Tumultuous 2022 Wraps Up As 2023 Gets Underway, Meanwhile Crypto ATMs Continue To Skyrocket
Despite a turbulent year for the digital assets sector, the amount of crypto ATMs increased dramatically in 2022, according to new data.
The number of Bitcoin ATMs increased by a staggering 506% since January 2020, when there were just over 6,360 BTC ATMs, according to Coin ATM Radar, an ATM-tracking app. Moreover, the report finds that the Covid-19 pandemic aided market growth by increasing customer demand for advanced crypto ATMs.
Still, there were significant losses as well as crypto exchange trading volumes ended 2022 at their lowest level in two years. Last year, crypto prices also experienced a sharp decline, with Bitcoin trading around $16,000 in December in contrast to $47,000 in January.
Although 2022 had plenty of bad news, such as the collapse of Terra, FTX, Celsius, and 3AC, the community is hopfeul that 2023 will be the long-awaited break everyone is looking for and the eventual end of the bear market.
2022s Long List Of Losses In Crypto
In 2022, crypto-based projects were subjected to a slew of devastating hacks and exploits, making it the worst year ever for securing digital assets.
Overall, the frequency of crypto hacks increased dramatically this year, surpassing a record $3 billion in total funds lost, a significant increase from the $2 billion lost to hacks in 2021.
As such, here are the biggest hacks of 2022 along with the amount of funds lost:
1. Ronin Network ($625 Million)
2. FTX ($400 Million)
3. Wormhole ($325 Million)
4. Nomad ($190 Million)
5. Beanstalk Farms ($182 Million)
6. BNB Token Hub ($120 Million)
7. Mango Markets ($114 Million)
8. Horizon ($100 Million)
9. Qubit ($80 Million)
The year demonstrated how blackhat or malicious hackers are employing increasingly sophisticated strategies to exploit flaws in decentralized applications, which, like any other piece of software, may contain bugs.
Security cases involving cross-chain bridges and DeFi protocols stood out among the major crypto heists of 2022, causing damages totaling hundreds of millions of dollars in individual exploits. Hackers gained unauthorized access to and stole crypto assets by exploiting vulnerabilities in smart contracts.
Needless to say, security will continue to be among the top goals for everyone as we prepare for what 2023 has to offer.
Kraken Pulls Out Of Japan Again After Citing Undesirable Market Conditions
Notable crypto exchange Kraken has decided to close its operations in Japan for the second time after mentioning a strain on its resources in the face of a weak market.
In a blog post published on December 28th, Kraken announced that it has decided to cease operations in Japan and deregister from the Financial Services Agency by January 31st, 2023, as part of efforts to prioritize resources and investments going forward.
The exchange stated that current market conditions in Japan, combined with a weak crypto market globally, mean that the resources required to further expand business operations in the country cannot be justified as of this moment. Therefore, Kraken would no longer serve clients in Japan via Payward Asia.
Kraken appears to have prioritized cost-cutting in recent months. On November 30th, the exchange made one of its most controversial decisions to reduce its global workforce by approximately 1,100 people, or 30% of its headcount, due to difficult and uncertain market conditions.
Kraken also indicated that lower trading volumes and fewer client sign-ups contributed to the decision and that the changes were needed to sustain longevity for the business.
Square Enix Partners Up With Gumi After Investing $52m In The Game Developer
Notable Japanese gaming company Square Enix has recently invested over $52 million in Gumi, a game developer, to make high-quality mobile games, blockchain games, and a metaverse initiative, among other things.
Square Enix has also adopted a progressive attitude towards NFTs in the past, and the partnership will reportedly allow Gumi to access certain intellectual property from Square Enix, with the duo potentially collaborating on a game-focused NFT marketplace in the near future.
Square Enix indicated that it is already considering the establishment of a fully dedicated platform for blockchain-based games. The company shall additionally provide a convenient service from the development and distribution of blockchain games to the sale and distribution of tokens and NFTs through the partnership.
Square Enix also revealed plans to work on a slew of NFT games with metaverse integrations, before introducing a new term called Wow and Earn (W&E), which essentially refers to games based on world-famous IP that incorporate blockchain-based Play-to-Earn (P2E) characteristics.
Gumi previously collaborated with Square Enix on various mobile games in the Final Fantasy Brave Exvius series, and both companies are partners in the Oasys blockchain-gaming project, which is developing its own network designed solely for P2E gaming.
