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April 01,2024

Arthur Hayes Believes Meme Coins Can Bring Value To Blockchain Networks

BitMEX co-founder Arthur Hayes recently advised caution before dismissing all meme coins as stupid, suggesting they can bring notable benefits to the blockchain networks where they emerge. In an interview with Real Vision CEO Raoul Pal on March 30th, Hayes emphasized that meme coins can attract attention and draw in new users and developers to blockchains, thereby adding value to the ecosystem.

Hayes asserted that if meme coins attract attention and talent to the space, then it should be seen as a positive development. He also highlighted Solana and Ethereum as the most promising networks capable of harnessing attention generated by memes.


The Frenzy Continues

Last year, Solana experienced a surge in network activity following a meme coin frenzy in November, leading to the launch of numerous non-meme projects on the network in subsequent months. Similarly, Bitcoin witnessed increased network and development activity after the influx of BRC-20 tokens and Ordinals around the same period.

Pal believes meme coins could become increasingly popular among younger crypto investors, tapping into the gaming mentality prevalent among Gen Z and millennials. It is just gaming with money, remarked Pal.

Both Pal and Hayes anticipate continued attention toward meme coins in the future, with Solana-based meme coin WIF scheduled to be projected on the Las Vegas Sphere in the coming months. WIF recently surpassed Ethereum layer-2 network Arbitrum (ARB) in total market capitalization.


The Issues

However, industry executives warn of numerous risks associated with meme coins. Franklin Templeton, a US investment firm, highlighted the lack of fundamental value or utility in meme coins despite the potential for quick profits.

Similarly, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin expressed disinterest in meme coins but encouraged finding ways to make them useful or charitable instead of simply condemning them. He stressed the importance of embracing the desire for fun within the crypto space.

Despite the risks, meme coins have outperformed other asset classes within the crypto sector in the last month. In the past week, meme coins listed on CoinGecko have seen a collective gain of 20%, surpassing the gains of layer-1 network tokens and decentralized finance (DeFi) tokens.


March 31,2024

Bitcoin Floats Around $70K As Investors Look To Take Their Profits

Bitcoin (BTC) has once again reached the $70,000 mark after dropping below it yesterday, struggling to decisively surpass it during its recovery phase. Various altcoins, including ETH and BNB, have displayed negative performance on a daily basis, while SOL has shown resilience, hovering near $200. Meanwhile, the two most prominent meme coins, DOGE and SHIB, experienced a decrease of approximately 2-3% within a day.


BTC Returns To $70K

Following a relatively calm weekend, the performance of BTC at the start of the business week was optimistic as it surged to $66,000 before skyrocketing to $70,000 on Tuesday. Bulls exerted pressure, propelling the flagship cryptocurrency to a new peak of just under $72,000 on Wednesday. However, it faced strong rejection and quickly retreated to $68,400 shortly after.

Bitcoin then initiated another recovery, approaching $72,000 once more but failed to sustain. Subsequently, it experienced another decline, slipping to $69,200 yesterday. Nonetheless, it has mostly recovered losses and currently sits slightly above $70,000. Market capitalization remains approximately $20 billion short of $1.4 trillion, with its dominance over alternative coins holding steady at 49.7% on CoinGecko.

SOL experienced an overnight gain of nearly 6% and is close to $200 again. TON witnessed a similar increase, rising well above $5. Ripple, Cardano, Avalanche, Polkadot, Chainlink, and Tron also saw gains, albeit more modest. BCH continued its upward trend ahead of its second halving, trading above $600. The total cryptocurrency market capitalization remained relatively stagnant on a daily basis, now standing below $2.8 trillion.


Other Markets

During February, Fidelity decreased the value of its stake in X (formerly Twitter) by 5.7%, while hedge funds turned their attention to Europe in pursuit of the next phase of the stock rally. Projections indicate that US payrolls will maintain a minimum of 200,000 for the fourth consecutive month. Meanwhile, concerns among CLO managers are rising due to the potential selloff of the riskiest bonds following an Altice downgrade.

