Seychelles Crypto Exchange OKX to Expand Services to Australia

In a statement released on March 29, OKX announced its intention to expand its crypto services to Australia, citing the country’s strong adoption of cryptocurrency. The exchange, which provides services to over 100 countries, has already expanded its operations into Malta in August 2018 and secured a provisional license in Dubai in July 2020.

OKX sees Australia as an indispensable part of its growth strategy and a key growth market, stating that it aims to build a strong local office. The exchange’s move into the Australian market is fueled by the high demand for cryptocurrency among Australian retail investors.

According to Jay Hao, CEO of OKX, Australian retail investors have shown a massive appetite for exploring crypto as an investment vehicle and for trading. He noted that since he came to OKX, the web traffic from Australia and the number of people trying to explore OKX services from Australia has been significant.

The exchange’s Head of Global Operations, Grant Rafique, believes that Australians are ahead of the curve in terms of crypto education, which he hopes will make OKX’s move into the market even smoother.

Australia’s cryptocurrency industry has been growing steadily, with an increasing number of Australians investing in digital assets. A report by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance revealed that Australia’s cryptocurrency sector grew by 20% in 2020, with the number of active crypto users doubling in the last 12 months.

The expansion into the Australian market is part of OKX’s broader strategy to become a global leader in the crypto industry. By expanding its services to more countries, the exchange hopes to provide more people with access to digital assets and facilitate the adoption of cryptocurrency worldwide.

Overall, OKX’s move to expand its services to Australia is a significant development in the country’s crypto industry, as it is likely to bring more competition and further increase the adoption of digital assets among Australians.


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Hong Kong Investors Launch $100M Fund for Web3 Startups

Hong Kong is once again opening up to the crypto market, as local investors launch a $100 million fund to finance the digital industry. The new fund, ProDigital Future, will focus on supporting early-stage Web3 companies oriented at the regional market.

According to a Bloomberg report from March 30, ProDigital Future has completed its half-year fundraising period with about $30 million in its pockets. However, it aims to raise $100 million by the end of 2023. The fund is led by Ben Ng, a partner at Hong Kong-based equity firm SAIF Partners, and Curt Shi, a long-time tech investor from China. Sunwah Kingsway Capital Holdings and Golin International Group have already invested in the fund.

Shi, the co-leader of ProDigital Future, told journalists that the fundraising process has been “relatively smooth,” although the investors are cautious about putting their money into crypto projects. ProDigital Future has attracted Hong Kong investors, as well as some family offices from China, Australia, and Singapore.

The fund aims to “embrace Hong Kong and its policies” while expanding its reach to Australia, Singapore, Europe, and the United States. ProDigital Future has already invested in six digital-asset projects, including metaverse company GigaSpace and One Future Football, a digital football league from Australia currently operating in stealth mode.

The launch of ProDigital Future comes amid growing regulatory efforts to oversee the crypto market in Hong Kong. In October 2022, the government of Hong Kong floated the idea of introducing its own bill to regulate crypto. On Feb. 20, Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission released a proposal for a licensing regime for cryptocurrency exchanges, set to take effect in June.

The proposed licensing regime includes a necessary licensing procedure, demanding that potential market players meet several prerequisites, including the safe custody of assets, Know Your Customer, Anti-Money Laundering, and Combating the Financing of Terrorism regulations.

Despite these regulatory efforts, the launch of ProDigital Future signals a growing interest in the potential of the crypto market in Hong Kong and the wider Asia-Pacific region. With a focus on Web3 startups and a commitment to regulatory compliance, the fund aims to support the growth and development of the digital industry in the region.


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DeFi Execs Argue KYC as Solution to Combat Money Laundering in the Industry

Decentralized finance (DeFi) has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, with its total value locked (TVL) surpassing $100 billion in August 2021. However, the lack of regulation and the prevalence of cyber attacks pose significant challenges for the industry. One of the most pressing issues in DeFi is the laundering of millions of dollars stolen from DeFi platforms into clean money. To combat this, DeFi executives at the World of Web3 (WOW) Summit in Hong Kong have argued that implementing Know Your Customer (KYC) measures can address the problem.

