SoFi Invest Report Reveals Investor Concerns and Optimism Despite Economic Uncertainty

SoFi Technologies, Inc., a leading digital personal finance company, released its first SoFi Invest Midyear Investor Report, surveying over 3,400 Americans on their investment sentiment and habits during the first half of 2023. The report highlights a mix of optimism and concern among investors, particularly among Generation X.

Most investors feel they are “falling behind” their ideal investment amount for their age. Gen X’ers express the most concern about not being as far along in their investing journey as they should be. Amidst a turbulent 2023 and over a year of rampant inflation, two-thirds of investors believe the economy is already in a recession. However, 72% remain optimistic about the markets, and 57% feel good about investing at this time.

The top five investment vehicles include Equities, Cryptocurrency, Mutual Funds, Bonds, and Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs). There’s a noticeable shift towards income-focused investments, even among younger generations like Gen Z and Millennials. Nearly half (45%) of investors have made an investment decision based on social media content. Platforms like TikTok, Facebook, Reddit, Instagram, and Twitter are popular sources for advice and education.

39% of investors use a robo-advisor, and 46% work with a professional CFP or CFA. Lack of representation in the financial advice industry is a concern, with 71% of investors stating they would be more likely to work with an advisor if they saw themselves reflected. Around a quarter of investors express interest in using AI for investing, believing it will make investing easier. However, nearly one-fifth prefer to wait for more evidence of success.

The report also highlights differences in investment behavior and preferences across generations, with younger investors more likely to discuss investments and prioritize income investments over growth.

Nicole Casperson of SoFi Invest commented on the findings, stating, “There is no ‘magic number’ for an investor’s portfolio that, once reached, will instantly signal their readiness for retirement or other major financial goals as everyone’s situation is different.” She emphasized the need for more tangible goal-setting and leveraging knowledge towards achieving specific goals.

The SoFi Invest Midyear Investing Report findings are based on an online survey conducted between June 30 and July 10, 2023, reflecting investors’ sentiment, investing trends, and habits at the halfway point of the year.

SoFi (NASDAQ: SOFI) is a member-centric, one-stop shop for digital financial services, helping over 6.2 million members with a full suite of financial products and services. The company operates across three business segments: Lending, Financial Services, and Technology Platform.

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Sui Network Launches Liquid Staking Functionality to Enhance Delegated Staking

The Sui Network, a Layer 1 blockchain known for its object-centric data model, announced the launch of a new feature that enables liquid staking as part of its latest network upgrade. This functionality is aimed at supporting liquid staking applications while maintaining the diversity of validators within the network.

A Community-Driven Upgrade

The upgrade is a response to the demands of the Sui community and reflects the network’s commitment to community-driven development. The changes were implemented through Sui Improvement Proposal (SIP) #6, formulated by a proactive team within the community. The approval of SIP #6 by the community was a crucial step in launching this feature on the Sui network.

How Liquid Staking Works on Sui

Unlike other networks that rely on third-party liquid staking protocols, Sui’s approach keeps two aspects of the liquid staking process distinct. The first part involves a third-party Move package issuing a derivative token (e.g., stSUI) in the same amount as the staked token. The second aspect relates to the original token, which remains staked, continuing to secure the network.

Most notably, Sui allows stakers to stake their original tokens with any validator on the network they choose, promoting decentralization and avoiding the concentration of power in one or a few validators.

Benefits and Differentiation

Greg Siourounis, Managing Director of the Sui Foundation, emphasized the importance of this feature, stating, “Adding native support for liquid staking dApps as part of the Sui core technology addresses a clear need voiced by our community members who wanted to participate in securing the Sui Network without sacrificing liquidity.”

Sui’s liquid staking formulation is designed to increase incentives to stake and secure blockchain networks without constraining stakers’ choice of validator. This approach sets Sui apart from other networks and aligns with the broader goal of promoting decentralization.

About Sui Network

Sui is a pioneering Layer 1 blockchain and smart contract platform that aims to make digital asset ownership fast, private, secure, and accessible. Its unique model, based on the Move programming language, offers parallel execution, sub-second finality, and rich on-chain assets.

Sui’s platform supports a wide range of applications with unrivaled speed at low cost.

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SEC Freezes Assets of DEBT Box in $50 Million Crypto Fraud Case

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has obtained a temporary asset freeze, restraining order, and other emergency relief against Digital Licensing Inc., a Utah-based entity operating as “DEBT Box,” along with its four principals and 13 other defendants. The action is in connection with an alleged fraudulent scheme involving the sale of crypto asset securities, as announced in a press release dated July 28, 2023.

