Stellar Development Foundation Invests in International Transfer Giant MoneyGram

The Stellar Development Foundation (SDF) has recently become a minority investor in MoneyGram International (MGI) during its go-private transaction with Madison Dearborn Partners (MDP). This announcement was made by Denelle Dixon on August 15, 2023, via the official Stellar blog.

SDF’s association with MoneyGram dates back to 2021 when they established a commercial partnership. However, their collaboration began even earlier, in 2019, when they initiated the development of tools that later evolved into “MoneyGram Access.” This partnership has been instrumental in positioning the Stellar network as a prominent player in the cash-to-crypto domain, offering seamless avenues for individuals to transition value into and out of the digital realm.

The collaboration between the two entities provided SDF with a comprehensive understanding of MoneyGram’s operations, future plans, and the company’s vision for digital transformation. This knowledge solidified SDF’s confidence in MoneyGram, leading them to seize the opportunity to invest when it presented itself.

The investment was sourced from SDF’s cash treasury, which is designated to support the foundation’s operations. Notably, this is the first investment of its nature made from the SDF’s treasury. Additionally, as part of the investment, SDF has secured a seat on MoneyGram’s Board of Directors. Denelle Dixon expressed her pride in representing SDF on the board, which comprises a diverse set of leaders from the realms of payments, financial services, and technology.

This strategic investment aligns with SDF’s mission to foster equitable access to financial services. It also enables SDF to play a pivotal role in MoneyGram’s digital journey, especially in areas like digital business expansion, blockchain technology exploration, and other fintech endeavors. The partnership underscores MoneyGram’s renewed commitment to transitioning into a leading digital-forward entity in the fintech space.

Both SDF and MoneyGram anticipate a promising future, with the potential for further collaboration and growth in the financial technology sector.

Both Stellar and Ripple XRP target the international payment and transfer sector, each touting their blockchain as the premier network for such transactions. In its early days, Stellar was perceived as a fork of XRP, given they once shared the same codebase.

Stellar ($XLM), a distinguished entity in the cryptocurrency world, was co-founded by Jed McCaleb, who had previously served as the CTO of Ripple XRP. McCaleb is also known for founding the once-renowned Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange, which unfortunately later suffered a significant hack. Over time, Stellar has established a unique position in the digital currency arena, with the Stellar Development Foundation at its helm, championing equitable access to global financial services.

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US Banking System Faces Crypto-Asset Risks, FDIC Warns in 2023 Review

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has highlighted potential risks associated with crypto-assets to the U.S. financial framework. This insight emerged from the FDIC’s 2023 Risk Review, which, for the first time, included a segment on bitcoin. The report characterized the challenges posed by digital assets as both novel and intricate.

The FDIC’s Risk Review, which was published on August 14, 2023, placed a strong emphasis on the growing interest of banks in operations involving cryptocurrencies. The following is an excerpt from the report: “The FDIC has been generally aware of the rising interest in crypto-asset-related activities through its normal supervision process.” The significant market fluctuations in 2022 underscored the importance of understanding the risks tied to cryptocurrencies more deeply.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) has voiced several primary apprehensions regarding the crypto sector. These include potential fraudulent activities, the threat of widespread impact, and concentration risks due to the interconnected nature of crypto businesses. The ever-evolving and fast-paced nature of cryptocurrencies further complicates the risk evaluation process.

The “run-risk” that is connected with stablecoins is one more key issue that the FDIC is concerned about. The supervisory agency issues a warning that banks that hold stablecoins may be vulnerable to the loss of customer deposits, which may constitute a risk to the integrity of the financial system.

Following the FDIC’s alert, the banking world experienced turmoil in March when three prominent banks – Silicon Valley Bank, Silvergate Bank, and Signature Bank – encountered significant hurdles. Importantly, these institutions were recognized for their services to the U.S. crypto sector. The shutdown of Silicon Valley Bank triggered a frenzied sell-off when Circle, the issuer of USD Coin (USDC), announced its incapability to access $3.3 billion in reserves from the bank.

