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New BlockFi Investor, New Way to Stack Sats, Novogratz's Warning + More News

New BlockFi Investor, New Way to Stack Sats, Novogratz's Warning + More News 101
Mike Novogratz. Source: A YouTube video screenshot

Crypto Briefs is your daily, bite-sized digest of cryptocurrency and blockchain-related news – investigating the stories flying under the radar of today’s crypto news.

Investment news

  • Major U.S.-based cryptocurrency lending startup BlockFi has brought on Singaporean hedge fund Three Arrows Capital as a strategic investor to the company, said the startup in an emailed press release without providing any details about the deal. The news follows the USD 30 million series B funding, and Three Arrows Capital, which was an institutional client of the firm prior to investing in it, is joining the company through a secondary transaction.
  • South Korea’s government-run Financial Services Commission has launched a joint public-private Fintech Innovation Fund, which will invest over USD 246 million in three companies over the next four years. Per Metro Seoul, Korea Investment Partners and KB Investment will help fund the project, which will help the government co-fund “big data, blockchain and overseas remittance platforms.” The commission says it is concerned that while the coronavirus continues to disrupt the South Korean economy, fintech companies may struggle to attract investors.
  • Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, said that, when it comes to Asia, the company is interested in acquiring exchanges that have existing banking relationships, which enable them to accept trading in local fiat currencies, as well as blockchain-backed e-commerce and payment services companies, reports South China Morning Post. Zhao added that Binance spends about a quarter of their profit on investment opportunities a year, in order to grow their portfolio of businesses beyond just trading.

Crypto adoption news

  • U.S.-based crypto payments startup Fold has launched a Visa-issued card that enables users to spend fiat and earn bitcoin (BTC) in return. The website explains that each time a user swipes the Fold Card, they get a percentage of their purchase back in sats.
  • Ukrainian freelancers using the popular Freelancehunt network will be able to receive payment in BTC or 50 altcoins,” per information shared with media outlet Forklog. Freelancehunt is one of the CIS area’s biggest freelance networks, and was established in 2015. It claims to have 568,000 freelancers on its books, and says that although fee calculations will be made in Ukrainian hryvnia, platform users will be able to take their pick of tokens when they want to make a withdrawal.
  • The Bitcoin Association Switzerland, a group of Switzerland-based crypto firms, has launched a 1:1 Bitcoin-backed token on the Tezos (XTZ) blockchain, called tzBTC. The announcement says that tzBTC gives people more choice of how they can use Bitcoin.
  • Over the next few weeks, mobile crypto wallet app Abra will be switching from the non-custodial model to a hosted model. As the announcement explains, during this time, Abra will be transitioning all assets available in the Abra App to a hosted environment provided by a qualified custodian. It adds that most crypto assets available on Abra are already hosted, but that now they will also include previously non-custodial assets BTC, LTC, BCH, and ETH.

Crypto business news

  • Digital asset merchant bank Galaxy Digital, lead by Mike Novogratz, said that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to impact the company's investments and business activities in the coming months, with offsetting potential benefits to the company from increased volatility and expansive global monetary and fiscal policy.
  • Major Bitcoin mining hardware producer Canaan said it suffered RMB 1.035 billion (USD 149 million) net loss last year, compared with RMB 122.4 million net income in 2018, as its net revenues dropped by 47%, to RMB 1.4 billion last year. The company said it will remain focused on the optimization of its supply chains, enhancement of its product offerings, and expantion into the fields of artificial intelligence and supercomputing.

Blockchain news

  • More details have emerged about the Japanese furniture chain Nitori’s blockchain plans. As previously reported, the chain, which has over 500 branches in the country, wants to revitalize its operations using blockchain technology. Per Nikkei, Nitori will work with Japanese blockchain firm LayerX on its new project, which will involve developing a blockchain-powered platform that will boost efficiency, cut down on paperwork and improve communication with shipping and logistics partners.
  • Decentralized data network Bluzelle (BLZ) has launched its network’s final public stress test and the last step before the mainnet launch, dubbed ‘Swarm of Duty.’ According to the press release, Swarm of Duty gives developers an early opportunity to create apps on BluzelleNet, to get to know the ecosystem's token economics, and to work on various dev-focused projects with prizes.

Community news

  • Among the 2,095 billionaires on Forbes’ ‘The Richest in 2020’ list, four entrepreneurs got rich off crypto: Bitmain co-founder Micree Zhan (USD 3.2 billion), Bitmain co-founder Jihan Wu (USD 1.8 billion), Co-founder of Ripple Chris Larsen (USD 2.6 billion), and CEO of Coinbase Brian Armstrong (USD 1 billion).

Privacy news

  • Major antivirus software Avast has released an Android version of Avast Secure Browser in order to extend support beyond Windows and Mac on desktop to mobile. Per the press release, this is a multi-platform, privacy-first browser that combines a built-in VPN with complete encryption, built from the ground up. Avast Secure Browser for Android was developed following Avast's acquisition of Tenta in 2019, which is a private browser backed by blockchain company ConsenSys.

Crime news

  • Texas State Securities Board has announced that a crypto mining company is promising to double investors’ money in a year, also claiming to contribute money to UNICEF to "fight COVID-19," but refusing to provide any information to verify the donation. Per the Emergency Cease and Desist Order, Ultra BTC Mining LLC claims it has raised USD 18 million from Texas residents for investments in computing power to mine cryptocurrencies, and that it has already donated USD 100,000 to UNICEF to buy medical equipment. Ultra Mining has 31 days to file a notice to challenge the Texas order.
  • Police in Japan have charged the operators of a Japanese company with selling bogus crypto trading software, raising some USD 1.2 million from at least 130 victims. Per Nikkei, three men and one woman have been charged with violating fraud laws by selling a program in 2018 that, police say, did not even exist.
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