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Crypto News: London Shines, Hackers Strike, Governments Take Notice and Bitcoin's on the Rise

Photograph of Big Ben with a creative blue and green filter effect
  • London Takes the Crown: Emerges as the World's Most Crypto-Friendly City for Business

  • YouTuber Baits MMA Fighter into promoting Fake NFTs for $1K

  • Washington Worries: The White House Expresses Concern About Crypto

  • Bitcoin Battles On: Trader Claims BTC 'Identical' to 2020 Breakout

London Shines as the Crypto Capital of the World

London has been named the world's most "crypto-ready" city for businesses and start-ups in a recent study that looked at several key factors, including the number of crypto-specific events, crypto-related jobs, crypto-specific companies, and the number of crypto ATMs. London was followed by cities such as New York and Dubai, while Hong Kong, which was named the most crypto-ready city in 2022, fell to seventh place. The study also found that London had the highest number of people working in crypto-related jobs, but other cities outperformed London in some metrics.


New Jersey Slams"Pig Butcher"Scammers

The New Jersey Bureau of Securities has issued cease and desist orders to three companies, Meta Capitals Limited, Cresttrademining Limited and Forex Market Trade, for operating fraudulent cryptocurrency investment schemes. The companies would reach out to romance seekers on dating apps like Tinder and lure them into copying the trades of their “expert traders”. The scam is known as "pig butchering". The companies were found to have violated New Jersey securities laws by offering and selling unregistered securities, with Meta Capitals and Cresttrademining also operating as unregistered broker-dealers. The FBI reported 4,300 victims losing $429 million in 2021 from such scams. The UK Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that half of the 168 forex companies it considered fraudulent were involved in pig butcher scams.


YouTuber Tricks MMA Fighter into Shilling Fake Crypto

YouTuber, Coffeezilla, has revealed that he tricked MMA fighter Dillon Danis into promoting a fake NFT project whilst also not disclosing that he was paid $1,000 for the advertisement. The website promoting the NFT project, called SourzNFT, was newly created on February 1, 2023 and mentions that no investors can actually get hold of the NFTs. A similar incident involving Kim Kardashian was flagged in 2021 by the US SEC for failing to disclose payment received for promoting a crypto token. Coffeezilla has reminded influencers and investors to do their own research before promoting or investing in a project.


StarkWare to go Open Source with Ethereum Scaling System

StarkWare, a blockchain scaling company valued at $8 billion, plans to open-source its core cryptographic software tool. The Israel-based company aims to tackle scalability issues in Ethereum, which cause slow performance and high transaction fees. StarkWare will open-source its STARK Prover technology that powers the StarkEx scaling engine and StarkNet. The open-sourcing will take time to implement but will make the entire tech stack transparent for developers. The move is part of the increased profile of crypto infrastructure projects after the collapse of centralized crypto exchange FTX. Infrastructure remained relatively strong and was the highest-earning vertical in January despite a 91% YoY drop in investments in crypto companies.


Bank of England and Treasury Backs Central Bank Digital Currency

Image of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) concept represented on a motherboard.

The Bank of England and the UK Treasury are expected to support the development of a British central bank digital currency, also known as "Britcoin" or "digital pound." This came after a 21-month research and consultation process by the joint task force between the Bank of England and the UK Treasury. It is believed that a "digital pound" will be necessary in the future, with a roadmap expected to be rolled out next week to introduce the currency to the UK economy by 2030. However, there are concerns over the phasing out of physical currency and the potential for state surveillance of spending choices. The Bank of England has reassured the public that the "digital pound" will be used alongside cash, and privacy is expected to be maintained except in legal circumstances that require access to transaction history.


BNB Hacker Becomes the Fourth Largest Holder of rETH

A Binance hacker is now the fourth-largest holder of Rocket Pool's rETH, according to blockchain security firm PeckShield. The address connected to the Binance bridge hacker moved $74 million worth of crypto to 0x5313, including 43,228 stETH and 1,679 Rocket Pool's rETH. The hacker took advantage of a bridge vulnerability to steal 2 million BNB tokens in October 2022 and has been using decentralized protocols to move assets since. The transfers appear to be part of a strategy to obfuscate transactions or minimize losses after a liquidation on an AVAX position.


