Crypto News Headlines (21-April-2022)

Germany’s Commerzbank (CBK) applied for a crypto licence earlier this year, a spokesperson for the bank told local media. This would make it the first major bank in Germany to move towards crypto adoption.

Local media outlet Börsen-Zeitung said that a spokesperson from the bank confirmed on April 14 that it “applied for the crypto custody license in the first quarter of 2022.”

The application is to get authorization to offer exchange services along with custody and protection of crypto-assets.

Commerzbank is Germany’s second-largest listed bank and is partly owned by the government.

Germany had brought in a new law, effective Jan. 1, 2020, that would encourage German Banks to offer crypto services. The law required any business seeking to offer crypto services in Germany to seek a licence from BaFin, Germany’s Federal Financial Supervisory Authority.

BaFin has received 25 applications for approval as a crypto custodian so far but has only approved four so far.

Commerzbank was not immediately available for comment at the time of writing.

Play-to-earn game Axie Infinity experienced one of the largest DeFi hacks of all time last month when the bridge connecting its Ronin sidechain to Ethereum was exploited for $622 million worth of cryptocurrency.

In the days that followed the March 29 disclosure, developer Sky Mavis unveiled various plans to recover and reimburse affected players—including by raising $150 million in new funding. The round was led by crypto exchange Binance with participation from Animoca Brands, Andreessen Horowitz, Paradigm, and others.

Animoca Brands—a leading investor in Web3 startups and publisher of The Sandbox—had already invested in Sky Mavis well ahead of Axie’s meteoric rise in 2021, when the game racked up millions of daily players along with billions of dollars’ worth of total NFT trading volume.

Nasdaq-listed cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced Wednesday that “Coinbase NFT” is officially live in beta. Coinbase NFT (non-fungible token) “is a peer-to-peer community platform where creators and collectors can come together to discover, display, purchase and create digital assets,” the company described. Coinbase first announced its plan to launch an NFT marketplace in October last year.

The official Twitter account for Coinbase NFT detailed:

Today we kick things off with a full-access experience for some of our waitlist frens. As we ramp up, everyone can explore the vast collection of NFTs on the first version of Coinbase NFT.

The company added: “For a limited time, there’ll be no Coinbase transaction fees. We’ll eventually add fees, which will be in-line with web3 industry standards, and we’ll provide notice ahead of time.”

The value of Tesla’s (TSLA) bitcoin holdings remained unchanged at $1.26 billion for the second straight quarter, the electric car maker said in its quarterly earnings report on Wednesday.

In both the first quarter and last year’s fourth quarter, Tesla did not buy or sell any bitcoin, nor did it record any impairments to the value of its bitcoin holdings because the price of bitcoin was essentially flat from the end of the previous quarter to the subsequent one.

In last year’s third quarter, Tesla also did not add to or reduce its bitcoin holdings, but was required to report a $51 million impairment to reflect the decline in the price of the cryptocurrency.

According to accounting rules for digital assets, if the price of an asset falls during a quarter, a company must report an impairment. But if the price increases, it is not reported as a gain on the balance sheet unless the asset is sold.

Tesla announced last February it had purchased $1.5 billion worth of bitcoin. Later in Q1, the company trimmed its bitcoin position by 10%, a sale that boosted that quarter’s earnings by $272 million. Tesla didn’t buy or sell any bitcoin in the second quarter.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk recently made headlines with his unsolicited $43 billion offer to take Twitter private.

A company call with analysts is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. ET (21:30 UTC).

The Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) is reportedly ready to impose tougher regulations on Dunama – the parent company of the country’s largest crypto exchange, Upbit – by classifying it as a “large enterprise.” The authority deems firms with more than 5 trillion won ($4.03 billion) assets subject to stricter regulatory scrutiny, requiring them to “disclose information on major intracompany dealings, board decisions, and shareholders.”

Dunamu held 10.15 trillion won (US$8.19 billion) as its assets in 2021, slightly above the 10-trillion threshold that exempts businesses from being categorized as “companies subject to limitations on mutual investment.”

Besides being barred from conducting mutual investment, the giant will face other restrictions on debt guarantees, cross-shareholding, etc.

With only 1.38 trillion won of assets under its management as of 2020, Dunaum’s rapid growth last year attracted attention from the Korean watchdogs.

Robinhood, a significant exchange based in the US, has acquired a small UK crypto firm, Ziglu, for an undisclosed fee. The move marks Robinhood’s first step towards opening operations within the UK, as their statement confirms;

“In the near term, nothing will change for current Ziglu customers. Longer term, we’ll integrate Ziglu more fully into Robinhood, bring the Robinhood brand overseas, and work to expand operations beyond the UK into Europe.”

Currently, Robinhood has no plans to open up stock trading to customers outside of the US. Their goal is to “start opening our crypto platform up to customers internationally.”

Binance.US, the American arm of the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, is leaving noted crypto lobbying group Blockchain Association after less than two years due to a difference in “values, goals and standards,” a person close to the company told CoinDesk.

“Binance.US made a major investment last year in the Blockchain Association,” said the person. “Our executives recently negotiated in good faith with Blockchain Association executives in an effort to grow Binance.US’ role within the group. But after multiple conversations we ultimately determined that our values, goals and standards were not fully aligned.”

“The resources that we would have dedicated will now be reallocated to efforts consistent with Binance.US’ policy agenda in Washington and state capitals across the country,” the person continued.

A Blockchain Association spokesperson confirmed the departure after the initial publication of this article.

Blizzard, the game development studio that created franchises like Starcraft, Warcraft, and Overwatch, is polling some gamers about their opinions when it comes to NFTs and play-to-earn mechanics. According to sources on social media, the poll consulted players about issues that included other, more common topics for a gaming company, like augmented reality and cloud gaming.

However, there was a section that asked directly about the opinion and the feelings of these users on the inclusion of NFTs and cryptocurrency elements in some of the gaming IPs (intellectual property) of the company. While the survey did not directly point to the implementation of these mechanics into any game, it did raise worries in some gamers about the possibility of this being in the works.

However, the head of Blizzard, Mike Ybarra, denied the idea, declaring:

The U.S. government today sanctioned a Russian Bitcoin miner, with the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control putting Moscow-based BitRiver on its Specially Designated Nationals list.

Ten Russia-based subsidiaries of BitRiver AG, BitRiver’s Switzerland-based holding company, also were added to the list.

It’s the first time the U.S. has sanctioned a cryptocurrency mining company. The sanctions are aimed at harming President Vladimir Putin and his allies in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

 “Treasury is also taking action against companies in Russia’s virtual currency mining industry,” said a government statement issued Wednesday. “By operating vast server farms that sell virtual currency mining capacity internationally, these companies help Russia monetize its natural resources.

The market for crypto exchange-traded funds in Australia is becoming more crowded, with two spot ETFs from 21Shares set to launch next week, joining an offering from Cosmos Asset Management.

21Shares, which has $2.5 billion in assets under management with 30 global exchange-traded products, has partnered with ETF Securities to launch a bitcoin ETF and an ether ETF, the company said in a statement Tuesday.

The products will be the first in Australia to invest directly in the underlying assets. Cosmos Asset Management’s ETF invests in the Toronto-based Purpose Bitcoin ETF as opposed to spot bitcoin.

Both funds will be listed on the Cboe Exchange starting on April 27 with prices being tracked against the Australian dollar.

The funds will hold bitcoin and ether in cold storage, with Coinbase as the custodian.