Hong Kong Police Take Down $65 Million Triad Money Laundering Operation


Police in Hong Kong have arrested 458 people in relation to an extensive organized crime money laundering network. The sting reportedly brought down a Triad-controlled operation that used crypto trades to wash the proceeds of as many as 314 crimes.

According to local media reports on August 25, the recent string of arrests occurred over the course of seventeen days.

Triad Money Laundering Operation Washed $64.5M in Criminal Earnings

During this period, the Hong Kong Police arrested 330 men and 128 women in 400 separate raids across the city. The suspects included 423 Hongkongers and travelers from mainland China and elsewhere. 

As part of the operation, law enforcement reportedly intercepted more than 16 million yuan ($2.2M). However, this pales compared to the 470 million yuan ($64.5M) it is suspected of processing. 

In a statement reported by the South Shina Morning Post, Senior Superintendent Lui Che-ho said that many of the people arrested had been taken advantage of by organized crime syndicates.

“Criminal syndicates lured them into money-laundering activities with monetary rewards,” he said. “They were paid hundreds to thousands of dollars each, but had to hand over the details of the bank accounts used to process the illegal funds.”

Continuing, he said that the group laundered dirty money by withdrawing it from bank accounts. They then used the cash to purchase cryptocurrencies.

Hong Kong Battles Money Laundering While Fostering Its Crypto Sector

Lui Che-ho’s comments highlight the way such money laundering rings often swap fiat for crypto to help hide the trail of illicit funds.

Regulators around the world have imposed strict anti-money laundering (AML) rules on businesses that deal with crypto. But Hong Kong is also attempting to cultivate its crypto sector. And at times, the two objectives can seem at odds.

For example, Hong Kong’s AML regulations require banks to carry out so-called due diligence checks on their customers.

But in June, the territory’s financial regulator sent a letter to lenders emphasizing that due diligence procedures shouldn’t place an “undue burden” on crypto businesses.

The intervention applied pressure to lenders that are reluctant to take on crypto firms as clients over AML concerns. Major banks including Standard Chartered and HSBC, were among the letter’s recipients.

Of course, Hong Kong isn’t the only place where AML rules present a challenge to companies that deal with cryptocurrency. One recent report found that two-thirds of all businesses surveyed expressed concerns about the possibility of violating AML regulations.

The post Hong Kong Police Take Down $65 Million Triad Money Laundering Operation appeared first on BeInCrypto.

US Crypto Startups Face Adoption Slowdown and Difficult Regulations


Home to the world’s largest economy, Silicon Valley, and an ample supply of talent and investment, the United States has a certain appeal to budding crypto startups. But stalling local adoption, an uncertain regulatory climate, and an increasingly strict tax regime threaten to make the country less attractive.

Recently, crypto business leaders have spoken out on the topic, arguing that the US risks falling behind other nations and that founders should seriously consider alternative destinations.

Strengths of the US Crypto Sector

The US has dominated global markets for more than a hundred years now. And from the mid-twentieth century onward, high-tech innovation centered around Silicon Valley and other tech business hubs has been a cornerstone of the country’s economic growth.

Unsurprisingly, since blockchain technologies have arrived on the scene in the twenty-first century, plenty of founders have flocked to the US in search of talent and venture capital investment.

In the years since its inception, the US crypto space has exploded. 

Today, the biggest American crypto firm, Coinbase, has a market capitalization of over $9 billion. And in the second quarter of 2023, the company reported revenues of $708 million.

But despite the sector’s strong growth during the past decade, some in the business community have identified rising challenges for crypto startups in the US.

US Crypto Adoption Outpaced by Other Countries

In many ways, the United States pioneered the use of cryptocurrencies among both businesses and consumers. 

But in recent years, the rate of adoption has stalled. In 2022, the US ranked fifth in Chanalysis’ global crypto adoption index, behind Vietnam, the Philippines, Ukraine, and India. And while diehard American crypto advocates are as passionate as ever, US residents who own cryptocurrency are still in the minority.

Of course, it’s difficult to identify exactly what proportion of the country holds crypto. Survey results tend to vary quite widely. But generally, they rarely report ownership by more than a quarter of the population.

For example, Morning Consult is one of the most consistent monitors of crypto adoption across the United States, where it surveys 4,400 people on their attitude to cryptocurrencies every month. Yet its surveys have never found crypto ownership rates above 16%.

US Ownership Rates of Different Cryptocurrencies. Source: Morning Consult

A recent multi-country survey carried out by HedgewithCrypto came to the same conclusion. The report found that crypto ownership in the US stood at 16%. But it was beaten to the top spot by Australia, where 18% of survey respondents reported owning cryptocurrency.

Dwindling growth in adoption rates could suggest that most Americans remain suspicious of crypto investments and unconvinced by the technology’s potential for payments.

In fact, Morning Consult’s surveys have shown that more people in the US think cryptocurrencies are harmful to society than there are people who think they are beneficial.

Survey results american opinion on impact of crypto on society
US Opinion on Cryptocurrencies’ Impact on Society. Source: Morning Consult

Regulatory Challenges Drive an Exodus of US Crypto Startups

Beyond slowing adoption, a challenging regulatory situation also threatens to derail the US crypto sector. And several major crypto exchanges have already abandoned the US market.

Facing a court battle with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Bittrex wound down its US operations in April.

It’s a similar story for Revolut. Earlier this month, the FinTech startup blamed “an evolving regulatory environment” when it pulled its US crypto trading service.

In the latest development, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) proposed new crypto regulations intended to reduce tax evasion.

The proposals are oriented toward making it easier for taxpayers to report income from crypto. However, they would also increase the compliance burden on many businesses.

Business Leaders Question the Future of the American Crypto Sector

Amid an SEC crackdown and slowing growth in the space, business leaders have suggested startups turn their attention elsewhere.

In a statement on August 25, Antonio Juliano, who founded the exchange dYdX, remarked that:

“Crypto builders should just give up serving US customers for now and try to re-enter in 5-10 years.”

According to Juliano, the challenges of operating in the US aren’t worth the rewards. Especially when there is plenty of appetite for crypto services elsewhere. And he’s speaking from experience. After all, dYdX is headquartered in San Francisco yet can’t legally offer its services in the US.

Ultimately, however, Juliano remains optimistic about the US crypto market’s future: 

“Crypto is aligned with American values. What could be more American & capitalist than a financial system of the people, by the people, and for the people That is literally what we’re building here. America will realize that eventually.”

For others, the future is less certain. Ryan Selkis, CEO of Messari, stated his opinion bluntly in a recent tweet. As he put it, “There’s no future for crypto in the US if Biden is reelected.”

Of course, it’s important to stress that few CEOs are as blatantly partisan or bombastic as Selkis. 

Coinbase’s Brian Armstrong has reportedly met with House Democrats to discuss American crypto policy. Meanwhile, industry groups like the Blockchain Association have been busy lobbying politicians across the political spectrum to promote regulatory clarity and a more liberal crypto policy stance. 

Yet, fear that the US risks losing its edge in an area where it has all the ingredients for success remains high. And crypto entrepreneurs face an uncertain future if they choose to set up shop in the country.

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OnlyFans Parent Company Invested in ETH, Recent Filing Shows  


OnlyFans’ parent company, Fenix International, recently filed an accounting statement for 2022, which reveals that the company invested part of its working capital into ETH.

Although the firm didn’t reveal how much Ether it held, it did imply that it had incurred a loss at the end of the reporting period (November 2022).

OnlyFans Sees 21% Increase in Profits Despite Making a Loss on ETH 

Fenix International is the owner of the digital subscription service OnlyFans, a platform typically associated with adult video content.

In a recent financial statement filed with Companies House in the UK, the firm reported that:

“During the year, the Group diversified part of its working capital into cryptocurrency (“Ethereum” or “ETH”). There are no limitations or restrictions on the Group’s ability to sell the cryptocurrency assets. “

The statement doesn’t give a breakdown of Fenix’s holdings or reveal the exact value of its crypto investment. However, it does state that “the asset has been impaired to its fair value as at the year-end.” 

This suggests that the OnlyFans ETH was worth less at the end of November than when it was purchased. This is hardly surprising, however. In the 365-day period covered by the recent filing, ETH lost over 70% of its value, falling from $4,448 to $1,217.

Ethereum ETH Price Chart. Source: TradingView

Yet for the OnlyFans owner, losing money on Ethereum appears to have done little to dent its revenue.

Overall, sales for the year rose 17% to $1.1 billion. Meanwhile, the company registered pre-tax profits of $525 million, a 21% increase from the previous year.

But why is a company whose primary business is adult content streaming investing in crypto in the first place? 

Why do Businesses Invest in Crypto?

Aside from specialized investment firms and hedge funds, many companies have incorporated cryptocurrencies into their investment portfolios.

One noteworthy example is Tesla, which became one of the first household-name businesses to hold Bitcoin in its corporate treasury back in 2021. 

The automaker then dumped three-quarters of its BTC in the second quarter of 2022. And given the asset’s rocky price performance in the year’s second half, that was probably a smart move. A January filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) reveals that Tesla recorded a $204 million loss on its Bitcoin holdings during 2022.

But CEO Elon Musk has made no secret of his faith in crypto. As he explained last year, Tesla is “certainly open to increasing [its] Bitcoin holdings in the future,” and he insisted that the decision to sell “should not be taken as some verdict on Bitcoin.” 

Other companies that have made high-profile crypto investments include the American software company MicroStrategy and the Chinese digital technology giant Meitu.

MicroStrategy first started investing in crypto in 2020, when it purchased $250 million worth of Bitcoin. At the time, CEO Michael J. Saylor explained the rationale behind the firm’s decision:

“Our investment in Bitcoin is part of our new capital allocation strategy, which seeks to maximize long-term value for our shareholders. This investment reflects our belief that Bitcoin, as the world’s most widely-adopted cryptocurrency, is a dependable store of value and an attractive investment asset with more long-term appreciation potential than holding cash.”

Since then, the company has gone on to become one of the largest corporate Bitcoin holders in the world. It now possesses over 150,000 Bitcoin, worth around $3.91 billion at current prices.

As a result of a BTC price crash earlier this month, MicroStrategy docked an eye-watering loss of $600 million on the value of its investments. However, the firm hasn’t signaled any intention to reduce its position.

Meitu, on the other hand, has favored ETH as a treasury investment. In its annual report for 2022, the firm reported Ether holdings valued at $37.3 million and Bitcoin worth $15.6 million. Accounting for market gains since then, Meitu could currently be sitting on over $50 million worth of ETH alone.

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New Layer 2s Are Growing Fast — Is Tokenless the Future?


