Crypto News Headlines (15-April-2022)

Amazon (AMZN) CEO Andy Jassy said on CNBC Thursday morning that the e-commerce and cloud-computing giant is likely not close to adding cryptocurrency as a payment mechanism for its retail business, but it’s possible it will sell NFTs (non-fungible tokens) in the future.

Jassy also predicted that cryptocurrencies will continue to become bigger over time, but noted that he doesn’t own any bitcoin personally.

On Thursday, Jassy released his first annual shareholder letter since taking over as CEO from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos last year. The letter makes no mention of bitcoin, cryptocurrency or NFTs.

Last July, bitcoin prices rallied on a report that Amazon wound up denying that said it was planning to accept payments in bitcoin by the end of 2021.

MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor called his multibillion-dollar bitcoin trove “a tremendous success” in driving shareholder value in an investor letter released Thursday.

“Adopting bitcoin as our primary treasury reserve asset set us apart from conventional competitors and elevated our brand,” he wrote, calling the nearly two-year-old strategy “complementary” to the company’s decades-old analytics business.

“We will continue to vigorously pursue both strategies,” he said.

MicroStrategy has spent $3.97 billion acquiring 129,218 bitcoins for an average of $30,700 apiece, he wrote. With bitcoin trading nearly $10,000 above that, the trade remains well in the green – though not nearly as much as when BTC was touching $69,000 all-time highs.

Saylor’s acquisition strategy has grown increasingly creative. What began as an experiment with surplus COVID cash has yielded share sales, convertible note offerings and crypto-collateralized loans – all to buy more bitcoin. MicroStrategy is Wall Street’s biggest balance-sheet bitcoin bull, Saylor said.

Thursday’s investor letter shed some light on the quirks of corporate bitcoin buying sprees.

Kazakhstan is taking steps to raise the tax for entities mining cryptocurrency in the country. According to a statement by Minister of National Economy Alibek Kuantyrov, the plan is to calculate the tax based on the market value of the mined cryptocurrency.

The government official noted that the implementation of such a scheme would increase budget receipts, reported. Miners operating in Kazakhstan are currently paying a surcharge on the consumed electricity.

Mining enterprises were obliged to pay more than other consumers last summer. Tariffs were increased with a fee of 1 Kazakhstani tenge (approx. $0.0022) per kilowatt-hour of electrical power utilized by the energy-intensive industry. At a press conference this week, Kuantyrov stated:

We are considering an increase in the tax burden for miners. At the moment, we are also considering linking the tax rate for miners to the value of the cryptocurrency. If crypto grows, it will be good for the budget.

News of Elon Musk’s bid to buy Twitter has the tech and crypto worlds in an uproar, many viewing it as a move for free speech, with others seeing it as a billionaire taking over the (company-run) public square.

Someone not impressed with the Tesla CEO’s plans for Twitter is the co-creator of Musk’s favorite cryptocurrency, Dogecoin. “It takes some pretty impressive mental gymnastics to associate any type of ‘freedom’ with the richest man in the world initiating a hostile takeover and forcing one of the largest public social media platforms private,” Jackson Palmer tweeted.

Since April 2019, Musk has been one of Dogecoin’s most vocal cheerleaders, his tweets moving the needle on Dogecoin’s price several times. Dogecoin hit an all-time high of $0.73 on May 8, 2021; the same day Musk hosted “Saturday Night Live.” (It then sank to $0.43 overnight.)

But with all Musk has done to pump the price of Dogecoin, it’s notable that one of Dogecoin’s creators would come out against his bid to take Twitter private—but perhaps not surprising considering Palmer has been critical of cryptocurrency and its supporters for some time.

2TM, the holding company for Mercado Bitcoin, Brazil’s largest crypto exchange by market valuation, plans to launch a crypto asset manager focused on quantitative trading, the company confirmed to Brazilian financial media outlet InfoMoney on Thursday.

2TM expects to launch the service in partnership with Giant Steps, a Brazilian asset manager with $1.49 billion under management and more than 100,000 investors. Giant Steps would hold a minority stake of the service, 2TM said.

According to Giant Steps, although the Brazilian quantitative trading segment has experienced “high growth rates” in recent years, it represents no more than 2% of total fund assets in the South American country.

