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Rakuten Points To BTC, & Visa, a16z Dives Into NFT Sea + More News

Linas Kmieliauskas
Last updated: | 6 min read

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

Source: iStock/MKucova

Adoption news

  • The Japanese e-commerce giant, e-pay and crypto exchange operator Rakuten has taken another step into the crypto sphere, launching a service named Point Bitcoin by Rakuten Point Club. In a press release shared with, the firm said that the service “enables users to experience trading” bitcoin (BTC) using its Rakuten Points loyalty program. Rakuten said all Japanese Rakuten ID holders and Rakuten Points users would be able to convert points to BTC, adding that “trading is possible with a quantity of 100 or more Rakuten Points and withdrawals can be made in amounts as small as one point.” Last month, the company began allowing its e-pay customers in the country to top up their account balances with BTC and altcoins such as ethereum (ETH).
  • Provider of crypto payments card, trading, and lending services has announced a global partnership with Visa that also includes principal membership in Visa’s network in Australia. The press release stated that the firm also plans to roll out fiat lending with crypto collateral – they will be creating “Spending Power”, a lending product custom-built for the Visa Card, enabling cardholders to access crypto in their crypto wallet as collateral for a loan and spend fiat anywhere Visa is accepted.
  • The US Securities and Exchange Commission has formally opened its 45-day window when it needs to decide whether approve VanEck‘s BTC exchange-traded fund. However, this period can be extended by another 240 days.

NFTs news

  • OpenSea, a major marketplace for user-owned digital goods, which include collectibles, gaming items, domain names, digital art, and other assets backed by a blockchain, said it raised USD 23m from investors like Silicon Valley VC powerhouse Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), Naval Ravikant, Mark Cuban, Tim Ferris, and others. “Given the importance of this consumer layer in such a fast-growing area, it’s no surprise that OpenSea’s growth has been off the charts, with transaction volume growing 100x in the last six months,” a16z added.
  • Ditto Music, music distribution and record label services company, has launched an non-fungible token (NFT) exchange on its Bluebox platform. Per the press release, British rapper and TV personality Big Zuu has minted shares in a song from his upcoming album, while US rapper and brother of Chance the Rapper, Taylor Bennett, is auctioning shares for a forthcoming release. Both artists are offering ten shares of 7.5% for their works with sales closing on March 18, and successful owners will receive monthly royalty payments to their Bluebox wallet.
  • MetaKovan, the founder of NFT fund Metapurse, confirmed that he and his colleague Twobadour – people who bought artist Beeple’s NFT piece ‘Everyday: The First 5000 Days’ for the record-breaking price of ETH 42,329 (USD 69.4m at the time) – are crypto entrepreneur Vignesh Sundaresan and Lendroid Head Of Communications Anand Venkateswaran. The duo said that “these pseudonyms were never meant to be masks. They are exosuits. Today Vignesh wears Metakovan and Anand wears Twobadour, but there can be others who wear them in time.”

Exchanges news

  • The South Korean financial regulator has announced the scale of punishments for crypto exchanges that continue to operate without a license after a new permit system comes into force on March 25. According to Hanguk Kyungjae, the Financial Services Commission’s Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) has indicated that all crypto exchanges that wish to continue trading a week from today will need to submit application forms to the FIU and any business operators who attempt to continue trading after a six-month grace period ends in late September will be hit with jail terms of up to five years and fines of up to USD 44,360.
  • South African crypto exchange iCE3 has urged users to withdraw their holdings from its platform after it found “discrepancies” in its balances pertaining to BTC and litecoin (LTC) held on it. “After consultation and deliberation with our partner [software firm] and their subsidiary, we have not been able to reach a satisfactory conclusion,” the announcement said. All Deposits and Trading has been suspended on the advice of their legal and auditing team, while clients who hold any other currency will be still able to withdraw their funds currently.
  • BitMEX announced that they will soon issue Bitcoin Bech32 addresses to all new users and migrate current users to new addresses in phases, stating that this will help boost efficiency and lower withdrawal fees. The announcement said that P2SH address deposits will continue to be credited for the time being, but they aim to complete the rollout of the new format by the end of Q2.
  • Crypto wallet MetaMask now allows users to swap tokens on their phone, inside their wallet, with a single swipe, using the Swaps feature. Per the announcement, the features that come with this product include access to the best price when swapping, fewer approvals, reduced gas cost, slippage protection, ease of use, and availability on both mobile and desktop, for both Android and iOS users.

Investments news

  • Investment platform Republic said it has completed the initial closing of its USD 36m Series A fundraising. The round was led by Galaxy Interactive with participation by Tribe Capital, Motley Fool Ventures, and Broadhaven Ventures. Additionally, Prosus Ventures made a strategic investment in Republic through a purchase of Republic Notes, a digital security. Founded in 2016, Republic and its subsidiaries have raised more than USD 70m to fund their ventures.
  • Decentralized finance (DeFi) investment fund DeFiance Capital has taken a position in the BNT token and will serve as strategic advisors to the liquidity protocol Bancor, advising on tokenomics, strategy and institutional liquidity provision, Bancor announced today. The fund will use its BNT tokens to provide liquidity on Bancor and earn yield from swap fees and liquidity mining rewards, while having impermanent loss protection.

Tax news

  • Spanish tax experts have attempted to explain how crypto earnings must be declared on tax filings at the end of the tax year. Already, hundreds of crypto traders have received letters from the Spanish tax agency warning them of the penalties associated with failure to declare their profits. And per EFE (via Hola News) and Europa Press (via El Economista), Bitpanda’s Spanish lead Alejandro Zala stated that “there is a lot of ignorance among new investors on how to proceed in declaring” their crypto earnings, adding that “as a result, they often do not take any action.” The tax specialist TaxScout told the publications that crypto investments (such as buying a token) did not need to be declared, but all exchanges (from crypto into fiat or other tokens) and mining profits of over USD 60,000 should be disclosed under existing requirements.

Career news

  • The Stacks Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a Bitcoin-powered internet, announced that the well-known digital-assets advocate Meltem Demirors, Chief Strategy Officer of CoinShares, has joined its board of directors. She will help devise and implement a strategy for enabling developers to build smart contracts, decentralized apps (dapps) and NFTs within Bitcoin’s ecosystem via a shared connection with the Stacks blockchain, they added.
  • Kevin Weil, one of the co-founders of the Diem digital currency and Facebook’s Novi digital wallet, announced on Thursday that he has left the social media company, CNBC reported. Weil is joining Planet, a San Francisco company with a fleet of satellites that take photos of the earth once every day, providing users with imagery that demonstrates how the earth changes.