Elsewhere, Colombian cacao production is on the rise amidst the historic surge in cocoa prices. Cocoa prices have surged recently, prompting discussions about its implications for chocolate lovers. Chinese factory activity also expanded for the first time in six months, with efforts now focused on removing the massive structure at the site of a collapsed bridge.

A recent study highlighted how the spring clock change might influence the response by investors to company earnings. Additionally, Oklahoma troopers had to divert traffic after a barge collided with a bridge, while DC Transit faced service cuts and thousands of layoffs due to a deficit.


March 30,2024

Exposure For Cryptocurrency Open Interest Reaches All Time High

The overall exposure in the cryptocurrency sector has reached unprecedented levels as of late, suggesting that coins could experience increased volatility in the near future. The total exposure in cryptocurrencies has similarly reached extraordinary levels as noted by Maartunn, the community manager of CryptoQuant Netherlands. This exposure currently stands at an impressive $51.3 billion.


Looking For Market Stability

In the aforementioned context, open interest refers to the total value of derivative positions associated with digital assets currently active across various exchanges within the sector. When this metric rises, it signifies that investors are actively initiating new positions in the market. Typically, a surge in this metric implies an increase in overall leverage within the sector, potentially leading to heightened volatility in asset prices.

Conversely, a decline in this indicator suggests that investors are either voluntarily closing their positions or being forcibly liquidated by their platforms. A significant drop in the metric could coincide with substantial price movements. However, once the value of this indicator stabilizes, it may contribute to market stability by reducing leverage.


Rising Open Interest

Recent trends indicate a consistent upward trajectory in cryptocurrency open interest. This increase aligns with the recent rallies in Bitcoin and other assets, which typically attract significant market attention and speculation. During the 2021 bull market, open interest in the crypto market also experienced an uptick, with current values surpassing previous peaks.

With the total open interest reaching an all-time high of $51.3 billion, the market is susceptible to increased volatility. Moreover, high levels of open interest often precede sharp price movements in the cryptocurrency market. This volatility could manifest in either direction, suggesting a potential turning point for the market.

Historically, significant declines in Bitcoin prices have coincided with a notable cooldown in open interest. Therefore, the current elevated levels of open interest may indicate a precarious situation for the crypto market.


March 29,2024

Call Of Duty Players Are Having Their Bitcoin Stolen

A recent surge of undisclosed malware has purportedly been targeting gamers and siphoning their Bitcoin (BTC) wallets in a new campaign aimed at both cheaters and players. The malware, as reported by the vx-underground repository on March 28th, is attributed to an unidentified threat actor. It is designed to pilfer login credentials, particularly by users employing pay-to-cheat video game software.


Massive Losses

The attacks have affected various gaming communities, including over 4.9 million accounts associated with Activision Blizzard and its gaming platform, as well as accounts via Elite PVPers, a game-focused trading site, and cheat software markets PhantomOverlay and UnknownCheats.

Affected users have reported instances of cryptocurrency drainage, notably through their Electrum BTC wallets, although the precise amount stolen remains undisclosed, according to vx-underground. PhantomOverlay, in a Telegram post dated March 27th, disputed the reported number of hacked accounts, suggesting that a significant portion of the logins retrieved may be invalid. It described the malware as part of a network of free or low-cost software originating via commonly used gaming utilities like latency programs or VPNs.


Damage Control

Described as the most extensive infostealer malware campaign within the gaming and cheating community, PhantomOverlay admitted having suspicions about the source of the malware but acknowledged difficulties in proving its origins.

Activision Blizzard has been in contact with cheat-selling platforms and pledged assistance to the millions of affected users, according to PhantomOverlay. An Activision Blizzard spokesperson stated that while they were aware of claims regarding compromised credentials due to unauthorized software, their servers remain secure. They advised users to change their passwords as a precaution.

Vx-underground noted that fraudulent activity was flagged when unauthorized purchases were made using compromised accounts. PhantomOverlay confirmed reaching out to the alleged victims and identifying additional affected users thereafter.


