Some federal lawmakers and their staffers are all in on cryptocurrency speculation as Congress mulls how (or how not) to regulate the coins

US Senator from Wyoming, Cynthia Lummis.
Sen. Cynthia Lummis of Wyoming has invested in cryptocurrency.

  • At least five lawmakers invested in brokerage firms involved in crypto or other digital assets in 2020 and 2021.
  • At least 21 congressional staffers have also invested in the market.
  • Crypto experts predicted that the number of federal lawmakers investing in crypto would grow.

Lawmakers are torn about how to regulate cryptocurrency. But that hasn’t stopped some members of Congress and their senior staffers from investing in it.

At least one senator and four US House representatives have bought stock in cryptocurrency-related companies or invested with brokerage firms that work with this emerging market, according to an Insider analysis of federal records detailing the lawmakers’ personal finances for 2020.

Meanwhile, Congress has been introducing legislative proposals aimed at better regulating crypto. 

Sen. Cynthia Lummis, a Republican of Wyoming who sits on the Senate Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs Committee, is an outlier among her colleagues. In 2020, she reported investing up to $250,000 in Unchained Capital, a bitcoin-based financial-services company. She’s among a handful of members of Congress who accept cryptocurrency campaign contributions.

 

But Lummis was several days late reporting a purchase in August of up to $100,000 in Bitcoin. Lummis’s spokeswoman Abegail Cave told Insider that the Wyoming senator “has gone above and beyond to comply with federal law and Senate Ethics requirements regarding financial disclosures.”

Rep. Jeff Van Drew, a Republican of New Jersey, reported up to $250,000 in “an investment trust” operated by Grayscale, the world’s largest digital-currency asset-management firm. The office of Van Dew did not respond to Insiders comment on what kind of investment trust he has with the firm.

Democratic Rep. Jake Auchincloss, a 33-year-old freshman of Massachusetts, reported up to $15,000 in Flipside Crypto Investor Holdings.

 

Rep. Barry Moore, a Republican of Alabama, reported investing up to $15,000 with a brokerage firm in Coffee, Alabama. The description of the firm on his financial disclosure said “crypto currency.” His office did not respond to Insider’s request for comment on which brokerage firm he was using. His disclosure said the firm paid $2,501 to $5,000 in dividends in 2020.

Jim Newman, the husband of Rep. Marie Newman, a Democrat of Illinois, has traded stock in the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase at least 16 times. The most recent trade, a sale valued at $50,001 to $100,000, occurred in November.

 

Also in November, Newman’s husband purchased up to $50,000 worth of stock in Grayscale Bitcoin Trust.

Congressional ethics officials say that the “most comprehensive approach” for lawmakers to “eliminate conflicts of interests and the appearance of them” is to form what’s known as a qualified blind trust, a financial vehicle the House or Senate ethics committee approves that a trustee manages independently.

Most members of Congress have not established qualified blind trusts, which are often expensive and time-consuming to establish.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at the US Capitol on October 07, 2021.
A staff director for the Senate Republican Communications Center under Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell invests in crypto.

Staffers charge into crypto

Lawmakers are not the only ones getting in on the cryptocurrency action.

Insider identified 21 high-ranking congressional staffers or their spouses who in 2020 and 2021 bought or sold cryptocurrencies, including ethereum and dogecoin, a cryptocurrency originally created as a joke among crypto enthusiasts that’s grown in value over the past year.

The tally is part of the exhaustive Conflicted Congress project, in which Insider reviewed nearly 9,000 financial-disclosure reports for every sitting lawmaker and their top-ranking staffers.

Senior staffers and some other aides on Capitol Hill are bound by federal law to file timely reports about all their stock transactions and other outside earnings if they make more than $132,552 annually. That’s generally the salary minimum for chiefs of staff; the staffers and aides also include chief counsels, legislative directors, and staff members who work on committees and advise lawmakers on policy.

