US National Security at Risk Due to China’s Dominance in Mobile Payments, says former State Department Official

Former Department of State official Anja Manuel warns that if the US loses its dominance in financial innovation and payments, it could impact its national security policy, specifically on sanctions. Manuel stated that China is catching up on dominance in mobile payments, which could make enforcing sanctions against “bad actors” like Iran or North Korea more challenging. (Read More)


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US National Security at Risk Due to China Dominance in Mobile Payments, says former State Department Official

In a Twitter Spaces discussion with Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong and listeners, former Department of State official Anja Manuel cautioned that the US’s ability to enforce sanctions on “bad actors” like Iran or North Korea could be threatened if it fails to maintain its leadership in financial innovation and payments. According to Manuel, the US’s status as one of the largest global leaders in payments enables it to enforce sanctions on countries and entities that are deemed to be a threat to national security. However, China seems to be catching up in mobile payments, both in sophistication and scale. If China’s payments solutions gain a dominant foothold in the developing world, enforcing sanctions could become significantly more challenging.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Treasury Department enforces US sanctions, including sanctions on crypto wallets related to Russian nationals and groups’ involvement in the war on Ukraine. Manuel acknowledged that sanctions generally work in a world of traditional banks and responsible blockchain firms, but they are less effective when financial technology firms are available to individuals looking to circumvent restrictions.

There are several reasons why maintaining US dominance in financial innovation and payments is essential for national security. First, the ability to enforce sanctions against countries deemed to be a threat to national security is critical. Sanctions are a key tool in deterring countries from pursuing policies that threaten US interests. Second, financial innovation and payments are critical for US economic growth. The US’s ability to innovate and create new technologies has been a key driver of economic growth for decades.

The US government has historically played a significant role in fostering innovation and supporting the growth of new technologies. However, there are concerns that the US is losing ground to other countries, particularly China. China has made significant investments in technology and innovation and has developed a reputation as a global leader in several areas, including mobile payments.

To maintain its leadership in financial innovation and payments, the US must continue to support the growth of new technologies and create an environment that fosters innovation. This will require a significant investment in research and development, as well as regulatory frameworks that support the growth of new technologies while also protecting consumers and national security.

In conclusion, the US’s ability to maintain its leadership in financial innovation and payments is critical to its national security. If the US loses ground to other countries, particularly China, enforcing sanctions and deterring countries from pursuing policies that threaten US interests could become much more challenging. The US must continue to invest in research and development and create regulatory frameworks that support innovation while also protecting national security.


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UAE’s Central Bank Nears Launch of Digital Dirham

The Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (CBUAE) is taking significant steps towards the full launch of its central bank digital currency (CBDC) known as the digital dirham. As announced on March 23, the CBUAE has signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi-based G42 Cloud and digital finance services provider R3 to be the infrastructure and technology providers for the CBDC implementation. This is a crucial milestone in the development of the digital dirham and is expected to address the challenges of domestic and cross-border payments, while also promoting financial inclusion and supporting the country’s goal of becoming a cashless society.

The first phase of the CBDC strategy involves the soft launch of “mBridge,” a platform that facilitates CBDC transactions for international trade. The CBUAE is also working on proof-of-concept projects for bilateral CBDC bridges with India, as well as domestic CBDC issuance for both wholesale and retail use. These initiatives are expected to be completed within the next 12 to 15 months, according to the CBUAE’s announcement.

The digital dirham has been in development since 2019, with the CBUAE conducting extensive research and analysis to ensure the successful implementation of the CBDC. The CBUAE has also engaged with various stakeholders, including financial institutions, merchants, and other entities, to gather insights on the requirements and potential benefits of a CBDC.

The digital dirham is expected to bring numerous benefits to the UAE’s economy and financial system. One key advantage is the increased efficiency and speed of domestic and cross-border payments, which will enhance the country’s competitiveness in the global marketplace. The digital dirham is also expected to boost financial inclusion by providing greater access to financial services for underserved populations, such as low-income individuals and small businesses.

Moreover, the digital dirham is expected to reduce the cost and complexity of financial transactions, thereby promoting innovation and entrepreneurship in the UAE. The digital dirham’s transparency and security features will also help combat financial crime and money laundering, which are key priorities for the UAE’s government and financial regulators.

The CBUAE’s partnership with G42 Cloud and R3 is a significant step forward in the development of the digital dirham. G42 Cloud is a leading provider of cloud and artificial intelligence (AI) services in the UAE, while R3 is a global blockchain software firm. The collaboration between the three entities is expected to leverage their respective expertise and technologies to ensure the successful implementation of the digital dirham.

