Crypto-Friendly Mayor of Miami Announces New CTO Role to Boost Big Tech Engagement

Crypto-Friendly Mayor of Miami Announces New CTO Role to Boost Big Tech Engagement in the City

Avid blockchain supporter and Mayor of Miami, Francis Suarez, named the city’s first-ever Chief Technological Officer. Saif Ishoof, Vice President of Florida International University’s engagement, as his pick for the new role.

Over the past few years, Miami’s city has rapidly built its name as the next tech hub in the U.S. intending to snip Silicon Valley companies from San Francisco Bay and build on new technologies such as crypto and blockchain. In a call with Bloomberg’s Quicktake, Suarez revealed the city would welcome its first-ever chief technological officer, CTO, who assumes the burden of building Miami into a fully-fledged technological city.

Saif Ishoof, Suarez’s pick for the new role, is currently the vice president of tech advancement for Florida International University and will become the head of engagement and entrepreneurship in Miami. The new role entails communicating with big tech founders, venture capitalists, and engineers who want to move to Miami. The CTO will provide “concierge services” to tech companies who’d wish to move to the city.

On why the new role is important, Suarez said the city needs “somebody that can reach out to them [big tech and VC firms], somebody that can have a subject of conversation…can connect them to incentives that make it more attractive to come [to Miami].”

Suarez has been a vocal advocate of crypto and blockchain technology in the past. Speaking on the Pomp Podcast in December, Suarez stated the city is open and exploring allocating at least 1% of its Treasury reserves to purchasing Bitcoin to promote its tech city plans. Furthermore, he has held meetings and interviews with top crypto personalities, including Gemini exchange founders, Winklevoss twins.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Bitmain’s Co-Founder Jihan Wu Steps Down In Bid To Settle Longstanding Power Struggles

Bitmain’s Co-Founder Jihan Wu Steps Down In Bid To Settle Longstanding Power Struggles

The leadership disputes within Bitmain, the world’s biggest mining firm, have finally been resolved. One of Bitmain’s co-founder, Jihan Wu, is set to resign as the company’s CEO as part of the settlement. The settlement means that Micree Zhan will now regain control of the mining giant. Bitmain co-founder Jihan Wu said in a statement on Tuesday,

“I have resigned from the CEO and Chairman [positions at] Bitmain as of today, the disagreement between Micree and myself, the two co-founders of Bitmain, has been finally settled in an amicable and, more importantly, a constructive manner.”

To operationalize the settlement agreement and the leadership changes, Bitmain’s subsidiaries have embarked on filing legal materials to effect changes in their boards and legal representatives.

Zhan bought approximately half of the firm’s shares for about $600 million from a holding company known as Bitsource. Bitsource is believed to be a code name made up of the founding shareholders consisting of Jihan. According to the press statement, Zhan finished the takeover by obtaining a loan of $400,000 from Bitmain as well as $200 million from different fundraising activities outside the Bitsource group.

Following his resignation, Jihan is expected to become the head of Bitdeer, an offshoot of Bitmain with several mining farms in Norway and the US. Jihan will become Bitdeer’s chair while the CEO will be Matt Kong. The settlement agreement also states that Antpool will become an independent company and be in the hands of Micree.

Jihan also explained that the settlement would allow the streamlining of Bitmain’s business model, paving the way for the company to seek an initial public offering. In the past, Bitmain has fruitlessly tried to go public.

The agreement also notes that Bitmain will have a new board consisting of five members. Zhan is expected to appoint three, while Jihan will appoint two. Already, Jihan has appointed Jianchun Liu, Bitmain’s chief financial officer, and Xiang Zhu, a top designer in the company.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Crypto Scammers Go Phishing on Substack, Pretending to be Legit Newsletters

Crypto Scammers Go Phishing on Substack, Pretending to be Legit Newsletters

Substack, an independent newsletter platform, is being used by scammers targeting crypto users according to the latest developments. The platform, which rose to fame in recent years, has attracted prominent traders and crypto heavyweights such as Anthony “Pomp” Pompliano (The Pomp Letter), Willy Woo (The Bitcoin Forecast), and Rekt Capital,  who send out newsletters via this independent-focused platform, making it a hunting ground for crypto scammers.