To counteract the upheaval, the FDIC collaborated with other U.S. regulatory bodies to assist the impacted banks and oversee the transfer of their assets to alternate financial entities.

Drawing from the FDIC’s 2023 Risk Review and recent observations, it’s evident that as the crypto realm expands and evolves, it introduces complexities that both regulators and the banking sector must proactively navigate.

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Jacobi Asset Management Introduces Europe’s First Premier Bitcoin ETF with a Green Initiative

Jacobi Asset Management has unveiled Europe’s inaugural spot Bitcoin ETF on Euronext Amsterdam. This ETF, named the Jacobi FT Wilshire Bitcoin ETF and trading under the ticker BCOIN, stands out as the first digital asset fund in compliance with SFDR Article 8, thanks to its decarbonisation strategy.

The ETF’s unique approach involves a verifiable Renewable Energy Certificate (REC) solution, a collaboration with digital asset platform Zumo. This solution transparently and quantifiably addresses the electricity consumption associated with Bitcoin investments, setting it apart from traditional carbon offsetting methods. The initiative ensures that institutional investors can tap into Bitcoin’s advantages while adhering to their ESG objectives.

Regulated by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC), the ETF has garnered support from notable entities. Fidelity Digital AssetsSM is the custodian, Flow Traders act as market makers, and both Jane Street and DRW function as Authorised Participants. Furthermore, the ETF’s benchmark, the FT Wilshire Bitcoin Blended Price Index, is supplied by Wilshire Indexes.

Martin Bednall, CEO of Jacobi Asset Management, remarked on the development, stating, “Europe’s progressive stance on Bitcoin investment for institutional investors is commendable. Our ETF, distinct from European debt instruments, holds the underlying asset directly. We’re honoured to collaborate with top-tier partners in this digital asset market evolution, simultaneously introducing an eco-friendly solution for European investors.”

Wilshire Indexes’ CEO, Mark Makepeace, echoed this sentiment, emphasizing the ETF’s role as a pivotal moment for both the digital asset and global financial sectors. He expressed enthusiasm about the collaboration with Jacobi and Wilshire Indexes’ commitment to fostering the growth of the digital asset ecosystem.

The Jacobi FT Wilshire Bitcoin ETF presents an environmentally-aligned digital asset alternative. It allows potential ETF investors to contemplate Bitcoin as part of their portfolio and independently verify environmental claims. The ETF’s approach involves calculating the power consumption due to Bitcoin and procuring equivalent RECs, ensuring transparent blockchain-recorded proof of these certificates.

Kirsteen Harrison, Zumo’s Environmental Manager, highlighted the urgency of crypto decarbonisation. She shared, “The collaboration with Jacobi Asset Management has been instrumental in crafting an ESG-aligned, future-ready crypto solution. Witnessing its realization as Europe’s first Bitcoin ETF is a monumental industry achievement.”

Emanuel van Praag, a lawyer at Kennedy Van der Laan, also expressed pride in offering legal advice to Jacobi AM during the ETF’s listing process.

This development underscores the evolving landscape of digital asset investment, blending technological advancement with environmental responsibility.

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Crypto Exchange Bitget Celebrates Fifth Anniversary with Amazing Events and Giveaways

Bitget, a prominent crypto derivatives and copy trading platform, is commemorating its fifth year of operation. The platform, which serves a global user base of over 20 million, has announced a series of events and initiatives to mark this milestone.

The King’s Cup Global Invitational (KCGI) 2023 is set to be the first event in the lineup. This global trading competition, now in its fourth edition, offers a prize pool that surpasses 2.65 million USDT. The competition will feature categories such as spot, futures, demo trading, and copy trading. Notable prizes for the event include the Tesla Cybersquad and an Airbus H135 helicopter.

