Afghans Embrace Crypto as Fiat Currency Plunges and Banks Severely Limit Withdrawals

The adoption of cryptocurrencies is growing rapidly around the world, especially in developing countries.

Last month, El Salvador became the world’s first nation to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the US dollar. Following this, many other countries in the LATAM region, like Panama, also started working on adapting cryptocurrency.

As we reported, BitMEX CEO Alex Hoeptner predicts at least five countries accepting the cryptocurrency as legal tender by the end of next year, emphasizing that all of them will be developing countries that are “faced with an inherently unequal financial system” and because they have the “most to lose by continuing the status quo.”

This can already be seen happening in Afghanistan, where banks are severely limiting withdrawals while millions of Afghans currently face food insecurity and severe economic stress set off by cash shortages, rising food costs, and lost income.

“(Bitcoin) was easy to use, cheaper, and more secure than other options,” said Roya Mahboob, founder of the non-profit Digital Citizen Fund.

About a third of almost 16,000 females who learned basic computing skills at her center also learned how to set up a crypto wallet and receive funds. Some of them have left the country after Kabul was captured by the Taliban on Aug. 15, using their crypto wallets to move their money out.

Much like El Salvador, where roughly 70% of them do not have a bank account, the majority of Afghanistan’s population do not have bank accounts either, further accelerating crypto adoption.

According to El Salvador President Nayib Bukele, today, the government’s bitcoin wallet Chivo already has 3,000,000 active users, meaning 46% of the country’s population is using it.

The fiat currency of Afghanistan has also nosedived, and at the same time, Afghan banks and global financial institutions, including MoneyGram, Western Union, and the Central Bank of Afghanistan, lacks enough paper currency to cover withdrawals.

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Back in August, following the takeover by the Taliban, the New York Federal Reserve cut off the country’s Central Bank’s access to its USD assets along with the capacity to settle USD transactions with other banks. Da Afghanistan Bank further lost its ability to purchase paper dollars from the Fed for liquidity and currency stability.

Additionally, the World Bank has stopped the bank from accessing its assets held by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Mahboob told Reuters,

“I am thinking now – why didn’t we teach about crypto more aggressively, so more Afghans could have crypto wallets and be able to access their money now.”

While regulators around the world point to crypto’s usage in illegal activities despite Chainalysis’ report that the criminal share of all crypto activity fell to a mere 0.34% in 2020, Mahboob, who was named among Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2013. said:

“The traffickers and kidnappers will always find a way to abuse a system. But the power of crypto is bigger – especially for women and those who don’t have bank accounts, it is very beneficial and so empowering.”

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Author: AnTy

Other Central American Countries Watching El Salvador’s “Out Of This World Experiment” to Adopt BTC Too

Other Central American Countries Watching El Salvador’s “Out Of This World Experiment” to Adopt Bitcoin Too, Says CABEI President

The executive president of the region’s development bank said, “everyone is watching” if Bitcoin adoption helps El Salvador reduce the cost of remittances so that they can also adopt the cryptocurrency.

Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI), the development bank of El Salvador, said central American countries are eagerly waiting to see how their bitcoin adoption as a legal tender, alongside the US dollar, cuts the cost of remittances for them.

Remittance is an important source of income for millions of people in the region, and President Nayib Bukele touted Bitcoin adoption as a way to facilitate remittance payments from those living abroad.

“Everyone is watching if it goes well for El Salvador and if, for example, the cost of remittances drops substantially … other countries will probably seek that advantage and adopt it,” Dante Mossi, the executive president of the CABEI, told Reuters.

According to him, countries that receive the most remittances are most likely to turn to Bitcoin, adding besides El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras have the most to gain if Bitcoin helps lower the cost of sending remittances.

Recently, CABEI also attended a Central American Monetary Council meeting, part of the Central American Integration System (SICA), where participants asked about El Salvador’s bitcoin plans and showed interest, Mossi said.

Mossi called this an “out of this world experiment” that he says will increase financial inclusion in a region where many people lack access to bank accounts or credit cards.

Carlos Sanchez, CABEI’s head of investments, said the bank’s technical assistance, meant to help El Salvador “navigate waters that have yet to be explored,” is focused on helping them design a legal framework and to make sure that international money laundering protocols are adhered to.

Mossi meanwhile said CABEI had a “fiduciary obligation” to support El Salvador in its request for help.

CABEI is giving El Salvador technical assistance on implementing the cryptocurrency after the World Bank declined to help, citing environmental and transparency drawbacks.

“Regionalism v Globalism,” commented Su Zhu, CEO of Three Arrows Capital, to this.

