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Bitcoin registers modest gains, equities tick lower to close the quarter: this week in markets

Cryptocurrency was somewhat of an oasis of calm last week, while traditional markets were volatile. 

Bitcoin was up about 1% over the past week at $19,229, while ether lost a little more than 1% and was trading at $1,300 at the time of writing, according to Coinbase data.

The global crypto market cap remains at less than $1 trillion, although trading in cryptocurrencies was not so volatile as stocks and bonds. Correlation between stocks and bitcoin declined throughout the week, with the Nasdaq correlation down to 0.77, while the S&P 500 fell to 0.75 according to The Block’s data dashboard. 

Fiat crisis sets the tone 

The pound sterling hit an all-time low of $1.0327 against the U.S. dollar on Monday as markets reacted to the U.K. government’s mini-budget.

“New Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s tax-slashing, deficit-ballooning Budget — let’s call a spade a spade — was met with a mixture of surprise, incredulity, and downright bafflement by financial markets, particularly as the full extent of extra borrowing required to fund the largest tax cuts in 50 years became clear,”  Michael Brown, head of market intelligence at Caxton’s, wrote on Monday. 

Going forward, the macroeconomic outlook remains challenging, UBS’s head of FX strategy James Malcolm told The Block on Friday.”Implied volatilities have already repriced much higher, so the thing you have to make a call on is whether they can keep rising near-term,” he said.

Monday’s meltdown set the tone for the week as traditional markets remained highly volatile throughout, U.K. government bonds — known as gilts — were also tested as yields rose and the Bank of England stepped in to buy bonds with a remaining maturity of 20 years or more. 

Stocks ticked lower to close the month and the quarter in the red, with UBS noting that bitcoin shrugged off its typical beta of 3x to major U.S. stock indices that dropped twice as much during September, 

The most worrying development in traditional finance came toward the end of the week as rumors began to circulate over the health of Credit Suisse. The bank’s CEO Ulrich Koerner wrote multiple memos to staff last week amid the turmoil, noting that the bank was at a “critical moment.” 

The Swiss bank is part of the Global Systemically Important Banks (GSIB), which is maintained by the Basel Committee, the primary global standard setter for bank regulation. Failure of a GSIB might trigger further financial crisis, and as such the health of Credit Suisse should be monitored going forward for its potential macroeconomic impact.

© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author: Adam Morgan McCarthy

The week ahead’s three biggest cryptocurrency stories

Following a relatively busy week here’s what to keep an eye on as we enter the fourth quarter of the year.  

Celsius, the next hearing

Last week, bankrupt crypto lender Celsius parted ways with CEO Alex Mashinsky after a group representing customers and creditors in the bankruptcy process called for his removal.

The firm’s CFO Chris Ferraro then moved into the role of “Chief Restructuring Officer” and interim CEO.

On Friday, the Department of Justice sought to block withdrawals from the platform until an independent examiner has completed her investigation. Celsius had filed a motion to return funds to customers in the custody and withhold accounts program at the start of this month, with the U.S. Trustee objecting to that motion, saying “the motions are premature and should be denied until after the Examiner Report is filed.”

The next hearing is set for Thursday, Oct. 6.

GUSD stablecoin volume in MakerDAO

Last week, Tyler Winklevoss submitted a proposal on the MakerDAO forum to boost the adoption of the Gemini dollar (GUSD) stablecoin in the latter’s ecosystem. 

The proposal sets out plans to grow the volume of GUSD in the MakerDAO PSM, which refers to the peg stability module that allows users to mint DAI by swapping any MakerDAO-accepted collateral. The PSM is considered useful for maintaining DAI’s peg to the U.S. dollar.

Since yesterday, and for the next 3 months, Gemini will contribute to MakerDAO a fixed rate of 1.25% for any GUSD present in the PSM, as long as the average monthly balance on the last day of the month is over $100m GUSD.

Gemini’s proposal is just the latest move by a stablecoin issuer to promote the use of their token; over the last month several stabelcoin issuers have jostled for position with various announcements and partnerships. The adjusted transaction volume of stablecoins came in at just over $765 billion in September, according to The Block’s data dashboard

Crypto events to keep an eye on

 There are two crypto events on the docket this coming weekend, first the Blockchain Economy Dubai Summit on Oct. 4 and 5 , then Blockchain Expo 2022 in Silicon Valley on Oct. 5 and 6. 

