Crypto News Headlines (22-Feb-2022)

Crypto platform Amber Group has announced a $200 million raise led by Temasek, the Singapore-based sovereign wealth fund.

The investment values Amber, which is also based in Singapore, at $3 billion — and brings the total amount of capital it has raised to date to $328 million.

Alongside Temasek, existing investors including Sequoia China, Pantera Capital, Tiger Global Management, True Arrow Partners and Coinbase Ventures participated in the round.

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Founded in 2017, Amber offers a wide range of products to both institutional and consumer clients. In addition to providing liquidity and market making services, it offers structured products, and advisory services. The company now has more than 1,000 institutional clients globally and boasts assets under management of more than $5 billion, according to a press release.

Anonymity in identities, financial transactions, obscure market regulations, and a rallying cryptocurrency market- these are the components of a highly doubtful financial ecosystem, but nevertheless, the crypto market soared and is still soaring exponentially. The success of the crypto market cannot go unnoticed, but the other factor that is impossible to miss is the rise of fraudsters and scammers in the crypto market. Given that cryptocurrency is still in its wild west, with Bitcoin swinging extravagantly, taking down other altcoins along with it, the need and urge for investors to generate profits is now more than ever. This gives the perfect opportunity for crypto scammers to highlight their scheming offers and policies, promising crypto investors loads of profits within a short period of time. But unaware of the circumstances, even the most experienced and professional investors in the market have fallen into those traps losing millions of dollars.

Now, crypto scammers have found a new source to generate scams and steal profits from investors- dating apps. It might sound strange, but this is true. Some crypto enthusiasts are calling this phenomenon romance scams- the term for online scams that involve weighing on romantic interests to gain a victim’s trust. These incidences have exponentially increased in the pandemic era, making crypto a useful entry point for criminals looking to part victims from their savings.

According to reports, there have been about 56,000 romance scams, totaling up to US$139 million in losses, reported to the Federal Trade Commission in 2021. Experts believe that this particular form of scam originated in China before spreading to the United States and then other countries.

Bitpanda, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Vienna, has acquired U.K.-based digital asset custodian Trustology. The financial terms were undisclosed but a source close to the deal said the dollar amount was in the eight figures.

Trustology, which won full registration from the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) last October, specializes in decentralized finance (DeFi) and will be rebranded to “Bitpanda Custody.”

Custody refers to the holding and safekeeping of digital assets, and the firms specializing in those technologies have been a key target for crypto mergers and acquisitions. PayPal bought Curv last March and Galaxy Digital bought BitGo last May. Meanwhile, standalone custody firms like Fireblocks are reaching sky-high VC valuations.

Bitpanda became Austria’s first tech unicorn after closing a Series B funding round at $170 million last March; Trustology is the firm’s first acquisition.

Indian crypto investors have welcomed the government’s decision to tax profits from digital assets’ transactions, even as the tax rate is a steep 30 per cent, underscoring hopes the pending crypto bill will regulate the market rather than ban private coins completely.

The Reserve Bank of India favours a complete ban on cryptocurrencies. It has made that explicit in repeated messages highlighting concerns relating to macroeconomic and financial stability from virtual currencies, the challenge of exchange management, monitoring and regulating such assets. 

Still, the government and a few members of RBI’s central board have sought a more nuanced view on digital assets, keeping in mind the technological developments. 

Investors, top cryptocurrency exchanges currently operating in India, and industry experts, too, opine that reforms to the pending crypto legislation with more comprehensive consultations can take India to the forefront of blockchain technology.

Tech giant Intel has publicly released technical specifications of its Bonanza Mine bitcoin miner hardware.

Presenting at the 2022 edition of the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC), organized by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), Intel revealed that the first generation of its miner provided greater energy efficiency than other offerings on the market.

These days, bitcoin mining is carried out using specialized hardware called an application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC). Each Intel Bonanza Mine (BMZ1) miner packs 300 BMZ1 chips according to the technical specifications presented during the conference. The “one-subscript” in the name means that it is the first generation of the miner hardware.

Tweets from the CEOs of Coinbase and Kraken that advocated self-custody of digital assets are being looked at the by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for violating the sanctions put in place to curb the trucker protests in the country, according to a report from The Logic.

Canadian securities regulator Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) sent the tweets to the police as it believed that the crypto executives were offering advice on how to evade the sanctions on funds, according to the report.