During a panel session titled “Blockchain Security to Smart Compliance: AML & KYC Solutions in DeFi,” industry leaders endorsed KYC as a solution to tackle Anti-Money Laundering (AML) issues. Dyma Budorin, the CEO of smart contract auditing firm Hacken, warned of the prevalence of tools readily available to hackers to “launder the money.” He described it as the “biggest issue” in the industry, where hackers can easily steal millions of dollars and launder the funds into various wallets, making it difficult to track the source of the funds. Therefore, he believes KYC is about transparency and accountability, and it should be part of the industry.

However, Victor Yim, the head of fintech at Hong Kong’s incubator for entrepreneurship, Cyberport, suggested that KYC alone would not solve all AML problems. He explained that even in traditional finance, where KYC measures are prominent, “there is still money laundering happening every day.” Despite this, Yim believes KYC measures can make a “better tomorrow” for the DeFi industry. He added that it would require a collective effort, including regulators, policy bureau, and other players, to execute successfully. He cited the concept of “anonymous traceable” as an example of a balance between anonymity and compliance, where individuals remain anonymous unless called upon by law enforcement, adding that it will “protect the good people while still getting the bad people.”

Alexander Scheer, the founder of zkMe, emphasized that different mechanisms should be used for different solutions. For example, crypto mixers need to be handled differently from DeFi front-ends and on- and off-ramps. Scheer also touched on regulations, stating that the DeFi industry should proactively take the lead and “front run” regulations before they are imposed by regulators. This proactive approach could help to ensure that regulations do not stifle innovation in the industry.

In conclusion, implementing KYC measures in DeFi could enhance transparency and accountability in the industry, making it more difficult for hackers to launder stolen funds. However, it is crucial to acknowledge that KYC alone is not a panacea for AML issues, and different mechanisms should be used for different solutions. The DeFi industry should collaborate with regulators and other stakeholders to develop effective solutions that balance compliance with innovation, safeguarding the interests of all stakeholders, and preventing bad actors from exploiting the system.


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Regulated Stablecoins Likely to Remain in Use by 2030

Regulated stablecoins have become a focal point for policymakers, with experts in digital regulation discussing their future use at the World of Web3 (WOW) Summit in Hong Kong. The panel, titled “Digital Assets: Policies & the Road Ahead,” examined the role that regulated stablecoins are likely to play in the future of finance. The group discussed how regulated stablecoins would most likely remain in use by 2030 and how the current growth rate of the stablecoin market helps to ensure this.

The panelists acknowledged the growth of the crypto industry and emphasized the importance of both centralized and decentralized approaches to digital assets. Alexandra Sasha, the first deputy to the Danish Parliament, spoke of the need for both centralized and decentralized payment options. She stated that “you will have people who will want to centralize the digital era, and you will always have the people who do want this decentralized way of using payments, of course, unless it gets banned, but I do not think that’s the goal of anyone.”

Kelvin Lester Lee, commissioner of the Securities Exchange Commission of the Philippines, expressed uncertainty about whether regulated digital assets would be thriving by 2030. However, he acknowledged that they would still be present and might also look different. This suggests that while the future of digital assets is uncertain, it is clear that they will continue to be an important part of the financial landscape.

Douglas Arner, a professor working in the areas of interconnection between finance and technology regulation at the University of Hong Kong, added that this entire decade would be a competition between centralized approaches and decentralized approaches. According to Arner, the competition applies just as much in the context of the metaverse as it does in the context of the crypto ecosystem. He believes that by the end of the decade, there will be a spectrum of different structures where there’s a high likelihood that regulated stablecoins will emerge as the most widely used monetary instrument embedded in blockchain applications.

While there is still uncertainty about the future of regulated stablecoins, the panelists agreed that they are likely to remain an important part of the financial landscape. As the crypto industry continues to grow and evolve, it will be interesting to see how regulatory policies adapt to ensure the continued use and development of digital assets. It is clear that digital assets will continue to play a crucial role in shaping the future of finance, and that they will require careful management and regulation to ensure their continued success.