According to the SEC’s complaint, unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah, the defendants have been engaged in an ongoing scheme since March 2021 to sell unregistered securities referred to as “node licenses.” Through various online videos, social media posts, and investor events, DEBT Box and its principals claimed that these licenses would generate crypto asset tokens via crypto mining activity, and that revenue-generating businesses in different sectors would drive the value of the tokens, resulting in significant gains for investors.

The SEC alleges that the “node licenses” were a sham, created by DEBT Box instantaneously using code on a blockchain, and that the company and its principals lied about virtually every material aspect of their unregistered offering. The complaint states, “We allege that DEBT Box and its principals lied to investors about virtually every material aspect of their unregistered offering of securities, including by falsely stating that they were engaged in crypto asset mining,” as per Tracy S. Combs, Director of the SEC’s Salt Lake Regional Office.

The fraudulent scheme reportedly raised approximately $50 million, along with unspecified amounts of Bitcoin and Ether. In total, 18 defendants have been charged with engaging in unregistered securities offerings, with additional charges for violations of the antifraud provisions of the federal securities laws against some of the defendants.

The Honorable Judge Robert J. Shelby, U.S. District Judge for the District of Utah, entered an order on July 28, 2023, imposing a temporary restraining order, asset freeze, and other relief. Josias N. Dewey of the law firm Holland & Knight LLP has been appointed as a temporary receiver over DEBT Box to marshal assets for the benefit of investors.

Investors who believe they were affected by the DEBT Box offering may seek further information at the receiver’s website or by calling a designated phone number.

The SEC’s action against DEBT Box highlights the regulatory body’s continued focus on ensuring compliance within the crypto asset space and protecting investors from fraudulent schemes. The investigation is ongoing, and the SEC has provided educational resources to help investors recognize the risks associated with crypto asset securities and unregistered offerings.

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Australian Regulator Takes Legal Action Against eToro Over High-Risk and Volatile Trading Products

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has filed a case in the Federal Court against the online investing platform eToro Aus Capital Limited about the suitability of eToro’s target market for contract for difference (CFD) products.

The case is being brought about the appropriateness of eToro’s target market for CFD products. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) asserts that eToro’s target market for contracts for difference (CFDs) was far too wide for such a high-risk and volatile trading product, and that the platform used inadequate screening measures, which resulted in violations in the company’s design and distribution duties.

Customers are given the opportunity to speculate on the value of underlying assets via the use of CFDs, which are leveraged derivative contracts. The conduct of eToro, according to ASIC’s assessment, undoubtedly exposed a substantial number of retail customers to CFD products that were not suitable for their investment goals, financial status, or requirements, which resulted in a considerable risk of consumer damage.

Trading contracts for difference (CFDs) resulted in financial loss for roughly 20,000 of eToro’s customers between October 5, 2021 and June 14, 2023. According to the information provided on the eToro website, the majority of retail investor accounts on the platform end up losing money when they trade CFDs.

Sarah Court, the deputy chair of ASIC, expressed her dissatisfaction in what is purported to be a lack of compliance on the part of eToro and stressed that CFD issuers are required to conform with the design and distribution framework.

In addition to this, she emphasized the need of limiting the scope of CFD target markets in order to avoid suffering major financial losses. The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has leveled a number of claims, and eToro has said that the company is exploring how to react.

Since then, the company has made some adjustments to their CFDs target market assessment, and they have stated that there would be no effect on their service or interruption to their overall operation. eToro places a strong emphasis on its commitment to complying with regulatory requirements and working closely with them.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has in the past taken administrative action to safeguard customers from high-risk CFD trading, such as placing stop orders against other businesses.

This case highlights regulatory issues about the management of high-risk CFD products as well as the possible hazards that are presented to ordinary investors. As the legal procedures progress, a careful eye will be kept on eToro’s reaction as well as any following steps it takes.

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Hong Kong-Based OSL Digital Securities Receives License Uplift to Enable Retail Trading of Bitcoin and Ethereum

OSL Digital Securities Limited (“OSL Digital Securities”), a wholly-owned subsidiary of BC Technology Group Limited (Stock Code: 863), has been granted an uplift to its existing license by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong. This immediate change allows retail investors to register on its platform and trade popular cryptocurrencies Bitcoin and Ethereum.

The license uplift aligns with Hong Kong’s new regulatory rules, marking a substantial milestone not only for OSL Digital Securities and its parent company, BC Technology Group, but also for Hong Kong’s position as a forward-thinking hub for digital asset regulation.

