Get the top stories, funding deals, technical analysis, cryptocurrency jobs and much more delivered to your inbox, every Monday morning.
Web 3.0 Startup Comm Successfully Raises $5 Million To Challenge Discord
Comm, a Web 3.0 messaging app, has successfully raised a $5 million seed round, which was led by CoinFund, in an attempt to compete with Discord. To that end, the company hopes that it can provide a revolutionary new messaging and communication experience for the Web 3.0 era.
Comm may hence best be defined as a consumer privacy startup that works on scaling E2E (End-to-End) encryption, which is currently only available for chat-based applications like Signal or Whatsapp, with the goal of eventually replacing centralized backends.
Why does this matter?
Comms founder and CEO, Ashoat Tevosyan, stated that he wanted to create an application which was truly independent, end-to-end encrypted, secure, and private. There has since been plenty of interest in what Comm is trying to achieve, with Electric Capital, Shima Capital, LongHash VC, Slow Ventures, and Eniac Ventures being among the various investors in the aforementioned seed round.
Comm is therefore being designed in such a way that community members will host their own backend servers and that only users would be allowed access to their data. Moreover, the keyserver software is open source and was designed to be forked, which means it was meant to be copied and implemented by various other compatible projects.
But is it safe?
While encrypted messaging and communication-based applications can help protect personal information, many of them have unfortunately fallen into the hands of fraudulent entities like gangs, hackers, and organized criminals.
According to Tevosyan, whether or not Comm exists, criminals will undoubtedly always find a way to access online networks. As a result, his team is developing software that puts the user in control and prioritizes safety. In any case, the CEO wants Comm to be a software which actively supports larger communities and is thus skeptical of the notion that a large-scale social platform would only attract undesirable characters.
What about future goals?
The founders long-term goal for the company is still unclear. Users will be able to log in to Comm using their cryptocurrency wallets, which will reportedly control their overall identity in the application. However, it is not yet known as to which blockchains would be supported. Despite this, Tevosyan stated that he intends to expand his team in New York City after the raise, with a few employees working remotely, and that Comm certainly has a place in Web 3.0 even if it will take some time for all of the details to be ironed out.
Former SEC Chair Jay Clayton Speaks About Crypto Regulation
Former SEC Chair Jay Clayton recently acknowledged that reaching consensus on cryptocurrency regulation within the United States would appear to presently remain elusive for all parties involved, but he has nonetheless challenged the government to take the initiative.
Clayton stated that the government should first try and fully comprehend the benefits and potential of crypto and what it can do for the countrys financial system before enacting any kind of regulatory policies.
Jay discussed certain benefits of crypto like the ability to power quick payments as well as digital asset custody and urged the SEC to issue viable guidelines for the custody of tokenized assets. He further stated that in order to truly move forward, the United States must first embrace the efficiencies provided by tokenizing well-known services like payments and asset custody in digital form.
According to Clayton, the U.S should therefore move forward on stablecoin rules, identifying the various characteristics which distinguish stablecoins as a means of payment rather than a commodity or security.
Access To Records On Three Arrows Capital Assets
According to a recent report citing people familiar with the situation, liquidators of 3AC (Three Arrows Capital) shall reportedly be able to access records of the cryptocurrency hedge fund's assets. A petition by the advisory firm Teneo was recently granted by the Singapore High Court.
Teneo will be capable of requesting access to financial records kept locally, according to the sources, and they hope to see bank accounts, properties, cryptocurrency assets, non-fungible tokens, and stakes in other companies. Overall, they will prioritize asset preservation.
Thus far, the liquidators have control over $40 million in crypto hedge fund assets. Nevertheless, this is insufficient to meet the claims. Moreover, 3AC allegedly received a $2.36 billion loan from Genesis Trading alone.
Creditors attended a liquidating meeting on July 18th, and it was discovered that the claims totaled approximately $2.8 billion. As more creditors file claims, this figure could rise even higher. Su Zhu, 3AC Co-Founder, has also filed a million-dollar claim against his own company.