In September, Singapore will host the first-ever Bitget EmpowerX Summit. The summit aims to bring together over 50 thought leaders and more than 1000 attendees to discuss the transformative potential of crypto and Web3 in reshaping the financial landscape and global economy. Haseeb Qureshi from Dragonfly and Sebastien Borget from Sandbox are among the notable speakers who will provide insights into the evolving world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

Bitget will also introduce the Smart Awards, which are divided into the Smart Money Awards and the Hero Trader Awards. These awards, backed by the analytics expertise of 0xScope, will recognize outstanding investment activities based on in-depth on-chain data analysis. Categories for the Smart Money Awards include Memecoin Master, Airdrop Hunter 2023, and NFT Guru 2023. The Hero Trader Awards will honor titles such as Wealth Hunter 2023 and Trader of The People 2023. Through these awards, Bitget aims to celebrate traders and investors who exemplify the principle of “Trade smarter.”

The anniversary celebrations will conclude with the Collect2Earn campaign. Participants can engage in various tasks to earn a portion of a $50,000 USDT prize pool and collect Bitget Milestone Cards, which highlight significant moments in Bitget’s five-year history.

Gracy Chen, Managing Director of Bitget, stated, “We’re exhilarated to celebrate five years of uniting crypto enthusiasts across the globe through seamless and trustworthy trading experiences. Our fifth anniversary festivities underscore our dedication to equipping traders with insights, enthralling events, and boundless excitement.”


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SEC Charges UK Audit Firm Crowe and Senior Executives Over Deficient Audit of Akazoo

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged London-based audit firm, Crowe U.K. LLP, its CEO, Nigel Bostock, and senior auditor, Matthew Stallabrass, concerning their deficient audit of the music streaming company, Akazoo Limited. The parties involved have agreed to settle the SEC’s charges.

In the SEC’s order, it was revealed that Crowe U.K. had issued a clean audit report for Akazoo’s 2018 financial statements. However, post Akazoo’s public listing in September 2019 through a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (De-SPAC transaction), it came to light that Akazoo’s 2018 financial statements had inaccurately reported $120 million in revenue, while in reality, the company had only negligible revenue amounts.

The SEC order further highlighted that Crowe U.K. had claimed its 2018 audit was in line with Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB) standards. Contrarily, the Akazoo audit team at Crowe U.K. lacked substantial experience or training in PCAOB standards. The audit team also missed several red flags, such as not exercising the necessary professional care or skepticism when Akazoo presented them with fabricated agreements and unauthentic confirmation letters. The SEC order also pointed out that Crowe U.K. falsely stated in its audit report that Akazoo’s financial statements for 2018 were fairly presented in all significant aspects.

The SEC order also found lapses in the roles of Bostock and Stallabrass. Bostock, who was the engagement partner for the Akazoo audit, was found to have inadequately supervised the engagement, lacked proper documentation, and did not exercise due professional care. On the other hand, Stallabrass, who was responsible for reviewing the quality of the audit, did not conduct a thorough engagement quality review.

Eric Werner, the Regional Director of the Fort Worth Regional Office, commented, “Crowe U.K.’s failure to properly audit Akazoo contributed to the air of legitimacy that allowed Akazoo to become a publicly traded company. We will continue holding gatekeepers accountable, especially those whose professional failings allow financial frauds to enter our public markets.”

As part of the settlement, without admitting or denying the SEC’s findings, Crowe U.K., Bostock, and Stallabrass have agreed to pay penalties of $750,000, $25,000, and $10,000 respectively. They have also agreed to cease and desist from committing or causing any violations of the Exchange Act and Regulation S-X. Crowe U.K. will also voluntarily withdraw its PCAOB registration and implement specific undertakings related to accepting new clients. Both Bostock and Stallabrass have been suspended from appearing or practicing before the SEC as accountants, with the possibility of applying for reinstatement after five years and two years, respectively.

The SEC’s investigation was conducted by the Fort Worth Regional Office, and the commission acknowledged the assistance of the United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority in this matter.

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Vitalik Buterin Holds Taiwan Employment Gold Card

During a discussion in which Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang, Matters’ co-founder and current CEO Zhang Jieping, and Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin participated, an unexpected finding was made.

