ConsenSys Acquires Blockchain Notification Tool HAL to Enhance Web3 Development

ConsenSys Acquires Blockchain Notification Tool HAL to Enhance Web3 Development

ConsenSys recently acquired blockchain notification tool HAL for an undisclosed amount to facilitate Web3 development. According to reports, the HAL acquisition sees the no-code blockchain development tooling platform bring 10 employees to ConsenSys. In addition, HAL also migrates more than 40 blockchain-enabled application programming interfaces (APIs) to Infura, the ConsenSys’ renowned Web3 connectivity layer. The crossover APIs enhance tools like Infura and facilitate easier usage amid the emergence of the next-gen, decentralized internet.

The HAL acquisition underscores ConsenSys’ vision to continue enhancing its core product suite. The blockchain software tech company is also banking on HAL to help it build better systems for a decentralized future.

Commenting on the ConsenSys Web3-focused acquisition of HAL and all its trappings, Infura co-founder Eleazar Galano noted:

“HAL is a great fit for Infura as it allows users to access more than 40+ higher level APIs for blockchain / on-chain listening and signals. This integration means a step forward in Infura’s plan to evolve beyond the leading RPC provider and become a leader in blockchain development tools.”

HAL President and co-founder Marco De Rossi also weighed in on the development, saying:

“Since day one, we believed bridging Web3 and Web2 is paramount to improve blockchain user experience, reach less technical people, scale blockchain to mass adoption, and fulfill the trustless, people-empowering Web3 vision we are all excited about.

De Rossi added that the ConsenSys collaboration “tremendously accelerates the impact of HAL technology by bringing it to millions of users.”

Insight into How HAL Aids ConsenSys Interconnected Web3 Ambitions

As a blockchain notification tool, HAL sifts through protocol data and permits users to create notifications for several tasks and assignments. These obligations include trading, governance voting, and tax compliance. The acquisition allows Infura to integrate HAL’s notification service or configurable webhooks into its developer stack. Furthermore, this move would allow developers to create notifications and alerts at the protocol level for various signals.

HAL’s acquisition by ConsenSys also feeds into Infura’s overarching agenda to build an open, decentralized web. This enablement comes by equipping blockchain developers with powerful tools that support numerous networks and use cases. The acquisition also props up MetaMask’s functionality in offering a more dynamic and personalized notification system.

MyCrypto Acquisition

ConsenSys’ acquisition of HAL came one year after the New York-based blockchain company acquired MyCrypto. That acquisition aimed to strengthen MetaMask’s partnership and improve Web3 experiences through the leading wallet base. HAL’s integration could build on the user experience improvements since the MyCrypto acquisition.

Staff Cuts

Last month, ConsenSys announced plans to lay off 97 people to “adjust to challenging and uncertain market conditions.” With that announcement, the company became the latest tech player to reduce headcount in the face of economic uncertainty. However, ConsenSys pledged to support the affected staff and make their departure more bearable. According to the company, departing employees would receive severance packages depending on their tenure.

ConsenSys Acquires Blockchain Notification Tool HAL to Enhance Web3 Development

Elon Musk Attorney Seeks Removal of Twitter Review Deal with SEC

Elon Musk Attorney Seeks Removal of Twitter Review Deal with SEC

An attorney representing Elon Musk has asked a San Francisco federal court to throw out his 2018 deal with the SEC. The deal required that Musk seeks approval for all Tesla-related tweets before posting them on his page. According to Musk’s lawyer Alex Spiro, the Tesla CEO’s recent victory in a securities fraud trial necessitates the deal’s cancellation.

In a class-action securities fraud case, a jury found that Musk and Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA) were not liable. This trial stemmed from tweets the outspoken billionaire made back in 2018 regarding Tesla’s shares. At the time, Musk sustained a lawsuit from irate Tesla shareholders for roiling the EV company’s stock volatility.

The plaintiffs alleged in August 2018 that Musk announced plans to take Tesla private and had “funding secured.” According to reports at the time, the brash Tesla CEO planned to take the EV automaker private for $420 a share. Musk also allegedly suggested that he had investor support for the deal.

Elon Musk – SEC “Twitter Sitter” Deal

Although Musk eventually won the ensuing deal, a seemingly impedimental agreement with the Securities and Exchange Commission materialized. This agreement, which Spiro wants to be removed now, requires a company securities attorney to review all Musk’s Tesla-related tweets. The securities lawyer has to review said tweets to see if they contain material business information before Musk can share them.

In a petition to the courthouse, Spiro wrote:

“In light of the jury’s finding that Mr. Musk’s tweets did not violate Rule 10b-5, the SEC lacks support both for the consent decree itself and for its arguments on appeal. The jury’s verdict provides further reason why the public interest in avoiding unconstitutional settlements easily subsumes the SEC’s purported stake in the consent decree.”

Further arguing on the need to scrap the Elon Musk-SEC deal, the Quinn Emanuel Partner also added that “likewise, the jury’s verdict confirms the propriety of applying the unconstitutional conditions doctrine, which prohibits deals achieved “through gimmickry, which converted a valid [settlement] into ‘an out-and-out plan of extortion.’”

Lawyers representing the plaintiffs could still file for an appeal.

Pending Twitter CEO Appointment

A week ago, Musk announced the date for the possible appointment of a new Twitter chief executive officer. According to him, a new Twitter CEO could be appointed by the end of this year. Since the Tesla CEO took over the microblogging giant, its revenue has declined tremendously as advertisers have paused campaigns.

Speaking on a potential Twitter successor at the World Government Summit in Dubai, Musk said:

“I’m guessing probably towards the end of this year should be good timing to find someone else to run the company because I think it should be in a stable position around the end of this year.”

However, the billionaire businessman stressed the imperativeness of making sure that Twitter is financially stable before the successor’s appointment.

Although Twitter currently weathers declining revenue, Musk has proposed several ways through which the company could increase its earning potential. These suggestions include charging users for premium account verification (Twitter Blue) and charging developers for API access.

Musk remains committed to monetizing Twitter to the hilt as part of broader plans to make the platform profitable.

Elon Musk Attorney Seeks Removal of Twitter Review Deal with SEC

Hundreds of Fake ChatGPT Tokens Issued on BNB Chain and ETH as AI Popularity Surges

Hundreds of Fake ChatGPT Tokens Issued on BNB Chain and ETH as AI Popularity Surges

According to reports, no-gooders are taking advantage of the ongoing ChatGPT rave by issuing fake tokens. These malicious market participants have issued fake tokens branded after ChatGPT in the past few weeks. 132 of these bogus tokens saw issuance on the BNB Chain in that time, the most on one blockchain. Meanwhile, Ethereum (ETH) saw the fake distribution of 25 tokens, with Solana, Arbitrum, OKChain, and Cronos blockchains handling smaller token issuances.

Although none of these ChatGPT tokens have any association with the artificial intelligence chatbot tool, they are successfully luring crypto punters.