This is yet another significant development in what is turning out to be one of the most controversial cases of the year. The crypto winter has not been kind to many crypto companies and 3AC is no exception, with countless customers still scrambling to recover their lost funds.
Texas Senator Discusses Environmental Benefits Of Crypto Mining
In an attempt to try and dispel long-held concerns about the assets massive energy consumption and threat to the environment, Texas Senator Ted Cruz has indicated that Bitcoin (BTC) mining does infact have environmental and business-related benefits.
Senator Cruz suggested that crypto mining is advantageous to the environment, particularly if miners use renewable energy sources. Cruz, interestingly, proposed that Bitcoin mining could lead to the prosperity of families involved in the activity by breeding entrepreneurs and providing an alternative source of income.
He added that, in light of the criticism leveled at Bitcoin mining, the activity could coexist with various other forms of energy utilization by sharing the grid.
Moreover, as BTC mining has the ability to be switched on or off instantly, if there is a power shortage or a power crisis, whether it's a freeze or another natural disaster where power generation capacity may drastically decrease, Senator Cruz believes that this could create an opportunity to instantly redirect that energy and put it back on the grid.
Alphabet Inc. Invests Over $1.5 Billion In Blockchain Companies As Institutional Interest Continues To Skyrocket
Alphabet Inc., Googles parent company, has invested over $1.5 billion in blockchain companies so far. By doing so, it has surpassed the likes of Goldman Sachs, Samsung, Blackrock, and Morgan Stanley to become the leading organization investing in the burgeoning sector.
Institutional interest in crypto remains high
Although the cryptocurrency market has yet to reach its previous heights, the fact of the matter is that numerous institutional investors including some of the top companies, businesses and firms across the world have nevertheless repeatedly expressed an interest in crypto. This is in part due to the sheer amount of mainstream attention being given to the industry, as innovative technologies such as Web3, NFTs, blockchain, and the metaverse are quickly becoming regular topics of discussion.
Whereas Samsung is mainly relying on blockchain services, NFTs, social networks and development platforms, both Alphabet and Blackrock are adopting a slightly different approach by concentrating their efforts on a smaller group of companies like Circles and Fireblocks. Samsung even previously announced that it was creating its very own metaverse, a development which the blockchain community was only too happy to see as it meant that the underlying technologies behind DeFi were indeed finally becoming mainstream.
Banks are adopting a more proactive approach towards crypto
For the longest time, various banks around the world scoffed at the idea of decentralized digital currencies and assets and believed them to be nothing more than a trend that will dissipate over time. However, as these digital assets gradually became more popular and a rising number of big names started investing in crypto, banks had little to no choice but to adopt a more progressive perspective. Perhaps the most famous examples of this would be the introduction of CBDCs and Warren Buffet infamously calling Bitcoin rat poison years ago, only for him to later invest a billion dollars in a crypto-friendly bank.
Additionally, 40 corporations invested in blockchain and crypto companies between September 2021 and June 2022, according to a study that observed the top 100 banks with such investment behavior.
Moreover, across 71 investment rounds, 61 blockchain and crypto companies received funding, with a vast majority of these companies reportedly being involved in rapidly growing fields like arts and entertainment, gaming, and distributed ledger technology.
Sundar Pichai, Alphabets CEO, acknowledged the growth that the industry was experiencing as of late and spoke about Web3 developments in February, disclosing the companys position on revolutionary blockchain technology, monitoring developments, and investigating how Googles parent company could indeed start contributing to Web3 development going forward.
Risk Off In A Time Off Strong USD
Bitcoin, Ethereum and futures linked with the S&P 500 are currently trading weak whereas the safe haven known as the U.S dollar is rising against other international currencies.
Investors are therefore trimming their bullish exposure on risky assets, as the Federal Reserve of the United States could possibly utilize the minutes of its July meeting to counter expectations of slower rate hikes along with eventual liquidity easing.
