Crypto News Headlines (17-March-2022)

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy legalized crypto in the country, signing into law a bill on virtual assets, amid a frenzy of digital asset donations to support the country’s defense against a Russian invasion.

The law determines the legal status, classification, ownership and regulators of virtual assets, as well as setting registration requirements for crypto services providers, the Ministry of Digital Transformation said in a statement Wednesday.

The market will be regulated by Ukraine’s National Commission on Securities and the Stock Market. Exchanges will be able to operate legally, and banks will open accounts for them, the digital ministry said in a tweet.

The state body is tasked with “shaping and pursuing a policy in the field of virtual assets; determining the order of circulation of virtual assets; issuing permits to virtual asset service providers; and carrying out supervision and financial monitoring in this area,” according to a Feb. 17 government announcement.

For Shaunda Head, impending foreclosure and a car repossession led to a professional wake-up call.

“I knew it was time to shift my approach and begin completely showing up as myself,” she recalls. “Once I did that, the shift in results practically happened overnight.”

Head had freelanced for years. When she shifted to more strategic consulting, however, she realized just how much she really knew – and how that knowledge could help other women entrepreneurs.

“Starting my own business began as a means to express myself through creative projects without all of the boundaries (and politics!) of the corporate structure. Freelancing was cool. But eventually, I felt the need to work in my own business full-time, because I wanted the freedom to be as creative as possible.”

The latest Arab nation to open its arms to Binance is Dubai, however, crypto trading on the world’s largest exchange won’t be for everyone.

The company stated that the virtual asset license permits it to extend “limited exchange products and services” to approved investors and professional financial service providers.

The license enables Binance to operate within Dubai’s “test-adapt-scale” virtual asset market model as a base for expansion into the region, according to the March 16 announcement.

The exchange will be heavily monitored and regulated under the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) during this initial phase. Its operations include rigorous regulatory oversight and mandatory FATF compliance controls.

The move comes as a growing number of nations, predominantly in the West, have taken action against Binance on the regulatory front. The company operates a limited-service exchange in the U.S. and has been on the end of clampdowns in the U.K.

Bitcoin (BTC) held above the $40,000 level on Thursday amid a broader uptick in global equities as the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed) hiked rates by 0.25% as expected.

Fed chair Jerome Powell signaled the U.S. economy was “very strong” and could handle monetary tightening, causing a jump in equities. Meanwhile, the Bank of England will also holds its policy meeting on Thursday and is expected to raise interest rates to their pre-Covid levels.

U.S. futures shed 0.51% in European hours while brent crude jumped 4% to near $100. Europe’s Stoxx 600 rose 0.22%, while Asian markets added a second day of gains with Hong Kong’s Hang Sang index rising 7% and Japan’s Nikkei 225 increasing 3.46%.

This week, Simone Maini, the chief executive officer of the blockchain surveillance firm Elliptic, published a blog post concerning how the company deals with sanction evasions tethered to crypto assets. Maini’s blog post stresses that “the war in Ukraine has demonstrated that powerful technologies such as cryptocurrency can be used in both positive and negative ways.”

The Elliptic CEO details how funds were raised for the Ukrainian government and other Ukraine-based NGOs. On the other hand, Maini’s blog post notes that digital assets have been used by Russian-backed forces. The Elliptic executive adds:

There is also the real risk of Russia using crypto assets to circumvent sanctions through state-sponsored cybercrime, concealment of wealth, and even crypto mining.

The U.S. government keeps laying more groundwork for potential future cryptocurrency regulation.

Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell spoke in July about the Fed’s interest in regulating stablecoins and the potential for a central bank digital currency (CBDC), while testifying before the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services.

Stablecoins (Tether and USD Coin, for example) are a category of cryptocurrencies that peg their value to an existing fiat currency, like the U.S. dollar. That helps stabilize their value, so they’re better suited for digital payments — unlike more volatile digital assets like Bitcoin. Ideally, these coins are underwritten by a reserve of the currency they’re tied to, but today there’s little official regulation enforcing that.  

Powell compared them to money market funds or bank deposits, which have a strong regulatory framework in the United States. “That doesn’t exist for stablecoins,” he said. “And if they’re going to be a significant part of the payments universe — which we don’t think crypto assets will be, but stablecoins might be —  then we need an appropriate regulatory framework, which frankly we don’t have.”

Stillmark, a major investor in the Bitcoin Lightning network and Lightning infrastructure provider Voltage, announced today that it has appointed former Google X engineer Vikash Singh as its principal investor.

Stillmark has so far raised $40 million, specifically for investing in startups that utilize Bitcoin and the Lightning network.

Stillmark said that its first fund was oversubscribed twice-over.

Prior to Google X, Singh spent five years at Heal, a Series D stage healthtech company that utilizes AI and deep learning, which he joined at seed stage.

In an interview with CoinDesk, Singh called Bitcoin a “moonshot” technology that’s a fundamental evolution of financial technology which levels the playing field for many people.

Singh wants Bitcoin to be a “stable base layer for people to be their own bank and be independent.”

Compared to other cryptos it’s a “clear winner in the race for money over the internet,” he said.

The Indian ministry of finance answered some questions Tuesday in Rajya Sabha, India’s upper house of parliament, regarding “RBI Cryptocurrency.”

Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Singh asked the finance minister to state “whether it is a fact that [the] government is planning to introduce a cryptocurrency that will be regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).”

Pankaj Chaudhary, the minister of state in the ministry of finance, replied: “No sir.”

Singh further asked whether the government is aware that cryptocurrency “is unregulated and free from government intervention.”

Minister Chaudhary confirmed:

Currently, cryptocurrencies are unregulated in India.

The Indian government is currently working on cryptocurrency legislation. A cryptocurrency bill was listed to be introduced in the winter session of parliament but it was not taken up. There are reports that the government is currently consulting widely on the regulation of crypto assets and will need more time due to the complexity of the issue.

Edward Snowden again weighed in on the rise of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) when he spoke at Camp Ethereal 2022 last week, expounding on why these new assets are problematic. 

In an interview with Marta Belcher, president of Filecoin Foundation and general counsel at Protocol Labs, the whistleblower said “the risk is very easy to illustrate.”

His problem with CBDCs is that they could give governments too much control over citizens’ finances. His choice of analogy? Scrooge McDuck in “DuckTales,” the cartoon from the late 1980s.

Scrooge, Snowden recalled, had “a giant vault full of coins and dollar bills and things like that. And if he needs money, a giant magnet comes out of the top of it, and it just pulls dollars out of everybody in the town’s pockets. That is what a CBDC is, right? And that’s really all it is.”

The author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki, discussed bitcoin, the Russian-Ukraine war, and the end of the U.S. dollar in a series of tweets Tuesday.

Rich Dad Poor Dad is a 1997 book co-authored by Kiyosaki and Sharon Lechter. It has been on the New York Times Best Seller List for over six years. More than 32 million copies of the book have been sold in over 51 languages across more than 109 countries.

Citing that many Russians are using bitcoin as a lifeline after the Russian ruble collapsed, he wrote: “Ukraine/Russian war giving rise to crypto as a safer haven than government fake fiat money.”

Kiyosaki also tweeted Monday that the Biden administration and the Federal Reserve “want inflation to pay off trillions in debt,” advising:

[The] best investment may be stocking products you will always use such as toilette paper, trash bags, canned goods, frozen foods, gold, silver, bitcoin.