Less than a month after its launch, the Base network ascended to the list of top Ethereum Layer 2 (L2) blockchains, and it took just eleven days to register a million addresses—faster than any other L2. 

So what’s behind Base’s meteoric rise? Certainly, the financial clout and brand recognition of the project’s initiator, Coinbase, have helped the new blockchain thrive. But the decision to forego any native token has also added to its appeal among certain users.

Rate of L2 Blockchain Adoption Spikes as Base Steams Ahead

In a recent comparison of L2 adoption rates, CoinGecko found that the time taken to reach a million users has been decreasing over time.

For example, Base hit the critical milestone in just 11 days. Yet, when Optimism launched back in January 2021, it took 191 days. Arbitrum, which went live later in September that year, took even longer, at 303 days.

Jump forward to 2023, and when the zKSynk Era mainnet was launched in March, it accumulated a million unique addresses in 71 days.

Time Taken For L2s to Reach 1 Million Addresses. Source: CoinGecko

In the case of Base, the rapid influx of new users has helped the new chain eclipse its more established peers in terms of network activity. 

Within days of its mainnet launch, Base was already the third most popular L2 for NFT transfers. And last week, its daily transaction volume briefly surpassed Optimism and Arbitrum.

Advantages of the Tokenless Model

As the CoinGecko report notes, one key difference between L2 launch events in 2021 and those in 2023 is that the former incentivized adoption with the lure of early access to network tokens. Meanwhile, the latter chains have built a sizable user base without their own native tokens.

If the previous generation of L2 blockchains used the hype of initial coin offerings as a springboard for success, the class of 2023 has relied on exactly the opposite model to generate traction.

For users, no native token means one less barrier to overcome. Without the additional step of swapping ETH for ARB, OP, MATIC, or any other Layer 2 coin, the new tokenless chains have created a more seamless user experience. For anyone familiar with Ethereum, transacting on Base or zKSync Era is an easy step to make. 

Read more: What Is zkSync?

Creating an Ethereum-Like Experience

It isn’t just the absence of separate token schemes that bring the new L2s closer to Ethereum. Both environments were designed to look and feel as much like the parent Layer 1 as possible. And over the years, scaling solutions have gotten dramatically better at emulating the features of the blockchain on which they are built. 

This technical advance has benefits for everyday users and blockchain builders alike. 

By default, smart contracts on both zKSync and Base are written in Ethereum’s native languages, Vyper and Solidity. In contrast, Rust is the native language for Solana smart contracts. Meanwhile, Starknet contracts use the relatively obscure blockchain programming language Cairo.

Of course, various code compilers and compatibility layers have been developed to ease translation between languages in the Ethereum ecosystem. But in general, the trend over time has been for ever-greater integration with the base layer blockchain. 

The advantages of shortening the chain of translation between an L2 contract and its ultimate execution in Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) bytecode are twofold.

Firstly, it makes it easier for Ethereum developers to easily adapt to new L2 environments. Secondly, it means there are fewer components in play, thus minimizing the risk of bugs and reducing the overall complexity of L2 applications.

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Latin American Stablecoins Focus on Beating Inflation and Powering Remittances 


The US dollar has traditionally dominated the global stablecoin market. In Latin America, such dollar-backed digital assets offer an accessible means of hedging against inflation. But increasingly, stablecoins tied to local currencies are also popping up across the region, promising to transform how people move money across borders.

Around the world, the stablecoin boom of recent years has served to reinforce dollar supremacy. In emerging economies, volatile domestic currencies and limited access to savings and investment opportunities have fueled demand for digital dollars. 

Stablecoin Usage in Latin America

For example, Tether has expanded aggressively in Argentina, where inflation now stands at over 100%.

In fact, the situation in Argentina is so dire that the presidential candidate Javier Milei has proposed replacing the Argentine peso with the US dollar.

In Venezuela, where the economy has also been dogged by persistent inflation in recent years, consumers across the country have embraced stablecoins as an alternative to the weak domestic currency. According to a report by Chainalysis, in 2022, 34% of all small retail transaction volume in the country consisted of stablecoin trades.

As much as LatAm consumers may turn to dollar-pegged stablecoins to hedge against inflation, in most countries, people still use domestic currencies for their everyday transactions. 

The same goes for the continent’s businesses. Although USD often serves as the de facto international trade currency, local currencies continue to drive business on the ground.

The Rise of Native Stablecoins

But while there is no shortage of tokens oriented toward the greenback, the market for indigenous Latin American stablecoins is still in its infancy.

One company attempting to make a name for itself in the space is Num Finance, an Argentinian FinTech startup founded in 2021. Focussed on deploying crypto payment technologies in emerging markets, Num has developed several stablecoins pegged to South American currencies.

Num launched its first stablecoin in April this year. Known as nARS, it tracks the Argentinian peso and is collateralized with a mixture of crypto and fiat currencies.

Since then, the firm has released similar stablecoins pegged to the Peruvian sol (nPEN) and the Colombian peso (nCOP), with the latter hitting the market this week.

Of course, Num isn’t the only technology company interested in developing stablecoins for Latin American currencies. The Panama-based FinTech Anclap has also set its sights on the technology. Meanwhile, Celo developers are actively exploring the prospect of deploying a digital Colombian peso on the Celo network. 

Issuers Target LatAm Remittance Market

Across the different LatAm stablecoin initiatives, the potential such technologies hold for cross-border remittances stands out. 

According to the World Bank, remittance flows into Latin America and the Caribbean reached $145 billion in 2022. Moreover, remittance volumes have shown more sustained growth than foreign investment, driven largely by migrant workers sending wages back to their families.  

Latin American Remittance Volume. Source: World Bank

Yet the cost of international money transfers using traditional payment rails has remained stubbornly high. The World Bank found that in the first quarter of 2023, the average transfer from the US to Latin America incurred a 5.8% transaction fee. And in many cases, fees are even higher.

Accordingly, stablecoins could dramatically reduce the cost of transfers into and across Latin America. And companies like Num and Anclap have made it clear that they intend to target the cross-border payments market.

In another break from the traditional remittance model, Num has also incorporated lending and reward mechanisms into its stablecoins. Using this approach, the company hopes to incentivize use and encourage recipients to keep funds in stablecoin form for longer.

As the company’s CEO Agustín Liserra stated upon the launch of nCOP this week:

“In Colombia, there exists a unique opportunity to “tokenize” remittances and offer them a yield in nCOP, based on regulated financial products. Currently, Colombia is one of the main recipients of remittances in Latin America, with nearly USD 6.5 billion flowing into the country. Num Finance aims to provide a new possibility for people to send and receive nCOP as remittances and get a yield on it.”

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Binance Suspends P2P Transactions in Russia After Lapse Sanctions Enforcement Scrutiny


Binance has dropped support for peer-to-peer (P2P) payments from five sanctioned Russian banks. The news follows reports earlier in the week that the firm’s P2P crypto exchange had failed to implement international Sanctions against certain banks. 

After many crypto exchanges terminated or severely curtailed Ruble-based services under the pressure of international sanctions, in recent times, Russian crypto traders have often turned to P2P alternatives.

Binance Cuts Ties With Rosbank, Tinkoff, and Other Russian Banks

But platforms that enable ruble-for-crypto swaps between individuals are increasingly toeing the line on sanctions.

Earlier this week, the Wall Street Journal reported that Binance was enabling peer-to-peer trades of rubles for cryptocurrencies that involved sanctioned Russian banks. Among them were the country’s second-largest credit card provider, Tinkoff Bank, and former Société Générale subsidiary Rosbank.

According to the report, until this week, account holders with sanctioned banks could still purchase crypto with their cards. 

Banks were referred to by color rather than by name in what looks suspiciously like a deliberate attempt to obscure the actual payment methods used. For example, bank cards issued by Sber and Tinkoff were listed as ‘green’ and ‘yellow’ payment options on the P2P platform.

Currently, Binance is under investigation in the US for the very crime of facilitating sanctions violations. In light of such allegations, the recent revelations threaten to worsen an already challenging situation for the exchange.

However, on August 25, Binance blacklisted payments made with cards issued by five sanctioned banks. At the same time, the platform has also banned Russian users from conducting P2P transactions with non-ruble currencies.

ByBit Also Responds to Russian Sanctions

As BeInCrypto’s Russian news team uncovered, Binance isn’t the only exchange that has recently cut ties with sanctioned institutions. In recent days, the offshore exchange ByBit has also delisted cards held with certain Russian banks as P2P payment options.

ByBit P2P Support Telegram Channel. Source: BeInCrypto

The report notes that it is now impossible to make or receive P2P payments on ByBit with cards issued by several banks. The platform has also imposed stricter limits on Tinkoff and Sberbank cards.

Upon inquiry, ByBit support staff confirmed that the platform no longer facilitates payments from some banks. Meanwhile, Tinkoff and Sberbank-issued cards can only be used by people who have passed enhanced Know Your Customer (KYC) vetting.

The enhanced KYC rules also apply to other payment services, including YuMoney.

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Shibarium Relaunch Fuels BONE Price Surge and Uptick in Transaction Volumes


During a week in which many major cryptocurrencies have struggled, the price of Shibaswap Bone (BONE) is up nearly 20% in seven days. Renewed activity on the Shibarium Layer 2 blockchain appears to have lifted BONE, which functions as a gas token on the network.

After an initial flop, Shibarium was successfully relaunched this week and is now up and running smoothly.

Shibarium Relaunch Ramps up Network Capacity

Shibarium is an Ethereum layer-2 blockchain built to power transactions across the Shiba Inu ecosystem. However, upon its debut on August 17, the new network was plagued by congestion.

Due to a surge in activity, many investors found their funds were stuck in the bridge contract.

Unable to deal with the influx of new users, Shibarium’s developers were forced to suspend operations. In the days that followed, they got to work, reinforcing its ability to deal with higher traffic volumes.

After updating the blockchain on August 24, developers relaunched Shibarium, and frozen funds began to reach their target destination. 

Shibaswap Bone Defies Crypto Bear Market as Transaction Volumes Soar

Following the successful reopening of the Shibarium network, BONE transfers spiked to nearly 13,000 on August 24.

BONE Transfer Volumes. Source: Etherscan

A look at the data reveals that the number of new addresses and daily active addresses also surged. According to Etherscan, over 90,000 crypto wallets now hold the token.

Shibarium Shibaswap Bone active walllets addresses August 2023
BONE Addresses. Source: IntoTheBlock

At the same time, BONE, the native token of the Shibaswap decentralized exchange, defied a bearish trend that has suppressed the crypto market all week, gaining 20% in 24 hours. 

During the past seven days, the value of BONE has increased by over 18%, more than making up for losses sustained at the time of Shibarium’s failed launch. 

