Resistance Grows to Big Bank and Cryptocurrency Critic for the OCC Chair

Resistance Grows to Big Bank and Cryptocurrency Critic for the OCC Chair

Cryptocurrency regulations continue to stall in the United States, with regulators and industry players seemingly unable to reach a consensus. At the same time, the Biden administration appears to be having trouble with its latest financial regulatory candidate.

Saule Omarova Could Regulate Crypto Into ‘Oblivion’

This week, tensions appear to mount in Washington as resistance grows against President Biden’s pick to lead the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). The proposed agency head – Cornell University Law School professor Saule Omarova – has been broadly criticized for her policy proposals and her views of cryptocurrencies and large banking institutions.

Earlier this week, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tx) took to Twitter to criticize Omarova’s proposed appointment, calling her a “danger to our traditional economy.” The former Presidential candidate stated that Omarova’s selection would essentially lead to crypto being regulated “into oblivion,” adding that her nomination needs to be stopped.

President Biden had announced Omarova’s nomination to lead the OCC last week. Bloomberg was the first to report the nomination, citing that she could be confirmed before the end of the month.

In her time at Cornell, Omarova has shown significant signs of seeking tighter regulations for big banks and cryptocurrencies. She has especially described the crypto sector as threatening to the stability of the economy and ripe for abuse by large financial institutions. She has also offered some radical recommendations for running the finance industry, including advocating for the Federal Reserve to exclusively administer consumer banking services – not private companies.

With the Democrats holding a slim majority in the Senate, there are significant fears that Omarova will eventually be confirmed as the new OCC head. But, big players in the banking sector have started lobbying against her appointment, and Congress members have raised their voice in opposition too.

Besides Cruz, Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) has also called for a review of Omarova’s nomination. The Senator, who serves as the ranking member on the Senate’s Banking Committee, commented last week that he had reservations about Omarova due to her “extreme leftist ideas.”

Washington Is Changing

Omarova’s pick is just the latest move by the Biden administration to beef up its financial regulatory landscape. Just this week, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that Dan Berkovitz – one of the three commissioners at the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) – will be joining the agency as general counsel in November.

Berkovitz’s departure from the CFTC follows President Biden’s selection of Christy Goldsmith and Kristin Johnson to fill the agency seats left vacant by former Chairman Heath Tarbert and Brian Quintenz. Berkovitz has been quite critical of financial regulators and their action against crypto companies, so his addition to the SEC seems to be a good thing for crypto.

Berkovitz will be the second major pro-crypto name at the SEC, joining commissioner Hester M. Pierce.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

AngelList to Roll Out “Several Crypto-first Features,” Starting with USDC Enabled Funds

AngelList to Roll Out “Several Crypto-first Features” Across the Platform, Starting with USDC Enabled Funds

This week, AngelList introduced USDC enabled funds.

The website for startups, angel investors, and job-seekers will now allow investors to invest in any USDC-enabled syndicate or fund through the stablecoin USDC.

The process to invest via USDC is pretty simple as in the closing flow, there will just be a different option; rather than ACH or wire, there’ll be USDC. The investor has to just click on the USDC option, scan the QR code or copy the Ether address to send the crypto asset from their wallet.

USDC, however, is just the beginning, as shared by CEO Avlok Kohli & co-founder Naval Ravikant in an AngelList Confidential 2021 Keynote on Wednesday.

“This is just the beginning of several crypto-first features that we’re actually going to be rolling out across AngelList.”

USDC is a rapidly growing second-largest stablecoin with a market cap of $31.2 billion, which has captured 24.6% of the stablecoin market share, up from 4.34% a year back.

“Super excited to partner w AngelList on one of the fastest-growing methods of startup funding and eventually treasury operations,” said Jeremy Allaire, Co-founder & CEO of Circle, which formed a consortium called Center with Coinbase to launch the stablecoin USDC.

