Cream Finance launches $1.5M bug bounty to improve DeFi security

With a new security campaign, Cream Finance looks to minimize vulnerabilities.

Decentralized lending protocol Cream Finance is backing another major effort to improve the security of decentralized finance.

On Tuesday, Cream Finance announced a new security campaign in collaboration with several DeFi platforms like Immunefi, Armor and DeFiSafety to bring stronger security to its protocol and the wider DeFi ecosystem.

As part of the campaign, Cream Finance is launching a $1.5 million bug bounty program with blockchain bounty platform Immunefi to strengthen Cream’s protocol, API and website security.

The new bug bounty will focus on Cream Finance’s smart contracts and the prevention of potential exploits against user funds, assets and data breach vulnerabilities. The bounty rewards will be distributed in accordance with a five-level scale described in Immunefi’s vulnerability severity classification system.

Alongside the bug bounty, Cream Finance will also work with DeFi smart cover aggregator Armor to provide users with the ability to insure their funds against a hack. 

“Security is the key to maturing the decentralized finance ecosystem and bringing emerging financial technology to more users across the globe. We are delivering increased project transparency through DeFiSafety, preventing hacks with Immunefi, and providing a clear path for users to buy insurance coverage with,” Cream Finance co-founder and project lead Leo Cheng stated.

Cheng said that it’s impossible to avoid vulnerabilities in new technologies like DeFi, but it’s important to minimize the risks:

“There are risks, eggs will be and have been broken. We’re determined more than ever to seek out innovations on both capital efficiency and safety measures. As with all new technologies, there will be more vulnerabilities along the way. The key is to minimize the impacts that these bumps on the road will bring while maximizing the benefits.”

The DeFi sector was a major target for cryptocurrency hacks last year, accounting for 50% of total losses from thefts and hacks in the crypto industry in the second half of 2020. Due to its decentralized nature and unregulated status, the DeFi ecosystem is more attractive to hackers than centralized crypto exchanges, with non-DeFi crypto crimes dropping nearly 60% in 2020.

Former currency comptroller to become CEO of Binance US crypto exchange

Former top U.S. banking regulator Brian Brooks is joining the U.S. affiliate of the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange as its new CEO.

Brian Brooks, the former acting comptroller of the currency of the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, is set to become the new CEO of major cryptocurrency exchange Binance US.

According to a Tuesday announcement, Brooks will replace current Binance US CEO Catherine Coley effective May 1, 2021. 

Formerly the head of Coinbase’s legal team, Brooks has emerged as a prominent figure in the crypto industry due to his continued efforts to provide regulatory clarity for crypto. Referred to in the community as the “first fintech Comptroller” and “Crypto Comptroller,” Brooks served as acting comptroller of the currency from May 2020 to January 2021.

Binance CEO and founder Changpeng Zhao said that Brooks’ expertise and knowledge will be invaluable as Binance US continues to expand. “Brian is an esteemed leader with an unparalleled blend of experience across traditional financial services, government, and the digital assets industry. Binance US’ ability to attract an executive of Brian’s caliber is a testament to the strength of its platform,” he said.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal, Brooks said that his priorities at Binance US would include making the exchange a strong competitor of Coinbase as well as reinforcing its commitment to regulatory compliance.

“We are at the cusp of mainstream adoption of blockchain technology and digital tokens by individuals, institutions and governments alike. I am eager to work closely with industry participants and policymakers to develop an enduring regulatory framework that enables Americans to reap the benefits of decentralized finance for generations to come,” Brooks stated.

Binance launched its U.S. affiliate in September 2019. Headquartered in San Francisco, the exchange positioned itself as a separate company from the global Binance exchange, while both are founded by Zhao.

Bitcoin transactions fees in US dollars near all-time high levels

The latest spike in BTC transaction fees comes amid a major decline in the Bitcoin network hash rate.

Bitcoin (BTC) transaction fees measured in United States dollars are near 2017 levels amid a massive hash rate drop on the Bitcoin network.

According to data from several Bitcoin monitoring resources, the average BTC transaction fee in U.S. dollars is near the all-time high recorded back in 2017. 

According to data from blockchain explorer Blockchair, the average cost of a Bitcoin transaction surged Tuesday to $58, approaching its all-time high of above $62 recorded in December 2017. Popular Bitcoin monitoring source BitInfoCharts suggests that current BTC fees have already broken the record of $54 in 2017 at $58 on Tuesday.

Other sources, including major blockchain explorer, also show that the average BTC transaction cost on Tuesday hit $58.

All-time average BTC transaction fee. Source: Blockchair

Despite several sources showing the current BTC transaction fee near $60, other sources show a much lower figure. Major Bitcoin analytics website Clark Moody reports an average BTC fee value in dollars — over the last 2,016 blocks — of $27.5 at the time of writing. According to data from Ycharts, the average Bitcoin transaction commission is $43 at publishing time after hitting $50 on Sunday.

BTC transaction fees hit over $50 in late 2017 when Bitcoin surged to $20,000 for the first time. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading at $55,190 following a correction from its all-time high of above $64,000 last week. 

The latest spike in BTC transaction fees comes amid a major decline in the Bitcoin network hash rate. On Sunday, Bitcoin saw the largest daily drop in the total BTC network hash rate since November 2017, plummeting from 172 million terahashes per second to around 154 million TH/s. According to crypto observers, the decline is likely to be attributed to massive power outages in the Chinese mining hub of Xinjiang.

Amid spiking BTC transaction fees, some crypto exchanges have rushed to introduce less expensive ways to move Bitcoin around, with OKEx integrating the Lightning Network on Monday.

Deutsche Telekom invests in mobile DeFi platform Celo

Deutsche Telekom has become the first telecom firm to join the Celo Alliance for Prosperity.

Deutsche Telekom, one of the largest telecom providers in Europe, has invested in blockchain payments platform Celo to support the development of decentralized finance.

The telecom giant has made a “significant purchase” of Celo’s native token CELO through its strategic investment fund, the Telekom Innovation Pool, Celo announced Tuesday. The firm did not specify the size of the investment.

In conjunction with the investment, Deutsche Telekom has joined the global Celo Alliance for Prosperity — Celo’s ecosystem and a network of over 130 members including nonprofits, merchants, payment processors and blockchain firms. According to the announcement, Deutsche Telekom is the first telecom company to join the alliance.

As part of the move, Deutsche Telekom’s subsidiary T-Systems MMS will validator implementing the Open Telekom Cloud, or OTC. The OTC fulfills compliance requirements within the European regulatory framework, ensuring secure financial services are available through smartphones.

Adel Al-Saleh, a member of Deutsche Telekom's board of management and T-Systems CEO, said that the new strategic investment will help the firm participate in a public blockchain network. “We are able to secure the Celo network with our investment and our own cloud infrastructure while facilitating user onboarding and use-case development on top of the Celo network,” he said.