March 29,2024

Justice Prevails As SBF Sentenced To 25 Years In Prison

Following a sentencing hearing in federal court, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), the disgraced former CEO of FTX, is set to serve 25 years in prison, as decided by Judge Lewis Kaplan of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Judge Kaplan handed down a total sentence of 240 months and 60 months for seven felony charges. Bankman-Fried, the first individual associated with FTX and Alameda Research to face prison time since the collapse of the exchange in November 2022, was found guilty of witness tampering and perjury during the trial regarding FTX user funds. Despite Sam making light of the situation, Judge Kaplan emphasized the severity of the crime and criticized his behavior during the proceedings.


SBF Regrets How Things Went

The court suggested deducting the time already served by Bankman-Fried, resulting in a remaining prison term of 291 months, and also proposed an $11-billion judgement in addition to the prison sentence. Judge Kaplan highlighted the significant losses incurred by FTX investors, lenders, and customers, amounting to $1.7 billion, $1.3 billion, and $8 billion, respectively.

During the sentencing hearing, the courtroom was filled with members of the public and officials. Bankman-Fried appeared in the uniform of the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, where he has been detained since the revocation of his bail. Despite expressing regret for the events, Bankman-Fried asserted that FTX could have survived if it had not been shut down.


A Harsh Reality

The defense portrayed Sam as a misunderstood individual who made decisions based on calculations rather than malicious intent. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicolas Roos criticized Bankman-Fried for not taking responsibility for his actions.

The sentence handed down by Judge Kaplan fell between the recommendations of various attorneys and prosecutors representing Sam, who proposed maximum sentences of 6.5 and 50 years, respectively. Several other individuals associated with FTX and Alameda have pleaded guilty and accepted deals in the same case. Ryan Salame, the former co-CEO of FTX Digital Markets, is scheduled for sentencing on May 1st.


March 28,2024

Huge AI Merger Between Fetch, Ocean Protocol, And SingularityNET Announced

Artificial Intelligence (AI) made a significant impact on the technological landscape, transcending its status as merely a buzzword to become a driving force shaping our world. Notable projects like ChatGPT and DALL-E have garnered attention by industry giants such as Microsoft and Google, intensifying the competition to lead in this field.

Decentralized entities like SingularityNet, Ocean Protocol, and Fetch.AI are at the forefront, advocating for democratizing access to AI. Now, these entities are proposing a merger of their blockchain networks, forming the Artificial Superintelligence Alliance (ASI).


The Race Is On

The merger, valued at $7.5 billion, aims to create the largest open-sourced decentralized network in the world, accelerating the race towards Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). As part of this alliance, tokens by Fetch.AI, Ocean Protocol, and SingularityNet will all converge into a single $ASI token, enhancing the scale and capabilities of the combined AI network.

Dr. Ben Goertzel, CEO of SingularityNet, emphasized the importance of democratizing AI and avoiding centralized control, stating that the alliance aligns with the vision of open and decentralized AI development. The leadership of the ASI will include figures via the merging entities, operating closely within the tokenomic ecosystem while retaining separate identities.


Challenging The Monopoly

The announcement of the merger has had a significant impact on token values, with OCEAN experiencing a notable surge. This development signifies a challenge to the monopoly over AI technologies that is currently held by Big Tech companies, marking a significant milestone for both the crypto and AI industries.

The ASI aims to leverage the growth of AI projects and challenge the dominance of Big Tech in AI development and monetization. By creating a decentralized infrastructure, the alliance seeks to transform closed-source AI systems into open networks, fostering collaboration towards common goals.

Upon approval, the merger will involve token migrations with specified conversion rates, resulting in a unified token with a substantial market value. Bruce Pon, CEO of Ocean Protocol, sees this combination as a step towards integrating decentralized technologies on a global scale, facilitated by the ASI token.