Ivan Liljeqvist, the founder of web3 development platform Moralis, will be speaking in Dubai along with a host of other speakers. Meanwhile, Spanish telecom giant Telifonica’s head of IOT will be speaking in Santa Clara, California, a week after reports suggested the $19 billion firm is allowing the use of cryptocurrency for purchases on its marketplace.

Last week, the Converge22 conference in San Francisco facilitated a plethora of announcements, from Circle’s acquisition of Elements to California’s intentions to develop a crypto and web3 regulatory regime that could be a model for other states to adopt, with a particular eye toward crypto mining operations. 

© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author: Adam Morgan McCarthy

After FTX.US, CME Group proposes direct derivatives trading: WSJ

CME Group is following in the footsteps of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX.US, proposing to regulators its own plan to offer derivatives trading directly to consumers. 

CME Group, one of the largest exchanges for trading of derivatives and other financial contracts, filed paperwork to register as a so-called futures commission merchant (FCM), according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

If the exchange’s plans are approved by regulators, then traders would be able to trade derivatives directly through CME rather than through brokers. Typically individuals traders trade derivatives through a third-party brokerages like TDAmeritrade. 

CME’s plan is similar to FTX.US’s proposal to allow traders to post margin and trade crypto derivatives directly on its platform. 

“This is notable and comes as no surprise,” noted CoinFund president Christopher Perkins, who took to LinkedIn to comment on the Journal’s reporting. 

“The CME Group has desired direct relationships with clients for as long as I can remember.” 

Still, CME spoke out against FTX’s similar proposal. During a congressional hearing in May, CME Group CEO Terence Duffy asserted FTX.US made “false claims of innovations that are little more than cost-cutting regimes.” 

If its application is approved, CME entering the futures brokerage space is a “game changer” and a “dramatic concern for every FCM” should CME sets fees lower than such middlemen, Joseph Guinan, CEO of the FCM Advantage futures, told the Journal.

Regarding FCMs and risk management, a CME spokesperson told the Journal that, “Our commitment to the FCM model and the significant risk management benefits it provides to all industry participants remains unwavering.” 

© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author: MK Manoylov

Indian crypto exchange WazirX confirms layoffs: CoinDesk

India-based crypto exchange WazirX has laid off more than 50 people as it navigates a period of languishing volumes, the company told CoinDesk on Saturday.

As per reporting from CoinDesk, the crypto exchange has laid off as many as 70 employees or approximately 40% of its total workforce. 

“The crypto market has been in the grip of a bear market because of the current global economic slowdown,” WazirX said in a statement shared with CoinDesk on Saturday. “The Indian crypto industry has had its unique problems with respect to taxes, regulations and banking access. This has lead to a dramatic fall in volumes in all Indian crypto exchanges.”

The firm hopes the layoffs will allow it to  maintain adequate financial stability to survive the crypto market downturn. Employees in customer service, HR, management, and other departments were impacted, and will each have 45 days of pay following termination. 

WazirX’s layoffs comes nearly two months after Indian authorities began investigating the company for alleged money laundering. India’s Directorate of Enforcement froze $8 million worth of WazirX’s funds on Aug. 5, 2022. 

Binance was thought to have acquired the Indian crypto exchange. After WazirX’s funds were frozen, however, Binance co-founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao claimed that acquisition of WazirX never actually occured.

© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author: MK Manoylov

September NFT data wrap: Minting on Solana hits new high

Solana’s NFT space saw a surge in minting this month despite NFT market volumes  showing little improvement following the crash earlier this year. SudoAMM has conducted $50 million in trading since its launch, proving there’s a market for royalty-free NFT trading despite the controversy they generate. The most popular web3 game of September saw almost 2 million users this month, but its smart contracts have registered less than $20 in incoming value to the dapp’s smart contracts.

Find out about this and more in this month’s data wrap.

NFT mints on Solana reach an all-time high

The number of NFTs minted on Solana hit a high of 312,000 on Sept. 7, up from 39,000 just three days earlier. On Sept. 6, Solana-based NFT market volume his $11.5 million, the highest level since May.