In conclusion, the UAE’s central bank is making significant progress towards the launch of its digital dirham CBDC. The implementation of the digital dirham is expected to bring numerous benefits to the UAE’s economy and financial system, including increased efficiency, financial inclusion, and innovation. The CBUAE’s partnership with G42 Cloud and R3 is expected to be a key driver of the digital dirham’s success, and the future looks promising for the UAE’s digital currency.


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Bybit Launches Debit Card for Crypto Payments

Bybit, the Singapore-based cryptocurrency exchange, has announced the launch of its new debit card that will allow users to make payments and withdraw cash using their cryptocurrency holdings. The Bybit card will operate on the Mastercard network and will initially allow fiat-based transactions by debiting cryptocurrency balances when used to pay for goods and services. The new service begins with the launch of a free virtual card for online purchases, while physical debit cards are set to be available in April 2023. The card will work with Bitcoin, Ether, Tether, USD Coin, and XRP balances on user accounts. Payments made with the Bybit card will automatically convert the balances of these initial cryptocurrencies into euros or pounds, depending on the user’s country of residence.

ATM withdrawals and global payments will be limited to the aggregated cryptocurrency holdings of a user’s Bybit account. The cards will be issued by London-based payments solutions provider Moorwand. Bybit’s move into the debit card space comes just days after the exchange announced the suspension of U.S. dollar bank transfers, citing “service outages” by one of its processing partners. Bybit users can continue to make USD deposits using Advcash Wallet and credit cards, while users are urged to carry out any pending U.S. dollar wire withdrawals by March 10.

The virtual and physical debit card offerings are a major step forward for Bybit, as they allow users to seamlessly use their cryptocurrency holdings in the real world. This move follows a report at the end of February 2023 that suggests Mastercard and Visa would hold off on announcing or embarking on further direct partnerships with the cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. However, Mastercard has been exploring payment options in USDC through new partnerships, while Visa has hinted at plans to allow customers to convert cryptocurrencies into fiat on its platform in 2023.

Overall, Bybit’s new debit card offering is a significant development for the cryptocurrency industry, as it marks a major step towards the integration of digital assets into everyday life. The ability to use cryptocurrency for daily transactions has long been seen as a key milestone in the industry’s development, and the Bybit card is a major step towards achieving that goal. With the popularity of cryptocurrency continuing to grow, it is likely that we will see more companies launching similar services in the coming years.


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Bitcoin Flips Visa Again

Since the beginning of the year, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) has increased by 48%, which has caused its market valuation to once again surpass that of the payment processing behemoth Visa.

According to CoinMarketCap, with the price of Bitcoin sitting at $24,365 at the moment, its market size of $470.16 billion is now only slightly more than that of Visa, which has a market cap of $469.87 billion at the moment.

Companies Market Cap reports that this is the third time Bitcoin has “flipped” Visa’s market cap, meaning that Bitcoin’s value has exceeded Visa’s value.

The first occasion was in late December 2020, coincidentally coinciding with the first time that BTC reached $25,000 in value.

This was accomplished during a price rise that saw BTC climb from $10,200 in September 2020 to $63,170 seven months later in April 2021. The price increase lasted for seven months.

BTC was able to take the lead over Visa for a very short period of time on October 1 before the payments business was able to reclaim their position as the market leader. Visa regained the lead between June and October 2022.

This advantage was further extended when, between November 6 and 10, 2022, the failure of the cryptocurrency exchange FTX took off more than $100 billion from the value of BTC in only four days.

However, since that time, BTC has had a complete recovery and has added an extra $65 billion to its market valuation of $408 billion as of November 6. This has allowed it to surpass the payment processing behemoth.

Because of the relatively tiny gap in their respective market caps, Bitcoin and Visa are now trading places on an hourly basis, which is something that should be taken into consideration.

Regarding the remarkable beginning that Bitcoin had in 2023, its third “flipping” of Visa occurred on the heels of a run of 14 days in a row during which the price increased. This run lasted from January 4 through January 17.

According to Google Finance, the market capitalization of Mastercard, the world’s second-largest payment processing network, is now $345.24 billion. BTC, on the other hand, has a significant lead over Mastercard.

However, Bitcoin is still trading at a discount of 63% compared to its all-time high of $69,044 that it hit on November 10th, 2021.


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The Importance of Embedded Finance in Today’s Fintech World

A recent research conducted by Decta brought to light the significance of integrated financial elements in the modern world of fintech. According to the findings of the survey, some significant drivers for a seamless customer experience are the increasing use of online purchasing and digital payment methods.

Embedded finance is a novel method of software distribution that collaborates with suppliers of financial infrastructure to include financial services into the ecosystems of goods that are already on the market. Banking, lending, insurance, payments, and branded credit cards are some of the most frequent types of integrated financial solutions.

