Accused Bitfinex Launderer’s Rap Album Cover NFTs Vanish from OpenSea

The crypto-rapper accused of laundering billions of dollars from the 2016 Bitfinex hack created NFTs of her album artwork. Now their owner claims they’ve vanished from NFT marketplace OpenSea.

Earlier this week, Heather Morgan and her husband Ilya Lichtenstein were charged with conspiracy to launder cryptocurrency related to the 2016 Bitfinex hack; the Department of Justice announced that $3.6 billion worth of Bitcoin linked to the hack had been seized.

Per VICE News, two NFTs created by Morgan featuring her rap alter ego Razzlekhan are no longer visible on the NFT marketplace OpenSea, and their buyer—an OpenSea user with the address cancelopensea.eth—is less than pleased. 

“The two token IDs of the NFTs she minted with the OpenSea contract were effectively gone. Just token IDs with no metadata or image,” the NFT buyer told VICE, adding that, “Without question there is cause of action for a tort. No way to determine future value of something created by someone now infamous in this way.”

The buyer took aim at OpenSea’s ability to “delete an artist’s collection at whim based on the person’s actions outside of anything to do with OpenSea, effectively making the NFT purchased by the buyer worthless.”

The two NFTs in question were album covers for some of Morgan’s many rap videos as Razzlekhan, “Versace Bedouin” and “Social Distance.” 

Both Morgan and Lichtenstein’s OpenSea profiles are no longer visible. However, blockchain records indicate that the NFTs in question were transacted by an Ethereum address linked to Heather Morgan, to the address linked to cancelopensea.eth. 

In the DOJ’s criminal complaint, the pair were described as having engaged in a “diverse array” of virtual currency, including the purchase of NFTs.” No NFT marketplace was named in the document.

This is not the first time OpenSea has removed NFTs from its platform. In August last year, Pepe the Frog Meme NFTs were removed amid a copyright dispute. 

What happened to Morgan’s NFTs?

Morgan’s NFTs were minted on OpenSea and purchased by the buyer on Tuesday 8, 2022, the same day Morgan and her husband were arrested. 

The two NFTs were purchased for .10 ETH, which is currently worth approximately $300. 

The buyer’s OpenSea profile—where the NFTs typically would appear—are no longer visible.


After the news broke about Morgan’s arrest, the NFT buyer reportedly said he was “just looking” through her OpenSea profile. 

“At first was just curious on her ETH transactions…but then saw the two ‘album cover’ NFTs she had minted about a month ago. Figured it was a piece of crypto history. So I bought them,” they said.

Decrypt has reached out to OpenSea and cancelopensea.eth for comment, and will update this article should we receive a response.

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Bitcoin Surges By Double Digits Over the Week

The crypto market appears to have shrugged off weeks of lackluster performance as the price of Bitcoin (BTC) rose 14.5% over the past week to its current value of just over $43,000, according to CoinMarketCap.

Bitcoin slid by nearly 3% over the day after peaking above $45,500 on Thursday,  but is now well above this year’s bottom of $33,500 seen on January 24.

This may still be not enough for some investors, though, with recent analysis by asset manager Blockforce Capital indicating that the average price investors bought Bitcoin at over the last five months is $47,000.

According to Blockforce Capital’s Brett Munster, this means that “on average, anyone who bought during that period has probably lost money and might not be inclined to buy more until they break even.”

Blockforce sees $47,000 as a “key threshold” for the price of Bitcoin, which, coincidentally, is also the 200-day moving average for the benchmark cryptocurrency—”a widely recognized indicator for determining which direction markets are trending in both the crypto and traditional markets.”

“This threshold could provide resistance as those recent buyers may look to recoup their investment and sell off,” wrote Munster. “However, should we break through and stay above this $47,000 threshold, it could provide those recent investors with the confidence to re-enter the market and start buying again.”

Currently, Bitcoin is down 37% from its November 2021 all-time high above $69,000, and while Blockforce reckons that “it’s still too early to declare with any certainty that $33k was the bottom,” the firm says there are reasons to believe that “there is now much more asymmetry to the upside than downside.”