March 28,2024

Experts Claim Blast Hack Was In Fact An Inside Job

Munchables, a GameFi venture developed on Blast, recently announced a loss of $62 million due to being hacked. An additional $25 million was safeguarded in a connected vault of Juice Finance because of an apparent typographical error.

By placing the address of the hacker on a blacklist, the network managed to isolate the funds and persuade the attacker to relinquish control of the private keys. However, there are other peculiarities, as on-chain evidence presented by investigator ZachXBT suggests that the perpetrator used various pseudonyms.


An Evil Within

ZachXBT noted on X that four different developers hired by the Munchables team and linked to the exploiter are likely all the same individual, following the incident. Juice Finance users, who utilized a vault and bot system designed to engage in the game and earn valuable points swiftly, were also vulnerable, according to Chief Operating Officer Eric Ryklin.

Juice Finance independently assessed the Munchables code before launching its own product. Ryklin stated that the malicious exploit was not found in their code, nor in their actual audit, before further claiming that this individual implemented an upgrade that went unnoticed and unverified. Doing so essentially granted the individual access to three wallets with unlimited withdrawal capabilities, in addition to possessing the keys to the upgrader and the main deployer wallet, he explained.


Damage Control

Juice and Munchables had shared investors, and both teams maintained regular communication leading up to the theft, Ryklin revealed. The malevolent actor, who was employed by Munchables, was part of a group chat that included the Juice team. Ryklin recollected that they encountered this individual in a developer Discord within the community, and it later transpired post-hack that the team did not own their contracts.

The hacker reportedly inserted three sleeper wallets into the actual contract that went unnoticed initially, Ryklin stated. However, the moment he initiated a transaction, that sleeper wallet would become public, enabling the Blast sequencer to blacklist him. A spokesperson for security firm CertiK stated it was highly unusual that the funds were then returned to the project through a malicious DPRK-affiliated worker, referring to agents of the North Korean government. They assessed it could be a rogue developer who, upon their identity being revealed, decided to return the funds after pressure by the Web3 community to prevent further backlash.

March 27,2024

Reputable Bitcoin Miner Will Establish New Base In Argentina

The Texas-based Bitcoin miner, Giga Energy, has expanded its operations into Argentina, aiming to utilize excess energy via natural gas flaring in the local oil fields. According to Giga co-founder Brent Whitehead, this expansion marks a significant milestone for the firm, broadening its operational scope and aligning with its vision to address flaring globally.


Slow And Steady

The new mining site in Argentina, situated in the province of Mendoza, has been undergoing testing since December and has already mined a substantial amount of Bitcoin. The pro-Bitcoin stance of the Argentinian President, Javier Milei, has also helped matters. However, the firm is still awaiting the import of necessary equipment before fully scaling up the operation.

Gas flaring, associated with oil extraction, releases methane, which Giga converts into electricity to power its Bitcoin mining equipment. Giga initiated its Bitcoin mining operations in 2019 and currently has 150 megawatts of container capacity installed in its Texas and Shanghai facilities. The expansion involves placing a large shipping container housing thousands of Bitcoin miners atop an oil well, redirecting excess gas into generators, and utilizing that energy for Bitcoin mining.


A New World For BTC Mining

Argentina possesses the second largest shale gas reserve in the world, contributing to the viability of this venture by Giga. Additionally, the Bitcoin mining operation will reportedly help reduce methane emissions, contributing to environmental sustainability. Exa Tech, an IT services company, will assist Giga with onsite operations, while Phoenix Global Resources, an oil and gas company, will supply the gas required for Bitcoin mining.

As Bitcoin mining firms gear up for the impending halving event, slated for around April 20th, there could be a shift in global hash rate distribution, potentially favoring countries with lower electricity costs and those which tend to favor cryptocurrencies in general, like Argentina and Paraguay.


March 27,2024

KuCoin And Its Founders Sued By United States Department Of Justice

The U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) alongside the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) have brought charges and initiated legal action against KuCoin, a leading global cryptocurrency exchange, and two of its founders for breaching the Bank Secrecy Act and engaging in unlicensed money transmission.

