Top Stories of Last Week
- New York Attorney General’s office settled with Bitfinex over inquiry into whether cryptocurrency exchange sought to cover up loss of $850 million in customer and corporate funds held by a payment processor. NYAG’s office announced settlement, formally ending inquiry that kicked off in April 2019. Under terms of settlement, Bitfinex and Tether will admit no wrongdoing but will pay $18.5 million and provide quarterly reports describing composition of Tether’s reserves for next two years. NYAG will bring no charges as part of settlement.
- Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen issued warning about dangers that bitcoin poses both to investors and public. Yellen said there remain important questions about legitimacy and stability. “I don’t think that bitcoin … is widely used as a transaction mechanism,” she said. “To the extent it is used I fear it’s often for illicit finance. It’s an extremely inefficient way of conducting transactions, and the amount of energy that’s consumed in processing those transactions is staggering.”
- Hong Kong Monetary Authority and Bank of Thailand announced central banks of China and United Arab Emirates are joining for project looking to use blockchain tech for regional payments called “Multiple Central Bank Digital Currency Bridge” (m-CBDC). Project will explore capabilities of distributed ledger technology through development of PoC prototype exploring possibilities of DLT and CBDCs in facilitating cross-border, multi-currency, real-time payments.
- Lawsuit against on-chain liquidity protocol Bancor alleging unregistered security offerings worth US$216 mil has been tossed by NY judge. Lawsuit alleged investors had been misled by false statements and omissions leading them to conclude tokens issued by Bancor were in fact securities and subject to U.S. law.
- Morocco’s central bank, Bank-Al-Maghrib, is investigating benefits of launching a central bank digital currency. BAM has launched exploratory committee to investigate pros and cons of CBDC four years after banning cryptocurrencies.
- TD Ameritrade’s former chief of digital assets and distributed ledger Sunayna Tuteja has been hired by Fed as Chief Innovation Officer. Tuteja played major role in getting brokerage to view Bitcoin as another asset class. During her time at TD Ameritrade, she led investment into ErisX.
- MYbank and WeBank, institutions backed by Ant Group and Tencent respectively, reportedly set to join ongoing trial of digital yuan. Digital wallets from two private banks will be added to PBOC’s digital yuan app alongside those from six state-owned banks already participating. MYbank is already helping research and development on central bank digital currency.
- Ethereum scaling solution Optimism will launch mainnet this coming month after announcing $25 million Series A investment from Andreessen Horowitz that closed in November.
- MicroStrategy announced purchase of another $1.026 billion in bitcoin. Firm bought 19,452 BTC at average price of $52,765 per coin. It now holds 90,531 BTC worth $4.78 billion.
- Square purchased additional $170 million of bitcoin, adding to amount it purchased in October. Company added 3,318 BTC to treasury for a per bitcoin purchase price of $51,235.70, adding to 4,709 BTC it purchased in October 2020 which were worth $50 million at the time. Currently, that investment is worth $224 million.
- CI Global Asset Management, a subsidiary of firm overseeing more than $230 billion in assets, filed preliminary prospectus for CI Galaxy Bitcoin ETF (BTCX), which would be managed by CI and advised by Galaxy Digital. Two firms previously partnered on CI Galaxy Bitcoin Fund, a closed-end investment product.
- Crypto services firm BCB Group launched BCB Treasury, a custody and reporting service aimed at chief financial officers. BCB Group partner Ben Sebley said early conversations about Bitcoin were mainly involving U.S. fintech firms, but last month spread to Europe and now includes mid-sized and large-cap companies in every industry and also very high-net-worth individuals.
- BNY Mellon allegedly working with Fireblocks as part of plans to hold bitcoin and other crypto assets on clients’ behalf. Fireblocks and BNY Mellon declined to comment. Sources said Fireblocks is also about to complete another round of financing, after closing a $30 million Series B in November of last year. BNY Mellon’s digital assets custody platform will go live later this year.