The extent to which other Capitol Hill office employees with lower salaries hold cryptocurrency and crypto-related stocks is unknown because they are not required to disclose it.

Kristin Walker, Lummis’ chief of staff, told Insider that she started investing in bitcoin in the summer of 2020, before Lummis was elected and before she came to work on the Hill.

“Wyoming has been at the forefront of digital assets for the past few years, and I learned about it through Wyoming’s efforts,” Walker said.

Another crypto investor was Scott Sloofman, the staff director for the Senate Republican Communications Center under Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. He purchased between $1,001 to $15,000-worth of Coinbase shares in April. He did not respond to Insider’s inquiry about his investments. 

More senior staffers than lawmakers have invested in cryptocurrency does not come as a surprise to Ron Hammond, the director of government affairs for the Blockchain Association. 

“There has been a massive uptick in staffers who either have crypto or are really interested in the issue, and I think it’s more of a generational thing,” Hammond, who worked on Capitol Hill as a former congressional staffer for many years.

The average age of members of the House at the beginning of the current 117th Congress was 58.4 years, according to the Library of Congress. The average age for senators was 64.3 years.

The idea of lawmakers and congressional staffers investing in cryptocurrency is exciting, Hammond said. 

“For those who want to get involved in crypto legislation, it’s important to maybe have some foot in it,” he said. “It does help increase your knowledge about how everything is supposed to work or you know what some flaws may be.”

Elizabeth Warren
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat of Massachusetts, is a crypto skeptic.

Congress tries to get a grip on digital assets

Crypto chatter has ratcheted up on Capitol Hill in recent months as supporters and opponents of digital assets sketch out their respective visions about what the future might hold. 

In early June, Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia and Republican Sen. Roy Blunt of Missouri proposed tightening cryptocurrency rules to better trace electronic payments to ransomware attackers

A few weeks later, Rep. Maxine Waters, a Democrat of California who also chairs the House Committee on Financial Services, told attendees at a subcommittee hearing that she and her colleagues are “committed to providing not only more transparency in this minimally-regulated industry, but to ensuring that appropriate safeguards are in place.”

“So we have begun a thorough examination of this marketplace,” the 16-term lawmaker announced during a two-hour discussion weighing whether cryptocurrencies would lead to financial independence or fiscal ruin. 

Along the way, House lawmakers quietly passed a bipartisan bill instructing the Federal Trade Commission to provide Congress with recommendations “to further protect consumers from unfair or deceptive acts or practices in the digital token marketplace.” 

Come late July, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, a Democrat of Michigan who also chairs the House Homeland Security subcommittee on intelligence and counterterrorism, urged administration officials to lay out their wish list now for stronger cryptocurrency curbs. “If you need changes to legislation, if you need resources, we want to hear more from you, not less,” Slotkin said during a 90-minute discussion tagged “terrorism and digital financing.” 

Earlier this month, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a crypto skeptic who’s characterized it as “unreliable tech” with “unpredictable fees,” said the industry harmed the planet by necessitating huge, energy-sucking mines, computer facilities designed to solve complex math problems to obtain the digital coins.

 

“Cryptomining has huge environmental costs & is raising energy prices for consumers. Bitcoin alone consumes as much energy as Washington state,” the Massachusetts Democrat tweeted.

A few days later, House lawmakers quizzed the CEOs of a half-dozen crypto-focused companies about their business practices.

The six witnesses, who handle everything from the logistics of mining bitcoin to branching out into other blockchain-based investments, spent four hours answering questions about the pros and cons of cryptocurrencies and their place in the modern economy. 

Daniel Gallagher, the chief legal officer for the financial-services company Robinhood, tried to manage expectations ahead of the hearing, telling CNBC that “it’s a stretch to believe that there will be legislation coming out on crypto anytime soon.”