Shibaswap Bone Price Chart August 2023
BONE Price. Source: BeInCrypto

Meanwhile, major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, are trading more than 10% below their prices from last month. On the other hand, after a strong performance in recent days, BONE’s monthly change has taken it in the opposite direction. 

Although BONE has bucked the wider market trend, equivalent gains haven’t been observed across the Shiba Inu ecosystem.

In the past week, SHIB has declined in value by 3.67%, underperforming compared to BTC and ETH. The final component of the tripartite token schema, LEASH, has faired better, clocking a 4.27% price increase in the same period.

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PEPE Coin Price Crash: Developer Blames Team, Promises Recovery Measures


A founding member of PEPE’s development team has released a statement blaming co-developers for dumping tokens held in a team multi-signature wallet.

After the price of PEPE fell by as much as 20% between August 24 and 25, @pepecoineth apologized for the incident and announced measures intended to restore confidence in the embattled meme coin.

‘Big Egos and Greed’ to Blame for Multi-Sig Token Dump

The recent PEPE price crash was triggered by transactions originating from a wallet controlled by the token’s development team. 

Previously, the wallet held 6.9% of the total supply of PEPE. However, on Thursday, the wallet transferred around 16 trillion tokens to crypto exchanges. Shortly after, some team members appear to have changed the threshold for the number of signatures needed to control the wallet from 5/8 to 2/8.

PEPE Price Chart. Source: BeInCrypto

In a post on X (Twitter), PEPE developer @pepecoineth blamed rogue team members for the recent incident.

According to @pepecoineth, the PEPE team consisted of four developers. However, three of the founding members have now exited the project. They also took more than half of the team-held coins with them:

“They then removed themselves from the [multi-sig wallet] in an attempt to absolve any association to $PEPE, deleting all of their social accounts and leaving me behind nothing but a message stating ‘the multi-sig has been updated, you are now in full control.’”

Giving new insight into the internal dynamics of the founding team, @pepecoineth added that:

“Since its inception, $PEPE has unfortunately been plagued by inner strife with a portion of the team being bad actors led by big egos and greed.”

PEPE Developers Battle Over Control of Media Assets

Originally, funds held in the PEPE team’s wallet were meant to be retained for specific uses. According to the official PEPE website, the funds would only be used for future exchange listings, bridges, and liquidity. And during prior listings on centralized exchanges, it functioned as intended.

However, @pepecoineth’s statement reveals a history of disagreements over control of the wallet:

“Had I been in charge myself the whole time, I would’ve made some donations and burned the majority of the [wallet] long ago.” 

As for the project’s media assets, while it appears that a single person now controls the @pepecoineth X account, ownership of the official PEPE Telegram channel remains disputed.

A message to the channel stated that:

“The telegram group for @PEPE is currently locked down, the old telegram account for the group owner was hacked and the group was taken over. In the process of trying to regain access or make a new one. All official communication for @PEPE will take place via the @pepe account in the meantime, and any new official group links will be shared here.”

Remaining Locked Tokens to Be Burned in Bid to Slow PEPE Losses

Going forward, @pepecoineth has reassured followers that they have transferred the remaining 10 trillion tokens from the multi-sig wallet to a new address.

The funds are “safe and in control of someone who has the best interests for everybody and $PEPE at hand, inaccessible by the nefarious ex-team-members,” their original statement claimed.

It added that @pepecoineth will retain the 10 trillion PEPE while they map out a way forward. They said they are negotiating to acquire certain web domains and usernames.

They would also like to donate some of their multi-sig tokens and burn the remainder.

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AI Industry’s Growing Demand: Governments Invest in Stable GPU Supply


Governments around the world are scrambling to sure up supplies of graphics processing units (GPUs) needed for AI development and processing.

With the most sought-after chips in short supply, countries including the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia are expending serious financial and diplomatic resources to secure enough GPUs for their domestic AI sectors.

Middle Eastern Governments Spend Big on Prized Nvidia Chips

According to a report this week in the Financial Times, Saudi Arabia has bought at least 3,000 of Nvidia’s H100 chips for the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology with the intention of building a new supercomputer

The report states that the UAE has also invested in thousands of Nvidia chips via state-owned businesses.

In those countries, governments are investing heavily to help advance AI research and foster innovation. And they need to. At $40,000 a piece, H100s don’t come cheap. But they have become nearly essential in the world of advanced AI development.

Few technology companies have the resources needed to train large AI models like OpenAI’s GPT-4. Due to their high processing power, the expensive Nvidia chips are highly prized for such tasks. And the GPU maker has emerged as a key player in the contemporary AI boom. Yet even so, OpenAI’s supercomputer contains 10,000 A100s, a predecessor to the H100.

UK’s AI Sector to Benefit From £100 Boost to GPU Supply

In a bid to bulk out the UK’s AI capacity, it was reported on Sunday, August 20, that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has committed £100 million of public money to order key components from Nvidia, AMD, and Intel. 

The report notes that the government is also in the advanced stages of securing GPUs from Nvidia.

In the long run, however, the challenge of maintaining a technological edge is far more complex and dynamic. For countries like the UK, stockpiling GPUs is only a temporary fix to ongoing challenges.

Building Domestic Manufacturing Capacity

Part of the reason graphics cards are so expensive is that the entire GPU supply chain is throttled by the manufacturing capacity of chip-makers in Taiwan. 

Commenting on tensions between Taiwan and China, the CEO of Nvidia has said he feels “perfectly safe” about relying so much on the supplies from the chip powerhouse. But governments around the world have flagged the issue as a national security concern. And many see domestic bolstering their domestic manufacturing capacity as key to maintaining a secure chip supply.

For example, the UK government has published a national semiconductor strategy. Over the next ten years, the plan will see a billion pounds invested in the country’s chip manufacturing sector. However, that figure is dwarfed by subsidies in the EU and US, which have pledged $52 billion and €43, respectively, to support semiconductor manufacturing.

Looking For a New Exchange? These Are the Best Crypto Sign-Up Bonuses in 2023

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Friend.Tech Trading Volumes Soar as Buyers Surpass 50,000


Just ten days since its launch, Friend.Tech has taken the internet by storm. 

Built on the Base Layer 2 blockchain, the latest Web3 social app allows users to trade tokenized “shares” with their favorite influencers. And although it’s still currently invite-only, crypto Twitter has already been engulfed by a Friend.Tech frenzy.

Friend.Tech Trading Volume Soars

The beta version of Friend.Tech launched on Thursday, 10 August, registering over 30,000 transactions in its first 24 hours.

After the initial excitement, activity on the app died down by the end of the week. However, by Friday afternoon, trading volumes once again began to surge and have remained high all weekend.

Friend.Tech Transaction Volumes in ETH (Source: Dune)

When writing, the total value of tokens bought stood at 11,100 ETH, worth nearly $20 million USD. 

In turn, this has fueled an increase in the volume of transaction fees generated by Friend.Tech. And over the last 24 hours, the app has generated more fees than any blockchain except Ethereum and netted over half a million dollars in revenue.

Friend.Tech top blockchain transaction fees ranked
Transaction Fees Ranking (Source: Twitter)

Buyer Count Surpasses 50,000 as Friend.Tech Starts Weekly Airdrops

The pattern of trading activity matches the rate at which new users have joined Friend.Tech. After an initial rush, onboarding slowed down between Monday and Friday before picking up again just as the platform launched its first “Friday Points” airdrop to 44k users.

In a social media post, Friend.Tech announced that it would continue to airdrop 100,000 points each Friday for the duration of the six-month beta period. Once the app is launched at a larger scale, the points will serve a “special purpose” that has yet to be disclosed.

Friend.Tech cumulative buyers and sellers, user count first ten days
Friend.Tech Cumulative Buyer/Seller count (Source: Dune)

On Sunday, the number of unique buyers on the platform climbed to over 54,000. The number of sellers has now surpassed 20,000.

A Promising Sign for the Base Ecosystem

The fact that Friend.Tech has amassed tens of thousands of users, a promising sign for the emerging Base ecosystem.

After all, the speed with which users embraced Freind.Tech proves that there is a healthy appetite for decentralized apps on the new blockchain. Moreover, its revenue generation demonstrates the monetization potential such popular apps hold.

Looking For a New Exchange? These Are the Best Crypto Sign-Up Bonuses in 2023

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DONUT Reddit Token Surges 300% Amid Kraken Listing Speculation


The Reddit token DONUT has surged in value. At the time of writing, the crypto is up 174% in 24 hours and has increased by over 300% over the course of the week.

Investors speculate that DONUT could follow MOON and BRICK with a major exchange listing, which has helped fuel the rising hype.

What Is DONUT, and Why Is the Crypto Trending on Reddit?

Donut is an ERC-20 token used on the r/ethtrader subreddit to reward users for their contributions. 

DONUT Price (Source: CoinMarketCap)

Reddit users can earn Donuts by posting high-quality content, participating in discussions, and upvoting other users’ posts. They can be used to purchase premium features, such as custom user flairs and badges.

Donuts have been used by r/ethtrader since 2022. Furthermore, speculation that Kraken could list the token has increased its price in the past week.

After a poll on r/ethtrader showed that a majority would like to see DONUT listed on a centralized exchange, one member sent an email to Kraken.

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The message, posted by u/LivingFondant1419, points out that DONUT is the “original tokenized community karma cryptocurrency on Reddit.” Referring to Moons and Bricks, u/LivingFondant1419 notes that Donuts predate other Reddit tokens that are listed on major exchanges.

Further excitement was generated after the u/KrakenSupport account started interacting with the r/ethtrader subreddit.

“We have indeed seen the post by u/LivingFondant1419, and it has been passed along to our listing team for consideration,” the response wrote.

Expanding, the Kraken support account added that:

“Listings are handled by a specialized team here at Kraken. We (Kraken Support on Reddit) don’t have insight [into] their selection process or even the assets they are considering listing, however, you can rest assured that they’ll review the request.”

DONUT Fans Hope to Emulate the Success of MOON and BRICK

If it does manage to garner a Kraken listing, DONUT wouldn’t be the first Reddit community token to graduate onto a larger stage.

Last month, MOON, a token used by the r/CryptoCurrency subreddit, exploded in value when it was listed by Crypto.com.

Another Reddit token that has captured the attention of a larger audience is r/FortNiteBR’s Bricks (BRICK). 

Incidentally, Kraken listed both Both Moons and Bricks earlier this month.

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BAYC NFT Sells for 153 ETH Just 11 Months After 777 ETH Purchase – Seller Loses 80%


Bored Ape NFT Sells for 153 ETH Just 11 Months After 777 ETH Purchase – Seller Loses 80%

A Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT that was the most valuable Trippy Bored Ape on record when it sold for 777 ETH in November 2022 has exchanged hands for 153 ETH.

