13 Jan 2022 · 4 min read
Near Raises USD 150M, Pakistan's Central Bank vs. Crypto, Bitstamp's Growth Plan + More News
Get your daily, bite-sized digest of cryptoasset and blockchain-related news – investigating the stories flying under the radar of today’s crypto news.
- "High-performance blockchain" Near (NEAR) Protocol said it has raised USD 150m in its latest funding round, led by Three-Arrows Capital with participation from several crypto-native funds including Mechanism Capital, Dragonfly Capital, a16z, among others. The round also included several top angels including Alan Howard, Santiago Santos, and Aave (AAVE) Founder Stani Kulechov. "The funding will be used to accelerate adoption of Web3 technologies through ecosystem funding, developing NEAR’s regional hubs and raising awareness for the brand, the projects building on NEAR and its global community to new audiences," the team said.
- Crypto services startup Zero Hash announced it has raised USD 105m in a Series D fundraising round. The company said it would use the proceeds of the round to continue expanding its compliance, marketing, product, and engineering teams.
- Exchange-traded fund (ETF) issuer Simplify Asset Management filed an application to launch Simplify Volt Web3 ETF, which would trade under the ticker WIII. WIII would invest up to 10% of its total assets in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) and would also be utilizing an options strategy to hedge against risks.
- The State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) recommended banning cryptocurrency, arguing in documents submitted in an ongoing court case that allowing it would cause capital flight, Reuters reported. The central bank noted that cryptocurrencies were all issued outside of Pakistan, and Pakistani residents buying such tokens would send capital abroad.
- A group of bipartisan lawmakers tasked with overseeing the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) asked newly confirmed Chairman Rostin Behnam to provide guidance on cryptoassets and the agency’s role in regulating them. The questions include the size and scope of crypto markets, crypto crime and how it differs from crime in traditional financial markets, and the CFTC’s authority to “protect customers and ensure market integrity.”
- Crypto custodian Xapo has surrendered its BitLicense, which it had first obtained in 2018, according to the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), USA. It did not say why the company did so, but the surrendering of the license was Xapo's decision.
- Bitstamp is considering entering new markets such as equities, non-fungible tokens, and crypto derivatives, Bobby Zagotta, CEO of Bitstamp USA Inc., told Bloomberg, citing "significant investments" in these areas and the advantage of keeping users on the platform for trades across asset classes.
- Gemini announced the acquisition of BITRIA, formerly Blockchange Inc., a digital asset portfolio management platform designed for wealth and asset managers. "The integration of BITRIA's technology with Gemini's custody and exchange capabilities provides advisors with access to the entire crypto ecosystem and the ability to manage their clients' portfolios from one interface," the exchange said.
- Latin America exchange Bitso became the first crypto sponsor for the Mexican National Team, called the Selección Mexicana de Fútbol. The team will work with Bitso to offer crypto education opportunities in Mexico and also develop a series of NFTs that the exchange will distribute.
- The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee raised concerns in a new report that the UK's central bank digital currency (CBDC) project might threaten the stability of the banking system and inject the central bank into controversial debates on privacy. “The concept seems to present a lot of risk for very little reward,” they said.
- The Bank of Israel is expanding its research into CBDCs, but its roll-out still remains hypothetical given questions that range from the token’s cost to the impact on the banking system, Bloomberg reported, citing Yoav Soffer, head of the bank’s digital shekel project.
Blockchains and DLT news
- Solana (SOL) could take market share away from Ethereum (ETH) thanks to its differentiated design, according to Business Insider, citing Bank of America analyst Alkesh Shah.
- The IOTA Foundation said it has been chosen to compete with four other projects in the second of three rounds of the EU blockchain pre-commercial procurement process. This follows Phase 1, where the IOTA Foundation and six other projects were chosen from over 35 applicants.
- Web3.0 Community Innovation Festival ETHDenver is returning from February 11 to 20, 2022 and is set to gather 5,000+ in person and 30,000+ virtual attendees which includes thousands of hackathon participants who will be competing for over USD 1m in bounties and prizes, as well as up to USD 2m in investment capital. The Ethereum-focused event is free to attend and will run both live and virtually.
- China-backed Blockchain Services Network will introduce infrastructure this month to support non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported. He Yifan, chief executive of Red Date Technology, which provides technical support to BSN, told the SCMP that non-fungible tokens “have no legal issue in China” as long as they have nothing to do with cryptoassets.
- DeFi Alliance, a Web3 startup accelerator, said it has now become Alliance DAO (a decentralized autonomous organization), "the world's first digital startup nation, to accelerate the best Web3 startups." Over the coming months, Alliance will start to take shape, they added.
- Software engineer Joseph Kent filed a class-action lawsuit in New York federal court against a decentralized finance (DeFi) service called PoolTogether, which describes itself as a “no loss prize game” and incentivizes users to save their cryptoassets by offering them the chance to win awards from the interest generated by the collected funds, according to the Wall Street Journal. The lawsuit has challenged the legality of PoolTogether’s operation, saying the scheme is essentially a lottery and prohibited under New York law.
- Crypto firm GSR appointed former Citadel Securities managing director John MacDonald as its Chief Technology Officer (CTO).
- Crypto exchange BitMEX appointed Marcus Hughes as their Chief Risk Officer, who will also be serving on their executive board.