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Italian finance regulator issues warning on Binance crypto exchange
July 15, 2021 10:01 am

Italian Companies and Exchange Commission has warned that Binance is not authorized to facilitate crypto investment services in the country.

Italy’s securities market regulator, the Italian Companies and Exchange Commission (CONSOB), has issued a statement, in which it said that Binance Group and affiliated companies are unauthorized to provide investment services and operate in Italy.

The regulator specified that the warning refers to Binance.com, the main website of the global crypto exchange. CONSOB went on to warn the public about potential implications of Binance’s legal status in Italy, advising to exercise caution in making investment choices.

Italy has joined the growing number of countries to issue a public warning regarding Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume.

“In any case, it is important that investors are informed that transactions in instruments related to crypto assets may pose risks that are not immediately perceptible due to their complexity, high volatility as well as for security vulnerabilities,” CONSOB noted.

The regulator did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

Related: ‘Compliance is a journey,’ says Binance CEO amid regulatory scrutiny

The latest warning comes as Binance faces a class-action suit from a group of Italian and international investors. Last week, Italy-based legal firm Lexia Avvocati announced a legal action against the exchange to recover damages from trades on Binance, alleging that the company violated its own rules on futures trading.

In serving the latest warning, CONSOB joins the increasing number of regulators that have issued warnings against Binance, echoing similar moves by authorities in Poland, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Cayman Islands, Thailand, Canada, Japan, Singapore and the United States.

Softbank leads $800M investment for banking app Revolut
July 15, 2021 9:35 am

Now valued at $33 billion, Revolut didn’t rule out a potential IPO this year, but the firm's CFO suggested that it was unlikely.

Revolut, a major British banking app featuring cryptocurrency investment, has secured $800 million in a new funding round.

The new investment round is led by Japanese financial giant SoftBank and United States hedge fund Tiger Global, which collectively hold around 5% in Revolut, CNBC reported Thursday.

The round values Revolut at $33 billion, marking a sixfold increase from the company’s valuation of $5.5 billion in 2020. The newly secured funding will help Revolut continue international expansion as well as further improve marketing and product development, Revolut's chief financial officer, Mikko Salovaara, noted. The company is particularly focused on rolling out services in the U.S. and India, he added.

The latest financing round reportedly makes Revolut the second-largest fintech unicorn in Europe behind Swedish fintech company Klarna. It is also now the biggest fintech in the United Kingdom, flipping major payments firm Checkout.com.

Despite Revolut posting massive growth over the past year, the company has no immediate plans for an initial public offering. Salovaara said that Revolut did not rule out a potential IPO this year, but suggested it was unlikely.

Revolut did not immediately respond to Cointelegraph’s request for comment.

Related: Revolut expands to Japan as its first non-English speaking market

Revolut reported nearly $240 million in annual losses last year, higher than the $140 million the company lost in 2019. Revolut's CEO and co-founder, Nik Storonsky, previously said that the main reason for mounting losses in 2019 was an aggressive investment in global expansion and new product offerings. Revolut will continue its expansion into new services like crypto and stock trading to reach profitability in the long run, the CEO said recently.

Bitcoin may have played a role in Tesla’s decorrelation from Big Tech
July 15, 2021 9:22 am

The 20-day correlation between Tesla stocks and the Nasdaq 100 index has sharply dropped from 0.83 in mid-June to 0.14 as of this week.

Market analysts are arguing that Tesla’s exposure to Bitcoin (BTC) may be the reason for its sharp decorrelation from Big Tech in recent weeks. As of Wednesday, July 14, the 20-day correlation between the company’s price and the Nasdaq 100 index has dropped from 0.83 on June 17 down to 0.14. 

Whereas Tesla has shed almost 4% this month, the Nasdaq 100 is up by over 2%. A weakened correlation between Tesla shares and the NYSE FANG+ index is also observable, as BNN Bloomberg reported. Amy Wu Silverman, a derivatives strategist at RBC Capital Markets, told reporters:

“Tesla is highly correlated to megacap tech [...] this relationship has really decoupled in the near term. When I ask around, the feedback I get is that this is related to their Bitcoin exposure and how it will have to be accounted for when they report earnings.”

