Avalanche To Launch Highly Anticipated Durango Upgrade
In a noteworthy progression for blockchain technology, Avalanche has declared the imminent introduction of its Durango upgrade on the Fuji testnet. Set to become active on February 14th, this upgrade marks a crucial moment for the Avalanche ecosystem.
The Durango upgrade is more than a routine update, as it stands as a transformative improvement, bringing forth Avalanche Warp Messaging (AWM) to the C-chain. This innovative feature is poised to revolutionize cross-chain communication within the Avalanche network, especially impacting all Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) chains connected to the ecosystem.
The integration of AWM into the C-chain marks a groundbreaking development. It furnishes the Avalanche ecosystem with inherent cross-chain communication capabilities, a sought-after feature in the blockchain community. This functionality extends beyond facilitating seamless transactions and interactions between different chains. It establishes a robust framework for an interconnected blockchain environment, enabling diverse chains to communicate effortlessly, securely, and efficiently.
Facilitating EVM Chain Connections
The incorporation of Avalanche Warp Messaging (AWM) in the Durango upgrade underscores the dedication by Avalanche to fostering a unified and interconnected blockchain ecosystem. AWM is crafted to deliver native cross-chain communication, a feature with the potential to significantly boost interoperability across diverse blockchain networks. By enabling each Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) chain within the Avalanche ecosystem to communicate inherently, AWM sets a new standard for cross-chain interactions.
This feature goes beyond enhancing the current capabilities of the Avalanche network, it lays the foundation for the future of blockchain technology. The Durango upgrade, incorporating AWM, ensures that upcoming virtual machines can leverage this advanced communication protocol. This forward-thinking approach ensures that the Avalanche ecosystem remains at the forefront of technological innovation, prepared to integrate and interact with emerging blockchain networks and virtual machines.
The Influence Of Durango On The Blockchain Landscape
As the Avalanche ecosystem prepares for the launch of the Durango upgrade on the Fuji testnet, there is a tangible sense of anticipation within the blockchain community. This upgrade is more than an improvement to the existing network it represents a visionary step forward that promises to redefine the dynamics of cross-chain communication and interoperability.
The launch of the Durango upgrade on February 14th signifies not just a milestone for the Avalanche network but a transformative moment for the broader blockchain landscape. By introducing Avalanche Warp Messaging (AWM) to the C-chain and establishing a standard for future virtual machines, Avalanche is not merely advancing its ecosystem but contributing to the evolution of blockchain technology as a whole. It paves the way for a future where seamless, secure, and efficient cross-chain communication becomes the norm, not the exception.
As the blockchain community eagerly awaits the launch of the upgrade on the Fuji testnet, there is a sense of excitement for the new possibilities and opportunities that Avalanche Warp Messaging (AWM) will unlock. The Durango upgrade is not just a testament to the technological prowess of the Avalanche network, it is a beacon of progress, signaling the dawn of a new era in blockchain interoperability and communication.
Ripple Gets Hacked And Loses Millions Right Before Critical Event
In a concerning development for the crypto community, Ripple has reportedly experienced a substantial security breach. As disclosed by the crypto digital investigator known as ZachXBT on January 31st, 2024, Ripple indeed fell victim to a hack, resulting in the loss of approximately 213 million XRP, equivalent to $112.5 million.
A Monumental Blunder
This disclosure has sent shockwaves throughout the industry, prompting concerns about the security protocols employed by major cryptocurrency entities. The source address associated with the breach appears to be the origin of the illicit activity. Subsequently, the pilfered funds have undergone systematic laundering through various cryptocurrency exchanges, including MEXC, Gate, Binance, Kraken, OKX, HTX, HitBTC, among others.
Chris Larsen, the Co-founder and Executive Chairman of Ripple, issued an official statement outlining the extent of the breach and detailing the actions being taken to address the aftermath. The timing of this security breach is particularly sensitive, coinciding with the scheduled unlocking of 1 billion XRP via the Ripple escrow account.
What Comes Next
This customary release of funds by Ripple has historically sparked speculation about its potential impact on the market value of XRP. While concerns about a significant sell-off affecting the price of the cryptocurrency have arisen due to the unlocking of a substantial XRP amount, the current situation introduces an additional layer of uncertainty.
Market observers are closely monitoring how this recent security breach might impact investor confidence and whether it could amplify potential responses by the market to the escrow release as well as how Ripple manages the situation going forward.
JUP Exhibits Extraordinary Trading Volume In Just A Few Hours
Jupiter, the decentralized exchange aggregator, recently initiated the claim period for eligible users to receive the airdrop of its native token, JUP. Within a short span of under six hours, the token saw a trading volume exceeding $450 million solely on the Jupiter platform. Nonetheless, the noteworthy resilience exhibited by the Solana network in managing extensive activity during the processing stole the limelight.
