of Content Strategy. 

In September 2021, Shalin Pei, a former Facebook employee, joined Coinbase as its Senior Product Design Manager.

Considering the huge attention of Coinbase’s Super Bowl commercial, there is no doubt Coinbase will keep growing.

How Will SHIB’s Entry Into the Metaverse Affect MANA, AXS & SAND?

The one thing that the crypto-verse had been expecting for quite a bit was a doggy-themed Metaverse. Shiba Inu, the most popular Dogekiller in the market acted upon the same and announced its grand entry in the Metaverse space. 

Developers behind the meme coin stated that the protocol would soon offer plots of virtual lands called ‘Shiba Lands’ in an upcoming, but unnamed metaverse.

The same caused a considerable price uptick for both SHIB and LEASH tokens, as presented in a previous article

Shiba’s Metaverse Saga Begins…

In 2020, the Metaverse was worth approximately $47.69 Billion with coins like Decentraland (MANA), Axie Infinity (AXS), and The Sandbox (SAND) leading the market. After Facebook’s Meta rebrand, MANA was the first to rally followed by Enjin Coin (ENJ) and SAND. 

In the blog post shared by Shiba Inu developers, they said:

“The Metaverse is set to be one of the biggest areas within crypto for many to enjoy, while others will produce content and developers will set up shops within using it as another great resource to offer crypto communities incentivization, content, and regular royalties.”

Just like Sandbox and Decentraland introduced virtual real estate, Shiba Inu came up with its own Metaverse real estate called ‘Shiba Lands’.

These “lands” are set to be found inside the Shiberse and will be available for purchase/auction ‘really soon,’ as stated by the blog

The involvement of Doge Killer (LEASH), since the LEASH token gives priority and exclusive access to the first selling phase of the land plots has pushed the token’s price up by 40.05% over the last day.

While SHIB and LEASH saw decent pumps, what will be the fate of top Metaverse tokens like MANA, AXS, ENJ, SAND, and others?

SHIB to Challenge Metaverse Tokens?

Shiba Inu, for now, ranks 13 by market cap noting an over 60.22% gain in the last week. Interestingly, Shiba’s market cap is higher than most of the Metaverse tokens. Even the top Metaverse token, MANA, at press time ranked 30 (more than 15 positions behind SHIB) noting a 29.71% gain over the last week. 

While due to the larger market momentum most of the altcoins including Metaverse tokens seemed to rally, the question of the hour was whether SHIB could challenge the monopoly of major Metaverse tokens. 

As per data by WhaleStats, SHIB was back on the top 10 purchased tokens list and was also the topmost used smart contract by 1000 biggest ETH whales in the last 24hrs. 

For now, SHIB’s higher market cap and better social media outreach in terms of followers and positive sentiment seemed like it could threaten the monopoly of top Metaverse tokens.

However, it should be kept in mind that SHIB’s narrative as a meme token would act as a drawback. Furthermore, SHIB’s highly volatile price action and larger downtrend in the last year could act as a hindrance for its larger narrative. 

That said, it is also notable that when talking about Metaverse developments, external news always pumps prices of Metaverse tokens in general. On the other hand, ecosystem-centric developments and collab or partnership news pump Metaverse tokens individually.

For now, looking at the rise in the price of the Metaverse tokens, it seems like their prices reacted positively to SHIB’s Metaverse news.

As of now, the name of the Shiba Inu Metaverse remains undecided but some decent pump in SHIB prices could be expected after the same is announced.

The First Spanish Real Estate Developer Has Joined the Metaverse

Since Facebook went “Meta” in October of 2021, the digital worlds known as metaverses have been trending. 

In November 2021 a digital land was sold for $2.4 million in Decentraland. Last week the first “metaverse mortgages” arrived.

Today, Metrovacesa, one of the biggest real estate developers in Spain, just announced a partnership with the Spanish startup “Datacasas Proptech” to promote their new physical project “Málaga Towers” located in Málaga, Spain in a 100% digital way in Decentraland.

Anyone can enter the metaverse and a virtual salesperson will be available to show anybody about the project with videos, photos, 3D models, and anyone will have the opportunity to buy the physical real estate asset through a digital experience.

