BUSD Causes Controversy As Paxos Gets Sued By The SEC

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Haider Jamal
February 14,2023

The United States SEC plans to sue stablecoin issuer Paxos, the institution behind the USDP and BUSD tokens, over the latter stablecoin. According to an SEC spokesperson, the agency can neither confirm nor deny the possibility of an in-depth investigation as of this time.

Nevertheless, the SEC claims that BUSD is an unregistered security. The announcement comes just days after it was reported that Paxos is being investigated by the New York Department of Financial Services, although the scope of the investigation remains unknown for now.

After the announcement by the SEC, Paxos stated that it would suspend the production of new BUSD tokens for the time being. BUSD is a stablecoin completely owned and managed by Paxos, according to a Binance spokesperson.

As a result, the BUSD market cap shall continue to fall over time. Meanwhile, Paxos would keep supporting the product, manage redemptions, and provide additional information as needed. Paxos also assured that the funds are secure and covered by bank reserves.

In other news, the SEC recently settled charges with Kraken, alleging that the staking services provided by the crypto exchange constituted an unregistered securities offering. Under the terms of the settlement, Kraken did not deny nor admit to the charges, however the decision was made to cease operations for all of its US staking programs.
 







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June 23,2024

Bitcoin Dumps To Five Week Low As Investors Exercise Caution

The price woes for both Bitcoin (BTC) and the broader crypto market persisted Friday evening as the flagship crypto dropped to its lowest level in over five weeks, dipping well below $64,000. Altcoins are similarly sluggish, with Avalanche leading the decline with a significant price drop.

 

BTC Hits Multi Week Low

Following an unsuccessful attempt last week to breach $70,000, Bitcoin headed southward, hitting $64,000 on Friday, marking a monthly low. The weekend brought relative stability, with the cryptocurrency hovering just above $65,000.

Monday saw a brief rally to over $66,500, but subsequent bearish pressure pushed BTC down for several days, culminating in a drop to $63,400 yesterday, its lowest since May 15th. Despite this, Bitcoin has since recovered slightly and now sits above $64,000. Its market cap has also dipped below $1.270 trillion, with its dominance over altcoins holding steady at 51.5% on CoinGecko.

Elsewhere, most major altcoins have shown lackluster daily performances. DOGE, TON, XRP, and DOT are slightly down, while ETH, BNB, SOL, SHIB, and TRX have posted modest gains. However, Chainlink and Cardano have seen more significant declines, dropping over 4% and 3%, respectively, in a day. AVAX recorded the most substantial daily drop, plummeting over 9% and struggling to stay above $25. The total crypto market cap fell by approximately $20 billion overnight to $2.460 trillion on CoinMarketCap.

 

Other Markets

Global investors are exercising caution in nearly all categories, reflecting a shift in sentiment as credit markets experience their first stumble of the year. Meanwhile, upcoming economic indicators by the Federal Reserve may signal a path towards future rate cuts. On the commodities front, Brazil has emerged as an unpredictable factor in the oil market following a significant plunge in production.

In China, persistent earnings challenges are tempering optimism surrounding its stock market recovery. Ardent Health, backed by an equity group, is making a second attempt at an initial public offering, highlighting ongoing market volatility. The dollar continues its winning streak against the yen, impacting global currency dynamics. Elsewhere, a sharp rise in cilantro prices is forcing Mexican taquerias to adopt innovative strategies.

Amid these developments, the Tokyo Stock Exchange begins its trading year, with Wall Street witnessing heightened trading volumes at market close. Despite recent gains, smart-trade strategies are facing headwinds in the midst of a buoyant stock market. Lastly, AMC Entertainment is gearing up for upcoming earnings announcements and is in talks with lenders to restructure debts and extend maturities, reflecting broader challenges and adaptations in the current economic landscape.

 

June 22,2024

MicroStrategy Keeps Buying Bitcoin As Total Holdings Reach $15 Billion

MicroStrategy recently disclosed acquiring nearly 12,000 additional Bitcoin (BTC) between April and late June 2024, bringing its total holdings to about 226,331 BTC valued at nearly $15 billion. According to a filing with the SEC, MicroStrategy purchased 11,900 BTC between late April to June 19th at an average price of $65,883 per BTC, totaling approximately $780 million.

 

Making Waves

Currently holding around 1% of all BTC, MicroStrategy stands as the largest publicly listed corporate holder of the cryptocurrency. The company has invested approximately $8.33 billion in accumulating its Bitcoin reserves, averaging an acquisition cost of $36,798 per BTC. The latest purchases were financed through a senior notes convertible offering, originally targeting $500 million but increased to $800 million due to strong demand.

