Crypto News Headlines (19-April-2022)

Singapore-based cryptocurrency trading platform KuCoin announced Tuesday the launch of a $100 million Creators Fund to support early-stage non-fungible token (NFT) projects, according to a press release provided to CoinDesk.

The fund complements the newly launched KuCoin Windvane NFT Marketplace. KuCoin said Windvane offers creators access to the heavy exchange traffic and the support of the community for building initial NFT offerings.

Launched in 2017, the KuCoin exchange reached 10 million registered users at the end of the last year and currently has a daily trading volume of about $2.2 billion, according to CoinGecko data.

KuCoin Creators Fund is a joint venture between Windvane and the exchange’s venture capital arm, KuCoin Ventures. NFT verticals of interest include arts, sports, profile pictures (PFPs), Asian culture, celebrities and GameFi, according to the press release.

The fund will also invite 99 NFT creators to join the Windvane marketplace, which offers standard features like minting, trading and storage. Windvane supports the most popular NFT blockchains, including Ethereum, BSC and Flow.

The digital ruble is “very much needed,” First Deputy Chairman of Bank of Russia Olga Skorobogatova has recently remarked in a statement quoted by business news portal RBC’s crypto page. The regulator will not delay upcoming tests of the prototype currency platform, the high-ranking official said and elaborated:

If we move quickly with testing and legislative changes, we can implement it in the coming years.

The Central Bank of Russia (CBR) started trials with the digital ruble in January and announced the first successful transactions between individual wallets in mid-February. At least a dozen Russian financial institutions are taking part in the experiments which are expected to continue throughout 2022.

Not all participating banks are technically ready to join the tests right now, Skorobogatova admitted. However, she insisted this should not affect the timing of the project to issue the Russian central bank digital currency (CBDC).

The second phase of the trials is scheduled to begin in the fall, Skorobogatova revealed earlier this year. During that stage, the CBR plans to launch operations involving payments for goods and services with the digital ruble as well as government transfers. The bank will also issue smart contracts in collaboration with the Federal Treasury.

The holiday weekend wasn’t a quiet one in the NFT space: The much-anticipated Moonbirds project from tech entrepreneur and VC Kevin Rose’s PROOF Collective launched on Saturday, and already the Ethereum NFT collection has generated $280 million in sales.

That figure comes from data analytics provider CryptoSlam, which confirmed to Decrypt that it includes both the original mint (primary sale) and secondary trading across marketplaces—the latter of which has exploded since Saturday.

Moonbirds is an Ethereum profile picture collection that spans 10,000 total images, each with randomly distributed features akin to projects like CryptoPunks and the Bored Ape Yacht Club.

PROOF Collective ultimately released 7,875 of the NFTs for sale via an allowlist, which was formed via a raffle process. Each Moonbirds NFT offered via that process was sold for 2.5 ETH (about $7,600) at the time of Saturday’s sale.

Another 2,000 of the images were granted as free mints to holders of the PROOF Collective NFT membership pass, which starts at a price of above 97 ETH (about $283,000) on secondary markets. Just 1,000 of the passes are available, and each holder could mint two Moonbirds.

The fast-growing popularity of the TerraUSD stablecoin comes with some risk because of its dependence on algorithms to hold its dollar peg.

“It’s all fun and games if you’re a $5 [billion] or $10 billion market cap stablecoin,” Tether Chief Technology Officer Paolo Ardoino said in an interview with CoinDesk at the Paris Blockchain Week Summit. But that can change the bigger that stablecoin’s market cap gets.

UST is now the third-biggest stablecoin on the market after Tether’s USDT and Circle’s USD coin (USDC), which are still significantly larger in terms of market cap. However, the native stablecoin of the Terra ecosystem has grown rapidly, from $180 million at the beginning of 2021 to over $17 billion in market capitalization as of April 18.

Terraform Labs is the organization behind the UST stablecoin and its LUNA token.

UST keeps its $1 dollar value by using a smart contract-based algorithm to keep the price of UST anchored to $1 by permanently destroying LUNA tokens in order to mint create UST tokens.

LONDON (Reuters) – More than 40 crypto business leaders have asked the European Union not to require crypto firms to disclose transaction details and dial down attempts to bring to heel rapidly growing decentralised finance platforms.

The European Union, like countries and jurisdictions across the globe, is working to tame the freewheeling crypto sector. The EU is ahead of the United States and Britain in developing a set of rules for the $2.1 trillion sector.

In a letter seen by Reuters sent to 27 EU finance ministers on April 13, crypto businesses asked policymakers to ensure their regulations did not go beyond rules already in place under the global Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which set standards for combating money laundering.

EU lawmakers last month voted to back new safeguards for tracing bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

The rules, opposed by major U.S. exchange Coinbase Global Inc, would require crypto firms to gather and hold information on who is involved in digital currency transfers.

