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VC Roundup: Lightning Network payment rail, DeFi trading platform and blockchain security firm raise millions

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VC Roundup: Lightning Network payment rail, DeFi trading platform and blockchain security firm raise millions

ZEBEDEE, Halborn, Hashflow, Socios and EtherMail headline the latest funding deals from the world of blockchain and cryptocurrency.

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VC Roundup: Lightning Network payment rail, DeFi trading platform and blockchain security firm raise millions

Even with the onset of crypto winter, 2022 has been a watershed year for venture capital funding. Crypto and blockchain companies collectively raised $30.3 billion in venture capital in the first half of 2022, exceeding all of last year’s totals. While the number of deals has declined in recent months, startups at the intersection of blockchain payments, decentralized finance (DeFi) and cybersecurity are still attracting sizable interest from the VC community. The latest edition of VC Roundup highlights some of the most intriguing funding deals of the past month.

Related: The risks and benefits of VCs for crypto communities

ZEBEDEE closes $35M Series B

ZEBEDEE, a Bitcoin (BTC)-powered payment processor for the gaming industry, has raised $35 million from several investors including Kingsway Capital, The Raine Group and Square Enix. ZEBEDEE is essentially a platform that allows game developers to incorporate programmable money, including BTC, into their games. The payment platform is powered by Lightning Network, making ZEBEDEE a “Bitcoin enabler of choice” for its partners, according to Kingsway Capital managing partner Afonso Campos.

So, we all know that the Lightning Network transfers value instantly and is ever growing with more than 4K Bitcoin stored on its public channels. But how does it make money?

You asked our Development Team and here’s their response pic.twitter.com/f3ZMpEFjhW

— ZEBEDEE (@zebedeeio) July 21, 2022

Blockchain security company raises $90M Series A

Blockchain security firm Halborn closed a $90 million funding round in July that was led by Summit Partners with additional participation from Castle Island Ventures, Digital Currency Group and Brevan Howard, among others. Halborn was founded in 2019 by ethical hackers offering blockchain security services. The company recently warned MetaMask users to be weary of a phishing campaign targeting their browser wallets.

DeFi platform Hashflow raises $25M in Series A funding

Hashflow, a decentralized finance trading platform headquartered in San Francisco, has closed a $25 million funding round backed by some of crypto’s most prominent venture funds. The investment round, which had participation from Jump Crypto, Electric Capital, Dragonfly Capital Partners and GSR, will aid Hashflow in expanding its product offerings for market markers and institutional traders.

— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) June 3, 2022

Socios acquires 24.5% stake in Barca Studios

Fan engagement token platform Socios announced in early August that it would invest $100 million in Barca Studios, the digital content arm of the FC Barcelona football club. Socios, which is owned by blockchain technology provider Chiliz, will help FC Barcelona accelerate its Web3 and nonfungible token (NFT) engagement strategy. Specifically, Barca Studios is pursuing NFT and metaverse projects that will help the football club engage with its vast global fanbase, and will rely on Socios’ blockchain to deliver on the strategy.

Related: Crypto Biz: Gucci ‘apes’ into crypto

EtherMail secures seed funding for wallet-to-wallet communications

Web3 email solution EtherMail has raised $3 million ahead of the planned launch of its encrypted wallet-to-wallet communication service. Scheduled for release in the third quarter, EtherMail enables Web3 companies to send “rich, relevant content directly to their asset holders,” thereby reducing the risk of communication fraud. The service also streamlines community newsletter distribution by enabling autonomous, self-updating mailing lists. The seed round was led by Fabric Ventures and Greenfield One.

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Bitcoin Stock-to-Flow Creator Buying the Dip, Is the Price Model Still Valid?

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Bitcoin Stock-to-Flow Creator Buying the Dip, Is the Price Model Still Valid?

Popular Bitcoin chart analyst and investor ‘PlanB’ continues to buy the dip highlighting how many times the asset has been proclaimed ‘dead.’