CEO Michael Saylor has been a vocal advocate of Bitcoin, considering it a hedge against inflation and a store of value. This conviction has driven MicroStrategy to continually invest in the flagship cryptocurrency. Despite recent fluctuations, MicroStrategy remains tied to the volatile cryptocurrency market and its heavy reliance on Bitcoin for better or worse.

 

Domino Effect

The aforementioned Bitcoin-centric strategy has inspired other companies, both in the US and abroad, to adopt similar treasury strategies involving BTC. This includes firms like DeFi Technologies and Semler Scientific in the US, as well as Metaplanet in Japan, which have increased their Bitcoin holdings recently. This ongoing commitment to Bitcoin by MicroStrategy via strategic acquisitions and funding methods reflects its confidence in the potential of crypto for future appreciation and practical usage.

As of June 20th, MicroStrategy and its subsidiaries hold a total of 226,331 BTC, showcasing its strong belief in Bitcoin. With an average purchase price of $36,798 per Bitcoin, MicroStrategy has managed its acquisitions strategically to maximize its holdings. As the largest publicly listed corporate holder of Bitcoin, its significant holdings, funded through convertible notes, set a precedent influencing other companies going forward.

 

June 21,2024

Montenegro Prime Minister Revealed To Have Invested In Terra

A recent Bloomberg report disclosed that the Prime Minister of Montenegro, Milojko Spajic, personally invested in Terraform Labs years prior to the collapse of the company. This revelation has sparked concerns over the decision made by the founder to evade prosecution by seeking refuge in the same nation.

 

The Controversy Continues

The founder of Terraform Labs, Do Kwon, was detained in Montenegro in March 2023 and is currently facing extradition requests by the United States and South Korea. Spajic has been asked to resign by several constituents, both internally and externally,  and these requests have only been amplified by the opposition.

According to Bloomberg, Spajic has asserted that the investment was made through Das Capital SG, a Singapore-based company where he held a partnership. However, the independent Montenegrin newspaper Vijesti, which first reported the news, stated that the holdings reached nearly $90 million at one point.

 

Calls For Resignation

The LinkedIn profile for Spajic indicates that he worked as a credit analyst and investor in Singapore between 2014 to 2020 before returning to Montenegro to assume the role of finance minister in late 2020.

The timing of these revelations is critical for Montenegro, where Spajic has led a fragile ruling coalition since October. As a NATO member and a candidate country for the European Union, the controversy surrounding the involvement of the PM in a collapsed cryptocurrency firm has intensified pressure by the opposition, who are now demanding his immediate resignation.

 

June 21,2024

Inaugural Solana ETF Will Launch On Toronto Stock Exchange

The Cent3iQ Digital Asset Management, a Canadian fund manager specializing in digital assets, has initiated the process to publicly offer the first Solana exchange-traded fund (ETF) in North America. The Solana Fund, trading under the ticker QSOL, is set to be listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange, providing investors exposure to SOL.

 

Slow And Steady

Greg Benhaim, Executive Vice President of Product and Head of Trading at 3iQ, expressed both excitement and cautious optimism for expanding their lineup of regulated investment options. These offerings adhere to rigorous standards and involve collaborations with top-tier partners, enhancing accessibility to the crypto asset class for both individual and institutional investors.

The Fund aims to mirror SOL and its daily price movements, foster long-term capital growth, and generate staking rewards. 3iQ has a track record of digital asset innovation, having launched the first publicly traded Bitcoin and Ether funds in Canada.

 

The US Needs To Take Notice

Commenting on the whole ordeal, Bloomberg ETF analyst Eric Balchunas remarked on the relative scarcity of similar filings in the US. He suggested that asset managers might view such moves as strategic positioning in anticipation of a potential regulatory shift supportive of cryptocurrencies.

VanEck, a prominent investment firm, has also shown confidence in Solana and its potential, having previously introduced a Solana ETN on the Deutsche Börse in 2021. VanEck analysts foresee a surge in filings by asset managers aiming to enter the spot ETF market in 2024, reflecting growing interest in digital assets.

 

June 20,2024

AI Crypto Tokens Skyrocket Thanks To Nvidia

During a broader market downturn, crypto assets utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) have shown significant growth, driven by the widespread AI enthusiasm in both traditional finance and crypto markets.

This surge has been bolstered by the sustained rise of tech giant Nvidia, which recently claimed the title of the most valuable company worldwide with its stock price soaring to unprecedented heights. Fetch.ai Benefits, now valued at $3.34 trillion, has nearly doubled its stock price since the year began, surpassing tech giants like Microsoft and Apple.

