DTCC to Build Prototype Supporting US Digital Dollar in Clearing & Settlement Process

The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC), a US post-trade financial services company providing clearing and settlement services to the financial markets, announced on Tuesday that it is developing the first prototype in the industry to examine how a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) might operate in the U.S clearing and settlement infrastructure using distributed ledger technology (DLT).

The prototype, known as Project Lithium, will explore the benefits of a CBDC and inform the future design of the company’s clearing and settlement offerings. Furthermore, DTCC said that the prototype will examine how a CBDC could enable atomic settlement, a conditional settlement that happens if delivery and payment are both received at the same time.

DTCC is developing the Project Lithium pilot through a partnership with ‘The Digital Dollar Project,’ a non-profit led by former U.S. regulators, prominent tech leaders and executives from the consulting firm Accenture.

The aim of the prototype is to demonstrate the direct, bilateral settlement of cash tokens between participants in real-time delivery-versus-payment (DVP) settlement. The pilot will also examine how it can leverage DTCC’s robust clearing and settlement abilities to fully realize the potential benefits of a CBDC, including increased capital efficiency, guaranteed delivery of cash and securities, a more efficient, automated workflow, reduced counterparty risk and trapped liquidity, and enhanced transparency to regulators.

With initial funding from Accenture, DDP continues organizing a series of retail and wholesale pilots to assess how a CBDC might work across the American social landscape and the U.S. financial infrastructure.

Jennifer Peve, Managing Director, Head of Strategy and Business Development at DTCC, talked about the development and said: “DTCC has for several years been experimenting, engaging and leading the conversation around the digitization of financial markets, and Project Lithium represents the next major step in our exploration of DLT, tokenization and other emerging technologies. Project Lithium will lay the groundwork for the financial community to better evaluate the implications of a CBDC across the trade lifecycle, as interest in this style of funding continues to grow.”

Meanwhile, J. Christopher Giancarlo, co-founder and Executive Chairman of The Digital Dollar Project and former chairman of the CFTC, also commented on the development and stated: “A CBDC could improve time and cost efficiencies, provide broader accessibility to central bank money and payments, and all while emulating the features of physical cash in an increasingly digital world. We thank DTCC for their partnership in the first of a series of pilots and their deep commitment to helping the financial community better understand and realize the potential advantages and challenges of a U.S.-backed digital currency.”

Digitizing Securities and Capital Markets

As the markets evolve and become more digitized, the use of fiat currency continues to decline while the adoption of tokenized securities rises at a rapid pace.

Project Lithium is the latest effort by DTCC to continue leading the industry toward greater digitalization. The move by DTCC comes a few weeks ago U.S. President Joe Biden issued an executive order directing the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve to look into a potential CBDC.

In June 2020, DTCC launched a Project Whitney study, a prototype digital infrastructure on Ethereum, a public blockchain, to explore how it can support the issuance, transfer, and servicing of ownership of private digital assets. At the same time, DTCC also released Project Ion, an accelerated settlement project that further explored how the institution can shorten clearing and settlement cycles.

In November last year, DTCC moved a step further and launched a new platform called the ‘Digital Securities Management (DSM)’ platform to streamline the issuance, transfer and servicing of private market securities. The platform represented a major milestone in DTCC’s efforts to bring efficiency, standardization, and automation to the private markets, building upon its Project Whitney case study.

Using Cloud, API and DLT technology, the Digital Securities Management platform aims to provide the foundational infrastructure to enable the tokenization of securities and transform the private market ecosystem. 

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USDC Issuer Circle Secures $400M Funding from Fidelity and BlackRock

Circle, the company behind USD Coin (USDC), has bagged funding worth $400 million from different players, including Fidelity Management, BlackRock Inc, and Research LLC, signalling traditional finance interest in the crypto space.

As one of the largest tokens in terms of market capitalization, USDC has just surpassed Tether (USDT) by reaching a $40 billion market cap on the Ethereum network, according to online media Anue, citing data from CryptoRank data.

Currently, USDC’s presence in the crypto market continues to sit fifth among the top-ten cryptocurrencies, with a market capitalization over $50.68 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

Circle’s partnership with BlackRock, a leading American multinational investment company, will enhance capital market applications for USDC. 

BlackRock will also be the primary asset manager for USDC’s cash reserves. 

The penetration of cryptocurrencies in traditional finance continues to gain steam. BlackRock’s CEO Larry Fink has shown receptiveness to this sector because he sees it as a stepping stone toward helping clients.

