Crypto News Headlines (07-Feb-2023)

Bank bosses in the U.K. are blocking customers’ access to cryptoassets due to concerns over fraud and volatility, lawmakers were told today.

Social media and technology platforms were cited as a significant source of fraud, but executives told the Treasury Select Committee that new regulations could boost confidence.

“We have taken a pretty hard line as a bank on crypto,” Alison rose, Chief Executive Officer of NatWest Group, told the House of Commons committee. “We’re blocking retail and wealth customers from transferring into crypto assets because of the volatility and the stability of the platform.”

“We look at it through a fraud perspective,” Rose added. “We know that can cause frustration for customers because they may want to invest – it’s their money – but if we’re evidencing significant fraud we block them.”

A confidential United Nations report has revealed North Korean hackers stole more crypto assets in 2022 than in any other year .

The UN report, seen by Reuters, was reportedly submitted to a 15-member North Korea sanctions committee last week.

It found North Korean-linked hackers were responsible for between $630 million and more than $1 billion in stolen crypto assets last year after targeting networks of foreign aerospace and defense companies.

The UN report also noted that cyber attacks were more sophisticated than in previous years, making tracing stolen funds more difficult than ever.

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced the launch of “Binance Tax,” a tool to help its users calculate their tax obligations on crypto transactions. The launch comes as many governments worldwide have increased their scrutiny over crypto transactions to ensure individuals do not evade their financial duties.

Binance announced on Monday the launch of a new tax tool that allows users to calculate the tax associated with crypto trading activities. Binance Tax can support up to 100,000 transactions and allow users to download a tax summary report of gains and losses using the Binance platform. The information includes spot trades, crypto donations, and blockchain-based fork rewards, but not futures trading and NFTs.

Amid the largely sideways performance of major cryptocurrencies, AI-related crypto tokens including Fetch (FET), SingularityNET (AGIX), and Ocean Protocol (OCEAN) have soared in the past day.

FET, the utility token poweringFetch.AI, a decentralized platform that provides tools and infrastructure required for building an AI-based digital economy, is up 25% over the day, changing hands at $0.54, according to CoinGecko.

Ranked 86th by market capitalization, FET has enjoyed explosive growth since the start of the year, gaining 106% over the week and more than 250% in the past 30 days, hitting levels not seen since January of last year.

Ark Investment Management (Ark Invest) published its annual Big Ideas 2023 last week. The report “highlights the technological breakthroughs evolving today and creating the potential for super-exponential growth tomorrow,” Ark Invest’s analysts explained. The topics discussed in the report include artificial intelligence (AI), digital wallets, public blockchains, bitcoin, and smart contract networks.

Regarding bitcoin, the Ark Invest analysts wrote:

We believe Bitcoin’s long-term opportunity is strengthening. Despite a turbulent year, Bitcoin has not skipped a beat. Its network fundamentals have strengthened and its holder base has become more long-term focused.

They emphasized: “Contagion caused by centralized counterparties has elevated Bitcoin’s value propositions: decentralization, auditability, and transparency.”

Metaco, a provider of crypto custody technology, has hired former-IBM digital asset specialist Peter DeMeo and made several other key appointments as the company shrugs off tough market conditions and prepares to drive the next phase of big-business crypto adoption.

Reliable safekeeping of crypto assets is where the rubber has met the road for banks and institutions over the past couple of years. Custody has shot to prominence again in the wake of the FTX crypto exchange collapse and the failures of crypto lending platforms Celsius Network and CoinDesk sister company Genesis, among others.

DeMeo’s appointment as chief product officer matters because IBM, where he was head of digital assets infrastructure, has been quietly building out bank-grade digital assets custody and key management. (Big Blue was previously best known in the industry for its forays into supply chain applications of permissioned blockchains and the like.)

The co-founder of Web3 metaverse game engine “Webaverse” has revealed they were victims of a $4 million crypto hack after meeting with scammers posing as investors in a hotel lobby in Rome.

The bizarre aspect of the story, according to co-founder Ahad Shams, is that the crypto was stolen from a newly set up Trust Wallet and that the hack took place during the meeting at some point.

He claims the thieves could not have possibly seen the private key, nor was he connected to a public WiFi network at the time.

The thieves were somehow able to gain access while taking a photo of the wallet’s balance, Shams believes.

Digital banking service Revolut is starting to offer crypto staking to customers in the U.K. and European Economic Area (EEA), according to a report by financial technology publication AltFi.

Revolut, which has around 25 million customers worldwide, the vast majority of whom are in the U.K. and the European Economic Area (EEA), is rolling out the service this week, AltFi said. At first, the London-based fintech will support staking of the tokens of Polkadot (DOT), Tezos (XTZ), Cardano (ADA) and Ethereum (ETH). Yields on the assets range from 2.99% up to 11.65%, though these are variable.

Crypto staking involves holders of a particular asset offering their tokens to help support the running and maintenance of a blockchain, receiving a reward in return. Staking has attained newfound prominence in the crypto industry in recent months since Ethereum, the largest blockchain supporting decentralized finance (DeFi), transitioned to a proof-of-stake model.

Britain is moving ahead with plans for a digital pound that could be in use by the late 2020s, the country’s Treasury and the central bank said yesterday.

“While cash is here to stay, a digital pound issued and backed by the Bank of England could be a new way to pay that’s trusted, accessible, and easy to use,” the UK’s chief financial minister Jeremy Hunt said in a statement.

Following the announcement, a new consultation has today been launched by the Bank of England regarding the design of a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, said issues such as privacy would need to be considered before a digital pound is launched.

Global cryptocurrency exchange Binance is reportedly suspending withdrawals and deposits in U.S. dollars using bank accounts starting Wednesday. Without providing a reason, a spokesperson for Binance told CNBC:

We are temporarily suspending USD bank transfers as of February 8th. Affected customers are being notified directly … We are working hard to restart service as soon as possible.

“0.01% of our monthly active users leverage USD bank transfers,” the spokesperson continued, noting that bank transfers using other fiat currencies and other methods of buying and selling cryptocurrencies on Binance, such as using credit cards, Google Pay, and Apple Pay, “remain unaffected.”