 

The Reasons Behind The Increase

The increase is attributed to the dominant position exhibited by Nvidia in supplying crucial chips for AI, often referred to as the new gold or oil in the tech sector. Against this backdrop, AI-based crypto tokens have emerged as top performers, overshadowing major cryptocurrencies that have undergone significant price corrections driven by Bitcoin (BTC).

According to CoinGecko, notable gainers among AI tokens include Fetch.ai (FET), Singularity Net (AGIX), and Ocean Protocol (OCEAN), which have seen increases of 24%, 23.5%, and 22% respectively in the past 24 hours.

FET, for example, has experienced a notable recovery and broken its downtrend after a substantial price correction to $1.10. Despite being down more than 58% compared to its peak of $3.45 in March, blockchain research firm House of Chimera highlights practical applications for Fetch.ai. For instance, FET optimizes logistics by analyzing and predicting optimal routes, thereby cutting costs and enhancing delivery times.

 

Potential For Long-Term Growth

Similarly, the AGIX token has mirrored FET, peaking at $1.46 in March but currently trading 58% lower at $0.6018. Yet, the focus of the protocol on creating and monetizing AI services through its marketplace suggests potential for substantial gains and investor interest over time.

OCEAN also exhibits comparable price movements, trading at $0.6094 with a notable 20% increase in trading volume over the past 24 hours. Ocean Protocol has an open-source model which aims to facilitate data and service monetization, including AI-powered prediction and trading bots for crypto price feeds.

Chris Penrose, the Global Head of Telco Business Development for Nvidia, remains optimistic about future price gains in the AI sector, which could further drive adoption of AI-based crypto tokens. Penrose underscores the transformative potential of generative AI, emphasizing its impact on global businesses has only just begun. Wedbush Securities echoes this sentiment, predicting fierce competition in the tech sector as Nvidia, Apple, and Microsoft vie for a substantial $4 trillion market cap in the coming year.

 

June 20,2024

Iran Will Officially Launch New CBDC Initiative In June

The Central Bank of Iran (CBI) has initiated a public pilot for the Iranian national digital currency, targeting local micropayments. On June 18th, the CBI officially announced the launch of a trial program for a local Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), known as the digital Rial. Beginning June 21st, coinciding with the start of the month of Tir, the digital currency will be accessible to banking clients and tourists visiting Kish Island.

 

Full Digitalization

Kish Island, the second largest in the Persian Gulf and a popular tourist destination with approximately 12 million annual visitors, operates as a free trade zone which does not require a visa for many nationalities. As part of efforts to expand the digital Rial pilot initiated in 2023, the CBI aims to integrate the digital currency into everyday transactions on Kish Island, enhancing payment options alongside cash and bank cards.

Unlike traditional electronic money requiring bank accounts and interbank settlements, the digital Rial facilitates instant transfers through barcode scanning and specialized software. This approach aims to simplify payments and bolster security compared to conventional card transactions, marking a significant step toward developing the local digital economy and enhancing domestic micropayment capabilities.

 

Enhancing The Local Infrastructure

The CBI highlighted the role of the digital Rial role in fortifying the local payment infrastructure, rejuvenating electronic currency usage for small-scale transactions, and managing risks associated with private currencies. Notably, the current usage of the digital Rial is confined within Iran itself, emphasizing its intended focus on domestic applications.

In the realm of cryptocurrency policy, Iran has permitted crypto trading while prohibiting its use as a medium of exchange for goods and services. The country has also regulated its local cryptocurrency mining sector since 2018, a move viewed by some U.S. lawmakers as potentially circumventing sanctions, posing national security concerns.

 

June 19,2024

Ethereum 2.0 Investigation To Be Formally Dropped By The SEC

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has concluded its inquiry into Ethereum 2.0 and will no longer pursue legal action alleging that ETH sales constitute securities transactions, according to a recent announcement by Consensys.

 

Ether Picks Up Huge Win

The aforementioned development is certainly a significant victory for Ethereum developers, technology providers, and industry participants. Consensys described it as a huge step in the right direction for Ethereum developers and businesses, eliminating uncertainty that could have otherwise hindered growth and stifled innovation.

In March, an update on the Ethereum Foundation GitHub repository revealed that the organization was under investigation by an unnamed state authority. After the discovery, Fortune reported that the SEC pursued an energetic legal campaign to classify Ether as a security. Uncertainty intensified after Consensys filed a lawsuit against the SEC in April. Part of the overall goal was to seek a court ruling that would classify ETH as not a security.

 

Consensys To The Rescue

FOX Business reported in late April that the SEC Enforcement Division, headed by Gurbir Grewal, initiated a formal investigation into the status of Ethereum in March 2023. This investigation, known as Ethereum 2.0, explores transactions and activities associated with Ethereum dating back to 2018.

