Cryptocurrency trading platform Amber Group claims it has laid off up to 10% of its workforce so far this year due to sluggish market conditions.
Tiantian Kullander, the co-founder of Amber Group, said:
“Given market conditions, we are currently reducing the number of lower priority positions and increasing the number of employees in higher priority positions.”
Amber, founded in 2018 by five former Morgan Stanley traders, has tripled its valuation since mid-2021, according to Bloomberg.
It has been a brutal period for the crypto sector since May this year. Digital tokens have fallen across the board, and at the time of writing, the price of Bitcoin trades falls around $22,181.91 per coin.
The ongoing bear market has struck a significant blow to the industry’s labor market. Many major firms, including US-based exchanges Gemini, BlockFi, Coinbase, Singapore-based crypto exchange Bybit, Austria-based Bitpanda, and Mexican exchange Bitso, have recently laid off multiple employees. Despite this, the wave of job cuts appears to be gaining momentum.
Singaporean state investment firmTemasek Holdings Pte and other investors valued cryptocurrency-trading platform Amber Group at $3 billion in a funding round on February 22.
According to Wu, Amber may raise another funding round later in 2022, followed by an initial public offering (IPO) in the second half of 2023, most likely in the U.S.
Last month, Cryptocurrency financial services startup Amber Group has announced that it will expand its retail trading operations into Brazil through a retail platform called WhaleFin.
On September 12, Square Enix, a Japanese game development company, announced that it has joined the blockchain game startup Oasys to jointly explore the feasibility of using user contributions to develop new games on the Oasys blockchain.
Square Enix will be the last major game publisher to join the Oasys blockchain, focusing on creating better experiences and shaping blockchain gaming.
Square Enix, a global entertainment company, has released more than 173 million Final Fantasy games.
Square Enix announced in its first-quarter earnings report this year that it plans to launch an overseas company dedicated to issuing, managing, and investing in its own tokens. The company launched its own blockchain entertainment business unit in April 2022.
Oasys is an eco-friendly blockchain built for the gaming community, providing users with fast transactions and zero gas fees.
The Director from Oasys, Daiki Moriyama said: “To partner with a respected and ambitious gaming company such as Square Enix, helps us to accelerate our collective mission to bring blockchain gaming to the masses. With our partnership, we will be able to truly bring new experiences and empower gaming fans from all backgrounds while helping to establish the next stage of growth for blockchain entertainment.”
Oasys, a Japan and Singapore-based company focused on developing blockchain games, revealed that it has secured $20 million in investments from a cryptocurrency leader on July
In June, Oasys and Consensys formed a strategic partnership to create a better end-to-end blockchain gaming experience.
Oasys is actively listing its tokens on several of the most prominent cryptocurrency exchanges and is leading the way in blockchain gaming by bringing traditional gaming IPs on-chain.
According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) report, as of July 2022, nearly 100 central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) are in the research or development stage around the world.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is headquartered in Washington D.C., consisting of 190 countries that aim to foster global monetary cooperation. The IMF was formed in 1944 at the Bretton Woods Conference.
At present, two CBDCs are fully launched, namely, the Nigerian eNaira launched in October 2021 and the Bahamas Sand Dollar launched in October 2020.
CBDC stands for Central Bank Digital Currency and represents the digital form of a nation’s fiat money (currency backed by trust or faith in the regulating government). As such, it is controlled directly by the country’s central bank and is backed by national credit and government power.
Many dignitaries, including IMF Vice President Zhang Tao, believe that CBDC is an efficient payment system that will drive financial inclusion for those excluded from the ecosystem for a variety of reasons
There are still 1.7 billion unbanked people in the world.
Serving the unbanked and underbanked population is the main driver behind the Caribbean nation of the Bahamas’ plan to issue a digital version of its national currency, the Sand Dollar, by October 2020.
The IMF stated that CBDC can create greater flexibility for domestic payment systems, promote competition, facilitate access to funds, improve payment efficiency, and thereby reduce transaction costs. CBDCs can also increase the transparency of money flows.
The IMF pointed out that central banks need to assess risks before issuing CBDC, and at the same time strengthen the ability of cyber-attack risks, so as to protect the property security and privacy security of people in their own countries.