Staggering TPS Rate
Jupiter reportedly executed 1.2 million transactions within just one hour after enabling JUP claims. Mert Muntaz, CEO of Helius Labs, a Solana infrastructure provider, provided more insight into this development. He emphasized that the network handled up to 1,400 transactions per second (TPS), some of which involved intricate swaps leveraging the full composability of Solana.
In addition, Muntaz also mentioned that the Helius RPC remained operational for most of the time, even while dealing with transaction volumes up to five times the average. A user on the X platform, using the alias Aylo, shared challenges encountered during JUP token claims. However, he asserted that these issues were associated with the RPC in use, and switching to the one hosted by Helius resolved them.
Price Remains Steady
Despite a rapid 93% price surge within eight hours of launch for WEN, another token that emerged through the Jupiter team, JUP experienced a slower start. According to trading data via Birdeye, the price of the token has been confined within the $0.61 to $0.74 range. Even the listing on centralized platforms like Binance, Bybit, and OKX failed to liberate JUP when it came to this price range.
As of the current status, Jupiter has executed nearly 510,000 unique JUP trades, with a buy order volume surpassing $290 million and a sell order volume reaching $162 million.
Visa Partners With Transak To Enable Crypto Withdrawals In Over 140 Countries
Visa is reinforcing its commitment to cryptocurrency adoption by facilitating an additional avenue for exchanging crypto into fiat currencies without relying on a centralized exchange. The global payment giant has therefore joined forces with Transak, a Web3 infrastructure provider, to unveil a solution for cryptocurrency withdrawals and payments through Visa Direct.
This collaboration permits users to directly withdraw cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, through a wallet like MetaMask to a Visa debit card. The integration, which is available immediately, empowers individuals to convert crypto into fiat and make payments at over 130 million merchant locations where Visa is accepted.
A Beneficial Partnership
Yanilsa Gonzalez-Ore, the North America Head of Visa Direct, praised Transak for providing a faster, simpler, and more connected experience by enabling real-time card withdrawals through Visa Direct. This integration significantly broadens the options for converting crypto into fiat currencies, marking a substantial milestone in bridging the gap between the crypto and traditional finance realms, according to Harshit Gangwar, the Head of Marketing and Investor Relations.
The partnership allows users in 145 countries to directly convert at least 40 cryptocurrencies to fiat without depending on centralized exchanges. Notable jurisdictions supported include Cyprus, Malta, Singapore, Portugal, and the United Arab Emirates.
Gangwar emphasized that this collaboration is a major step toward mainstream acceptance and utilization of cryptocurrencies, providing a more accessible and convenient transaction experience. He highlighted the benefits for users of decentralized platforms and wallets, such as MetaMask, Ledger, and Trust Wallet, pointing out that MetaMask users can seamlessly convert their digital assets to a Visa card.
Getting Involved With Crypto
MetaMask Senior Product Manager, Lorenzo Santos, acknowledged the significance of the Visa-Transak integration for MetaMask users, describing it as opening new horizons and providing greater flexibility in cryptocurrency to fiat conversions.
The proactive exploration of cryptocurrency use cases by Visa is evident in its strategic moves over recent years. In 2020, the company partnered with blockchain firm Circle to support the USDC stablecoin on specific Visa cards. Subsequently, in September 2023, Visa expanded its support for USDC payments settled on the Solana blockchain, showcasing its ongoing commitment to embracing and integrating cryptocurrencies into its services.
New ATH Recorded After Bitcoin Hashrate Rebounds
On-chain data revealed a robust recovery in the Bitcoin mining hashrate, surpassing its recent lows and establishing a new all-time high (ATH). As such, the 7-day average mining hashrate of Bitcoin has surged to an unprecedented level. This metric tracks the total computing power linked to the Bitcoin blockchain by miners.
An upward trend signifies an influx of new miners and expansion of existing facilities, indicating heightened interest in blockchain mining. Conversely, a declining trend suggests some miners may have opted to disconnect when it comes to the chain altogether, possibly due to unprofitability in mining.
Understanding The Context
The surge in mining hashrate could be attributed to the recent trend in mining difficulty. Mining difficulty on the Bitcoin blockchain determines the level of complexity miners face in mining blocks on the network. This metric exists to regulate cryptocurrency inflation, as block rewards are the sole means of producing more of the asset.