Carmen Chicharro, Commercial, Marketing and Innovation Director of Metrovacesa, commented: 

“From the field of innovation, our goal with this proof of concept is to create in the metaverse a laboratory in which to test: a new relationship channel with a 100% digital customer profile and its desirability towards the acquisition of a physical or virtual home, forms of payment and investment through NFTs, in short, to analyze whether in the metaverse there is a new business model”

This Is Not the First Time Metrovacesa Has Applied Blockchain Technology

The Spanish real estate developer started using blockchain technology four years ago, according to the statement.

It includes tokenization of assets, the ability to trace milestones in the development phases, using blockchain with Building Information Modeling (BIM) methodology, certification of its DOMUM sustainable commitment and tokenization of a crowdlending loan.

This partnership will allow Metrovacesa to begin to understand different applications of blockchain technology in the metaverse.

This puts Metrovacesa as a leader in the Real Estate world in Spain that has embraced this new technology.

About Málaga Towers

Málaga Towers consists of two luxury apartment buildings of 20 stories located in front of the sea, “Málaga Towers Living” and “Málaga Towers Vision”.

The “Málaga Towers Living” consists of 71 units of one to four bedrooms from 132 square meters starting at €1,318,000. The building will have three swimming pools, a movie theater, a gym, a spa, and a playroom.

The “Málaga Towers Vision” consists of 73 units of one to four bedrooms from 132 square meters starting at €698,000. The building will have three swimming pools, a gym, a co-working area, a spa, and a playroom.

Crypto global adoption shows metaverse projects are expanding globally rather than only in Asia and the U.S.

 

Nintendo Could Be Next to Jump on The NFT and Metaverse Train

After the Meta rebrand of the social media giant Facebook, the Metaverse space has received considerable attention both in terms of social interest and institutional interest.

Media conglomerates like Twitter and YouTube too joined in on the NFT mania soon enough. Now jumping on the bandwagon is the Japanese multinational video game company Nintendo. 

Nintendo Could Explore NFTs and Metaverse

During Nintendo’s recent financial results, in a Q&A session, the company addressed questions surrounding NFTs and the metaverse space.

It was further highlighted by David Gibson, a senior analyst at MST Financial, that Nintendo hinted at its interest in the Metaverse space and could see ‘the potential’ it had for the company. 

Statements from the company said:

“We do have interest in this area, we feel the potential in this area, but we wonder what joy we can provide in this area and this is difficult to define right now.” 

However, in a follow-up Tweet, Gibson claimed that Nintendo’s interest and response were ‘mainly focused on metaverse.’ 

Gaming Firms Exploring the Metaverse

Not just Nintendo but South Korea’s largest mobile game developer, Netmarble, too recently revealed plans to release games for the metaverse following the creation of its new development unit last year.

The gaming giant further said it was developing a sequel to its monopoly-styled board game titled ‘Everybody’s Marble: Metaworld’ under its subsidiary Netmarble F&C.

Notably, metaverse tokens like Decentraland (MANA), The Sandbox (SAND), and Enjin Coin (ENJ) saw a good pump at the time of Facebook’s rebrand announcement last year. 

Developments in the Metaverse space tend to push the prices of the aforementioned coins. For now, however, with Bitcoin above the $40K mark most altcoins were noting a nice price rise. Of the Metaverse tokens at press time Enjijn Coin (ENJ) noted the highest gains of over 9% trading at $1.81. 

Why Snap Stock Is Up By 47% Today

Snap Stock Rallies After Strong Quarterly Report

Shares of Snap jumped after the company released its fourth-quarter report. Snap reported revenue of $1.3 billion and adjusted earnings of $0.22 per share, easily beating analyst estimates on both earnings and revenue. Snap stated that 2021 was its first full year of positive operating cash flow and free cash flow.

Daily active users (DAUs) totaled 319 million, up 20% on a year-over-year basis. This was a material success compared to the recent report from Meta Platforms, which showed a decline in DAUs and led to a major sell-off of Meta stock.

The average revenue per user (ARPU) increased from $3.49 in Q3 2021 to $4.06 in Q4 2021, serving as an additional bullish catalyst for Snap stock.