Thanks to rare attributes, including trippy fur and a gold crown, BAYC #8585 holds the title of the most expensive ‘Trippy’ BAYC ever sold, valued at 777 ETH in October 2022. However, the latest trade represents a significant loss for the seller.

Trader Takes 624 ETH Loss on One of the Most Valuable BAYC NFTs

In Ethereum value, the latest sale represents an 80% markdown on the NFT’s previous price. Even taking into account gains in the crypto market since last year, the NFT is still worth just a quarter of its previous value in dollars.

The #8585 ‘Trippy’ bored Ape still holds the highest sale price in its fur category – and currently shares fifth spot with the most expensive Bored Ape sale according to OpenSea.

However, just eleven months after the previous buyer forked out over $1 million for the NFT, it was sold at a 75% loss.

BAYC #8585 (Source: OpenSea)

According to NFTGo, the sale occurred on Sunday morning on the X2Y2 marketplace.

A look at the wallet of the new owner reveals them to be an avid NFT collector. Their portfolio includes 176 NFTs from 15 collections. After their latest purchase, they now own six BAYC NFTs. The same wallet also holds three CryptoPunks.

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Yuga Labs Loses Out as BAYC Collectors Save on Royalty Fees

Although not the largest NFT marketplace by trade volume, X2Y2 offers one major advantage for traders: zero compulsory royalty fees.

In fact, the rise of royalty-free marketplaces has been felt across the NFT ecosystem. And this week, one of the largest trading platforms, OpenSea, announced that it would ditch compulsory creator fees.

In response, Yuga Labs, which created the BAYC collection, said it would pull its support for OpenSea. 

The company intends to prevent its new collections from being listed on OpenSea. Where possible, it will also upgrade existing NFT contracts to prevent royalty-free listings.

How effective Yuga’s proposed strategy remains to be seen. And unlike some of its other collections, it won’t be possible to change to the BAYC contract to prevent listing on marketplaces that don’t enforce creator fees.

Unfortunately for the company, that means one of its most important revenue streams is at risk of drying up.

top NFT collection royalties earned BAYC
Top Royalty-Earning NFT Collections (Source: Nansen)

According to Nansen data, secondary BAYC sales have generated Yuga Labs over $58 million in royalties, more than any other NFT collection it has created. With average royalties of 1.53%, the most valuable BAYC NFTs, like #8585 have been a cash cow for the company. But those days may be numbered.

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Ethereum Testnet “Holesky” to Launch in September Ahead of Goerli Deprecation


With the Goerli testnet set to retire next year, a new Ethereum testing network dubbed “Holesky” will launch next month. 

Following the Ethereum tradition of naming testnets after train stations, the name Holesky is derived from Nádraží Holešovice, a metro station in Prague.

So Long Goerli, Hello Holesky

There are two commonly used Ethereum testnets — Goerli and Sepolia.

The older of the two, Goerli, was launched in 2019. Since then, it has become a popular testing environment among Ethereum developers. By providing a space for experimentation, Goerli is used to try out new ideas without spending on gas fees and to iron out bugs before a Mainnet release.

History of Ethereum Testnets (Source: Github)

While Goerli has been invaluable to the growth of the Ethereum ecosystem, the testnet will be retired in January 2024. And in recent months, the Ethereum Foundation has been encouraging developers to transition to the newer Sepolia in anticipation of Goerli’s upcoming redundancy.

However, before then, a new testnet will enter the family. And during a meeting this week, Ethereum core developers confirmed that Holesky will have its debut in September.

Although Holesky largely resembles Sepolia in design, it is intended to be used more for infrastructure and protocol development. Meanwhile, Sepolia will remain the go-to testing ground for Ethereum-based applications.

Large Cap on Holesky ETH Supply

One of the main advantages of Ethereum testnets is that they run on parallel currencies rather than Mainnet ETH. For example, Goerli uses GoETH.

Test tokens are available free to developers. However, on Goerli, their distribution is prone to bottlenecks. Due to the limited supply of GoETH, most Goerli faucets restrict the amount developers can receive daily.

To remedy this problem, Sepolia has no hard cap on the total amount of tokens in circulation. As such, faucet providers are able to provide developers with much larger amounts of SepETH.

Unlike Sepolia, Holesky will have a fixed supply of testnet tokens. However, at 1.6 billion, the cap will still be much larger than the total supply of Mainnet ETH, which currently stands at around 120 million.

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Vitalik Buterin Receives Taiwan Employment Gold Card – Is this the Next Crypto Capital?


Ethereum inventor Vitalik Buterin has received an “Employment Gold Card” from Taiwan as the country ramps up efforts to put its nascent crypto sector on the map.

The Employment Gold Card is a special visa program designed to attract foreign talent to the country. It will allow Buterin to reside in Taiwan for up to three years and work without any restrictions.

Vitalik Buterin Backs Taiwan’s Blockchain Sector

Buterin has been a vocal supporter of Taiwan and its blockchain industry and has visited the country on multiple occasions. 

Last year, he even appeared on the Innovative Minds podcast with Taiwan’s Minister for Digital Development, Audrey Tang. They discussed blockchain technology and its role in global politics and the world economy during the show.

They also talked about Buterin’s views on identification technologies like Worldcoin.

Tang presented Buterin with his Employment Card at a ceremony this week during the Plurality Taipei conference. The event brought together a diverse group of technologists to discuss digital democracy and the challenges presented by online discourse.

Source: YouTube

According to local media, Buterin said that Taiwan has a thriving Ethereum community. He added that the Gold Card will allow him to visit and work there more easily in the future.

Taiwan Prepares for Hong Kong-Style Crypto Regulations

Courting crypto leaders like Vitalik Buterin is one way Taiwan’s government supports the country’s emerging blockchain sector. Like others around the world, it has also moved to regulate the space and establish a clear rulebook for crypto firms.

Initially announced in March, Taiwan’s anticipated regulatory framework will give the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) responsibility for overseeing the country’s crypto sector. 

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In a document seen by the Taiwanese news outlet ABMedia, the FSC outlined 13 principles that will guide its approach to crypto regulation.

The new guidelines would require cryptocurrency exchanges to register with the FSC and comply with anti-money laundering (AML) regulations. 

They also propose consumer protection measures. For example, the FSC suggests mandating certain hot and cold wallet ratios for customer deposits with crypto exchanges. It also recommends requiring them to insure against user losses.

Significantly, the proposed guidelines look to Hong Kong as a model for Taiwan’s crypto regulation. Although the FSC referred to other regulatory regimes around the world, it paid special attention to Hong Kong’s Virtual Asset Service Provider (VASP) licensing framework.

Other ideas discussed in the document include a ban on stablecoins pegged to the Taiwanese dollar and restrictions on foreign exchange advertising in the country. 

Finally, the FSC expressed an interest in fostering self-regulation through the establishment of new industry associations. To that end, Taiwan’s Ministry of Economic Affairs has drafted an amendment to existing legislation governing such associations. The latest amendment will create a specific category for digital asset services.

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OpenSea Ends BNB Chain Support, Shifts NFT Creator Royalties


Opensea has made several changes to its policy this week. Going forward, the platform will no longer support NFT transactions on BNB Chain and won’t enforce royalty payments on secondary sales.

The latest announcements have divided the NFT community as creators and collectors respond to the news.

Opensea to End Support for BNB Chain

In a statement on Friday, Aug. 18, OpenSea said that it would no longer facilitate NFT trades on BNB Chain. However, users will still be able to view, explore and transfer BNB NFTs on the platform. 

Explaining the rationale behind the decision, OpenSea said:

“As our space evolves, we need to align resources with the most promising efforts. We’ve decided the cost to continue supporting [BNB chain] outweighs the impact.”

Reading between the lines, it looks like OpenSea is opting to refocus its energies on the much larger market for Ethereum-based NFTs, where it faces stiff competition from rivals.

OpenSea Claims it is Still Bullish on Multi-Chain, but Some Users Disagree

Having only launched the feature in November 2022, the decision latest is a blow to the NFT trading platform’s multi-chain ambitions.

However, OpenSea insists that it is “still bullish on a multi-chain future.”

As evidence of this, the company pointed to recently deployed Ethereum Layer 2 integrations that allow users to mint and trade NFTs on Base and Zora.

Other L2 networks supported by OpenSea include Arbitrum, Optimism, and Polygon. NFTs minted on Avalanche, Klaytn, and Solana can also be traded on the platform.

However, despite the firm’s renewed commitment to the multichain approach, users on X (formerly Twitter) pointed out that support for Tezos never materialized. Although the company promised to integrate Tezos-based NFTs onto the platform back in February 2021, users are still waiting.

Major Changes to OpenSea Creator Fees 

The decision to cease support for BNB-based NFT trading isn’t the only announcement that has divided OpenSea users this week.

On Thursday, Aug.17, the company revealed changes to its terms of use that could diminish royalties earned by NFT creators.

Creators generate income each time their NFT is sold on the secondary market. This was under the old system, which had been in place since November 2022.

To enforce the policy, OpenSea blocked transfers to platforms that didn’t agree to continue paying creator fees with each sale.

But from the end of August, NFT traders on OpenSea will no longer be obliged to pay artist royalties. The block on transfers to other marketplaces will also be lifted.

In a blog post announcing the changes, OpenSea CEO Devin Finzer argued that for the creator fee model to work, it would require the participation of the whole extended ecosystem.

“It was meant to empower creators with greater control over their web3 business models, but it required the buy-in of everyone in the web3 ecosystem, and unfortunately that has not happened.”

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NFT Creators Lament Changes to OpenSea Royalties Policy

Unsurprisingly, NFT creators have responded negatively to the news. And many have denounced the move online and vented their frustrations at OpenSea. With one user responding:

Nice to see you making more poor business decisions based on incorrect assumptions of your data interpretations and further isolating your only loyal audience. Good luck with this.

Moreover, it isn’t just small artists that are disappointed by the potential loss of revenues. 

Responding to the changes, Yuga Labs’ CEO Daniel Alegre said:

“As much as NFTs have been about users truly owning their digital assets, they’ve also been about empowering creators. Yuga believes in protecting creator royalties so creators are properly compensated for their work.”

Going forward, the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) creator will sunset support for the OpenSea’s Seaport marketplace contract, he added. 

The move means that Yuga Labs will effectively block all new collections from being traded on OpenSea. Where possible, it will also change existing contracts to prevent them from being listed there.

Previously, Yuga Labs has blacklisted NFT marketplaces, including Blur, SudoSwap, LooksRare, and NFTX, for some of its newer collections over their failure to enforce royalty payments.

