5 March

“This historically neutral country hasn’t just joined the European Union in sanctioning Russia—it’s going after Russians’ crypto, too. According to a report Friday from the Financial Times, the Swiss federal government plans to freeze crypto assets owned by Russian citizens and businesses held within Switzerland’s borders.

Swiss Finance Minister Guy Parmelin says 223 Russians, including close associates of President Vladimir Putin, have had their bank accounts and physical assets frozen by Switzerland in the past week. The cryptocurrency prohibitions are an additional penalty beyond EU sanctions.”

The U.S. added 678,000 jobs last month, more than expected, in a sign of how tight the labor market has become. A hot labor market can lead to faster wage increases, which can fuel inflation if businesses try to pass along their higher personnel costs to consumers.

Nonfarm payrolls increased by 678,000. Economists surveyed by Reuters had projected, on average, a gain of 400,000 jobs during the month. The unemployment rate edged down to 3.8%, from 4% in January. That’s nearing the pre-pandemic level of 3.5% in February 2020.

The Fed’s next monetary-policy meeting is scheduled for March 15-16.”

See Also: Bitcoin Extends Pullback Toward $37K-$40K Support Zone

Venezuela said its minimum wage would now be 50% pegged to the national petro (PTR) cryptocurrency, according to a report from Bloomberg on Friday.

Petro is built on top of the DASH blockchain and is centralized around government issuance, making it more like a central bank digital currency (CBDC) than a cryptocurrency. Not much is known about the petro because its advertised block explorer is inaccessible. According to reports, most Venezuelans do not use PTR by choice.”

“Final Fantasy publisher Square Enix is one of the largest traditional gaming giants with plans to make crypto games. Square Enix follows fellow publisher Ubisoft in making such a move, with Ubisoft recently announcing plans to bring its long-running Rabbids franchise to The Sandbox.

Square Enix will bring the Dungeon Siege fantasy role-playing game IP into The Sandbox in multiple ways, including with an interactive experience on Square Enix’s owned LAND in the shared online world. The publisher also will make Dungeon Siege characters and assets available for players to use within The Sandbox’s game-making tools.”

See Also: CVS Eyes Metaverse With 4 NFT-Related Trademarks

Diagonal’s goal is to provide Web 3 merchants “an entire product suite to make payments as simple as possible,” from connecting wallets and processing payments to handling accounting and sending subscription notifications to customers.

Collecting subscriptions in a decentralized fashion is not trivial, and if implemented sloppily can lead to companies and customers unnecessarily paying extra fees. Diagonal’s team is working on developing a public beta, which they plan to initially release on Ethereum layer 2 blockchains Polygon, Arbitrum and Optimism.”

“We are excited to announce a new wave of grants to fund formal research that aims to create more knowledge about Ethereum, blockchain technology, and related domains. We encourage academics, research centers, PhD Students and all those interested in researching Ethereum to submit their project proposals. This grants round has up to $750,000 in total available funding.

There is a growing number of outstanding researchers who explore various domain areas related to Ethereum and positively impact our shared knowledge on privacy, mechanism design, economics, transparency, financial inclusion, and more. But, we’d like to foster more!”

4 March

“In response to a letter from four Senate Democrats raising concerns about cryptocurrencies’ potential use by Russia to avoid sanctions, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that the U.S. will monitor the situation. But by the sounds of things, she’s not too concerned.

We will continue to look at how the sanctions work and evaluate whether or not there are leakages, and we have the possibility to address them.

To be clear, exchanges, custodians and other crypto companies and individuals operating within the U.S. are already beholden to sanctions levied by the federal government. Exchanges have attested that they are complying with applicable sanctions against Russia—though they refused a request from the Ukraine Minister of Digital Transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, “to block addresses of Russian users.”

In a Twitter thread Tuesday, Blockchain Association Head of Policy Jake Chervinsky argued that the crypto markets are too small—and public blockchains too transparent—to be effective for Russia to evade sanctions.

Concerns about crypto’s use for sanctions evasion are totally unfounded.”

