US Crypto Crackdown Could Stifle Innovation and Weaken Dollar

The US government’s ongoing crackdown on cryptocurrencies and crypto firms is causing concerns among industry experts, who argue that it could have a negative impact on innovation and weaken the dollar’s global position. The recent Wells notice issued to Coinbase by the SEC is just one example of the legal threats that crypto firms are facing in the US, and many believe that there could be more to come.

According to Mati Greenspan, the chief of crypto research firm Quantum Economics, US regulators have been unfriendly to crypto “since the beginning.” Some suggest that the recent collapses of crypto and startup-friendly banks, such as Silvergate, Silicon Valley Bank, and Signature Bank, are part of a larger scheme by regulators to “un-bank” the crypto sector, which has been dubbed “Operation Choke Point 2.0.”

Meanwhile, a March 20 economic report from the White House was highly critical of the merits of crypto assets, spending almost an entire chapter debunking their “touted” benefits. However, as more people begin to use crypto for cross-border remittances globally, there are concerns that a crackdown on crypto in the US could actually have the opposite effect on the dollar. By isolating the US further, it could weaken the dollar’s position as the global reserve currency.

Greenspan suggests that the White House should instead review the practices in the banking industry, rather than targeting the crypto sector. The recent action against Coinbase has been described as part of an “adversarial environment for the crypto industry” in the US, which could drive jobs, investment, and future innovation offshore to countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Australia.

Despite the concerns raised by industry experts, the exact reasons for the SEC’s targeting of Coinbase remain unclear. The SEC has declined to comment on the matter, leaving many in the crypto community uncertain about what the future holds for the industry in the US.


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OpenAI Introduces New Plugin Feature for ChatGPT AI Chatbot

OpenAI has introduced a new plugin feature for its AI chatbot, ChatGPT, that will allow it to retrieve information from online sources and interact with third-party websites. This new feature is currently in the alpha phase and will be available to a limited set of users initially, with a waitlist in place to access it. OpenAI has stated that the plugins have been designed with safety as a core principle, and they will help ChatGPT access up-to-date information, run computations, or use third-party services.

The plugins that are currently available include e-commerce platforms Shopify, Klarna, and Instacart, and travel search engines Expedia and KAYAK. These plugins will enable ChatGPT to perform various tasks such as checking live scores for sporting events, booking international flights, and purchasing food for home delivery. Other plugins include the math computer Wolfram for carrying out calculations, and the business messaging app Slack, among others.

ChatGPT uses the Bing API to search for information and a text-based web browser to navigate results and interact with websites. It is capable of synthesizing information across multiple sources to provide a more grounded response and cites the sources it used so users can verify where ChatGPT derived its response from.

OpenAI has stated that the plug-in capabilities were introduced due to high demand from its user base since the firm launched ChatGPT on Nov. 30. The company is gradually rolling out plugins to assess their real-world use and to ensure safety is maintained as a core principle.

In conclusion, the new plugin feature introduced by OpenAI for ChatGPT is a significant development that will allow the AI chatbot to interact with third-party websites and perform various tasks for users. While the feature is in its alpha phase and only available to a limited set of users, the waitlist is open, and OpenAI is gradually rolling out plugins to ensure safety is maintained as a core principle. With plugins such as e-commerce platforms, travel search engines, and business messaging apps, ChatGPT is poised to become an even more valuable tool for users.


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ARK Invest Buys Coinbase Shares Despite Wells Notice

Two days previous to the announcement that the Wells notification was forthcoming, ARK Invest had already sold 160,887 of its Coinbase shares using the ARK Fintech Innovation ETF. When this transaction took place in 2023, it was the first time that any of ARK Invest’s ETFs had sold Coinbase shares. In spite of the decline in Coinbase’s share price, this transaction represented the first time that any of ARK Invest’s ETFs has ever sold Coinbase shares. It is essential to take into consideration the fact that authorities and insiders at Coinbase participate in 10B5-1 selling plans months in advance, and that this tranche of sales was carried out in line with a trading strategy that was formed on August 16.

After the publication of the Wells notice, which warned of possible enforcement action by the SEC, the share price of Coinbase has not been able to recover to its former level. This is likely due to the fact that the SEC is likely to take enforcement action. Brian Armstrong, the chief executive officer of the firm, had also sold shares in his company between March 17 and March 20, only a few days before the Wells notice and the consequent decline in share price. These sales took place between March 17 and March 20.

Following the settlement that the SEC reached with Kraken on February 9, in which it was alleged that Kraken’s staking services qualified as securities, Coinbase has repeatedly asserted that its staking products are fundamentally different from Kraken’s products. This is in response to the allegations that Kraken’s staking services qualified as securities. After the conclusion of settlement talks between the SEC and Kraken, Coinbase made its claims.

