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Russia and Belarus face crypto sanctions, Crypto.com hounds users for loan payments and Biden signs executive order on crypto: Hodler’s Digest, March 6-12



Russia and Belarus face crypto sanctions, Crypto.com hounds users for loan payments and Biden signs executive order on crypto: Hodler’s Digest, March 6-12

Coming every Saturday, Hodler’s Digest will help you track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

Biden to sign executive order on crypto, authorize all-government effort to consolidate regulation

While many in the crypto community previously feared the worst regarding regulation, President Joe Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order on digital assets that had a relatively favorable approach to the crypto sector. 

While the order didn’t explicitly outline the scale of regulatory measures that could be expected, the general sentiment from the U.S. federal government appeared to be constructive as opposed to stifling. 

Per the order, the federal government’s regulatory oversight of the crypto sector will focus on six areas: consumer and investor protection; financial stability; financial inclusion; responsible innovation; the United States’ global financial leadership; and combating illicit financial activity. The order directs specific agencies to lead in designated policy and enforcement domains.

Bain Capital Ventures sets up a half-billion-dollar fund for crypto projects

Multi-billion-dollar startup investment firm Bain Capital Ventures (BCV) has unveiled a new $560 million crypto ecosystem fund, with the company already reported to have splurged $100 million on 12 undisclosed projects.

A BCV representative emphasized to Cointelegraph that the fund will be used to back entrepreneurs developing the next generation of open Web3 internet infrastructure: 

“We believe this seismic shift will be one of the most important technological developments since the advent of the web and will require a new type of investment firm – one that can support the needs of the founders and the ecosystem from ideation through scale.”

Crypto.com gives users in excluded countries one week to repay loans

Many Crypto.com users were reporting on Wednesday that the platform was giving them until March 15 to pay down their crypto loans or face liquidation to recoup the borrowed value of the assets. Users from nations such as Germany, Switzerland and the U.K. were notified via email after Crypto.com updated the list of countries barred from its loan program. This list now includes the United States and 38 other counties.  

The sudden policy change left customers anguished and in disbelief, with many claiming that the exchange‘s recent splurge on advertisements and marketing has started to take a toll on its balance sheet. Crypto.com has not yet responded to Cointelegraph‘s requests for comment.

Sanctions on Russia and Belarus will include crypto — European Commission

The European Commission stated on Wednesday that its latest sanctions on Russia and Belarus would also extend to crypto assets, with member states agreeing that the amended crackdowns will ensure “even more effectively that Russian sanctions cannot be circumvented, including through Belarus.”

The expanded sanctions came after the commission announced last month that it would be booting several Russian banks from the SWIFT cross-border payment network. 

Under the crypto-related sanctions, digital assets fall under the scope of “transferable securities,” while loans and credit provided via crypto will not be permitted as part of these restrictive financial measures.

Crypto-friendly Yoon Suk-yeol wins South Korean presidency, ICX surges 60%

Crypto-friendly South Korean presidential candidate Yoon Suk-yeol won the country’s election on Thursday, with digital asset policy playing a key role in the nation’s election debate. 

Suk-yeol’s pro-crypto stance appeared to be a breath of fresh air to the majority of citizens, especially among the younger crowd, after outgoing president Moon Jae-in actively worked to crack down on the space last year. 

Speaking at a virtual asset forum in January, Suk-yeol promised to deregulate South Korea’s crypto industry and establish a progressive approach to digital assets, stating:

“To realize the unlimited potential of the virtual asset market, we must overhaul regulations that are far from reality and unreasonable.”

Winners and Losers

At the end of the week, Bitcoin (BTC) is at $38,751, Ether (ETH) at $2,561 and XRP at $0.72. The total market cap is at $1.72 trillion, according to CoinMarketCap.

Among the biggest 100 cryptocurrencies, the top three altcoin gainers of the week are Waves (WAVES) at 35.89%, Stacks (STX) at 24.45% and Zcash (ZEC) at 24.34%. 

