17 February

The Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Canadian Mounted Police ordered all regulated financial firms to cease facilitating any transactions from 34 crypto wallets tied to funding trucker-led protests in the country.

Speaking alongside Trudeau, Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said banks can immediately freeze or suspend bank accounts tied to the truckers without a court order and without fear of civil liability.

The federal agencies are investigating cryptocurrency donations supporting the weeks-long protest against Canada’s vaccine mandate. The protests are now deemed illegal under the Emergencies Act invoked by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the first time since the law was passed in 1988.

Donors have sent more than 20 BTC to the addresses, worth over $870,000 (CA$1.1 million). The donors turned to cryptocurrencies after the GoFundMe account that had previously received more than $9 million was suspended.”

“The social media giant added bitcoin tips in September. Users can now add their Ethereum wallets to the product as well. Tipping with ETH and ERC-20 tokens (including Ethereum-based stablecoins) will be supported, the company confirmed.

The move follows Twitter’s continued exploration of the Ethereum ecosystem. The company debuted non-fungible token (NFT) verification for paid “Twitter Blue” subscribers last month.

We’re continuing to expand ways to get paid on Twitter which includes more choices for creators and fans who want to use crypto.”

In a Wednesday blog post, crypto services provider Paxos announced the launch of the Travel Rule Universal Solution Technology, or TRUST, with members, including Coinbase, BlockFi, Gemini, Kraken, Robinhood, Circle and Fidelity Digital Asset Services.

The endeavor is aimed at ensuring crypto firms are in compliance with the Travel Rule while also proving ownership of recipients’ crypto addresses, meeting security and privacy requirements, and not centrally storing users’ personal data.

Travel Rule enforcement is simultaneously the biggest milestone and the biggest setback for crypto. It has and will continue to force a level of maturity that will enable the industry to grow into an institutionally accepted asset class. […] It also presents an existential threat for many exchanges and poses potential privacy issues for users.”

“El Salvador recognizing Bitcoin (BTC) as official currency opens the door for money laundering cartels and undermines U.S. interests. If the United States wishes to combat money laundering and preserve the role of the dollar as a reserve currency of the world, we must tackle this issue head on.

If passed, the bill would require the State Department to report on a laundry list of subjects with respect to El Salvador and Bitcoin, including the flow of remittances from the U.S. to El Salvador, bilateral and international efforts to combat transnational illicit activities, and the potential for reduced use by El Salvador of the greenback.

The move quickly drew a partly comic, partly angry response from El Salvador President Nayib Bukele:

OK boomers … You have zero jurisdiction on a sovereign and independent nation. We are not your colony, your back yard or your front yard. Stay out of our internal affairs. Don’t try to control something you can’t control.”

See Also: Crypto Could Derail Financial Stability, Global Financial Watchdog Says

When it comes to the scenario of being cut off from SWIFT, which is being reported as part of a sweeping sanctions package under preparation by US and European officials, Siluanov referenced his country being able to withstand it, with plans being readied for a “Fortress Russia” approach:

We expect the country’s financial system to continue to focus inwards as part of the “Fortress Russia” strategy and advance digital and fintech sovereignty.

Finance Minister Anton Siluanov reaffirmed his country has “prepared alternatives” which ensure such US sanctions, while yet “unpleasant”, would remain “not fatal”. He assured in an online briefing that Russia will fulfill all settlements.”

See Also: Here’s how much digital yuan is being used at the Olympics, according to the PBoC

Gold-backed tokens are outpacing the overall growth of the crypto market, despite some analysts’ concerns about the reliability of the tokens. Greenspan noted that investors may need to trust that the issuers of the gold-backed tokens are actually buying gold to back them up.

The market capitalization of tether gold (XAUT), the largest gold-backed stablecoin, has increased fourfold since the start of January 2021 to $421.3 million. The second-biggest gold-backed stablecoin, PAX gold (PAXG), has grown fivefold to $378.3 million. On a combined basis, the market cap of the two tokens has increased 360%, versus 150% for all cryptocurrencies.

Gold is seen by many investors in traditional financial markets as a hedge against inflation. Some investors also argue that gold might be a safe haven in times of geopolitical turmoil, so the recent tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine have added to the appeal for bullion.

Commodity-backed tokens are growing in popularity. So far, primarily gold-backed tokens have attracted investment, but other commodities may soon follow.”

See Also: Minutes Show Fed Ready to Take Action, Mentions Crypto and Stablecoin Risks