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Stablecoin Giant Falls As Terraform Labs Files For Bankruptcy
In a surprising twist of events, the TerraUSD (UST) stablecoin project and its creator, Terraform Labs, are currently contending with Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States. The upheaval commenced with the catastrophic detachment of UST in May 2022, sending shockwaves throughout the cryptocurrency market and causing the disappearance of billions of dollars for investors.
As the bankruptcy proceedings unfold, the once optimistic financial standing of Terraform Labs now presents a harsh reality. The approximated assets and liabilities fall within the range of $100 million to $500 million, a significant departure compared to the lofty ambitions the company once pursued.
Adding complexity to the situation, a multitude of creditors, estimated between 100 and 200, including influential entities like TQ Ventures and Standard Crypto, now confront an uncertain future in the aftermath.
The Fight Continues
Various legal challenges loom for Terraform Labs, with battles in both Singapore and the United States adding to the complexities. The most formidable challenge comes via the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), armed with a $40 billion fraud lawsuit that casts a long shadow over the company's future.
A recent US court ruling complicates matters further, classifying Luna and Mirror (MIR) tokens as securities, adding a layer of intricacy to an already unclear situation. The repercussions of the UST crash and the bankruptcy of Terraform Labs resonate through the cryptocurrency sphere. Analysts in the industry anticipate that the bankruptcy could have lasting implications for the stablecoin market. Regulatory scrutiny is expected to heighten, potentially resulting in stricter controls and increased investor skepticism.
Solana Reaches New Stablecoin Volume Record In January
Solana, a network that has gained attention for its rising network activity and developer retention rates, is emerging as a notable hub for stablecoins. Outperforming competitors such as Ethereum, Cardano, and Polygon across various metrics, Solana aims to distinguish itself with its latest accomplishment, a record-breaking volume of stablecoin transfers.
Success In Stablecoins
The stablecoin transfer volume on Solana has followed an impressive trajectory, reaching a new peak in January by exceeding $300 billion, according to blockchain analytics platform Artemis. This figure represents a substantial increase regarding the $297 billion mark in December 2023 and a remarkable surge of 2,500% compared to the $12 billion volume recorded in January 2023.
This outstanding growth has elevated the market share of Solana to 32%, a significant rise compared to its 1% share just a year ago, almost matching the 33% market share of Ethereum. In contrast, Ethereum has reported a stablecoin transfer volume of $317 billion this month.
Still A Ways To Go
The recent success shown by Solana in the stablecoin sector can be attributed to substantial USDC transfers and the introduction of the new Paxos stablecoin, USDP. Additionally, the platform has witnessed a substantial increase in DeFi activity, reflected in its Total Value Locked (TVL) reaching $1.36 billion, the highest since September 2022, as reported by DeFiLama.
However, despite Solana trying to distance itself regarding FTX, the now-defunct exchange still holds millions in SOL tokens, most of which will enter the market in 2025. Moreover, the recent rise exhibited by Solana has reignited discussions about it potentially replacing Ethereum itself. Still, Anatoly Yakovenko of Solana promptly rejected this label and advocated for co-existence.
BTC Bounces Around As Oil Markets Face Disruption
Bitcoin (BTC) experienced a drop to a new monthly low below $40,500 but rebounded above $42,000 later. Meanwhile, various altcoins, except for LINK which surged by about 5%, showed minimal movement. The total crypto market cap fell by about $10 billion overnight but remains slightly above $1.6 trillion on CMC.
BTC had a volatile week, initially surpassing $49,000 with the introduction of multiple spot BTC ETFs to the US markets, but later plummeting by over $7,000 in a sell the news event. After reaching $43,000 over the weekend, Bitcoin faced another decline, dropping below $41,000 and briefly hitting $40,400, a level not seen in over a month. Despite a brief recovery to over $42,000, negative sentiment persisted, bringing BTC back to $41,500.
