2 December

On Nov. 30, Sber officially announced new opportunities for its proprietary blockchain platform, including compatibility with smart contracts and applications on the Ethereum network. Sber’s latest additions also bring an integration with major software cryptocurrency wallet MetaMask.

The integration allows users to make operations with tokens and smart contracts placed on Sber’s blockchain platform, the announcement notes. Nam noted that the newly integrated features will help Sber to unite developers, corporations and financial institutions to explore practical business applications of blockchain, Web3 and decentralized finance.

Sber’s announcement came shortly after Russian President Vladimir Putin called for an open blockchain-based settlement network. He criticized the monopoly in global financial payment systems, expressing confidence that digital currencies-based technology will drive independence from banks. Sber’s majority shareholder is the government of Russia.”

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“Sen. Tina Smith called the FTX collapse “shocking, not surprising,” and said that future crises will continue to occur as long as regulatory gaps remain. Behnam pointed out that the Securities and Exchange Commission has the authority to require basic safeguards be in place, such as separation of house and customer money and best execution of investment trades.

Invariably, the questions we are all obligated to answer as regulators are: ‘How did you let this happen?’ and ‘How will you prevent this from happening again?’ […] Without new authority for the CFTC, there will remain gaps in a federal regulatory framework.

Behnam pointed to crypto derivatives and clearing platform and FTX subsidiary LedgerX as an example of successful CFTC regulation.

We at the CFTC do not have the legal authority to ask about an unregulated entity. We simply do not have the authority to register cash market exchanges […] This is the gap.

There is also a question of the impact of overseas companies on the United States and U.S entities trading offshore, Gillibrand added.”

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“CFTC Chairman Rostin Behnam, testifying in the first of several congressional hearings on FTX before the Senate Agriculture Committee, said his agency couldn’t have prevented the collapse because FTX wasn’t an entity regulated by his agency. He asked the lawmakers for broader authority to directly oversee spot cash market exchanges, which aren’t regulated by any federal agency now (tokens that are deemed securities are overseen by the Securities and Exchange Commission).

This sort of activity would be prohibited if the Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act (DCCPA) had been a law, Behnam said. The DCCPA would ban the commingling of customer and corporate money and also require better corporate governance and actual bookkeeping, Behnam said. Still, he suggested revisiting the bill to ensure it addresses possible misconduct that may occur at other companies.

Given the circumstances of the past few weeks, I think we should take a pause and look at the bill and make sure there are no gaps or no holes. Where the bill may be strengthened [is] disclosures around financial information of the entity, the crypto entity and conflicts of interest.

With or without a pause, Behnam stressed the importance of moving quickly to pass legislation that could give his agency greater oversight of spot markets.

Strengthening the bill and filling the gaps is one thing. We need to move forward as soon as possible. We need registration of exchanges. We need surveillance of market activity. We need direct relationships with custodians who are holding customer money.”

BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said that ‘the next generation for markets, the next generation for securities, will be tokenization of securities.’ Speaking at a New York Times DealBook event, Fink argued that tokenization will provide “instantaneous settlement” and “reduced fees.”

In November, JPMorgan turned to Polygon to trade tokenized cash deposits in a Singapore-based trial via Onyx Digital Assets, a private blockchain created by the bank. The bank has also promoted the benefits of tokenization in some of its whitepapers.”

“More investors are storing crypto in their own wallets instead of with centralized exchanges, and that is reflected in higher trading volumes and user growth for decentralized-finance (DeFi) spot and derivatives trading platforms, the report said. In the past 60 days, both revenue and the number of transactions have grown.

While these are early trends, the transition to on-chain markets, with their greater transparency, is a positive development in ‘crypto’s journey to rebuilding customer and policy-makers’ trust,’ Bernstein said.

The Arbitrum and Optimism blockchains are seeing the strongest momentum in user growth and in transaction and revenue momentum since the FTX unwind, the note said. Solana, which was viewed as the native blockchain for the FTX/Alameda ecosystem, is deteriorating the most.”

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The offering, a customizable widget that can be embedded directly into a decentralized exchange (DEX), non-fungible token (NFT) platform, wallet or decentralized app (dapp), is designed to allow customers to instantly purchase cryptocurrencies in Web3 apps.

Stripe said it offers customizable on-ramping services and handles know-your-customer (KYC), payments, fraud and compliance issues. ‘We built our fiat-to-crypto onramp to remove [logistical] complexity.’

One of the initial projects to use Stripe’s new on-ramp is Audius, the decentralized music discovery platform, which said it has adopted Stripe’s payments offering to enable users to use their credit cards to purchase its native AUDIO token to tip their favorite artists.”

“SBF should be sitting in a jail right now, but instead he is giving an interview on the New York Times Dealbook summit.

I remember when Bernie Madoff was caught and did that softball interview with the New York Times conference whilst chilling on the beach. Oh wait, of course that didn’t happen.

The awkwardness of the interview setup was not missed by viewers, who decried the fact that the audience erupted in applause as the interview concluded.”

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1 December

“It makes sense to moderate the pace of our rate increases as we approach the level of restraint that will be sufficient to bring inflation down. Time for moderating the pace of rate increases may come as soon as the December meeting.

Powell’s comments come after a report from payroll processing firm ADP on Wednesday showed that private hiring slowed to its lowest level since January 2021. A 50-basis point hike would lift short-term rates to a target range to 4.25 to 4.50%.

