News Headlines (31st JAN 2024)

Jan. 31: Social Network is launching its testnet, aiming to become “the first-ever decentralized Bitcoin layer-2 staking protocol with native yield,” according to the team: “Earlier this week, Social Network released their official whitepaper and launched an Iincentive program including ‘Taproot Farmers,’ a unique Bitcoin Ordinals free mint for top testnet contributors. As the first fully decentralized, non-custodial BTC staking protocol, the protocol aims to address the significant challenges of congestion and high fees on the Bitcoin network by incorporating the Nostr decentralized social networking protocol, enhancing overall efficiency.”

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Solana is having a strong week with SOL up 25% over the past seven days, popping back above the $100 mark after dipping below $80 last week. The latest revival comes amid surging network activity ahead of Wednesday’s Jupiter token airdrop.

According to data from CoinGecko, Solana has ticked up about 2% on the day to a current price of about $103. While still far from the 2021 peak price of nearly $260, Solana has bounced back from the lows of late 2022 when it sank down near $8. It’s up 333% over the last year.

Circle’s USD Coin USDC $1.00 will launch natively on the Celo blockchain, the Celo Foundation has announced. Minting USDC on the blockchain will boost Celo’s use cases for real-world assets and enhance USDC’s convertibility into fiat currencies.

USDC will join Celo’s native proof-of-stake governance token, CELO $0.66, as the blockchain transitions from an Ethereum Virtual Machine-compatible layer-1 chain to an Ethereum layer-2 protocol. The Celo community will vote in an upcoming proposal on making USDC the gas currency for the ecosystem.

Mento Lab already issues the cUSD stablecoin on Celo, as well as other stablecoins such as the cEuro, cREAL (pegged to the Brazilian real) and eXOF (pegged to the West African CFA franc).

According to Foresight News, Hong Kong authorities are investigating Worldcoin for allegedly collecting customer iris data in violation of regulations. The Hong Kong authorities searched six locations of Worldcoin in Yau Ma Tei, Kwun Tong, Wan Chai, Cyberport, Central, and Causeway Bay, based on court orders. The Hong Kong authorities pointed out that the company’s scanning and collection of iris information from individuals participating in the Worldcoin project to obtain registered identities may involve violations of the Personal Data (Privacy) Ordinance. The Hong Kong authorities have urged citizens to be vigilant and not to provide biometric sensitive data casually.

The Argentine government has withdrawn the opportunities for declaring ownership of certain assets, including crypto, from the omnibus bill presented to Congress this month. The bill, titled “Law of Bases and Starting Points for the Freedom of Argentines,” seeks to advance reforms in several areas, including getting legislative powers for President Javier Milei, who could take action directly in several fields, sidestepping Congress.

Guillermo Francos, minister of interior, stated that the decision to withdraw these proposals derived from the lack of consensus in Congress regarding this part of the bill. According to local sources, Francos stated:

The proposal is aimed at generating freedom for economic development. It was essential to get this out quickly. The tax part was smaller and delayed treatment.

Layer 1 blockchain Sui, created by the team that led Meta’s Diem crypto project, climbed into the top 10 decentralized finance (DeFi) rankings Tuesday, less than a year after inception, the project said.

The total value locked (TVL) has jumped by more than 1,000% in four months, catapulting the blockchain above more established incumbents such as Bitcoin and Cardano, as well as Coinbase’s layer-2, Base. The dollar value of cryptocurrencies deposited in its decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols topped $430 million, making it the 10th-largest blockchain by TVL, Sui said. As of writing, it had slipped to No. 11, behind PulseChina, DeFi Llama data show.

El Salvador ‘s government loves Bitcoin, but Salvadorans? Not so much. The openly Bitcoin-friendly nation saw a sharp decline in cryptocurrency payments in 2023, despite Bitcoin’s price surge and significant governmental promotion efforts.

According to the Central Bank of El Salvador, the amount of money Salvadorans living outside their country sent to their local relatives—known as “remesas” or remittances—plummeted to $82.93 million from $116.4 million in 2022, in a stark contrast to the historical high of $8,181.8 million in all forms of family remittances—a 4.6% increase from the previous year.

China is set to make a major amendment to its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations to include cryptocurrency-related transactions amid calls for greater scrutiny of the nascent crypto industry by policymakers in the country.

According to local media, Prime Minister Li Qiang chaired an executive meeting of the State Council on Jan. 22 to discuss the revised AML law. The first revised draft of the country’s AML regulations was proposed in 2021, with the revised draft included in the legislative work plan of the State Council in 2023 and will be signed into law by 2025.

This will be the first significant revision to China’s AML regulations since 2007.

According to CoinDesk, the UK government and the Bank of England (BoE) released the results of their digital pound consultation on Thursday, addressing privacy concerns raised by respondents. The consultation, which closed in June last year, received 50,000 responses, with many expressing concerns about privacy. Experts believe the government’s approach to tackling these concerns, including the proposed platform model and legislation, could be effective.

The platform model suggests that the BoE would only provide the core infrastructure and ledger for a digital pound, while private firms would act as wallet providers. These private platforms would require identity information of wallet account holders to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. The government has also committed to enshrining individual privacy and control in law before launching a digital pound, which could be decided in 2025 or 2026.

In a recent event hosted by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) on Jan. 29, Rep. French Hill, an Arkansas Republican and chair of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology, and Inclusion, shared promising updates on the progress of two significant crypto-related bills.

Rep. Hill, during a panel discussion at the FDD event, conveyed a sense of optimism about the advancement of legislation concerning stablecoins and the broader regulatory framework for cryptocurrencies. He noted that by the end of 2023, lawmakers had marked up two bills: the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act and the Clarity for Payment Stablecoins Act. Both pieces of legislation had progressed out of the House Financial Services Committee in July 2023, setting the stage for a full House vote.