As we reported this week, Bukele said the country is installing 200 ATMs and preparing over 50 bank branches to handle crypto in preparation to adopt BTC as legal currency.

The government is also giving $30 in bitcoin to those who download its cryptocurrency app called Chivo that is accessible to both citizens and tourists. Transactions in the app will be commission-free, helping save the country $400 million per year in fees, Bukele tweeted.

It was early in June this year when Bukele made the announcement that El Salvador is becoming the first sovereign nation to declare Bitcoin a legal tender. By the end of the month, Congress approved his plan to give the leading cryptocurrency the official currency status with a supermajority.

The law will take effect on September 7.

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Author: AnTy

Brazil Needs to ‘Pay Attention’ to Crypto and ‘Reshape the World of Regulation’ says Central Bank President

Brazil Needs to ‘Pay Attention’ to Crypto and ‘Reshape the World of Regulation’ says Central Bank President

Roberto Campos Neto, the president of Brazil’s central bank, said local regulations need to pay attention to the investors’ need for cryptocurrencies. According to him, they are here to stay alongside instant payment solutions. Campos Neto said on Thursday at an event organized by the Council of the Americas,

“This comes out of a need that people have for payments to be very fast, open, secure, and have transparency in every sense.”

The President of the Central Bank of Brazil further said that there are conversations going on with the local securities exchange commission to adapt to a new environment in which crypto assets exist parallel to Pix, an instant payment platform rolled out by the bank last year.

The central bank’s payment tool Pix has more than 96 million users in a population of 213 million, and earlier this month, it hit a record 40 million transactions in a single day.

But at the same time, policymakers are “worried” that cryptocurrencies have shown more growth as an investment tool than a general payment system, he said.

“We need to pay attention to that,” Campos Neto said.

“The financial market is changing so much that it’s all becoming data. We need to reshape the world of regulation.”

The country is also working on a digital version of its fiat currency. Brazil’s real has hit a three-month low with the political and fiscal headwinds weighing on the currency. Brazil stocks meanwhile saw a slight uptick, snapping a three-day losing streak after hitting near five-month lows.

Recently, the country’s Federal Police launched a probe into crypto-related money laundering crimes. This Operation Compliance has resulted in the execution of several seizure warrants across Brazil.

Meanwhile, the country’s largest mall franchise, BR Malls, has announced that it will install crypto ATMs across Brazil in partnership with US-based crypto ATM operator Coin Cloud. The first one is already installed, with 15 more coming.

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Author: AnTy

Central Bank CBDC’s Could Enhance Cross Border Payments: BIS, IMF, World Bank at G20

Central Bank CBDC’s Could Enhance Cross Border Payments: BIS, IMF, World Bank at G20

While Central banks seem to be focusing more on the domestic use of cross-border networks of central bank digital currencies (CBDC), the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) believes CBDCs should be used beyond borders.

CBDC Proposed At G20

In a report published alongside the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, the BIS proposed a cross-border network of CBDCs to the G20.

Although cross-border networks are usually criticized for their high cost, low speed, limited access, and insufficient transparency, the global finance triumvirate believe CBDC could change that.

The report analyzed how CBDCs could facilitate enhanced cross-border payments through integration and cooperation. This includes basic compatibility tests and finding common ground between various national efforts in order to reap the full benefits of digital currencies.

The report then dwelled on the importance of interoperability between CBDCs since various CBDCs would roll out at different paces in several jurisdictions.

“If different jurisdictions’ CBDC projects are coordinated effectively, the clean slate presented by CBDCs might be leveraged to enhance cross-border payments,” the paper explained.

While no central bank has launched a CBDC yet, most CBDC studies and development efforts from the apex banks have been largely focused on domestic use and not cross-border payments.

When central banks were asked earlier this year whether they were thinking of exploring CBDCs’ cross-border use, the majority said no.

The survey which was carried out in the first quarter of 2021 with 50 central banks as participants showed that most central banks have not yet taken a firm position on the CBDC issue.

While more than 25% were considering allowing retail CBDC use by non-residents, 14 and nearly 20% said that they are not yet considering this but may do so in the future. Only 8% of the central banks initially considered allowing cross-border retail issued CBDC, while others said they might do so in the future.

Central Banks Exploring CBDCs

Several central banks around the world are currently working on studying or developing pilot tests for digital fiat. Different countries seem to have taken different approaches to CBDCs in terms of design, research, and development efforts.

China’s digital yuan is still leading the game. The country has distributed more than 200 million yuan in digital currency as part of pilot projects across the country. It has conducted trials of its digital currency across different provinces, including Shenzhen, Suzhou, Xiongan, and Chengdu.

