Crypto News Headlines (18-April-2022)

The United Arab Emirates is gearing up to become the regional hub for crypto businesses following its acceptance of the world’s largest exchanges.

Last week, Binance received in-principal approval from Abu Dhabi Global Market, and its CEO, Changpeng Zhao, has eyed Dubai for its global headquarters and his base.

Speaking to Arab News over the weekend, the firm’s regional head of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), Richard Teng, said that Binance plans to offer more products to more clients in the region:

“We want to become the platform that builds tools to bring about faster crypto adoption and improve freedom of money in the region,”

Middle East Crypto Expansion

Now that it has an official license from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority, Binance can operate and expand in the region under the Emirate’s ‘test-adapt-scale’ model for crypto assets.

Teng added that the government is taking a proactive approach to digital assets and not lumping them together as securities, which U.S. regulators want to do.

“It is an extremely innovative approach from the Dubai government. It recognizes that crypto is quite different from securities, digital tokens, and commodities and proposes a dedicated framework that can serve different parts of the value chain, manage risks, and support innovation.”

The Iranian government will increase penalties for the use of subsidized energy in crypto mining. The move marks another step in the tightening of mining regulation in the country that had faced energy shortages in recent years.

On April 16, the Tehran Times reported, citing the country’s Power Generation, Distribution, and Transmission company, that the government plans to drastically increase the fines rates for the mining operators who use subsidized electricity. The company’s representative Mohammad Khodadadi Bohlouli specified:

“Any use of subsidized electricity, intended for households, industrial, agricultural and commercial subscribers, for mining cryptocurrency is prohibited.”

According to Bohlouli, the fines for the use of subsidized energy in mining will rise by a minimum of three and a maximum of five times. A repeated violation might lead to revocation of a business’ license and even imprisonment of the offender.

Fidelity Investments announced the launch of a couple of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) this week to offer investors exposure to the crypto industry and the metaverse.

The first is called “Fidelity Crypto Industry and Digital Payments ETF (FDIG).” It invests in companies that “support the broader digital assets ecosystem, including those involved in crypto mining and trading, blockchain technology, and digital payments processing,” the firm described. However, this crypto ETF will not offer direct exposure to cryptocurrency.

The second is called “Fidelity Metaverse ETF (FMET).” It invests in companies that “develop, manufacture, distribute, or sell products or services related to establishing and enabling the metaverse.” They include firms focusing on “computing hardware and components, digital infrastructure, design and engineering software, gaming technology and software, web development and content services, and smartphone and wearable technology​.”

The new ETFs will be available on or about April 21 for individual investors and financial advisors to purchase commission-free through Fidelity’s online brokerage platforms, the announcement details. The company noted that with the new products added, Fidelity will offer 51 ETFs altogether.

Bitcoin and Ethereum have dropped below $40,000 and $3,000, after dipping below 4% and 5% respectively in the last 24 hours.

Currently priced at $38,962 and $2,904, respectively, the two largest cryptocurrencies by market cap have been in a recent slump.

In the last week, both cryptocurrencies have fallen by almost 8%.

The latest series of price drops can likely be attributed to the mining industry, which has experienced several developments that may have put further pressure on prices.

Bitcoin mining

Last week, Bitcoin miners saw a drop in mining difficulty of over 1%, according to data from

Bitcoin mining difficulty, which tracks how difficult it is for a miner to mine Bitcoin, has previously impacted the price of the flagship cryptocurrency.

The attack was flagged on Twitter by blockchain security firm PeckShield, which said the attacker made away with at least $80 million in crypto, although the losses suffered by the protocol were much larger.

The market for Beanstalk’s BEAN stablecoin collapsed as a result of the attack. At press time, the token was down 86% from its $1 peg according to CoinGecko.

When reached for comment, Beanstalk pointed CoinDesk to a post in its Discord server summarizing how the attack occurred.

According to the summary, the attacker took out a flash loan on lending platform Aave which enabled them to amass a large amount of Beanstalk’s native governance token, Stalk. With the voting power granted by these Stalk tokens, the attacker was able to quickly pass a malicious governance proposal that drained all protocol funds into a private Ethereum wallet.

Project leads wrote in the attack summary:

“Beanstalk did not use a flash loan resistant measure to determine the % of Stalk that had voted in favor of the BIP. This was the fault that allowed the hacker to exploit Beanstalk.”

Major developer platform Github has reportedly blocked more than a dozen accounts of Russian developer’s associated with organizations sanctioned by the United States government.