The scammers on Substack seem to have mastered the art of email phishing to an extent where some of the emails appear legit. These malicious players’ tactics include sending out smart contract ‘upgrade’ emails accompanied by proxy ID contracts, where the targeted crypto users are directed to deposit their funds.

Gnosis Phishing Scam Impersonation

Recently, Gnosis clients were the victims of such fraud; they were sent out an email phishing scam urging them to upgrade to a more efficient smart contract. The email read,

“The upgraded smart contract uses 71% less gas, supports updates thanks to proxy patterns, and allows you to participate in future votes.”

“GNO holders who update early will be eligible for the new liquidity rewards program, starting on January 20th and lasting one week.”

Upon learning of this scam’s existence, Gnosis took to Twitter to warn its clients against engaging with the phishing scam. According to the company’s strategy director, Kei Kreutler, they further acted by requesting Substack to pull down the scam account. Substack support later confirmed to Coindesk that they have permanently removed the content and gave control to Gnosis.

“We have permanently removed this account from the platform, and any subscribers will no longer have access to the fraudulent Substack site.”

A Menace to the Crypto Industry

While stats on how much crypto funds have been lost on phishing scams remain scanty, quite a significant amount has been compromised over the years. Other industry players that have suffered similar impersonation frauds include UMA, Quant, Synthetix, Kyber Network, and RenProject. Kreutler is optimistic that platforms like Substack will eventually adopt Web 3.0 account tools to deal with this menace.

“We look forward to [Web 3.0] account tools becoming integral for providing trusted, unique, and authenticated identity on the web so that such issues on other platforms arise less in the future.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Philippines’ Central Bank Issues New Guidelines to Curtail Money Laundering Among VASPs

Philippines’ Central Bank Issues New Guidelines to Curtail Money Laundering Among Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs)

Local Philippines news source, the Philippine Daily Enquirer, has reported this week that the country’s central bank now requires Crypto financial service firms to be fully licensed with the BSP.

This is according to a released document from the BSP, which was issued January 25th, that stipulated that VASPs will need to have a ‘certificate of authority’ to continue operating within the Philippines. In addition to this certification, VASPs would also need to remain in regulatory alignment with central banks, and their existing rules for financial service providers broadly, such as those rules regarding liquidity and operational risk, IT, consumer protections, and anti-money laundering.

Of course, the BSP’s announcement and regulatory requirements would be compulsory to VASPs with a minimum capital size of 50 million (Philippine) Pesos – or $1m – if they provide crypto custodial services, or 10 million pesos ($208k).

While this would place crypto companies in a bind of ensuring they are in complete regulatory alignment, the central bank’s governor stated that this was all in order to strike a balance between regulatory security and “an environment that encourages financial innovation while safeguarding the integrity and stability of the financial system.”

Along with ensuring regulatory adherence, the BSP has also stated that VASPs seeking to qualify as certified will need to undertake their customer due diligence. Additionally, these companies will need to treat crypto transactions in the same manner as cross-border transactions; meaning that participant data for transactions of 50,000 pesos ($1,000) or greater must be retained.

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Author: James Fox

Pioneering Crypto Bank, Sygnum, Launches Bitcoin and Ethereum Options Contracts

Pioneering Crypto Bank, Sygnum, Launches Bitcoin and Ethereum Options Contracts

Swiss-based Sygnum has launched bitcoin and ether options for customers who want to execute more sophisticated cryptocurrency trading strategies.

Digital asset bank Sygnum has launched over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency options for customers, per its official press release. Synum received regulatory approval from the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) in September 2020, allowing the bank to offer regulated digital asset trading services.

Sophisticated Trades and Premiums

The crypto bank says the new asset offering would enable its clientele to execute sophisticated investment and trading strategies. The options would be available on both BTC/USD and ETH/USD trading pairs. The press release explains,

“Options have long played an important role in traditional financial markets as a tool to help investors navigate through unpredictable market conditions. By paying the option premium, buyers can participate in larger price swings, while sellers leverage elevated volatility levels and collect premium payments to generate additional yield on existing holdings.”

