Ripple to Launch Bhutan’s Central Bank Digital Currency Pilot on Its Private XRPL Ledger

Ripple to Launch Bhutan’s Central Bank Digital Currency Pilot on Its Private XRPL Ledger

Bhutan is the latest country to announce its plans for a central bank digital currency (CBDC) via a partnership with San Francisco-based Ripple Labs. Announced on Wednesday, the partnership will see the country’s central bank carry out trials on Ripple Labs CBDC platform. The test trials aim to “enhance digital and cross-border payments, expand financial inclusion efforts, and extend its commitment to sustainability as the only carbon-negative country” across Asia and the world, the statement reads.

The South-Central Asian state central bank, the Royal Monetary Authority (RMA), will take advantage of the Ripple Labs private ledger to conduct trials on its proposed digital Ngultrum. The CBDC aims to reduce frictions and costs of sending cross-border payments and enhance the overall payment systems across the country.

This will be made possible by Ripple’s CBDC solution, which leverages on a private version of its open-source XRPL Ledger, already in use in over 100 banks. By building its CBDC atop the private XRPL Ledger, RMA aims to increase its control over the issuance, management privacy, and validation of the Ngultrum.

The platform also enhances the payment processes associated with huge transactions, catering to the retail side of its planned CBDC. This allows central banks the freedom to control the monetary policy objectives and maintain financial responsibility across retail without compromising on the security needed to deploy a CBDC.

Notwithstanding, Ripple Labs aims to preserve the carbon-neutral stance that Bhutan pledges. The CBDC solution will remain carbon-neutral and energy-efficient since it is based on the XRP Ledger, which minimizes the energy consumption to a minimum, unlike resorting to a proof-of-work blockchain.

“In addition to the technology, Ripple’s commitment to sustainability was important for Bhutan.” “For a country that has pledged to remain carbon neutral, this combination of innovative finance with sustainability is a natural fit.”

The plans to launch a Bhutan CBDC on Ripple could have been in progress since April. During Ripple’s Swell conference webinar for the Asian-Pacific region in April, Tashi Yezer, senior payments system officer at the Royal Monetary Authority of Bhutan, was present to discuss possible plans to launch a CBDC.

In March this year, Ripple announced its CBDC solution to assist central banks in creating their own digital currencies. The platform is a private version of the public, open-source XRP Ledger that provides Central Banks a secure, controlled, and flexible solution for the issuance and management of digital currencies, the report stated then.

So far, the CBDC solution has been piloted by UAE and Egypt via Dubai’s Lulu Exchange and the National Bank of Egypt who integrated Ripple’s RippleNET to enhance cross-border payments from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Egypt.

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Author: Lujan Odera

1Inch Moves to Arbitrum For Faster Throughput And Lower Gas Fees

Ethereum multi-chain solution, Arbitrum One is seeing major adoption by the day. The latest protocol looking to tap into lower fees and faster transactions is 1Inch Network.

1Inch Moves To Arbitrum

According to a Wednesday tweet, popular decentralized cryptocurrency exchange (DEX) aggregator 1Inch Network announced support to Ethereum layer-two scaling solution Arbitrum.

The move is expected to give 1Inch users and DeFi proponents lower transaction costs, higher transaction speeds, and fast withdrawals.

Much like the former Matic Network, Arbitrum uses roll-ups and sits atop the Ethereum network. It is tasked with bundling transactions together and validating them before adding them to the main Ethereum network.

This technology greatly aids the Ethereum network to continue operating as the older decentralized applications (dApps) platform battles with the twin challenges of network congestion and high gas fees.

Arbitrum’s lower gas fees and higher throughput would benefit 1Inch users known to use the DEX aggregator to search for competitive prices across several exchanges.

Commenting on the recent integration with 1Inch, CEO of the development team behind Arbitrum, Offchain Labs Steven Goldfeder said;

“The Arbitrum One ecosystem is vibrant with many excellent and high volume DEXes, and we’re very excited to have 1Inch users join as a DEX aggregator.”

1Inch also stated in the announcement that a total of seven protocols would be available once it launches on Arbitrum. This includes the 1Inch Limit Order Protocol, UniSwap, BalancerLabs, BreederDodo, SushiSwap, SwaprEth, and WETH, with more expected in the future.

