Crypto News Headlines (20-Feb-2023)

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) on Monday published its proposed rules for virtual asset trading platforms and is seeking public comment.

Aside from setting up a licensing regime for crypto service providers, the regulator is also seeking views on whether to allow licensed platforms to serve retail investors, and under what investor protection measures these services should be offered, an official notice said.

Under the new regime, all crypto trading platforms planning to apply for a license – including pre-existing platforms – “should begin to review and revise their systems and controls to prepare for the new regime,” the notice said.

“Those which do not plan to apply for a license should start preparing for an orderly closure of their business in Hong Kong,” it added. Hong Kong is also planning to regulate stablecoins starting in June this year.

Solana bulls are back in action.

SOL, the native token powering the layer-1 blockchain Solana, has gained over 11% overnight and is the largest gainer among the top 50 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, according to data from Coingecko.

At press time, SOL trades at around $26.09, retreating from its new 90-day high of $26.96 earlier today.

On a weekly note, the so-called Ethereum killer has gained a whopping 21% and is now the 12th-largest cryptocurrency in market capitalization.

Last week’s price action vaulted Solana’s market capitalization across the $10 billion mark for the first time since its crash amid the FTX collapse in November 2022.

Over the past 24 hours, nearly $5.86 million worth of Solana futures positions were liquidated, per data from Coinglass.

Of the total liquidations, 70.26% of the positions totaling $4.12 million were blown-out short trades.

A 48% Bitcoin (BTC) price surge since the start of the year has pushed BTC’s market cap past that of payment processing giant Visa once again.

With the BTC price currently at $24,365, its market cap of $470.16 billion is now marginally above that of Visa with a market cap of $469.87 billion, according to CoinMarketCap.

This is the third time that BTC has “flippened” the market cap of Visa, according to Companies Market Cap.

The first time came in late December 2020 when BTC also happened to hit $25,000 for the first time. This was achieved during a price surge that saw BTC rally from $10,200 in September 2020 to $63,170 seven months later in April 2021.

Visa re-took the lead between June and October 2022, which then saw BTC surpass Visa for a very brief moment on Oct. 1 before the payments company re-captured the lead again.

Anti-malware software Malwarebytes highlighted two new malicious computer programs propagated by unknown sources actively targeting crypto investors in a desktop environment.

Since December 2022, the two malicious files in question — MortalKombat ransomware and Laplas Clipper malware — have been actively scouting the internet and stealing cryptocurrencies from unwary investors, revealed the threat intelligence research team, Cisco Talos. The campaign’s victims are predominantly located in the United States, with a smaller percentage of victims in the United Kingdom, Turkey and the Philippines.

The malicious software work in partnership to swoop information stored in the user’s clipboard, which is usually a string of letters and numbers copied by the user. The infection then detects wallet addresses copied onto the clipboard and replaces them with a different address.

Users of Russia’s leading search engine, Yandex, can view information about over 140 most popular cryptocurrencies, besides the data for the national currencies of various countries. The crypto rates have been added to the latest version of its currency converter, the company announced.

The widget, which features a price chart and a quick conversion tool, is located right above the search results, the Russian news outlet reported, quoting Yandex. The software recognizes standard keywords and even slang or imprecise language in the query.

The value of the coins and tokens of interest can be displayed in Russian rubles, U.S. dollars, euros, and other fiat currencies. More pairs will be added in the future, as well as the option to see the price of a given digital asset in another cryptocurrency.

One of the world’s largest crypto-focused quantitative funds, Galois Capital, has called it quits after losing a sizeable portion of its capital in the collapse of FTX, the firm said in a tweet on Monday.

“Thank you all for the kind words. Yes, it is true that our flagship fund is shutting down,” Galois Capital tweeted after the Financial Times reported on the fund closing.

In November, CoinDesk reported that Galois Capital had $40 million stuck at FTX. At the time, Zhou told his investors that it would take a few years to recover “some percentage” of the funds.

“We will work tirelessly to maximize our chances of recovering stuck capital by any means,” he told investors at the time.

The FT reported that Galois has sold its bankruptcy claims for 16 cents on the dollar. In January, CoinDesk reported that FTX claims were going for around 13 cents on the dollar on the bankruptcy marketplace Xclaim.

Most leading coins grew in value this week, largely offsetting the losses inflicted last week—the first red week of 2023.

Meanwhile, regulators in Europe and the Americas were having heated discussions about how to reign in crypto. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) last week hit Kraken with a $30 million fine and ordered the exchange to shut down its staking service. This week, the agency lined up Terra in its crosshairs.

Across the Atlantic, the European Central Bank (ECB) told European banks to cap their crypto holdings to hedge against crypto’s inherent risks. The move came a week after the bloc published a new legal draft obliging banks to assign crypto the highest possible risk rating..

A large increase in the amount of activity on the Ethereum network has coincided with a continuous decrease in the total supply of Ethereum. From the beginning of January, the second-largest cryptocurrency in terms of market cap has become a deflationary asset as a result of a recent upgrade that goes by the name EIP-1559.

Since the upgrade, when an ETH transaction is issued, a part of the transaction fee is removed completely from the circulating supply of Ethereum. This indicates that the asset’s value could potentially increase when the Ethereum network experiences higher levels of interest, acceptance, and trading activity.

As a consequence of this, Ultrasound.Money has observed that the overall supply of ETH has begun to decrease rather than increase so far in 2023. Since the Merge, which took place 157 days ago, a total of 28,730 ETH with a value of $48,885,818 has been burned.

The CEO of Custodia Bank, Caitlin Long, has slammed regulators and lawmakers in Washington D.C. for their “misguided crackdown” on the crypto sector and ignoring her warnings of major “fraud” allegedly conducted by now-bankrupted entities.

In a Feb. 17 blog post titled, Shame On Washington, DC For Shooting A Messenger Who Warned of Crypto Debacle, Long tore into the government for its approach to crypto regulation, failing to protect investors and alienating good actors in the space:

“Washington’s misguided crackdown will only push risks into the shadows, leaving regulators to play whack-a-mole as the risks continuously pop up in unexpected places.”

Binance US, a U.S.-based cryptocurrency trading platform affiliated with the global crypto exchange Binance, has refuted reports that compare it to fraudulent and bankrupt crypto exchanges. Binance and Binance US claim that they are separate entities with different management teams.

“There have been many attempts to draw parallels between Binance.US and fraudulent exchanges that have gone bankrupt,” the official Twitter account for Binance US tweeted Thursday. “There is no comparison,” the exchange stressed and proceeded to provide some evidence to support its claims.