Additionally, Deutsche Telekom will open up its SMS API to allow validators to send verification text messages using their service. According to the announcement, the diversity of SMS providers on the Celo platform improves both the security and reliability of the decentralized phone verification protocol, which plays a key role in the Celo blockchain's usability.

“We’re excited to have Deutsche Telekom help secure the Celo network, develop the Celo infrastructure, and make meaningful contributions as a validator. The powerful combination of owning CELO and building on its mobile-first platform will help accelerate mass market adoption of digital assets,” Celo co-founder Rene Reinsberg said.

Celo is an open-source blockchain ecosystem focused on enabling access to DeFi systems and tools via smartphone. Last year, the CEO of Celo alliance member Blockdaemon predicted that the Celo ecosystem will soon comprise “PayPal on speed with its own native currencies.”

At the time of writing, CELO is trading at $4.03, down nearly 6% over the past 24 hours. A spokesperson for Deutsche Telekom reportedly said that any fluctuations in the value of its Celo holdings would have no noticeable impact on the investment, given its size.

Electronics retailer Newegg now accepts Dogecoin as payment

After debuting Bitcoin payments back in 2014, online electronics retailer Newegg added a Dogecoin payment option.

American online electronics retailer Newegg has added Dogecoin (DOGE) as an official payment method amid the ongoing parabolic surge of the meme-based cryptocurrency.

Newegg announced Tuesday that the company added the option through crypto payment platform BitPay.

The firm said that the new feature was introduced in conjunction with Doge Day — a community crypto holiday pushed by DOGE proponents to be celebrated on April 20. According to online reports, Dogecoin advocates apparently hope to see DOGE hit $1 today.

Newegg’s senior brand manager Andrew Choi said that the growing momentum around the cryptocurrency is “undeniable.” “The recent surge in Dogecoin value underscores the need to make it easier for customers to make purchases with this popular cryptocurrency,” he noted.

Newegg became one of the first major online shopping stores to accept Bitcoin (BTC) when the company partnered with BitPay back in 2014. Initially debuting the feature in the United States, the firm subsequently expanded the payment option to more than 70 countries.

“We’re committed to making it easy for our customers to shop however works best for them, and that means letting them complete transactions with the payment method that suits them best. To that end, we’re happy to give Dogecoin fans an easy way to shop online for tech,” Choi stated.

Newegg’s move into Dogecoin payments comes amid a catapulting DOGE price rally, with the altcoin gaining more than 480% over the past seven days at the time of writing. On April 19, DOGE market capitalization hit $50 billion for the first time in history, with the token hitting an all-time high of $0.45.

China aims to let foreigners use digital yuan at Winter Olympics in 2022

China wants to allow foreign athletes and visitors to use the county’s digital currency during the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022.

China’s central bank is looking to enable foreign athletes and visitors to use the country’s digital currency during the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, according to a top central bank official.

Li Bo, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, said that the upcoming Winter Olympics could potentially become the first test of China’s central bank digital currency, or CBDC, by foreign users.

“For the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, we were trying to make e-CNY available not only to domestic users, but also to international athletes and like visitors,” Li said Sunday at a CNBC panel at the Boao Forum for Asia. The bank previously announced its plans on testing the digital yuan at the event in August 2020.

The official said that the PBoC doesn’t intend to replace the United States dollar’s dominance as the world’s reserve currency. Li reportedly noted that the central bank is focused on the domestic use of the digital yuan.

“For the internationalization of renminbi, we have said many times that it’s a natural process and our goal is not to replace the U.S. dollar or any other international currency. I think our goal is to allow the market to choose and to facilitate international trade and investment,” he stated.

Despite the PBoC’s focus on the domestic digital yuan, China’s central bank is still exploring cross-border CBDC use. “At the same time, working with our international partners. Hopefully, in the long term, we have a cross border solution as well,” Li said. At the forum, Li also said that China’s central bank now views the major cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) as an “investment alternative.”

After launching its first domestic digital yuan tests in 2020, China started cross-border CBDC pilots in collaboration with central banks in Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates in February 2021. On April 1, PBoC director of research bureau Wang Xin announced that China’s central bank completed the first cross-border pilots of the digital yuan with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

Chinese authorities have stressed multiple times that the government is not seeking to replace existing fiat currencies including the U.S. dollar with the digital yuan. “We are not like Libra and we don’t have an ambition to replace existing currencies,” Zhou Xiaochuan, the president of the Chinese Finance Association and former PBoC governor, said in late 2020.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the U.S. has taken a careful approach toward CBDCs due to the U.S. dollar’s status of the world’s reserve currency and other CBDC-related challenges like privacy. The European Central Bank is also still deciding whether Europe needs a digital euro, with ECB President Christine Lagarde expecting the digital currency to be adopted in four years, at the earliest.

South Korea plans interagency crackdown on illegal crypto transactions

South Korea’s top financial regulator established dedicated crypto investigation teams across the country last week.

Several South Korean financial authorities are planning to join forces to combat illegal operations involving cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC).

The interagency crackdown comes in response to growing concerns over speculative investments and potentially illegal activities amid the ongoing boom in crypto markets, Koo Yun-cheol, head of the Office for Government Policy Coordination, said Monday.

“There is a need to pay special attention to the occurrence of illegal activities using virtual assets,” he stated at a vice ministers’ meeting on crypto, according to local news agency Yonhap.

As part of the crackdown  — which is slated to continue until June — the Financial Services Commission will require local financial institutions to strengthen the monitoring of withdrawals of cryptocurrencies. Any suspicious activity should be reported to the state-run Financial Intelligence Unit, an agency responsible for investigating financial crimes. 

Other regulators like the finance ministry and the Financial Supervisory Service also plan to keep an eye on cross-border crypto transactions, the report notes.

South Korea has been facing strict regulation after officially imposing the Act on Reporting and Using Specified Financial Transaction Information in late March 2021. According to the law, local crypto exchanges must maintain relationships with local banks to ensure mandatory real-name account trading. The National Tax Service of South Korea has been increasing its efforts to combat tax evasion involving crypto, as reported in March.

New regulatory developments in South Korea come amid new historic highs on crypto markets last week, with Bitcoin breaking above $64,000 on April 14. Despite the record crypto prices, Bank of Korea Governor Lee Ju-yeol argued that cryptocurrencies have “considerable limitations” as a method of payment, warning that their volatile price fluctuations pose a threat to financial stability.

ECB endangers itself by waiting around on digital euro, says ConsenSys exec

"Who’s gonna use the euro in its current form? There are gonna be so many choices" said ConsenSys South Africa lead Monica Singer.

The European Central Bank will put itself in jeopardy if it waits around a digital euro too long, according to an executive at major cryptocurrency firm ConsenSys.

ConsenSys South Africa lead Monica Singer joined in at the European Blockchain Convention to discuss the role of the private sector in shaping global central bank digital currencies, or CBDC. She spoke of CBDC-powered benefits and opportunities in a Monday panel with BNP Paribas CIB digital transformation leader Dean Demellweek and Philipp Sandner, a professor at the Frankfurt School Blockchain Center.