As noted, the latest decision by the SEC comes after Consensys sent a letter to the SEC arguing that the recent approval of spot Ethereum ETFs implied ETH was not a security, and the SEC should close the investigation. The move likely hinged on considering ETH a commodity, much like Bitcoin (BTC), and signifies no forthcoming legal challenges.

Despite this progress, Consensys said the quest for definitive regulatory guidelines continues, especially concerning services like MetaMask Swaps and Staking. The team is still seeking broader clarity by the SEC on crypto regulations.

 

June 19,2024

Binance US Continues To Face Legal Hurdles As North Dakota Revokes License

The Binance saga continues as the financial regulator of North Dakota, USA, has withdrawn the money transmitter license for Binance.US, making it the seventh state to do so. Binance is currently navigating significant legal challenges stemming via regulatory issues across various jurisdictions.

 

Failure To Comply

The North Dakota Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) Commissioner Lise Kruse stated on June 17th, 2024, that BAM Trading Services, operating as Binance.US, did not comply with state money transmitter regulations.

The decision to revoke the license cites the federal conviction status pertaining to the crypto exchange back in November for conspiracy related to unlicensed money transmission and failure to maintain an effective anti-money laundering program. Kruse emphasized that former Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao, was recently convicted on felony charges for violating federal anti-money laundering laws.

 

Bad To Worse

The revocation order specifies that Binance.US has the opportunity to appeal the decision within 30 days, ending on July 17th, 2024. If no appeal is made, the order will take effect. Several other states, including Alaska, Florida, Maine, North Carolina, and Oregon, have also recently taken actions against BAM Trading Services regarding money transmission licenses.

Binance has been accused of operating without required licenses in several states like New York, Texas, Vermont, and Hawaii, where regulatory approval is mandatory for cryptocurrency exchanges. Additionally, allegations of insufficient implementation of AML measures have surfaced, triggering regulatory scrutiny and legal actions in multiple jurisdictions.

 

June 18,2024

SEC Senior Member Departs As Agency Faces Continued Scrutiny

A senior member of the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), specifically within the digital assets department, announced his departure last Friday after nine years of service.The move comesa as many both within and outside the regulatory agency have become fed up with Chairman Gary Gensler and his seemingly endless vendetta against crypto and innovation.

 

TIme For A Change

David Hirsch, who previously headed the SEC Crypto Asset and Cyber Unit within the Division of Enforcement, shared on LinkedIn that Friday marked his final day at the SEC. He assumed leadership of the unit in October 2022, amidst significant upheavals in the crypto market following high-profile incidents, including the collapse of FTX. Hirsch began his tenure at the SEC in 2015 as an enforcement attorney based in Fort Worth, Texas.

In his post, Hirsch expressed enthusiasm about forthcoming challenges but did not disclose specific plans. He mentioned he will be sharing further details after taking a break and spending personal time with his family. Hirsch acknowledged the accomplishments of the Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit team under his leadership, emphasizing that securities enforcement is a collaborative effort.

 

SEC In Hot Water

During his time at the SEC, David pursued a vigorous campaign of enforcement actions in response to major collapses in the crypto sector, targeting companies like Terraform Labs and exchanges accused of violating securities laws.

Despite ongoing legal actions, including lawsuits against Coinbase and Binance, initiated during his tenure, Hirsch highlighted the progress made by the SEC in regulating the crypto market. His departure coincides with increasing political attention to crypto issues, which have emerged as a focal point in electoral campaigns.

Elsewhere, former President Donald Trump previously criticized the SEC and its hyper-aggressive stance on crypto, citing it as a key factor in stifling local crypto activities and pushing away capable individuals and successful businesses.

June 18,2024

AI Avatars Could Dominate TikTok Ads Going Forward

TikTok is poised to introduce advertisements featuring AI-driven digital avatars, allowing brands to create promotional content without using real actors. Recently announced on June 17th, TikTok is expanding its Symphony ad suite by offering stock avatars and an AI dubbing capability. These avatars are generated via video footage of paid actors licensed for commercial use. Users can select an AI-generated voice and accent to narrate a script, which is then dubbed onto the avatar.

 

AI Takes Over

A demonstration showcases a text-to-speech tool that overlays voices in multiple languages and attempts to synchronize mouth movements accordingly. The script itself can even be AI-generated. This feature supports ten languages and dialects, such as English, Spanish, Japanese, and Korean, automatically detecting and translating input languages into the desired target language.

