News Headlines (8th FEB 2024)

Bitcoin (BTC) surged Wednesday over $44,000 to a fresh four-week high amid increased BTC accumulation by large holders and new all-time highs in U.S. equity indices.

The largest and oldest crypto by market value rose from $42,700 earlier in the day to as much as $44,300, its highest price since Jan. 12, the day after spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETF) began trading in the U.S.

Bitcoin’s 2.5% advance over the past 24 hours is pacing the CoinDesk 20’s 1.6% gain over the same time frame. Ether (ETH) is among other upside movers, ahead 2.3%. Lagging is Cardano (ADA) with a 0.4% decline.

When he was the UK’s Treasury head, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged to turn the United Kingdom into a crypto hub.

Two years later, these ambitions are being thwarted by a low rate of company registrations, industry insiders warn.

DL News looked into the registry of virtual asset service providers in the UK, established in 2020 by the watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority.

Registry data shows that while 28 companies applied in the past year to provide crypto asset services, the FCA approved just four applications — an 11% rejection rate.

The four? Brokerage firm Interactive Brokers, crypto exchange Bitstamp, Nomura-backed crypto custodian Komainu, and payments giant PayPal.

The government of Hong Kong will tighten regulations on over-the-counter (OTC) digital assets trade by subjecting it to the same requirements as the retail digital assets trade.

On Feb. 8, the government published its “Public Consultation on Legislative Proposals to Regulate Over-the-Counter Trading of Virtual Assets.” The consultation will last until April 12.

The primary suggestion of the paper is to include OTC trade under the jurisdiction of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance (AMLO), effective from June 2023. Typically, OTC means deals conducted directly between the provider and the customer without a centralized marketplace, such as an exchange.

According to CryptoPotato, Cardano’s price began Tuesday at $0.50, situated in the convergence zone between two 60-day trend lines with key support at $0.50. As a result, ADA tokens are displaying some intriguing market signals. The Ethereum competitor and blue-chip cryptocurrency is exhibiting interesting technical signals, such as a falling wedge and surging trading volume. Furthermore, as Cardano’s price remained above $0.50 while testing falling resistance in January, the number of ADA holders with losses recovered significantly.

In a notice dated Feb. 6, the SEC announced its intention to open the proposal to public commentary, extending the decision-making period by an additional 35 days from its publication in the Federal Register. The SEC can push the final decision up to 240 days from the filing date in October 2023, which means the final potential deadline is July 2024 for the SEC’s ruling.

The application by Invesco and Galaxy Digital comes amid a wave of interest in cryptocurrency ETFs, particularly following the SEC’s landmark approval of spot bitcoin ETFs from several asset managers, including Blackrock and Fidelity, that began trading on Jan. 10.

Bakkt, a crypto platform introduced amid great fanfare in 2018 by the owner of the New York Stock Exchange, warned Wednesday that it might not be able to stay in business.

“We might not be able to continue as a going concern,” the company said in a document filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. “We do not believe that our cash and restricted cash are sufficient to fund our operations for the 12 months following the date of” the filing.

Bakkt is seeking to sell up to $150 million of securities, according to a Bakkt spokesperson, which could ease this problem.

Following dramatic trading activity in the Ronin token this week, Binance co-founder Yi He warned the exchange’s employees on Tuesday to not disclose information about upcoming listings.

“If there is any information leaked about a project for any reason, you will be warned once and then fired,” she said in Mandarin in an X post on February 6.

Ronin’s RON token surged 17% in a 24 period beginning February 4, and then plunged 25% following its listing on Binance the next day. The pattern suggested some investors may have had inside knowledge of the pending listing.

Yi He appeared to believe this was the case. In her tweets, she said listings will be cancelled if it appears that information was leaked and encouraged employees to come forward and disclose information in such an event.

“We welcome reports involving currency listings and other corruption,” she said. “If you prove that a Binance team member is corrupt, we will keep your identity confidential and provide you with a security vulnerability bonus of US$10,000 to US$5 million.”

An in-depth analysis of the hack targeting Ripple co-founder Chris Larsen last week suggests there may be more to the story than meets the eye.

On Jan. 31, a hacker stole 213 million XRP tokens, worth around $112.4 million at the time, from Larsen’s wallet and sent the funds to a number of trading platforms, including OKX, Kraken and Binance.

Blockchain security researchers at Hacken traced the flow of funds both to and from the compromised wallet, and pieced together a more detailed picture of the events.

The company—which once boasted major partners like Starbucks and Mastercard and traces its lineage to the same firm that owns the New York Stock Exchange— disclosed in an SEC filing Tuesday that it likely does not have enough cash to continue operations for the next 12 months.

Bakkt amended its quarterly report from November to update the risk disclosures. The company had just announced that it was embarking on a major international expansion.

“There is significant uncertainty associated with our expansion to new markets and the growth of our revenue base given the rapidly evolving environment associated with crypto assets,” the company stated. As a result, Bakkt said it “cannot conclude it is probable we will be able to increase revenues substantially” without raising more money in the near future.

A primary takeaway is that criminals and transnational criminal organizations continue to use cash. The Treasury highlights the anonymity, stability and ubiquity of cash as a means of payment as a primary reason why it remains the preferred method of laundering illicit proceeds.

Meanwhile, the report highlights that virtual asset use remains far below fiat currency’s use for money laundering:

“Criminals use cash-based money laundering strategies in significant part because cash offers anonymity. They commonly use U.S. currency due to its wide acceptance and stability.”