Značka: investments

Staying cool: Is crypto snowballing to 1 billion users this year?

Crypto.com raised a few eyebrows this past week when it announced cryptocurrency users worldwide could reach 1 billion by the end of 2022. The timing was curious, given that Bitcoin (BTC) and many other cryptos are entwined in one of the largest drawdowns in their (albeit short) history and with the prospect of United States Federal Reserve interest-rate tightening edging ever nearer.But the cryptocurrency exchange, which in November gave its name to the arena where the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team plays in a 20-year deal, was obviously taking the long view. Also, its prediction was contingent on two things happening: one in the “developed” world, the other in less-mature national economies. It also involved some statistical extrapolation. To wit, the main arguments for a great crypto leap forward:Crypto.com expects the world’s developed nations to devise “clear legal and taxations frameworks.”“More nations facing a highly inflationary economy and depreciating currency may adopt cryptocurrency as legal tender, following the example of El Salvador.”As for the extrapolation, the firm reported that “in 2021, the number of global crypto owners almost tripled, from 106 million in January to 295 million in December. If we extrapolate a similar rate of increase in 2022, we are on track to reach 1 billion crypto users by the end of 2022.”But is 1 billion crypto users by year’s end really doable — particularly in light of the 50% market price retrenchment from early November’s high mark? Maybe there are good secular reasons, including demographics, to believe that adoption will continue to grow exponentially. But will other nations really follow El Salvador’s example, given that the nation’s BTC investment is currently underwater, and if so, who might be next? Finally, what, if anything, could still derail the steady, upward arc of global crypto adoption, which now stands at 3.83% of the world’s population, according to Crypto.com?A generation gapNigel Green, CEO of the deVere Group, sees nothing far-fetched about this projection. “There is every reason to believe this could be true,” he told Cointelegraph when asked about the exchange firm’s prediction, in good part “due to a snowball effect of mass adoption and increasing understanding of and interest in digital currencies.” “It comes down to demographics. Younger people are more likely to embrace crypto than older generations, and we’re coming into the Great Transfer of Wealth. This is where Baby Boomers will transfer an estimated $40 trillion–$68 trillion to Millennials.”Others confirm this generational reality. “Let’s face the fact,” Wharton School professor Jeremy Siegel said recently, “Bitcoin as an inflation hedge in the minds of many of the younger investors has replaced gold. Digital coins are the new gold for the Millennials.”Yu Xiong, professor of business analytics and director of the Center for Innovation and Commercialization at the University of Surrey, told Cointelegraph that the number of crypto investors globally “is still very low” in the overall scheme of things. Crypto.com’s methodology for counting crypto users is more rigorous than most, but 300 million current users could still be on the high side, and “there is huge potential for more people to participate and push the value high. I saw many college freshman students buying cryptocurrencies” in the past year, Xiong said. Xiong believes that global turmoil, both political and economic, should bolster adoption. “We are facing a more and more uncertain world, such as what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine, and in Taiwan.” People see surging inflation in Turkey and other countries. In such circumstances, “it’s unlikely that the value of Bitcoin would not increase.”But is it really a sure thing? This past week, after all, the International Monetary Fund urged El Salvador to walk back its decision to make Bitcoin legal tender, citing concerns about “financial stability, financial integrity and consumer protection.” Elsewhere, Harvard University’s Kennedy School professor Jeffrey Frankel declared that “El Salvador’s adoption of bitcoin as legal tender is pure folly” — in good part because of BTC’s price volatility. Still, a Jan. 6, 2022, research report from Fidelity Digital Assets (FDA) drew a different conclusion from the El Salvador experiment, with FDA declaring that it “wouldn’t be surprised to see other sovereign nation states acquire bitcoin in 2022 and perhaps even see a central bank make an acquisition.” In that report, authors Chris Kuiper and Jack Neureuter outlined a “very high stakes game theory at play” where countries seem to realize that if they secure some Bitcoin today, they “will be better off competitively than their peers.” Kuiper, a research director at FDA, further explained this notion to Cointelegraph:“The first participant or country to make a purchase of Bitcoin is in many ways taking the most risk, while the risk hypothetically lowers as other countries choose to accumulate some Bitcoin. On the other hand, every purchase by an additional country increases the potential risk to other countries that have not yet purchased.” In other words, it is possible that at some point, the riskier decision could be not to own Bitcoin rather than to purchase the cryptocurrency, said Kuiper.Kuiper declined to specify which nations might follow El Salvador, but along these lines, Green said countries, where there is “unpredictable inflation and an inefficient, outdated and costly financial system, and where GDP is reliant upon remittances from overseas,” may seize upon a Bitcoin alternative. He mentioned Panama, Paraguay, Guatemala and Honduras as prospects.Xiong, too, viewed the world’s financially “unstable” countries most likely to follow the Central American nation’s lead, provided they have good internet access, including Turkey, Afghanistan and “many countries in Africa.” He singled out the “hundreds of millions of people in some under-developed countries that do not have bank accounts” as would-be adopters. Kuiper added, “Adoption may be more appealing for countries that have large remittance markets and can, therefore, save on fees, that are looking for additional financing options, or that do not have their own sovereign currency, making digital assets adoption easier.” Xiong didn’t believe that 1 billion crypto users by the end of 2022 is achievable, however. “I think it’s likely we may double the users by the end of 2022. I would say 700 million–800 million at least.” The sector “still needs some good applications that attract high daily active users,” he added. Keith Carter, an associate professor in the department of information systems and analytics at the National University of Singapore, agreed that more blockchain use cases would be required before the billion threshold is surpassed, particularly “use cases beneficial to society with strong business fundamentals or with entertaining engagements,” but obstacles remain, he told Cointelegraph:“Recent hacking incidents and errors in smart contracts show that digital-asset ecosystem companies need to work to improve coding standards through training, research and collaboration.”Other issues that could impede global adoption include “energy usage, unequal internet accessibility, technology accessibility and transaction costs,” Carter added.DeVere’s Green remains unfazed when asked about recent price volatility. It basically comes with the territory. “Digital is the future of finance, and retail adopters know this. Institutional investors know this. Major multinational corporations and Wall Street giants know this.” Recent price drawdowns should be seen as a buying opportunity, particularly with the prospect of “red-hot inflation” looming, Green told Cointelegraph:“The fundamentals haven’t changed, and the dips are being regarded as discounts.”Following the path of internet adoption?Carter was keen to set some context with regard to the adoption question. Crypto assets are a subset of digital assets, and digital assets are already in the hands of more than 1 billion people with credit cards, online banking, digital wallets and newly created central bank digital currencies, he told Cointelegraph. “The market dictates the success of a business model. If a compelling market need arises only satisfied by a particular digital asset, we may see higher adoption of that asset.” Meanwhile, Kuiper compared crypto adoption with internet adoption. “There are currently estimated 100 million digital asset users right now” — again, estimates vary, and no one really knows the true number — “roughly the equivalent of the number of internet users in the late 1990s,” he said. “While only one-third of Americans had internet access in 1999, this exploded to nearly 75% by 2010. We would not be surprised to see a similar acceleration in adoption of digital assets over the next few years.”The prospects appear good. Kuiper concluded, “We think digital assets have very powerful network effects embedded into their design, and history shows that most people overestimate the short-term or early growth of such networks but vastly underestimate the longer-term growth.” 

