June 25,2023

History Is Made As Supreme Court Sides With Coinbase

While the ruling does not directly impact the crypto industry, it represents a notable milestone for digital asset firms, being the first time such a company has prevailed in a Supreme Court ruling.

By a narrow margin of 5 to 4, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Coinbase, overturning a previous decision made by a lower court in response to a customer's lawsuit. The lawsuit alleges that Coinbase failed to reimburse funds that were fraudulently withdrawn from customer accounts.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who weighed in on the case, stated that the main issue at hand was whether the district court should halt its pre-trial and trial proceedings while an interlocutory appeal is in progress. The answer, according to Kavanaugh, is affirmative and the district court must suspend its proceedings.

Katherine Minarik, Vice President of Litigation at Coinbase, expressed her support for the decision, highlighting the importance of pausing lower court litigation while an appellate court determines whether a case should be handled in court or through arbitration.

Minarik believes it makes sense that lower court litigation should be paused while an appellate court decides whether a case belongs in court at all, before going on to say that companies like Coinbase and its customers bear significant burdens when cases that belong in an arbitration process instead proceed in lengthy and expensive court proceedings.

Paul Grewal, Chief Legal Officer at Coinbase, also commented on the ruling, considering it a significant triumph. Grewal expressed gratitude to the Supreme Court for their thorough examination of the case and emphasized his belief in the American court system, describing it as the last, best hope in an imperfect democracy, despite its occasional sluggishness and disappointing outcomes.

June 23,2023

Ethereum Could Become More Resilient Via Reth

Crypto venture firm Paradigm recently launched an open-source node implementation called Reth v0.1.0, marking a significant contribution to the Ethereum network. Developed in Rust and released under an Apache/MIT License, Reth aims to enhance node performance, reduce latency, and maintain uptime.

The project involved a dedicated team of 8 core developers and 90 contributors, working diligently for 9 months. The primary objective with Reth is to improve stability, client diversity, and decentralization for Ethereum. They believe that by using Reth as a node, they can actively contribute to achieving these goals.

Reth is designed to be a performance-centric client software that supports block building, maximal value extraction, and Ethereum consensus nodes. It has already demonstrated impressive performance metrics, boasting the fastest sync speed among all client projects, able to sync with the Ethereum blockchain from its genesis to block number 17.4 million within 50 hours.

Still, the team has faced challenges in implementing edge cases correctly and optimizing node components. They have learned the importance of mature testing and benchmarking practices. Reth has therefore undergone extensive testing, including defense-in-depth approaches, monitoring, running Hive testing suites, and stress testing under high RPC volumes.

However, it is important to note that Reth is still in the alpha phase as of this time, and further testing and improvements are underway to ensure its resilience.

June 22,2023

Ripple Receives Preliminary Approval For Payments Institution License in Singapore.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has awarded a total of 190 Major Payment Institution Licenses, including 11 to Digital Payment Token companies. The approval given to Ripple allows its Singapore branch to offer regulated digital payment token products and services while expanding the adoption of its crypto-enabled On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) platform in the country, which experienced a five-fold growth year-on-year.

Ripple Chief Legal Officer Stu Alderoty expressed satisfaction with the progressive approach adopted by Singapore to regulating digital assets. He commended the local licensing framework for establishing a clear classification system for digital assets that balances consumer protection and market integrity while fostering innovation and investment.

The Singaporean Ripple branch has also seen significant growth, with a 50% increase in headcount, now totaling 50 full-time employees across various departments such as business development, compliance, finance, legal, and sales.

Alderoty emphasized that this expansion in Singapore is due in part to the opportunities presented by the thriving licensed digital assets market in the country. He noted that Singapore is attracting responsible players in the industry, with Ripple joining the ranks of Coinbase, Circle, and others who have legitimate businesses and products and are committed to adhering to regulations.

To date, MAS has approved 190 Major Payment Institution licenses and 11 Digital Payment Token Service licenses. Various reports further indicate that MAS has received over 680 applications for payment services licenses since January 2020, with 17 rejections and 214 withdrawals. In December 2021, Binance withdrew from Singapore and canceled its application for a Digital Payment Token license.