Crypto options are a form of financial derivative that gives the investor the right, not the obligation, to buy assets at a specific price on an agreed date in the future, for which they pay sellers a premium. If the asset’s price on expiration is higher than the agreed price, buyers can execute their contract and take profit or refuse and lose the premium. They are the new rave of the crypto trading world and are slowly outpacing spot trading.

Sygnum’s regulated options offerings include long and short positioning, European OTC call and put options, fully customizable strike and expiry date, and cash settlement. Dominic Lohberger, Head of Brokerage at Sygnum Banknotes said,

“With options, clients can now profit from any price movement – be it a bull, bear, or sideways market. They can also use them to hedge positions, take leveraged exposure to the market or trade volatility.”

A Multitude of Crypto Services

Headquartered in Zurich, Sygnum is known for its forward-thinking approach. The Swiss firm launched a stablecoin (DHCF) pegged to the Swiss franc in 2020. The stablecoin is backed 1:1 with funds kept with the Swiss National Bank. DHCF enables fast and seamless settlements on Sygnum’s platform. Last December, the bank tokenized its shares on the blockchain as it prepares for a public offering.

Sygnum described the move as an essential milestone on its journey towards creating more access to ownership and value. The crypto bank said tokenizing its shares simplifies the process of updating shareholder registry and reduces the administrative bottlenecks in transferring share ownership.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

US Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary; What Does This Mean for Crypto?

US Senate Confirms Janet Yellen as Treasury Secretary; What Does This Mean for Crypto?

The U.S Senate has confirmed Janet Yellen on Monday as the Treasury Secretary in the newly inaugurated Biden administration with an overwhelming 84-15 vote. She takes over this position from Steven Mnuchin, who served in the Trump administration and left office last week following Biden’s inauguration.

Yellen’s era comes when crypto stakeholders are especially keen on the regulatory developments that might affect the industry. The previous Fed chairwoman had stated that she is ‘not a fan of Bitcoin,’ referring to it as a highly speculative asset.

Recently, she rubbed shoulders with the crypto community following her take that most crypto activity is attributed to illegal operations. During the Senate Financial Committee oral testimony, Yellen’s written testimony further elaborated her stance on the issue.

“I think many [cryptocurrencies] are used, at least in a transactions sense, mainly for illicit financing, and I think we really need to examine ways in which we can curtail their use.”

Nonetheless, she recognizes the underlying potential in cryptocurrencies and their supporting technology. Yellen suggested that a more prudent approach would be keeping up with the changing tech dynamics that malicious actors leverage to circumvent U.S authorities or interests.

“We need to make sure that our methods for dealing with these matters, with tech terrorist financing, change along with changing technology,”

Pending Crypto Regulations

With Yellen assuming the Treasury Secretary office, she can pick up on some active issues that Mnuchin left pending. These include crypto-focused regulatory proposals such as imposing stricter oversight for crypto wallets; it is currently frozen as part of President Biden’s recent decision to halt all pending agency rulemaking.

Other proposed FinCEN rules include reporting $10,000 or more for U.S citizens who hold an equivalent amount of crypto assets overseas. The financial regulatory body also wants to place a KYC threshold requirement of $250 for U.S cross-border crypto and fiat transactions; this is currently capped at $3,000. Finally, the OCC proposed a regulation that favors an extension of banking services to crypto, which was yet to be forwarded to the Federal Register before Trump’s exit.

Yellen has since vowed that she would collaborate with the mandated financial bodies to advance Fintech regulatory frameworks’ work. She particularly vowed to,

“work closely with the Federal Reserve Board and the other federal banking and securities regulators on how to implement an effective regulatory framework for these and other fintech innovations.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Blockchain Payment Firm, Wyre, Gets A $5M Investment From Stellar Development Foundation

Blockchain Payment Firm, Wyre, Gets A $5M Investment From Stellar Development Foundation

In a press statement shared with BitcoinExchangeGuide, the foundation stated that it is investing $5 million worth of Enterprise Funds that will help introduce various payment application programming interfaces, commonly known as APIs, which can integrate with different apps within the Stellar ecosystem.

