Nebraska Approves Bill Allowing Banks Offer Crypto Services

The Nebraska state legislature has approved a bill that would allow banks in the state to offer cryptocurrency services to customers.

Nebraska’s Crypto Banking Charter Bill

Nebraska state senators have voted for the bill that would allow banks to register as cryptocurrency depositories and offer crypto trading services to customers.

The bill passed with near-unanimous approval as 39 lawmakers voted to advance the bill to enrollment and initial review, with only one in disagreement.

Senator Mike Flood first introduced the bill in January, intending to adopt the Nebraska Financial Innovation Act to create digital asset depository institutions while providing for charter, operation, supervision, and regulation of such institutions.

According to Senator Flood, Nebraska had an opportunity to become an early adopter of cryptocurrencies which could help it benefit from finance and technology jobs.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not only for my district but the state of Nebraska,” he said.

Flood had introduced the bill alongside another also focused on crypto banking. The second, Legislative Bill 648, contains the “Transactions in Digital Assets Act,” which proposes a set of rules for Nebraska banks looking to hold cryptocurrencies or offer custodial services. However, this bill is yet to be adopted.

Nebraska Follows Wyoming’s Footsteps

This move by Nebraska follows similar legislation enacted by the state of Wyoming, thereby making it the second state in the US to set up a formal charter for crypto-powered banks.

Wyoming started its crypto-friendly constitutions when it passed its Digital Asset Law on February 26, 2019, and put into effect on July 1, 2019.

Wyoming went on to approve Kraken as its first crypto bank in September 2020. Kraken was granted the first special-purpose depository institution (SPDI) charter in Wyoming after the banking board approved the application.

After Kraken, another SPDI charter was approved for Avanti by the Wyoming State Banking Board, making it the second chartered bank in the state in 2020.

Nebraska is not the only state that has followed Wyoming’s lead.

Some months back, Texas had attempted to follow in Wyoming’s footsteps after Representative Tan Parker introduced the Texas UCC amendment bill, which aims to recognize virtual currencies under commercial law. This bill was supposed to help define crypto regulation clarity in the state but it did not pass due to lingering challenges.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Survey: South Korean Investors Welcome Controversial Crypto Tax Law

A new survey has revealed that a majority of South Korean investors support the proposed crypto tax law set to be unveiled next year.

53.7% Support Crypto Gains Tax

According to a recent survey sponsored by local television station YTN, many South Korean crypto investors support the government’s move to tax crypto gains.

The research carried on 500 respondents aged 18 years upwards by local research firm Realmeter showed that 53.7% of respondents support the proposed taxation regime scheduled to come into effect in Jan. 2022.

38.3% of responders feel it could hamper the sector’s growth, saying the move was biased.

The survey showed that respondents within the age bracket of 20 and 29 were strongly against the planned taxation more than any other age group.

47.8% of respondents in their 20s said they do not support crypto taxation, while 47.5% of respondents said it might be necessary to do so.

The data collated also showed that female crypto respondents were more supportive of the taxation scheme than their male counterparts.

Data collated by South Korean statesman Kwon Eun-hee showed that crypto investors in their 20s and early 30s were the most active participants with over 2.35 million confirming that they have traded digital currencies at least once in the top four crypto exchanges operating in the country: Bithumb, Upbit, Korbit, and Coinone.

But despite what may be a growing dissent against Seoul’s plans to regulate the burgeoning industry, Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki believes it’s only fair to tax capital gains on crypto transactions the same way other financial transactions are taxed.

But crypto stalwarts have called for a revision of the incoming tax law. The capital gains tax on virtual currency transactions has been pegged at 20% and will only affect trading profits that surpass the 2.5 million (about $2,234) mark.

South Korea’s Growing Regulations On Crypto

South Korea is determined to regulate its crypto sector. The Asian nation has been working steadily to bring the crypto industry under the purview of the government. It started by outlawing privacy tokens like Monero’s XMR.

It then extended its laws to comprise virtual assets service providers (VASPs), including cryptocurrency exchanges stipulating a hefty fine for any crypto company that fails to report suspicious transactions on its platform. It also said that failure to keep relevant customer data and separate management of customers’ transaction records would see them facing the full weight of the law.

These laws have since seen crypto exchanges like OKEx and Binance close shop in the country.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

MasterCard Survey Reveals Users Interest In Purchasing Cryptocurrencies

Payment giant MasterCard has disclosed in an online survey that more people are considering using cryptocurrency for payments of goods and services.

40% Plan To Use Crypto Next Year – MasterCard

The company had polled 15,569 consumers across 18 countries, and 40% of this group plan to use crypto in the next year.

