Crypto Exchanges Have a Collective Responsibility to Educate Investors, Bitkub CEO Says

As part of collective responsibility, cryptocurrency exchanges should take up the mantle of enhancing financial knowledge about digital assets so that investors are aware of downside factors, says Topp Jirayut Srupsrisopa, the CEO of Thailand-based crypto exchange Bitkub.

Volatility in the crypto market has emerged as one of the largest downside risks. This is an issue that Srupsrisopa highlighted because bearish prices do not hinder uptrends in cryptocurrencies. He noted:

“You have to differentiate between a short-term shock that is happening in the market and a long-term view.”

For instance, Bitcoin (BTC) slipped below the psychological price of $20K for the first time in 18 months based on tightened macroeconomic factors like increased interest rates.

Nevertheless, the leading cryptocurrency has gained momentum and reclaimed this level because it was hovering around $21,100 during intraday trading, according to CoinMarketCap. 

With proper financial education, crypto users will be able to make smart decisions, according to Srupsrisopa. The Bitkub CEO commented:

“We have always said not to put all your eggs in one basket and not to borrow money to speculate. We need to get the right financial education, not just in cryptocurrency but in the entire stock market.” 

As the largest crypto exchange in Thailand, Srupsrisopa acknowledged that Bitkub welcomes the regulations taking a leading role because they will make the industry safer. He added:

“Everyone is doing their job. Regulators are trying to reduce risk and make sure things are in place in terms of consumer protection and financial stability. We are trying to build a digital infrastructure for the country.”

Meanwhile, Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of crypto exchange FTX, noted that the Federal Reserve (Fed) was responsible for the downturn in cryptocurrencies. 

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Celsius Repays Compound Finance $10m Worth of DAI

Crypto lender Celsius Network has repaid interest-yielding DeFi service Compound Finance with $10 million worth of the DAI stablecoin, according to a report from Crypto Briefing. - 2022-06-21T163615.317.jpg

The payment is likely to be an attempt to re-establish solvency following a recent episode of suspension of withdrawals, swaps and transfers, which resulted in rumours of insolvency. Currently, those services are still under suspension.

Crypto Briefing reported that Celsius has made a number of other repayments over the past week. Celsius has paid $53.6 million DAI in a series of transactions to its vault with Oasis Protocol, a yield-bearing DeFi platform.

According to Gemini, DAI is an algorithmic stablecoin issued by Ethereum-based protocol MakerDAO, which seeks to maintain an exact ratio of one-to-one with the US dollar.

Celsius, an Etherscan block explorer, uses DeFi protocols to generate interest for its clients.

Although the $10 million payment is only a small fraction of Celsius’ activity, this step is likely a move towards solvency. The payment is also a potential move to close positions with clients to regain liquidity and re-open withdrawals.

Celsius’ repayment comes shortly after the company confirmed through a blog that the suspension of withdrawals, transactions and swaps will continue.

“Our objective continues to be stabilising our liquidity and operations,” the firm wrote on June 19. It added that this “will take time” and that it will “continue to work around the clock.”

Celsius has also stated that it will cooperate with regulators and officials in investigating the company’s suspension of services.

Celsius further confirmed that it would pause Twitter activities and AMAs to prioritise resolving the current situation.

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South Korea’s Crypto Tax Delayed Until Jan 2025

Crypto tax on digital assets in South Korea will be delayed by another two years, according to an announcement from the Ministry of Economy and Finance tax policy chief Ko Kwang-hyo. - 2022-06-21T151352.996.jpg

Originally the 20% tax on crypto-asset gains was dated to kick off from January 1, 2023. However, following the announcement, the date has been moved to January 2025.

Ko’s announcement is part of President Yoon Suk-yeol’s new administrative-economic policy roadmap. Yoon had voiced out that a crypto tax should be introduced after preparing sufficient market infrastructure.

The roadmap reads that the upcoming “Digital Assets Basic Act” will focus on regulating the issuance and listing of cryptocurrencies.

January 1, 2023, was initially planned for 2022, but the date had to be moved due to heavy backlash from investors.

Investors argued that the crypto tax would heavily impact the nascent crypto industry. They said that the threshold was low, considering a tax plan for the stock market would kick in on capital gains above 50 million KRW (US$39,475.76).

Along with the crypto tax, a 20% tax on capital gains above 50 million Korean won (US$38,624.95) from stock trading has also been postponed to 2025. The original kickoff date was January 2023.

According to a recent report from Blockchain.News, Layer-1 blockchain protocol Solana, through its subsidiaries Solana Ventures and Solana Foundation, has launched a $100 million fund to back startups in the South Korea Web3.0 ecosystem. 

