Kazakhstan Blocks Coinbase, Citing Digital Asset Law

Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Culture and Information has clarified its decision to block the global cryptocurrency exchange, Coinbase, within the nation’s borders. The ministry asserts that the trading of cryptocurrencies on Coinbase is in direct violation of the Kazakhstani law on Digital Assets. This clarification was provided in response to an inquiry from “Kursiv,” following a request from the Ministry of Digital Development, Innovations, and Aerospace Industry. The request was made to block access to Coinbase, which contravened section 5 of Article 11 of the country’s Digital Assets Law.

This particular section of the law prohibits the issuance and trading of unsecured digital assets, as well as the operations of cryptocurrency exchanges dealing with such assets, outside of the Astana International Financial Centre (AIFC). Only a select group of cryptocurrency exchanges, including Binance and Bybit among others, are licensed to operate in Kazakhstan, with the AIFC’s Committee for Regulation of Financial Services being the authorizing body.

The move to block Coinbase was in accordance with the nation’s communication laws that oblige providers to limit access to websites containing prohibited content. This has raised questions about the regulatory environment for digital assets within Kazakhstan and the implications for global cryptocurrency operations.

The Ministry also addressed the earlier blocks imposed on the websites of Interactive Brokers and the New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX), both of which were subsequently lifted. The restoration of access to these sites occurred after significant feedback from the financial community and a request from the Financial Monitoring Agency to resume access to www.interactivebrokers.com.

The AIFC offers a unique regulatory sandbox environment, allowing both local and international companies to apply for operation within the center with minimal initial resources. These companies can offer FinTech and RegTech services, with the opportunity to develop regulatory requirements in collaboration with the AFSA. The reinstatement of access to Interactive Brokers and NYMEX, despite their previous infractions, signifies the delicate balance Kazakhstan seeks to maintain between stringent financial regulations and the fostering of an innovative financial technology ecosystem.

In an unrelated but simultaneous report, the FINANCE.kz telegram channel first highlighted the widespread blocking of foreign brokers and cryptocurrency exchanges in Kazakhstan on September 14. This has been a topic of heated discussion among financial analysts, with some, like Rasul Rysmambetov, calling it an “absolute mistake” attributable to potential technical errors.

Interactive Brokers, a major U.S. brokerage firm, and NYMEX, a primary American futures exchange, both now have restored access in Kazakhstan. Interactive Brokers is known for its extensive electronic trading platform in the U.S., while NYMEX holds a prominent position in crude oil futures trading.

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Jack Dorsey’s Block Appoints MIT’s Neha Narula to Board of Directors

Block, Inc. (NYSE: SQ), a global technology company with a focus on financial services, announced on July 27, 2023, the appointment of Neha Narula, Director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab, to its Board of Directors. This move further solidifies Block’s commitment to leveraging open source software and open protocols to transform the way people move money.

Narula, who has been serving as the Director of the Digital Currency Initiative at the MIT Media Lab since January 2017, brings a wealth of expertise in Bitcoin and open source technology to the board.

Prior to joining MIT, she held a position as a senior software engineer at Google. Narula also currently serves on the Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s Innovation Advisory Council. Her academic credentials include a B.A. in Mathematics and Computer Science from Dartmouth College and a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT.

“I’ve long admired Block’s focus on building simple, cohesive products that empower people and communities to participate in the financial system,” said Narula. “We share core values around the power of open source software and the ability for open protocols to transform the way people move money. I’m honored and excited to join Block’s board of directors and contribute to the company’s purpose of economic empowerment.”

Block’s Head and Chairman, Jack Dorsey, expressed his enthusiasm about Narula’s appointment, stating, “Neha’s expertise in Bitcoin and open source technology is a great addition to our Board. Neha’s passion for building intuitive, scaled systems to move money across the Internet efficiently fits into our company’s purpose, and we’re excited to have her join our team.”

Block, Inc., formerly known as Square, Inc., is composed of Square, Cash App, Spiral, TIDAL, and TBD. The company is dedicated to creating tools that expand access to the economy. Its integrated ecosystem of commerce solutions, business software, and banking services helps sellers run and grow their businesses.

With Cash App, anyone can easily send, spend, or invest their money in stocks or Bitcoin. Spiral builds and funds free, open-source Bitcoin projects, while TIDAL provides a platform for musicians and their fans to connect more deeply. TBD is building an open developer platform to make it easier to access Bitcoin and other blockchain technologies without having to go through an institution.

Narula’s appointment to the board is expected to further enhance Block’s mission of economic empowerment through the use of open source software and open protocols.