The EV maker’s earnings report is due on July 26. Tesla’s eventful and controversial relationship with Bitcoin dominated headlines — and arguably catalyzed a crypto market bull run — in February of this year, when the company disclosed a strategic acquisition of $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin, worth 7.7% of its gross cash position at the time. It soon announced it would begin accepting BTC payments for its vehicles, indicating plans to hold, rather than convert, the Bitcoin. 

The company sold a portion of its Bitcoin in Q1 2021, generating net proceeds of $272 million, although Musk was keen to stress he had not himself sold any of his own BTC holdings. By May, the close link between Tesla and the veteran cryptocurrency had begun to unravel, with Musk announcing Tesla would be pulling back from BTC payments acceptance due to environmental concerns about energy-intensive Bitcoin mining. 

Related: Elon Musk and Bitcoin: A toxic relationship

Time will tell whether Tesla’s near-term weakened correlation with Big Tech stocks will become an established dynamic. In the crypto space, many have been more focused on the oversized impact Musk himself has had on the crypto market as a whole, most strikingly when it comes to Bitcoin and meme cryptocurrency Dogecoin (DOGE).

Indian high court seeks ad disclaimers from crypto exchanges
July 15, 2021 9:06 am

India’s Delhi High Court is looking to put a clear voiceover and a disclaimer covering 80% of the screen on crypto ads on national TV.

Amid the ongoing regulatory uncertainty to cryptocurrencies in India, a high court in the country’s capital is taking action to regulate advertising by local crypto exchanges.

The Delhi High Court has issued notices to local authorities and crypto firms in an effort to enforce guidelines for crypto exchanges advertising on national television, the New Indian Express reported Wednesday.

The court is seeking responses from the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) and the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, as well as major Indian crypto exchanges CoinDCX and WasirX, and aims to discuss the issue in August.

According to the report, lawyers Ayush Shukla and Vikash Kumar have urged the court to ask the SEBI to issue ad guidelines requiring crypto audio-visual ads to include a disclaimer covering 80% of the screen, accompanied with a voiceover reading lasting at least five seconds.

The petitioners reportedly said that numerous crypto ads on national TV do not include a voiceover, while the disclaimer text is displayed briefly and in small letters, usually containing a line like “cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks.”

Related: Crypto exchanges in India still struggling to secure banking partners

The court’s plea reportedly stated that crypto assets are inherently riskier than traditional equity investment products, mutual funds and other investment instruments, thus requiring more measures to ensure investor protection. “An ordinary retail investor who views the audio-visual advertisement on television and online websites like Youtube may suffer immense losses as a result,” the court noted.

The news comes as India still struggles to come up with clear regulations for the crypto industry in the country as anonymous alleged government sources continue stoking fears of an upcoming crypto ban. Despite the ongoing regulatory uncertainty, India’s nationwide investments in crypto have reportedly surged 600% over the past year.

New data hints why Bitcoin price action has spent two months at $30K
July 15, 2021 8:40 am

Multiple factors demonstrate why $30,000 is so important for BTC/USD within an ongoing price “supercycle.”

Bitcoin (BTC) has seen almost two months of rangebound price moves after hitting $30,000 — and new data hints why.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, popular Twitter commentator Nunya Bizniz presented multiple arguments supporting the significance of $30,000 for BTC/USD.

All roads lead to $30,000?

Despite rising fundamentals and ongoing adoption narratives, BTC price action has failed to reestablish a bullish trend.

Still 50% below recent all-time highs, Bitcoin is without direction, something that leads opinions to favor a bearish outcome of what has been eight weeks of sideways movement.

For Nunyaz Bizniz, there are a number of technical factors that are converging to support $30,000 as a focal level.

These include $30,000 being “approximately” the 1.618 Fibonacci extension level on the monthly chart versus the $3,100 lows in late 2018, as well as the 2021 yearly opening price.

Its psychological significance is compounded by it being a round number, and as others have noted, it fits into a longer-term trendline, which places $64,500 as something of a mini-run to a blow-off top.

“It’s approximately the 1.618 Fib Ext. Which in the two prior cycles was tested as support but was never closed below on the monthly chart,” accompanying comments read about the Fibonacci phenomenon.

“This time?”
BTC/USD chart comparison with Fibonacci extensions. Source: Nunya Bizniz/Twitter

Research defends “Bitcoin supercycle”

The importance for Bitcoin not to break below $30,000 and fail to reclaim it compounds existing anxiety about a full-on BTC price breakdown.

