Crypto News Headlines (28-Feb-2022)

The European Union has “resolved” to isolate Russia from the international financial system, including by blocking some banks from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), the messaging network underpinning global financial transactions.

In blocking Russia from SWIFT, the European Union would block Russian institutions from conducting any interbank transactions with non-Russian entities, effectively cutting it off from the global financial system. The move came days after Russian military forces launched attacks on various cities and military bases in Ukraine, including in the nation’s capitol Kiev.

Italy, Hungary and Cyprus were initially opposed to the move, but expressed support for it on Friday and Saturday. Meanwhile, Germany is in favor of “targeted and functional” restrictions on Russia.

The European Commission formalized this support later Saturday in a public statement attributed to the EC, France, Germany, Italy, UK, Canada and U.S.

“We commit to ensuring that selected Russian banks are removed from the SWIFT messaging system. This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally,” the statement said.

Bitcoin trades were steady as commodity prices rallied on Monday, hinting at higher inflation ahead. However, the resilience to the escalating Ukraine-Russia crisis may prove fleeting as demand for the the U.S. dollar, the global reserve currency and one of the most liquid asset globally, is rising.

At 08:23 UTC, the cryptocurrency was changing hands near $38,350, representing a 1.7% gain on the day. Prices fell over 3% on Sunday, providing negative cues to traditional markets.

Oil is trading 4% higher on both sides of the Atlantic, extending its recent exponential rally. Russia and Ukraine-linked agricultural commodities like wheat and corn are up 4% and 3%, respectively, according to data from

“The range of near-term price outcomes for commodities has become extreme, given the concern of further military escalation, energy sanctions or potential for a cease-fire,” Goldman said in a note to clients on Sunday, according to Reuters.

The Russian ruble plunged 40% during early Russian trading hours and hit a record low of 118 per U.S. dollar as the western countries stepped up punitive sanctions on Moscow, intending to isolate the country from the global financial system.

The Bank of Russia raised rates from 9.5% to 20% and ordered companies to sell 80% of their foreign currency revenue to counter ruble depreciation risks and higher inflation, per Reuters.

The founder of the infamous crypto exchange BitConnect, Satish Kumbhani, has been charged for allegedly misleading investors globally and defrauding them of $2.4 billion in the process.

According to the Department of Justice (DOJ), a San Diego-based federal grand jury specifically charged Kumbhani for orchestrating the alleged Ponzi scheme via BitConnect’s “Lending Program”:

 “BitConnect operated as a Ponzi scheme by paying earlier BitConnect investors with money from later investors. In total, Kumbhani and his co-conspirators obtained approximately $2.4 billion from investors.”

Back in 2017 amid the hype, BitConnect (BCC) recorded an all-time high of $463.31 in trading price, which according to the DOJ reached a peak market capitalization of $3.4 billion. However, as evidenced by the graph above, the prices soon collapsed within a few months causing massive losses to investors.

EBay  (EBAY) – Get eBay Inc. Report which aims to be the marketplace for Gen-Z and millennials, is studying the possibility of adding cryptocurrencies as possible means of payment. The firm could make an announcement on March 10 during its day dedicated to investors, its CEO Jamie Iannone told TheStreet.

“We’re just completing our transition to manage payments where we’re now managing $85 billion of volume on our platform directly,” Iannone told TheStreet. “This gives us the ability to open up new forms of payment.”

“We opened up Google Pay and Apple Pay. We have a partnership with Afterpay in Australia, which is a platform that appeals to Gen Z, and that is a buy now pay later platform on the marketplace,” Iannone continued.

“And so we continue to evaluate other forms of payments that we should take on the platform. We don’t currently accept cryptocurrency on the platform.”

Ukraine’s government has raised more than $10 million in cryptocurrency donations, turning to an unlikely crowdfunding method to help it get through a brutal invasion from Russia.

The official Twitter account of the Ukrainian government on Saturday posted addresses for two crypto wallets, one accepting only bitcoin and the other taking ether and tether, a token that tracks the value of the U.S. dollar.

As of Sunday, those wallets have attracted $10.2 million worth of crypto, according to research from blockchain analytics firm Elliptic. That’s on top of the millions in digital currency donated to nongovernmental organizations supporting the Ukrainian military.

About $1.86 million of the money donated to Ukraine’s government was generated through the sale of a non-fungible token, or NFT, originally intended to raise funds for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, Elliptic said.