Arbitrum Making Waves Despite Being A Newbie

Like several Optimistic Rollup solutions, Arbitrum is built with the same code that operates on the Ethereum network. This enables development teams to easily cross-compile smart contracts on both networks, and it also ensures full compatibility between the Ethereum network on smart contracts and the Web3.0 interface levels.

Meanwhile, Arbitrum has been a major success since launching on August 31. The layer-two scaling solution has seen growing adoption from major protocols, most especially from the DeFi-facing sub-sector.

Also, its lower fees and faster transaction speed has lured non-fungible tokens (NFTs) enthusiasts who have now shifted their attention to the newcomer. According to data from L2 Beat, over $2 billion total value locked (TVL) have been processed through the Arbitrum protocol.

This has been due to surging interest in viral internet sensation NYAN. The digital meme token, which shows a rainbow-themed Nyan cat, has been in hot demand as digital collectible fans look to farm the ERC-20 token.

Developed by an anonymous developer, NYAN is meant to generate buzz about the Arbitrum network and encourages investors to lock up tokens on Arbitrum to receive rewards, according to a September 8 tweet.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Crypto Exchange Signs a $400 Million Deal with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers

Crypto Exchange Signs a $400 Million Deal with the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers

Crypto.com is the latest cryptocurrency exchange that has signed on a sports team.

This week, the crypto trading platform announced that it has entered into a six-year deal worth more than $400 million with the Philadelphia 76ers. As part of this deal, Crypto.com will have a patch appearing on the team’s jerseys.

Both the entities will also be collaborating on non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which will be available for fans to purchase in November through the Hong Kong-based crypto operator.

Crypto.com’s first deal in the NBA is worth roughly $10 million annually, according to the Philadelphia Business Journal.

“We were looking for the next big thing,” said Chris Heck, the Sixers’ president of business operations.

“We became involved in the crypto space, and many of us got involved in the crypto space. A few years ago I didn’t know what a NFT was. Now I think it going to be a major component of our relationship with our fans.”

Founded in 2016, the platform has more than 10 million customers. It has launched its Crypto.com Visa Card and recently announced the NFT platform for collecting and trading NFTs.

Besides Philadelphia 76ers, Crypto.com recently inked a three-year deal with Paris Saint-Germain worth between $29.5 million and $35.4 million.

The company further secured a multi-year partnership with Serie A in August. Before that, in July, it signed a 10-year, $175 million branding deal with UFC and, in June, announced a five-year, $100 million global partnership with Formula 1.

In March this year, Crypto.com also signed a one-year sponsorship deal with the NHL’s Montreal Canadiens.

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Author: AnTy

Dubai to Allow Crypto Trading within Tax-Exempt Economic Zones

The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has signed an agreement with the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA) to support the trading of cryptocurrencies in DWTCA’s free zone, reported the state news agency.

Under this agreement, a framework is established that allows DWTCA to issue approvals and licenses necessary to conduct financial activities relating to cryptocurrencies.

“Dubai poised to become crypto hub,” commented Su Zhu, CEO, and co-founder of Three Arrows Capital. “Crypto bigger epochal shift than the discovery of petroleum itself.”

As part of its efforts to drive innovation and become a digital economy hub, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority also announced on Wednesday that it would support the regulation, offering, issuance, listing, and trading of crypto and related financial activities within its free zone.

SCA meanwhile will be overseeing, monitoring, and inspecting entities operating within this free zone.

As the region’s financial hub and tax haven, Dubai has taken several steps to bolster the use of blockchain within the city.

The Airport Free Zone Authority of Dubai also signed a similar agreement with the SCA back in May. In June, a Bitcoin Fund – the first of its kind in the region – was listed on the Nasdaq Dubai exchange.

According to financial analysts, Dubai is well-positioned to benefit from the growing crypto market in the Middle East as regulators work on favorable rules leading to its acceptance and promotion of blockchain-based technologies.

“With the rise of new technologies such as non-fungible tokens set to play an important role in the future of commerce…DWTCA is also pursuing ways to offer a sustainable home for this ecosystem, in order to stay future ready,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, director-general of DWTCA.

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Author: AnTy

China’s Leading Crypto Exchange, Huobi, Custodies More than $1 Billion in Assets

China’s Leading Crypto Exchange, Huobi, Custodies More than $1 Billion in Assets

Huobi Technology Holdings Limited holds more than $1 billion worth of crypto assets in custody.

