ProBit Bits — ProBit Global’s Weekly Blockchain Bits Vol. 64

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 North Korea Siphoned $700-million Worth of Crypto In 2022, Reports Say

According to reports from South Korea’s state intelligence agency, their northern neighbors illicitly obtained $700-million worth of cryptocurrency during 2022. In a press briefing, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) claimed that the stolen crypto accounts for approximately 30% of North Korea's total foreign currency earnings for the previous year.

North Korean hackers have a longstanding reputation for being involved in large-scale crypto heists, with funds usually being filtered through crypto mixers to obfuscate their origins. While the South Korean NIS report claims that Pyongyang has not been able to monetize their ill-gotten crypto gains, the siphoned funds are supposedly sufficient to “enable the country to fire 30 intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

 Chinese Police Nab USDT Money Launderers

A money-laundering ring bringing in illicit profits totaling more than $54-million was uncovered by police in China’s northern Shanxi Province. According to local authorities, the scheme involved over-the-counter crypto purchases of discounted USDT, which was then sold on to unsuspecting retail buyers at inflated prices.

Valued at an equivalent of approximately CNY380 million, the illegal ring was said to be operating across four different Chinese provinces, with sales conducted through social media and “money laundering platforms.” Cash worth over CNY200,000 was recovered at the scene, while USDT worth more than CNY 1M was seized from wallets. The accused showed no resistance to the charges, with all 21 apprehended suspects confessing to the charges. China has still not lifted its outright ban on cryptocurrencies, giving rise to an underground money laundering scene, most of which involves USDT thanks to its anonymity and ease of transfer.

 Tesla Holds Off On Bitcoin Buys For Second Consecutive Quarter

EV automaker Tesla reported no changes to its digital asset holdings in its latest earnings report for Q2 2023. With $184 million worth of digital assets on its books, this marks the second consecutive quarter that Tesla has not added any crypto to its bags. The last time Tesla was involved in BTC transactions was Q2 2022, when it sold off approximately 30,000 BTC which at the time, amounted to 75% of its digital asset portfolio.

The Elon Musk-headed company has previously attracted public interest around its Bitcoin holdings, making headlines in 2021 when it promised to accept Bitcoin as tender, only to renege on that promise. Overall adjusted earnings beat market expectations, coming in at $0.91 per share, while the company posted record revenues of $24.9 billion to surpass analyst estimates of $24.2 billion.

 Apple Preps Chatbot Rival To Take on OpenAI

News reports suggest that Apple is working on its own version of an artificial intelligence chatbot, much like those developed by OpenAI and Google. Codenamed “Ajax,” it is yet to be seen whether the tech giant will release the generative pre-trained transformer (GPT) to the public. Although Ajax marks a relatively late entry to the chatbot space, Apple has a wealth of AI experience to draw on, given that their devices utilize class-leading AI features in their imaging and editing software.

If Apple were to make a chatbot available to the public, analysts suggest that it would most likely run without the need for an internet connection or cloud services. This is all down to Apple’s privacy policies, which have, up until now, given users the power over how apps track and use their information. This is made all the more difficult, however, by the fact that an AI chip would likely be hindered by the limited hardware of most Apple devices.

 $2.5M Ferrari Takes To The Blockchain As a Polygon NFT

Fancy buying a supercar but don’t want the hassle of storing it? Thanks to Altr, a new NFT marketplace for luxury items, you can bid on and put your opulent purchases on the blockchain. With the recent sale of a unique Ferrari F40 worth $2.5M, the company is hoping to convince more users that they can safely and securely put real-world assets on the blockchain, by way of minting assets as Polygon NFTs.

Altr claims that they will take care of the physical asset until such time as the owner decides to redeem the purchase, saying that “all collectibles are safely stored and maintained by Altr’s Oracles in safe storage facilities.” Other high-profile sales include a Rolex Daytona wristwatch, sold in January 2023 for $195,000 to a group of buyers on a fractional ownership basis. To ensure that items are fairly appraised, the company employs “Oracles”––renowned experts who certify the authenticity and safety of the luxury assets being traded and sold.


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