Rob Goldstein, the chief operating officer at BlackRock, acknowledged:

“We believe digital assets and blockchain technologies are going to become increasingly relevant for BlackRock and our clients.”

Circle’s CEO, Jeremy Allaire, noted that adding BlackRock as a strategic investor will boost USDC’s adoption. He pointed out:

“Dollar digital currencies like USDC are fueling a global economic transformation.”

Other investors in the project include Fin Capital and Marshall Wace LLP, with the funding round anticipated to end in the second quarter. 

Circle continues to make notable strides in the corporate world. Earlier this year, the Chicago-based company launched a new account service that enabled corporate customers to deposit, withdraw, receive and store cryptocurrencies through their account and settle all payments in USDC.

Furthermore, the newly added feature would enable corporate accounts to integrate cryptocurrency trading into their corporate accounts’ operations and offers eligible investors a stablecoin lending program called Circle Yield, Inc., which offers annual returns of up to 4% to 6%.

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Hong Kong’s MaiCapital Wins SFC Approval to Fully Manage Virtual Asset Portfolios

In Hong Kong, the local-based MaiCapital Limited announced Tuesday that it has secured approval from the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) to fully manage virtual assets portfolios.

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In its announcementMaiCapital said the approval allows the SFC-licensed blockchain and virtual assets manager the authority to manage portfolios that may comprise up to 100% of virtual assets.

Prior to securing the approval, MaiCapital operated with the SFC’s Type 4 and Type 9 licenses since 2018. The licenses allowed the company to advise on securities and grant permission to act as an asset manager respectively- through which MaiCapital has been operating two actively managed blockchain-themed hedge funds which have achieved more than 20 times growth in total AUM since 2019.

Along with the approval, MaiCapital was also able to secure Walthking Investment as an investor and shareholder of the MaiCapital group.

Looking ahead, MaiCapital plans to widen its services of virtual asset fund products and regulated crypto services to investors globally, while also aiming to grow its intentional business to over US$200 million.

“With the extended approval from SFC, MaiCapital is on an even greater trajectory to bring more innovative investment products and services to professional and institutional investors. Wealthking firmly believes in the development potential of Blockchain technology plus digital economy and has invested heavily in these areas for the past few years,” Liu Zhiwei, Chairman of Wealthking, said.

“The next step will be to optimally utilize our strengths to help MaiCapital reach greater heights.”

MaiCapital claims that its Blockchain Opportunity Fund is the first virtual asset-themed fund managed by an SFC-licensed manager to garner more than 3 years of track record.

The company has also said that it only partners with regulated exchanges and custodians in the management of its blockchain-themed funds.

“MaiCapital has always prided itself in its ability to invest in the nascent cryptocurrency asset class with the highest compliance standards and an unyielding focus to protect the interests of investors,” said MaiCapital’s CEO, Benedict Ho. 

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bloXroute Raises $70M in Series B Funding to Speed up DeFi transactions

As a critical infrastructure provider for quick decentralized finance (DeFi) trades on Ethereum, Polygon, and Binance Smart Chain, bloXroute has raised $70 million in Series B funding to boost its quest of reducing latency on blockchain networks. 

bloXroute, a blockchain distribution network (BDN) meant to enhance blockchain scalability, completed the funding campaign spearheaded by SoftBank. The other participants included Rockaway Blockchain Fund, ParaFi Capital, Lightspeed, Jane Street, Flybridge, Flow Traders, Dragonfly, and Blindspot.

The quest for lightning speeds

With a DeFi transaction volume of more than $1.5 billion daily, bloXroute’s objective is to render lightning speeds in the decentralized finance arena.

bloXroute enables DeFi traders to win more transactions by avoiding network congestion through a distributed infrastructure meant for mempool services and block propagation. Per the report:

“bloXroute’s unique network topology offers up to 2 seconds faster block propagation, up to 1 second faster transaction propagation, and 50-400 milliseconds faster transaction discovery (also known as mempool services).”

Aaron Wong, an investor at SoftBank Investment Advisers, stated:

“bloXroute’s global distribution network enables unparalleled transaction settlements for trading, and we foresee exciting use cases to emerge in industries such as NFTs, blockchain-based metaverses, and gaming. We are thrilled to partner with Uri and the team to help build a blockchain superhighway with uncongested performance.” 

He added:

“We believe that bloXroute holds the key to unlocking faster transaction speeds and reduced latency on multiple blockchain networks.”

With the DeFi sector taking the world by storm, the company intends to make transactions less cumbersome for optimal returns. 

