Tag: Crypto

Kim Kardashian Fined For Undisclosed Paid Promotion Of Cryptocurrency

Photo 188928358 © Hutchinsphoto | Dreamstime.com


In a strange turn of events in the cryptocurrency industry, Kim Kardashian has been officially sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for promoting EthereumMax without disclosing that it was an advertisement. 
The fine she incurred was a whopping US$1.26 million, an amount drawn from not disclosing that she was initially paid US$250,000 for advertising for the market. The total includes a US$1 million penalty and a US$260,000 disgorgement to represent her promotional payment and prejudgement of interests by profiting from the terms set by EthereumMax. 
When presented with the penalty, Kardashian acquiesced to pay it in full without agreeing or denying the claims made against her. In addition, she has promised not to promote any cryptocurrency for the next three years.
In 2017, the SEC warned that celebrities who do not state they are being paid to advertise for a brand could be considered unlawful. 
Kardashian had previously posted on her Instagram stories in 2021 touting that a friend had directed her to EthereumMax and that she had profited from investing in it. The SEC had warned people of the issue of following along with a post from a celebrity claiming they had made money off of investing in cryptocurrency. 
Kardashian has a reach of 200 million followers on Instagram, many of whom are impressionable young fans. While she might make a quick buck from the post, her directing them to invest could cause many people to lose money, especially as the cryptocurrency winter rages on. 
In fact, she did manage to convince a considerable number of people at that time. According to Ars Technica, one in five adults had seen her post. In addition, a poll showed that 19% of people had invested in the company. 
Unfortunately, Kardashian was just one of many celebrities at the time that engaged in promotion for different cryptocurrency offers. 
[via Ars Technica and BBC, cover image via Photo 188928358 © Hutchinsphoto | Dreamstime.com]


Ethereum Concludes Move To Shave Carbon Emissions By A Dramatic ‘99%’

Image ID 121267724 © via Alekseyrezin | Dreamstime.com


While cryptocurrency has certainly caught on in the mainstream, environmental activists haven’t been too pleased about its rising popularity. Bitcoin, the largest virtual currency, creates an estimated 40 billion pounds of carbon emissions annually in the United States alone. 

However, the tide could soon change as Ethereum, the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, has recently completed a plan that will see its greenhouse gases reduced by a whopping 99%, setting a new standard for the industry. 

Dubbed ‘the merge’, the software upgrade will tweak how transactions are performed on the blockchain.


According to The Guardian, this means Ethereum will no longer be generated via “mining,” a term used to refer to the thousands of computers depended on to generate new tokens and validate deals.  


And we finalized!

Happy merge all. This is a big moment for the Ethereum ecosystem. Everyone who helped make the merge happen should feel very proud today.

— vitalik.eth (@VitalikButerin) September 15, 2022

The new process, which is referred to as “proof of work” or “proof of stake,” will see individuals and companies using the cryptocurrency act as validators, pledging their own currency to guarantee newly-created tokens. 

The Crypto Carbon Ratings Institute notes that Ethereum’s electricity consumption has reduced from 23 million megawatt-hours per year to just 2,600 megawatt-hours, decreasing carbon dioxide emissions from 11 million tons to 870 tons annually—or the equivalent of the energy used by a hundred homes. 

“This is a big moment for the Ethereum ecosystem. Everyone who helped make the merge happen should feel very proud today,” tweeted Vitalik Buterin, founder of the cryptocurrency. 

Will Bitcoin and other popular names follow suit in making their cryptocurrencies more eco-friendly? If virtual tokens are here to stay, we certainly hope so. 




[via The Guardian and Consensys, cover image via Alekseyrezin | Dreamstime.com]


Runaway Turkish Crypto Boss Slapped With 40,000-Year Jail Sentence For Theft

Photo 164892566 © Spaxia | Dreamstime.com


A Turkish CEO who incited a worldwide manhunt after defrauding clients and creating his own criminal organization has finally been apprehended in Albania. 


Fatih Ozer was the founder of the cryptocurrency firm, Thodex. The company was founded in 2017 and quickly garnered a clientele of 700,000 users. Before the crypto crash, e-currency was a way to safeguard against inflation.


Thodex eventually hit a wall with liquidity problems and was not able to pay people back the money they were demanding.


Ozer has been accused of tricking users into purchasing a new crypto coin before running off with US$2 billion stolen from over 400,000 users. For the last year, he has been on the run, evading authorities at every turn. He was caught after immigration in Albania confirmed his identity through biometric facial recognition.


While a criminal story of fraud may not seem like anything new, Ozer’s case takes an interesting twist as Turkish authorities are potentially about to serve up a 40,564-year-long sentence for each of the 21 individuals involved in the case. 


A statement from the Interior Ministry states that the extradition of Ozer has already begun. However, it’s unclear if such a ridiculously long sentence will actually be given.




[via Futurism and Bloomberg, Photo 164892566 © Spaxia | Dreamstime.com


Robot Dogs Are Being Tasked To Hunt For Lost $175M Of Bitcoin In Wastelands

Photo 252546755 © Nguyen Quang | Dreamstime.com


After a man tragically threw away a hard drive containing 8,000 bitcoins in 2013, he conjured up a master plan to rescue the hard drive and claim his money.