The top three altcoin losers of the week are Anchor Protocol (ANC) at -33.46%, Fantom (FTM) at -30.64% and Cosmos (ATOM) at -16.64%.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis.

Most Memorable Quotations

“Trying to obscure large transactions using open and transparent crypto technology would be far more difficult than other established methods (e.g., using fiat, art, gold, or other assets).”

Paul Grewal, chief legal officer at Coinbase

“The more I learned, the more I realized we need this. This kind of money will help overcome so many issues. Not only is Bitcoin a tool for freedom, but the technology underpinning Bitcoin such as blockchain and decentralization will change Africa’s development.”

Bineta (a.k.a. Mama Bitcoin), Senegalese Bitcoiner and owner of Bleu comme la mer

“Usually, a fan sits back and watches a game, follows on social media and maybe buys a jersey. NFTs give an opportunity for true engagement, ownership and in some cases, decision-making power. […] Just like we’ve seen with sports betting, NFTs are another lever for leagues to create additional engagement with fans and therefore another way to monetize IP.”

Dan Porter, CEO and co-founder of Overtime

“We need to see Bitcoin as not maybe digital gold, but as a currency that doesn’t follow the whims of a central bank, but rather has a very finite quantity.”

Joe DiPasquale, CEO of Bitbull Capital

“Cryptocurrency remains an important humanitarian tool, especially at a time when many around the world can no longer rely on traditional banks and custodians.”

Jesse Powell, CEO of Kraken

“While I agree with the President’s desire to combat money laundering and defend America’s national security, I think his executive order misses the fact that the overwhelming majority of digital asset users are law-abiding and trying to make our financial system better.”

Cynthia Lummis, United States senator

“We want to identify and invest in one or two targets in every economic sector and try to bring them into crypto.”

Changpeng CZ Zhao, CEO of Binance

“In the U.S., where most people have access to traditional banking, crypto is often viewed as more akin to gambling than to investing. The space can also feel pretty intimidating from the outside looking in — things move so quickly, a lot of the lingo is new and confusing, and the way it’s portrayed in the media is overwhelmingly negative.”

Jackie Rose, head of institutional business development at Blockchain.com 

“It makes much more sense to replace a resistive heater (like a space heater) with a Bitcoin miner, as both of them will turn electricity into heat, while the Bitcoin miner also generates Bitcoin.”

Michael Schmid, Bitcoin miner

Prediction of the Week 

$40K Bitcoin price is in reach, but analysts warn that a sweep of recent lows is likely

Bitcoin had a week of indecisive price action filled with notable ups and downs. Inside the week, BTC visited lows below $37,500 and highs above $42,500, based on price data from Cointelegraph’s BTC price index.  

Cointelegraph’s Jordan Finneseth wrote an article, published on Thursday, detailing a number of points regarding Bitcoin. Among other quotes and data, the article included a possible outcome explained by ExoAlpha chief investment officer and managing partner David Lifchitz. 

“BTC remains still stuck in the $33,000-$45,000 range,” Lifchitz said. “Without any follow-through in the next 48 hours and a possible break above $45,000 toward $50,000, BTC will probably keep on bouncing in the range.”

FUD of the Week 

DeFi Godfather Cronje quits as TVL and tokens tank for related projects

Respected developer and Yearn.finance founder Andre Cronje deleted his Twitter account after he and his long-time colleague Anton Nell both stepped away from the crypto sector altogether.   

Nell stated on Sunday that the duo will no longer contribute to the DeFi and crypto space moving forward, as he announced that they will be shutting down roughly 25 apps and services that they were operating. 

The community reaction was mixed, with some sympathetic toward the duo needing a long-overdue break. However, others grabbed the pitchforks when crypto prices and total value locked (TVL) across DeFi started to tank.  

“Was this a RUG? Nah. I see a developer who signed up to build but didn’t sign up for all the bullshit & drama that comes with it. He reached a tipping point where it wasn’t worth it for him anymore,” said The DeFi Edge on Twitter.