Haseeb Qureshi, a managing partner at Dragonfly, pointed out:

“DeFi has exploded in growth over the last couple of years, but DeFi infrastructure is still in its infancy. We are excited to be in business with bloXroute, and believe this partnership will accelerate mainstream DeFi acceptance and bring real solutions to the DeFi space.”

Given that bloXroute is designed for the rapid dissemination of blockchain blocks, it propels decentralization by minimizing wasted miner efforts. Uri Klarman, the co-founder and CEO of bloXroute, added:

“This investment enables us to expand our team, extend our reach, and continue making the propagation of data more efficient and reliable.”

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

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Prime Trust Hires Former Secret Service Veteran as VP of Regulatory Affairs

Prime Trust, a Les Vegas-based technology-driven trust company that provides financial infrastructure for fintech and digital asset firms, announced Tuesday that it has appointed Jeremy Sheridan, the former Assistant Director of Investigations at the Secret Service of U.S., as the company’s Vice President of Regulatory Affairs.

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Sheridan joins an extensive team of Prime Trust government and regulatory experts from several governmental bodies like the Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies, SEC, OCC, Federal Reserve, and U.S. Treasury.

In his new role, Sheridan will be tasked with overseeing Prime Trust’s regulatory strategies, engaging with Federal and State agencies, as well as being a regulatory thought leader for the fintech and cryptocurrency industries.

Sheridan has over 20 years of work experience in law enforcement and leadership in investigations for the United States Secret Service under the Department of Homeland Security.

Sheridan started his career in 1997 as a special agent in the Tucson, AZ, Resident Office. In 2002, he was assigned to the Presidential Protective Division (PPD), where he served under President George W. Bush. In 2008, he joined the supervisory ranks as Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAIC) of the Human Capital Division. In 2021, Sheridan got a promotion to serve as Assistant Director of the Office of Intergovernmental and Legislative Affairs, with oversight of the Privacy Office, Congressional Affairs Program, Homeland Security Program, the Liaison Division, and Freedom of Information Act Office.

Before joining Prime Trust, Jeremy was serving as Assistant Director of the Office of Investigations, where he led the global investigative mission of the Secret Service, which is constituted of 161 offices and over 3,000 staff.

Tom Pageler, the Chief Executive Officer of Prime Trust, talked about the new hiring and said: “Prime Trust is deeply committed to building the highest levels of regulatory, compliance and security controls for the digital asset marketplace. With his extraordinary level of regulatory and law enforcement experience, Jeremy will be a critical asset to Prime Trust’s leadership team and an advocate for new and evolving technologies in the fintech and crypto space.”

Sheridan also commented about his appointment and stated: “I have dedicated my career to law enforcement service and helping to ensure the safety and security of top-tier government operations. I am very excited to be joining the Prime Trust team and help shape the future of the new digital economy with world-class security, compliance and operational excellence.”

Accelerating Product Offerings to Meet Growing Needs of Fintech

Last December, Prime Trust announced a breakout year for the firm with strong revenue growth, continued team expansion, and explosive growth in new accounts opened via Prime Trust APIs (over 2000% from the previous year). Prime Trust’s remarkable year was attributed to the ability of the company to scale into new markets, attract and partner with premier investors, achieve important certifications, and hire talent with regulatory expertise.

Through strategic partnerships, hiring of excellent talent, and the expansion of new systems within the payments and alternative assets markets, Prime Trust was able to develop a superior financial infrastructure that not only helps its customers launch quickly but also fuels a new economy.

Since its establishment in 2016, Prime Trust continues to power innovation in the digital economy by providing fintech and digital asset firms with financial infrastructure. Through its full suite of APIs, the company helps fintech companies and financial institutions to build seamlessly, launch quickly, and scale securely.


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Ignite Floats $150m Accelerator Fund for Web3.0 Projects

Ignite, the blockchain development startup in charge of the Cosmos Network has announced the launch of a $150 million Accelerator Fund to help fast-track the timing required for interoperability-focused projects to hit the market. 


As announced by the startup, the Cosmos Accelerator fund received backing from Alameda Research, KuCoin Ventures, OKX, Blockdream Ventures, Hashkey Capital, Chorus One, Figment, Chainlayer, Strangelove Ventures, Forbole, Everstake, and Galileo. The Ignite Accelerator fund, “ensures that individuals who would like to be part of building an open and decentralized global future are set up for success,” Ignite CEO Peng Zhong said in a statement.

Last week, Ignite (formerly Tendermint Inc) announced the first of its two scheduled upgrades that will usher the Cosmos ecosystem into a multi-chain and interoperable protocol. The latest upgrade termed the Theta Upgrade, represents the first big step toward Interchain Accounts by enabling the Cosmos Hub to act as a host chain.