In response to last month’s vote, 46 European crypto industry leaders and organisations said in their letter that the proposals “will put every digital asset owner at risk” by leading to public disclosure of transaction details and wallet addresses. This would reduce crypto holders’ privacy and safety, the letter’s organisers said.

Political parties in the Republic of Ireland will be banned from accepting donations in cryptocurrency, the Irish Independent reported Tuesday.

The move is being made to counter concerns over Russian interference in Irish elections.

Local Government Minister Darragh O’Brien, who is in charge of electoral reform, has written to party leaders detailing measures to combat potential foreign meddling in the country’s democratic processes.

“The appalling invasion of the Ukraine and insidious disinformation war highlight the ongoing fundamental threats faced by all democracies,” O’Brien said.

Cryptocurrency donations are likely being targeted on concerns that crypto is used to short circuit sanctions, such as those placed on the majority of financial institutions linked to Russia and its allies.

However, there remains little evidence that this is the case.

An official with Iran’s Power Generation, Distribution, and Transmission Company (Tavanir) said the country’s administration will approve new rules to increase penalties for unauthorized cryptocurrency mining, IRNA publication reported Sunday.

Mohammad Khodadadi Bohlouli explained that under the new law:

The increased penalties include raising fines by at least three and at most five times, imprisoning the offender, and revoking the offender’s business license.

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

The Iranian government approved cryptocurrency mining as an industry in 2019. In January 2020, the Ministry of Industry, Mine, and Trade issued over 1,000 licenses for cryptocurrency mining operations.

However, Iranian authorities said that some unauthorized miners are using household electricity for cryptocurrency mining, resulting in major issues for the country’s electricity industry. In December last year, crypto miners were ordered to halt operations to prevent winter blackouts. In September, the authorities reportedly confiscated over 220,000 mining machines and shut down nearly 6,000 illegal crypto mining farms across the country.

(Reuters) – Commonwealth Bank of Australia warned of a fake news article doing rounds on social media platforms alleging the country’s No. 1 lender to have partnered with a cryptocurrency trading platform to encourage people to invest in crypto assets.

CBA branded the article to be “totally false and untrue” on Tuesday, adding that it had reported it to the relevant authorities and asked social media publishers, including Facebook, to take down the article.

The report comes months after Australia’s richest man and chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, Andrew Forest, filed a lawsuit against Facebook-owner Meta Platforms alleging it breached anti-money laundering laws and used his image to promote cryptocurrency schemes.

Last month, Australia’s competition watchdog had also filed a similar lawsuit against Meta with allegations of promoting fake cryptocurrency ads featuring well-known people.

CBA added that it has warned Australians through its own channels not to respond to or click through to the website if they receive the alleged fake article.

A report recently shared by Americas Markets Intelligence has shown significant growth when it comes to cryptocurrency adoption in Argentina. The survey, that was made last year by polling 400 different users via smartphone, found that 12 out of 100 Argentinians had invested in crypto last year. While this number may appear low, it is actually higher than the statistics found for other countries in South America. Brazil reached an adoption of 7%, while Mexico had 6%.

The country was also above the average adoption rate in Latam, which was 8%. This is explained due to several reasons that derive from the economic traits of the country, where inflation and monetary restrictions have been affecting the population for years. However, the adoption percentage in Argentina is below the 16% found in the U.S.

Reasons for the Growth

The study analyzed the possible reasons for this growth in Argentina being over the total growth in South America and found three reasons that, combined, might explain the boom that crypto has seen in Argentinian and Latam Markets. The first one has to do with the high degree of digitalization these societies have compared to the low level of banking adoption. On this, the report states:

Persistent mistrust of banks has limited the growth of digitization and kept the use of cash even as consumers feel comfortable with digital tools.

Several U.S. government organizations jointly warned on Monday of the threat posed by cryptocurrency thefts and tactics used by the North Korean state-sponsored group known as Lazarus Group.

The FBI, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) and the U.S. Treasury Department said other names for the group include APT38, BlueNoroff and Stardust Chollima.

The warning comes after the Treasury Department tied Lazarus to a $625 million theft of cryptocurrency from the Ronin bridge linked to popular play-to-earn game Axie Infinity.

The U.S. government said it had observed North Korean cyber actors targeting a wide range of crypto and blockchain companies, including “cryptocurrency exchanges, decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, play-to-earn cryptocurrency video games, cryptocurrency trading companies, venture capital funds investing in cryptocurrency, and individual holders of large amounts of cryptocurrency or valuable non-fungible tokens (NFTs).”

The organizations advised companies and individuals to guard against social engineering attempts by the group to gain access to crypto by patching all systems, prioritizing patching known exploited vulnerabilities, training users to recognize and report phishing attempts and using multifactor authentication.