DEX Aggregator 1inch Raises $12M; Plans to Scale Market Outreach, Products, and Team

1inch, the Decentralized Exchange (DEX) aggregator, has secured $12 million in its recently completed series A funding. This round was led by Pantera Capital and attracted other crypto investment heavyweights, including Blockchain Capital, Spartan Capital Securities, Struck Capital Fabric Ventures, and ParaFi Capital. Alexander Pack, Kain Warwick, and Josh Hannah also contributed to the 1inch series A funding round.

Sergej Kunz, the CEO of 1inch, informed The Block that this funding followed the process of a simple agreement for future tokens (SAFT); basically, this is an investment contract that promises to deliver tokens at a later date.

The 1inch DEX aggregator made its debut in the hallmark DeFi niche as recent as August, launching its Automated Market Maker (AMM) protocol dubbed ‘Mooniswap’ as well. This DEX aggregator serves as a bridge in the nascent DEX markets by connecting several DEXes into one ecosystem.

In doing so, 1inch helps users optimize their DEX liquidity by finding the best trades across AMM protocols, including Balancer and its platform, Mooniswap. The project recently released a v2 for its protocol, which features a new API, ‘Pathfinder,’ to improve routing between DEXes.

1inch’s series A funding comes when DEX aggregators are speeding up their products to solve the underlying challenges in DeFi. Its competitor, Slingshot, also recently secured a $3.1 million funding in a round led by Framework Ventures.

1inch Set to Expand Team, Market, and Products

According to Kunz, the recently raised funds will come in handy for the DEX aggregator, especially with expansion plans. He highlighted that the team is currently working on various initiatives, including a liquidity protocol update for the Mooniswap AMM and its upcoming utility token, 1INCH. This token is still in audit, although everything is already in place for launch and distribution, per Kunz’s conversation with The Block.

“Code is already written, and the 1inch Foundation is also in place, which would issue the token. But we have to stay clean from the regulatory side.”

Kunz also mentioned that 1inch plans to scale its team past the current 28 personnel as part of its expansion plan in the coming future. The DEX aggregator has signaled that it will expand its footprint into the Asian market, focusing on the Asia-Pacific region. Finally, the team will announce a detailed roadmap for the next two years, including new products.

“We are soon going to announce our product roadmap for the next two years. This includes a lightweight, very gas-efficient limit order protocol and an improved liquidity protocol.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Microsoft Warns Cybersecurity Threat Posing as XMR Miners Attempts to Extract Data

A recently released Microsoft report has revealed that threat actors at the state level are now using coin miner techniques to cover their tracks or blend in. The report, which was published on Nov 30, highlights a recent attempt by state threat actor ‘BISMUTH,’ which leveraged Monero coin miners to infiltrate both government and private sector institutions in Vietnam and France.

While crypto-related cyber-crime activity is considered low risk, it appears that malicious attackers are now capitalizing on the nascent technology to advance their agendas. Per the Microsoft report, BISMUTH used the Monero coin miners as a decoy to distract security teams from tracking their real activity, which was data extraction. The report reads,

“The coin miners also allowed BISMUTH to hide its more nefarious activities behind threats that may be perceived to be less alarming because they’re ‘commodity’ malware.”

BISMUTH also used the DLL replacing tactic to further reduce their conspicuousness, given that it takes long time periods to extract information from the compromised applications. The group, famous for blending in techniques, pulled a new one with crypto miners, although the report notes a consistency in their pattern.

“The use of coin miners by BISMUTH was unexpected, but it was consistent with the group’s longtime methods of blending in.”

The report recommends that organizations prioritize reducing surface attacks by elevating and inspecting common threats such as phishing and coin miner techniques in a more advanced manner.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Fireblocks Raises $30M to Expand Its Crypto Service Operations; Building a ‘Next-Gen Backend’

To extend its services for larger firms in the crypto sector, Fireblocks recently completed a Series B funding round of $30 million and has a $46 million total raised in cumulative fundraising.

