Top Stories of Last Week
- SEC Chairman Gary Gensler said cryptocurrency market needs more investor protection in U.S., including possible regulations for crypto exchanges, in first public hearing since becoming head of securities regulator. Also suggested Congress could take role in bringing greater regulatory clarity, particularly around exchanges.
- U.S. federal court authorized Internal Revenue Service to begin serving John Doe summons on Kraken and subsidiaries to seek those who have conducted at least $20,000 in crypto transactions on platform. Kraken’s subsidiaries and parent company Payward Ventures are being asked to produce records identifying U.S. taxpayers who “may have failed to comply with internal revenue laws.”
- New bill in NY state legislature seeks to place three-year moratorium on crypto mining pending environmental review by state. The bill, from state Sen. Kevin S. Parker, would lift moratorium only for mining facilities that “will not adversely affect” NY’s carbon-cutting benchmarks. If passed, bill would empower state inspectors to evaluate impact mining facilities have on environment.
- NYDFS granted Standard Custody a trust charter, allowing it to provide custody services for digital assets in New York. Standard Custody is 30th such entity to receive approval through financial regulator. Standard Custody is subsidiary of California-based PolySign.
- Bitcoin’s Taproot update finally began Speedy Trial, kicking off first phase of activation for upgrade. Miners who wish to adopt upgrade can signal support by including special data in blocks called “signal bit.” If 90% of blocks mined during this difficulty period include Taproot signal bit, then upgrade is “locked in” for activation in November of this year and for Taproot to be live on Bitcoin’s blockchain.
- Nokia announced blockchain-based marketplace as-a-service to facilitate sharing of data and AI models called Nokia Data Marketplace, which aims to provide enterprises and communication service providers ability to access trusted datasets and improve business decision making.
- Blockchain.com acquired Artificial Intelligence Exchange, a developer of AI negotiating and matching engine for OTC trading. Acquisition to help drive growth of Blockchain.com’s institutional offering.
- WallStreetBets community working with blockchain and fintech experts to create exchange-traded portfolios to “fight back against corrupt institutions and to end dependence on them altogether.” Portfolios will be governed under decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) community consensus within which dapp’s own $WSB token will allow holders to vote on various issues.
- Digital Dollar Project kicked off handful of pilot projects to test how Federal Reserve-issued CBDC may operate, with its intention to launch first five pilot projects within next year evaluating different aspects of digital dollar. Digital Dollar Foundation formed last year by Accenture and former CFTC Chair J. Christopher Giancarlo will evaluate whether and how digital dollar would benefit individuals and businesses in real-world scenarios.
- Galaxy Digital agreed to buy crypto custody specialist BitGo for $1.2 billion in stock and cash. Under terms of deal, BitGo shareholders will get 33.8 million of newly issued shares of Galaxy Digital common stock and about $265 million in cash, giving it transaction value of about $1.2 billion based on Galaxy Digital’s closing share price. Galaxy also said it will “undergo a domestication process” on intended path to U.S. listing later this year.
- Goldman Sachs offering investors access to non-deliverable forwards, a derivative tied to Bitcoin’s price that pays out in cash. Bank will protect itself from volatility by buying and selling Bitcoin futures in block trades through CME Group, using Cumberland DRW as trading partner.
- VanEck launched thematic ETF in Europe that offers exposure to companies in cryptocurrency and blockchain. VanEck Vectors Digital Assets Equity UCITS ETF to be listed on London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse under ticker DAPP, which will track MVIS Global Digital Assets Equity Index made up of companies that generate at least 50% of revenue from digital assets or have 50% of assets invested in direct digital asset holdings or projects.
- eBay looking at crypto as payments option, according to CEO Jamie Iannone in CNBC interview. Iannone cited crypto as one form of new payment rails eBay is considering but did not give specifics and also said no immediate plans. He also said eBay is looking at how to get into NFT game.
- PayPal reportedly exploring launch of stablecoin, with rumors that company has made rounds among some of industry’s stablecoin protocol developers, suggesting they may be leaning towards working with third-party company. Ava Labs, the team behind Avalanche blockchain, allegedly one of organizations that has held talks with PayPal over stablecoin development.
- Chicago Mercantile Exchange launched “Micro Bitcoin” futures product. At one-tenth size of one Bitcoin, micro Bitcoin futures will provide broad array of market participants to gain Bitcoin exposure. Already executed first block trade of 140 lots for Genesis Trading and XBTO.
