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SEC Filings Citing Bitcoin On The Rise, Indicating Widespread Institutional Adoption.
The SEC and Bitcoin (BTC) have been the topic of several conversations in recent years, and the most recent evidence shows that this will continue in 2022 as we grow ever closer to the inevitable shift to Web 3.0.
As such, the frequency of 13F filings mentioning Bitcoin by quarter drastically increased this year, while it reduced somewhat to 60 mentions in the second and third quarters of 2021. The number of times the SEC cited the flagship cryptocurrency in its filings for the fourth quarter that concluded at the end of January 2022 climbed by 158% to 155 mentions, which was a direct consequence of the increasing level of Bitcoin's increasing mainstream relevance, usage and global popularity.
Growing interest in institutional assets
It's worth noting that SEC filings can help determine institutional interest in crypto assets. Investment funds with a minimum of $100 million in AUM (Assets Under Management) which operate and conduct business within the U.S, for example, are obliged to make a 13F filing with the SEC every quarter, disclosing the holdings of each individual fund to the public.
Furthermore, it is not essential to publish all of a fund's assets as instead a subset of those investments inclusive of any and all positions in spot BTC must be reported. In contrast, trusts and various other crypto-based investment institutions were frequently referenced.
Increase in exposure to Bitcoin
GBTC (Grayscale's Bitcoin Trust) is the largest BTC trust by net asset value and it has become a popular method for institutions to gain exposure to the world's largest cryptocurrency asset by market capitalization. With that being said, GBTC's BTC holdings increased dramatically between 2020 and 2021, paralleling the increase in the amount of investment funds which included BTC as part of their respective 13F filings during that particular time period.
GBTC holdings had in fact stagnated until late 2021, when 13F filings mentioning Bitcoin increased. Nevertheless, this represented the debut of Bitcoin ETFs like the ProShares' Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BITO) and Valkyrie's Bitcoin Strategy ETF (BTF) last year which are now disclosed on 13F filings and account for a portion of the growth in specific organizations.
As a result, examining public SEC filings may be beneficial in gauging the growing presence of Bitcoin in the U.S economy, as well as help determine which direction the SEC and the United States government might take going forward. The rise of NFTs and the metaverse have also necessitated the need for increased regulation as DeFi is indeed here to stay.
Manchester City F.C. Planning Fan Metaverse
Earlier in 2022, it was rumoured that Manchester City F.C. were aiming to explore the increasingly popular metaverse phenomenon as the next big thing in fan involvement.
The Premier League team had previously advertised for positions in their Strategy and Ventures department for potential candidates who could discover development prospects in the VR (Virtual Reality) sector.
According to various reports, Manchester City has therefore begun the process of constructing the world's very first football stadium within the metaverse with the assistance from VR pioneers, Sony.
In related news, Manchester United F.C. and Tezos, one of the world's most sophisticated and sustainable blockchains, recently announced a significant multi-year agreement that will see Tezos featured on the team's men's and women's training uniforms.
Bitcoin (BTC) Is Officially Legal In Ukraine
Bitcoin (BTC) is officially legal in Ukraine after the countrys parliament adopted a bill in final reading that complies with the Presidents guidelines. The nation, however, has not declared BTC legal tender as of yet.
This new law provides an extra chance for the countrys commercial development, and both foreign as well as Ukrainian crypto enterprises shall be allowed to operate lawfully. Moreover, Ukrainians will have simple and safe access to the worldwide market for digital assets, according to Ukraines Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhaylo Fedorov.
With over 270 votes, the Ukrainian parliament enacted the new Law on Virtual Assets earlier this week. The bill specifies the rules that Bitcoin service providers, such as exchanges, must follow and establishes sanctions for infractions of the laws terms, in addition to establishing that the cryptocurrency market be regulated by Ukraines National Securities Commission.
JPMorgan Just Took A Significant Move Into The Metaverse
JPMorgan just took a significant move into the metaverse, opening a virtual lounge in the popular blockchain-based realm Decentraland (MANA).
The new Onyx lounge was thus revealed alongside a bank report explaining metaverse-related development potential for businesses and outlined the reasons for the sudden explosion in interest.