More on Issuances of Fake ChatGPT Tokens

The fake issuances come on the heels of Microsoft’s move towards a laudable ChatGPT functionality integration. The computer software giant recently integrated OpenAI’s search service-oriented chatbots on its own internet browsers – including Bing. At the time, Yusuf Mehdi, the Corporate Vice President and Consumer Chief Marketing Officer, commented on Microsoft’s new AI-powered search engine, saying:

“We think of it humbly as the next generation of search and browsing, infused with AI and assembled as an integrated experience; we’re going to re-imagine the search engine, the web browser, and new chat experiences into something we think of as your co-pilot for the web.”

Although OpenAI is the creator behind ChatGPT, Microsoft’s own chatbot is reportedly an improvement over the OpenAI initiative. Scammers hoping to monetize the hype surrounding the BingChatGPT have elicited large sums of money in trading volumes from users. Furthermore, several issued questionable tokens, seeded with liquidity, continue to enjoy popularity despite glaring caution.

As of press time, there were more than 170 ChatGPT-branded tokens issued on decentralized exchanges, including Uniswap and PancakeSwap. The most popular branded token has a market capitalization of more than $250 million, with $600,000 in liquidity. In addition, this token, issued on Ethereum, also has more than 300 unique holders. Meanwhile, a separate BNB Chain-variant has a market cap of $24 million and $246,000 in liquidity.

Bing AI Chatbot

Last week, Microsoft reportedly found early success with its AI search chatbot. The Microsoft Bing AI chatbot secured the approval of 71% of testers and improved user engagement across more than 150 countries. In addition, Microsoft revealed that users deployed the chat-ready Bing beyond specific queries. According to the multinational tech corporation, these searches covered broader and more general world discoveries and social entertainment.

Despite the early positive response to its Bing AI chatbot, Microsoft identified room for improvement. For instance, the company plans to increase the grounding data required for queries that demand high accuracy, including financial reports. In Microsoft’s opinion, increasing the model responsible for rendering answers could generate more enhanced results and overall output.

Microsoft also admitted that its chatbot could improve how it handles lengthier conversations. On conversations extending beyond 15 minutes, the leading computer software company said of Bing:

“Bing can become repetitive or be prompted/provoked to give responses that are not necessarily helpful or in line with our designed tone.”

Microsoft further welcomed feedback from early human interactions with its AI chatbot as opportunities to improve further.

Hundreds of Fake ChatGPT Tokens Issued on BNB Chain and ETH as AI Popularity Surges

Microsoft to Defend Activision at Upcoming EU Antitrust Hearing

Microsoft to Defend Activision at Upcoming EU Antitrust Hearing

Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ: MSFT) President Brad Smith will promote the proposed deal with Activision Blizzard (NASDAQ: ATVI) at an EU hearing. According to a Reuters report, Smith will lead a delegation of 18 senior executives at the closed hearing to try to convince EU antitrust regulators to allow the deal. These executives include Microsoft Gaming Chief Executive Officer Phil Spencer and Activision Chief Executive Officer Robert Kotick.

Since Microsoft announced its intent in January last year to acquire Activision, concerns have centered around potential gaming monopolization. Involved regulatory agencies and videogame mainstays have argued that the computer software giant could gain an unfair advantage via the Activision acquisition. The reason is that Microsoft would have sole control and rights to the videogame developer’s stable gaming titles. A notable example is the “Call of Duty” franchise, which is wildly popular across several gaming platforms. However, Microsoft continues to debunk such concerns as misplaced and counter-argues that its $69 billion Activision acquisition would actually boost competition. Smith plans to drive this message home at the EU hearing scheduled for today, February 21st.

Microsoft Attempts to Sway Stakeholders

At the EU hearing, Microsoft could also assess the mood and measure sentiments provoked by the proposed Activision acquisition. Those slated to listen to Smith’s address include senior European Union and national competition officials. Reuters also reported that European Commission lawyers would also sit in on today’s closed hearing.

Nonetheless, Smith seems optimistic about the outcome of the EU hearing, even telling reporters en route:

“I think we will make clear that our acquisition of Activision Blizzard will bring more games to more people on more devices and platforms than ever before.”

Microsoft also previously argued that it would share Activision’s popular gaming titles in a 10-year lease-like arrangement with rivals.

Microsoft Rival Present at Activision Deal EU Hearing

Microsoft’s primary gaming rival, Sony, which produces the PlayStation line of consoles, also sent its gaming chief to the hearing. Sony is leading the charge for those agitating against Microsoft’s pending takeover of Activision. The Japanese-based consumer electronics giant previously called on regulators, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), to block the deal.

Other tech-inclined mainstays, such as Alphabet (NASDAQ: GOOGL) and Nvidia Corporation (NASDAQ: NVDA), also participated in the hearing. Commenting on the hearing, a Google spokesperson explained:

“The European Commission asked for our views in the course of their inquiries into this issue. We will continue to cooperate in any processes, when requested, to ensure all views are considered.”

UK CMA Verdict

The EU hearing follows reports from earlier this month that the Microsoft-Acquisition deal was under further threat. The deal, which the FTC already sued to block last December, was flagged for anti-competitive tendencies by a UK regulator. According to the United Kingdom Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the Activision acquisition harms the UK gaming community.

Microsoft to Defend Activision at Upcoming EU Antitrust Hearing

Beijing Subtly Backing Hong Kong amid Special Administrative Region Plans to Become Crypto Hub

Beijing Subtly Backing Hong Kong amid Special Administrative Region Plans to Become Crypto Hub

Hong Kong has reportedly secured quiet backing from Beijing to become a global crypto hub. China Liaison Office representatives and other government officials have frequently visited the city’s crypto gatherings for months to further the cause. Inside sources have stated that these encounters are friendly and cordial, with participants checking on developments and exchanging business cards. Furthermore, Beijing’s support for the emerging Hong Kong crypto hub is also allegedly evidenced in project report requests and follow-up calls.

People familiar with the matter believe the subtle Chinese backing could incentivize mainland Chinese firms to return. Furthermore, local crypto operators opine that the presence of government officials at crypto gatherings confirms Beijing’s support. In fact, observers suggest that the support from mainland China is intentional and has an end goal. By low-key supporting the crypto hub agenda of the more liberal Hong Kong, Beijing can ascertain the impact of digital currencies. In addition, the state capital could treat Hong Kong as a testing ground even as it stifles similar activity in mainland China.

National People’s Congress member and cyber security lawyer Nick Chan seemingly reiterated Beijing’s support:

“As long as one does not violate the bottom line… not threaten financial stability in China, Hong Kong is free to explore its own pursuit under ‘one country, two systems.”

Beijing-backed Hong Kong Crypto Hub Agenda Could Entice Return of Chinese Crypto Firms

This development could also see mainland Chinese crypto players return to Chinese territory following the Beijing crypto ban. Fifteen months ago, many of these crypto firms fled overseas after China’s capital city shuttered crypto activities. However, although any crypto firm return could be to Hong Kong, the Greater China region would still boast of crypto-friendly activities.

Hong Kong recently released a consultation paper outlining its crypto plans to facilitate trading large crypto coins. According to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), individual investors would trade larger coins on licensed exchanges. Although the regulator also prescribed safeguards to protect investors, it did not specify the large-capitalization tokens permissible for investor trading. However, the SFC noted that the consultation period concludes on March 31st, making way for new crypto retail trading on June 1st.

