Investcorp Rolls out First Institutional Blockchain Fund in the Gulf

Investcorp, a global manager of alternative investment products, has launched the first institutional blockchain fund in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) aimed at propelling a blockchain-powered digital evolution.

Dubbed Lydian Lion, the blockchain fund also has a global investment mandate. It will be mainly rolled out to early-stage companies within the blockchain ecosystem in areas like data analytics, decentralized finance, platforms and exchanges, and blockchain infrastructure.

Gilbert Kamieniecky, the head of Investcorp’s technology private equity business, noted that the fund would be a stepping stone towards more innovations in the blockchain space as the digital economy continues to gear up. He acknowledged:

“We believe that blockchain technology and the ecosystem around it, will transform every facet of our economy much like the internet did in the 2000s.”

Kamieniecky added:

“We have already seen the potential of blockchain to disrupt existing markets and create new ones, such as the meteoric rise of the non-fungible tokens market that in just a few years has grown from under a billion to more than $40 billion.”

As a fast-growing technology area, Hazem Ben-Gacem believes blockchain technology should be accorded more global reach and institutional expertise. 

The Co-CEO at Investcorp added:

“Offering our clients innovative and bold investment ideas, backed by our disciplined and proven approach, has been a key element of our success over the last four decades.”

The GCC is a political and economic alliance of six Middle East nations: the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar.

Meanwhile, a recent survey by Goldman Sachs, a leading global investment bank, noted that institutional interest in cryptocurrencies was witnessing strong growth because crypto exposure rose from 40% in 2021 to 51% in 2022. 

Furthermore, inflows into crypto investment products reached $193 million, a scenario that was last seen in mid-December 2021, according to digital asset management firm Coinshares. 

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Hong Kong Former Financial Secretary Joins Crypto Firm StashAway as Advisor

Hong Kong’s former financial secretary John Tsang has become an advisor of a Singapore-based digital wealth firm and has planned to give away a portion of his soon-to-be issued non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to attract new clients, according to a report by Bloomberg. - 2022-04-11T161743.738.jpg

John Tsang, who spent more than three decades in Hong Kong’s civil service, said that following his departure from the government, he became interested in working with young people and firms with technology platforms that have the potential to “disrupt” a particular industry.

StashAway – Tsang’s new employer – was founded in 2016 and has more than $1 billion in assets under management and is backed by investors including Sequoia Capital.

In Hong Kong, StashAway has been in operation for only a year but is in talks with local regulators on offering crypto-related products to professional and retail investors.

Currently, there are bout 15 people working for StashAway in Hong Kong. The company has plans to hire more wealth advisers and for customer service.

While in Singapore, StashAway users can already buy crypto as an add-on product to traditional portfolios.

The 70-year-old former financial officer once ran election for the Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2017. Tsang also announced the launch of his NFT project on April 4 as part of his effort to contribute to Hong Kong’s startups.

He said that the NFT project was created in collaboration with Japanese illustrator Yosuke Yamauchi and the two have launched a collection of 3,000 “Choi Yeah” (“God of Fortune”) NFTs.

He said, “The world has changed so much in the past few years. Troubles of varying nature in our communities are causes for concern for all of us as we unwittingly enter the new Web 3.0 universe! This ‘Choi Yeah NFT’ project will dedicate 10% of the secondary trading transaction proceeds to support Hong Kong tech startups.”

Tsang will gift some of the NFTs from the collection to new StashAway clients, Bloomberg reported. However, in order to win the NFTs, clients will have to make an investment of at least HK$50,000 in their first deposit.

Apart from his current position, Tsang is also a senior adviser at virtual insurance firm Bowtie. 

According to Bloomberg, many wealthy investors have shown interest in the crypto sector. 

Citing a report from Campden Wealth, Bloomberg said that 35% of family offices in Asia-Pacific plan on increasing their allocation to cryptocurrency in the coming year – which is higher than the global average of 28%. 

It added that the Hong Kong Monetary Authority is working on releasing a new regulatory regime for crypto assets by July.

“We’ve had a lot of requests about it, especially because a lot of our investors are younger,” Stephanie Leung, a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. trader who heads the firm’s Hong Kong operations, told Bloomberg. “If you look at the older cohorts, they are also interested because of the returns.”

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Bybit Launches Leveraged Token Products

Cryptocurrency exchange Bybit announced last Friday the launch of leveraged token products. - 2022-04-11T150910.994.jpg

The token products were released on the trading platform’s spot exchange starting with two leveraged bitcoin tokens, BTC3L and BTC3S.

Bybit recommended these leveraged tokens as short-term investment vehicles, which will allow traders to reap the benefits of leverage with no margin, collateral or liquidation risks.

“They have no margin requirement, offering traders a diversified product that exposes them to greater gains,” the company said.