“That doesn’t mean Bitcoin couldn’t fall back down again, but the data seems to suggest that the upside potential now outweighs the downside,” added Munster.


Meanwhile Ethereum (ETH), the second-largest cryptocurrency after Bitcoin in terms of market capitalization, is down nearly 5% over the day, currently trading hands at just under $3,100, per CoinMarketCap.

That said, the coin has gained over 9% in value over the past seven days.

Ethereum is facing increasing competition from the growing crop of proof-of-stake blockchains, including Cardano (ADA), Polkadot (DOT), and Avalanche (AVAX); however, some industry figures are quite bullish on the coin’s long-term future.

CEO of Canadian digital assets exchange NDAX Bilal Hammoud is one of them, predicting that the price of ETH will reach $10,000 by the end of 2022 as the coin’s value increases due to its scarcity and its imminent transition to proof-of-stake (PoS).

“Ethereum’s latest upgrade turned into a deflationary asset. Proof-of-stake will further lock up ETH for staking rewards, which in theory should influence the price to go up as supply decreases, while demand increases,” Hammoud said during a recent panel conducted by personal finance comparison site Finder.

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Anti-Vax Truckers Have Raised $700K in Bitcoin—And Have Elon Musk’s Support

The “Freedom Convoy” of Canadian truckers in Ottawa has raised nearly 16 Bitcoin (roughly $700,000) from 4,877 donors after their GoFundMe donations were blocked. 

The group even has garnered support from Elon Musk via Twitter, who believes crypto “cannot be stopped.” In late January, Musk also tweeted, “Canadian truckers rule.”

The trucker convoy in Ottawa making international headlines was formed in opposition to nationwide vaccination mandates on truckers re-entering Canada from the United States. It has since evolved to object to all COVID-19 health restrictions, spawning similar protests throughout Canada.

Ottawa police are attempting to reign in the convoy over concerns of their trucks blockading city streets and interfering with local businesses. 

Law enforcement also collaborated with crowdsourcing platform GoFundMe to block $10 million in donations initially directed toward the convoy’s organizers.

That action struck a bad chord with some Canadian Bitcoiners opposed to both financial censorship and the COVID restrictions. 

Canadian truckers turn to Bitcoin

In response to the GoFundMe blockade, BTC Sessions, a crypto YouTuber from Calgary, started a fundraiser for the protest using the Bitcoin native crowdfunding platform “Tallycoin.” 

Because Bitcoin is a peer-to-peer payment network, it makes it harder for governments to prevent users from sending money to certain causes. 

“Thank you TRUCKERS,” said one anonymous donor of $87.99 in Bitcoin. “You have made me proud to be Canadian again.”

The donor list includes Kraken exchange CEO Jesse Powell, who sent a whole Bitcoin to the cause. “Fix the money, fix the world,” he said. “Mandates are immoral. End the madness. Honk Honk!”

The funds are currently being directed toward a multisig wallet controlled by BTC Sessions, Bitcoiner Greg Foss, author Jeff Booth, and Bull Bitcoin CEO Francis Pouliot. A multisig, or “multi-signature,” crypto wallet is one that needs authorization from multiple parties before the wallet’s funds can be used.

The fifth signer—known as “Nobody Caribou” on Twitter—acts as a liaison between Bitcoiners and the protest organizers on the ground in Ottawa. 

In a press release on Wednesday, he mentioned potentially using the funds to supply the truckers with diesel and water and possibly putting the funds to work as a legal defense fund.

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‘Future-Proof’: Why FarmVille Creator Zynga Is Making NFT Games—Starting This Year

In brief

  • Casual game maker Zynga will launch its first blockchain-based NFT game in 2022.
  • Take-Two Interactive announced last month that it will acquire Zynga for $12.7 billion.

Zynga blasted to enormous success and notoriety with 2009’s FarmVille, a Facebook game that quickly amassed 10 million daily users despite the objections of hardcore gamers. Over the years, the firm continued attracting casual players with hits like CityVille and Words With Friends, becoming a major mobile developer in the process.

But now, Zynga is building in a space that elicits the same kind of powerful (and often negative) reaction from many gamers that casual and mobile titles have in the past: NFTs.

