Crypto News Headlines (01-March-2022)

A federal prosecutor said in court Monday that he and lawyers for a woman accused of trying to launder $4.5 billion in stolen bitcoin with her husband are discussing a possible “resolution” of her criminal case without going to trial.

The disclosure strongly suggests that Heather “Razzlekhan” Morgan, who only was arrested with her husband Ilya “Dutch” Lichtenstein on Feb. 8, could be offered a plea deal in a case that has already seen the Justice Department seize more than $3.6 billion in bitcoin that was part of the alleged scheme.

It was the largest financial seize in the department’s history.

New York couple arrested in alleged plot to launder $4.5 billion in crypto

Morgan, a 31-year-old rapper and entrepreneur who was released from jail last Friday on $3 million bond bail, appeared via phone from her home in New York City for a hearing in Washington, D.C., federal court on Monday.

Her 34-year-old husband did not appear for the hearing. He has been denied bail and remains in jail.

Nearly every major Web3 project has recently been getting bombarded with questions like “Wen token?” Token drops from platforms such as Uniswap and Ethereum Name Service have turned crypto platform users into part owners—with lucrative assets to their name.

But MetaMask, the largest Ethereum wallet with more than 30 million reported monthly users, has thus far resisted the siren call.

“We believe really deeply in progressive decentralization and doing it over time and doing it in ways that are meaningful—and doing it in ways that are not a cash grab,” MetaMask lead of operations Jacob Cantele told Decrypt at ETHDenver. (Disclosure: ConsenSys provides funding to both MetaMask and an editorially independent Decrypt.)

While Cantele said that a token will be “an important aspect” of being “community-owned,” he sought to temper expectations around when that would happen and what it would mean for people’s pocketbooks.

Major cryptos retained their Monday gains while the security crisis in Ukraine resulting from Russia’s invasion continues to deteriorate.

Bitcoin was hovering over $43,000 early on Tuesday, compared to $38,000 24 hours earlier. Ether was selling over the $2,900 mark, compared to $2,600 yesterday. Bitcoin has been outperforming gold in this crisis.

Peace talks between the two sides held in Minsk last night haven’t led to any publicly known conclusions, other than to meet again. The U.S. closed down its embassy in Minsk yesterday and green-lighted the partial evacuation of staff from its Moscow mission. Earlier, Belarussian politicians voted to end the country’s non-nuclear status, likely to allow Russia to place nuclear weapons on its soil.

Intense fighting continued in Ukrainian cities, including the capital of Kyiv overnight. A Russian military convoy 65 kilometers in length was seen driving toward the capital early on Tuesday.

The Indian embassy in Kyiv advised all Indian nationals to leave the city “urgently today.” Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will ask the Air Force to support the evacuation, NDTV reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Apart from high-profile athletes and politicians who are taking salaries in crypto, a study shows that the number of ordinary people who take some of their salaries in crypto has increased globally.

Tracking trends that occurred in 2021, global hiring firm Deel published a report that noted a 10% month-over-month increase in people who want to be paid in crypto since November 2020.

The data, pulled from over 100,000 contracts in over 150 countries, shows that Latin America (LATAM) and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) are on top of the regions that have employees taking a portion of their pay in crypto.

The report shows that from the employees that took at least a part of their salaries in crypto, 52% were from the LATAM region, 34% were from EMEA, 7% were from North America and 7% were from Asia Pacific.

An Islamic scholar or Mufti, Irshad Ahmad Ijaz, recently argued digital currencies are not so-called fictitious currency, a report has said. He, however, suggested that such currency can only be justified once certain conditions have been met.

According to a report published by Academia, Ijaz, who made his remarks while speaking at a seminar held in Pakistan on cryptocurrencies — organized by the University of Karachi and the Al-Asr Foundation — also urged the Pakistani government to play its part and ensure the confusion surrounding the use of cryptos is removed.

Meanwhile, the report also quotes another scholar, Ishaq Alam, who suggested that Islamic scholars need to understand the world is moving into the digital age and new problems that require new solutions will emerge. Understanding this, according to Alam, enables scholars to issue proper guidance to users of digital currencies.

Cryptocurrency exchange FTX today announced a potential $1 billion fund which will invest in “ambitious projects in order to improve humanity’s long-term prospects.”

The “Future Fund,” part of FTX’s philanthropic arm The FTX Foundation, will invest at least $100 million this year—but it has the potential to invest $1 billion if it sees enough projects it likes, according to FTX’s Monday statement.