See Also: Hillary Clinton “Disappointed” with Crypto Exchanges That Haven’t Banned Russian Users

“Infura, which hosts Ethereum nodes and operates blockchain infrastructure on behalf of companies, [blocked] IP addresses from two separatist regions in Ukraine: Donetsk and Luhansk. [Notably], MetaMask tweeted that the Infura reconfiguration resulted in a knock-on effect for wallet users [in the region].

MetaMask relies on Infura as the default endpoint, but this setting can be modified by users if desired, or in case of any service interruptions.

U.S. sanctions apply to companies doing business in the U.S., including ConsenSys and its products, to make sure no assets can make their way to prohibited governments, companies or individuals. But transactions of cryptocurrencies between most private citizens are not supposed to be directly affected. Therefore, the wholesale Infura blockade of “certain jurisdictions” has raised fears that ConsenSys has restricted access to innocent people in a bid to comply with government directives.

Infura closely monitors changes to US sanctions programs announced by the Office of Foreign Assets Control and narrowly tailors its internal controls to comply with the law. Currently, those regions are Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, and the Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.

Ethereum watchers have long complained that the project, which has been estimated to support most of the traffic on Ethereum applications, is already too centralized—though it does have competitors, among them Alchemy.”

See Also: OpenSea Bars Iranian Users as US Sanctions Talk Ramps Up

Schwab Asset Management is preparing to offer its first in-house crypto product to its 33 million clients: the “Schwab Crypto Economy ETF” – a vehicle that tracks equities engaged in the world of digital assets. Schwab ( SCHW) joins BlackRock (BLK), Fidelity and other financial institutions that have gradually warmed to the booming crypto markets.

The reason they’re doing it is that all of their customers are asking them how they can get exposure to crypto. A crypto equity product – it’s the first step. It’s the crawl in the ‘crawl, walk, run.

The planned ETF would offer Schwab’s massive client base tailored exposure to the crypto economy. Miners, exchanges, blockchain developers and other crypto companies will comprise that yet-to-be-formed index.”

The firm also used Lido to stake an undisclosed portion of a16z Crypto’s ether holdings on the Beacon Chain.

Lido solves the competitive incentives between staking and seeking yield in DeFi. By issuing an Ethereum-native liquid token, Lido allows you to use staked ETH as collateral within DeFi in the same way you can use ETH currently.

The Ethereum blockchain plans to switch this summer from its current proof-of-work validation system to PoS, which is more energy efficient and lets users validate network transactions through temporary token deposits (or staking) in exchange for rewards.”

“Lugano, Switzerland, has formed a partnership with stablecoin issuer Tether to establish bitcoin, Tether and Lugano’s own LVGA Points token as essentially legal tender in the city.

The move goes far beyond the actions of a number of other Swiss localities that for some time have been accepting crypto for tax payments. Somewhat similar to El Salvador, Lugano – in addition to allowing crypto for taxes – is aiming to have all of its businesses seamlessly use crypto for everyday transactions (in El Salvador, only bitcoin qualifies).

Switzerland’s ninth-largest city with a population just over 62,000, Lugano is in the Italian-speaking southern part of the country.”

“Oil prices rose earlier Thursday to their highest point since 2008, with the U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate crude hitting $116.57. A concern expressed by a growing number of economists is that the higher oil prices might drive up inflation.

A question some crypto analysts are starting to ask is if bitcoin might decouple from stocks and start to trade more like a safe haven asset, similar to gold – that is, an asset whose price might benefit or even just hold its value when stocks are selling off.

I’m wondering if bitcoin is starting to show the first signs of maturity as a safe haven. If so, this could, theoretically, become a positive outcome for the asset.”

Bitcoin (BTC) and stocks traded lower on Thursday as geopolitical risks escalated. The second round of talks between Russian and Ukrainian diplomats ended on Thursday without an agreement, [while Russian forces attacked Europe’s largest nuclear facility afterhours]. The impasse kept markets on edge, contributing to gains in traditional safe-haven assets such as gold and the U.S. dollar.