Yesterday, Snap stock was under significant pressure as traders sold the company’s shares “in sympathy” with the sell-off in Meta stock. However, Snap’s quarterly report was so strong that the stock gained more than 45% in just one trading session.

What’s Next For Snap Stock?

Snap’s gains look impressive, but traders should keep in mind that the company’s shares touched highs near the $83 level in September 2021, so the stock is still down by more than 55% from its all-time high levels.

In 2022, Snap is expected to report earnings of $0.53 per share, so the stock is trading at 68 forward P/E. Earnings estimates will likely move higher after the strong earnings report, but the stock will still remain in the high-PE zone.

In this light, the near-term performance of Snap stock will depend on whether the market is ready to buy into high-PE stocks again. Recent weeks have been volatile as traders were worried about high inflation and higher Treasury yields.

The yield of 10-year Treasuries is already close to the 2.00% level, which could put more pressure on expensive tech stocks. The recent sell-offs in high-profile names like Meta Platforms, Netflix, and PayPal have also hurt sentiment. Thus, it remains to be seen whether traders will be ready to push Snap stock higher after the strong one-day move.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Coinbase Welcomes Former Netflix Employee Brian Rocha

As crypto adoption increases, many people are tempted to join the crypto business because of its mainstreaming and non-stop growth. Who knows if joining a big crypto firm now is like joining Google or Amazon in the 90s?

Brian Rocha, a veteran employee that comes from the entertainment and media business, has recently joined Coinbase as the new Head of Content Strategy, according to his following Linkedin post comment:

“I’m excited to share that today I will be joining Coinbase! After having spent the past 15 years working with both legacy and new media and entertainment companies, I’m excited to take on a new opportunity building content strategy for the #crypto, #blockchain, and #web3 world”

About Brian Rocha

Brian Rocha has been working for media and entertainment companies during his professional career. Netflix was his most recent experience before joining Coinbase, where he worked nearly five and a half years as a Content Strategy & Analysis manager and director.

He studied Economics at UCLA. Graduated in 2009 while he was working as a financial analyst at The Walt Disney Company.

After The Walt Disney Company, he joined Warner Bros. Entertainment Group of Companies to work as an International Digital Development Manager until he joined Netflix.

The Crypto Industry Continues To Grow With Coinbase

Brian Rocha isn’t the only one who has recently joined the Coinbase team. The CEO and founder of Shopify, Tobias Lütke joined earlier this week Coinbase’s Board of Directors.

Tobias Lütke commented:

 “The concepts of decentralized finance and entrepreneurship exemplify the promise of Web3 where opportunity exists for the many, not the few,”

Last month, Coinbase partnered with Mastercard so the users could buy NFTs with credit and debit cards in their upcoming NFT marketplace platform.

Coinbase became a publicly-traded company in April 2021, marking a major milestone. Also last year, Shalin Pei, a former Facebook Senior Product Manager joined Coinbase in September 2021.

As crypto becomes more popular, there is no doubt more Web2 employees will follow Brian Rocha’s path.

The Solana Ecosystem Incorporates Web3Auth Infrastructure

Sometimes a new user can be confused when entering the crypto world. Especially new Web3 users that need a blockchain wallet.

Seed phrases are very important in wallets because they are your private keys to access your funds. Thus, if the seed phrase is lost, your funds will be lost.

The Solana Foundation and Web3Auth just announced a collaboration where seed phrases are eliminated when a user interacts with any Solana dApps and wallets.

Binance, Ubisoft, Keplr (Cosmos), Rarible, and other known wallets and applications are using Web3Auth infrastructure. Web3Auth has over 8 million users and works with more than 500 DApps.

Last month, Web3Auth announced a $13 Million Series A funding led by Sequoia Capital India, which included FTX, Bitcoin.com, and others.

Web3Auth in the Solana Blockchain

Web3Auth is helping Web3 users to interact easily with the blockchain as social network logins are helping Web2 users.

That is what Web3Auth Auth infrastructure brings to all Solana wallets and dApps, to make it easier by forgetting about the seed phrases and keep it simpler.

Web3Auth is already working in dApps of the Solana network such as Magic Eden, Metaplex, and Holaplex.

Solana Labs and Web3Auth have been collaborating for months and are bringing the Solana Torus Wallet.