Chainlink (LINK) stands out among major alts with a 5% increase, trading above $16. Cardano and Uniswap also saw gains, while Avalanche, Solana, and MATIC experienced losses, according to CoinGecko.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell and colleagues face pressure for interest-rate cuts amid concerns about a potential moderation in US economic growth in Q4. Investors anticipate a 2% increase in GDP, following a 4.9% third-quarter advance. Despite debates on monetary policy, traders are focused on a market testing earnings-valuation boundaries, setting new records.
Elsewhere, the oil market is bracing for a weeks-long shipping disruption in the southern Red Sea, where Houthi militants have been attacking merchant vessels for months in response to the war in Gaza.
Charters of tankers carrying crude and fuels, which can be booked up to a month in advance for some vessels, show that an increasing number of vessels are being hired for routes that avoid the danger zone, according to shipowners, brokers, and traders.
Ghost Kicks Off The New Year By Launching GSTVPN
Ghost, a pioneering force in blockchain-driven privacy solutions, proudly unveils its latest creation, GSTVPN. This is a revolutionary Virtual Private Network (VPN) service developed in collaboration with Specter Systems. GSTVPN aims to reshape the realm of online security by placing a premium on unmatched user privacy and digital liberty.
Since its establishment on June 20th, 2020, Ghost has emerged as a trailblazer in the realm of privacy-focused blockchains, revolutionizing the decentralized Proof of Stake (PoS) ecosystem. As a leader in blockchain privacy technology, the introduction of GSTVPN further solidifies its mission to provide innovative, user-centric privacy solutions.
Anonymous And Private
In an era where online censorship is on the rise, GSTVPN emerges as a robust VPN service committed to safeguarding individual privacy and ensuring unrestricted access to information. GSTVPN effectively circumvents website restrictions, concealing IP addresses, and facilitating access to blocked content. This dedication to unimpeded access aligns with the principles of free information exchange and digital freedom.
A distinctive strength of GSTVPN lies in its unwavering commitment to privacy. It encrypts data traffic between users and servers, offering protection against surveillance and enabling confident communication and information sharing without third-party monitoring, including by governments. This encryption ensures a completely anonymous browsing experience, setting GSTVPN apart compared to conventional VPN services. Notably, GSTVPN requires no personal information during signup, ensuring absolute privacy for users.
Secure And Accessible
Recognizing the growing demand of the ever-evolving digital landscape for multi-device connectivity, GSTVPN supports up to 10 simultaneous connections per service. Whether on a phone, tablet, or laptop, Ghost wants users to know that their privacy remains consistently safeguarded.
Additionally, in adherence to the fundamental commitment to absolute privacy, GSTVPN strictly follows a no-logs policy. Users can thus engage in online activities without fear of tracking, storage, or sharing, providing peace of mind and genuine digital freedom.
Finally, GSTVPN boasts top-tier encryption and security measures, shielding user data when it comes to any and all potential threats. The service grants unrestricted access to global content, breaking down barriers to information and communication. Subscribers can seamlessly switch between over 50 global server locations at any time.
Jake Waters, Project Director of Ghost, emphasizes that GSTVPN goes beyond a simple VPN service, as its overarching goal is to significantly enhance the essence of privacy and security in the digital space.
Interested users can now download and subscribe to GSTVPN at gstvpn.com and the Google Play store. For more information and regular updates, please visit ghostprivacy.net.
Legal Battle Between Coinbase And The SEC Heats Up
The recent legal dispute between the SEC and numerous cryptocurrency exchanges took a different direction in a recent hearing where United States Judge Katherine Polk Failla questioned the regulator. She expressed dissatisfaction with the assertions made by the agency against Coinbase, and cryptocurrency advocate Bill Morgan sees this as an indication that cryptocurrencies will eventually be recognized as non-securities in the U.S.
Clarity Is Needed
During the hearing, Judge Failla asked the SEC to offer clearer definitions for terms such as securities and staking, while criticizing Coinbase. As reported by Fox Business journalist Eleanor Terrett, the SEC contended that Coinbase is establishing a new version of the Howey Test.