Bitcoin-friendly Pierre Poilievre was elected leader of the Conservative Party of Canada on September 11.
Pierre Marcel Poilievre is a Canadian politician who has served as the leader of the Conservative Party of Canada and the leader of the Official Opposition since 2022. Poilievre has served as a member of Parliament (MP) since 2004.
The House of Representatives of Canada’s parliament is scheduled to resume on September 20, when Poliyev will lead the Conservative Party in his new capacity to challenge the Trudeau government on a number of issues.
He is a staunch cryptocurrency advocate and has publicly supported allowing Canadians to use bitcoin as legal currency in the country.
He touted cryptocurrencies as a solution to putting people back in control of their currencies and saw them as a way to escape inflation in the country.
Pierre Poilievre has previously promised that if he becomes Prime Minister of Canada, he will “unlock” the potential of cryptocurrencies by consulting with provincial authorities, helping to unravel the regulatory web that currently governs cryptocurrencies, and making Canada “the world’s blockchain leader.”
Along with the growth in the crypto sector, Canada has also been keeping an eye on security-related issues.
According to September 24, 2021, a report by Blockchain.News, Canadian market regulators have issued warnings to cryptocurrency service providers who mislead investors through their gambling-style advertisements.
The report added that the market regulators said a detailed guideline has been released to help all concerned stakeholders market to sell their products and services under the Canadian securities allowance.
Alberta, Canada’s most oil-rich province is actively looking to build the region’s tech industry, including mining digital tokens, building data centers, and attracting high-tech workforces.
Binance Exchange, the world’s largest digital currency trading platform by volume has unveiled its new crypto cashback program for all Binance Card holders.
Taking to its official Twitter account, Binance said users can spend any of their digital currencies with the Visa card and get an 8% Cashback.
Creating new functionalities for the benefit of users has been considered the way to go in the digital currency ecosystem. With more exchanges coming into the scene, existing ones have had to create new products and services to retain users and capture more.
From its description, the new service offered through the Binance Card Cashback program will give its users the opportunity to transact in more than 60 million merchant locations around the world. The exchange said users will be able to use its card and get the cashback while incurring a $0 annual fee and a $0 foreign transaction fee.
While the Binance Card offering still has its limitations, depending on the country of residence of the user and the applicable laws, users can generally gain access to the broader Binance ecosystem and explore the investment options available.
Binance has remained a standard exchange with creative business models designed to benefit its users. In competition with the likes of Coinbase Global Inc and Crypto.com, both of whom also offer payment cards to their users, Binance has always made targeted efforts to take its business a step further.
The crypto winter has also given Binance a relatively competitive advantage in the broader scheme of things. While many exchanges including Coinbase and Gemini sent off a significant percentage of their staff packing, Binance revealed its plan to hire 2,000 new hands before the end of the year.
Binance exchange has also advanced its business through a series of new licenses tapped in Italy, Spain, and other regions in the past year.
Bitmama, a blockchain startup based in Nigeria, announced that it has closed its pre-seed funding round at $2 million after it recently added $1.65 million to the $350,000 that it raised in October last year.
Africa-focused venture capital firms Unicorn Growth Capital and Launch Africa led the investment in Bitmama. Other firms that also participated in the funding round include existing and new investors like Adaverse, Flori Ventures, Tekedia Capital, GreenHouse Capital, ODBA, Five35 Ventures, Chrysalis Capital, Enrich Africa, Thrive Africa, Angellist Ventures, as well as angel investors, such as Rene Reinsberg, Marek Olszewski, and Honey Ogundeyi.
Bitmama, which has built a distributed remote team across Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya, said it is working to democratize Africa’s highly fragmented payment system by leveraging blockchain-based solutions.
Ruth Iselema, Bitmama CEO, founded the Africa-focused crypto payments startup in 2019. The Nigeria-based company began as a WhatsApp group where members learned about cryptocurrency, especially Bitcoin, and made transactions.
Bitmama, subsequently, developed a crypto exchange platform and allowed these users to access digital assets formally and explore other use cases, like buying, selling, and swapping crypto, and peer-to-peer transactions.
More recently, the firm introduced Changera, a social payment solution that allows customers to use stablecoins to facilitate remittances and international payments on Netflix and Amazon via virtual cards.