The dilemma is whether the Fed intends to use these minutes as a communication tool to counter the view of an easing cycle beginning in 2023. The Fed usually examines market reactions following meetings and utilizes minutes to clarify misconceptions. Former Fed trader Joseph Wang tweeted that there is plenty to correct today.
Still, markets appear to have gotten ahead of themselves right now, as the central banks continuing battle against inflation will not end anytime soon, according to several Fed officials following last weeks CPI release. Interest rate hikes may thus continue into 2023, but Bitcoin on the other hand has a tendency to move in the opposite direction of the dollar index.
Nevertheless, many risk assets could experience renewed volatility if the minutes go further against the dovish expectations. According to ING analysts, further rejection of this market pricing has a high chance of helping the dollar.
Tornado Cash, Zac Williamson, CEO Speaks About Web3
In the aftermath of heavily criticized U.S government sanctions against cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash, Zac Williamson, CEO of the Aztec Network Ethereum privacy layer, recently discussed what the future of Web3 privacy may end up being.
The CEO claims that future networks would most likely not conform to existing regulatory structures but shall instead be consistent with regulators goals while simultaneously protecting user privacy. Essentially, he believes that regulators went about banning Tornado Cash incorrectly and that an alternative solution could have been explored.
A foresighted government would therefore contemplate directly issuing base money onto networks such as Ethereum, which, when combined with hyper-fungible real-world assets, private self-custody as well as low barriers to entry from open networks, would usher in a new financial golden age, according to Williamson.
He contended that, despite the current sanctions regime, cyber criminals from North Korea or elsewhere would continue to use Tornado Cash or a replica. According to the CEO, suspicious entities will thus undoubtedly provide off-ramps to fraudulent entities who have done the bare minimum for plausible deniability.
Federal Reserve Give Guidance For Use Of Global Payment System
The United States Federal Reserve has publishing its final guidance for new financial institutions to gain access to its master accounts, which are required for these firms to partake in the global payment system.
The announcement seems to be indicative of the countrys central bank inching closer to potentially permitting Wyoming SPDIs (Special Purpose Depository Institutions) such as Custodia and Kraken Bank to gain access to these accounts without the need for any intermediary banks.
In 2021, the Federal Reserve issued its first guidance, inviting public comments and discourse. Approximately 300 people responded, prompting a second public feedback process which took place earlier on in 2022.
The guidance is broadly similar to what was initially proposed last year, as it shall reportedly establish a multi-tiered system that will enable the Federal Reserve to tailor its evaluation process for giving access based on the type of financial institution applying. Also, each tier would correspond to a more stringent review procedure.
As such, Tier 1 banks will be federally insured under the guidance. Although Tier 2 banks would not be federally insured, prudential supervision would still be applicable for these via a federal banking agency. Finally, Tier 3 includes firms which are not federally insured and are not subject to prudential supervision, which most likely includes Wyoming cryptocurrency banks.
Situations Like The Terra Crash Could Be Avoided In The Future Through MiCA Bill
Given the rapid growth of the crypto and blockchain sector, governments all over the world are searching for viable ways to regulate the industry, including the European Union which recently provided their contribution to solving the issue via the MiCA (Markets in Crypto Assets) bill. Also, both the SEC and CFTC agree that cryptocurrencies are not going anywhere and that it is high time to regulate these assets properly, with the CFTC chairman even claiming that the agency is prepared to begin regulating crypto as soon as possible.
This increase in the number of regulatory policies is the result of various factors, including the recent market crash and the mainstream attention being given to crypto and digital assets in general.
Why is the new bill important and what can it do?
According to the European Commissions Cybersecurity Policy and Technological Innovation Advisor, Peter Kerstens, if the bill is passed then it shall bring numerous changes to the market, including the implementation of stringent standards designed to avoid situations like the Terra disaster, in addition to viewing NFTs as digital assets similar to cryptocurrencies.