Singer — who served more than 18 years as CEO at South Africa’s central securities depository, Strate, — believes that the existing financial system is far from perfect.

According to the exec, the current financial system is broken due to the many intermediaries, and initiatives like a CBDC is a chance for central banks to repair their mistakes. As such, CBDCs can help the world to bank the unbanked as well as unlock more cost-efficient ways to get access to money for the private sector and end-customers, Singer noted.

If global banks miss this opportunity, alternatives from private tech giants like Facebook could make fiat currencies obsolete, she said:

“If the central bank in Europe is gonna wait until 2028, by then there won’t be a central bank. Because who’s gonna use the euro in its current form? There are gonna be so many choices.”

As previously reported, the ECB expects to decide whether to begin experimenting with a digital euro by mid-2021. ECB President Christine Lagarde believes that the adoption of a European CBDC would take at least four years. Meanwhile, some countries like China have been actively experimenting with a CBDC since April 2020.

r/Wallstreetbets re-bans crypto discussions following Bloomberg article

Apparently r/Wallstreetbets doesn’t “bow to cryptocurrencies.”

r/Wallstreetbets, or WSB, a subreddit famous for organizing a pump for Dogecoin (DOGE) and the GameStop short squeeze, is enacting a crypto discussion ban after officially allowing the topic for a single day.

Subreddit moderator u/bawse1 announced Thursday that WSB has now banned crypto discussions forever, following a Bloomberg article titled, “WallStreetBets Bows to Crypto.” Just a day before, the same moderator officially announced that the subreddit will finally allow crypto discussion strictly limited to Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and DOGE. The new post reads:

“Due to the article that was written by Bloomberg who somehow felt that ‘WallStreetBets Bows to Crypto. Crypto discussion is banned indefinitely. I’ve read a lot of dumb articles written about wsb. This one takes the cake. P.S. Like always. Please be respectful.”

A Thursday update to WSB rules reads that the subreddit will automatically remove content mentioning cryptocurrencies alongside nonfungible tokens. “You can mention it in passing but posts whose sole topic is cryptocurrency or the underlying technology are not allowed. The crypto market tends to consist of small accounts and pump & dumps,” the subreddit’s content guide notes.

Founded back in 2012, WSB is a subreddit where participants discuss stock and option trading. Boasting nearly 10 million members, the subreddit became extremely popular this year after r/Wallstreetbets collectively pumped GameStop stock, skyrocketing the price from about $20 in early January to above $340 on Jan. 28.

While the GME craze has somewhat cooled down, with the stock trading at $158 at the time of writing, DOGE has been repeatedly breaking new all-time highs recently, setting a new record of $0.29 today. The altcoin is up more than 380% over the past seven days, gaining more than 6,000% in the past 12 months.

Massachusetts regulator seeks to revoke Robinhood’s broker-dealer license

State regulators claim that Robinhood has targeted inexperienced investors.

Massachusetts' securities regulator is seeking to revoke the broker-dealer license of cryptocurrency-friendly stock trading app Robinhood in the state.

William Galvin, the head of the state’s securities division, said in a new administrative complaint that Robinhood has “continued a pattern of aggressively inducing and enticing trading among its customers — including Massachusetts customers with little or no investment experience,” Bloomberg reports Thursday.

The new filing is a follow-up to a complaint filed by Galvin’s office in December 2020, alleging that Robinhood’s marketing illegally targeted inexperienced investors.

The state pointed to Robinhood's recent activity, including a promotion that provides customers with cash rewards based on new deposits, as proof of a “firm culture which has not changed.” 

Robinhood responded to the new complaint, arguing that the action could prevent “millions of Bay Staters” from accessing their platform. In December, the company said that its platform had nearly 500,000 customers in Massachusetts.

The firm has filed a lawsuit seeking to invalidate a recently adopted fiduciary rule in Massachusetts that state regulators have accused it of violating. Adopted in 2020, the rule requires broker-dealers to act in their clients’ best interest.

“The Massachusetts Securities Division’s new Fiduciary Rule exceeds its authority under both Massachusetts state law and federal law,” Robinhood said. “Robinhood is a ‘self-directed’ brokerage firm that does not make investment recommendations or provide investment advice. By its own terms, the new rule does not apply to self-directed firms,” the firm noted in the lawsuit.

Robinhood has faced mounting pressure from regulators and users alike after it became involved in the controversial GameStop stop short-squeeze. Robinhood halted buying for GameStop stock in January 2021, drawing the ire of the trading community. 

Last year, 20-year-old Robinhood user Alex Kearns committed suicide after seeing a $730,000 negative balance on his Robinhood app. A note on his computer reportedly posed the question, “How was a 20 year old with no income able to get assigned almost a million dollars worth of leverage?” In February 2021, Kearns’ parents filed a lawsuit against Robinhood over his death.

Robinhood has been also experiencing a number of technical issues, reportedly causing major losses for traders and triggering further legal action against the company.

The most recent such event occurred on Thursday when Robinhood's crypto trading platform ran into technical issues as Dogecoin (DOGE) hit a new all-time high of $0.27. 

Miami commissioner wants to let residents pay taxes in Bitcoin

A new resolution would establish a task force to study crypto in Miami-Dade county's public administration.

A Miami-Dade County commissioner is backing a new resolution to allow residents to use cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) to pay local taxes.

According to a Thursday document acquired by The Miami New Times, county commissioner Cohen Higgins has brought a resolution to Miami-Dade’s Infrastructure, Operations, and Innovations Committee, calling for the establishment of a 13-member crypto task force.

The task force would examine the feasibility of allowing residents to pay their county taxes, as well as for fees and services using digital currencies including Bitcoin, Ether (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC). According to the document, crypto payments have the “potential to enhance convenience and save costs.” 

“The item would establish a task force that could delve into the feasibility of using cryptocurrency in Miami-Dade County, to explore any potential benefits and pitfalls that could result from its use. It is important to explore all avenues that can support an expanding tech and startup presence to benefit our economy,” Higgins said.

The proposal will go before the Miami-Dade’s committee today at noon. If the resolution passes, it still must be approved by the full county commission.

The resolution mentions a similar initiative enacted by the administration of the City of Miami on Feb. 11, 2021, which called for a study to determine the feasibility of allowing Miami residents to pay taxes, and for city employees to receive salaries in Bitcoin. The resolution was proposed by Miami Mayor Francis Suarez who is aggressively campaigning to make the city a crypto hotspot in the United States.

Hemang Subramanian, a blockchain-focused assistant professor at Florida International University’s business school, suggested that crypto could be attractive for Miami residents due to its large population coming from other countries. As crypto is stored in digital wallets and not tied to a specific country, foreign investors and residents won’t need to pay exchange fees to change their home currency into the U.S. dollar and vice-versa.

