European Crypto Industry Leaders Ramps up Efforts to Influence EU Regulatory Crypto Policy

According to Reuters, the European Union is working to regulate the cryptocurrency industry, advocating for relevant cryptocurrency exchange companies to disclose relevant details. Still, it has been rejected by more than 40 cryptocurrency business leaders.

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In a letter to 27 EU finance ministers dated April 13, cryptocurrency-related companies pointed out that EU regulation should not go beyond the rules set by the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF), according to Reuters.

FATF stands for The Financial Action Task Force, which is the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. The inter-governmental body sets international standards that aim to prevent these illegal activities and the harm they cause to society. As a policy-making body, the FATF works to generate the necessary political will to bring about national legislative and regulatory reforms in these areas.

U.S.-listed cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase strongly opposes the rules that crypto companies collect information on transactions related to cryptocurrencies.

A total of 46 European crypto industry leaders and organisations wrote in a letter to the EU:

“The proposals will put every digital asset owner at risk” by leading to public disclosure of transaction details and wallet addresses. This would reduce crypto holders’ privacy and safety.”

In the letter, cryptocurrency-related leaders also advocated that the EU should repeal the requirement for decentralised projects, including decentralised finance, or “DeFi,” to register as legal entities.

The UK announced on Monday to accept stablecoins as a valid form of payment and has set plans to make Britain a global hub for crypto-asset technology and investment.

As reported by blockchain.News on April 11, 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.

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Silvergate Bank Earns Nearly $60m in Q1, Net Income Hits $24.7m

American Commercial bank Silvergate Capital, a bank focused on digital currencies, reports financial results for the first quarter of 2022. - 2022-03-17T130601.334.jpg

According to the financial report, the company’s Q1 revenue in 2022 is $59.9 million, a year-on-year increase of 93%, and its net income is as high as $24.7 million, a year-on-year increase of 94%.

The bank focuses on giving fiat credits that are crypto collateralised to corporate customers. This will happen as a Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN), a specially crafted remittance structure for huge customers such as cryptocurrency exchanges.

During the first quarter, the company facilitated transactions between cryptocurrency exchanges and financial institutions worth as much as $142 billion.

However, due to the ongoing downturn in the cryptocurrency market, SEN transfers were down from $167 billion in the first quarter of 2021. Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) spot volumes were down 33% year-over-year.

Silvergate has emerged to be a reckoning force in the cryptocurrency sphere. It offers services to reputable global cryptocurrency firms such as Coinbase, Xapo, Bitstamp, and Genesis Trading.

Rebecca Rettig, a general counsel for Aave Companies, the team behind the decentralised finance (DeFi) platform Aave, is assuming a new role at Silvergate bank, a leading bank for innovative businesses in fintech and cryptocurrency.

Silvergate bank acquired the cryptocurrency technology backbone of Facebook’s Diem Association to keep the prospect alive.

Silvergate wants to leverage the technology with its own crypto expertise to launch a stablecoin digital currency later this year.

The stablecoin could serve as a cryptocurrency alternative to Mastercard and Visa with streamlined international remittances and lower transaction fees.

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NBA to Release 18,000 NFTs in the 2022 Playoffs

The National Basketball Association (NBA), a professional basketball league in the United States, will mint 18,000 dynamic non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on the Ethereum network for each player taking part in this year’s playoffs. - 2022-04-20T173727.128.jpg

The NFT collection dubbed The Association will involve 240 players and 16 teams, each player being allocated 75 NFTs.

The NBA playoffs is the main postseason tournament held to determine the league’s champion. Therefore, this year’s edition will be commemorated using NFTs, given that they will have the capability of changing appearance based on a player’s on-court performance.  

Per the announcement:

“The Association NFTs are connected to live data feeds and computations for each respective team and player via Chainlink Oracle. This allows each player’s NFT appearance to change in an automated manner based upon the pre-set achievements that are written into the Galaxis smart contract.”

Furthermore, participants will have an equal opportunity to mint any player because the NFTs will be assigned transparently and randomly using Chainlink VRF. The report noted:

“The Association NFTs are being issued in a blind-mint, meaning that nobody will know which 2022 NBA Playoffs player they will receive prior to the reveal on April 22nd.”

The rollout of these digital assets coincides with the release of an NFT collection by the Golden State Warriors, one of the playoff teams.

