Crypto News Headlines (16-March-2022)

HSBC, with almost $3 trillion in assets, is the first global bank to enter The Sandbox metaverse, said the blockchain gaming firm in a statement on Wednesday.

The bank will buy a plot of land at The Sandbox metaverse, which it will develop to engage with sports, e-sports and gaming fans, the statement said.

Details of HSBC’s development in the virtual plot of land weren’t announced. A promotional GIF that was posted along with the statement showed an HSBC stadium next to a virtual body of water.

HSBC sees “great potential” in creating “new experiences through emerging platforms,” said Suresh Balaji, chief marketing officer at HSBC Asia-Pacific, in the statement. The partnership with The Sandbox will enable the bank to “create innovative brand experiences for new and existing customers,” he added.

Gucci, Warner Music Group, The Walking Dead, Snoop Dogg, and Adidas are among global brands that are working with The Sandbox.

In February, JPMorgan said it was the first bank to enter the metaverse when it bought a plot of land in Decentraland to build a lounge for customers.

The Sandbox is becoming a playground for big brands to begin exploring the hype-driven metaverse. Now, Europe’s second-largest bank, HSBC, and American noughties celeb turned crypto enthusiast, Paris Hilton, are joining the fun.

HSBC announced this morning a new partnership with the metaverse platform, which included the purchase of a virtual plot of LAND, The Sandbox’s tokenized equivalent of digital real estate.

The bank will reportedly put this plot to work, building various esports and gaming activities for enthusiasts.

“Through our partnership with The Sandbox we are making our foray into the metaverse, allowing us to create innovative brand experiences for new and existing customers,” the chief marketing officer of HSBC’s Asia-Pacific branch, Suresh Balaji, said in a prepared statement. “We’re excited to be working with our sports partners, brand ambassadors, and Animoca Brands to co-create experiences that are educational, inclusive, and accessible.”

Animoca Brands is the parent company of The Sandbox and is heavily involved in all things crypto and gaming. The Sandbox is a gaming platform built on the Ethereum blockchain that leverages cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

UK-based Midpoint Holdings Ltd, an international payments and peer-to-peer foreign exchange service company, announced that it had completed the acquisition of Blockchain World Ltd (“BWL”).

The acquisition was started on December 14, 2021, and Domenic Carosa- founded Blockchain World, is a B2C (“business-to-consumer”) blockchain company. As part of the acquisition, Domenic Carosa will also join Midpoint’s board of directors as a non-executive director.

As part of the acquisition agreement, Midpoint has issued 10,000,000 shares of common stock (“Consideration Shares”) to existing shareholders of BWL (collectively, the “Sellers”). However, resale on the secondary market is not currently supported until September 14 this year.

Midpoint President Derek Ivany said he is pleased to have consummated this Transaction with Domenic and his innovative company. He further commented on the acquisition:

 “It has been one of our stated corporate goals to augment our consumer-facing business with applicable blockchain technology. As such, we believe that this Transaction represents a very compelling opportunity to take Midpoint into the digital asset space in order to assist in building shareholder value in 2022 and beyond.

The “Bart Simpson” price pattern, resembling the cartoon character’s hairstyle, made a comeback to the bitcoin market early Wednesday as the cryptocurrency saw a quick rise and fall in a thinly traded market.

Bitcoin jumped from $39,120 to $41,700 in 30 minutes to 02:15 UTC only to fall back to $39,000 by 03:30 UTC, CoinDesk data shows. The sudden rise perhaps stemmed from stop orders on short trades and ran into stronger selling pressure.

“There was a sharp jump in the rate from $39,200 to $41,700, followed by an almost equally rapid pullback to the area below $39,000. Stop orders were triggered in the morning low-liquid market, but it is clear that the selling pressure remains huge,” Alex Kuptsikevich, senior market analyst at FXPro, said in an email.

“In fact, since Feb. 10, the rises in the bitcoin rate have become less and less long and end at ever lower levels,” Kuptsikevich added.

Hong Kong newspaper The South China Morning Post (SCMP) said on Wednesday it will spin off its NFT-related venture into a separate company. The unit, called Artifact Labs, will be headed by SCMP’s current CEO Gary Liu.

The move comes after Hong Kong’s oldest English newspaper successfully launched an NFT collection of iconic moments from its archives earlier this week. The collection featured the newspaper’s coverage of Hong Kong in 1997- a pivotal year for the city as it was handed back to China by the British.

The collection reportedly sold out in two hours this Monday, netting the company about $126,000. It was built on the Flow network, which is run by popular NFT firm Dapper Labs.

Artifact Labs will focus chiefly on turning historical art, photographs and data from SCMP’s archives into tradeable NFTs and collectibles.  The firm said that a second collection will be released in April this year.

