News Headlines (13th December 2023)

Crypto exchange KuCoin has agreed to pay $22 million to the State of New York and to bar state residents from using its platform, according to a stipulation and consent order filed in the New York Supreme Court on Dec. 12.

According to the order, KuCoin admits that it “operates a cryptocurrency trading platform on which users, including users in New York state, can purchase or sell cryptocurrencies which are securities or commodities as defined under the laws of New York state and that Kucoin is not registered as a securities or commodities broker-dealer.”

In addition, KuCoin “admits that it represented itself as an ‘exchange’ and was not registered as an exchange pursuant to the laws of New York State.”

Cathie Wood’s investment management firm, ARK Invest, sold Coinbase (COIN) stock for a third straight day as the shares held steady within 5% of the year’s high.

The firm offloaded a total of 82,255 shares worth about $11.5 million at Tuesday’s closing price from the ARK Innovation (ARKK), ARK Next Generation Internet (ARKW) and ARK Fintech Innovation (ARKF) exchange-traded funds (ETF). It has reduced its stake in the crypto exchange on all but two trading days this month.

Coinbase stock has been surging as bitcoin (BTC) climbs. The largest cryptocurrency by market cap has added about 150% this year, while Coinbase has almost quadrupled.*1isx3ya*_up*MQ..*_ga*MjM4Njk5MDU3LjE3MDI0NzA5MDA.*_ga_VM3STRYVN8*MTcwMjQ3MDg5OS4xLjEuMTcwMjQ3MDk1OS4wLjAuMA..

BlackRock intends to make it easier for Wall Street banks to participate in its Bitcoin ETF—should it be approved—by shifting risk to crypto market makers.

The plan includes a novel way for shares in the ETF to be redeemed, according to a memo the SEC shared about a late November meeting between BlackRock, Nasdaq, and the Commission. The parties met last month to discuss feedback on the asset manager’s Bitcoin ETF application.

According to Bloomberg, Abu Dhabi is becoming a popular destination for crypto companies seeking eager investors and friendlier regulators, as major markets like the US experience an absence of both. Companies cite a growing network of partners and developing government policy as advantages to basing themselves in the city, in addition to deep-pocketed investors. While neighboring Dubai established a crypto-specific watchdog called the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) in March last year, officials in Abu Dhabi have been making a concerted play for the young industry’s attention.

In a historic event at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire, presidential candidates from both sides of the political aisle gathered on Dec. 11, 2023, for the first-ever Crypto Presidential Forum, organized by the Stand with Crypto Alliance and Coindesk. With the 2024 U.S. presidential election fast approaching, the event, which can be viewed in its entirety here, offered a unique platform for candidates to express their views on the burgeoning cryptocurrency industry and the current state of digital asset regulation in the United States.

First up was Republican candidate and former governor of Arkansas Asa Hutchinson with a clear message of support for the crypto industry, saying, “I want the crypto industry to flourish in America and that the United States will lead.” To accomplish this, he outlined four points: clarity of rules, consumer confidence, coding ability, and affordable energy.

The criminal investigation unit of the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has listed four crypto-related cases among the top ten of its “most prominent and high-profile investigations” in 2023.

In a Dec. 11 notice, the IRS unit said there were four significant cases in 2023 involving the seizure of cryptocurrency, fraudulent practices, money laundering and other schemes. Coming in at its third most high-profile investigation in the past year was OneCoin co-founder Karl Sebastian Greenwood, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in September for his role in marketing and selling a fraudulent crypto asset.

Bitcoin (BTC) and Tether (USDT) are the favorite cryptocurrencies of Howard Lutnick, CEO of Wall Street broker Cantor Fitzgerald.

“I am a fan of crypto, but let me be very specific, bitcoin, just bitcoin. These other coins, they are just not a thing,” he said during an interview with CNBC’s Money Movers podcast. Lutnick also said that he’s a fan of Tether, as Cantor Fitzgerald is one of the stablecoin’s custodians. Other custodians are Charles Schwab (SCHW) and Fidelity.

“I’m a big fan of this stablecoin called Tether…I hold their treasuries. So I keep their treasuries, and they have a lot of treasuries,” he said. For Lutnick, bitcoin’s value comes from its decentralization, something it hasn’t struggled with, unlike Ethereum or some layer-1s.*1isx3ya*_up*MQ..*_ga*MjM4Njk5MDU3LjE3MDI0NzA5MDA.*_ga_VM3STRYVN8*MTcwMjQ3MDg5OS4xLjEuMTcwMjQ3MDk1OS4wLjAuMA..

Binance may have settled with U.S. regulators to the tune of $4.3 billion, but it still faces an ongoing lawsuit from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

In a series of court filings Tuesday, Binance pushed for the suit to be dismissed, claiming that the SEC has applied a “novel, contorted interpretation” of securities laws, and accusing the regulator of “territorial aggrandizement.”

In the first of its filings, Binance and its founder Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao argued that the regulator had built “virtually its entire case on the argument that an “investment contract” need not include either an investment or a contract.”

According to Foresight News, Nasdaq Co-President Cohen stated that Nasdaq will reuse cryptocurrency technology to develop the carbon market. In July 2023, Nasdaq suspended the launch of digital asset custody services. Cohen said that the services will still be launched, but as a technology service. He added, ‘We will have an institutional-grade end-to-end technology platform that can not only power digital assets but also markets like carbon.’

The rise of stablecoins creates a new wave of financial interoperability and easier global commerce. Latin America, in particular, is at the forefront of this revolution with its rapid adoption and integration of digital currencies into everyday financial activities.

According to a Mastercard survey, 51% of the consumers in this region have used digital currencies for purchases, with one-third relying on stablecoins for routine shopping. This widespread adoption is driven by a large population having limited access to conventional banking services, offering a lifeline to underbanked people and the large developer base in the region.