China also intends to test its digital yuan with foreign athletes and visitors during the Beijing Winter Olympics to be held in 2022.

Many countries have also piloted CBDCs for cross-border use. This includes France, Switzerland, Singapore, and Bahrain among others.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Monetary Authority of Singapore Partners With World Bank and IMF to Launch Global CBDC Challenge

Monetary Authority of Singapore Partners With World Bank and IMF to Launch Global CBDC Challenge

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has launched a global challenge for financial institutions to submit ideas and solutions relating to retail Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs).

The apex bank unveiled the challenge in partnership with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

Global Challenge To Seek Solutions For CBDC

The Global CBDC competition seeks innovative retail CBDC solutions to enhance payment efficiencies and promote financial inclusion.

Financial technology (FinTech) companies and financial establishments around the world have been invited to contest this challenge.

According to the bank, the competition would see participants submit solutions to 12 unresolved problems regarding CBDC instruments, distribution, and infrastructure.

At the end of the contest, three winners will be chosen, with each receiving S$50,000 (US$37,193) in prize money. In addition, up to 15 finalists would have the chance to receive mentorship and access to the APIX Digital Currency Sandbox.

The sandbox offers a comprehensive test and development platform, including a host of different application programming interfaces (APIs).

The chosen finalists would pitch their solutions to a global audience on Demo Day at this year’s Singapore FinTech Festival. The Singapore FinTech Festival is a global festival that will be held from 8 to 12 November 2021.

Other UN agencies which MAS partnered with on this project include the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, United Nations Development Programme, and United Nations Capital Development Fund.

The Global CBDC Challenge will also be supported by Amazon Web Services, Mastercard, payments platform Partior, blockchain software developer R3 and blockchain project Hyperledger.

Banks Around The World Working On CBDCs

Many central banks around the world are currently developing CBDCs. According to reports from Bison Trails, 80% of Central banks are studying CBDCs and making efforts to make their currencies compatible with the digital economy.

Most of these advancements are focused on wholesale CBDCs, which will promote central bank-level payments. However, some are also considering retail CBDCs, which consumers and businesses will be able to use like cash.

China still has the lead in developing and deploying CBDCs. The country is currently testing a digital Yuan version, where customers can transact payments over their mobile phones.

The US kicked off a Digital Dollar Project last month to test how a Federal Reserve-issued CBDC would operate.

The project, which consists of five pilot projects, is aimed at evaluating how the digital dollar can benefit people who are unbanked or underbanked as well as individuals who do have access to banking services and small businesses.

Meanwhile, unlike other countries, El Salvador took a more radical approach as opposed to having a CBDC. The country recently became the first to make Bitcoin a legal tender.

El Salvador is also considering mining Bitcoin using geothermal energy derived from volcanoes.

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Author: Jimmy Aki

Coinbase Enables its Over A Million Wallet Users to Use DeFi — DEXs, NFTs, & More

The exchange is all set to allow its users to “engage in the exciting world of dapps” while preparing to “accelerate asset addition,” starting with Dogecoin and proposing a private offering of $1.4 billion of convertible senior notes to make acquisitions.

Cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced a new Coinbase Wallet extension to allow its users to connect to dapps and DeFi on the desktop more easily and securely.

Coinbase Wallet is non-custodial, meaning it is user-controlled, and with the new extension, its private keys are encrypted using the secure enclave or keystore of the mobile device.

“We want to empower millions of more customers to engage in the exciting world of dapps and the larger crypto ecosystem,” said Sid Coelho-Prabhu, Coinbase Wallet lead.

With this latest development, Coinbase allows its more than 150 million users access to the world of decentralized finance (DeFi) — trading thousands of cryptos on decentralized exchanges (DEX), earning interest, and collecting NFTs.

“More than a million Coinbase Wallet customers regularly use dapps like Uniswap and Compound.”

Users can also link their Coinbase account to the Wallet and buy and transfer crypto to use in DeFi without even leaving the Wallet.

This new Wallet extension works with every Ethereum DApp, namely Uniswap, Compound, Rarible, Aave, Synthetic, Matcha, dYdX, Oasis, Instadapp, SushiSwap, Zora, ZapperFi, and OpenSea.

Accelerating Asset Addition

Recently, Coinbase had announced its Q1 2021 results, which beat Wall Street estimates and as we reported during the earnings call, company CFO Alesia Haas said that they are working on adding more crypto assets to its platform to capture the increased trading volume.

