Banks, Including Barclays, Ban Transfers to Crypto Exchange Binance Using Debit & Credit Cards

Banks, Including Barclays, Are Banning Transfers to Crypto Exchange Binance Using Debit and Credit Cards

All of this has been done in the name of keeping the customers’ money safe while Binance says, “If our partners have any concerns, we would welcome a dialogue to discuss,” adding UK regulator FCA’s notice to BLM, isn’t about Binance.com at all.

Leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance took to Twitter to share that many of their banking partners are not allowing their users to use their services.

“It’s disappointing to learn that some partners are taking unilateral action to stop servicing Binance users based on what appears to be an inaccurate understanding of events,” said Binance on Tuesday.

In one such instance, one of the partners referred its users to an FCA notice that was addressed to Binance Markets Limited (BML), saying it was taking this action to keep people’s money “safe.” Still, Binance has “always taken the security of our users’ money very seriously,” they said.

As Binance informed its users of this development, many in the comments section pointed out how banks are not letting them make transfers to the platform.

Barclays is one such platform that is not allowing its users to make transfers to Binance and is stopping any payments made by credit and debit card to the exchange for an unspecified time period, all in the name of keeping the customers’ money safe.

“It’s our responsibility to help protect your money. With this in mind, we’ve taken the decision to stop payments made by credit/debit card to Binance until further notice, to help keep your money safe,” reads the bank’s automated message.

Other users noted that it’s not just Barclays, but other UK banks like Natwest, Lloyds, and HSBC are also not allowing them to make deposits.

This has been after Binance reactivated GBP withdrawals last week after the exchange’s customers were unable to deposit or withdraw British Pound (GBP) from its platform after the regulator in Britain cracked down on crypto activities in the country. Binance has been at the center of  regulatory concerns for the past few weeks, with the UK as well as the Cayman Islands and Thailand SEC.

“The FCA notice was not about user deposits on http://Binance.com at all,” reiterated Binance adding, the notice relates to the UK incorporated BLM, which is regulated by the FCA. A separate entity, BML does not offer any products or services via Binance.com.

“If our partners have any concerns, we would welcome a dialogue to discuss.”

“We take our compliance obligations very seriously, and we are committed to working collaboratively with regulators to shape policies that protect consumers, encourage innovation, and advance the industry.”

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Author: AnTy

Extreme Right-Wing Groups Using Virtual Assets and Stablecoins to Move Funds: FATF Report

Extreme Right-Wing Groups Using Virtual Assets and Stablecoins to Move Funds: FATF Report

The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) released a report called “Ethnically or Racially Motivated Terrorism Financing” that talks about the use of cryptocurrencies by terrorists to move funds.

The global anti-money laundering watchdog said few countries had designated extreme right-wing groups (ERW) or individuals as terrorists who appear to be becoming more adept at disguising their financial activities.

Some of these ERWs are also using virtual assets like Bitcoin to move funds, according to a new FATF report. Using “so-called privacy coins” meanwhile allows them to maintain anonymity when making transactions. The report said,

“There has been plenty of interest in VAs from different ERW groups and individuals looking for anonymity, especially after being removed from mainstream payment platforms.”

Those who are more security-conscious and looking for a greater level of secrecy “often choose VAs.” However, the agency noted that “there is limited information on the volume of funds being transferred in this way.”

The FATF further points to the use of stablecoins, one created by the group itself “where transactional data only lasted 24 hours before becoming untraceable.” One far-right organization in South Africa created this stablecoin which was managed by an application styled PayApp that “enables the group to use digital money as cash.”

The report also mentions that these groups have property “central” to their fundraising activities as such argues that authorities should target them to deter terrorist financing and disrupt related financial networks.

Additionally, these groups are using concerts, music festivals, mixed martial arts events, and merchandise sales to raise funds, socialize, and network.