DeFi detective alleges this suspicious smart contract code may put dozens of projects at risk

Pseudonymous online DeFi detective Zachxbt highlighted that 31 nonfungible token projects may be exposed to financial risk due to “suspicious code.” 

Zachxbt initially pointed to NFT project The Starslab, which was allegedly compromised for 197.175 Ether. The detective quoted fellow pseudonymous blockchain investigator MouseDev, who noted, after reviewing the code behind The Starslab (which is prevalent in a lot of other projects):

“The smart contract [for this project] can never truly be renounced or transferred! Only an additional owner. The original deployer will always be considered the owner! […] This means if they still have the private key of the deployer, they can pull the money, even though the owner is the null address.”

Siblings charged over mining coin that turned into alleged $124M fraud

John Albert Loar Barksdale and JonAtina “Tina” Barksdale, a brother and sister duo, were charged by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for allegedly defrauding over 12,000 “retail investors out of more than $124 million” via a scheme dubbed Ormeus Coin. 

The U.S. Department of Justice also arrested John — who was described by the SEC as a “snake-oil salesman” — abroad and charged him with wire fraud, securities fraud and conspiracy, among other alleged crimes. According to court documents, the fraud allegations stem from two initial coin offerings in 2017. The Barksdales allegedly lied about “the size, value, and purported profitability of Ormeus Coin’s cryptocurrency mining assets” to garner capital from unsuspecting investors. 

“We will continue to vigorously pursue persons who sell securities in schemes to defraud the investing public no matter what label the promoters apply to their products,” said Melissa Hodgman, an associate director for the SEC’s Division of Enforcement.

Best Cointelegraph Features

Manzi the magnificent: From millionaire at 16 to incredible IoT inventor

“Devices now, for the first time, can kind of open up and start talking to each other because of the technology that blockchain provides.”

Stablecoins will have to reflect and evolve to live up to their name

Stablecoins have the possibility to become a promising alternative system amid global inflation, but they must be auditable to remain stable.

Crypto mining’s cost: How has hardware availability changed the industry?

Is accessible mining possible? How easy is it to buy mining equipment, and how can this happen affordably?

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Miami’s Mayor Remains Unfazed by Crypto Crash, Still Receives His Paycheck in Bitcoin



Miami’s Mayor Remains Unfazed by Crypto Crash, Still Receives His Paycheck in Bitcoin

Despite the tragedy of TerraUSD (UST) de-pegging and the subsequent chaos that plagued the cryptocurrency markets, Miami’s mayor remains resolute in receiving his salary in Bitcoin, but it seems he has other streams of income.

At the World Economic Forum (WEF), Miami Mayor Francis Suarez told attendees of a panel that he was still receiving his paycheck in Bitcoin and has no plans to stop. Suarez’s comments are coming on the heels of plummeting cryptocurrency prices over the last few months with Bitcoin down by over 30% in the last 2 months.

The Mayor told the audience that he remains unperturbed by the mayhem in crypto streets and will continue accepting his salary in Bitcoin. A reason for his cool, calm, and collected nerves is because of his multiple income streams that might serve as a buffer during volatile moments.

“I will note, for the record, that it’s not my only salary,” said Suarez. “It’s a different decision than if a person was deciding to take their salary in Bitcoin if it was the only source of income for them.”

Mayor Suarez drew the attention of cryptocurrency enthusiasts last year when he announced that he will begin taking his entire paycheck as Mayor in Bitcoin. Before the announcement, Suarez publicly announced his desire to pay government employees in Bitcoin as part of efforts to improve crypto adoption in the city. 

Making Miami the crypto capital of the U.S. 

Mayor Suarez has been making moves to make Miami a leading crypto hub since his assumption of office. The city has been receptive to cryptocurrency miners, and there have been conversations about allowing citizens to pay bills and taxes with crypto.