NFTs are unique digital assets designed to represent ownership of virtual items, such as artwork or video game characters.

Non-resident holders of Russian equities will not be able to liquidate their holdings, the Central Bank of Russia announced on Monday, effectively banning foreign trading hours before the market is set to open.

Non-resident traders will likely be looking to limit or eliminate their exposure to the sanctioned economy, but are going to find that impossible for the time being.

The central bank delayed trading as it worked behind the scenes to assess the impact of the sanctions placed on the country. The currency markets opened Monday with the Ruble dropping 40% against the dollar. A decision will soon be made on whether the equities market will open for the day.

The European Union has committed to removing Russia from interbank messaging network SWIFT, along with the U.S., U.K., and Canada. South Korea announced on Monday that it would also ban the export of certain strategic items to Russia, along with banning its banks from transacting with Russia via SWIFT.

Over the weekend the U.S., EU, U.K., and Canada added Russian President Vladimir Putin to their sanctions list.

Bitcoin network’s proof-of-work mining consensus has been a topic of evironmental, social and governance (ESG) debates for a long time and a new study may only add to the growing controversy around BTC’s carbon footprint.

A new research report titled “Revisiting Bitcoin’s carbon footprint” published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Joules has highlighted that the Chinese crypto mining ban might not have contributed to the reduction in the carbon footprint of the Bitcoin network as propagated by many Bitcoiners, on the contrary, it has increased by 17%.

China was the primary hub for Bitcoin miners before May 2021 and accounted for more than 60% of the total Bitcoin network hashpower. However, the blanket ban imposed by the government led to the migration of most of the mining farms out of the country. China’s BTC mining hashpower share fell from over 60% in May to near zero in August, with miners moving to the United States, Russia and Kazakhstan.

Crypto pundits predicted that the migration of miners out of China would not only make BTC mining more decentralized as well as greener but, the new Joule report shows otherwise. The new research report highlighted that the amount of renewable energy used to power BTC mining has declined from 42% to around 25% since last August.

India’s crypto community feels it could extend a helping hand towards Ukraine at a time when the Russia-Ukraine war has disrupted banking services for its people.

In April 2021, when India was struggling with the devastating second wave of covid-19, ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, among others, came forward to support the country’s covid relief fund for medical facilities. The donations haven’t stopped since then. So far, the India Crypto Relief Fund, founded by Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal in April 2021 has collected a total of $57.11 million at the prevailing market rate.

A decentralized autonomous organization simply called The DAO was launched on the Ethereum blockchain in 2016. These organizations are online groups that issue digital tokens for members to buy. The tokens impart voting rights to guide the organization’s direction. The DAO raised $150 million in ether in this way, but due to the underlying code’s vulnerabilities, The DAO was hacked and 3.6 million ether (currently worth over $9 billion) was stolen.

The hack led to a “hard fork” in the ethereum blockchain, which created a new blockchain, essentially erasing the hack. But not all of The DAO’s members agreed on this decision. That’s why two ethereum blockchains exist today: ethereum and ethereum classic.

Ethereum is now one of the most prominent blockchains, and the hacking incident has remained unsolved for years. Earlier this week, however, journalist Laura Shin, in preparation for the release of her book The Cryptopians, said she uncovered the identity of The DAO hacker. Shin traced the hacker — an Australian programmer who had been active in the early crypto industry — using tracking tools from Chainalysis, a blockchain tracing firm.

The U.K. government is proposing a set of reforms, which will give it greater power to seize crypto assets, to tackle money laundering, the Financial Times reported on Monday.

The reforms will be set out under a new economic crime bill aimed at addressing the use of digital currencies to hide the origin of potentially nefarious funding, FT reported.

Ministers will soon publish a white paper proposing reforms to the Companies House, the U.K.’s registrar where all businesses must submit financial statements and other information.

The reforms will insist that applicants registering new companies should provide more details of their identities.

These proposals are being brought forward in conjunction with another economic crime bill introducing a register of overseas entities, requiring foreign owners of companies to reveal their identities prevent criminals from concealing funds behind shell companies.

Such a legislation has been been in the works for some time, but was delayed in favour of other measures which had more mass appeal.

The government is now accelerating its plans in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has sharpened concerns about the flow of “dirty money” into the U.K.