The foundation also explained that on/off ramps for Stellar USDC will also be rolled on for the existing fiat pairs consisting of USD, GBP, CAD, AUS, and EUR.

Founded in 2013, Wyre has executed transfers of more than $5 billion and provides advanced services to both businesses and individuals such as crypto to fiat ramps, crypto wallet infrastructure, savings account, and foreign exchange others.

The foundation stated that the addition of Wyre to the Stellar network would help create crucial payment infrastructure and allow for relationships that will connect to the international financial system.

“Growing the network of Stellar anchors— stablecoin issuers and on/off ramps — is fundamental to how Stellar connects global financial systems with blockchain technology. Bringing Wyre’s industry-leading payment APIs to the Stellar ecosystem will empower businesses, especially anchors, to expand existing payment corridors and develop new ones.”

Denelle Dixon Stellar Development Foundation CEO

Dixon is also set to become a member of Wyre’s board of directors to represent Stellar Foundation.

With Stellar USDC set to go live in Q1, Wyre will help in different ways. Wyre is set to offer a compliant and safe way for apps within the Stellar ecosystem to use the dollar-pegged stablecoin without the developers’ need to create additional tools, the statement elaborated.

Stellar’s Enterprise Fund was launched last year, and Wyre’s investment is the first one for this year. Cumulatively the fund has pumped more than $14 million in different companies and projects so far, including Abra, Settle Network, SatoshiPay, and DSTOQ.

Stellar Foundation’s chief operating officer, Jason Chilpala, explained that the Enterprise Fund was started to offer support to businesses with goals in tandem with Stellar’s, such as enabling cheap and reliable cross-border payments.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

67% of Millennials Believe Bitcoin Is A Superior Safe Haven Compared to Gold

67% of Millennials Believe Bitcoin Is A Superior Safe Haven Compared to Gold

Millennials believe that Bitcoin is a better safe-haven than gold. Despite its increased adoption, Bitcoin has experienced several social problems in its continued rise to prominence.

Over the last few years, we have seen first-hand how millennials deal with their personal finances.

The older generation believed in gold as the last resort in beating inflation, but with central banks printing more money than ever before due to the pandemic, many have had to search for better ways to hedge against inflation.

Millennials Believe In Bitcoin’s Future

A recent study from SimpleMoneyLife shows that cryptocurrencies are getting more adoption worldwide, despite their high volatility. The increased popularity, along with recent price rallies, has made these assets more preferable to legacy investment options like gold or government bonds.

In its research, SimpleMoneyLife, a personal finance platform, quoted a study from the deVere Group. The study revealed that about 67 percent of millennials see Bitcoin as a better store of value than gold.

The consistent adoption from millennials and increased institutional investment, has bolstered cryptocurrencies’ popularity worldwide.

Social networking apps like Twitter also play major roles in spurring crypto adoption. As SimpleMoneyLife explained, the social networking site churns out over 70,000 Bitcoin-related tweets daily.

Many of these tweets come from verified accounts of Bitcoin evangelists like Anthony Pompliano, Peter McCormack, and even Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.

Several experts have pointed to Bitcoin possibly overtaking gold due to its increasing popularity.

Yesterday, Brett Messing and Anthony Pompliano of New York hedge fund SkyBridge Capital recently explained that crypto investments are as safe as gold and government bonds. The investment experts listed increased regulation and an enhanced Bitcoin infrastructure for its safety, adding that its value should skyrocket on the back of increased investment from institutions and millennials.

Social Concerns

Despite adoption being on the rise, SimpleMoneyLife pointed out that Bitcoin is experiencing some social problems with its distribution.

Although created to be decentralized, only a few early investors are controlling the vast majority of BTC presently in circulation. The SimpleMoneyLife research showed that two percent of BTC wallets control about 95 percent of the assets in circulation. A further 70 percent of BTC addresses have less than 1 BTC in them.