Millennials seem to be more interested in digital currencies.

67% said they were more open to using the technology than they were a year ago, 77% of this group want to learn more about them, while 75% are open to using it if only they understood it better.

The survey was conducted from February 26 to March 10, with consumers in four regions, including North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean, the Middle East and Africa, and Asia-Pacific.

According to MasterCard, no less than 500 respondents in five of the 18 countries and at least 1,000 in the other 13 were contacted by the Harris Poll and Mastercard’s research team.

Apart from cryptocurrency, MasterCard also disclosed that people also voted their interest in biometrics, contactless, and QR codes as a means of payment.

According to the company, people are comfortable with emerging payment technologies and would support services that require them to use less physical cash.

With connections across more than 210 countries, MasterCard is undoubtedly a global technology company in the payments industry. It was first founded 55 years ago in 1966 as Interbank Card Association but was later changed to MasterCard in 1979.

MasterCard Pushing Crypto Frontier

MasterCard has been contributing to the crypto industry for a while now. The payment company was one of the first firms to support cryptocurrencies on its payment network.

Recently, it signed a partnership with crypto exchange Gemini to help launch its cryptocurrency rewards credit card. The credit card would offer crypto cashback to Gemini customers every time they shop with it.

The payment network also has an interest in aiding governments to achieve their CBDC goals. Last year, MasterCard launched a platform that allows central banks to analyze digital currencies. The platform was introduced to facilitate an environment where fintech, banks, and consumers can partner to issue, distribute, and exchange digital currencies.

Earlier in February, MasterCard collaborated with the Bahamas government, which provided the citizens with the option of loading the country’s CBDC onto a prepaid MasterCard.

Now, the company is looking into exploring smart contract technology on central bank digital currencies (CBDC).

MasterCard said it was examining how smart contracts can help central banks worldwide develop digital cash and push towards the realization of state-backed currencies. It is reportedly already in talks with China to explore wider cross-border usage of the digital yuan. Mastercard is awaiting final approval for licenses to start onshore card business.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Open Wireless Network, Helium, is Coming to a Phone Near You

Helium Network has partnered with FreedomFi, a connectivity company that manufactures open-source 5G devices. This is an important milestone for the network’s path to 5G.

By voting to pass HIP 27, the community has come together to make the Helium Network “the first consumer-owned 5G network in the world.” Basically, if you have a phone that supports 5G, you would soon be able to connect through hotspots powered by the Helium. Ryan Watkins of Messari commented,

“In just 21 months, Helium has built a global wireless network for IoT devices whose infrastructure is entirely community-owned and operated.”

“Their next step is replicating this success and deploying a similarly community-owned and operated 5G wireless network. Web 3 is coming.”

Founded in 2013, Helium Network, also known as the People’s Network, is a decentralized open wireless network built on a new blockchain. Relying on Proof of Coverage and a new consensus algorithm (HoneyBadger BFT), Helium is used to route data for long-range, lower power IoT devices.

The network is live with over 28,000 hotspots in over 3,800 cities worldwide with a backorder of 200k.

FreedomFi meanwhile has announced the presale waitlist of the inaugural batch of its Gateways, a connectivity device that pairs with 5G antennas and is compatible with the Helium Network.

This year, the project expects the Helium 5G network to be available in selected cities in the US and then expand into other countries as early as next year.

Hosts will also be able to earn a variable amount of HNT, depending on radio power, location, and amount of data traffic passing through their Hotspot.

The native token is currently trading at $17.54, down 16.4% from its ATH of 20.85 earlier this month.

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin (BTC) Price May Peak at $400,000 This Cycle: Bloomberg Report

Bitcoin is also “replacing old-guard” gold, that too more sudden than gradual as it fulfills the need for a digital reserve asset in a low-yield environment.

The bitcoin price target has been increased to $400,000 by analyst Mike McGlone in the April edition of Bloomberg’s Crypto Outlook 2021 report.

While BTC price continues to consolidate under $60k, its support has risen toward $50k, with $40k representing more extreme downside risk and resistance around $60k eroding with volatility, reads the report.

With little change with the price, Bitcoin “appears to be a bull market resting for the next leg of its stair-step rally.”

McGlone wrote that a backup to $40k is less likely and a more likely Q2 scenario is to breach $60k resistance and head toward $80k. Overall, the technical outlook for the year, if past patterns repeat, remains “strongly upward.”

Compared to 55x gains in 2013 and 15x in 2017, similar price extremes would take the largest crypto to $400,000 this time, based on the regression since 2011 high.

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Source: Bloomberg

The bullish factor is that there are few signs of BTC holders looking to sell as coins continue to leave exchanges indicating signs of demand.