The sanctioned accounts include some of the largest banks in Russia: Sberbank and Alfa-Bank, as well as individual developers with links to the sanctioned firms. However, many individual accounts with no links or ties to sanctioned firms were also blocked in the process, Researcher Sergey Bobrov, who reportedly has no links to any such firm, reported that his account was suspended on April 15 and then immediately restored.

Another individual developer, Vadim Yanitskiy, wrote:

“My Github account has been suspended without prior notification. Perhaps because I am ethnically Russian. ‘GitHub’s vision is to be the home for all developers, no matter where they reside,’ they said.”

Github is a popular software development platform used for storing, tracking and collaborating on software projects. It enables developers to upload their own code files and to collaborate with fellow developers on open-source projects. It has become a core part of the crypto ecosystem because of its open-source nature.

As per early reports, most of the firms and developers facing suspension belong to private Russian banks and no crypto firm or developer was impacted. Github didn’t respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment at publishing time.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg Jr. announced Wednesday that Robert Taylor has been indicted “for operating an illegal bitcoin ATM business that he marketed towards individuals engaged in criminal activity.”

The announcement states:

Taylor operated bitcoin kiosks in at least 46 locations in New York City, mostly in laundromats, as well as locations in New Jersey and Miami.

Between 2017 and 2018, the 35-year-old “converted more than $5.6 million of his customers’ cash into bitcoin while charging a fee of between 10% and 20%,” the district attorney detailed.

Taylor is charged “with multiple counts of operating an unlicensed money transmission business, criminal tax fraud in the third degree, and offering a false instrument for filing in the first degree.”

Bragg described, “Robert Taylor allegedly went to great lengths to keep his bitcoin kiosk business as secret as possible to attract a clientele that would pay top dollar for anonymity,” elaborating:

As the use of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin proliferate, they continue to attract a wide range of bad actors who are hoping to evade law enforcement.

Ukraine’s vice prime minister and minister of digital information, Mykhailo Fedorov, on Sunday shared a photo of what the war-torn nation is spending crypto donations on: 200 sets of ballistic plates for bulletproof vests.

“The better equipped soldiers,” wrote Fedorov, “the sooner day of Ukrainian victory.”

Ukraine began accepting donations in cryptocurrencies almost immediately after Russia invaded in late February. Tens of millions of dollars quickly flooded in—from individuals, crypto grants, NFT sales, and DAOs.

It’s not clear precisely how much total crypto has been donated to the war effort. Elliptic stopped counting at $63.8 million—the blockchain analytics firm instead added a link to Ukraine’s official site—but according to a recent Financial Times report, it’s more than $100 million.

Crypto platform WonderFi Technologies intends to buy Canadian crypto trading platform Coinberry for $30.6 million as the Kevin O’Leary-backed company continues to consolidate its presence in Canada, WonderFi said Monday.

The Vancouver-based WonderFi recently closed its $162 million acquisition of Bitbuy, a crypto trading platform in Canada with over 400,000 users. Coinberry currently services more than 220,000 registered Canadian clients. WonderFi expects the all-stock deal for Coinberry to close in Q2.

Canada’s crypto market remains fragmented, thus consolidation is key for WonderFi, according to CEO Ben Samaroo. WonderFi is also planning to expand globally this year while diversifying its offerings of digital asset products.

Samaroo noted that WonderFi is in the process of expanding Bitbuy’s brand into Australia, while “actively looking” at U.S. expansion later this year.

The Ministry of Finance of Russia recently submitted to the government an updated version of its bill “On Digital Currency” designed to comprehensively regulate the country’s crypto market. Details about the law’s provisions have surfaced in Russian media reports this week.

According to the draft, qualified investors, or “professional purchasers of digital currency” as they are now described, will have unrestricted access to crypto assets. Ordinary Russians, however, will be able to buy a maximum of 600,000 rubles (approx. $7,000) worth of cryptocurrency each year. And that’s after they take a special exam.

Those Russian residents who fail to pass the test will be allowed to only acquire coins with a total value not exceeding 50,000 rubles annually (around $600 at the current exchange rates), the Interfax news agency revealed, quoting a source familiar with the document.

The new law defines the term ‘digital currency’ as “a set of electronic data contained in an information system that can be accepted as a means of payment that is not the monetary unit of the Russian Federation, or as an investment.” Digital currency is considered property in Russia, the report notes.

The wording seems to provide the legal basis for the employment of cryptocurrencies in payments. But at the same time, the bill reads that Russian legal entities, including subsidiaries of foreign companies and international organizations established in Russia as well as individuals staying in the country for at least 183 days within 12 months, cannot accept digital currency as payment for goods and services.