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Crypto: Ripple Expands in Europe with Irish License; STX, NEAR, MINA, INJ on Wednesday’s Radar

Fernanda T
Latest News
December 20 2023 9:23AM

Bitcoin surpasses $44,000 with intense market activity

Bitcoin (COIN:BTCUSD) briefly surpassed the $44,000 mark on Wednesday for the first time since December 10, reaching $44,164 on Bitstamp before dropping slightly. This rise triggered significant liquidations in the market, with approximately $160 million in digital asset liquidations in the last 24 hours. Much of these liquidations, approximately $100 million, came from short positions, indicating a bullish sentiment in the market. During an intense hour of trading in the US on December 20, only Bitcoin recorded $50 million in liquidations, primarily from short positions. In the last 24 hours, Solana (COIN:SOLUSD) and Avalanche (COIN:AVAXUSD) tokens have risen by 10.2% and 8.6%, respectively.

Stacks (STX) appreciates after positive comments from Tim Draper

Stacks (COIN:STXUSD), the token of the Stacks Network, experienced a more than 28% increase in the last 24 hours following optimistic comments from investor Tim Draper. Draper expressed enthusiasm for Stacks, a Layer 2 network that facilitates smart contracts on Bitcoin, highlighting its importance in the growth of Bitcoin usage for significant applications. Since the beginning of the year, the value of STX has risen from $0.21 to $1.52, reaching the highest level since February 2022. This increase follows the development of Bitcoin-based NFT projects and a significant increase in capital locked in Stacks, reflecting growing interest in integrating Bitcoin with smart contract technology.

NEAR Protocol and Mina register gains with strategic partnerships

In addition to Stacks, NEAR Protocol (COIN:NEARUSD) saw an increase of over 20% in the last 24 hours, reaching $3.02, driven by significant partnerships, including collaborations with Polygon Labs and Eigen Labs. The partnership with Polygon focused on enhancing zero-knowledge proofs, while the alliance with Eigen Labs aimed to improve the efficiency of Ethereum rollups. These strategic initiatives contributed to the asset’s upward trend. Another standout token is Mina (COIN:MINAUSD), which also recorded an increase of almost 20%, with the price reaching $0.923000, following a leadership overhaul at the Mina Foundation and plans to move to Switzerland. The company is preparing for future innovations, including the launch of zero-knowledge smart contracts, known as zkApps.

Impressive growth of Injective (INJ) in the DeFi market

Another significant growth is notable in the native token of Injective (COIN: INJUSD), an AI-focused DeFi protocol, reinforcing the upward trend of AI in the DeFi market. INJ recorded a substantial increase of 12% in the last 24 hours and nearly 190% in the last month, trading at $40.86. With a 560% increase in the past 6 months, it signals the transformative potential that AI has in the DeFi market and the valuation of related assets.

BlackRock advances plans for Bitcoin ETF with SEC discussions

BlackRock (NYSE:BLK), a global leader in asset management, is intensifying efforts to launch a Bitcoin ETF (COIN:BTCUSD), meeting again with the SEC on December 19. The proposal aims to trade the ETF on Nasdaq under Rule 5711(d). The latest meeting, which included representatives from BlackRock and Nasdaq (NASDAQ:NDAQ), discussed the suitability of listing criteria. This move by BlackRock signals a potential advancement in institutional adoption of Bitcoin.

Ark Invest resumes selling Coinbase shares as prices surge

On December 19, Ark Invest, led by Cathie Wood, sold a significant amount of Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) shares valued at $5.5 million, split between its Innovation ETF and Next Generation Internet ETF. The sale comes as Coinbase shares reach yearly highs, marking a 66% increase in the last month and a 342% increase year-to-date. Ark also sold shares of Robinhood (NASDAQ:HOOD), totaling $1.6 million, amid the launch of Robinhood’s cryptocurrency trading app in the European Union. Robinhood’s shares also rose but remain below their peak in August 2021.

Ripple obtains license from the Central Bank of Ireland for European expansion

Ripple Markets Ireland Limited, a subsidiary of Ripple (COIN:XRPUSD), has obtained a license from the Central Bank of Ireland as a Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP). This authorization allows Ripple to offer digital asset transfer and exchange services, as well as custody services in Ireland. The license is a strategic step for Ripple’s expansion in the European Union, especially with the impending implementation of the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA) next year. This milestone also reinforces Ireland and the EU’s commitment to developing the digital asset and fintech industry.

Ondo Finance launches US Treasury tokens on the Solana blockchain

Ondo Finance, specializing in real-world assets (RWA), expanded its offering of US Treasury-backed tokens to the Solana blockchain. Including integrations with DeFi protocols like Orca and Raydium, Ondo now offers its US dollar yield token (USDY) and a tokenized version of BlackRock’s short-term US Treasury fund on Solana. The expansion comes at a time when the tokenization of US Treasury bonds is gaining popularity, with a significant increase in market capitalization of these offerings.

EthereumPOW opts for complete decentralization

The development team of EthereumPOW, a proof-of-work (PoW) based Ethereum fork, announced the dissolution of its centralized structure in favor of full decentralization. This transition marks the shift to decentralized governance and PoW consensus, with the core team being dissolved. The network’s servers will be transferred to OneDAO on the Harmony blockchain, which will provide transitional maintenance until long-term partnership consolidations. The decision aims to revitalize the Ethereum Fork, preserving the PoW model after the main Ethereum network switched to a more energy-efficient proof-of-stake model. The decentralization decision follows initial adoption difficulties of the forked ETHW token (COIN:ETHWUSD), including a lack of support from major entities like Grayscale.