According to an interview with Insider, James Howells made the unfortunate mistake of throwing away his bitcoins before the currency had its boom, and he is now willing to pay US$11 million to hire robot dogs to scour the wastelands of Newport, Wales, trash piles to retrieve them for him.


The estimated amount of his Bitcoin-farming has totaled about US$175 million. Needless to say, US$11 million is a small price to pay to retrieve what he has lost. But, with the way cryptocurrency fluctuates, that amount is set to change when—or if—he reclaims his hard drive.


The robot dogs he intends to hire come from Boston Dynamics. The dogs, called ‘Spot’, will be used as CCTV cameras to search through the grounds. The decision to hire two of the bots was so that one could search while the other charges.


Currently, it is thought that the hard drive is buried under 110,000 pounds of trash. The robots will be sent to dig through it and the footage will be sifted by humans and AI that has been taught to look into hard drives. 


Howells estimates the project will take three years to complete. 


Designed for industrial contexts, Spot was made commercial by the engineering and robotics company in June 2020 and has a retail price of US$74,500. The four-legged robots have been used for construction projects, to protect heritage sites, create art, and even patrol parks to ensure social distancing during the pandemic.


However, they now have a totally new job as treasure hunters.


Though, it seems like Howells won’t be the only benefactor from the money. He is looking at keeping 30% of the bitcoin for himself, giving 30% to the people who helped him and US$60 in crypto to each citizen of Newport. 


Insider also reports that Howells has been consistently rejected by the council to allow him access to the landfills. A council spokesperson tells the news outlet that the project poses an “ecological risk” and that there is nothing he can say that will convince them.


Still, Howells is trudging on in his fight and tells the publication he is meeting with his local member of Parliament to discuss the matter further.


Although, if you let sleeping dogs lie it could result in a US$175 million reward. 




[via Insider and New York Post, Photo 252546755 © Nguyen Quang | Dreamstime.com]


Feds Charge Three People In First-Ever Cryptocurrency Insider Trading Case

Image ID 251495629 © via Manassanant Pamai | Dreamstime.com


Welp, it’s happened. United States prosecutors have officially charged three individuals with wire fraud in the country’s first-ever cryptocurrency insider trading case. 

One of the accused, a former product manager at Coinbase Global, had allegedly worked with his brother and friend to share confidential information about forthcoming cryptocurrency launches, using Ethereum wallets to buy and sell at least 25 assets for a profit of US$1.5 million. 

According to Reuters, while he claimed to be “innocent of all wrongdoing,” the main culprit had attempted to flee to India after a security director at the cryptocurrency exchange had summoned him for a meeting, though officials eventually barred from boarding the flight.

While charges have been filed, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) noted that the investigation was still ongoing, and has yet to decide if Coinbase will face action for listing the tokens that were deemed as securities. 

“Today’s charges are a further reminder than Web3 is not a law-free zone. Just last month, I announced the first-ever insider trading case involving NFTs, and today I announce the first-ever insider trading case involving cryptocurrency markets,” said US Attorney Damian Williams.

“Our message with these charges is clear: fraud is fraud is fraud, whether it occurs on the blockchain or on Wall Street. And the Southern District of New York will continue to be relentless in bringing fraudsters to justice, wherever we may find them.”




[via Reuters and United States Department of Justice, cover image via Manassanant Pamai | Dreamstime.com]


Elon Musk Deepfake Videos Scam People Into Handing Over Crypto

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Image via Steve Jurvetson / Flickr, cropped (CC BY 2.0)


Tesla CEO Elon Musk is the poster boy of a series of YouTube videos conning viewers into giving up their cryptocurrency. All this, of course, is done without his consent or knowledge.

The BBC reports that a cybercriminal ring has been hacking YouTube channels to upload deepfaked videos of “Musk” hyping up non-existent cryptocurrency giveaways. In the clips, he is portrayed to be encouraging victims to send Bitcoin or Ethereum to a digital-wallet address; in turn, they are promised that their contributions will be doubled.


It is believed that the scammers infiltrated the accounts by purchasing email-and-password combinations previously leaked in data breaches, or attempted to get into them by entering common passwords (this is why you must change your password).



Then, the culprits changed the names and profile pictures of the affected accounts to feign the identity of official Tesla channels.

According to the BBC, a look at a wallet transaction history revealed that the criminals made USS$243,000 in a little over a week. It also cites a report from blockchain tracker Whale Alert which says the group has made US$30 million thus far in 2022.

After learning of the misleading videos, Musk simply put YouTube’s moderation policy into question with a meme:



— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) June 7, 2022

The video-sharing platform tells the news outlet that at least one of the channels has been taken down, and that it upholds “strict Community Guidelines prohibiting scams, including Impersonation and hacking.”