Experts debate whether NFTs really need blockchain

Crypto YouTuber EllioTrades and law professor Edmund Schuster debated the value of NFTs and the role of blockchain in digital collectibles.

At the BlockDown 2021 conference, EllioTrades, a crypto YouTuber and co-creator of the Superfarm NFT project, joined a debate about the value of nonfungible tokens with Edmund Schuster, associate professor of law at the London School of Economics.

By definition, NFTs are unique pieces of digital content brought and moved online using blockchain tech, the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). As a core feature of NFTs, blockchain ensures digital scarcity and authenticity of digital collectibles, but some experts believe that it is not strictly necessary.

An NFT skeptic, Schuster argued that there is no technical reason why the world needs NFTs, suggesting that non-blockchain digital collectible solutions can achieve “exactly the same” characteristics.

“Unless there’s a clear explanation on why you need this particular technology, I think it’s the hype or excitement connected to the technology itself, not to the actual thing that we’re talking about. It’s hype, in my view, almost by definition,” the professor noted.

Schuster noted the question of trust within gaming collectible ecosystems, arguing that using blockchain alone would not make a collectibles system much different from a centralized database.

“If you need to trust the very party who organizes the game in order to enjoy your token, then it simply doesn’t matter whether you have a blockchain-secured version or a database administered by the same people,” he said.

The NFT bear also argued that the “blockchain element is an unnecessary complication” due to counterparty risks related to the potential devaluation of digital collectibles due to opportunistic behavior by issuing companies. Schuster cited an example of game creators issuing more powerful special weapons to gamers, making older weapons no longer valuable.

According to the debate’s NFT bull, EllioTrades, blockchain technology is critical to ensuring the protection of digital assets. “When you have a digital store of value, a digital asset, and it’s not protected on the blockchain, time has shown that at some point, this digital asset will be exposed to thefts. Information cannot be protected without a decentralized network to enforce that protection. That’s why the blockchain is so critical,” EllioTrades noted.

EllioTrades stressed the importance of the decentralization provided by blockchain tech, stating that virtual property in NFTs and in crypto, in general, cannot be confiscated from users.

The NFT bull said that the technology provides token owners with a better quality of life as well as more freedom for interactions, including lending, renting and other complex activities related to decentralized finance.

Nearly 75% of professional investors see Bitcoin as bubble: survey

Bank of America asked 200 professional investors with $533 billion in assets under management about their opinions on Bitcoin.

Bank of America released a new survey that found that the majority of professional investors are not very optimistic about the world’s largest cryptocurrency.

Nearly 75% of respondents in the April BofA Fund Manager Survey said that they see Bitcoin as a “bubble,” CNBC reported.

The survey polled 200 respondents with $533 billion in assets under management. Just 16% of respondents said Bitcoin is not a bubble, while 10% were uncertain.

Source: Yahoo Finance/BofA Global Fund Manager Survey

More than 30% of survey respondents cited tech as the most crowded trade i.e. an asset with a history of rapid price appreciation and a high number of like-minded, speculative investors. 27% of respondents said that Bitcoin is the most crowded trade right now, while 10%  predicted that BTC will outperform tech in 2021.

BofA previously released a survey showing that “long Bitcoin” flipped “long tech” as the most crowded trade in January 2021.

The latest BofA survey shows significant skepticism regarding Bitcoin after the bank’s analysts recently slammed the cryptocurrency as “exceptionally volatile”, “impractical” and an environmentally disastrous asset. 

Other major American banks are more bullish on digital assets. After Goldman Sachs revealed that 40% of its clients already had exposure to crypto as of March 2021, the investment bank announced it was preparing a Bitcoin product. Also in March, JPMorgan announced its Cryptocurrency Exposure Basket, a debt instrument portfolio including stocks of companies that hold Bitcoin as a treasury asset.

Coinbase could see fee compression in long term, CEO expects

Brian Armstrong expects other revenue streams to take the lead in five or 10 years.

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong has addressed the platform’s transaction fees as the company's shares list on Nasdaq today.

In a CNBC Squawk Box interview on Wednesday, Armstrong discussed public concerns associated with Coinbase’s massive returns coming from transaction fees. As previously reported, nearly 96% of Coinbase’s entire revenue in 2020 was generated from transaction fees charged to users.

When asked about the potential impact of greater competition on transaction fees on Coinbase, Armstrong said that the platform might see some fee reduction in the long term:

“We haven't seen any margin compression yet, and I actually wouldn’t expect to see it in the short and the midterm. Longer term, yes I do think there could be fee compression just like in every other asset class out there.”

Armstrong said that a big part of the crypto transactions fees come from a custody fee that is “already baked into the transaction fee.”

The CEO said that Coinbase expects to gradually move its focus to other revenue streams with products like its debit card, staking, educational program Coinbase Earn, as well as custody business for institutional customers.

“We’ve started to invest in revenue streams that are starting to provide these green shoots of revenue [...] These are providing more steady predictable streams of revenue and my guess is that in five or 10 years we will see that be maybe even 50% or more of our revenue,” Armstrong stated.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Coinbase’s professional platform Coinbase Pro completed a major fee structure update in 2019, increasing some maker fees as high as 233%. Following the update, Coinbase made $1.1 billion in direct revenue in 2020, a significant increase from $482 million in 2019.

European Central Bank releases results of digital euro consultation

Privacy concerns regarding the digital euro abound as the European Central bank test the waters for a central bank digital currency.

The European Central Bank has published the results of a public consultation on a potential digital euro as the institution inches closer to deciding whether to formally study such an initiative. 

According to a Wednesday announcement, the ECB received more than 8,200 responses to its public digital euro consultation — a personal record for the bank regarding participation in a public consultation. 47% of total responses came from Germany, with a significant amount also coming from Italy and France, accounting for 15% and 11% of total responses, respectively.

The majority of respondents said that privacy was the most desired feature for a potential upcoming digital euro, accounting for 43% of all citizens and professionals taking part in the consultation. “Privacy is considered the most important feature of a digital euro by both citizens and professionals participating in the consultation, especially merchants and other companies,” the ECB noted in its report.

From the consultation, 18% and 11% of respondents noted security and the ability to pay across the eurozone as top priorities. 9% of respondents stressed the importance of removing additional costs, while 8% emphasized the need for offline usability of a digital euro.

“Most citizens in the sample opt for privacy, even if that would restrict usability to offline transactions and limit the alternative of receiving additional innovative services or even with a combination of both offline and online functionalities,” the ECB noted.

Launched in October 2020, the ECB’s digital euro public consultation has confirmed the ECB’s initial findings, providing valuable input for Eurosystem’s decision in mid-2021 on starting a formal investigation into a digital euro. ECB executive board member Fabio Panetta stated:

“A digital euro can only be successful if it meets the needs of Europeans. We will do our best to ensure that a digital euro meets the expectations of citizens highlighted in the public consultation.”