- S&P Dow Jones Indices launched first three cryptocurrency indexes, with carry ticker symbols SPBTC, SPETH and SPCMC, a “MegaCap” combo of the two. Document stated trio launched using partner firm Lukka Prime’s “Fair Market Value Pricing” methodology to render asset’s price in points, not dollars.
- Digital Currency Group said it authorized purchase of up to $750 million worth of shares of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, up from original $250 million. DCG said it had already purchased $193.5 million GBTC shares as of April 30.
- Mogo, a digital payments/fintech company, said it bought about 146 ether at average price of $2,780 as part of plan to allocate up to 5% of its cash and investment portfolio to cryptocurrencies. Mogo also said it’s already purchased about 18 Bitcoins to date at average price of $33,083.
- MercadoLibre disclosed $7.8 million Bitcoin purchase in earnings report stating purchase happened last quarter and was part of treasury strategy.
- Charlie Munger, vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, said Bitcoin “too volatile” to be considered global medium of exchange while speaking at annual meeting. “Of course I hate the Bitcoin success,” Munger said. “I think I should say modestly that I think the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization,” he continued.
- Digital Currency Group made strategic investment in South Korean blockchain company Streami, the operator of crypto exchange Gopax. Investment deal also sets up partnership between Streami and Genesis, a digital-asset lender and DCG subsidiary, to offer savings products.
- Coinbase agreed to buy data analytics platform Skew to beef up offerings to institutional clients. Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but deal is expected to close in second quarter. Platform will be integrated into Coinbase Prime, providing real-time data analytics to institutional clients.
- Genies raised $65 million in Series B led by Bond Capital with participation from Dapper Labs, Polychain, Coinbase Ventures, Hashkey and others. Funding will be used to build Genies avatar system and expand digital goods and NFT marketplace on Dapper Labs’ Flow blockchain. Dapper Labs will launch “secondary digital products market” with Genies later this year.
- a16z assembling third crypto venture fund, according to report in Financial Times stating company is looking to pull in between $800 million and $1 billion for new fund. If completed, fund would double the $515 million fund a16z last raised for crypto investments, and comes in wake of Coinbase public listing, in which a16z cashed out $449.2 million in COIN stock during Nasdaq debut.
- Multicoin Capital secured funding for another $100 million in second fund backed by undisclosed institutional liquidity providers and crypto founders. Multicoin also elevated Matt Shapiro, Mable Jiang and communications director John Robert Reed to partner.
- Bitski, a non-fungible token platform, raised $19 million in Series A funding from investors including Jay-Z and Andreessen Horowitz. Describing itself as “Shopify for NFTs,” Bitski aims to provide an easy platform for brands, game developers and consumers to create, buy and sell digital goods. Serena Williams and Ari Emanuel also listed among investors who participated in round.
- Crypto data firm Coin Metrics raised $15 million in equity round led by Goldman Sachs. Castle Island Ventures, Highland Capital Partners, Fidelity Investments, Avon Ventures, Acrew Ventures, Morningside Group, BlockFi, Warburg Series Investments and others also participated. Company said plans to accelerate growth and boost product offerings with latest financing round. Goldman Global Head of Digital Assets Mathew McDermott is also joining company’s board.
- Paradigm and DJ 3LAU involved in $7.6 million funding round for NFT social network Showtime, which aspires to offer new ways of investing in creators.
Defi / NFT
- Spartan Protocol exploited due to “a flawed liquidity share calculation” in protocol, resulting in loss of more than $30 million. Attacker used $61 million in BNB to overcome pools via as yet unknown economic exploit path to remove roughly $3 million in funds from pools. Attack on Spartan Protocol makes it sixth biggest monetary exploit in DeFi history.
- New York Giants locked down NFL’s first corporate cryptocurrency partnership with Grayscale Investments. Grayscale is now “Official Digital Currency Asset Management Partner of the New York Giants.” Under terms of deal, Grayscale will provide “educational seminars on cryptocurrencies for Giants personnel each year.”
- Crypto.com will sponsor final of Italy’s soccer cup competition, Coppa Italia, taking place May 19 between Atalanta and Juventus. Partnership with Lega Serie A is first such agreement between professional soccer league and crypto platform.