[via PetaPixel and BBC, cover image via Steve Jurvetson / Flickr, cropped (CC BY 2.0)]


Balenciaga Joins Fellow High-Fashion Brands In Accepting Cryptocurrency

Image ID 246100365 © via Tang90246 | Dreamstime.com


Having surprised fans with an unexpected Adidas collaboration at its latest fashion show, Balenciaga is now following in the footsteps of other luxury brands in accepting payment in the form of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Just this month, Gucci had announced it would begin accepting cryptocurrencies at select stores in America, with Off-White making a similar decision a month earlier.

Now, Balenciaga is set to follow suit, starting with its flagship stores in the nation, including one on Madison Avenue in New York and Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. 

According to WWD, the fashion house said that the alternative payment method will soon come to other regions in the world and its e-commerce platform, though it’s still selecting a payment solutions partner to team up with. 

Despite the recent fluctuations in the value of many cryptocurrencies, the brand doesn’t seem too phased, saying that the ups and downs “are nothing new,” and that it was taking a long-term approach to the virtual assets. 




[via WWD and Nasdaq, cover image via Tang90246 | Dreamstime.com]


El Salvador Visualizes Its Bitcoin City On A Volcano That Mines Crypto


Image via FR-EE


When you think of El Salvador, it’s probably not its sandy beaches that spring to mind. Nor might it be its busy nightlife.


Nay; if you’ve been in the loop, you might be thinking of the Bitcoin. The Central American country is the first nation to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender. It even plans to build a whole city dedicated to the Bitcoin, in which volcanoes will power cheap and renewable cryptocurrency mining. Dozens of volcanoes call El Salvador their home—so its government thought, why not give them something constructive to do?


On May 9, the country’s president Nayib Bukele unveiled scale models of the Bitcoin City being designed by architecture firm FR-EE and its founder Fernando Romero. The planned metropolis will lean on the Conchagua volcano along the Gulf of Fonseca.


#Bitcoin City is coming along beautifully ❤️ pic.twitter.com/A6ay8aAREW

— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) May 9, 2022


The city will be shaped like a coin, alluding to the cryptocurrency, as well as house a volcano-fueled geothermal power plant to mine Bitcoin.


Bukele additionally previewed visualizations of abstract landmarks and an airport which will form some of the city’s infrastructure. At its heart is a plaza depicting the Bitcoin symbol.


Landmarks and all… pic.twitter.com/PefwGp8yC6

— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) May 9, 2022


And the airport 🥺 pic.twitter.com/FDXXS5o8bL

— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) May 9, 2022


Though, it’s worth noting that Midas’ touch won’t help design the city. Instead of it being gold-plated as portrayed in the concepts, Bukele emphasized that Bitcoin City will be veiled in the colors of green and blue from an abundance of trees and the surrounding sea.


And no, the city won’t be made up of golden metal; that is just the architect’s choice of color for the scale model.

The actual city will be mostly green (trees) and blue (sea) 🤩

Some of the views: pic.twitter.com/oKeg9K408j

— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) May 10, 2022


Trees everywhere 😍 pic.twitter.com/kVUDHx2DlC

— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) May 10, 2022


Bitcoin City is being envisioned as a full-fledged city with residential and commercial facilities, and its own transportation network—which means citizens and visitors will feel the full force of a metropolis under their feet. Luckily, they’ll be able to climb up to a levitating vantage point at the peak of the volcano and absorb gorgeous views of green and blue.


With a beautiful lookout in the volcano 🥺 pic.twitter.com/mlkQ19k5AH

— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) May 10, 2022


The proposed city is being funded by a US$1 billion Bitcoin bond, half of which will finance its infrastructure. The remainder will be set aside to purchase more Bitcoin.


#Bitcoin City at night. pic.twitter.com/n6RXn9BkU0

— Nayib Bukele (@nayibbukele) May 10, 2022




[via Dezeen and El Pais, images via various sources]


Gucci Will Start Accepting Cryptocurrencies As Payment In The US

Image ID 239144431 © via Sergiomonti | Dreamstime.com


As luxury brands continue to embrace the advent of cryptocurrencies and the metaverse, Gucci has announced it will now be accepting alternative payment methods at select stores in America.

While it may be one of the first big names to allow customers to purchase products using virtual assets, following Off-White’s announcement last month, it’s certainly not a stranger to the metaverse scene, having opened ‘Vault’, a concept store selling branded non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in an “experimental online space.” 

According to the BBC, the brand’s flagship outlets, including those at Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles and Wooster Street in New York, will be among the first trial locations for the new cryptocurrency payments. 

Intriguingly, the brand won’t just be accepting mainstream Bitcoins or Ethereum, but will even take payments in “meme” cryptocurrency Dogecoin, which was initially created as a joke but has become a popular contender in the digital space. 

As Vogue Business notes, customers paying in cryptocurrency will be asked to scan a QR code that will allow them to allocate funds from their digital wallets, and if they make returns, will be fully refunded in cryptocurrency instead of fiat cash. 

If all goes well, the brand has plans to expand its policy to all stores in North America in the near future, so everyone can snag the most sought-after looks with their cryptocurrency of choice.




