ProBit Bits — ProBit Global’s Weekly Blockchain Bits Vol. 47

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 Mastercard Integrates APAC’s First Stablecoin-Only Wallet

Following reports that traditional finance and payment giants are holding off on crypto-related partnerships, Mastercard last week announced a first-of-its-kind stablecoin digital wallet integration in Asia Pacific (APAC).

Launched in collaboration with Australian stablecoin wallet Stables, the digital solution enables users to spend their stablecoins anywhere Mastercard is accepted based on a seamless conversion and settlement in USDC.

A 2022 study suggests that 82% of digital asset holders would be interested in using a debit card where they could spend cryptocurrency like dollars. According to MasterCard, about 88% of the APAC region has used technologies like digital wallets, making them some of the most enthusiastic adopters of digital payments in the world.

 Meta Bows Out of NFT Business

Facebook and Instagram’s parent company, Meta Platforms Inc, last week confirmed it will be “winding down digital collectibles (NFTs)” to focus on other ways to support creators, people, and businesses. Meta’s Commerce & FinTech Lead, Stephane Kasriel made the confirmation in a Twitter thread in which he notes that they have “learned a ton” and built relationships, but would rather be investing in future fintech tools that people and businesses need.

Meta rolled out support for creators to share NFTs on Instagram and Facebook last year, but its focus now seems to be shifting to projects like messaging and monetization for Reels, along with streamlining payments with Meta Pay.

 Circle Hopeful SVB Depositors Will Be Made Whole

Following the Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) run, the issuer of USDC stablecoin, Circle, last week gave an update that it is hopeful for a rapid purchase of the SVB franchise so that all depositors are made whole.

Circle currently has $3.3 billion of its $40 billion USDC reserves stuck with the failed tech- and crypto-focused lender.

At the same time, Circle also noted in the update the possibility that “SVB may not return 100% and that any return might take some time”. The FDIC—which it depends on to ensure repayments— would have to issue IOUs (i.e. receivership certificates) and advance dividends to deposit holders.

 FDIC Cleared to Complete SVB’s Resolution

Meanwhile, the same week saw the Treasury, Federal Reserve, and FDIC jointly announce that approval has been given for the complete resolution of SVB “in a manner that fully protects all depositors”.

Having created an emergency program to backstop deposits at both SVB and Signature Bank, the three bodies note in their statement that depositors will have access to all of their money. Bloomberg had earlier reported that the FDIC had kicked off an auction process for SVB with the Financial Times noting that uninsured SVB deposits were being quoted at between $0.55 and $0.65 cents as against $0.70 and $0.75 being offered for other deposits.

Pokemon Eyes Web3, Scouts Corporate Principal

As part of its long-term corporate strategy, The Pokémon Company International (TPCi)—a subsidiary of The Pokémon Company in Japan—is currently looking for someone with a deep knowledge and understanding of Web3.

The Web3 Corporate Development Principal will be knowledgeable in blockchain technologies and NFT, and/or metaverse, and will be deeply connected to investors and entrepreneurs in the Web3 and metaverse technology sectors, according to the job placement. Among other things, the successful candidate would lead in driving innovations “by building a platform to test big ideas and sources and build relations with co-development partners outside TPCi.”

With over a billion total downloads and about nine million people playing Pokemon Go every day, latest figures suggest that the top game’s active users have dwindled from more than 230 million in 2016 to 71 million in 2021.

 40m Seized as Crypto Mixer is Taken Down Over Darkweb Dealings

ChipMixer, a well-known cryptocurrency mixer in the cybercriminal underworld, was reportedly taken down last week by German and US authorities, with the support of Europol.

The investigation into the unlicensed mixer, whose software masks the blockchain trail of funds to encourage laundering illegal proceeds from criminal activities such as ransomware attacks, was also supported by Belgium, Poland, and Switzerland.

The platform’s takedown on 15 March for alleged crimes saw four servers, about 1909.4 Bitcoins in 55 transactions (approx. EUR44.2m), and 7 TB of data confiscated.

Europol notes that ChipMixer turns deposited funds into “chips” (small tokens with equivalent value) and then mixed together to anonymize all trails to the initial funds’ origin before being redirected to cryptocurrency exchanges. While its service is available openly and on the dark web, the mixer offers full anonymity to clients.  

 Some Crypto Mining Updates From Last Week

Despite mined bitcoins increasing from 3,197 BTC in 2021 to 4,144 BTC in 2022, Marathon, the largest bitcoin mining company in North America, last week announced that it had a net loss of $686.7m in 2022.

The fiscal year financial results come as Bitcoin mining and hosting intermediary, Compass Mining, identified three problems in the Antminer S19 series following Bitmain’s change in its ASIC design which could impact under-hashing while increasing service and maintenance costs.  

In another mining-related development, crypto miners in Russia last week sought clarity on a draft amendment by the Ministry of Finance that now requires mining companies to report tax on their incomes or face penalties.

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