News Headlines (21st December 2023)

The January launch of a bitcoin (BTC) spot exchange-traded fund (ETF) is expected to face subdued demand initially, which could lead to a ‘sell the news’ scenario, Singapore-based QCP Capital wrote in a recent note. This could result in short-term volatility for bitcoin, which will shift the focus towards ether (ETH).

“It is likely that the actual demand for the bitcoin spot ETF at the start will fall short of market expectations,” QCP wrote. “We expect topside resistance for bitcoin in the $45k-$48.5k region and a possible retracement to 36k levels before the uptrend resumes.”

ARK Invest, Cathie Wood’s asset management firm, has sold roughly $181 million worth of Coinbase and $64 million worth of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust shares since November 21, according to disclosures for its ETF trades.

It’s one thing to frequently see the firm taking profits on its COIN and GBTC holdings over the past month, but quite another when it all tallies up to nearly $245 million. The totals were calculated by Decrypt using each share’s closing price for the days when ARK reported what it bought and sold to rebalance its holdings.

Worldcoin has shut off its offline orb verification function for users in three markets: India, Brazil, and France, a report by Moneycontrol on Dec. 21 says.

A five-pound chromatic helmet that scans individuals’ eyeballs to verify their identities, the Orb was conceived by Worldcoin as a tool for onboarding the inhabitants of those regions where traditional ID is not always available.

The company stimulated the offline onboarding process by offering rewards in USDC for local Orb operators. Starting in November, Worldcoin began paying the rewards in its native token, WLD.

According to Moneycontrol, Worldcoin “silently discontinued” the orb verification process in India “3-4 months ago,” despite the crowds gathering in queues for Orb operators in some parts of the country. However, Tools for Humanity, the foundation overseeing Worldcoin, explained that from the start, the Orb was a “limited-time access” initiative in India, France and Brazil.

According to Foresight News, Solend, a lending protocol in the Solana ecosystem, has announced the launch of a new project called Suilend on the Sui platform. Suilend is set to go live in the first quarter of 2024 and will offer rewards to Solend users.

The launch of Suilend aims to further expand the Solana ecosystem and provide additional benefits to users of the Solend lending protocol. More details about the project and its rewards system are expected to be revealed closer to the launch date.

The European Union (EU) announced on Dec. 18 that it had adopted a new package of economic and individual sanctions. The package now bars Russian nationals from owning or controlling crypto service providers. This ban is part of the EU’s attempt to “limit circumvention of the prohibition” on the provision of crypto-related services already imposed.

According to the European Commission (EC), the new sanctions package seeks to fulfil the EU’s key objective of finding “a just and lasting peace, not another frozen conflict.” In the document that answers key questions about the Russian sanctions, the EC insisted that the EU sanctions policy has already had the desired effect on the Russian economy.

Metaverse platform The Sandbox is aiming to make India its largest market within the next 2 years after entering the nation earlier this year through a joint venture with a local entity, a first for the subsidiary of metaverse gaming and venture capital giant Animoca Brands.

“We want to build a diverse and inclusive world with no borders, bringing different regions of the world together, and with that vision in mind, a year ago, we started out in India to establish a joint venture,” Sandbox Co-Founder Sebastien Borget told CoinDesk in an interview in India’s southern city of Bengaluru earlier this month.

Phantom, the self-custody crypto wallet that began on Solana, announced Wednesday that it has rolled out compatibility with Bitcoin, Ordinals, and BRC-20 tokens. And some Bitcoin backers that sought to expand the original cryptocurrency’s ecosystem in recent years are celebrating the move as a milestone.

The addition comes just months after Phantom expanded beyond its native Solana to add support for dapps and assets on Ethereum and scaling network Polygon. Bitcoin’s own ecosystem has substantially expanded in 2023 thanks to the launch of the Ordinals protocol,

In a survey titled Tackling Crypto Crime, conducted by TRM Labs with over 300 U.S. and international law enforcement professionals, 90% of respondents believe their organizations offer crypto training, but 99% call for this to be increased.

According to the survey, 93% of respondents were from U.S. law enforcement, with a majority from federal agencies and the rest from state, county, and local agencies. 40% of their investigations involved crypto, and they anticipate it to reach 51% by 2027. Despite expectations of increased crypto studies, most law enforcement professionals feel unprepared for this future.

An external polling company conducted the survey between October 18 and Nov. 3, 2023. Respondents had at least one year of employment at their current law enforcement organization and investigated or oversaw at least one criminal offense involving cryptocurrency in the past year.

According to Foresight News, the US Appeals Court has officially decided to seize 69,370 Bitcoins and other cryptocurrencies related to the now-dissolved Silk Road darknet market. The decision was first made in August and is now in effect. In 2020, the US Department of Justice seized and began seeking formal confiscation of these cryptocurrencies, which were worth over $100 million at the time. A few days ago, 69,369 Bitcoins were moved out of the wallet address, marking the first activity since 2015.

Family offices might be considering putting more funds behind crypto and blockchain initiatives. A recent report prepared by Grant Thornton, a professional services network that operates in over 147 markets and employs over 68,000 personnel, has revealed that family offices are warming up to crypto and blockchain. 35% of these offices hope to increase their exposure to blockchain investments, while 27% expect to increase their investments in cryptocurrency.

Nonetheless, these two investment tools are not new for this kind of institution, as more than half of the offices consulted had already invested some of their funds in crypto. As a reference, 38% of the businesses had allocated less than 1% of their portfolio to these investments.