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Payment News

  • Tassat joins FedNow with a B2B API ramp for its clients. That will allow the clients access to the Federal Reserve’s real-time transaction service when it launches in July. It is the first blockchain operator to indicate interest, but more could join.

The FedNow real-time payment service will begin in July with a few banks on board. It will allow real-time gross transactions by sending commercial bank money via a federal reserve credit account to the receiver. This non-blockchain alternative to CBDCs and stablecoins looks promising for those who prefer fiat transactions.

  • Coinbase introduces local bank transfers for Singapore residents. It’s a step in line with the exchange’s global expansion plans. Also, the move bridges a gap between fiat and digital assets as online crypto platform transactions can be conducted seamlessly.

Singaporeans can use any local bank to send and receive money into their Coinbase account. The transaction has zero charges and occurs similarly to fiat transfers. If this is not flexibility at its peak, we don’t know what is.

Coinbase did not end there, as it introduced Singpass. The platform brings the familiar 2-click experience Singaporeans are used to with local bank applications. It is secure but, most importantly, easy to onboard new users.

This platform offers more than 200 different cryptocurrencies, and with the new features, users can join without much trouble. It sticks with the familiar and painless fiat approach to introduce digital assets. Also, the introduction comes after Coinbase’s strategic partnership with Standard Chartered.

  • NatWest Bank takes a dip in its cryptocurrency transactions and announces new limits. The decision comes on the heels of huge losses from crypto scams in 2022. Going forward, the daily limit will be £1,000, while the limit within 30 days will be £5,000.

The UK bank insists that the limit is for the customer’s protection. It will prevent them from losing mind-breaking sums of money to scams or frauds in the cryptocurrency industry. Hence, users can only spend £1,000 daily and £5,000 monthly on crypto exchanges.

NatWest Bank also informed customers of the need to protect their wallet passwords and avoid sending funds to hosted wallets. It identified giveaway scams from purported celebrities as a primary source for huge losses.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has not folded its arms to the scams. It banned the trading of crypto options due to the volatile cryptocurrency market and difficulty obtaining an ideal valuation.

Furthermore, it revealed that it only approved 14% of the 300 crypto companies that applied for FCA registration in the past three years. That is 41 companies out of 300.

  • Sterling deposits and withdrawals will end as the local facilitating banking partner ends its partnership with Binance. Users must look at other local currencies to continue transactions on the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange. The partnership may have ended, but support for Sterling will continue until May 22.

Users transacting with Sterling account for 1% of Binance’s customer base. Also, the exchange assured them that the move would not affect their accounts or change functionalities. They can continue their transactions with other payment methods.

PaySafe, the local banking partner facilitating Sterling transactions, cited UK regulations as the reason for its decision. It maintained that the environment had become too challenging to render crypto services to users.

Binance’s battle with UK regulators is not news, as the company continues its battle since its launch in the UK. The Financial Conduct Authority’s (FCA) warning led to its partnership with PaySafe since the latter is a regulated company. However, that has ended, and the question of finding another local partner has popped into view.

Security News

  • ChipMixer caught up in money-laundering allegations as Europol seizes $47 million worth of bitcoin. In the latest round to catch up with cryptocurrency platforms involved in cybercrime, German and US authorities have cracked down on ChipMixer. They seized four servers containing 7 TB of data, including 1909.4 Bitcoins and over 55 transactions.

The authorities revealed that ChipMixer operated an unlicensed cryptocurrency platform for mainstream and dark web users. However, most of the transactions came from the dark web end. It helped launder 152,000 Bitcoins tied to ransomware groups, stolen cryptocurrency assets, contraband goods trafficking, child sexually explicit material, etc.

Zeppelin, Mamba, Lockbit, Suncrypt, and Dharma are popular ransomware groups alleged to have laundered ransom payments via ChipMixer. Also, the latter’s burst came on the heels of the Hydra Market dark web service crackdown. That operation helped European law enforcement uncover transactions worth millions of euros.

