Crypto News Headlines (27-April-2022)

The Central Bank of Cuba (BCC) will issue licenses for virtual asset service providers, it announced Tuesday.

According to a Spanish-language resolution published in Cuba’s official gazette, the license will be available to natural persons — an individual human being — or legal persons — an organization — both Cuban and foreign.

The approved licenses will be valid for one year and may be extended for a second year, “given the experimental and novel nature of this type of activity,” the BCC said.

The providers will be allowed to operate with virtual assets approved by the BCC, the resolution said, without disclosing further details. It did clarify that virtual assets “do not include digital representations of fiat currency, securities and other financial assets widely used in traditional banking and financial systems, which are regulated in other provisions of the Central Bank of Cuba.”

Panama is taking steps to regulate crypto assets and the businesses that use them in the country. The National Assembly of the country, which is the highest legislative organization in Panama, has taken the first step toward regulating the use of cryptocurrencies. The institution has approved in the first debate a cryptocurrency law project titled “Law that regulates the commercialization and use of crypto assets, the issuance of digital value, the tokenization of precious metals and other goods, payment systems and other provisions.”

The proposed law includes definitions and concepts about cryptocurrencies, blockchain technology, and the implementation of these decentralized tools to simplify state affairs. This approved project comes as an amalgamation of two different proposals presented as law projects 696 and 697, according to a social media post from the institution.

Buenos Aires Mayor Horacio Rodriguez Larreta today gave a virtual presentation touting ways to optimize city government, one of which is allowing residents to pay taxes in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.

The plan has 12 main goals, another of which is using blockchain technology for protecting personal data. Dubbed Buenos Aires+, the overall vision focuses heavily on improving public services through technological reforms.

“We have the clear conviction that citizens must own their information, their documents, because we trust in their capacity and they have the responsibility to do so,” Rodriguez Larreta said during his presentation. “All this data flow, which is going to increase exponentially, is going to be protected by blockchain technology, the second transformation.”

The Brazilian Senate plenary approved Tuesday night a bill regulating crypto transactions.

The bill, introduced by Senator Flávio Arns, moves next to the Brazilian Chamber of Deputies, which will vote on the bill. If approved, the executive branch then has the power to veto it.

The text creates the label “virtual service providers” for crypto companies, which will be subject to the same responsibilities as other financial institutions for crimes against the Brazilian financial system.

If approved, the bill will prevent the Brazilian Securities and Exchange Commission from overseeing the crypto market, except for initial coin offerings (ICO). In counterpart, it determines that the Brazilian executive branch will designate an agency to supervise the crypto sector.

The Brazilian Senate’s economic affairs committee had approved Arns’ bill in February, shelving two other crypto bills presented by senators Styvenson Valentim and Soraya Thronicke.

The launch of Australia’s first three Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) exchange-traded funds (ETF) scheduled for Wednesday has been delayed as a result of further “checks” needing to be completed.

The exchange listing the Bitcoin Spot ETF from Cosmos Asset Management, Cboe Australia, released a statement late Tuesday stating that “standard checks prior to the commencement of trading are still being completed” and a “further update will be provided in the coming days.”

Cboe issued the same notice regarding two spot ETFs issued by 21Shares also scheduled for launch today, a Bitcoin ETF and an Ether ETF.

It’s unclear why the products are delayed with the Australian Financial Review reporting that a “service provider downstream” — an entity such as a prime broker or major institution with the power to delay listings until it’s ready to support the trade of the products — could be to blame for the holdup.

According to the latest Bitcoin Mining Council (BMC) report, the bitcoin mining industry continues to improve its sustainable energy use and technological efficiency. The Q1 2022 survey conducted by the BMC, showcases three metrics which include: “electricity consumption, technological efficiency, and sustainable power mix.” BMC researchers managed to survey roughly 50% of the network’s hashpower, which represented 100.9 exahash per second (EH/s) on March 31, 2022.

The voluntary sector survey indicated that out of all the participants 64.6% leverage electricity with a sustainable power mix. “Based on this data it is estimated that the global bitcoin mining industry’s sustainable electricity mix is now 58.4% or had increased approximately 59% year-on-year, from Q1 2021 to Q1 2022, making it one of the most sustainable industries globally,” the BMC report highlights.

Popular no-commission trading platform Robinhood (HOOD) is cutting roughly 9% of its full-time workforce, CEO and co-founder Vlad Tenev announced in a blog post Tuesday afternoon.

Tenev wrote that throughout 2020 and the first half of 2021, the company went through a period of “hyper growth” fueled by coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, low interest rates and government fiscal stimulus. Over that time period, staffing rose by almost six times from 700 to almost 3,800.

That rapid growth led to duplicate roles and functions, Tenev wrote, leading to the decision to cut jobs. “After carefully considering all these factors, we determined that making these reductions to Robinhood’s staff is the right decision to improve efficiency, increase our velocity, and ensure that we are responsive to the changing needs of our customers.”

Grayscale, the world’s largest digital asset manager, with $30 billion in assets under management is planning to expand its footprint in the European market.

Grayscale Chief Executive Officer Michael Sonnenshein said that they have yet to decide the countries and exchanges with whom they shall be partnering. Speaking to Bloomberg on Tuesday, April 26, Sonnenshein said that he’s currently having talks with local partners to discuss the timeline. The crypto asset manager is also willing to run pilot tests in local markets. He added:

“Although the EU is unified, we don’t view the entire European market as in fact one market. Instead we’re going to be very thoughtful, very methodical about each of the financial centers and financial hubs that we ultimately launch in, because we recognize the differentiation of investor behaviors and attitudes, and of regulatory regimes.”

In 2017, “Ethereum killer” became a popular marketing term to describe a host of novel blockchains promising faster and cheaper transactions than those offered by the industry’s leader.

Since then, a lot has changed, though. And with it, a change in focus.

“We hate that. We don’t consider ourselves an Ethereum competitor,” John Wu, the president of Ava Labs, said during the latest episode of Decrypt’s GM podcast. “There’s too much of this ‘us vs. them’ in this space.”

Ava Labs was co-founded in 2018 by Cornell University professor Emin Gün Sirer, who has claimed that Avalanche—a proof-of-stake (PoS) blockchain for new financial primitives and decentralized applications (dApps)—is the fastest smart contracts platform in the blockchain industry, as measured by time-to-finality.

The New York State Assembly passed a bill late on Tuesday that would place a two-year ban on all new proof-of-work (PoW) cryptocurrency mining facilities in the state that use a carbon-based fuel to power their operations.

The bill, sponsored by Anna Kelles, would not only impose a two-year hold on approval of any new Bitcoin mines, but the proposed moratorium would also prevent the renewal of permits issued to existing PoW cryptocurrency miners using carbon sourced energy if they seek to increase the amount of electricity consumed.

The bill gathered the support it needed to pass, with 95 in favor and 52 against, and will now be carried by Senator Kevin Parker for a vote in the State Senate. If successful, it will then be delivered to Governor Kathy Hochul, who can veto the bill or sign it into law.