Iselema further talked about the development: “We started Bitmama to make it easy for anyone across the African continent to buy and sell cryptocurrency. But as time passed, we saw a couple of use cases we could employ this technology to solve. Many people wanted to make transactions asides from buying and selling of crypto, so we built stuff that could also let them buy local and international airtime and data. Then, due to local bank card limitations of $20 monthly spend, we provided virtual dollar cards for Nigerians to make international purchases.”
Crypto Thriving Under Pressure
The crypto boom has remained persistent in Nigeria despite the recent market crash. Early last month, a new study identified Nigeria as the country most interested in crypto since the market started to crash this April.
In April, Nigerian fintech startup Afriex closed a $10 million Series A round for a $60 million valuation. And many more related crypto firms have continued to raise funding rounds.
Early last year, Nigeria’s regulators tried to crack down on cryptocurrency, but a few months later such efforts failed to work. The nation is a prime example of how local users turn to crypto to cope with a struggling economy despite the prohibitive stance of the state.
Singapore-based digital currency trading platform has announced its latest partnership with SignalPlus, a high-tech powered Options trading dashboard provider in the crypto industry.
According to Bybit, the partnership will help in enhancing the trading platform’s options trading to its users, further establishing it as one of the mainstream crypto exchanges around.
“Considered as the standard bearer for crypto options, SignalPlus will be an excellent tool for our users to elevate their trading experience,” said Ben Zhou, co-founder, and CEO of Bybit. “We look forward to bringing our products and services to the next level with this partnership with SignalPlus, and our users benefiting from its functionalities.”
Bybit said the partnership with SignalPlus will serve as a boost to its deep liquidity as an options trader.
With the crypto winter dragging on, exchanges are exploring the current weak ecosystem to revitalize their product offerings across the board. While some of its competitors including Zipmex and Vauld Group have gone bankrupt, Bybit has continued to promote its business outlook to capture some of the market shares of these competitors.
With SignalPlus’ technology, Bybit believes it will be well positioned to help its users go further in trades at periods of extreme volatility and enjoy maximum profitability
“Bybit is an absolute first-class exchange with an incredible tech infrastructure, which is the perfect companion to leverage SignalPlus’ proprietary tech offerings. Together, we aspire to be the leading platform to serve the industry’s crypto options needs, and we couldn’t be more excited about our immediate journey ahead,” said Chris Yu, co-founder, and CEO of SignalPlus.
Some of Thailand’s largest banks, Kasikornbank and Bank of Ayudhya have supported Decentralized Finance (DeFi) platform Forward with $5 million in seed capital through their venture capital platforms.
Other key companies that participated in the fundraiser include; Primestreet Capital, GBV-Genesis Block Ventures Capital, Varys Capital, and Ratanakorn Asset Co., Ltd, Thailand’s largest real estate company. These companies have their focus on blockchain technology and digital assets investments.
Forward official said in astatement that the project will transform the world’s financial sector by developing financial products, investing in financial services, and setting up a decentralized derivative exchange and DeFi-focused services.
Forward is a Thai-based Fintech startup, blockchain, and investment services, provider. It has a decentralized and derivatives platform with an automated position hedger protocol that renders services such as derivative trading, crypto lending, borrowing, and services.
DeFi Forward Thinking Forward
The blockchain sector needs to prioritize increasing DeFi participation, particularly in Asia. Innovation and new businesses in this field require ongoing encouragement and empowerment. Only a reliable digital currency will enable DeFi to prosper. Tether coin has beenreported to be one of the stablecoins powering DeFi projects.
Forward Labs has alsocollaborated with NFT artist LUNGtiger to promote their understanding of blockchain technology and to provide possibilities for NFT works by the young people at the College of Arts, Media, and Technology at Chiang Mai University.
Any services that conventional financial institutions offer should be available through DeFi. In essence, Defi is the mapping of traditional financial services into blockchain-based financial services, resulting in new services or derivatives based on the special characteristics of blockchain.
The funding will position Forward to play a pivotal role in this evolving DeFi ecosystem. The protocol hopes to bolster its business, employ new hands and grow in key regions using the funding round.
The Algorand Foundation, whose mission is to empower the ecosystem of Algorand blockchain cryptocurrency protocol, on Friday announced that it has a $35 million exposure in USDC to Singapore-based troubled crypto lender Hodlnaut. Last month, Hodlnaut halted withdrawals, deposits, and token swaps, citing market volatility.