The same day, the company also launched a new suite of products called AngelList Stack that will help founders start, operate and maintain ownership over their companies. The new software will cover end-to-end incorporation, business banking, advisor equity grants, and cap table management.

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Author: AnTy

New Bill Calls for the Treasury Department to Submit a Report on Foreign Crypto Usage and Mining

New Bill Calls for the Treasury Department to Submit a Report on Foreign Crypto Usage and Mining

With this report on virtual currencies and global competitiveness, the idea is to strengthen U.S.’s role globally, and crypto can play a critical role in that.

US Senators want the Treasury Department to closely examine cryptocurrency mining and share the findings with Congress.

This week, a bill was introduced by Senators Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) that requires the Secretary of the Treasury to submit a report on virtual currencies and global competitiveness to Congress.

The report on virtual currency wants the department to cover an assessment on how foreign countries use and mine virtual currencies, including identifying their largest state and private industry users and miners.

Policies foreign countries have adopted to encourage crypto’s use, and mining and how they could be strengthened or undermined by allowing this within their borders are also included.

The bill further asked the Department to identify the types and dollar value of virtual currency mined for each fiscal year from 2016 through 2022 within the US, China, and globally, along with any other countries the Secretary of the Treasury determines are relevant.

Furthermore, the report wants to identify vulnerabilities related to supply disruptions and technology availability of the global microelectronic supply chain and opportunities in regard to crypto mining operations.

With this report, the idea is to increase the global competitiveness of the US, and according to Hassan, crypto is critical in that.

“In order to strengthen U.S. competitiveness, our government must get a better handle on the role that cryptocurrency is playing in the global economy and how it is being leveraged by other countries.”

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Author: AnTy

“It’s Not Possible To Destroy Crypto,” says Tesla CEO Elon Musk

“It’s Not Possible To Destroy Crypto,” says Tesla CEO Elon Musk

The Bitcoiner and SpaceX CEO does believe that governments can “slow down its advancement” while noting that “cryptocurrency is fundamentally aimed at reducing the power of the Chinese government.”

“Any form of money has no power in and of itself except as an exchange of value between people,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk in an interview on Tuesday.

Musk, who has a love and hate relationship with the cryptocurrency community, recently had some positive views to share on the industry.

In a wide-ranging interview at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California, on cryptocurrencies, Musk said, “There is value in crypto, but I don’t think it’s the second coming of the Messiah,” he added:

“But it will hopefully reduce error and latency in the legacy money system.”

This year, Musk made the waves by announcing that the electric car maker has $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin on its balance sheet and started accepting BTC as payments. He later also revealed that he personally owns BTC, Ether (ETH), and Dogecoin (DOGE) and that SpaceX holds Bitcoin as well.

The crypto community was excited about Musk’s support, only for it to come crashing down the same as Bitcoin price when the billionaire made uneducated comments on the largest cryptocurrency’s impact on the environment and blockchain scalability.

At the event this week, Musk commented on his influence on the price of crypto, saying it is a good thing but “if the price goes up.”

Besides Musk, China’s crypto ban in the summer was also a contributing factor in the 50% drop in BTC price in the month of May. This past week, China’s strongest regulatory signal against crypto yet again is keeping the prices subdued in the market.

Commenting on China’s action against crypto, Elon said, “It would appear they don’t love cryptocurrency.”

This could be due to the country’s “significant electricity generation issues,” which may in part be due to “electricity shortages in many parts of China” resulting in random power outages as demand for power being higher than expected and “crypto mining might be playing a role in that,” he said.

But more than that, the decentralized nature of cryptos may present a challenge for the Chinese government.

“Cryptocurrency is fundamentally aimed at reducing the power of the Chinese government, and they don’t like that.”

Overall, he doesn’t believe that governments should take control of crypto. As for, if the US government should get involved in space, according to Musk, they should “do nothing.”

“It is not possible to, I think, destroy crypto,” he further said, adding, but it’s possible for governments to “slow down its advancement.”