In crypto markets, the correction over the past month appears to be stabilizing as bearish sentiment wanes. Some analysts remain optimistic due to persistent long-term demand, especially for bitcoin.

A larger proportion of investors are becoming long-term holders, which is beneficial for price appreciation as it is clear that more investors are seeking higher prices. Crypto adoption globally continues to soar and aligns with the thesis that we are in an accumulation phase.

Still, technical indicators show strong resistance at $46,000, which could create choppy trading conditions over the short term. Improving momentum, however, suggests limited downside, with a tight range of support between $37,000 and $40,000.”

See Also: Fed Hikes Could Drive Bitcoin Adoption in Emerging Markets

“The announcement was made by the country’s deputy prime minister and minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, via his verified Twitter account on Thursday.

After careful consideration we decided to cancel airdrop. Every day there are more and more people willing to help Ukraine to fight back the agression. Instead, we will announce NFTs to support Ukrainian Armed Forces soon.

Wednesday’s announcement indicated the goal of the airdrop was to reward donors who have been sending crypto to support Ukraine as it stands against Russia.”

See Also: Anti-war Russians start donating crypto to support Ukraine

“Users can now make a swap of any token on 1inch supported chains without intermediaries. This feature allows users to specify the person or wallet that will fill the other side of the trade, as opposed to over-the-counter or OTC payments where 1inch matches the order with a taker.

According to the company website, this “opens the door to a whole new world” of possible use cases, including transactions within NFT marketplaces, auctions or reverse auctions.

Users can send orders via email or to any messenger using URLs that bypass 1inch’s backend. Within the Twitter thread, the company specified that participants are able to set the swap amount to the current market rate or to reduce and increase the rate by 5% intervals. Expiration dates can also be set to anytime between 10 minutes and 7 days.”

3 March

Jerome Powell said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could emphasize a need for cryptocurrency regulation to prevent sanctioned individuals from using cryptocurrency to evade sanctions.

[The Ukraine-Russia conflict] underscored the need for Congressional action on digital finance including cryptocurrencies. We have this burgeoning industry which has many parts to it, and there isn’t in place the kind of regulatory framework that needs to be there.

The Fed Chair was responding to a question about whether Russia could use cryptocurrencies to bypass sanctions. Earlier on Wednesday, the European Union cut seven of Russia’s largest banks off from the SWIFT interbank messaging system.”

See Also: Lawmakers Raise Alarm on Crypto for Sanctions Evasion as Experts Cast Doubt
See Also: EU is ‘taking measures’ against Russia using crypto to bypass sanctions, say finance ministers

Ukraine will conduct an airdrop to donors who have contributed money to its official crypto addresses, the country said on Wednesday through its official Twitter account. It’s the first time a country will conduct an airdrop for donations.

Airdrop confirmed. Snapshot will be taken tomorrow, on March 3rd, at 6 pm Kyiv time (UTC/GMT +2 hours). Reward to follow!

It wasn’t clear which token Ukraine plans to air-drop. The country has received $33 million in crypto donations so far.”

See Also: Ukraine Receives Over $7M in Crypto Donations After Airdrop Announcement
See Also: Ukrainian Flag NFT Raises $6.75M for Country’s War Efforts

“Powell is telling U.S. lawmakers Wednesday that the U.S. central bank is on track to raise interest rates this month for the first time in three years, because of high inflation, a tight labor market and strong economic demand.

Traders have already priced in a possible rate hike in March. The Chicago-based CME Group’s FedWatch tool shows that futures traders see a 90% chance of a quarter-percentage point hike, as opposed to a half-percentage point, which many thought was very likely just a week ago.

The central bank is concerned about inflation. Powell, however, expects inflation will diminish this year as supply constraints ease and demand moderates because of the shrinking effects of fiscal stimulus and tighter monetary policy.”