The firm noted that the new tokens – BTC3L, BTC3S and BTC3 – serve as long and short trades on BTC with 3x leverage.

“We are thrilled to offer our clients another great trading opportunity in launching leveraged tokens,” said Ben Zhou, co-founder and CEO of Bybit. “We are always looking for ways to help our users capitalize on market opportunities, and leveraged tokens are an excellent addition.”

In other recent developments, Bybit successfully secured a deal with Formula 1 team Red Bull Racing.

According to a report from Blockchain.News, following a 3-year deal, Singapore-based crypto assets trading platform Bybit became the Principal Team Partner for Oracle Red Bull Racing, one of the most successful Formula 1 team.

As announced by Red Bull, the deal is worth $50 million annually and will be paid in cash and the trading platform’s native token, the BitDAO (BIT) tokens, the report added.

Bybit will form a major part of the Red Bull innovation team and help champion several initiatives in two primary ways, exclusively as the Cryptocurrency Exchange Partner and the Team’s Tech Incubator Partner.

Bybit was also successful in partnering with Cabital – a digital financial institution.

Blockchain.News reported that the partnership aims to integrate Cabital’s fiat on-ramp feature, allowing Bybit cryptocurrency trading platform users to directly use fiat currencies EUR and GBP to buy cryptocurrencies with lower costs of gas fees.

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Shinhan bank Opens Door to Corporate Crypto Accounts, Paving the Way for Institutional Adoption

As the first domestic lender on South Korean soil, Shinhan Bank has rolled out real-name corporate accounts to enable transactions from cash to crypto-based on its partnership with cryptocurrency exchange Korbit.

Local regulations made this venture a reality by allowing bank-partnered and licensed crypto exchanges to render cash-to-crypto services. 

Furthermore, the passage of the Reporting and Use of Certain Financial Transaction Information Act extended counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering financing regulations to digital asset service providers. 

The bank acknowledged that it averted such risks through the Shinhan-backed custody service KDAC. 

Digital asset custody is a service that safely manages and stores digital assets owned by various organizations and entities. Therefore, the corporations taking part in the project are chosen by Shinhan Bank and are members of Korea Digital Asset Custody (KDAC).

With the incoming South Korean President, Yoon Suk-yeol pledged of easing crypto regulations; analysis shows the market is on a solid path to being significantly legitimized.

As a result, local banks in the nation intend to ride this wave while seeking authorization to enter the crypto space through their representative body called the Korea Federation of Banks. 

The banks had raised concerns that the crypto market in the country could be monopolized because a “certain local crypto exchange” accounted for 90% of the market share. 

Given that crypto taxation has been a burning issue in South Korea since its parliament tabled a bill in 2020 where cryptocurrency gains would be slapped with a 20% gain, the incoming president vowed to zero tax crypto trading gains not exceeding 50 million won, approximately $40,000. 

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Elon Musk Abandons to Join Twitter Board, while Tesla Join Hands with Tech Firms for Mining Bitcoin Green

In efforts to make Bitcoin (BTC) mining more environmentally friendly, Tesla, Blockstream, and Jack Dorsey-owned Block, formerly Square, have teamed up to power a mining facility with solar energy, according to CNBC. Meanwhile, Elon Musk, the biggest shareholder of Twitter decides not to join the board of Twitter, says CEO Parag Agrawal. - 2022-04-11T152557.604.jpg

Musk-led Telsa utilizes a 3.8 megawatts (MW) solar PV array and a 12 megawatt-hour (MWh) Megapack, the Bitcoin mining facility in Texas, which is expected to be completed construction later this year, will be propelled by 30 Petahashes per second of mining hardware using 100% solar energy.

Megapack is a robust lithium-ion battery developed by Tesla that offers energy support and storage. 

Adam Back, a British cryptographer and the co-founder and CEO of Blockstream, noted:

“This is a step to proving our thesis that Bitcoin mining can fund zero-emission power infrastructure and build economic growth for the future.”

Tracking the project using an open dashboard

Back said:

“People like to debate about the different factors to do with bitcoin mining. We figured, let’s just prove it. Have an open dashboard so people can play along, maybe it can inform other players to participate.”

The dashboard will be open to the public, showing the real-time performance of the project, including total Bitcoin mined and power output. 

Meanwhile, Blockstream will be responsible for the mining infrastructure and oversee the project.

As Texas State enjoys sufficient solar and wind energy, it is emerging as an ideal location for Bitcoin miners. 

Back confirmed that wind power will be added to the expand the scale of Bitcoin mining if the project is profitable. He stated:

“You’re making a sort of calculation of the optimal economic mix between solar and battery. There’s 3.8 megawatts of solar and one megawatt of mining, so you can see you have to overprovision, because the peak solar input varies during the day and, of course, it’s not there at night.”

Incorporating wind energy would minimize overall costs by balancing solar’s downtime.