As reported by TechCrunch, drawing on the exclusive interview with Johnny Lee, general manager of games at Solana Labs, the fund will focus exclusively on GameFi, Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), and Decentralized Finance (DeFi) in South Korea.

“A big portion of Korea’s gaming industry is moving into web3,” Lee said. “We want to be flexible; there’s a wide range of project sizes, team sizes, so some of [our investments] will be venture-sized checks.”

The investment into the South Korean Web3.0 ecosystem is a testament to the growing acclaim in the growth of developers introducing a series of Web3.0 initiatives in the country. 

Despite attaining undue popularity as the host nation of Do Kwon’s collapsed Terra protocol, Solana has looked beyond the woes to throw its weight behind the industry’s growth.

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Bybit Announces Launch of Grid Trading Bot

Crypto exchange platform Bybit has announced the launch of its grid trading bot. - 2022-06-21T114427.572.jpg

The company announced that the new grid trading features are available now for all registered users, starting from June 20. It further added that users will also have access to the grid trading bot to automate their buy and sell orders and adjust their investment amount.

“By executing low purchase orders that lead to high sell orders during a lateral price movement, the system ensures profitability each time the sale price exceeds the purchase price, thus eliminating the need for market forecasting,” Bybit said in an announcement.

The grid trading bot assists users in carrying out the Grid Trading Strategy. It enables users to place a series of purchase and sell orders within a given price range.

The system is based on the trading principle of buying at a low price and selling at a higher price to earn the difference.

Bybit says their AI parameters maximize profits for our users. According to the company, users can share their strategy with a fellow trader once they have set up their trading bot and if they are earning a good return.

“Bybit’s VIP users can enjoy the same trading discounts using the new bots, while those on track to becoming VIPs can more quickly advance their level thanks to the bot’s higher trading frequency,” the company said in its announcement.

Company Staff Layoffs

However, the trading company has joined the list of cryptocurrency exchanges that have revealed plans to lay off their staff in a bid to reposition their businesses amid the ongoing crypto market slump, Blockchain.News reported. 

The latest layoff of the Bybit was unveiled through an internal letter shared with employees by the platform’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben Zhou. A copy of the letter from Zhou was posted on Twitter by Chinese independent crypto Journalist, Colin Wu, and has been affirmed by other mainstream media platforms.

In the letter, Zhou emphasized the need to downsize, considering some of the staff are not needed in the wake of the menacing economic realities. Zhou said the company’s workforce grew from a few hundred in early 2020 to more than 300% at this time.

The company attributed to the recent bear market on the stock market and the turmoil in the crypto market, “Bybit is no exception apart from the fact that we have taken extreme steps to maintain our workforce for as long as possible during this crisis.” 

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ProShares To Debut First US ETF Betting on Bitcoin Plunge

ProShares, an issuer of exchange-traded funds, including inverse exchange-traded funds, and similar products, announced on Monday that it plans to launch the first short Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) this week.

The ProShares Short Bitcoin Strategy will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker BITI, ProShares said. BITI will be the first ETF of its nature in the U.S.

The short Bitcoin-linked ETF aims to give investors the opportunity to profit from a decline in Bitcoin’s price, or to hedge their exposure to cryptocurrency. It will have an expense ratio of 0.95%.

ProShares said BITI is designed to deliver the opposite of the performance of the S&P CME Bitcoin Futures Index and that it seeks to get exposure through Bitcoin futures contracts.

In a statement, ProShares CEO Michael Sapir, said: “As recent times have shown, Bitcoin can drop in value. BITI affords investors who believe that the price of bitcoin will drop with an opportunity to potentially profit or to hedge their cryptocurrency holdings. BITI enables investors to conveniently obtain short exposure to bitcoin through buying an ETF in a traditional brokerage account.”

Investors Wary as Market Sell-Off Continues

While US regulators hold off approving any ETFs that directly track cryptocurrency, ProShares is launching a fund (ticker BITI) that will allow investors to take short positions on Bitcoin futures. In October last year, ProShares established the first U.S. Bitcoin futures ETF.

The latest launch comes as applications for a physical Bitcoin ETF pile up in the U.S., with at least fifteen firms throwing their hat in the ring, including Galaxy Digital Holdings Ltd, Fidelity Investments Inc., and others. Since 2013, the US SEC has rejected every spot Bitcoin ETF application, citing concerns about criminal activity and market manipulation.

The launch is well-timed when the market uncertainty remains high as investors await to hear the next moves by the Federal Reserve with regard to interest rate increases aimed to tame rising inflation. Many investors are still speculating the crypto market to remain bottom due to aggressive actions by the Central Bank.