Polygon Inches Closer To Mainnet Launch After Second ZkEVM Testnet Success
Polygon has launched its second public testnet, thereby bringing the platform to the final stages before the mainnet launch. Another zkEVM (zero-knowledge proofs) platform, zkSync, raised $200 million in a Series C funding round last month.
The testnet will put a new upgrade called recursion through its paces, with the goal of exponentially scaling Ethereum. As of this moment, Polygon has not provided a timetable for the mainnet launch.
Polygon claims to be the first zkEVM scaling technology to achieve public testnet with open-source code for its proving system, which is an essential aspect of operating the zkEVM. Although Polygon claims to be open source, it has previously received criticism from various other zkEVM platforms for its broad usage of the term.
Put simply, zkEVMs are a new Ethereum scaling technology which have become very popular over the last year. Although they have yet to be proven, they have the potential to significantly improve transaction costs and speeds for Ethereum, as well as enable on-chain privacy,
Additionally, zkEVMs are said to greatly simplify the process of application development. This could pave the way for a slew of new on-chain apps that bridge the gap between physical assets and off-chain data.
Former FTX Executives Plead Guilty As SBF Gets Extradited
Two top ranking FTX executives have pleaded guilty to federal fraud charges and have agreed to fully cooperate with the authorities.
Meanwhile, Sam Bankman-Fried himself may soon appear in front of a US judge after the decision to extradite him was recently made following a lengthy stay in the Bahamas. SBF will also reportedly be released from jail on a $250 million bailout.
Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang accepted their fate on the eve of December 21st, according to the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Ellison was the former CEO of Alameda Research, and Wang was a founding member of the FTX exchange.
Sam Bankman-Fried has been accused of defrauding customers, investors, and lenders, according to prosecutors. Furthermore, liquidators are sifting through the FTX wreckage in search of up to $8 billion in missing funds.
As if things were not bad enough for SBF, fraud and diverting customer funds to purchase real estate, lend out, make questionable investments through Alameda, and make political donations are among the various charges leveled against him. If found guilty, he faces up to 115 years in prison.
Core Scientific Files For Imminent Bankruptcy As Bear Market Continues
Core Scientific is among the most notable Bitcoin miners in the industry, and it just announced that it intends to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy soon but will continue to mine BTC during the process.
Although numerous mining companies have declared bankruptcy during the ongoing bear market, Core Scientific is the first publicly traded company to do so. Greenridge, another Bitcoin miner, reached a debt restructuring agreement with NYDIG on December 20th, allowing the company to avoid bankruptcy for the time being.
Binance Pool launched a $500 million fund in October to offer emergency financing to distressed miners, with loans collateralized by physical assets along with the crypto mined by the companies. Likewise, Bitmain also launched a $250 million fund with a similar mandate.
Earlier this month, investment bank B Riley proposed a $72 million financing plan to keep Core Scientific from going bankrupt. Most of the main problems with Core Scientific, according to B Riley, are self-inflicted and could be corrected with an open, transparent discussion as well as ongoing participation with its equity holders and creditors.
For now, Core Scientific maintains a positive cashflow, but its income is insufficient to cover the financing costs of its mining equipment due to the bear market, hence the decision to file for bankruptcy.
Binance US Agrees To Buy Voyager Assets In $1 Billion Deal
Voyager Digital, the bankrupt crypto lender, has announced that Binance US has agreed to purchase its assets for $1.022 billion. The bid signifies the fair market value of just over $1 billion, as well as an additional consideration of $20 million in incremental value.
Voyager, which declared bankruptcy earlier this year, agreed to sell its assets to the now-defunct crypto exchange FTX, with FTX outbidding rivals Binance and Wave Financial.
Voyager representatives stated that the Binance US bid intends to return crypto to customers in kind, as per the court-approved disbursements and platform functionalities.
CEO Changpeng Zhao previously noted that the US branch of the exchange would make a new bid for Voyager Digital. Binance US will hence make a $10 million good faith deposit and reimburse Voyager for certain expenses for a maximum of $15 million. Additionally, Voyager will seek the approval of the bankruptcy court via a hearing on January 5th, 2023.
Donald Trump Releases New NFT Collection Which Sells Out Almost Immediately
Former US President Donald Trump recently unveiled an NFT digital trading card collection, which sold out the day after its initial release, early Friday.
