The Philippines SEC seeks to bring cryptocurrencies under its scope

In a new set of proposed regulations, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) of the Philippines wants to expand its jurisdiction over the local cryptocurrency business so that it may regulate cryptocurrencies and put them under its purview.

A report that was published on a local news site on January 25 said that the securities regulator has put out for public comment draught regulations pertaining to financial goods and services. These rules encompass cryptocurrencies as well as digital financial products, according to the article.

In a statement, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) claimed that the proposed regulations would make a recently passed bill effective and provide it with “rule-making, surveillance, inspection, market monitoring, and greater enforcement authorities.”

The recommendations broaden the definition of a security such that it now include “tokenized securities products” as well as other financial products that make use of blockchain or distributed ledger technology (DLT).

The SEC will also be responsible for regulating other types of financial goods, including digital financial products and services related to those that may be accessed and supplied via digital channels, as well as the suppliers of such products and services.

In a similar vein, the power to enforce rules governing securities is increased. The SEC has the authority to place limits on the amount of interest, fees, and charges that service providers may collect.

In addition to this, the regulator would have the authority to remove from their positions any directors, executives, or other employees who were found to be in violation of the laws. Additionally, it has the potential to halt all operations of a company.

The Securities and Exchange Commission is authorised by local laws to develop its own guidelines for the application of laws within its jurisdiction. In addition, the Philippines’ central bank and the country’s insurance regulator are authorised to develop guidelines for the implementation of related laws.

The recent turn of events signifies a continuation of the harsh crackdown that the regulator is exerting on cryptocurrencies.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued a public warning against utilising unregistered exchanges that were functioning inside the nation before the end of December 2022. The commission said that a number of exchanges were “illegally permitting” Filipinos to use their platforms.

The Philippines’ central bank said in August 2022 that it will stop accepting new applications from virtual asset service providers for the next three years. The bank anticipates that it would resume accepting applications on September 1, 2025.


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Secret Network Validator Smart Stake to Shut Down Nodes

One of the most important validators for the privacy smart contract layer-1 blockchain. The Secret Network has declared that it would no longer provide the network with nodes or assistance after making this announcement.

On the 29th of January, the main validator Smart Stake made the announcement that it will turn down its Secret Network validator nodes on the 21st of February.

As justification for the discontinuation of its services, Smart Stake claimed “complicated and stressful validator operations, the expense and effort of validator operations, and recent events.”

Staking and validator services are provided by Smart Stake, which is a provider that works with many networks, including, Polygon, and Cosmos, as well as Secret Network up until very recently.

The decision was made in the wake of discoveries about the Secret Foundation’s lack of financial openness made by the founder of Secret Labs, Guy Zyskind.

On January 28, Zyskind made public allegations that the foundation and its founder and CEO, Tor Bair, “sold a substantial amount of USD worth of SCRT” in late 2021. SCRT is the native token for the Secret Network. Zyskind’s allegations are based on the fact that SCRT is the native token for the Secret Network.

In his allegations, he said that “Tor cashed out a considerable percentage of these revenues.”

In the report for the foundation’s fourth quarter in 2021, Zyskind also stated an inflow of four million dollars, but he did not disclose the withdrawal.

This activity was not revealed in any financial reports that were released to the community by the Foundation, which on several times was presented by Tor as a charitable entity.

On the other hand, Bair shared his perspective of the events on the Secret government forum the very same day. He claimed that the withdrawals were a portion of the vested tokens that were rightfully his.

“Instead of paying me out my vested tokens in December 2021, I changed my vested part of tokens to USD at the OTC price, and Secret Foundation distributed these cash as a dividend,” the author writes. “

He went on to say that “this information is verified in our 2021 tax filings,” adding that “Labs has already seen these files, and I have previously shared this information to them.”

At least one network validator provider and the community of the ecosystem have been unsettled by the continuing disagreement inside the leadership of the organisation.

