SEC Commissioner concerned about the US lagging behind global Bitcoin ETFs

“We’re not a merit regulator, so we shouldn’t be in the business of deciding whether something is good or bad,” SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce said.

Securities and Exchange Commissioner Hester Peirce has voiced concerns over the United States lagging behind global jurisdictions in adopting cryptocurrency exchange-traded funds (ETFs).

During an online appearance at the Bitcoin (BTC) conference “The B Word,” Peirce pointed out that many other countries such as Canada have already been trading crypto ETFs, while the U.S. is still deciding whether to approve such a trading instrument. She stated:

“I would never have imagined that I would be in this situation where we would not yet have approved one and other countries are moving ahead.”

The SEC commissioner also mentioned her concern that U.S. regulators could be overstepping their remit by forcing the local crypto industry to play by a separate set of rules than everyone else.

“We’re not a merit regulator, so we shouldn’t be in the business of deciding whether something is good or bad, an investor is thinking of their entire portfolio, and sometimes we’re thinking in one-off terms of a particular product standing on its own, and we forget that people are building portfolios,” she noted.

Peirce’s latest remarks come in line with her recent criticism of U.S. crypto regulation, with the SEC commissioner last month once again urging authorities to refrain from overregulating the crypto industry. Despite calling for a softened regulatory stance on crypto, the commissioner still believes that clear crypto rules are critical for the industry to thrive without fear of breaking the law. A long-running crypto advocate, Peirce is widely referred to as “Crypto Mom” within the crypto community.

Related: Fund management firm Global X files with the SEC for a Bitcoin ETF

As previously reported, U.S. regulators have delayed multiple approvals of crypto ETFs recently after consistently postponing such decisions over the past several years. In the meantime, some countries have already approved or launched Bitcoin ETF trading, with 3iQ and CoinShares’ Bitcoin ETF going live on the Toronto Stock Exchange in April. Canadian fund managers Purpose Investments and Evolve Funds Group previously launched Bitcoin ETF trading as well.

Amazon seeks new exec to oversee digital currency strategy

The new Amazon position requires a deep understanding of the digital currency and cryptocurrency ecosystems and related technologies.

Tech giant Amazon is looking to dive into digital currency and blockchain development with a new major hire within its payments-focused team.

Amazon’s payments acceptance and experience team is seeking a digital currency and blockchain product lead to develop the company’s strategy of digital currency and blockchain as well as a product roadmap. The team is responsible for Amazon’s customers’ payments on Amazon’s sites and through its global services.

Posted on Thursday, the new role seeks an experienced product leader with expertise in blockchain, central bank digital currencies and cryptocurrencies to “develop the case for the capabilities which should be developed” and drive overall product vision.

The new Amazon digital currency lead will work closely with teams across Amazon to design the roadmap, including the customer experience, technical strategy and capabilities, the posting notes.

The application requires a set of industry-related qualifications, including a “deep understanding” of the digital currency and cryptocurrency ecosystems and related technologies.

Related: Amazon ‘will have to’ create its own crypto in future, Binance CEO says

It appears unclear whether Amazon is considering launching its own digital currency as part of its payment acceptance process with the new position. The firm did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

The latest job posting reaffirms Amazon’s growing attention to digital currency, as the company has been apparently developing a new service to allow its customers to shop using digital currency. Earlier this year, Amazon posted a job application to launch a new digital payment product known as “Digital and Emerging Payments,” initially planning to roll out the initiative in Mexico.

Bitcoin is key to the future of Twitter, Jack Dorsey says

Twitter CEO sees opportunities to integrate Bitcoin into services like commerce, subscriptions and new features like Twitter Tip Jar and Super Follows.

Bitcoin (BTC), the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, will be one of the key trends for the future of Twitter, CEO Jack Dorsey declared.

Twitter CEO said that Bitcoin would be a “big part” of the company’s future at the second-quarter earnings call, outlining the digital currency’s potential to further transform Twitter products and services.

Referring to Bitcoin as a native currency of the internet, Dorsey described opportunities to integrate BTC into existing Twitter services including commerce, subscriptions and new features like Twitter Tip Jar and Super Follows.

The CEO explained to investors that a lot of Bitcoin-enabled innovation is “above just currency to be had,” as Twitter is committed to decentralize social media and provide more economic incentives. He noted that Bitcoin is one of three key trends for Twitter’s future alongside artificial intelligence and decentralization. “I think it’s hugely important to Twitter and to Twitter shareholders that we continue to look at the space and invest aggressively in it,” he said.

Dorsey emphasized that Twitter is not alone in its commitment to crypto, citing aggressive digital currency development by social media giant Facebook, which expects to pilot its Diem cryptocurrency later this year. But unlike Facebook, Twitter will one day focus on BTC as a native internet open standard, he stated:

“There’s an obvious need for this, and appreciation for it. And I think that an open standard that’s native to the internet is the right way to go, which is why my focus and our focus eventually will be on Bitcoin.”

Related: No, Jack Dorsey isn't trolling ETH by making its logo the Ethiopian flag

Dorsey’s latest Bitcoin call is reportedly the first time when the CEO has spoken publicly about Twitter could integrate BTC into its products. The new remarks come shortly after Dorsey discussed Bitcoin at the virtual BTC event “The ₿ Word” alongside Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood. Dorsey said that many existing business models would be much different if Bitcoin existed before Twitter or Facebook. “We would certainly not have the dependency that we have on the advertising business model,” he noted.

Dorsey is known as a major early Bitcoin believer, repeatedly arguing that Bitcoin is poised to be the single currency of the internet since at least 2018. His crypto-friendly digital payments firm Square is a solid Bitcoin investor, purchasing $50 million in BTC in late 2020 and then buying an extra $170 million in BTC in February 2021.

Binance US ‘looking at IPO route’, CZ says

Binance is set to face heavy regulations in the future with the mindset of shifting from a tech startup to a financial service, Changpeng Zhao said.

Binance US, a United States-based cryptocurrency exchange operating separately from Binance, is looking to go public despite the ongoing regulatory crackdown on Binance.

Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of the global exchange Binance, talked about its ongoing regulatory issues and future plans at the blockchain virtual summit REDeFiNE Tomorrow 2021 on Friday.

The CEO expressed confidence that Binance is set to face heavy regulations in the future, noting that the company “is in the mindset of shifting from a tech startup to a financial service.” Zhao reiterated that Binance had been aggressively increasing its compliance efforts, including hiring former regulators.

The CEO admitted the company’s efforts to cooperate with regulators have not been the firm’s “strong suit,” pointing out the urgent need to localize compliance communications.

But despite seeing a meager success in communicating with global regulators so far, Binance doesn’t preclude a possibility that Binance US would go public one day as the exchange is seeking ways to go for an initial public offering (IPO), CZ declared, stating:

“Binance US is looking at the IPO route. Most regulators are familiar with a certain pattern, or having headquarters, having corporate structure. But we are setting up those structures to make it easier for an IPO to happen.”