“I want us to differentiate ourselves as a crypto capital of the United States or the world,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Suarez has been backing his claim with actions, with the city famously launching MiamiCoin which netted the city over $5.2 million. In November 2021, there were plans for the city to distribute $21 million to Miami’s citizens through the ambitious plans to create a digital wallet for each citizen.

Miami was the center of attention after successfully hosting the Bitcoin 2022 conference. Major players in Bitcoin’s ecosystem like MicroStrategy’s CEO Michael Saylor, ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood, billionaire Peter Thiel, CEO of Strike Jack Mallers, and others. Nayib Bukele, El Salvador’s pro-Bitcoin president, was scheduled to make an appearance but pulled out due to unforeseen circumstances.

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Billionaire Investor Ray Dalio Says ‘Cash Is Still Trash’, Prefers ‘Digital Gold Bitcoin’



Billionaire Investor Ray Dalio Says ‘Cash Is Still Trash’, Prefers ‘Digital Gold Bitcoin’

Billionaire investor and hedge fund manager, Ray Dalio, has reiterated his previous call that “cash is trash”. Dismissing equities as “trashier”, the Bridgewater Associates founder said he preferred “a digital gold like bitcoin” instead.

“Of course, cash is still trash,” Dalio said. “Do you know how fast you’re losing buying power in cash?” He was speaking on CNBC’s Squawk Box during the ongoing World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

“When I say cash is trash, what I mean is all currencies in [relation] to the euro, in relationship to the yen,” he explained. “All of those currencies like in the 1930s will be currencies that will go down in relationship to goods and services.”

Dalio is the founder of the world’s biggest hedge fund firm, Bridgewater Associates, which manages around $223 billion. In January 2020, the 72-year-old American investor advised people to diversify their portfolios by “getting out of cash”, which he called “trash”.

Bitcoin as ‘digital gold’

At Davos, Dalio spoke about a range of issues including stocks, the global economic outlook, and the U.S. central bank’s efforts to combat inflation. He said stock markets had become too crowded, and that compared to cash, “equities are trashier”.

“Everybody is long equities, and everybody wants everything to go up,” said Dalio. “The more they hype it the more it becomes somebody else’s financial asset they’re holding. You can’t have that, so you’re going to have an environment of negative real returns.”

For the billionaire, bitcoin (BTC) is a preferred form of investment at a time of worldwide economic uncertainty. His list of safe-haven assets also includes real estate and precious metals such as gold.

“I think blockchain’s great,” Dalio stated. He touted cryptocurrency’s potential as a fix to what he expects to be a tough year for the U.S. economy, marked by high inflation and a lack of real returns on investments. Continuing, he said:

“But let’s call it a digital gold. I think a digital gold, which would be a bitcoin kind of thing, is something that – probably in the interest of diversification of finding an alternative to gold – has a little spot relative to gold and then relative to other assets.”

Bitcoin’s inflation-hedge credentials under spotlight

Dalio’s comments come against the backdrop of rising disillusionment in the credentials of bitcoin as an inflation-hedge asset. Proponents have argued that bitcoin is a gold-like store of value.

In 2020, many people believed BTC was now poised to transition from a risk-on speculative asset to the crypto market’s version of the metal after its correlation to gold jumped to an all-time high.

But that argument may have started to fall apart with the massive decline in crypto markets this year. Bloomberg data shows that BTC’s correlation to gold dropped to almost zero earlier in January, and as bitcoin prices fell in later months, gold continued to rise.

In April, the 50-day correlation coefficient for BTC and gold was around minus 0.4, the lowest since 2018, Bloomberg said. A reading of 1 implies assets are moving in lockstep, and minus 1 is the reverse.

Crypto markets have become more tied to the stock market instead, particularly to blue-chip technology stocks such as Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft. More than $1.5 trillion has been wiped off the face of crypto markets so far this year.

Dalio forecasts ‘squeeze on demand’

Dalio, the Bridgewater Associates founder, painted a gloomy picture of the global economy in 2022. He expects inflation in the U.S and elsewhere around the world to erode the purchasing power of money, saying:

“We are in an environment that we are now going to ask ‘what is the new money?”