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Author: AnTy

Augur Launches Sports Betting Platform, Turbo, Built on Polygon Using Chainlink’s Oracles

Augur Launches Sports Betting Platform, Turbo, Built on Polygon Using Chainlink’s Oracles

Augur, a decentralized betting ecosystem, announced its Augur Turbo project, a platform aiming to introduce sports betting, adding to its wide betting market. Turbo will use Chainlink’s decentralized oracles to raw external data and scores – ensuring a trustless and efficient way to feed data to its smart contracts, an announcement reads.

According to the statement released on Monday, Augur Turbo is built on the Ethereum layer 2 solutions, Polygon (formerly Matic), which will save a ton of fees for the players and market creators – compared to Ethereum. The new decentralized sports betting market aims to replace the “highly centralized” traditional betting exchanges solving the issues of “limited payouts, withdrawal problems, high fees, and market control,” the statement further reads.

Additionally, the Turbo project is also turning to Chainlink (LINK), which will provide decentralized oracles to feed on-chain smart contracts with external data from games schedules and results, scores, player and team stats, etc. With this integration, market makers on Augur Turbo will create a betting market from any sports discipline, including the NBA, NFL, UEFA, FA, UFC, the Olympics, and other sporting events.

Augur allows market makers to create betting markets outside the sports realm, with recent markets ranging from recent U.S. Presidential elections, weather, current events, financial assets, etc.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Only 1% of Ethereum Addresses Are Currently Using DeFi: ConsenSys Report

Only 1% of Ethereum Addresses Are Currently Using DeFi: ConsenSys Report

As of April 1st, 2021, there were 146 million unique Ethereum addresses, 16 million more since the beginning of the year. However, only 1% of these addresses are using decentralized finance (DeFi).

By the end of quarter first, 1.75 million unique addresses had used at least one DeFi protocol, despite DeFi users growing by 50% this quarter and a 10x increase from the end of Q1 2020, states the latest report on the DeFi sector by ConsenSys.

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The growth of DeFi represents the increasing demand for the sector, increasing the median gas price to 50% in ETH and average transaction fees to spike 4.2x.

In Q1 2021, Ethereum’s total fees were double of the Bitcoin blockchain. This gap continues to widen between both the blockchains, with Ethereum generating more than 850% fees daily than Bitcoin this month. Even leading AMM, Uniswap is doing more in fees than the largest network.

Due to the persistent issue of high fees, developers are moving to layer 2 solutions such as Polygon (MATIC), Optimism, and Starkware’s STARK-based roll-ups.

Within DeFi, each sector gained a 50% increase in users in the first quarter. DEX volume increased 2.5x to $63 billion, and outstanding loans rose 3x to $10.8 billion.

The report further covered NFTs, which saw a meteoric rise due to the coronavirus pandemic, which left 62% of artists unemployed. NFTs are about 10% of global art sales, it noted.

Now, in Q2, the trends to watch, according to ConsenSys, involve DAOs investing in NFTs and Flashbots dominating the Ethereum Network.

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Author: AnTy

Bank of America to Speed Up Stock Trade Settlement Using Paxos Blockchain Network

Bank of America to Speed Up Stock Trade Settlement Using Paxos Blockchain Network

Crypto firm Paxos has welcomed Bank Of America to its blockchain-based network for settling US equities.

According to Bloomberg, Bank of America has become the latest US bank to join the Paxos Network for blockchain stock settlement. The Paxos network facilitates the quick settlement of securities.

European banking giant Credit Suisse and Nomura Holdings Inc’s Instinet already use the network known as Paxos Settlement Service.

Improving Return-on-Assets for BoA

Speaking on the new development, the Bank of America’s head of financing and clearing, Kevin McCarthy, said joining the Paxos network would help improve the return-on-assets in the business, which he said has been a challenge for the bank.

Paxos Settlement Service is an alternative settlement platform to existing market infrastructure. It was launched in 2020 after receiving a no-action relief from the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in October 2019. Paxos has also applied for a clearing license with the SEC.