Top collections on Solana, Sept. 2022. Source: Hello Moon

The surge was likely influenced by the excitement surrounding the y00ts mint. The 15,000-strong NFT collection is a new release from Dust Labs, the team behind the DeGods NFT collection.

In terms of trading volume, Solana also saw some increase this month, but numbers still remain much lower than earlier this year.

The Solana NFT community is hoping the surge of interest earlier this month represents the market beginning to mature. They have long lamented the challenge of getting NFTs on the chain taken seriously. Chase Barker, head of developer ecosystem at the Solana Foundation said he remembers people laughing at Solana NFTs last year, while Metaplex co-founder Stephen Hess said, “It felt like cold calling.”

StepN logs 67 million miles as of its first anniversary

Move-to-earn app StepN revealed it has logged 67 million miles of walking and physical activity since its launch a year ago, with over 4.7 million users registered on the app.

The company earned more than $26.8 million and $122 million in the first and second quarters of 2022, respectively, despite challenges in finding the right balance for its tokenomics.

It also announced this month that it would be moving its headquarters from Australia to Hong Kong.

SudoAMM reaches over $50 million in trading since its launch

Two months after its launch, royalty-free NFT trading platform SudoAMM has taken more than $50 million in total trading volume.

As of Sept. 23, the automated market maker (AMM) has processed more than 90,000 transactions, attracted 29,000 users and amassed $251,000 in total platform fees.

Sudoswap volume. Source: Dune Analytics via user 0xRob

Launched in July by the same team as Sudoswap, SudoAMM removed royalties last month as part on an attempt to keep fees as low as possible.

Gameta September’s most popular web3 game

Casual mobile game collection Gameta attracted a stunning 1.92 million users — calculated by number of unique wallet interactions with a dapp’s smart contract — in September following its switch from Solana to BNB Chain. It beat out Alien Worlds, which saw 713,000 users in the same 30-day period. 

Source: DappRadar

Still, transaction volumes tell a slightly different story, with Gameta registering volumes of just $17.50. The Sandbox is the top game by volume, followed by Axie Infinity, Crazy Defense Heroes and Gods Unchained. 

Source: DappRadar

Metaverse trademark applications have already eclipsed 2021

Companies and individuals filed 4,200 U.S. trademark applications and 5,800 NFT-related patents from January to August this year, according to data shared by trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis in early September.

Numbers average at 523 a month, peaking in March with a record 759 filings. This compares with last year, which saw a total of 1,866 metaverse and 2,087 NFT applications overall.

© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author: Callan Quinn

Three top cryptocurrency stories from the past week

This has been a long week for players in U.S. crypto regulation, as the government brings more actions against companies and politicians weigh in on how to tame the crypto industry beast.

As jurisdictions including the EU and Australia look this week at whether to create Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) and how they should be implemented, in the U.S. the focus is on whether crypto assets should be considered securities and what companies should have to do in order to operate on U.S. soil.

Also in the news, Alex Mashinsky has stepped down from Celsius and Meta is introducing a hiring freeze as it seeks to cut costs following a dismal second quarter.

More companies face U.S. legal action

Eight states announced actions against cryptocurrency lender Nexo on Sept 26. California, Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Washington and Vermont allege that the firm offered unregistered, interest-bearing crypto accounts to users.

California’s Department of Financial Protection issued a cease and desist order over Nexo’s crypto interest-bearing accounts, while New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking to permanently bar the company from selling securities in the state.

The following day, Nexo said it had acquired a minority stake in U.S.-based Summit National Bank, which is regulated by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. The deal will expand its presence in the U.S. and enable the firm to offer bank accounts, lending and card services. The bank’s clients will be able to access Nexo’s crypto services.

The news comes as more legal action hits crypto companies in U.S. courts. Also announced this past week were cases against crypto futures exchange Digitex for failure to register with the agency and attempting to manipulate the price of its token, as well as another case against Hydrogen and market maker Moonwalkers Trading on allegations of market manipulation.

Some in the industry are attempting to self-regulate — eight more industry players including Bittrex and BitGo signed a crypto market integrity pledge by the Crypto Market Integrity Coalition — but politicians are also looking for ways to bring law and order to crypto.