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Bybit donates $134M to BitDAO and integrates Arbitrum

The news about crypto derivatives exchange Bybit was two-fold Thursday, as the company announced via Twitter its $134 million contribution to the BitDAO Treasury in the form of Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC), as well as the completion of the integration of Ethereum layer-2 solution Arbitrum.BitDAO currently has one of the largest decentralized treasuries and it recently funded a $200M zkDAO to further build on zkSync and scale Ethereum. Bybit’s investment attests to its confidence in BitDAO to lead and support DeFi projects. Bybit joins other backers such as Peter Thiel, Founders Fund, Pantera, Dragonfly and Spartan.Bybit is proud to support https://t.co/GPkvYHJvAq. We have made a ~$134M contribution (in $ETH, $USDT and $USDC) to the @BitDAO_Official treasury, equivalent to 2.5bps of futures trading vol. between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31.We pledge recurring contributions.— BYBIT (@Bybit_Official) January 27, 2022Related: Arbitrum network suffers minor outage due to hardware failureBybit’s integration with Arbitrum will enable users to deposit and withdraw ETH, USDT and USDC on the Arbitrum network. Other benefits may include lower gas fees than those on Ethereum’s mainnet, rapid throughput and decreased latency due to Arbitrum’s optimistic rollups. Ben Zhou, Bybit co-founder and CEO, said that his firm is able to deliver “next-level products and services” thanks to Arbitrum’s “decentralized, developer-friendly, and broad ecosystem support.”The Ethereum layer-2 scaling solution was developed to decongest the Ethereum mainnet. Arbitrum’s current total value locked, or TVL, is $1.54 billion, according to DeFi Llama.Related: Crypto derivatives can foresee price action but need institutional buzz to truly shineBybit also recently launched it own NFT marketplace that will give customers the choice to use their Bybit accounts to trade NFTs instead of having to link their personal wallet addresses. 