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Author: AnTy

Verifone and BItPay Partnership to Aid Crypto Adoption Among US Merchants

Earlier this week, Verifone – one of the world’s largest point-of-sale(POS) payment service providers – announced a partnership with crypto payment processor BitPay to bring cryptocurrency transactions to businesses, per an official press release.

Crypto Payments for Wherever You Are

The release confirmed that this partnership would ramp up cryptocurrency payments at in-store locations and via online cloud services for e-commerce businesses all across the United States.

Verifone has over 600,000 customers in the United States and processes upwards of $10 billion in annual transaction volumes. The company plans to roll out the crypto payment feature later this year, possibly increasing its user base even more.

Speaking with news sources, Verifone chief executive Mike Pulli explained that the company had been seeking alternative payment channels for a while now. They’ve come to recognize the increased demand that cryptocurrencies have gotten as well, and this seems like a perfect time to venture into the crypto space.

Jeremy Belostock, the company’s head of payments, also explained that the coronavirus pandemic had accelerated the move to mobile payments for many people. This means an increased demand for cryptocurrencies, hence the company’s need to push forward.

The Verifone partnership is the largest for BitPay to date. So far, the company has established itself as the largest payment processor for cryptocurrencies, and it has had some impressive milestones this year.

Earlier this month, BitPay partnered with e-commerce company Shop.com to allow crypto payments. Thanks to the partnership, Shop.com’s customers will now be able to make payments for their purchases using seven digital assets and five stablecoins.

Crypto’s Continued Entry Into Payments

Besides ease of use and access, large payment companies have also been moving more into the crypto space as they look to increase their platforms’ security. For instance, this month saw the bombshell acquisition of crypto analytics and tracking platform CipherTrace by credit card manufacturer Mastercard.

As an official announcement pointed out, Mastercard confirmed that it plans to integrate CipherTrace’s operations into its cybersecurity solutions for cryptocurrencies. The two companies will combine their cyber capabilities and tools to improve Mastercard’s real-time payments and card infrastructure.

Amongst other things, Mastercard executives explained that the CipherTrace acquisition would help ensure that their clients can spend cryptocurrencies easily while maintaining regulatory safety standards.

The move is part of Mastercard’s plan to establish a much broader presence in the crypto space. In July, company CEO Michael Miebach said that they would be looking to become the de facto payment processing channel for intra-country transfers using central bank digital currencies (CBDC) and stablecoins.

With more countries looking to digitize their currencies, Mastercard is looking to make it easier for international value flows using these assets. The CipherTrace acquisition will make it much easier.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Swiss Financial Markets Regulator FINMA Approves the First Crypto Fund

Swiss Financial Markets Regulator FINMA Approves the First Crypto Fund

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) announced on Wednesday that it had approved the first crypto fund in the country.

The fund called “Crypto Market Index Fund” is an investment fund that invests in digital assets and is restricted to qualified investors. It belongs to the category of “other funds for alternative investments” as per Swiss law.

Swiss market watchdog also noted that FINMA applies the existing provisions of financial market laws in a “consistently technology-neutral” way to facilitate serious innovation.

The financial regulator said by using the ‘“same risks, same rules” principle,” it is making sure the new technologies are not used to circumvent the existing rules.

In the case of crypto, because it involves “particular risks,” specific requirements are further applied, such as the fund may only invest in established crypto assets with a sufficiently large trading volume.

Moreover, specific requirements regarding risk management and reporting for the institutions doing the custody and management are also applied here.

The investments in crypto funds must also be made through established counterparties and platforms that are based in a member country of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and are subject to corresponding anti-money laundering (AML) regulations, it said.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Lender BlockFi Increases All Stablecoin Rates amidst Regulatory Pushback

Crypto Lender BlockFi Increases All Stablecoin Rates amidst Regulatory Pushback

After making a series of cuts in its interest rates for crypto holdings in 2021, crypto lender, BlockFi has finally made the first increase of this year.