By controlling the pace of the miners, the production rate can be managed, increasing or decreasing difficulty accordingly. The Bitcoin network aims for a block to be mined approximately every ten minutes. When miners boost their hashrate, they become more efficient at mining and can produce blocks at a pace faster than the standard rate. Subsequently, the blockchain adjusts the difficulty in the next scheduled adjustment (which occurs approximately every two weeks), ensuring miners are slowed down to the intended pace.
There has been a decline in difficulty in the latest adjustment, a natural outcome of the hashrate downturn. Interestingly, the bottoming out of the 7-day average hashrate coincided with this difficulty decrease. It seems miners have capitalized on the opportunity presented by the decreased difficulty, connecting a significant amount of computing power to the network for faster block mining.
At any rate, although the blockchain may increase difficulty, potentially leading to the withdrawal of the additional hashrate (if it was only added to exploit the dip), miners can currently enjoy accelerated rewards until any such adjustment occurs.
Crypto Fundraising January 23 - 29
On behalf of the hashtagWeb3 community, we would like to extend our warmest congratulations to the companies that announced their success in fundraising between 23rd-29th January 2024. We are thrilled to see such tremendous support from all involved. Well done!
Axiom raised $20m. Axiom introduces a new approach to authenticated data access using ZK cryptography instead of consensus. By using ZK, Axiom allows on-chain applications to compute over more data a lower cost.
Dopamine raised an undisclosed amount of funding. Dopamine is a mobile app available on Android and iOS devices, providing decentralized finance. It currently has over two million downloads and hundreds of thousands of active users.
10n8 raised $1.5m. Created with the goal of accelerating APAC projects and introducing them to English-speaking markets, 10n8 Little Dragon enables users to stake, play and earn across different pools and games.
Join raised an undisclosed amount. Join simplifies the online shopping experience by enabling users to make purchases with stablecoins, promoting stability and accessibility in the world of e-commerce.
Spellborne raised $1.5m. This amount will allow MonStudios to expand the team, and continue on our mission of building fun casual games with a tad bit of nostalgia.
Image generation AI raised an undisclosed amount. Crypto-native AI platform imgnAI has closed a $1.6 million seed funding round led by Hack VC. Rana Capital, Selini Capital, West Ham Capital, Motus Capital and dao5 also participated in the round, though a valuation was not disclosed.
Bmaker raised $1.2m. Bmaker aims to become a pivotal element in the development of the Bitcoin ecosystem, offering new opportunities for market participants and Bitcoin users.
Infrared raised $2.5mn. These funds will play a pivotal role in advancing the development of essential infrastructure, including a network of validators, PoL vaults, and the inaugural native Liquid Staking Token (LST), iBGT.
Gevulot raised $6m. Gevulot is building an internet scale compute network optimized exclusively for zero-knowledge proof generation.
PublicAI raised $1.2m. The funds will primarily be used to accelerate the launch and Go-To-Market of the network.
Mesh raised $38.5m. Mesh will use the new cash, to further develop its tools for deposits, payments and payouts, as well as support its go-to-market operations.
Portal raised $42.5m. The seed round brings Portal's total funding to $42.5 million, adding to the $8.5 million raised in pre-seed funding in 2021.
Follow CryptoWeekly to stay updated with news about future Web3 Funding Rounds.
DeFi Could Be Classified As Critical Infrastructure Going Forward
A suggested regulatory framework was recently put forth by the Polygon Labs legal team, advocating for classifying neutral and decentralized finance protocols as critical infrastructure. The proposal recommends federal cybersecurity agencies oversee these protocols in the United States. The conceptual framework was authored by Rebecca Rettig and Katja Gilman via Polygon Labs, along with Michael Mosier, the co-founder of the emergent technology law firm Arktouros.
The Role Of OCCIP
In the 45-page document, the authors propose categorizing genuinely decentralized DeFi protocols as critical infrastructure, subject to oversight by the U.S. Treasury Office of Cybersecurity and Critical Infrastructure Protection (OCCIP).
While not an official financial regulator, OCCIP coordinates efforts within the Treasury Department to enhance security and resilience in the critical infrastructure of the financial services sector, aiming to reduce operational risk. The framework highlights that not all DeFi protocols are fully decentralized, and those with notable centralization aspects should adhere to existing financial regulations. The framework also states that amid global imperatives to combat illicit activities, it is crucial to uphold the broader goal of empowering positive endeavors.
Comprehending The Framework
The proposed framework also introduces the concept of critical communications transmitters, forming an integral part of genuine DeFi systems. These entities would need to fulfill specific obligations to safeguard U.S. national and economic security, without falling under the classification of financial institutions subject to the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA).