When Minister Tang was discussing Taiwan’s policy on the distribution of 6,000 yuan, he made a slip of the tongue that revealed Vitalik Buterin’s status as a bearer of the Taiwan Employment Gold Card. This information was made public by mistake.

The Taiwan Employment Gold Card is a one-of-a-kind program that was developed to persuade talented individuals from other nations to come to Taiwan and contribute to the economy of the country. This program was meant to attract workers who had degrees or certifications in a certain field.

The Card is a comprehensive document that integrates four essential permits: a work permit, a residence visa, an Alien Resident Certificate (ARC), and a re-entry permit. This integration allows the cardholder to legally work, live, prove their residency status, and travel in and out of Taiwan without the need for separate documents.

Cardholders can reside in Taiwan for a period exceeding 180 days. The card itself is valid for a duration ranging from 1 to 3 years. One of the significant advantages of this card is the flexibility it offers in terms of travel. During its validity period, the holder can exit and re-enter Taiwan an unlimited number of times without any restrictions.

This integrated approach simplifies the administrative process for professionals, making it more convenient for them to work and live in Taiwan. It reflects Taiwan’s commitment to attracting and retaining global talent by offering a streamlined process.

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Binance to Delist SNM, SRM, and YFII on August 22, 2023

Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, has confirmed that it will delist three cryptocurrencies: SNM (SONM), SRM (Serum), and YFII (DFI.Money) on August 22, 2023.

While the specific reasons for the delisting were not accessible at the time of writing, exchanges typically make such decisions based on a variety of factors. These can range from low trading volume, concerns about the project’s development, or regulatory issues.

Users of Binance are advised to take note of the delisting date and make necessary adjustments to their portfolios. It’s common for exchanges to provide a grace period for users to withdraw delisted tokens, but exact details should be checked on the official Binance announcement page.

It’s worth noting that delisting from a major exchange can impact a token’s liquidity and market perception. However, it doesn’t necessarily reflect the overall viability or future potential of a project.

For those holding SNM, SRM, or YFII, it’s essential to stay informed and consider seeking advice from financial professionals if unsure about how to proceed.

About SNM (SONM)

SONM provides decentralized cloud services using distributed user hardware like PCs and servers. The SNM token is the marketplace’s currency, facilitating access to Sonm’s resources. This approach, termed “fog computing,” emphasizes a network of individual devices over centralized data centers.

About SRM (Serum)

Serum is a decentralized exchange (DEX) enhancing DeFi with high speed and low costs. Unique for its fully on-chain order book and matching engine, Serum addresses DeFi’s challenges like high gas costs and slow transactions on Ethereum. The SRM token offers fee discounts, voting rights, and benefits from exchange fees through buy-and-burn, staking, and grants.

YFII (DFI.Money)

DFI.MONEY (YFII) is a fork of the DeFi aggregator (YFI). Launched in July 2020, it was created in response to a proposal, YIP-8, not meeting’s quorum. DFI.MONEY offers similar services with different protocol rules and new features like the Vault, aiming to optimize DeFi returns. YFII, its native token, rewards liquidity providers. DFI.MONEY emphasizes community ownership and lacks commercial incentives like developer rewards.

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Crypto Exchagne Txbit Announces Closure Amidst Market Challenges

On September 14th, 2023, the cryptocurrency exchange Txbit will officially cease its operations, as confirmed by an announcement on the platform’s Medium page. This decision comes in light of significant market shifts and regulatory challenges that have impacted the crypto industry.

Reasons for the Shutdown

The primary reasons cited for the closure include “adverse market shifts, tightening regulations, and ambiguity about the legal status of cryptocurrencies in various countries.” The platform highlighted the increasing compliance costs and the pressure on product margins as factors that made their continued operation unsustainable. The statement reads, “In an environment where compliance costs are rising, and our product margins constantly face pressure, continuing as before has become untenable for us.”

Key Dates and Information for Users

On August 14, 2023, Txbit will undergo an offline period of approximately one hour to cancel all open orders and disable the trading feature. After this, the platform will be back online, and users can initiate withdrawals.