However, collecting fees from trades of its most well-known collection, BAYC has proven more of a challenge. Due to the nature of the BAYC contract, it is unlikely that Yuga could unilaterally prevent the NFTs from being listed on OpenSea.

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Base Emerges as Top NFT Platform: Ranks Third for Transfers


Less than a week since its launch, Base has emerged as one of the top Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) chains for NFT transfers.

For both the ERC-721 and ERC-1155 NFT standards, Base is now the third most popular EVM by transfer volume.

Base NFT Tranfers Surge Past Arbitrum, Avalanche, and Optimism

Since the launch of the Base Mainnet on August. 9, the new L2 has clocked hundreds of thousands of daily users. Moreover, the total value locked (TVL) on the chain has surged to nearly $200 million. And, of course, all those new users aren’t just transferring crypto to Base for fun.

NFT transfer volumes on the network have risen above those seen on alternatives, including Arbitrum, Avalanche, Optimism, and those that take place directly on Ethereum.

In fact, in recent days, only Polygon and BNB have recorded more ERC-721 and ERC-1155 transfers than Base.

On the day of its public launch, ERC-721 transfers on Base rose above 100,000 for the first time. By the next day, they had soared to 165,00, accounting for 14.2% of all transfers that day.

ERC-721 Transfers by EVM (Source: Dune)

For ERC-1155 transfers, Base appears to have eaten directly into Polygon’s share of the total volume. 

On Sunday, Base accounted for nearly 20% of all ERC-1155 transfers. And in what used to be a rare occurrence but may become the new normal, Polygon’s share fell to below 65%.

ERC-1155 Transfers by EVM (Source: Dune)
ERC-1155 Transfers by EVM (Source: Dune)

Base Integrates Into Wider NFT Ecosystem

Of course, it’s difficult to ascertain whether Base will sustain high NFT transfer volumes.

The surge in NFT activity on Base could result from multiple new projects launching in tandem and excitement around releasing a new L2. From new NFT games like parallel life to previously unreleased music mints on another block, Base’s NFT ecosystem is already populated by diverse projects.

But the pace with which the new chain has attracted users in the space is what’s most impressive.

After months of testnet development, Base has entered the world already pre-integrated with the wider ecosystem.

For example, major wallets, including Metamask and Trust Wallet, had Base integrations ready to go as soon as the Mainnet launched. What’s more, because all fees are paid in ETH, there is no need for new users to purchase network tokens to transact on Base, making it even easier to onboard.

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Zimbabwe Prepares for Launch of Its Gold-Backed Digital Currency


The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is in the advanced stages of its plan to launch a gold-backed digital currency.

Building on the RBZ’s Gold-Backed Digital Token (GBDT), the digital currency will be backed by gold bullion held by the central bank.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Ramps up Digital Gold Project 

First announced in April, the GBDT is intended to help stabilize the Zimbabwean dollar. It is also conceived as a way for Zimbabweans to hedge against inflation, which has remained persistently high for years.

Presenting the monetary policy statement on Wednesday (Aug. 9), RBZ Governor John Mangudya revealed that as of July 21., the Bank had conducted 11 issuances of GBDT. He noted that the bank received 590 applications to purchase tokens equivalent to 325.02 KG of gold.

From Gold-Backed Tokens to CBDCs

Going forward, Mangudya stated that:

“The Bank is at an advanced stage in the preparations for the eventual rolling out of GBDT for transactional purposes in Phase II of the project under the code or name ZiG, which stands for Zimbabwe Gold.”

He added that the transactional form of Zimbabwe’s digital gold tokens would complement US dollars in domestic transactions.

By transitioning GBDTs from a pure store of value to a currency used for everyday transactions, the RBZ is essentially proposing using the tokens as a CBDC.

However, the key difference between GBDTs and most CBDCs is that few currency-issuing central banks keep gold reserves near equivalent to the currency’s value in circulation.

The Politico-Economic Appeal of GBDTs 

As a monetary policy instrument, the growing importance of gold in underpinning Zimbabwe’s financial system harks back to a time when central banks adhered to the gold standard.

Moreover, the country’s foray into digital gold resonates with a growing interest in the concept among critics of fiat currencies. 

For example, arguments favoring GBDTs in the US have become increasingly entwined with arguments against CBDCs. And both rest upon a general suspicion of allowing too much power to become concentrated with the Federal Reserve.

It is no coincidence that Republican lawmakers have been the ones to spearhead efforts to ban CBDCs in Florida and a bid to launch a GBDT in Texas. After all, the GOP has become increasingly critical of the Fed across its different wings in recent years. 

Ultimately, both anti-CBDC policies and digital gold initiatives assert states’ economic autonomy. As such, they appeal to advocates of de-federalization who object to what they perceive as overly centralized fiscal administration.

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AI Researchers Aiming to Create Chatbots for African Languages


The field of natural language processing (NLP) has advanced the furthest in the most widely-used languages like English and Russian. But an emerging body of research is focused on training AI models using African languages.

Thanks to such efforts, the dream of an African language chatbot is edging closer to reality.

Chatbot Research Dominated by English Language

Natural language processing and the large language models that power chatbots like ChatGPT are still relatively new technologies. And to date, research and development has focused on the most spoken languages. 

For example, ChatGPT is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese, Italian, Dutch, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese. 

The tendency toward language dominance in AI research is largely driven by data availability.

It is estimated that over half of all written content available online is in English. Accordingly, of the datasets needed to train language models, the largest and most readily available are in English, followed by the other most popular languages.

African Languages Pose a Challenge for AI Researchers 

Currently, the world’s largest AI firms are battling it out to build the most advanced chatbots for a handful of languages. But another sphere of research is looking to develop AI tools for less popular languages.

For African languages, the limited availability of training data presents a significant challenge for AI developers.

The linguistic diversity of many African countries further complicates things. For example, South Africa has 11 official spoken languages, and there are thirty-five languages indigenous to the country. With around 2000 languages in use on the continent, amassing vast digital content libraries on an equivalent scale to English would be nearly impossible

Representation of African Linguistic Diversity (Source: ACL Anthology)

Moreover, one recent study identified the lack of basic digital language tools as a factor that inhibits content creation. As the authors observed:

“Creating digital content in African languages is frustrating due to a lack of basic tooling such as dictionaries, spell checkers, and keyboards.”

Nevertheless, efforts are underway to increase the availability of African language data, for instance, by digitizing archival language repositories and making more datasets freely accessible. The work of content creators, curators, and translators is also critical.

Multilingual Models Could Make African Language Chatbots a Reality

Although lacking training data has certainly held African language NLP research back, multilingual pre-trained language models (mPLMs) could help researchers overcome this challenge.

Pre-trained models can be thought of as the building blocks of high-functioning chatbots. However, they still require task-specific fine-tuning in order to deliver conversational outputs.

By acquiring generalizable linguistic information during pretraining, multilingual models are able to interpret the basic structure and outline of related languages without the massive training datasets normally required.

Unsurprisingly, one recent study has shown that language similarity improves model performance. Just like speakers of related languages can often understand each other, models trained with one language can interpret similar languages accurately.

Using this approach, researchers developed an mPLM they called SERENGETI, which covers 517 African languages and language varieties.

This represents a major technological leap forward and a significant improvement on the 31 previously covered African languages.

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Lapsus$ Report Reveals Law Enforcement Struggles Against Cyber Threats


The United States Department of Homeland Security has published the results of its investigation into the teenage hacker group known as Lapsus$.

The report by the cyber safety review board (CSRB) found that a lack of government funding constrains law enforcement agencies. It also states that underreporting incidents further inhibits efforts to clamp down on cybercrime.

The Teenage Hacker Group That Attempted to Extort Microsoft and Nvidia

LapsusS rose to notoriety with a string of cyberattacks throughout 2022. The group’s first known target was the Brazilian Health Ministry, which had its computer systems compromised in December 2021.

Throughout 2022, LapsusS attacked a number of large technology firms, including Microsoft, Nvidia, Samsung, and Uber. Their tactics involve gaining access to private servers and then extorting victims with the threat of publishing or deleting their data.

In the UK, the group has become something of a media sensation due to the young age of some of its alleged core members. 

As reported by the BBC at the time, seven teenagers were arrested under suspicion of being involved with the Lapsus$ hacks. Among them was the then 16-year-old Arion Kurtaj, who is alleged to be a leading figure within the group known by the pseudonym “White.”

In a trial that started last month, Kurtaj and an unnamed 17-year-old are accused of hacking systems belonging to Nvidia, Rockstar Games, Revolut, and Uber. 

Despite Arrests, Cybersecurity Efforts Remain Hamstrung, Says CSRB

In its assessment of the threat posed by Lapsus$ and associated groups, the CSRB found that:

“Law enforcement remains underfunded for resource- and data-intensive investigations and disruptions against the full breadth of cyber threat actors.”

It also noted that “chronic underreporting” of cyber incidents hampers the government’s ability to warn other targeted entities, recommend mitigation measures, and seize stolen or extorted cryptocurrency and fiat money.

Crypto Central to Cyber Extortion 

The CSRB report discusses cryptocurrency’s central role in cybercrimes such as the Lapsus$ hacks.

For example, it notes that hackers often demand ransom payments in crypto. Moreover, the darknet markets, where stolen data is typically sold, tend to utilize privacy coins for facilitating transactions.

However, the CSRB found no evidence that any of the firms targeted by Lapsus$ actually paid ransoms. The report adds that the FBI was unaware of Lapsus$ selling stolen data.

Considering this, the report typically presents Lapsus$ as a collective of crypto-savvy hackers.

For example, it references an attempt by Lapsus$ members to extort Nvidia into updating its firmware in a way that would benefit Bitcoin miners. The hackers also offered to sell information that would allow miners to bypass hash rate limits imposed by Nvidia directly.

Message in Lapsus$ Telegram channel (Source: Telegram)

Recommendations From the Lapsus$ Report 

As well as documenting Lapsus$ exploits, the CSRB makes a number of recommendations that could help prevent future hacks.

Many of these reiterate commonly acknowledged cybersecurity best practices. For example, the report suggests organizations transition toward passwordless verification and embrace more advanced multi-factor authentication techniques. 

It also recommends the US government take a more proactive role in developing national cyber resilience. For example, it suggests ways the government could incentivize the adoption of more secure systems and procedures.

Finally, the CSRB advocates for a “whole-of-society” approach to threat mitigation.

The report notes that the juvenile status of Lapsus$ members complicated efforts to disrupt attacks. It recommends funding cybercrime prevention programs for young people to address this challenge.

