Bitpanda Launches New Crypto Indices for Long-Term Diversified Portfolios

Bitpanda, a digital investment platform, rolled out at least four crypto indices for investors, providing more options by helping them to diversify their portfolios.

The company seeks to simplify investment in different cryptocurrency projects, such as the metaverse, decentralized finance (DeFi), smart contracts, and infrastructure through new automated crypto indices. 

Through the Bitpanda Crypto Indices, the platform intends to take away the complexities of investing in the cryptocurrency markets by offering users a hands-off approach. 

Eric Demuth, the CEO and co-founder of Bitpanda, said:

“We launched Bitpanda Crypto Indices as a game changer for all people interested in crypto, especially newer investors who didn’t know where to start building their crypto portfolios.”

Initially, Bitpanda established three crypto index products in 2020 to auto-invest in the top 5 to 25 cryptocurrencies depending on popularity determined by liquidity and market size.

Therefore, the new crypto indices intend to render more investment opportunities in evolving spaces like the metaverse and DeFi. Demuth added:

“These four new crypto indices allow people to invest in areas they are passionate about. There’s no hassle, no need to constantly research new crypto projects, just a simple way for everyone to diversify their portfolios.” 

Therefore, Bitpanda sees the new crypto indices as a stepping stone toward offering investors long-term diversified portfolios by being able to purchase multiple assets in emerging areas. 

The firm also acknowledged that the crypto indices would be rebalanced monthly depending on liquidity and market size. 

Meanwhile, the Crypto Price Index (CPI) was touted as a game-changer in the cryptocurrency market, Blockchain.News reported. 

It was anticipated to function like the Dow Jones Industrial Average by offering insights into the trading history of the major blockchain projects. 

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Demand for Crypto Mixers Hits ATH, Illicit Address Activities Draws Majority

The rising use of mixers in the crypto space draws public attention. Criminals and their illicit activities are being accused of involving in this situation, according to Chainalysis. 

The blockchain analytic firm stated:

“Nearly 10% of all funds sent from illicit addresses are sent to mixers — no other service type cracked a 0.3% mixer sending share.” 

Source: Chainalysis

Since mixers render enhanced privacy in crypto transactions, cybercriminals, such as hackers can abuse them when obfuscating the source of funds.

A study researched by Chainalysis pointed out that the demand for mixers hit an all-time high in 2022 based on their aspect of creating a disconnection between the crypto funds deposited and those withdrawn. Therefore, this makes the traceability of the flow of funds difficult because they are pooled together and mixed randomly.

The analytic firm pointed out:

“While value received by mixers fluctuates significantly day-to-day, the 30-day moving average reached an all-time high of $51.8 million worth of cryptocurrency on April 19, 2022, roughly doubling incoming volumes at the same point in 2021.”

Source: Chainalysis

The types of mixers include centralized, CoinJoin (with built-in capabilities), and smart contracts that are legitimately used to boost financial privacy. 

Therefore, mixer usage has remained close to historic highs in 2022 based on soaring demand from DeFi protocols, centralized exchanges, and addresses linked to illicit activities such as scams, ransomware, the darknet market, and terrorism financing.

Source: Chainalysis

Chainalysis explained:

“The increase in illicit cryptocurrency moving to mixers is more interesting, though. Illicit addresses account for 23% of funds sent to mixers so far in 2022, up from 12% in 2021.”

Source: Chainalysis

In 2020, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) charged a Bitcoin-mixing operator with a $60 million civil money penalty for violating anti-money laundering regulations.

Larry Dean Harmon was arrested and charged with providing unregistered money services to businesses from 2014 to 2020. He laundered over $300 million in Bitcoin and enabled the trafficking of drugs, guns, and child pornography.

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$1.19B Deficit Hole Listed on Balance Sheet: Celsius Network

A $1.19 billion deficit was listed on Celsius Network’s balance sheet in a court filing on Thursday.

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“The amount of digital assets on [Celsius’s] platform grew faster than the company was prepared to deploy. As a result, the company made what, in hindsight, proved to be certain poor asset deployment decisions,” Chief Executive Alex Mashinsky wrote in a filling, citing a poor investment and unanticipated loss are attributed to its loss, resulting in the disability of returning money to their clients. 

Some of these deployment activities took time to unwind, and left the Company with disproportional liabilities when measured against the unprecedented market declines.”

According to Financial Times, The 61-page filing showed the crypto lender with a liability of $5.5 billion, including a $4.7 billion user liabilities. The amount can be translated into a significant loss for these clients that need to face. Its assets value is $4.3 billion. Previously, Reuters reported the company has around 1.7 million in cash on hand.