This development is seen as a testament to the Group’s commitment to compliance, regulation, and excellence in the digital asset space. The Board of BC Technology Group views this as a significant first-mover advantage, reflecting the Group’s strategy of prioritizing regulation and compliance. It further emphasizes how regulation is the foundation of future growth and mainstream acceptance in the digital asset space.

As part of its commitment to investor protection, the Group will continue to implement stringent investor protection measures and maintain a high cold to hot storage ratio to ensure the security of client assets. This move positions OSL Digital Securities to lead the transformation of the digital asset market, setting the stage for a more robust and secure digital asset environment.

The license uplift is seen as a significant step in Hong Kong’s ambition to become a leading global hub for digital assets, allowing retail users to participate in one of the fastest-growing asset classes. It underscores Hong Kong’s progressive approach to digital asset regulation.

BC Technology Group Limited, incorporated in the Cayman Islands with limited liability, operates through its subsidiaries, including OSL Digital Securities. The company’s latest announcement was made on a voluntary basis to inform shareholders and potential investors of the latest information about the Group.

On the same day, August 3, 2023, HashKey Exchange asserted that it is the first licensed virtual asset exchange for retail users in Hong Kong. The upgrade of its Type 1 and Type 7 licenses allows the platform to expand services to retail users. Security measures include 98% of funds in cold storage, and the platform has launched a compliant OTC trading service.

HashKey Exchange has also partnered with Standard Chartered Bank and onboarded senior professionals to enhance services.

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Binance Users Reach 150M

According crypto exchange Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao’s tweet, Binance has achieved several key milestones, reflecting its ongoing commitment to expansion and innovation.

Binance announced that it has hit the 150 million registered users mark. This milestone underscores the platform’s growing popularity and reach in the global cryptocurrency community. In July 2022, Binance revealed that its registered user count had surpassed 120 million, meaning that the exchange has seen a growth of 30 million users within the past year.

Binance officially launched its operations in Japan, marking a strategic move into one of the most prominent cryptocurrency markets in the world. The launch date and specific details of the services offered to Japanese users have not been disclosed at this time.

In a first-of-its-kind achievement, Binance secured an Operational Minimum Viable Product (MVP) License in Dubai. This makes Binance the first exchange in the world to obtain this particular license. The license was granted this week, although the exact date and the implications of this license for Binance’s operations in the region remain to be clarified.

Binance introduced two new Launchpools this week, featuring $CYBER and $SEI. Launchpools allow users to stake their tokens to earn new ones, and these additions represent the latest in a series of such offerings by the exchange. The specific details of the staking requirements and rewards for these new Launchpools have not been provided.

Binance’s History and Leadership

Founded in 2017 in China, Binance moved its servers and headquarters out of the country in advance of the Chinese government’s ban on cryptocurrency trading in September 2017. The company’s growth has been meteoric.

In 2022, new estimates claimed that the CEO of Binance, Changpeng Zhao, is the world’s richest crypto billionaire. His net worth is said to rival the sums amassed by tech billionaires such as Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg.

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OKX and Lifeform Launch Cryptopedia Season 5 with $300,000 LFT Prize Pool

OKX, a prominent crypto exchange and Web3 technology company, and Lifeform, a decentralized digital identity solutions pioneer, have jointly launched Season 5 of Cryptopedia, OKX’s crypto education platform. The new season, which runs from August 3, 2023, at 04:00 (UTC) to August 17, 2023, at 04:00 (UTC), features a prize pool of $300,000 in Lifeform Tokens (LFT) for over 11,000 participants.

The initiative includes five online “OKX quests” – DEX, NFT, DeFi, Discover, and Lifeform – that users must complete using the OKX Wallet. These quests are designed to encourage users to explore and learn about the wide array of DApps available on the OKX Wallet. The quests cover various aspects of the crypto ecosystem, including decentralized exchanges, non-fungible tokens, decentralized finance, and more.

The prize distribution for the participants is as follows: First Prize of $2,000 in LFT to one winner, Second Prize of $500 in LFT to 20 winners, and Third Prize of $25 in LFT each to 11,520 winners. Participants can download the OKX App, create or import a wallet, and navigate to Cryptopedia: Learn to Earn to access the interactive page and choose the DApp they want to interact with.

Specific quests include transactions on various networks, including Ethereum, BNB Chain, OKTC, Arbitrum, Optimism, Polygon, Conflux, and Fantom. The terms and conditions apply and can be found on the OKX website.