An NFT is a type of token that can be used to represent ownserhip over digital items, such as images, videos, or in-game assets. At the moment, the Ethereum-based game Axie Infinity is the biggest NFT project of all time with nearly $4 billion in trading volume to date, while the rising overall NFT market—which hit $25 billion in trading volume last year—has prompted legacy game publishers like Ubisoft, Square Enix, and Konami to begin exploring the space.

It’s a potentially ripe opportunity for Zynga, and the casual game publisher began making moves in the space last fall, hiring Matt Wolf as its vice president of blockchain gaming in November.

Wolf has advised various gaming and crypto firms, ranging from Riot Games to Fan Controlled Football, and previously served as a senior VP of entertainment, strategic partnerships, and ventures at Coca-Coca.

Asked what prompted Zynga to begin exploring the NFT and crypto space, Wolf pointed to “future-proofing” the company’s business and enhancing its capabilities, rather than replacing its current output and fully shifting into Web3. “We’ve got a really prolific board of directors in the C-suite, and they see crypto, blockchain, NFTs, and Web3 as potentially huge,” he told Decrypt.

Zynga’s games are typically not particularly robust or complex, but the most successful of them generate a compelling feedback loop that keeps players hooked. In Wolf’s view, blockchain networks add the possibility of asset ownership to that equation, giving players even further reason to feel invested in a game and stay plugged in.

“[Ownership] is probably one of the biggest things,” Wolf explained, “and the empowerment that comes with that, and the relationship that comes with that, and the trust, love, and loyalty that comes with that over time.”

Wolf kept coming back to the idea of players having “trust” in Zynga as they explore this new space—an interesting premise since blockchains are built to enable trustless interactions without an intermediary. In his view, however, newcomers to the space will want guidance and assistance as they get used to the paradigm of asset ownership.

“We’re gonna really work to make sure that when people are in our ecosystems, they’re feeling safe and covered,” said Wolf, “and we’re there for them to answer questions, or deal with the complexity that they’re moving through in terms of crypto or wallets.”

What and when

Zynga’s stable of IP includes the aforementioned games and other successes like CSR Racing and Zynga Poker, plus the company has built licensed games based on Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Game of Thrones.

For its first blockchain-based game—which has yet to be officially revealed—Wolf said that Zynga plans to take inspiration from an existing homegrown IP while building a crypto-centric experience.

“We’re going to be pulling inspiration off probably one game in particular as we go to market here,” he explained. “But I want to say in the same breath that we’re creating ground-up experiences for this community. We’re not taking a bolt-on approach. Right now, we’re creating.”

Zynga aims to launch its first blockchain game sometime this year, with first details likely due sometime in Q2 as the company begins cultivating a community of prospective players around the project. At this point, Zynga is still building out its blockchain team, with plans to have as many as 100 people working on such games.

The publisher announced a strategic alliance with blockchain gaming infrastructure firm Forte in December, soon after Forte’s most recent $725 million Series B fundraise. Wolf said that “several more announcements” will come regarding partnerships and plans as Zynga works with external partners—and potentially acquires companies along the way.

Embracing Web3

By the time Zynga’s first blockchain game officially launches later this year, the company could be under the umbrella of major game publisher Take-Two Interactive—the firm behind Grand Theft Auto and NBA 2K—which announced plans last month to acquire Zynga for $12.7 billion. The deal is set to close by June 30.

Wolf said he couldn’t discuss the potential impact of the planned acquisition, but pointed to previous comments from the CEOs of both companies.

When the deal was announced, Take-Two CEO Strauss Zenick said that there are “Web3 opportunities” that the two firms can better tackle together, while Zynga CEO Frank Gibeau added that “the idea that players will play-to-earn or play-to-own is a very compelling idea that we think will have legs as the industry develops.”

This week, Zelnick reportedly told investors that he is “highly convinced there’s an opportunity for NFTs to fit with Take-Two’s offerings in the future.” However, he added, “We want to make sure that consumers always have a good experience every time they engage with our properties and losing money on a speculation is not a good experience.”