Peter stated that the $40 billion Terra ecosystem meltdown would not have occurred if the MiCA bills provisions, which necessitate stablecoin projects to become more transparent as well as enable client withdrawals on request, had been in place. Due to this, MiCA would reportedly be able to prevent such schemes from entering the market, according to the advisor.
It should also be noted that the proposed rules and regulations outlined in the MiCA bill are set to become law in 2023, but are not expected to be fully implemented throughout the EU until at least 2024.
What about NFTs?
The MiCA bill outlines regulations for cryptocurrencies but it does not ignore NFTs either, as Peter pointed out that EU legislators have a very narrow definition of what an NFT actually is. According to the advisor, in the event that a token may be issued as a series or collection, even if the issuer calls it an NFT and every individual token within that particular series is indeed unique, it is still not considered as an NFT and the requirements would therefore still be applicable.
To put it another way, should the bill be passed, NFT issuers would be required to publish a whitepaper detailing all of the specifics concerning the underlying protocol as well as all relevant details. Additionally, it would prevent the issuers from making misleading or overly optimistic claims regarding the NFTs future worth.
Ultimately, many in the crypto and NFT community believe that this is a positive development as MiCA has the potential to finally eliminate scams and other kinds of fraudulent entities which would hence shift the focus to worthwhile and profitable projects which provide real value.
FTX Predicts An End To Crypto Winter
FTX.US President, Brett Harrison, recently explained why he believes the ongoing crypto winter could be ending sooner rather than later.
According to him, the new Coinbase and BlackRock partnership is a strong indicator of the crypto winter coming to an end, citing the huge impact of rapidly growing institutional demand regarding cryptocurrencies and other digital assets.
Moreover, Brett strongly believes that now is the time to continue building and developing the crypto and blockchain sector so as to have the necessary tools and capital for when investors eventually resume trading heavily in cryptocurrencies once more.
Lastly, when asked about the number of layoffs made by notable companies like Google, Microsoft, Robinhood and Coinbase, Brett stated that having additional employees does not necessarily lead to more growth, and that this is a lesson that every company should learn prior to the market finally getting back on track.
The Goerli Testnet Merge On Ethereum Completed
The Goerli testnet merge was finally completed earlier today at approximately 1:45 AM UTC, thereby finishing the final trial run for Ethereum's Merge event.
The testnet merge, which included the Goerli testnet merging with the Prater testnet (a PoS Beacon Chain), is the last test run before the Merge. When Goerli reached a total difficulty of 10,790,000, the merge with Prater officially occurred.
The Goerli testnet merge is the clearest indication thus far that Ethereum's highly anticipated Merge event, which will involve the transition to a Proof-of-Stake network, will indeed occur this fall. During last month's Consensus Layer Call, Ethereum Foundation member Tim Beiko stated that September 19th is the tentative date that everyone should be marking on their calendars.
If successful, the Merge will have long-term implications for Ethereum including paving the way for sharding, significantly decreasing energy usage, and bolstering ETH's price. In a more general sense, the crypto industry would also benefit from the Merge as JPMorgan analysts claim that it could provide a strong basis for the market going forward.
More Than 75,000 USDC In Crypto Funds Frozen
Circle, the creator of the USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin, has frozen more than 75,000 USDC in funds connected to the 44 Tornado Cash addresses sanctioned by the United States Treasury Departments Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list.
Tornado Cash is a dApp that hides the history of previous crypto transactions on the Ethereum blockchain. Presently, Tornado Cashs smart contract addresses hold an estimated $437 million in assets, including wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC), Ethereum and stablecoins. Due to this, issuers are expected to try and prevent such assets from being traded or redeemed.
The digital currency mixers Ethereum and USDC smart contract addresses on the SDN list are hence not allowed for U.S individuals, businesses, and any other entity. Moreover, penalties for willful non-compliance could range from anywhere between $50,000 to $10,000,000 in fines along with 10 to 30 years in prison.
To make matters worse, Tornado Cash's new sanctions could even complicate simple interactions like Gitcoin donations, project work, and withdrawing or depositing from smart contracts as they could all be interpreted as violations from now on.