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A day earlier, the cryptocurrency lender had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

In the filing, New Jersey-based Celsius also said it had $40 million in claims against Singapore-based crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital. The hedge fund also filed for bankruptcy earlier this month.

The crypto lender froze all withdrawals and transfers around a month ago, citing unfavourable market situations as the crypto market plunged, cutting off access to savings for individual investors.

Celsius left 1.7 million customers unable to redeem their assets by freezing withdrawals and transfers, which has prompted state securities regulators in New Jersey, Texas and Washington to investigate the decision.

According to Reuters, Celsius had about 23,000 outstanding loans to retail borrowers as of July 13. It added that the loans totalled $411 million backed by collateral with a market value of $765.5 million in digital assets.

Celsius had positioned itself in the market by promising more than 18% in interest to peoples’ holdings who deposit their digital coins. In turn, the crypto lender lent those coins out, Bloomberg reported.

However, the lenders’ business model turned vulnerable after a sharp crypto market sell-off catapulted by the collapse of major tokens terraUSD and luna in May.

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Introducing Digital Euro to Protect Monetary Sovereignty amid Cashless Tendency: Lagarde

Christine Lagarde, the President of the European Central Bank, and Fabio Panetta, a member of the ECB’s Executive Board, have shared their thoughts on the need for the digital Euro amidst the waning influence of fiat cash.

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In a blog post, Lagarde and Panetta identified three major avenues through which the Euro as paper money is no longer in vogue, noting that if left unaddressed, it could affect the overall relevance of the financial landscape of the European Union. As a part of the disruptive financial landscape identified, paper money is now being used relatively less with digital payments offered by the private sector taking centre stage.

Lagarde and Panetta noted that the dependence on private digital payments outfits is risky as private institutions cannot effectively replicate the roles of the central bank. While discrediting traditional private money service firms that their roles will bring in confusion, they noted that stablecoins on the other hand are “vulnerable to runs.”

Another fear the two pointed out is the fact that permitting private payments to dominate can invite non-European solutions and technologies to dominate the EU payment landscape.

Presenting the Digital Euro as the Solution

Lagarde and Panetta, in their submission, posited that only the Digital Euro, a complement to Fiat Euro, can wade off the current threats that are described above.

They pointed out that while the ECB is still working on the design concepts for the Digital Euro – projected to be completed in 2023 – there is a consensus to build the new legal tender, bearing in mind what consumers cherish the most, including “wide acceptance, ease of use, low costs, high speed, security, and consumer protection.”

“Introducing a digital euro would ensure that citizens can continue to trust in the monetary anchor behind their digital payments. It would protect the strategic autonomy of European payments and monetary sovereignty, providing a fall-back solution if geopolitical tensions intensify,” the blog post reads.

The EU is ahead of the curve when it comes to providing a detailed regulatory framework for its emerging crypto and virtual assets industry. While it is looking to promote innovation, it is also not sitting on its oars as it looks to present its CBDC as the dominant payment model in the near future.

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OpenSea to Lay off 20% of Employees

OpenSea has become the new victim of the ongoing crypto winter as it has decided to slash its workforce.

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According to a report from the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), the non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace has announced that it will cut a fifth or 20% of its staff.

OpenSea, one of the largest marketplaces for NFTs, suggested that about 57 people will be laid off as it said it now has 230 employees.

While, according to TechCrunch, the company’s LinkedIn page indicates it has 769 employees, which would mean roughly 150 people lost their jobs.

Chief Executive Devin Finzer said in an internal memo to employees, also shared on Twitter, that the firm would provide severance and healthcare coverage into 2023 to those laid off. Finzer added that accelerated equity vesting will also be provided.

“The changes we’re making today put us in a position to maintain multiple years of runway under various crypto winter scenarios (5 years at the current volume) and give us high confidence that we only have to go through this process once,” Finzer said.

The layoffs are a contradiction to Finzer’s claims in January after raising $300 million in venture capital funding when he said that the funds would be used to hire 90 new employees and establish a fund for creators.

As the crash in cryptocurrency prices has continued to wreak havoc on digital-asset firms, the market capitalization of digital currencies is now below $1 trillion – a big drop from nearly $3 trillion in late 2021, data from CoinMarketCap showed.

The layoff has come at a time when the NFT marketplace has been experiencing a declining user base. The decline initially started following a June incident when a former employee was charged with fraud and money laundering by the Justice Department. The prosecutors said that incident was the first case of insider trading of digital tokens, the WSJ reported.

Other crypto firms that have laid off employees due to the market downturn include U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global Inc., which reduced staff by 18% in mid-June, and the firm’s shares fell to nearly 79% throughout this year.