See Also: Bitcoin Climbs to $45K Early Wednesday Before Quickly Retreating

“The closing of the exchange, along with a plunging ruble, may have a devastating impact on the lives of ordinary Russian citizens.

The Central Bank of Russia once again suspended trading on the nation’s leading Moscow Stock Exchange (MOEX) on Wednesday, and it will not open the exchange on Thursday. Trading on MOEX has been halted since Feb. 25, after Russia launched its ongoing military campaign in Ukraine.

In addition, MOEX’s main website has been offline since Monday, with Ukraine’s “IT army” allegedly taking credit for the “hack.” Meanwhile, Russia’s Saint Petersburg Stock Exchange (SPB) also remains closed but will open for limited trading on Thursday. In the meantime, the Dow Jones Russia GDR Index, which tracks the value of Russian stocks listed on the London Stock Exchange, has lost 93% of its value in the last five trading days, implying disastrous losses ahead when Russian markets open.

Theoretically, whether centralized or decentralized, cryptocurrency exchanges are free from such intervention.

While Russian financial institutions have the means to weather a stock market catastrophe, the same cannot be said for everyday Russians. More than 17 million retail investors trade on MOEX alone, and retail investors account for more than 40% of the country’s equity trading volume. Coupled with a sharp decline in the ruble’s value, it is likely the retail investor community in Russia — such as pensioners and retirees — will suffer severe losses to their savings when markets open.”

See Also: Top Russian Bank Quits Europe, Citing Sanctions: Report

“Over the last few months, SEC attorneys have sent subpoenas to NFT creators and various crypto exchanges requesting more information, according to the report.

At issue is whether certain tokens should be considered securities and thus regulated. A particular focus of the probe are fractional NFTs, in which a token is broken down into many units that are sold separately.”

“The Digital Currency Group (DCG) board has authorized a share repurchase program of up to $250 million across its nine publicly traded cryptocurrency trusts.

The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust has been trading at a steep discount to net asset value for months, and in October DCG upped its buyback plan for that product to $1 billion from $750 million. As of Thursday, there was $301.3 million of remaining authorization in that program.

It looks like DCG is buying (as opposed to the funds), so they must see good value.”

The Ukraine Airdrop – is this for real?

2 March

A new version of the Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) legislation removes controversial wording that would have banned cryptos like bitcoin (BTC) that rely on the proof-of- work blockchain-based algorithm. The deletion should presumably allow for a vote on the bill to go forward.

CoinDesk reported last week that European Union parliamentarians had proposed rules to prohibit crypto services reliant on environmentally unsustainable consensus mechanisms like proof-of-work starting in January 2025. CoinDesk later reported the parliament had indefinitely postponed the Feb. 28 vote after the proposal sparked a sizable outcry.

It is crucial for me that the MiCA report is not interpreted as a de facto ban on bitcoin.”

CME Group, one of the world’s largest derivatives exchanges, wants to start trading options on micro bitcoin and ether futures this month. The company, which overtook Binance as the world’s biggest bitcoin futures platform in October, plans to introduce the options on March 28.

The contracts will be one-tenth of their respective underlying tokens in size [and] are set to add to CME’s suite of micro bitcoin and micro ether futures, launched last year.

Micro-sized options will enable traders of all sizes to efficiently hedge market-moving events with greater precision and flexibility or fine-tune their cryptocurrency market exposure.”

Powell is scheduled to appear before a House panel on Wednesday and a Senate committee on Thursday to give his semiannual monetary policy update to U.S. lawmakers. The crypto community will be watching as the Fed chair will likely address topics like inflation, stablecoins and a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC).

With the Ukraine-Russia conflict accelerating, the Fed chair’s testimony comes at a time of great uncertainty. The war changes everything, politically and economically, and in regard to the handling of monetary policy.

Some analysts think the Fed will take a less hawkish stance when it comes to hiking rates amid current geopolitical tensions and the resulting pressure on traditional markets. The CME Group’s FedWatch tool currently shows traders see 0% odds of a half-percentage point hike, down from 40% odds last week.