Related: Binance in the crosshairs: Are regulators paying attention to crypto?

Launched in 2019, Binance US operates a separate entity from Binance, licensing technology and receiving branding support from the global exchange. Brian Brooks, the former acting comptroller of the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, became CEO of Binance US earlier this year to help the exchange compete with Coinbase exchange and expand across the United States.

Binance has been subject to increased scrutiny from global regulators recently, including the United States. As previously reported, both the States Department of Justice and the Internal Revenue Service have been investigating Binance for alleged illegal trading activity involving users in the United States. In March, Binance reportedly became the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission regarding alleged trades by U.S. customers.

NatWest cuts payment channels to Binance, citing regulatory uncertainty

“It’s like people can’t spend their money on what they want anymore,” one Twitter user noted regarding NatWest’s action against Binance.

NatWest, a major United Kingdom-based retail and commercial bank, has blocked all credit and debit card payments to crypto exchange Binance until further notice, multiple users on social media reported on Thursday.

“With an increase in scams relating to cryptocurrency and regulatory uncertainty around Binance in the United Kingdom, we want to make sure that your money is safe,” NatWest reportedly said in a customer notice.

The move has triggered widescale outrage in the crypto community, with many disgruntled NatWest clients expressing their discontent with the bank willing to decide how to spend their money.

Some crypto enthusiasts expressed disappointment with Natwest’s move, with one Twitter user stating that “It’s like people can’t spend their money on what they want anymore.”  One reported NatWest user even complained, ”I will be removing my long term custom, and I encourage others to do the same. I have not authorised them to make financial decisions on my behalf.“ 

Neither Binance nor NatWest immediately responded to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

Related: Binance stops stock token sales, ‘effective immediately’

NatWest has previously restricted crypto services to its users. The company introduced a daily limit for crypto purchases by its clients in late June, targeting a number of crypto exchanges including Binance.

The bank has followed the example of Barclays, the British multinational universal bank that started blocking payments to Binance in late June until further notice. A spokesperson for Binance subsequently emphasized that the Financial Conduct Authority’s recent warning about the firm only applied to Binance Markets Limited, a separate legal entity from the main global exchange that operates through Binance.com.

Alabama regulators accuse BlockFi of offering unregistered securities

BlockFi continues rejecting securities regulators’ allegations that its Interest Accounts are unregistered securities.

The state of Alabama has become the second state in the United States to raise concerns over BlockFi, a major cryptocurrency lending platform.

The Alabama Securities Commission (ASC) has issued a show-cause order to New Jersey-based company BlockFi, ASC director Joseph Borg officially announced on Wednesday.

Already facing a cease and desist order from the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, BlockFi now has 28 days to provide cause why the platform should not be forced to cease and desist from selling “unregistered securities” in Alabama, the regulator said.

According to the ASC, BlockFi’s interest-earning cryptocurrency BlockFi Interest Accounts constitute securities. “BlockFi has raised at least $14.7 billion worldwide through the sale of these securities,” the regulator claimed.

The ASC alleged that BlockFi, alongside its affiliates BlockFi Lending and BlockFi Trading, has been funding its crypto lending operations and trading “at least in part” through funds generated from the sale of unregistered securities in violation of securities laws. The order also claimed that BlockFi has failed to disclose to investors that its BIAs are not approved by the ASC or any other securities regulator despite the firm touting itself as a “U.S. regulated entity.”

BlockFi subsequently said that the company was aware of the ASC’s show-cause order, assuring that it has been engaged in “active dialogues with regulators worldwide,” including those in Alabama. The firm remains confident that its products are lawful and appropriate for crypto market participants, BlockFi said, adding, “Our stance hasn’t changed — the BlockFI Interest Account is not a security.”

The ASC said that the action comes amid rising concerns over the growing popularity of decentralized finance platforms like BlockFi, which are designed to provide financial services without relying on central financial intermediaries.

Related: World Economic Forum releases policy toolkit for DeFi regulations

In contrast to traditionally regulated banks and brokerage firms, investor funds are not protected by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or Securities Investor Protection Corporation, thus presenting a higher risk of loss, the authority noted.

The ASC’s action comes two days after the New Jersey securities regulator issued a cease and desist order to BlockFi, blocking the platform from onboarding new interest account clients in the state. 

Visa to acquire cross-border payments fintech Currencycloud

The lines between traditional payments networks and fintech continue to blur with Visa's acquisition of the London-based firm.

Visa officially announced Thursday that it signed a definitive agreement to acquire Currencycloud, a fintech platform supporting about 500 banking and technology clients across more than 180 countries.

The new acquisition aims to improve Visa’s foreign exchange business and expand them to serve financial institutions, fintechs and partners. The deal will specifically improve Visa’s payment transparency and speed, the company’s global treasurer Colleen Ostrowski said, stating:

“The acquisition of Currencycloud is another example of Visa executing on our network of networks strategy to facilitate global money movement. Consumers and businesses increasingly expect transparency, speed and simplicity when making or receiving international payments.”

The new acquisition is based on an existing strategic collaboration between the two firms as Visa already owns an equity stake at Currencycloud, valued at 700 million ($956 million) including cash and retention incentives. Last year, Visa participated in a $80 million funding round for Currencycloud alongside investors like Japanese financial conglomerate SBI Group.

According to the announcement, Currencycloud will maintain its operations from the company's headquarters in London and will keep its current management team. The acquisition is still subject to regulatory approval.

The story is developing and will be updated.

Bank of Russia asks stock exchanges to not list crypto-related firms

The Bank of Russia’s new stock exchange recommendations do not apply to central bank digital currencies and authorized digital assets issued in Russia.

As global cryptocurrency companies increasingly consider going public, the Russian central bank has officially recommended local exchanges to avoid crypto-related listings.

The Bank of Russia issued an information letter on July 19, asking Russian stock exchanges to stay away from listings of foreign and local companies involved in a broad range of crypto services.

The central bank elaborated that local exchanges should not list stocks issued by companies whose business relies on crypto market prices, including digital financial assets issued outside Russia, crypto-tracking indexes, as well as crypto derivatives and crypto funds. The Bank of Russia also recommended asset managers to exclude these instruments in mutual funds.

The bank emphasized that stock exchanges should particularly avoid providing exposure to these investment services to non-accredited investors.

“The Bank of Russia’s recommendations aim at a preventive measure — they are designed to prevent a mass investor adoption of such instruments,” the bank stated in an official notice on Thursday. The recommendations do not apply to central bank digital currencies and authorized digital assets issued in Russia, the statement reads.

Related: Russia’s central bank to study crypto investment risks

The central bank went on to say that cryptocurrencies and digital assets are associated with high volatility, opaque price discovery, low liquidity, as well as technology and regulation-related risks. “Purchases of financial instruments linked to such assets entail increased risks of losses for people who do not have sufficient experience and knowledge,” the bank added.