Neil Jorgensen, Block’s global ESG lead, noted the project would be a stepping stone toward using renewable energy in BTC mining. He noted:

“By collaborating on this full-stack, 100% solar-powered bitcoin mining project with Blockstream, using solar and storage technology from Tesla, we aim to further accelerate bitcoin’s synergy with renewables.”

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil, an oil and energy giant, recently announced the launch of a pilot program to convert excess natural gas into energy that powered mobile generators to mine Bitcoin.

Elon Musk gives up to join Twitter’s board

On the other hand, days after Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc. and SpaceX, attained a 9.2% ownership stake of Twitter and was appointed a member of the board of directors, he decided to abandon plans to be part of the board in Twitter. Nevertheless, Musk remains the largest shareholder of the social media giant. 

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Best Gainers and Top Losers for the Week: XMR, MINA, AXS, WAVES

Another business week just starts on Monday. Printing a good gain in the digital currency ecosystem now takes more than just a slight swing or an impressive bullish close for the day. It takes massive resilience on the path of the coin and a sustained buying momentum spanning days.


Despite the growth in the broader crypto ecosystem, there is a high level of volatility that investors are typically cautious of. Over the past week, it has favoured a few coins and stirred a massive sellsell-offngst others.

At the time of writing, the global cryptocurrency market capitalization is pegged at exactly $2, up 1.58% in the past 24 hours. Here are the best and poor performers in the past week.

Best Gainers: XMR and MINA

Monero (XMR) is one of the best gainers for the week, changing hands at $243.09, up 2.88% in the past 24 hours, and has risen by over 13% in the week-to-date period. Monero is a privacy coin whose value has been called into question in recent times by regulators worldwide as transactions are generally untraceable.

It is yet unknown what spiked the growth in Monero in the past week. However, with growing sanctions in Russia per the ongoing war with Ukraine, Russians are likely taking to Monero coin to conduct some of their transactions.

Mina (MINA) coin also printed a growth of 15.47% growth to print a price tag of $3.12. While the coin has pared off some of its gains at the time of writing, its bullish momentum is billed to imprint a notable resilience from the temporary sellsell-offt may be introduced in the short.

Top Losers: AXS and WAVES

The bears dominated the market relatively more in the trailing 7-day period with Axie Infinity (AXS) and Waves (WAVES) amongst the coins that bore the brunts more. While AXS slipped 22.81% to $50.96, WAVES dropped 49.78% to $24.84. 

Both coins are notably paring off their losses as well as they have a relatively impressive outlook per the daily gain trail. The receipt of bailout funds from Binance Exchange and others is poised to help cushion the effects of the hack the Ronin Bridge of Axie Infinity experienced barely 2 weeks ago. 

In all, the digital currency ecosystem is opening up to a new week that is poised to be filled with a lot of intriguing price trends.

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Crypto Market Witnesses Increase in Women Users: Report

The cryptocurrency market is witnessing an increase in women users, according to a report from BTC Markets. - 2022-04-11T112858.709.jpg

The Australian bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange said that it saw a 175% increase in women users last fiscal year. The percentage dwarfed the 80% increase it saw in male users, the report stated.

Compared to the $2,060 average deposits from men, women made larger initial deposits of an average of $2,381, according to the report. But portfolio sizes for women were slightly lesser than men by about $400 on average.

The report also suggested that women followed a “structured trading strategy with a smaller range of more focused positions” as they traded fewer times a day. It added that women traded two times a day on average as compared to five by men.

Women are also more risk-averse than men in financial studies, the report stated.

“More women trading cryptocurrency dispels stereotypes around cryptocurrency investors being risk lovers,” according to the report.

A recent report from the global cryptocurrency exchange Gemini also showed an increase in crypto investments among women in the Asia Pacific region, but also an exponential growth of crypto adoption in the UK in 2021.

According to the report, around two in five crypto owners in Singapore (40%) and India (38%) are women. However, Australia trails behind, with only 27% of crypto owners being women, but it is expected to increase.

While 37% or more than one-third of crypto owners in Hong Kong are women, the percentage is higher than in the United States (32%) and the United Kingdom (35%); however, 51% or more than half of crypto owners in Indonesia are women.

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Binance Appoints Former FCA Boss as Global Regulatory Head

Binance exchange, the world’s largest cryptocurrency trading platform, has appointed the services of Steven McWhirter as its global director of regulatory policy.


The appointment is highly significant as it marked the onboarding of yet another high-profile government official that the exchange will be onboarding as it seeks new ways to become friends with regulators worldwide.

Steven McWhirter led a successful career at the United Kingdom’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). In his more than 9 years of active service, he worked as the commission’s technical specialist focusing on governance, conduct, and professionalism policy. His FCA engagements also extend to the data, technology, and innovation division where he was a manager at FCA Innovate.

