February 09,2024

North Korea Accused By UN For Stealing $3 Billion Worth Of Crypto Assets

United Nations (UN) sanctions monitors have recently accused North Korea of engaging in a significant theft of cryptocurrency assets, amassing $3 billion through cyberattacks. An independent panel of sanctions monitors disclosed that North Korea persistently flouted regulations despite international sanctions, by advancing its nuclear arsenal and generating nuclear fissile materials.

The monitors also observed that the country conducted ballistic missile launches, deployed a tactical nuclear attack submarine, and successfully launched a satellite into orbit. The UN report identifies 58 suspected cyberattacks on cryptocurrency-related companies between 2017 to 2023, valued at about $3 billion. These cyberattacks purportedly served as vital funding sources for WMD development in North Korea.

 

The Context

The report alleges that hacking groups affiliated with the Reconnaissance General Bureau, the primary foreign intelligence agency in North Korea, orchestrated these cyber intrusions. The monitors underscored the growing trend of North Korea targeting defense companies and supply chains, as well as collaborating with other entities by sharing infrastructure and tools.

Furthermore, the UN raises concerns about rumors of North Korea supplying conventional arms and munitions, which violate existing sanctions. Although the UN report is scheduled for public release later this month or early next, North Korean representatives have yet to respond to requests for comments on the allegations made by the sanctions monitors.

 

Mounting Tensions

The Security Council, typically at an impasse on this issue, is unlikely to take immediate action against North Korea. China and Russia have advocated for easing the sanctions to encourage North Korea to return to denuclearization talks. In addition, Russia and North Korea have recently vowed to enhance military relations, although both countries deny accusations of weapons supply.

Regarding illicit trade, the report indicates that despite the lockdown imposed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, North Korea has started to gradually reemerge. The UN report demonstrates signs of trade recovery, with higher trade volumes in 2023 compared to 2022.

Notably, the UN monitors noted the reappearance of foreign consumer goods, including potential luxury items prohibited under Security Council sanctions. The sanctions monitors also probed reports of numerous North Korean nationals working overseas, violating sanctions, particularly in information technology, restaurants, and construction sectors. These individuals were found to earn income benefiting the North Korean government.

 

February 08,2024

Disney Doubles Down On Building A Metaverse Via Epic Games Partnership

Walt Disney Co. is investing $1.5 billion in Epic Games for a stake in its equity, aiming to create what it terms a persistent universe. This move follows the decision by Disney to close its metaverse division less than a year ago.

In a statement on February 7th, Disney announced a long-term venture, pending regulatory approval, to develop a gaming experience that integrates with Fortnite, the ultra popular title by Epic Games. This collaboration aims to establish a comprehensive games and entertainment universe, enabling users to interact with the various intellectual properties of Disney through playing, viewing, purchasing, and engaging with content, characters, and narratives.

 

A Significant Collaboration

Tim Sweeney, the founder and CEO of Epic Games, emphasized the intention to construct a persistent, open, and interoperable ecosystem. Disney CEO Bob Iger hailed it as the most significant foray by Disney into the gaming realm to date. Disney also highlighted the opportunity for players and fans to craft their own narratives and experiences. Although specifics regarding the launch date of this metaverse-like project were not disclosed, it was mentioned that Unreal Engine would power the envisioned universe.

The initiative comes after Disney chose to dismantle its metaverse division in March 2023, which involved laying off approximately 50 employees as part of cost-cutting measures. The company had previously obtained a patent for a virtual-world simulator in a real-world venue. Epic Games, despite earlier setbacks, remains enthusiastic about the potential of the metaverse. However, Epic faced its own challenges, including a significant workforce reduction of around 16% in September, attributed to overestimations of revenue by metaverse-related ventures.

 

Getting Back On Track

Epic Games has prior experience in collaborative projects, having received a $2 billion investment via Sony and KIRKBI in April 2022 to develop a metaverse. This collaboration led to the creation of the open-world survival game LEGO Fortnite.

