Top Stories of Last Week
- Bank of Japan launched a proof of concept for its CBDC, following initial preparations to test technical feasibility of core CBDC functions and features in early 2021. Bank plans to develop test environment for CBDC system and conduct experiments on basic functions related to payment, issuance, distribution and redemption of CBDC. Phase is expected to be completed by March 2022.
- Bank of Thailand announced they will begin piloting retail CBDC in second quarter of 2022. Thailand’s central bank assistant governor said they are open to accepting public feedback by 15 June this year, with bank planning to fully implement currency over next 3-5 years.
- Former SEC Chairman Jay Clayton said in interview with CNBC that Bitcoin had status as non-security at SEC but it does not mean it should not be regulated. “Where digital assets land at the end of the day will be driven in part by regulation both domestic and international, and I expect that regulation will come in this area both directly and indirectly,” Clayton said.
- Chairman of Monetary Authority of Singapore issued notice to cryptocurrency investors, warning them of dangers of engaging with such a volatile market. Warning comes after Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong had his likeness appropriated by user on BitClout social token platform, who used PM’s name to sell tokens worth $10,000.
- Sveriges Riksbank, Sweden’s central bank, found critical issues that must be addressed before e-krona can be used in first results of central bank digital currency pilot on network based on R3’s Corda blockchain. Riksbank said new CBDC technology needs further investigation, with scalability presenting a major bottleneck and also noted some privacy challenges.
- Signal, the private messaging app, is launching payments feature using MobileCoin, which is based on Stellar blockchain technology and is able to work on mobile devices while also protecting users’ privacy. Payment feature will only be available to users in U.K., and only on iOS and Android. Desktop support is not included.
- Trading card company Topps announced special purpose acquisition company merger with Mudrick Capital. Company, in which Mudrick led $250 million investment at $1.3 billion valuation, said to be considering blockchain and NFTs as “growth accelerator.” Card company anticipates pushing more content through blockchain pipeline, expanding NFT distribution across marketplace partners and integrating NFTs into more collector experiences through 2021.
- NYDIG raised $100 million from Liberty Mutual and Starr Insurance in a “growth capital round” alongside other unnamed property and casualty coverage firms. Company is reportedly gearing up to make bitcoin insurance plays with financial backing from some of industry’s biggest names, including MassMutual, New York Life and others. Product details are not yet available, but NYDIG Executive Chairman Ross Stevens hinted “new bitcoin-denominated products for global insureds” were in works.
- Grayscale Investments said it’s “100% committed” to converting Grayscale Bitcoin Trust into exchange-traded fund in blogpost that reiterated Grayscale’s product lifecycle has always included goal to convert products into ETF when permissible. Timing driven by regulatory environment was key factor, and management fee being reduced accordingly was also mentioned.
- CI Global Asset Management launched CI Bitcoin Fund, which it described as North America’s first mutual fund to provide dedicated exposure to Bitcoin. Canadian investors can access Bitcoin market with management fee of 0.40% and initial minimum investment of $500.
- State Street plans to commence trading cryptocurrency in middle of this year, after taking part in construction of Currenex trading technology arm with Pure Digital to create institution-focused digital currency trading platform. Plan is to transpose FX infrastructure to crypto space via bank-led consortium and platform by building OTC offering with bilateral credit lines and full transparency, so that banks can see and turn on/off counterparties as they choose.
- Meitu said it purchased 175.6 Bitcoin for $10 million, bringing total holdings to over 940 Bitcoins. Company has invested $100 million in Bitcoin and Ether positions since adopting cryptocurrency investment plan in early March, with over 31,000 ETH in additional holdings.
- California real estate company Caruso Properties will now accept bitcoin for rent on all its properties in partnership with Gemini Exchange, making Caruso largest real estate manager in U.S. to accept digital asset as form of payment. Additionally, Caruso has allocated roughly 1% of treasury into bitcoin.
- Coinbase revealed voluntary earnings report, showing it raked in $1.8 billion over the quarter with a net income of approximately $730 million to $800 million. Other important notes are active users jumped from 2.8 million in fourth quarter of 2020 to 6.1 million in first quarter of 2021. Additionally, trading volumes topped $335 billion in Q1. For all of 2020, trading volume was $193 billion.
- Riot Blockchain announced it has inked agreement to purchase 42,000 mining machines from Bitmain Technologies, pushing total of fully deployed Antminers machines to 81,150. Riot Blockchain said it plans to buy S19j Antminers machines for $138.5 million, and once active, additional miners would increase firm’s mining hashrate by 93%. Riot is expecting first batch to be delivered in November this year with additional deliveries expected through October 2022.
- Riot Blockchain announced it is acquiring Whinstone US, Inc. data center operations in Texas from Northern Data AG, signing agreement to acquire firm’s Texas operations for $80 million cash and 11.8 million shares of Riot stock at total value of $651 million. Northern Data will own 12% of total outstanding common stock of Riot Blockchain.
- DeFi management and protocol aggregator platform Instadapp announced launch of governance token, INST. Token is set to go fully live later in year to coincide with transfer of control over protocol to DAO governance process in Q2.
- Cross-chain asset bridge and application hub ChainSwap closed $3 million strategic funding round with participation from Alameda Research, OKEx’s venture arm OK Block Dream Fund, NGC Ventures, Spark Digital Capital, Metaconstant Ventures, CMS Holdings, Rarestone Captial, SRC Capital, DAO Ventures, and others. ChainSwap platform allows projects to bridge between Ethereum, Binance Smart Chain, and Huobi Eco Chain, with plans to add cross-chain solutions for Bitcoin, Polkadot, and Solana in future.