Since the beginning of this week, SCRT prices have been unaffected by the internal kerfuffle and have been stabilising around the $0.80 level. However, the coin is now trading at a price that is 92% lower than its all-time high of $10.38 reached in October 2021 and Bair’s original price of $7.


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The launch of a nonfungible token protocol on the Bitcoin mainnet

The cryptocurrency community is currently split on the question of whether the recent implementation of a nonfungible token (NFT) protocol on the Bitcoin mainnet would be beneficial to the Bitcoin ecosystem.

The software programmer Casey Rodarmor is responsible for the creation of the protocol, which is known as “Ordinals.” He is also the one who formally debuted the programme on the Bitcoin mainnet after writing a blog post on January 21.

On the Bitcoin network, NFTs are referred to as “digital artefacts,” and the protocol effectively enables the creation of Bitcoin’s own version of them.

These “digital artefacts” might be in the shape of JPEG photographs, PDF documents, or even audio or video formats.

The introduction of the protocol, on the other hand, has caused discord within the Bitcoin community. While some claim that it expands the financial applications of Bitcoin, others argue that it moves Bitcoin further from Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision of the cryptocurrency as a decentralised peer-to-peer cash system.

Dan Held, a Bitcoin bull, was one among many who supported the idea. He pointed out that it would boost demand for block space — and hence costs — while also adding additional use cases to Bitcoin.

Some people have pointed out that the block space on the Bitcoin network has been taken up by structures that are similar to NFTs, which might cause transaction costs to increase.

A person on Twitter with the handle “Bitcoin is Saving” is one of such individuals. On January 29, they claimed to their 237,600 followers that “privileged affluent whites” who wish to utilise JPEGs as status symbols may restrict marginalised people from participating in the Bitcoin network.

Eric Wall, a researcher in the field of cryptocurrencies, was of the other opinion and said that Bitcoin’s built-in block size restriction would prevent an increase in transaction costs.


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Trial between Hermes and NFT Artist Mason Rothschild set to go ahead

The trademark infringement trial between French luxury company Hermès and digital artist Mason Rothschild is scheduled to begin on January 30 in a federal court in Manhattan. Both parties allege that the other infringed on their respective trademarks.

Because the nonfungible token (NFT) artist was marketing and selling MetaBirkins, a series of NFTs that was alleged to be inspired by the luxury brand’s Birkin bags, the luxury company accused the NFT artist of infringing on its trademark.

On January 14, 2022, Hermès lodged a complaint against Mason Rothschild in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York, alleging that the artist had refused to stop selling his NFT collection. This event marked the beginning of the trial as well as the related lawsuit that was filed at the same time.

According to papers that were submitted to the court on January 23, Hermès is arguing that the collection has made an illegal use of the Birkin trademark and may have caused clients to believe that the premium brand is affiliated with the initiative.

In the meanwhile, the court documents disclose that Rothschild thinks his work is protected under the First Amendment, which places no restrictions on free speech and prohibits censorship of any kind.

In the days leading up to the trial, several attorneys specialising in intellectual property law and other areas of the law have offered their opinions, stressing that the case may have repercussions for the NFT business.

An associate at the law firm Michael Best & Friedrich LLP named Laura Lamansky referred to the case as a “momentous turning point for Web3 and digital products” in an article that was published on January 18 and discussed the trial as well as its potential repercussions for the future of the NFT business.

The issue that has to be answered is, to what degree are trademarks from the physical world enforceable in the digital realm? “We will be keeping a close eye on this case to see how we can most effectively strengthen rights in the digital world,” she added.

“It will hopefully shed some light on how artwork and the First Amendment interact with consumer goods and NFTs and how far a brand’s rights in its trademarks or products extend in the digital space,” added Lamansky. “It will also hopefully shed some light on how a brand’s rights in its trademarks or products extend in the physical space.”

Michael Kasdan, a lawyer who specialises in blockchain and technology, has been keeping up with the case as well, although he does not seem to believe the outcome will be very important.

“It’s only going to be one district court case data point in the end, but it’s certainly going to be an intriguing one,” he added.