As the crypto plunge continues, Bitcoin currently trades at the $20,000 level while Ether holds above $1,000, with other major coins such as Solana, Cardano, and Dogecoin all in the red. A spate of cryptocurrency meltdowns has erased tens of billions of dollars of investors’ assets.

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Babel Finance Reaches Agreement on Modalities for Repayment of its Loans

Following the halt of its withdrawals amidst its inability to pay its creditors as the crypto market meltdown took a bearish turn in the past few days, Babel Finance has announced measures to ease off its immediate operational burdens. (19).jpg

While it said when it halted its withdrawals that it was experiencing unpleasant liquidity risks, the platform noted in a Monday announcement that it has “carried out an emergency assessment of the company’s business operations to understand the company’s liquidity status,” as one of the major measures to curb its current woes.

A major step the company said it is taking is that it has reached an agreement with some of its stakeholders, who are willing to give it a flexible time to repay its loans while sourcing for liquidity across the board.

“We have communicated with major counterparties and relevant customers and reached preliminary agreements on the repayment period of some debts, which has eased the company’s short-term liquidity pressure,” the firm said, “We have actively communicated with shareholders and potential investors, and will continue to communicate and obtain liquidity support.”

While Babel Finance has highlighted its plans to continually update its community about its plans and measures to get right into business, the platform said it is committed to fulfilling all of its obligations to reduce its liquidity risk shortly.

Besides Babel Finance, more players in the crypto lending ecosystem are also on edge at the moment as liquidity risks have become a mainstream occurrence. Celsius Network is the most prominent of these players, with its major operations halted due to extreme market conditions.

While Celsius seems to have shunned the offer from Nexo, which wants to buy up its collateralized loans, the embattled platform said it needed more time to come up with a sustainable solution for all.

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CryptoPunks Now the Most Trading NFT Collection amid Rising Floor Price

The temporary revival in the broader cryptocurrency industry, which has seen the combined crypto market capitalization surge by 4.47% to $907.97 billion at the time of writing, is also impacting the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) ecosystem. (15).jpg

Per data from DappRadar, the floor prices of the most prestigious NFT collections are on the rise, a trend that signals sentiments towards digital collectables that are increasing across the board. This rising trend has particularly favoured the CryptoPunks NFT Collection, which is now ranked number 1 of the most traded of all collections.

According to the data platform, CryptoPunks, one of the very first NFT collections created, was ranked in the fifth position about a month ago but has largely maintained the top spot for the past week. At the time of writing, CryptoPunks has a floor price of $54.09 which has grown by about 26.3% in the past 24 hours.

The collection has recorded 312 trades over the past week and has traded $21.6 million in total. This compares to Terraforms by Mathcas, placed at number 2 and with a total trading volume of $13.09 million over the same time frame.

CryptoPunks is also ahead of Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), as well as the other collections associated with its parent company, Yuga Labs. As reported earlier by Blockchain.News, Yuga Labs acquired the IP rights to the CryptoPunks collection in March of this year, further broadening the scope of the iconic NFT collection.

Yuga Labs has confirmed that it is building a media empire around its collections. Through its Otherside project, more utilities will be unlocked for BAYC, CryptoPunks, and the other digital collectables under its umbrella. The firm announced in late March that it had raised $450 million to achieve its ambitions.

With CryptoPunks currently topping the charts at this time, it is evident that investors are looking at one of the most viable ways to get into the Bored Ape ecosystem.

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WeChat to Ban Crypto and NFT-Linked Accounts, following Updated Terms of Use

China’s WeChat, the Tencent-backed social messaging platform, has announced its plans in an indirect manner to crack down on accounts on the platform that are linked to digital currencies and Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs). (12).jpg

As first pointed out by an independent crypto journalist, Colin Wu, the social media giant has updated the terms of its usage, adding a new section that doubles down on its lack of support for any entities associated with the digital assets industry.

The updated guideline stated that any account that “involves the issuance, transaction, and financing related to virtual currency, such as providing transaction entry, guidance, and issuance channel guidance” amongst others will be suspended. 

The targeted accounts involve those specifically facilitating “transaction and exchange business between virtual currency and real currency, virtual currency, and virtual currency; Provide information intermediary and pricing services for virtual currency transactions; Token issuance financing and virtual currency derivatives trading, and; provide services or content related to the secondary transaction of digital collections.”

While the immediate suspension of the accounts is one of the sanctions the platform will mete out, it said it can also ban any user found to be guilty depending on the severity of the violations.

The crackdown on Bitcoin and the broader cryptocurrency ecosystem in China is not a new reality. In fact, the most populous nation in the world has been able to tame the activities of miners operating on its shores via a comprehensive ban instituted last year. 

There have also been increasing calls against NFTs, which regulators say can be used to launder money. The move from WeChat may suggest a partial alignment with regulators, as Beijing has been particularly tough on tech giants in the country. 