Representative Tom Emmer sitting down at the House Financial Services Committee meeting
Rep. Tom Emmer, a Republican from Minnesota, is a cryptocurrency advocate whose re-election campaign committee accepts bitcoin. His personal financial records indicate that he personally does not invest in crypto.

Crypto associations bulk up lobbying efforts

The flurry of talks surrounding regulation has prompted more cryptocurrency associations to strengthen their lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.

By August, cryptocurrency interests had collectively spent $2.4 million lobbying the federal government, including Congress, according to OpenSecrets, a nonpartisan research organization that tracks money in politics.

The interests lobbied against portions of the bipartisan infrastructure bill that would impose new tax-reporting requirements on crypto brokers that could pave the way for stronger regulations.

The lobbying efforts were unsuccessful. President Joe Biden signed the infrastructure bill into law in November. The crypto-broker policy is expected to raise $28 billion over 10 years to help fund infrastructure projects, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

Five years ago, the House created the bipartisan Congressional Blockchain Caucus to consider policymaking. One of the leaders of the group was Mick Mulvaney, a Republican congressman from South Carolina who later became President Donald Trump’s chief of staff. 

The current chairmen of the caucus are GOP Reps. Tom Emmer of Minnesota and David Schweikert of Arizona and Democratic Reps. Bill Foster of Illinois and Darren Soto of Florida. None reported holding any cryptocurrencies in their 2020 financial disclosures.

Emmer told MinnPost in October that he started reading about crypto after one of his staffers left the book “The Age of Cryptocurrency” on his desk back in 2015 or 2016. He has introduced several crypto-related bills, including the Securities Clarity Act, which would allow regulators to categorize cryptocurrencies as either a commodity, a security, or a currency. 

But overall, lawmakers have been slow to embrace cryptocurrency because it hasn’t been around for a long time, Najah Roberts, the founder of Crypto Blockchain Plug, a brick-and-mortar cryptocurrency exchange and education center, told Insider.

“They are afraid of that technology,” she said.

Roberts said she hoped more lawmakers would invest in the market.

“It will be great if they do because then that will give them a better understanding on how to acquire the asset, how they feel about securing the asset,” she said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Binance says it will withdraw Singapore licence application and wind down its digital payment token business in the country

Binance
Binance says it will withdraw its Singapore licence application.

  • Crypto exchange Binance’s Singapore unit had applied for a license to operate in the city-state.
  • It is now withdrawing the application and winding down its Singapore digital payment token business.
  • Singapore is among the forerunners globally in developing a formal licensing framework.

The Singapore affiliate of Binance, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges, said on Monday it will withdraw its local license application and wind down its digital payment token business in the broadly crypto-friendly city-state.

The company, which has come under growing scrutiny globally, did not give a reason for its decision beyond “strategic, commercial and developmental” considerations and said it would refocus the local unit’s operations on becoming a blockchain innovation hub.

Governments and financial watchdogs around the world have intensified scrutiny of the cryptocurrency industry this year, posing a challenge to exchanges that have thrived in a mostly unregulated environment.

The move comes a week after Binance said it plans to file for a license from the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority, and to become a registered crypto asset firm there within six to 18 months. Since clashing with the regulator in June, Binance has established a UK office with a large number of compliance staff.

Singapore is a popular location for cryptocurrency firms due to a comparatively clear regulatory and operating environment and is among the forerunners globally in developing a formal licensing framework.

Binance’s Singapore unit was one of well over a hundred cryptocurrency companies to apply for a license to operate in Singapore and had been allowed to do business while its license request was being processed.

Singapore issued its first licenses this year, including to a unit of Southeast Asia’s largest bank DBS, however, dozens of others have been withdrawn or rejected.

Binance said its Singapore platform for trading fiat and cryptocurrencies will close by mid-February. In September, the company said that because of local regulation, users in Singapore would not be able to trade on its global platform.

“I think this signifies again Singapore’s license regime is quite stringent,” said Chia Hock Lai, co-chairman, Blockchain Association Singapore.

