Crypto News Headlines (21-Jan-2022)

  1.  Russian proposes banning cryptocurrencies, crypto mining

Russia’s central bank on Thursday proposed banning the use and mining of cryptocurrencies on Russian territory, citing threats to financial stability, citizens’ wellbeing and its monetary policy sovereignty. Russia has argued for years against cryptocurrencies, saying they could be used in money laundering or to finance terrorism. It eventually gave them legal status in 2020 but banned their use as a means of payment. The move is the latest in a global cryptocurrency crackdown as governments from Asia to the United States worry that privately operated highly volatile digital currencies could undermine their control of financial and monetary systems.

The CEO of Singapore-based crypto exchange, Kris Marszalek, confirmed on Bloomberg TV on Wednesday that 400 accounts were hacked earlier this week after several layers of the firm’s security were breached. After detecting the breaches, Marszalek said the firm quickly paused withdrawals, fixed the issue and was “back online in about 13 to 14 hours.” He added that the same day, “all of the accounts that were affected were reimbursed so there was no loss of customer funds.” Marszalek further emphasized that “given the scale of the business, these numbers are not particularly material and customer funds were not at risk.”

Crypto-friendly UnionBank of the Philippines will be using cryptocurrency safekeeping technology from IBM and Swiss custody specialist Metaco, the companies said Thursday. IBM has traditionally been a stalwart of enterprise blockchain: private ledgers running inside the firewalls of companies involved in supply chains and the like. But Big Blue has now begun applying its key management know-how to public crypto. Metaco has been providing the back-end crypto custody capabilities in Switzerland for banks like BBVA and GazpromBank since as far back as 2018. Since many of the world’s banks are already clients of IBM, the partnership with Metaco, announced in March of last year, makes for an even more compelling package.

Considering cryptocurrency to be “a tool for money laundering”, the Karachi-based Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) recently announced its intention to clamp down on cryptocurrency dealers in Pakistan. Pakistan’s hostile stance towards cryptocurrency stands unchanged since 2018 when the State Bank of Pakistan declared them to be “illegal”. The FIA wrote to the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) demanding that around 1,600 identified websites related to crypto trading be brought down. A significant operation to detain and arrest those associated is also on the cards, reported The Express Tribune.

Opera, the team behind the popular multi-platform browser has now unveiled a new browser project which the company dubbed “Crypto Browser Project,” aimed at offering users direct access to Web3 services with beta versions already rolling out for Windows, Mac, and Android. The new beta offering from Opera places Web3 front and centre in the browsing experience. The browser comes equipped with a news and data aggregator, dubbed ‘Crypto Corner. One of the most popular wallets is MetaMask, which provides access to Ethereum blockchain-based dApps directly from many browsers. In 2021, MetaMask had more than 10 million monthly active users.

Alphabet’s Google has hired former PayPal executive Arnold Goldberg to run its payments division, Google confirmed to CoinDesk on Wednesday. The search giant had previously retreated from a push into banking, according to Bloomberg, which first reported the news of the hire. Google is also working with Bitpay and Gemini to support their crypto cards, meaning that people who use these cards can add them to Google Pay, but the transaction is in fiat currencies, according to a Google spokesperson. Goldberg’s hire is part of a broader strategy for the company to incorporate a wider range of financial services, including cryptocurrencies, Google’s president of commerce, Bill Ready, told Bloomberg.

For billionaire investor Mark Cuban, there was one defining moment that led him to go all in on cryptocurrency. “What really got me into it was, about a year ago, when I minted my first NFT,” Cuban told Miami Mayor Francis Suarez at The North American Bitcoin Conference on Monday. NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, are unique digital assets. Minting an NFT is the process of turning an asset into a token that’s represented on the blockchain. After digging a bit deeper, Cuban learned about smart contracts, which are collections of code that carry out a set of instructions on the blockchain.

Andreessen Horowitz plans to raise up to $4.5bn for a new set of cryptocurrency funds, aiming to more than double the amount it raised less than one year ago in a sign of the growing frenzy surrounding digital assets. Andreessen is known as one of the leading VC firms in Silicon Valley, having previously been an early investor in Facebook, Twitter, Airbnb, Stripe, Coinbase and a host of other leading technology groups. The move signals how top VC firms are increasingly piling into crypto, fuelling a boom that has spawned hundreds of projects aiming to displace traditional finance.

Last week, the cryptocurrency exchange and trading platform said it was setting aside $2 billion from the company and its founder Sam Bankman-Fried under a new venture arm called FTX Ventures. The new fund, now the fourth largest crypto fund in the market, per Pitchbook data, has already begun deploying capital, Wu tells me, though she said it isn’t disclosing any of its initial investments yet. It’s an interesting move for Bahamas-based FTX (which, at a $25 billion valuation, is itself one of the most well-funded companies in the crypto sphere), and it’s one that is being made in conjunction with team members from Alameda Research, a hedge fund started by Bankman-Fried in 2017.

  1.  What Is Decentralised Autonomous Organisation In Crypto?

A big advantage with cryptocurrency is that it is decentralised, meaning there’s no central authority like a government or central institution that governs the industry. This decentralisation also offers a degree of security and privacy, typically not available with transacting in standard currencies. DAO is an Internet-native organisation collectively owned and managed by its members. Decisions in a DAO structure are made via proposals the members vote on during a specified period. The main idea behind setting up DAOs is to give a large number of contributors the ability to participate in its governance and future development.