We expect that millions of people will own ARTIFACTs issued by media, historical and cultural organizations around the world, and that historical NFTs will be the gateway for many users into Web3.

-SCMP CEO Gary Liu.

Last Wednesday, March 9, the White House finally announced a much-anticipated policy directive on cryptocurrency and distributed ledger technology with an Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets (Order) issued by President Biden. On the same day as the Order was signed, Dr. Alondra Nelson, head of the Office of Science and Technology Policy and Deputy Assistant to the President, published a blog post that describes her priorities for cryptocurrency regulation in the United States.

Dr. Alondra Nelson, who penned the blog, is the Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) since February 17, 2022. Nelson has served since day one of the Biden Administration and was instrumental in early directives such as restoring trust with scientific integrity and evidence-based policymaking and advancing racial equity and support for underserved communities.

Nelson’s role involves supporting a cabinet-level council of advisers on science and technology as well as serving as an adviser to the President on the scientific, engineering, and technological aspects of the economy. This means she could be one of the most influential person in the White House on the subject of digital assets. For the cryptocurrency industry, her blog is not to be missed to help decipher how leadership in the White House is currently thinking about the possibilities of digital assets in the United States.

The Meta CEO’s comments at South by Southwest confirmed earlier reports that Instagram was preparing to make such a move.

“We’re working on bringing NFTs to Instagram in the near term,” Meta (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg said at a panel at Austin’s South by Southwest Festival on Tuesday, according to a tweet from Engadget Senior Editor Karissa Bell. Zuckerberg added, however, that “I’m not ready to kind of announce exactly what that’s going to be today.”

Casey Newton, writer of The Verge’s Platformer newsletter, tweeted that Zuckerberg also said that “hopefully” in the coming months, Instagram members will be able to mint their own non-fungible tokens (NFT) within the app.

In January, the Financial Times reported that Meta was working on plans for both Facebook and Instagram members to be able to display NFTs on their profiles, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Meta did not immediately respond to a request for more information on Tuesday.

In October Facebook changed its name to Meta to reflect its focus on the metaverse and virtual reality.

The company said in a presentation at the time that its metaverse would support NFTs.

Ethereum merged on the Kiln testnet earlier this week ahead of the blockchain’s eventual move to a proof-of-stake network, with network validators now producing post-merge blocks containing transactions.

Ethereum’s multi-stage shift to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism would validate transactions using nodes run by “stakers.” This is in favor of the current proof-of-work design, which relies on centralized entities called “miners” for validating transactions on the network.

“Merge” refers to deploying Ethereum’s execution layer – the term for the current Ethereum network – to the “consensus layer” of the Beacon chain, the term for Ethereum’s upcoming proof-of-stake blockchain.

Kiln is expected to be the last merge testnet created before existing public testnets are upgraded, Ethereum Foundation developers said in a post. Application & tooling developers, node operators, infrastructure providers, and stakers are currently encouraged to test on Kiln.

While the Merge was largely successful, developer Tim Beiko pointed out a single client was not producing blocks and that the issue was being looked into.

According to a report by NepalPress, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) is shutting down all mobile apps and websites that engage in trading cryptocurrency trading in the country.

The report said that this action is being taken to stop the remittance of capital to foreign banks by converting them into cryptocurrency.

The NTA started taking action after the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology ordered national internet providers to ban websites and platforms that engage in trading cryptocurrencies.

Surya Prasad Lamichhane, deputy director at the NTA, confirmed the authority’s action saying that “the government has directed to close the apps after carrying out an investigation.”

The Nepalese government has pointed towards crypto trading as a major reason behind rising economic-related crimes and a potential instigator of financial instability.

In January, the Nepal Rastra Bank released a directive banning any form of investment or transactions in cryptocurrency or hyper funds. It stated that the action was being taken to fight fraud and illegal outflow of domestic capital.

The bank also announced that any Nepali or foreigner living in Nepal and Nepalis abroad is liable to prosecution or further investigation if they are found to be dabbling in virtual currencies.

On Thursday, the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs will hold a hearing called “Understanding The Role of Digital Assets in Illicit Finance”. While hearings on cryptocurrency have been a regular feature in Congress lately, this one wins the prize for what could be the most entertaining, intellectually stimulating, and bizarre moment the world will see since the start of the Russia-Ukraine war.

Although not listed as the star witness, as he will be accompanied by three other extremely accomplished witnesses, Michael Chobanian, founder of the Kuna Exchange and President of the Blockchain Association of Ukraine is slated to provide testimony to the world’s greatest deliberative body. Between Ukraine and an NGO called ‘Come Back Alive’, the cryptocurrency fundraising efforts in Ukraine are estimated at a whopping $63.8 million dollars, according to blockchain analytics firm Elliptic.