Companies and brands have started to enforce stricter policies on non-fungible token (NFT) projects, which they believe violate copyright, intellectual property, and trademark laws.

StockX was accused of committing trademark infringement on February 4, 2022, when Nike filed a lawsuit against the online reseller for the purported creation of NFTs that were modelled after Nike’s shoes.

After a base-layer blockchain provider, Secret Network, announced the auction of “uncut screenplay scenes” from Tarantino’s 1994 film Pulp Fiction as NFTs, film director Quentin Tarantino settled a lawsuit filed by Miramax in September 2022. The lawsuit had been filed after Secret Network announced the auction.


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USDC issuer Circle releases accountant-verified report

Circle, the company that is responsible for issuing USD Coin (USDC), has made public a report that has been validated by an accountant on the treasury reserve assets that support the more than $44.5 billion worth of tokens that are now in circulation.

The present composition of the stablecoin issuer’s reserve vault is broken out in the reserve report that Circle published in December 2022 and that was evaluated by the accounting organisation Grant Thornton. According to Circle, there are presently $44,693,963,701 USD held in custody accounts, which support the value of 44,553,543,212 USDC.

It is important to note that a significant chunk of the latter sum is invested in a variety of treasury bonds issued by the United States government. According to Timothy Singh, who serves as the vice president of accounting for Circle, the overall amount of U.S. dollar-denominated assets, which may include a combination of cash and government bonds, is the fair value of the assets held in the USDC reserve.

The reserve fund that Circle uses is officially designated as a government money market fund. Circle is the only owner of the equity interests in the fund, which consist of fourteen distinct types of United States treasury bills and have a combined market value of about $23.5 billion. In addition, the fund has a cash balance of $48.9 million, and it is owed an additional $33 million; however, this amount will be reduced owing to “time and settlement disparities.”

Another two United States Treasury securities with a combined value of $10.5 billion are reported in a separate reserve assets category. These securities, along with another $10.5 billion in cash held by various financial institutions on behalf of Circle, bring the total value of reported reserve assets to a total of $20.5 billion.

Bank of New York Mellon, Citizens Trust Bank, Customers Bank, New York Community Bank, Signature Bank, Silicon Valley Bank, and Silvergate Bank are some of the U.S. institutions that hold Circle’s cash reserves. Other U.S. banks include Silicon Valley Bank and Silvergate Bank.

At the World Economic Forum that took place in Davos, Switzerland, in January 2023, significant participants that took part in programmes centred on blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies included Circle and the payments network Ripple.

Circle’s Vice President of Global Policy, Corey Then, said that the group conducted meetings with legislators, conventional enterprises, digital firms, and humanitarian organisations to examine the prospect of using USDC as a payment alternative.

Circle’s position as a stablecoin issuer has continually expanded over the last two years, leaving USDC as the second-most-used USD-backed stablecoin, behind Tether. Tether is the most widely used USD-backed stablecoin.


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The Bitcoin mining community has experienced a 50% increase in revenue through mining

The linked mining ecosystems have been fighting for their very existence for the last year, and their efforts are starting to pay off as Bitcoin (BTC) begins to show signs of a modest bull run. Mining incentives and transaction fees contributed to an income boost for the Bitcoin mining community that was almost fifty percent higher during the first month of 2023.

Since October 2020, Bitcoin mining income fell below $14 million for the first time on December 28, 2022, when it reached $13.6 million. Because of this, in addition to increasing energy costs caused by geopolitical tensions, mining businesses were put under a significant amount of financial strain, which ultimately led to some of them going out of business.

As indicated in the following graph, the cryptocurrency mining business had a revenue increase of fifty percent measured in terms of United States dollars. This gain occurred as Bitcoin remained in an advantageous position for a sustained recovery.

Within a month’s time, earnings from bitcoin mining almost doubled from its starting point of $15.3 million on January 1 to approximately $23 million.