The funding round led by Paradigm, along with several investors, Cedar Hill Capital, Cyberstarts, Swisscom, and Galaxy Digital, to name a few, will enable the firm to expand its global operations to meet the demands of the retail market and institutional traders in the crypto market, according to a press release from Fireblocks.

The firm says it will be offering tools for the transfer and secure storage of digital assets, either for traditional hedge funds or crypto exchanges.

Fireblocks plans to lure more institutional players.

Although Fireblocks will be very active in the crypto-native markets, the company says it still wants to take advantage of the crypto market’s positive regulatory momentum and go after institutional players. The firm also says that the simplistic nature of the Fireblocks platform makes it attractive to many users in the industry, leading to the rush of its integration. The company pointed out,

“Everyone from crypto-native funds to large tech companies and banks is integrating Fireblocks because it’s simple.”

The company is committed to maintaining its market position as the industry leader, supporting customers’ high demands as the mainstream sector enters into massive adoption of cryptocurrency.

In the third quarter of the year, Fireblock’s customer growth increased by 533%, and the company is growing at a similar pace this fourth quarter.

To improve the speed of crypto transactions, Fireblocks launched a program, with crypto derivatives exchange FTX being the first to join the program. Fireblocks wants to increase participation in the program by inviting more exchanges into the program next month.

Paradigm co-founder joins Fireblocks director board

As part of the deal, Fred Ehrsam, the managing partner and co-founder of Paradigm, joined the board of directors at Fireblocks.

Ehrsam is also the co-founder of Coinbase, and chief executive officer of Fireblocks Michael Shaulov has acknowledged his crypto space contribution. “One can say he almost built this space,” Shaulov said in the press release.

Fireblocks intends to double its workforce

Buoyed by the influx of funds, Fireblocks intends to scale its infrastructure and personnel, according to Shaulov. The company wants to hire personnel across the support, marketing, and staff sales department. It also has plans to double its engineering team within the next three months.

The anticipated recruitment will increase its workforce from its present number of 70 personnel to about 130 in the next three months.

Fireblocks wants to meet the increasing demands of customers and clients in the industry. Its main service is directed towards hedge funds, over-the-counter trading desks, exchanges, and institutional clients to transfer funds securely. According to reports, the company serves over 120 commercial clients presently.

With the added funds, it is believed that the number will increase within the next few months.

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Author: Ali Raza

WEF Report Says Blockchain Is A Core Component in Sustainable Digital Finance

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently released a new report about the future of digital finance on Wednesday. The WEF report noted that blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and mobile platforms represent a core element of digital finance’s sustainable future.

The report noted that blockchain combines coming of age technologies with a sustainable environment-conscious business model. In the report, UBS executive Karin Oertli noted that all these nascent technologies could help organizations and governments to meet their sustainability goals. Oertli wrote,

“We believe that sustainable digital finance will play an essential role in efficiently channeling this capital to fuel innovation, growth, and job creation, at the same time supporting the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.”

Currently, many European countries and top silicon tech firms’ save pledged to reduce their carbon footprint to zero in the next decade owing to the growing concern over climate change and global warming. Thus it has become even more important to bring sustainable business models to rescue the planet earth before it’s too late.

New WEF Report In Line With OECD Research

The latest sustainability report from WEF is not the first report of its kind, which has touted Blockchain as the key to sustainable future business models. It reinstates the research conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD report had made similar claims regarding blockchain and said,

“The core properties of blockchain and other DLT can enable deeper technological integration, standardization, and the possibility of new business models.”

Carbon dioxide emissions are growing significantly with each passing year. Some of the western countries have taken it upon themselves to make sure to cut their carbon footprint from now onwards.

The emergence of blockchain as key to a sustainable future comes just in time as crypto space has been battling the criticism over Bitcoin’s network electricity consumption and carbon emission.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Brazil Becomes The Latest Country To Confirm Plans to Launch A CBDC

Brazil’s Economy Minister recently spoke during the celebration of the Caixa Economica Federal’s 100 millionth digital savings account, and he used the opportunity to announce Brazil’s own CBDC.

The Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) trend is larger than ever, with countries worldwide announcing their intention to create their own digital currency, one after another. The latest in this long line is Brazil, whose Economy Minister personally confirmed plans to launch digital real.

Brazil announces its upcoming CBDC — digital real.

Brazil’s decision to launch its own digital currency does not come as a major surprise. After all, as soon as China announced digital yuan, many countries started developing their own CBDCs in China’s fear of obtaining too much influence.

As soon as a few nations’ central banks showed their willingness to start creating their own crypto, the rest were bound to follow. Brazil comes as the next one in line, as confirmed by its Economy Minister, Paulo Guedes.

Guedes made his statement yesterday, November 5th, during a special ceremony that celebrated the opening of the 100 millionth digital savings account in Caixa Economica Federal.

He said that the central bank is once again autonomous and that the digital dimension is booming. With that being the case, he revealed that Brazil would have its own digital currency and remain ahead of many other countries.

Brazil was prepared for work on CBDC, but it did not address it before

Interestingly, this was the first time that the country’s Economy Minister addressed this subject. However, he still did not reveal any more details regarding the upcoming digital real.

Of course, Brazil has been keeping an eye on crypto in the past. Its central bank even announced setting up a study group for potential CBDC issuance back in August.

Its president, Roberto Campos Neto, also said that Brazil requires improvement in its currency. However, he expected that this would happen within the scope of a new federal digital payment system, Pix. He said,

“In our case, Pix is very important because from now on, we see the union of an instant, open and interoperable form of payment with an open data system. They will meet somewhere in the future with a currency that has yet to be perfected.”

Brazil’s CBDC to arrive in 2022

As mentioned, there are currently no available details on the digital real, as not even the central bank has released new information about it. However, Campos Neto did reveal that digital real will be in circulation in 2022.

Another interesting thing regarding this announcement is its timing. As some may know, Pix just recorded its first transaction this Monday, and it will be officially available as of November 15th.

According to the central bank’s statement, it will only be used for foreign exchange transactions in and out of the country as for digital real.

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Author: Ali Raza

Reserve Bank of Australia And ConsenSys Partner On CBDC Research & Development

The Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) recently announced they have partnered with several financial institutions to research the potential of distributed ledger technology for a CBDC.

Based on the announcement, the partnering financial institutions include software firm ConsenSys, financial services company Perpetual, National Australia Bank, and the Commonwealth Bank.

The financial institutions will research the benefits of using distributed ledger technology on central bank wholesale digital currencies.

The RBA also said the partnering group would be investigating the development of a proof of concept when issuing tokenized CBDC’s.

Partnership on wholesale market participation

The collaboration will be focused on a wholesale market participant who might be utilizing the digital currency for tokenized syndicate loans via a DLT platform. They will also investigate the effect of security settlements between payments and delivery using cross-chain atomic swaps.

According to Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Michele Bullock, the project will seek to determine the impact of CBDC on innovation, risk management, and efficiency in financial market transactions. Findings may point to how CBDCs will be handled in the future within the Australian financial market.

He also stressed the need to work with industry partners to explore the market to achieve the same goals. He pointed out,

“While the use of a CBDC is still open in these markets, we look forward to working with industry partners.”

The project will be exploring various areas to place a future role for CBDCs in the Australian financial market.

Australia making a U-turn to support CBDC

This project may signify the Australian’s financial authority to pursue more interest in CBDCs. The country’s reserve bank has set various policies that seem to be working against the growth of CBDC in the country. However, the recent partnership to get more involved in CBDC research shows the bank’s willingness to keep things open to CBDCs.

Earlier last month, RBA announced that it would continue to deploy resources towards the research on CBDC, even though the financial institution insists the country has no basis for issuing one in September.