Another social problem appears to be the gender inequality discovered in the Bitcoin ecosystem. Males are seen as more interested in cryptocurrencies in general than females, with SimpleMoneyLife reporting that 85.77 percent of Bitcoin-related engagement comes from men, while 14.23 percent of the network’s participants are female.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Nasdaq-listed Chinese Gaming Company, The9, to Buy 26k Bitcoin Mining Machines

Nasdaq-listed Chinese Gaming Company, The9, to Buy 26k Bitcoin Mining Machines

China-based Nasdaq-listed Internet company The9 Limited is diversifying its business with Bitcoin.

On Monday, the company announced that it had signed five legally binding Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with Bitcoin mining machine owners to purchase BTC mining machines.

To acquire 26,007 Bitcoin mining machines, the company will accomplish a hash rate of 549PH/S, accounting for about 0.36% of the global hash rate of Bitcoin.

The hash rate of the largest network is near its all-time high of 148.52 EH/s, while difficulty to mine BTC is at its peak at 20.82 trillion.

The9 Limited has already deployed the majority of these Bitcoin mining machines in Xinjiang, Sichuan, and Gansu in China.

For this, the company will issue a certain amount of Class A ordinary shares to each Bitcoin mining machine owner in exchange for these machines. Nasdaq-listed Canaan former Director and Co-Chairman Jianping Kong and other partners will assist The9 in developing the crypto mining business.

Its wholly-owned subsidiary NBTC Limited has started purchasing Bitcoin mining machines, “with the plan to establish cryptocurrencies mining machine facilities worldwide.”

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Author: AnTy

Gemini Exchange Adds Singapore Dollar & Trading Pairs in Asian Market Push

Gemini Exchange Adds Singapore Dollar & Trading Pairs in Asian Market Push

The Winklevoss crypto exchange announced its expansion into Singapore’s growing crypto market. The exchange is hoping to take its operations to broader markets with the rumors of an IPO swirling.

With cryptocurrencies gaining traction worldwide, companies in the industry are also seizing the opportunity to push borders.

Gemini, the cryptocurrency exchange from the Winklevoss Twins, is the latest firm to announce a major expansion play.

Hello, Singapore

Yesterday, the exchange announced that it had expanded its operations to Singapore, setting itself up for bigger operations on the Asian continent. According to the announcement, the setup includes new features for Singaporean customers, including support for the Singapore dollar on its mobile and desktop platforms.

Gemini customers in Singapore can also use their fiat currency to purchase crypto. Payment options include electronic fund transfers and debit cards, allowing residents to enjoy the exchange’s full capabilities. Gemini will also partner with local data services like MyInfo and Singapore Personal Access to provide a more localized user experience for Singaporean customers.

In the statement, Tyler Winklevoss, the company’s chief executive officer, praised Singapore as a fast-growing market for the crypto economy.

The exchange also revealed that it had set up a local office in Singapore with full staffing. Several crypto and finance professionals have joined the company’s Asia Pacific team as well.

Singaporean customers will also be able to delve into the decentralized finance (DeFi) market. Gemini’s announcement confirmed that they can trade several top DeFi tokens, including YFI (for yield farming protocol Yearn FInance), UNI (for top decentralized exchange Uniswap), and FIL (for blockchain-based payment service FIlecoin). These are added to the 20 traditional crypto tokens available to Singaporeans on Gemini’s platform.

A Possible IPO

Gemini’s regulation-obsessed approach has set it apart from its competitors. The company thrives on establishing relationships with regulators and moving strategically.

The exchange has had some recent success, announcing recently that it had crossed the $10 billion mark for assets under management. Last April, it also scored a Service Organization Control verification from Deloitte. The certification meant that Gemini’s customer reporting protocols and financial operations were compliant with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ requirements.

Gemini is also gearing up to launch a credit card with a three percent Bitcoin rebate feature, and it completed the acquisition of crypto payments service Blockrize.

With the crypto market experiencing significant growth, industry sources believe the exchange could be weighing their chances with an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Earlier this month, Bloomberg reported that the Winklevoss Twins were mulling a public offering, quoting the brothers saying:

“We are watching the market and we are also having internal discussions on whether it makes sense for us at this point in time. We are certainly open to it.”

The report added that the brothers had several means of getting this done, including seeking a traditional IPO or merging with a “blank-check firm to serve as a launchpad for the listing.

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Author: Jimmy Aki