The hash rate is continually breaking new records as more miners join the effort to provide power to and ensure the safety of the decentralised Bitcoin network. At the time this article was written, the Bitcoin hash rate was somewhere in the neighbourhood of 300 exahashes per second.

However, in an effort to find a solution to the problem, efforts are being made to source greener energy to power Bitcoin mining operations. A mining business in Malawi, which is a landlocked nation in southern Africa, has only lately begun tapping into a supply of stranded energy there.

Erik Hersman, co-founder and CEO of Gridless, made the following statement in reference to the initiative’s overall impact: “The power developer had built these powerhouses a few years ago, but they weren’t able to expand to more families because they’re barely profitable and couldn’t afford to buy more metres to connect more families. Now, because of this initiative, they are able to expand to more families.” Because of our agreement, they were able to instantly purchase 200 more metres, which enabled them to connect more households.

In addition, the Bitcoin mining operation has a minimal impact on the surrounding ecosystem since it is entirely powered by hydroelectricity derived from rivers.


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Binance shuts down accounts in relation to Bitzlato investigation

In connection with the investigation being conducted by Bitzlato, the cryptocurrency exchange Binance has been secretly closing various user accounts on the site.

On the 18th of January, a number of Russian-speaking customers of Binance voiced their dissatisfaction with the exchange for blocking their accounts and preventing them from withdrawing their assets. The people who were impacted by the problem established a Telegram group conversation in order to report it and said that their accounts had been disabled without any prior notification.

Immediate comparisons were made between the obstructions and an enforcement action taken by the United States Department of Justice against the cryptocurrency business Bitzlato. The membership of the organisation, which currently numbers more than 1,000 people, made the connection almost immediately. Binance was recognised as one of Bitzlato’s top Bitcoin (BTC) counterparties by the United States Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN).

The use of Bitzlato, including both incoming and outgoing transactions between Bitzlato and Binance accounts, has been publicly acknowledged by a significant number of conversation participants. Some of the users who were impacted have voiced their displeasure and uncertainty over the measures taken against Bitzlato.

One conversation participant wrote: “Though I haven’t been banned anyplace yet, I merely lost some on BTC-e, Wex, and now it’s Bitzlato, but I consider these bans to be lawlessness.” Despite the fact that they haven’t banned them yet, they have lost their funds on BTC-e, Wex, and now Bitzlato.

“Blockages relating to Bitzlato are a complete waste of time. Since they have not been found guilty up to this point and there are simply allegations, how can this money be dirty? Another user had this question.


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Charity Commission investigating Effective Ventures Foundation over ties to FTX

Effective Ventures Foundation is an organisation with connections to the defunct cryptocurrency exchange FTX, according to a recent announcement made by the commission in England and Wales that is responsible for the regulation of registered charities.

The investigation was initiated owing to the fact that FTX is a “major sponsor” of Effective Ventures, as stated by the Charity Commission in a statement made on the 30th of January. Effective Ventures reportedly disclosed its links to FTX as a “severe event” that may possibly harm other assets, which opened the way for the regulator to probe the trustees of Effective Ventures.

According to the statement made by the commission, “there is no evidence of misconduct by the trustees at this time.” “However, there are indications of potential risks to the assets of the charity. The inquiry has been opened in order to establish the facts and assist in ensuring that the trustees are protecting the assets of the charity and are operating the charity in accordance with their duties and responsibilities.”

During the course of the inquiry, the Charity Commission indicated that the trustees were “cooperating completely,” and it would soon publish a report detailing what it discovered. After FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States and former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried was detained in the Bahamas, the regulator began their investigation on December 19. This was after both events had occurred.

During the processes surrounding the bankruptcy of the exchange, it has been revealed that charity organisations in the United States that had previously benefitted from FTX funding have been targeted. The company had donated millions of dollars to a variety of organisations and causes. A great number of political campaigns have made commitments to return monies that are associated with FTX or Bankman-Fried, but it is not clear if firms and investors will be legally compelled to “refund” the exchange’s creditors.