What Features Does the Solana Torus Wallet Have?

The Solana Torus Wallet is a non-custodial wallet where you store in a secure way your cryptos having your own control in the Solana blockchain.

The users of the wallet will be able to log in through Google, Facebook, Twitter, and Discord. Also, users will be able to top up their wallet funds by purchasing crypto with fiat without KYC verification.

The wallet will be available in the mobile and web format, without the use of an App. Wallet customers will not have to pay SOL fees by using the wallet, because the applications will cover it. 

The User Experience (UX) of any kind of service is very important. As crypto matures and more people are entering this world, companies like Web3Auth are working to improve the UX.

With better UX, there will be no doubt new people will come in and expand the crypto adoption.

Why Meta Platforms Stock Is Down By 23% Today

Meta Platform Stock Falls After Disappointing Q4 2021 Report

Shares of Meta Platforms found themselves under strong pressure after the company released its fourth-quarter results.

Meta Platforms reported revenue of $33.67 billion and earnings of $3.67 per share, beating analyst estimates on revenue and missing them on earnings.

Daily active users (DAUs)  totaled 1.93 billion and also missed analyst estimates. The report indicated that the growth in DAUs has stalled, which is not good for a high-growth tech stock.

While user growth stalled, expenses increased due to active investments in the Metaverse. It should be noted that Metaverse may take years to develop, and it remains to be seen whether the market will be happy to see higher expenses in case Meta Platforms fails to show solid growth in the upcoming quarters.

The guidance for Q1 2022 was also disappointing. The company expects to report total revenue of $27 billion – $29 billion, a 3% – 11% growth on a year-over-year basis. The company added: “[…] we expect continued headwinds from both increased competition for people’s time and a shift of engagement within our apps towards video surfaces like Reels, which monetize at lower rates than Feed and Stories”.

Not surprisingly, the stock suffered a serious sell-off after Meta Platforms missed analyst estimates and talked about material headwinds.

What’s Next For Meta Platforms Stock?

The current analyst consensus estimate for Meta Platform’s earnings in 2022 is $14.18 per share. Analyst estimates have been moving lower in recent weeks, and they will surely take a major hit after the weak earnings report.

Currently, the stock is trading at 17 forward P/E which may look extremely cheap for a leading tech stock. However, declining earnings estimates and worries about increased competition for people’s time, as well as regulatory concerns, may continue to put pressure on Meta Platforms shares.

All in all, it remains to be seen whether speculative traders will rush to buy Meta Platforms shares after the big pullback. The recent trading action in PayPal stock shows that the market is merciless when major tech stocks miss expectations.

For a look at all of today’s economic events, check out our economic calendar.

Social Media Giant Twitter to Post Earnings Per Share of $0.35 in Q4

The social media giant Twitter is expected to report its fourth-quarter earnings of $0.35 per share, which represents year-over-year growth of about 8% from $0.38 per share seen in the same period a year ago.

The company would post revenue growth of over 21% to $1.57 billion. Twitter expects revenues of approximately $1.5 billion to $1.6 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021. GAAP operating income is expected to range from $130 million to $180 million, according to ZACKS Research.

With a focus on engineering and products, Twitter expects to increase headcount and costs by 30% or more in 2021. In 2021, the company expects total revenues to grow faster than expenses.

Following Facebook’s disappointing earnings report on Wednesday, shares of social network operators Pinterest, Snap and Twitter all declined.

Twitter stock traded 5.50% lower at $34.48 on Thursday. The stock slumped over 20% so far this year after falling more than 20% in 2021.

Analyst Comments

“Lack of Negative Revisions and Relative Valuation: Valuation continues to be expensive, but we think investors are likely to continue to pay a premium for Twitter (TWTR) given 1) continued turnaround progress and 2) platform scarcity,” noted Brian Nowak, equity analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“Execution Risk Remains Around Driving Advertiser ROI: Advertiser ROI has clearly improved on Twitter, but the company needs to improve ad targeting and measurability to compete with the larger players. To do that it will have to further personalize the content that users see and use its data more effectively, both of which remain key strategic challenges (and priorities) for management.”