June 20,2023

Financial Services And Markets Bill Approved By UK Lords

The upper house of the UK Parliament, the House of Lords, has approved the Financial Services and Markets Bill (FSMB), which aims to regulate crypto activities and recognize stablecoins as a form of payment within the existing legal framework.

The bill, introduced in July to leverage Brexit opportunities and enhance regulatory authority over the UK financial system, has now entered its final stages before becoming law.

Originally designed to regulate stablecoins under local payment regulations, the bill has undergone amendments during its progression through Parliament. These amendments expanded its scope to include the regulation of all cryptocurrencies as regulated activities and the implementation of measures to supervise crypto promotions.

The UK government intends for the FSMB to empower regulators to establish comprehensive crypto regulations, a subject the Treasury has been consulting on. Specific rules for the crypto industry could be introduced within a year, according to Andrew Griffith, the Economic Secretary to the Treasury.

The UK is striving to catch up with the European Union, which recently finalized its regulatory framework for crypto assets, with a particular focus on stablecoins. The next step involves sending the FSMB back to the lower house of Parliament to agree on the final version.

Once both houses reach a consensus, the bill will be sent for approval to the monarch and subsequently enacted into law. The bill may undergo multiple rounds of revisions between the two chambers of Parliament until an agreement is reached.

June 17,2023

US Government Being Sued For Allegedly Stealing $100,000,000

A lawsuit has been filed against the US government, accusing it of seizing over $100 million in cash, gold, and jewelry from citizens in California without providing any explanation.

The nonprofit Institute for Justice has taken legal action to stop the forfeiture proceedings for a group of individuals whose assets were confiscated by the FBI, with little clarity on the reasons behind it. The case revolves around a couple based in Los Angeles, Linda and Reggie Martin, who had $40,200 of their life savings seized from a safety deposit box without any evidence of illegal activity being presented by the agency.

Their attorney, Bob Belden, argues that the actions taken by the government are immoral, violating basic human rights as American citizens. The government employs civil forfeiture, allowing it to decide independently whether to seize and attempt to retain properties, even when there are no suspicions of criminal behavior.

The FBI sends standardized forfeiture notices that fail to provide owners with any information regarding the grounds for taking their assets, which the Institute for Justice deems unconstitutional. The operation conducted by the FBI at the Beverly Hills location resulted in the seizure of more than $100 million in various valuable assets.

Although the government issued blanket notices that vaguely referenced numerous federal crimes, it has refused to specify the exact wrongdoing in the case of the Martins. The lawsuit seeks to halt administrative proceedings for all recipients of the forfeiture notices. Linda states that neither she nor her husband have been charged with a crime and there is no indication of whether they will recover their money.

The Institute for Justice highlights that civil and criminal forfeiture is a lucrative practice for federal law enforcement, with individuals receiving inadequate notices that vaguely link their property to potential federal crimes. This particular situation demonstrates how federal forfeiture incentivizes agents to seize assets without sufficient cause, while keeping property owners in the dark to discourage resistance.

A federal judge has previously ruled that a client involved in the same safety deposit seizure operation received a deficient forfeiture notice, resulting in the FBI violating due process and the Fifth Amendment.

June 16,2023

BlackRock Could Make History If Its Spot Bitcoin ETF Gets Approved

BlackRock, the largest investment firm in the world, has submitted an application for a Bitcoin Exchange Traded Fund (ETF) in the United States. If approved, it would be the first crypto spot ETF in the country. Other applicants, such as ARK and Grayscale, are still waiting for a response from the U.S SEC.

The new BlackRock iShares Bitcoin Trust would reportedly trade as Commodity-Based Trust Shares. According to the application, Coinbase Custody Trust Company would serve as the custodian for the Bitcoin holdings of the fund, while Bank of New York Mellon would handle custody of fiat currencies.The Bitcoin price would also be updated at least every 15 seconds using the CF Benchmarks Index during regular market trading.