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Zuck got PUNKed — new Metaverse-linked ETF shorts Meta shares in holdings

An exchange-traded fund linked to companies involved with the Metaverse launched on the Cboe BZX Exchange — shorting shares of Facebook’s parent company, Meta.The Subversive Metaverse exchange-traded fund (ETF, listed under the ticker PUNK, opened for trading at $25.15 on Thursday. The fund’s holdings include shares of Block — formerly Square — Google’s parent company Alphabet, Microsoft, Sony, GPU manufacturer Nvidia, Coinbase Global, Galaxy Digital and online gaming platform Roblox. However, exposure to Meta — one of the largest tech firms in the world, with an $837 market capitalization — was conspicuously absent from PUNK’s top holdings.$PUNK https://t.co/nBYPFrIKo8 pic.twitter.com/jAB2APsML9— Michael Auerbach (@msauerbach) January 27, 2022According to a Thursday Bloomberg report, Subversive Capital Advisor founder Michael Auerbach claimed the reputation around Facebook’s parent company — purportedly based on reports the firm was not doing what it claimed in regard to removing hate speech and posts encouraging violence — made it unsuitable for the ETF. The fund takes a short position on 40 Meta shares, the only one out of the 59 companies in its holdings.“Facebook seems to be the antithesis of what actual consumers want their digital futures to look like,” said Auerbach. “Mark [Zuckerberg] and his team are not the best custodians of our digital futures.”Christian Cooper, the ETF’s portfolio manager, added:“We want to make sure this industry develops, without getting “Zucked-up,” from those who see the true potential of this space.”Related: Meta unveils metaverse AI supercomputer, claims it will be world’s fastestAt the time of publication, the Metaverse ETF is trading at $24.74, having fallen more than 2% since opening. In December, ETF-issuer ProShares announced it had applied with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to list shares of a fund tracking the Solactive Metaverse Theme Index — with companies including Meta, Apple and Nvidia. However, there are also current listings for Metaverse-linked ETFs from Roundhill Ball, Evolve, Fount and Horizons across the U.S. and Canada.

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SEC rejects application for Fidelity’s Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust spot ETF

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission has disapproved asset manager Fidelity’s Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust spot exchange-traded fund application.According to a Thursday filing, the SEC rejected a proposed rule change from the Cboe BZX Exchange to list and trade shares of Fidelity’s Wise Origin Bitcoin (BTC) Trust. The regulatory body said any rule change in favor of approving the ETF would not be aimed at preventing “fraudulent and manipulative acts and practices” nor would it necessarily “protect investors and the public interest.”The SEC extended its deliberation window to approve or deny the offering in July and November following Fidelity’s original application in March 2021 — but published in the Federal Register on June 1. The SEC added that the BZX exchange “has not met its burden under the Exchange Act and the Commission’s Rules of Practice to demonstrate that its proposal is consistent with the requirements of Exchange Act Section.”“It is essential for an exchange listing a derivative securities product to enter into a surveillance-sharing agreement with markets trading the underlying assets for the listing exchange to have the ability to obtain information necessary to detect, investigate, and deter fraud and market manipulation, as well as violations of exchange rules and applicable federal securities laws and rules,” stated the SEC ruling.The decision followed separate filings from the SEC on Tuesday extending its window on a proposed rule change to allow shares from agricultural fund provider Teucrium tracking Bitcoin futures to be listed on NYSE Arca and ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF to be listed on the Cboe BZX Exchange. The final extension from the regulator will likely result in a decision by April 8 and April 3, respectively. While the SEC has yet to approve ETFs with direct exposure to BTC, the regulator gave the green light to investment vehicles linked to BTC derivatives for the first time in October 2021. At the time of publication, shares of Bitcoin futures-linked funds from Valkyrie and ProShares are currently listed on Nasdaq, with VanEck’s Bitcoin Strategy ETF trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange.Related: Valkyrie aims for ETF linked to Bitcoin mining firms on NasdaqMany analysts do not expect SEC officials to approve Bitcoin-linked ETFs anytime soon. The regulatory body is expected to reach a decision on NYDIG’s spot Bitcoin ETF and ​​asset manager Stone Ridge Holdings Group’s BTC ETF on March 16.

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SEC pushes decision on ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF to April 3