The Ignite Accelerator Fund is not limited to protocols building on the Cosmos network alone, but rather will focus on the broader crypto ecosystem. When all scheduled upgrades are completed, custody providers will be able to service accounts on other IBC-connected blockchains through the Cosmos Hub common interface.

The Ignite Accelerator will seek to back as many as 20 projects annually and will extend its support to capacity building at the behest of its funding partners. The first set of applications for the funding is already open with new beneficiaries slated to be announced by June. As detailed by the startup, the successful applicants will also gain “hands-on guidance in key areas like blockchain development, marketing, [public relations] and tokenomics.”

The launch of the Ignite Accelerator funds trails a related move from other mainstream blockchain protocols including Terra and Avalanche to mention a few. The difference between the Cosmos-linked funds is that it enjoins beneficiaries from other ecosystems whereas those of its competitors are specific to protocols building on their network only.

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Ripple Scores a Big Win against the SEC as Court Denies SEC’s Motion

The ongoing legal battle between the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and blockchain payments firm Ripple Labs Inc may be nearing its end, as Judge Sarah Netburn has denied the regulator’s motion for Reconsideration of the DPP Ruling in one of the latest court orders passed back in January.


Per the order, the Judge demanded the production of certain SEC documents – after concluding they were not protected by DPP – in order to allow the defendants to challenge the SEC’s allegations that Ripple founder Chris Larsen and CEO Brad Garlinghouse were objectively reckless in believing that XRP was not a security and that Ripple was on “fair notice” that XRP was a security.

As determined by the Judge, a reconsideration move is only triggered in the presence of an “extraordinary remedy to be employed sparingly in the interests of finality and conservation of scarce judicial resources,” and she does not believe the ongoing brawl between the SEC and Ripple is at that point yet.

As it has been seen throughout the span of these court proceedings, the contentions lie in the SEC protecting internal documents from being accessed by the Ripple, a move that many close to the matter may stir an end to the ongoing row. It is projected that the regulator will rather settle than allow communication documents that may impact the future of related enforcement actions it may launch to be jeopardized.

The SEC sued Ripple back in December 2020 for $1.3 billion for the sales of XRP coin as an unregistered security. The commission also indicted Larsen and Garlinghouse, who are co-defendants in the ongoing lawsuit. The SEC has 14 days to file an objection to this decision to District Judge Torres, and as the world anticipates the next move of the commission, Ripple, XRP, and the broader community need not celebrate this win just yet.

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Singapore’s FOMO Pay Introduces New Crypto Payment Solution for Retailers

Singapore-based major payment institution FOMO Pay has introduced a new cryptocurrency payment solution for retailers in the island city-state.

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The new payment method will allow retailers in Singapore to accept digital payment tokens (DPT) – the first to be developed by a DPT licensee in Singapore.

According to Singapore Legal Advice, “a digital payment token is any cryptographically-secured digital representation of value that is used or intended to be used as a medium of exchange, i.e. cryptocurrency. Examples of digital payment tokens are Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin and Monero.”

In compliance with regulations, FOMO Pay has successfully started implementing its new solution with luxury retailers – including EuroSports Auto, 2ToneVintage, and Luxehouze, amongst others.

According to a survey conducted in Singapore by comparison site The Finder, the city-state’s crypto ownership is at 15.8% (January 2022) – a rate slightly higher than the global average of 15.5%. 

While a survey conducted by the FIS on a sample size of 800 consumers in Singapore found that 33% would be interested in using crypto as a form of payment in the future.

“The rise in the adoption of cryptocurrency has opened up more avenues for consumers in the way they make their payments. FOMO Pay aims to gear our merchants with crypto acceptance, allowing them to support more payment methods. This brings us one step closer towards our mission to build Asia’s first licensed gateway that connects businesses with fiat and crypto,” Louis Liu, Founder and Chief Executive Officer at FOMO Pay said.

The new crypto payment option will allow retailers to accept a range of different cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, USDT and USDC.

Following the adoption of the crypto payment solution, retailers will see a reduction in cost due to lower transaction fees compared to those from conventional fiat currency payment methods.

Besides becoming Singapore’s first DPT licensee, FOMO Pay is also part of the DBS Digital Exchange ecosystem. 

Founded in 2015, FOMO Pay is licensed by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) to conduct Cross-Border Money Transfer Service, Domestic Money Transfer Service, Digital Payment Token Service, and Merchant Acquisition Service.