OKX is a leading global technology company driving the future of Web3. Its comprehensive suite of products includes the OKX Wallet, a cross-chain decentralized exchange (DEX), a multi-chain NFT Marketplace, and a powerful DeFi platform. OKX has partnered with top brands and athletes, including Manchester City F.C., McLaren Formula 1, The Tribeca Festival, Olympian Scotty James, and F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo.

The company recently launched a global brand campaign entitled, “The System Needs a Rewrite,” advocating for a new paradigm led by Web3 self-managed technology to replace existing centralized systems. OKX believes in challenging the status quo and building innovative technology products.

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Mark Cuban-Backed NFT Platform Nifty’s Shuts Down After Failed Investment Opportunities

Nifty’s, a notable platform focused on Web3 creators, announced the cessation of operations earlier today.

Founded with the goal of becoming a beacon for digital art collectors and creators, Nifty’s made a pivot earlier this year to focus on building products for Web3 creators. This strategic decision came as a response to challenges faced in a difficult market and the need to maximize limited resources.

However, despite diligent efforts to secure investment opportunities, the company found itself at a financial dead end. The anticipated investments did not materialize, leaving Nifty’s without the necessary capital to continue.

Notable NFT (Non-Fungible Token) projects released on Nifty’s include “The Matrix Avatars,” “Looney Tunes: What’s Up, Block?,” “Game of Thrones: Build Your Realm,” and “Bullet Train.” Fans of these and other projects, such as “Space Jam: A New Legacy” and “Shark Week,” have been provided with instructions to export their private keys and preserve their collections via Nifty’s support page.

In a farewell statement, the Nifty’s Team expressed gratitude to its community and partners and assured that they had decentralized all the NFT media and redistributed the NFTs on the Polygon blockchain, except those already on Ethereum. This measure has been taken to ensure that these projects live on, even as Nifty’s operations wind down.

For updates on Warner Bros. projects, Nifty’s directed users to follow specific Twitter handles: @BuildYourRealm, @LooneyTunesNFT, and @matrix_avatars.

Though Nifty’s journey has come to an end, the company expressed its enduring belief in the power of digital ownership and the ongoing story of Web3. It concluded its statement with a hopeful sentiment, looking forward to the future of the Web3 community.

The shuttering of Nifty’s operations serves as a poignant reminder of the volatile nature of the tech and digital art industries, where innovation, investment, and adaptability often determine success or failure.

About Nifty’s 

Nifty’s, a new social marketplace for NFTs, once launched a collection of “Space Jam: A New Legacy” NFTs and a $10 million seed investment led by notable investors. Announced first in March, 2021 and backed by billionaire Mark Cuban, the platform has distinguished itself from Nifty Gateway, another NFT marketplace. Nifty’s partnered with Warner Bros. to introduce officially licensed “Space Jam” collectibles, showcasing NBA star LeBron James with classic “Looney Tunes” characters.

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HashKey Exchange Becomes First Licensed Retail Crypto Trading Platform in Hong Kong

Hong Kong, 3 August 2023 – HashKey Exchange has announced the official upgrade of its Type 1 and Type 7 licences, becoming the first licensed virtual asset exchange for retail users in Hong Kong. This significant milestone marks a new era in the region’s cryptocurrency landscape.

License Upgrade and Expansion

Previously holding Type 1 and Type 7 licences, HashKey Exchange underwent a simplified process to obtain the licence upgrade. This allows the platform to expand its services from professional investors to retail users, addressing the market’s need for a licensed platform that offers a secure and straightforward process for buying and storing cryptocurrencies.

The COO of HashKey Group, Livio Weng, stated: “With the establishment of licensed trading platforms and the further clarity of regulatory frameworks in Hong Kong, the industry as a whole will witness increased transparency, leading to a significant boost in investor confidence.”

Security Measures

Security remains a paramount concern for HashKey Exchange. The platform has implemented multi-layered protection of user assets, with 98% of funds kept in cold storage and 2% in hot wallets. Regular audits and compliance inspections are conducted by the Big 4 auditing firms, reinforcing its reputation as one of the most secure exchanges globally.

New Services and Partnerships

In addition to supporting fiat currency deposits and withdrawals, HashKey Exchange has launched its virtual asset over-the-counter (OTC) trading service, HashKey Brokerage, the first compliant OTC trading platform in Hong Kong. The platform has also partnered with Standard Chartered Bank to enhance fiat currency deposit and withdrawal services.

