ProBit Bits — ProBit Global’s Weekly Blockchain Bits Vol. 60

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 BlackRock Push For Bitcoin ETF Sees BTC Price Surge

Asset management company, BlackRock, filed an application this past week with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for a spot Bitcoin ETF. The exchange-traded fund would give investors exposure to the premier cryptocurrency without the volatility that comes with purchasing, trading or holding it on an exchange.

The move by BlackRock signifies a concerted push by traditional financial institutions into the crypto space, with the goal of offering crypto-related products to a wider user base. Commentators note that if approved, similar applications spot bitcoin ETF products from competitor firms could follow.

There is no guarantee that the iShares Bitcoin Trust will see the light of day, given that previous applications by firms like WisdomTree and Grayscale have been rejected in the past. Nonetheless, bullish market sentiment saw the price of Bitcoin spike following the news of BlackRock’s ETF application.

 Binance Pulls Out Of Dutch Market

Major cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced this past week that it would be ceasing operations in the Netherlands. This announcement comes after the exchange failed to secure the required operating licenses from the country’s central bank. These developments are the latest in a series of hurdles for the top exchange by trading volume, with the US Security and Exchange Commission recently bringing charges against Binance founder, Changpeng Zhao. Binance users in the Netherlands have until the 17th of July to trade and deposit on the platform, after which only withdrawals will be possible.

 Singapore Partners With Major Banks To Test Crypto Protocols

The Monetary Authority of Singapore, in collaboration with local financial institutions, has moved to lay out regulation around crypto protocols on the island-state. In an effort to standardize token protocols, the Singapore central bank has worked with JPMorgan Chase, Singapore's DBS Bank and Temasek Holdings to test various crypto use cases, while also testing DeFi-compatible tokenized bonds and deposits under the code name “Project Guardian.”

Despite the move into blockchain technology, the central bank was quick to dispel any speculation that it supported digital assets as they relate to cryptocurrencies. Lim Tuang Lee, assistant managing director for capital markets at the MAS, was quoted as saying "Just to be clear, the experimentation is in the technology and not in the application to cryptocurrencies."

 US Bolsters Law Enforcement Efforts With Launch Of Digital Currency Crimes Task Force

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), along with other federal agencies, has established a Darknet Marketplace and Digital Currency Crimes Task Force to combat illegal activities facilitated through the use of cryptocurrency and the darknet. The task force, consisting of HSI, the U.S. Attorney's Office, the IRS Criminal Investigation, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, aims to disrupt and dismantle criminal organizations that use the darknet and crypto to remain anonymous while being involved in nefarious activities such as drug trafficking, money laundering, theft of personal information, and child exploitation.

The HSI’s new unit is the latest in an international cluster of dedicated task forces created to curb crypto-related crimes. Other US federal bodies have already implemented anti-criminal cyber teams, with the FBI launching its Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit in February of this year, and the SEC allocating even more resources to its Cyber Unit enforcement arm. These enforcement efforts come as crime stats show a marked increase in crypto phishing attacks.

New York Spa In Hot Water For Mining Bitcoin

Bathouse, a Brooklyn-based spa offering thermal pools, saunas and steam rooms, has revealed that it uses thermal energy generated by Bitcoin mining to heat its pools. Bitcoin mining has traditionally been a highly energy-intensive process due to the immense computational power required to solve the algorithms that play a key role in securing the Bitcoin network.

The process involves using the heat from the mining rig to heat pool water, and then using that same pool water to cool the rig. While some applauded the efficient use of Bitcoin mining energy, other commenters were a little more apprehensive, citing ethical concerns in replies on an Instagram post. Bathhouse describes itself as “a home for people who strive to look, feel and perform their very best,” calling themselves “industry rebels” on their LinkedIn page.  

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