A16z Object to Proposal to Deploy Uniswap on BNB Chain

A proposal has been made to deploy the latest version of Uniswap, a decentralized exchange, on the Binance Coin (BNB) Chain. A vote is being held by the Uniswap DAO to decide if the proposal should go ahead. Two big investment firms, Andreessen Horowitz and Jump Crypto, have a stake in the outcome as they have invested in different projects that compete with each other. Andreessen Horowitz backs LayerZero, while Jump is invested in Wormhole. The vote will end on February 10th. The debate about the proposal is partly about security, but it is also influenced by the fact that the two investment firms will vote in favor of their own portfolio companies.


The White House Is Concerned About Crypto

White House with american flag

The White House recently published a "roadmap to mitigate cryptocurrencies' risks" which highlights the challenges faced by the cryptocurrency industry in 2022, including the collapse of Luna and FTX. The statement is part of Team Biden's ongoing efforts to close regulatory gaps within the crypto ecosystem. The White House is hopeful that Congress will take strong action to regulate cryptocurrencies and is also pushing forward on the administrative front by implementing the executive order's recommendations and encouraging regulators to crack down on bad practices. The statement emphasizes the need for safeguards in the crypto ecosystem to protect consumers and support financial stability.


North Korean Hackers Stole $1.7b in Crypto Heists over 2022

North Korean-backed hackers stole $1.7 billion in cryptocurrency in 2022, according to blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis. This is a significant increase from the $429 million stolen in 2021 and makes up 44% of the $3.8 billion stolen in crypto hacks last year. The country, facing heavy sanctions, is believed to be using the stolen funds to fund its nuclear arsenal. The hackers typically launder the stolen crypto through mixers and brokers in China, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Decentralized finance protocols, or DeFi, accounted for over 82% of the cryptocurrency stolen in 2022, and are attractive to hackers due to the transparency of smart contract codes governing the protocols.


India and G-20 Collaborate with IMF for Crypto Regulation

India, as the current president of the G-20, has officially revealed details on their ongoing work on regulation of cryptocurrencies. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is working on a paper in collaboration with India that will focus on monetary policy and the policy approach to crypto assets. The IMF is also preparing a 135-minute seminar on crypto assets for a G-20 meeting later this month. India's Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has stated that regulating crypto assets will be a priority and is seeking a global standard operating procedure for regulation. India's previous draft bill for crypto regulation has been put on hold as the government is seeking a global consensus. The plan for India is to take the progress of the IMF paper from consensus at the G-20 to the Financial Stability Board's crypto assets working group, and then to involve all countries in accepting the policy as cryptocurrencies are a tradable asset class across borders.


Filecoin Creator Cuts Jobs in Crypto Winter

Juan Benet, Founder and CEO of Protocol Labs, delivering a speech at a Filecoin event.

Protocol Labs, the creator of the blockchain network Filecoin, announced layoffs of 21% of its staff due to the "extremely challenging economic downturn" in the crypto industry. This comes amid other crypto industry businesses, such as and Gemini, that have also had to cut staff. Despite a 65.7% increase in its native cryptocurrency FIL, it is still down 97% from its all-time high reached in 2021. The CEO, Juan Benet, cited the worsening "crypto winter" as the cause for the layoffs.


Russia Boosts Its Crypto Mining Power

The total capacity of crypto mining facilities in Russia has increased in the past year, according to a survey of leading operators. The capacity of Russian mining farms has reached 500 megawatts, with Bitriver being the largest operator with eight sites and a combined rating of 300 MW. The country has certain advantages as a mining destination, such as abundant energy resources and cool climate, however, the ongoing conflict with the West and sanctions have affected the industry. Profitability of the mining business may decrease if the government introduces special electricity tariffs and taxes for coin minting enterprises. The bill to regulate mining in Russia was submitted in November but is yet to be adopted.


Bitcoin Holds Steady at $23.5K as Trader Calls it a Breakout Repeat of 2020

Bitcoin price is currently holding a narrow range around $23.5K in out-of-hours trading, with data showing it has been conjuring memories of its 2020 rally. The longer-term outlook is mixed, with some traders lacking confidence in the current rally continuing, while others see similarities to the late 2020 price action. The US dollar is a concern for some, who are ringing alarm bells over its potential impact on risk assets, while others see the relative strength index (RSI) as a cue for a potential dip before a continuation of the bullish trend. The overall consensus, as revealed in a Twitter survey, is that a dip should come for BTC/USD.

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