On bonds, he said: “The Federal Reserve is going to sell, individuals are selling, foreigners are selling, and the U.S. government is selling because it has to fund its deficit. So there’s going to be a supply/demand problem, that means that it produces a squeeze.”

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Polkadot parachains spike after the launch of a $250M aUSD stablecoin fund



Polkadot parachains spike after the launch of a $250M aUSD stablecoin fund

Crypto prices have been exploring new lows for weeks and currently it’s unclear what it will take to reverse the trend. Despite the downtrend, cryptocurrencies within the Polkadot (DOT) ecosystem began to rally on May 24 and have managed to maintain gains ranging from 10% to 25%, a possible sign that certain sub-sectors of the market are on the verge of a breakout.

Here’s a look at three Polkadot ecosystem protocols that have seen their token prices trend higher in recent days.

Acala launches a $250 million aUSD ecosystem fund

Acala (ACA) is the leading decentralized finance (DeF) platform on the Polkadot network, primarily due to the launch of aUSD, the first native stablecoin in the Polkadot ecosystem.

Following the collapse of Terra’s LUNA and TerraUSD (UST), traders were searching for “safer” stablecoin options.

On March 23, ACA rallied after the project announced the launch of a $250 million “aUSD Ecosystem Fund” that aims to support early-stage startups planning to build strong stablecoin use cases on any Polkadot or Kusama parachain.

— Acala (@AcalaNetwork) March 23, 2022

Acala also announced the launch of a kickoff rewards program that has set aside 1 million ACA tokens as rewards for LCDOT/DOT, LCDOT/aUSD, ACA/aUSD and aUSD/LDOT liquidity providers.

Following the aUSD ecosystem fund announcement, the price of ACA spiked 31% from a low of $0.364 on May 23 to a daily high of $0.478 on May 24.

Astar rallies after revealing a partnership with Microsoft

The Astar (ASTR) network is a smart contract hub for the Polkadot community that supports Ethereum (ETH), WebAssembly and other layer-two solutions like zk-Rollups.

Since the Polkadot relay chain doesn’t offer Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) support, Astar was created to become a multi-chain smart contract platform capable of supporting multiple blockchains and virtual machines so that they can integrate with the Polkadot ecosystem.

On May 24, it was revealed that AstridDAO, an Astar-based protocol responsible for minting the collateralized BAI stablecoin, had signed a partnership with Microsoft to become part of Microsoft for Startups, an initiative “which removes traditional barriers to building a company with exclusive access to technology, coaching, marketing and support.”

— AstridDAO – No.1 native stablecoin on Astar (@AstridDAO) May 24, 2022

If successful, the partnership should accelerate AstridDAO’s go-to-market speed and maximize its market influence. It also includes up to $350,000 worth of benefits through Github Enterprise, Microsoft Teams and Azure credits.

Following the partnership announcement, the price of ASTR spiked 61% from $0.055 to a daily high of $0.0888.

Related: Polkadot vs. Ethereum: Two equal chances to dominate the Web3 world

Uniswap v3 to deploy on Moonbeam

Moonbeam (GLMR) is an Ethereum-compatible smart contract parachain on Polkadot that streamlines the use of Ethereum developer tools to build or redeploy Solidity projects in a substrate-based environment.

Interoperability with the Ethereum network is a highly sought-after capability since a majority of decentralized applications currently operate on Ethereum along with a majority of the value in decentralized finance.

The benefit of EVM interoperability was demonstrated with the May 24 announcement that a proposal to deploy Uniswap (UNI) v3 on the Moonbeam network passed, meaning that the top decentralized exchange in the crypto ecosystem will soon be accessible to Moonbeam users.

— Uniswap Labs (@Uniswap) May 23, 2022

Following the announcement, the price of GLMR climbed 29% from a low of $1.15 on May 23 to a daily high at $1.48 on May 24 as its 24-hour trading volume increased 106% to $75.3 million.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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