According to the Commodity Strategist at Bloomberg, Bitcoin’s adoption has been rather sudden than gradual, which is only expected to accelerate with a “rising tide from institutions and individual investors.”

This has the narrative shifting to a small crypto allocation from the risks of missing out on the potential for Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is actually fulfilling the need for a digital reserve asset in a low-yield environment as gold, a traditional safe-haven asset, which has been rather lackluster in its performance, said McGlone.

The largest cryptocurrency is actually “replacing old-guard,” which again is more sudden than gradual.

“The adage that money flows to where it’s treated best describes what we see as firming underpinnings for the price of Bitcoin,” states the report. While not bearish for the precious metal, which continues to back into $1,700 support an ounce, most indicators show

“a shifting global tide that favors the nascent digital currency as a reserve asset.”

The report also mentions the dollar’s digital dominance eclipsing China’s yuan’s global adoption. The same is happening in the crypto world, where Tether (USDT), defined as “currency to bitcoin’s digital gold,” is trading more than the cryptocurrency itself.

As for the much-talked-about discount on Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), it could be just a normal dip in a strong bull market with appreciation expected to be the most likely outcome.

“The increasing probability for Bitcoin ETFs in the U.S. is supporting the price but contributed to a shift to discount in GBTC.”

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Author: AnTy

R3’s Corda Releases Ethereum-Based XDC Bridge for Interoperability

Corda, a decentralized blockchain offshoot of software company R3, recently announced that it had built a decentralized bridge to permissionless blockchains on the Ethereum ecosystem.

XDC To Facilitate Exchange On Corda

The announcement sees them collaborate with permissioned hybrid blockchain protocol eXchange inFinite (XinFin) to improve the global trade finance space. XinFin’s utility token XinFin Digital Contract (XDC) would be used for payment settlement in the Corda network.

The interoperable bridge built by a team of former Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) employees designated LAB577 will make the Corda blockchain talk to other blockchain networks. This will greatly engender the transmission of private user data on the Corda network. The limited dataset will also make its way to the XDC secure network.

In a press release shared with us, Director of the team Richard Crook noted the importance of this Corda-XinFin interoperable bridge, saying that one of the blockchain’s trilemma would be put to bed.

“The first currency across is XDC, but this lays the groundwork to connect Corda to ERC-20s and other cryptocurrency networks.”

“What you would see here is the age-old challenge of interoperability being solved.”

R3 has been in the crypto space for some years. During its inception in 2015, the R3 team pointed to the potential blockchain technology like Bitcoin would bring to the financial sector. Even though large financial houses initially signed up for the project, fears about competitors getting their hands on company data saw interests wane.

This led to the creation of Corda- a system that enables data and value transfer between parties without giving out vital data. The Corda project has been hugely successful, and they created a payments platform that supported Ripple Labs’ XRP token in 2018.

KYC Will Come To XinFin

This innovation joins a growing number of new generation interoperable blockchains. Cosmos, a permissionless blockchain platform on the Ethereum network, recently launched its Inter-Blockchain Communication Protocol (IBC).

Crook noted that the XDC-powered bridge between Corda and other DLT-based platforms would incorporate more inter-chain enabled assets in the coming months.

But even as the blockchain protocol values decentralization, XDC co-founder Atul Khekade notes that the platform ensures that regulatory guidelines are being followed.

Khekade said that all intending validators would need to undergo regulatory know your customer (KYC) protocols to be eligible. This will see them lock 10 million XDC tokens (valued at $300,000) to become a validator, and they must duly attach a KYC node to the network.

The need for regulatory goalposts is increasing by the day as the crypto industry continues to attract institutional demand. A growing number of criminal elements have become attracted to the crypto space, forcing global regulatory bodies to clamp down on crypto activities in some regions.

Like the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), regulatory agencies have since directed crypto-facing businesses to incorporate necessary security protocols obtainable in the traditional financial space.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

“It is Worth $1 Billion,” says The Largest NFT Fund That Bought Beeple’s “The First 5000 Days”

“It is Worth $1 Billion,” says The Largest NFT Fund That Bought Beeple’s “The First 5000 Days”

Metapurse, founded by Metakovan, bought it for more than 42k ETH, worth nearly $69.35 million, calling it “the most valuable piece of art for this generation.”

Metapurse was the buyer of the $69,346,250 digital artwork “The First 5000 Days” by artist Mike Winkelman, famously known as Beeple.

An NFT production studio, Metapurse is the largest NFT fund in the world. Metakovan is the pseudonymous founder and financier of the fund that broke the record for the most expensive NFT ever sold by bidding 42329.453 ETH. Metakovan said,

“When you think of high-valued NFTs, this one is going to be pretty hard to beat.”