The Bank of Russia’s latest move further showcases the institution's reluctance to embrace the cryptocurrency industry, echoing similar restrictions in countries like China. As previously reported, the Russian central bank has been withholding major local banks like Tinkoff from offering cryptocurrency trading.

Multi-asset exchange wins crypto trading license in Bermuda

Bermuda Premier David Burt said that 24 Exchange’s regulatory approval is the “first license of its kind to be issued in Bermuda.”

A multi-asset class trading firm in Bermuda has secured major regulatory approval allowing it to offer cryptocurrency trading services.

Over-the-counter trading platform 24 Exchange has acquired a “Class T” digital asset business licence from the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) to roll out cryptocurrency trading on its institutional-grade platform. The firm officially announced Tuesday that the new license was granted under the Bermuda Digital Asset Business Act 2018.

With the newly received license, 24 Exchange is planning to launch physical crypto trading to its institutional clients later this summer. Specializing in foreign exchange non-deliverable forwards (NDFs), or two-party cash-settled derivatives contracts, 24 Exchange also expects to introduce a trading capability with NDFs in Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).

In order to secure the license, 24 Exchange has been working closely with the Bermuda Government’s Office of FinTech, the Bermuda Business Development Agency, as well as Bermuda Premier David Burt. The Premier reportedly highlighted that the latest regulatory approval is the “first license of its kind to be issued in Bermuda,” and that the state is looking forward to “having these innovative digital pioneers blazing new trails” in the country.

Founded in 2019, 24 Exchange is focused on providing institutional investors with diverse asset exposures 24 hours a day and at the lowest possible cost. The company intends to expand its platform’s capability in the future to include all possible assets.

Related: Bermuda Premier: Cryptocurrency a great equalizer against big tech

“We intend to expand our platform's trading capability in the future to encompass all the other assets on our exchange – all at best available rates. 24 Exchange's unique NDF offering will significantly facilitate the institutional adoption of crypto products across the globe,” 24 Exchange CEO and founder Dmitri Galinov said.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Bermuda has emerged as a crypto-friendly jurisdiction in recent years, welcoming operations of multiple global crypto businesses in the country. Last October, BMA granted a “Class F” digital asset business licence to crypto exchange Bittrex Global, allowing it to offer crypto services like futures trading. Bermuda is also reportedly the first government over the world to accept Circle’s stablecoin USD Coin (USDC) for tax payments.

Bitcoin security still a concern for some institutional investors

Security of cryptocurrency custodial services is still among significant hurdles preventing institutional investors from buying crypto for the first time, new data suggests.

United Kingdom-based crypto fund Nickel Digital Asset Management released a survey of 100 wealth managers and global institutional investors to find out the biggest investor concerns associated with crypto. 

The survey features respondents from the United States, France, Germany, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, who collectively own $275 billion in assets under management.

Conducted online from May to June 2021, the survey found low confidence among institutional investors in crypto security, with 76% of respondents citing concerns about the security of custodial services as one factor stopping them from investing in crypto. 

Respondents also identified the regulatory environment as a significant hurdle. Other important concerns included a lack of transparency and volatility, and a perceived lack of reputable fund managers offering crypto investment.

Nickel Digital co-founder and CEO Anatoly Crachilov said that institutional concerns over crypto custody and security come despite the industry seeing “very strong progress on that front.” Crachilov stated that crypto service providers have been increasingly deploying sophisticated cryptographic solutions, such as distributed keys and multi-party computation vaults, while traditional financial institutions have been also moving into such services.

Related: BNY Mellon joins State Street to service new crypto exchange

“We are now seeing Fidelity, BNY Mellon, and State Street entering the market, thus further reinforcing market infrastructure. All of this increases the confidence levels in the sector and lead to ever-growing allocations to this fast developing asset class,” Crachilov said.

The new survey comes shortly after the Australia Securities Exchange issued a warning related to custodial services on centralized cryptocurrency exchanges, cautioning investors against cybersecurity risks in the form of theft by hackers.

BNY Mellon joins State Street to service new crypto exchange

Traditional financial institutions like State Street and BNY Mellon continue to get involved in the fast evolving cryptocurrency space.

Bank of New York Mellon is joining a new cryptocurrency initiative by offering its custody support to a new crypto exchange backed by the American bank State Street.

According to a Wednesday report by the Financial Times, BNY Mellon has joined a consortium of six banks behind the launch of London-based Pure Digital, a new crypto trading platform venture that is scheduled to execute its first Bitcoin (BTC) trade in the near future.

The upcoming crypto venture came under the industry’s spotlight in April, with State Street announcing plans to provide its trading infrastructure to Pure Digital exchange through its foreign exchange technology subsidiary Currenex. The institutional-grade platform is expected to be a fully automated over-the-counter market for cryptocurrencies, featuring physical delivery and bank custody.

According to the report, BNY Mellon and State Street, alongside other unnamed banks behind Pure Digital, will create a cash cryptocurrency trading venue in a bid to compete against larger industry players. “We have spoken to all the top-tier banks but we think custody banks were some of the first to see demand, so they are now more advanced,” Pure Digital CEO Lauren Kiley said.

Pure Digital co-founder Campbell Adams reportedly noted that the firm expects to roll out trading “within a week,” with the first trade tentatively involving a Bitcoin trade. The exec also said that Pure Digital is not worried about collaborating with banking institutions, expressing confidence that the bank's contribution is important for the industry’s adoption. “The crypto market needs banks, I don’t think it can scale without them,” he stated.

Related: Goldman Sachs’ crypto trading desk expands to Ether

The latest news marks another milestone for cryptocurrency adoption by financial institutions in the United States, with both BNY Mellon and State Street becoming increasingly engaged in the industry. After announcing crypto custody plans in February, BNY Mellon continued moving into crypto, last week becoming an exchange-traded fund service provider for major crypto asset manager Grayscale Investments.

State Street is known for its digital currency collaboration with Winklevoss’ Bitcoin exchange Gemini. Last month, the bank launched a dedicated digital finance division focusing on cryptocurrency, blockchain technology and central bank digital currencies.

Many JPMorgan clients see Bitcoin as asset class, says senior exec

“The volatility you see in it today just has to play itself out,” JPMorgan's director of asset and wealth management said.

Despite Bitcoin (BTC) not yet emerging as an “asset class per se,” JPMorgan considers it important to meet the demand for cryptocurrency investment, according to a senior wealth management executive.

A large number of JPMorgan clients see digital currencies like Bitcoin as an asset class, the company’s director of asset and wealth management Mary Callahan Erdoes said.

In a Bloomberg interview released Tuesday, Erdoes stressed that the bank will continue providing crypto services to meet the growing demand, stating:

“A lot of our clients say that’s an asset class, and I want to invest, and our job is to help them put their money where they want to invest.”