The bank has also pointed to the success of the country’s effective real-time platform for new payments, which has been considered an alternative to issuing a CBDC.

The bank has also revealed that it is set to offer fiat banknotes access if Australians still show the same interest in using them.

The results of the research to be published next year.

The Reserve bank will publish the report next year, once the project has concluded, according to the report on the development.

The RBA also revealed that the partnership might result in other potential automation and programmable financial assets features. Bullock added that the RBA would enable the research team to carry out their exploration. The result of the research is expected to be published during the first half of next year.

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Author: Ali Raza

Binance Boosts Visa Card Incentives with Auto Top-Up, Daily Cashback & Higher Spending Limits

Binance has added some perks to its recently launched debit card rolled out in the European Economic Area (EEA) one month ago. The crypto exchange is looking to expand its footprint in the retail market as more crypto users opt to have a good part of their portfolio stored in digital assets. Binance’s Visa-branded card is designed to facilitate a seamless conversion to fiat when making payments.

With over 60 million outlets accepting Visa payments, Binance card users can leverage this service to make online payments. The exchange is yet to integrate a prepaid function for PoS payments but is currently in the product pipeline. Notably, the crypto card service by Binance is part of a growing niche as more merchants move to accept crypto payments.

Binance has now increased the incentives for using its crypto card; the exchange introduces a ‘daily cashback’ reward program instead of the ‘one-week’ initial arrangement. This means that users will be getting their rewards daily, making it more attractive to use the Binance card more frequently.

As for cashback reward rates, Binance has bumped the figure to 8% from 7%, which was initially set as the maximum amount. Binance crypto card users whose purchases are eligible for the cashback rewards can expect an 8% cashback that could be cashed out daily. It is quite noteworthy that the cashback reward program favors BNB holders, depending on the amount they hold.

Besides the cashback incentives, Binance raised its crypto card’s spending limit to €870 per day. The crypto exchange anticipates that it will further raise this limit upon scaling the physical card mainstream use in the future. An automatic top-up feature has also been integrated to make daily deposits seamless.

The Binance crypto card touts zero maintenance, subscription, and transaction fees, apart from 3rd party charges where they apply. Users can currently deposit funds into their pre-selected Binance digital wallets to use them via the exchange’s crypto card. However, it remains scanty whether Binance will ultimately feature withdrawals, contactless payments, chip, and PIN tech within the physical card.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

Coinbase Wallet Targeted by New Trojan Malware Dubbed ‘Alien’

The Coinbase wallet is among 226 Android applications targeted by a recently discovered Trojan dubbed ‘Alien.’ This malware mostly targets the financial services space and is a by-product of the dreaded Cerberus Trojan. According to ThreatFabric, which discovered the malware, this specific strain had caused a lot of trouble in Google play to an extent where the team in charge had become complacent.

Alien is quite an advanced malware given that the malicious players behind it can steal user credentials, intercept notifications, and alter the state applications on the compromised device. ThreatFabric noted:

“Most importantly, it offers a notifications sniffer, allowing it to get the content of all notifications on the infected device, and a RAT (Remote Access Trojan) feature (by abusing the TeamViewer application), meaning that the threat actors can perform the fraud from the victim’s device.”

The blog highlights that the next probable moves by those running ‘Alien’ would be to improve the Random Access Trojan or build an ATS function for automation of the fraudulent process. Nonetheless, it points out that the number of new banking Trojans will undoubtedly increase and come with more advanced features.

“The last quarter of 2020 will probably come with some additional changes to the threat landscape, especially since the source code of the Cerberus Trojan has been made publicly available. In the coming months, we can definitively expect some new malware families, based on Cerberus, to emerge.”

With crypto space growing aggressively, Trojan attacks have become more common as fraudsters move to capitalize on the shaky security ecosystems. IT security firm Eset had also recently discovered a Trojan malware targeting crypto traders who use Apple’s MACOS. Other instances include a cryptojacking ‘shellbot,’ which targeted Linux users back in 2019.

