Top Stories of Last Week
- Gary Gensler confirmed as new chair of SEC, after 53-45 vote by U.S. Senate. Gensler previously ran CFTC, overseeing implementation of new regulations around derivatives, and will be looking at shaping regulations addressing cryptocurrency industry. Gensler will take office as agency grapples with number of high-profile actions in cryptocurrency space, including lawsuit against Ripple and nine Bitcoin ETF applications to consider.
- President Joe Biden’s administration reportedly troubled by long-term effects digital yuan may have on dollar’s status as world’s reserve currency, according to report by Bloomberg. Officials at U.S. Treasury, State Department, Pentagon and National Security Council are reportedly unfazed by short-term impacts of digital yuan on the dollar, but multiple government departments are increasing efforts to better understand possible threats posed by China’s initiative, how digital yuan will be distributed and whether it works around trade sanctions.
- European Union’s lending wing reportedly planning to trade, settle and sell digital bonds using blockchain technology. European Investment Bank tasked Goldman Sachs, Banco Santander and Societe Generale with assessing feasibility of settling and registering bonds using tech, with initial investor meetings commencing April 15 and continuing for weeks.
- Thailand’s fourth-largest bank by assets, Kasikorn (KBank), reportedly furthering exploration of project that seeks to bypass financial intermediaries using decentralized finance. In collaboration with Stock Exchange of Thailand, project known as Kubix has been set up to run as initial coin offering portal for digital tokens. Specifically, project uses smart contracts to allow users to lend and borrow funds from others without relying on brokerages, exchanges or banks to provide traditional services.
- European Central Bank announced results of survey’s 8,200 replies to its public consultation on digital euro, with privacy being number one thing Europeans want. While 43% of respondents said privacy is most important feature, fewer than one in 10 showed support for full anonymity. Second most important issue was security, flagged by 18% of respondents. Digital euro expected to be rolled out within four years if policymakers give project green light this summer.
- Telegram close to fully repaying investors in its TON blockchain effort nearly year after settling allegations it violated U.S. securities law in raising over $1 billion for project. Next step allegedly might be an initial public offering in 2023, aiming for $30-50 million valuation. IPO will benefit buyers of Telegram’s bonds, which company sold in February to raise $1 billion.
- Code for Taproot’s “Speedy Trial,” an activation method for Taproot upgrade, has been merged into Bitcoin Core. With Speedy Trial now merged, Taproot’s code is ready to start first step toward activation when code is released in May. Three-month activation window initiates, during which time network requires certain threshold of miners to signal for upgrade. If threshold reached, Taproot is “locked in” and activates three months after threshold is crossed.
- Galaxy Digital filed with U.S. regulators for Bitcoin exchange-traded fund. SEC is reviewing two applications, and companies have filed another six. These other six applications (including Galaxy’s) still need exchange partners to file corresponding forms before SEC can begin review.
- Daniel Loeb’s Third Point LLC shown to hold cryptocurrency in five of its funds with Coinbase, according to regulatory documents showing billions of dollars in underlying assets. However, it is not clear how much of that is in crypto, which assets, or for how long they’ve invested.
- SEC kicked off review of WisdomTree’s Bitcoin ETF application, announcing it would begin evaluating WisdomTree Bitcoin Trust. WisdomTree first filed for ETF last month, but previously attempted to launch regulated financial product with exposure to cryptocurrencies.
- VanEck launched a new ETF on Nasdaq that aims to track companies working in digital asset space or those that have exposure to asset class. ETF, called Digital Transformation ETF, would provide exposure to various companies including crypto exchanges, miners, payment gateways, hardware, and technology providers.
- Asset manager WisdomTree Investments announced it has listed its Bitcoin exchange-traded product on Deutsche Boerse’s Xetra market. WisdomTree Bitcoin ETP tracks spot price of bitcoin and is trading under ticker “WBIT.” SEC officially started review of WisdomTree’s Bitcoin ETF application recently.
- Brevan Howard Asset Management announced they will invest up to 1.5% of main fund worth $5.6 billion in undisclosed cryptos, according to unnamed sources cited by Bloomberg. Bloomberg said digital asset investments will be overseen by executives at crypto venture firm Distributed Global.
