Crypto News Headlines (18-Apr-2023)

The federal securities regulator in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will start accepting applications from companies looking to provide crypto services in the country, according to a Monday announcement.

All virtual asset service providers in the country – except for companies that are already licensed in the UAE’s financial free zones – must apply for approval with the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA). The licensing regime was approved by the SCA on Monday following a decision by the UAE Council of Ministers last year to regulate the crypto sector. The SCA took on the role of regulating the sector earlier this year.

Some of the seven emirates, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi, already have licensing frameworks for crypto firms in force, with the local industry embracing Dubai’s recently unveiled regime.

The police service of Calgary, the largest city in the western Canadian province of Alberta and the largest metro area within the three Prairie Provinces region, announced last week that it is creating a “Cryptocurrency Investigations Centre.” The announcement explains:

The Calgary Police Service is entering into a unique partnership with Chainalysis, a global blockchain data platform, to help combat crypto-crime.

“The creation and implementation of the Western Canada Cryptocurrency Investigations Centre will strengthen our ability to ensure the public safety of citizens, allow for proactive policing, enhance technical investigative skills and provide expert training resources for law enforcement,” the police noted.

Coinbase’s CEO Brian Armstrong appears as bullish as ever on crypto regulations in the UK.

“The UK is moving fast on sensible crypto regulation to both drive economic growth AND consumer protection,” he said in a tweet picturing himself alongside the UK’s Economic Secretary and City Minster Andrew Griffith. “Excited to keep investing in the UK.”

The crypto exec also took the occasion to boost a bit of thought leadership from the exchange, which describes the UK as a “Web3 innovation hub.”

Denis Dubnikov, a founder of two OTC trading desks in Russia tied to ransomware attacks, was sentenced to no jail time and forfeiture of $2,000 last week after a guilty plea, court documents show.

Dubnikov is a founder of the Coyote Crypto and Eggchange OTC services in Russia. He was arrested in 2021 in Netherlands and extradited to the U.S. in 2022 for helping ransomware hackers cash out crypto. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Dubnikov helped the notorious Ryuk ransomware group launder more than $400,000 in ransom proceeds.

According to an indictment, Dubnikov was among the brokers who helped Ryuk launder the ransomware payouts by splitting payments into multiple smaller amounts, transferring them between self-hosted wallets and then exchanging bitcoin for tether, other cryptocurrencies and fiat, especially the Chinese yuan.

Troubled cryptocurrency lending firm Babel Finance has more time to repay debts to creditors like Deribit after suspending withdrawals in 2022.

A court in Singapore has extended creditor protection for Babel Finance by another three months, Bloomberg reported on April 18.

According to Babel co-founder and former CEO Flex Yang, the moratorium will last until July 21, enabling the firm to pursue its restructuring plan via a new decentralized finance (DeFi) project called Hope. Flex returned to oversee Babel’s restructuring process a few years after stepping down from CEO role in 2021.

Babel’s restructuring plan involves new tokens called “Babel Recovery Coins,” which are aimed at allowing the troubled lender to generate revenue for repaying as much as $800 million to its creditors.

Crypto exchange Bybit has opened its global headquarters in Dubai, the company announced on Monday.

The launch comes nearly a year after it had revealed plans to establish itself in the emirate based on an in-principle approval to move its global headquarters to the city.

“As one of the most progressive digital assets hubs in MENA and the world, Dubai is optimally positioned to capture the opportunities in the sector,” said Ben Zhou, CEO and co-founder of Bybit.

During the recent crypto winter, Bybit, like several other firms in the space, had to weather lay-offs, and faced a derivatives trading ban in Brazil and penalties in Canada.

Dubai is one of seven emirates that form the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and is an aspiring crypto hub in the region.

The stablecoin market has recently contracted and is currently hovering around $131.94 billion. The decrease in the stablecoin market can be attributed to several dollar-pegged coins that have reduced their token supplies. In the last month, usd coin (USDC) has decreased its supply by 12.6%, while binance usd (BUSD) has seen an 18.9% reduction in supply. Additionally, Makerdao’s DAI has experienced a 9.8% decrease in supply, and Tron’s USDD supply has decreased by 1.3% in the past month.

Tether (USDT), on the other hand, has increased its supply by more than 22% this year, rising from 66 billion tethers in January to the current 80.93 billion. Roughly 6.3% of USDT’s growth was recorded during the past 30 days alone, according to statistics. Tether’s market capitalization is the third-largest in the cryptocurrency economy, accounting for 6.213% of the $1.2 trillion in value. Moreover, tether accounts for $29 billion of the current $52.2 billion in 24-hour global trades as of Monday, April 17, 2023.

Artificial Intelligence is the shiny new thing venture capitalists are throwing money at—leaving once red-hot crypto projects flailing for funding.

Mysten Labs co-founder and CEO Evan Cheng said this shift is due to the ability of AI products and applications to cater to a broader audience while the crypto industry continues to focuses on itself.

 “Multidisciplinary venture capitalists are increasingly turning their attention to artificial intelligence investments, driven by the technology’s proven value to consumers,” Cheng said, contrasting the explosion in artificial intelligence with that of cryptocurrency since 2017.

“ChatGPT came out, and [developers] are building products and applications for consumers and for developers—widespread, large-scale use cases are immediately possible,” he observed. “In crypto, the industry has been building products for crypto people.”

United States Senator Elizabeth Warren blamed the Bitcoin (BTC) mining industry for rising energy prices in American households based on unverified mainstream reporting. However, Crypto Twitter was not ready to let it slide and unanimously decided to clarify the disinformation.

While Senator Warren has predominantly spoken against the crypto ecosystem, the latest dig at Bitcoin mining comes based on a New York Times article. The report accuses Bitcoin miners of cashing in on electricity and indirectly forcing the public to pay the price. The narrative fit Warren’s perception of the crypto industry as she stated:

“I’ve been ringing the alarm about the risks that Bitcoin poses to our power grids and climate. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Energy should use their authority to require cryptominers to disclose their energy use and emissions.”

According to statistics compiled by user Henrystats on Dune Analytics, the number of accounts, or wallet addresses, for Ethereum layer-2 scaling solution Arbitrum (ARB) surpassed 5 million on April 17. Aside from individual addresses, there are now more than four million active accounts in the ARB ecosystem, with nearly 200 million transactions having been completed since inception.

back endThe growth has come on the back-end of both a busy development cycle for Arbitrum and the hype surrounding its March 23 airdrop, an event that saw the distribution of 1.275 billion ARB tokens to a total of 625,143 eligible addresses. The number of accounts amounted to 3.4 million after the last ARB airdrop.