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Digital Asset Investments Surge to $117 Million

The European cryptocurrency investment firm CoinShares published its “Digital Asset Fund Flows Report” on January 30. The report revealed that investments in digital assets experienced a surge in inflows last week, reaching $117 million, the highest amount since July 2022. CoinShares is a European investment firm that specialises in cryptocurrencies.

According to a research by CoinShares, the total assets under management for the sector increased to $28 billion, representing a 43% gain from its lows in November 2022. The rise in the volume of investment products exchanged during the week was obvious, totaling $1.3 billion, which represents a 17% increase in comparison to the average for the first 10 months of the year. During this time, weekly trading volumes on the market for digital assets have increased by an average of 11%.

After Germany, Canada, the United States of America, and Switzerland, which each got $30 million, $26 million, and $23 million correspondingly, the country that had the biggest inflows over the last week was Germany, which accounted for 40% of the total ($46 million). The majority of the inflows, totaling $116 million, were invested in Bitcoin (BTC) products, whilst just $4.4 million was invested in short-Bitcoin products, demonstrating that investors had conflicting opinions about the cryptocurrency.

In addition, the report disclosed that multi-asset investment products had seen withdrawals of funds for the ninth week in a row, with the total amount reaching $6.4 million. This seems to indicate, according to James Butterfill, who is in charge of research at CoinShares, that investors are choosing to put their money into more specialised projects. Altcoins such as Solana (SOL), Cardano (ADA), and Polygon (MATIC) witnessed inflows as a result of this trend. On the other hand, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Stellar (XLM), and Uniswap (UNI) suffered slight outflows.

In addition, investors shown interest in blockchain equities, contributing a total of $2.4 million in new capital. On the other hand, a more in-depth investigation finds that opinions continue to vary depending on the supplier.

The market for digital assets as a whole saw substantial growth over the course of the last week, with investment products witnessing record inflows and better volumes.

The overall trend indicates that investors are becoming more choosy in their investments, with mixed feelings concerning blockchain stocks, despite the fact that this attitude is consistent with the trend.


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Montenegrin Prime Minister Dritan Abazovic has announced a pilot digital currency project

On Twitter, the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Dritan Abazovi, made the announcement that his nation is exploring the possibility of establishing a digital currency in collaboration with Ripple. At Davos, Abazovi had a meeting with the CEO of Ripple, Brad Garlinghouse, and the vice president of Ripple, James Wallis.

Ripple has appointed Wallis to the position of vice president for central bank interactions and CBDCs. According to what Abazovi indicated in the conversation, he was evidently thinking of something similar to a central bank digital currency (CBDC) when he made his announcement:

However, due to the fact that Montenegro does not yet have its own national currency, it is unknown what the precise characteristics of the hypothetical future digital money will be. Despite the fact that it is neither a member of the Eurozone nor the European Union (EU), the Balkan nation of Montenegro has adopted the euro as its official currency ever since it was first introduced in 2002. This has occurred despite the fact that Montenegro is not a part of the European Union (EU). In 2008, Montenegro submitted its application to join the EU.

Since the beginning of this year, the government of Montenegro has been actively pursuing opportunities in the cryptocurrency market. It has garnered a reputation for its openness to the use of cryptocurrencies, and in April it hosted a panel with the catchy title Future Now! that Ethereum co-creator Vitalik Buterin participated in. It was believed at this period that Buterin was awarded citizenship in Montenegro.

When the announcement on the partnership with Ripple was made on January 18, it received extensive coverage by local news sources; nevertheless, it took several days for the news of the partnership to reach the worldwide audience.

In the previous year, a Ripple consultant made a statement that the business will be increasing its engagement under CBDC agreements, explicitly noting Bhutan and Palau as two of “many trials in process.” In addition, the firm was a founder member of the Digital Dollar Project, and in February of 2022, it became a member of the Digital Euro Association.


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Bitcoin (BTC) $ 26,571.12 0.09%
Ethereum (ETH) $ 1,592.69 0.07%
Litecoin (LTC) $ 64.56 0.03%
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $ 208.89 0.73%