The announcement of this partnership coincides with the release of the first-quarter 2024 earnings report of Disney, following a string of underperforming box office and streaming releases in the previous year. Despite revenue growth remaining stagnant compared to the same quarter last year, Disney slightly exceeded various revenue estimates by Wall Street. The company also declared a dividend increase of 50% to 45 cents per share, prompting a nearly 7% surge in its after-hours trading price to over $105.

 

February 08,2024

Difficulties Mount As Bakkt Deals With Cash Shortage

The crypto firm Bakkt, supported by the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) and introduced with much excitement in 2019, has issued a warning about its financial stability for the next 12 months. In a recent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission on February 7th, Bakkt amended its quarterly report, highlighting a section on risk factors indicating a potential inability to sustain operations.

 

Encountering Difficulties

Established in 2018 amid significant anticipation by Intercontinental Exchange, owner of the NYSE, Bakkt was initially perceived as a gateway for institutional investors to enter the Bitcoin market during a downturn.

A Bitcoin investor with a substantial following questioned how Bakkt encountered difficulties amidst the rise in crypto markets. However, Bakkt now expresses doubt regarding its cash reserves and their adequacy to support operations in the upcoming year. The company cites uncertainties related to its expansion into new markets and the evolving landscape of crypto assets, acknowledging its inability to generate sustainable operating profits and adequate cash flows. Its future prospects hinge on the ability to raise capital.

 

Looking Ahead

Bakkt discloses intentions to potentially raise funds by issuing registered securities in public markets to fulfill its long-term objectives. A newly filed amended Form S-3, once effective, will authorize the firm to issue up to $150 million in registered securities to secure additional capital. Regarding the utilization of proceeds through the sale, Bakkt maintains broad discretion, specifying a focus on working capital and general corporate purposes.

As a digital asset platform and payments app facilitating institutional transactions with crypto assets, Bakkt has also formed strategic partnerships with entities such as Starbucks and AWS. Despite going public in 2021 with a surge in share prices, reaching over $40, Bakkt saw its stock experience a 7.6% decline in after-hours trading when it plummeted to $1.34. This marks a 37% decrease since the beginning of the year.

 

February 07,2024

Janet Yellen In Hot Water As Congress Questions Recent Decisions

US Congress members have openly challenged the call made by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen regarding increased oversight of cryptocurrencies, emphasizing the limitations of the Howey Test in safeguarding crypto consumers in a recent letter addressed to her.

The correspondence, endorsed by House Financial Services Committee Chair Patrick McHenry, House Agriculture Committee Chair Glenn Thompson, along with Rep. French Hill and Rep. Dusty Johnson, requests detailed elucidation by Yellen on shaping the regulatory framework regarding digital assets, following her recent pronouncement.

 

Clarity Is Needed

Congress seeks clarification on the role of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). Notably, they have voiced concerns regarding the efficacy of the Howey Test, utilized to ascertain the classification of a transaction as an investment contract and hence a security. Congress is questioning whether the Howey Test provides adequate consumer protection.

The lawmakers have contended that according to SEC Chairman Gensler, the vast majority of crypto tokens likely meet the investment contract test. However, the final investment contract analysis is backward-looking, determined by a court after the transaction has concluded. How does this reactive legal authority ensure sufficient customer protection, especially in the absence of comprehensive legislation, the lawmakers asked.

Moreover, Congress has underscored that the current regulatory framework does not encompass a significant portion of the crypto-asset ecosystem, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. They have inquired of the Financial Stability Oversight Council (FSOC) whether these cryptocurrencies are regarded as securities. Led by Yellen, the FSOC convenes key financial regulators to oversee potential risks and uphold the stability of the financial.

 

Addressing Concerns

Congress members have additionally raised concerns about regulatory gaps in spot markets for digital assets not classified as securities. They are querying whether the Commodity Futures Trading Commission should extend its jurisdiction to include these spot markets, considering its existing authority over certain aspects of non-security digital asset transactions.

In any case, Congress anticipates Yellen to respond to these concerns by February 20th. Yellen has also been actively advocating for stricter regulations post the collapse of FTX. During a recent testimony before the House Financial Services Committee, she cautioned about the risks associated with crypto platforms and stablecoins, urging Congress to enact stringent regulations for the crypto industry.