The largest cryptocurrency exchange in China noted on Thursday that at the end of August, the assets under Huobi Trust Hong Kong’s custody exceeded $1 billion.

Huobi Trust Hong Kong is a licensed trust company registered in Hong Kong which provides virtual asset custody services. In April, it successfully registered as a trust company in Hong Kong and is now fully licensed under the Hong Kong Trust and Company Service Provider (TCSP) license.

The company said it had been actively developing its trust and custodian business provided by this Hong Kong entity along with Huobi Trust US.

“Since the beginning of the year, virtual assets represented by Bitcoin have set off a wave of enthusiasm to investors.”

Among its clients include hedge funds, market makers, digital banks, virtual asset exchanges, and licensed lenders.

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Author: AnTy

The Biden Administration Is Considering Cryptocurrency Critic For Head OCC Position

The Biden Administration Is Considering Cryptocurrency Critic For Head OCC Position

US President Joe Biden is reportedly considering nominating a crypto critic as the head of the Office of the Comptroller of Currency (OCC).

Saule To Put Crypto And Big Bank To The Sword

Currently headed by Michael Hsu, on an interim basis, the OCC is the regulatory body responsible for supervising the bank sector in the world’s largest economy. It was previously led by the crypto proponent and former Coinbase legal adviser Brian Brooks during the Donald Trump era.

With calls for crypto regulation growing louder in Washington, the Biden administration is looking to clamp down on the excesses of the nascent industry.

According to a Bloomberg report, President Biden is planning to nominate Saule Omarova for the vacant position. Omarova, a Kazakhstan-American, is a serving law professor and academic at the Cornell University Law School. She specializes in banking law and corporate finance.

According to sources familiar with the situation, the Bloomberg report notes that her nomination could be as early as this week.

Omarova is a well-known critic of the crypto industry and the traditional banking sector and is keen to “end banking as we know it.” She has also made scathing remarks about cryptocurrencies, noting that the digital assets are “benefiting mainly the dysfunctional financial system we already have.”

With Omarova as OCC head, stricter regulatory oversight of the crypto space is expected. She is known to have pointed out that blockchain-based assets threaten the economy’s financial stability. According to her, the emerging industry is primed for abuse by large private financial entities.

She also recommended that consumer banking services should be in the sole custody of the Federal Reserve rather than in the hands of private financial bodies.

The OCC was a major supporter of the crypto space while Brian Brooks was in charge.

The government agency empowered legacy-based banking institutional to provide custodial services for digital assets. Also, the interpretive letter permitted banks to participate in validating stablecoin transactions or Independent Node Verification Networks (INVN) in a blockchain network.

Crypto Regulatory Storm Brewing

Analysts are convinced that Omarova will not breeze into the position without some hurdles. This is because the Democrats hold a slim majority in the Senate, and the banks are likely going to lobby against her assuming the post.

Be that as it may, the calls for regulating the crypto industry is growing by the day. Former MIT blockchain instructor turned US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Gary Gensler has criticized the crypto space noting that it is “rife with fraud and abuse.”

Aside from the SEC Chair, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is also an anti-crypto supporter and has criticized the industry for aiding and abetting crimes ranging from money laundering to terrorist financing.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Wormhole Launches Solana-Ethereum Bridge to Move NFTs Cross-Chain

Solana-based interoperability protocol Wormhole officially announced the launch of a cross-chain bridge between the competitors Solana (SOL) and Ethereum (ETH).

This bridge will enable the transfer of digital assets between ERC-20 and SPL blockchains.

The total value locked (TVL) in the decentralized finance space has skyrocketed to nearly $170 billion, climbing towards the $192 billion peak earlier this month. This growth in TVL continues to grow as more and more layer 1 blockchains gain traction, driving this demand for cross-chain bridges.

Ethereum is currently in the lead at $118 billion, followed by Binance Smart Chain (BSC) at $16.23 billion, then Solana at $8.74 billion, Terra $8.05 billion, Polygon at $4.1 billion, Avalanche $3.16 billion, and Fantom at $1.24 billion, according to DeFi Llama.

As Yearn Finance (YFI) creator Andre Cronje explained last week in a panel hosted by Sanctor Capital,

“The whole DeFi wave gave a reason for people to begin interacting with different blockchains.”