The application highlights that previous spot exchange-traded products in commodities and currency markets were generally unregulated, and the Commission relied on the underlying futures market for approval. Therefore, the proposal does not require the spot Bitcoin market to be regulated for the Commission to approve it.

Despite several applicants, the SEC has not yet approved a spot Bitcoin ETF. Grayscale even appealed its rejection and argued for the validity of Bitcoin futures. Other firms like ARK Invest and 21Shares have also been pushing for spot Bitcoin ETF approval, submitting their third applications in April. The first spot traded Bitcoin ETF was established in Canada in early 2021, known as Purpose Bitcoin ETF.

June 14,2023

Hinman Speech Sparks Controversy As Securities Debate Heats Up

Stuart Alderoty, the Chief Legal Officer for Ripple, has called for an investigation into the actions of former SEC Division Director Bill Hinman, whose infamous speech on cryptocurrency decentralization has been central to the legal battle against the SEC.

The internal documents reveal that senior SEC officials warned Hinman about the potential confusion and lack of legal basis for his analysis, but he disregarded their concerns. Alderoty questions why the SEC continued to promote this speech, despite knowing its questionable legal grounds and potential to create confusion in the market.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse has also criticized the SEC and its handling of the crypto industry, alleging political overreach and a lack of regulatory clarity. The released documents could very well ignite a heated debate about the classification of cryptocurrencies as securities, something that Ripple has been dealing with for years by this point.

Furthermore, concerns have been raised about what kind of motivations Hinman may have had alongside potential conflicts of interest related to his ties with the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance. Recently, US lawmakers have also questioned current SEC Chair Gary Gensler and his actions which have reportedly been based largely on self interest.

In conclusion, Alderoty argues that the speech should never again be considered in discussions about token securities, emphasizing the need for transparency and accountability from regulators.

June 13,2023

SEC Stabilization Act Aims To Remove Gary Gensler

New developments have emerged in the United States regarding the controversial Gary Gensler. US lawmakers, including Rep. Warren Davidson and Rep. Tom Emmer, have introduced a bill called the SEC Stabilization Act in the House of Representatives. The primary objective of this bill is to remove Gary Gensler from his position as SEC Chair.

Rep. Warren Davidson emphasized the need to protect US capital markets from what he described as a tyrannical Chairman, referring to Gensler. He stated that the proposed legislation aims to address the ongoing abuse of power and ensure long-term market protection.

Rep. Davidson, who previously announced his intention to introduce the bill, reiterated his call for real reform and the dismissal of Gary Gensler as SEC Chair. Rep. Tom Emmer, a co-author of the bill, expressed that the SEC Stabilization Act intends to introduce sensible changes to prioritize investor protection rather than catering to the personal preferences of Gensler.

The proposed bill would not only remove Gensler from office but also redefine the power distribution between the SEC Chair and commissioners. It seeks to introduce a sixth commissioner, prevent any party from holding a majority on the commission, and establish an executive director position.

Although the lawmakers did not explicitly mention crypto in their statements, both Rep. Warren Davidson and Rep. Tom Emmer are known for their pro-crypto stance and have often been critical of Gary Gensler. Rep. Emmer has even previously referred to Gensler as a bad faith regulator.

Additionally, Rep. Davidson serves as the Vice Chair of the new Subcommittee on Digital Assets, Financial Technology, and Inclusion at the House Financial Services Committee. Needless to say, the potential removal of Gensler has led to widespread joy and satisfaction across the crypto and digital assets space.

June 10,2023

Cardano And Ripple To Unite Against SEC

Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson recently made a surprising move aimed at reconciling with the XRP community, with whom he has had a strained relationship in the past. Taking to his official Twitter account, Hoskinson called for peace with the XRP community, sparking a series of debates on the platform.

The recent crackdowns by the SEC on major exchanges like Binance and Coinbase have demonstrated that no entity is exempt from regulatory scrutiny. In this context, gestures of goodwill could indeed help the industry navigate its current challenges more effectively.