According to JPMorgan, the metaverse offers a $1 trillion annual revenue market opportunity as artists use Web 3.0 to commercialize their work in innovative ways.
Adidas, Gap, Nike, Walmart, Hulu, Atari, PWC, and Verizon are among the early users and investors in the blockchain and metaverse economy, according to the bank. Many more are expected to become involved as time progresses.
In related news, long-time anti-crypto advocate Warren Buffett recently revealed a $1 billion investment into Nubank, Brazil's biggest fintech bank which is also very popular among the nation's BTC investors, while simultaneously dumping both Mastercard and Visa stocks.
Binance Smart Chain (BSC) Announced Binance Chain And Binance Smart Chain Will Be Merging Under New Moniker, BNB Chain
Binance Smart Chain (BSC), a decentralized blockchain ecosystem, has announced that the Binance Chain and Binance Smart Chain will now be merging under a new moniker, BNB Chain. This is being done to represent their continuing relationship with the ecosystem's native asset, Binance Coin (BNB).
As per the latest reports, BNB is now an abbreviation for Build and Build, rather than Binance Coin. The BNB Chain, powered by BNB, shall hence deliver enhanced capabilities while focusing on the development of Web 3.0 infrastructure.
Moreover, the Binance Chain, where staking and voting takes place, has been renamed BNB Beacon Chain under the newly named BNB Chain umbrella. Elsewhere, the EVM (Ethereum Virtual Machine)-compatible, multichain-supporting Binance Smart Chain will now simply be known as BNB Smart Chain, and it is still abbreviated as BSC.
As such, the BNB Chain will consolidate all of its Web 3.0 work under the banner of MetaFi, which will bring together metaverse developers and projects alongside SocialFi and GameFi. The BNB Chain shall therefore include large-scale applications and development tools, as well as an expansion of the validator set from 21 to 41 validators, with a strong emphasis on scalability.
Florida Property Recently Auctioned Off As An NFT
In what seems to be a first for both real estate and cryptocurrency, a Florida property was recently auctioned off as an NFT (non-fungible token).
The four-bedroom property in Gulfport sold for $653,163 in ETH, and the victorious bidder now has the NFT, indicating ownership on-chain. 50 people signed up for the auction however only 2 actively participated in the bid during the sale.
The deal was hosted and completed by Propy, a blockchain real estate business. "This is only the first sale in our pipeline, and we're seeing a lot of demand," Propy CEO Natalia Karayaneva said in a statement.
According to Karayaneva, the home's property rights were minted as an NFT, which reduces closure time. The property will be owned by the NFT holder through a LLC (Limited Liability Company) that stores the crypto asset.
Propy previously sold TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington's Ukrainian studio apartment for around $113,176 in ETH in 2021.
Antonio Velardo on the Past, Present, and Future of the Blockchain
Antonio Velardo Comments on the Timelines of the Blockchain: Where It Was and Where Its Going
The blockchain is commonly known as the foundation of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, but its specifics and how it works are not nearly as ubiquitous. Antonio Velardo is an expert on this subject, and he delves a little deeper into how it all works and what the past and current timelines can tell us about its future.
Why did the blockchain garner its response when it first came out?
Velardo says that the blockchain has solved many problems that people have struggled with for years. It was exceptionally secure, which everyone could get behind after the countless financial hacks and data loss we were seeing. And it was accessible, which gave us a glimpse into a future where you might not have to pay a $.35 charge for a $.50 transaction.
Did people rail against it at all?
Yes and no. Of course, plenty of people would dismiss anything about cryptocurrency as nothing more than "fake money", which is an exciting phrase considering that nothing has financial value unless humans bestow that value.
Yet Antonio Velardo comments that it was a little surprising how much even the skeptics of crypto were won over by the many (many) benefits of the blockchain. It was just too practical to ignore (even when people wanted to) in many ways.
What are some of the current applications of the blockchain?
This question drives to the heart of what the blockchain is. Antonio Velardo says that you can use it in just about every industry.
Construction workers can use the public ledger to track complex projects. Families can use it to trace their lineage. Medical practices can improve privacy without compromising patient care. So while it may have been initially developed for finance, it can be derived for a practically limitless array of applications.