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Block’s 5nm Bitcoin Mining Chip Prototype

The financial services and technology business Block, which is controlled by Jack Dorsey, has just finished the prototype design of its new 5nm Bitcoin mining chip. This was done with the intention of decentralizing the supply of Bitcoin mining rigs. The business noted that the development of Bitcoin mining ASIC rigs is both financially and technically hard, which has led to an excessive concentration of the ownership of specialized mining silicon in the hands of a few number of enterprises. It is believed that miners and the Bitcoin network as a whole would suffer from the negative effects of this concentration.

In response, Block intends to make Bitcoin mining technology open source wherever it is feasible by selling standalone ASICs and other hardware components. This move is intended to enhance the size of the Bitcoin mining hardware ecosystem while also maximizing the amount of innovation that may occur inside it. Because of the actions taken by the firm over the previous few months, it will now be able to experiment with new designs, which will help the company bring Bitcoin mining chips to market that are both more efficient and less expensive.

As a means of accelerating this development drive, Block has made a significant purchase of ASIC chips from Intel, prompting the latter to stop accepting new orders for its Blockscale 1000 Series ASICs. This move was made in order to shorten the development cycle. Block expects that by purchasing these ASICs from Intel, it would be able to speed up the development of its own 3nm chip, which, upon its eventual release, the company says will be the most technologically sophisticated semiconductor to date.

The significance of ASIC development to the Bitcoin mining process is reflected in Block’s concentration on the development of these devices. ASICs are computerized devices that are tailored to accomplish a particular computational function. They are commonly used for mining proof-of-work cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, which need a specific computational task to be completed. When individual components of a chip get smaller, it becomes possible to pack more transistors into a silicon die of the same size. This results in increased overall efficiency and a reduction in the amount of heat that is generated.

Although 5nm ASIC chips have been available for some time, the first 5nm ASIC was not released until 2021 by the Chinese mining company Canaan. Despite this, no company has yet made the ASIC chip designs that they produce open source. It is anticipated that Block’s dedication to open source technology will have a substantial influence on the Bitcoin mining business. This will result in additional alternatives being available to miners and will contribute to the network’s efforts to become more decentralized.


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TBD’s Block Launches c= to Enhance Bitcoin Lightning Network

TBD, a subsidiary of Block, has announced the launch of c=, a new initiative that aims to improve the Bitcoin Lightning Network. c= is a new endeavor that aims to improve the Bitcoin Lightning Network. The Lightning Network is a layer 2 payment network that aims to make Bitcoin transactions quicker, cheaper, and more reliable. Its primary function is to reduce the fees associated with Bitcoin transactions. From its inception, the network has been subject to unplanned expansion, with the acceptance of its services in the real world being the primary driver of its liquidity and capacity.

TBD wants to further extend the scope of the Lightning Network by offering more liquidity and routing services, and with the introduction of c=, they hope to accomplish this goal. The objective of the c= project is to enhance the architecture of the network in order to better facilitate the use of Bitcoin as a payment mechanism by the general public.

The Lightning Network is a crucial breakthrough for Bitcoin since it overcomes some of the difficulties associated with the original blockchain, such as sluggish transaction times and excessive fees. This makes the Lightning Network a vital addition to the Bitcoin ecosystem. Lightning Network transactions are peer-to-peer transactions that are more trustworthy, cheaper, and quicker than typical blockchain transactions. This is made possible by the addition of a second layer to the network, which is what the Lightning Network does.

Nevertheless, there are several difficulties associated with using the Lightning Network. Lack of liquidity is one of the primary problems, which might make it challenging to route transactions over the network. This is one of the fundamental challenges. Services such as c= come into play at this point. c=’s goal is to enhance the user experience by providing more liquidity and routing services. This will make it simpler for more individuals to use Bitcoin as a payment method and should encourage more people to do so.

Since it displays a dedication to developing the Lightning Network and making Bitcoin more accessible to a larger audience, the introduction of c= is an exciting step for the Bitcoin community. Services like as c= are vital for guaranteeing that the Bitcoin network is able to continue to satisfy the demands of users all around the globe as it continues its rapid expansion and widespread acceptance.


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Block on Hiring Spree for Bitcoin Mining, Wallet Hardware Businesses

Payments company Block has announced multiple job openings for its bitcoin mining and wallet hardware businesses.

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According to the company’s job postings on LinkedIn, the available job openings are heads of Bitcoin mining policy, communications, and partnerships.

Formerly known as Square, the company was introduced into the market in 2009, focusing on in-person payments and its namesake card reader, which lets people accept credit card payments on a smartphone.

The company’s name was changed to Square last year by CEO Jack Dorsey as they wanted to broaden their services towards blockchain, music, and cash transfers.

According to a job advertisement posted by Block on Saturday for a “test hub lead,” the firm said its mining team develops “bitcoin mining ASIC, bitcoin mining rig, and associated systems, software and infrastructure.”