Twitter Stock Price Forecast

Twenty-one analysts who offered stock ratings for Twitter in the last three months forecast the average price in 12 months of $52.70 with a high forecast of $80.00 and a low forecast of $32.00.

The average price target represents a 49.97% change from the last price of $35.14. Of those 21 analysts, five rated “Buy”, 15 rated “Hold” while one rated “Sell”, according to Tipranks.

Morgan Stanley gave the base target price to $57 with a high of $79 under a bull scenario and $41 under the worst-case scenario. The investment bank gave an “Equal-weight” rating on the social media giant’s stock.

Several other analysts have also updated their stock outlook. Stifel started coverage with a hold rating and set the target price at $39. Bernstein cut the target price to $40 from $75. Jefferies lowered the target price to $40 from $45. MKM Partners slashed the price target to $51 from $77.

Technical analysis suggests it is good to sell as 100-day Moving Average and 100-200-day MACD Oscillator signals a strong selling opportunity.

Check out FX Empire’s earnings calendar

Top 4 Things Traders Have to Know Today

What is happening with Meta, Paypal and Spotify?

Spotify didn’t actually issue annual guidance, which seems to have exacerbated worries about potential subscriber growth potential. All three were down by double-digits in after hours trading at one point last night.

Competition is clearly much more fierce as larger players are starting to dial it in and use the latest technology to gain better traction i.e. Visa, Mastercard, etc. I also read reports this week that Apple is diving deeper into the payment and banking space and will soon be able to offer all kinds of options via the smartphone.

In simple terms, I wonder if PayPal executives could see they had a “growth” problem and that’s why they took a look at Pinterest a few months back. I heard rumors yesterday perhaps they might be looking at Robinhood.

At the moment the stock market just doesn’t seem real forgiving to those who swing and miss. On a somewhat positive note, Facebook disclosed they purchased back +$20 billion of their own stock in the last quarter.

Bulls are hoping for solid results from Amazon and Snap today to help prevent sentiment in the tech sector from creating more fallout. I’m not holding my breath!

Data to watch

Results are also due from Activision Blizzard, Biogen, Carlyle Group, Check Point, Cigna, Clorox, ConocoPhillips, Deckers Outdoors, Eli Lilly, Estee Lauder, Ford, Hanesbrands, Hershey, Honeywell, Ingredion, Merck, Pinterest, Quest Diagnostics, Royal Dutch Shell, SnapOn, Wynn Resorts, and Xylem.

On the economic data front, Factory Orders, the ISM Non-Manufacturing Index, and Productivity and Costs are due today. Productivity and Costs has become a more closely watched report as worries about climbing wages have grown. In the third quarter, productivity fell -5.2% (the most since 1960) and labor costs rose +9.6%.

Obviously, weakening productivity and rising costs is a bad combo for corporate profits so reversing this trend is a high priority. It may be tough to find much relief in the near-term with the labor market expected to remain extremely tight.

The shortage of workers has also been exacerbated by the latest Covid wave. ADP’s private payrolls report yesterday showed a decline of -301,000 jobs for January versus the estimate for a +200,000 gain, the first reported net job less since December 2020 according ADP.

Covid issue

Most analysts blame last month’s Covid surge for the decline and expect it is just temporary. The official January Employment Report on Friday is expected to show a gain of around +150,000 jobs, though the government has warned that the data won’t be reliable due to Covid-related reporting problems. Hopefully we’ll soon stop hearing that excuse as the Omicron Covid wave does seem to be burning itself out in the U.S. Case numbers across the country are about half of what they were in mid-January.

Hospitalizations have finally started to come down, too, which experts say is a more reliable measure. I hate to mention it but health officials are currently monitoring a mutated strain of Omicron known as “BA.2″… when does it end?

The standoff between Ukraine and Russia

Also still on the radar is the standoff between Russia and Ukraine. The U.S. is now readying to send more than +3,000 troops to bases in Eastern Europe as new satellite images appeared to show an even further increase in Russian troop buildup on Ukraine’s borders. Whether or not war is a realistic threat or not, the climbing tensions continue to stoke the flames in the energy markets.