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Revolut faces issues with 2021 annual report

Revolut, a British-Lithuanian fintech company known for its crypto-friendly services, recently released its annual report for the year ending December 2021. The report revealed that Revolut generated a revenue of £636 million ($769 million) in 2021, a significant increase from the previous year’s £220 million ($266 million). This marks the company’s first-ever full year of profit since its launch in 2015.

Despite the positive financial news, the company’s annual report has faced issues. Independent auditors from the global accounting network BDO have reviewed the report and confirmed that it accurately reflects the state of the company’s affairs as of Dec. 31, 2021. However, the auditors also noted certain qualifications related to the report, which could impact its accuracy.

According to BDO’s qualified opinion section, the report was correct “except for the possible effects of the matters described in the basis for the qualified opinion section.” This suggests that there are certain factors that may affect the accuracy of the report, which the auditors have identified and highlighted.

Despite this, Revolut’s leadership remains optimistic about the company’s future prospects. The neobank has rapidly expanded its user base and range of services, including allowing customers to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. The company has also expanded its operations globally, with offices in over 30 countries and plans to launch in new markets.

Revolut’s CEO, Nikolay Storonsky, expressed his satisfaction with the company’s performance in the 2021 fiscal year, stating, “We are delighted to report our first-ever full year of profitability, which is a testament to the hard work and dedication of our team.” He also emphasized the importance of innovation and growth in the company’s ongoing success, stating, “We are continuing to push boundaries and innovate in order to provide our customers with the best possible experience, and we look forward to even more growth and success in the years ahead.”

Revolut’s recent financial success and ongoing expansion efforts have cemented its position as a leading player in the fintech industry. Despite the issues with its annual report, the company’s strong financial performance and focus on innovation bode well for its future prospects.


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Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network Expands with New Games

Sky Mavis, the creator of the popular blockchain game Axie Infinity, has announced that it is expanding its Ronin Network with the addition of four gaming studios. The move is aimed at creating a native gaming ecosystem that is more community-centric, rewarding, and fun.

Axie Infinity has gained immense popularity in the blockchain gaming space, with over one million daily active users and a market capitalization of over $4.5 billion. With the addition of new games on the Ronin Network, the company aims to attract more users to the Web3 space and drive the adoption of blockchain gaming.

“With the upgrade to DPoS, we are ready to open up our infrastructure and technology to the wider Web3 world. We believe that this is the path toward creating gaming that’s community-centric, more rewarding, and above all, more fun,” said Sky Mavis.

The addition of new games to the Ronin Network is part of the company’s game studio strategy, which aims to attract both Web3 and Web2 users. By working with teams that have a history of Web2 user acquisition, Axie Infinity hopes to get blockchain games exposed to the masses and be a catalyst for more Web3 adoption.

“Our goal is to work with teams to build great games that not only attract Web3 users but also attract millions of Web2 users,” said Osgood, a representative of Sky Mavis.

Despite the recent crypto winter, many believe that more traditional gaming firms will eventually enter the NFT and blockchain gaming space. In a recent discussion among Web3 executives, the potential for mainstream gaming companies to jump in was discussed, with a focus on NFT gaming models like play-to-earn and move-to-earn.

With its continued success and expansion, Axie Infinity is poised to be a leader in the Web3 gaming space and a catalyst for more widespread adoption of blockchain gaming.


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Global Governments Request More Personal Data from Big Tech

The issue of how Big Tech companies handle user data has been a topic of debate for some time. Meta, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are often accused of collecting and selling the personal data of their users. However, the exact destination of this data and the extent to which companies and governments have access to it remain unclear. A recent study by Surfshark sheds light on the rising trend of government requests for personal user data from Big Tech firms.