The SEC lawyer cautioned Coinbase about reinterpreting the Howey Test, stating that the Congress of 1934 would be surprised that today there would be such an easy workaround to the carefully constructed regulatory structure they created in 1934 with regard to the market.
The Plot Thickens
Coinbase rejected the allegations made by the SEC, asserting that they had not reinterpreted the Howey Test. The SEC legal team, on the other hand, claimed that the agency is stretching the Howey Test to fit the circumstances.
In a previous post, Terrett highlighted the resilience shown by Judge Failla concerning rulings by Judge Jed Rakoff and Judge Analisa Torres on LBRY and XRP, respectively, for crucial insights. Reflecting on the determination made by Judge Torres regarding XRP as a non-security and the current state of the Coinbase lawsuit, Morgan remarked it is now commonly agreed that the tokens themselves are not securities.
EU Crypto Users May Face Extreme Scrutiny Via New Mandate
In the persistent drive to regulate the cryptocurrency industry and protect investors, the European Union is escalating efforts to adopt a more stringent approach towards digital assets. With the goal of establishing a transparent regulatory framework and combating activities such as money laundering and terror financing, EU lawmakers have introduced a fresh proposal that may alter the dynamics of how individuals across the continent engage with and carry out transactions involving cryptocurrencies.
Stringent Regulations Are Coming
The European Council and Parliament reached a significant provisional agreement on January 17th to revamp the crypto industry in the region, focusing on imposing stricter regulations on firms to target money laundering and terror financing. In a recent statement, the group of policymakers revealed that the proposed regulations would encompass most of the crypto sector, compelling all crypto firms to implement more rigorous due diligence procedures for their customers.
According to the provisional agreement, crypto firms would be required to conduct due diligence when customers plan to execute transactions valued at least $1,100. The initial statement highlighted that the agreement introduces measures to mitigate risks associated with transactions involving self-hosted wallets.
While the crypto deal awaits approval by the European Parliament, its potential impact on the industry is substantial. Vincent Van Peteghem, the Belgian Minister of Finance, emphasized that the provisional agreement aligns with the new Anti-Money Laundering (AML) system of the EU, ensuring that fraudsters, organized crime, and terrorists will find no space to legitimize their proceeds through the financial system.
Elsewhere, the EU recently concluded specific AML checks on crypto fund transfers in 2023. MiCA, set to become effective on December 30th, 2024, will establish the first comprehensive crypto regulatory framework for the European Union.
Frax Finance Will Officially Debut Its Ethereum Layer 2 Next Month
Popular decentralized finance (DeFi) protocol Frax Finance is reportedly preparing to unveil its layer 2 blockchain, Fraxtal, in February, as shared by CEO and founder Sam Kazemian in a recent interview. Kazemian anticipates the launch in the initial week of next month, with Fraxscan by Etherscan providing support on day 1. Following the debut, a multitude of projects is expected to emerge, marking it as a significant rollup release for the year.
This addition will expand the existing product suite of the protocol, including FRAX, a fully collateralized algorithmic stablecoin, a lending platform, an automated market maker, an inflation-linked stablecoin (FPI), and the liquid staking token frxETH. As of the latest update, FRAX boasts a market cap of $647 million, ranking as the seventh-largest stablecoin globally.
Curve, a decentralized exchange with a focus on stablecoins, has proposed integrating its exchange functionalities onto Fraxtal. Layer 2, a secondary framework addressing blockchain limitations, gained momentum following Ethereum network congestion issues during the 2021 bull market.
Plenty Of Potential
Fraxtal will also employ rollups technology, conducting transactions off the Ethereum mainnet, consolidating data, compressing it, and then transmitting it back to the mainnet. The liquid staking token frxETH will fuel layer 2 and serve as a gas for the chain, where gas represents the transaction execution fee.
Kazemian envisions the upcoming debut to be impactful, with expectations of attracting several hundred million dollars in crypto assets before long. The CEO anticipates a total value locked of at least nine figures in the first month and aims for over $1 billion in Q1, positioning Fraxtal among the top five chains if well-received.