Brent crude futures are trading near $90 as OPEC struggles to meet production targets and global physical supplies continue to tighten. The 19 OPEC+ countries with quotas underperformed their production targets by -832,000 b/d in December. Russia is currently the top OPEC+ producer, so any disruption to those supplies runs the risk of shooting oil prices even higher. Take note the front-end of the natural gas market is up over +50% in the first month of the new year. It’s certainly going to be a wild ride in 2022!

 

Stablecoin Sector Can Use Regulatory Scrutiny to Its Own Advantage

Stablecoins have had a rocky start to the year. With Tether moving to freeze some $160 million worth of USDT in three addresses on the Ethereum blockchain earlier this month, Meta (formerly Facebook) offloading its ill-fated Diem stablecoin project to one of its former partners, and Washington-based politicians promising to regulate the sector, fiat-pegged coins badly need an injection of positivity.

Fortunately for the sector, some believe that the demand for stablecoins is about to bloom – with experts predicting a rosy future for coins backed by the USD, as well as other currencies.

One such expert is Simone Mazzuca, the CEO of Wallex Trust – the company behind EURST. The firm claims that it is the first live-audited USD asset-backed euro stablecoin on the market.

Speaking exclusively with FX Empire, he explains that while it is natural for token developers to gravitate to the USD in order to “cover as much market as they can,” some investors are looking for diversity.

Arguably, it is precisely this departure from the notion that all stablecoins must be pegged to the greenback that could help spark this growth.

This, Mazzuca suggests, is why Europeans might look for options that help them do business in a currency they are more familiar with.

He explains:

“The EURST is for all users, for traders, brokers, merchants with Europe and with European clients, and as well for individuals who want to protect their assets, or just to store funds in digital assets for their utilities.”

The token, Mazzuca suggests, will allow Europeans to “link to the international markets.”

Last year, the Japanese internet firm and crypto exchange operator GMO Internet announced the launch of the nation’s first yen-pegged stablecoin.

A second, rival JPY-pegged coin emerged shortly after, and the American stablecoin operator Circle last year announced its own plans to back a yen-pegged token. A number of South Korean firms are also thought to be weighing up their KRW-pegged stablecoin options should the country’s ban on domestic coin offerings be lifted in the coming months.

But Mazzuca suggests EUR-pegged coins could have a very different appeal, as JPY-pegged tokens could be “very restricted as an ecosystem.”

FX Empire: Do stablecoin projects pegged to the JPY and other currencies face the same kind of challenges as yours?

 

Simone Mazzuca: Stablecoins’ issuance, stability and challenges rely on various factors, not only the peg. It is equally, if not more important, how a stablecoin is issued, the engineering behind it and its features.

Adoption Drive

Mazzuca claims that coins like his firms could eventually help power cross-border trade, and even “provide an alternative” to the SWIFT payment networks and the EU’s single euro payments area (SEPA) initiative.

He explains that the global economy is “undoubtedly facing a shift” toward the “adoption of cryptocurrencies,” and opines that “stablecoins are the natural and secure bridge to” the crypto sector.

And while European central banks are working on their own digital token (CBDC) projects, stablecoin operators believe that slow progress on this front means that fiat-pegged coins can fill a large gap in the market.

FX Empire: Do you think that CBDCs will open a door for stablecoins? Or will they shrink the market for the sector?

Simone Mazzuca: We believe that CBDCs are a very good idea. However, they are far from becoming a reality for the next three to four years. In the meantime, the demand for stablecoins is already present.

Indeed, if crypto adoption does drive the market and people start to embrace what the CEO calls the “benefits of blockchain,” it is only “logical” that “merchants and businesses will start to accept stablecoins – in order to be competitive.”

Regulatory Challenges

But what of the elephant in the room? Some would suggest that regulators appear to have had the knives out for stablecoins right from the start. Politicians all around the world took a very dim view of Diem (formally Libra), dragging Meta/Facebook’s executives in front of House and Senate committees and demanding a climbdown.

The Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC) was also the body that effectively took down the Telegram TON project just weeks from its scheduled launch in 2020.

Arguably it was this kind of pressure that forced the tide of “global stablecoins” run by tech firms back. Since then, few other conventional companies have dared brave the regulatory storm, despite talk years ago of international banks and other big-name firms entering the stablecoin space.