 

February 07,2024

Solana Once Again Experiences A Network Outage

Solana (SOL) experienced its first network outage of 2024 during the early New York trading session on February 6th. The blackout on its mainnet network, which is still in beta, had a significant impact on leveraged traders and other users. The network remained offline amid a request for validators to install the new software update before rebooting the system. Following a 5-hour disruption, the Solana network is now operational again.

Solana engineers are investigating the outage and have opted for a new release of validator software to address the issue that halted the cluster. At the time of the initial report, the network was still inactive, with a request for validators to install the new software update before restarting the network. This led to a temporary halt in block progression and validation on the network.

 

Damage Control

The network delay led various exchanges and services reliant on SOL to suspend operations. Allegedly, the outage affected SOL and tokens within its broader ecosystem, such as Jupiter (JUP) and BONK. Some exchanges, like CoinEx, notified users of SOL service suspensions due to network issues. The network instability also impacted the price of SOL before stabilizing a few minutes later. Notably, the price hit $92.88 before a slight rebound following assurance of resolving the network issues.

During the same network blackout period, leveraged SOL traders, particularly those with long positions, faced significant liquidation. According to Coinglass data, $1.36 million worth of long positions were liquidated within the first hour of the network outage.

 

Unresolved Network Issues

Despite the network outage, the aforementioned price rebound represented notable stability during the first network outage for Solana in 2024. Previous downtimes have impacted sentiment, influencing price movements. However, the recurrence of these network issues is concerning. Since its launch in March 2020, Solana has experienced multiple outages, prompting core developers and engineers to restart it several times.

Additionally, Solana gained prominence due to high traction via its native token, SOL, and the promise of faster and cheaper transactions compared to Ethereum. Despite being hailed as an Ethereum killer, frequent network outages have forced many to rethink their opinions as to whether Solana can remain as a serious competitor alongside Cardano, Polygon, and others.

 

February 06,2024

Haru Invest Executives Arrested And Detained By South Korean Prosecutors

South Korean prosecutors recently announced the arrest and detention of three Haru Invest crypto yield platform executives, including both co-CEOs. The prosecutors in Seoul accused them of misappropriating approximately 1.1 trillion Korean Won (approximately $825 million) in cryptocurrencies through about 16,000 users, according to the Seoul Southern District Prosecutor Office.

 

What Happened

Haru allegedly directed most client deposits through a single individual, falsely promoting that the funds were managed using risk-free distributed investment techniques. The platform reportedly enticed users with an Earn Plus product offering up to a 12% yield.

Investigations into Haru and crypto lender Delio began after both companies suddenly halted withdrawals on June 14th, 2023. Delio attributed the suspension to the abrupt stop of deposits and withdrawals at Haru Invest earlier that day, with which Delio had previously collaborated. Simultaneously, Haru filed a criminal complaint against the consignment operator on the same day, accusing it of deceiving the company with false reports, resulting in a loss of over $260 million during the infamous FTX collapse.

 

Damage Control

Last month, South Korean prosecutors issued an arrest warrant for an individual named Bang, who is a majority shareholder in B&S Holdings. Admittedly, Bang is not the full name of the individual in question as this information remains undisclosed due to privacy rules in South Korea.

Nevertheless, the prosecutor stated in a press release that they will thoroughly identify the true nature of the alleged crime through any and all means via a comprehensive investigation, while also doing the best to recover damages and return criminal proceeds.

 

February 06,2024

GoDaddy Partners Up With ENS To Connect Web Domains Via Blockchain

Ethereum Name Service (ENS) and domain registrar GoDaddy have joined forces, enabling users to connect their domain names to ENS without incurring extra expenses or requiring technical expertise. This partnership aims to unite the traditional DNS protocol, utilized by conventional websites, with blockchain-based names.

