ShapeShift Responds to Elizabeth Warren

According to a recent statement, the noncustodial cryptocurrency exchange platform ShapeShift refuted Senator Elizabeth Warren’s claims of “illicit financing,” suggesting that she used the platform as a scapegoat to “push” her most recent crypto bill. Senator Warren had accused ShapeShift of “illicit financing.”

The cryptocurrency exchange ShapeShift claimed in a tweet sent out on February 19 that Senator Elizabeth Warren made “mistakes” in her “analysis” of the platform during a hearing held by the Senate Banking Committee on February 14 and titled “Crypto Crash: Why Financial System Safeguards are Needed for Digital Assets.” The hearing was entitled “Crypto Crash: Why Financial System Safeguards are Needed for Digital Assets.”

In a subsequent tweet, ShapeShift refuted Warren’s claims that it was involved in “illicit funding” by asserting that it “never handles user monies” and that it is unable to “enable this.”

This comes as a result of Warren’s comments made at the senate hearing in which he implied that ShapeShift had hidden reasons for reorganizing itself as a DeFi platform in July of 2021.

Warren said that the reorganization was done to entice users to “wash” their money through the site.

In addition to this clarification, Shapeshift said that it is “not an exchange,” expanding on the fact that it is an open-source cryptocurrency dashboard that “connects users” to various protocols and platforms.

It went on to say that it cares about the “same things” as Warren, specifically naming “user safety” and “access to innovation” as areas of concern that are shared by the two parties.

By providing a link to its discussion forum, ShapeShift urged Warren and other individuals to “constructively participate” in the issue of financial independence and innovation with its community.

This comes only a day after Erik Vorhees, the CEO of ShapeShift, took to his personal Twitter account on February 18 and stated that he is looking forward to “submitting a proposal” to the Shapeshift DAO governance process in response to Elizabeth Warren’s criticism of the platform. Vorhees made this statement in response to Warren’s criticism of the platform.

Warren has been an outspoken critic of cryptocurrencies in recent months. He said in an interview on January 25 that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) should “double down” on its attempts to regulate cryptocurrencies since the sector is nervous about what lies ahead.

She said that the previous administration of the SEC “basically gave the green light” to set up a market for cryptocurrencies that was “full of garbage tokens, unregistered securities, rug pulls, Ponzi schemes, pump and dumps, money laundering, and sanctions evasions.”


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Swiss’ SEBA Bank Launches Regulated Custody Services for Blue Chip NFTs

SEBA bank, a crypto-friendly bank in Zug, Switzerland, on Wednesday, announced the launch of an NFT custody solution that gives customers the ability to hold Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) without the hassle of managing private keys themselves.

The Swiss bank said the new service is set to enable customers to store any Ethereum-based NFTs, especially blue-chip NFTs – those that are best-known and have consistently maintained a high market value such as CryptoPunks, Bored Apes, and Clone X.

SEBA Bank said the custody solution provides its clients with absolute confidence in the security of their NFTs, managed like any other digital asset.

Although the NFT market remains down from its peak in late 2021 and early this year, the assets are still attracting buyers.

Blue chip NFTs, which are often considered a good long-term investment, marked their best performance in April while May and June were their worst-performing periods in blue chip NFT history.

Sales of NFTs declined sharply in the third quarter, as crypto investors’ purchasing actions have been cooled down by crypto winter while central bank rate hikes prompt investors to ditch risky assets.

According to blockchain tracker DappRadar, the third quarter of this year recorded $3.4 billion in NFT sales, down from $8.4 billion the previous quarter and $12.5 billion at the market’s peak in the first quarter of the year.

Despite many NFT investors making losses on sale trades currently, the number of investors that hold their NFT investments continues to rise. In June and July alone, nearly 500,000 users joined the growing pool of NFT investors who intend to hold for the long term, taking the number of holders above 3 million at that time.

SEBA’s NFT custody service is a response to the increase in institutional investors looking to invest in the NFT landscape. A spokesperson from SEBA Bank further disclosed that major market participants also need a regulated custodian to ensure the security and integrity of NFTs.