In their announcement, the DoJ asserted that KuCoin, along with its co-founders Chun Gan and Ke Tang, violated U.S. Anti-Money Laundering Laws by establishing KuCoin as one of the foremost cryptocurrency exchanges worldwide.


Breaking The Law

Southern District of New York Attorney General, Damian Williams, and Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New York Homeland Security Investigations Field Office, Darren McCormack, disclosed that an indictment had been filed against KuCoin and its founders Chun Gan and Ke Tang. As per the indictment, KuCoin and its founders Chun and Ke Tang are accused of colluding to run an unlicensed money transmission business and conspiring to breach Bank Secrecy laws.

Damian Williams stated regarding the Kucoin case that as outlined in the indictment, KuCoin and its founders knowingly concealed the fact that a substantial number of U.S. users were engaging in transactions on the crypto exchange platform. Indeed, he further stated, KuCoin purportedly utilized its significant U.S. customer base to emerge as one of the largest cryptocurrency derivatives and spot exchanges globally, conducting billions of dollars in daily transactions and trillions of dollars in annual trading volume.


Clarity Is Key

However, Damian clarified, while capitalizing on distinct opportunities in the United States, financial entities like KuCoin are also obligated to adhere to U.S. regulations to aid in the identification and dismantling of criminal activities and illicit financing schemes. Allegedly, KuCoin consciously opted not to comply with these regulations.

The defendants purportedly neglected to implement even rudimentary anti-money laundering measures, permitting KuCoin to operate within the shadows of financial markets and serve as a refuge for illicit money laundering. Damian concluded that the indictment should serve as a clear warning to other cryptocurrency exchanges in the sense that if they intend to cater to U.S. customers, they must abide by U.S. law, without exception.


March 26,2024

Do Kwon Trial Begins Despite The Founder Not Actually Showing Up

The civil fraud trial involving Terraform Labs Founder Do Kwon reportedly commenced on Monday in a Manhattan court. Media journalist Zack Guzman shared a series of updates, offering more insights into the legal proceedings. A jury has been selected, and opening statements were delivered by both the SEC and defense teams, along with some amusing moments by Judge Rakoff.


Day 1 Rundown

The case originated in 2022 when Terraform Labs experienced a crash, leading to Kwon being arrested in Montenegro on fraud charges. Subsequent events, including extradition delays, prompted the lawyers representing Kwon to request a trial postponement initially set for January, now rescheduled to late March. However, the extradition status of Kwon remained uncertain, rendering him unavailable for the trial.

According to Guzman, Judge Jed S. Rakoff established various ground rules for the trial, which is anticipated to last two weeks. Guzman further detailed the jury selection process, initially comprising 6 women and 3 men, eventually resulting in a jury consisting of 3 men and 6 women, predominantly minorities.


The Devil Is In The Details

While the SEC presented its arguments at the hearing, Guzman suggested their stance mirrored that of the FTX case. He noted the opening and closing statements were nearly identical, particularly concerning the lines which stated that this was a case about fraud and that this trial is not about the technology.

Additionally, it was reported that the SEC launched an attack on Terraform and Kwon, alleging the fraudulent nature of the company. SEC attorney Devon Staren asserted that Terra was indeed a fraud, a house of cards, and when it collapsed, investors lost nearly everything. Conversely, Terraform lawyer David Patton defended the company, asserting that failure does not necessarily equal fraud.

March 26,2024

London Stock Exchange Will Add Bitcoin And Ethereum ETNs In May

The upcoming debut of Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH) exchange-traded notes (ETNs) on the London Stock Exchange (LSE) on May 28th, 2024, marks a significant development amid dwindling trading activity and challenges facing the exchange. The LSE, renowned for hosting top-tier blue-chip stocks, announced this move earlier today, following its earlier indication of accepting applications for crypto ETNs in the second quarter of this year.