According to ECB President Christine Lagarde, the whole process of adopting a digital euro could take up to four years, should the ECB’s Governing Council and the European Parliament decide to move forward with the initiative.

The question of user privacy has emerged as one of the biggest problems associated with central bank digital currencies, or CBDCs, puzzling governments about how to prevent illicit financial activity while also preserving confidentiality.

While countries like the United States prefer to not move forward with a CBDC until this problem is solved, other countries like China have been actively experimenting with a CBDC. After launching the first digital yuan pilots in 2020, the Chinese central bank described its “controllable anonymity” approach, which aims to provide maximum privacy protection to China’s CBDC users.

Binance and FTX list Coinbase stock tokens ahead of exchange’s Nasdaq debut

Major exchanges are elbowing for exposure to Coinbase's listing.

Major global cryptocurrency exchanges including Binance and FTX have announced the listing of Coinbase’s stock token ahead of its direct listing on Nasdaq.

According to a Wednesday announcement, Binance will list Coinbase's stock token (COIN) today, allowing its users to trade fractional Coinbase stock on the Binance website.

The new stock token will trade against Binance USD (BUSD), Binance’s stablecoin pegged to the United States dollar and issued by Paxos Trust Company.

Binance said that Coinbase stock tokens are zero-commission digital tokens fully backed by a depository portfolio of underlying securities representing the tokens. The exchange stated that holders of stock tokens qualify for economic returns on the underlying shares, including potential dividends.

Stock token trading on Binance will follow traditional exchange hours and is not available for residents in Mainland China, Turkey, and other restricted jurisdictions. The move comes shortly after Binance listed a tradable stock token for Tesla earlier this month.

FTX, a major crypto derivatives trading platform, put out a similar announcement today, stating that the platform has already listed the COIN token. “COIN is a pre-IPO contract. It tracks Coinbase’s market cap divided by 261,300,000. CBSE balances will convert into the equivalent amount of Coinbase Fractional Stock tokens at the end of Coinbase’s first public trading day,” FTX stated on its COIN/USD market page.

“In the event that Coinbase does not publicly list by June 1, 2022, COIN balances will cash-expire to $30.62, in line with an 8 billion dollar valuation,” FTX noted. At the time of writing, the price of COIN token hovers around $580 on FTX.

COIN price chart. Source: FTX

Coinbase announced that it expects to introduce Class A common stock for trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on April 14.

In a Wednesday blog post, Coinbase co-founder and CEO Brian Armstrong said that the exchange’s listing is part of the company’s mission to increase economic freedom:

“Today’s listing is a milestone, but it’s not as important as every new day in front of us. [...] Everyone deserves access to financial services that can help them build a better life for themselves and their families. We have a lot of hard work to do to make this a reality.”

Miami nightclub accepts Bitcoin as nightlife cautiously returns

E11even Miami is enabling payments in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as part of its post-pandemic reopening on April 23.

A nightclub in Miami is set to return from oa COVID-19-related shutdown of over a year by accepting Bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.

Luxury nightclub E11even Miami announced Tuesday that it will soon start accepting cryptocurrency as payment for tables, drinks, merchandise and other services. According to the official announcement, the list of supported cryptocurrencies will include Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash (BCH), XRP and Dogecoin (DOGE).

In order to provide the new payment method, E11even has partnered with a major cryptocurrency processing company, but did not specify the name of the payment processor.

“With the tremendous growth and relevancy of cryptocurrency coupled with Mayor Francis Suarez leading the charge for Miami’s tech boom, we felt it made sense to introduce Cryptocurrency as an option to our guests to pay for their night out," E11even creator and CEO Dennis DeGori said. "E11even is dedicated to always staying ahead of the curve, and we believe cryptocurrency is here to stay.”

According to the Miami Herald, crypto payments are part of the club’s post-pandemic reopening on April 23 after E11even shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The move comes as a natural step for E11even, as a number of its clients have become increasingly involved in the crypto industry. “We have a very cutting-edge clientele from all over the world, and many are crypto savvy already,” E11even operating partner Gino LoPinto said, adding:

“We’re seeing an increasing trend of clients wanting to use their cryptocurrency as a form of payment. We believe nightclubs allowing Bitcoin as payment will soon become a nightlife industry norm, and we're excited to be the ones paving the way.”

E11even did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph's request for comment.

Miami itself is emerging as a major cryptocurrency-friendly city in the United States, with the city's mayor, Francis Suarez, campaigning to make Miami the capital of crypto in the country. In February, Suarez proposed an official resolution to allow Bitcoin to become an acceptable payment method in different parts of the city’s administration.

Linux Foundation launches blockchain-based platform for insurance

The Linux Foundation and the American Association of Insurance Services are co-launching a blockchain-based platform to help the insurance industry.

The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit technology consortium that supports the Linux operating system, is backing a new blockchain-based project for the insurance industry.

On Monday, the foundation announced the launch of the Open Insurance Data Link platform, a project that aims to reduce the cost of insurance reporting and create a standardized insurance data repository using distributed ledger technology.

OpenIDL is a joint initiative of the Linux Foundation and the American Association of Insurance Services, a national insurance advisory organization in the United States. The open-source project brings together major global insurance firms like The Hanover and Selective Insurance Group, as well as technology and service providers like MOBI, Chainyard and KatRisk to participate in a common DLT platform to share data and business processes in the insurance industry.

Regulatory reporting in the property and casualty insurance industry is one of the key use cases for the OpenIDL network. Benefitting from blockchain’s basic features such as immutability and transparency, the platform aims to ensure trust, or guarantee to regulators and other insurance industry participants that reporting data is accurate and complete.

OpenIDL is operating as part of the Linux Foundation’s open governance network model, which means that its network is built on nodes run by many different organizations connected by a shared distributed ledger. The common ledger provides an industry utility platform for recording transactions and automating business processes.

“Blockchain is a team sport and with the OpenIDL platform, companies, regulators and vendors are forming an ecosystem to collaborate on common issues for the betterment of the insurance industry. The entire industry will benefit through more accurate data and better decision making,” Chainyard senior vice president of consulting services Isaac Kunkel said.

European Investment Bank reportedly to issue bonds with blockchain tech

The EIB has reportedly hired banks like Goldman Sachs and Societe Generale to explore a digital bond, registered and settled via blockchain.

The European Investment Bank, an international financial institution owned by European Union member states, is reportedly exploring blockchain technology for issuing digital bonds.

According to a Tuesday Bloomberg report, the EIB has hired major global banks like Goldman Sachs, Banco Santander and Societe Generale to look at a potential deal involving a euro-denominated bond issued on a blockchain. 

Citing a person familiar with the matter, Bloomberg states that the EIB is planning to deploy blockchain technology for the registration and settlement of digital bonds. Investor meetings for the inaugural sale will reportely start on April 15 and continue for several weeks.

The EIB did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph's request for comment.