According to a report from Blockchain.News, crypto exchange Crypto.com and lending platform BlockFi also announced in early June plans to cut over 400 jobs globally due to the pressure from difficult market conditions.

Crypto.com had said it would reduce its workforce by 5%, which is about 260 employees, while BlockFi announced a 20% layoff of its workforce, which is around 170 people.

Data from The Block showed that the NFT market peaked in January with $16.6 billion in monthly volume, which was a robust growth from its more than $350 million in July 2021. However, it slumped down to about $1 billion in June due to a decrease in activity in the digital asset sector.

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Is Dubai the New Rallying Point for Crypto Exchanges?

Many jurisdictions around the world nowadays are interacting with the digital currency ecosystem in different ways. Dubai is one of the most active influencers among gulf nations.

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While many state actors may see it as a threat, quite a lot more others are embracing the opportunities it brings.

Dubai comes off as one of the latter with the slew of licenses being granted to cryptocurrency exchanges today. As reported by Blockchain.News, OKX, one of the leading crypto exchanges in the digital currency ecosystem is one of the latest in the industry that has just been given the green light to operate in Dubai. 

As announced by the crypto trading platform, the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) granted it a provisional virtual assets (VA) license, an allowance that will let it offer targeted crypto products to qualifying investors.

While the move complements the exchange’s efforts to go global, underscoring among many things its compliance capabilities, it speaks much more of the benevolence and the forward-thinking position of VARA. Riding on the allowance of the new license, the trading platform plans to establish a new regional office in Dubai, as it seeks to explore a more holistic engagement in the region.

“The MENA region is one of the fastest growing markets for our industry, and we are very excited to be at the heart of this thriving ecosystem,” said Lennix Lai, General Manager, OKX Dubai, “OKX looks forward to contributing meaningfully to the free exchange of ideas that is going to be so important to the development of this space while innovating for the future in a regulated framework.”

Joint Promotion of the Dubai Digital Assets Landscape

Besides OKX, the duo of Binance and Huobi have also tapped related licenses to operate in Dubai. The implication of this is not just to the benefit of the exchanges, the masses will also have a unique diversity in their payment options, while the government will be able to generate revenue in the form of taxes.

On the part of OKX, the exchange said it will be committing to promote the crypto ecosystem in Dubai in alliance with VARA. The exchange added it will seek to make meaningful contributions by facilitating research and knowledge sharing with the goal of making Dubai a leading hub for the global virtual assets industry.

Dubai, besides its role as one of the world’s most visited tourist locations, is also aiming to become the financial epicentre of the Middle East, then the world. While the growth of digital assets in the region can be attributed to the bullish nature of VARA, chances are that Dubai will eventually become the most sought-after rallying point for crypto exchanges in the near term.

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Fasset to Drive Financial Inclusion in Indonesia with Mastercard

Digital assets-based fintech startup Fasset Technologies has partnered with payments giant Mastercard to drive financial inclusion in Indonesia.

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This move comes off as one of Fasset’s international expansion moves since it raised $22 million in a Series A back in April.

As detailed, Fasset will bring its custom technologies to digitize banking services for Indonesians, drawing on the local integration of Mastercard to create economic opportunities for all.

“The world is changing at an unprecedented rate. With more people relying on digital assets and technologies to become resilient, there is a need for key players in the public and private sectors to come together to create solutions that can lead to new opportunities and solutions for wider financial inclusion,”, said Navin Jain, Country Manager, Indonesia, Mastercard.

The payment operator said will provide solutions in digital payments and cyber-security for Fasset to support Indonesia’s efforts in financial inclusion and advance broader access to digital technologies

Indonesia is increasingly becoming a hotbed for blockchain-related advancement. While the nation as a whole integrated blockchain into its digital economy back in September 2019, private crypto engagement has been growing rapidly over the past few years.

With more than 92 million unbanked citizens in Indonesia as of 2021 according to the Jakarta Post, Fasset alongside Mastercard expect to provide more accessible financial and digital tools that will help close the digital divide and improve the livelihood of communities. 

The partnership between Mastercard and Fasset is designed to complement related vacancies from other outfits, and the duo will promote digital education and other initiatives to drive financial inclusion across the board. 

The push by Fasset and Mastercard is expected to empower the masses but also contribute to the government’s digital economic liberation. Besides the duo, Pintu, a crypto exchange that pulled $35 million in funding last year is also among the startups looking to drive change in Indonesia.

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NYDIG Partners with New York Yankees to Offer Bitcoin Savings Benefit

NYDIG, a regulated Bitcoin company, has entered into a multi-year partnership with the American professional baseball team, the New York Yankees to bring Bitcoin Savings Plan (BSP) to all employees of the organization. 

