Read in the digest:
- Coinbase seizes the initiative to block 25,000 Russian crypto accounts for illicit activity.
- Binance resumes EUR and GBP deposits after an 8-month suspension.
- The SEC warns crypto companies that report infraction will still be punished, but may receive leniency.
- Charles Hoskinson’s Ph.D enrollment status causes chaos on Twitter as a journalist exposes his claims.
Coinbase Blocks Russian Accounts as the U.S. Warns of Sanction Evasion
Coinbase has announced the blocking of 25,000 cryptocurrency wallets on its platform. Each of the affected accounts were of Russian origin and the company’s blog post stated that they were involved in illicit activity relating to the sanctions placed upon Russia.
Throughout the past week, financial institutions around the world have been called upon to be diligent in identifying sanction evading activities. To this end, the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) issued a statement that monitoring of state actors and oligarchs should be heightened, while the U.S. Dept. of Justice launched a new task force with the same goal.
While exchanges are hesitant to issue an outright ban, some cryptocurrency platforms have gone the extra mile to limit the activity of Russian users. DMarket, an NFT exchange, announced that it had blocked the accounts of Russian users as a response to the country’s invasion.
- Despite increasing calls to stifle Russia’s cryptocurrency usage, ruble-denominated Bitcoin trading volumes continue their ascent.
Why You Should Care
Cryptocurrency sanctions and regulations are part of increasing efforts to control the cryptocurrency frontier, but the decentralized nature of the ecosystem makes this an herculean task.
Binance Reopens EUR & GBP Transactions and Launches Bifinity
Binance has announced the resumption of transactions in euros and Great British pounds after a suspension that spanned nearly eight months. The statement disclosed that European users, except those in Switzerland and the Netherlands, could now make deposits with EUR and GBP using the Single Euro Payment Area (SEPA) and Faster Payment Services (FPS) rails.
Binance had previously been forced to close operations from the SEPA rail because of “events beyond their control,” after conflict with regulators across Europe. The exchange was banned from participating in regulated activities in the UK, while it also grappled with threats to its operational status in Germany and Japan.
The largest cryptocurrency exchange also announced the launch of a brand new payments technology company to be its official fiat-to-crypto provider. Entitled ‘Bifinity‘, the platform will provide businesses with solutions that will improve the adoption of cryptocurrencies, and has entered into partnerships with Paysafe and Eqonex.
- Although Binance publicly stated that it has not blocked the accounts of Russian citizens, some users have complained that their bank cards are no longer compatible with the platform.
Why You Should Care
Binance is the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange in terms of transaction volumes, and allowing deposits in the leading European currencies may see it extend its lead over competing exchanges.
SEC Will Not Offer Amnesty for Self-Reported Violations
The US Securities and Exchange Commission has announced that it will not offer amnesty to cryptocurrency firms that report their own violations of the commission’s rules. Gurbir Grewal, a director within the SEC, noted that the Commission may be lenient, but firms will still face punitive measures.
The statement comes on the heels of the SEC Chair Gary Gensler’s comment that firms should “self report” before the exchange cracks down on them. In the past, the SEC has merely handed out warnings, while other entities have been slammed with fines.
Since 2020, the Commission has been entangled in a legal battle with Ripple Labs over alleged unregistered security offerings. The exchange has also had run-ins with Circle and Coinbase over its lending products.
- Despite being on a warpath, the SEC has taken giant progressive strides such as with the approval of a Bitcoin ETF after nearly eight years of applications.
- The Commission could approve a spot Bitcoin in the coming months.
Why You Should Care
The SEC has taken valiant efforts to regulate the cryptocurrency space, seeking to be the leading regulator in the U.S, ahead of the CFTC.
Charles Hoskinson Exposed for Misleading Ph.D Enrollment Claims
Cardano’s founder has come fire for claims that he had in fact not enrolled for a Ph.D program. The claims were stated in Laura Shin’s book, ‘Cryptopians‘, where she shed light on the backgrounds of Ethereum co-founders.
Hoskinson countered her claims by calling the book a “great work of fiction” further remarking, “tough market to beat George R.R. Martin and Tolkien, but we wish her well.” In the past, Hoskinson had claimed that he was enrolled in a Ph.D program but dropped out. Shin alleges to have uncovered that multiple discrepancies exist in his story, and challenged the founder to address the claims.
Public opinion is split on the issue, but this is not the first time that Hoskinson has been the subject of controversy. In 2020, he claimed that Cardano would have 100+ Dapps on the network within a year, but the assertions did not come to fruition, much to the ire of investors.
- Cardano whale holdings have reached an all-time high, while the total volume locked on the platform stands at a high of $160.79 million.
Why You Should Care
The reputation of founders often plays a vital role in the success or failure of a cryptocurrency project. While some founders have chosen anonymity, others are outspoken, like in the case of Hoskinson, and each have their pros and cons.