Senator Wendy Rogers Wants To Make Bitcoin Legal Tender In Arizona

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Haider Jamal
January 29,2023

Arizona State Senator Wendy Rogers has introduced numerous crypto-related bills in the past, with the most recent one being to make Bitcoin (BTC) legal tender in the state. This marks a new trend in the United States wherein many government officials have realized that, despite their best efforts to curb the booming industry, crypto and its associated components (NFTs, blockchain, the metaverse, and so on) are not going anywhere.

What happened?

The right-wing senator tweeted that she has already launched her crypto bills and that her state senate Republican colleagues Jeff Weninger and J.D. Mesnard have also co-sponsored the bills, one which seeks to make the flagship crypto legal tender.

According to the bill, Bitcoin is defined as a fully decentralized, P2P virtual currency in which a record of transactions has to be maintained at all times through the blockchain and that new units of this digital currency are generated via the computational solution of mathematical problems. The bill also clarified that Bitcoin operates independently of any central bank, intermediary, or third party.

Another bill would permit state agencies to enter into a deal with a crypto issuer to offer a viable procedure of accepting cryptocurrencies as payment for various purposes such as civil penalties, fines, charges, rates, rent, taxes, revenue, special assessments, and any other financial obligation.

In 2022, Rogers had introduced a similar bill in Arizona to make BTC legal tender, however she was denied. She would later tweet that centralized digital money controlled by central bankers is equivalent to financial slavery, and that a truly decentralized currency, like Bitcoin, is synonymous with liberty, the very basis upon which the country was built.

Bitcoin becoming mainstream?

Despite a tumultuous year for crypto in 2022, which saw many incidents like the collapse of Terra and FTX, interest in crypto and crypto-related products has only continued to increase. Many major names in several industries like Emirates, Samsung, JPMorgan, Microsoft, Starbucks, and more have expressed interest in either crypto or the underlying technology behind it and its related components.

El Salvador became the inaugural nation to accept Bitcoin as legal tender alongside the United States Dollar in September 2021. Since then, the country has bought thousands of BTC for its treasury, led by pro-crypto president Nayib Bukele who also announced in November that El Salvador is buying Bitcoin on a daily basis and that the country will be using geothermal energy to power Bitcoin City.







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March 28,2023

CFTC Sues Binance And Changpeng Zhao Over Regulatory Violations

The U.S. CFTC (Commodity Futures Trading Commission) has filed a lawsuit against Binance and CEO Changpeng Zhao for allegedly violating trading regulations. The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Illinois.

Binance reportedly failed to meet its regulatory obligations, according to the CFTC, by not being able to properly register with the derivatives regulator. Since 2021, the crypto exchange has been the subject of a CFTC investigation.

In February, the exchange acknowledged that it would most likely face regulatory action in the U.S. and that it had already been working with regulators to alleviate some concerns.

Binance has additionally been investigated by the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) and federal prosecutors, who have questioned whether the exchange has indeed complied with the proper AML and KYC policies. Correspondingly, the U.S. SEC is also looking into whether Binance gave local traders access to unregistered securities.

However, not everyone is supportive of the actions taken by the likes of the CFTC and SEC, as with the recent failures of banks such as SVB (Silicon Valley Bank), many have instead started embracing crypto.

In fact, Cathie Wood believes Bitcoin will skyrocket in value if the trust in the traditional financial system continues to erode. The ARK Invest CEO claims that the decentralized nature of crypto and its scarcity will attract capital seeking a superior store of value to what has previously been available.

March 26,2023

UAE Announces CBDC Strategy As Work Begins On Digital Dirham

As the United Arab Emirates (UAE) prepares its core infrastructure for the future of finance, the UAE Central Bank has started implementing its central bank digital currency (CBDC) strategy, the Digital Dirham. A CBDC is a digital representation of government-issued currency. They are comparable to cryptocurrencies in that their value is determined by the local monetary authority and is equal to the value of the corresponding fiat currency.