In conclusion, ARK Invest has continued to purchase Coinbase shares despite receiving information from Wells and a decline in the price of Coinbase’s shares. This is the case even if the price of Coinbase’s shares has fallen. Before the Wells notice, Coinbase executed a trading plan that it had designed on August 16 in order to sell 160,887 shares from its ARK Fintech Innovation ETF. Coinbase has made the assertion that its staking products do not constitute securities in any way.


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Greenpeace’s Bitcoin Art Piece Praised by Supporters

In March 2021, Greenpeace partnered with art activist Benjamin Von Wong for its “change the code, not the climate” campaign to convert Bitcoin’s consensus mechanism to a proof-of-stake (PoS) model. The campaign aims to pressure Bitcoin developers, miners, and the government to move Bitcoin from proof-of-work to PoS to reduce the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining.

As part of the campaign, Greenpeace commissioned an art piece called the “Skull of Satoshi,” an 11-feet-tall skull made of recycled electronic waste featuring the Bitcoin logo and red laser eyes. The smoking stacks on top of the skull represent the fossil fuel and coal pollution caused by Bitcoin mining.

Unexpectedly, the art piece was widely praised by Bitcoin supporters, with some even adopting it as a quasi-mascot. Will Foxley, the media strategy director at crypto miner Compass Mining, called the art piece “badass” and changed his Twitter profile picture to an image of the Skull of Satoshi. Coin Metrics co-founder Nic Carter tweeted that the art is the “most metal Bitcoin artwork to date.”

However, some Twitter users criticized the imagery chosen by Greenpeace, with one user saying that the smokestacks on the skull’s head resembled nuclear cooling towers emitting steam.

Greenpeace’s “change the code, not the climate” campaign was launched around a year ago alongside other climate groups and Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen. The campaign claims that 30 “key” entities could move Bitcoin from proof-of-work to PoS if they agreed to the change.

Bitcoin mining has faced criticism for its high energy consumption and carbon footprint. Currently, Bitcoin uses a proof-of-work consensus mechanism that requires a vast amount of computational power and energy to validate transactions and add them to the blockchain. Proof-of-stake, on the other hand, requires far less energy consumption and has a lower carbon footprint.


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Hackers Steal $500,000 Worth of Tokens from Arbitrum Airdrop

Hackers have managed to steal $500,000 worth of tokens from layer-2 scaling solution Arbitrum’s March 23 airdrop. The theft was carried out through the use of vanity addresses, customized cryptocurrency addresses that contain specific words or phrases chosen by the user to make them more personal and identifiable. While vanity addresses offer a level of personalization and identification, their safety is questionable, as they can compromise the security of users’ private keys.

The hacker compiled vanity addresses that were eligible to receive ARB tokens and generated similar addresses using vanity address generators. This allowed them to redirect the airdropped tokens to their own addresses, making it impossible for the original owners to claim their ARB tokens. Several crypto users have expressed sadness about their stolen ARB tokens, with many being unaware of the reason behind the loss and having no idea what to do about it.

Creating a vanity address requires using special software or services that could potentially compromise the security of users’ private keys. Hackers who gain access to the private key could steal any crypto assets tied to that address. This is not the first time scammers have compromised vanity addresses in the crypto space. In January, MetaMask warned crypto users about address poisoning.

Arbitrum’s token giveaway caused a lot of excitement and overwhelmed several websites. However, according to the blockchain analytics platform Nansen, 428 million ARB tokens are still available to claim. As of late Thursday, March 22, around 240,000 addresses had not yet claimed governance tokens, even though 61% of eligible crypto wallets had already done so. The 428 million unclaimed tokens, worth nearly $596 million as of publication time, represent 37% of the total 1.1 billion ARB allocated for Arbitrum’s airdrop.

It is important to note that the use of vanity addresses to claim crypto assets is not a secure practice. Vanity addresses require the use of special software or services that can compromise the security of users’ private keys, making them vulnerable to hackers. Therefore, crypto users should exercise caution when using vanity addresses and prioritize the security of their private keys.


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Binance Insider Allegedly Helps Users Bypass KYC Security Protocols

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, has faced accusations of enabling money laundering and facilitating criminal activities in the past. In response to the FTX scandal, Binance has made significant efforts to enhance transparency in the industry. However, a recent CNBC investigation suggests that Binance insiders are allegedly aiding users in China to bypass the exchange’s security protocols.