Shiba Inu and D3 launch “.shib” domain for Web3 expansion

The Shiba Inu team (COIN:SHIBUSD), in partnership with D3, is preparing to launch a “.shib” Internet domain to strengthen its presence in the Web3 space with digital identities. They intend to apply for the .shib domain with ICANN, the global authority for Internet domains, in the next registration window. The initiative aims to make Shiba Inu one of the first Web3 networks to have its own DNS namespace, expanding its ecosystem beyond the ShibArmy community. This significant step also aligns the network with revenue generation potential and digital identities within its decentralized ecosystem.

Epic Games reintegrates blockchain games with AO rating

The Epic Games Store updated its policy to allow blockchain games classified as “Adults Only” (AO) due to their use of blockchain or NFT technology. This change comes after blockchain-based games like “Gods Unchained” and “Striker Manager 3” were removed from the store due to the AO rating. Epic Games spokesperson Brian Sharon clarified that the prohibition of content such as pornography, gambling, and hate remains, but blockchain games classified as AO solely due to blockchain use are now exceptions to the rule. Unlike Steam and Itch.io, which allow AO games but not blockchain games, the Epic Games Store now accepts blockchain games with this rating.

Binance strengthens security with completed SOC 2 Type II audit

Binance, one of the largest cryptocurrency exchanges, completed a SOC 2 Type II compliance audit to enhance cryptocurrency security. Conducted by A-LIGN, the audit thoroughly assessed Binance’s system protection and data security areas. Binance’s recent audit not only confirmed the effectiveness of its security measures but also highlighted its commitment to creating and maintaining a secure environment for the protection of digital assets and personal data of its customers.

Celsius liquidates $250 million in crypto assets in 30 days

Celsius, a now-defunct cryptocurrency platform, liquidated digital assets worth $250 million in the last 30 days. Of this total, $243 million came from the sale of Ether (COIN:ETHUSD), accounting for 97% of the selling activity. Additionally, the company transferred over 10,000 ETH, valued at approximately $24 million, to Coinbase (NASDAQ:COIN) and FalconX platforms. Celsius also sold more than $3 million in stablecoins and tokens of other cryptocurrencies. This move may be related to the need to capitalize the MiningCo, a Bitcoin mining company (COIN:BTCUSD), and may have influenced the recent behavior of ETH prices.

Atomic Wallet launches $1 million bug bounty program after hack

Following a $100 million hack in June, Atomic Wallet initiated a $1 million bug bounty program to identify security vulnerabilities. Inviting ethical hackers globally to analyze its source code, the program offers up to $100,000 for critical vulnerabilities. With rewards ranging from $500 to $10,000 for other bugs, it aims to strengthen security and prevent future threats. This initiative follows a class-action lawsuit against Atomic Wallet for the June incident, which affected 5,500 users.

UK launches regulatory sandbox for digital securities

The UK Treasury has released a regulatory framework for a Digital Securities Sandbox, allowing testing of new technologies in the financial sector. This regulated environment, under the Financial Services and Markets Act, aims to facilitate innovation and address regulatory challenges in the cryptocurrency industry. The sandbox will enable testing of distributed ledger technology and digital assets, such as central securities depositories and trading platforms, with rules expected to take effect on January 8, 2024.

South Korea-US regulatory meeting: Focus on crypto

The governor of the Financial Supervisory Service of South Korea, Lee Bok-hyeon, plans to meet with Gary Gensler, chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in Washington D.C. next month. The meeting, the first between the two, will focus on cryptocurrency regulation, an increasingly important issue for both countries. This meeting comes as South Korea has developed consumer protection legislation in the cryptocurrency market, set to take effect in July 2024. The initiative is a response to fraud in the sector, including the collapse of the Terra-Luna ecosystem, which heavily impacted South Korean cryptocurrency investors. Additionally, the South Korean Supreme Court recently confirmed a 10-year sentence for a cryptocurrency fraudster who accumulated $153 million over ten years. CEO Ko deceived 5,400 investors through the fake QRC Bank. The decision includes a fine of nearly $1 million, considering the severity of the crimes and their impact on victims, many of whom were elderly and economically vulnerable.

China is developing strategies to boost the Web3 industry

The Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology announced plans to release a strategic document focused on Web3, aiming to clarify the future direction of the industry. This document will address topics such as inheritance, innovation, security, and government responsibilities. Additionally, the ministry intends to enhance interdepartmental collaboration to drive Web3 innovations, bolstering research and talent in the sector. Despite the ban on cryptocurrencies, China shows growing interest in Web3 development, including NFTs and decentralized applications (dApps), and has implemented blockchain pilot initiatives in various areas, from energy to copyrights and trade finance.

IOSCO provides guidance for DeFi regulation

The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO), which regulates most of the world’s securities markets, published policy recommendations for decentralized finance (DeFi). IOSCO advises governments to identify responsible parties for innovative financial applications in DeFi and to apply or adapt traditional financial regulations to the sector. The organization emphasizes the importance of clearly defining responsibilities and the applicability of existing laws to ensure regulatory compliance in the DeFi ecosystem.

Impact of Trump’s election disqualification on the valuation of his NFTs

The Colorado Supreme Court’s decision to exclude Donald Trump from the 2024 elections has affected the value of his NFT collections. The first series dropped by 11% to 0.1505 ETH ($333), while the second series increased by 4% to 0.03450 ETH ($76). Trading volume also suffered, with declines of 68% and 12%, respectively. This marks another episode where political events influence the Trump NFT market.