- Stablecoin issuer and crypto exchange Paxos applying to become clearing firm with SEC. If approved, Paxos would become one of just a handful of clearing firms in U.S., joining Depository Trust Company and Options Clearing Corporation.
- CoinShares made 3,364,403 shares available for investment by individual and institutional investors ahead of planned public offering, equating to roughly 151m Swedish Krona ($18 mil). Offering gives company valuation of around $341 million prior to offering. CoinShares will begin trading on Nasdaq First North Growth Market on March 11 under ticker “COIN”.
- Coinbase Form S-1 has been published by SEC, clearing way for its direct listing on Nasdaq. Publication of Coinbase’s S-1 provides first public view of financial performance and how it intends to use funds it raises. Coinbase generated net income of $322.3 million in 2020, after incurring net loss of $30.4 million in 2019. Additionally, claim to have $1 billion of cash on hand and $90 billion of crypto assets on its platform, representing 11.1% share of total crypto market. Coinbase also confirmed it is using Goldman Sachs, J.P. Morgan Securities and Citigroup to assist in listing.
- Bitcoin mining firm Northern Data planning to list in U.S. in order to raise up to $500 million. Northern Data is in talks with Credit Suisse over listing, which could take place later this year, according to Bloomberg report. Firm owns world’s largest cryptocurrency mining facility in Rockdale, Texas, which has planned capacity of 1 gigawatt by end of 2021.
- Crypto custody firm Anchorage raised $80 million Series C funding round, led by GIC, Andreessen Horowitz, Blockchain Capital, Lux and Indico. Anchorage is distinguished as first crypto native to receive federal banking charter from Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. Anchorage said it plans to help corporations add crypto to balance sheets and treasuries and scale lending business.
- Kraken reportedly in talks to raise new capital in move that could see company’s valuation more than double from $4 billion to around $10 billion. Discussions with Fidelity, Tribe Capital and General Atlantic to raise an unknown sum are being reported by Bloomberg.
- Sorare, a blockchain-based soccer gaming platform, raised $50 million led by Benchmark, Accel Partners, Alexis Ohanian, Gary Vaynerchuk and Barcelona striker Antoine Griezmann. Sorare’s total funding stands at $60 million. Sorare is planning to continue growing ecosystem, including launching mobile application and onboarding top 20 football leagues.
- Bitcoin brokerage River Financial raised $17.3 million in equity sale. Firm reported 34 backers in filing. River’s equity filing comes as Bitcoin-only brokerage embarks on hiring push across compliance, client acquisition and engineering.
- Bitcoin payments platform Bottlepay announced it secured £11 million ($15.5 million) in seed funding round, which included Alan Howard; “present and former” Goldman Sachs partners; VC firm FinTech Collective; NYDIG; and Phil Doye. Bottlepay app offers international payments in bitcoin and fiat currencies in real time. Users can make micropayments via messages on Twitter, Reddit, Discord.
- 1inch team revealed it ported 10 million 1INCH tokens to BSC to be used as liquidity bridge between Ethereum and BSC and will seed 1inch ecosystem on BSC, including 1inch Aggregation Protocol and 1inch Liquidity Protocol. 1inch co-founder Sergej Kunz cited rising popularity and lower gas costs for expansion.
- CoinShares coming to market with DeFi token meant for institutional investors called CoinShares Gold and Cryptoassets Index Lite. CGI token was built in cooperation with Index Coop, the team behind DeFi Pulse Index, and Imperial College of London. CGI token consists of two equally weighted wrapped crypto assets, WBTC and WETH, and firm’s wrapped gold token, wDGLD.
- Mike Winkelmann, aka Beeple, made NFT history with “Crossroads” netting $6.6 million on secondary market via Nifty Gateway. Originally purchased for $66,666.60 on Nov 1, the new owner, who chose to remain anonymous, paid almost 100 times more, breaking price record for single NFT sale.