The 2022 Playoff NFT Collection by Golden State Warriors has 2,000 limited NFTs minted on the Solana network using crypto exchange FTX.

NFTs are touted as game-changers that are revolutionising different sectors. For instance, the Dubai Police recently rolled out a set of NFTs comprising 150 free digital assets as part of a campaign to showcase security, innovation, and communication values.

Therefore, the Dubai Police became the first government entity in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to develop digital assets to enhance policing.

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Blockchain Can Improve Climate Crisis through Smart Contracts, Study Shows

As climate change is considered a desperate issue in modern times. Blockchain technology is expected to act as a stepping stone towards addressing economic complexities and interoperability when transiting to renewable energy, according to a report by Chainlink Labs and Tecnalia.

As a leading provider of open-source blockchain oracle solutions, William Herkelrath believes Chainlink Labs will help create a data-driven backend infrastructure required to tackle the climate crisis. 

The managing director at Chainlink Labs added:

“By using Chainlink to bridge some of the highest-quality climate data in the world onto blockchains for energy and climate initiatives, we can give the clean energy sector the tools it needs to expand its impact.”

Smart contracts play a significant catalyst in adopting blockchain technology because they automatically document, control, or execute legally relevant actions or events per the agreement. 

Therefore, they can offer developers the tools to create the next generation of clean energy solutions by tapping high-quality energy and climate data on-chain.

The report highlighted various use cases in which smart contracts could aid in the clean energy journey. They included using parametric energy conversion contracts, issuing carbon credits or consumer rewards, and tokenising energy commodities and project cash flows. 

Blockchain is expected to fill the void with the energy industry facing new difficulties like balancing an increasingly distributed energy grid.

Luis Elejalde, the energy, climate, and urban transition manager at Tecnalia, pointed out:

“During this period of major infrastructure and market transformation, utilities, service providers, and governments can use blockchain technology to digitize and assign value to clean energy investments and design fully automated incentive systems for participating in sustainable practices.”

Different players are joining hands to tackle the climate crisis using blockchain-powered solutions.

For instance, Lemonade, a top American insurance company, formed the Lemonade Crypto Climate Coalition meant to offer blockchain-enabled climate insurance to the most vulnerable farmers globally last month. 

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U.S. Air Force Files Trademark Application for Digital Metaverse ‘SpaceVerse’

The U.S. Air Force(USAF) files a trademark application for “SpaceVerse” with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to expand military training into the metaverse.

In a tweet on Tuesday, “SpaceVerse” is designed to “converges terrestrial and space physical and digital realities” and “provides extended-reality training, testing, and operations environments”. The filing also added that it will provide a secure digital metaverse of synthetic and simulated extended-reality (XR) training, testing, and operational environments.

The application was submitted last Thursday, April 14. The trademark application has been accepted by the Office (has met the minimum filing requirements) and has not yet been assigned to an examiner.

Two weeks before the USAF filing, Payment company Mastercard filed for 15 trademarks related to NFTs, crypto, and metaverse. They include NFT-backed multimedia, marketplaces for digital goods, and metaverse-related payment transaction processing and e-commerce software business.

Another payment company American Express also filed for similar trademarks last month as Mastercard for “downloadable computer software for facilitating the transfer of a virtual payment card to an electronic mobile wallet,” among other areas.

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Solana-based Defi Protocol Delta One Raises $9.1M in Seed Funding

Yield generation Defi protocol Delta One on the Solana blockchain has announced that it has raised $9.1 million in a seed round led by Alameda Research and Ship Capital.

Delta One has raised a total of $9.1M in a seed round raised on Tuesday, Apr 19. The funds will be used for the core development and ecosystem expansion of the protocol.

Other participating investors included Solana Ventures, Raj Gokal, Electric Capital, AlleyCorp, Chris McCann, Joe McCann, and Alfred Chuang.

Delta One is a yield generation protocol on Solana that offers novel delta-neutral and impermanent loss-free farming markets. Founded by Paul and DJ Sengh in October 2021. Its mission is to create novel, user-friendly Defi primitives that democratize the best risk-adjusted yield opportunities to achieve the adoption mass of crypto investing.

Earning profits by using a volatility-reducing “delta-neutral” trading strategy that provides users with an automated way to make risk adjustments with little to no active management of low risk.