In addition to Mercado Bitcoin, 2TM owns the over-the-counter (OTC) trading firm MezaPro and the equity token platform ClearBook, among other companies.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Global (COIN) is in talks to acquire 2TM, in a transaction that could be closed by the end of April.

Circle Internet Financial, the issuer of USDC stablecoin, is planning to apply for a crypto bank license in the US in the near future.

According to co-founder and CEO Jeremy Allaire, the company has been in talks with regulators on the issue since August 2021, when it first revealed plans to convert into a bank, a Bloomberg report said on Wednesday. Allaire said the firm will apply “hopefully in the near future.”

The Circle management has been in talks with the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on a range of issues relating to its bank plans, including the interoperability of blockchains and how operational risks can be assessed in specific blockchains, Allaire told Bloomberg.

Australian research firm Roy Morgan has conducted a study into cryptocurrency investments. The study took place between December 2021 and February this year; the results were published Tuesday.

Founded in 1941, Roy Morgan described itself as Australia’s largest independent research company with “an unparalleled reputation for reliable, accurate, meaningful, revealing market research.” It has offices across Australia, as well as in Indonesia, the U.K., and the U.S.

The firm detailed:

The latest Roy Morgan research into Australians’ investments shows 5%, or over 1 million Australians aged 18+, now own at least one cryptocurrency.

The firm found that 69% of Australian cryptocurrency investors are men, and people under 35 years are more likely to be cryptocurrency holders.

Michele Levine, CEO of Roy Morgan Research, commented: “This breakdown of the market means around 640,000 cryptocurrency investors, almost 60% of the market, are aged under 35 compared to 430,000 aged 35+ (40% of the market).”

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk shook up the tech, finance, and crypto sectors all at once on Thursday morning when he announced an offer to acquire Twitter for $54.20 per share, or about $43 billion. 

Appearing onstage at Ted2022 in Vancouver, Canada, later in the day on Thursday, Musk explained why. “I think it’s important to be an inclusive arena for free speech,” Musk said. “Twitter has become the de facto town square, and it’s really important that people have both the reality and perception that they are able to speak freely within the bounds of the law.”

Musk said his plans for the platform include making the Twitter source code open-source to be subject to public scrutiny. “The code should be on GitHub so it can be examined,” he said. “I just think it’s important to the function of democracy in the United States and other countries. The civilizational risk is decreased if we can increase the trust in Twitter as a public platform.”

A New York retired nurse lost $43,000 of her life savings to bitcoin scammers, after transferring the money to them through a malicious computer pop-up – an unfortunate reminder to be vigilant when it comes to your money. 

Retirement Tip of the Week: Be careful of what sites you trust, and if a pop-up or email looks fraudulent or concerning, have it checked – don’t immediately hand over your savings. 

The woman, who was using her work computer, said she was told to send the money through wire transfer and “bitcoin ATM,” which converts dollars to cryptocurrency, The New York Post reported. The ad pop-up stated she had to move her money to a new location so that her computer would not be locked and her money stolen. Bitcoin ATM transactions can’t be reversed, Todd Maher, president of the financial crimes consulting firm BitSource AML Solutions, told ABC affiliate WKBW. 

It is always important to vet your investment decisions in all accounts, but especially retirement savings. Cryptocurrencies need not be entirely avoided, but they should be treated as the risky assets that they are. Many advisers suggest keeping these investments to a minimum in retirement accounts and investing in them in a separate account. Investors should also be comfortable losing whatever amount of money they put into these alternatives, just as they would if they were gambling it at the casino.

Larry Fink – CEO of the multinational investment management corporation BlackRock – seems more and more convinced of the merits of the cryptocurrency industry. He said his company is studying digital assets broadly, while clients have recently shown great interest in the sector.

BlackRock Marching Towards Crypto

The Chief Executive Officer of BlackRock – Larry Fink – was nowhere near that supportive of the cryptocurrency universe back in the days. In 2017, he described bitcoin as an “index of money laundering,” putting his name next to the likes of Warren Buffett and Jamie Dimon, who are prominent critics of the primary digital asset.

However, a few years later, Fink started softening his tone on the matter. In 2020, he said bitcoin had caught the attention of broad society, predicting that it could emerge as a global market. Fink went further, opining that BTC’s advancement could even threaten the US dollar’s dominance as the world’s reserve currency.

Last year, the CEO doubled down on his support, forecasting that the digital asset could become a reliable source of value. All it needs is time to endure and prove itself, he added.