115 customers bought 45 NFTs, which is the minimum number of tokens required to guarantee a ticket to a dinner with Trump 17 people purchased 100 NFTs, which was the maximum quantity allowed to mint, according to the Trump Trading Card website.
Additional Dune metrics, however, show that other wallets held far more. One of the rare trading cards, depicting the 45th President holding a torch in front of the Statue of Liberty, was listed for 20 ETH.
Presently, 1,000 NFTs, including many one-of-ones, are held in a single Gnosis Safe multisignature wallet, which appears to be the wallet receiving royalties from secondary NFT sales.
MetaMask And PayPal Unveil New Partnership To Allow Users To Easily Buy Crypto
PayPal is a well known worldwide payment processor operating in over 200 countries. Most recently, the company decided to make it easier for users to get started with crypto. In this regard, ConsenSys, the company behind MetaMask, announced that it shall incorporate a PayPal integration into its crypto wallet, allowing users to purchase cryptocurrencies with their PayPal account.
PayPal and MetaMask, a match made in heaven?
MetaMask is among the most widely used non-custodial cryptocurrency wallets across the globe. Users can utilize their MetaMask wallets as their authentication method to store crypto assets as well as interact with Web3 products.
However, users are powerless if their MetaMask wallet is empty. As a result, they often use centralized crypto exchanges such as Coinbase and Kraken to purchase crypto and subsequently transfer them to their respective MetaMask wallets.
Moreover, MetaMask also has its own on-ramp features in its mobile app, which eliminates the need to switch to another service and go through numerous intermediate steps. MoonPay, Wyre, and Transak are among the on-ramp partners. If users buy crypto from one of these partners, they will have to go through a KYC process, which means they would have to enter a lot of personal information and provide some form of identification for verification purposes.
What happens now?
The collaboration of MetaMask and PayPal could very well benefit both companies. For MetaMask, the conversion rate with existing on-ramp solutions is likely to be low, mainly because KYC procedures can often be unnecessarily lengthy and intimidating.
Furthermore, there are already over 430 million PayPal accounts globally as per the most recent earnings report. With that in mind, if MetaMask users are indeed able to buy crypto with a PayPal account, it will appear simple and familiar and lead to more activity for the payment processor which would then result in higher revenues for PayPal. For the time being though, MetaMask users would only be able to purchase Ethereum using PayPal. ETH shall be made available to some users in the United States before eventually being rolled out to everyone in the country.
Earlier in the year, PayPal added support for cryptocurrency transfers. PayPal users in the United States can also obtain wallet addresses in order to fund their PayPal accounts with crypto assets. Likewise, PayPal users have the ability to send funds to a third party cryptocurrency wallet if desired.
Australian Government Announces New Plan For Licensing And Regulating Crypto Service Providers
The government of Australia has promised to establish a new framework for the licensing and regulation of cryptocurrency service providers by 2023. Furthermore, the development of appropriate custody and licensing settings to protect consumers will be among the next steps taken.
Unfortunately, local regulatory infrastructure has not kept pace with market changes, said Treasurer Jim Chalmers and Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Financial Services Stephen Jones in a joint statement. They also claimed that the previous administration did nothing in many areas while simultaneously making promises that seemingly went nowhere.
The government will decide which tokens or digital assets should be subject to financial services regulations. The new framework will thus be part of a strategic plan set to be released in the first quarter of 2023, along with a consultation paper.
The consultation paper is open for feedback until February 6th, 2023, and covers a wide range of topics in the crypto ecosystem, including CBDCs, stablecoins, digital wallets, and crypto assets.
Binance Accused Of Possible Money Laundering As Feds Go After Biggest Exchange
As part of the latest twist in an investigation that began in 2018 and gained traction during the shocking FTX collapse, U.S. prosecutors are now considering charging Binance and its top executives with money laundering and sanctions violations.
It is being suggested that Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao is among the executives who may be targeted. However, Department of Justice (DOJ) officials are divided on whether to proceed, as some want more time to review evidence before taking any drastic measures.
According to different reports, multiple government agencies including both the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team and the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) are involved in the investigation. Various defense attorneys representing Binance have reportedly met with DOJ officials to discuss possible plea deals.
Binance noted earlier this year that only 0.15% of all crypto transactions in 2021 were associated with some type of illicit activity. While this may offer some level of comfort to investors, nobody can deny that authorities are cracking down on cryptocurrency companies with increasing intensity, particularly in the aftermath of the Terra and FTX disasters.
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