Top Stories of Last Week
- Hong Kong’s Financial Services and Treasury Bureau stated cryptocurrency exchanges operating in Hong Kong will have to be licensed by city’s markets regulator and will only be allowed to provide services to professional investors. It also said “confining the services of a VA exchange to professional investors…. is appropriate at least for the initial stage of the licensing regime.” FSTB intends to propose legislative changes to turn proposals into law in upcoming 2021-22 session of city’s legislative assembly.
- Bank of Korea said it intends to select technology supplier through open bidding process to research practicalities of CBDC, with plans to build pilot platform. Test will run from August to December and involve simulations of banks and retailers, and include mobile-phone payments, funds transfers and deposits.
- Ontario Securities Commission filed Statement of Allegations against Poloniex for violating Ontario securities law, alleging they did not register as crypto asset trading platform after OSC warned exchanges that trade securities and derivatives in province that they had “to contact OSC staff or face regulatory action.”
- Bipartisan bill introduced by Reps. French Hill and Jim Himes seeks to direct Treasury Department to publish report that evaluates current policy and governance around currency, including details around CBDC, digital yuan, digital dollar and actual dollar’s role in global economy. “21st Century Dollar Act” would require Treasury Secretary to submit report to Senate Banking and House Financial Services committees that includes “a description of efforts by major foreign central banks to create an official digital currency, as well as any risks to the national interest of the United States posed by such efforts” and to develop strategy for boosting dollar’s reserve status.
- SEC Chair Gary Gensler said DeFi could pose fresh challenges for U.S. investors and that cryptocurrency sector poses various risks to investors in markets and challenges to securities regulator, in prepared testimony before House Appropriations Committee.
- Bank Indonesia is planning to issue digital currency to speed up payments. Central bank of Indonesia is currently assessing which technology to use for digital rupiah, and will be a legal payment instrument in Indonesia, alongside banknotes. No timeline yet on when it will be issued.
- Securitize, a digital asset securities firm, launched two crypto security yield funds based on Bitcoin and USDC. Funds will be open for participation in early June and will be issued as digital asset securities on Algorand blockchain. Securitize Capital BTC Yield Fund will “offer investors exposure to BTC with 2% annualized yield and amount of Bitcoin the fund contains grows 2% over the year.” USDC Yield Fund will offer yield of 6% to 8% annually.
- Dfinity Foundation announced grant fund of 200 million Swiss francs (approximately $223 million) to support initiatives to get developers working on Internet Computer, a new blockchain system from Dfinity that it claims enables decentralized services by running smart contracts on made-for-purpose machines in data centers around the world.
- Galaxy Digital bought Vision Hill Group, an asset manager and data shop, for undisclosed sum, saying Vision Hill will become part of Galaxy’s fund management division. Vision Hill develops market intelligence products such as hedge fund indices and buy-side database called “VisionTrack” for institutional clientele.
- Blockstream reportedly buying Adamant Capital, the hedge fund founded by Tuur Demeester, who will remain as adviser. Blockstream said purchase lays foundation for new division, Blockstream Finance, which will offer Bitcoin investment products on Liquid Network.
- Fidelity Investments’ first Bitcoin fund raised $102 million from investors since launching last August. Wise Origin Bitcoin Index Fund I, LP, is passively-managed vehicle Fidelity sold to 83 qualified investors through Fidelity Digital Funds subsidiary.
- SEC kickstarted review of Bitcoin ETF applications from SkyBridge Capital and Fidelity Investments’ Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust. SkyBridge’s offering would trade on New York Stock Exchange; Wise Origin’s on Cboe’s BZX Exchange. SEC will render initial decision on respective applications within 45 days unless it extends window, which it can do for maximum of 240 days.
- One River Digital Asset Management filed with SEC for Bitcoin ETF that would be carbon neutral. One River Carbon Neutral Bitcoin Trust would be listed on New York Stock Exchange and would buy and dispose of carbon credits to account for emissions associated with Bitcoin in fund. Coinbase Custody partnered as custodian for ETF’s Bitcoin assets.
- WisdomTree filed for Ethereum ETF called WisdomTree Ethereum Trust, which would list on Cboe BZX Exchange. No crypto custodian yet lined up.
- PayPal plans to let users withdraw cryptocurrency to third-party wallets, according to blockchain lead Jose Fernandez da Ponte, saying withdrawal function is in works. Company ships new developments every two months, though unclear when withdrawal functionality is coming.
- Apple looking to hire business development manager with experience in cryptocurrency industry to lead “alternative payments” partnership program. Apple said manager would be Apple’s chief negotiator for alternative payments space. Apple has made no public statements about plans for crypto space.
- Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio said during conversation with CoinDesk for Consensus 2021 that Bitcoin looks increasingly attractive as savings vehicle and that “personally, I’d rather have bitcoin than a bond” in inflationary scenario. Additionally stated “I have some bitcoin,” but also warned “Bitcoin’s greatest risk is its success.”