- Rothschild Investment Corporation recently bought 265,302 shares of Grayscale Ethereum Trust, its first investment in vehicle. Investment manager also increased position in Grayscale Bitcoin Trust by 8,000 shares to 38,346 shares, up from 30,454 shares it reported at end of 2020. Shares in ETH trust were worth $4.75 million as of March 31 and holdings in BTC trust were worth $1.92 million.
- Coinbase shares fell below initial opening price after historic direct listing on Nasdaq. After opening at $381, Coinbase shares soared to as high as $429.54 before dropping more than 100 points to close at $328 in volatile first day. Even with the drop, Coinbase shares were above $250 reference price assigned by Nasdaq.
- Binance allowing users to buy fractions of companies’ shares with new tokenized stock trading service called Binance Stock Tokens, which are zero-commission digital tokens that qualify holders for returns including dividends. Users will be able to buy fractions of actual Tesla shares, with prices settled in Binance USD. Binance product is backed by depository portfolio of underlying securities managed by investment firm in Germany.
- U.S. Bitcoin mining company Blockcap established headquarters in Austin, Texas, and anticipates bringing 32,000 new mining machines online over next year. Blockcap, which just completed $38 million raise, says it currently mines roughly 6 BTC a day using 10,000 machines. Blockcap plans to grow hashrate to 3.5 exahashes per second.
- CleanSpark said it has signed contracts to purchase 22,680 S19j Pro and S19 Pro Antminers with goal to increase total hash rate capacity to over 1.1 EH/s by summer. Company bought 7,200 Sj19 Pro Antminers from Bitmain Technologies and signed contracts with unnamed dealer to purchase 15,480 rigs.
- Distributed storage service provider IPFS Union funneling $1.3 billion in funding to build largest Filecoin mining facility in China as part of vision of building “Big Data Industrial Park” based in Jiangxi Province of Fuzhou City.
- Chinese gaming company The9 said it agreed to buy 2,000 units of AvalonMiners Bitcoin mining machines for about $6.72 million in stock with a total hashrate of about 100PH/S.
- Integrated Ventures entered purchasing agreement to buy $35 million worth of Bitcoin mining equipment. In partnership with Wattum Management, Integrated Ventures purchased 4,800 Antminer model S19Js from Bitmain. Integrated Ventures anticipates that 2,000 bitcoin miners will be operational by December 2021.
- Gryphon Digital Mining raised $14 million to establish 100% renewables Bitcoin mining operations in United States. Team would not reveal where they will host machines, though press release says they can “access electricity costs as low as $0.013/kWh.” Gryphon’s first fleet of miners, roughly 730 petahashes worth, is already set up and will launch in coming months.
- Toronto-based ePIC blockchain raised $7.5 million series A funding round to bring ASIC manufacturing to North America. ePIC currently produces ASICs to mine Siacoin, and development of Bitcoin ASICs is on company’s roadmap.
- ConsenSys raised $65 million from JPMorgan, Mastercard and UBS, Filecoin’s Protocol Labs, Maker Foundation, Fenbushi, The LAO, Alameda Research, CMT Digital, Quotidian Ventures and Liberty City Ventures, among others.
- NFT Investments, an investment company focused on NFTs, raised £35 million ($48 million) through a listing on Aquis Stock Exchange Growth Market in London. Raise values NFT Investments at £50 million ($68 million). Firm claims to be first investment company focused solely on NFT market to launch on stock market in major jurisdiction.
- Crypto wallet provider Exodus raised more than $59 million in public offering. Exodus Movement, Inc. began selling stock on April 8 in sale approved by SEC. Offering will close once maximum amount of $75 mil has been reached.
Defi / NFT
- Crypto analytics firm CipherTrace is adding to its list of regulatory compliance tools with new sanctions-friendly address tracker for DEXs. DeFi Compli tool creates oracle on Chainlink that details crypto wallet addresses on government watchlist, preventing transactions from touching sanctioned addresses.
- Topps announced plans to issue flagship baseball cards as NFTs in partnership with MLB and the MLB Players Association. New project set to debut on Wax blockchain on April 20, marking MLB’s official entrance into NFT space.