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has extended its window to approve the ARK 21Shares Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) originally proposed in July 2021.According to a Tuesday filing from the SEC, the regulatory body will push the deadline for approving or disapproving the ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF from Feb. 2 for an additional 60 days, to April 3. SEC Assistant Secretary J. Matthew DeLesDernier noted in the filing that it was “appropriate to designate a longer period” for the regulatory body to consider the proposed rule change, allowing the ETF to be listed on the Cboe BZX Exchange.The exchange originally filed the paperwork to apply for the ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF in July 2021, with the SEC able to delay its decision and open the offering to public comment for up to 180 days, with the option for a final 60-day extension starting on Feb. 2. After April 3, the SEC should not be able to extend the deliberation window further and will approve or disapprove of the crypto ETF.In a separate filing, the SEC also extended its window on a proposed rule change, allowing shares of an ETF tracking Bitcoin futures from agricultural fund provider Teucrium to be listed on NYSE Arca. The firm applied for the investment offering in May 2021 and will likely receive a final decision from the SEC by April 8.Related: Valkyrie aims for ETF linked to Bitcoin mining firms on NasdaqU.S. regulators have yet to approve ETFs with direct exposure to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) but gave the green light to investment vehicles linked to BTC derivatives for the first time in October 2021. At the time of publication, shares of Bitcoin futures-linked funds from Valkyrie and ProShares are currently listed on Nasdaq, with VanEck’s Bitcoin Strategy ETF trading on the Chicago Board Options Exchange.

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Valkyrie aims for ETF linked to Bitcoin mining firms on Nasdaq

Crypto asset manager Valkyrie has filed an application with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission to trade an exchange-traded fund (ETF) with exposure to Bitcoin mining firms on the Nasdaq Stock Market.In a Wednesday SEC filing, Valkyrie said its Bitcoin Miners ETF will not invest directly in Bitcoin (BTC) but at least 80% of its net assets would offer exposure to the crypto asset through the securities of companies that “derive at least 50% of their revenue or profits” from BTC mining or providing hardware or software related to mining. The filing added Valkyrie would invest up to 20% of the ETF’s net assets in companies holding “a significant portion of their net assets” in Bitcoin. Valkyrie launched a Bitcoin Strategy ETF in October 2021, which offered indirect exposure to BTC with cash-settled futures contracts following SEC approval for a similar ETF from ProShares. At the time of publication, shares of the fund traded on the Nasdaq for $14.93, having fallen more than 40% since opening on Oct. 22. In 2021, the SEC approved investment vehicles linked to BTC derivatives for the first time, but hasn’t given the green light to any Bitcoin spot exchange-traded fund in the United States. The Valkyrie Bitcoin Miners ETF resembles the Digital Asset Mining ETF proposed by asset manager VanEck in December 2021, which plans to invest 80% of its total assets in securities from crypto mining firms — the regulatory body has until Feb. 14 to reach a decision on the fund or extend the deadline.Related: Why now? SEC took eight years to authorize a Bitcoin ETF in the USWhile many crypto ETF applications are still under consideration in the United States, Canadian regulators have approved ETFs with direct exposure to crypto from Fidelity, Purpose Investments and Evolve Fund Group. At a House of Representatives committee hearing in December, former Acting Comptroller of the Currency Brian Brooks said the United States was “unquestionably” behind other countries in approving crypto ETFs.

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Why crypto industry needs venture capital: Q&A with veteran investor