Justin Sun Comments on Hong Kong Development amid Huobi Licensing Application

East Asian crypto industry leader Justin Sun recently commented on the Hong Kong development. In an interview last month, Sun pointed out:

“The changing attitude of the Hong Kong SAR government towards crypto signals a nod from the Chinese central government granting pilot status to HK for some forward-looking experiments on how can crypto be best adopted and localized for the huge Chinese market at large. I’m very bullish on the outlook for crypto in the greater China region for the next decade.”

Sun’s comments also came amid an announcement that Huobi had applied for crypto licensing in Hong Kong. The Seychelles-based crypto exchange targets high-net-worth investor trading in the Chinese special administrative city.

Beijing Subtly Backing Hong Kong amid Special Administrative Region Plans to Become Crypto Hub

Chinese Coins Surge in Value Following Central Bank Liquidity Injection

Chinese Coins Surge in Value Following Central Bank Liquidity Injection

Chinese coins soared to double-digit gains yesterday following the country’s injection of liquidity into the market. According to reports, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) recently injected $92 billion into the market through reverse repurchase contracts. This development amounted to a surge in Chinese crypto project prices which could catalyze a new bull run.

With China-based digital currencies like Neo (NEO), Conflux (CFX), and Flamingo (FLM) up over 20%, some industry leaders have weighed in. For instance, crypto entrepreneur and TRON founder Justin Sun touched on the Chinese crypto market’s growth amid other developing news. Sun tweeted:

“As the crypto market continues to mature and mainstream adoption grows, China’s dominance in the space is becoming more and more apparent. With this in mind, I’ve decided to move to Hong Kong to be closer to the action and take advantage of the opportunities in the Asia market.”

Hong Kong to Play Key Role amid Rising Liquidity in Chinese Coins

Sun sees Hong Kong as a suitable hunting ground for crypto development in China and looks to leverage the special administrative city. For instance, he recently played a crucial role in facilitating the application of a crypto license by Huobi in Hong Kong. The Seychelles-based crypto exchange seeks the license to establish a crypto exchange in the region that is “fully compliant with local regulations.” Furthermore, Huobi added that its Hong Kong exchange would offer “a range of trading pairs and services to [the city’s high-net-worth] customers”.

Huobi’s native HT token experienced an 18% surge on the heels of its license application announcement.

A Twitter user also shared a watchlist for Chinese digital currencies last week, seemingly buttressing Hong Kong bull market expectations.

Amid the recent central bank-induced liquidity in Chinese coins, Hong Kong regulators released a consultation paper framework. The city plans to allow its retail sector to trade crypto as part of broader plans to become a crypto hub.

Under Hong Kong’s crypto-focused goals, individual investors would trade larger coins on licensed exchanges. Furthermore, reports also state that the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) would provide requisite licensing. Although the Hong Kong securities regulator outlined safeguards, it did not specify large-capitalization tokens permissible for retail investor trading.

The SFC plans to allow new crypto retail trading on June 1st after the consultation period ends on March 31st. Meanwhile, Hong Kong Financial Secretary Paul Chan would continue working towards intensifying the region’s pro-crypto stance.

Gemini Co-founder Chips In

Two days ago, Gemini co-founder Cameron Winklevoss weighed in on crypto bullish momentum in East Asia compared to the US. In his own words:

“My working thesis at the moment is that the next bull run is going to start in the East. It will be a humbling reminder that crypto is a global asset class and that the West, really the US, always only ever had two options: embrace it or be left behind. It can’t be stopped. That we know.”

Furthermore, Winklevoss added that any government that fails to leverage crypto development and adoption would be “left in the dust”.

Chinese Coins Surge in Value Following Central Bank Liquidity Injection

BlockFi Files Appeal to Cancel SBF Offshore Investment Vehicle Bankruptcy Protections

BlockFi Files Appeal to Cancel SBF Offshore Investment Vehicle Bankruptcy Protections

BlockFi has filed an appeal with the US Bankruptcy Court in Wilmington, Delaware, to remove bankruptcy protections from an SBF offshore investment vehicle. Last week, the insolvent crypto lender requested a court ruling to strip Bankman-Fried’s bankruptcy appeal for Emergent Fidelity Technologies Ltd. BlockFi says the offshore investment vehicle’s bankruptcy status serves little purpose. Instead, the troubled digital asset lender opined that Emergent Fidelity’s bankruptcy status could undermine its own Robinhood (NASDAQ: HOOD) share claims.

It is worth noting that SBF used Emergent Fidelity to buy a 7.6% stake in Robinhood between April and May last year. At the time, the disgraced former FTX CEO forked out $648 million in funds borrowed from Alameda Research for the acquisition.

Emergent Liquidator Rep Sheds Light on SBF Appeal Following BlockFi Motion

Despite BlockFi’s suggestions that Emergent Fidelity’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy status was futile, an involved liquidator begs to differ. According to an Emergent liquidator representative from financial adviser Quantuma, the bankruptcy filing serves to protect all creditor rights. As Quantuma director Toni Shukla put it:

“Given the many parties claiming to be creditors or outright owners of Emergent’s assets in different lawsuits in the US, the [liquidators] believe that chapter 11 protection is the only practical way to empower Emergent to defend itself, its assets, and its creditors’ interests in the US.”

Shukla also clarified in an affidavit that Emergent owns no substantial assets apart from the shares. Furthermore, the Quantuma director added that prosecutors seized over $20 million in cash once held by the offshore investment platform. Therefore, she described the BlockFi motion against the SBF appeal and Emergent Fidelity as baseless. According to Shukla, it is wrong for BlockFi to allege that fees motivated the SBF offshore company’s bankruptcy filing.

BlockFi previously staked a claim to the Robinhood shares as a $600 million loan collateral to trading firm Alameda. However, FTX and Alameda’s new insolvency management team has also claimed an interest in Emergent’s Fidelity’s now government-controlled assets.

Emergent Fidelity had pledged the HOOD shares to BlockFi as collateral as part of a pledge agreement. Former Alameda chief executive officer Caroline Ellison signed the agreement days before the FTX collapse in November.

US prosecutors took control of Emergent Fidelity’s assets in connection with the pending criminal case against Bankman-Fried. However, SBF’s legal team is also trying to regain control of the investment company from its offshore liquidators.

Meanwhile, Robinhood previously expressed intent to repurchase the Emergent shares. However, the financial services company also admitted that it is unsure whether such a buyback is possible at this time.

Share Recovery Costs

Emergent Fidelity has amassed approximately $1.8 million in professional fees since the liquidators’ appointment. According to court filings, these fees were spent liquidating proceedings in several jurisdictions, with Emergent also seeking additional funding agreements. The SBF offshore investment platform partnered with a Fulcrum Capital Markets LLC fund to preserve and recover the shares. Under this agreement, Fulcrum would invest as much as $2 million, with projected returns of up to 3 times higher.

BlockFi Files Appeal to Cancel SBF Offshore Investment Vehicle Bankruptcy Protections

Binance Unveils New Fan Club Initiative with Exclusive Rewards

Binance Unveils New Fan Club Initiative with Exclusive Rewards

Binance Fan Token has launched Binance Fan Club as a new royalty system for all holders to interact with and earn. According to the announcement, fans could accrue Star Points via team engagement and unlock many exclusive privileges. These perks include personalized video clips from players, meet & greet sessions, and VIP tickets to team matches. 

