News Headlines (7th FEB 2024)

Crypto criminals will face life imprisonment in South Korea when new consumer protection rules take effect this July, the country’s financial regulator said Wednesday.

In December, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) proposed a consumer protection framework called the Virtual Asset User Protection Act. The rules take effect on July 19 and cover market manipulation, illegal trading and other violations leading to criminal punishment or fines, depending on the severity.

“In the case of criminal punishment, a fixed-term imprisonment of more than one year or a fine equivalent to three to five times the amount of unjust enrichment is possible,” the FSC said.

Software company MicroStrategy kicked off the year buying even more Bitcoin (BTC), the firm has announced.

In January, MicroStrategy bought 850 BTC at a price of $37.5 million, Saylor wrote on X (previously Twitter) on Tuesday. The company confirmed the latest buy in its 2023 fourth quarter earnings presentation.

The company now owns 190,000 BTC. That’s $8.2 billion in digital coins at today’s prices.

Crypto and blockchain topped the number of investments within the financial technology space in Canada, according to a report by accounting organization KPMG.

On Feb. 6, KPMG published a Canadian fintech report, highlighting that while deal volumes and values dropped significantly in 2023, crypto still remains at the top of the charts. KPMG’s data showed that the blockchain and crypto space had 31 deals last year, having the most deals compared to any other vertical in fintech. The software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry followed with 24 deals, while the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning industry had 15 deals.

According to Foresight News, the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) has issued a warning to the public about a suspicious cryptocurrency product called ‘Hong Kong International Financial Centre Token’. The promotional materials for this product claim that it has been officially approved in Hong Kong, but in reality, it has not been authorized by the SFC for sale to the public. The suspicious cryptocurrency product includes node staking and wealth management, offering virtual land and digital entertainment in the metaverse, introducing offshore digital RMB and digital Hong Kong dollars, and other arrangements and sales.

The city of Beijing has revealed a new set of policies aimed at enhancing energy conservation, tackling several activities with measures focused on this end. The document states that the city considers energy conservation a “key area” to strengthen the conservation of energy resources and a requirement for building an ecological civilization.

Cryptocurrency mining is included among the activities that will be policed specifically to promote carbon reduction, pollution reduction, and the expansion of green energy alongside construction, transportation, industry, and information technology.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on Tuesday delayed a decision on a spot ether (ETH) exchange-traded fund (ETF) jointly proposed by Invesco and Galaxy Digital, a filing shows.

The proposed product would allow professional investors to directly gain exposure to spot ether. Currently, ether futures listed on CME are one of the only ways for regulated U.S. investors and funds to bet on Ethereum’s growth.

Bloomberg Intelligence analyst James Seyffart said the delay decision was in line with expectations.

Dymension’s anticipated airdrop took place on Tuesday as the network’s mainnet went live, serving up over $390 million worth of DYM tokens for early users and select communities as the token surged in value following the launch.

DYM is currently up 58% on the day to a current price of $5.60, according to data from CoinGecko, with some $246 million worth of trading volume already on exchanges including Binance, ByBit, and KuCoin. The airdrop spans 700 million DYM tokens, representing 7% of the total supply.

Former Terraform Labs chief financial officer Han Chang-joon was extradited from United States lawmakers in the state of Virginia have proposed convening a work group to research blockchain technology, digital asset mining and cryptocurrency. The proposition was introduced as a Senate bill on Feb. 5.

Senate Bill No. 339 (SB339), which was proposed by the Senate Committee on Commerce and Labor, will authorize the Bureau of the Financial Institutions of the State Corporation Commission to create a work group “for the purpose of studying and making recommendations” on all things crypto.

According to the bill, the group shall consist of 13 individuals: five senators, five delegates from the House of Delegates, two experts on blockchain appointed by the bureau, and one member of the local government. All the nonlegislative members of the work group must be residing in Virginia.

A Seoul court has sentenced the CEO and technology head of cryptocurrency exchange Bitsonic to jail for stealing about $7.5 million worth of customer deposits. According to a report by South Korean media outlet Yonhap News, Bitsonic CEO Jinwook Shin got a seven-year sentence while the firm’s technology VP, only identified as “Mr. A,” received a one-year term.

The court ruled that Shin and Mr. A had “greatly damaged” trust in crypto exchanges and were “avoiding responsibility and showing no remorse.” It added that a significant amount of customer funds have not yet been recovered.

Vast Bank, headquartered in Oklahoma, United States, has announced its departure from the cryptocurrency market, coupled with the closure of its crypto mobile banking application. This decision, effective as of Jan. 31, marks a shift in the bank’s operational focus.

Introduced in 2021, Vast Bank’s mobile app, developed in collaboration with German software company SAP and crypto exchange Coinbase, allowed customers to buy, sell, and hold cryptocurrencies alongside their traditional checking accounts. This service positioned Vast Bank as the first U.S. bank to integrate cryptocurrency transactions into a conventional banking framework.