“Having said that, Binance also stated that Singapore will remain as their blockchain innovation hub, so it is still consistent with the narrative that Singapore is a very important blockchain hub.”

Financial regulators in Hong Kong, Germany, and Japan, among others, have targeted Binance, raising issues such as consumer protection and anti-money laundering checks. Some have banned the platform from certain activities, while others have warned consumers that it was unlicensed to operate. 

In September, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and other US regulators launched a probe into whether Binance engaged in insider trading and market manipulation. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

NFTs are the early stage of a social network that doesn’t rely on ads or ‘poison marketplaces’ to bring communities together, Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko says

Anatoly Yakovenko
Anatoly Yakovenko

Non-fungible tokens might be all the rage right now, but they’re in fact the early foundations the social networks of the future, according to Solana co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko.

NFTs are often sold as part of a collection, or come as part of a play-to-earn gaming platform, linking up owners all over the world. The sense of community is built in from the get-go and requires no external involvement.

“I think these are the early starts of true web social networks that do not rely on ads for monetization that don’t rely on Google or Facebook to function,” Yakovenko told Insider in a recent interview. 

“They are purely these digital communities that can monetize/self monetize from their own content without the need of any of these external poison marketplaces,” he said. Yakovenko is a long-time critic of some of the advertising and data-privacy strategies of larger social platforms such as Facebook or Google.

Hype around the metaverse, a virtual reality where people can buy land, homes, luxury items that they pay for in cryptocurrency, helped make NFTs November’s best performing digital assets.

In the past week alone, a whopping $275.5 million worth of NFTs have been sold, according to Non Fungible data, thanks in part to rockstars’ avatars hanging out in the likes of Decentraland or the Sandbox with those of ordinary people, as well as digital art sales from the Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks NFT collections. Community-based NFTs often bring perks to their members too.

The solana blockchain is a smaller rival to the ethereum network. It too can host decentralized finance applications, like smart contracts, as well as run NFTs, which are unique digital tokens that represent a real-world piece of content, such as artwork, music or video. Unlike cryptocurrencies, they can’t be exchanged like for like, making them a kind of digital collector’s item.

Chainalysis, a blockchain analytics platform, says the success of NFTs is a result of “community and word of mouth growth”. 

They certainly appeal to communities such as celebrity fan bases. K-pop idol band BTS, pop star Katy Perry, along with fashion houses Burberry and Louis Vuitton are just some of the names that have dived into the NFT space. TikTok, a video-sharing social media platform, launched its own NFT collection in October. Snoop Dog even has his own metaverse called the Snoopverse and a fan coughed up $450,000 for a plot of virtual land to be the rapper’s neighbor. 

Even with all the glitz and glamour around NFTs, they’re mainly something ordinary people will own. 80% of all NFT transfers between January and October this year involved people that spent less than $10,000 per transaction. 

“I am really excited to see an NFT community go from – 10,000 people to 100,000 and then a million and then 100 million – that’s unbelievable, right?” Yakovenko said.

 “What does that look like when there’s 100 million people that are all in – the same community that is driven by this digital content?” he said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Crypto firms have embarked on a lobbying blitz this year and have reportedly spent $5 million in the first 3 quarters as regulation looms

crypto
The cryptocurrency market this year has swelled to a valuation of $2.2 trillion.

  • Crypto firms spent $5 million in the first nine months of 2021 lobbying US legislators, The Economist reported. 
  • The report noted spending by crypto exchange Coinbase and payments company Block.
  • Roughly $2.5 million of the funds were spent between July and September, a quadrupling over the year-ago period. 

Cryptocurrency firms ramped up spending during 2021 to lobby US lawmakers as the industry faces potential legislation, with the tab ballooning to about $5 million over a few months, according to The Economist. 