Crypto mixers take digital assets, mix them with other cryptocurrencies, and send the equivalent amount to the address of the recipient. The system of operation conceals the connection between both parties, enabling them to stay anonymous. For the most part, the system is legitimate, but the use cases have made it a haven for money laundering.

ChipMixer had a similar principle of operation. It erased all the trails leading to the origin of a digital asset by turning it into chips. Hence, tracking the cash flow from the source to the receiver.

Law enforcement has ramped up its crackdown on these platforms, and ChipMixer is the latest to go down. 

Exchange News

crypto and security news
  • Uniswap leads the pack as decentralized exchanges soar in trading volume. The recent week has been uncertain and turbulent as the financial sector recovers from the shock of SVB’s collapse. Even centralized exchanges have not fared better, with a continuous decline in trading volume since 2022.
  • On the other hand, the latest data from DeFiLlama shows decentralized exchanges reaching a record daily trading volume of $25 billion. The last time they went that high was in May 2021, when they recorded $24.3 billion. Uniswap took the lead amongst its peers in the sudden surge.

Traders pulled away from USDC after claims emerged that Circle had a $3 billion exposure to the failed Silicon Valley bank. However, Circle assured investors of the full backing of every USDC with one dollar.

While SVB’s collapse doesn’t sit well with fiat investors, decentralized exchanges are smiling to the bank. It is a record week for them, and we’ll see how it goes.

  • Coinbase advises investors that ETH unstaking could take more than a month. The mega exchange introduced ETH staking in 2020, but no avenue existed for unstaking. At least not until the Shapella upgrade that will allow unstaking.

Nonetheless, the crypto exchange warned that it could take months for stakers to get their coins. The doors would be open 24 hours after the upgrade is complete. However, there is a limit to the withdrawals.

That is there to prevent the vulnerability of the platform as validators leave. The exchange will control the waiting time for the ETH payouts, but there is no fixed estimated time of arrival. So, you might wait months to receive your ETh rewards.

While that is disturbing, most investors will face losses if they withdraw their ETH after the upgrade. The news is one of happiness and uncertainty. We’ll keep our fingers crossed and see how it plays out in the coming months.

Web 3.0 News

  • Salesforce pushes into Web 3.0 with its new NFT loyalty program for the big brands. The customer relationship management software firm launched its pilot NFT management program, Salesforce Web3, on March 15. It is a surprising move that is typical in the Web 3.0 community.

Businesses or clients can create NFT-based loyalty programs by minting and selling NFTs. The platform provides tools for real-time customer data tracking and blockchain activity monitoring. Furthermore, it comes after a successful pilot program that includes big names like Crown Royal, Barbie, Hot Wheels, etc.

Adam Caplan, Salesforce’s GM of Web3, was enthusiastic about first-party data and made the following remark:

“As regulations shift and Apple changes the rules around cookies, Facebook and brands don’t want to spend all this money with some of these organizations—the crypto wallet becomes really powerful so I can directly engage with a customer and access that first-party data.”

Things look bright for Salesforce with its NFT program. Given the success of 257,000 transactions in the pilot program, it is confident in its approach.

  • Meta pauses NFTs on its platform a year after embracing them. That ends its support for NFTs on Facebook and Instagram. Contrarily, the company will focus on its messaging and monetization platforms.

NFTs have had a rough year, similar to their siblings in the cryptocurrency segment. Also, Meta’s NFT drive hasn’t had the warm welcome expected, even with the company’s Horizon projects. The company started testing the minting and sales of NFTs on Instagram in 2021.

Reports say that the latest change will lead to more job cuts as the company closes down its NFT division. NFT has a deep root in esports gaming and it’s currently revolutionizing the industry. The company will cut 11,000 jobs in November 2022.

Going forward, Meta will push to reduce the leadership layers from Mark Zuckerberg to interns in the company. It will also move funds to automation and scrap more projects.

  • Anchorage announces the layoff of 20% of its employees. The recent layoffs in the tech sector have caught up with the first federally chartered cryptocurrency platform. Also, the move may be connected to the recent collapse of the largest cryptocurrency banks in the US.

The crypto platform announced the move as an adjustment to the new economic environment. It also cited regulations as a primary factor in the action.

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