FTX is keen on investing the cash in big, philanthropic projects that can “massively scale.” “Tech startups start small and then rapidly scale,” said FTX. “We’d like to see that in philanthropy, too.”

It is looking for projects that can safely advance AI, minimize the risk of biochemical disaster and end global poverty—among other things.

A lone trader lost more than $11 million on a single futures trade involving Theta Networks’ THETA tokens as the price jumped 18% in 24 hours.

The trade, among the largest for mid-cap cryptos in recent months, occurred on crypto exchange Binance and formed the largest part of the $11.67 million in liquidations on THETA futures. Usually, the largest liquidations occur on futures tracking bitcoin or ether, the two most traded cryptocurrencies.

Liquidations occur when a trader has insufficient funds to fill a margin call – a demand for extra collateral by the exchange to keep the trading position funded. They’re especially common in high-risk trading due to the volatility of assets.

Of the $11.67 million in liquidation losses to THETA futures traders, one person was short $11.08 million of THETA, meaning they were betting the token’s price would drop, data from analytics service Coinglass show. The position was liquidated as prices jumped 18% from Monday’s lows of $2.73.

Binance, the largest crypto exchange, alone saw $11.54 million worth of shorts placed on THETA futures. Rival exchange OKX had $53,000 worth.

THETA hit resistance near the $3.50 level and tumbled 30 cents at the time of writing. It could fall to the $2.90 level if the selling pressure continues.

South Korea’s Ministry of ICT, Science, and Future Planning pledged 223.7 billion Korean won ($186.7 million) to create a broad metaverse ecosystem to support the growth of digital content and corporate growth within the country.

The ministry wrote in an official statement on Sunday that funds will be spent on completing four main objectives in creating what appears to be an all-encompassing metaverse ecosystem titled the “Expanded Virtual World.”

The government agency intends on using its metaverse as a platform for expanding the virtual industrial growth of cities, education and media.

Content creators will enjoy support on multiple fronts to attract the right talent to help build the platform. The ministry said that it will host community-oriented creative activities, a metaverse developer contest and a hackathon.

Hashed CEO Simon Kim pointed out that the new metaverse platform has a particular focus on boosting commercial expansion by providing financial support for participants. He told Cointelegraph on Monday that he doesn’t think there is a problem with the government providing funding because “the private sector is actively investing in the metaverse market.” He continued:

 “It is the regulatory issue that the government should pay more attention to. In Korea, publishing of NFT games is prohibited, and token issuance is also prohibited.”

MARS4 is a blockchain-based project consisting of three interconnected parts: NFTs, MARS4 dollars and the upcoming game. All these elements will come together to create an interactive virtual Mars with a self-sustaining economy. Like many blockchain games, MARS4 will be a Play-to-Earn game where NFTs and tokens are utilized as tools to give a rich and exciting experience of Mars for the players.

With MARS4, you can own a unique Mars land NFT modeled after NASA’s Mars data. MARS4 land NFTs are already available for sale and will be a crucial part of the upcoming game where their topography will shape the playable zones! Landowners will be able to explore their land and develop it by constructing stations, dwellings and exploiting the resources present.

MARS4 project’s expansion now sees the token listed on KuCoin. KuCoin is a well-trusted cryptocurrency exchange that is used by over 11 million traders globally. This listing provides MARS4 customers with additional flexibility to purchase and swap tokens.

In addition, MARS4 has launched a staking program accessible from the project’s website. The KuCoin listing’s timing has neatly aligned with the launch of the staking programme, providing investors with more options to choose from when purchasing MARS4 tokens. MARS4 is also listed on SushiSwap, Bittrex and Mexc.

The Canadian outpost of the global accounting firm KPMG has purchased a World of Women (WoW) NFT and an Ethereum Name Service domain name just weeks after adding Bitcoin and Ethereum to its corporate treasury.

NFTs are unique blockchain tokens that signify ownership over an asset, like an image or a domain name. KPMG Canada has purchased two NFTs so far: It bought World of Women #2681 and minted kpmgca.eth. It paid 25 ETH ($70,000) for Woman #2681, who has blue skin and wavy hair.

 “Women are underrepresented in the world of all things crypto, which makes us proud to make our first NFT acquisition in a collection that supports women,” KPMG Partner and National Risk Consulting Leader Nancy Chase said in a statement.