Interestingly, meme coin Dogecoin is one such crypto the company investors are particularly invested in. During the company’s earnings call on Thursday, CEO Brian Armstrong said that the company is preparing to list DOGE, which he noted: “has been getting a lot of attention recently.” DOGE -2.16% Dogecoin / USD DOGEUSD $ 0.48
-$0.01-2.16%
Volume 4.8 b Change -$0.01 Open $0.48 Circulating 129.65 b Market Cap 61.77 b
6 h FTC Data Reveals Big Jump In Crypto Investment Scams, Losses Totaling $80M 10 h Coinbase Enables its Over A Million Wallet Users to Use DeFi — DEXs, NFTs, & More 1 d “Don’t Give Me Power in Your Project,” says Ethereum Co-founder on Burning SHIB Tokens

“We plan to list DOGE in the next six to eight weeks,” he said during the call. “And then, more broadly, we’re going to be focused on how we can accelerate asset addition in the future.”

“There’s more and more assets being created in the crypto economy,” Armstrong said. “I think it’s going to be something kind of like apps in the App Store on the iPhone.”

Meanwhile, the price of COIN shares remains subdued and trades under $250, on a downtrend ever since its listing in the mid of last month when it traded briefly at $430 on its debut day, in line with the Bitcoin market.

Amidst this, Coinbase announced its intention to privately offer $1.25 billion of convertible senior notes, with an additional $187.5 million due 2026.

To be sold to qualified institutional buyers, “this capital raise represents an opportunity to bolster Coinbase’s already strong balance sheet with low-cost capital that maintains operating freedom and minimizes dilution for Coinbase’s stockholders,” it said.

The company intends to use the net proceeds for general corporate purposes, enter into additional capped call transactions, and make investments in and acquisitions of other companies, products, or technologies.

“Just went public… using the debt markets already… probably smart to take cash if markets/revenues are expected to decline significantly… or go through another hypergrowth cycle,” commented Gabor Gurbacs, Director at VanEck, on Coinbase’s latest move.

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Author: AnTy

Camping World Partners with BitGo to Accept Cryptocurrency Payments to Purchase RV’s

Camping World Partners with BitGo to Accept Cryptocurrency Payments to Purchase RV’s

U.S. Recreational Vehicle (RV) heavyweight Camping World Holdings Inc. announces a partnership with BitPay in a move to start accepting Bitcoin payments. However, the company will immediately convert the Bitcoin to fiat currency via the crypto processing service.

Cryptocurrency adoption finally gets its roots into institutions with the latest addition to the growing list, Camping World Holdings, America’s largest recreational vehicle (RV) company. The RV Dealer announced a partnership with BitPay in a move that allows clients and customers to make RV purchases using cryptocurrencies.

Announced on Monday, Camping World will accept Bitcoin (BTC), Ethereum (ETH), and a host of other top cryptocurrencies in a bid to boost innovation across the firm. Through the partnership with BitPay, the RV firm aims to attract new customers and provide maximum convenience for their existing customers through various payment methods. The release reads,

“The initiative is part of the Company’s renewed focus on accelerating innovation in the RV marketplace.”

The company, however, does not plan to hold any crypto o its balance sheet; hence every crypto purchase will be immediately converted to fiat via BitPay.

Speaking on the launch of crypto payments and partnership with BitPay, Marcus Lemonis, CEO and Chairman of Camping World, said,

“As the industry leader, we have a responsibility to adapt to new preferences and elevate the customer experience, whether through the products and services we offer or in the ways we interact and transact with the customer. Accepting cryptocurrency is simply another part of our vision to make RVing easy in an increasingly digital world.”

At launch, the service will be available to Chicago, IL, and Kenosha, WI, with the company set to expand to other regions this summer. This partnership will further fasten the company’s goal of having a “paperless experience” to users while buying an RV, the report reads.

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Author: Lujan Odera

TIME Now Accepts Crypto as Payment for Subscriptions in the US and Canada

TIME, a global media brand with an audience of 100 million around the world, has announced that it has started accepting cryptocurrency as a form of payment for digital subscriptions.

As was reported previously, the company would be HODLing any BTC that they receive, much like electric car maker Tesla when it announced that they are accepting only BTC as payment soon after investing $1.5 billion in it.

This announcement follows TIME’s recent expansion into the cryptocurrency space after it offered an exclusive series of three TIME covers as NFTs at auction.

“We are thrilled to offer cryptocurrency as a payment option for our digital subscribers for the first time.”

Bharat Krish TIME Chief Technology Officer

Currently, this pay with the crypto feature is only available in the U.S. and Canada. But the company plans to roll up the global access in the next several months.

Those subscribers who pay with crypto will receive unlimited access to content across Time.com for 18 months with their one-time purchase, as well as subscriber-only events and offerings.

