Launch of crypto payment offers; Exchanges obtain foreign approvals; Ukraine Legalizes Cryptography; Regulators issue warnings; $28 million worth of bitcoins seized

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Payments Firm Unveils Crypto Services, Exchanges Gain Foreign Approvals

A major US-based financial services company launched its crypto services arm last week, providing consumers with a platform to buy and sell cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). According to reports, the company’s new crypto-based offerings provide fraud prevention, know-your-customer and Web3 services and are currently available in the US, UK and EU, with its NFT offerings available in Japan. According to reports, the company commemorated the unveiling of its new crypto-focused services with the launch of its NFT collection, with proceeds going to charity.

In another recent development, a US-based real estate investment trust (REIT) that invests in supply chain real estate will now accept cryptocurrency payments from investors in exchange for the investment, which will make it the first REIT to do so. The REIT would accept several cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin and ether.

Several major cryptocurrency firms won approvals this week under foreign regulatory regimes. A major blockchain infrastructure platform recently obtained “approval in principle” from the Monetary Authority of Singapore to offer digital asset products to customers in Singapore. According to reports, the platform is one of the first to gain this approval, granted under the country’s Payment Services Act of 2019. And in Dubai, just a week after the country announced the creation of the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority, two of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges have reportedly become the first to receive licenses to operate in Dubai as digital asset service providers.

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Blockchain network developments: Ethereum 2.0, wallets, DAO and mining

Over 10 million Ether, the native token of the Ethereum network, would now be locked to the Ethereum staking contract in preparation for the network’s planned upgrade from a proof-of-work consensus mechanism to a proof-of-proof consensus mechanism. participation. This change will mean that network transactions will be validated by ether-based nodes they have staked on the network rather than miners solving algorithmic puzzles. Proponents of the change say the upgrade will reduce Ethereum’s transaction costs, or “gas fees,” and decrease the amount of energy (and associated environmental costs) needed to sustain the network.

zkSNACKs, the company behind Wasabi Wallet, an open-source, noncustodial bitcoin wallet, announced its own technical update late last week. Certain transactions will now be prohibited from using CoinJoin – a privacy service offered by Wasabi to conceal a token’s transaction history. The move follows widespread sanctions issued by governments around the world in response to the conflict in Ukraine.

According to reports, in a proposed network upgrade, “[t]he community behind decentralized stablecoin platform MakerDAO is considering a major tokenomics shift that could replace its governance token, Maker (MKR). The proposed new governance token would be a non-transferable “governance participant” token that would receive certain MKR rewards.

In the mining sector, on Tuesday, the government of Kazakhstan announced that it was cracking down on illegal cryptocurrency miners; more than 100 mining companies have ceased operations. Kazakhstan has reportedly faced severe power shortages since the fall of 2021, when many miners migrated to the country from China, where the practice was banned. In other mining news, Bitmain, the world’s largest maker of crypto mining rigs, recently announced a new energy-efficient mining rig that uses coolant to manage the heat given off by the rig. .

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Crypto legalized in Ukraine; New Crypto Sanctions Screening Tools Launched

This week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed into law a Virtual Assets Bill which, among other things, effectively legalizes and determines the legal status and classification of cryptocurrencies. According to reports, under the new law, virtual assets will be regulated by the Ukrainian National Securities and Stock Market Commission. The new law comes in response to the influx of donations of digital assets to support the country’s defense against Russian invasion. With the backing of a major crypto exchange, the Ukrainian government recently launched a crypto donation website, Aid for Ukraine, which will channel donations of digital assets to the Bank of Ukraine.

To help decentralized platforms and their customers comply with global sanctions on Russia, a blockchain analytics platform has accelerated the launch of two free compliance check tools for businesses. One, an on-chain oracle, reportedly became available last week; the second, an application programming interface, is expected to launch next month. According to recent reports, in response to the recent wave of global sanctions, wealthy Russians may transfer value in the form of cryptocurrencies to exchanges based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in order to transfer crypto funds -currency to the UAE and convert the crypto into other assets, such as property.

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Regulators Issue Warnings Over Crypto Pensions, ATMs and Sanctions

The US Department of Labor (DOL) issued an advisory last week warning trustees against adding cryptocurrency and other digital assets as investment options for pension plans. The DOL warned that digital assets “present significant risks and challenges to participants’ retirement accounts, including significant risks of fraud, theft, and loss,” based on a range of concerns such as investment volatility, regulatory compliance and valuation issues. In the same notice, the DOL announced that the Benefits Security Administration will conduct an investigation program targeting pension plans offering cryptocurrency investment options.

UK regulators also issued cryptocurrency warnings late last week. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has warned that unregistered cryptocurrency automated teller machine (ATM) operators will face enforcement action if they fail to switch off their machines in the UK. According to the FCA’s announcement, 110 unregistered cryptocurrency ATMs have ceased operations in the UK since January 2020. Also last week, the Bank of England and two financial regulators issued a joint statement , calling on cryptocurrency firms to “play their part” in complying with global sanctions against Russia and Belarus. In the joint statement, regulators urged cryptocurrency firms to “take steps to ensure they comply with their legal sanctions obligations.”

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DOJ extradites accused of ransomware; $28 million worth of bitcoins seized

Last week, the DOJ announced the extradition of a Canadian government employee to face charges related to dozens of ransomware attacks. According to a DOJ press release, the man has been charged in the Central District of Florida with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and wire fraud and other charges related to accessing secure computers. The charges stem from the man’s alleged participation in the NetWalker ransomware program, which targeted dozens of institutional and individual victims around the world. The alleged perpetrator was extradited to the United States under the United States-Canada Extradition Treaty. According to the DOJ press release, Canadian law enforcement officers discovered and seized 719 bitcoins, worth more than $28 million, during a search of the man’s home.

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