Traditional funding in the crypto space was once considered useless. After all, the industry itself offers different, controversial, but nonetheless, ways to fund a project – initial coin offering (ICO), initial exchange offering (IEO) and the current darlings of offerings – launchpads and initial decentralized exchange (DEX) offerings. But with the industry maturing and more startups wanting not only the capital but mentorship to build a working and valuable product, venture capital has emerged as one of the most attractive options. Cointelegraph talked to Li Rongbin, founding partner of SevenX, about why venture capital funding is the next big thing for crypto startups and entrepreneurs.Tell us about your fund.Our company, SevenX Ventures, was launched at the beginning of 2020, so we are a relatively young brand. But all of our three founding partners have around six years of experience in crypto VC. We are one of the earliest VCs to invest in DeFi and NFTs in China. We’ve backed such DeFi projects like Dodo, Zerion, Debank, Furucombo, Daomaker, Vega, etc., and NFT-related projects, including YGG, Alchemy NFT, Rangers, and Whale, etc. Before SevenX, we’ve separately had our own crypto venture funds, based in Beijing and  Shanghai, which were early investors of some great projects, including Huobi, Tron, NEO and others. We decided to merge into one because we want to really gather our experience and knowledge to better deliver value to our portfolios.Why do you think the crypto industry needs corporate investment, given that there are many options to fund a project like ICO and IDO, for instance?We believe in decentralization and really think that a decentralized way of fundraising is cool and helpful. Such kind of fundraising will bring users, publicity and community. But VCs are experienced and have great connections and resources in the industry, which are good for bootstrapping,  There is a debate around whether to take VCs’ funds as an entrepreneur. Sometimes these firms do little help, and they are also the fastest to dump the project in the bear market. But I think the problem really is in how you deal with the communication and utilization of what VCs have to offer in the most efficient way. What kind of companies do you invest in? How do you do your research and due diligence?We love innovations. We are looking for anything that is innovative enough to change the current paradigm of crypto, and we are not afraid of taking risks.More specifically, we are investing in projects with logical reasoning ability and founders who clearly know where it is going. We like imagination, but those bold imaginations should be based on logical reasoning and analysis. We think right now the whole industry is in the very early stage, just like the Age of Exploration.We want to be the backers of those ambitious “captains,” we want to give them support on “the sailing” with “gears like compass, toolbox and knowledge” because we have seen a lot of captains before and used to be captains ourselves (we still are, from an investment perspective).We will provide the capital needed for the voyage, the safety and even sometimes as a crew member. But we need to back the entrepreneurs who know what they’re doing. And we only invest in captains who really want to find the new continent, not the ones who just want to discover another island and ship some goods back.For research, we always map a specific market to form an architect structure, for example, what is the foundation of the whole DeFi direction, or how many pillars should it really have? We then analyze the driving forces or impact factors behind it. We have a so-called “get-BTC” model to analyze a product from six different aspects, including governance, economy, team, business model, technology and community.What matters most when investing in a crypto company – the product or the team?I would say that at an early stage, the team matters most as products could evolve as time passes by. But people are hard to change. We’re also interested in investing in teams that have seen failures before.But at a later stage, it is the product that matters most as a lot of things might influence the outcome and lead to failure in this ever-changing market.What’s the most difficult thing about investing in crypto companies and products? What kind of risks are involved?The most difficult thing is that there is too much happening every day in the space. I often sleep for only six hours a day, trying to catch up with the innovations happening all over the world. Sometimes we need to slow down a little bit and think rather than act fast.The risk is that we have to realize we are participating in a great experiment in the whole new world. And it’s definitely not risk-resilient. But how do you change the world without experimenting?What is the most promising direction in the industry right now? Why?But we are looking at potentially interesting directions like the arweave ecosystem. We think it is the backbone of Web 3.0, NFT infrastructure and the new paradigm of NFT utility. Other potentially interesting developments include DID, credit lending, community decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), and any type of technology that could bring crypto to mass adoption.What kind of assistance do you provide to the companies you invest in? A compass, toolkit, a supply station. We provide assistance throughout the entire process of product development – from building tokennomics, designing marketing strategy, setting up business development, to recruiting and providing emotional support.Did you ever have an unfortunate experience with projects?For the past two years, so far, so good.What does the future of investment in crypto look like? Do you think it’ll see an inflow of more institutional investment firms?More competition from traditional Web 2.0 giant investors and more small two- or three-men teams that root deep in the ecosystem will take place at the same time.  Disclaimer. Cointelegraph does not endorse any content or product on this page. While we aim at providing you with all important information that we could obtain, readers should do their own research before taking any actions related to the company and carry full responsibility for their decisions, nor can this article be considered as investment advice.

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Crypto firms ignore Africa at their peril as continent set for major adoption