TIME will accept crypto through its partnership with the cryptocurrency exchange Crypto.com that will also offer Pay Rewards of up to 10% back for subscribers who pay with CRO, the native coin of the exchange.

“As TIME continues to innovate and find new ways to build upon our existing community of 2.3 million subscribers, we are proud to offer this new payment option through our partnership with Crypto.com.”

Keith Grossman TIME President

Last month, TIME also opened the position for CFO who has “Comfort with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.”

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Author: AnTy

The UNI Airdrop is Now Worth Over $7k as Google Searches Rise Up & Volume Hits New Highs

The traditional investors are coming to the world of decentralization. Uniswap allows users to front-run the rest of the world amidst the ongoing censoring.

UNI, the 13th largest cryptocurrency by market cap of $5.14 billion, is the largest DeFi token. The digital asset that enjoyed an uptrend throughout last week to reach nearly $20 is up 275% YTD.

These gains made the UNI airdrop currently worth a whopping more than $7,000. The popular decentralized exchange (DEX) Uniswap launched its governance token UNI in September, less than five months back. UNI tokens were airdropped to all of the users who provided liquidity to the platform before Sept. 1st.

UNI tokens’ worth is increasing as more and more users are using the decentralized exchange, which gained momentum after the Robinhood fiasco. The zero-commission broker halted the trading of popular stocks like GME and has now limited the number of shares that can be purchased. The popular retail app also halted crypto trading last week.

This pushed the traditional investors to the world of decentralized finance (DeFi).

Uniswap is actually allowing traders to front-run the rest of the world as it is open for trading 24/7/365, as is the entire crypto space.

This can be seen in the Google search volumes for “Uniswap,” which is now reaching their DeFi summer levels. The search volumes gained momentum last week just as the WallStreetBets vs. Wall Street battle intensified with trading platforms and social media platforms limited the retail traders’ scope.

Google Trends for the search term “Uniswap”

Source: Google Trends “Uniswap”

Another indicator showing an increased interest in using Uniswap can be seen in its volumes.

Interestingly, throughout January, the decentralized exchange (DEX) has been recording higher than ever volumes. All four weeks of Jan. saw $5.5 billion of volume, as per Uniswap.info.

When it comes to daily volume, it kept above $700 million, and several times it went over $1 billion.

According to Dune Analytics, Uniswap did over $25 billion in volume in January, while its competitor Sushiswap did $12.17 billion, and $6.7 billion was recorded by Curve.

The total DEX volume recorded in the last 30 days was $54 billion, with Uniswap accounting for 48.4% of the share, followed by SushiSwap’s 23.5% and Curve’s 9.6%.

“The writing is on the wall. The majority of non-fiat trading will end up on decentralized, borderless, uncensorable venues,” commented Erik Voorhees, the CEO of the self-custody crypto platform ShapeShift, which is integrating with decentralized protocols and apps.

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Author: AnTy

This DeFi Blue Chip is Coming to Bitcoin with The RSK Market Proposal

“An Aave approach to the Bitcoin world” is what the DeFi Bluechip project is trying to achieve now.

The popular decentralized finance project announced this week that it is now coming to Bitcoin with a new proposal “for an RSK market on the Aave Protocol.”

“This is a huge step for expanding the DeFi ecosystem,” noted the team which launched Aave V2 last week, which saw its market size surpassing $35 million. The upgrade makes the project easier and cheaper to use, with its flash loan functionality also getting a revamp.

Following the launch of the latest version, the team proposed the ability to separately delegate proposal power and voting power —

“a major step in governance scalability as we believe the ability to assess proposals require different skills than those needed to make a smart contract proposal.”

Aave is the fourth largest DeFi project whose governance token AAVE continues to grow strong, trading at $76.28, with a whopping 4,147% year-to-date performance.

The project has $1.6 billion in TVL, with 432.5k ETH, 10k BTC, and 15.55 million DAI locked in it.

The proposal on Aave’s governance forum explains that for leveraging Bitcoin, they will be incorporating the RSK Market. This will be completely done by RSK devs, and integration has already been done with Chainlink, which will be used by Aave.

RSK’s full technology stack is built on top of Bitcoin, and its goal is to add value and functionality to the ecosystem of the largest cryptocurrency by enabling smart-contracts, near-instant payments, and higher-scalability.

Instead of a bridge, Aave proposes creating a Market, a new idea that incorporates new customers that are not using Aave. All new tokens already on RSK Marketplace natively will be brought along with the new proposal to increase the liquidity and opportunities for both companies. The team noted,

“We will bring to the table new customers that will bring new business and liquidity from the bitcoin world that look the DeFi platforms differently.”

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Author: AnTy