At first, SEBA said its custody offering is open for existing and new customers who must be institutional or professional investors.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Hong Kong is the Most Crypto-Ready Economy, Study Shows

Crypto adoption in Hong Kong is going to expand, as the city has emerged as the readiest country/ region for this revolution, according to a study by trading platform Forex Suggest.

Through the Worldwide Crypto Readiness Report, Forex Suggest revealed that Hong Kong scooped the top spot after weighing various parameters like the number of crypto ATMs and legislation.

The study noted:

“The country (or region) can be crowned the most crypto-ready as it ranks in the top three for three categories we looked at, including the number of blockchain startups per 100,000 people and the number of crypto ATMs proportional to the population.”

With a crypto-ready score of 8.6/10, Hong Kong attained this tally based on its appeal to investors because of no taxing capital gains on cryptocurrencies. Furthermore, it has the densest area in terms of the number of crypto ATMs. 


“Taking the top spot for the smallest area per crypto ATM is Hong Kong, with residents never more than 7 kilometers away from an ATM. This comes as no surprise as the tiny island nation has the smallest land area of the locations in the index twinned with one of the highest numbers of crypto ATMs.”

Meanwhile, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong recently stepped up its awareness campaign about the risks inherent in the trading of Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs).

Source: ForexSuggest

The United States and Switzerland took the second and third slots of the most crypto-ready countries scoring 7.7/10 and 7.5/10, respectively. 

Both nations bagged these spots based on the high number of crypto ATMs per 100,000 people. For instance, according to the report, Switzerland is world-renowned as a global finance hub. 

With approximately 34,000 crypto ATMs, the United States took the first position as the nation with the most crypto ATMs per 100,000 people. “Crypto ATMs are key in preparing countries to adopt cryptocurrencies as they allow less tech-savvy people to start using crypto. As well as having the highest number of crypto ATMs overall at nearly 34,000, the US takes the top spot for the highest proportion of crypto ATMs with 10.1 per 100,000 people,” the report added.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Switzerland to Freeze Crypto Assets Linked to Russians

On Friday, the federal government of Switzerland announced plans to freeze all crypto assets held within its borders that are owned by Russian citizens and businesses sanctioned by the European Union. - 2022-03-07T101216.728.jpg

On Friday, the federal council stated it plans to match the latest series of sanctions already imposed by the EU in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

In the past week, Guy Parmelin, Swiss Finance Minister said that Switzerland has frozen bank accounts and physical assets owned by 223 Russians, including close associates of President Vladimir Putin. “As of today, all four of the EU’s sanctions packages have been adopted and implemented. Since Monday, bank accounts and assets of 223 Russians, including oligarchs and close Putin confidants, have been identified and frozen within the country,” Parmelin disclosed.

A senior official at the finance ministry further mentioned that freezing crypto assets was essential because Switzerland wants to protect the integrity of its cryptocurrency industry. “If someone holds their crypto key themselves, then, wherever they are, it’s going to be virtually impossible to identify them. But if they are using crypto services — funds, exchanges and so on — these service points we can target,” the official stated.

Embracing Crypto Culture

Switzerland, which has long been a global economic hub, is now embracing the potential of cryptocurrencies and digital tokens. The country is friendly to cryptocurrency and blockchain and is home to numerous industry companies and sensitive regulations to the sector.

Last year, Switzerland, commonly known as “Crypto Nation”, updated a range of company and financial laws to give blockchain commerce a solid legal basis. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) licensed two of Switzerland’s crypto banks, a crypto assets fund, and a crypto stock exchange in the last two years.

Blockchain finance firms such as the Netherlands-based AllianceBlock and US-based Fireblocks are now springboarding into Switzerland. Deutsche Börse, which runs the Frankfurt stock exchange, acquired a controlling stake in Swiss regulated brokerage Crypto Finance.

Part of the reason is that friendly crypto regulation has given a solid foundation for building businesses in Switzerland.


Image source: Shutterstock


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21Shares Adds Aave, Chainlink, and Uniswap ETPs on BX Swiss

21Shares AG – a Switzerland-based investment product issuer – announced the listing of three new cryptocurrency exchange-traded products on the BX Swiss. Aave, Chainlink, and Uniswap are respectively the underlying assets of the ETPs.

Additionally, the global investment manager – VanEck – introduced its first multi-token cryptocurrency fund.