“And here’s why – it represents 13 years of everyday work. Techniques are replicable, and skill is surpassable, but the only thing you can’t hack digitally is time. This is the crown jewel, the most valuable piece of art for this generation. It is worth $1 billion.”

The auction ended on Thursday, which was hosted by the oldest auction house Christie’s, which had its first purely digital artwork with a unique NFT and also accepted cryptocurrency for it. Around 22 million viewers tuned in to Christies.com for the final moments of bidding, revealed the official announcement. Guillaume Cerutti, CEO of Christie’s said,

“The possibilities for what comes next in this field are inspiring, and we look forward to more collaborative innovations in the near future.”

The digital artwork is the third most valuable artwork ever sold by a living artist.

Twobadour, who operates the NFT fund along with Metakovan, said the sale of Beeple’s artwork had made “history” because this involved a renowned auction house, a contemporary artist, and a wholly digital masterpiece which is acquired by a person of color.

“This certainly is history. We also hope it is the future,” Twobadour said.

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Author: AnTy

South African Crypto Firms Threaten To Leave Amid Regulatory Uncertainty

The arrival of crypto-assets in Africa was seen as the end of financial exclusion in a continent that has remained in the dark ages for so long. With cryptocurrencies making it possible for retail investors to dictate how they spend their money and what they get in return, the continent quickly embraced the industry.

However, the governments’ stringent regulatory oversights have seen the sector beginning to suffer from private crypto ownership outrightly banned in some African nations.

South African Crypto Firms Seeking Greener Pastures

South African crypto firms threaten to leave the country due to the toxic regulatory environment. The country, which has seen a lot of bad actors taking advantage of ignorant investors in the space, is slowly stunting the growth of crypto, according to the crypto-facing companies.

In a chat with foremost financial media house Bloomberg, Sean Sanders, CEO of South Africa’s crypto trading platform Revix, said he is seriously considering leaving the African nation for the United Kingdom. He also said he would be setting up a second office in Germany, another crypto-friendly European nation.

Sanders said the reason why he is hard-pressed to leave is that the South African government has been slow in providing regulatory goalposts to guide industry practitioners in the running of the business within the country. According to him, an unregulated crypto environment will only see customers hesitate to put their money into cryptocurrencies.

Commercial banks have also been earmarked as a potential challenge for the crypto hotbed. While some are in support of offering crypto services for customers, some of them have barred crypto investors from making use of their platform. According to Marius Reitz, the African general manager of multinational crypto exchange Luno, the continued impasse may hurt the growth and adoption of digital assets in the continent.

Even though Asian nations like Singapore have been redrafting legislation to lure crypto-facing businesses into the country, there are still many financial regulators that are dining with the nascent technology with a long spoon. The United States has been one of the most prominent crypto critics, even as retail investors are surging daily into the burgeoning space.

FSCA Wants To Protect Consumers

With criminals seizing on the apparent ignorance most investors have about the sector, there has been a rise in crypto-related crimes. Ponzi schemes and scams have grown in the past year, with $2.1 billion reportedly lost in 2019 alone.

The South African regulatory body Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) says it has not been idle. According to Brandon Topham, head of enforcement at FSCA, the government wants to provide better protection for retail crypto owners rather than the businesses that offer crypto services. Topham assured that regulatory proposals are currently in the works and will be available soon.

South Africa is still recovering from the Mirror Trading International scam, which saw crooks pocket a whopping 23,000 BTC (worth $1.2 billion in today’s market). The company was placed under provisional liquidation after its CEO fled to Brazil to avoid answering for his crimes.

Besides South Africa, Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, finds itself in regulatory limbo. Nigeria’s apex bank issued a circular banning banks in the country from providing services to crypto businesses. Even though the government has announced that it is working towards regulating the sector, crypto use is still not allowed in the economy.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Bitcoin Following the Stock Market “Tick for Tick,” $1.9T Stimulus Bill Passed & Yields Go Up Again

The cryptocurrency market is continuing the upwards momentum on Monday that started over the weekend.

Bitcoin has made its way above $50,000 while Ether trades over $1,700. The greens in the broad cryptocurrency market have a total market cap surpassing $1.55 trillion.

While the price of Bitcoin has slowed down some in the near term after hitting a new all-time high above $58,300 in February followed by a pullback of 26%, the coins continue to be moved off the cryptocurrency exchanges in the expectation of higher future prices.

While the on-chain movement shows bullish momentum, institutional investors on CME closed their positions, but both longs and shorts.