According to the report, employees and volunteers at Binance have been providing assistance to customers in China to circumvent KYC controls. Binance’s Chinese-language chat rooms reportedly had over 220,000 registered users who could access shared messages on techniques to bypass KYC, residency, and verification protocols. The messages allegedly originated from accounts identified as employees of Binance or trained volunteers known as “Angels.”

The allegations made in the CNBC report raise concerns about Binance’s commitment to transparency and regulatory compliance. Binance has faced regulatory scrutiny in several countries, including the United States, Japan, and the United Kingdom, over its operations and compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.

Binance has responded to the allegations made in the report, stating that it takes compliance and security seriously and has a zero-tolerance policy for any misconduct by employees or volunteers. Binance also stated that it has a dedicated team to monitor and prevent any suspicious activities on its platform.

The report by CNBC is the latest in a series of allegations against Binance. The exchange has faced accusations of facilitating money laundering, terrorist financing, and other illegal activities. The allegations have prompted regulatory authorities in several countries to investigate Binance’s operations and compliance with anti-money laundering regulations.

In conclusion, the allegations made in the CNBC report are a cause for concern for Binance, as they raise questions about the exchange’s commitment to regulatory compliance and transparency. Binance will need to take decisive actions to address these allegations and demonstrate its commitment to operating in a transparent and compliant manner.


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Airdrop Hunters Consolidate Millions Worth of ARB Tokens

Arbitrum, a layer-2 scaling solution for Ethereum, recently launched an airdrop campaign for its native token, ARB, causing a frenzy among cryptocurrency enthusiasts. On-chain activity showed that some airdrop hunters were particularly successful in accumulating a substantial amount of ARB tokens worth millions of dollars.

According to LookIntoChain, a blockchain analysis platform, two wallets consolidated tokens from 1,496 wallets, collectively holding around $3.3 million worth of ARB. One of the wallets received 1.4 million ARB from 866 addresses and added all the tokens to Uniswap, a decentralized exchange, to provide liquidity. The other wallet received 933,375 ARB from 630 addresses.

Community members were curious about the identities behind the wallets and formulated their own theories. Some believed that the airdrop hunters were team members of the project, while others speculated that they might be hackers. A few members also expressed concerns about the potential impact on transaction volumes.

Despite the mixed reactions, some praised the airdrop hunters for their efforts, calling them names like “airdrop god.” Others believed that the hunters spent significant time and capital farming the numbers to accumulate such a large amount of tokens.

The hype around the ARB airdrop also spilled over into the over-the-counter (OTC) markets, where eligible crypto users started selling their tokens soon after the announcement. This indicates a strong demand for the token in the market.

However, the airdrop craze also attracted the attention of hackers. On March 24, some hacked vanity wallet addresses were used to steal $500,000 worth of ARB tokens from eligible airdrop participants, raising concerns about security risks in airdrop campaigns.

In conclusion, the ARB airdrop campaign generated significant attention from the cryptocurrency community, with some successful airdrop hunters consolidating millions of dollars worth of tokens. While the campaign was successful in attracting new users and creating hype, it also exposed potential risks associated with airdrop campaigns, such as security vulnerabilities and market volatility.


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DeFi Giants Launch on Ethereum Layer 2 zkSync Era

After four years in development, the Ethereum layer 2 scaling network, zkSync Era, has opened to users in alpha, enabling faster and cheaper transactions. Between 32 to 50 projects, including some of the biggest names in decentralized finance such as Uniswap, Sushi, Maker, and Curve, are set to go live on March 24 or over the weekend.

ZkSync Era is the first Ethereum Virtual Machine compatible zk-Rollup to launch on mainnet, allowing most Ethereum DApps to simply port over with very few changes. The network can provide scaling “orders of magnitude” greater than Ethereum’s current 10 to 12 transactions per second (TPS), offering “tens of TPS” initially and scaling up as demand requires.

The project launched its “fair onboarding alpha” on Feb. 17, allowing projects to port over and test out security and optimizations. Matter Labs, the team behind zkSync Era, said it spent $3.8 million on security testing, seven independent security audits, and a bug bounty program to reduce the risk of any incidents.

Zk-Rollups, which include zkSync, Scroll, and solutions from Polygon, StarkWare, and Consensys, compute transactions away from the Ethereum blockchain while providing a tiny cryptographic proof that is written as a single transaction back on Ethereum showing that a bundle of other transactions has been carried out correctly. ZkSync also employs recursion, which generates a proof showing a batch of other proofs (each representing many transactions) have been carried out.

Zk-Rollups can enable virtually instant withdrawals, giving them an advantage over optimistic-rollup layer 2s such as Optimism, where withdrawals take a week. However, zkSync Era will impose a 24-hour waiting period initially as a security precaution.