In recent months, Gary Gensler, the head of the SEC, has taken aim at existing stablecoins, equating them to “poker chips at a casino” on numerous occasions, calling for the introduction of strict, bank-like policing – and summoning operators to face a grilling at the hand of US regulators.

Late last year, Japanese regulators also started talking about stablecoin regulation.

But what some may see as a threat, others see as a potential opportunity.

FX Empire: What regulatory challenges does the sector face, and how does it plan to address them?

Simone Mazzuca: “It’s far more important that the SEC has gathered stablecoin issuers for a hearing in order to understand and bring information on stablecoin-issuing mechanisms. I see this action as having major importance. It shows that regulators are open to understanding.”

As a large increase in market cap and stablecoin usage is now “happening,” Mazzuca opines, “it is necessary and inevitable to have certain regulations protecting the market.” He says:

“These regulations would enable a bridge between traditional finance and the crypto space.”

Such regulations, he suggests, could help do away with bad actors and coins that are “not properly asset-backed or transparent and possess risks for their users.”

He concludes that tokens like his own “can be accepted to regulators,” only by “satisfying certain requirements of transparency.”

With mechanisms in place like “mint and burn systems, transparent audited reserves in 100% fiat funds, held in escrow accounts with insurance,” Mazzuca and others like him believe, stablecoins can move out of the “Wild West” space Gensler believes they currently operate in – and into the limelight.

S&P 500 Takes a Short Break After Recent Upswing

We are deep in the earning season, which is one reason American companies lost steam. I mean, most of the companies crush estimates (which helped the recent rally), but one did not. This company was Facebook, which heavily disappointed traders on Wall Street. It had a more significant impact on tech-heavy Nasdaq, where Facebook weights more, but we could also see an impact on today’s hero – SP500.

Yesterday’s session left on the SP500 chart a Doji (yellow), which is a candle of hesitation and a possible start of a correction. What is important is also the place where this Doji is present. I guess it is not a coincidence that it had been drawn on the crucial mid-term horizontal resistance around 4590 (blue), which served as a support at the end of December and beginning of January. Yes, from the technical point of view, this is a good place for a correction.

So, the base scenario, for now, is a small movement to the downside, but sentiment remains positive in the long term. In our view, we see the possible breakout of the blue resistance and a further attack on the new all-time highs.

Meta Platforms Enters Bear Market

Meta Platforms Inc. (FB) is trading lower by a staggering 21% in Thursday’s pre-market after missing Q4 2021 earnings-per-share (EPS) estimates and guiding Q1 2022 revenue below consensus. The social media giant posted a profit of $3.67 per-share, $0.16 lower than expectations, while revenue rose 19.8% year-over-year to $33.67 billion, meeting consensus. Downside guidance is now targeting $27.0 to $29.0 billion in revenue, much lower than the previously-expected $30.27 billion.

Privacy Changes Impacting Profits

The company blamed “ad impression and pricing related factors” for the profit shortfall and Q1 warning. It was the worst case scenario for shareholders, who have grown increasingly nervous that Apple Inc. (AAPL) iOS privacy changes would impact ad targeting well beyond one or two quarters. Limp user metrics added to Meta’s woes in the post-market, with daily average users (DAUs) rising just 5% year-over-year in December while user engagement fell.

BMO Markets and Raymond James issued downgrades after the news, significantly lowering price targets. On the flip side, boutique firm J. Stern and Co. is viewing the decline as a buying opportunity, with analyst Christopher Rossbach pounding the tables, noting “The massive investment that Meta is committing to the metaverse shows its ability and willingness to become a leader in this new sphere. We expect that these investments will generate significant returns in the future.”

Wall Street and Technical Outlook

Wall Street consensus has dropped to an ‘Overweight’ rating based upon 29 ‘Buy’, 4 ‘Overweight’, 7 ‘Hold’, 0 ‘Underweight’, and 1 ‘Sell’ recommendations but more downgrades are likely in coming sessions. Price targets currently range from a low of $250 to a Street-high $460 while the stock is set to open Thursday’s session close to the low target. This poor placement highlights the failure of analysts to weigh the impact of well-documented headwinds.