[via BBC and Vogue Business, cover image via Sergiomonti | Dreamstime.com]


Binance Rolls Out Accidental Swastika-Like Emoji—On Hitler’s Birthday, No Less

Photo 143981706 © Mikhail Primakov | Dreamstime.com


Some stories just can’t be made up. Binance, the largest cryptocurrency exchange in the world, had Twitter users do a double-take when it debuted an emoji resembling a swastika.


The symbol surfaced in the form of a ‘hashflag’, an emoji that appears next to a relevant hashtag. Soon after announcing the icon on the social network, though, users expressed their distaste for the familiar design.


The new Binance emoji is a literal swastika pic.twitter.com/lCOuWuPnyF

— mann0000.eth 🦇🔊 (@nftshare) April 20, 2022


It didn’t help that 20 April, the date that the emoji emerged, was the 133rd birthday of German dictator Adolf Hitler.


perfect day to drop the new swastika emoji, #binance !! pic.twitter.com/ex0G1Tfo1O

— spirits (@0xSpirits) April 20, 2022


“Out of 10, I give the new Binance logo a nein,” tweeted one crypto trader.


Fortune notes, though, that the meaning of the swastika greatly varies across cultures. In the Western world, it could be associated with Nazism, but Asian religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism look up to it as a symbol of prosperity and good luck.


Binance was founded in Hong Kong, where sensitivities with the mark may not be as apparent.


Following criticism, the company promptly took down the emoji and replaced it with a more rounded version.


“That was obviously really embarrassing,” tweeted Binance. “We’re not sure how that emoji got through several layers of review without anyone noticing, but we immediately flagged the issue, pulled it down, and the new emoji design is being rolled out as we speak.”


“wE’rE nOt sUrE hOw ThAt EmOjI GoT tHrOuGh SeVeRaL lAyErS oF rEvIeW wItHoUt AnYoNe NoTiCiNg” pic.twitter.com/TA9z80DGyW

— kev (@bitkevcoin) April 20, 2022



[via Fortune and PC Mag, images via various sources]


Elon Musk & Jack Dorsey Team Up To Build Eco-Friendly Bitcoin Mines

Image via David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0) and ID 188100223 © Hutchinsphoto | Dreamstime.com


Though former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Tesla founder Elon Musk may not be working together on the social media network’s edit button, the two technology titans have teamed up for another venture: developing a Bitcoin mine powered by renewable energy. 

The project was revealed by Blockstream co-founder Adam Back, the third party involved, at the recent Bitcoin 2022 conference in Miami. 

According to CNBC, the facility will be powered by Tesla’s 3.8 megawatt polar PV array and its 12 megawatt-hour Megapack, and will function as a proof of concept that the cryptocurrency can be mined in an eco-friendly manner at scale.

With Tesla having paused payments made in Bitcoin due to its environmental risks, it’s likely Musk plans to take a step towards making cryptocurrencies more eco-friendly in order to boost its popularity even further. 

Interestingly, Dorsey and Musk have decided to make the project’s dashboard publicly accessible during the project, allowing the public to keep track of performance metrics, including power output, storage performance, and Bitcoin mined.

Back said that it was an important step to proving to the world that Bitcoin mining could be used to accelerate renewable energy infrastructure, and be part of the economic push for the future. 

If the venture ends up being profitable, he expects more companies to add wind power to the solar generators to build out the entire project, which would fulfill the trio’s end goal of diversifying energy sources for cryptocurrencies. 




[via CNBC and Input, cover image via David Shankbone / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY 3.0) and ID 188100223 © Hutchinsphoto | Dreamstime.com]


Miami Debuts Rivaling Bionic Twin Of Wall Street’s ‘Charging Bull’

Image via TradeStation / PR Newswire


If New York’s Charging Bull is an extension of fiat, the new Miami Bull is cryptocurrency.


On Wednesday, Miami mayor Francis Suarez unveiled the city’s futuristic answer to the Bull of Wall Street at the Bitcoin 2022 conference, where 30,000 visitors are anticipated to attend.

The 11-foot, 3,000-pound Miami Bull stands out from the original with its robotic exterior and Bitcoin laser eyes, signifying Miami taking Wall Street by the horns in the running for the future of finance.







View this post on Instagram












A post shared by SMALL (@smalltheagency)


The sculpture was conceptualized by ironically New York-based creative agency SMALL and designed by  Furio Tedeschi, who has worked on a string of Hollywood blockbusters including the Transformers franchise, alongside entertainment effects firm Onyx Forge Studio and a crew of more than 30 people. Online securities company TradeStation commissioned the piece, which took over half a year to complete. 


“The statue is an artistic and modern interpretation of the Charging Bull that sits near Wall Street, which serves as a symbol of wealth and prosperity,” describes TradeStation. “The Miami Bull seeks to both honor Miami and champion the latest fintech technologies that have emerged around the world, including the emergence of blockchain, cryptocurrency and decentralized finance.”

After vacationing at its current location in the Miami Beach Convention Center, the bull will call Miami Dade College its home, where it will stand as a symbol of the cryptocurrency market.




[via Motherboard and Miami Herald, cover image via TradeStation / PR Newswire]


Ukraine Officially Legalizes Cryptocurrencies, After Over $100M Donations

Image ID 183384995 © via Dušan Zidar | Dreamstime.com


Having received over US$100 million in cryptocurrency donations since the invasion begun, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a bill into law legalizing digital currencies. 