This new avatar functionality is part of the new AI-powered ad suite introduced earlier this year, which includes a virtual assistant that monitors platform trends and can suggest content ideas and scripts. These AI avatars, translation services, and dubbing capabilities are currently in beta and accessible via a waitlist for a limited number of users.

 

Need For Caution

TikTok is also developing custom avatars that replicate the appearance of content creators and brand representatives, offering similar multi-language capabilities as the stock avatars. These custom avatars are being tested with the creator community.

To ensure transparency, TikTok will automatically label videos created using its AI tools as AI-generated. This labeling includes a small box denoting the origin of the content. However, the AI-cloned content creators demonstrate imperfections, such as mismatched mouth movements and gestures, a known challenge referred to as the uncanny valley.

More importantly, crypto scams on TikTok are a prevalent issue where users are targeted with fraudulent schemes promising quick financial gains through investments or giveaways. These scams often utilize fake profiles, impersonate reputable figures in the crypto industry, and the aforementioned AI avatars may only exacerbate this issue.

 

June 17,2024

Ripple Stuck Between A Rock And A Hard Place Thanks To SEC

Ripple (XRP) faces a pivotal decision following a significant development in its legal dispute with the SEC. The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has adjusted its settlement demand dramatically, lowering it to $102.6 million. This leaves Ripple with a difficult choice, either accept the settlement, which comes with ongoing uncertainty about XRP, or gamble on a potentially harsher outcome in court.

 

A Difficult Decision

The initial request of $2 billion by the SEC drew widespread surprise and criticism within the cryptocurrency community. In response, Ripple proposed a $10 million settlement, citing precedent where SEC settlements typically ranged between 0.6% to 1.8% regarding the revenue of the defendant.

Ripple also pointed to a recent case involving Terraform Labs, which settled for $4.4 billion after halting operations due to bankruptcy. The SEC dismissed this comparison, emphasizing the differences in circumstances between the closure of Terraform and the still ongoing operations of Ripple.

According to the SEC, the $102.6 million settlement is essential to deter future misconduct in the crypto sector, considering the operational status of Ripple alongside its reluctance to agree to regulatory relief measures. While accepting the settlement could provide financial relief and demonstrate cooperation with regulators, it would not clarify the status of XRP as a security, potentially dissuading institutional investors and impacting market performance.

 

On The Other Hand

Rejecting the settlement could lead to a protracted and costly court battle with unpredictable consequences. A judge might impose a more severe penalty than the current offer, posing substantial risks to Ripple and the broader cryptocurrency market.

The revised settlement proposal indicates a willingness to negotiate. The final settlement amount, whether it remains at $102 million or is further adjusted through negotiation, could establish a critical precedent for future SEC actions in the crypto industry. This case holds significant implications for regulatory interactions and how other cryptocurrency firms manage security offerings.

A definitive resolution would bring stability and promote collaboration between the crypto industry and regulators. Conversely, a prolonged legal battle or an adverse ruling for Ripple could escalate uncertainty and lead to stricter regulatory measures going forward.

 

June 17,2024

Former House Speaker Believes Stablecoins Can Help The US Compete With China

United States Dollar (USD)-pegged stablecoins could mitigate the ongoing debt crisis and bolster the national currency amid increasing international trade competition, according to former House speaker Paul D. Ryan. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, Ryan emphasized that the US faces a foreseeable debt crisis that could be addressed by dollar-backed stablecoins, which he views as a solution to maintain the appeal of the USD.

 

The Potential Of Stablecoins

Ryan, who served as the 54th speaker of the US House of Representatives, highlighted the potential of stablecoins in terms of generating significant demand for the US Treasury, going as far as to claim they could help avert failed debt auctions and associated crises. He currently works as a policy council member at Paradigm, a venture capital firm focused on crypto.

The existing $162 billion stablecoin market already plays a crucial role in supporting the dominance of the USD in global finance, Ryan noted. He argued that leveraging blockchain technology for fiscal spending could provide cost-effective financing and bolster influence worldwide.

 

Competing With China

Ryan also pointed out how China is trying to integrate the Yuan into digital infrastructure across emerging markets, urging the US to develop its own strategy promptly. He emphasized that stablecoins backed by dollars not only create demand for US public debt but also offer a way for the US to compete with Chinese initiatives in digital money.

The opinion piece has garnered support by various industry figures, with some like Emin Gün Sirer, CEO of Ava Labs, praising stablecoins. However, others, such as Adam Gladstein via the Human Rights Foundation, caution that greater reliance on stablecoins could reinforce the existing financial system that cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) seek to challenge.

Overall, Ryan called for a robust regulatory framework for stablecoins, which enjoys bipartisan backing in Congress, to expand digital dollar usage during this critical juncture.