Many of today’s NFT-driven, play-to-earn games look like even simpler, scaled-back versions of the types of games that Zynga specializes in—and yes, there are play-to-earn farming games.

That may be one reason why many traditional video game players are so averse to the idea of NFT games, which offer prospective benefits such as true asset ownership, value accrual, token rewards through play-to-earn game models, and potential interoperability for NFT assets between multiple games or metaverse worlds.

Other frequent criticisms that NFT games face are that such digital assets are a scam or a grift, and that NFTs are killing the environment—although the environmental impact of blockchain networks can vary widely. For its part, Zynga has claimed that it will develop eco-friendly NFT games.

To try and overcome pushback to NFT games, Wolf said that Zynga will focus on delivering a quality experience and setting reliable expectations. From there, it will be a matter of learning from each blockchain game launch and evolving their approach, with “several” blockchain games planned as the company explores this new market.

“If we can deliver high-quality products and a roadmap that we’re continuing to support,” he said, “and surprise and delight our player-verse, then I think we’ll have done a good job.”

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Ransomware Payments in Bitcoin and Other Crypto Hit at Least $600M in 2021: Chainalysis

In brief

  • For now, Chainalysis estimates $602 million in ransomware payments from 2021—less than for 2020.
  • But it expects the final number to rise substantially.

Chainalysis—a blockchain data firm—has found that value stolen through crypto ransomware attacks likely rose from 2020 to 2021—it just hasn’t accounted for it all yet. 

According to a preview of the company’s 2022 Crypto Crime Report, it’s identified $602 million in ransomware payouts for 2021, compared to $692 million for 2020. However, it believes the 2021 figure to be an “underestimate” given that it has revised its initial 2020 estimate upward by nearly 50%.

“Anecdotal evidence, plus the fact that ransomware revenue in the first half of 2021 exceeded that of the first half of 2020, suggests to us that 2021 will eventually be revealed to have been an even bigger year for ransomware,” the report states.

Ransomware is a type of malicious software that blocks access to computer files until the attacker’s requests are fulfilled. Hackers often ask for hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars in funds—typically paid in cryptocurrency so it doesn’t have to go through traditional payment routes. There are various versions or types of ransomware, called “strains.” 

According to Chainalysis, the Russian-based group Conti was easily the biggest ransomware strain last year in terms of revenue. Using a ransomware-as-a-service model (RaaS), Conti operators extorted over $180 million from their victims. 

DarkSide was also listed. It’s the strain that perpetrated the infamous attack on the U.S. Colonial Pipeline, leading to fuel shortages in some areas. The company was forced to shell out $5 million in Bitcoin to their hackers at the time. Throughout the year, DarkSide seized at least $75 million in similar hacks.

Since cryptocurrency payments are peer-to-peer, hackers are continuing to abuse them as a method of escaping interruptions from third-party intermediaries. In traditional finance, banks and payment providers can not only reverse criminal transactions, but also easily identify those users and ban them from their platforms. 

Yet that doesn’t make Bitcoin a criminal paradise either. In fact, thanks to Bitcoin’s public blockchain, the U.S. Justice Department was able to track and seize almost half of the money DarkSide stole from the pipeline. That’s why some ransomware attackers choose to use privacy-based coins such as Monero to facilitate these transactions instead.  

The number of active strains in 2021 rose to 140, up from 119 in 2020, and just 79 in 2019. The activity of most of these strains “comes and goes in waves,” Chainalysis identified Conti as the only strain that stayed active throughout the year.  

Along with the number of strains, average ransomware payment size also increased in 2021, up to $118,000 from just $88,000 in 2020.

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Internet Guru Tim O’Reilly: Crypto and NFTs Are ‘Pretty Serious Speculative Bubble’

Tim O’Reilly, the internet guru and the man who coined the term Web 2.0, does not sound like a big fan of Web3

On Wednesday, O’Reilly appeared on CBS Moneywatch and discussed crypto, blockchain, and the rise of Web3, the term for the next wave of the internet built on decentralized blockchain networks and platform-specific tokens.

Underlining the general theme of the interview, O’Reilly was asked about Web3 and what the future may hold for it. “The metaverse itself is full of bubble hype,” he answered. “The Meta Quest2 [the VR headset previously called Oculus], they’re selling a bunch of ’em, but the technology is a long way from prime time,” he said.