“Delta-neutral farming is a technique that many hedge funds love to use, but it can require spending hours each day crunching numbers and tracking positions when done manually by retail investors,” said DJ Sengh, Co-Founder of Delta One. “We believe democratizing these strategies through structured products will be a pivotal part of onboarding the first billion users into DeFi.”

The company said it will work with new teams to build new lending markets, and reserve currencies and develop more novel options products to democratize yields.

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Crypto Exchange Okcoin Launches a Free Trading NFT Marketplace

To tap into the non-fungible token (NFT) craze, crypto exchange Okcoin has established a marketplace that will attract no transaction fees.  

The free trading NFT marketplace is expected to offer creators significant agency when selling their work since royalty rates range from 0-10% in other marketplaces.

Hong Fang, Okcoin’s CEO, acknowledged:

“We’re launching a free market for NFTs where prices and profits will be determined by supply and demand, more so than anywhere else. Web3 is about restoring economic power to the people.”

The San-Francisco-based crypto exchange will offer NFTs from famous collections like Crypto Punks, the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), Boss Beauties, and World of Women. 

To adhere to the “crypto for all” objective, the marketplace will also showcase collections from previously marginalised creators in the traditional finance and tech innovation fields. 

Fang noted:

“In the same way that blockchain technology empowers financial freedom with cryptocurrency, it empowers creators with NFTs.”

Minting of NFTs usually takes place on Binance, OKC, Polygon, and Ethereum blockchains. Therefore, users will have the chance to link external wallets like MetaMask, enabling them to trade NFTs.

Randi Zuckerberg, Okcoin’s brand advisor, sees the marketplace as a stepping stone towards making crypto more accessible. He added:

“Making NFTs more inclusive is something I’ve dedicated myself and my company HUG to because we know there are huge opportunities for both creators and collectors in NFTs waiting to be unlocked.”

Crypto exchanges are gearing up for the NFT marketplace based on announcements from Gemini, Kraken, and Coinbase. For instance, the launch of the Coinbase NFT marketplace is expected to tie with the Bored Apes entering the movie scene in June. 

Furthermore, different brands are entering the non-fungible token sector for various reasons. For example, Nestle, a Swiss multinational food and drink processing conglomerate, recently released NFTs for a charitable cause in the Middle East & North Africa. 

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KuCoin Rolls Out $100m Creators Fund to Accelerate Web3 Growth, Empowering Early-Stage NFT Projects

Crypto exchange KuCoin has announced a $100 million “Creators Fund” to enhance the Web3 ecosystem and support early-stage non-fungible token (NFT) projects in sports, arts, GameFi, and celebrities, among others.

Through its NFT marketplace, Windvane, and venture capital arm, KuCoin Ventures, the crypto exchange sees the fund as a stepping stone towards penetrating the booming non-fungible token space. 

Johnny Lyu, KuCoin’s CEO, acknowledged:

“At the current stage of KuCoin’s comprehensive and in-depth expansion of the Web 3.0 and NFT fields and deepening the KuCoin ecosystem, the launch of a $100 million ‘Creators Fund’ will undoubtedly bring a strong impetus to our development process.”

The fund intends to assist young creators and artists showcase their talents to the public through a decentralized, free, democratic, and open NFT marketplace.

Lyu added:

“The $100M ‘Creators Fund’ will support NFT creators and projects, which will further consolidate the metaverse infrastructure. KuCoin NFT Marketplace – Windvane would like to bridge Web 2.0 and Web 3.0 by supporting more creators to launch their NFTs or projects and creating a more integrated NFT world with a lower barrier to entry for users.”

With Web3 being a blockchain-powered iteration of the World Wide Web, concepts like token-based economics and decentralization are expected to be incorporated. Therefore, users will have full control over their data.

Justin Chou, the chief investment officer at KuCoin Ventures, stated:

“With its user-first and community-driven mission, Windvane will support Web 3.0 creators globally to revolutionize the NFT industry.”

Last month, Payment giant Visa launched an initiative dubbed Visa Creator Program intended to help filmmakers, artists, fashion designers, and musicians revamp their businesses through NFTs, Blockchain.News reported. 

The program was meant to expand the knowledge base of entrepreneurs in the creator economy about how they could boost their revenue streams using NFTs. 

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IMF Calls for Global Govts to Keep a Check on Crypto

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has advised international decision-makers to keep a check on crypto, following deepening concerns highlighted by the war in Ukraine, The Block reported. - 2022-04-20T150039.150.jpg

The IMF in its Global Financial Stability Report spoke about the potential use of crypto in the Russian war against Ukraine and the threat it poses to the stability of the existing financial systems. 