Even though the digital asset market seems to be witnessing a bit of a lull at the moment, the adoption of crypto-centric tech has continued to move forward with a full head of steam globally. Africa, in particular, is a continent where a growing list of mainstream financial entities have continued to make their presence felt, as they have begun to realize that the economic opportunities presented by the region are immense.To put things into perspective, a recent report released by Singapore-based crypto data provider Triple A shows that the North African country of Morocco currently boasts one of the largest crypto populations in the region at nearly 2.5%. The kingdom currently leading many prominent countries in terms of daily Bitcoin (BTC) trades, trailing only behind Saudi Arabia across the entirety of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, an impressive feat, to say the least.What’s even more interesting is that Morocco’s existing legislative framework is largely anti-crypto, with the country’s Foreign Exchange Office giving no indication of softening its stance anytime in the near future. Despite these stringent regulations, people across the region have continued to find means such as peer-to-peer (P2P) and over-the-counter trading through which to make inroads into this rapidly-evolving ecosystem.Crypto firms entering Africa at unprecedented rateEmmanuel Babalola, the Africa director for cryptocurrency exchange Binance, told Cointelegraph that with each passing month, the number of cross-collaborations taking place between local blockchain/crypto firms and various mainstream entities has continued to grow. Babalola said that most forward-looking tech companies are vying to gain exposure within the region, all while trying to help people across the continent embrace and realize the true utility of blockchain. He further pointed out that Binance has recently partnered with the Confederation of African Football (AFCON) to sponsor the TotalEnergies African Cup of Nations tournament, a move which he sees as a small step toward a grander scheme, adding:“The AFCON sponsorship was a very exciting one. Football is the most popular sport in Africa, one that unites the entire continent and so, sponsoring the biggest football tournament in Africa was honestly a no-brainer. It corroborates our mission to take crypto mainstream across the continent.”Staying in line with his company’s ideal of widespread crypto adoption across the African landscape, he also pointed out that Binance recently collaborated with some of the stars participating in this year’s iteration of Big Brother Naija (Nigeria) — the biggest reality show on the continent — to help bring crypto education to a wider mainstream audience. “We are [even] sponsoring Nigerian Idol — the Nigerian version of a popular singing contest,” he added.Lastly, Babalola noted that in recent months, many unprecedented happenings have taken place across the global crypto ecosystem such as countries like El Salvador adopting Bitcoin as legal tender — something he believes was totally unfathomable just a few years ago — and thus it would not be surprising to see African nations follow suit:“I think this is only the beginning of things to come. In general, as institutional interest in cryptocurrencies continues to rise, more mainstream entities making their way into the region is inevitable.”Crypto can help redefine business across AfricaWhen asked about the continued growth of crypto across Africa, especially within the northern part of the continent, Adedayo Adebajo, Africa director for Jelurida, a blockchain software company that develops and maintains the Nxt and Ardor blockchains, told Cointelegraph that a vast majority of African countries like to consider themselves as one bloc, rather than being divided into regional categories.In this regard, he noted that one aspect that has united most people living in Africa is their lack of tangible business opportunities, as well as a clear lack of access to high-quality banking alternatives that they can use to send and receive funds from across the globe. Adebajo added:“African nations believed they were left out of the first three industrial revolutions. The 4IR (fourth industrial revolution) technology including blockchain and cryptocurrency has, for the first time in history, provided them with an opportunity to participate in making history. Most governments in the continent are now open to capacity building and localizing solution developments, among others. To do so, their doors remain wide open to foreign offers that will get them closer to their aim.”When asked about the challenges that may arise as a result of most nations in the continent (especially those located across North Africa) adhering to an Islamic way of life, Adebajo noted that the key issue preventing crypto-based banking services from reaching the masses is not religion but a clear lack of understanding of what the technology brings to the table. “As Muslims, we have learned from quotable religious scholars that we are not excluded from using crypto or participating in its offerings, although this stance may perhaps remain debatable,” he added.Related: Indonesia’s national Islamic council reportedly declares Bitcoin haramBlockchain-based banking solutionAfrica’s vast geographic size compounded by the presence of many small economies across the continent has led to many nations struggling with systematic infrastructure development, especially when it comes to financial services, something that has resulted in 57% of the continent’s population remaining unbanked. RJ Katunda, co-founder of African project World Mobile, a Cardano-based mobile network, told Cointelegraph that over the years, Africans have gradually become accustomed to using innovative payment systems such as Kenya’s M-Pesa.However, he pointed out that there are now newer blockchain-based alternatives beginning to emerge, setting the context for crypto and digital currencies that offer a more convenient and direct P2P channel for remittance payments, international commerce and savings. He added:“With many economies growing rapidly, crypto and blockchain-based projects will continue to enter Africa, where their proposition is relevant and where they can form partnerships with local entities. While many individuals use cryptocurrency in Africa, legislation in many countries lags. As in other jurisdictions, cryptocurrencies don’t fit within current regulatory frameworks.”In essence, Katunda believes that the core issue preventing widespread adoption of crypto-tech (especially from a financial standpoint) across the region is a lack of perceived central control from many governments, which creates difficulties for authorities to oversee and mitigate bad practices. “However, many governments have announced that they are working on regulatory frameworks to emerge in the near future,” he closed out by saying.Africa cannot be ignored any longerAkin Jones, a partner at Gluwa Capital, an Africa-based investment fund focused exclusively on fintech lenders using blockchain technology, told Cointelegraph that Africa’s growing population and adoption of cryptocurrency mean that companies ignoring the continent are either not serious about the technology in the long term or have failed to realize the massive financial proposition currently in front of them.In Jones’ view, Bitcoin could very well become legal tender across many African nations since most of these countries already find it quite hard to trade with each other because of constant currency fluctuations. Talking about North Africa in particular, he further opined that since the region serves as a bridge between Europe and sub-Saharan Africa, it would make a lot of sense for fintech firms to consider making inroads there, adding:“Identity management, land ownership and insurance are three key areas that could be improved on across North Africa which could help change the perception in the region. CBDCs [central bank digital currencies] could also help ease the acceptance of cryptocurrency in this regard.”Thus, it will be interesting to see how things shape out for the continent from here on out, especially since many of the nations within the region are known to suffer from an extremely high level of red tape. With many governments fast realizing the potential that crypto and blockchain possess, however, it would not be surprising to see countries making way for more foreign investment from established firms operating within this rapidly maturing sector.

