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Bi-weekly crypto round-up for July 2022 (Part 2)

Cryptocurrencies are rallying after June's market meltdown. But will the upward momentum sustain?

The cryptocurrency market cap has reclaimed the US$1 trillion mark since its brutal comedown in June. But whether the current surge is the start of a bull run or a temporary relief rally is anyone’s guess. So don’t get too excited yet.

Here’s our latest market wrap from the last 2 weeks.

Quick take

  • NFT registration platform Premint was hacked, resulting in the theft of 320 NFTs that were sold for over US$400,000 in total
  • Dubai is home to over 1,000 companies operating in the metaverse and blockchain sector
  • Celsius is betting on its mining operation as it looks to reorganize and pay back more than US$5 billion owed to its creditors
  • Minecraft bans NFTs and blockchain, saying that they do not align with the game’s values
  • Coinbase faces SEC probe on crypto listings, just days after the regulator sues a former employee for alleged insider trading
  • Babel Finance lost US$280 million in proprietary trading and looking to convert its debt into equity

Key events

We’ve handpicked some of the most relevant emerging stories in the crypto space to help you stay ahead of the curve.
Crypto regulations

Government announcements and regulations

  • 16 July: Vladimir Putin has signed a law banning the use of digital securities and utility tokens as a means of payment in Russia
  • 17 July: Paraguay has passed a bill that establishes tax and regulatory framework, exempting companies operating in the crypto sector from paying a value-added tax (VAT)
  • 21 July: Finland raised €46.5 million from the liquidation of 1,889 BTC seized in drug raids
  • 21 July: Companies that issue stablecoins would have to face bank-like regulations and oversight under the latest draft bill from senior US House lawmakers
  • 21 July: UK’s Treasury to regulate “certain types” of stablecoins as a form of payment via its new Financial Services and Markets Bill
Premint hacked

Defaults, exploits and lawsuits

  • 18 July: Popular NFT registration platform Premint was compromised and hackers made away with 300+ stolen NFTs and over US$400,000 in profit
  • 22 July: SEC charges former Coinbase product manager and 2 others for crypto insider trading
  • 26 July: Coinbase facing SEC probe for allegedly listing unregistered securities
  • 28 July: Audius Treasury lost approximately 18.5 million AUDIO tokens worth roughly US$6 million due to a malicious proposal
  • 29 July: Nirvana Finance, a Solana-based yield protocol, sustained a US$3.5 million loss from a flash loan exploit which drained its liquidity pools
Exchanges

Digital banks and exchanges

  • 19 July: Coinbase secures licence to provide crypto asset services in Italy
  • 19 July: Dutch central bank has fined cryptocurrency exchange Binance €3.325 million for offering crypto services in the Netherlands without authorisation. Binance has since appealed and is currently awaiting approval for its application with the central bank
  • 20 July: Crypto.com obtained regulatory licence to operate in Italy
  • 20 July: OKX strikes partnership deal with TradingView, enabling users to execute trades on OKX directly from their TradingView account
  • 20 July: Gemini becomes the first registered Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) in Ireland
  • 26 July: Nubank, Brazil’s largest digital bank by market value, has attained the milestone of 1 million users on its crypto trading platform within 1 month after its launch
  • 28 July: Komainu, a digital asset custodian for institutions, granted initial provisional approval to offer institutional crypto products and services in Dubai
Founders of Unstoppable Domains

Acquisitions and fundings

  • 16 July: Empiric Network, a new decentralised blockchain oracle on StarkNet, has raised US$7 million in a seed funding round
  • 19 July: British art auction house Christie’s launched venture fund to support emerging art-focused Web3 companies
  • 21 July: KuCoin has secured over US$10 million in a strategic investment from Susquehanna International Group (SIG). They will also collaborate in incubation and ecosystem building for crypto startups
  • 25 July: UK’s top bank Barclays is among the investors in cryptocurrency custody firm Copper’s US$2 billion funding round
  • 27 July: Portuguese cybersecurity protocol Naoris raised US$11.5 million in an equity and token sale to build decentralised proof-of-security consensus mechanism
  • 28 July: NFT lending protocol reNFT has raised US$5 million in a recent funding round, which will be used to accelerate hires, integrations across multiple blockchains and product suite expansion
  • 28 July: CLST has raised US$5.3 million from crypto exchanges including Coinbase, Kraken and Luno for its seed funding round
  • 28 July: Digital identity startup Unstoppable Domains has secured US$65 million in a Series A funding round led by Pantera Capital
  • 29 July: VC firm Adreessen Horowitz (a16z) is leading a US$50 million seed round for Gary Vaynerchuk’s NFT project VeeFriends
NFTs