The study, which focused on the period from 2013 to 2021, found that requests for personal data have been increasing over time. The year 2020 saw the largest year-over-year increase of 38%, followed by a 25% increase in 2021. The survey included Meta, Microsoft, Apple, and Google, with Meta having the most accounts of interest from authorities. Two out of five accounts hosted by Meta were requested (6.6 million) during the study period. Apple, on the other hand, had the fewest, with just 416,000 requested accounts from global authorities.

The report reveals that 60% of the requests for personal data came from authorities in the United States and Europe. However, the U.S. requested more than double the accounts per 100,000 users than all countries in the European Union combined. The top countries following the U.S. in terms of data requests were Germany, Singapore, the United Kingdom, and France.

According to the study, most data requests are related to criminal investigations and civil or administrative cases in which digital data is necessary. Gabriele Kaveckyte, a member of the privacy counsel at Surfshark, highlights that authorities are also exploring ways to monitor and tackle crime via online services. While this can help solve serious criminal cases, civil society organizations have expressed concerns about the promotion of surveillance techniques.

The tech companies’ disclosure rate of user data has increased by nearly 71%, with Apple leading the pack with an average disclosure rate of 86% in 2021 and 82% across the study period. However, Big Tech’s monopoly on user information has led to calls for decentralized solutions such as Web3 tools to safeguard personal data. Some have even suggested that Web2 platforms like Facebook and Twitter will become obsolete thanks to blockchain technology.

In February, a decentralized version of Twitter called Damus officially launched in app stores, offering a “social network you control.” Even Big Tech companies have begun to break into the Web3 space, with Meta unsuccessfully introducing nonfungible tokens on Instagram and Facebook. Despite these efforts, there is still much debate and uncertainty regarding the handling of personal data by tech companies and the extent of government access to such data.


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Crypto Donations to Exceed $10 Billion in a Decade

Data collected by The Giving Block, a crypto charity platform, has revealed that cryptocurrency donations are set to exceed $10 billion in the next decade. The Giving Block’s 2023 annual report, titled “Crypto Philanthropy Data, Trends & Predictions,” shows that all-time crypto donations on the platform surpassed $125 million in 2022. The platform predicts that it could top $1 billion by August 2027, reaching $5 billion in June 2031, and exceeding the $10 billion mark in November 2032.

The Giving Block based its predictions not only on the data available from its platform but also on its analysis of Bitcoin’s (BTC) price trajectory. The platform predicts that BTC may reach $100,000 in September 2026 and $250,000 in October 2029.

The report also highlights the most popular cryptocurrencies used in donations and the largest crypto donation of the year. USD Coin (USDC) accounted for 44% of the volume, with Ether (ETH) following closely behind with 24%, and BTC with 17% of the donations. Meanwhile, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin holds the record for the largest crypto donation of the year, giving $9.4 million through Balvi, his philanthropic fund.

As the popularity of crypto donations grows, some may wonder where the donations go. In 2022, The Giving Block shared six charities that benefited from crypto donations, including Orangutan Outreach, which cares for orphaned and displaced orangutans, and Trees for the Future, a regenerative agriculture nonprofit that managed to plant 2.3 million trees from the crypto donations it received.

The Giving Block’s annual report sheds light on the growing trend of using cryptocurrencies for philanthropic purposes. The report’s predictions suggest that crypto donations are here to stay and will continue to grow in popularity over the next decade. With more individuals and organizations embracing cryptocurrency, it is likely that the total amount of crypto donations will exceed $10 billion by November 2032.

Furthermore, the report highlights the most popular cryptocurrencies used in donations, with USDC emerging as the most favored. The report also emphasizes the role of Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin in the crypto philanthropy space, setting an example for others to follow with his $9.4 million donation.

As crypto donations continue to gain traction, it is essential to know where the funds are going. The Giving Block’s report lists several charities that have benefited from crypto donations, demonstrating the potential impact of crypto philanthropy. The report also highlights the positive effects of crypto donations, such as the planting of millions of trees by Trees for the Future, showcasing the ability of crypto donations to make a significant difference in the world.