 

A Significant Partnership

The integration of DNS and ENS will grant more than 20 million GoDaddy users access to ENS blockchain infrastructure benefits, including the ability to receive cryptocurrency payments. ENS, a widely used crypto naming protocol, allows users to link human-readable names, like bob.eth, to intricate Ethereum addresses, resembling the functionality of DNS in website URLs.

GoDaddy highlighted that this collaboration enables users to link their domains to ENS-compatible crypto wallets, simplifying the receipt of crypto payments. According to Nick Johnson, the founder of ENS, merging ENS names with GoDaddy domains will streamline user interaction with web domains, combining the familiarity of DNS with the potential of blockchain technology.

 

Understanding ENS

ENS is a decentralized domain name system built on the Ethereum blockchain. It serves as a naming system for Ethereum addresses, allowing users to associate human-readable names with complex Ethereum addresses. Instead of using a long and intricate string of characters to represent a wallet address, users can create and utilize more user-friendly names under the .eth top-level domain.

ENS operates similarly to traditional DNS used on the Internet. In the case of ENS, it links Ethereum addresses to easily readable names, making it more convenient for users to send and receive cryptocurrency. Users can register and manage domain names through the ENS system, and these names can be used for various purposes, such as receiving payments in cryptocurrency. The decentralized nature of ENS means that users have more control over their domain names, and the system is not controlled by any central authority.

To overcome previous obstacles such as high gas fees, the collaboration introduces new smart contracts for a fee-free DNS-to-ENS domain linking process, enhancing the transition experience. ENS continues its efforts to integrate with the traditional web, including ongoing initiatives like supporting (.box) domains that function similarly to standard internet domains.

 

February 06,2024

Coin Metrics Integrates Network Data Metrics on TradingView

BOSTON (February 6, 2024) Coin Metrics, the leading provider of crypto financial intelligence, is pleased to announce that its community data product suite has been successfully integrated into TradingView, offering TradingView users a comprehensive cryptoasset analytics experience.

TradingView, a charting and analysis platform serving more than 50 million traders and investors, now offers Coin Metrics Network Data Pro data for digital asset trade information.

"We are delighted to bring Coin Metrics robust crypto network data to TradingView users," said Tim Rice, co-founding CEO of Coin Metrics. "This relationship reflects our ongoing commitment to provide the highest quality data to the crypto community. We believe that by seamlessly integrating our network data products with TradingView, we can offer traders and investors an unparalleled analytics experience so they are empowered to make informed decisions in the evolving digital asset space."

As part of this dynamic collaboration, Coin Metrics will source TradingView user feedback to ensure continuous improvement and alignment with trader needs and TradingView will continue to explore Coin Metrics data use cases to make data increasingly accessible and understandable.

"At TradingView, we consider Coin Metrics more than just a data source" said Pierce Crosby, General Manager at TradingView. "Coin Metics is a team of highly specialized digital asset analysts and engineers, which is strategically important for us to have as a partner when it comes to sourcing new markets and building new digital asset use cases. We are happy to make such data more readily available to our global user base"

Coin Metrics data is relied on by many top financial services institutions, who have shown an increased interest in digital assets and have a need for trustworthy digital asset data to drive their decision-making as market participants. CM Network Data Pro is a data feed of insightful, aggregate network data metrics for all top cryptoassets.

ABOUT COIN METRICS:

Coin Metrics is the leading provider of crypto financial intelligence, offering network data, market data, indexes and network risk solutions to the most prestigious institutions touching cryptoassets. Established in 2017, Coin Metrics is committed to building the crypto economy on a foundation of truth, providing authentic and accurate data with the highest standards of clarity and precision. Coin Metrics puts unparalleled insight and accuracy into crypto data and analytics so that companies can accelerate value creation and minimize risk. For more information, visit www.coinmetrics.io.

ABOUT TRADINGVIEW:
TradingView is the world's most popular network of traders and investors. Powered by real-time data and market-leading charting and analysis software, more than 50 million people use TradingView to follow global assets, find trading ideas, chat with others, spot trends, and place trades directly with their favorite brokers. Visit www.tradingview.com or downloading the free TradingView mobile apps for iOS and Android. For your website or business, visit www.tradingview.com/widgets.