The spending took place during the first nine months of this year and the amount was calculated using public disclosures, the magazine reported in its December 11 edition. Roughly $2.5 million of the funds were spent between July and September, a quadrupling over the same period in 2020. 

The amount of money spent employs the equivalent of 86 full-time staff, a surge from just one in 2016, the report said. It also said crypto exchange Coinbase spent $625,000 on lobbyists in the third quarter alone and payments company Block has shelled out more than $1.7 million since April 2020. 

Block recently had a name change from Square. Its CEO and bitcoin enthusiast Jack Dorsey recently left the helm of Twitter to focus more time on the payments company that he co-founded. 

There are “reams of regulations” potentially in play for the crypto industry, the report said. Issues under consideration include the taxation of crypto investments and protection of consumers from fraud, reducing systemic risk, and ensuring fair competition.

An overall surge in prices for bitcoin, altcoins, NFTs and DeFi tokens this year had collectively pushed the cryptocurrency market past a $3 trillion valuation for the first time. The market cap has since slipped, moving to $2.2 trillion on Friday. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried says crypto ‘has the potential to improve a lot of people’s lives,’ but still needs a lot more clarity from US regulators

Sam Bankman-Fried FTX CEO crypto
Sam Bankman-Fried cofounded FTX in 2019 and is its CEO.

  • Sam Bankman-Fried, the CEO of the FTX exchange told US lawmakers that more clarity was still needed from US regulators. 
  • Bankman-Fried said that crypto had the potential “to improve a lot of people’s lives”. 
  • Cryptocurrencies have been seen as a better alternative for the unbanked and for sending money abroad.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

FTX boss Sam Bankman-Fried believes the crypto industry could improve people’s lives — it just needs clearer guidance from regulators to make it happen.

The crypto exchange CEO laid out what he sees as the benefits of digital currencies before US lawmakers on Wednesday. 

“The industry has the potential to improve a lot of people’s lives. There are a lot of ways that this can happen. I think that the payments side of this gets a lot of attention, and rightfully so,” he told members of the House Financial Services Committee.

Bankman-Fried noted that people making cross-border payments to family members can face double-digit percentage fees, and that global remittances can take weeks to arrive. It’s a particular problem for the hardest-off, who don’t have the same access to financial services as they stand, he argued.

“When you look at the number of people who are underbanked, or unbanked, in the United States and globally — it’s indicative of a system that does not work for everyone,” Bankman-Fried told the lawmakers. 

“Cryptocurrencies do provide a potential way to address a number of these issues, making it easier, cheaper, faster and more equitable for people to do what they need to do to manage their financial lives.”

Digital and crypto transfers can be carried out without going through the traditional financial system, though people do need a computing device. El Salvador, where Statista found 71% of people don’t have a bank account, made bitcoin legal tender in September. In the US, 5% of people were unbanked as of 2019, according to an FDIC survey. 

Asked how to keep crypto industry innovation happening in the US, Bankman-Fried called for clearer rules of the road from regulators.

“I’m optimistic that on the regulatory side, we’re not that far from that point. I think that there are a few clarifications that could go a very long way here,” he said.

“On the market side — having a framework with a single regulatory structure, and it might have multiple regulators involved in it.”

He said a single unified framework for spot and future digital assets would help, likely involving oversight by both the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commision.

The SEC has yet to give the go-ahead for an exchange-traded fund backed by bitcoin, rather than bitcoin futures. It has come under fire for rejecting a spot bitcoin ETF from VanEck. Meanwhile, other countries are forging ahead, and Canada recently approved Fidelity’s spot bitcoin ETF. 

Lawmakers should also look at the need for more clarity in the audit requirements for stablecoin reserves, the FTX boss said. Stablecoins are a type of cryptocurrency that’s pegged to an asset such as a fiat currency, government bonds, or a precious metal.

“Giving clarity on the stablecoin side of audit requirements for the reserves — but without sort of squashing innovation by requiring only a very limited number of institutions to be able to issue them — could go a long way.”