Wise Lending Gets Hacked Resulting In Massive Losses
Wise Lending, a Web3 lending application and yield aggregator, encountered a significant security breach on January 12th, resulting in the unauthorized acquisition of 170 ETH. Security experts have verified this occurrence, suspecting that the assailant potentially leveraged an oracle price through a flash loan.
The blockchain noticed the attack after the wrongdoer reportedly utilized an unauthenticated contract with an address concluding with d82c to divert the funds. The malefactor also transferred various tokens, including $9,000 in USD Coin (USDC), $2,000 in Tether (USDT), $5,000 in DAI, 18.51 Wrapped Ether (WETH) valued at $47,694, and assorted tokens linked to Pendle Finance, to this contract.
As part of the exploit, the perpetrator also borrowed 1,110 Lido Staked Ether (stETH) tokens, equivalent to $2.9 million, through the Aave lending protocol. Exploiters commonly use flash loans to manipulate oracle prices, facilitating such attacks.
A blockchain security researcher known as Spreek, using a pseudonym, initially alerted the crypto community to the Wise Lending attack on X, stating that the vulnerability might be associated with a novel Pendle Finance derivative token.
Hacks Still Ongoing
Another security researcher suggested that the vulnerability might have been triggered by a 7% price swing between stETH and ETH within a specific pool, potentially due to an AAVE v2 stETH flash loan. Despite the commencement of 2024, the decentralized finance sector has already incurred losses exceeding $5 million due to diverse exploits.
On January 3rd, Radiant Capital suffered losses surpassing $4.5 million, followed by liquidity manager Gamma Protocol losing over $400,000 to an exploit the following day. In the preceding year, 2023, the crypto industry witnessed losses totaling over $1.8 billion due to hacks, scams, and exploits, as reported by blockchain security platform Certik. These incidents underscore the persistent challenges and security considerations within the crypto space.
IRS Hits The Breaks On Controversial Cryptocurrency Tax Rule
The controversial $10,000 cryptocurrency tax rule enforced by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is reportedly undergoing a pause. In a joint statement issued by the IRS and the Treasury Department, a shift in their position regarding the tax rule was indeed communicated.
Calm Before The Storm
The aforementioned rule, which mandates Americans to report cryptocurrency transactions exceeding $10K, will not be actively enforced for the time being. Businesses are not obligated to report the receipt of digital assets in the same manner as cash until specific regulations are issued by the Treasury and IRS.
This confirmation aligns with various speculations made by industry experts, indicating a delay in the enforcement of the rule pending a comprehensive review and a public comment period. The language of the rule has also raised questions about its target demographic, as it necessitates reporting for anyone receiving over $10,000 in crypto within a trade or business, mirroring the standard practice for cash transactions.
Navigating The Challenges
The significance of this development lies in the complexity of applying such a rule to cryptocurrency transactions, given their highly decentralized nature. Individuals receiving payments via decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) or through staking may encounter challenges in identifying a single payer.
Notably, back in 2020, the crypto advocacy group Coin Center initiated a lawsuit against the Treasury Department and the IRS, asserting the unconstitutionality of the new law, a case that is still under appeal as of this time.
Tether Calls Out The United Nations For Being Hypocritical
Tether (USDT) has recently refuted allegations made by the United Nations regarding the involvement of its USDT stablecoin in illicit activities, such as money laundering and scams. Responding on January 16th, Tether emphasized the role of blockchain technology in crime prevention.
Working With The Law
Tether readily collaborates with law enforcement entities like the DOJ, FBI, and USSS, highlighting its dedication to combating financial crime. Emphasizing the potential of blockchain technology to facilitate the tracking of illegal activities, Tether asserts that their transparent blockchain network enables close monitoring of transactions.
This transparency additionally aids in thwarting illegal transactions of various categories, a challenging task with conventional currency. Tether also pointed out that they recently prevented over $300 million in suspicious transactions.