With these rich experiences, McWhirter will help Binance in establishing its regulatory framework. With his LinkedIn profile update to showcase his new role at Binance, the veteran policymaker appears enthusiastic to assume his new role at the exchange platform.

“I’ve been very fortunate in my time at the FCA to be involved in many national, European and global policy initiatives and debates, particularly in respect of financial services regulation of technology, where working with many great regulators, firms and global bodies gave me a ringside seat during a fascinating period in policymaking,” he said in a statement.

Binance had a rough year in 2021, as the FCA and Malaysian financial regulator amongst other regulators issued statements targeting the trading platform’s legal rights to do business on its shores. The warnings from these regulators notably stirred the trading platform to taper down its services in some regions, including China, the UK, and South Korea. 

In a bid to upturn the events in its favour, Binance has been working on a plan to establish regional headquarters, a notable shift in its current model where it has no visible operating zone. The trading platform also once employed Brian Brooks, the former US OCC head to head its US subsidiary. However, Brooks’ employment was short-lived due to differences in strategic approaches.

The appointment of McWirther aligns with the exchange’s broader global goal of upturning its regulatory standing with regulators across the board.

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EU Council Expands Sanctions on Crypto Wallets, Targeting Russian Officials

The European Union Council has imposed another round of sanctions on Russia with an extended ban on cryptocurrency-focused transactions for already blacklisted Russian individuals and their relatives. - 2022-04-11T111252.426.jpg

According to the latest round of the sanctions, there is now a new “prohibition on providing high-value crypto-asset services to Russia, a move that is so defined in order to “contribute to closing potential loopholes.” 

The sanction also follows other financial ban measures, including additional sanctions on four major Russian banks, accounting for about 23% of the banking sector shares. Coupled with the previous ban from the SWIFT network, the latest ban on these banks will imply a complete alienation of Russians from the European Union markets.

Russia has continued to receive sanctions due to its invasion of Ukraine last month. Per new insights into the ongoing war, the country’s forces target the civilian population, amounting to war crimes against international human rights.

“These latest sanctions were adopted following the atrocities committed by Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation. The aim of our sanctions is to stop the reckless, inhuman, and aggressive behaviour of the Russian troops and make clear to the decision-makers in the Kremlin that their illegal aggression comes at a heavy cost,” said Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.

Since the sanctions started rolling in, Russian officials have explored a number of alternative measures to bypass the sanctions being meted out by the EU and the United States. After a long time of considering banning Bitcoin (BTC) transactions and mining, Moscow has started advocating for legalizing mining as a way to cushion the sanctions.

Additionally, Moscow has considered accepting Bitcoin for international transactions as the financial sanctions have prevented the country’s ability to make transactions through Dollar dominated fiat currency. The essence of the sanctions has been to limit Russia’s economic and financial capability to continue the war, and perhaps, these new sanctions may force President Vladimir Putin to sheath the sword and adhere to a permanent ceasefire.

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DBS Eyeing for the Metaverse

Singapore-based bank DBS, the largest financial institution in the ASEAN, is reportedly eyeing a move into the metaverse, a trend that many banking giants are looking to become pioneers in.


As contained in an interview with Nikkei Asia, DBS’s Chief Information Officer, Jimmy Ng, confirmed the bank’s strategy now involves a dive into new technological innovations, including the metaverse.

New Diversification for Tech Research Funds

DBS has earned its mark as a financial institution that heavily invested in new tech as it earmarks as much as 1 billion Singapore dollars ($730 million) annually. The bank is now ready to divest some of the funds into the metaverse, in a bid to cement its digital banking push.

“There are a few key technologies that we are looking at. One of them, of course, is the metaverse,” Ng said. “We are actively exploring this space even as it evolves.”

The plan does not come as a surprise for a bank like DBS, one of the few outfits licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to operate a cryptocurrency trading platform in the country. While Ng did not give more explanations on what the metaverse push will entail, Ng confirmed that Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) would play a major part as both technologies are highly interwoven.

One of the ways Ng said the bank will get involved with the metaverse is probably by setting up an avenue by which its clients can access the bank’s services through the metaverse. He affirmed that “the way we do banking can be imported to very different platforms, such as the metaverse.”

“We believe that over time, emerging technologies such as blockchain, [augmented reality] and [virtual reality] will converge to create very interesting use cases that we have never imagined,” he said.

Back in January, JPMorgan Chase & Co set up a version of its Onyx platform on Decentraland, coming off as one of the major banking firms to fully explore the capabilities of the metaverse. With the new pursuit, DBS will not play second fiddle to its peers in the race for the metaverse.

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Bitcoin (BTC) $ 27,602.40 1.15%
Ethereum (ETH) $ 1,642.29 0.50%
Litecoin (LTC) $ 64.00 2.61%
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $ 228.65 1.35%