BlockFi, which sets the rates based on market dynamics for lending and borrowing, announced this week that starting October 1st, the company is raising increasing rates for all stablecoins held in BlockFi Interest Accounts (BIA).

The rates are only updated for stablecoins, and for cryptocurrency holdings, it remains unchanged.

Stablecoins supported by BlockFi includes BUSD, DAI, GUSD, PAX, USDC, and USDT held in its interest accounts.

For tier 1, which covers up to 40,000 units of stablecoin, the new APY offered is 8.5%, up from 8%. For above 40k units, a 2% increase in rates is offered, up from the previous APY of 5%.

This increase in rates comes while BlockFi is currently being restricted by local regulators in Texas, Kentucky, New Jersey, Alabama, and Vermont to offer their interest accounts on the grounds that it violates their securities laws.

The regulatory action only affects the creation of new BIAs, and current clients and other products are not affected.

The company is currently in “active dialogue with regulators regarding the BIA” and believes “it is lawful and appropriate for crypto market participants.”

“We welcome discussions with regulators and believe that appropriate regulation of this industry is key to its future success.”

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Author: AnTy

Dapper Labs Set to Storm The NFL With Football-Themed NFT Platform

Dapper Labs Set to Storm The NFL With Football-Themed NFT Platform

2021 has seen an incredible integration between cryptocurrencies and the American sports landscape. Now, Dapper Labs, the creators of the famous NBA Top Shot platform, has announced a new venture with “America’s game.”

Touchdown for Dapper Labs

Earlier this week, Sports Business Journal reported that Dapper Labs is looking to launch a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace for the National Football League (NFL). The platform will be similar to its NBA Top Shot game, offering digital collectibles with the NFL theme. NBA Top Shot has already become highly popular, and Dapper Labs will hope to replicate the same feat with the NFL game.

Besides the upcoming platform, Sports Business Journal also reported that Dapper Labs’ entry into the NFL would see the league and its players’ association acquire an ownership stake in the company.

Although the terms of the deal remain unknown, sources for the news medium have reported that this deal could make Dapper Labs the second largest source of digital revenue for the NFLPA – trailing only the hugely popular Madden NFL game.

Sports Embraces Crypto, Albeit Slowly

Besides Dapper Labs, another company that’s been making significant waves in the sports scene is FTX – a leading crypto derivatives exchange. The company, which recently got a valuation of $18 billion, has been signing major sponsorship deals with both young prospects and established superstars across both leagues.

This year alone, NFL legend Tom Brady, 3-time NBA champion Stephen Curry, and many more have signed sponsorship deals with FTX. Brady and Curry both reportedly have ownership stakes in the exchange as well. The partnerships with the sports stars include marketing and licensing deals and charity initiatives and crypto education outreach programs.

However, while the NBA remains seemingly open to teams and players partnering with crypto companies, the NFL might be showing some resistance. Earlier this month, The Athletic reported that the league had barred players and teams from making any crypto-related ads and sponsorships. This is in stark contrast to the NBA, which has largely been liberal with teams and players signing deals with crypto brands.

As the report explained, the NFL had restricted the sale of sponsorships to crypto trading firms and NFTs until it could establish a strategy for sports-themed art and digital trading cards.

“Clubs are prohibited from selling, or otherwise allowing within club controlled media, advertisements for specific cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings, other cryptocurrency sales or any other media category as it relates to blockchain, digital asset or as blockchain company, except as outlined in this policy,” read a guideline shared by the news medium.

The Dapper Labs deal might just be the NFL’s “strategy,” especially with the league and its players’ association taking a stake in the company. It will be interesting to see how the deal works out, especially in terms of revenue shares and other financial aspects.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Ripple Joins the NFT Trend, Launches a $250 Million Fund to Attract Creators to XRP Ledger

Ripple Joins the NFT Trend, Launches a $250 Million Fund to Attract Creators to XRP Ledger

No one can resist the movement of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which is expected to be the center point of the metaverse.