In a statement last week, the regulator stated that it had signed an agreement with Abu Dhabi based G42 Cloud and R3 (a digital finance services provider) to successfully become the primary infrastructure and technology providers for the eventual rollout of the new CBDC.

What issues will the CBDC solve?

The Digital Dirham seeks to solve the main recurring problems of both domestic and cross-border payments, in addition to improving financial inclusion as well as the eventual transition to a fully cashless society. The CBDC will also look to help strengthen the payment infrastructure in the UAE by adding new channels and enhancing accessibility.

The CBDC strategy, which is just one of nine initiatives launched by the Central Bank in February, will reportedly further position and solidify the country as a leading global financial hub, according to Khaled Balama, Governor of the UAE Central Bank.

The launch of the CBDC strategy is a significant step forward in the evolution of money and payments in the country, and the Digital Dirham will hence play a significant role in accelerating this journey and promoting financial inclusion going forward.

The UAE continues to impress

The Reserve Bank of India and the UAE Central Bank recently signed an initial agreement to enhance collaboration and empower innovation in financial products and services, part of which includes proof-of-concept and pilots of a bilateral central bank digital currency bridge to facilitate cross-border CBDC remittances and trade.

According to the UAE Central Bank, the main goal is to ensure that the country is ready and able to integrate payment infrastructures with future potential tokenization options which could also involve the tokenization of both financial as well as non-financial activities.

Why CBDCs?

There is a recurring argument that CBDCs offer some semblance of stability in the volatile cryptocurrency market. They mitigate the risks associated with crypto use and provide a reliable means of exchanging digital assets.

CBDCs are hence often thought of as a risk-free form of digital money that is issued and guaranteed by the central bank which also serves as a safe, cost-effective, and reliable form of payment as well as long term store of value. However, many have argued against this viewpoint by claiming that CBDCs have their own risks as well.

Regardless, central banks around the world are actively looking into the development of digital currencies, as cryptocurrencies continue to gain popularity as an asset class among retail and institutional investors. In fact, as per the US-based think tank Atlantic Council, 65 countries are already in late stages of CBDC development as of March 1st. According to the report, the UAE is one of 18 countries which have made the most progress in CBDCs by 2023, joining the likes of Australia, Brazil, China, Canada, India, Japan, Kazakhstan, Montenegro, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, and the United Kingdom.

March 25,2023

Do Kwon Finally Apprehended In Montenegro After Months Of Being On The Run

Do Kwon, the fugitive crypto boss responsible for the infamous collapse of the Terra (LUNA) ecosystem, was recently apprehended in Montenegro, according to South Korean police.

Earlier this year, US regulators charged Mr. Kwon and his company Terraform Labs with masterminding a multibillion dollar cryptocurrency asset securities fraud which led to a huge crash in the market.

Last September, South Korean authorities issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Kwon, believing Terraform Labs had breached capital market guidelines. They believed he was in Serbia and sent officials to Belgrade to negotiate, despite the fact that the two countries do not have an extradition treaty. According to Elliptic, investors in TerraUSD and LUNA lost an estimated $42 billion globally.

Do Kwon has repeatedly denied being in hiding but also never revealed where he was. The disgraced crypto executive was allegedly traveling under a false name and using forged documents. South Korean police confirmed Mr Kwon as the suspect in Montenegro on Friday after his fingerprints matched official records.

March 24,2023

Leading VC Firm Successfully Closes $1.2 Million Seed Round

Contango Digital Assets has successfully closed its $1.2 million seed round for its parent business to establish Web3 infrastructure and spread awareness for Contango as a top investment firm going forward.

Thus far, Contango has deployed over $7 million to support more than 50 Web3 teams, with plans to at least double that figure this year. Unsurprisingly, the seed round has piqued the interest of a diverse group of investors, including Family Office, Venture Capital, and HNW Angel investors.