The exchange is also starting two community-rewarding promotions to mark the Binance Fan Club launch. Furthermore, the platform revealed it would give away up to $38,000 in various soccer team token voucher rewards across both promotions. 

Weighing in on the development, Binance head of NFT and Fan Token Lisa He said:

“Fan Tokens are the future of fan engagement, and today marks the launch of a new program for sports fans to create memories that last a lifetime.”

Furthermore, He added:

“We’re excited to launch Binance Fan Club and see the developments this has in the future to bring fans even closer to their favourite teams. Whether it’s dinner with their favorite player or getting a tour of the stadium.”

Binance Details Fan Club Promotion in Blogpost

Binance detailed its Fan Club promotions on its website, including the registration setup and validity period. According to the platform, PORTO, LAZIO, SANTOS, and ALPINE token vouchers are up for grabs. Furthermore, Binance also stated that winners could claim these monetary gifts from its Community Rewards pool.

The Binance Fan Token engagement program is a successful way for the exchange to stoke fan-team interaction further. Since its introduction last October, Binance Fan Tokens have surged in popularity among sports fans. In addition to the bounty of perks available to participating fans, the program also bestows a sense of fan stakeholdership. Fans could vote on specific instances, such as preferred rewards and players of the month, to name a few. 

The Binance Fan token scheme currently has more than 130,000 participating fans, which could swell even more. 

Secret Fund Transfer

The Binance Fan token development comes amid more serious issues plaguing the leading crypto exchange. A report from a few days ago uncovered an alleged fund misappropriation scheme by Binance. According to this report, the world’s largest exchange had secret access to its US-based partner’s bank account. Furthermore, Binance also allegedly transferred $400 million from that account to a trading firm managed by its CEO Changpeng Zhao

A paper trail of money transfers revealed that the money was transferred from Binance.US’ Silvergate Bank account to Merit Peak Ltd. Furthermore, Reuters said the fund transfer began in late 2020 and lasted the first three months of 2021. The Reuters publication could not ascertain if the transferred funds belong to Binance’s US customers. Also, the report also could not determine the reason for the transfer of such funds. 

Binance.US spokesperson Kimberly Soward responded to the Reuter’s report at the time, calling it “outdated information.” However, Soward also did not address the transfers.

Binance Unveils New Fan Club Initiative with Exclusive Rewards

Huobi to Establish Crypto Exchange in Hong Kong, Applies for License, HT Token Is Up

Huobi to Establish Crypto Exchange in Hong Kong, Applies for License, HT Token Is Up

Huobi token (HT) has experienced an 18% surge following Huobi’s application for a crypto trading license in Hong Kong. The HT token traded at $6.1 as of press time, the first time since last October following Justin Sun’s appointment as a general advisor.

Earlier today, Sun took to Twitter to make the high-profile Hong Kong application announcement which read:

“Big news for crypto today: @HuobiGlobal has announced that it’s applying for a crypto trading license in Hong Kong! This is a major step for the major cryptocurrency exchange and a sign of its continued commitment to operating in a compliant and regulated manner.”

In addition to the Hong Kong license, Sun also revealed that Huobi plans to launch an exchange in Hong Kong. As he put it:

“In addition to the licensing news, Huobi is also launching a new exchange in Hong Kong, aptly named Huobi Hong Kong. The exchange will be fully compliant with local regulations and offer a range of trading pairs and services to customers.”

According to Sun, the new exchange would prioritize trading services for high-net-worth individuals and institutional investors in Hong Kong. Furthermore, the TRON founder and crypto entrepreneur also explained that the Hong Kong exchange gives Huobi increased investor visibility. Sun explained that this development positions Huobi as a “trusted and secure” platform for larger Asian investors to invest in crypto.

Furthermore, Sun added that the coveted Hong Kong exchange and licensing would allow Huobi to expand its services and offerings to customers. By providing a wider range of crypto trading and investment options, investors can buy and sell crypto seamlessly.

The Huobi exchange in Hong Kong would target the Chinese special administrative region’s high-net-worth individuals.

Huobi to Enjoy Crypto Retail Trading in Hong Kong

Sun’s Twitter announcement came amid breaking news regarding the permitted trade of digital currencies in Hong Kong. According to a Bloomberg article, the Chinese special administrative region plans to allow its retail sector to trade crypto. This development forms part of Hong Kong’s greater plans to become a global crypto hub as Bitcoin (BTC) becomes more mainstream.

Under Hong Kong’s crypto-focused goals, individual investors would trade larger coins on licensed exchanges. Reports state that this licensing would be provided by the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC). In a consultation paper released Monday, the independent statutory Hong Kong securities and futures markets regulator delineated safeguards. These safeguards include ensuring risk profiles, reasonable limits on investor exposure, and knowledge tests fall in place.

The SFC did not specify which large-capitalization tokens it would permit for retail investor trading. However, the agency suggested the inclusion of coins in no less than two acceptable, investible indexes from independent providers. In addition, the SFC said that one of the prescribed indexes should have experience within the traditional financial sector.

The SFC also said the consultation period ends on March 31st, intending to permit new crypto retail trading on June 1st.

Huobi to Establish Crypto Exchange in Hong Kong, Applies for License, HT Token Is Up

Ethereum Shanghai Upgrade Projected to Stoke More Price Volatility than September Merge Upgrade

Ethereum Shanghai Upgrade Projected to Stoke More Price Volatility than September Merge Upgrade

Reports suggest that the upcoming Ethereum Shanghai upgrade could induce Ether (ETH) price volatility in a way the Merge could not. According to institutional liquidity provider OrBit Markets, the Shanghai upgrade would facilitate withdrawals of over 16.5 million ETH staked in the blockchain. Furthermore, OrBit Markets also recommended purchasing an ETH volatility swap amid the Shanghai upgrade. This will help to profit from the anticipated price turbulence surge following the March mainnet upgrade.

According to analysts, the Shanghai upgrade could immediately impact the Ether market’s demand-supply balance. This projected development could ensure the crypto remains more volatile in the weeks post-Shanghai than it was after the Merge.

Comparing the Ethereum Shanghai upgrade to September’s Merge, which successfully transitioned the network from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, Orbit Markets co-founder Yang Zhiming said:

“This time could be different though. While the Merge was a pure technological shift with no direct economic impact, the Shanghai upgrade will change the supply and demand of ETH both in the short term and long term, and therefore capable of having a significant impact on the ETH price.”

Analyst Suggests that Ethereum Shanghai Volatility Could Prove Doubters Wrong

Traders may not have seen much volatility with the Ethereum Merge. As a result, Zhiming explained that it is excusable if these traders also write off Shanghai upgrade price volatility. However, the Orbit Markets co-founder and former Deutsche Bank Asia Pacific head of derivatives explained:

“Some $25 billion worth of ETH will become available for withdrawals and sale. With the staking yields expected to decrease following the upgrade, investors who previously staked may un-stake and move to other assets offering better yields. This would create large selling pressures on the ETH price.”