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Through the partnership, New York Yankees employees will be able to harness the opportunities inherent in the BSP as a workplace benefit that allows staff to convert a portion of their paycheck to Bitcoin via the NYDIG platform. The service offering is protected by strict regulatory standards and will serve as an easy way for subscribers to gain easy exposure to the digital currency ecosystem.

“For employees of the Yankees and beyond, the opportunity to allocate a small slice of their paycheck to a Bitcoin Savings Plan can be one of the most efficient ways to save bitcoin, and the dollar-cost averaging can smooth out the bumps along the way. We commend the Yankees for understanding the competitive opportunities and the value of providing bitcoin options for their organization,” said Kelly Brewster, chief marketing officer at NYDIG. 

In its in-house research, NYDIG has discovered that employees are increasingly demanding products that will help them invest in Bitcoin. As its extension to the Yankees, subscribers will not be charged a penny in fees, even for the storage of their digital assets.

NYDIG is notably pushing forth the bars when it comes to offering related products to sports outfits and franchises. As reported earlier by Blockchain.News, NYDIG teamed also partnered with NBA team Houston Rockets, offering the organization’s employees a reliable avenue to get involved with crypto.

NYDIG is particularly driving partnerships amongst institutional investors. Based on its projections, the firm is expecting its Assets Under Management (AUM) for institutional investors to top $25 billion as many corporate buyers are beginning to turn to the firm for their BTC investment needs.

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CleanSpark Purchases Over 1000 Mining Rigs to Strengthen Productivity

Nevada-based bitcoin mining company CleanSpark, Inc has announced that it has acquired 1,061 Whatsminer M30S rigs at a steep discount as it continues to expand its infrastructure.

CleanSpark said additional miners enable their mining capacity to increase by 93 petahashes per second (PH/s). The Bitcoin mining company’s total operating capacity of computing power reached 2.8 exahashes per second (EH/s) as of June 30.

The company said new equipment purchased has been operating to mine Bitcoin at the Coinmint facility in New York, which it shares with Riot Blockchain.

Zach Bradford, president and CEO of CleanSpark, said he believed this is an unprecedented opportunity for the company amid the low price of the Bitcoin market.

“Our tried-and-true hybrid approach of co-locating our machines while expanding our own mining facilities puts us in an excellent position to sustainably grow our bitcoin mining capacity in what is shaping up to be an incredible market for builders .”

According to CleanSpark, a total of 1,863 bitcoins were mined in June, 328 bitcoins were sold for roughly $8.4 million.

In the middle of last month, California-based bitcoin mining firm CleanSpark purchased 1,800 Antminer S19 XP computers to take advantage of the bear market and falling bitcoin mining rig prices.

While the dire situation forced some miners to close one by one, survivors like Core Scientific, Marathon, Riot, Hut 8, and Bitfarms were not without casualties as news of their struggles kept coming. Some of these companies started selling some of the mined bitcoins they normally hold on their balance sheets to cover operating expenses.

Argo also disclosed that it sold 637 BTC at an average price of $24,500 in June in order to pay for operating expenses and a BTC-backed loan from Galaxy Digital.

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Financial Services Company Plaid Integrates Crypto Exchange Data

Financial services API developer Plaid is adding account information on crypto assets from cryptocurrency exchanges.

The financial service provider said it is now able to display information such as balances, trades, and crypto asset types held by three exchanges, Binance.US, Kraken, and Gemini.

In addition to cryptocurrency exchanges, the platform also provides encrypted data for trading apps like Robinhood and SoFi.

Plaid is a financial services company that builds the data transfer network that powers fintech and digital financial products, allowing apps to connect with users’ bank accounts.

Alain Meier, head of the identity at Plaid, expressed that they would only read transaction information and store it in a wealth management app or money transfer app. There will be no potential access rights, digital asset theft, and other incidents. It also provides clients with due diligence and risk management policies.

Later this year, the company will continue to expand its services to Blockchain.com and BitGo.

Plaid, a startup fintech company, was acquired by Visa for around $5.3 billion dollars at the beginning of 2020.

The confidentiality of customer information has always been classified as sensitive data. This is an important consideration when doing business, and it is usually not violated.

Plaid works with several exchanges, including Coinbase, through its identity verification and bank-linked account funding services.

Meier said that“Plaid is composed of a lot of people who are just nuts about crypto. Over time, we want to help bridge that gap between Web2 and Web3 and build developer-first tooling products that can do that.”

On June 25 in 2020, complaints were filed against the startup company, alleging that Plaid was “data plumbing” popular financial services such as Venmo and Stripe. In order to monetize transactions of millions of users for its own personal gain. Data plumbing simply refers to the act of accumulating user-sensitive and private information that is stored in a cloud computing model.

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