The CEO of Paxos, Chad Cascarilla, said his platform could threaten the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. (DTCC), which currently dominates equity settlement. The DTCC offers a “T+2” settlement process via legacy software. The DTCC settlement takes up to two days and only offers same-day settlement for trades are recorded on or before 11 a.m.

This is unlike Paxos that settles stock trades within minutes using the blockchain. Paxos runs a permissioned version of the Ethereum blockchain.

Using Blockchain In The Stock Market

In recent times, financial firms worldwide have begun to explore how blockchain can help address inefficiencies in the financial markets. Even as the total value of stocks traded globally is pegged to be around $77.5 trillion, the complexity in stock-related transactions persists. The stock market still has problems regarding the time it takes for transactions to be approved and the operational costs.

NASDAQ is one stock exchange that has been a front-runner when it comes to adopting blockchain. The exchange already uses blockchain technology to issue and manage private securities. Most of the other exchanges are still exploring prototypes and looking into the opportunities in blockchain technology.

Banks like JP Morgan Chase have also leveraged blockchain technology to develop specialized payments systems and offer niche banking products. Since last year, JPMorgan has used the blockchain to execute intraday repurchase agreements totaling billions of dollars.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Iran Moves to Heavily Fine Crypto Miners Using Household Electricity

Iran Moves to Heavily Fine Crypto Miners Using Household Electricity

The Iranian government has introduced new rules that prohibit cryptocurrency miners from mining bitcoin at home. According to the local news agency The Tehran Times, home miners caught breaking the law would be fined heavily.

Iran Cracks Down On Illegal Crypto Miners

Although crypto mining is legal and accepted by the Iranian government, some crypto miners have reportedly been using household electricity to mine to bypass paying higher tariffs.

Besides the fines, erring miners would also be required to pay extra fees for damages caused to the power network.

Mostafa Rajabi, a spokesperson for Iran’s Energy Ministry, said that the need to monitor crypto mining was necessary as it was one of the two biggest threats to Iran’s electricity supply. The second threat Rajabi noted is a reduction in power coming from hydropower plants due to the lack of rainfall.

The government’s new measures would also see illegal crypto miners who are caught provide compensation for potential damages caused to the electricity network.

According to Rajabi, up to 87% of crypto mining operations in Iran are illegal, and these unauthorized crypto mining can damage the local power grid and lead to blackouts.

Crypto Mining In Iran

Since July 2019, crypto mining has been accepted as a legal industry in Iran. Miners in the country are required to obtain an operating license from the Ministry of Industries and pay their electricity bills based on export rates.

Now that mining is legal, miners have complained about the high power tariffs. This caused a brawl between the miners and the government and led to some miners leaving their farms to use household electricity instead.

Another issue between the Iranian authorities and the country’s crypto miners is the constant nationwide power outages. In January, the Iranian government had reportedly shut down 1,620 unregistered mining farms, blaming them for the widespread blackout, which left millions of people without power.

Iran is a notable player in the Bitcoin mining market. The country ranks among the top 10 countries where miners operate due to its cheap energy.

Despite the trouble with miners, Iran sees crypto mining as a way to generate income for the country. Last year, Iran started exploring the potential use of cryptocurrency as a tool for mitigating the crippling impact of economic issues faced at the time.

The Central Bank of Iran unveiled new rules that directed the proceeds of the mined Bitcoin to be used as government funds to finance the country’s imports. Using cryptocurrencies for foreign trade was one way the government could avoid the adverse effects of the economic sanctions imposed by the US.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Digital Yuan Is Closing In On A Full Release As Major Institutions Start Using The CBDC

Digital Yuan Is Closing In On A Full Release As Major Institutions Start Using The CBDC

  • Alibaba’s Ant Group partnered with PBoC to develop China’s CBDC report.
  • The digital yuan could overpower the influence of WeChat Pay and AliPay in the future.
  • More institutions are adopting the CBDC as a form of payment.

Ant Group, a wholly-owned subsidiary by Alibaba, has been partnering with the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) on the central bank digital currency, popular as CBDC, a report from South China for the past four years China Morning Post reads.