Digital payments company Circle, whose CEO also testified before the House committee, has been criticized over shifting the reserves for its USDC coin beyond just the dollar and short-duration US Treasuries. 

US policymakers are expected to put forward a package of cryptocurrency measures next year. 

“I’m optimistic that we’re going to see changes to the framework over the next few years that will bring us into a world that can make the United States the source of the deepest and most liquid markets in the cryptocurrency ecosystem,” Bankman-Fried said.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The CIA confirms rumors that it’s working on cryptocurrency projects

CIA Director William Burns
CIA Director William Burns.

  • At the Wall Street Journal CEO Council Summit on Monday, CIA Director William Burns confirmed the agency is running several cryptocurrency-related projects 
  • Burns said the agency is monitoring the digital asset and ransomware space.
  • It was Burns’ predecessor who set the cryptocurrency projects into motion to look at various consequences of cryptocurrencies.

It’s official: the Central Intelligence Agency is involved in crypto. 

During the Wall Street Journal’s CEO Summit on Monday, CIA Director William Burns confirmed that the government agency is running several cryptocurrency-related projects. Burns said it was his predecessor, David Cohen, who started the projects.

While some conspiracy theorists have long held that the CIA invented bitcoin — although this computer scientist would claim otherwise — Burns’ interview simply confirms the agency’s involvement. He called it an “important priority” for the CIA, and he planned to devote “resources and attention” to the subject moving forward.

Burns also said that the CIA would be looking to add crypto experts to its team of intelligence analysts and open communication lines with industry experts. 

Regarding ransomware attacks, Burns said the digital asset space “could have enormous impact” on the country. While he did not mention specifics, Burns did say that the agency is looking into the financial networks used by criminal groups leveraging digital assets for ransom.

Burns said his predecessor “had set in motion a number of different projects focused on cryptocurrency and trying to look at second- and third-order consequences as well and helping with our colleagues in other parts of the U.S. government to provide solid intelligence on what we’re seeing as well.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

BitMart says it’s resumed crypto withdrawals three days after hackers stole almost $200 million in funds

Hacker
Hacker

  • Sheldon Xia, the founder of BitMart exchange said on Twitter that withdrawals will be resumed “step by step”. 
  • Xia said the company would resume deposits and withdrawals for ETH and related tokens from late Tuesday. 
  • On Saturday, $196 million was stolen from BitMart users’ cryptocurrency wallets.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Crypto exchange BitMart said early on Wednesday it would gradually resume withdrawals, three days after hackers ran away with close to $200 million worth of funds from its clients’ cryptocurrency wallets. 

Sheldon Xia, BitMart founder, said via a Twitter post that the exchange would resume deposits and withdrawals for ether and related tokens. Deposits were set to resume from 10 pm and 11 pm EST Tuesday. 

“The deposit and withdrawal function of all tokens will be resumed step by step, along with the recovery progress of security testing and public chain development,” Xia tweeted

“No worries, we are marching forward, security will always be the first priority.”

BitMart, which is based in the Cayman Islands, also told its clients Tuesday that it was hosting a security upgrade and replacing all deposit addresses including bitcoin, ether, sol, and all other tokens.

On Saturday, BitMart said in a blog post it had identified a security breach related to two of its hot wallets. Up to $198 million was taken from wallets on the ethereum network and the binance smart chain blockchain using private keys that the culprits had gained access to. The exchange had said it will use its own funding to compensate affected users. 

BitMart is not the only exchange to be hacked using a private key. In early November, $139 million was stolen from the Boy X Highspeed, decentralized cross-chain exchange. Neo Wang, the company’s CEO told CoinDesk this was due to a leaked administrator key. 