On Friday, the Labor Department will publish a fresh nonfarm payrolls report which, in addition to the consumer price index (CPI) next month, will be the last major economic data the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) sees before its meeting on Dec. 13-14.”

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U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has widely been seen as the linchpin of legislation to set up oversight of the cryptocurrency industry. While his crypto suspicions have been clear in hearings, his plans for specific bills remained quiet until now.

Brown sent a letter Wednesday to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, for the first time outlining his willingness to work on legislation and the broad strokes of what that legislation should look like – including that the approach must be comprehensive and rope in all the relevant financial agencies.

Single regulatory agencies currently generally do not have a comprehensive view of crypto asset entities’ activities.

While the work on legislation is underway, he said U.S. financial agencies should keep up vigorous enforcement actions and ‘take on the significant noncompliance with current law among crypto-asset firms.'”

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“Brazilian lawmakers have approved a complete regulatory framework for the trading and use of cryptocurrencies in the country.

The new rules recognize “virtual assets” as a digital representation of value that can be used as a means of payment and as an investment asset in the South American nation. Other provisions include the regulation of service providers such as exchanges, who will need to abide by specific rules to operate in Brazil.

Home to a vibrant cryptocurrency economy, Brazil has at times seen more citizens trade coins such as bitcoin than invest in the stock market. Now, the country seeks to set the stage for that to translate into more day-to-day usage in financial transactions.”

Uniswap will initially feature NFT collections for sale on platforms including OpenSea, X2Y2, LooksRare, Sudoswap, Larva Labs, X2Y2, Foundation, NFT20, and NFTX. Developers claim that users can save up to 15% on gas costs compared to other NFT aggregators when using Uniswap NFT.

The NFT aggregator is powered by the Universal Router smart contract and optimized by UX smart contract Permit2. Integrated with Permit2, users can swap multiple tokens and NFTs in one swap.

To bring users the first-rate experience they’ve come to expect with Uniswap, we built the aggregator to deliver better prices, faster indexing, more unassailable smart contracts, and efficient execution.”

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“RNS, a digital Web3 identity platform developed to support the application and issuance of sovereignty-backed IDs, announced on Nov. 30 that it is integrating with zkSync for on-chain Know Your Customer.

zkSync’s integration with RNS is intended to enable self-sovereignty-based solutions in the realm of digital identity, an emerging space in the digital world. The on-chain KYC solution is designed on a “privacy engine” to encrypt users’ identity attributes or properties into different “hashed slices” with multiple signature verifications.

At present, the company said RNS is supported by over 80% of crypto exchanges, including Binance and Coinbase. RNS has also partnered with Palau to make it the first sovereign country to issue digital residency IDs to global citizens. It is said to be the first national identification card issued on the blockchain as soulbound ID NFTs.

“Officials in the European Union (EU) say their landmark new legislation, the Markets in Crypto Assets Regulation (MiCA), would have prevented FTX-style collapses – but there’s also a major loophole that could allow offshore companies to continue to operate within the bloc.

Companies like FTX, based in the Bahamas, would still be able to serve EU clients without extra regulation, thanks to a technique known as reverse solicitation. Reverse solicitation exists because, on a practical level, it’s hard for regulators to enforce financial rules on overseas firms.

One answer, favored by the European Commission, is to ensure other jurisdictions play ball using the same rulebook. ‘We have to be vigilant that our EU protections are not undermined by jurisdictions that ultimately fail to regulate and supervise their companies.’

The question is whether that logic applies in a sector where people are as likely to get advice from Reddit or YouTube as from a regulated financier, and where decentralized freedom from government control is part of the attraction. Jour-Schroder might be able to persuade the U.S. and U.K. to regulate crypto, but what about Bahamas, Dubai and Antigua, or those firms that deny they have any headquarters at all?

It’s that kind of question that leaves some lawmakers nonplussed, and concerned that EU registration confers an unfair disadvantage.”

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Broker-dealer and crypto trading platform INX Digital has entered the bidding contest for the assets of bankrupt cryptocurrency lender Voyager Digital. The firm joins other suitors, including crypto exchange Binance.

INX unveiled its INX One platform in September, intended to allow trading of cryptocurrencies as well as security tokens that are registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.”

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“This week, TradeLens, a blockchain system built by software firm IBM and closely linked to shipping giant Maersk, announced it was shutting down, citing a lack of commercial traction. Some two weeks ago, the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) said it was scrapping a much-delayed blockchain announced in 2016 that was meant to replace the clearing and settlement system that powers that equities market.

Back in the early days of 2015 to 2016, a groundswell of banks and large companies saw potential in taking blockchain technology – which, as originally designed for bitcoin and the rest of crypto, is a public platform open to basically anyone – into private, firewalled realms where groups of companies could use the tech to track assets and distribute an immutable record of their existence.

Paul Brody, head of blockchain at global consultancy firm Ernst & Young, believes the whole idea of private blockchains is fundamentally flawed. Brody and his team have been long-time adherents of promoting enterprise adoption of the public Ethereum blockchain, which has included using tech such as zero-knowledge proofs to make the tech palatable to big businesses.

All these private blockchain ventures have the same basic problem. It’s a Web2 business model, but a little bit of Web3 pixie dust sprinkled on. And once the pixie dust kind of wears off, the value proposition doesn’t look so hot.”

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