The forthcoming Shanghai upgrade comes months after the revolutionary Merge, which made the Ethereum network more environmentally friendly. In addition, the Merge also rendered the blockchain more easily accessible and projected that Ether would become a deflationary currency. However, the pivotal network overhaul failed to immediately impact the supply-demand dynamics of the crypto as many thought it would.

ETH price slipped 10% to $1,472 the day the Merge took place, but volatility quickly fizzled out as prices traded narrowly. Furthermore, this narrow range of between $1,300 and $1,400 lingered for the next four weeks after the Merge. In the four weeks following the renowned mainnet upgrade, Ether’s 30-day realized volatility plunged from an annualized 85% to almost 60%. Realized volatility is a metric that assesses variation in price turbulence seen over a specific period.

Shandong Testnet

Last October, Ethereum officially laid the groundwork for the upcoming Shanghai upgrade via its Shandong testnet. At the time, Ethereum Foundation DevOps engineer Parithosh Jayanthi explained that the testnet was a dress rehearsal. According to Jayanthi, Shandong allowed developers to “try out the potential EIPs to find issues.”

Ethereum remains the most widely utilized blockchain, with its native ETH currency being the second-largest crypto by market cap.

Ethereum Shanghai Upgrade Projected to Stoke More Price Volatility than September Merge Upgrade

Tencent Abandons VR Hardware Plans Due to Challenging Macroeconomic Parameters

Tencent Abandons VR Hardware Plans Due to Challenging Macroeconomic Parameters

Tencent Holdings Ltd has scrapped plans to build virtual reality (VR) hardware amid a bleak economic outlook. According to reports, the Chinese multinational tech and entertainment conglomerate is looking to reduce costs and headcount at its metaverse unit.

Tencent previously had plans to create VR software and hardware at an “extended reality” XR unit launched last June. The company hired around 300 people to formulate strategies around a ring-like hand-held game controller. However, Tencent ran into a number of difficulties in its bid to achieve its objective. These difficulties included trying to achieve swift profitability as well as the required significant investment for a competitive product. Subsequently, inside sources said that Tencent opted to shift away from those strategies.

According to an internal forecast, Tencent’s XR project would not become profitable until 2027. However, it should be noted that the company’s XR unit formed during rising global interest in the emerging metaverse. As the world took notice of the concept of virtual worlds, Tencent carved out a rare foray into hardware for itself. The company is already widely known for its software prowess, which includes numerous games and social media applications.

Tencent in Competition with Western Rivals for VR/AR Hardware & Software Global Domination

As it stands, Tencent is in direct metaverse-focused competition with Western contemporaries such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Meta Platforms (NASDAQ: META). Both companies are establishing their respective virtual ecosystems and also have their own VR hardware initiatives.

Earlier this year, the Chinese tech giant also planned to acquire gaming phone manufacturer Black Shark to consolidate its hardware push. However, the deal ultimately fell through due to Tencent’s strategy shift as well as other factors. These factors include an anticipated lengthy review process and intensifying regulatory scrutiny.

However, Tencent declined to shed further light on the failed Black Shark deal and actual debilitating factors. Instead, the Shenzhen-based tech powerhouse commented on the XR initiative, saying it was making adjustments to some business teams. In addition, Tencent also explained that the change in development plans for hardware called for such adjustments. Interestingly, the company added that it would not disband its XR unit.

Nio EV Partnership

Last year, Tencent weathered one of its most challenging phases since its inception in 1998. The company’s revenue took a hit from the local regulatory crackdown and Covid-induced headwinds. Tencent’s plight was underscored at its end-of-year meeting when founder Pony Ma censured senior execs for failing to pull their weight. At the time, Ma added that the Chinese tech multinational needed to prioritize short videos for future growth.

Late last year, Tencent also inked a partnership with Chinese electric vehicle automaker Nio (NYSE: NIO) to develop autonomous vehicles. Both companies view this collaboration as mutually beneficial as it leverages Beijing’s facilitation of self-driving, greener cars.

Last month, Tencent’s stock soared to multi-month highs amid easing regulatory pressure from authorities. Reports also stated that the company’s shares had doubled since its October price points.

Tencent Abandons VR Hardware Plans Due to Challenging Macroeconomic Parameters

Mt Gox Creditor Duo Choose Bitcoin Payout Option for Reimbursement

Mt Gox Creditor Duo Choose Bitcoin Payout Option for Reimbursement

The top 2 creditors of the defunct Japanese crypto exchange Mt Gox have opted for a payout mainly in Bitcoin (BTC). According to reports, defunct New Zealand-registered exchange Bitcoinica and MtGox Investment Funds (MGIF) have agreed to a crypto payout. The duo represents a fifth of all Mt Gox claims and will get paid 90% of their receivable funds. The amount will be determined by calculating approximately 21% of what Bitcoinica and MGIF had locked on Mt Gox during the hack.

The prominent Mt Gox creditors decided on a Bitcoin payout is a welcome development in the crypto space. The reason is that a fiat payment might have pressured the price of the leading coin and triggered a selloff.

Mt Gox Prominent Creditors Seek September Bitcoin Payout

As it stands, Bitcoinica and MGIF eye a BTC payout in September, which is early compared to the alternative. The decision to pick the September early lump sum payment seemed a better prospect than waiting until all Mt Gox litigations settle. Although the conclusion of all Mt Gox litigations could potentially net higher payouts, it might take another five to nine years.

Bitcoin holders previously feared that a string of simultaneous Mt Gox bankruptcy recovery-triggered liquidations could drive down BTC’s price. This is because the bankrupt exchange’s estate trustee would have likely sold off a massive portion of Bitcoin holdings to fulfill fiat requests. However, these BTC holders could rest easy now on the creditors’ decision to take crypto payments instead of fiat.

Despite opting for a Bitcoin payout, Mt Gox’s creditors have until March 10th to change their minds – if they choose to.

As of September 2019, Mt Gox’s bankruptcy trustee had 141,686 Bitcoin in addition to cash and Bitcoin Cash coins. The Bitcoin cache is worth around $3.4 billion today.

2014 Hack

Launched in 2010, Tokyo-based Mt Gox suffered a hack that ultimately resulted in its collapse in 2014. The cyber assailants made off with 850,000 Bitcoin, which was valued at $460 million at the time. Following the hack, Mt Gox had approximately 142,000 BTC, 143,000 Bitcoin Cash (BCH), and 69 billion Japanese yen left.

At the time of its crash, the crypto exchange handled more than 70% of all BTC transactions across the globe.

Following the hack, Mt Gox suspended trading activities, shuttered its website and exchange service, and filed for bankruptcy protection. In April 2014, the Japanese exchange began liquidation proceedings to pay off its large creditor base.

Since 2014, Mt Gox creditors have continued to fight for their lost assets amid the company’s long-drawn-out bankruptcy proceedings. In December 2018, reports surfaced that the exchange’s former CEO, Mark Karpeles, could go to jail. Karpeles maintained his innocence then and continues to do so to this day.

In 2019, a Tokyo District Court found him guilty of less serious charges, including data misrepresentation and issued a suspended sentence. However, the Court acquitted the embattled Mt Gox ex-CEO of other charges, including embezzlement and aggravated breach of trust.