According to Engadget, this means cryptocurrency exchanges will now be allowed to operate within the country, and even open accounts in Ukrainian banks. 

“The signing of this Law by the President is another important step towards bringing the crypto sector out of the shadows and launching a legal market for virtual assets in Ukraine,” said Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation. 

Despite the flooding in of donations, cryptocurrency was still operating in a gray space in Ukraine, with citizens and companies not being allowed to own or trade digital assets in the market. Before the current bill passed, Zelenskyy had rejected an earlier version from September 2021. 

With the new law in place, it’s expected that the country will now set up a legal framework of how cryptocurrency can be used, with the National Bank of Ukraine and the National Commission on Securities and Stock Market having oversight on its proceedings. 




[via Engadget and Coindesk, cover image via Dušan Zidar | Dreamstime.com]


Biden Signs Executive Order Looking Into Cryptocurrency, Digital Assets

Image ID 111116684 © via Marc Bruxelle | Dreamstime.com


This week, President Joe Biden signed an executive order for government regulators to assess the benefits and risks of digital assets, such as cryptocurrencies.

The evaluation could possibly lead to the US forming its own central bank digital currency via the Federal Reserve, which would be controlled by the government. 


According to CNET, the order has directed agencies across different facets of government to come up with recommendations for policies, with regards to how risks affect consumers, investors, and financial markets. 

CNBC reported the measures will see officials focus on addressing six key areas: consumer and investor protection, financial stability, illicit activity, US competitiveness on a global stage, financial inclusion, and responsible innovation.

It’s obvious why protecting consumers and safeguarding against illicit activities would be important, as more scams involving cryptocurrencies have been reported over the past year.

In fact, the Justice Department just seizing US$3.6 billion in stolen bitcoin last month.

“I look forward to collaborating with colleagues across the government to achieve important public policy goals: protecting investors and consumers, guarding against illicit activity, and helping ensure financial stability,” said Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman, Gary Gensler. 




[via CNET and CNBC, cover image via Marc Bruxelle | Dreamstime.com]


Ukraine Receives Over $15 Million In Cryptocurrency Donations Worldwide

Image ID 49507020 © via Denisismagilov | Dreamstime.com


Cryptocurrency experts believe that Ukraine has raised at least US$16.7 million in anonymous Bitcoin donations as the world responds to the country’s invasion by Russia.

Researchers at Elliptic, a blockchain analysis firm, reported that the Ukrainian government, not-for-profit organizations, and volunteer charities have raised the money by advertising their wallet addresses on social media.

“Whereas some crowdfunding and payments companies have refused to allow donations to be made to groups supporting the Ukrainian military, cryptocurrencies have emerged as a powerful alternative,” founder Tom Robinson told the BBC.

For example, organization Come Back Alive had its fundraising efforts halted by Patreon, which said it “does not allow any campaigns involved in violence or purchasing of military equipment,” as per CNBC.

Over 4,000 cryptocurrency donations have been received thus far, with one donor even donating a whopping US$3 million to a non-governmental organization. 

The average donor has given US$95 each—a sizable sum to help the country’s defense efforts.

Ukraine’s official Twitter account chimed in over the weekend, saying it was “now accepting cryptocurrency donations” in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and USDT.


It posted the address to two digital wallets—both raising US$5.4 million in just eight hours. 

Additionally, US$1.86 million was donated via the sale of a non-fungible token that had originally been minted to fund WikiLeaks’ founder, Julian Assange.

In a related matter, Ukrainian Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorov has called on major cryptocurrency exchanges to block the addresses to wallets of Russian users.

“It’s crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians, but also to sabotage ordinary users,” he tweeted.


Stand with the people of Ukraine. Now accepting cryptocurrency donations. Bitcoin, Ethereum and USDT.

BTC – 357a3So9CbsNfBBgFYACGvxxS6tMaDoa1P

ETH and USDT (ERC-20) – 0x165CD37b4C644C2921454429E7F9358d18A45e14

— Ukraine / Україна (@Ukraine) February 26, 2022

I’m asking all major crypto exchanges to block addresses of Russian users.

It’s crucial to freeze not only the addresses linked to Russian and Belarusian politicians, but also to sabotage ordinary users.

— Mykhailo Fedorov (@FedorovMykhailo) February 27, 2022




[via BBC and CNBC, cover image via Denisismagilov | Dreamstime.com]


El Salvador Says Tourism Went Up Since Bitcoin Inception—Is It True?

Image ID 212951088 © via Allexxandar | Dreamstime.com


El Salvador, the first country in the world to recognize Bitcoin as legal tender, has claimed that its tourism numbers have spiked 30% since legalizing the cryptocurrency.

The nation’s Minister of Tourism, Morena Valdez, told El Salvador News English the 1.4 million incoming visitors surpassed the government’s estimate of 1.1 million, with Americans accounting for 60% of all tourists.

However, the picture may not be as rosy as it’s painted out to be. 