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Orange-pilled by Michael Saylor, NorthmanTrader CEO now a Bitcoin supporter

There is still room for humility and humor amidst a gloomy January for Bitcoin (BTC). A former outspoken Bitcoin critic has flipped bullish on Bitcoin after conversations with Michael Saylor, CEO of Microstrategy.What’s more, Sven Henrich, the CEO of market analysis firm NorthManTrader, made light of his change of heart retweeting a jibe from Twitter account Documenting Bitcoin.Excellent https://t.co/tAIwLWJfKv— Sven Henrich (@NorthmanTrader) January 24, 2022Despite his previous comments that Bitcoin “fixes nothing”, Henrich has followed the crypto markets for three years. He tweeted regularly about Bitcoin price action, offering market analysis as reported by Cointelegraph. However, he had no intentions of buying. In 2022, he is now a “supporter of Bitcoin.” That means an “exposure into Bitcoin this coming year;” pro-Bitcoin articles such as the detailed and well-researched piece entitled (R)evolution, and even laser eyes on his Twitter profile picture. But how did that happen? How do staunch anti-Bitcoin critics cross the void and commit to supporting Satoshi Nakomoto’s innovation? It appears to have kicked off when one of the biggest Bitcoin bulls, Michael Saylor, gave his two sats during a Twitter conversation between the pair. In July 2021, Saylor extended an olive branch to the CEO, demonstrating to Henrich that he should investigate BTC in more depth.Shortly after, they hosted a Youtube discussion in which Saylor does his best to orange pill the trader and investment pundit. Fast-forward seven months and Henrich is writing detailed pieces evaluating the “alternative to an imposed monetary system,” coming to the conclusion that “Bitcoin is such an alternative.”Henrich explains his current allegiance: “So to fans of Bitcoin I say this: One of you. To those that are not: Don’t hate, appreciate ;-). That’s what makes a market.”The article called “(R)evolution, why I am becoming a supporter of #Bitcoin” explains the macroeconomic backdrop, musings around regulation and the asset bubble. It is now pinned to the top of Henrich’s Twitter account. Related: JPMorgan CEO says Bitcoin price could rise 10x but still won’t buy itSaylor and Henrich recorded another in-depth discussion together on January 19th called “warming to Bitcoin,” in which Henrich affirmed that he is “looking to buy.” During the chat, Saylor urged Sven and viewers to invest more time in studying BTC. While we’ll have to wait for his announcement of his BTC purchase, it’s another win for Saylor. Undeterred by recent price action as he sets out to orange-pill the world, Saylor says, “we are going to convince everybody.”

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Green shoots? Institutional crypto funds see first inflows in 5 weeks

After five weeks of constant outflows, institutional investment is finally trickling back into crypto funds with BTC the asset of choice and ETH falling out of favor.In its weekly Digital Asset Fund Flows report published on Jan. 24, crypto investment firm CoinShares observed inflows for some institutional products.It is the first time in five weeks that there has been a net positive inflow as $14.4 million re-entered the space with investors buying the dip.The researchers reported that these inflows came during a period of significant price weakness, adding that this suggests investors “are seeing this as a buying opportunity” at current price levels. Capital continued to flow out from CoinShares own BTC fund, however, 21Shares and ProShares registered minor gains. Most of the inflows were for Bitcoin which had $13.8 million for the week. Ethereum was the biggest loser over the period with an outflow of $15.6 million, but the multi-asset products made up the balance resulting in a net overall inflow.CoinShares observed that the current seven-week run of ETH outflows now total $245 million “highlighting much of the recent bearishness amongst investors has been focused on Ethereum rather than Bitcoin.”Analyst Willy Woo also suggested it was early signs that institutional funds are starting to return:Early signs that institutional money is starting to come back in. pic.twitter.com/4P7d3Fmq4I— Willy Woo (@woonomic) January 24, 2022However, the total assets under management for the funds included in the report was $51 billion, its lowest level since early August 2021. The AUM has been depressed due to the falling value of the underlying assets over the past couple of months. There was no change in the world’s largest fund, Grayscale, which has $30.6 billion in AUM according to its latest update on Jan. 25, however, the fund was trading at a record discount of around 30%. Related: Bearish sentiment may soon abate according to Coinshares and Bitcoin metricsAnalysts and traders were looking for entry points following Bitcoin’s bounce and reclamation of $36K as reported by Cointelegraph.The asset plunged to a six-month low of $33K during late Monday trading according to Tradingview but has since recovered solidly with a 10% return to $36,276 at the time of writing. Should spot market momentum continue in this direction, weekly institutional inflows are likely to follow.

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House members call for an end to lawmakers trading stocks — is crypto next?