Not everyone is as trustful of Hoskinson however, given his past comments and the recent designation of the ADA token as a security by the United States SEC, an agency which also recently targeted other cryptocurrencies like Solana, Filecoin, and Polygon.

The goal would therefore seem to be to establish a united front against the perceived common enemy, namely the SEC and its chairman, Gary Gensler. In any case, a growing number of XRP community members have responded positively to this call for a truce, recognizing that failure to unite at this time could lead to more significant issues for the entire industry in the future.

June 09,2023

Binance US Will Suspend Fiat Withdrawals As Early As June 13th

Following a recent lawsuit filed by the SEC, Binance US has informed its users that it will temporarily halt all customer withdrawals and transition into an exclusively crypto-based exchange. The decision to do so is attributed to the intention of their banking partners to pause USD fiat channels.

In their statement, Binance US assured customers that they currently maintain 1:1 reserves for all users and that all operations are functioning normally. They urged customers to withdraw their USD funds through bank transfers before June 13th, 2023.

Additionally, the exchange announced the suspension of all USD trading pairs in the coming week, with the possibility of converting USD balances held in reserve to stablecoins after June 15th. The notice also mentioned potential delays in ACH transfers due to weekend bank closures and increased volumes.

Binance US had previously stated its intention to delist certain trading pairs. Regarding the SEC lawsuit, Binance US described the claims as baseless and criticized these tactics as aggressive and unjustified. The exchange has also faced the threat of asset freezes.

In any case, Binance US has had a turbulent history, with one CEO, Catherine Coley, disappearing from public view, and another CEO, Brian Brooks, resigning after a short tenure. Brooks previously provided testimony to the SEC that questioned the independence of the exchange.

June 08,2023

Central Banks USD Reserves Drop To New Lows As Dedollarization Continues

Banking giant JPMorgan has recently noted that the trend of de-dollarization is gaining momentum as central banks worldwide reduce their holdings of the United States Dollar (USD).

According to JPMorgan strategists Meera Chandan and Octavia Popescu, the portion of USD when it comes to the central banks and their foreign exchange reserves has reached a record low of 58%. They also highlight the increasing prominence of de-dollarization when considering the significant accumulation of gold by central banks in the past five years.

UBS, another prominent bank, also recently stated that central banks intend to acquire 700 metric tons of gold, equivalent to $48.74 billion, in 2023. This shift is driven by concerns over geopolitical issues and persistent inflation, leading countries to move away from relying on the USD.

JPMorgan analysts acknowledge the emergence of signs indicating de-dollarization. They anticipate that this trend will persist despite the USD having a substantial presence in global trade settlements.

Over the past few decades, both the USD and the Euro have maintained stable shares of 40% to 50% in trade invoicing. Additionally, the proportion of USD when it comes to foreign exchange trading volumes remains close to its all-time high of 88%.

Furthermore, JPMorgan analysts revealed that the USD continues to dominate SWIFT payments, accounting for 43% of transactions. In comparison, the Euro constitutes 32% of transactions, while the Chinese Yuan comprises 2.3%.

June 06,2023

Binance Accused Of Misleading Investors And Mishandling Funds

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has accused Binance, the biggest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, of mishandling customer funds and providing false information to American regulators and investors.

This lawsuit has the potential to significantly impact the power dynamics of the crypto industry. The SEC alleges that Binance mixed billions of dollars in customer funds and secretly sent them to a company controlled by its founder. They also claim that Binance misled investors about its ability to detect manipulative trading and restrict users living in the United States.

Binance has expressed disappointment and plans to vigorously fight the lawsuit. CEO Changpeng Zhao believes the charges are part of broader regulatory efforts to rein in the crypto trading world. Binance has faced other legal actions and scrutiny in the past, resulting in the company taking steps to improve compliance such as the formation of Binance US.

Nevertheless, the SEC is seeking restitution and aims to bar the founder from holding certain positions in US entities that issue securities. US investors, on the other hand, are also disappointed as they largely believe the SEC to be acting in their own self interest rather than looking after the general public.

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