Mt Gox Creditor Duo Choose Bitcoin Payout Option for Reimbursement

Celsius Reaches Acquisition Agreement with Digital Management Agency to Exit Bankruptcy

Celsius Reaches Acquisition Agreement with Digital Management Agency to Exit Bankruptcy

Celsius Network LLC has established an acquisition agreement with NovaWulf Digital Management to exit bankruptcy. Yesterday, Celsius announced it selected the digital asset firm as the sponsor for its proposed Chapter 11 restructuring scheme. Furthermore, the bankrupt crypto lender agreed to the buyout plan with NovaWulf after vetting several other bids.

Under the agreement between both platforms, NovaWulf will assume control of a newly created company that will cater to debts owed. According to the Celsius proposal, most creditors would receive a one-time crypto payment, with NovaWulf also making a sizable direct cash contribution. The proposed plan states that the digital asset firm would contribute between $45 million and $55 million to the new venture. Furthermore, Celsius also suggested that creditors with more significant claims should receive equity in the new company.

In all, most customers would receive up to 70% of their funds.

Celsius Acquisition Agreement Plan Proposed by Debtors with Full Support of Creditors Committee

Celsius submitted its acquisition agreement plan with NovaWulf to the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York yesterday. The proposed plan, which seeks to end the company’s high-profile bankruptcy proceedings, already has the support of the Celsius creditors committee. This body, fully known as the Celsius Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors (UCC), represents the interests of Celsius account holders.

In a statement, Celsius explained that the sale and reorganization plan is the brainchild of Celsius’ Debtors. In addition, the embattled crypto lender also said that the new company will have no “Celsius founder involvement or relationship.” Commenting on NovaWulf’s involvement in the proposed restructuring, Celsius explained:

“The Debtors believe that the NovaWulf plan provides the best method to distribute the Debtors’ liquid crypto assets and maximize the value of the Debtors’ illiquid assets through a new company run by experienced asset managers.”

Celsius’ Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors also summed up the development of the new company owned by Earn creditors. Earn accounts are accounts that pay customers interest on crypto lent out. As UCC put it:

“Last night Celsius (with UCC support) selected NovaWulf to sponsor a reorganization plan that will distribute liquid crypto to all account holders, as well as create a litigation trust and provide creditors with common equity in a NewCo holding illiquid assets like mining.”

In addition, the restructuring proposal also revealed that UCC would appoint a majority of NewCo’s board members. The Celsius acquisition agreement also states that the new company would take custody of Celsius’ mining business, existing loan portfolio, and illiquid assets, to develop crypto-oriented services. Furthermore, NewCo would also shield debtors from significant costs linked to liquidating client assets and the company.

Creditor Payment Breakdown Under New Company Plan

Under the new plan, creditors with claims less than $5,000 will be placed in a “Convenience Class,” where they will receive a one-time liquid crypto distribution. The payment format would be in the form of Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), and stablecoin USD Coin (USDC).

Creditors owed more than $5,000, and those with at least a $1000 claim who opt out of the Convenience Class shares will receive a portion of the residual crypto. The amount payable would be determined after the payments to smaller accounts.

Celsius Reaches Acquisition Agreement with Digital Management Agency to Exit Bankruptcy

Stocks Close Marginally Higher as Investors Ponder Retail Sales Report & Inflation Data

Stocks Close Marginally Higher as Investors Ponder Retail Sales Report & Inflation Data

On Wednesday, stocks climbed and ended the day on a higher close as traders pondered how strong retail sales could impact future interest rate hikes. In addition, market observers and participants also tried to determine how much influence the latest US inflation data would have on Federal Reserve rate hikes.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) inched higher by 0.11%, or 38.78 points, representing an intraday rally of more than 200 points. This development saw the major stock market index close at 34,128.05, with the S&P 500 also climbing 0.28% to 4,147.60. The S&P’s higher close was helped by shares of leading energy tech company Generac (NYSE: GNRC) and leading solar power purveyor SolarEdge (NASDAQ: SEDG). On Wednesday, Generac’s stock gained 8%, while SolarEdge’s valuation grew by 9.05%.

Meanwhile, the tech-laden Nasdaq Composite increased by 0.92% to close at 12,070.59. The index’s marginally higher close received major assistance from the shares of short-term homestay specialists Airbnb (NASDAQ: ABNB), which increased 13.35%. Airbnb’s latest stock surge also surpassed the company’s earnings expectations for the period.

The Nasdaq’s rise also benefited from gains in EV players, including Tesla (NASDAQ: TSLA), Rivian (NASDAQ: RIVN), and Lucid (NASDAQ: LCID).

Stocks Eventually Close Higher amid January Retail Report

Stocks slipped earlier yesterday following a January retail report. According to this report, retail sales grew 3%, while polled Dow Jones economists expected an increase of 1.9%. These metrics suggest that the US economy is adequately enduring the effects of the Fed inflation-induced rate hikes.

Weighing in on this development, Independent Advisor Alliance chief investment officer Chris Zaccarelli explained:

“The labor market’s resilience is the main reason consumers continue to spend, and as long as that’s the case, inflation is likely to remain sticky.”

Zaccarelli also added:

“The Fed is going to need to raise rates higher – and hold them higher for longer – than people currently expect, and this is going to cause markets to go through some significant volatility as stock and bond markets are priced for benign scenarios and not the more difficult one that we are headed towards.”

The Wednesday retail sale report comes on the heels of the recent US inflation report. According to this report, January’s consumer price index was slightly higher than economists’ estimates. The implication of this development could mean that the Federal Reserve still has some way to go to rein in surging prices. Mike Loewengart, Morgan Stanley‘s Global Investment Office head of model portfolio construction expressed worry about whether inflation will drop. Loewengart said:

“The question remains if inflation will be able to fall to the Fed’s target levels with the labor market as tight as it currently is.”

Market Traders, Observers Look to Take Cues on Fed Rate Hike Campaign Continuously

Traders would likely listen to speeches from Fed officials later this week for cues regarding the Federal Reserve’s next move. The US apex bank has another fiscal meeting slated for March.

Meanwhile, companies on the major stock indices continue to post their latest quarterly results. As it stands, three-quarters of the companies listed on the S&P 500 have posted their results. Of these firms, 69% have already surpassed earnings expectations. According to The Earnings Scout, this is below the three-year average beat rate of 79%.

Stocks Close Marginally Higher as Investors Ponder Retail Sales Report & Inflation Data

Berkshire Hathaway Sold Most of TSMC Stock Holdings Last Quarter as Semiconductor Supply Chain Constraints Linger

Berkshire Hathaway Sold Most of TSMC Stock Holdings Last Quarter as Semiconductor Supply Chain Constraints Linger

Berkshire Hathaway reportedly (NYSE: BRK.A) cut the amount of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) stock it holds by 86% last quarter. The Warren Buffett-led holding company slashed its TSMC holdings just months after revealing a major stake, which surprised many.

TSMC stock initially jumped in November following news that Berkshire Hathaway had acquired a stake worth $5 billion. However, the globally-renowned chip foundry saw its shares slide 4% in Taipei, amid broader market losses, following the latest Berkshire news. Despite this decline, TSMC stock is still up by more than 40% from its October low amid positive operational developments.