A Hypocritical Stance
Rather than criticizing blockchain, Tether urges the UN to recognize its merits in the fight against crime. They advocate for collaborative efforts to comprehend and leverage blockchain effectively. Tether expresses a commitment to using digital currencies responsibly and transparently, inviting the UN to engage in discussions to explore ways of reducing digital asset crimes.
This approach aligns with a broader trend in the crypto industry, actively combating financial crime and asserting that blockchain can serve as a tool to prevent crime rather than being its source. Some have even gone as far as to claim that the United Nations is being very hypocritical since it is not like corruption does not exist in the UN either. In fact, the organization has been called inefficient, incompetent and unwieldy by many in the past.
Ubisoft Gets Further Involved With Crypto Via New Blockchain Partnership
Ubisoft, the publisher of immensely popular titles like Far Cry, Prince Of Persia, and Splinter Cell, has recently partnered with the Wemix Blockchain Node Council. This collaboration makes Ubisoft one of the 40 Wemix partners responsible for running validator nodes on the new Wemix 3.0 network, an Ethereum-compatible EVM blockchain. Previously, the Wemix blockchain operated on the Klaytn mainnet, and it has now been rebranded as Wemix Classic.
A Reliable Infrastructure
The updated Wemix blockchain utilizes a PoS (Proof of Stake) authority consensus algorithm, blending a PoS structure with a PoA (Proof of Authority) model. In line with other blockchains, the Wemix network relies on nodes to authenticate transactions. Nodes, essentially computers running the blockchain software, confirm transactions, and operators are rewarded with cryptocurrency for their contributions. Ubisoft is now the 26th partner, termed Wonder, within the Node Council Partners (NCP), contributing to the validation of the blockchain.
The Future Of Gaming
Ubisoft has been an early entrant into the blockchain gaming domain, particularly among major Western publishers, and demonstrates a sustained interest in the crypto industry. In 2021, Ubisoft integrated free in-game NFTs into Ghost Recon Breakpoint, leading to backlash by gamers critical of its adoption of crypto technology.
Despite this, Ubisoft has persisted in its exploration of crypto, serving as a node operator for the Hedera blockchain in 2022 and the Cronos blockchain in 2023. Additionally, Ubisoft hinted at its inaugural blockchain game, Champions Tactics, and initiated the first free NFT mint for the game, resulting in millions of dollars in trading volume within just a few hours.
Fantom To Enhance Overall Security By Drastically Reducing Staking Requirements
The Fantom Foundation has officially reduced the validator self-staking requirement on its layer-1 blockchain, Fantom, by 90%, following a governance vote over six months ago. As of a recent announcement on X, the staking threshold for Fantom (FTM) has been decreased to 50,000 FTM, equivalent to $19,500 as of this time.
It is worth noting that three months ago, the official hot wallet of Fantom was indeed compromised, resulting in a loss of $550,000, which represented less than 1% of the overall funds.
Safety Is Key
Fantom emphasized that this adjustment aims to enhance overall security and increase accessibility for running a validator. A higher number of validators allegedly makes it more challenging for potential malicious attacks, as validators operate by bundling and sharing transactions. Finality is achieved when at least two-thirds of network validators reach a consensus.
The team also anticipates that an increase in validators will result in faster processing of submitted transactions. They assured users that the growth in the validator count will not negatively impact overall network performance, provided the new validators run on quality hardware.
Competition Is Heating Up
Addressing potential security concerns, Fantom clarified that lower staking requirements do not pose a risk, as transaction confirmation power is proportional to the corresponding staking amount, not the number of validators it operates. Fantom had been proposing a reduction in the minimum FTM required to run a node since at least February 2022.
Right now, Fantom currently boasts 58 validators securing its network. In comparison, Ethereum, the leading layer 1 smart contract platform, has over 1.1 million validators. Other platforms like Cardano, Solana, and Avalanche hosted 2,589, 1,876, and 1,119 validators, respectively, according to a June 2023 report citing Messari data.