February 06,2024

Crypto Fundraising January 30 - February 5

On behalf of the Web3 community, we would like to extend our warmest congratulations to the companies that announced their success in fundraising between 30th January-5th February 2024. We are thrilled to see such tremendous support from all involved. Well done! 


Squid (Switzerland): Dive into the future of financial technology as Squid secured $4M in Series A funding, led by Polychain. Squid allows any token to be swapped between blockchains, and unlocks access to apps across chains in a single click.
Use Squid to build seamless user experiences that tap into cross-chain liquidity and scale to reach anyone with a crypto wallet, no matter what chain they're on.


BlokID (United States): BlokID pioneers advanced, blockchain-powered solutions for digital advertising. Their technology enhances attribution accuracy and upholds user privacy. The US-based startup has secured $1.25M in Seed funding from AppWorks to revolutionize identity verification.


Portal (United States): Breaking barriers! Portal, based in the United States, raised an impressive $34M in Seed funding, setting the stage for innovative breakthroughs.


Nebeus (United Kingdom): Nebeus takes a giant leap forward with $270M in Debt Financing, fueling their mission to redefine financial landscapes in the United Kingdom.
After several years of operating in the P2P space, Nebeus pivoted in its business model and shifted from P2P lending to centralized crypto-backed lending, with the mission to help people bring their crypto to traditional finance.


Plater Network: Plater Network is an independent enterprise and privately held company with a noble objective of building the decentralized technology of information flow and data transferring software.
The entire network will be based on the blockchain technology, which increases the number of benefits for users. Plater Network secured a $2M Grant to advance their endeavors.


Infrared Finance (Canada): Infrared Finance simplies Proof of Liquidity and serves as the main portal to the Berachain ecosystem. The company raised $2.5M in Seed funding led by Synergis Capital.


Gevulot announced a $6M Seed round with Variant. Explore the potential of this rising star in the tech and ZK Proofs landscape.


Cube Group, Inc. (United States): Cube Group secured $12M in Series A funding from 6th Man Ventures. Witness the evolution of this innovative venture in the tech space!


Gateway opens new doors with $23K in Funding Round. This is an NFT powered gaming and learning platform where users can play, go on adventures, and even partake in P2P. They can then earn rewards in NFTs and trade their rare items.


Exciting times ahead! Follow CryptoWeekly for regular updates about Web3 funding deals.

February 05,2024

Ripple Will Utilize XRP To Expand Cross Border Payment Services

Ripple, a key participant in real-time gross settlement systems, has revealed intentions to expand its Ripple Payments offerings throughout the United States, according to Senior Director W. Oliver Segovia.

 

Going Global

With most of its business conducted internationally, Ripple aims to utilize its global standing to enhance services in the U.S. market. The upcoming product updates are expected to capitalize on the pre-existing expertise of Ripple in blockchain technology and payments, presenting streamlined solutions for cross-border transactions within the U.S.

To kick off this initiative, Ripple will organize a gathering at its recently established headquarters in San Francisco. The event will include a panel discussion led by Brendan Berry and Pegah Soltani, product heads, moderated by U.S. Managing Director Joanie Xie. Chief Technology Officer David Schwartz will also contribute to a discussion regarding the Ripple blockchain as well as its payments outlook for 2024.

 

Keeping Up With The Times

In line with its expansion strategy, Ripple is actively recruiting in various global locations, including Bangalore, San Francisco, Toronto, and London. Ripple Payments is a service utilizing XRP as a bridge currency, offering advantages such as rapid transaction settlements within seconds, cost-effectiveness compared to conventional methods, transaction transparency through a public ledger, and security through a consensus mechanism.

Moreover, despite maintaining a relatively subdued presence in the U.S. for the past three years, Ripple plans to introduce fresh updates to its products driven by its money transmitter licenses (MTLs), encompassing a significant number of states.

As of the time of this writing, XRP is trading at around $0.5, according to CoinGecko.