Taishin Securities Investment Advisory Co vice president Tony Huang is among those surprised by Berkshire’s decision to offload much TSMC stock. As he put it:

“It’s surprising that Berkshire cut its holding so much in just a quarter, which differs from its past practice of long-term investment and continuing to add shares.”

Assuming Berkshire sold the TSMC stock at the average price across the period, the stake sale should amount to $3.7 billion. However, CFRA Research analyst Cathy Seifert opined that the Buffett company “made a small profit on TSMC,” contradicting the “huge, huge win” assumptions. According to Seifert, Berkshire bought the TSMC stock for roughly $68.5 a pop and sold for $74.5.

Berkshire Hathaway TSMC Stock Sale Seemingly Validates Earlier Gloomy Economic Prognostications by Chip Giant

Last month, TSMC forewarned of a revenue downswing for the first quarter of the new year. The reason is that the Taiwan-based semiconductor-manufacturing giant weathered global supply chain constraints which impacted demand. As these Covid-induced hurdles linger on, TSMC executives do not expect market conditions to improve for another four months.

Previously, the Taiwanese chip contract manufacturing and design company cut its spending budget by 10% last year to $36 billion. These reductions came about after the US government imposed new restrictions on China’s access to essential technologies. However, economic optics remain bright for TSMC as Tokyo and Brussels push to help the company establish local production capabilities. It is worth noting that this development also threatens to further drive up TSMC’s operating costs.

Although TSMC’s stock might suffer short-term following Berkshire’s turnaround sale, the chip company’s longer-term outlook is positive, with Huang saying:

“Many global investors continue adding its shares with its fundamentals improving, including better utilization rates and its leadership role in advanced technology.”

Although the quick turnaround sale of TSMC’s shares is a rarity for Berkshire, it is not unprecedented. The billion-dollar investment platform has swiftly undone high-value investments in other companies before. In the first quarter of last year, Berkshire offloaded nearly all of what, at the time, amounted to an $8.3 billion stake in Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ). The Omaha-based multinational holding company had procured the telecoms stock in late 2020 before the sale.

In other developing news, Berkshire also slashed its holding in a number of banks during the fourth quarter. Conversely, the investment-driven powerhouse bolstered its stake in tech giant Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL).

Berkshire Hathaway Sold Most of TSMC Stock Holdings Last Quarter as Semiconductor Supply Chain Constraints Linger

Binance CEO Predicts Crypto Industry Could Move to Non-Dollar Stablecoins Following BUSD Drama

Binance CEO Predicts Crypto Industry Could Move to Non-Dollar Stablecoins Following BUSD Drama

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao recently said that the crypto industry might resort to non-dollar stablecoins following the ongoing BUSD drama. According to Zhao, the crypto ecosystem could start using stablecoins pegged to the euro, Singapore dollar, or yen. This would reduce reliance on U.S. dollar-based tokens.

Speaking at a Twitter Spaces event yesterday, Zhao said:

“I think given the current pressure and current stances taken by the regulators on the US dollar-based stablecoins, I think that as you said, the industry will probably move away to non-US-dollar- based stablecoins […] as a result of this, we probably will see more euro based or other Japanese yen, Singapore dollar based stablecoins, so it’s actually prompted us to look for more options in different places.”

The Binance CEO also touched on the crypto industry deploying gold as a standard of value instead of the US greenback. Although he admitted that using gold “makes sense,” Zhao explained that “most people’s costs are still in fiat currencies.” As a result, since most investment returns are based on dollars, US dollar-backed stablecoins are essential.

The Binance CEO opined that algorithmic stablecoins could also play a more significant role, alongside non-dollar stablecoins, in the future. However, Zhao also cautioned that these US dollar-pegged stablecoins would inherently pose risks that fiat-backed stablecoins do not have. Consequently, Zhao believes that users need to be abreast of these risks so that they “can very clearly decide what is going on” regarding stablecoin usage.

Binance CEO ‘Non-Dollar Stablecoins’ Statement Follows Recent SEC Criticism of BUSD

Zhao’s statements come on the heels of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEClegal tussle with blockchain company Paxos. According to the US regulator, Paxos violated investor protection rights by issuing unregistered securities in BUSD. The SEC issued the stablecoin issuer a Wells Notice of its intent to sue, and implored Paxos to stop further BUSD issuances.

Although Paxos was yet to respond to the SEC’s allegations, a Binance spokesperson attempted to clear the air at the time. According to this spokesperson, Binance licenses its brand to Paxos, which owns and issues the product. Furthermore, the Binance representative added that Paxos is under regulation by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). The spokesperson also said the exchange would continually monitor the SEC-Paxos situation before adding:

“Stablecoins are a critical safety net for investors seeking refuge from volatile markets and limiting their access would directly harm millions of people across the globe.”

At the time, Zhao also explained that Paxos’ funds were safe and fully covered by ratified bank reserves. The Binance CEO further stated that the NYDFS directed Paxos to desist from minting BUSD tokens any further amid the SEC’s allegations. However, he also expressed continued support for BUSD “for the foreseeable future.” Zhao also said customers can expect necessary product adjustments when users eventually migrate to other stablecoins.

Zhao reckoned that the SEC’s BUSD probe has triggered the crypto industry and would result in the coin’s decline over time.

Binance CEO Predicts Crypto Industry Could Move to Non-Dollar Stablecoins Following BUSD Drama

Coca-Cola Q4 2022 Results Show Surge in Revenue amid ‘Dynamic Operating Environment’

Coca-Cola Q4 2022 Results Show Surge in Revenue amid ‘Dynamic Operating Environment’

The Coca-Cola Company (NYSE: KO) has posted its Q4 2022 earnings report, which shows a surge in revenue from higher prices. The beverage giant’s revenue haul for the fourth quarter of last year came in at $10.13 billion, surpassing the consensus estimate of $10.02 billion. However, Coca-Cola’s earnings per share (EPS) for the period ended December 31st were in line, with 45 cents adjusted versus 45 cents expected.

Coca-Cola also reported a Q4 net income of $2.03 billion, or 47 cents per share, attributable to the company. This latest quarterly haul represents a decline from the 2.41 billion or 56 cents per share the company made a year earlier.

Higher Drink Prices Impact Demand for Other Coca-Cola Beverage Products in Q4 2022 Outing

Although Coca-Cola’s shares rose 1% in premarket trading following its Q4 results, higher prices on its drinks impacted demand for other products. According to the Atlanta-based corporation, demand for Coke products such as Simply Orange Juice and Fairlife Milk dipped in the fourth quarter. Furthermore, the company’s sparkling soft drinks and other beverage segments, including water, sports, and coffee, remained flat for the quarter. However, Coke Zero Sugar’s volume saw a 9% increase, while the company’s coffee business volume increased by 11%. The volume increase in the coffee business resulted from Coca-Cola expanding the Costa brand it acquired from Whitbread PLC in 2019.

In addition to its unit case volume dropping 1% in the quarter, Coca-Cola earned 45 cents per share, minus a Russian-linked impairment charge. Furthermore, the company’s $10.13 billion net sales rise is a 7% increase from a year ago, facilitated by a 12% price markup increase.