This information was revealed over the weekend at a Digital China Summit in Fuzhou. MYbank, a mobile fintech app by Ant Group, was the intermediary to distribute the digital yuan since 2017. Additionally, the central bank’s main research institute, China Digital Currency Institute, picked up the app in mid-2019 to choose consumers to spend, pay and receive the CBDC.

“Ant Group, together with MYbank, will continue to support the research, development, and trial of PBOC’s e-CNY,” a representative familiar with the matter commented.

The influence of the CBDC is unquestionable across China with the trials conducted over major cities are well received by the population. At the core of the growing adoption rates is the support of China’s large banks such as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, Bank of China, HSBC, and the China Construction Bank, all of who have taken part in the trial phase of the digital yuan.

To further boost adoption, several large banks are promoting the use of the digital yuan in an upcoming festival on May 5th over the use of platforms such as WeChat Pay and AliPay. The banks are urging the population to download a digital wallet and purchase the digital CBDC, also known as e-CNY in a bid to make their payments “more convenient,” a representative said.

The continuous push towards a digital yuan controlled by the central banks will reduce the control and dominance private companies such as AliPay and Wechat have in mobile payments. To curtail big-company dominance in holding financial data, the Chinese government will launch a full public version of the e-CNY later in the year to battle with the private corporations.

All in all, big institutions have started embracing the CBDC as a form of currency boosting transactions within the country. JD.com, a China-based e-commerce company, announced Monday that some of their employees have started accepting to be paid using the digital currency electronic payment (DCEP) system.

Having participated in the DCEP trials, JD.com integrated the payment solution earlier this year in its business while paying some of its expenses using the digital yuan, a CNBC report stated

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Author: Lujan Odera

Intel Partners With Microsoft to Curb the Cryptojacking Malware Using Threat Detection Tech

Intel Partners With Microsoft to Curb the Cryptojacking Malware Using Threat Detection Tech

Intel is set to collaborate with Microsoft to defend against cryptojacking. According to an official press release, the two leading tech companies will work hand-in-hand in fighting cryptojacking threats for users.

Machine Learning to the Rescue

Both companies plan to use machine learning to identify and nuke cryptojacking efforts before they escalate.

Intel’s Threat Detection Technology (TDT) will be integrated into Microsoft Defender for Endpoint. This will enhance easy detection capability and protection against cryptojacking malware.

The new technology will enable the tech company to detect malware irrespective of the malicious code’s obfuscation strategies being adopted.

Intel’s Senior Director of Strategic Planning and Architecture, Michael Nordquist, believes that the new technology will set a genuine inflection point for the security industry, per the press release.

Cryptojacking is the unauthorized use of another person or entity’s computer to mine cryptocurrency.

The illegal act is often carried out through the use of malware or compromised websites.

According to Microsoft, cryptojacking attacks rose by 53% in the fourth quarter of 2020 compared to Q3. Although cryptojacking has significantly reduced as a result of the surge in crypto prices in 2021.

However, Karthik Selvaraj, the principal security research manager at Microsoft, believes the collaboration with Intel underscores Microsoft’s efforts in collaborating with technology partners across the industry.

Selvaraj added that the company would intensify partnership with chipmakers to adopt new hardware-based defenses capable of protecting against cyber threats.

Clampdown on Cryptojacking

Given the challenges that cryptojacking poses to the crypto space, efforts are being made to nip the issue in the bud.

The research was earlier conducted on cryptojacking by the cybersecurity firm Aqua Security to identify the root cause and ways to end it.

According to Aqua’s report, out of 16,371 cybersecurity attacks on its decoy servers, it was established that 95% were primarily aimed at mining cryptocurrency through the deployment of malicious programs.