Related: Bitcoin metric sees 'hell of a bounce' in move which historically heralds BTC price bottom

Amid the unease, some voices caution that it is only a desire to interpret events to push one’s own narrative, bullish or bearish, which is at play.

Bitcoin itself, meanwhile, is not as weak as price suggests, as fundamentals confirm.

“Regardless on your risk appetite, strategizing now is key, so as not to miss the next wave in this current Bitcoin supercycle,” Stack Funds concluded in its latest report released Thursday.

BTC/USD 1-day candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: TradingView

Nunya Bizniz, meanwhile, included Tesla’s BTC stash as a potential sticking point. Below $30,000, the user calculated, the firm would start being underwater, which may trigger executive demands to sell more in order to reduce losses.

As Cointelegraph reported, investors are already back in the accumulation phase around $30,000.

Bondly Finance urges users to stop trading following alleged exploit
July 15, 2021 8:23 am

The DeFi platform’s native token price dropped more than 60% following a compromise by an unknown party.

Decentralized e-commerce platform Bondly Finance is the latest decentralized finance (DeFi) platform to suffer an alleged exploit. The developer team advised the DeFi community to stop trading Bondly, the platform’s native token, following a suspected exploit on Thursday. 

Bondly Finance has yet to provide details regarding the attack, aside from being compromised by an unknown party. “Rest assure, we have already taken action and will be operating as usual as soon as possible,” the official announcement reads.

Bondly token price tanked more than 60% within three hours following the attack. PeckShield, a blockchain security and data analytics company, explained the price drop with a 373 million token mint on the Ethereum blockchain. The security firm also claims that the huge mint on Ethereum was performed by the owner’s address, essentially accusing Bondly of performing a rug pull.

Founded by the former managing partner at Shuttle Capital, Brandon Smith, Bondly was launched on Polkadot in 2020 as a DeFi protocol to “offer an ecosystem of decentralized products that enable anyone to execute digital payments between peers,” the official description states.

Related: Growing pains? DeFi exploits plunder BSC, which calls for reinforcements

Flash loan attacks, rug pulls or exploits are not uncommon in the DeFi ecosystem. PancakeBunny, a popular decentralized finance protocol built on Binance Smart Chain (BSC), was the subject of an exploit in May after a hacker made off with more than $200 million worth of crypto assets.

BSC-based DeFi exchange BurgerSwap was also exploited by hackers with about $7.2 million worth of crypto assets, including Burger tokens, Wrapped BNB (WBNB) and Tether (USDT) stolen from the platform.

Another BSC-powered DeFi project, Bogged Finance, suffered a flash loan exploit that drained $3 million, which was half the liquidity on the platform at the time of the attack.

NFT game creator flips Axie Infinity virtual land for 9,200% gain in one year
July 15, 2021 5:44 am

Illuvium co-founder Kieran Warwick has sold a virtual land plot in Axie Infinity for $28,000 after purchasing it last year for $300.

Kieran Warwick, the co-founder of forthcoming NFT-powered gaming metaverse Illuvium, has revealed he made a gain of more than 9,000% from flipping a virtual plot of land purchased from the Axie Infinity metaverse.

Warwick, the brother of Synthetix founder Kain, recounts purchasing the plots during mid-2020, noting there “weren’t too many use cases” for digital land at the time, with in-metaverse advertising and  mining having yet to become common as utilities for virtual property.

He purchased the plot for $300, and announced the sale a year later for $28,000 on July 13.

Despite the lack of apparent utility, Warwick invested “quite a bit into” Axie Infinity based on “the promise for them to build out the metaverse.” While players are still waiting for Axie to build out functionality for its land, Kieran notes the plots have increased in value by thousands of percent over the past year.

“Basically it was speculation, I just thought that play-to-earn in itself, which is this new paradigm of gaming which is taking off now, is going to bring so many players to this game. No matter what, if I buy a rare plot of land, it's going to be worth some money,” he said.

Warwick has invested in digital land in four metaverse projects, but named only Axie Infinity and Mars.

“I want to have land in all of the different games that I think are [...] going to grow in the next few years.”

He likens his investment strategy to physical real estate, noting that investors look for new developments and other signs of growth when seeking to forecast whether property prices in a given suburb are likely to appreciate.

