What’s new this week?

  1. Biden Administration to Release Executive Order on Crypto as Early as February: Report (CoinDesk)Not quite clear where this is going, but the fact that it is going is good news in itself. The US has two core issues with crypto, first the Howey Test which, rightly or not is another question, includes a lot of things withing the regulatory perimeter that would be outside in other jurisdictions. Now the Howey Test will not be addressed any time soon – but cleaning up the regulatory framework around crypto assets would be a good start.
  2. Twitter is growing its in-house crypto team (TheBlock)Twitter just rolled out the NFT avatar feature to great fanfare, and NFT avatars for social media accounts are certainly the beach head into the metaverse, at least until VR headsets – or their non-headset equivalents like brain implants – become ready for the mainstream.
  3. Here are the countries that moved to outlaw crypto in the past year (CoinTelegraph)In a worrying trend for the crypto asset community, a number of countries are outright or implicitly banning them. According to the recent report, there are 9 countries doing the former, and an additional 42 doing the latter.
  4. First Phase of CBDC Pilot Completed, South Korean Central Bank Reports (BeInCrypto)Yet another CBDC news item hitting the market. Now CBDCs are not crypto, and they may not even use any blockchain technology (this one does not for that matter). Also not all CBDC trials are notable, even though the number of trials certainly is. The interesting point in this particular not-a-blockchain-CBDC is it allows for offline payments using a secure element on a chip.
  5. Coinbase Taps SEC Counsel Thaya Knight to Manage Public Policy Team (CoinDesk)Another move that shows how important regulation has become for the crypto market. Knight had been counsel to recently departed commissioner Roisman and previously to Pierce.
  6. Uniswap founder’s bank account shut down by JP Morgan Chase, shadow-debanking allegations surface (CoinTelegraph)Hayden Adams’ account at JPM Chase was “shut down with no explanation” which – according to former CFTC commissioner Quintenz – may be related to instructions received by the Fed and/or the OCC.
  7. Mark Zuckerberg’s stablecoin ambitions unravel with Diem sale talks (Fortune)This may actually be good news for Diem. After a pretty rocky start that involved a lot of hand waving and less knowledge about current market practices and regulations, Diem v2 was a pretty decent concept. However, there is simply no way that the law makers that are allow a company as dominant as Meta to also dominate the payments space, especially with the information gathering synergies this offers. Outside of Meta, Diem might actually do much better.
  8. BCB Group raises a $60 million Series A round co-led by Foundation Capital (TheBlock)This counts as a sizeable raise in the Fintech worlds for an interesting company. It is always striking how hard it is to raise in the tradfi world compared to the treasuries of some Defi projects.
  9. Report: Google Launches Blockchain Division (Bitcoin.com)Least surprising news of the week, but still notable.
  10. ‘Stop panic selling’ — Bitcoin whales bag spare BTC as exchange balances fall (CoinTelegraph)
  11. Gemini acquires crypto trading platform in push to offer prime services (TheBlock)Another convergence play. The regulatory implications of all those moves are extremely interesting.
  12. SEC Rejects Fidelity’s Wise Origin Bitcoin ETF Proposal (CoinDesk)The American SEC rejected Fidelity’s Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust proposal, following the precedent set by the SEC in preferring ETFs that track bitcoin futures.
  13. Coinbase partners with Mastercard to let users buy NFTs via cards (TheBlock)Coinbase already has a strong pay-for-real-things-with-crypto business where they act as a payment processor for payments that originate in crypto. This adds the opposite direction: now you can pay for your metaversa luxury goods by credit card – and you may even be able to pay for them in instalments [disclosure: I d not know whether this is possible].
  14. Georgian citizens made to swear an oath to stop mining crypto (CoinTelegraph)Somewhat of a curiosity item rather than real news. Having said this – it show to which length governments go to stop crypto mining. Alternatively it also shows that crypto mining can be pretty bad from a societal point of view – especially if you have to subsidize electricity for social reasons.
  15. EU Markets Regulator Calls for Ban on Proof-of-Work Crypto Mining: Report (CoinDesk)This shows two things: (a) the EU takes blockchain seriously [we of course know that, for example because of our role in EUBOF] and (b) green credentials are important. And proof-of-work has a bad rep, despite all arguments that it is using stranded green energy etc.

Interesting research

  1. Bitcoin Isn’t Private, But Its Recent Taproot Upgrade Will Help (CoinDesk)A good beginner level review of the taproot upgrade, and how it benefits transaction privacy. This is an important topic, and still not widely understood.
  2. What the Fed Thinks About CDBCs (CoinDesk)“Most of the Fed’s CBDC report rehashed old ground, but it’s a key piece of insight into the central bank’s thinking.” – this is a good summary of the article that is well worth readinf