According to Coca-Cola, it also sold a more expensive combination of drinks in the fourth quarter of last year.

Company CEO Weighs In

Coca-Cola chief executive officer James Quincey revealed that European consumers changed their behavior last quarter due to rising inflation. As a result, Coke’s unit case volume declined by 5% in Europe and its African and Middle Eastern segments. Meanwhile, the multinational beverage corporation’s unit case volume in North America remained flat.

Commenting on Coca-Cola’s overall performance for the fourth quarter, Quincey said:

“While 2022 brought many challenges, we are proud of our overall results in a dynamic operating environment. As we begin 2023, we continue to invest in our capabilities and strengthen alignment with our bottling partners to maintain flexibility. We are keeping consumers at the center of our innovation and marketing investments while also leveraging our expertise in revenue growth management and execution.”

Furthermore, Quincey explained that the beverage giant’s growth culture opens up new approaches and more experimentation to drive growth. In addition, the CEO also pointed out that Coke’s improved agility should add more value to its stakeholders.

Following its Q4 2022 outing, Coca-Cola forecasts a comparable revenue growth of 3% to 5% for 2023. In addition, the beverage giant projects earnings per share growth of 4% to 5% this year.

Coca-Cola Q4 2022 Results Show Surge in Revenue amid ‘Dynamic Operating Environment’

Morgan Stanley Says Waning Stablecoin Issuance Could Impact Crypto Trading

Morgan Stanley Says Waning Stablecoin Issuance Could Impact Crypto Trading

According to Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS), a decrease in stablecoin issuance spells bad news for crypto trading. In a research report on Monday, the New York-based banking giant delineated the benefits of stablecoins to crypto trading. In addition, Morgan Stanley pointed out that stablecoin products potentially compete with the traditional banking system.

Morgan Stanley Foresees Increased Government Regulation on Stablecoin Issuance

The Morgan Stanley report also stated that stablecoin issuance would likely see more regulation from the US government due to its increasing popularity. However, some of these regulatory efforts might not be beneficial to stablecoin support due to the issue of unregistered securities. For instance, Morgan Stanley pointed out that US regulators have begun to limit stablecoin products, despite their importance to crypto trading. A prime example of such governmental actions on stablecoin issuance is the recent Paxos BUSD case.

Paxos Looming SEC Lawsuit over Unregistered BUSD

Yesterday reports stated that stablecoin issuer Paxos received a lawsuit notice from the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). According to the Commission, the blockchain company violated investor protection rules regarding the issuance of unregistered Binance USD securities.

Although Paxos remained mum on the SEC matter at the time, a Binance spokesperson attempted to shed light on Paxos’ BUSD tokens. According to the spokesperson, although Binance licenses its brand to Paxos, BUSD is a Paxos-issued and owned product. Furthermore, the Binance representative also said Paxos was under regulation by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS). Emphasizing the need for stablecoins, the spokesperson explained:

“Stablecoins are a critical safety net for investors seeking refuge from volatile markets and limiting their access would directly harm millions of people across the globe. We will continue to monitor the situation, [in the meantime], our global users have a wide array of stablecoins available to them.”

NYDFS Stablecoin Desist Order

However, on the heels of the Binance’s spokesperson’s assertion, the NYDFS has ordered Paxos to desist from issuing BUSD stablecoins immediately. This development marks the first major crackdown by the financial services regulator on the stablecoin market.

Going by the NYDFS’ order, Paxos can no longer issue stablecoins any further but could still provide services to the product. In addition, the company could also manage redemptions up until February next year. In an announcement, Paxos said:

“New and existing Paxos customers will be able to redeem their funds in US dollars or convert their BUSD tokens to Pax Dollar (USDP), a regulated US dollar-backed stablecoin also issued by Paxos Trust.”

Furthermore, Paxos and Binance previously assured customers of the safety of their funds which have adequate reserve backing. In addition, Paxos also revealed that the NYDFS’ order does not affect its native stablecoin USDP and pax gold (PAXG).

Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao weighed in on the Paxos-NYDFS development, pledging support for BUSD for the foreseeable future. However, Zhao also admitted that users would invariably migrate to other stablecoins over time, and Binance “will make product adjustments accordingly.”

Morgan Stanley Says Waning Stablecoin Issuance Could Impact Crypto Trading

US Bankruptcy Judge Removes FTX Turkish Units from Ongoing Case against Parent Company

US Bankruptcy Judge Removes FTX Turkish Units from Ongoing Case against Parent Company

A US judge has approved removing all FTX Turkish units from the sunken crypto exchange’s ongoing US bankruptcy case. FTX had petitioned the bankruptcy court to approve the exclusion of Turkish units after authorities from the Middle Eastern nation seized most of the assets there. The collapsed Bahamian exchange also suggested that Turkish authorities might not cooperate with US courts. In a court filing last month, FTX representatives noted:

“The orders entered by this court do not have legal or practical effect in Turkey, and the debtors have no reason to believe that the Turkish government will comply with this court’s orders. As a result, the debtors are unable to exercise sufficient control over the affairs of the Turkish debtors in order to comply with their duties under the bankruptcy code.”

On Monday, Delaware Bankruptcy Court Judge John T. Dorsey signed the Turkish dismissal approval in response to the January request. According to the bankruptcy court, the request is in FTX and its estates’ “best interests.”

Parent company FTX owns 80% of the Turkish outlet, while FTX’s sister trading firm Alameda Research wholly owns SNG Investments.

Recap of FTX Turkish Subsidiary Development

Turkish law enforcement announced that FTX’s local activities were under investigation just days after the exchange’s November bankruptcy. At the time, FTX Turkey explained that it braved the headwinds caused by its parent company’s collapse to cater optimally to users. In a statement, the Turkish chapter said:

“Even during the technical difficulties caused by FTX, the FTX [Turkey] team worked hard not to victimize the users by giving their best and continues to work. Sharing transparent information about the process from its social media accounts, we manage this process professionally and in a way that does not [impact] its users.”

However, following its investigation into FTX’s local branch, the Turkish law enforcement team seized most of FTX Turkey’s assets in the country. According to the authorities, the confiscated assets were suspicious and taken in accordance with Turkish laws. In addition, the country’s Financial Crimes Investigation Board, also known as MASAK, said it sought permission from Istanbul’s Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office regarding the seizures. Furthermore, at the time, Turkish authorities also revealed the opening of a judicial investigation against the “suspects.” According to Turkey’s Financial Crimes Investigation Agency, all persons, banks, institutions, and crypto service providers affiliated with FTX were under investigation. Furthermore, the agency also added that FTX’s Turkish subsidiary might also come under probe due to its ties to Sam Bankman-Fried-linked entities.

Since FTX’s sudden and dramatic collapse last November, SBF has been holed up at his parents’ house in the US. The disgraced founder pled not guilty to all charges early last month and is awaiting trial in October. Some of the charges levied against Bankman-Fried are misuse of customers’ funds and wire fraud.

FTX’s collapse late last year further mired the entire crypto space in an insolvency crisis that impacted several other crypto companies. Many of these crypto companies had direct investments in the failed Bahamian exchange at the time of its collapse.

US Bankruptcy Judge Removes FTX Turkish Units from Ongoing Case against Parent Company