Erdoes said that the debate about whether cryptocurrencies constitute an asset class is still ongoing as many experts are concerned about the market’s extreme volatility.

“It’s a very personal thing. We don’t have Bitcoin as an asset class per se,” Erdoes stated, adding that it remains to be seen whether the cryptocurrency is a store of value. “The volatility you see in it today just has to play itself out,” she concluded.

One of the largest investment banking institutions in the United States, JPMorgan is known for its somewhat mixed stance on crypto, with CEO Jamie Dimon referring to Bitcoin as “fraud” back in 2017. The company has since softened its stance on the industry, reportedly preparing to launch an actively managed Bitcoin fund as well as launching debt instruments with direct exposure to a basket of crypto-focused companies.

Related: BlackRock CEO signals low demand for crypto from long-term investors

JPMorgan analysts have been closely monitoring the crypto market, with crypto expert Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou forecasting that Bitcoin will hit $145,000 as its long-term “theoretical target.” In late June, JPMorgan said that institutional investors had little appetite for buying the dip, with strategists reiterating that Bitcoin would be trading between $23,000 and $35,000 over the medium term.

Bank of Korea selects Kakao’s blockchain arm for digital won tests

ConsenSys, a major Ethereum software company, will contribute its technology to South Korean CBDC simulations led by Ground X.

The central bank of South Korea has chosen a blockchain subsidiary of local internet giant Kakao as a technology provider for its digital currency pilots.

Kakao’s Ground X had won the Bank of Korea’s central bank digital currency (CBDC) tender, becoming the principal technology supplier for blockchain-based digital won simulations, local news agency Korea JoongAng Daily reported Tuesday.

The central bank announced that Ground X will participate in the South Korean CBDC project in cooperation with United States-based blockchain company ConsenSys as well as other Kakao affiliates like KakaoBank and Kakao Pay.

Focused on infrastructure and decentralized applications for the Ethereum blockchain, ConsenSys will contribute to the CBDC project by applying in-house solutions like ConsenSys Quorum and ConsenSys Codefi, the firm announced on Twitter.

BoK opened a bidding process for firms interested in conducting a blockchain-enabled CBDC simulation project. According to Korea JoongAng Daily, the first tests are likely to kick off next month.

Launched by Kakao in 2018, Ground X is known for operating its own blockchain platform called Klaytn. ConsenSys has already been collaborating with Ground X on developing a private platform for issuing a South Korean CBDC.

Related: South Korean Shinhan Bank joins Klaytn’s blockchain governance council

The initiative aims to test the CBDC in a virtual simulation environment based on distributed ledger technology, exploring potential use cases related to CBDC issuance, redemption, electronic payments and settlement, as well as potential integrations related to purchases of digital artworks and copyrights. The central bank initially announced the country’s plans to test the distribution of a digital won in February 2021.

US megabank JPMorgan to hire more blockchain talent

Some of JPMorgan’s new blockchain-related job applications seek candidates with experience in Bitcoin, Ethereum and proof-of-stake consensus mechanisms.

Major American investment bank JPMorgan is upping its blockchain hiring spree by posting a series of new blockchain-related job applications.

JPMorgan has opened multiple positions to pursue its global blockchain development efforts including job postings targeting blockchain-focused software developers, engineers, marketers and auditors. According to the company’s open positions on LinkedIn, many of these new blockchain-related job postings were published in the last few days.

The new job postings seek blockchain talent across several of JPMorgan’s branches worldwide, including the United States, Singapore, India, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and other countries. The company posted more than 30 such openings over the past seven days in the U.S. alone.

A number of applications specifically target talent for JPMorgan’s digital currency-focused Onyx division as well as Liink, the company’s proprietary blockchain-based interbank data network. Launched last October, Onyx is focused on JPMorgan Chase’s in-house stablecoin known as JPM Coin.

One of the newly opened positions, a blockchain platform software engineer in Jersey City, New Jersey seeks experts specializing in blockchain security technologies, proof-of-stake algorithms, as well as experience with major cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).

Related: Crypto businesses struggling to fill job openings amid industry expansion

The new job postings come shortly after JPMorgan’s analysts forecasted that Ethereum’s upcoming transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake will boost global adoption of crypto staking yields, potentially triggering a surge of staking pay-outs up to $40 billion by 2025. The bank’s analysts also believe that Bitcoin could potentially evolve into a compelling alternative to gold and surpass a $140,000 price mark in the long run.

Ethereum documentary featuring Vitalik Buterin raises $1.9M in 3 days

Slated to premiere in winter 2023, the film will approach Ethereum as an “infinite garden,” laying out its blockchain as a “decentralized ecosystem with soil, plants, and insects.”

The cryptocurrency community is highly anticipating the release of a new documentary about the Ethereum blockchain, with the film’s funding campaign exceeding expectations.

A crowdfunding round for Ethereum-themed documentary dubbed Ethereum: The Infinite Garden has surpassed its goal of 750 Ether (ETH), raising a total of 1,035.96 ETH worth $1.9 million as of July 16, the creators announced.

The funding campaign started last Wednesday to support the production of a feature-length character-driven documentary film exploring the “innovative real-world applications of the Ethereum blockchain, the die-hard community of enthusiasts and developers, and its creator, Vitalik Buterin.”

Ending Friday, the fundraising campaign amassed a total of 662 backers that contributed through Mirror, a decentralized crypto-based network. “We are blown away by the support of the community. In 3 days we surpassed our goal,” the project creators said.

Some 95% of raised funds will be directed towards the film’s production budget, while 3% will be distributed on Gitcoin grants to support open-source Ethereum projects, and the remaining 2% will be sent as a donation to Carbonfund.org, an initiative to reduce global carbon emissions.

Related: Maximalists at the movies: Bitcoiners crowdfunding anti-FUD documentary film

To premiere in winter 2023, the film will approach Ethereum as an “infinite garden,” laying out its blockchain as a “decentralized ecosystem with soil, plants, and insects” instead of thinking of it as a “machine controlled by a central brain.” The idea of the infinite garden was conceptualized by Aya Miyaguchi, the executive director of the Ethereum Foundation.

The project creators dropped a series of Infinite Garden nonfungible tokens (NFTs) tied to select on-screen credits in the film. The top three backers have been awarded these three unique NFTs designed by digital artist Pplpleasr, who is known for providing visual work for films like Batman v Superman, Wonder Woman and Star Trek Beyond.

Bitcoin mining difficulty drops for fourth time in a row

Bitcoin mining difficulty has posted another negative adjustment on Sunday, with the difficulty rate almost halving since mid-May.

Amid the ongoing crackdown on cryptocurrency mining in China, mining new Bitcoin (BTC) continues getting easier as BTC has experienced another mining difficulty drop.

On July 18, the Bitcoin network posted its fourth consecutive negative adjustment of mining difficulty, dropping 4.8%, according to data from Bitcoin explorer BTC.com.