On Oct. 3, the analyst told his 1.8 million Twitter followers that he was still buying BTC with his most recent purchase being around the $20,000 level.

His first purchase was in 2015 when BTC had fallen to around $400, and then again during the 2018 bear market when it fell to around $4,000. The asset is currently trading at equally weak levels, 72% down from its all-time high.

BTC has been declared ‘dead’ on those three occasions and as many as 463 times since its inception according to the 99Bitcoins obituaries page.

My first bitcoin investment was in 2015 at ~$400 (yellow circle). Most people said bitcoin was dead.

My 2nd investment was in 2018 at ~$4000 when I published the S2F model. Most people said bitcoin was dead.

My 3rd investment is now at ~$20,000. Most people say bitcoin is dead. pic.twitter.com/oUWppoJgxo

— PlanB (@100trillionUSD) October 2, 2022

Is the S2F model still valid?

‘PlanB’ has had his share of criticism (and still does) when the price prediction model appeared to be invalidated this year. BTC prices did not surge to the $100,000 average cycle high as predicted in late 2021, or the $135,000 end-of-year close as he predicted at the time.

However, the model does appear to be intact when considering the upper and lower boundaries or the range of deviation from the predicted price for the current time in the cycle which also appears to be lengthening.

With September’s close of $19,425, BTC is trading approximately 75% below its predicted price for this cycle. It was also observed that Bitcoin has never closed a monthly candle below its previous all-time high in its history.

It does make a valid buying point for those with the conviction that the S2F is still valid and the bearish downtrend will slowly start to reverse in 2023 sometime in the period leading up to the next halving.

The asset is also trading below a number of longer-term technical indicators such as the 200-week moving average at $23,470 and the realized price which is at $21,253 according to Woo Charts.

Bitcoin dips below $19,000 again

Major macroeconomic concerns continue to fuel the bears in both traditional finance and crypto markets. BTC took a sharp dip below $19,000 during the Monday morning trading session but has since recovered to $19,194 at the time of press according to CoinGecko.

The asset remains in tight consolidation where it has been for the past three weeks, failing to make any progress above $20,000 yet bouncing off support at the mid-$18,000 level several times.

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All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.

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DOJ objects to Celsius plans to reopen withdrawals and sell stablecoins

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DOJ objects to Celsius plans to reopen withdrawals and sell stablecoins

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has submitted an objection to Celsius’ motion to reopen withdrawals for select customers and sell its stablecoin holdings.

The DOJ is asserting that the state of Celsius’ financials is lacking transparency and that key decisions like this should not be considered until the independent examiner report has been filed.

The move by the DOJ adds to the objections filed last week by the Texas State Securities Board, the Texas Department of Banking, and the Vermont Department of Financial Regulation. All three are opposed to Celsius selling its stablecoin holdings, asserting there’s a risk the firm could use the capital to resume operating in violation of state laws.

In a Sept. 30 filing with the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, a U.S. Trustee for the DOJ, William Harrington, outlined an objection to Celsius opening up withdrawals to its “custody” and “withhold” customers, citing a lack of transparency over the firm’s financials.

Harrington argues in the filing that such withdrawals should not be opened up until the independent examiner report on Celsius business operations has been completed:

“The Motions are premature and should be denied until after the Examiner Report is filed. First, the Withdrawal Motion seeks to impulsively distribute funds to one group of creditors in advance of a fulsome understanding of the Debtors’ cryptocurrency holdings.”

The DOJ has also opposed a potential stablecoin sell off, highlighting similar concerns held by Texas and Vermont regulators that Celsius’ motion doesn’t concretely outline “what impact such a distribution or sale would have” on the business moving forward.

“Second, the Stablecoin Motion seeks to liquidate stablecoins held by the Debtors without providing information regarding ownership, segregation, or the impact of such sale on later distributions to creditors who may have stablecoins on deposit with the Debtors,” the filing reads.