See Also: Samson Mow Exits Blockstream to Focus on Nation-State Bitcoin Adoption

“Bitcoin (BTC) was pushing higher after surging 14% on Monday, the biggest price jump in a year.

The risks from a prolonged war prompted many crypto investors to worry that a new cloud over the economy might sap demand for bitcoin. But the market sentiment turned quickly, and now some traders are speculating that the Federal Reserve might soften any plans to tighten monetary policy aggressively.

Fed tightening won’t be severe at the start, and with yields tumbling hard, this should be an attractive time for cryptos.”

See Also: Bitcoin Decouples From Stocks Ahead of Seasonally Weak March
See Also: Bitcoin HODLers Unfazed by Macro and Geopolitical Risks

On Tuesday, Uniswap launched an interface that directly converts ERC-20 tokens to Ether (ETH). The coins are then sent to the official crypto wallet addresses of the Ukrainian government, all in a single transaction. The feature simplifies the donation process for anyone holding ERC-20 tokens on Uniswap’s list and wishes to donate.

Per data tracked by Cointelegraph, the Ukrainian government and nonprofit organizations operating in the country have received more than $53 million in donations at the time of publication.”

See Also: ‘Absolutely Surreal’: Inside a Fund Raising Millions in Crypto for Besieged Ukraine
See Also: Russian Sanctions May Test Crypto’s Proposition

“Announced in September 2021, the new STO platform is regulated within Kazakhstan’s national financial hub, known as the Astana International Financial Center (AIFC). Bitfinex Securities operates from a special economic zone in Kazakhstan.

Bitfinex Securities is debuting trading with the Blockstream Mining Note (BMN), a security token offering qualified non-U.S. investors an option to mine Bitcoin or invest in BTC mining stocks using the associated hash rate of BMN. The token is issued on the Liquid sidechain of Bitcoin.

The company continues to work closely with local regulators as well as companies seeking to raise capital on the STO platform.”

Shibuya will crowdfund production of long-form visual content – such as short films, movies or television series – by selling non-fungible tokens (NFT) called “producer passes,” disrupting the traditional studio-driven methods that now dominate the industry.

Unveiled at the Ethereum Conference in Denver on Feb. 18, Shibuya is the latest brainchild of Pplpleasr, an NFT artist who first gained mainstream attention after her Fortune magazine NFT cover raised $1.3 million.

The first Shibuya project will be an anime called “White Rabbit,” an interactive Web 3 series centered around a protagonist who goes down the crypto rabbit hole.

It’s like anime meets ‘Black Mirror’ meets crypto.

While the series will be free to watch, viewers who hold the producer passes will be able to stake the NFTs to vote for one of two alternate endings to the first episode. The option that receives the most votes will determine the main character’s plot line in the next episode.”

Canada, Russia and Ukraine Demonstrate Value of Crypto

1 March

“‘Coinbase will not institute a blanket ban on all Coinbase transactions involving Russian addresses,’ despite a request from a Ukrainian government official to do so. Coinbase joins a list of other cryptocurrency exchanges that have declined to meet the Ukrainian government’s request.

A unilateral and total ban would punish ordinary Russian citizens who are enduring historic currency destabilization as a result of their government’s aggression against a democratic neighbor.

Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, told CNBC on Monday: ‘Crypto is meant to provide greater financial freedom for people across the globe. To unilaterally decide to ban people’s access to their crypto would fly in the face of the reason why crypto exists.’

Kraken CEO Jesse Powell wrote on Twitter, ‘Our mission is better served by focusing on individual needs above those of any government or political faction. The People’s Money is an exit strategy for humans, a weapon for peace, not for war.

Instead, Coinbase and others are pointing toward their compliance with international sanctions.

We will continue to implement all sanctions that have been imposed, including blocking accounts and transactions that may involve sanctioned individuals or entities.”

