Democrats and Republicans Face Off Over New US Crypto Bill
Despite opposition from Democrats in the House Financial Services Committee, the Financial Innovation and Technology (FIT) for the 21st Century Act was passed on July 27, ushering in a new era of crypto regulation for the United States. The new bill aims to more clearly distinguish cryptocurrencies as either securities or commodities, while providing regulatory powers to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC). It also seeks to clarify the role of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), an institution which has been at loggerheads with various crypto institutions in recent times.
While the bill ended up with bipartisan support, the proposed regulation saw resistance from various Democrat quarters, including some members such as Rep. Maxine Waters, who cited the lack of consumer protections–particularly in the context of the FTX collapse–as one of the reasons to re-consider the bill.
Major Exchange Pulls Application For German Market
Cryptocurrency exchange Binance continues to face regulatory challenges in Europe and beyond, withdrawing its latest application to commence operations in Germany. The move marks the latest in a series of challenges in the European market for Binance, having come up against resistance from regulators in the Netherlands, Austria and France. Reports from Binance state the exchange willfully withdrew their application due to obstacles brought up the EU’s much talked-about MiCA (Markets in Crypto Assets) legislation, along with wider global market conditions.
Late in June 2023, however, rumors emerged that it was BaFin, the German financial regulator, which had in fact rejected the Binance application. While this is still conjecture, Binance’s exit from the German market is a major blow to the exchange’s plans to service European customers and grow their customer base in the EU region.
ByBit Contractor In Hot Water Over $4.2M Of Stolen Crypto
A Singapore-based contractor for cryptocurrency exchange ByBit was ordered by a High Court to pay back $4.2M in illegally acquired crypto. Ho Kai Xin, who worked as a payroll contractor for ByBit under the company WeChain Fintech, siphoned 4.2 million USDT to four different addresses by abusing her position at the payroll provider. Using the illegally acquired crypto, the suspect racked up an eye-watering shopping spree which included purchases of a penthouse, luxury items and a car.
Although ByBit filed the lawsuit against Xin in October 2022, the July 2023 verdict marks a landmark legal event as the judge, Justice Philip Jeyaretnam, ruled that the stolen USDT constituted “a thing in action,” which is to say that it is capable of being held on trust and therefore, warrants the same legal action intangible assets such as debts. This is the first such ruling in a common law court and according to the judge, "is only because people generally accept the exchange value of shells or beads or differently printed paper notes that they become currency. Money is accepted by virtue of a collective act of mutual faith."
Infamous North Korean Hackers Suspected In $37M Breach
North Korean-affiliated crypto hacking cell, Lazarus Group, are the prime suspects in a hack on cryptocurrency payments platform, CoinsPaid. In a post from the service provider dated 26 July, they explain that they had taken measures to prevent further funds from being stolen, with protecting customer funds the main priority. Operations are expected to resume fully within a few days, and the payment provider has enlisted the help of companies such as Crystal, Chainalysis, Match Systems, Valkyrieinvest, Staked.us, OKCoinJapan, and Binance to assist with retrieving the funds.
The Lazarus Group have garnered attention in the crypto space for siphoning hundreds of millions worth of dollars in digital assets, all ostensibly for the purpose of funding North Korean operations. Other victims of the hacking cell include Axie Infinity, Horizon Bridge, Atomic Wallet and Alphapo, to name a few. A report has been filed with Estonian law enforcement, according to CoinsPaid, and the payment provider has also committed to “announce a new initiative aimed at minimising and preventing such attacks in the future.”
Sotheby’s Bucks NFT Market With Successful Art Auction
Despite a large downturn in the NFT market, art house Sotheby’s saw their latest generative art auction sell out in under an hour. The collection, which consisted of 500 art pieces from 99-year-old generative artist Vera Molnár, is one of Sotheby's recent forays into the NFT generative art space, with other auctions performing similarly well. The world-renowned art house originally launched their NFT platform back in 2021, dubbed 'Sotheby’s Metaverse.'
While overall floor prices and trading volumes have reached all-time lows for the wider NFT market, this auction is the latest in a string of successful sales that Sotheby’s has managed to facilitate. The art house has further reinforced their commitment to the NFT space by announcing their Gen Art Program in June 2023, a program which aims to incubate generative artists and allow them to sell their work via Sotheby’s Metaverse.
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