The posting added that the test hub will “host Block’s mining hardware and will be used to test the hardware and software and the overall operational issues (power, cooling, dust, restart, performance monitoring, connectivity to pool) of the mining system.”

Other job openings also include product and engineering departments. These employees will help “to develop the next generation of mining ASIC”, along with building its “first mining rig” and “future mining rig product lines.”

Furthermore, several other open positions are available related to wallet design. 

Block revealed its Bitcoin hardware wallet this past spring.

According to a January report from CNBC, Block’s general manager for hardware, Thomas Templeton, outlined the company’s Bitcoin mining goals.

He tweeted, “common issues we’ve heard with current systems are heat dissipation and dust. They also become non-functional almost every day, which requires a time-consuming reboot. We want to build something that just works.”

Block’s push into mining has come when the sector is going through a difficult phase. Companies have been struggling with profit margins for the past few months as bitcoin’s value has dropped and energy prices have risen along with the global hash rate.

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Nigeria Takes the Highest Bitcoin Optimism Levels at 60%, Survey Reads

Since knowledge feeds optimism and participation, Nigeria emerged as the top nation with the highest rates of optimism about Bitcoin’s future at 60%, according to a study by Jack Dorsey-owned Block, Inc.

Other nations with high Bitcoin (BTC) optimism levels are India, Vietnam, Argentina, and South Africa, recording 58%, 56%, 55%, and 52%, respectively. 


Source: Block, Inc.

Regarding crypto awareness, Bitcoin was twice as known at 88% compared to Ethereum at 43%. Dogecoin (DOGE) was third at 31%. Per the report:

“Awareness of Bitcoin is higher than that of any other cryptocurrency globally — by far — with 88% of adults surveyed having heard of Bitcoin specifically.”

In terms of age groups, millennials and baby boomers led the pack with the highest BTC awareness levels. The study noted:

“Globally, millennials and baby boomers, in particular, have the highest levels of Bitcoin awareness at 92.5% and 89.2%, but all age cohorts have relatively high awareness.”

Most respondents acknowledged that BTC was a stepping stone towards a more equitable economy. 

On the other hand, the lack of Bitcoin knowledge was the biggest stumbling block to purchasing it. Per the report:

“41% of those who say they have fair to expert levels of cryptocurrency knowledge say they are very likely to purchase Bitcoin in the next 12 months, compared with just 7.9% of those with limited to no knowledge of the topic.”

Block, Inc., formerly Square, surveyed in conjunction with Wakefield Research between January 10 and 28 and interviewed more than 9,500 adults aged 18 and above in the three regions. 4,360 were from Europe, the Middle East, Africa (EMEA), 2,860 from Asia-Pacific (APAC), and 2,375 from the Americas.

Therefore, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Nigeria takes the lion’s share of Bitcoin optimism, given that 35% of Nigerians had entered the crypto space in a span of 6 months, according to a recent study by crypto exchange KuCoin. 

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Block Q1 BTC Revenue Plunges 51% Amid General Market Turbulence

Block Inc’s Cash App recorded a total Bitcoin (BTC) sale of $1.73 billion in the first quarter of 2022, a figure that plunged by over 51% from the prior quarter.


Cash App comes off as one of the most dominant channels to buy and transact in Bitcoin, cementing its role as one of the pioneers in the fintech space that adopted the premier cryptocurrency.

The growth of the digital currency ecosystem has been very erratic during the quarter and this became visible in Block’s overall performance with respect to the sales and revenue of the digital currency. Atop the declined total sales, the gross profit coming from the sales of the digital currency was pegged at $43 million when compared to this same period last year.

“Cash App generated $1.73 billion of bitcoin revenue and $43 million of bitcoin gross profit during the first quarter of 2022, down 51% and 42% year over year, respectively. On a two-year CAGR basis, bitcoin revenue and gross profit grew 138% and 155%, respectively,” Block said in its shareholder letter. The company was formerly known as Square Inc and at the time, the firm’s performance was known to be boosted by Bitcoin’s growth.

Since the beginning of the year, the volatility in the price of Bitcoin has kept it within the $48,086.84 and $34,378.04 price ranges respectively. The extreme difference in this range is a conservative addition compared to what the premier coin is known to always print.

The general absence of a massive price upsurge, known as a bull run, notably affected the demand for the cryptocurrency as Block said in the shareholder’s letter.

“The year-over-year decrease in bitcoin revenue and gross profit was driven primarily by relative stability in the price of bitcoin during the quarter, which affected consumer demand and trading activity compared to the prior year period. Bitcoin revenue and gross profit were relatively consistent compared to the fourth quarter of 2021.”

Drawing on this reality, the company said future revenue and profit can also be impacted by these trends in relaxed demand.