The Algorand Foundation said the above figure represents 3% of its assets, stating that it does not expect operational or liquidity issues due to its exposure.
“As part of the Foundation’s mission, from time to time, we invest a portion of our surplus treasury capital to generate yield for the purpose of Algorand ecosystem development, and these funds were invested for that purpose,” the foundation said.
The Algorand Foundation stated that it is pursuing all legal actions to maximize asset recovery from Hodlnaut.
On August 29, the Singapore High Court appointed Algorand’s nominees, Angela Ee and Aaron Loh of EY Corporate Advisors, to act as the interim judicial managers of Hodlnaut, the foundation said.
Hodlnaut suffered heavy losses from the TerraUSD crash. The company had invested some $317 million in TerraUSD (UST), a failed stablecoin, as a way to pass high yields through to its clients.
In May, Terra’s algorithmic stablecoin UST lost its peg and collapsed, directly wiping out more than $43 billion from the ecosystem. The crash inflicted losses of $189.7 million on Hodlnaut.
As a result, Hodlnaut stopped offering exchange services on its platform on August 8, citing a liquidity crisis and the need to work on a recovery strategy as the industry battles to survive in the wake of a collapse in the crypto prices.
Hodlnaut started operating as a lender for clients to borrow digital assets in April 2019. The service also provides a yield-earning feature that enables customers to earn up to 7.25% on their investments. By allowing users to lend money to verified institutions and businesses, Hodlnaut’s incentive structure functioned.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (FDACS) has issued a notice warning local residents to take caution against fake auto-warranty calls that trick them into scams.
The regulator, which is an executive department of the government of Florida, on Friday warned local residents on how they can identify robocall scams marketing auto warranties.
In the recent past, consumers have raised complaints against increasing robocall scams — wherein scammers use pre-recorded calls to market and sell fraudulent services. Such cases prompted the Federal Communications Commission to order phone companies to stop letting scammers use their telecom networks for auto-warranty scams.
Such auto-warranty scams often trick consumers into giving up their personal information and executing fraudulent deals.
Some fraudsters pretend to represent auto manufacturers or car dealers, but in the real sense, they are not. And they claim to offer extensive “bumper-to-bumper” coverage, which turns out to be far more limited than what they are saying.
·Many drivers have fallen victim to “auto warranty” scam robocalls. Sometimes, callers can sound legitimate because they know the age or make and model of a customer’s car.
·Irrespective of the methods used by scammers to contact potential victims, the FDACS issued a newsletter that highlighted five red flags that indicate scams.
·Immediate action required: a call or letter says it is urgent for a customer to take immediate action to continue his or her car’s warranty coverage.
·False claims: an outside company offers to extend the factory warranty, something only the vehicle’s manufacturer can do.
·Imposters: scammers may imply they work for a particular vehicle manufacturer for a prominent or trusted company.
·Request personal information: requests for a customer’s social security number, driver’s license, or credit card information are signs of scams.
·Payment type: if a user is asked to pay with a gift card or cryptocurrency, it is a scam.
Besides asking Florida residents to avoid making crypto payments, the regulator emphasized that no government officials would ask for personal information like their Social Security or credit card numbers.
The FDACS added: “Only scammers will require one of those kinds of payment, and once you send the money, you probably won’t get it back.”
Regulators Enforcing Cryptocurrency Crackdowns
Scammers impersonating well-known companies or prominent individuals like Elon Musk have been on the rise.
Last year, impersonators of Tesla CEO Elon Musk stole at least $2 million from crypto investors in so-called giveaway scams.
The theft was part of a so-called giveaway scam, whereby con artists pose as celebrities or known figures in the crypto world. They promise to multiply the cryptocurrency that investors send, but pocket the funds instead.
Crypto scams have been on the rise as Bitcoin’s popularity attracts new investors eager to profit. In the recent past, state regulators launched cracking down on fake crypto investments.
In November last year, attorneys general in Massachusetts and New York issued fines and cease and desist orders to stop bogus crypto firms from conning customers.
The Texas State Securities Board also issued a cease and desist order against a fake company that the regulator said was fraudulently offering crypto mining investments.