ZkSync Era has also enabled native account abstraction, meaning every account in the network is a “smart account” that can utilize two-factor authentication (2FA), social recovery, autopay transactions, and more via smart contract wallet providers like Argent.

The network will not be fully decentralized on launch, so the team can implement fast fixes for any security or technical issues. However, a time lock will later be implemented so that the Security Council and community can sign off on decisions. Like competitor StarkWare, zkSync relies on a centralized sequencer and prover, which are faster, but provide a centralized point of failure.

Running a prover requires the purchase of expensive hardware or renting cloud capacity at $10,000 a month, which makes decentralizing that aspect of the network tricker. A new proof system is already being developed that substantially reduces hardware requirements and should be available on mainnet this year.

Overall, zkSync Era represents an important step forward for Ethereum, which has been grappling with scaling issues for years. The network’s launch on mainnet has the potential to significantly reduce gas fees and enable faster and more efficient transactions, benefiting not only DeFi projects but also other Ethereum-based applications.


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Nasdaq to Launch Digital Asset Custody Services

The global securities marketplace known as Nasdaq is planning to join the cryptocurrency business by the end of the second quarter of 2022 when it will provide its custody services for digital assets. Ira Auerbach, Senior Vice President of the exchange operator, is in charge of the digital assets division, which has submitted an application to the New York Department of Financial Services for a limited-purpose trust company charter. This charter would allow the department to monitor the new business.

The initiative, which was unveiled for the first time in September, will begin with the storage of Bitcoin and Ether, with the intention of ultimately offering a whole suite of services for the division, including the execution of transactions for financial institutions. Before the launch, Auerbach stressed the group’s commitment to ensuring that all of the essential governmental permissions and technological infrastructure are in place.

It is possible that Nasdaq’s introduction into the cryptocurrency market will be a big step forward for the industry. This comes at a time when conventional financial institutions are increasingly filling the void left by industry bankruptcies. The reputation of the exchange and its presence in the worldwide market might help enhance institutional investor trust in the cryptocurrency market, which would pave the road for more conventional financial institutions to follow suit in the future.

The decision by Nasdaq is similar to those taken by other prominent financial institutions, such as BNY Mellon and Fidelity, who provide services related to the storage of cryptocurrencies. These offers are a reflection of the increased demand from institutional investors for exposure to digital assets. Digital assets are considered by some as an alternative asset class that may bring advantages of diversification when included in a portfolio.

Traditional financial institutions have been hesitant to provide these types of services despite the rising interest in digital assets; this reluctance may be attributed to worries over the regulatory clarity and security risks connected with digital assets. But, with Nasdaq’s introduction into the market, it is feasible that more institutions may follow suit, as they attempt to profit on the potential development prospects that exist within the cryptocurrency business.


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Zipmex Misses Buyout Payment

According to recent reports, the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange known as Zipmex has failed to make a payment totaling $1.25 million as required by the terms of its buyout agreement with V Venture. V Venture is a venture capital firm that is owned by the Thai shipping company known as Thoresen Thai Agencies. Zipmex warned V Venture in a letter that if the money was not received, it was possible that the company would have to begin the process of liquidating its Zipmex Technologies segment and halt wages. The activities in Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and Australia will be impacted as a result of this.

This is the fourth time that V Venture has failed to make a payment, and the delay may result in an inquiry being launched by the Thai Securities and Exchange Commission. When an agreement with Coinbase to acquire it fell through in July 2022, Zipmex temporarily halted the processing of withdrawal requests. Due to the exchange’s exposure to Babel Finance, which purportedly owed Zipmex $48 million and froze withdrawals in June, the exchange was having problems maintaining enough liquidity. Moreover, Zipmex has an exposure to Celsius of 5 million dollars.

In August of 2022, Zipmex was given protection from its creditors for a period of three months. But, since V Venture did not make their payment on time, the exchange may be forced to take extreme actions in order to maintain their financial stability. According to CoinMarketCap, the Zipmex token has dropped from its all-time high of $0.1029 on March 23 to its current price of $0.057 at the time of this writing. The Zipmex token is listed on multiple cryptocurrency exchanges, some of which include Binance and BitForex.

The last year has been a difficult one for Zipmex, with many unsuccessful takeover bids, problems with cash, and the need for creditor protection. The failure to make a payment by V Venture may prove to be the death knell for the faltering exchange, which may be forced to sell off one of its components in order to continue operating. The failure to make timely payments can potentially result in an inquiry by regulatory authorities, which would further compound the exchange’s problems.


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