New SEC Chair, Confiscated Bitcoin Miners, Trader vs. Banks + More News

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

Gary Gensler. Source: a video screenshot, Youtube/Bloomberg Markets and Finance

Regulation news

  • Former Commodity Futures Trading Commission Chairman Gary Gensler, who is considered to be pro-crypto and blockchain-savvy, has been officially named chair of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) by President-elect Joe Biden. Currently, Gensler is a Professor of the Practice of Global Economics and Management, MIT Sloan School of Management, Co-Director of MIT’s Fintech@CSAIL & Senior Advisor to the MIT Digital Currency Initiative, researching artificial intelligence, blockchain technology, and new financial technologies.

Mining news

  • The Iranian police have confiscated some 45,000 Bitcoin (BTC) mining machines that were illegally using subsidized electricity, Tasnim News Agency reported, citing Mohammad Hassan Motavalizadeh, head of Iran’s state-run electricity company Tavanir. According to the report, the miners had been consuming 95 megawatts per hour (MWh) of electricity at “an ultra-cheap price.”

Exchanges news

  • Allan Flynn, who operated an Australian crypto exchange registered with AUSTRAC for which he purchased bitcoin on behalf of as many as 450 customers, has launched proceedings against the Westpac and ANZ banks in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal, where he alleges he was the victim of unlawful discrimination after the banks closed his accounts with next to no warning, Financial Review reported. A cryptocurrency trader is seeking AUD 250,000 (USD 192,000) in compensation, it added.
  • The Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck has released data for 2020 – showing that NEM (XEM) price rises were the highest among the tokens traded on its platform last year, with BTC trailing in third and ethereum (ETH) in second. The data also revealed that account opening on its platform peaked in November and December, coinciding with the latest surge in crypto prices. The data also showed that as the coronavirus pandemic forced Japanese workers to work from home for much of 2020, traditional off-peak times for crypto trading that often occurred during commuting hours have all but disappeared, potentially meaning that crypto traders based outside Asia looking for opportune moments to trade their tokens and take advantage of lower network fees could be thwarted in their efforts.

Blockchain news

  • The operators of the Chinese Blockchain Service Network (BSN) project said they will provide interoperability solutions for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) – possibly as soon as the second half of this year. In a blog post, the BSN masterminds stated that they would launch a beta version of a “convenient and cost-friendly global payment solution.” The operators stated that BSN “plans to build a digital currency payment network in five years based on the CBDCs of various countries and stablecoins, working with several international banks and technology companies.” They declined to mention whether the BSN would seek interoperability with China’s own forthcoming CBDC, the digital yuan. Last year, the operators claimed they had achieved full coverage for a vast range of Chinese cities, with interoperability for numerous major blockchain platforms already secured.
  • The city authorities of Fuzhou, China, said that 5,500 blockchain firms have so far set up shop in the city and the wider Fujian Province. Per FJSEN, there has been a spike in blockchain-related activity in the area after provincial authorities last year unveiled a three-year plan to bolster fledgling IT firms specializing in decentralized ledger technology last year. The authorities stated that firms in the area had already successfully rolled out a number of applications, particularly in the product traceability, electronic billing, digital deposits, and security auditing fields.

Investments news

  • Rain, a crypto trading platform licensed by the Central Bank of Bahrain, announced its USD 6m Series A round of funding, led by Middle East Venture Partners, with participation from existing shareholders and new investors, including Coinbase, Vision Ventures, CMT Digital, and others.

Staking news

  • Synthetix (SNX) said it launched staking on Layer 2 mainnet, Optimistic Ethereum (OE). “This marks a huge next step not only for Synthetix, but the entire Ethereum ecosystem, as OE is the first scaling solution with full cross-layer porting capabilities for smart contracts without rewriting them,” they added.

Career news

  • RippleX, Ripple’s developer platform for payments, is seeking to hire a director fo engineering, according to a job posting. Among other tasks, the director would “build, grow, and lead the engineering teams building open-source developer services + tools at Ripple, including XRPL.”