Diving Deeper into ETPs

According to a recent press release, 21Shares has doubled down on its digital asset endeavors by rolling out three more exchange-traded products based on cryptocurrencies. The ETPs are now listed on the stock exchange operator BX Swiss and track the performance of the following projects: Aave, Chainlink, and Uniswap.

The company described the first as “the forefront of decentralized finance through its open-source, non-custodial liquidity market protocol.”

Chainlink, in turn, is among “the most sophisticated networks” which has grown to encompass a significant number of use cases for DeFi, NFTs, and gaming applications, 21Shares outlined.


Uniswap delivers liquidity and trading for tokens of the Ethereum blockchain. The rapid development of the project has allowed its ecosystem to integrate more than 300 applications, compassing for a trading volume of over $750 billion.

Hany Rashwan – CEO and Co-Founder of 21Shares – pointed out that the most recent listings will enable investors to gain greater access to the crypto world.

“This is another exciting addition for us as we continue to expand our massive product suite,” he emphasized.

At the end of 2021, 21Shares listed its first physically-backed ETNs on Nasdaq Stockholm. The underlying assets of the products were Bitcoin and Ethereum, as they came under the ticker symbols ABTC and AETH.

As of February 2022, the Swiss organization manages over $2 billion in 26 cryptocurrency ETPs and 87 listings, including the only ETP tracking the world’s leading crypto exchange – Binance.

VanEck’s Newest Fund

According to a separate press release, the New York City-based financial institution with more than $80 billion in assets under management (AUM) has launched its first multi-token digital asset fund.

The product is listed as an ETN on the SIX Swiss and Deutsche Borse Xetra exchanges and provides European investors exposure to Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Solana (SOL), Polkadot (DOT), Polygon (MATIC), Tron (TRX), and Avalanche (AVAX).

Gijs Koning – Co-Head of VanEck Europe – reminded that his company had been an advocate of the cryptocurrency industry since 2017 when few enterprises believed in its merits.

“We were first to market in Europe with many of these exposures because we’re believers in the transformative nature of the underlying technologies and because providing exposure to transformative investments is at the core of our firm’s DNA,” he underlined.

While initiatives on European soil are thriving for VanEck, this is not the case for its endeavors in the United States. Last year, the firm filed with the SEC to launch a spot Bitcoin ETF, but the financial regulator eventually rejected the proposal.


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Trezor removes controversial address verification protocol, other wallets follow suit

Since 2019, Swiss financial crypto intermediaries have required proof of ownership of an external wallet’s address for Bitcoin withdrawals and deposits to their customers’ non-custodial wallets. One automated mechanism used for this is the Address Ownership Proof Protocol, or AOPP.  

The Trezor hardware wallet introduced AOPP signing as part of its latest January update last week, allowing users to generate signatures that conform to the AOPP standard used in certain jurisdictions. On Jan. 28, Trezor announced that it will remove this protocol in the next Trezor Suite update “after careful consideration of recent feedback.”

Recent feedback refers to Reddit and Twitter users who were concerned that the use of AOPP signaled Trezor’s support for greater regulation and a disregard for a potential loss of privacy.

In a blog post explaining the removal, Trezor admitted it “underestimated how this feature would be received,” but that the company “welcomes public scrutiny.” The fact that it listened to its users and reacted so quickly demonstrates the power of social media sentiment.

The hardware wallet maker claimed it is against the regulations that concern AOPP, namely the data leak risks associated with using a stringent identification process like Know Your Customer, or KYC, to buy Bitcoin. The company clarified its intent:

“Our sole aim was to make withdrawal to self-custody easier for users in countries with strict regulation, but we acknowledge that more harm than good could be done in the end if this were viewed as proactive compliance with regulations we do not agree with.”

Other hardware wallets such as Sparrow Wallet, Samourai Wallet and BlueWallet have also decided to follow Trezor and remove the automated protocol.

Related: Engineer hacks Trezor wallet, recovers $2M in ‘lost’ crypto

While the AOPP protocol may not directly or negatively impact users of non-custodial wallets, decentralization and freedom are central tenets to the crypto community who values privacy. The main concern is that the implementation of AOPP may set a precedent for increased government influence and surveillance.