Late last week, the Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police ordered all regulated financial institutions, including crypto exchanges, to cease trading and freeze the assets of “designated persons” involved in the trucker protests as well as 34 associated crypto wallets.

Shortly after Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland announced the measure, both Powell and Armstrong tweeted that users should self-custody their crypto on self-custody apps run by their respective exchanges.

Self-custody means that the owner of the digital asset holds the private key for the wallet and thus has exclusive access. An appropriate metaphor would be keeping an asset in a safe with only the owner having the combination to the safe, instead of placing it in a bank.

At first glance, the pint-sized Republic of Georgia is an unlikely suspect for Bitcoin (BTC) mining activity. An underdog for mining, the country boasts abundant hydropower while ranked seventh worldwide for the World Bank’s ease-of-doing-business index — ahead of the United Kingdom and Germany.

Nestled on the Black Sea at the intersection of Europe and Asia, Georgia hosts Bitfury’s industrial mining operations as well as smaller, solo miners that tap into enormous amounts of hydroelectric power.

The country packs a punch for Bitcoin mining. While the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index puts Georgia’s hash rate at 0.18%, a detailed and long-term report by Arcane Research suggests the number is closer to 0.71%.

Jaran Mellerud, an analyst at Arcane Research and author of the report, told Cointelegraph:

“Home mining is big in Georgia, especially in regions with subsidized electricity. As long as there are electricity subsidies in certain regions of the country, people will continue setting up small home mining operations.”

Chinese cryptocurrency exchange Huobi is planning to re-enter the U.S. market more than two years after it ceased operations to comply with regulations, one of the company’s co-founders told CNBC.

But the company might not launch an exchange and instead could focus on other areas such as asset management, after missteps last time around, according to Du Jun.

 “In 2018, we tried to enter the U.S. market but we quickly withdrew ourselves because we didn’t have a strong commitment to the market at that time and we didn’t have a good management team in the U.S.,” Du said according to a CNBC translation of his comments in Mandarin.

 “I expect asset management to be a bigger business than exchange, which echoes the traditional finance market as well,” he told CNBC, adding, “I don’t think exchange is a necessary element for entering the U.S.”

Du did not confirm which business Huobi will launch first in its re-entry to the U.S. A step back into the U.S. market could put Huobi in competition with companies like Coinbase. Huobi is one of the top 10 biggest cryptocurrency exchanges by trading volume globally, according to CoinGecko.

Ethereum has been touted as “the cryptocurrency to beat” for several years now. However, it has become clear that its creeping gas fees and extremely high energy consumption have made it increasingly likely that it will be overtaken in the near future.

What are the Ethereum Successors? Before we go into detail about the different platforms that the crypto community has marked out as a threat to Ethereum, it’s important to first understand the key features of an “Ethereum Successor”:

It is decentralized

It is secure

It enables smart contracts

It offers a decentralized applications (DApps) platform

It is scalable

It enables transactions to take place quickly, and at a low cost

It can integrate with other blockchains

There are currently three top platforms involved in the battle to become the “Ethereum Killer”:

Solana, a public blockchain platform with a native currency known as SOL. It is a Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain, which allows validators to verify transactions based on how many tokens they hold. It also uses a new technology called Proof-of-History (PoH), which is proof for verifying order and passage of time between events.

Cardano, a public blockchain platform with a native currency known as ADA. It is also a PoS blockchain.

A United Kingdom-based commercial law firm, Gunnercooke, has become the latest practice to accept cryptocurrency as payment for services, a report has said. The firm also claims to be one of the first major U.K.-based law firms to give its clients the payment choice.

As explained in a Law Society Gazette report, Gunnercooke will now route any such payments via Coinpass, a registered cryptocurrency exchange platform. The report also names, Attestant, a cryptocurrency transactions verification service, as one of the law firm’s clients that are paying for services using cryptocurrency.

In his comments after the law’s firm formal confirmation that it will accept cryptocurrencies, Naseer Patel, finance director at Gunnercooke, explained the reasons that prompted the law firm to make this move. The report quotes Patel who said:

Up to now, only a few U.S. law firms allow for crypto asset payments, so we are proud to be at the forefront of innovation in the U.K. — We will now be able to work with a wider variety of clients across different jurisdictions, plus offer our partners the flexibility to be paid securely in the way they choose.