Crypto News Headlines (11-March-2022)

The U.K.’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned that any crypto ATMs operating in the country are illegal and must be shut down.

Operators must be registered with the FCA to offer ATM services and comply with money laundering regulations, the FCA said in a statement on Friday.

As none of the 27 fully registered crypto firms have been approved to offer ATM services, any crypto ATMs in the U.K. are operating illegally. According to data by Coin ATM Radar, there are 81 bitcoin ATMs/tellers in the U.K.

The FCA made reference to Gidiplus, a firm providing crypto ATM services, which had its registration application rejected by the financial watchdog.

The firm took its case to court in order to continue its services pending its appeal. The case was dismissed as the judge determined there was a “lack of evidence as to how Gidiplus would undertake its business in a broadly compliant fashion.”

Crypto investors have helped send more than $50 million in donations to support Ukraine’s defense against Russia, but now U.S. officials are warning of new risks for those investors here at home. 

The United States Treasury is concerned Russia could carry out cyberattacks on crypto companies — including the exchanges that hold many investors’ coins — as retribution for western sanctions, Reuters reported last week. The U.S. and its European allies have implemented severe sanctions on Russia to try and inflict as much economic pain as possible while it wages war on Ukraine. 

To evade sanctions, Russia could lean on crypto as a form of currency since the “international financial rules and regulations are not as easily applied to cryptocurrency,” says Adam Levin, a cybersecurity expert and host of the “What the Hack” podcast.  “It’s no surprise Russians are using it in the face of economic sanctions,” he says.

Over $28 million worth of cryptocurrency has been seized in connection with a former Canadian government employee, Sebastien Vachon-Desjardins, being extradited to the United States on charges relating to Netwalker ransomware. 

According to the Department of Justice (DoJ), Vachon-Desjardins has been charged with conspiracy to commit computer fraud and wire fraud, intentional damage to a protected computer, and transmitting a demand in relation to damaging a protected computer arising from his alleged participation in Netwalker—a sophisticated form of ransomware.

Venerable venture capital firm Bessemer Venture Partners has committed $250 million in capital from existing funds to invest in Web 3 projects across three core areas: consumer decentralized finance (DeFi), infrastructure and other “enabling technologies.”

Founded over 100 years ago as a family office, Bessemer has grown into a leading investor in the consumer, enterprise and health care industries. The firm’s long list of tech investments includes Shopify (SHOP), LinkedIn (LNKD) and Pinterest (PINS).

The Bessemer commitment comes as an increasing number of well-established venture capital firms have been entering the crypto space, such as Sequoia Capital and Bain Capital.

The White House took a big step toward regulating cryptocurrency on Wednesday — a move expert described as “extremely positive,” “long overdue,” and an “acknowledgment that cryptocurrency is here to stay.”

With the signing of a new executive order on cryptocurrency, President Joe Biden officially directed federal agencies to implement a strategy for policies and regulations on digital assets like crypto, according to a White House fact sheet.

“In the long-term, this is extremely positive for the crypto market and is absolutely necessary to allow it to grow further, mature and be more accessible to institutional investors,” says Tal Elyashiv, founder of SPiCE VC, a venture capital fund that focuses on blockchain and tokenization.

Speaking to the parliamentary reply on Friday, Singapore Finance Minister Lawrence Wong said the prevailing income tax rules “will apply to income derived from transactions of non-fungible tokens (NFTs),” adding that income tax treatment “will be determined based on the nature and use of the NFT.”

The Business Times reported, citing the FM who added that capital gains from NFT trading might also apply on individuals. But Wong explained as “as Singapore does not have a capital gain tax regime,” such gains will not be taxable.

It is getting more Singaporean eye on the crypto market in the city-state. The rate of crypto adoption accelerates in the country. According to Statista, about 15.8% of the country’s population holds crypto in 2021, compared to the global average of 15.5%.

Web2 lets big tech companies collect consumer data without paying the people behind the statistics. However, the advent of Web3 technologies may change the way data is collected and let consumers get compensation for the information they share, according to the founders of Chain Collective, a Web3 startup that enables consumers to monetize their data using blockchain.

Skills acquired from working in business intelligence and machine learning coupled with a passion for Web3 technologies led Jenny Walker and Greta Menzies to create a data marketplace. With blockchain technology, the all-female team aims to help consumers monetize their data and inspire women to enter the Web3 space.

Led by Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), nine Republican U.S. Senators have introduced a bill aimed at setting regulations and guidelines concerning China’s digital yuan.

“If left unchecked, technologies including China’s Digital Yuan will empower Russia to evade global sanctions on systems such as SWIFT and enable the CCP to further surveil and threaten their citizens,” said Sen. Blackburn in a press release. “This bill holds China accountable as they introduce their new digital currency,” said Sen. Cassidy.

The Say No to the Silk Road Act would – among other things – require the State Department to issue a warning on the digital yuan, require the Secretary of Commerce to report on trade enforcement actions and require that any foreign government that receives financial assistance through the U.S. military disclose if they use China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) in either a settlement or reserve currency capacity.

Thorchain is up over 18% in the last 24 hours, following the cross-chain DeFi project’s roll-out of synthetic assets and the announcement of a launch date for a suite of new features called “Thorfi.” 

The project’s token has also enjoyed a healthy rise amidst this activity. On Monday, RUNE traded at $4.73, according to CoinMarketCap. Today, the price hit highs of $5.85, marking a whopping 24% increase over the past four days. Built on Cosmos, Thorchain is a cross-chain crypto platform that lets users swap cryptocurrencies from different networks without the need for a third party, like Coinbase or Binance. The latest updates continue to build on mixing incompatible cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin and Ethereum, to create new derivative products.

The U.S. Department of Labor is recommending 401(k) plan sponsors to “exercise extreme care” before they consider adding a cryptocurrency option to their investment menu for plan participants.

The Labor Department said it has become aware in the last few months of firms marketing crypto investments to 401(k) plans as investment options, according to a statement Thursday.

“At this early stage in the history of cryptocurrencies, the Department has serious concerns about the prudence of a fiduciary’s decision to expose a 401(k) plan’s participants to direct investments in cryptocurrencies, or other products whose value is tied to cryptocurrencies,” the Labor Department wrote.

The Labor Department said crypto presents “significant risks and challenges to participants’ retirement accounts, including significant risks of fraud, theft and loss.” It highlighted as reasons speculation and volatility, challenges to making informed investment choices, custodial and record-keeping concerns, the lack of reliability of cryptocurrency valuations and an evolving regulatory environment.