And while O’Reilly recognizes that the cryptocurrency and NFT space is booming, he believes its growth may be unsustainable: “… I believe that it really is a pretty serious speculative bubble on a very small foundation,” he said.

The NFT market, in particular, exploded over the last year. In 2021, NFTs—tokens that represent ownership over digital assets—generated more than $25 billion in sales, according to figures from DappRadar. The previous year, NFTs accounted for less than $100 million in sales. That’s led to companies like OpenSea, the most popular marketplace to buy and sell NFTs, to raise millions of dollars from investors.

OpenSea last month hit a $13.3 billion valuation following a $300 million Series C funding round. It also had its best month yet in terms of trading volume, topping $5 billion in sales. Yet the exchange only has 600,000 total users, claims O’Reilly, which corresponds to monthly figures tracked by Dune Analytics.

“We won’t know what Web3 is until after the current bubble pops—because we’re in the middle of a bubble, just like the dot-com bubble, where there’s all kinds of crazy startups getting outrageous valuations, with less to show for it,” O’Reilly told CBS Moneywatch.

While the tech guru said the market built around Web3 should “get ready for the crash,” he also offered some optimism for what he thinks comes after: “… Once you get those bubble valuations, it does attract a lot of capital and talent—and people may start really building something on top of it.”

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The Bitfinex Hack Arrests and $3.6B in Recovered Bitcoin: What We Still Don’t Know

On February 8, the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced the arrest of Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan on charges of conspiracy to launder cryptocurrency stolen during the 2016 Bitfinex hack, and conspiracy to defraud the United States.

The story has captured mainstream fascination this week like few other crypto stories do, in particular because people have been fascinated with the alleged culprits, who showed off their New York City social lives and rapped on Instagram and TikTok. 

As Bitcoin analyst Jason Deane of Quantum Economics told Decrypt, “It seems impossible to marry the sheer extent of the alleged crime with the meme-rich videos of these two ‘influencers’ who appear as far away from being master criminals as it is possible to be.”

Here’s what we know thanks to the public legal documents: The DOJ seized $3.6 billion worth of Bitcoin; both Lichtenstein and Morgan have been charged with conspiracy to launder cryptocurrency, and conspiracy to defraud the U.S.; and if found guilty, both parties face up to 20 years in prison.

Simple enough, right? But there’s plenty about this saga that we still don’t know.  

Why did they get caught?

According to the DOJ press release, both Lichtenstein and Morgan allegedly employed “numerous sophisticated laundering techniques.” 

These included using fake identities to set up online accounts, automating transactions, and depositing stolen funds into accounts at several exchanges and darknet marketplaces. IRS Criminal Investigation chief Jim Lee described the scheme as “methodological and calculated.” 

Over the last five years, approximately 25,000 BTC underwent a complicated money laundering process before allegedly being deposited in financial accounts controlled by both parties. 

The sheer amount of time that has gone by since these events begs the question—why did these alleged master criminals get caught now?

Lichtenstein stored his crypto keys (private access codes to a wallet) in the cloud, which didn’t help. After establishing a search warrant, law enforcement accessed a file saved to Lichtenstein’s cloud account which contained 2,000 virtual currency addresses—as well as the corresponding private keys needed to access the funds.

“I think the entire case was cracked primarily because of poor infosec on behalf of the alleged criminals,” computer programmer and crypto critic Stephen Diehl told Decrypt

Where is the Bitcoin now? 

According to the criminal complaint that accompanied the DOJ press release, the funds seized by law enforcement remain “secured in the U.S. Government’s possession.” 

We do not know what the government will actually do with the newly recovered funds, but legal experts tell Decrypt it almost certainly won’t return the money to Bitfinex.

Based on previous cases, we can only speculate what might happen next. In March 2021, the US General Services Administration auctioned off 0.7501 Bitcoin at a 21% premium, which, at the time, netted the government about $53,000. The government never said how it came to be in possession of that Bitcoin stash, but it also auctioned off a selection of forfeited items including cars, a storage container, and a tractor. 