Team Expansion and Pre-Registration

Recently, HashKey Exchange has onboarded over ten senior professionals to collaborate with top financial experts in Hong Kong, ensuring exceptional product quality and user experience. The exchange has also opened pre-registration, offering rewards with HashKey EcoPoints (HSK) and planning a grand ceremony in August to celebrate this milestone.

About HashKey Exchange

HashKey Exchange is a Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) licensed virtual asset exchange operating under Hash Blockchain Limited in Hong Kong. With ISO 27001 and ISO 27701 certifications, the exchange aims to set the standard for virtual asset exchanges in compliance, safety, and security.

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Court approves BlockFi’s disclosure statement conditionally

BlockFi Inc. and its affiliates announced that the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey conditionally approved the company’s Disclosure Statement on August 2, 2023. The approval is part of BlockFi’s Chapter 11 Plan, aimed at maximizing recovery for clients and ensuring the quickest possible distributions.

The plan, recommended by both BlockFi and the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, is set to bring the Chapter 11 cases to a fair conclusion, returning client funds as quickly as possible. All parties entitled to vote on the plan must do so by the September 11, 2023, voting deadline.

Mark Renzi of Berkeley Research Group, BlockFi’s Chief Restructuring Officer, stated, “BlockFi’s mission through this process has been to maximize recoveries for our creditors, and conditional approval of our Disclosure Statement moves us one step closer to accomplishing that goal.”

The plan includes provisions for returning digital assets held in BlockFi Wallet Accounts to clients and safely and securely returning non-Wallet assets to creditors. It also outlines a wind-down of the company’s affairs. Clients who do not opt out of a voluntary third-party release will be offered releases from all claims and causes of action BlockFi may have against them, except for those whose withdrawals from BlockFi Interest Accounts or BlockFi Private Client Accounts on and after November 2, 2022, are greater than $250,000.

Under the plan, BlockFi will not claw back amounts under $250,000 that clients properly transferred before the Platform Pause on November 10, 2022. Clients with claims under $3,000, or those electing to reduce their claim to $3,000, will be included in a Convenience Claim Class and will receive a one-time cash distribution from the BlockFi Estate. Creditors in this class will receive a one-time distribution of 50% of their claim in cash.

If the plan is confirmed, BlockFi will focus on pursuing claims and causes of action in litigation against several entities, including Alameda, FTX, 3AC, Emergent, Marex, and Core Scientific, to maximize recoveries for clients. The success or failure in these matters could make a difference to client recoveries of over $1 billion.

BlockFi’s eligible creditors have the opportunity to vote in favor of the plan and will receive detailed voting instructions and additional information. The deadline for votes to be counted is September 11, 2023, at 4:00 p.m. prevailing Eastern Time. BlockFi encourages all clients, including those not eligible to vote, to read the Disclosure Statement and other materials in their Solicitation Packages to learn more about the plan.

Advisors to the company during this process include Haynes and Boone LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP, and Cole Schotz P.C. as legal counsel; Moelis & Company as investment banker; and Berkeley Research Group as financial advisor. C Street Advisory Group, LLC is serving as strategy and communications advisor, and Joel Edwards of EY Bermuda Ltd and Eleanor Fisher of EY Cayman Ltd are serving as Joint Provisional Liquidators of BlockFi International Ltd, a Bermuda-incorporated entity.

About BlockFi

BlockFi is a bankrupt crypto lender and which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on November 28, 2022, encompassing all eight of its companies. A simultaneous petition for bankruptcy was submitted to the Supreme Court of Bermuda by BlockFi International.

BlockFi sought permission from a U.S. bankruptcy court to enable customers to withdraw digital assets stored in BlockFi wallets. Filed on December 19, the lender referred to this as an “essential step” in its Chapter 11 proceedings. Hearings were scheduled for January 9 in the U.S. and January 13 in Bermuda.

On April 22, 2023, BlockFi was granted an extension until May 15 to submit a bankruptcy exit plan. The company’s controversial decision to offer high-yield crypto-backed accounts led to regulatory scrutiny and legal battles, including a cease-and-desist order from the SEC in January 2022.

A report submitted on July 14, 2023, to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Jersey revealed that BlockFi’s failure was attributed to fundamentally flawed business models and ignored risk warnings. CEO Zac Prince allegedly dismissed concerns over lending assets to Alameda Research, leading to a $217 million loan despite warnings. BlockFi had $1.2 billion in assets tied to FTX and Alameda Research at the time of bankruptcy in November 2022.

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