Blockchain, the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), has been increasingly implemented in the bond market in recent years. According to HSBC, blockchain presents cost savings opportunities of “more than 10x” for the bond market, reducing the need for intermediaries and enabling issuance by smaller projects.

As the European Union’s investment arm, the EIB has often been at the forefront of innovation in Europe’s debt capital markets. Back in 2007, the EIB issued the world’s first green bond, labeled a Climate Awareness Bond. 

The news comes as the European Central Bank prepares to decide on whether it will begin exploring a digital euro. In late March, ECB President Christine Lagarde suggested that the digital euro initiative would take at least four years, should the bank decide to proceed with a pilot.

State Street to provide tech for institutional Bitcoin trading platform

State Street-owned FX platform Currenex will provide its infrastructure for the Pure Digital cryptocurrency exchange.

State Street, the second-oldest operating bank in the United States, is moving into the cryptocurrency industry by agreeing to provide its technology for a new crypto trading platform.

Currenex, a forex technology provider owned by State Street, has entered into an agreement with crypto firm Puremarkets to provide its trading infrastructure and tech for the new crypto trading platform Pure Digital. Announcing the news Thursday, Pure Digital said that it will also collaborate with State Street to further explore the digital currency trading industry.

According to the announcement, Pure Digital will be a fully automated over-the-counter market for digital assets and cryptocurrencies with physical delivery and bank custody. Scheduled for launch in mid-2021, the new platform will reportedly allow institutional investors to trade using bilateral credit and multiple custody solutions. “Trading participants will be free to leverage their preferred digital asset custody solutions and manage risk through a smart custody routing mechanism,” the announcement notes.

State Street announced in late March that the bank has been exploring the role of Bitcoin (BTC) in multi-asset portfolios over the last nine years. “The case has yet to be made for Bitcoin as an equity hedge, though it may be heading in that direction. The key for investors is to combine their preferences for risk mitigation and upside potential with Bitcoin’s expected diversification and return properties to determine their optimal allocation,” the bank wrote.

State Street has been actively exploring the cryptocurrency industry in recent years. In late 2019, the bank announced a digital asset pilot in collaboration with Gemini Trust Company. The pilot built on the research and development in the digital asset space to combine Gemini Custody with State Street’s back-office reporting.

Earlier this year, Bank of New York Mellon announced plans to hold, transfer and issue Bitcoin and other crypto as an asset manager on behalf of its clients.

Citi and IADB complete cross-border payment pilot with blockchain tech

IADB disbursed tokenized funds to a recipient in the Dominican Republic using the LACChain blockchain network.

Banking giant Citigroup has successfully completed a proof-of-concept for blockchain-based cross-border payments in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, or IADB.

According to a Thursday announcement, Citigroup’s Citi Innovation Labs and the IADB enabled several disbursements from the United States to a recipient in the Dominican Republic, using the LACChain blockchain network — a proprietary effort by IADB’s regional program LACChain.

As part of the project, the IADB deposited tokenized funds denominated in U.S. dollars in a Citi account and transferred the funds using digital wallets, IADB’s blockchain specialist and LACChain technical leader Marcos Allende explained. “After tokenized, these funds were converted to local currency — Dominican pesos — with the exchange rate established by Citi,” he said.

The blockchain-based pilot enabled IADB to provide instant traceability of transactions, exchange rates and fees, potentially bringing a new method of making cross-border payments from the United States to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“There are many applications of inclusive cross-border payments, such as official development assistance and international remittances. There is no doubt that they are extremely important for the economies of our region and, more importantly, for final beneficiaries and families receiving remittances,” IADB Lab CEO Irene Hofman noted.

The IADB is an international organization that supports Latin American and Caribbean economic development, social development and regional integration. The IADB has been actively exploring blockchain technology to fulfill its mission, with its innovation laboratory IDB Lab setting up its blockchain-focused LACChain program in 2019. 

The open-source LACChain runs on JPMorgan’s blockchain and smart contract platform Quorum. 

Citigroup is not a stranger to blockchain technology. Back in 2015, the bank developed three blockchain-based systems and a pilot cryptocurrency dubbed Citicoin to explore more efficient cross-border transactions.

More Russians are disclosing their cryptocurrency incomes: Report

Consulting firms, such as PwC Russia, said that Russians have been increasingly reporting their income from cryptocurrency operations.

The number of cryptocurrency holding disclosures in Russia has been on the rise over the past several months, according to a new report.

Russian news agency Izvestia reports Thursday that Russians have been increasingly disclosing their income from crypto trading for tax purposes. The report cites data from consulting and law firms such as KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, FTL Advisers, as well as Moscow-based public policy think tank the Center for Strategic Research.

“We’ve observed that Russian residents have started voluntarily disclosing income from operations with digital assets, mainly with cryptocurrency, in tax declarations,” FTL Advisers’ partner Maria Kukla said. 

She noted that it’s still early to determine whether the tendency will become widespread. The currency tax reporting period ends on May 1 and, per Kukla, much could change before then. 

Evgeny Sivoushkov, director of PwC Russia’s division of individual taxation, said that interest in disclosing crypto holdings has increased during the ongoing tax declaration period. According to Sivoushkov, the new trend was fueled by the adoption of Russia’s crypto law “On Digital Financial Assets,” as well as the increased focus of tax authorities and compliance services on the origin of income and Russians’ foreign assets.

FTL Advisers did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph request for comment. PwC Russia declined to comment.

The reported surge in the number of crypto tax filings comes despite Russia not having officially enforced any dedicated legislation related to cryptocurrency taxation. However, according to Izvestia’s sources, the Federal Taxation Service of Russia says that the procedure of crypto income taxation by individuals is formally described as part of a letter by the Ministry of Finance issued in May 2018.

According to the letter, the tax base from crypto trading is defined in Russian rubles as the “excess of the total income amount received by taxpayers from the sale of cryptocurrency over the total amount of documented expenses for its acquisition.”

Russia is progressing with new proposed legislation that would require Russian residents to pay income tax from cryptocurrency trading. The bill, which was approved by the State Duma in the first reading in February, required residents to report crypto transactions if their total amount exceeds 600,000 rubles ($7,800) on an annual basis.

New petition asks SEC chair nominee Gary Gensler to drop Ripple lawsuit

An XRP advocate started a petition to SEC chair nominee Gary Gensler, asking him to end the lawsuit against Ripple should he be confirmed as the new chair.

The Ripple community has launched a new petition to “stop the war” on XRP.

Crypto & Policy founder Thomas Hodge has started a petition directed at Securities and Exchange Commission chair nominee Gary Gensler, asking him to end the SEC's lawsuit against Ripple once he's confirmed as chairman of the commission.