According to Fortune, Bitcoin’s value has decreased 17.5% since the start of the year, having shrunk a total of 44% from its all-time high in November 2020. 

Furthermore, the cryptocurrency habits of the country’s President Nayib Bukele have lost the nation as much as US$22 million in reserves since it began, as per a report from the Los Angeles Times.

At the moment, the country hasn’t made it clear how it’s purchasing Bitcoin, though it claims to have set aside a US$150 million fund to back its cryptocurrency holdings. 

In reality, Bitcoin could be hurting El Salvadorans in many ways, such as making remittances more expensive—which is a problem for the nation most reliant on remittances from citizens living abroad in the Western Hemisphere. 

As such, global authorities, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), has been watching the escalating situation closely, issuing advice that recognizing Bitcoin as legal currency may not be the best idea. 

In January this year, the IMF even sent out a press release telling El Salvador to halt its use of Bitcoin as legal tender as it “entails large risks for financial and market integrity, financial stability, and consumer protection.” 

For a country struggling with debts—which now exceeds its GDP by a whole 50%—perhaps it should slow down on being the first to legitimize cryptocurrency, as it risks going on the “gray list” of countries suspected for financial wrongdoing by the Financial Action Task Force.

“El Salvador recognizing Bitcoin as official currency opens the door for money-laundering cartels and undermines US interests,” said Senator Bill Cassidy.

But, as Insider pointed out, with plans in place to build the world’s first ‘Bitcoin City’ powered by geothermal energy from a volcano, it’s likely the country will plunge both feet first in the growing cryptocurrency craze. 




[via Fortune and Insider, cover image via Allexxandar | Dreamstime.com]


FBI Launches New Cryptocurrency Crimes Unit To Tackle Ransomware

Image ID 111116684 © via Marc Bruxelle | Dreamstime.com


The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has introduced a new unit assigned to tackling cryptocurrency crimes and ransomware scams.

Named the Virtual Asset Exploitation Team (VAXU), the dedicated squad was launched during the Munich Cyber Security Conference last week, US Deputy Attorney Gneral Lisa Monaco announced last week.


This specialized crew will assist the government to track “threat actors who exploit innovations as fast as the marketplace produces them,” which have been evident with the adoption of cryptocurrencies in the mainstream and the rising number of scams.

It’s believed the VAXU will comprise cryptocurrency experts, blockchain analysts, and agents familiar with virtual asset seizure. Apart from heading investigations into bad actors, it will work on training the rest of the FBI on related matters, as per TechCrunch.

“Ransomware and digital extortion, like many other crimes fueled by cryptocurrency, only work if the bad guys get paid, which means we have to bust their business model,” explained Monaco.

Additionally, according to Bitcoin.com, the Justice Department has appointed Eun Young Choi as the first director of its National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) as the country moves to get a grip on the rapidly expanding sector.


“The NCET will play a pivotal role in ensuring that as the technology surrounding digital assets grows and evolves, the department in turn accelerates and expands its efforts to combat their illicit abuse by criminals of all kinds,” Choi said.




[via TechCrunch and Bitcoin.com, cover image via Marc Bruxelle | Dreamstime.com]


Uber Plans To Accept Cryptocurrency Payments As Soon As It’s More Eco-Friendly

[Click here to view the video in this article]

Image via Uber


Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi has said in a recent Bloomberg interview that the ride-hailing service would “absolutely” accept cryptocurrency in the future, though he plans to wait till it becomes more eco-friendly.

“We are having conversations all the time [about cryptocurrency]. I think right now what we see with Bitcoin and some of the other cryptos is that they are quire valuable as a store of value,” Khosrowshahi said.

“As the exchange mechanism becomes less expensive, becomes more environmentally friendly, I think you will see us lean into crypto a bit more,” he added.

According to Decrypt, this isn’t the first time Uber has expressed interest in cryptocurrencies. 

It indicated last year that it was “going to look at cryptocurrency and/or Bitcoin in terms of currency to transact,” but has yet to instate it as an accepted form of payment.

It seems the app isn’t the only one concerned with the environmental impact of accepting payments in cryptocurrency, as Engadget noted Tesla halted its Bitcoin payments till “mining transitions to more sustainable energy.” 

As cryptocurrencies, especially Bitcoin, gain more traction in the mainstream, could there be a push for more eco-conscious approaches to mining? Perhaps only then will it be a more widely-accepted form of payment.




[via Decrypt and Engadget, cover image via Uber]


FTC Warns That Crypto Romance Scammers Stole $139M In 2021, Along With Hearts

Photo 168769138 © Joaquin Corbalan | Dreamstime.com


Love is in the air, but so is the cologne-drenched reek of con artists. In fact, the US Federal Trade Commission says that love scams and frauds are now at a “record” high.


Ahead of Valentine’s Day, the FTC has released a timely report noting that losses made from romance scams spiked almost 80% in 2021 as opposed to 2020. Scammers specializing in this area made off with US$1.3 billion over the last five years in the United States, and US$547 million of this was absconded with last year.


The most common places these connections were made were on Facebook and Instagram, but if Netflix’s The Tinder Swindler has taught people anything, it’s that such cons can take place pretty much anywhere.