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Author: Edwin Munyui

China Construction Bank Disables Chinese DCEP Wallet After Users Notice Feature in Bank App

China Construction Bank, one of the central state-owned banks in China, recently realized that the official wallet for the national CBDC is open for public use within its official banking app. The users could navigate to the wallet by merely entering the national digital currency, which would take the users to the wallet feature where they can register and activate the wallet by subscribing with the mobile number associated with their bank accounts.

Soon, the bank came to discover about the activation of the official wallet from the amount of community’s buzz that the activation caused among the crypto community in the country. Many customers went on to make small transactions in the yet to be released CBDC.

As soon as the news was brought to the attention of the state-owned bank, they swiftly disabled the feature. After disabling the official wallet feature, people searching for the CBDC wallet were shown a message which roughly translated to, “This feature is currently unavailable for the public, kindly wait patiently.”

How Does the Official Wallet Look and Function

The official wallet app was online for a brief period, but in today’s day and time, anything which makes it to the internet ones hardly disappear, and that has been the case with the ongoing official digital Yuan wallet launch by mistake. People were quick to post the layout of the wallet app on the internet, which showed that the users who managed to register with the new wallet app were given an official wallet ID, which could be used for the transfer of funds between the official wallet app and the user’s account.

The wallet would not just allow transactions between the bank and the app a user can send their digital yuan to another wallet by adding the unique wallet ID.

China is going to become the first country to launch its official digital currency issued by the People’s Bank of China. The big-four state-owned banks have been tasked to develop their respective wallet app to facilitate transactions using the CBDC.

China started its research on Central Bank Issued Digital Currency almost five years ago, and rumor mills were rife that the launch of the digital yuan would take place by the end of last year. However, the Chinese government mostly discarded these rumors without offering any official stance on the date of the launch. However, by the first quarter of 2020, the PBOC launched the testnet, and last week the mainnet for the digital yuan was established as well.

During the trial run, the government used digital yuan as a form of a travel subsidy for government employees in selected areas. The testing phase was later expanded to more cities and even included restaurants and fast-food chains.

With the official launch of the digital yuan just round the corner, many countries are actively observing China’s progress in the digital currency domain.

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Author: Hank Klinger

Cryptocurrency Focused Insurer, Evertas, Raises A $2.8 Million Seed Round Led by Morgan Creek

  • Evertas crypto insurer has received $2.8 Million cash injection from a recently concluded seed round led by Morgan Creek Capital Management.
  • Morgan Creek CEO will onboard the Evertas Board of Directors as part of the agreement.

Chicago based Evertas insurance has raised $2.8Million in a recent seed round. The insurance company, formerly known as BlockRe, was founded in 2017 by current CEO J Gdanski. They have zeroed in on the crypto realm, helping their clients reduce exposure to crypto-related risks offering expertise in insurance, Blockchain, investigation, and financial audits.

The seed round was led by Morgan Creek, an investment advisory firm that offers customized investment management facilities to institutions, wealthy individuals and families. Other investors in the investment round include Plug n Play, Kailash Ventures, RenGen, Vy Capital, and Wavemaker Genesis.

Notably, the founder and CEO at Morgan Creek, Mark Yusco, will onboard the Evertas Insurance board of Directors as stipulated in the deal. The funds raised are set to be used in an expansion plan of their customer base and product market.

According to Evertas CEO, being the only crypto-focused insurer places them at a prime position to capitalize on the lucrative crypto space, especially now that the governments across the world are turning their eyes to the industry.

Evertas’ spokesperson – Phil Anderson – highlighted that they are looking to venture into extending their vault services to cold and hot wallets for their clients. Their clientele will be comprised of mostly institutional investors, crypto exchanges, and extremely rich investors.

They were recently greenlighted by Bermuda Monetary Authority to commence operations in the jurisdiction operating as a class 3A insurer. As a small scale insurer, they are required obligated to have at least a million dollars as its minimum capital and surplus.

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Author: Lujan Odera