Congresspeople currently HODLing or actively trading in crypto may have to stop doing so while in office if recent pushes to ban lawmakers from investing in stocks gain enough support.In a Monday letter addressed to Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, 27 members of the U.S. House of Representatives called for action “to prohibit members of Congress from owning or trading stocks.” Among the bipartisan group of lawmakers who signed onto the letter was Illinois congressperson Bill Foster, who is also a member of the Congressional Blockchain Caucus. In addition, the letter seems to have support from politicians diametrically opposed on major issues like Progressive Democrat Rashida Tlaib and Republican Matt Gaetz, who is reportedly under investigation by the Justice Department for allegedly violating sex trafficking laws and obstruction of justice.Members of Congress are currently allowed to buy, sell and trade stocks and other investments while in office, but are also bound to disclose such moves by the Stop Trading on Congressional Knowledge Act, or STOCK Act, passed in 2012. This piece of legislation requires lawmakers to report any purchase, sale or exchange over $1,000 within 30 to 45 days but provides minimal financial and legal consequences for not filing in time. The Monday letter noted that the STOCK Act “had been violated hundreds of times just since 2020.” “It’s clear the current rules are not working,” said the letter to Pelosi and McCarthy. “Congress should close these loopholes by simply banning members from owning or trading individual stocks while in office. In addition to ensuring that members’ access to information doesn’t advantage them over the public when trading stocks, as the STOCK Act sought, this would end the potential corruption of lawmakers pursuing policy outcomes that benefit their portfolios.”The House members added:“There is no reason that members of Congress need to be allowed to trade stocks when we should be focused on doing our jobs and serving our constituents. Perhaps this means some of our colleagues will miss out on lucrative investment opportunities. We don’t care. We came to Congress to serve our country, not turn a quick buck.”Senators Jon Ossoff and Mark Kelly proposed a similar piece of legislation for the U.S. Senate on Jan. 12. Ossoff referenced a survey from the advocacy group Convention of States Action, which found that roughly 76% of voters said that lawmakers and their spouses had an “unfair advantage and should not be allowed to trade stocks while serving in Congress.”Speaker Pelosi does not seem to have responded to the letter from House members. However, when questioned about a possible ban on lawmakers being allowed to trade stocks in December, she said “we’re a free-market economy — they should be able to participate in that.”Democratic lawmaker Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez — whose name did not appear on the letter to Speaker Pelosi and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — said in December she believed members should neither hold nor trade individual stocks, hinting that to do so would allow them to “remain impartial about policy making.” She added that she extended this belief to holding digital assets and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC). Related: House memo details Congress’ priorities ahead of crypto CEO hearingCointelegraph reported last Tuesday that seven members of Congress from both the Senate and House had declared investments in crypto during their time in office. Among lawmakers with the highest reported exposure were New Jersey Representative Jefferson Van Drew and Wyoming Senator Cynthia Lummis, who disclosed a 2020 investment of $250,000 in a trust operated by Grayscale, and a 2021 BTC purchase of up to $100,000, respectively.Cointelegraph reached out to Representative Bill Foster for comment, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

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NFT marketplace bug undervalues tokens, helps exploiter nab $750,000

A bug in the front end of popular nonfungible token (NFT) marketplace OpenSea has reportedly led to an exploit allowing users to buy popular NFTs at their previous listing price.The bug seems to be prevalent with Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) NFT collectibles, where the exploiter managed to buy them at their old listing price and then sold them for the current market price. The affected NFTs include BAYC #9991, BAYC #8924, MAYC #4986.Opensea User Activity Tab Source: OpenSeaA user named jpegdegenlove is suspected of exploiting the current bug and has reportedly profited 332 Ether (ETH) ($754,000). OpenSea didn’t immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.Reported exploiter Ether wallet balance Source: EtherscanAn earlier exploit on Dec, 31 saw a similar scenario, wherein a bug seems to arise from the transfer of assets from the OpenSea wallet to a different wallet without canceling the listing.Related:  Nifty News: FLUF World and Snoop Dogg fundraise, Adidas and Prada NFTs, WAX gifts 10M NFTsOne Twitter user explained that, when a user lists their collectible for auction on the OpenSea and decides to cancel it for some reason, the marketplace charges a significant fee and the floor price of the collectible also decreases. Users found a way around it and instead of canceling their sale, they transfer their asset to a different wallet which automatically removes the listing from OpenSea, However, the bug keeps the listing active through OpenSea’s API. 1/ Recently there’s been an @opensea exploit that has allowed for assets to be purchased at greatly discounted prices, including 3 freshdrops passes, a BAYC https://t.co/8pEgeXkOBo, multiple MAYCs, and more. I did some research this morning and here’s what’s happening – > a — cap10bad.ΞTH | freshdrops.io (@cap10bad) December 31, 2021Users can check whether their listing has been removed on Rarible, another NFT marketplace that uses OpenSea’s API. The user claimed that the bug was flagged after the December incident, but the platform didn’t take any measures to address the issue.NFTs exploded in popularity in 2021 with major brands and celebrities all hopping on the bandwagon, which has attracted an increasing number of scams. 

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