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How Global Stablecoin Use Supports Dollar’s Supremacy


Stablecoins are helping to maintain dollar supremacy as international users drive demand for dollar-denominated cryptocurrencies.

The trend stands in contrast to narratives that depict crypto as a threat to the dominance of US dollars.

Non-US Markets Drive Demand For Dollar-Pegged Stablecoins

In comments this week, Circle CEO Jeremy Allaire reported that 70% of demand for USDC comes from outside the US. 

Noting that the fastest growth in adoption has been observed in emerging markets, he said that “demand for safe, transparent digital dollars is strong,” across Asia, LATAM, and Africa.

The largest stablecoin issuer, Tether, has also emphasized emerging markets as central to the continued adoption of USDT.

According to the firm, people in countries with volatile domestic currency use stablecoins to hedge against inflation without needing a USD-based bank account or holding cash.

Stablecoins Can Help Maintain Dollar Supremacy Says Ex-Binance Exec

In an interview with CNBC on Friday (Aug. 11), Brian Brooks, the former CEO of Binance US, discussed rising international demand for dollar-pegged stablecoins:

“Citizens in countries that have high inflation are really strongly demanding dollar-denominated products to keep their money safer after they’ve earned the money […] In many countries where you can’t get a dollar bank account, stablecoins are your best solution.”

Moreover, he implied that the US could leverage this demand to “make the dollar relevant again.” At a time when governments around the world want to limit the dollar’s role in the global financial system, Brooks argued that stablecoins could cement its position. 

However, he warned that the opportunity could be lost if the country doesn’t ratify an appropriate regulatory framework. Criticizing US policy on the issue, he said the government had suppressed stablecoin adoption by failing to regulate it properly.

Stablecoin Issuers Now Critical to Global Economy

Advocates of stablecoin regulation like Brooks point to their growing role in the global economy, arguing that they should be subject to the same oversight as banks.

Certainly, the $81.8 billion in assets under management that Tether reported in May puts it on par with a small American bank or even a large bank in an emerging economy. Yet few banks come close to Tether’s near-monopoly of the stablecoin market.

Stablecoin Market Share (Source: Blockworks)

Blockworks data shows that USDT accounts for over two-thirds of the total stablecoin supply, and its dominance has only grown in recent months. Often, this has been to the detriment of alternatives like BUSD, which has seen its market share slide.

What’s more, USDT’s closest rivals are all also denominated in US dollars. By comparison, the market for digital pounds or euros, for example, is tiny.

The US dollar is an undeniably powerful force in the global economy. And if dollar-pegged stablecoins continue to dominate and stablecoin adoption continues to rise, it will remain so.

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Visa’s Crypto Comeback: WhiteBIT Partnership Points to Payment Integration


Visa entered its first partnership with a crypto firm in half a year. By signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the crypto exchange WhiteBIT, the payments giant is opening the door to a sector that it has left out in the cold for months.

As well as embracing partnerships, recent technology announcements indicate that crypto is finally back in favor at Visa.

Visa’s Crypto Vision Has Been on Ice for Six Months

Back in February, Visa and Mastercard put the brakes on plans to partner with crypto firms in the wake of the bankruptcies and market collapse that had rocked the industry in the preceding months. A Visa spokesperson commented:

“Recent high-profile failures in the crypto sector are an important reminder that we have a long way to go before crypto becomes a part of mainstream payments and financial services,”

Visa and Mastercard have played significant roles in blockchain innovation, particularly in TradFi and banking. Their absence is palpable in the sector.

WhiteBIT and Visa Partner to Push Mainstream Crypto Adoption

Perhaps the most important way that Visa can support crypto firms is through its connection to major banks. After all, the Visa network is the largest card network in the world. Visa currently processes around 242 billion transactions last year.

Card Transactions (Source: Statista)

In a press release announcing the latest MoU, WhiteBIT stated its intention to leverage Visa’s extensive network of bank and FinTech partners. The release states that:

“The cooperation aims to support WhiteBIT in building sustainable relations with banks and fintech companies that are Visa partners and interested in crypto-related products implementation.”

Yevgen Lisnyak, Senior Director, Head of Strategic Partnerships, Fintech and Ventures, Visa CISSEE said the company sees “great potential in cryptocurrency-related products”.

He added that the new MoU would help WhiteBIT work together with banks to launch card programs and integrate cryptocurrencies into the mainstream financial sector.

Visa Explores Card-Based Gas Fee Payments 

In another indication that Visa is putting its weight behind the mainstreaming of cryptocurrency, the firm announced that it had tested a technique for enabling card-based Ethereum gas fee payments this week.

To do this, Visa used the ERC-4337 standard and a paymaster contract to execute Ethereum transactions without the user having to own ETH directly.

The company has successfully tested the idea on the Ethereum Goerli testnet. Furthermore, it is now exploring how the concept could be used to reduce friction for Ethereum users.

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Bored Ape Yacht Club Lawsuit Claims Sotheby’s Misled BAYC Investors


Sotheby’s is being sued by Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) investors. The auction house is named in a recent amendment to a class action lawsuit brought against BAYC creator Yuga Labs. The plaintiffs allege that the company misled investors using celebrity and institutional endorsements.

Previously, a string of celebrities, including Justin Bieber, Jimmy Fallon, and Madonna, have been named in the civil action.

Sotheby’s Helped Lend Legitimacy to Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT Collection, Claims Lawsuit

The allegations against Sotheby’s center on an auction for a lot of 101 BAYC NFTs it held in September 2021. The sale raised $24,393,000 for Yuga Labs, well above the $12–18 million presale estimate.

The lawsuit claims the auction helped Yuga Labs “deceptively promote” the NFT collection by lending it an air of legitimacy. 

According to the complaint, following the sale, Sotheby’s head of contemporary art auctions, Max Moore, misled BAYC NFT’s depictions by claiming that the undisclosed buyer was a ‘traditional’ collector. The plaintiffs object to this depiction, alleging that it was, in fact, the crypto exchange FTX that purchased the collection.

Celebrity Hype Cools as BAYC Prices Remain Low

The Sotheby’s BAYC auction occurred in the midst of a heated NFT market that has cooled significantly since.

After peaking in 2022, between the first and second quarters of 2023, NFT trading volume dropped 38%. And floor prices for some of the most prominent collections, including BAYC, have plummeted since their peak.

BAYC Floor Price (Source: CoinMarketCap)

Against this backdrop, some of the defendants named in the lawsuit against Yuga Labs have sought to distance themselves from the BAYC creator.

Lawyers representing Jimmy Fallon have previously stated that he has no connection with the company besides having bought a Bored Ape, which he mentioned in two episodes of the Tonight Show. 

Meanwhile, the value of a Bored Ape owned by Justin Bieber, has dropped by as much as 95%. Bieber paid $1.3 million for the NFT in January 2022, but it is now worth closer to $60,000.

The post Bored Ape Yacht Club Lawsuit Claims Sotheby’s Misled BAYC Investors appeared first on BeInCrypto.

5 Things to Know About Base, the New Layer 2 Chain From Coinbase


With the Base Mainnet set to launch on August 9, excitement is building around Coinbase’s Ethereum Layer 2 (L2) blockchain.

Having launched the testnet in February, Base is described by Coinbase as a “secure, low-cost, developer-friendly Ethereum L2 built to bring the next billion users to web3.”

But in an increasingly crowded field of Ethereum scaling solutions, what differentiates Base from other L2s?

This article will look at five key features of the new blockchain network that distinguish it.

1. The Base Chain is Built Using OP Stack

To build Base, Coinbase turned to OP Stack, a modular, open-source framework developed by the team behind Optimism. As the Ethereum ecosystem ushers in a new era of rollup-centric development, OP Stack is a popular tool among L2 developers looking to deploy optimistic rollups. 

The Base Mainnet will function as a separate network from Optimism. But the decision to use OP Stack means there will be a high level of interoperability between the L2s. 

From the outset, the Base development team has collaborated closely with OP Labs, a core developer of OP Stack. What’s more, the two projects are aligned in their approach to Ethereum scaling. With a shared vision for a decentralized, interoperable “Superchain” of L2s, Base is continuous with a movement started by Optimism.

Emphasizing the Superchain vision, Base developers have committed to sharing the network’s transaction fees with the Optimism Collective.

2. Base Does Not Have Its Own Token

You may be wondering, what token does Base use? But unlike other L2s, Base doesn’t have its own dedicated network token and there are no plans to issue one.

Arguably, this tokenless design is only possible thanks to the support of Coinbase, which lends legitimacy to the Base chain. Unlike other comparable solutions, the project has offered no token incentive for locking assets on Base.

Since the Mainnet launch, the total value locked (TVL) on the Base blockchain has climbed to over 61,000 ETH. In USD, that equates to a TVL of around $112 million. The majority of this is likely to have come from Coinbase as it looks to boost liquidity on the network.

TVL on Base (Source: L2Beat)

The decision not to issue a native Base token follows a philosophy of remaining as “close” to Ethereum as possible. And in a bid to entice Ethereum developers, Base has sought to closely replicate its features while scaling its functionality in line with other L2s.

3. The Base Chain Was Designed to House Coinbase Products But Has Broader Ecosystem Ambitions 

The development of Base was funded by Coinbase. And the crypto exchange operator intends to use the blockchain to power various products going forward.

Yet, despite this initial impetus, the vision for Base is to build an open ecosystem that will attract other applications. In this sense, it is similar to the BNB chain, which grew out of the efforts of the Binance crypto exchange but now runs mostly autonomously from the company that built it.

Like Binance, Coinbase is one of the most recognizable crypto brands in the world. And Base intends to leverage this brand recognition to attract users. 

Certainly, with $120 billion in crypto assets on the platform and millions of active users, Coinbase could drive significant value to Base. But if it is to achieve the dream of a billion Web3 users, it will need to demonstrate use cases that extend beyond the limited world of cryptocurrency trading.  

To this end, Base has already welcomed a number of testnet participants. The Base team has also extended an invitation to new builders to join the network. 

4. Base is Committed to Decentralization

Coinbase’s involvement invites criticism that Base is “owned” by a private corporation. Yet, the crypto space is notoriously skeptical of blockchain projects that don’t adhere to the philosophy of decentralization.

At the moment, the only sequencer on the Base network is Coinbase. In other words, servers controlled by the firm are solely responsible for validating transactions.

However, Base has a roadmap for decentralization in there coming months and years. Going forward, its operation and governance will transition toward something more analogous to Ethereum.

As an in-between step, the first move will be to delegate decision-making powers from the core Base developers. to a “security council” representing the key stakeholders. As the Base ecosystem grows, it will roll out more democratic governance mechanisms to represent the diversity of network participants.