Additionally, the framework distinguishes centralized and traditional finance as separate entities, each with independent control, guided by recommendations given by the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). Jake Chervinsky, a crypto industry lawyer, emphasized that policy discussions in Washington DC prioritize concerns about illicit finance over other aspects of the digital asset industry, considering this proposal a potential step toward a viable solution.
BTC ETF Speculation Reaches New Heights As Google Allows Crypto Ads
Google is set to implement a crucial policy amendment, allowing specific cryptocurrency products to be promoted on major search engines. In this category, Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) are emerging as promising contenders meeting the defined criteria, sparking considerable excitement in the cryptocurrency industry.
The genesis of this significant development can be traced back to December 2023. In tandem with this policy shift, the recent approval of 11 spot Bitcoin ETFs by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on January 10th is noteworthy. Investors opting for shares in these spot Bitcoin ETFs effectively gain a stake in the ETF Bitcoin holdings.
Understanding The Update
Crucially, the amendment aligns seamlessly with the recently updated requirements of Google, emphasizing financial products that allow investors to trade shares in trusts holding large pools of digital currency.
Crypto analysts are buzzing with optimism about the potential surge in investments into Bitcoin ETFs, bolstered by the robust transaction processing capacity of Google when it comes to managing search requests. Recent data underscores the enormity of the daily search volume of Google, reaching an impressive 8.55 billion searches.
Nevertheless, it is important to note that the policy update uses the somewhat ambiguous term known as cryptocurrency coin trusts when referring to permitted products, leaving room for interpretation.
The ETF Effect
Simultaneously, a notable development in the cryptocurrency landscape involves the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), one of the largest Bitcoin trusts. Recently, it transitioned into a spot Bitcoin ETF, gaining approval by the SEC on January 10th. Previously, GBTC shares were exclusively available to accredited investors and subjected to a mandatory six-month holding period.
Accredited investors, as per U.S. regulatory standards, are individuals with a net worth exceeding $1 million or an annual income surpassing $200,000 for the past two years. These requirements aim to protect less knowledgeable investors regarding potentially risky ventures that could lead to financial losses.
In contrast, spot Bitcoin ETFs are accessible to the general public in the United States and are regulated under the Securities Act of 1933. This regulatory framework adds an extra layer of security, potentially making them a safer avenue for Google to explore in its advertising efforts.
Top Financial Companies Look Toward Hong Kong Following Local Stablecoin Regulation
Hong Kong is rapidly progressing towards overseeing stablecoins, attracting significant attention by global financial giants. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) is gearing up to introduce a regulatory sandbox for stablecoins in the first quarter of this year, a move that has caught the interest of major players in finance, including the international division of Harvest Fund.
The Drive For Stablecoins
The collaborative initiative between HKMA and the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau marks a significant stride in local efforts to govern the stablecoin market. This development coincides with the expanding size and influence of the sector, with stablecoins like USDT and USDC leading the market.
Stablecoins, typically tied at a 1-1 ratio to fiat currencies and supported by cash or bond reserves, constitute a significant portion of the $1.7 trillion digital asset market. The current market cap for stablecoins exceeds $135 billion across all chains.
Competition Is Heating Up
The aforementioned regulatory initiative follows the footsteps of jurisdictions such as the European Union, Japan, Singapore, and Dubai, all actively working towards establishing themselves as digital asset hubs. The proposed regulations necessitate obtaining licenses for promoting stablecoin products to retail investors, ensuring enhanced consumer protection and market transparency.
Entities such as Harvest Global Investments, fintech specialist RD Technologies, and Venture Smart Financial Holdings are engaging in discussions with the HKMA, primarily focusing on the forthcoming stablecoin trials. These conversations underscore the deep interest of global financial entities in the evolving regulatory frameworks taking shape in Hong Kong.
Donald Trump Receives Ally In Fight Against CBDCs
Two contenders for the U.S. presidency, Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr., have taken a strong stance against the adoption of central bank digital currencies (CBDC). Kennedy Jr. expressed his dedication to online financial autonomy, declaring that he will halt the move towards a CBDC if elected. This statement was made during discussions with Dr. Joseph Mercola about the future of financial freedom.
Considering an independent run to secure a spot on ballots nationwide, Kennedy Jr. also showed openness to a Libertarian nomination in a CNN program hosted by Michael Smerconish. In a commitment made the previous year, Kennedy Jr. vowed to safeguard cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, allowing individuals to retain personal wallets and ensuring transaction security. He cautioned against CBDCs, citing potential risks of surveillance and control, stating,
Conversely, Trump, addressing a recent rally, pledged to prevent the federal government when it comes to overseeing American finances through a CBDC, following advice given by Vivek Ramaswamy, a Trump endorser.