On other occasions, the US government has auctioned off illicit Bitcoin recovered from criminal cases. In February 2020, it sold 4,000 BTC (worth $37 million at the time) that had been forfeited in a series of federal, civil and administrative cases. In 2014, it auctioned 30,000 BTC ($19 million at the time) seized from the now-closed dark web marketplace Silk Road. 

The government could also use its freshly seized Bitcoin to entice dark web informants to come forward with information on hackers seen as threats to the country’s national security. Since 1984, the State Department has had a “Rewards for Justice” program running that offers up to $10 million for information about individuals or groups participating in cyber activity against the United States. 

Last summer, the government began offering these bounties in cryptocurrency. “Finding people where they are and reaching them with the technology on which they are most comfortable, I think, is the name of the game for Rewards for Justice,” a State Department official told CNN at the time. 

What about the hack itself? 

It’s worth reiterating that Lichtenstein and Morgan have not been charged with participating in the 2016 Bitfinex hack itself.

The DOJ press release says Lichtenstein and Morgan conspired to launder the stolen funds after a hacker “breached Bitfinex’s systems and initiated more than 2,000 unauthorized transactions.” Those 2,000 accounts were uncovered when law enforcement decrypted a file saved on Lichtenstein’s cloud storage. 

Crucially, the criminal complaint adds that “blockchain analysis confirmed almost all of those addresses were directly linked to the [Bitfinex] hack.”

This begs another question: were Lichtenstein and/or Morgan involved in the hack itself, or might they have had a relationship with the hacker? We do not know, but it is likely this question—also asked by crypto journalist Laura Shin—gets raised during future court proceedings.

Overall, some onlookers may view the arrest and the seizure of the stolen Bitcoin—albeit years after the Bitfinex hack itself—as a sign that crime doesn’t pay, even in crypto land. For others, the Bitfinex arrests, like the hack of The DAO in 2016 and the Silk Road takedown in 2013, may merely be another reminder of Bitcoin’s lingering image problem.

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Porn-Friendly Platform OnlyFans Adopts Ethereum NFT Profiles

In brief

  • OnlyFans is a subscription site known for adult content.
  • It follows Twitter in enabling NFT profile pictures.

What do you get when you combine NSFW with NFTs? OnlyFans.

OnlyFans, a platform that connects content creators with paying subscribers, said Thursday that its users can now use verified Ethereum NFTs in their profile images, according to a report from Reuters. Creators who do so will receive an Ethereum symbol to show that they own the asset.

NFTs are blockchain-based deeds of ownership that are often connected to digital images. They became huge business in 2021, as celebrities used them to convey status and artists found new ways to monetize their work. For example, OpenSea, the largest NFT trading platform, is valued at $13.3 billion according to the firm’s own estimates following its Series C raise. 

The idea of digital ownership is central to a Web3 vision of the world in which decentralized networks allow people to trade value without control by a single entity. But it’s also important to OnlyFans, a Web2 company whose business model has at times put it at odds with the traditional financial system.

“Our mission is to empower creators to own their full potential,” CEO Amrapali Gan told Reuters. “This feature is the first step in exploring the role that NFTs can play on our platform.”

After its launch in 2016, OnlyFans became a bastion for adult models, many looking to take their act direct to audiences and cut out (at least some of) the middlemen. Similar to Patreon, OnlyFans takes a cut of the action in exchange for use of the platform. Former adult industry star (and Dogecoin fan) Mia Khalifa and topless entertainer Blac Chyna are some of OnlyFan’s top-earning creators.

But the site has worked to shed its pornographic image. Back in August, it said it would ban “sexually explicit materials,” laying the blame on stodgy “banking partners and payment providers”—the same groups that began cutting off funds to Pornhub in 2020. After an outcry, it walked back the ban.

Nonetheless, the company, which Gan took over in December after a 15-month stint as chief marketing and communications officer, has been playing up its non-nude content. Its Twitter page includes live sessions from musician NEVRMIND, cosplay tutorials, and fashion tips from a designer. Of course, it still pushes hard on sex appeal with suggestive photos and videos.