According to the findings of the survey, the most important factors that contribute to a positive experience when making purchases online are the ease with which payments can be made and the number of different payment methods that are available. The primary cause of an unpleasant shopping experience is the absence of a chosen payment option or difficulty during the checkout process. Almost 49 percent of respondents said that they would probably quit shopping if they ran across these difficulties.

One of the most important aspects of embedded finance is the ability to provide personalized offers, which are highly appreciated and may be improved by concentrating on certain demographics. For instance, 54 percent of American consumers favored integrated add-ons such as finance and insurance. Members from Generation X were the most happy with personal offers, whilst participants from Generation Z and Baby Boomer rated the offers they received a lower grade.

Other favored integrated features that gained the approval of the respondents include loyalty benefits, seamless payments, and same-page checkouts.

The research gives insights into client targeting and acquisition as cryptocurrency firms are steadily seeking to incorporate embedded financial elements, such as crypto-based credit cards or loans. The use of blockchain technology has been investigated by crypto companies as a means of assisting traditional businesses in the implementation of loyalty incentives and integrated financial services.

During the most recent bull market, the bitcoin ecosystem was able to benefit from increased investment from institutional investors. As a result of conventional hedge funds and some of the largest firms in the Fortune 500 jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon, we are starting to see widespread acceptance of cryptocurrencies.

However, there is still a significant distance to go with the primary goal of making cryptocurrency usable on a daily basis by retail customers. The research conducted on embedded finance may be able to assist crypto firms in taking a hint from the mainstream and putting it into practice with crypto-linked goods in order to provide a superior experience for their customers.


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Why A-List Celebrities Are Still Promoting Unvetted NFT

While the backing from a large number of A-list celebrities helped to speed up the boom in the use of non-fungible tokens (NFT) in 2021 and 2022, some of those celebrities pushed unvetted projects to their supporters without understanding whether or not the projects were authentic. Even after the markets have recovered in 2023, the practise continues to enjoy widespread adoption.

In addition, the MMA fighter failed to take into account the vital fact that the frequently asked questions section of the website explains that there is no way for investors to get “Sourz” NFTs.

When Kim Kardashian pushed the EthereumMax (EMAX) crypto token to her 330 million Instagram followers in June 2021, the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) uncovered a situation that was identical to the one that had occurred in June 2021 with Kanye West. The Securities and Exchange Commission believes that by omitting to report the sum of $250,000 that she had received for the promotion, Kardashian violated the anti-touting section of the Securities Act.

Coffeezilla, on the other hand, took measures to guarantee that the people who fell for the fake NFT project were informed as soon as possible. Users are taken to a website that issues a warning about the possibility of being taken advantage of when they click the “Mint Sourz” button (as seen in the screenshot located above).

Although Coffeezilla intends to provide further details in a subsequent video, the event serves as a powerful caution to influencers and investors that they should do their own investigation before to promoting or investing in a project.

According to the fictitious creator Atto, the project Little Shapes NFT, which was established in November 2021, was a “social experiment” with the goal of shedding light on large-scale NFT bot network frauds that were taking place on Twitter.

When asked about the motivation for the creation of the NFT project, Atto replied that he required a tale that sells to ensure that no one would disregard a story that hurts. He said this when expressing his objective behind starting the project.

The planned avatar-style project known as Little Shapes, which would include 4,444 NFTs and enable owners to interact with and modify the artwork in real time, was advertised under this name.


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New York State Introduces Bill Allowing State Agencies to Accept Crypto

A measure that would allow state agencies to accept cryptocurrencies as a means of payment for fines, civil penalties, taxes, fees, and other charges imposed by the state was presented to the New York State Assembly on January 26. This law would take effect if it is passed.

Democratic Assembly Member Clyde Vanel, who is widely regarded as a crypto-friendly legislator, is the person responsible for the introduction of New York State Assembly Bill A523. It gives state agencies the authority to enter into “agreements with persons to provide the acceptance, by offices of the state, of cryptocurrency as a means of payment” for a variety of different types of fees, including “fines, civil penalties, rent, rates, taxes, fees, charges, revenue, financial obligations or other amounts, including penalties, special assessments and interest, owed to state agencies.”

The measure does not mandate that state agencies accept cryptocurrencies as a form of payment; nevertheless, it does make it clear that state entities might legally agree to accept such payments, and that these agreements ought to be enforced by the judicial system.

The term “cryptocurrency” is defined in the proposed legislation as “any kind of digital currency in which encryption methods are employed to govern the formation of units of money including, but not limited to, bitcoin, ethereum, litecoin, and bitcoin cash.”

