US Banks Launch New Stablecoin; NFT Markets Expand; OCC Promotes Stablecoin Regulation; Blockchain Networks Evolve; Exchange Hacked for $34M

BakerHostetler

In this issue:

US Banks Launch New Stablecoin, Data Shows Increasing Interest in Crypto

With New Acquisitions and Partnerships, NFT Marketplaces Continue to Expand

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Promotes Stablecoin Regulation

Blockchain Networks Implement Scaling and Operational Initiatives

Major Cryptocurrency Exchange Hacked for $34M, Customers Reimbursed

US Banks Launch New Stablecoin, Data Shows Increasing Interest in Crypto

By Keith R. Murphy

In a recent press release, an association of FDIC-insured financial institutions announced the launch of the USDF Consortium (Consortium). The Consortium’s goals include building a network of banks to foster the adoption and interoperability of a bank-minted stablecoin (USDF). According to the release, USDF will be minted exclusively by U.S. banks, will be redeemable on a 1:1 basis for cash from member banks and offers an alternative to non-bank-minted stablecoins. The press release also notes, among other things, that USDF “operates on the public Provenance Blockchain” and “addresses the consumer protection and regulatory concerns of non-bank-issued stablecoins.”

In other stablecoin news, a report this week announced that the total supply of the stablecoin USD Coin (USDC) on the Ethereum network has surpassed the supply of Tether, another stablecoin. The report further acknowledges that there have been concerns about the transparency of the coins, noting that there have been ongoing questions as to how Tether is collateralized and how its reserve funds are managed. According to the report, in comparison with Tether, the reserves behind USDC fully moved this year to cash and U.S. Treasury bonds.

According to recent reports, a well-known auction house expects to accept bitcoin and ether, as well as the stablecoin USDC, in connection with the sale of a rare, 555-carat black diamond called the Enigma. The auction house reportedly had success accepting cryptocurrency as payment in a previous diamond auction, and it hopes to lead interest in that market given the strong cryptocurrency community.

Recently published data indicates increased interest in cryptocurrencies. One recent report found that nearly 70 percent of cryptocurrency holders in the United States made their first cryptocurrency investment within the past year. The same report also noted that the majority of the 3,100 adults polled indicated that they held less than $10,000 of cryptocurrency. According to a different survey, almost two-thirds of the respondents identified as “crypto-bulls,” with nearly as many indicating that they expect to buy cryptocurrency in 2022.

For more information, please refer to the following links:

With New Acquisitions and Partnerships, NFT Marketplaces Continue to Expand

By Lauren Bass

One of the largest non-fungible token (NFT) marketplaces has reportedly surpassed $3.5 billion in ether trading volume this month. According to reports, the rise in trading volume may be attributable to the rise in price of sought-after NFT collections such as Bored Ape Yacht Club. Additionally, the platform recently reported the acquisition of a cryptocurrency wallet firm, which will allow the marketplace to integrate the acceptance of transactions from additional financial institutions as well as new blockchains.

In other NFT news, a partnership between a major-league ball club and an NFT marketplace, which had previously allowed for initial NFT sales only, recently reported it had opened its platform to secondary market trading. The new revenue stream has reportedly generated approximately $2 million per day for the platform, rivaling that of other top NFT marketplaces selling sports memorabilia.

Responding to increased market interest in NFTs, a major U.S. cryptocurrency exchange has reportedly partnered with a major U.S. financial services platform to make NFTs more accessible and easier to purchase. According to reports, the new venture aims to “simplify the user experience” and allow more consumers to “join the NFT community.”

Last week a new decentralized NFT marketplace launched, with reported sales volume rivaling that of established marketplaces. However, according to recent reports, much of that volume may be attributable to wash trading – where traders manipulate the marketplace to their own advantage – rather than to organic purchases on the platform.

For more information, please refer to the following links:

Acting Comptroller of the Currency Promotes Stablecoin Regulation

By Veronica Reynolds

Last week, acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu spoke before the BritishAmerican Business Transatlantic Finance Forum’s Executive Roundtable, where he encouraged increased stablecoin regulation in the wake of mainstream cryptocurrency adoption. In his remarks, Hsu described stablecoins as the “oxygen of the crypto ecosystem” and a “key link to the fiat currency world” that warrants regulation to protect the investing public and the markets against financial instability caused by “runs” (where spooked investors withdraw their holdings en masse, potentially resulting in financial collapse). Hsu used a crypto-analogy to promote increased stablecoin regulation as he reminded his audience that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency was created to facilitate national financial stability and could do the same for the cryptocurrency ecosystem: “In crypto-speak, one might say that these actions by Congress in the early 1860s helped solidify ‘layer 1’ of the U.S. economy by making a dollar that was fully interoperable and reliable.”

For more information, please refer to the following links:

Blockchain Networks Implement Scaling and Operational Initiatives

By Joanna F. Wasick

On Monday, Polygon, a layer-two scaling network, announced the implementation of Ethereum Improvement Proposal-1559 (EIP-1559), an Ethereum upgrade that went live on the Ethereum mainnet in August. The upgrade will result in the burning of native MATIC tokens, making the supply of MATIC deflationary with 0.27 percent of the total supply burned per year – a move that Polygon states will benefit both validators and delegators because their rewards for processing transactions are denominated in MATIC. Polygon says the upgrade will also provide better fee visibility and reduce spam and network congestion.

On Thursday, Secret Network announced three developments in its growth initiative, Shockwave, which is aimed at solidifying Secret Network as a data privacy hub for Web3. First, Secret Network announced that a number of important investment firms became “critical stakeholders” in the Secret Network ecosystem by acquiring major positions in SCRT, the native coin of the Secret Network blockchain. Second, the network announced a new $225 million ecosystem fund targeted at expanding Secret Network’s application layer (including DeFi and NFTs), network infrastructure and tooling. Finally, the network revealed a $175 million accelerator pool designed to provide capital, grants and ecosystem incentives to expand user adoption.

For more information, please refer to the following links:

Major Cryptocurrency Exchange Hacked for $34M, Customers Reimbursed

By Jordan R. Silversmith

A major crypto exchange says hackers stole nearly $34 million from users earlier this week. In an update on Thursday, the Singapore-based exchange acknowledged unauthorized withdrawals totaling 4836.26 ether ($15.2 million), 443.93 bitcoin ($18.7 million) and $66,200 in U.S. dollars. As a result of the hack, the company introduced the Worldwide Account Protection Program, allowing qualified users’ funds to be protected up to $250,000 if a third party gains unauthorized access to their account. The company’s CEO acknowledged that 483 users were affected by the hack and said all of them have been reimbursed.

For more information, please refer to the following links:

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