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Elon Musk Abandons to Join Twitter Board, while Tesla Join Hands with Tech Firms for Mining Bitcoin Green

In efforts to make Bitcoin (BTC) mining more environmentally friendly, Tesla, Blockstream, and Jack Dorsey-owned Block, formerly Square, have teamed up to power a mining facility with solar energy, according to CNBC. Meanwhile, Elon Musk, the biggest shareholder of Twitter decides not to join the board of Twitter, says CEO Parag Agrawal.

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Musk-led Telsa utilizes a 3.8 megawatts (MW) solar PV array and a 12 megawatt-hour (MWh) Megapack, the Bitcoin mining facility in Texas, which is expected to be completed construction later this year, will be propelled by 30 Petahashes per second of mining hardware using 100% solar energy.

Megapack is a robust lithium-ion battery developed by Tesla that offers energy support and storage. 

Adam Back, a British cryptographer and the co-founder and CEO of Blockstream, noted:

“This is a step to proving our thesis that Bitcoin mining can fund zero-emission power infrastructure and build economic growth for the future.”

Tracking the project using an open dashboard

Back said:

“People like to debate about the different factors to do with bitcoin mining. We figured, let’s just prove it. Have an open dashboard so people can play along, maybe it can inform other players to participate.”

The dashboard will be open to the public, showing the real-time performance of the project, including total Bitcoin mined and power output. 

Meanwhile, Blockstream will be responsible for the mining infrastructure and oversee the project.

As Texas State enjoys sufficient solar and wind energy, it is emerging as an ideal location for Bitcoin miners. 

Back confirmed that wind power will be added to the expand the scale of Bitcoin mining if the project is profitable. He stated:

“You’re making a sort of calculation of the optimal economic mix between solar and battery. There’s 3.8 megawatts of solar and one megawatt of mining, so you can see you have to overprovision, because the peak solar input varies during the day and, of course, it’s not there at night.”

Incorporating wind energy would minimize overall costs by balancing solar’s downtime.

Neil Jorgensen, Block’s global ESG lead, noted the project would be a stepping stone toward using renewable energy in BTC mining. He noted:

“By collaborating on this full-stack, 100% solar-powered bitcoin mining project with Blockstream, using solar and storage technology from Tesla, we aim to further accelerate bitcoin’s synergy with renewables.”

Meanwhile, ExxonMobil, an oil and energy giant, recently announced the launch of a pilot program to convert excess natural gas into energy that powered mobile generators to mine Bitcoin.

Elon Musk gives up to join Twitter’s board

On the other hand, days after Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla Inc. and SpaceX, attained a 9.2% ownership stake of Twitter and was appointed a member of the board of directors, he decided to abandon plans to be part of the board in Twitter. Nevertheless, Musk remains the largest shareholder of the social media giant. 

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Meta Joins Crypto Open Patent Alliance

Key Takeaways

  • Meta has joined the Crypto Open Patent Alliance.
  • Members of this group pledge to not legally enforce crypto-related patents.
  • Last week, Meta sold the intellectual property behind its Diem stablecoin.

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Meta has become a member of the Crypto Open Patent Alliance. This group consists of several prominent companies in the cryptocurrency space that have pledged not to enforce certain crypto patents. 

“Growth and Innovation”

Meta has joined the Crypto Open Patent Alliance, a non-profit organization dedicated to cryptocurrency innovation led by Block, Jack Dorsey’s payments solutions company formerly known as Square. Among COPA’s stated goals is to “remove patents as a barrier to growth and innovation.”

The consortium includes more than 25 other companies, including Coinbase, Microstrategy, Uniswap, and Kraken. According to the Crypto Open Patent Alliance’s general manager, Max Sills, joining the group represents a company’s pledge that it will not enforce its “core cryptocurrency patents.”

Although several major companies count themselves as members of COPA, Meta is the largest to date in terms of the number of patents it holds, according to Sills. 

Meta’s head of licensing and transactions, Shayne O’Reilly, will represent Meta on COPA’s board.

Emblematic of Meta’s struggles in the cryptocurrency industry is its recent $200 million sale of the technology behind its Diem stablecoin, preceded by its years-long battle with U.S. lawmakers over the stablecoin. Meta has, however, retained its digital wallet Novi, which it launched as a pilot program to certain customers in Guatemala and the United States last October. Last December, Novi launched a crypto payments feature to select users in the U.S. via WhatsApp (also owned by Meta). 

Dorsey, meanwhile has been involved in other initiatives beyond COPA that seek to push the blockchain space forward. Earlier this month, he announced the Bitcoin Legal Defense Fund with the goal of helping Bitcoin developers who face legal struggles. 

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and several other cryptocurrencies. 

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