The platform will stay online until 12:00 PM UTC on September 14th, 2023. It’s recommended that users retrieve their funds prior to this cut-off. Funds left on the platform post this date cannot be recovered.

Due to the expected surge in withdrawal requests, there might be slight delays in processing. This could also affect the KYC process and the handling of support tickets. Txbit assures its users that they are committed to processing all requests as swiftly as possible.

Txbit Token and Wrapped Tokens

Txbit has also addressed the future of its native token. A significant portion, specifically 1,510,406,151.2992582 Txbit tokens, which constitutes 95.6559% of the total supply, will be burned in the upcoming days. However, the Txbit token will continue to be available for trading on Pancakeswap.

For coins where Txbit deployed wrapped token contracts, the platform will engage with the respective project developers to manage the transfer of the wrapped tokens and their contracts.

Final Words from Txbit

In their farewell message, Txbit expressed their gratitude to the community, stating, “We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this shutdown may cause, and thank you for your understanding and support throughout this journey.” They also extended their best wishes to all the projects and hope for their success in the future.

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Singapore’s MAS Unveils Stablecoin Regulatory Framework

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has unveiled its finalized regulatory framework for stablecoins. This development follows a public consultation in October 2022 and a parliamentary inquiry on 20 March 2023 regarding MAS’ stance on cryptocurrency trading risks and stablecoin development. Senior Minister in charge of MAS, Mr. Tharman Shanmugaratnam, emphasized the consultation papers’ intent to reduce consumer risks from cryptocurrency trading and ensure stablecoin value stability. The consultation period, which concluded on 21 December 2022, saw MAS receiving extensive feedback.

Stablecoins, as defined by MAS, are digital payment tokens that aim to maintain a consistent value against one or more specified fiat currencies. When properly regulated, these tokens can act as a reliable medium of exchange, especially for the “on-chain” purchase and sale of digital assets.

The new framework will be applicable to single-currency stablecoins (SCS) that are pegged to the Singapore Dollar or any G10 currency and are issued within Singapore. Key requirements for issuers of such SCS include:

Value Stability: SCS reserve assets will have specific requirements related to their composition, valuation, custody, and audit. This is to ensure a high degree of value stability.

Capital: Issuers are mandated to maintain a minimum base capital and liquid assets. This is to mitigate the risk of insolvency and facilitate an orderly cessation of operations if required.

Redemption at Par: Issuers are obligated to return the par value of SCS to holders within a five-day window from a redemption request.

Disclosure: Issuers must offer transparent disclosures to users. This includes details on the SCS’s value stabilizing mechanism, rights of SCS holders, and the audit outcomes of reserve assets.

Furthermore, only those stablecoin issuers that meet all the stipulated requirements can apply to MAS for their stablecoins to be officially recognized and branded as “MAS-regulated stablecoins”. This distinction will help users differentiate between MAS-regulated stablecoins and other digital payment tokens.

Any misrepresentation of a token as an “MAS-regulated stablecoin” could result in penalties, which might range from financial fines to imprisonment for individuals. Such entities or individuals may also be added to MAS’ Investor Alert List. MAS advises users to be well-informed of the risks when dealing with stablecoins that fall outside of their regulatory purview.

Ms. Ho Hern Shin, Deputy Managing Director (Financial Supervision) at MAS, commented on the framework’s objectives, stating that it is designed to “facilitate the use of stablecoins as a credible digital medium of exchange, and as a bridge between the fiat and digital asset ecosystems.”

Globally, there’s a discernible trend towards stricter regulations for cryptocurrencies and stablecoins.

The Taiwan Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) has drafted guidelines to oversee virtual asset platforms. Although not yet finalized, the draft encompasses thirteen principles, accompanied by relevant appendices. These guidelines are anticipated to be publicized in September 2023.

Meanwhile, officials in Hong Kong have expressed their commitment to implementing stablecoin regulations by 2024 and are concurrently reviewing rules pertaining to crypto derivatives

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