Independent examiner appointed

According to Harrington, the “United States Trustee appointed Shoba Pillay” the examiner on Sept. 29, with the New York Bankruptcy court approving the appointment on the same day.

Pillay will have roughly two months to prepare and file an examiner’s report on Celsius, hopefully providing a clear breakdown of its assets and liabilities.

Harrington essentially asserted that Celsius’ motions should not even be considered until well after the examiner report has been filed, noting that “any distribution or sale should be deferred until interested parties, the United States Trustee, and the Court are able to make a determination” on the value of Celsius liabilities, claims against it, its assets and what “the debtors intends to actually pay its creditors.”

Related: Crypto Biz: The Voyager Digital auction is over — What now?

Simon Dixon, the founder of crypto investment platform BnkToTheFuture — which was the lead investor in Celsius — predicted via Twitter on Oct. 1 that Celsius will look to repay its creditors in Celsius (CEL) tokens as part of a reorganization plan that ultimately “won’t get past regulators & regulators will file motions to reject” it.

If such occurs, Dixon sees it sparking a bidding war for Celsius assets, similar to that of Voyager Digital’s recent $1.3 billion asset auction that was won by FTX US.

3/9) This will drive the vultures into a bidding process where the vultures will try & buy the assets we paid for without our consent & FTX & TradFi will give us pennies on the dollar. It will be a lot worse for creditors than @investvoyager due to size of hole. pic.twitter.com/4EqspGx9iF

— Simon Dixon (Beware Impersonators) (@SimonDixonTwitt) October 1, 2022

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Transit Swap ‘hacker’ returns 70% of $23M in stolen funds

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Transit Swap ‘hacker’ returns 70% of $23M in stolen funds

The funds returned so far have come in the form of Ether, Binance-pegged ETH and BNB ($14.2 million).

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Transit Swap ‘hacker’ returns 70% of M in stolen funds

A quick response from a number of blockchain security companies has helped facilitate the return of around 70% of the $23 million exploit of decentralized exchange (DEX) aggregator Transit Swap.

The DEX aggregator lost the funds after a hacker exploited an internal bug on a swap contract on Oct. 1, leading to a quick response from the Transit Finance team along with security companies Peckshield, SlowMist, Bitrace and TokenPocket, who were able to quickly work out the hacker’s IP, email address and associated-on chain addresses.

It appears these efforts have already borne fruit, as less than 24 hours after the hack, Transit Finance noted that “with joint efforts of all parties,” the hacker has returned 70% of the stolen assets to two addresses, equating to roughly $16.2 million.

These funds came in the form of 3,180 Ether (ETH) at $4.2 million, 1,500 Binance-Peg ETH at $2 million and 50,000 BNB at $14.2 million, according to BscScan and EtherScan.

Updates about TransitFinance
1/5 We are here to update the latest news about TransitFinance Hacking Event. With the joint efforts of all parties, the hacker has returned about 70% of the stolen assets to the following two addresses:

— Transit Swap | Transit Buy | NFT (@TransitFinance) October 2, 2022

In the most recent update, Transit Finance stated that “the project team is rushing to collect the specific data of the stolen users and formulate a specific return plan” but also remains focused on retrieving the final 30% of stolen funds.

At present, the security companies and project teams of all parties are still continuing to track the hacking incident and communicate with the hacker through email and on-chain methods. The team will continue to work hard to recover more assets,” it said. 

Related: $160M stolen from crypto market maker Wintermute

Cybersecurity firm SlowMist in an analysis of the incident noted that the hacker used a vulnerability in Transit Swap’s smart contract code, which came directly from the transferFrom() function, which essentially allowed users’ tokens to be transferred directly to the exploiter’s address:

“The root cause of this attack is that the Transit Swap protocol does not strictly check the data passed in by the user during token swap, which leads to the issue of arbitrary external calls. The attacker exploited this arbitrary external call issue to steal the tokens approved by the user for Transit Swap.”

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