The latest mining difficulty adjustment occurred at block 691,488, reducing the difficulty rate from 14.4 trillion to 13.7 trillion, the lowest level recorded since June 2020. The difficulty metrics have now almost halved over the past two months, after reaching over 25 trillion on May 13.

Bitcoin’s five past mining difficulty adjustments. Source: BTC.com

The latest Bitcoin mining adjustment follows a series of consecutive difficulty drops that started with a nearly 16% decline on May 29. Further negative adjustments continued with a 5.3% drop on June 13 and a massive 28% decline on July 3 — the biggest mining difficulty drop on the Bitcoin network.

Related: Bitcoin miner revenue jumps by 50% in 4 days since record difficulty drop

Bitcoin mining difficulty is a measure of how hard it is to mine a BTC block, with a higher difficulty requiring additional computing power to verify transactions and mine new coins. Bitcoin’s mining difficulty adjustment occurs every 2,016 blocks, or about every two weeks, as Bitcoin is programmed to self-adjust in order to maintain a target block time of 10 minutes.

Bitcoin’s continuing mining difficulty decline comes in response to the ongoing miner migration out of China caused by a major crackdown on the cryptocurrency mining by local authorities. The ongoing difficulty drop falls in parallel with declining Bitcoin hashrate as well as decreasing average BTC transaction fees.

New project aims to bring global crypto miners to Russia

Russian crypto advocates are already collaborating with a consortium including some of China’s largest crypto mining-related companies.

A major cryptocurrency and blockchain association in Russia is launching a project to bring global crypto mining operations to the country amid a Chinese crypto mining crackdown.

The Russian Association of Cryptoeconomics, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain, or RACIB, announced an initiative aimed at transferring global computing resources for crypto mining to the Russian Federation. More information on the project is expected to be released at a later date, a spokesperson for RACIB told Cointelegraph.

In order to promote and implement the project, RACIB is closely cooperating with Russian government authorities and state corporations, forming a range of joint working groups with local state structures, the announcement notes.

One such group is focused on an “eco-mining” project for building mining farms and data centers powered by renewable electricity sources. In addition to Russia’s rich hydro- and nuclear-based energy, the group is seeking to establish crypto mining operations based on green energy sources like wind-based power plants.

As part of the project, RACIB is already collaborating with some foreign partners including a consortium of some of the largest crypto mining-related companies in China. The announcement notes that companies in the consortium control “more than 25% of the global hashrate of the main cryptocurrencies.”

According to energy-focused publication ​​NS Energy, Russia is the fourth-largest country in terms of electricity production, generating over 1,100 terawatt-hours of energy per year, following China, the United States, and India. According to the announcement, over the couse of 2021 Russia has set up over 1,100 megawatts of new power plants using wind farms in areas like the Rostov region, the Republic of Kalmykia, Adygea, and Stavropol Krai.

Related: The9 signs green Bitcoin mining deal with Russian firm BitRiver

The new initiative brings another strategic opportunity for global crypto miners amid Chinese mining firms fleeing the country as local authorities have been continuously cracking down on crypto mining activity and halting key mining farms . According to data from the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, China’s Bitcoin hash rate already plummeted before the crackdown, dropping to 46% in April 2021 from 75.5% in September 2019. In the same period, the U.S. hash rate share surged to nearly 17% from 4%, while Russia and Kazakhstan’s hash rate rose to about 8%.

Russia is not the only country that is offering Chinese miners its energy capacity to emerge as a major player in the industry. Miami mayor Francis Suarez in June publicly invited Chinese crypto mining companies to consider establishing data centers in the city amid miner capitulation in China.

Crypto offers more freedom, Coinbase CEO responds to DOGE creator

Crypto is a “much-needed breath of fresh air” for those who believe that state solutions are often “inefficient, overpromise or underdeliver,” Brian Armstrong said.

Brian Armstrong, co-founder and CEO of Nasdaq-listed cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, took to Twitter to respond to a recent attack on crypto by Dogecoin (DOGE) co-creator Jackson Palmer.

In a Twitter thread on Thursday, Armstrong pointed out some of the biggest benefits of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC), stressing that crypto is “simply providing an alternative for people who want more freedom.”

The CEO emphasized that one’s stance on the crypto industry depends on a perspective, elaborating that people who want more control from financial regulators are free to enjoy the traditional fiat system. But crypto is a “much-needed breath of fresh air” for those who believe that government solutions are often “inefficient, overpromise or underdeliver,” Armstrong noted.

Armstrong went on to say that traditional investment tools are usually associated with a lack of opportunities for smaller investors, referring to restrictions such as accredited investor laws:

“Accredited investor laws are a good example. They were created with the best of intentions, to protect regular people from scams — a noble idea. But what has been the actual result? They’ve often made it illegal to get rich via investment unless you’re already rich.”

In contrast to some traditional investment instruments, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin did not require investors to be accredited by any financial authority in early inception, thus representing an attractive opportunity for retail investors, Armstrong said:

“This is part of why Bitcoin has made so many people wealthy. It was not a security, so regular people could invest early on.”

As such, Armstrong concluded that crypto creates “wealth mobility and more equality of opportunity for everyone,” stressing that everyone can choose the system that works best for them. “Crypto is not going to solve wealth inequality — it’s not trying to create the same outcome for everyone,” he added. With a mission to “create an open financial system for the world,” Coinbase is known for its “no-politics” stance officially taken in late 2020.

Related: Michael Saylor doesn’t think Bitcoin is ‘going to be currency in the US ever’

Palmer, who created Dogecoin as a joke back in 2013, took to Twitter earlier this week to blast the entire crypto industry, arguing that crypto is an “inherently right-wing, hyper-capitalistic technology” designed for a combination of “tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity.” In 2018, Palmer predicted that the industry is “rapidly racing towards an oversaturation of cryptocurrencies” to the point that their value and utility “inversely approaches zero.”

As previously reported, Dogecoin has emerged as one of the most popular cryptocurrencies this year, becoming the top-gaining digital asset in Q2 2021 with a surge of 392%.

Japan to reportedly take action to scrutinize crypto globally

Japanese Ministry of Finance is hiring more staff to develop stricter global rules for digital currencies, particularly fiat-pegged stablecoins.

Japan is strengthening its efforts to regulate digital currencies on a global scale, with related government authorities reportedly looking to expand staff to impose stricter rules.

Japanese regulators have expressed fresh concerns over the massive growth of the cryptocurrency market, particularly cautioning against stablecoins, Reuters reported Friday.

Tokyo is willing to engage with global financial regulators to develop stricter rules for private digital currencies, three Japanese officials reportedly said, adding that G7 and the G20 group regulators have called for greater regulations for fiat-pegged stablecoins.

“Japan can no longer leave things unattended with global developments over digital currencies moving so rapidly,” one official said.