“It's the exact same principle in the metaverse,” said Warwick. “If you feel like there’s going to be popularity and there’s going to be other people building next to you [...] then it’s a no-brainer to buy these land plots. In almost every single case, they’re very rare.”

“If they mint 10,000 land plots, and then all of a sudden there’s a million players, you can see that the scarcity there is going to really create some allure.”

Land can be a productive asset

Beyond speculative buy-and-hodl plays, Warwick emphasizes virtual real estate investors can put their land to work, noting that many landowners within Decentraland host advertising on their plots in the game.

While he thinks “advertising opportunities are probably the biggest use case” at the moment, Warwick predicts the utilities for virtual land will be “endless” as metaverses grow.

Warwick also revealed that his own project will soon start selling land, emphasizing that Illuvium’s virtual plots will have “a use case from day one.”

He said that Illuvium will host a mini-game allowing virtual landowners to mine for an in-game mineral used to mint items within the game.

“You can only mine it if you have land, so immediately there’s a use case,” Warwick said, emphasizing he does not want the sole utility of Illuvium's real estate to be speculation: “just a stagnant thing where people buy, and it’s only important if someone else wants to buy it.”

Fantasy soccer NFT platform Sorare reportedly closing in on $532M in funding
July 15, 2021 4:49 am

Sorare is reportedly closing in a half a billion dollar funding round with a valuation of at least $3.8 billion.

Reports have surfaced that French NFT-based soccer trading card game developer Sorare is closing in on a $532 million funding round with a valuation of at least $3.8 billion.

According to unnamed sources in Business Insider, the latest funding round is expected to be led by Japanese telecommunications giant SoftBank, along with participation from European venture capital firm Atomico.

Other backers thought to be in the mix include European investment firm Eurazeo, and Blisce, a fund founded by French entrepreneur Alexandre Mars.

Sorare was founded in 2018 and the firm’s NFT-based soccer collectible card game now has 142 licensed teams from top leagues across the world, such as Liverpool from the English Premier League, Real Madrid of the La Liga in Spain, Paris Saint-German from Ligue 1 in France and Bayern Munich of the German Bundesliga.

Sorare CEO Nicolas Julia has reportedly denied that a funding round was being conducted, in contrast to Insider’s unnamed insiders which claim the round is close to being finalized. SoftBank and Atomico are yet to comment on the reports.

If confirmed, the half a billion dollar funding round would signify a meteoric rise for Sorare in 2021, who previously raised $50 million in Series A funding in February, which included backing from Twitter, Instagram, Discord, and French soccer star Antoine Griezmann to name a few.

According to data from DappRadar, Sorare is ranked sixth on the list of top NFT collectible projects and has seen $12.37 million worth of sales volume over the past 30 days from a total of 9251 traders.

Data from CryptoSlam shows the project’s tokens performs well on secondary markets too, with a rolling 30 day average of $6.4 million in sales from 6,111 buyers.

Related: Crypto fan tokens a mixed bag for game-deprived soccer fans

In June Cointelegraph reported the platform had stitched up its first national team licensing deals including partnerships with the German and French national teams amid the 2020 European Championship.

The firm also onboarded F.C Barcelona’s star defender Gerard Piqué as a strategic advisor in December 2020, to help the platform target a young audience of soccer fans and card collectors.

DOGE attack: Co-founder slams crypto as ‘right-wing hyper-capitalist’ tech
July 15, 2021 4:31 am

The crypto industry is controlled by a “powerful cartel of wealthy figures,” according to Jackson Palmer.

The co-founder of the memecoin Dogecoin (DOGE), Jackson Palmer, has slammed the entire crypto industry and its investors in a vitriol-laden Twitter thread on Wednesday.

Palmer, who created the wildly popular coin as a joke in 2013, unleashed his tirade in a lengthy thread about whether he would ever return to cryptocurrency — in short, his answer is an emphatic “no.” He stated his belief that crypto is right-wing and inequitable:

“I believe that cryptocurrency is an inherently right-wing, hyper-capitalistic technology built primarily to amplify the wealth of its proponents through a combination of tax avoidance, diminished regulatory oversight and artificially enforced scarcity.”

Palmer also claimed the crypto industry is controlled by a “powerful cartel of wealthy figures” who have “evolved to incorporate many of the same institutions tied to the existing centralized financial system they supposedly set out to replace.”