Cryptocurrency’s prevalence, however, now poses a worrying trend. People aren’t just coughing up money for non-fungible tokens, but they’re also parting with their savings to “help” love interests that aren’t who they seem.

In 2021, victims of cryptocurrency-based romance scams lost US$139 million, exceeding “any other payment amount.”


A lot of the time, a scammer would first charm their victim and earn their trust. Then, they’d either introduce them to a cryptocurrency business “opportunity” that seems too good to refuse, or have the victim download a bogus trading app to obtain confidential data.

Victims of cryptocurrency romance scams have reported a median loss of US$10,000.

So, be wary. A healthy relationship is a balance of give and take. If you’re the only one giving—and your contributions almost exclusively involve money—that’s probably a red flag.




[via Mashable and ZDNet, cover photo 168769138 © Joaquin Corbalan | Dreamstime.com]


‘Crypto Café’ In Thailand Serves Up Cups Of Joe With A Kick Of Investment Advice

Image via HIP Coffee & Restaurant


When entering this space, the wall of screens showing the latest cryptocurrency market movement as well as throngs of patrons engaged in investment discussions might not exactly scream “café,” but this is exactly what it is. 

Located in northeastern Thailand, HIP Coffee & Restaurant has become a second home to many crypto traders. With their coffee and fresh bakes, they can be found keeping a watchful eye on laptop screens as well as the café’s own wall of graphs. 

“Having so many screens helps a lot,” a 23-year-old trader Apakon Putnok explains to Reuters. “We immediately know and get to analyse crashing factors and whether we should buy.”

Although the café has been around since 2013, its crypto-inspired makeover in 2020 saw its customers double. 

“It’s exciting for me to be here because I get to meet people who share the same interests,” Detnarong Satianphut, another crypto trader, tells Reuters. “We get to exchange information because in the trading world we are coming up against millions of people.”

The news outlet notes that Thailand has seen a huge surge in the crypto scene as of late, with as much as 251 billion baht (US$7.62 billion) being traded in digital asset in just November 2021 alone.  

Regulators are reportedly worried about this, recently announcing plans to regulate the use of crypto as a payment method in order to minimize risks to the economic system.

Apart from hosting the growing community of traders, the space also offers free investment consulting, according to manager Oakkharawat Yongsakuljinda. It might also even start its own cryptocurrency coin. 




[via Reuters and Retail & Leisure International, image via HIP Coffee & Restaurant]


Zuckerberg’s Crypto Venture Reportedly To Be Sold—Before It Even Launches

Image via Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com


The Diem Association, a blockchain-based payment system proposed by Meta, may be close to dissolving despite the cryptocurrency and network not yet existing. 

Ever since its 2019 introduction, Zuckerberg’s crypto venture has been riddled with regulatory concerns. Plus, at the time, crypto and other associated concepts, like NFTs, were not yet as ubiquitous as they are today. 

At first, the currency was called Libra, which CNBC reports was initially meant to be a stablecoin. The initial plan was to create a universal currency, as stablecoin has value linked to a real-world asset such as fiat currency. 

While ambitious, much controversy came from figures like central bankers and politicians, who cited concerns to do with money laundering and privacy infringement. 

The project, if going according to Zuckerberg’s plan, would also throw a spanner in the works of sovereign currencies, like the US dollar. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it was never really able to take off, even though the concept was narrowed down to just one US-dollar-backed stablecoin known as Diem USD. 


Statement from Diem Networks US Regarding Congressional Interest in Project — https://t.co/GEIaRZwzr3 pic.twitter.com/Q1tRTzYHXf

— Diem Association (@DiemAssociation) October 20, 2021

According to a report by Bloomberg made Wednesday, the Association is considering selling its assets and various “intellectual property” in order to return its investors some capital, as well as finding “a new home” for its engineers. 

Discussions are, reportedly, still in early stages and have not yet been made public. It is unknown if the company will be able to find buyers, or how the project will be valued when it comes down to making the sales.

Currently, the social media company Meta owns around a third of the venture, according to inside sources who chose to remain anonymous. The rest of it is owned by association members. 

Engadget reports that a representative from the Diem Association had stated the Bloomberg article contained “factual errors,” but no further clarifications were provided. 




[via CNBC and Bloomberg, image via Frederic Legrand – COMEO / Shutterstock.com]


Opera Launches Crypto Browser, Makes It Easier To Shop For NFTs

Image via Opera


Opera has officially made its Web3 ‘Crypto Browser’ available for beta use, boasting a slew of new features that could come in handy for those ready to take on the metaverse. 

Key features of the new browser include a built-in cryptocurrency wallet, more convenient access to NFT marketplaces, and support for decentralized apps (dApps). It aims to simplify the new era of the internet for users, as per Mashable.


Image via Opera


“Too few of the web browsing experiences offered today have been built with the intention of putting Web3 centerstage and making blockchain technologies understandable and easy to use,” said Susie Batt, Opera’s Crypto Ecosystem Lead.

“Our belief is that the world of blockchain needs a fully dedicated browsing experience,” she added. 