CBDCs are digital forms of a national currency that are issued and regulated by the central bank. Unlike cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, CBDCs are centralized and typically represent a digitized version of the traditional currency, such as the U.S. Dollar or the Euro. CBDCs aim to combine the advantages of digital currencies, like fast and secure transactions, with the stability and backing of a government-issued currency.
The central bank oversees the issuance, distribution, and regulation of CBDCs, and they can coexist with physical cash. The implementation and adoption of CBDCs are subjects of ongoing discussions and experiments in various countries around the world.
While both presidential candidates are against CBDCs, Chris LaCivita, the senior adviser for the Trump campaign, clarified that Kennedy Jr. is not under consideration for the vice-presidential position. Moreover, despite the ongoing CBDC debate, the Federal Reserve, according to Chair Jerome Powell, has not finalized plans for a digital dollar, with a decision expected to take several years.
Bulls Propel Bitcoin As US Central Bank Considers Lowering Borrowing Costs
The previous week witnessed a somewhat turbulent ride in terms of price movements, as the descent of Bitcoin sent shockwaves throughout the entire market. Currently, the primary cryptocurrency is making an effort to bounce back, and this resurgence has positively affected various altcoins, with many of them showcasing gains in the last 24 hours.
The value of BTC surged to $41.5K, marking a 3.4% increase in the past day. This uptick followed a sudden upward surge when BTC gained over $1,000 in just a couple of hours. The positive momentum propelled the flagship cryptocurrency to $42K, where resistance by bears prevented further advancement.
BTC On The Come Up
This abrupt movement stirred disruptions in the derivatives market, leading to liquidations exceeding $110 million, primarily involving short positions. Market participants are closely monitoring Grayscale outflows, pondering whether investors will offload their long-held BTC now that the spot ETF has become a reality.
Simultaneously, as Bitcoin was on the rise, a majority of large-cap altcoins also experienced positive movements, with some outperforming others. Notably, Solana and Avalanche exhibited stronger recoveries, while Ethereum, Binance Coin, and Ripple also recorded gains.
Manta Network (MANTA) and SATS (Ordinals) emerged as the top performers in a 24 hour period, showing increases of 21% and 18.4%, respectively. Conversely, Chiliz (CHZ) and Klaytn (KLAY) witnessed declines of approximately 4% each. There is speculation about potential interest rate cuts by the Federal Reserve, and investors are closely monitoring the outcomes of the two-day policy meeting this week.
As the week unfolds, there is a roughly even chance that the US central bank might consider lowering borrowing costs in March. The European Central Bank (ECB) is also contemplating interest rate cuts this year, with all options open in upcoming meetings, according to Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau.
Moreover, the ECB believes it is on the right path to combating inflation, citing the deposit rate increase to a record 4% as a significant factor in moderating underlying inflation, as mentioned by the French central banker.
Criminals Behind Infamous Ponzi Scheme Finally Face Extradition
The Estonian government has approved the extradition of HashFlare founders, Ivan Turogin and Sergei Potapenko, who are now set to face numerous charges on US soil. Despite a previous reprieve by an appeals court that nullified the initial ruling, the two entrepreneurs are once again in line for extradition.
In this instance, the Estonian government has bolstered its case with evidence, re-establishing the path for the founders to confront the consequences of their multi-million dollar scam in the United States.
Despite legal setbacks in the past, Estonia has now given the green light for the extradition of the masterminds behind the $575 million HashFlare Ponzi scheme. The initial approval was temporarily halted when the Tallinn Circuit Court intervened in November 2023, citing an inadequate investigation into essential circumstances and ordering compensation for the founders. However, armed with evidence concerning US detention conditions, the Estonian government has satisfied the necessary conditions to proceed with the extradition.
The defunct Bitcoin cloud miner, HashFlare, collapsed in 2019 after amassing $575 million. The charges against Turogin and Potapenko in the US include 18 counts of conspiracy, wire fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering, with potential sentences of up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
Cracking Down On Bad Actors
The founders were arrested in Estonia in 2022 following a joint investigation by US and Estonian law enforcement, leading to complex legal proceedings spanning multiple jurisdictions. Additionally, Turogin and Potapenko face allegations of obtaining $25 million via investors for creating a digital bank named Polybius.
The US Department of Justice contends that HashFlare misrepresented its capabilities, asserting the company lacked claimed equipment and possessed less than 1% of the computing power it professed to have. These charges highlight the dedication by the government toward regulating the crypto industry and cracking down on illicit activities, emphasizing the commitment to safeguarding investors and users.
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