What about regulation?
Well, thats the million-dollar question. How different countries eventually regulate the blockchain will ultimately determine where it heads. Its not being regulated right now, but theres no reason to assume that it will always be this way.
The point of cryptocurrency was to get the public to police the system, not the government. Of course, best-laid plans don't always go the way that inventors want them to in the real world. This in no way detracts from the promise of the blockchain. More becomes an issue to watch like a hawk for anyone who wants to predict the following stages.
Antonio Velardo Talks Blockchain of the Future
Where do you see the blockchain going?Antonio Velardo explains that he doesnt know the blockchain is slowing down despite the potential roadblocks. Exactly what it will look like in the future depends on everything from everyday citizens to CEOs to government officials. There's no denying, though, that the blockchain can offer us a very different perspective of what money can be. In addition, it can offer us an entirely new solution to how we store data as a whole.
The EOS Network Foundation Has Announced Intentions Of Suing Block.one For $4.1 Billion
As per La Rose, they are considering legal action "to claim $4.1 billion in damages." Presently, the EOS leader stated that a Canadian law firm is assisting them in determining what legal action they may take against the original EOS creators.
According to the Foundation, many members of the EOS community are extremely unsatisfied with Block.one. Block.one has apparently not lived up to its word about previous pledges, and as a result, both the community as well as individual EOS users have suffered greatly.
In 2021, the Foundation revealed that it had entered into discussions with Block.one in order to remedy the situation. Both parties engaged in conversations in an attempt to reach a fair resolution to the difficulties, however, Block.one reportedly withdrew from the talks. Due to this, the EOS block producers decided to freeze the vesting for future EOS token revenues for Block.one.
From bad to worse
Block.one staged an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) of EOS tokens a few years ago in 2018, selling 900 million tokens for over $4 billion, making it the largest ICO held at the time. Additionally, Block.one was fined $24 million by the SEC in 2019 for selling $4 billion in unregistered tokens. Surprisingly, the inventors got to retain the remainder of the sum with no commitments to the community. Having said all that, many people have nonetheless been dissatisfied with the company's subsequent path as of late.
Moreover, La Rose described EOS as 'a failure' a few months ago. He stated that it is a bad financial and time investment, citing the market capitalization and the drop in value. He also claimed that the community had lost important developers and had switched its focus away from blockchain development and toward asset management instead.
Ultimately, time will tell what shall become of the whole situation and to what extent the damages will be paid for.
The Department of Justice Seizes $3.6 Billion In BTC Stolen During The 2016 Bitfinex Hack.
The United States government has recovered around $3.6 billion in Bitcoin (BTC) stolen during a 2016 breach of the Bitfinex currency exchange, the biggest financial seizure ever, and detained two individuals, according to the country's Department of Justice (DOJ).
Heather Morgan and her husband, Ilya Lichtenstein, were detained recently and are set to appear in federal court in Manhattan soon. The two reportedly planned to launder a whopping 119,754 BTC that had been stolen after a hacker accessed Bitfinex's computer systems.
Crypto is not a safe space for criminals
"These arrests, together with the Departments biggest financial seizure to date, demonstrate that the cryptocurrency space is not a safe haven for any criminal or fraudulent entity," said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco. The defendants had reportedly laundered stolen funds via a maze of cryptocurrency transactions in a fruitless attempt to retain digital anonymity, which is one of the main selling points of the crypto sector.
Bitfinex is the exchange associated with Tether (USDT), the worlds largest stablecoin. According to the Justice Department, the virtual currency haul was believed to be worth $71 million at the time of the attack. Now though, the total value of stolen BTC is currently at $4.5 billion.
Method of attack and future consequences
The duo was using advanced methods, including the use of fictitious identities to establish online accounts, complex software to automate transactions, a laundering strategy which enables many transactions to occur in a short period of time, and depositing the stolen money into accounts at a various digital currency exchanges as well as darknet markets, before finally withdrawing the funds.
Moreover, to conceal their transactions, Lichtenstein and Morgan used AlphaBay Marketplace, which had been shut down back in 2017. Some of the funds were withdrawn using BTC ATMs, whereas another portion of it was used to purchase NFTs and gold. The couple had even bought a Walmart gift card with the stolen funds.