Beginning April 8th of this year, companies keen on listing their Bitcoin and Ethereum ETNs on the new market can initiate the application process, as confirmed by the exchange. Ahead of the scheduled launch, issuers will have ample time to fulfill listing prerequisites and assemble requisite documentation, including a prospectus subject to approval by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), as noted by the LSE. The aim is to facilitate maximum issuer participation on the inaugural day.


The Application Process

To qualify for the initial offering, issuers must furnish a comprehensive letter and a draft base prospectus by April 15th, showcasing adherence to the criteria outlined in the Crypto ETN factsheet. Mandatory FCA endorsement of these prospectuses is imperative for ETNs to secure listing on both the Main Market and the Official List, as emphasized by the LSE.

Emphasizing stringent criteria and deadlines, the LSE clarified that issuers failing to meet these prerequisites will forfeit participation in the launch of the LSE Crypto ETN market. Comparable to exchange-traded funds (ETFs), ETNs afford exposure to a diversified array of assets. However, their structures diverge. While an ETF represents partial ownership of underlying assets, an ETN resembles an unsecured debt note issued by a bank. The bank employs proceeds to invest in assets mirroring a specific index, with the value of the ETN reflecting asset performance.


Getting Back On Track

Under FCA regulations, forthcoming Bitcoin and Ethereum ETNs will be exclusive to professional investors, limiting participation to authorized credit institutions and investment firms operating in financial markets, while retail investors are excluded.

Amid challenges threatening its stature as a premier financial hub, the LSE has faced a substantial decline in listed companies, with 2023 marking the lowest IPO activity since 2009. Moreover, trading volumes on the LSE have significantly contracted compared to pre-crisis levels. Factors contributing to these challenges include shifting investor preferences, competition via global exchanges, and regulatory dynamics.

With mounting interest by institutional investors, the digital asset market presents a lucrative opportunity for the LSE. Establishing a regulated and secure digital asset environment could attract investments and bolster the digital asset economy of the United Kingdom.


March 25,2024

New Payment Limit For Crypto Wallets Scrapped By European Union

The recent Anti-Money Laundering regulations in the European Union impose restrictions on cash and certain crypto transactions, but proposed limits on noncustodial wallets were not included in the final version.

As of now, the key committees have removed a proposed 1,000 euro cap on cryptocurrency payments regarding self-hosted crypto wallets as part of these new laws. The legislation, passed on March 19th, aligns with the provisions agreed upon by the European Council and Parliament in January.


More Regulations

Previously suggested restrictions, such as limiting businesses to 1,000 euros for transactions using self-hosted crypto wallets and implementing identity checks on recipients of funds, have been discarded. However, Crypto-Asset Service Providers (CASPs) in the EU are required to conduct identity verification checks on users engaging in business transactions of at least 1,000 euros.

These laws complement existing regulations, such as the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) laws, and reinforce prohibitions on CASPs offering accounts to anonymous users or dealing with privacy coins like Monero (XMR), which conceal transaction details.

CASPs are also mandated to take steps for transfers between their platform and self-custody wallets, including verifying the identity of the exchange wallet holder for funds sent through a self-custody wallet. Furthermore, the regulations cap cash payments at 10,000 euros, with member states having the option to set lower limits, and prohibit anonymous cash transactions over 3,000 euros.


A Mixed Bag

The full implementation of the AMLR is anticipated within three years, potentially by 2027, pending approval by the EU Council and the European Parliament plenary session scheduled for April 10th. Patrick Breyer, a member of the Pirate Party Germany in the European Parliament, criticized the new laws in a recent press release, arguing that they compromise economic independence and financial privacy, considering anonymous transactions a fundamental right.

The response by the crypto community to these regulatory actions by the European Union has been mixed, to say the least. While some view the regulations as necessary, others express concerns about potential privacy infringements and limitations on economic activities.

Daniel Tröster, host of the Sound Money Bitcoin Podcast, highlighted practical challenges and consequences of the legislation, particularly its impact on donations and cryptocurrency usage in the EU, expressing worries about its restrictive effects.