“The more we’re interacting, the more we are realising that there’s actually a little bit too much activity for any one chain to handle this stuff.”

“While I can’t specifically pinpoint a big bang moment, it’s a combination of the maturing of different blockchains and their DeFi ecosystems, and things like NFTs that are giving people more and more of a reason to interact.”

On Wednesday, Wormhole stated that they are launching the NFT bridge between Ethereum and Solana, meaning users will now be able to send Ethereum and Solana NFTs such as CryptoPunks and Bored Ape Yacht Club, and Degen Ape Academy cross-chain.

Just like different layer 1 blockchains are cropping up and ruling the cryptocurrency market, non-fungible tokens (NFT) are all the mania right now as well.

NFTs are currently the most vibrant sector, representing material activity on Ethereum, as can be seen in the daily number of ERC-721 transfers that increased by over 10x from the beginning of 2021 to today.

NFT marketplace OpenSea, meanwhile, is the economic hub of NFT activity on Ethereum, which grew at a staggering pace this year. In August, OpenSea registered more than $3 billion in total volume while the number of unique buyers peaked at 35k the same month.

Besides attracting new users and generating new economic activity, NFTs also congested the Ethereum network and started growing on other blockchains, which offered cheaper and faster alternatives.

So, Wormhole is enabling the users to move digital art across the two blockchains.

For now, in the initial version, the bridge will only support ERC-721 (with metadata) and SPL assets with plans to expand NFT support even further to enable cross-chain transfers of ERC-1155 assets as well.

“We can’t wait to see how users will leverage the NFT bridge to bring together previously disparate communities of artists, musicians, and content creators across multiple ecosystems,” tweeted the team.

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Author: AnTy

Google Searches for Bitcoin Hit Dec 2020 Level, NFT Interest Surpasses DeFi Significantly & Matched Ethereum Briefly

Google Searches for Bitcoin Hit Dec 2020 Level, Interest in NFTs Surpass DeFi Significantly and Matched Ethereum Briefly

Cryptocurrency prices are currently at a level they were only earlier this month.

Bitcoin is trading at $43,500, a level last seen only this Monday before the price tumbled as low as $39,500, last recorded in early August. The situation is the same for Ether and the total cryptocurrency market cap.

Top crypto assets are currently down 20% to 50% from their all-time highs earlier this year.

Despite the market not looking bad price-wise, Google Searches for the cryptos has fallen to around their lowest levels for this year.

Currently having a reading of 31, interest in the term ‘Bitcoin’ on Google Trends has fallen to December 2020 level. Interestingly, during that month, the price of Bitcoin went from about $19,000 to $29,000.

“Price like this when search volume at “lows,” not too shabby actually. if it reflates back, just how high will we go,” commented trader and popular Crypto Twitter (CT) personality DegenSpartan.

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During January and mid-June, interest for Bitcoin remained between 50 to 100, and since then, it is keeping between 30 to 40. People are particularly interested in the leading cryptocurrency in Nigeria, Turkey, Austria, El Salvador, and Switzerland.

When it comes to Ethereum (ETH), it is following the same trend as Bitcoin (BTC), with interest in the second-largest cryptocurrency lower than that of Bitcoin, according to Google Trends. Meme coin ‘DOGE’ and ‘crypto’ are in the same boat.

Interest for Dogecoin (DOGE) peaked in the first half of May and is currently around February-March levels.

The latest mania in town, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), are also experiencing a drop in their popularity which topped in the first week of September. Still, Google Trends shows interest is around the level seen in March when the trend peaked the first time around.

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NFTs actually surpassed decentralized finance (DeFi) in mid-February for the first time and since then has been leading the trend by a wide margin. DeFi only managed to peek above NFT briefly in June when the interest in NFTs dropped only to be revitalized even more strongly.

Google Search interest not only revealed that NFTs are generating much greater interest online than DeFi but also that in mid-March and end-August, they had nearly as much search interest as Ethereum, according to Delphi Digital.

As for DeFi, it gained interest in July only to continue to see subdued interest that it recorded between February and June.

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Author: AnTy

New Jersey Regulators Extend Enforcement on BlockFi BIA Ban to December 1st

New Jersey Regulators Extend Enforcement on BlockFi BIA Ban to December 1st

The enforcement of the cease-and-desist order on BlockFi’s Interest Accounts (BIAs) has been postponed yet again by the New Jersey Bureau of Securities (NJ BOS). This marks the third extension of the enforcement of the ban on BIA.