NFTs, GameFi and metaverses

  • 17 July: Yuga Labs attracted around 4,5000 participants to its first Otherside Metaverse project virtual tour
  • 19 July: Animoca Brands’ subsidiary, Blowfish Studios, announced the launch of Astrafer ($ASTRAFER), the governance token for the AAA open-world mech combat game Phantom Galaxies on QuickSwap
  • 19 July: Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, announced the launch of the Dubai Metaverse Strategy to support 40,000 virtual jobs. The emirate is now home to 1,000 metaverse companies
  • 20 July: Rarible integrates Solana NFTs, which will allow users to trade them with zero fees for a month
  • 20 July: Snapchat begins testing features that will allow NFT artists to showcase their designs as augmented reality (AR) filters
  • 20 July: Limewire partners with 2 of the biggest clubs in Ibiza, which will grant token holders free entry to Ushuaïa and Hï Ibiza for the entirety of the 2022 season
  • 20 July: GameStop‘s NFT marketplace gained over 5,000 ETH (~US$7.2 million) in trading volume since its launch on 11 July
  • 21 July: Optic, a startup that uses artificial intelligence (AI) to validate NFTs, has raised US$11 million in a seed round led by Kleiner Perkins and crypto-native investment giant Pantera Capital
  • 21 July: Square Enix to launch its 25th anniversary NFT collection on Enjin’s Efinity platform, a Polkadot parachain
  • 22 July: Mojang Studios, which is owned by Microsoft Corp, bans NFTs and blockchain in hugely popular 3D sandbox game Minecraft
  • 22 July: Tech entrepreneur and co-founder of Reid Hoffman LinkedIn is using OpenAI’s AI-powered image rendering platform to generate a series of Solana-based NFTs
  • 22 July: Following word that Microsoft will ban NFT use in Minecraft, Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney has confirmed that the company will not ban NFTs in its games

Images: Getty Images

Top crypto news

FTX continues its acquisition spree, offering lifelines to embattled crypto firms

18 July 2022

FTX

Image: Finder

Sam Bankman-Fried, the founder of cryptocurrency exchange FTX, has been dishing out lifelines and acquisition deals to distressed crypto firms despite the crypto winter.

In June, FTX signed a bailout deal with BlockFi – which includes a US$400 million credit facility and a potential acquisition for as much as US$240 million – when the crypto lender lost about US$80 million from exposures to crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC).

This month, the 30-year-old billionaire offered to give early liquidity to Voyager’s customers with a buyout proposal after the bankrupt crypto brokerage halted user transactions on 1 July. However, Voyager rejected the rescue plan, calling it a “low-ball bid”.

Currently, Bankman-Fried is in talks with Vidente, the owner of South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb, for a possible sale of its stake to FTX.

“I do feel like we have a responsibility to seriously consider stepping in, even if it is at a loss to ourselves, to stem contagion,” Bankman-Fried told NPR.

Read more


Coinbase vs SEC: Alleged insider trading and unregistered securities

26 July 2022

Coinbase vs SEC

Image: Finder

Coinbase, the Fortune 500 firm that is often viewed as the gold standard for cryptocurrency exchanges and staying on the right side of regulators, now faces scrutiny from the US Securities and Exchanges Commission (SEC).

On 21 July, a former Coinbase Global product manager and 2 others were charged for an alleged insider trading scheme involving cryptocurrencies.

Less than a week later, the SEC filed a separate action against Coinbase, claiming that at least 9 of the 25 tokens allegedly traded in the scheme were unregistered securities – a development that resulted in a 20% tumble in the company’s share price (NASDAQ:COIN).

However, Paul Grewal, chief legal officer at Coinbase, hits back at the allegations and said “Coinbase does not list securities on its platform. Period.” According to the company’s blog post, he clarified that only 7 of the 9 assets included in the SEC’s charges are listed on the platform, and none of them are securities.

Read more


Babel Finance lost US$280 million while trading client funds

29 July 2022

Babel Finance

Image: Getty Images

Babel Finance, a troubled Hong Kong-based crypto lender that was struck by market contagion alongside Celsius, Voyager Digital and Three Arrows Capital, has reportedly lost over US$280 million in Bitcoin and Ethereum.

According to its restructuring proposal deck obtained by The Block, the massive losses were sustained from proprietary trading activities with customer funds, and its unhedged positions led to forced liquidations as the crypto market plunged to an 18-month low in mid-June. The firm has since halted withdrawals.

Currently, Babel is looking to convert hundreds of millions of dollars of debt into equity, raise between US$250 million and US$300 million in convertible bonds, as well as obtain US$200 million of revolving credit to save its business.

Read more


Disclaimer: This information should not be interpreted as an endorsement of cryptocurrency or any specific provider, service or offering. It is not a recommendation to trade. Cryptocurrencies are speculative, complex and involve significant risks – they are highly volatile and sensitive to secondary activity. Performance is unpredictable and past performance is no guarantee of future performance. Consider your own circumstances, and obtain your own advice, before relying on this information. You should also verify the nature of any product or service (including its legal status and relevant regulatory requirements) and consult the relevant Regulators' websites before making any decision. Finder, or the author, may have holdings in the cryptocurrencies discussed.

Note: All prices mentioned on this page are in USD unless otherwise stated.

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