There has been an increased level of “cryptoization” of the global financial system amid the Ukrainian invasion by Russia and the COVID-19 pandemic, the IMF said.

The Block reported that although much of this is due to general trading activity, the IMF warned that it could be used to circumvent identification checks in capital flows, essentially, a means of anonymously transacting overseas.

Although the US and UK regulators have asked crypto firms to be vigilant, people may use non-compliant exchanges, mixers or other means to evade sanctions.

In order to tackle crypto-specific risks, the IMF has advised international governments to implement the Financial Action Task Force standards, which include a travel rule for crypto assets that require exchanges to transmit sender and recipient identification information; and also an implementation of additional laws and regulations on foreign exchange and capital flow management to cover crypto.

The report stated that “essential steps include developing a comprehensive, consistent, and coordinated regulatory approach to crypto assets, and applying it effectively to capital flow management measures; establishing international collaborative arrangements for implementation; addressing data gaps; and leveraging technology (“regtech” and “suptech”).”

The other aspect of the report spoke about decentralised finance (DeFi) space. It called the sector a new form of intermediary which poses a new set of legal questions that regulators need to tackle – importantly, how to regulate an entity that lacks a centralized point of contact.

“Regulation should focus on elements of the crypto ecosystem that enable DeFi, such as stablecoin issuers and centralized exchanges,” the report suggested. “Authorities should also encourage DeFi platforms to be subject to robust governance schemes, including industry codes and self-regulatory organizations. These entities could provide an effective conduit for regulatory oversight.”

In a similar report from January this year, the IMF showed concerns about the risks related to El Salvador’s issuance of bitcoin-backed bonds.

Blockchain.News reported that the IMF urged El Salvador to terminate bitcoin as legal tender as soon as possible.

The financial institution pointed to the high price volatility of Bitcoin as a major risk, noting that bitcoin should not be used as legal tender, the report added.

After bilateral talks between both sides, the IMF’s officials said “there are large risks associated with the use of bitcoin on financial stability, financial integrity, and consumer protection, as well as the associated fiscal contingent liabilities,” according to the report from CNBC.

In June last year, El Salvador became the first country to adopt bitcoin as legal tender, with 62 votes approval out of 84. In September, Bitcoin officially was circulated in this country as legal tender.

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Chicago Board Options Exchange Files Trademark for NFT & Crypto Services

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE Exchange, Inc. (CBOE)) has filed for a trademark application for CBOE DIGITAL for a non-fungible token (NFT) trademark, attorney Michael Kondoudis announced through a tweet. - 2022-04-20T154355.426.jpg

“The Chicago Board Options Exchange has filed a trademark application for CBOE DIGITAL indicating plans for Exchanges and trading platforms for NFT backed digital assets; Marketplaces and exchanges for crypto + non-fungible + digital assets,” Kondudis, a Washington DC-based trademark lawyer, tweeted.

The application was submitted to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office on April 14, 2022.

It also signals plans by the CBOE Exchange to expand to various virtual, crypto and financial goods and services such as the provision of a financial exchange for the trading of digital assets authenticated by NFTs; financial exchange services; operation of electronic exchange for buyers and sellers of NFTs and online non-downloadable software for users to create, exchange, sell, purchase, and transmit non-fungible assets, digital assets, and crypto collectables authenticated by NFTs.

According to Kondoudis, “the CBOE is the largest options exchange in the U.S. This filing is the next logical step to protect the CBOE brand as it moves further into the digital economy of the Metaverse.”

“The CBOE is clearing taking a proactive, forward-thinking approach to ensure that it is a leading financial exchange in the digital economy of the Metaverse,” he added. “It is a safe bet that the CBOE expects to be a major player in that virtual economy.”

Kondoudis tracks Metaverse and NFT trademark filings at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. However, Kondoudis does not represent the CBOE.

Earlier this year, the New York Stock Exchange filed a similar trademark application, according to Kondoudis, trademark applications by the CBOE have become a trend of filings in the financial sector for NFT and blockchain asset trading.

“We expect the number of trademark filings for NFT and blockchain products and services from the financial services sector to continue over the next 12 months as brands come to appreciate the opportunities of the digital economies,” Kondoudis added.

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