The latest crypto company to jump is none other than Ripple, which along with its top two executives, is currently fighting a legal battle with the US Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) regarding the sale of unregistered securities.

On Wednesday, Ripple announced a Creator Fund of $250 million for creators, agencies, and marketplaces that it sees “igniting the global creator economy and blockchain developer communities.”

The fund is to help creators and their partners participate in the NFT market on its own blockchain XRP Ledger. The Fund will provide technical support to integrate with the XRPL, access XRPL marketplace partners, and help with the marketing and promotion of the NFTs.

To begin with, Ripple has partnered with Mintable, mintNFT, and VSA Partners.

“A tokenized future that will transform the way people buy, sell and manage all kinds of assets is quickly becoming a reality today.”

In response to the news, the price of XRP momentarily jumped 6.85% to $0.983, only to slowly lose the gains. Up about 290% YTD, the digital token is still down more than 71% from its all-time high of $3.40 hit during the last bull market in early January of 2018.

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Author: AnTy

Snoop Dogg Expands NFT Collection With $3.9 Million (1300 ETH) Digital Art Purchase

Snoop Dogg Expands NFT Collection With $3.9 Million (1300 ETH) Digital Art Purchase

Rapper and music producer Snoop Dogg purchased an NFT for $3.9 million.

Snoop – whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr – has been quite active in the crypto and NFT spaces recently, with this purchase marking his latest venture into the industry.

Ciao, Cozomo de’ Medici

Earlier this week, rapper and music producer Snoop Dogg purchased an NFT for $3.9 million. Snoop – whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr – has been quite active in the crypto and NFT spaces recently, with this purchase marking his latest venture into the industry.

The NFT in question is “Some Asshole”, – a piece of art developed by rising artist XCOPY. Snoop had purchased the token on the SuperRare marketplace, under his pseudonymous alias “Cozomo de’ Medici.” The rapper tweeted this purchase through his alias’ Twitter account, adding that it was the first character piece NFT to be published by XCOPY.

Data from SuperRare showed that the NFT has moved between owners for about a year now. It was first sold for 25 ETH (about $8,200 at the time) in September 2020, then again in March for 100 ETH – about $181,000.

The sale marks the latest for XCOPY, whose art has become quite the in thing. Just last week, data from DAppRadar showed that a customer had spent 1,000 ETH – about $2.9 million at the time – on another piece from the artist, called “All Time High in the City.”

Celebrity Endorsements Pour in for NFTs

As for Snoop, the sale further cements the artist as a collector and crypto enthusiast. Snoop revealed himself to be Cozomo de’ Medici last week, much to the excitement of industry enthusiasts. The collector’s wallet currently holds a little over $17 million worth of NFTs, showing Snoop’s appreciation for digital art.

The rapper has been making waves in the NFT space for a while now. In April, he collaborated with the artist behind the famous 2011 Nyan Cat meme for an NFT collection, netting 14,3 ETH – about $33,000 at the time – in an auction on OpenSea. Additional open-edition NFTs of the collection – called “Nyan Blunt” and “Hazy Nyan Cat” – remained on sale for 0.42 ETH on April 20th – the day set aside to celebrate marijuana consumption and legalization. In total, the tokens sold over 200 collections, bringing in 90 ETH combined.

Celebrities moving into the NFT space has become a growing trend in the industry this year. Besides Snoop, several other notable people – and even some of the world’s top brands – have either launched or purchased NFTs directly from marketplaces.

Late last month, NBA superstar and 3-time champion Stephen Curry splurged 55 ETH on a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT. The athlete spent a reported $180,000 on the piece, copping it from OpenSea. Curry has since signed a partnership with top derivatives trading platform FTX, with some reports suggesting that he might even have an ownership stake in the exchange.

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Author: AnTy