According to the report, the Japanese Ministry of Finance is allegedly considering increasing staff to pursue its efforts to scrutinize the industry worldwide. The country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) has reportedly already established a new unit to oversee digital currency regulation. 

Launched on July 8, the new FSA unit aims to monitor broader crypto markets and focus on decentralized finance, a blockchain-based form of finance that doesn’t rely on centralized financial intermediaries, the officials said.

Related: Japan’s finance industry awaits a clearer picture of the digital yen in 2022

The news comes amid the crypto industry, drawing increased attention from global regulators recently. Many authorities particularly caution against stablecoins, a type of cryptocurrency pegged to assets or fiat currencies like the United States dollar. Global central banks have been specifically pushing central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), digital versions of national fiat currencies, to maintain control over money.

United States Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell said Wednesday that a U.S. CBDC would cut the need for private options like Bitcoin (BTC) and stablecoins. Last week, People’s Bank of China deputy governor Fan Yifei argued that the rapid development of private payment systems is “very alarming,” warning that stablecoins pose a serious threat to global financial and settlement systems.

Tennessee city wants to accept property tax payments in Bitcoin

Jackson Mayor Scott Conger believes that Bitcoin is the only solution to fix inflation and the U.S. dollar devaluation.

United States’ city of Jackson, Tennessee, continues exploring a potential dive into cryptocurrencies, now looking to accept Bitcoin (BTC) for property tax payments.

Jackson Mayor Scott Conger announced late Thursday that the city’s blockchain task force had launched a study on potential methods to accept property tax payments in Bitcoin in the city.

The blockchain group will also explore how to allow employees to dollar-cost average Bitcoin, or purchase smaller amounts of Bitcoin over regular time intervals. Dollar-cost averaging Bitcoin purchases are considered to be the best strategy for accumulating Bitcoin, multiple studies confirmed.

Conger earlier took to Twitter to blast the ongoing inflation and the U.S. dollar devaluation, arguing that Bitcoin is the “only one fix for this.”

The latest announcement brings an update to Jackson’s broader crypto-related plans announced by Conger in April. The city has been actively exploring options to pay city employees in cryptocurrency, adopting Bitcoin mining operations and adding BTC on the city’s balance sheet. Conger previously hinted that the city could be also looking to enable payments in several other digital coins like Ether (ETH) and Litecoin (LTC).

Related: ​Crypto community divided on whether Bitcoin is an inflation hedge

As previously reported, Mayor Conger followed in the steps of Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has been pushing the city of Miami to adopt tax and salary payments in Bitcoin. Conger is also known for adopting “laser eyes,” a part of the crypto community’s flash mob supporting Bitcoin’s potential price surge up to $100,000. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading at $31,732, down 2.5% over the past 24 hours, according to data from CoinGecko.

Australian digital finance industry wants to legally recognize DAOs

A new legal initiative in Australia wants to allow DAO project governors to contract with other legal entities through DeFi tools.

Specialists and lawyers focused on decentralized finance (DeFi) are launching an initiative to create a new type of legal entity in Australia representing decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).

The country's Digital Law Association and global law firm Herbert Smith Freehills are lobbying an Australian Senate committee to formally recognize new decentralized models for corporate governance. These new DAO models would replace the board of directors with an internet community, the Australian Financial Review reported Thursday.

The initiative specifically intends to allow “DAO Limited” project governors to contract with other legal entities through DeFi tools implementing blockchain technology to remove traditional intermediaries like banks and exchanges. Limited liability status will also prevent Australian members of a DAO from being liable for losses incurred by decisions made by a member of the community.

According to the lawyers, legalizing DAOs in Australia could make the country more attractive for global digital asset businesses as groups of local DeFi entrepreneurs reportedly shift offshore to jurisdictions like Singapore and Germany.

Related: Wyoming legally recognizes first DAO in the United States

A DAO is a decentralized organization with certain sets of rules that are encoded as a computer program and are usually based on blockchain technology. The first most important attempt to create a DAO was “The DAO,” a machine-operating venture organization launched in 2016.

The news comes as some cryptocurrency exchanges shifting to a decentralized structure. Yesterday, ShapeShift crypto exchange announced plans to open-source its platform and dissolve its entire corporate structure in a move to underscore its commitment to DeFi. “Inspired by the broader DeFi community, we’ll now help pioneer a new model of economic coordination for the 21st century. No corporate entity, no banks and no borders. The tools are ready,” ShapeShift founder and CEO Erik Voorhees said.

Italian finance regulator issues warning on Binance crypto exchange

Italian Companies and Exchange Commission has warned that Binance is not authorized to facilitate crypto investment services in the country.

Italy’s securities market regulator, the Italian Companies and Exchange Commission (CONSOB), has issued a statement, in which it said that Binance Group and affiliated companies are unauthorized to provide investment services and operate in Italy.

The regulator specified that the warning refers to Binance.com, the main website of the global crypto exchange. CONSOB went on to warn the public about potential implications of Binance’s legal status in Italy, advising to exercise caution in making investment choices.

Italy has joined the growing number of countries to issue a public warning regarding Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume.

“In any case, it is important that investors are informed that transactions in instruments related to crypto assets may pose risks that are not immediately perceptible due to their complexity, high volatility as well as for security vulnerabilities,” CONSOB noted.

The regulator did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

Related: ‘Compliance is a journey,’ says Binance CEO amid regulatory scrutiny

The latest warning comes as Binance faces a class-action suit from a group of Italian and international investors. Last week, Italy-based legal firm Lexia Avvocati announced a legal action against the exchange to recover damages from trades on Binance, alleging that the company violated its own rules on futures trading.

In serving the latest warning, CONSOB joins the increasing number of regulators that have issued warnings against Binance, echoing similar moves by authorities in Poland, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Cayman Islands, Thailand, Canada, Japan, Singapore and the United States.

Softbank leads $800M investment for banking app Revolut

Now valued at $33 billion, Revolut didn’t rule out a potential IPO this year, but the firm's CFO suggested that it was unlikely.

Revolut, a major British banking app featuring cryptocurrency investment, has secured $800 million in a new funding round.

The new investment round is led by Japanese financial giant SoftBank and United States hedge fund Tiger Global, which collectively hold around 5% in Revolut, CNBC reported Thursday.

The round values Revolut at $33 billion, marking a sixfold increase from the company’s valuation of $5.5 billion in 2020. The newly secured funding will help Revolut continue international expansion as well as further improve marketing and product development, Revolut chief financial officer Mikko Salovaara noted. The company is particularly focused on rolling out services in the U.S. and India, he added.

The latest financing round reportedly makes Revolut the second-largest fintech unicorn in Europe behind Swedish fintech company Klarna. It is also now the biggest fintech in the United Kingdom, flipping major payments firm Checkout.com.

Despite Revolut posting massive growth over the past year, the company has no immediate plans for an initial public offering. Salovaara said that Revolut did not rule out a potential IPO this year but suggested it was unlikely.