5. Base Supports Account Abstraction

In Ethereum jargon, there are two types of “accounts”. Contract accounts execute code upon the receipt of a transaction. Meanwhile, externally owned accounts (EOAs) function as addresses that send and receive Ether. 

Users interact with Ethereum using EOAs, which is the only way to initiate a transaction or execute a smart contract. The concept of account abstraction describes situations in which a user interacts with the network without owning the underlying account.

In other words, it allows third-party EOAs to execute transactions on behalf of someone else. This means users can engage with smart contracts without having to pay gas fees or worry about storing private keys.

Two companies, Gelato and Safe, collaborated to help facilitate account abstraction on Base. As discussed in a Gelato blog post, the Base Mainnet is accompanied by an account abstraction Software Development Kit (SDK). The SDK will help Web3 developers easily build account abstraction into their applications.

The post 5 Things to Know About Base, the New Layer 2 Chain From Coinbase appeared first on BeInCrypto.

BUSD Facing Competition: Binance’s Stablecoin Loses Market Share


BUSD’s market share has been dwindling for months now and the decline shows no sign of slowing down.

Even Binance appears to have abandoned support for its dollar-pegged stablecoin, which was once a dominant force on the cryptocurrency exchange.

BUSD Loses Market Share

In the past month the market capitalization of BUSD has fallen by 16.14%, DeFiLlama data shows.

Alongside other well-known stablecoins, BUSD is losing out to USDT dominance. According to Blockworks, on Sunday Aug. 6, Tether’s flagship stablecoin accounted for a 67.17% share of the total market.

Stablecoins Market Share (Source: Blockworks)

When Binance first launched BUSD in 2019, it put its full weight behind the stablecoin. With the backing of the world’s largest crypto exchange, it took just 261 days for BUSD to amass a market capitalization of $1 billion USD. And it achieved this milestone faster than any other stablecoin.

Within a year, the exchange had listed 97 BUSD trading pairs. At its peak, that figure climbed to over 300. 

But in the past year, Binance has been forced to put the brakes on BUSD. 

In February, the stablecoin issuer Paxos ended its partnership with Binance and stopped minting BUSD at the request of the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

In a June tweet, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) claimed that the NYDFS had essentially capped the potential supply of BUSD at $23 billion, a fact he associated with the growth of rival USDT.

Has Binance Given up on BUSD?

Amid declining market share and Tether’s growing dominance, Binance has somewhat changed course on BUSD.

After the platform removed eight BUSD spot trading pairs on Wednesday Aug. 2, there are now only 289 pairs available to BUSD users. By contrast, Binance lists 352 USDT trading pairs.

Against the backdrop of shrinking support from its parent platform, data from IntoTheBlock shows that the circulating supply of BUSD has declined by nearly 81% in the past year alone.

BUSD Circulating Supply 365-Day Change. Source: IntoTheBlock
BUSD Circulating Supply 365-Day Change. Source: IntoTheBlock

Moreover, recent Binance Launchpool events have favored alternative stablecoins as staked assets. While BUSD-staking was once a staple of the exchange’s token-farming platform, it has been absent from recent pools.

In its place, the latest Launchpool events have embraced the new stablecoin FDUSD. While the Launchpools run throughout August, participants can earn CYBER and SEI by staking either BNB, TUSD, or FDUSD.

Tether–Binance Rivalry Heats up

While Binance’s latest Launchpools have abandoned BUSD-staking, the platform hasn’t just rolled over and accepted defeat at the hands of Tether, even though it has enabled USDT staking in previous rounds.

Moreover, during an AMA in May, CZ criticized the world’s largest stablecoin for a lack of transparency, calling USDT a “black box”.

In Tether’s corner, on the other hand, CTO Paolo Ardoino recently threw digs at FDUSD after it gained significant traction at the beginning of August.

In May, First Digital’s debut of FDUSD received a significant boost from Binance, which celebrated its listing by offering zero trading fees for selected FDUSD trading pairs.

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USDT Reserves in the Spotlight

CZ isn’t the first person to object to Tether’s collateralization strategy, which critics argue is opaque. 

Against such allegations, Tether has moved to improve transparency into its USDT reserves, which consist mostly of US Treasury Bills and other liquid, dollar-based assets.

For detractors, however, the 85% of USDT reserves made up of cash and cash equivalents aren’t the issue. It’s the other 15% that they object to.

For Tether, a key victory against such complaints came this week, when a judge dismissed a class action lawsuit that claimed it misled investors. 

The complaint underscored one of the most common criticisms of USDT. Namely, that Tether’s claim its stablecoin is redeemable one-for-one with fiat dollars is misleading.

However, now that the case has been thrown out, Tether’s strategy of putting 15% of USDT reserves into alternative investments has been legitimized in court.

Tether’s Bitcoin Balance Increases by $176M

Alongside corporate bonds, precious metals, and secured loans, Tether has also invested in Bitcoin. And in May, the company stated its intention to allocate 15% of its profits into the cryptocurrency.

Since then, Tether’s Bitcoin holdings have ballooned. According to blockchain analyst Tom Whan, the company now holds 55,000 BTC, worth $1.6 billion USD. This represents an increase of $176 million since the previous quarter.

In fact, a BTC address identified by Whan as belonging to Tether is the 11th most well-funded in existence and contains around 0.3% of all BTC in circulation.

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Elon Musk Dispels X Token Rumors Following TwitterDAO Pump and Dump


Elon Musk has ruled out an X/Twitter crypto token and insisted he has no intention of launching one.

The comments came after the TwitterDAO coin pumped and then quickly dumped on Saturday. Twitter has never endorsed the token. Only its name connects it to the social media brand.

Commenting on a post about the issue, Musk asserted that neither he nor the platform he owns have launched a token and that they “never will”.

TwitterDAO Pumps and Dumps

TwitterDAO is a BEP-20 token that arrived on the scene on August 3. Available only to swap on for WETH on decentralized exchanges and with no obvious online presence otherwise, it showed all the telltale signs of a classic crypto pump and dump.

Lo and behold, on Friday, the token surged by 11,800% in just ten hours. But just as quickly as it exploded, the price of TwitterDAO collapsed back down to nearly zero. 

TwitterDAO Price (Source: CoinMarketCap)

An analysis of trades listed on CoinMarketCap shows that the token price peaked at $0.0001193 on Friday afternoon. Shortly after, the biggest dump occurred at $0.000018, netting its seller around $54,000 in WETH. The final trade of the day valued TwitterDAO at just $0.0000052931.

Twitter, Dogecoin, and Elon Musk

Speculation that Elon Musk could launch a cryptocurrency for use on Twitter/X has circulated ever since he bought the platform in 2022. 

The tech billionaire is idolized by certain segments of the online crypto community and has long embraced his role as the “Dogefather” endearing himself to Dogecoin (DOGE) fans.

Musk’s association with the meme coin has even landed him in legal hot water following allegations of market manipulation and insider trading. However, recent trends suggest that his influence on the price of DOGE may be waning.

X Token Rumors Unfounded

There has never been any official announcement to support the idea that Twitter could launch its own coin. But after Musk rebranded the platform to X, the theory was reignited.

For example, one user of the platform, cyclops, erroneously tweeted that an “$X” coin was confirmed. 

The account has only a modest following of roughly 31,000 which they amassed by mostly retweeting airdrop opportunities. Nonetheless, other users picked up cyclops’ assertation that a Musk-approved X coin was on the way and the rumor gained some traction throughout the week.

Elon Musk Has No Plans to Launch His Own Crypto

On Saturday, Musk commented on a social media post warning people to be wary of news articles suggesting the existence of any officially endorsed Twitter/X cryptocurrencies.

An account going by the name of DogeDesigner attracted Musk’s attention with a Tweet pointing to reports on the TwitterDAO and non-existent X tokens. 

The post cautioned DogeDesigner’s followers that “Elon Musk and X have never launched a crypto token.” To this, Musk responded, “and we never will”.

In four words, the Twitter/X owner dispelled rumors of a potential X token. His comment will likely shut down speculation that the platform could launch one. 

But ultimately, the effects of Musk’s assertive statement on the matter remain to be seen. And it may not dissuade crypto projects from attempting to piggyback off his personal brand and those of the companies he owns.

Twitter and X aren’t the only Musk-associated brands that have been appropriated by unrelated tokens. Over the years, coin developers have also deployed Tesla and SpaceX in a similar manner.

And as long as Musk remains a high-profile public figure with a special appeal to meme coin aficionados, such appropriation may still prove attractive.

The post Elon Musk Dispels X Token Rumors Following TwitterDAO Pump and Dump appeared first on BeInCrypto.

Alphabet Offloads 90% of Its Robinhood Shares as Exchange’s Crypto Revenues Slide


Google’s parent company Alphabet has dumped 90% of its shares in Robinhood, a recent regulatory filing reveals.

Perhaps unfortunately for the Big Tech firm, the sale of $6,109,896 in Robinhood stock occurred just as the digital exchange company reported its first profitable quarter since going public.

Alphabet Dumps Robinhood and Other Household Digital Brands

According to the recent filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Alphabet has nearly entirely divested itself from Robinhood. But the digital exchange operator isn’t the only well-known digital brand that Alphabet has reduced its position in.

The SEC filing also reports that the company sold $35,502,698 worth of shares in the ride-sharing firm Lyft. As reported by CNBC, the tech giant has also sold a significant amount of shares in Duolingo and 23andMe.

Alphabet invested in all four businesses before they were listed publicly. But for maximum profit, it would have paid off to wait just a little longer.

The SEC filing reports that Alphabet’s Robinhood selloff occurred in the period up to June 30. But the exchange’s share price increased notably in July. And on August 3. The company reported revenues of $486 million, marking its first profitable quarter since its Initial Public Offering (IPO).

Robinhood Crypto Business Shrinks

Despite reporting 10% quarterly revenue growth, Robinhood’s earnings from its cryptocurrency trading platform decreased by 18% to $31 million.

One worrying trend for Robinhood is that monthly active users have declined across its exchange services. Standing at, 10.8 million in Q2 2023, the figure represents a loss of one million users since the previous quarter. Compared to Q2 2022, the platform’s monthly user count is down 3.2 million.

The post Alphabet Offloads 90% of Its Robinhood Shares as Exchange’s Crypto Revenues Slide appeared first on BeInCrypto.

Satoshi Nakamoto Unmasked: Have We Known the Truth From the Start?


The real identity of Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto is a favorite topic of debate in the world of crypto, and Hal Finney’s name often comes up as a likely candidate.

Although he denied the claims before his death in 2014, Finney remains a strong contender to this day.

Who is Hal Finney?