In August, more than $600 million worth of cryptocurrencies was stolen from the poly network, but nearly half of the money was then returned.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Bitcoin is back above $50,000 as crypto investors recover from the weekend rout, while metaverse tokens are soaring

Bitcoin
Bitcoin

  • Bitcoin rose above $50,000 on Tuesday, as investors jumped in after the coin’s dive at the weekend to two-month lows.
  • The recent sell-off was prompted by a combination of worries regarding the Omicron covid variant and Fed.
  • Metaverse tokens mana and sand climbed as much as 24% and 18%, respectively.

Bitcoin gained for a third day on Tuesday, rallying above $50,000 after investors bought into the 20% drop at the weekend that was triggered by a combination of concern about the impact of the Omicron variant and large crypto holders selling aggressively.

Bitcoin rose 9% in 24 hours to stand at $51,511.24 at 07:18 a.m. ET, while ether climbed 12% to touch $4,424.44, according to Coinmarketcap. On Saturday, a sell-off gained momentum, as larger investors piled in and pushed the price down by as much as 20% to below $43,000, while smaller cryptocurrencies tumbled.

By Tuesday, the gains in bitcoin and ether spread to other coins, such as the native tokens of the polkadot, avalanche and terra blockchains, which rose by more than 12% on the day.

“I believe this is due to existing investors taking the opportunity to buy the dip as well as new investors seeing the 20% drop as a good opportunity to get exposed to bitcoin after a period of market greed and price surge,” Nicolai Qvale Fredriksen, analyst at Arcane Research, said. 

Bitcoin is still around 25% below the record $69,000 set in November. The price had been gradually drifting thanks to the strength of the dollar and to investors cashing in on this year’s vast gains. The most recent catalyst came from the emergence of the Omicron coronavirus variant, although some of the concern over the risk it poses to the global economy has receded.

With US growth and inflation picking up, this has raised the chances of more rapid action from the Federal Reserve, which has signaled it will tighten monetary policy. Rising interest rates often lure investors out of the more expensive areas of the market. 

Fredriksen said that she was seeing a new resistance level of around $55,000 in the short term for bitcoin.

Bitcoin is still the largest cryptocurrency by market value, but its dominance has declined as other coins have gained in value this year. It now accounts for around 40% of total market value, down from 70% in January Fredriksen said. 

Metaverse tokens like Decentraland’s mana and Sandbox’s sand, which are less liquid than bitcoin, rose sharply. Mana was last up around 16%, while sand gained 13% and Axie Infinity’s axs token climbed 11%.

“Ever since Facebook announced their transition to Meta, there has been significantly more eyes on meta-verse related projects,” Danial Daychopan, CEO of Plutus.it said. 

“Those who missed the initial rally after the Facebook news emerged have been waiting for a good opportunity to buy-in, and the recent market crash presented exactly that.” 

The metaverse has resulted in non-fungible token linked cryptocurrencies being the best performing digital assets in November, according to Kraken exchange data. Investors have been spending millions on the digital world in the last few weeks. A plot of virtual land recently sold for $4.3 million in The Sandbox. 

“The metaverse industry is in my opinion only just getting warmed up, relative to their long term value,” Marcus Sotiriou, analyst at UK based and Canada listed digital asset broker GlobalBlock said. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

​​Floki inu is going to get its very own metaverse in February, while the team behind the dogecoin spinoff expands its marketing push around the world

Floki inu
Floki inu

Dogecoin spinoff floki inu plans to launch its own metaverse in February next year, the team behind the memecoin said, as the project pushes ahead with a multinational marketing campaign.

Floki inu’s virtual world will be a gaming metaverse where people can play to earn unique non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, a spokesperson for the floki inu project told Insider on Monday.

“Some of our utility products will launch this month, and our flagship PlayToEarn NFT gaming metaverse will have its first version out in February 2022,” the spokesperson said.

The metaverse is an overall term for 3-D digital worlds where people can live, work and play using avatars. Some individual metaverses are already gaining fans, including Axie Infinity, which rewards players of its games with crypto assets. Other metaverses, such as Decentraland, are based around digital real estate that has sold for millions of dollars.

