Crypto News Headlines (29-April-2022)

  • US Labor Department Has ‘Grave Concerns’ About Fidelity’s Plan for Bitcoin in 401(k) Retirement Plans, Wall Street Journal Reports

Fidelity Investment’s plan to allow for the inclusion of bitcoin in its operated 401(k) accounts is facing headwinds from the U.S. Labor Department, which regulates company-sponsored retirement plans, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal.

“We have grave concerns with what Fidelity has done,” Ali Khawar, acting assistant secretary of the Employee Benefits Security Administration, told the Wall Street Journal.

Khawar highlighted the speculative nature of cryptocurrency and the hype around the fear of missing out as reasons his department is concerned about the move.

Riot Blockchain (NASDAQ: RIOT) is expanding operations in Texas as it is currently developing a 1 GW mining facility in Navarro County. According to Riot, the first phase has begun, which includes “land acquisition, site preparation, substation development, and transmission construction.”

Furthermore, Riot is constructing a few buildings that will house the firm’s immersion-cooling infrastructure and technology. The company expects the cost of the first phase of expansion to be approximately $333 million.

Bitcoin mining in Texas has grown a great deal over the last few years and in 2021, the mining firm Blockcap set up the company’s headquarters in Austin and Former Texas governor Rick Perry welcomed the mining team. A number of other bitcoin mining companies have been migrating to the Lone Star state in recent times.

While Blockcap made its announcement in the first week of April 2021, at the same time, Riot announced the acquisition of a mining site in Rockdale, Texas for $650 million. Riot’s latest move in Navarro County will start with 400 MW and the firm hopes to offer bitcoin mining and hosting capabilities by July 2023.

Just two days after laying off 9% of its workforce, Robinhood today announced its Q1 2022 earnings, which suggest a continued downward pattern for the overall business—but an uptick in crypto revenue for the quarter.

Overall, Robinhood reported total net revenues of $299 million for the quarter, down nearly 18% from the $363 million reported for Q4 2021. It’s an even more dramatic dip compared to this time last year, when the stock and crypto trading app notched $522 million in net revenue.

Despite the larger slip, however, Robinhood’s crypto division actually saw an increase from last quarter, jumping nearly 13% from $48 million in Q4 2021 to $54 million in Q1 2022.

Eric Schmidt – Google’s CEO from 2001 to 2011 – recently revealed that he’s put a “little bit of money” into cryptocurrencies. However, he said he’s most fascinated in the web 3 ecosystem, with less interest in Bitcoin or other virtual assets of themselves.

The Decentralized Internet

In an interview with CNBC, Schmidt showed curiosity about Web 3’s ability to grant users control of their identity, without relying on a “centralized manager”.

Web 3 is the crypto community term for the hypothetical next generation of the internet. It is ideally just as functional as the “web 2” internet we know today, underpinned by more decentralized governance using the power of smart contract blockchains and advanced “tokenomics”.

Tokenomics are the supply and demand dynamics that blockchain ecosystems and apps use to compensate their users. They’re intended to create stronger, more objective incentives for building digital value.

As Singapore continues to play an active role in boosting crypto adoption across the Asia-Pacific region, the country’s first licensed crypto exchange Independent Reserve conducted a retail-focused survey to better understand the underlying potential of the regulated market.

Independent Reserve’s survey — conducted across all age groups and genders of the Singapore population — revealed a strong affinity for various financial opportunities brought forward by decentralized finance (DeFi) and other investment opportunities.

Panamanian Congressman Gabriel Silva – the sponsor of a bill passed on Thursday regulating the use of cryptocurrencies in the country – said the bill doesn’t allow for any crypto to become legal tender, but makes possible free use of crypto as a means of payment for any transaction.

“We can’t just establish bitcoin because that will be unconstitutional and if it’s unconstitutional, then the project won’t happen,” said Silva, speaking on Twitter spaces. Panama has no currency per its constitution, but has officially been on the U.S. dollar for more than a century.

Prior to the bill, said Silva, it was illegal for digital asset companies to set up shop in Panama, but that would change once the legislation becomes law.

India’s finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman, discussed cryptocurrency regulation Wednesday at a fireside chat organized by Stanford University School of Medicine.

She explained that India will not rush to finalize the country’s crypto policy. On the contrary, she said India will take an informed decision after due deliberations across multilateral fora, the Mint reported.

Sitharaman admitted that blockchain technology has the potential to improve India’s economy. “Blockchain is full of potential not just in the payments arena but also in many others,” she described, adding:

Our intention is in no way to hurt the ecosystem, or to even say that we don’t need it, but to define for ourselves how we need them and in what ways their growth should be facilitated and how we are going to handle it.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers—including the leading Republican on the House Agriculture Committee—has introduced a new bill to regulate developers, dealers, and exchanges working with digital commodities, including stablecoins and, ostensibly, Bitcoin.

The Digital Commodity Exchange Act of 2022—which would expand the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s regulatory power—is sponsored by Rep. Glenn Thompson (R-PA), the ranking Republican member of the House Agriculture Committee, as well as Rep. Tom Emmer (R-MN). The bill has also pulled support from across the aisle, with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) and Rep. Darren Soto (D-FL) signing on as co-sponsors.

The CEO of Singapore’s DBS Bank said in a recent earnings call that his bank’s focus is on expanding its crypto offerings to accredited and institutional investors and will consider opening up a retail line when regulators and the technology is ready.

During its previous earnings call in February, DBS said that it plans to launch a retail crypto trading desk by the end of 2022. However, in early April it did a complete flip on the plans citing regulatory worries.

CEO Piyush Gupta did not explicitly rule out the retail crypto plan and said that the bank wants to focus on its accredited and institutional offerings in order to mature the technology and scale it.

Australian Senator Andrew Bragg has met with United States Senator Cynthia Lummis to discuss potential collaboration on cryptocurrency regulation between the two countries.

Senator Bragg is a crypto-friendly politician from the ruling Liberal Party, a conservative center-right party, that has been one of the driving forces behind a proposed forward-thinking regulatory scheme in Australia.

Last year, he fronted the Senate Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Center (ATFC), which tabled 12 extensive regulatory proposals relating to taxation, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) and company licensing. Two months later, Treasurer Josh Frydenburg outlined intentions to begin implementing at least six of the proposals by mid-2022.