The attackers were also more interested in mining Monero (XMR) compared to other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. XMR 0.76% Monero / USD XMRUSD $ 400.20
$3.040.76%
Volume 593.82 m Change $3.04 Open $400.20 Circulating 17.9 m Market Cap 7.16 b
6 h Intel Partners With Microsoft to Curb the Cryptojacking Malware Using Threat Detection Tech 1 w Plasm Network Partners with Secret Network to Launch the First Polkadot-Cosmos Cross-Chain Bridge 1 mon Acer Technologies Targeted In ‘Largest Ever’ Ransomware Attack; Hackers Demand Monero (XMR)
BTC 2.90% Bitcoin / USD BTCUSD $ 55,064.29
$1,596.862.90%
Volume 49.32 b Change $1,596.86 Open $55,064.29 Circulating 18.69 m Market Cap 1.03 t
5 h U.S Bank Dives into Bitcoin with Crypto Custody Offering 5 h Gemini Taps MasterCard as Partner for Crypto Rewards Credit Card 6 h BadgerDAO & RenVM Launch A ‘Bridge’ to Bring Bitcoin to Ethereum in ‘One Click’

Interestingly, Microsoft’s recent report shows that crypto-mining attacks have reduced due to rising volatility and mining difficulties. Although the report claims that users in countries like Singapore, Vietnam, and India still stand a higher risk of being attacked.

With respect to the ongoing clampdown on cryptojacking, two members of the notorious Romanian hacker gang Bayrob Group were sentenced to 20 years in U.S. prison, having been found guilty of using malware to mine crypto on 400,000 infected computers.

The Court’s pronouncement shows that the Group leader Bogdan Nicolescu and co-conspirator Radu Miclaus were guilty of the charges leveled against them.

It was established that the duo deployed malware to mine Bitcoin and Monero using their host computers’ processing power.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Miami-Dade County Task Force Is Looking at Ways for Residence to Pay Taxes Using Crypto

Miami-Dade County Task Force Is Looking at Ways for Residence to Pay Taxes Using Crypto

Florida-based county launches crypto task force to explore the possibility of paying state taxes using Bitcoin and cryptocurrency.

In a letter first made public by Miami New Times, Miami-Dade County commissioner Cohen Higgins brought up a resolution to set up a crypto task force that will investigate the possibility of paying state taxes and service fees using cryptocurrencies. The resolution was presented to the Miami-Dade’s Infrastructure, Operations, and Innovations Committee to establish a 13-member team.

The task force aims to find feasible ways residents could pay for their taxes and other county fees using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC). The letter further lined out the membership, organization, procedures, establishment, and task force functions.

BTC -2.76% Bitcoin / USD BTCUSD $ 61,606.31
-$1,700.33-2.76%
Volume 83.8 b Change -$1,700.33 Open $61,606.31 Circulating 18.68 m Market Cap 1.15 t
4 h Miami-Dade County Task Force Is Looking at Ways for Residence to Pay Taxes Using Crypto 4 h UK Hedge Fund Brevan Howard Plans to Invest 1.6% of $5.6B Capital in Cryptocurrencies 5 h Canada Launches First Inverse Bitcoin ETF to Short BTC Futures Without A Margin Account
ETH -3.62% Ethereum / USD ETHUSD $ 2,440.76
-$88.36-3.62%
Volume 36.12 b Change -$88.36 Open $2,440.76 Circulating 115.5 m Market Cap 281.9 b
4 h Miami-Dade County Task Force Is Looking at Ways for Residence to Pay Taxes Using Crypto 4 h UK Hedge Fund Brevan Howard Plans to Invest 1.6% of $5.6B Capital in Cryptocurrencies 8 h Crypto Lender Celsius Suffers Data Breach Through Third-Party Mailing List
LTC 7.78% Litecoin / USD LTCUSD $ 312.13
$24.287.78%
Volume 11.86 b Change $24.28 Open $312.13 Circulating 66.75 m Market Cap 20.84 b
4 h Miami-Dade County Task Force Is Looking at Ways for Residence to Pay Taxes Using Crypto 1 d Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) Is Fast Approaching World’s Largest Commodity ETF, GLD with $57B AUM 3 d CoinShares is Launching an XRP ETP (XRPL) as the Digital Asset Nears $2

The commissioner called on the committee to embrace cryptocurrencies, and they “have reached a point that merits evaluation” in order not to miss “potential opportunities such as efficiency and cost-saving.”