This round was a catalyst for Contango, as it enables everyone involved to bet on the the unprecedented growth of this booming industry while establising a viable presence as one of the top rising VCs in the Web3 space, said Contango Digital Assets Co-Founder Mike Grantis.

Fellow Co Founder Josh Field further clarified that the team envisions a future in which they can provide reliable avenues for all levels of sophisticated investors to gain access to competitive Web3 private markets that are typically only available to large funds.

Contango intends to accomplish this by consistently innovating on the existing infrastructure available to investors and developing systems that increase transparency in this process. This seed round will therefore act as the aforementioned catalyst to successfully execute that vision.

In the Web3 private investment landscape, the firm is currently developing a SaaS platform which shall add transparency to the complicated private capital markets while simultaneously leveling the playing field for angel investors.
 

March 22,2023

New CBDC Ban Suggested By Florida Governor

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has introduced new legislation to protect residents from a national CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) in accordance with the new Uniform Commercial Code.

The bill, if passed, would also protect Floridians from a global digital currency issued by a foreign central bank. Florida, according to DeSantis, will not support the deterioration of financial freedom.

Governor DeSantis has also urged other governors to fight surveillance and control from the federal government by enacting similar legislation under their commercial codes.

Tarren Bragdon from The Foundation for Government Accountability stated that he supported the bill and was opposed to a government bureaucracy which was clearly out of control.

Elsewhere, The Federal Reserve of the United States recently announced that its FedNow payments system would go live in July 2023.

FedNow, widely regarded as a forerunner to a programmable CBDC, will aspire to settle payments quickly between merchants, consumers, and banks. It is worth noting that blockchain technology is not used in the settlements.

Fed Vice Chair Lael Brainard stated in May of last year that FedNow serves nearly the same purpose as a CBDC. A CBDC, on the other hand, would be legal tender instead of a real-time payment system.

March 19,2023

Arbitrum Officially Announces Intentions Of DAO Transition And New Token Airdrop

Arbitrum has finally announced its plans of getting a token. According to the Arbitrum Foundation, ARB will be the official name of the new token, and it shall reportedly be airdropped to community members on March 23rd, 2023.

As per the Arbitrum Foundation, ARB will therefore mark the official transition of Arbirtrum into a DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization), which means that ARB holders shall be allowed to vote on key decisions governing Arbitrum One and Arbitrum Nova. Both of these are networks which enable users to transact on the Ethereum blockchain at faster and relatively lower fees.

Important details

Arbitrum DAO will be given the authority to regulate key decisions at the core protocol level, such as from how the core technology is updated to how revenue can be used to support the ecosystem. Moreover, while the Arbitrum Foundation intends to distribute a relatively large number of tokens (44%), Offchain Labs claims that the ARB token would make the Arbitrum ecosystem much more decentralized than alternative scaling chains.

The most exciting part however is certainly the decentralization aspect, in the sense that Offchain Labs would no longer have any control over the future of this chain, according to Offchain Labs CEO Steven Goldfeder. Arbitrum collaborated with Nansen, a crypto analytics firm, in February to monitor user activity in order to determine who can qualify for ARB tokens.

Additionally, users of Arbitrum can check their eligibility for the airdrop and also claim tokens if they qualify. They are advised to exercise caution when claiming their tokens though as scammers often rely on airdrops to phish people through spoof websites and other schemes.

Time is of the essence

Arbitrum has nearly $3.7 billion invested in its Ethereum rollup network, Aribtrum One, making it the undisputed market leader in a crowded field of rival chains. Arbitrum also controls 55% of the Ethereum Layer 2 market, according to an analytics website called L2 Beat. Since the network went live in 2021, anticipation for an Arbitrum token has been at an all-time high as the project is one of the most noteworthy crypto projects without a token.