See Also: Ukraine Asks Binance, Coinbase, 6 Other Crypto Exchanges to Block Russian Users
See Also: Russia Sanctions Present ‘Dramatic Testing Moment’ for Crypto Exchanges
See Also: US Treasury Department Formally Adds Crypto Rules to Russian Sanctions Guidance

“American entities and citizens are prohibited from engaging in transactions with the Central Bank of Russia, the National Wealth Fund of the Russian Federation and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation, the Treasury’s OFAC announced Monday.

Furthermore, the OFAC has sanctioned the Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF), which has exposure to the U.S. financial system. The moves helped send the ruble tumbling 40% earlier today, forcing the Russian central bank to try and defend the currency by hiking its benchmark interest rate to 20% from 9.5%.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle of cronies have long relied on RDIF and Dmitriev to raise funds abroad, including in the United States.

Talks are underway between Russia and Ukraine in Belarus with the aim of bringing an end to the hostilities.”

See Also: Russian Banks Raise Key Rates to 20% in Desperate Measure to Save Ruble
See Also: Central Bank of Russia Braces for Turmoil With Nonresident Trading Ban

“Trading volumes between the Russian ruble and bitcoin increased to a nine-month high as the country’s fiat currency plunged to record lows due to the fallout from the invasion of the Ukraine. Similar trends were observed in tether-ruble and tether-hryvnia trading volumes.

The spike in the ruble-based crypto trading volumes came as investors scrambled to move out of the ruble. The Russian currency plunged over 8% to 90 per U.S. dollar last week and extended the slide by another 28% early today, reaching a record low of 118 per dollar. Gold, U.S. Treasurys, the U.S. dollar and the Swiss franc have [also] been the beneficiaries of the flight to safety.”

See Also: Bitcoin Rises Despite Geopolitical Tensions
See Also: The Petroyuan Is No Russia Sanctions Buster; Bitcoin and Other Cryptos Soar as Investors See Opportunity
See Also: Bank of America Sees No Crypto Winter Given User Adoption, Developer Activity Growth

The Ukrainian government is purchasing critical supplies, including gas, food and military equipment, using cryptocurrencies donated as the country stands against a Russian invasion. Around $10 million has already been spent.

CoinDesk has been tracking the inflow of more than $16 million of cryptocurrencies into three digital wallets associated with Ukraine’s defense against the Russian invasion. One wallet, set up by a local nonprofit, had raised over $7 million in bitcoin at publication time. The two others (one bitcoin and another ether) set up by Kuna on behalf of the Ukrainian government on Friday, had raised more than $8 million by Sunday.

Chobanian says vendors are stepping up to accept crypto in exchange for supplies and crypto is proving to be more efficient than traditional payment methods.We’re managing to buy all of this stuff in Europe using crypto.’

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s central bank has suspended the country’s currency market and limited cash withdrawals.”

See Also: FTX Pledges Up to $1 Billion for Philanthropic Fund to ‘Improve Humanity’

The internet marketplace is among the oldest e-commerce platforms, now looking to become the go-to platform for Gen Z and Millennials. The CEO said in an interview with The Street that the firm has been looking to integrate crypto payment options for quite some time and an official announcement could be made during the upcoming investor’s day on March 10.

Talking about eBay’s stance on emerging technology such as blockchain and cryptocurrencies, Iannone pointed toward the growing popularity of nonfungible tokens trading on its platform without making any official announcement.

Iannone said that the company changed its policies last year to make the e-commerce platform a place to buy and sell anything, be it a physical or digital commodity.”

“The consulting giant said the impetus of the NFT purchase was to better inform how it advised clients looking to enter the space.

NFTs unlock a new channel for organizations to engage with their customers, while also underpinning innovation through the secure digitization of assets. Having now gone through the process, we are well-positioned to guide our clients around building a corporate NFT strategy, including acquiring and safeguarding NFTs.

The company also revealed it owns kpmgca.eth, the Ethereum Name Service (ENS) domain name meant for making wallet addresses easier to use. The move follows the firm’s announcement that it had added ether (ETH) and bitcoin (BTC) to its balance sheet earlier in February.”

See Also: South Korea to invest $187M in national metaverse project