The committee passed the letter on Thursday noon but still awaits the final committee decision by the full county commission.

The Miami-Dade County has recently caught several eyes in the crypto circles with a multi-million deal being struck with FTX crypto exchange. The exchange became the first crypto entity to sponsor a major professional sports venue as Miami Heat grounds switched from AmericanAirlines Arena to FTX Arena.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has also been at the forefront to enact Bitcoin-friendly laws in the city and has urged other administrators to follow suit. He announced a new CTO role in his management, a position that will overlook the city’s growth as a fintech hub and boost “Big Tech” companies relocating to Miami. He also previously stated Miami’s plans to add Bitcoin to its balance sheet.

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Author: Lujan Odera

Ethereum Layer 2 Solution, Hermez Network, Mainnet is Live; Using ZK-Rollup’s For Cheap Payments

Ethereum Layer 2 Solution, Hermez Network, Mainnet is Live; Using ZK-Rollup’s For Cheap Payments

Hermez Network, a layer 2 blockchain scaling solution on the Ethereum network, is now live on the mainnet. Hermez’s launch on Ethereum hopes to solve some of the transaction bottlenecks that have plagued the network.

Cheaper and Faster Transaction Speed

This is a major relief for developers who rely on Ethereum to run their applications.

Hermes uses the Zk-rollup, which compiles hundreds of transactions into a single transaction while eliminating data storage and gas fees for verifying transaction blocks.

Hermez’s zk-rollup is set to address this issue with the off-chain aggregator and promises to increase transaction speed 100 times over.

Jordi Baylina, head of tech at Hermez, said this latest release would see users save around 90% in gas fees.

With each transaction on the Ethereum network costing roughly $17, a 90% discount would see developers pay a meager $1.60 per transaction.

The first set of digital assets supported by Hermez includes Tether, Ether, Wrapped Bitcoin, Dai, and Hermez’s token HEZ.

The development team says other crypto-assets will be added as time goes by.

The Ethereum blockchain has witnessed network congestion and higher gas fees in recent months.

This is due to many reasons. Chief of which includes the popularity of the decentralized finance (DeFi) of 2020 and the non-fungible token (NFT) frenzy of 2021.

These bottlenecks have seen gas fees climb as high as $40 per transaction making the Ethereum network unfavorable for users.

Gas fees are not the only issues that have plagued Ethereum. The transaction speed or throughput, as experts call them, is also a major problem. Ethereum presently averages 15 transactions per second (TPS) which is slow compared to Polkadot’s 1000 TPS.

Layer 2 blockchain solutions using rollups have helped Ethereum stay in the DeFi game despite its challenges. Rollups are of two types zero-knowledge proof (zk-rollup) and optimistic rollup (ORU).

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has spoken highly of zk-rollups being the future as the world waits for the deployment of Ethereum 2.0. Buterin said zk-rollups would win in all use cases, both in the medium and long-term scenario.

In speaking of the sister scaling solution, Buterin said ORU would address short-term computational needs.

Hermez Pursuing Full Decentralization

The Hermez zk-rollup is a big win for the Ethereum community, which is seriously challenged in the DeFi market by blockchain projects like Polkadot and Cardano. The layer 2 scaling solution is just an overlaying blockchain on the Ethereum mainnet and is a nested blockchain.

Operating mostly off-chain and consuming as little as 10 bytes per smart contract transaction, Hermez’s zk-rollup solution is touted as a major plus for the Ethereum network. In contrast to the optimistic rollup offering, funds are easily withdrawn from the network without a lockdown window.

Pol Lanski, lead of ecosystem development Hermez, said there are still some parameters the development team is working on to make it a fully decentralized network. The company said 40% of all gas fees they receive would be channeled towards building more decentralized software.

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Author: Jimmy Aki