Optimism, the main competitor to Arbitrum in the Ethereum scaling space, also launched its own token nearly a year ago when it transitioned to DAO governance. Arbitrum One and Optimism are both examples of optimistic rollup networks. They are blockchains that run alongside Ethereum, group together large numbers of transactions, and then write those transactions to the Ethereum ledger in bulk, reducing the fees required to execute those transactions individually.

March 18,2023

Microsoft Reportedly Testing New Built-In Crypto Wallet

Microsoft is reportedly working on an Ethereum crypto wallet built into its Edge browser, allowing users to send and receive crypto and NFTs without the need for additional extensions. The wallet is currently in limited testing and is a non-custodial solution, providing users complete control over their funds.

According to BleepingComputer, this experimental Edge browser feature was discovered by the pseudonymous software documenter Albacore. Microsoft, in collaboration with Consensys, shall also provide a built-in crypto swap feature between $ETH, $DAI, $UNI, $USDC, and $USDT.

Moreover, the public keys of the Edge Crypto Wallet enable users to receive payments and they must also keep secret private keys in order to authorize transactions. The wallet appears to be in its early stages for now, with access granted only to Microsoft Edge Dev Channel users.

Also, Microsoft emphasized that during the onboarding process, it would not have access to passwords or recovery keys. To secure and recover their crypto wallet, testers must create a password and a 12-word recovery phrase.

When the onboarding process is finished, the wallet generates an Ethereum address for receiving funds, and multiple Ethereum accounts are also supported by the Edge Crypto Wallet. Users can also connect to dApps and read the latest crypto news. Lastly, there are some indications that support for a Bitcoin wallet may be added in the future.

March 16,2023

Uniswap Officially Expands To BNB After Successful Governance Proposal

Uniswap, the biggest decentralized exchange protocol by trade volume, has launched on BNB Chain, a decentralized EVM-compatible smart contract blockchain founded by Binance. The move follows a successful governance proposal to deploy on BNB Chain in February, as well as contentious governance deliberations to determine a bridge solution for the deployment.

With this expansion, Uniswap Protocol users will be able to trade and swap tokens across the network by taking advantage of the comparatively low transaction fees of BNB Chain.

Also, with the flourishing and devoted community of BNB Chain, as well as its scalability and accessibility, it has quickly become a launchpad for all things Web3, where protocols looking to reach a larger audience can grow, says Alvin Kan, the Director of Growth for BNB Chain.

He said that the team is encouraged by the continued dedication of Uniswap to providing value to its users and laying the groundwork for the future of decentralization.

March 15,2023

Is Crypto Indeed A Safer Option Than Banks Now

With the SVB debacle, and with the recent signs of an apparent bull run on the horizon, it is now possible to conclude that crypto has resolved many of its previous issues, whereas fiat has not.

As a result, crypto may indeed be a safer option at this point, which both depositors and investors should consider as they are reminded yet again that their deposits belong to the bank, and that the bank can do whatever it wants with that money, including investing in crashing bonds which result in depositor losses.

Moreover, despite the fact that the largest US banks are making over $100 billion in profits per quarter, if they are indeed gambling in the bond or stock markets, even huge profits may not be enough. This was the case of SVB, which collapsed with tens of billions in deposits and, crucially, no one really knows why this happened with absolute certainty.

In contrast, not only is everyone in crypto in charge of their own assets but the community also quickly identifies what is and is not affected in these types of situations, as well as how far it might all reverberate. Crypto is thus now arguably safer, whereas in fiat we do not yet know the full effects of the rapid increases in debt costs, which have most likely not yet fully cleared through the system either.

March 12,2023

Crypto Community Returning To Its Roots After SVB Goes Down

The March 10th collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) sparked FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) throughout the crypto community, prompting many to return to crypto roots, namely, reviving the Bitcoin (BTC) white paper published just weeks after the 2008 Lehman Brothers meltdown.

There is an entire generation of builders who only know about Lehman and the financial crisis and dismiss Bitcoin. Now though, their eyes are wide open, said Messari Founder and CEO Ryan Selkis.