Third Extension Since July

The cease-and-desist order, which was issued in early July by the New Jersey regulator, and was scheduled to come into effect on July 22. The state regulator frowned at BlockFi’s BIAs, stating that it was an “unregulated” security under the New Jersey Securities Law.

However, the order was delayed to Sept 2 with a further extension putting it on Sept. 30.

Meanwhile, the government agency has once again postponed the enforcement of the order to Dec. 1, per reports from BlockFi with the crypto company saying they are still in dialogue with the regulator.

BlockFi has insisted that its services are “lawful and appropriate for crypto market participants.” The crypto company made this known despite not being insured by either the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) or the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (SIPC), or any US regulator.

The securities arm in New Jersey had taken offense at the blockchain company’s floating of the interest-yielding accounts without requisite approval and informed the company to stop onboarding new customers.

As BlockFi explained in the past, the order doesn’t affect existing BIA customers.

Meanwhile, the NJ BOS is not the only regulator looking to pick a bone with BlockFi. Regulators from Texas, Alabama, Vermont, and Kentucky have also red-flagged the BIA initiative, with BlockFi still noting that its services were lawful and do not fall under the securities definition.

Interest-Yielding Accounts Not Accepted

Despite regulatory fogginess, the crypto scene in the US is at an all-time high as investors search for channels to increase their wealth in the aftermath of the global pandemic.

Also, inflation concerns have seen institutional investors like MicroStrategy add deflationary virtual currencies like Bitcoin to their balance book.

Meanwhile, mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies is still way behind, with crypto companies looking to bolster the growth of the nascent industry. Given this, interest yields and return on investments (ROI) are unusually high, with BIA averaging 7.5% annual percentage yield (APY) on staked digital assets.

However, regulators have taken offense at this and are looking to quell the move. Like BlockFi, crypto-lender Celsius is facing a similar fate after receiving cease-and-desist orders from the NJBOS and the Texas State Securities Board (TSSB).

Top US crypto exchange Coinbase has also seen its “Lend” offering shut down after the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) threatened to open legal proceedings against the publicly-listed company.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Bitcoin.org Was “Temporarily Disabled” After Nearly $18,000 in BTC Sent to Giveaway Scam

Bitcoin.org Restored After Being ‘Temporarily Disabled’ Due to Giveaway Scam, Nearly $18,000 in BTC Sent

Bitcoin.org’s website has become the victim of a giveaway scam and gone dark early on Thursday.

“This site can’t be reached,” reads the message on the website.

The crypto community rang the bell on this scam and notified domain name registrar Namecheap, which had “temporarily disabled the domain.”

Cobra, a pseudonymous entity or person who has been the site’s operator, said the site has indeed been compromised and may remain down for a few days as they look into how the hacker put up the scam modal on it.

“Bitcoin.org hasn’t been hacked, ever. And then we move to Cloudflare, and two months later we get hacked,” said Cobra in a now-deleted tweet.

They further said that the actual server didn’t get any traffic either during the hack while noting that none of their accounts seem compromised. “Server is fine too,” they said, adding, “The attackers just seem to have exploited some flaw in the DNS.”

Bitcoin org Hack

Started in 2008, Bitcoin.org is the oldest education resource site regarding the leading cryptocurrency.

On Thursday, the homepage screen of the website invited visitors to send money to bitcoin wallets to have them doubled. This double the money scheme was Bitcoin Foundation “giving back to the community,” said the message.

According to the message, which contained a QR code for a wallet and its address, the first 10,000 users to send BTC would have their funds doubled.

Some people may have fallen victim to the scam with no way to get around the message as other functionalities were limited at the time.

The scam addresses received 0.4057 BTC worth $17,910 from 9 transactions, as of writing, according to Bitcoin blockchain explorer Blockchain.com. Like most of these ‘double your crypto’ type scams, the hacker may have dumped BTC into the wallet first to get people to start sending in their BTC.

In early July, the site was also hit by a massive denial of service attack (DDoS), just days after the UK courts ordered the site to stop hosting the Bitcoin whitepaper over copyright infringement.

As of now, the website is back up and running, but there hasn’t been any indication that they have figured who or exactly how the hacker gained control over the website.

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Author: AnTy