In another major crypto-related development in Singapore, the government has passed a law to regulate Virtual Assets Service Providers (VASPs) operating abroad.

According to a report by Blockchain.News, VASPs that originate from Singapore but provide their business offerings or products abroad are now required to secure licensing from the relevant authorities, signalling a shift in position that may soon become law as the city-state’s parliament has passed the Financial Services and Markets Bill.

Bloomberg reported that the new bill is deemed essential in curtailing all avenues by which crypto-hinged trading platforms will be a conduit for Anti-Money Laundering (AML) offences.

“Virtual asset service providers created in Singapore that provide services only elsewhere are unregulated for anti-money laundering and countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), which creates reputational risks for the Republic,” said Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) board member Alvin Tan.

Blockchain.News reported that Singapore’s approach to supporting the growing digital currency ecosystem is multi-faceted. While the country’s regulators believe in the revolutionary potentials of these nascent asset classes and the technologies powering them, a great deal of caution is being exercised as it does the hard work of cautiously picking the companies it grants its licenses.

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SWEAT: The Token to Convert Steps, Movement into Crypto

Sweatcoin plans to inspire people to live healthier lives by introducing a new token.

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The London-based tech company’s SWEAT: The Token will be launched at the Paris Blockchain Week Summit which starts on April 13.

According to Sweatcoin, the idea behind the token is to launch a global currency based on the value of steps and movement and the cryptocurrency will be minted purely by steps.

Sweatcoin’s design is primarily to incentivise people’s health. It is a pioneering idea to empower people to improve their health and get paid for it.

Currently, Sweatcoin is the only mobile application available in the market that pays people to walk.

According to the company’s report, Sweatcoin’s 60 million users walk an average of 20% more after downloading the app.

The company has planned to give an opportunity this summer to over 63 million Sweatcoin users – who have walked over 20 trillion steps together – to connect their in-app Sweatcoins matched 1:1 with SWEAT tokens at a token generation event (TGE) timed. The event will be one of the biggest onboarding of people into crypto in history. 

The SWEAT token will be issued by the Sweat Foundation.

“We’re turning movement into a valuable, recognisable currency with SWEAT: the token, and for those that are new to the space, it’s a little-to-no-financial-risk option to get on board and gain access to an asset that’s becoming increasingly harder to mint, helping us to achieve the mission of making the world more physically active by unlocking the value of movement,” said Oleg Fomenko, Co-founder at Sweatcoin.

Sweat will be running on the eco-friendly NEAR blockchain and the NEAR Foundation is also investing in the project.

Other investors include Electric Capital, Spartan Capital, Jump Crypto, OKX Blockdream Ventures (the venture arm of OKX) and GSR, as well as high-profile founders and builders like Terra founder Do Kwon, Sandeep Nailwal, Founder of Polygon (MATIC) and Bjorn Wagner, Co-Founder of Parity (Polkadot).

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Brazilian Central Bank Exec Says CBDC Pilot to Go Live this Year

Roberto Campos Neto, the President of the Central Bank of Brazil, has confirmed that there will be a pilot testing of the country’s Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), dubbed the Digital Real.


The pilot launch, which is slated to go live in the second half of the year, according to earlier speculations, will be limited to a small range of people.

Speaking at an event on Monday, Campus Neto said the value of the Digital Real will be based on the country’s Reserve Transfer System (STR). The STR is an integral part of the Brazilian payments and settlements ecosystem as it aids in the transfer of funds with real-time gross settlement (RTGS).

The proposed Digital Real CBDC will also be based on the STR and will give the participating institutions a similar interface and system that they are already accustomed to.

“We have the STR, a system that liquidates all assets and has the Real as collateral. So we will have a system on top of that, a digital STR, where it will be guaranteed by the digital currency, Real Digital, and banks will be able to issue stablecoins on top of their deposits”, explained Campos Neto.

Campus Neto also noted that the STR system would prevent significant “rupture in the banks’ balance sheets” and comes off as the best cushion for the CBDC. Like other countries, including China, the Bahamas, and Nigeria, Brazil sees the need to accelerate the introduction of its CBDC in a bid to trail technological advances in the financial ecosystem and the benefits they bring.

“The Real Digital initiative responds to the rapid progress of digital transformation and society’s demand for native means of settlement in a new environment, conditions for important efficiency gains to be achieved,” Campos Neto said in a statement last year. 

With the belief in the capabilities for digital currencies to co-exist, Campus Neto believes Digital Real will occupy a unique position in the country’s future financial landscape and has tapped the best stakeholders, including Mercado Bitcoin, Aave, and ConsenSys, to make this happen.

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