Revolut did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

Related: Revolut expands to Japan as its first non-English speaking market

Revolut reported nearly $240 million in annual losses last year, higher than the $140 million the company lost in 2019. Revolut CEO and co-founder Nik Storonsky previously said that the main reason for mounting losses in 2019 was an aggressive investment in global expansion and new product offerings. Revolut will continue its expansion into new services like crypto and stock trading to reach profitability in the long run, the CEO said recently.

Indian high court seeks ad disclaimers from crypto exchanges

India’s Delhi High Court is looking to put a clear voiceover and a disclaimer covering 80% of the screen on crypto ads on national TV.

Amid the ongoing regulatory uncertainty to cryptocurrencies in India, a high court in the country’s capital is taking action to regulate advertising by local crypto exchanges.

The Delhi High Court has issued notices to local authorities and crypto firms in an effort to enforce guidelines for crypto exchanges advertising on national television, the New Indian Express reported Wednesday.

The court is seeking responses from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI), the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, as well as major Indian crypto exchanges including CoinDCX and WasirX, and aims to discuss the issue in August.

According to the report, lawyers Ayush Shukla and Vikash Kumar have urged the court to ask the SEBI to issue ad guidelines requiring crypto audio-visual ads to include a disclaimer covering 80% of the screen, accompanied with a voiceover reading lasting at least five seconds.

The petitioners reportedly said that numerous crypto ads on national TV do not include a voiceover, while the disclaimer text is displayed briefly and in small letters, usually containing a line like “cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks.”

Related: Crypto exchanges in India still struggling to secure banking partners

The court’s plea reportedly stated that crypto assets are inherently riskier than traditional equity investment products, mutual funds and other investment instruments, thus requiring more measures to ensure investor protection. “An ordinary retail investor who views the audio-visual advertisement on television and online websites like Youtube, may suffer immense losses as a result of thereof whilst on the other hand,” the court noted.

The news comes as India still struggles to come up with clear regulations for the crypto industry in the country as anonymous alleged government sources continue stoking fears of an upcoming crypto ban. Despite the ongoing regulatory uncertainty, India’s nationwide investments in crypto have reportedly surged 600% over the past year.

BlackRock CEO signals low demand for crypto from long-term investors

“We see very little in terms of investor demand” for crypto, BlackRock CEO said.

BlackRock, an institutional asset manager that has indirect exposure to Bitcoin (BTC), has recorded a major decline in investor demand for cryptocurrency.

The company’s CEO Larry Fink declared Wednesday on CNBC’s Squawk Box that BlackRock has been seeing less crypto-related queries from investors recently, signaling a massive drop in demand for crypto.

Fink noted that specifically long-term and retirement investors now appear to have less interest in crypto, stating:

“In the past, you’ve asked me about crypto and Bitcoin, again. And in my last two weeks of business travel, not one question has been asked about that. That is just not part of the focus of retirement and long-term investors. We see very little in terms of investor demand.”

Fink’s remarks come amid a continued sideways trading on the cryptocurrency markets, with Bitcoin dropping over 16% over the past 30 days. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is trading at $32,572, slightly up around 0.3% over the past 24 hours. The most-valued cryptocurrency has lost almost half of its price since BTC broke its all-time high in mid-April, surging above $64,000.

Bitcoin price over the past year. Source: CoinGecko

BlackRock is known for its friendly stance on Bitcoin as the company obtained indirect exposure to Bitcoin through its ownership stake in business intelligence firm MicroStrategy. The firm made an initial $425 million investment in BTC in 2020 and then continued buying more Bitcoin.

Related: Fidelity to hire more crypto hands amid growing institutional interest

BlackRock CEO previously delivered some positive comments about Bitcoin as well. Last December, Fink claimed that Bitcoin can potentially evolve into a global market despite still being widely untested.

Despite BlackRock CEO’s claims on the alleged decline in Bitcoin demand from long-term investors, the institutional interest in crypto apparently continues growing. Last week, Bank of America, the second-largest bank in the United States, reportedly set up a crypto research team in response to growing institutional interest in digital assets.

Crypto community divided on whether Bitcoin is an inflation hedge

Market observers expressed more concerns over the Bitcoin price drop amid a significant projected spike in inflation.

Amid a massive spike of the United States’ Consumer Price Index (CPI), the cryptocurrency community has divided on whether Bitcoin (BTC) is really a hedge to inflation.

The CPI, an indicator measuring the average change in prices that consumers pay for a basket of goods and services, saw its largest one-month increase in June over the past 13 years, Business Insider reported Tuesday. The inflation surge reportedly started in March, when CPI rose by 2.6%, followed by subsequent increases in April of 4.2% and eventually 5.4% in June.

But despite the recent growth in CPI-measured inflation, Bitcoin has allegedly failed as an inflation hedge as its price has almost halved from $64,000 in mid-April, according to some analysts.

“Bitcoin isn’t behaving like an inflation hedge anymore and will continue to remain heavy over expectations over higher yields,” Ed Moya, senior equity analyst at foreign exchange firm Oanda said in a Tuesday note. However, that inflation is viewed as transitory, which could be a reason why the June CPI report wasn’t enough of a catalyst to break Bitcoin’s sideways trading, Moya added.

The crypto community subsequently reacted to these CPI-versus-Bitcoin observations, with many industry advocates emphasizing that their early Bitcoin investment and gains “have already hedged the future.” Some Bitcoin enthusiasts pointed out that Bitcoin has been growing historically, posting massive gains over the long term.

Related: Bitcoin boon as US inflation hits 13-year high, wages fall to lowest in 21st century

According to some crypto experts, Bitcoin is indeed “not a great hedge against inflation.” Mati Greenspan, founder of money management firm Quantum Economics, told Cointelegraph that there “doesn’t seem to be any correlation” between Bitcoin’s price action and inflation or deflation data, stating:

“Certainly bitcoin has been a great performer over time. But most of the gains have occurred during a great global deflationary period in which all risk assets rose. Now that inflation is picking up for real, for the first time since Bitcoin's inception, it's drastically underperforming.”

The latest CPI-triggered argument brings another twist in long-running debates regarding Bitcoin as a hedge instrument. A number of financial analysts including Nassim Taleb believe that inflation has nothing to do with Bitcoin price. Still, some global investors like Paul Tudor Jones have moved into Bitcoin to protect their investments from inflation.

Visa to approve Bitcoin spending card for Australian startup CryptoSpend

Crypto debit cards continue to catch on as an Australian digital assets start-up gets approval from Visa to release a spending card down under.

Global payment giant Visa is moving forward with its commitment to digital currency adoption by approving the issuance of a new Bitcoin (BTC) debit card in Australia.

Sydney-based crypto spending app CryptoSpend announced Wednesday that Visa has approved the issuance of a physical debit card that will allow Australians to spend their Bitcoin at local merchants.