Another major social media site already allows verified NFTs for profile pics: Twitter brought the assets to the site in January. Meanwhile, Reddit is working on a similar feature, and Instagram is also “actively exploring” NFTs.

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European Union to Consider Digital Euro Legislation by Next Year: Report

In brief

  • The European Union has been talking about central bank digital currencies for some time now.
  • Yesterday, the EU finance chief said that early next year a bill for a digital euro would be proposed.

A bill for a digital euro will be proposed early 2023, EU finance bigwigs announced yesterday. 

In an announcement first reported by Politico, EU finance chief Mairead McGuinness said at a Wednesday conference that the European Union would formally consider legislation around a digital euro next year. 

A digital euro would be the EU’s version of a central bank digital currency (CBDC). A CBDC is a digital version of a fiat currency (like the euro or U.S. dollar), backed by a central bank. In this case, the European Central Bank would issue a digital version of the euro. 

EU lawmakers have repeatedly talked about the benefits of a digital euro: the European Central Bank’s president, Christine Lagarde, for example, has said that a European CBDC could complement traditional cash and “provide an alternative to private digital currencies”—like Bitcoin.

The European Central Bank last year conducted research on the advantages of a digital euro. A Euro CBDC, it is believed, could help lower bank’s interest rates, make transactions smoother and faster, and minimize cash use.  

Lagarde has spoken out about cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum and said such assets have no place in the central banking system. 

Yesterday, McGuinness was quoted saying that the EU’s “goal is to table legislation in early 2023,” with “a targeted legislative consultation in the coming weeks.”

The European Union, a political and economic union of 27 member states, is currently lagging behind other nations in terms of issuing a CBDC. China, for example, is in the middle of piloting its e-CNY (electric Chinese yuan) while the Bahamas launched its Sand Dollar in 2020. 

Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve in the United States is still researching the technology and pondering on whether to release one—and seems more focused on regulating stablecoins.

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YouTube Is Eyeing the ‘Incredible Potential’ of NFTs and Web3 for Future Products

YouTube’s Chief Product Officer Neal Mohan published a blog post today about the company’s upcoming plans for new products and features in 2022, citing an interest in Web3, blockchain, and NFTs.

NFTs are digital tokens that exist on blockchain networks, such as Ethereum, that are used to verify ownership over an asset. Typically, NFTs point to ownership of an image, video, piece of music, or even virtual land.

In his post, Mohan mentioned some of the new features planned for YouTube creators this year, like “Channel Guidelines,” sorted comments for livestreams, and Super Chats (tips) for YouTube Shorts (which are YouTube’s version of TikToks).

Mohan also hinted at future Web3 integrations, citing the potential for NFTs to “allow creators to build deeper relationships with their fans” and further monetize their YouTube content.

As to what NFTs or blockchain integrations on YouTube could look like, Mohan made a few broad suggestions. “Giving a verifiable way for fans to own unique videos, photos, art, and even experiences from their favorite creators could be a compelling prospect,” he said.

Mohan added that he wants to take a thoughtful approach to any Web3 integrations. “There’s a lot to consider in making sure we approach these new technologies responsibly, but we think there’s incredible potential as well,” he said in the post.

While Mohan didn’t elaborate, it’s possible that YouTube could integrate NFTs in such a way that the holders of a given NFT collection could gain exclusive access to a creator’s content, or special badges during livestreams. Selling videos, or segments of videos, as NFTs could also provide additional monetization mechanisms for creators.

This isn’t the first time that a YouTube executive has hinted at Web3 features coming to the video platform. Last month, YouTube CEO Susan Wojicki said she was looking into “expanding the YouTube ecosystem” and said that this could include adding “things like NFTs.”

In addition to Mohan and Wojicki, the former head of YouTube Gaming, Ryan Wyatt, is also bullish on Web3. In January, Wyatt departed YouTube for Polygon Studios, a company focused on building on Ethereum sidechain Polygon.

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Bitcoin (BTC) $ 27,220.29 1.81%
Ethereum (ETH) $ 1,908.16 2.43%
Litecoin (LTC) $ 95.05 1.11%
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $ 114.59 1.11%