Announcing the news Wednesday, Crypto & Policy called on Gensler to investigate the potential motives of former SEC chair Jay Clayton and his SEC Director of Corporate Finance William Hinman for “favoring” Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) while harming XRP. The petition alleges that Clayton and Hinman could have had financial interests in Bitcoin and Ether:

“While Clayton and Hinman were in office, they were asked if Bitcoin and Ether were securities. They said very clearly, on the record: no they are not securities so keep trading them. They both took money from companies with direct or clear indirect interest in those public statements.”

Hodge further alleged that Hinman “received millions of dollars in payments” from the law firm of Simpson Thacher, which is a member of the Ethereum Enterprise Alliance. The petition claims that Hinman “collected checks from the firm” while the firm earned fees supporting the initial public offering of Chinese crypto mining giant Canaan.

The XRP advocate outlined the uncertain regulatory status of the altcoin, stating that Clayton spent four years of his tenure without providing a clear response on whether XRP was a security. Hodge continued:

“But on his final day in office, Clayton had his SEC file a massive lawsuit against Ripple, claiming it had sold XRP as an illegal unregistered security for seven years. [...] The SEC alleged that Ripple and all holders of XRP should have known for the last seven years that XRP was a security when the SEC itself repeatedly said it didn’t know it until the day it filed the lawsuit in December 2020.”

At the time of writing, the online petition has collected about 1,600 signatures out of its goal of 2,500.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Ripple Labs, as well as its CEO Brad Garlinghouse and co-founder Christian Larsen on Dec. 22, 2020, alleging that XRP was a “$1.3 billion unregistered securities offering.”

Amid the ongoing legal battle, a U.S. court granted Ripple Labs access to the SEC’s documents on defining crypto assets as securities in early April. 

Earlier this week, the price of XRP crossed the $1 mark for the first time since March 2018. The latest price milestone is still far from its all-time high of above $3 recorded in January 2018.

Football star Tom Brady to launch his own NFT platform

Autograph will target some of the world's biggest names in sports, entertainment, fashion and pop culture.

Six-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady is backing a new major development in the nonfungible token industry by launching his own NFT platform.

The new NFT platform, dubbed Autograph, will target some of the biggest figures in sports, entertainment, fashion and pop culture, and provide a tool for unique digital collectibles, a Brady told CNN on Tuesday. The platform is expected to launch this spring.

Autograph CEO Dillon Rosenblatt said that the platform will bring together “some of the world’s most iconic names and brands with best in class digital artists” in order to create and launch NFT pieces to a community of fans and collectors. Autograph will also have interactive offerings like live auctions and physical product drops, as well as in-person experiences.

According to CNN, Brady and entrepreneur Richard Rosenblatt will serve as co-chairs at Autograph. According to the company’s website, the board of advisors and chairs also includes Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer, Live Nation CEO Michael Rapino, DraftKings co-founders Jason Robins and Paul Liberman, as well as Dawn Ostroff, advertising business officer at Spotify. 

NFTs are unique pieces of digital content brought online using blockchain, the underlying technology of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). The new digital assets are seen by many as a way of guaranteeing digital scarcity. 

There are a wide number of NFT platforms and marketplaces that allow creators and fans to sell and buy NFTs, including the Winklevoss brothers’ Nifty platform. As NFTs grow more and more popular — with some standalone pieces selling for up to $70 million — global crypto firms have been scrambling to make their own NFT platforms and divisions to meet increasing demand.

Some of the latest firms to move into the NFT space include India’s largest crypto exchange, WazirX, French crypto hardware wallet supplier Ledger, and cryptocurrency exchange

CEO of biggest crypto exchange has ‘close to 100%’ of net worth in crypto

Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao is placing his bets on crypto.

Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of the largest global cryptocurrency exchange Binance and one of the world’s top crypto billionaires, does not own much except crypto.

“I’m one of those guys who value liquidity much more than owning something. I actually prefer not to own anything,” Zhao said in a Bloomberg interview on Wednesday.

He noted that various cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) now make up nearly 100% of his entire net worth as he does not own any real estate or much fiat holdings. When asked how much of his net worth is invested in crypto, Zhao said:

“I would say probably close to 100%. I don’t own any fiat. The physical stuff that I own is probably negligible in terms of my net worth. So, this is a concept shift. I’m not using crypto to buy fiat; I’m not using crypto to buy houses. I just want to keep crypto. And I don’t plan to convert my crypto into cash in the future.”

Zhao said that it took him a while to ramp up his crypto portfolio. After buying his first Bitcoin, the CEO was in a big hurry to sell his apartment that he bought back in 2006 in Shanghai. “I sold my apartment to buy Bitcoin, and I also quit my job,” he said. ”You can rent an apartment or stay in a hotel — that gives you much higher liquidity,” Zhao added.

The Binance CEO has previously claimed that he does not hold any fiat currencies. “I hold 0 fiat,” Zhao declared on Twitter in February, stating that he only converts crypto to fiat for payments that can only be made with traditional money. 

According to data from China’s Hurun Research Institute, Zhao is one of the world’s richest men in the crypto and blockchain industry, ranked the third-richest crypto billionaire with a total wealth estimated at $8 billion as of January 2021. 

Sweden’s central bank completes first phase of digital currency pilot

The Sveriges Riksbank said that CBDC technology still requires further investigation.

After completing the first phase of its digital currency pilot project, Sveriges Riksbank has found some critical issues that must be addressed before Stockholmers can buy coffee and kanelbullar with e-krona.

In a recent study, Sweden’s central bank presented the first results of its central bank digital currency pilot on a network based on R3’s Corda blockchain.

The Riksbank simulated core aspects of a potential CBDC system, including liquidity supply via the Riksbank’s settlement system, RIX, and network members serving as e-kronor distributors. The central bank also simulated participants, end-users and payment instruments like mobile apps.

The Riksbank said that the new CBDC technology needs further investigation, with scalability presenting a major bottleneck. 

“The solution tested in phase one of the e-krona pilot has met the performance requirements made in the public procurement. But this has taken place in a limited test environment and the new technology’s capacity to manage retail payments on a large scale needs to be investigated and tested further,” the report noted.

The central bank also noted some privacy challenges, stressing that the information contained in an e-krona transaction must be protected to uphold banking secrecy laws and avoid revealing personal data. 

“The Riksbank is currently analysing to what extent the information stored in the transaction history can be regarded as information covered by banking secrecy and whether it comprises personal data,” the bank stated.

Mithra Sundberg, head of Riksbank’s e-krona pilot division in Stockholm, said that Sweden’s CBDC could probably require a new legal framework before it can be used. Given the scope of issues that need to be addressed before an e-krona can be seriously developed, Riksbank may continue its blockchain pilots until 2026.

Riksbank stated that it will extend its agreement with accounting giant Accenture as a technical supplier to continue e-krona testing. The focus for the second phase will include potential distributors of the e-krona, CBDC performance in retail payments, as well as storage methods. The new phase will also test offline e-krona functionality and integration with existing point-of-sale terminals.

As previously reported, Sweden has emerged as one of the world’s earliest CBDC explorers, announcing a pilot platform for the e-krona in late 2019. 