CryptoSpend co-founders said in an interview with the Australian Financial Review that the new card will be issued by major local payments company Novatti and is expected to hit the market in September. Visa is expected to announce the approval later this week.

According to the report, the upcoming crypto debit card will allow users to spend a set of major cryptocurrencies including Bicoin, Ether (ETH), XRP, and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). Users’ crypto holdings will be custodied by BitGo.

CryptoSpend co-founder Andrew Grech said that the card will give Australians a way to cash out their Bitcoin profits as opposed to selling the cryptocurrency, stating:

“Spending it directly is a more convenient way of selling it. If the market is green, someone could say it’s time to spend some of my profits. On the other side of the fence, another person might say it’s going to keep going up, I’ll hold onto it. But we have seen more spending volume when the price is going up.”

Related: Visa reports over $1 billion in crypto spending in H1 2021

According to the Financial Review, Visa has already approved the issuance of crypto spending cards in Australia for some global crypto exchanges like Binance, but they are not yet available in the country. Crypto exchange Crypto.com also received approval to be a direct issuer of Visa debit cards in Australia and is preparing to launch a card soon.

Visa did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

China shuts down crypto mining in Anhui province

The Anhui government is addressing growing electricity demand by shutting down local crypto mining operations.

The Chinese government continues cracking down on the cryptocurrency mining industry by suspending crypto mining operations in another province.

Authorities at Anhui, a small province in eastern China, have announced a set of measures to tackle growing electricity demand and an associated power supply shortage in the next three years, local news agency Hefei Online reported on Wednesday.

As part of Anhui’s efforts to curb energy consumption, the province plans to shut down crypto mining projects and scrutinize new initiatives that require large amounts of energy consumption. Local authorities also plan to adopt new practices for building data centers as well as promote the reform of electricity prices in order to optimize energy usage in the province.

The Anhui province of China is known for once being one of China’s poorest provinces, having only been removed from the country’s official list of impoverished areas in 2020. Anhui is the eighth largest province in the country by population. The province’s power grid reportedly comprises mostly coal-based power plants in addition to several hydropower facilities as well as wind- and solar-based plants.

Related: Chinese hydropower plants on sale as crypto miners move abroad

Some reports suggest that the latest regulatory crackdown in Anhui is part of a broader country-wide initiative to shut down all crypto mining operations across China.

Chinese crypto journalist Colin Wu reported Wednesday that China's State Grid Corporation has issued a notice to all parts of the country requesting the closure of virtual currency mining. “At present, some provinces with insufficient power in China, such as Henan and Anhui, have also begun to implement it,” he added.

The news comes amid a major regulatory crackdown on crypto mining in China, following a series of similar bans in other Chinese provinces including Yunnan and Sichuan, one of the country’s biggest hydropower-based mining hubs. Authorities in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia and Qinghai also ordered mining operations to shutter in recent months.

BNY Mellon to provide ETF services for Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust

The new agreement further reinforces Grayscale’s commitment to converting Grayscale Bitcoin Trust into an ETF as its strategic goal.

The bank of New York Mellon, America’s oldest bank, has signed an agreement with cryptocurrency asset manager Grayscale Investments to provide a set of services to its flagship Bitcoin (BTC) investment product.

Grayscale officially announced Tuesday that it selected BNY Mellon as an asset servicing provider for Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), a major digital currency investment product providing indirect exposure to Bitcoin.

BNY Mellon is also expected to provide transfer agency and exchange traded fund-related services for the GBTC upon its conversion to an ETF, Grayscale noted. As part of the agreement, BNY Mellon will provide GBTC with fund accounting and administration effective Oct. 1, 2021.

The agreement aims to further improve Grayscale’s GBTC in terms of scalability, resiliency and automation through BNY Mellon’s platform, including the bank’s proprietary ETF center that offers technology specifically designed to support digital asset ETFs. The new development is also an important milestone for Grayscale as it reinforces the company’s commitment to converting GBTC into an ETF as its strategic goal, Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein said.

Roman Regelman, CEO of asset servicing and head of digital at BNY Mellon, noted that the bank’s relationship with Grayscale “stands squarely at the intersection of trust and innovation.”

“It’s another critical milestone in our rapidly growing digital asset capabilities and broader strategy of putting client choice at the center of everything we do,” he added.

Related: Grayscale publishes roadmap for turning its products into crypto ETFs

Grayscale’s GBTC is not the only potential ETF that is expected to involve BNY Mellon’s expertise. In 2019, BNY Mellon was appointed to serve as transfer agent and administrator of Bitwise Asset Management’s proposed Bitcoin ETF.

As previously reported, the United States regulators have not yet approved a Bitcoin ETF, having delayed multiple regulatory decisions on such products in recent months. Other global jurisdictions like Canada and Brazil have already launched several Bitcoin ETF products, including ETFs by Canadian asset manager 3iQ, European firm CoinShares, and Brazilian asset manager QR Asset Management.

The9 signs green Bitcoin mining deal with Russian firm BitRiver

BitRiver utilizes only surplus hydroelectric power to operate its data centers in Russia and CIS countries.

The9, a Chinese internet company listed on the Nasdaq, is moving forward with its cryptocurrency mining plans by signing a contract with a major Russian data center operator.

The company announced Monday that it has signed a crypto mining hosting agreement with Russian crypto mining services provider BitRiver through its fully-owned subsidiary NBTC.

As part of the agreement, BitRiver will reserve 15 megawatts (MW) of its electric capacity for The9's Bitcoin (BTC) mining machine deployment for an initial term of two years. After the contract expires, both parties have the right to automatically extend their cooperation for one more year, the announcement notes.

As part of the agreement, The9 will place a batch of Bitcoin miners at BitRiver’s data center located in Russia’s Republic of Buryatia, a spokesperson for BitRiver told Cointelegraph. The9 is now expected to determine the exact number and type of mining devices that they plan to send to BitRiver’s data center. The facility has an initial total power capacity of 100 MW, and is capable of hosting more than 33,000 mining devices.

BitRiver is known as the largest crypto mining colocation services supplier in Russia, providing hosting services for large-scale crypto mining operations. The firm provides renewable energy sources for crypto mining, exclusively using surplus hydroelectric power to operate its data centers in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States, which are confirmed by certificates from the International Renewable Energy Certificate Standard Foundation.

Related: China crypto ban a ‘huge opportunity for Canada,’ mining group head says

The news comes as The9 continues to move into the crypto mining business after announcing plans to enter the industry earlier this year. The company said in January that it signed partnerships with several investors including crypto mining giant Canaan.

In June, The9 reached a definitive agreement to acquire Canadian crypto mining firm Montcrypto to build a 20 MW supply of electricity in Calgary. The company said that Montcrypto provides a “greener and more environmentally friendly power supply” to The9’s mining business with its carbon-neutral infrastructure.