While the sentiments around digital currencies have largely died down in China, with most prominent exchanges closing up shop in the country, the crackdown on NFTs by WeChat will further tame the prospects of China regaining its spot as the world power in anything related to digital assets.

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Bybit Becomes the Latest Exchange to Retrench its Staff

Bybit trading platform has joined the list of cryptocurrency exchanges that have revealed plans to lay off their staff in a bid to reposition their businesses amid the ongoing crypto market slump. (9).jpg

 The latest layoff of the Bybit was unveiled through an internal letter shared with employees by the platform’s Chief Executive Officer, Ben Zhou. A copy of the letter from Zhou was posted on Twitter by Chinese independent crypto Journalist, Colin Wu, and has been affirmed by other mainstream media platforms.

In the letter, Zhou emphasized the need to downsize considering some of the staff are not needed in the wake of the menacing economic realities. Zhou said the company’s workforce grew from a few hundred in early 2020 to more than 300% at this time. 

“Our organization size had grown exponentially but the overall business growth did not grow in the same way,” Zhou said in the email. “During the latest staff review, internal efficiency is still the biggest problem that Bybit has now. This means our operational efficiency has gotten worse despite our growing size. It’s evident that we haven’t utilized our fast-growing resources properly.” 

While the letter did not mention the percentage of staff that will be laid off, Colin Wu postulated the figure will be around 20 – 30% of the current workforce of about 2,000. As a general trend when compared with other exchanges like Coinbase and Gemini which have also retrenched 18% and 10% of their workers respectively.

The company attributed to the recent bear market on the stock market and the turmoil in the crypto market, “Bybit is no exception apart from the fact that we have taken extreme steps to maintain our workforce for as long as possible during this crisis.” 

Bybit spokesperson said, “to support the smooth transition of the process, affected colleagues will be accorded a severance package and access to Bybit’s employee career support in their job transition.”

The current crypto winter has had a far more negative impact on top crypto service offering platforms around the world. Thus far, only Binance exchange and Kraken have confirmed plans to hire additional hands amidst this downturn, a remarkable detour from their peers.

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Astaria Raises $8m in Seed Round to Improve NFT Lending Liquidity

Astaria, an NFT lending platform unlocking instant liquidity, announced on Tuesday that it has raised $8 million in a seed round from major venture capital and angel investors. 

Astaria disclosed it intends to use the funding round to expand its current eight-person team.

Venture investors include True Ventures, Arrington Capital, Ethereal Ventures, Wintermute, Genesis Trading, LedgerPrime, Hypersphere Ventures and several notable DAOs like The LAO.

Other notable angels and advisors, such as Anthony Sassano, and Sam Kazemian, among others, also participated in the funding round.

Accessing instant, highly liquid NFT lending in DeFi has challenged the current NFT lending platforms. Astaria platform, which is set to be launched in September, aims to solve such problems by allowing users to place their NFTs as collateral to earn instant liquidity.

The recent plunge in NFT sales, which signals a bear market, makes Astaria’s services much more attractive to NFT owners seeking to earn passive income on their digital assets.

Users who place their NFTs as collateral can use the Astaria platform to get loans in Ether (ETH). Joseph Delong, Astaria co-founder and CTO, said that Astaria plans to integrate multiple chains beyond Ethereum to support loans in other crypto coins.

Joseph Delong is a crypto veteran who previously led decentralized finance protocol Sushi and worked at ConsenSys.

The market for NFT lending services has witnessed massive growth in the previous year. While firms like NFTfi and Arcade offer peer-to-peer lending services, they often require two-sided approvals and lack efficiency.

Astaria platform is designed as a step-order improvement on the existing NFT lending platforms. Astaria’s approach is different as it does not mandate two-way approvals to make transactions more efficient.

Users can log in to the Astaria web platform, and access customized liquidity in terms of their unique non-fungible tokens without forced liquidations.

NFTs As Collateral Loans

The latest development by Astaria signals DeFi platforms lending cryptocurrencies and accepting NFTs as loan collaterals as one of the latest trends in the blockchain niche. Many NFT lending platforms currently allow users to lend their NFTs as collateral to borrow cryptocurrencies.

DeFi platforms provide NFT loans by allowing NFT owners to mortgage their NFT pieces in exchange for cryptos or fiat currency. Many NFTs on the market are highly illiquid, and several DeFi projects have recognized the rising need to improve NFT liquidity using solutions like lending.

That is the latest proof that NFTs are growing in use for everything from fantasy sports and social clubs to complex financial instruments. Larger financial institutions such as Prime crypto brokerage Genesis Trading and crypto exchange Nexo accept NFTs as loan collateral.

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