- Carl Icahn told Bloomberg he’s set to enter crypto market and considering large investment to tune of $1.5 billion. “I mean, a big way for us would be a billion dollars, billion-and-a-half dollars … I’m not going to say exactly,” he stated. Billionaire expanded further on views about crypto, saying he now thinks skepticism over value of crypto is “little wrong-headed,” as he questioned intrinsic value of U.S. dollar in comparison to crypto.
- FTX reportedly in process of closing funding round said to value company at around $20 billion. Raise, which could be announced in next month, could bring in anywhere from $400 million to $1 billion that would go towards improving relationships with large financial services firms and broaden reach beyond crypto-native market participants.
- Huobi and OKEx have begun to block Chinese customers from accessing some services, with Huobi temporarily ceasing crypto derivatives trading for “customers in certain markets,” citing “recent dynamic changes in the market.” OKEx also said it will temporarily delist OKB for Chinese users due to regulatory compliance.
- Crypto trading engineering firm Talos raised $40 million in Series A funding led by Andreessen Horowitz, with PayPal Ventures, Fidelity Investments and others also taking part. Firm provides technology that supports digital asset trading to financial institutions, with services including liquidity access, direct market access, price discovery, automated execution, reporting, clearing and settlement.
- Balancer raised $24.25M investment led by Blockchain Capital, Fintech Collective, LongHash Ventures, Fenbushi Capital, Continue Capital and Kain Warwick, the founder of Synthetix. Funds will be used to strengthen Balancer’s role as core infrastructure provider of DeFi.
- Blockchain development platform QuickNode raised $5.3 million in seed funding round led by Seven Seven Six, a VC firm created by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Softbank’s Opportunity Fund, Arrington XRP Capital, Crossbeam, Anthony Pompliano and more also participated. Startup, which has been building Web 3 cloud platform to enable developers to more easily develop blockchain apps, will use funding to expand product range and provide more tools.
- Cryptocurrency lending platform Ledn raised US$30 million in Series A financing with Alan Howard joining Kingsway Capital, Coinbase Ventures, Susquehanna, ParaFi, Alexis Ohanian, John Pfeffer, CMT Digital, Global Founders Capital and others in round.
- Cowen raised over $46 million for fund that will apparently make digital-asset-focused investments. Cowen Digital Asset Investment Co. LLC raised capital from 80 investors in pooled investment fund. Investment strategy of fund and whether it will directly invest in cryptocurrencies or instead via investment vehicles or industry firms hasn’t yet been made clear.
- Crypto venture capital firm 1confirmation raised $125 million for latest fund investing in cryptocurrency startups and digital assets. Fund III’s backers were not disclosed.
- Solidus Labs, which makes market surveillance tools to flag manipulation across cryptocurrency trading platforms, raised $20 million in Series A led by Evolution Equity Partners and included Hanaco Ventures, FTX, Avon Ventures, Chris Giancarlo and former SEC Commissioner Troy Paredes.
- Chia Network raised $61 million in Series D funding, with Andreessen Horowitz and Richmond Global Ventures leading round. Chia now has valuation of about $500 million, more than double company’s previous valuation. Company plans to use funding for hiring and to become payment method for financial services firms, government and other institutions.
Defi / NFT
- Sorare, an NFT startup which allows soccer fans to trade digital playing cards, allegedly in discussions for major new tranche of funding from investors including SoftBank at a near-$4 billion valuation.
- NFT platform OneOf raised $63 million to support mission to become more environmentally sustainable marketplace for artists and fans. Participating investors in seed funding round included Bill Tai, Nima Capital’s Suna Said, Sangha Capital, and Tezos Foundation. Platform built on Tezos will launch next month.
- Associated Press is auctioning off series of 10 NFTs representing some of history’s most recognizable photographs. First in series, a representation of AP’s famous shot taken in 1945 of six U.S. soldiers raising American flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, Japan, has been put up for bid on OpenSea.
- Bitcoin Mining Council announced by Elon Musk and Michael Saylor to promote sustainable energy practices and transparency in industry while reiterating that fungibility and essential properties of Bitcoin wouldn’t be interfered with. Argo Blockchain, Hut 8, Galaxy Digital, Riot Blockchain, Marathon, Core Scientific, Hive Blockchain and Blockcap were included in tweet, with all entities combined in control of less than 10% of global computing power on Bitcoin network.
- Inner Mongolia’s branch of National Development and Reform Commission issued detailed draft guideline explaining how local authorities can crack down on crypto mining activities in region. Guideline is part of efforts to implement earlier notice released by NDRC to eliminate mining operations due to environmental concerns and mining’s adverse effects on realizing China’s national goal to reduce carbon emissions, including eight specific measures to monitor and punish companies and individuals involved in crypto mining activities.