In conclusion, The Giving Block’s annual report predicts a bright future for crypto philanthropy. With the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies and more individuals and organizations embracing them, it is likely that crypto donations will continue to grow over the next decade, with the total amount exceeding $10 billion by November 2032. As more charities benefit from crypto donations, the positive impact of crypto philanthropy will continue to grow, helping to create a better world for all.


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Thailand SEC Eases ICO Restrictions

Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced plans to ease restrictions on retail investments in initial coin offerings (ICOs) to boost digital investments in the country. In an official announcement on March 30, the regulator indicated its willingness to lift the limit of 300,000 baht ($8,800) for asset-backed ICOs per person, paving the way for more significant investments in real estate and infrastructure-backed ICOs.

The move comes amid growing interest in digital investments in Thailand, particularly in the real estate sector. The SEC’s decision to ease restrictions on retail investment is expected to encourage more participation from investors and promote greater innovation in the digital investment space.

Currently, ICOs in Thailand are only permitted for institutional and high-net-worth investors, who are required to meet strict criteria for investment. The SEC’s decision to expand the scope of retail investments in ICOs is a significant step towards greater inclusivity and accessibility in the digital investment space.

Thailand’s ICO market has been growing in recent years, driven by the government’s commitment to promoting digital investments and the country’s thriving tech startup scene. The government has been working to create a regulatory framework that supports the growth of the ICO market while protecting investors’ interests.

The SEC’s move to lift the restrictions on retail investment in asset-backed ICOs is expected to stimulate further growth in the sector. The regulator has been closely monitoring the ICO market and has taken steps to prevent fraud and protect investors. The SEC’s decision to ease restrictions is a positive sign for the ICO industry, indicating that the regulator is committed to promoting innovation and growth in the digital investment space.

In conclusion, Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission’s decision to ease restrictions on retail investment in ICOs is a significant step towards greater inclusivity and accessibility in the digital investment space. The move is expected to encourage more participation from investors and promote innovation in the sector. With the government’s commitment to promoting digital investments and the SEC’s efforts to create a supportive regulatory framework, Thailand’s ICO market is poised for further growth in the coming years.


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Solana Apps May Soon be Ported to Cosmos Ecosystem

Developers of Solana Web3 apps may soon be able to port their apps to the Cosmos ecosystem, creating new opportunities for users and providing a greater variety of uses for Cosmos blockchains. This information has been made available as a consequence of a recent announcement made by Injective (INJ), a developer of a network based on Cosmos. The Injective team has reportedly launched a layer-2 testnet that makes use of Solana’s Sea Level Virtual Machine, as stated in the announcement that was made on the 30th of March (SVM). Because of this new advancement, certain Solana developers are now able to test their applications for usage in the Cosmos environment without having to switch either the programming language they use or the tools they use.

This marks a significant advancement for the Solana community as well as the Cosmos community. Developers can now reach a new audience and provide users with more opportunities to engage with their apps by porting Solana Web3 apps to the Cosmos ecosystem. This allows developers to expand their potential user base. In addition, the Cosmos ecosystem is able to capitalize on the benefits of Solana’s high-speed and low-cost transactions, which positions it favorably in comparison to other blockchain ecosystems.

Eclipse, a company that offers specialized zero-knowledge and optimistic rollups for software developers, was enlisted to assist in the development of the brand new layer-2 testnet. Eclipse has been instrumental in the creation of this new layer by utilizing their expertise to develop a safe and effective layer-2 solution that enables the seamless integration of Solana Web3 applications into the Cosmos ecosystem. This solution was made possible thanks to Eclipse’s contribution to the development of this new layer.

This brand new development is currently going through the testing phase, but it shows a lot of promise for the future of the Cosmos and Solana ecosystems. Because there will be more opportunities for cross-chain compatibility, developers will be able to create applications that are even more robust and innovative, and these applications will be able to take advantage of the distinctive characteristics of both Solana and Cosmos. As a consequence of this, the prospects for the future of the blockchain technology are more encouraging than they have ever been.


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