Metaverse-related cryptocurrencies have surged an eye-popping 37,000% this year, based on the gains of five coins — Axie Infinity, Decentraland, The Sandbox, Enjin Coin and GALA — according to data from Macro Hive. Floki inu, which was created in August, is down 52% since a month ago, according to CoinGecko data.

Leading mainstream investors such as Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood and crypto giant Grayscale believe the metaverse could become a trillion-dollar opportunity.

The leading virtual-reality platform in NFT sales right now, The Sandbox, sold $70.6 million worth of NFTs over the past seven days, according to NonFungible data. In second place was Decentraland, with a total of $6.6 million.

The floki inu project is looking to reach a wide audience with its ongoing marketing campaign. This has already reached 15 countries such as the UK, Dubai and India, via displays at airports and on public transport. Its sports partnerships cover deals with India’s Kerala Blasters and Germany’s Bayer 04 Leverkusen, among others. 

“The marketing we do positions these utility products to be massively used and adopted when they launch … due to the brand awareness we’re creating for floki right now,” the floki inu spokesperson said, adding that those campaigns have been funded by a 3% marketing tax on every transaction. 

But the project has run into trouble over its London marketing push for floki inu, after its massive campaign around the city’s travel system sparked concern about unregulated assets. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

BitMart suspends withdrawals after hackers drained almost $200 million in cryptocurrencies using a stolen private key

Hacker
Hacker

  • Crypto exchange BitMart suspended withdrawals Sunday after hackers ran off with $196 million from wallets.  
  • Sheldon Xia, BitMart’s CEO, said on Monday the crypto was taken using a stolen private key. 
  • Crypto fraud is on the rise. The BXH exchange lost $139 million last month after an admin key was leaked.
  • Sign up here for our daily newsletter, 10 Things Before the Opening Bell.

Close to $200 million in cryptocurrencies has been stolen from wallets from the BitMart exchange using a stolen private key, according to the company’s chief executive. 

On Monday BitMart’s CEO Sheldon Xia said that they discovered that the cryptocurrencies were withdrawn using a stolen private key which usually enables a user to access their cryptocurrency.

“We have identified a large-scale security breach related to one of our ETH (ether) hot wallets and one of our BSC (binance smart chain) hot wallets, ” Xia said on Twitter.

PeckShield inc, a data analytics company said on Twitter Sunday $100 million was taken from the ethereum network and $96 million from the binance smart chain blockchain. The assets affected included meme coins floki inu and shiba inu, among several other altcoins. 

PeckShield inc. said that the money was stolen using a “pretty straightforward: transfer-out, swap, and wash” technique. 

After getting the funds out of BitMart, the hackers may have used a decentralized exchange aggregator to swap the stolen tokens for ether, according to PeckShield’s tweet. Then the hacker could have deposited the funds into a privacy protocol, which makes the money difficult to trace.

Xia had said on Twitter Sunday approximately $150 million was stolen from the centralized global exchange that is based in the Cayman Islands and BitMart suspended withdrawals from its crypto wallets. 

He has since said the company hopes to gradually resume the deposit and withdrawal functions on December 7. Xia also said BitMart will use its own funding to compensate affected users and they were talking to project teams about the most reasonable solutions such as token swaps. 

BitMart is not the only exchange to be hacked using a private key. In early November, $139 million was taken from the Boy X Highspeed, decentralized cross-chain exchange. The company’s CEO Neo Wang told CoinDesk this was due to a leaked administrator key and was probably an inside job

Last week, the Celsius Network’s CEO Alex Mashinsky said the crypto lending platform had lost $120 million from a hack on BadgerDAO, a decentralized finance platform.

In August, more than $600 million worth of cryptocurrencies was stolen from the poly network, but nearly half of the money was later returned.

Read the original article on Business Insider