For the week ending March 6, total open interest for CME Bitcoin plummeted to its lowest levels this year as it shed more than 2500 contracts, as per Market Science’s latest report.

Last week, leveraged funds experienced the most dramatic change as these traders closed both long and short positions; their positioning is now as net-short as it has ever been. Interestingly, asset managers are also net short, which wasn’t seen through most of the recent bull run.

Non-Reportable traders remain less bullish than their average historically while Other Reportable traders have virtually no short exposure, remaining close to record net-long levels as they own over 25% of all long contracts outstanding. “These conditions have exhibited a bullish statistical edge historically,” noted Market Science.

The Macro

In the macro-environment, the bullish news came in the form of the $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief bill which passed the Senate 50-49 on Saturday. Democrats aim to have the bill signed into law early this week.

“As tough as this moment is, there are brighter days ahead — there really are,” President Joe Biden said at the White House after the bill was passed. “It’s never been a good bet to bet against America.”

The bill will send $1,400 payments to millions of Americans, individuals earning up to $75,000 and couples earning up to $150k based on either 2019 or 2020 tax returns. It would also deliver $300 a week in extra unemployment assistance through Sept. 6.

This has the stock market recovering with S&P 500 up 2.9% and Nasdaq 4% after incurring losses ever since hitting new highs in the second week of February.

Bitcoin has actually been following the stock market ever since February, “almost tick for tick,” notes trader and economist Alex Kruger. Hence, the gains and if the traditional market sees red today, it is likely crypto assets will slide too.

Gold, however, is not having a good Monday as the spot prices fell under $1,690 per ounce while the US dollar Index strengthened above 92.2 thanks to yet another bout of a surge in Treasury yields. The 10-year U.S. Treasury yield hit 1.6% on Monday morning, while on the 30-year Treasury bond, it rose to 2.311%. Yields move inversely to prices.

This, however, isn’t good for BTC prices as we have seen for the past couple of weeks.

“Rates impact not only BTC but virtually every asset in the world. As one of the (if not the) most liquid asset class, higher rates mean bonds become more attractive than other assets – money flow from everywhere else into bonds,” said Qiao Wange of DeFi Alliance. “At extreme levels this will crush all risk assets.”

Bitcoin has managed to rally because of its adoption narrative in addition to being the best performing asset.

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Author: AnTy

MyEtherWallet Provides Easy Access to dApps With DappRadar Integration

  • Popular Ethereum wallet app MyEtherWallet (MEW) has provided an upgrade that decentralized application (Dapp) users will find welcome.
  • Earlier this week, the company announced that it had inked a partnership to provide easy access to Dapps on its mobile app, essentially allowing it to capture several growing crypto markets.

Easy Access to Over 2,000 Apps

A press release explained that MEW had partnered with top dApp analytics site dAppRadar on the initiative. Thanks to the partnership, MEW users will be able to access over 2,000 dApps on their MEW browser.

The new feature will allow MEW users to track applications across several sub-industries, including decentralized finance (DeFi), non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and more. It will also allow users to track their portfolios across apps and easily tap into the new wave of crypto-based financial services.

Users can search for specific dApps, and the partners believe that iOS users will be able to view rankings and critical metrics for the applications from later this year.

Currently, these metrics are only visible through web browsers within the MyEtherWallet app. They will most likely include numbers like active users, total value locked, periodic trading volumes, and more. In the announcement, Kosala Hemachandra, MEW’s chief executive, explained:

“Our dedication to bringing DApps to all of our users, no matter how they choose to access them, reflects our belief that wallets can, and should, become the hub where the entire Ethereum DApp ecosystem comes together.”

Gas Fees Reach New Highs

The move is sure to provide easier interaction across the Ethereum blockchain. MEW remains a top figure in the Ethereum ecosystem, and most dApps run on the Ethereum blockchain too. Considering that many of these users are interwoven, easy access between one Ethereum-based service and another should consolidate Ethereum’s influence in the decentralized space.

As for the Ethereum network itself, it continues to deal with the problem of rising gas fees, something that continues to threaten its dominance in the DeFi space primarily. According to data from YCharts, the average gas fees hit an all-time high of $17.50 per transaction on Wednesday, beating the previous record of $17.43 that was set exactly a month before.

The rise forced immediate reactions, with top crypto exchange Liquid announcing that it would have to suspend Ether withdrawals due to the gas hike.

As for the DeFi space, things are getting direr. Many DeFi projects require the execution of smart contracts, and there are now reports of fees associated with protocols running into the thousands of dollars.

It’s been widely reported that large transactions on Synthetix cost as high as $1,100, while simple swaps on exchanges like SushiSwap and UniSwap went as high as $75.

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Author: Jimmy Aki