Top Stories of Last Week
- Initial pretrial conference in SEC vs. Ripple case has been set for February 22, 2021. New York Southern District Court will hold conference with Judge Analisa Torres and both parties.
- VanEck filed new S-1 with SEC for approval of bitcoin ETF called VanEck Bitcoin Trust. After series of rejections from SEC last year, it withdrew previous proposal in September 2019. ETF’s shares would be traded on Cboe BZX Exchange, valued daily based on bitcoin prices on top five bitcoin exchanges, which will be calculated by MV Index Solutions.
- Indian government considering bitcoin transaction tax, according to proposal put forward to Central Board of Indirect Taxes & Customs by Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, which would categorize bitcoin as intangible asset and impose 18% goods and services tax on transactions. Proposal also suggests treating bitcoin as current assets and charging GST on margins made in trading. 18% GST on estimated annual value of all bitcoin transactions of INR would yield $1 billion.
- New York Department of Financial Services issued trust charter to GMO-Z.com Trust Company, allowing it to issue, administer and redeem Japanese yen and U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoins in New York. GMO is a Tokyo-based internet conglomerate and said it is world’s largest online FX trading platform.
- SEC obtained order imposing asset freeze and other emergency relief against Virgil Capital LLC and affiliated companies in connection with alleged securities fraud relating to Virgil Capital’s flagship cryptocurrency trading fund, Virgil Sigma Fund LP. Stefan Qin, founder of Virgil Capital, has been accused by SEC of fabricated records for failing to redeem $3.5 million in investments and attempting to withdraw $1.7 million in investor funds to pay off loan sharks.
- SkyBridge Capital investment firm announced investment of $182 million in bitcoin in investor brochure about forthcoming bitcoin fund. Firm is launching SkyBridge Bitcoin Fund LP in January, and will be open as of Jan. 4 to outside investors putting up at least $50,000.
- BitGo reported in official press release that digital assets under custody have surpassed $16 billion. CEO Mike Belshe commented: “We’re seeing unprecedented interest from institutional investors as a result of the pandemic’s economic impact, as well as Bitcoin’s extraordinary performance.”
- Turkey will begin piloting digital currency in second half of 2021, according to country’s chief central banker Naci Ağbal, with conceptual phase of project allegedly already completed. Further details of Turkey’s CBDC are yet unknown.
- Coinbase to suspend trading of XRP, with trading moving into “limit only” effective immediately and fully suspended on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Paul Grewal, Coinbase’s chief legal officer, stated “we will continue to monitor legal developments related to XRP and update our customers as more information becomes available. Coinbase also said users’ XRP wallets will remain available for receive and withdraw functionality after trading suspension.
- Binance.US will remove support for XRP on Wednesday, January 13. XRP trading and deposits will cease but withdrawals are permitted after January 13. In addition, Bittrex is removing XRP trading pairs on January 15.
- Genesis suspended XRP trading and lending, effective December 29. Users who hold XRP will have until January 15 to sell. Genesis will also no longer support loans in XRP. Open term loans will be called, and all XRP fixed-term loans maturing on or after February 1 will be called.
- Market-maker B2C2 halted trading of XRP with U.S.-based counterparties following SEC’s lawsuit against Ripple Labs. Non-U.S. clients can still trade token but need to pre-fund all short trades.
- OKCoin announced suspending XRP trading and deposits on January 4, 2021, saying decision was made in light of recent lawsuit filed by SEC.
- New lawsuit in California federal court alleges Coinbase violated state’s unfair competition laws by making commission from sale of Ripple’s XRP. Class-action suit was filed by Thomas Sandoval, who claims Coinbase profited from sale of XRP while knowing it was a security.
- Marathon Patent Group announced purchase of 70,000 Antminer S19 bitcoin miners from Bitmain for $170 million. Marathon expects first delivery by July 2021 and final shipment during last month of 2021, giving mining operation over 100,000 ASIC miners. Once newly acquired miners are fully deployed, Marathon expects to command 10.36 EH/s of hashpower.
- Trading/investment management platform eToro is allegedly considering going public in what would be $5 billion IPO, and is reportedly in talks with Goldman Sachs about possibly leading offering, which would be completed by end of Q2 2021. eToro is also considering possibility of merger with special purpose acquisition company for purpose of accelerating entry into Wall Street trading.
- DeFi platform 1inch released governance and utility token, which will be used for both platform’s automated market maker protocol and decentralized exchange aggregator service. Liquidity mining program introduced for 6 pools, pairing 1INCH tokens with ETH, DAI, WBTC, USDC, USDT and YFI. 30% of total token supply of 1.5 billion allocated to community incentives over next four years. Another 14.5% reserved for protocol growth and development fund, also to be unlocked over next four years.
- DeFI insurance project Cover Protocol was hacked in an infinite printing scheme, causing price of cover token to plunge. Grape.Finance, a “white hacker,” claimed responsibility for attack via Twitter account, saying all funds had been returned. Exploit cashed out over $4 million including about 1,400 ether, one million DAI and 90 WBTC.
- National Football League player Russell Okung first player from major U.S. sports league to be paid in bitcoin. Arrangement comes by way of Zap’s Strike product, which enables traditional paychecks to be converted into BTC. Okung’s $13 million yearly salary is being split 50-50 between bitcoin and fiat, and other pro athletes, including unnamed members of Brooklyn Nets basketball team and baseball’s New York Yankees, have also allegedly begun onboarding to program.
- Elad Roisman will take over as Chairman of Securities and Exchange Commission, replacing Jay Clayton, who resigned from position last week. Roisman will likely serve until President-elect Joe Biden designates his own acting chairman of SEC. Roisman was appointed commissioner to SEC in 2018 and served as chief counsel to U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Roisman is considered an ally of cryptocurrency community for relatively favorable stance towards digital-asset regulation.