 

February 05,2024

Cardano Experiences Substantial Progress And Processes Over 4 Million Transactions

Cardano, recognized for its research-oriented approach and environmentally friendly Proof-of-Stake (PoS) consensus, is witnessing substantial growth. The surge in transaction volumes, a diverse array of project launches, and active development within its ecosystem signify this expansion.

In December and January, Cardano processed over 4 million transactions, demonstrating a noteworthy uptick in on-chain activity. This development aligns with the overall goal of evolving into a scalable and sustainable blockchain for real-world applications.

 

Steady Progress

Beyond transaction processing, Cardano is attracting developers and projects. In the last two months, eight new projects debuted on Cardano, and an additional 17 are presently in development. This brings the total to 157 projects already launched and 1,320 in progress, indicating a vibrant and varied ecosystem.

The technological progress of Cardano is propelling its growth. The number of token policies on the platform also surged, resulting in the creation of 480,000 new native tokens. Furthermore, Plutus scripts, facilitating smart contracts on Cardano, experienced substantial growth, with both V1 and V2 scripts witnessing significant increases.

Project Catalyst, the community-driven funding initiative of Cardano, is similarly fostering engagement and innovation. In the second week of voting for Fund11, almost 5,000 wallets cast over 150,000 votes across 920 proposals seeking community funding. This active participation underscores the robust community support for Cardano.

 

Still A Ways To Go

Cardano, designed by Charles Hoskinson as a peer-reviewed blockchain, stands out with its Ouroboros PoS system. In contrast to Bitcoin, Cardano can execute transactions with a significantly smaller environmental footprint, thanks to its energy-efficient methodology.

Reflecting the positive sentiment, ADA saw a price increase of 1.3% in 24 hours and 7.4% in a week. While the report presents an optimistic outlook, it is essential to recognize the broader context. Cardano faces competition by established players like Ethereum and emerging blockchains. Regulatory uncertainty regarding cryptocurrencies remains a factor, and despite being touted as energy-efficient, the environmental impact of Cardano compared to other blockchains is still a subject of debate.

February 05,2024

Crypto Fundraising January 30th - February 5th

On behalf of the Web3 community, we would like to extend our warmest congratulations to the companies that announced their success in fundraising between 30th January-5th February 2024. We are thrilled to see such tremendous support from all involved.


Dive into the future of financial technology as Squid secured $4M in Series A funding, led by Polychain. Squid allows any token to be swapped between blockchains, and unlocks access to apps across chains in a single click.
Use Squid to build seamless user experiences that tap into cross-chain liquidity and scale to reach anyone with a crypto wallet, no matter what chain they're on.


BlokID pioneers advanced, blockchain-powered solutions for digital advertising. Their technology enhances attribution accuracy and upholds user privacy. The US-based startup has secured $1.25M in Seed funding from AppWorks to revolutionize identity verification.


Breaking barriers! Portal, based in the United States, raised an impressive $34M in Seed funding, setting the stage for innovative breakthroughs.


Nebeus takes a giant leap forward with $270M in Debt Financing, fueling their mission to redefine financial landscapes in the United Kingdom.
After several years of operating in the P2P space, Nebeus pivoted in its business model and shifted from P2P lending to centralized crypto-backed lending, with the mission to help people bring their crypto to traditional finance.


Plater Network is an independent enterprise and privately held company with a noble objective of building the decentralized technology of information flow and data transferring software.
The entire network will be based on the blockchain technology, which increases the number of benefits for users. Plater Network secured a $2M Grant to advance their endeavors.


Infrared Finance simplies Proof of Liquidity and serves as the main portal to the Berachain ecosystem. The company raised $2.5M in Seed funding led by Synergis Capital.


Gevulot announced a $6M Seed round with Variant. Explore the potential of this rising star in the tech and ZK Proofs landscape.


Cube Group secured $12M in Series A funding from 6th Man Ventures. Witness the evolution of this innovative venture in the tech space.


Gateway opens new doors with $23K in Funding Round. This is an NFT powered gaming and learning platform where users can play, go on adventures, and even partake in P2P. They can then earn rewards in NFTs and trade their rare items.

 








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