Russian lobby group launches new campaign against anti-crypto laws

According to Russian crypto advocates, the existing laws “do not meet the needs” of the cryptocurrency market.

A group of Russian lobbyists led by the law firm Digital Rights Center has launched a new campaign against regulatory initiatives that they feel are impeding cryptocurrency adoption in the country.

The group has created a platform designed to help resist the adoption of laws that hamper the turnover of cryptocurrencies and digital assets in Russia, Digital Rights Center announced Tuesday. Other founding members of the initiative include the Commission on Blockchain Technologies and Digital Economy, the Russian-wide public organization Investment Russia, and the nonprofit organization RosComSvoboda.

Called the “Public initiative of the crypto community in Russia,” the campaign argues that the proposed regulations of digital currencies in Russia “do not meet the needs of the market.”

“New laws complicate the use of cryptocurrencies in Russia and slow down the development of the distributed finance market,” the lobby group wrote. The activists emphasized that Russia’s existing laws and bills prohibit the use of cryptocurrencies as payment as well as propose major penalties and jail terms up to three years for failing to report their crypto holdings.

The group has also initiated a public petition that is directed toward major Russian regulators including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Economic Development, the Bank of Russia, the Federal Taxation Service, as well as the Russian State Duma Committee on Financial Markets.

Available on the petition service, the petition calls on the authorities to reconsider their approach to regulating crypto in the country. They also ho to prevent the adoption of four separate crypto-related regulatory initiatives, including Russia’s new crypto taxation bill project. The State Duma approved the bill in the first reading in February 2021.

The new petition comes amid reports that the Russian Federal Taxation Service intends to require citizens to inform authorities if they hold cryptocurrencies. The regulator plans to enforce this requirement as part of the federal bill on crypto taxes, according to an alleged letter to Data Economy — th local autonomous nonprofit organization.

Indian IT giant Tech Mahindra to launch stablecoin tool for banks

Tech Mahindra wants to provide U.S. banks with a stablecoin solution after the OCC authorized federally chartered banks to use stablecoins for settlement in January.

Indian multinational technology firm Tech Mahindra is developing a new stablecoin service targeting banks and financial institutions.

The tech giant announced Monday that it has entered into an agreement with Dutch blockchain application incubator Quantoz to launch a “stablecoin-as-a-service” tool to reduce transaction costs and processing times.

The new collaboration targets potential clients from the banking and financial sector as the United States’ Office of the Comptroller of the Currency officially allowed federally chartered U.S. banks to use public blockchains and stablecoins for settlements in January 2021.

Rajesh Dhuddu, blockchain and cybersecurity leader at Tech Mahindra, said: “The recent OCC announcement promoting the use of stablecoins for the settlement of financial transactions by banks will spur demand and drive innovation in global payments.” 

As part of the strategic collaboration, Tech Mahindra will help customers integrate Quantoz’s Nexus transaction processing platform into their legacy infrastructure. The platform supports both fiat and cryptocurrencies, offering multiple functions including remittances, payments, loyalty and treasury management.

The new partnership marks another milestone in Tech Mahindra and Quantoz’s cooperation as the companies previously collaborated on blockchain-based digital payments. “We look forward to bringing our solution to new U.S. customers together with Tech Mahindra as we have previously successfully cooperated on other projects,” Quantoz chief business development officer Henri de Jong said.

CoinShares launches physically-backed Litecoin ETP

Major European digital asset investment firm CoinShares has launched its third physically-backed ETP in 2021.

European digital asset manager CoinShares continues to actively expand its physically-backed cryptocurrency exchange-traded product offering with a new Litecoin (LTC) ETP.

According to an April 6 announcement, CoinShares has launched its CoinShares Physical Litecoin.

Listed under the ticker symbol LITE, each unit of the Litecoin ETP is backed with 0.2 LTC ($45) at launch, providing investors with passive exposure to the Litecoin network’s native asset. The new investment product will be initially listed on Switzerland’s regulated crypto exchange Swiss SIX exchange with a base fee of 1.50%, CoinShares said. LITE is now listed on Bloomberg, with an opening price of $44.5.

Litecoin is a major altcoin and a fork of the Bitcoin codebase that was originally positioned as a “silver to Bitcoin’s gold.” Created by former Google and Coinbase engineer Charlie Lee in 2011, Litecoin is nearly identical in technical details to Bitcoin, featuring some core differences like smaller block times. Litecoin targets a 2.5 minute block time versus Bitcoin’s 10 minutes. Litecoin is now one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrencies, currentl ranked the 9th largest coin by market capitalization at $15 billion.

The CoinShares Physical Litecoin is the third crypto ETP product launched in 2021 on CoinShares’ institutional-grade ETP platform, CoinShares Physical. After debuting physically-backed Bitcoin (BTC) ETP on the platform in January, CoinShares rolled out a similar product for Ether (ETH) in February.

According to the announcement, CoinShares now has over $4 billion in assets under management, with Bitcoin accounting for over 60%. “LITE is the next step on a path to bringing a more comprehensive and diversified offering of ETPs to market,” CoinShares chief revenue officer Frank Spiteri said.

The crypto ETP industry has seen some rapid development in Europe. In March, Deutsche Borse’s electronic trading platform Xetra announced the launch of its first Ether-based ETPs by European ETP issuers like ETC Group and 21Shares. In February, 21Shares launched the world’s first Polkadot ETP on the Swiss SIX exchange.

SEC-registered crypto issuer INX to wrap up IPO in April

INX has been accepting cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether for its SEC-approved security token IPO since September 2020.

INX Limited, a Gibraltar-based platform for trading securities and cryptocurrencies, is preparing to finish its initial public offering soon.

According to a Monday announcement, April 22 will be the last day of INX’s IPO as the company expects to have listed its token on at least one public trading platform by the end of May 2021. INX plans to launch the INX Digital trading platform shortly after the IPO ends, the firm said.

INX launched the IPO in August 2020, planning to raise up to $117 million in a security token offering approved by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. 

INX CEO Shy Datika said that the company “has secured its position as the first to execute an SEC-registered digital security IPO for both retail and institutional investors.” 

INX did not specify how much the firm has raised with its IPO so far. The company did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, INX originally expected to finish the IPO by the end of 2020, having raised a total of $10 million as of late October.

Within its IPO, the firm has been accepting payments in major cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), as well as U.S. dollar-pegged stablecoin USD Coin (USDC). When INX introduced the crypto payment option in September 2020, Bitcoin and Ether were trading at around $10,500 and $380, respectively. Both cryptocurrencies have seen massive growth amid a major rally on crypto markets, up more than 500% since September, trading at $58,577 and $2,099 at the time of writing, respectively.

INX is finishing its IPO as major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase prepares to go public with a direct stock listing on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The firm expects to launch its Class A common stock trading under the ticker symbol “COIN” on April 14.