Meta Platforms broke out above 2018 resistance near 220 in May 2020, entering a powerful advance that initially stalled above 300 in August. It cleared that barrier in April 2021, lifting to an all-time high at 384.33 in early September. Aggressive sellers have taken control since that time, grinding out four selling waves that have now relinquished all of 2021’s upside. This failure marks a major change in trend, indicating the stock has now entered a secular bear market.

Catch up on the latest price action with our new ETF performance breakdown.

Disclosure: the author held no positions in aforementioned securities at the time of publication.

Google’s Alphabet is Looking to get Involved in Web3 and Blockchain Tech

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc, may be considering joining the evolving blockchain and Web3 technology space. The company CEO, Sundar Pichai, recently disclosed that he has been observing both sectors and finds them interesting.

Alphabet Eyes Blockchain and Web3 Support

In a recent discussion on Bloomberg about blockchain – the technology fueling the crypto industry, the 49-year-old Indian CEO mentioned some notable companies that have already been tapping from the potential of blockchain and Web3; then he opined that Alphabet Inc could also be considering going in the same direction.

He went on to describe blockchain as an interesting and powerful technology that serves several applications.

In his words, “Any time there is innovation, I find it exciting. I think it’s something we want to support the best we can.” He concluded that “we are definitely looking at blockchain.”

Interestingly, this is not the first pro-crypto move Alphabet is making. Last year, the giant tech company invested $1 billion in CME (Chicago Mercantile Exchange) on a 10-year deal.

Aside from that, Google, one of the companies under Alphabet, has also made several notable forays into the crypto space.

Big Tech Company’s Interest in Web3

Web 3.0 is the new generation of the internet that is succeeding the current web 1.0 and web.2.0. It would be an internet built on decentralized blockchain technology. Currently, Giant social media like Meta (Facebook) is making extensive moves into the space.

Facebook’s parent company Meta has made a number of moves to deepen its compatibility with blockchain tech. Just recently, the company filed for a trademark in Brazil that contained the word Bitcoin —an indication of its growing interest in understanding the space and how it works.

On the other, Twitter’s interest in Web3 remains somehow unclear. While the social media giant’s former CEO, Jack Dorsey, is a vocal supporter of Bitcoin, he recently criticized Web 3 for the avalanche of funds from venture capitals entering into the industry. 

Regulatory Woes Forces Facebook to Sell Diem Stablecoin Project to Silvergate

After years of regulatory pushbacks, Meta’s (Facebook) stablecoin project, Diem, has been shut down. Diem Association announced that it’s selling all associated assets to Silvergate for $200 million. 

Meta (Facebook) Sells Diem to Silvergate

The crypto-focused bank also partnered with the group on the project. Notably, the Diem Association had denied reports that it was looking to shut the operations of the organization.

According to the Association, the decision to sell comes after dialogue with federal regulators showed that the project couldn’t progress. The Stablecoin project, which started as Libra, was doomed to fail due to affiliations with the social media giant.

Diem Kept Attracting Regulatory Attention

When Meta announced that it was launching a stablecoin that people could use on its apps, many immediately kicked against the idea. 

The fear was that the tech company which already exerted so much influence would become more powerful when it could issue its own money.  

Although Facebook partnered with other companies to establish the Libra Association for the governance of the token, regulators and the general public remained unconvinced. 

The rebranding to Diem didn’t appear to affect the general opinion about that token. Instead, some founding members of the association started leaving.

Two years down the line, the idea of a stablecoin, which was novel at that time, has become quite popular. With Meta no longer connected to Diem, it’s possible that Silvergate could relaunch the project. 

When compared to most stablecoins today, Diem’s design is believed to be more regulator-friendly and transparent.

When the news of the sale broke, David Marcus, who was responsible for the Libra idea congratulated Silvergate and expressed his disappointment at how regulators and politicians alike worked against the project.

Meta’s Crypto Drive Continues

For Meta, there are other plans already in place. The company is piloting Novi digital wallet for its messaging app, WhatsApp. 

Apart from this, the social media giant recently filed a trademark registration with authorities in Brazil to be able to design and develop hardware and software solutions for Bitcoin and other crypto-related services.

Interestingly, the firm changed its name to Meta towards the end of last year in its effort to better align with its Metaverse aspirations. This move played a part in the increased interest in metaverse and NFTs from traditional firms.