Hal Finney is the shortened version of  Harold Thomas Finney II. Born in California in 1956, few details are known about Finney’s early life. But he is remembered in the field of cryptography as a brilliant computer scientist and committed cypherpunk.

After graduating with an engineering degree from the California Institute of Technology in 1979, Finney initially embarked on a career as a game developer. In the eighties, he worked on titles including Adventures of Tron, Armor Ambush, Astrosmash, and Space Attack. However, from 1986 onward, he would transition to focus his professional and personal energies on cryptography.

Finney’s interest in cryptography would see him work closely with Phil Zimmermann to develop the Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption protocol. And when Zimmerman founded PGP inc. in 1996, Finney was his first hire.

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Throughout the nineties, Finney became a central figure in the cypherpunk movement. Alongside other members of the group, he advocated for the use of privacy-enhancing technologies as a means of evading surveillance.

The cypherpunks were discussing online surveillance and data privacy when awareness of such topics was rare. And participants in the movement were among the first to explore tools that allow people to traverse the digital realm anonymously.

Finney’s Role in Pre-Bitcoin Digital Cash Research

Alongside his friend and fellow cryptographer Nick Szabo, Finney became interested in the concept of digital cash. In 1998, Szabo proposed a design for a decentralized digital called bit gold. Finney would later build on the work when he developed the first reusable Proof-of-Work (PoW) system in 2004.

Both bit gold and Finney’s research into PoW mechanisms are often cited as important precursors to the development of cryptocurrencies. And both men have been associated with the name Satoshi Nakamoto

Interestingly, Finney was involved in the Bitcoin network from its inception. And he received the first Bitcoin transaction from Nakamoto’s wallet in 2008.

Toward the end of his life, Hal Finney was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). 

The degenerative disease would ultimately lead to his death in 2014. In an obituary, the New York Times reported that Finney’s family was able to pay for medical treatment in his final years using Bitcoins he secured in the early days of the network.

Hal Finney’s Comments on Satoshi Nakamoto

When questioned by journalists, Finney always denied being the inventor of Bitcoin. In posts on the BitcoinTalk forum in 2013, he claimed to only have interacted with Nakamoto online and had no knowledge of their real identity.

According to those posts, Finney’s relationship with Nakamoto grew out of a shared interest in the concept of an anonymous digital currency. From this, Finney became the first Bitcoin recipient. However, besides being a beneficiary of early transactions, he said that he had little involvement in the nascent project for its first two years.

Bitcoin Origins Still a Mystery

Today, the true identity of Satoshi Nakamoto remains shrouded in mystery. But speculation continues to abound as the debate rages on.

For example, in the UK, Dr. Craig Steven Wright is fighting a copyright case to prove that he authored the Bitcoin white paper. However, it is unlikely he will prove his claim. That is unless he surprises the world and provides evidence that he controls Nakamoto’s PGP key.

Unlike Wright, Finney’s contributions to the history of crypto are widely acknowledged. From his work on PGP, which helped sustain anonymity during the Bitcoin community’s crucially formative years, to his invention of the PoW mechanism that would inspire Ethereum years later, Finney played a critical role in ushering in the crypto revolution.

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Alchemix and JPEG’d Recoup Losses as Curve Finance Hacker Returns Stolen Funds 


A crypto wallet labeled “Alchemix/CurveFinance Exploiter” has returned funds that were stolen from Alchemex earlier in the week. The NFT staking platform JPEG’d has also seen the return of stolen assets.

The moves add an unexpected twist to the events of the past week, during which the DeFi space has been rattled by a string of cyber thefts that exploited a Curve Finance vulnerability.

Hacker Begins Return of $61 Million in Stolen Crypto

Earlier in the week Alchemix, a self-repaying loan platform, was hacked for around $61 million worth of crypto. The attack exploited a vulnerability in several Curve Finance pools which has been felt across the DeFi landscape.

However, on Friday, Alchemix said that the hacker returned 4,819 alETH and 2259 ETH worth nearly $13 million. 

In a statement, the company thanked the thief for returning the stolen assets. It added that Alchemix looks forward forward to continued collaboration and the return of the remaining funds.

Alongside Curve Finance and another victim Metronome, Alchemix has previously offered to reward 10% of the stolen funds in exchange for their return.

Curve Finance Exploiter Taunts: “I’m Smarter Than All of You”

At present, Alchmix has not elaborated on its supposed collaboration with the hacker. However, a series of Ether transactions were used to convey messages between the involved parties. 

In a message attached to an Ether transaction on Friday, the exploiter gloated: “I’m refunding you not because you can find me, it’s because I don’t want to ruin your project, maybe it’s a lot of money for a lot of people, but not for me, I’m smarter than all of you.”

JPEG’d Rewards 10% Bounty for Return of Stolen Funds

Although Alchemix has not publicized details of any agreement, another victim of the Curve exploit has confirmed the reward of a 10% bounty in exchange for the return of stolen assets.

After losing $11.6 million of crypto in the Curve hack, the NFT-staking platform JPEG’d opted to collaborate with its attacker. On Friday evening, the JPEG’d team publicly asserted that they would not attempt to identify the person behind the hack or pursue legal action against them.

The wallet holding the stolen funds has been rewarded with a 10% “white hat bounty” of 610.0 ETH. It isn’t known whether the wallet is controlled by the same person behind the Alchemix/CurveFinance Exploiter address. The relationship between the two attacks is also unknown.

In the grand scheme of things, many will agree that roughly a million dollars worth of crypto is a price worth paying to recover 90% of losses. What’s more, the JPEG token appears to have been buoyed by news of the refund.

JPEG Price Chart (Source: BeInCrypto)

Last Sunday (Jul 30.), JPEG plummeted in value after the platform reported the first losses from the Curve exploit. As of Saturday morning, however, the token had recovered to its pre-hack value.

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13% of Crypto Hedge Funds Have Closed in 2023 Despite Bitcoin Climbing 75%


So far in 2023, 13% of crypto hedge funds have been shuttered and the rate at which they are formed has slowed, data from 21e6 Capital shows.

The trend is at odds with the past performance of such funds, which have historically fared well when crypto assets increase in value. Compared to the beginning of the year, Bitcoin is up around 75% against the dollar.

Crypto Hedge Funds Fail to Keep up With Bitcoin Gains

According to 21e6 Capital’s database of crypto funds, hedge funds have struggled to keep pace with an increase in the price of Bitcoin. And across different fund strategies, USD returns in 2023 have lagged behind BTC gains. 

In an analysis of the data, the Swiss firm found that directional funds have especially underperformed when benchmarked against Bitcoin.

Directional funds deploy strategies based on anticipated market movements. Compared to their non-directional peers, they rely more on futures markets and tend to make bets on short-term price fluctuations. When applied to crypto, directional strategies can fail when long-term trends break down. 

Quantitative Strategies Prove Less Effective

Of all the investment strategies hedge funds pursue, what’s known as a “quantitative directional” approach has proven to be the least effective in 2023. This strategy relies on statistical decision-making and tends to make use of trading algorithms.

Performance of Crypto Hedge Funds (Source: 21e6 Capital)

As the 21e6 Capital report notes, such data-based approaches caused headaches for directional funds in a year defined by choppy markets. In other words, even though crypto prices have risen, they haven’t followed previously observed patterns.

This gives false signals to trading algorithms and reduces the predictive power of trend-following strategies.

Another challenge to algorithmic trading tactics is the recent proliferation of AI-generated content online. Quant funds are adjusting their data harvesting methods to safeguard the accuracy and effectiveness of their algorithms. This comes amid the increasing prevalence of AI-driven misinformation.

In fact, it isn’t just trading algorithms that are threatened by the increased prevalence of AI-generated content. Research has shown that across different families of machine learning models, when input data is corrupted by artificially-created material, the output is negatively affected

Funds Still Suffering From FTX Contagion

Persistent challenges stemming from the FTX bankruptcy last year have also affected the performance of crypto hedge funds. The fallout from the crisis has even forced the closure of some crypto funds.

For instance, Galois Capital shuttered in February with $40 million worth of assets trapped in the defunct FTX exchange.

Even funds that didn’t suffer any significant losses from the FTX bankruptcy have had to adapt to the post-FTX landscape of crypto trading. 

FTX had been a prominent crypto derivatives exchange offering perpetual swaps, futures, and options. As there is currently no clear alternative to take its top position, funds heavily reliant on these derivatives have had to use exchanges with lower liquidity.

Banks Have Become Less Supportive of Crypto

What’s more, according to 21e6 Capital, crypto funds have had a hard time accessing critical banking services all year. 

On the one hand, following the FTX crisis, many banks adjusted their approach to the crypto sector as a whole. Under increased regulatory scrutiny, previously crypto-friendly banks have cut off ties with crypto hedge funds. This problem was only exacerbated by the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank. 

As the report observes, “even exceptionally well-performing funds shut down due to lack of a new banking partner.” 

Based on conversations with crypto funds, it concludes that: 

“We sense that the market sentiment among [liquidity providers] is still lower than would be expected after a positive start to the year. Many funds certainly lagged the market and now have a harder time presenting a value proposition to their prospective investors.”

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Rumors Linked to Brian Armstrong Drive a 30,000x Surge in BALD Meme Coin in 24 Hours


The BALD meme coin has surged in value. Built on the Coinbase-incubated Base blockchain, BALD’s price has multiplied 30,000 times in the past 24 hours.

Brian Armstrong Rumors Drive Frenzy

A trading frenzy that began on Sunday, July 30, quickly propelled BALD to the attention of meme coin aficionados.

At the height of a pump on Sunday afternoon, the coin token’s price was approaching $0.085, with a market capitalization of around $85 million.

BALD Price Chart. Source: GeckoTerminal

Interestingly, the coin appears to have been deployed by a whale connected to a large supply of cbETH, the Coinbase variant of staked ETH.

Based on this fact and Base’s association with Coinbase, speculation is that it was created by someone associated with the company. Rumors that Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong might be behind the coin further fueled the mysterious token’s fire.

BALD arrived on Uniswap unannounced on Saturday. It has no website or social media presence, and its origins remain a mystery.

Base Chain TVL Balloons

An Ethereum Layer 2 solution, the Base chain itself, is still under development. Nonetheless, with interest in the BALD meme coin, the total value locked (TVL) on Base spiked over the weekend.

At the time of writing, BASE’s TVL was approaching $50 million from less than two million USD on Saturday. 

Read more: Layer 1 vs. Layer 2: What Is the Difference?

Total value locked (TVL) on Base increases
Total Value Locked on Base (Source: L2Beat)

At present, it isn’t possible to bridge assets out of the Base chain. Still, with liquidity on the rise, it seems likely that more tokens will appear on the chain.

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