Some attribute this disaster to rising interest rates within the U.S. Over the last year, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark rate to more than 4.5%, the highest level since 2007. In the United States, the inflation rate was 6.4% in January.

The failure of Silicon Valley Bank has also impacted numerous crypto and tech companies. SVB was actually about to close its doors when Circle, the issuer of USD Coin (USDC), initiated a wire transfer to withdraw its funds.

However, Circle revealed that it was unable to withdraw $3.3 billion of its $40 billion in SVB reserves, resulting in a sell-off and the price of the stablecoin falling below its $1 peg. Other stablecoins such as BUSD and USDT have maintained their 1:1 peg with the U.S Dollar, for the time being at least.

March 12,2023

SEC Continues To Lose Public Support As Voyager And Binance US Deal Gets Finalized

Following a favorable bankruptcy court ruling, Binance US is reportedly proceeding with its intentions of obtaining the $1.3 billion assets of the downtrodden crypto lender Voyager. Judge Michael Wiles will therefore sign a court order authorizing the sale and the associated $20 million payout plan to Voyager customers.

What happened?

Judge Wiles overruled the eleventh-hour objection from the SEC that parts of the $1.3 billion deal might violate securities laws. The Judge was unwilling to place the entire case on indefinite hold while regulators determine whether they believe there are indeed issues with the transaction and plan or not.

Moreover, instead of proceeding with the sale, Voyager may choose to liquidate on its own and distribute the proceeds to customers, according to Brian Tichenor, the lead investment banker for the company. The United States will also reportedly give customers an additional $100 million.

In a court filing in January, the embattled crypto lender Voyager estimated that customers would receive approximately half of the amount owed, but during a court hearing on March 2nd, Voyager attorney Christine A. Okike stated that customers would receive approximately 73% based on recent crypto asset prices.

Elsewhere, in the initial appeal hearing for Grayscale and its Bitcoin spot ETF, judges expressed concerns about the reasoning provided by the SEC, claiming that the agency had failed to explain why Grayscale was in the wrong here. They also questioned why futures-based Bitcoin ETFs were permitted while spot-based ETFs were not.

The SEC losing its touch?

The United States SEC has taken a number of actions against crypto companies and individuals over the years, which has understandably sparked outrage among many in the community. Subpoenas, fines, and lawsuits have been issued against numerous companies and individuals who have been charged with promoting unregistered securities, the most famous example of which would be the still ongoing legal battle with Ripple.

Due to this, many in the crypto community have begun to view the SEC as overly aggressive and hostile to the industry. Some have even accused the SEC of overreaching and interfering with innovation, while others believe the agency is simply attempting to protect traditional financial institutions from any and all kinds of disruptive forces.

In any case, plenty of investors have started leaving the United States in favor of more crypto-friendly countries like the UAE which has only contributed to the brain drain of the country, and this will continue unless the SEC changes its stance towards crypto going forward.

March 10,2023

A Key Pillar Of The Crypto Industry Falls As Silvergate Shuts Down

Silvergate Capital Corporation, the holding company for Silvergate Bank, has officially announced that it will cease operations entirely. The bank stated that it would be voluntarily liquidated in an orderly fashion and in accordance with applicable regulatory procedures.

The bank further indicated that all customer deposits shall be fully repaid, and that it was currently determining how to resolve claims while maintaining the value of its assets.

Silvergate informed the SEC at the start of the month that it was possibly less than well-capitalized and that it was reassessing its business. Moreover, the bank also admitted that it was unsure of its ability to continue operations going forward.

Needless to say, the news has sent shockwaves through the cryptocurrency industry, with major firms like Coinbase, Circle, CBOE, Paxos, and Galaxy Digital all quickly announcing that they were halting transactions to and from Silvergate.

Not long afterwards, Silvergate also announced the closure of the Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN), which previously allowed users to exchange government-issued currencies for crypto.