For the money laundering charges, Lichtenstein and Morgan face a maximum of 20 years in prison. Furthermore, they risk an additional penalty of up to 5 years in jail for conspiracy to defraud the United States of America. The government is hopeful that this will set a precedent for the future and will actively discourage individuals and entities from taking advantage of the supposed anonymous nature of the crypto space.
BlackRock Announces Intentions To Provide Cryptocurrency Trading Capabilities
The world's biggest asset manager, BlackRock, has announced its intentions of planning to provide cryptocurrency trading capabilities to its investor clientele. As such, clients will be permitted to borrow from BlackRock by offering cryptocurrency assets as collateral.
The New York-based firm, which manages more than $10 trillion in assets for institutions, intends to join the cryptocurrency industry with 'client assistance trading and later with their own respective credit facility', according to the company's website.
BlackRock's clients, which also include public pension schemes, endowments, and independant wealth funds, shall be able to trade cryptocurrencies using Aladdin, the asset manager's integrated investment management platform.
The official launch date of the new service is currently unknown.
Russia Has Decided To Embrace Cryptocurrencies
Russia has decided to accept cryptocurrenices as an officially recognized form of currency within the country.
The government released a document earlier this week outlining the fundamentals for cryptocurrency regulation, and the central bank is also reportedly on board despite previously advocating for a blanket ban on crypto mining and trading.
As per the document, Russians control over 12 million cryptocurrency accounts and almost 2 trillion Rubles ($26.7 billion) in cryptocurrencies. According to the report, the nation is currently ranked third globally for BTC mining.
After much debate, the local government and the central bank have now agreed to develop legislation and alter current regulations to legally recognise cryptocurrencies as a legitimate kind of currency. More updates are expected as the situation develops.
Blockchain Expert and Crypto VC Antonio Velardo on What Its Like to Get a Formal Education in Cryptocurrency
Antonio Velardo on Getting His Masters Degree in Digital Currency
Antonio Velardo is a blockchain expert and a passionate promoter of cryptocurrency. He's made a name for himself by tracking the trends of this emerging field and how it's changing finance as we know it. Given his background, it would be easy to assume that he has a degree in computer science or software engineering.
On the contrary, his upper level education was in civil engineering and mass communication. It's only recently that he began pursuing his master's in digital currency. He discusses what it's like to be on the formal side of education and how it's helping him understand the real opportunities ahead.
Legitimizing an Industry
Many people might be surprised to learn that digital currency is an acceptable choice for a degree. This is because plenty still views crypto or digital money as little more than a phase. Yet Antonio Velardo says that the sheer fact that legitimate schools offer the option is a sign that it's a profession with staying power.
Regardless of what happens with individual brands, like Bitcoin or Ethereum, FinTech takes over much of the financial world. The blockchain is revolutionizing the speed of transactions and their security. It's no wonder that schools offering the degree are branding it as a way for professionals to stay ahead of the curve, particularly as it's beginning to deepen its bend.
Antonio Velardo on Combining Two Worlds
Those who want a career in FinTech are essentially a cross-section of people. Antonio Velardo is interested in the juxtaposition of finance and technology and how each field can be used to strengthen the other. People want to settle debts without having to worry about their identity being stolen. They want to avoid $.75 fees for $2 charges. With the current legacy systems in place, that's just not possible.
The master's degree that Velardo is pursuing is teaching people how we can accomplish these goals and why it's so important to keep up with these changing needs. The pandemic has put more payments online than ever before, a fact that has brought more criminals to the table to capitalize on all the money changing hands. Without viable solutions to payments, the situation will only spiral out of control.
Antonio Velardo explains the real advantage of structured education is studying and understanding the progression to predict the changes. His instructors can't tell him exactly what will happen, but they will present both sides of the story.
Trying to go it alone, which many people are attempting right now (either on the job or otherwise), makes it more likely that an important piece will slip through the cracks. For Velardo, each class reinforces that he made the right decision. Cryptocurrency and digital currency offer advantages that traditional banks can't, and this has set the industry on a course that is unlikely to be stopped or rerouted for any reason.