Image via Opera


Holders of cryptocurrencies will be able to use the built-in wallet to store Ethereum, Bitcoin, Celo, and Nervos, with more partnerships expected in the near future. According to Engadget, this allows users to access their digital assets without needing additional extensions. 

Buyers will also be able to directly purchase cryptocurrencies with fiat currency, exchange virtual currencies in the wallet, and check your balance as you go about your usual browsing.


Opera added in an extra secure clipboard measure that prevents third-party apps from accessing data you copy and paste. 

“The Wide World of Web3 is now at your fingertips,” summed up Batt.


The public beta is now available for download on Windows, Mac, and Android.




[via Engadget and Mashable, images via Opera]


Crypto Group Spent $3M On ‘Dune’ Book, Mistaking It For Rights To The Series

Image via TheSpiceDAO


Last year, when a rare copy of a pitch book that director Alejandro Jodorowsky developed for his adaption of the Dune series headed to auction, experts expected it to sell for between US$30,000 and US$40,000. In a stunning surprise, the book ended up going for over US$3 million.

The copy was bought by a cryptocurrency group, TheSpiceDAO, for the staggering price, despite parts of the book already being made available online for free and featured in a documentary about the movie-making process.

However, with this purchase, TheSpiceDao mistakenly assumed it owned the rights to Dune as a whole. The group announced its intentions to make the book public by digitizing the copy, turn its storyboards into a new animated series, and tap digital artists for projects based on the work.

As per The Art Newspaper, the buyer said it would “issue a collection of NFTs that are technically innovative and culturally disruptive,” after which the book would be burned in an “incredible marketing stunt which could be recorded on video.” 

There was just one problem: owning a copy of Jodorowsky’s Dune pitch book is vastly different from owning the rights to the franchise itself. Ultimately, the director’s take was still an adaptation of the original novel by Frank Herbert, of which the collective has no rights to.

In defense of its position, the group said: “While we do not own the IP to Frank Herbert’s masterpiece, we are uniquely positioned with the opportunity to create our own addition to the genre as an homage to the giants who came before us.” 

It’s not quite clear what it means, though Gizmodo posited that anything derived from the auctioned work couldn’t overtly be seen as a reference to Herbert’s or Jodorowsky’s work, especially when the film was created by the powerful Warner Bros studio.

Could the US$3 million bid have been an overly-ambitious mistake? Or did the collective really believe it would own the rights to producing content from the franchise just because it owned the director’s pitch book? We’ll never know.




[via The Art Newspaper and Gizmodo, cover image via TheSpiceDAO]


PayPal Plans To Launch Own Cryptocurrency—Would You Buy In?

Image via Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com


Reports have emerged that PayPal is planning on launching its own cryptocurrency, which will be backed by the US dollar. 

The company confirmed to Bloomberg that it is looking into releasing a stablecoin—cryptocurrency linked in value to existing fiat currency—after developer Steve Moser discovered that the firm was experimenting with ‘PayPal Coin’ in its app.

According to CNET, PayPal currently allows its users to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, and Litecoin cryptocurrencies, though Moser also found another coin, Neo, within the firm’s code. 

At the moment, not much is known about the firm’s stablecoin, though the code came from an internal hackathon competition, as per CoinDesk. The name and details of the cryptocurrency could change if PayPal ever decides to officially launch it. 

“We are exploring a stablecoin; if and when we seek to move forward, we will of course, work closely with relevant regulators,” a company spokesperson said. 




[via CNET and CoinDesk, cover image via Ink Drop / Shutterstock.com]


Arsenal FC’s Crypto Fan Tokens Break Advertising Rules, Says UK Regulator

Image via Arsenal FC


The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) in the UK has ruled that a website and Facebook post by Arsenal Football Club promoting its cryptocurrency fan tokens was against the country’s marketing rules.

It said that the advertisements have “failed to illustrate the risk of the investment” and that they “must not appear again in the form complained about.” 

Arsenal FC has said it will be seeking an independent review of the ruling, justifying that it had included the required information on the financial risks fans undertook by purchasing the tokens.

According to the BBC, several top-flight clubs offer similar fan tokens, and have been criticized for inadvertently encouraging fans to engage in risky and unregulated investments through their cryptocurrency promotions. 


Tim Payton, a board member on the Arsenal Supporters Trust, explained that he felt “clubs should not be allowed to use football’s popularity to push an inherently high-risk product,” such as crypto-based assets. 

The ASA ruling cited Arsenal FC’s marketing push as irresponsible, saying that the club “took advantage of consumers’ inexperience” with cryptocurrency. It deemed the promotion as misleading since the advertisements didn’t illustrate the risk of investment—though the club argued otherwise.

The club said its advertisements did come with a warning, stating: “We advise you to spend only what you can afford and seek independent financial advice if required.” The main webpage also included a warning that buyers “could lose some or all of their money invested.” 

“We take our responsibilities with regard to marketing to our fans very seriously. We carefully considered the communications to fans regarding our promotions and provided information regarding financial risks,” Arsenal FC told the BBC.




[via BBC, cover image via Arsenal FC]