Stablecoins such as USD Coin (USDC) and Tether may or may not be included in this definition, depending on how the concept is understood (USDT). On the one hand, the issuer of the stablecoin rather than cryptography is often responsible for regulating the supply of the stablecoin. On the other hand, the bill does recognise that certain cryptocurrencies have a “issuer,” and it provides that agencies can charge the payor an extra fee if such a fee is charged by the cryptocurrency’s issuer. Additionally, the bill does recognise that some cryptocurrencies have a “mining pool,” but it does not recognise that some cryptocurrencies have a “mining pool.”

In order for the measure to be enacted into law, it will first need to get approval from both the Assembly and the Senate of New York, and then it will need to be signed by Governor Kathy Hochul.

Many people have the impression that the state government of New York is against cryptocurrencies. It wasn’t until November 2022 that New York became the first state to adopt a statute that effectively outlawed the mining of almost all cryptocurrencies. In addition to this, it has been attacked for the stringent “BitLicense” that it mandates all cryptocurrency exchanges get. In April of 2022, the Mayor of New York made the case that the legislation requiring a BitLicense ought to be overturned.


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Allegations of fraud against Compass Mining after company cuts ties with Russian

Compass Mining severed its ties with the Russian hosting provider Bit River and did not return Bitcoin mining gear to its customers. The company claimed the reason for its actions as a non-applicable sanction issued by the United States of America. Directly as a result of this, customers of Compass Mining have filed lawsuits against the company, alleging that it engaged in misleading business practises in an attempt to recoup more than two million dollars.

A document that was submitted to the court on January 17 reveals that Compass Mining informed the court in April 2022 that it had terminated its “relationships and transactions with Bit River” as a direct response to the sanctions that were issued as a consequence of Executive Order 14024. The information was revealed in the document that was filed with the court.

According to the accusations, Compass “did not offer” to return or even retrieve the assets that its clients had entrusted the firm with and which were being housed at Bit River’s facilities in Russia. These assets had been entrusted to Compass by its customers. The Russian Federation was the location of these assets.

On the other hand, it has been said that the claim that the return of the mining equipment would violate Executive Order 14024 is “false.” This order prohibits entering into deals with companies that have been blacklisted. Transactions with companies that have been placed on a blacklist are forbidden under this ruling. It was said that this directive may be the cause of the disagreement in question.

Compass has “both the right and responsibility” to ensure the return of its customers’ mines, as stated in the legal agreement between the two parties. The paper does have this stipulation as a part of it.

In an angry response to the concerns raised by clients, the management of Compass said that the company is “unable to execute or even assist” any business transactions with Bit River. This was done in response to the concerns expressed by the consumers.


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U.S. sanctions: Customers suing Compass Mining

Compass Mining severed its ties with the Russian hosting provider Bit River and did not return Bitcoin mining gear to its customers. The company cited an inapplicable fine issued by the United States of America as the reason for its actions. Bit River was the Russian hosting provider. Directly as a result of this, customers are filing lawsuits against Compass Mining for over 2 million dollars, alleging that the company took part in fraudulent operations and defrauding them of their money.

According to a document that was submitted to the court on January 17, it is stated that Compass Mining informed Bit River in April 2022 that it had terminated its “relationships and transactions with Bit River” as a direct result of the penalties that were imposed as a direct result of Executive Order 14024. These penalties were imposed as a direct result of the fact that Compass Mining informed Bit River that it had terminated its “relationships and transactions with Bit River.” This information was included in the document that was presented to the court as part of the filing process.

Compass “did not offer” to refund or even retrieve the assets that its customers entrusted the business with, which were stored at Bit River’s facilities in Russia, according to the allegations that have been made against the company. These allegations come from the lawsuits that have been filed against the company. The assets at issue were located in Russia at the time of the investigation.

On the other hand, it has been asserted that the claim that returning the mining equipment would be a violation of Executive Order 14024, which prohibits doing business with sanctioned organisations, is “wrong.” In other words, returning the mining equipment would not be a violation of Executive Order 14024. This is due to the fact that Executive Order 14024 prohibits doing business with organisations that are under punishment.

According to the legally binding agreement that was signed by all parties, Compass has “both the right and responsibility to effectuate the recovery of its customers’ mines.” This provision is included in the agreement.

The management of Compass provided an aggressive reaction to the concerns that were raised by clients by declaring that the company is “unable to execute or even facilitate” any business transactions with Bit River.


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Bitcoin (BTC) $ 27,071.25 2.27%
Ethereum (ETH) $ 1,863.48 2.14%
Litecoin (LTC) $ 89.40 2.61%
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $ 112.62 1.80%