Tech news website Mashable labeled it a “Shiba Inu-sized dump on crypto.” Palmer went on to state that crypto is not user-friendly, with users being blamed for lost passwords or falling victims to scams.

Palmer, who has been rather quiet during Dogecoin’s epic rise this year, took a swipe at the technology claiming it has been designed to limit consumer protections.

“Cryptocurrency is like taking the worst parts of today’s capitalist system (eg. corruption, fraud, inequality) and using software to technically limit the use of interventions (eg. audits, regulation, taxation) which serve as protections or safety nets for the average person.”

Related: Has the Doge had its day? Dogecoin interest cools

He admitted that cryptocurrency “doesn’t align with my politics or belief system” and has no interest in counter-arguments, as he “doesn’t have the energy” to try and have a dialogue with those “unwilling to engage in a grounded conversation.” He turned off the ability to reply on his Twitter feed.

In 2015, Palmer announced he was taking an “extended leave of absence” from the “toxic” world of cryptocurrency. In 2018, he told Vice that he made zero profit from his involvement with the Dogecoin project.

DOGE prices have slumped 73% from their May 9 all-time high of $0.731 but were trading up 4% on the day at $0.196, according to CoinGecko.

'DeFi Education Fund' defends controversial $10.2M UNI liquidation
July 15, 2021 4:21 am

The DeFi Education Fund has defended its shock liquidation of $10 million in UNI, claiming the move was necessary to “begin its work and fund future operations.”

The DeFi Education Fund (DEF), an organization funded by Uniswap to spearhead lobbying and educational initiatives in support of the decentralized finance sector, has defended its sudden move to liquidate half of its UNI treasury earlier this week.

The organization said it needed to convert the funds into stable assets to weather crypto market volatility.

In May, the DEF was conceived in a Uniswap governance proposal from the Harvard Law Blockchain and Fintech Initiative, with the entity being formed earlier this month after the vote passed with a treasury of 1 million UNI tokens, worth more than $18 million at current prices.

Despite indicating the UNI would be sold over the course of years, on July 12, the fund suddenly announced it had organized for half of its war chest to be liquidated into USDC by market maker, Genesis Trading.

Adding to community concerns DEF committee member, Larry Sukernik liquidated Larry Sukernik liquidated 2,612 UNI (worth approximately $50,000) around the time of the fund’s $10 million sale.

Responding to widespread backlash from the crypto community, DEF published a blog on July 14 seeking to justify its large sell-off.

The organization said “the vast majority of DEF’s expenses will be dollar-denominated,” and that diversifying half of the funds into a stable asset “provides the DEF with a sustainable budget to weather any market downturns.”

Claiming that time is against the industry as regulators circle, DEF states it sold the UNI fund to “begin its work and fund future operations.”

The post also emphasizes the discretion over fund management afforded to DEF, quoting the Uniswap proposal as saying:

“Due to the dynamic and somewhat unpredictable state of global policy proposals, we believe the grant-making committee should have considerable discretion to allow for flexibility and speed.”

The foundation also rejects claims the sale had a significant impact on the UNI markets, asserting the sale represented less than 5% of daily UNI trade volume, and that UNI’s subsequent drawdown after the sale was in line with the broader crypto meta-trend.

In reference to concerns over Larrk Sukernik’s liquidation of UNI, a new policy means that DEF members will no longer be allowed to make UNI transactions within a seven-day window of DEF treasury activity in future. The post also emphasizes that Sukernik’s transaction occurred after the sale had already been completed.

Further, the DEF will hire a full-time policy director tasked with managing the organization’s annual budget, which is set to be published within the next 90 days. The organization also plans to use the Tally Failsafe tool, which will allow Uniswap governance to block transactions and revoke funds from the DEF. Failsafe is currently being audited.

Related: Uniswap v3 launches Optimistic Ethereum layer two scaling in alpha

The blog failed to placat DeFi Watch founder, Chris Blec, who responded on Twitter with a lengthy list of lingering concerns, including how the fund’s committee member were chosen and how UNI token holders can be assured funds will be appropriately disbursed in future.

Medium blogger ChainCatcher also emphasized the concentration of votes supporting the fund’s creation among Uniswap’s top backer, also noting it strange that only UNI holders should bear the expense of political lobbying for the broader political sector.

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