Former U.S. Treasury secretary Lawrence Summers sees regulations as a potential tailwind for the growth of the digital asset industry, while Sen. Bill Hagerty, (R-Tenn.) has introduced a bill to create a safe harbor for cryptocurrency exchanges that might otherwise face legal action for listing unregistered securities.

California is hoping to become a model for other states when it comes to crypto regulation. State official Dee Dee Myers told The Block it plans to continue building out new rules for crypto. She said Gov. Gavin Newsom’s veto of a state crypto licensing bill earlier this month frees up his administration to create its own regulations. 

Executives at FTX, Celsius step down

Brett Harrison stepped down as president of FTX.US and will be moving into an advisory role at the company. Harrison joined FTX.US as president in May 2021 and oversaw the growth of the company as it clinched unicorn status and expanded outside of crypto into stock and non-fungible token trading.

FTX’s U.S. derivatives unit head Zach Dexter will take over the entire operation in the wake of Harrison’s departure ahead of the company moving U.S. operations from Chicago to Miami.

Embattled Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky also resigned effective immediately. The controversial founder, whose firm collapsed earlier this year, will be replaced by CFO Chris Ferraro as “Chief Restructuring Officer” and interim CEO.

As the Celsius bankruptcy case continues to make its way through the courts, on Friday a representative for the Department of Justice was looking to block the firm’s attempt to reopen withdrawals for certain customers until after an independent investigation could be completed.

Meta to freeze hiring and restructure teams to cut costs

Facebook owner Meta Platforms is freezing hiring, trimming budgets and restructuring teams to cut costs. In July, Meta warned it would “steadily reduce headcount growth” amid a downturn in advertising revenue growth and increased competition from competitors like TikTok.

The company missed on both earnings and revenue in the second quarter. Its metaverse and virtual-reality division Reality Labs lost $2.8 billion in the three-month period.

At the same time, the company has added more digital asset functionality on Facebook and Instagram. U.S.-based users can now connect their wallets and share their digital collectibles across both platforms. Users in any of the 100 countries where digital collectibles are available on Instagram can now access the feature.

Also in the metaverse, retail giant Walmart has joined the list of companies seeking new ways to market their brands via metaverse platforms with the launch of two new experiences in Roblox. The experiences feature in-game advertising that Roblox is planning to roll out in 2023 as part of its attempts to find new revenue streams.

The use of advertising on the platform has raised eyebrows, given its popularity with children. 

© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author: Callan Quinn

ACA Group decides to give up on BitFlyer Holdings acquisition: Nikkei

The ACA Group, which has bases in Singapore and Japan, has decided to give up on the planned acquisition of BitFlyer Holdings, which owns a crypto exchange in Japan, Nikkei reported today in its Japanese language edition.

ACA had agreed in April with a coalition of BitFlyer Holdings shareholders to buy a majority stake, estimated at the time to have a value of as much as 45 billion yen ($370 million).

The decision comes as a number of planned M&As have failed, including Galaxy Digital terminating the acquisition of crypto custodian BitGo, and Thailand’s SCB X calling off its deal to acquire crypto exchange Bitkub Online, both last month.

© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author: Mike Millard

Crypto checking account provider Juno raises $18 million and launches token

Juno, a Singapore-headquartered crypto firm that provides checking accounts in the U.S. has raised $18 million in a Series A funding round and launched a native token as part of its tokenized loyalty program.

ParaFi Capital led the round, with Hashed, Jump Crypto, Uncorrelated Fund, Greycroft, 6th Man Ventures and others participating. This was an equity round and closed two months ago, Juno co-founder and CEO Varun Deshpande told The Block.

Juno’s Series A round comes three years after it raised $3 million in a seed funding round in 2019. That round was co-led by Polychain Capital and Sequoia Capital India’s Surge program. Deshpande declined to comment on Juno’s valuation with the latest round.

Juno provides checking accounts to U.S. residents that allow them to earn, invest in and spend crypto. Juno says its checking accounts are free and insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). “The Juno Checking Account (which holds USD deposits) is sponsored by Evolve Bank & Trust and is FDIC insured up to $250,000,” reads Juno’s website.

The checking account allows users to buy and sell crypto, earn interest on deposits and spend crypto and cash via a debit card. “We primarily compete with banks like Wells Fargo or Chase. In crypto, our closest competitors are Eco,, Strike and Robinhood,” said Deshpande.

‘Loyalty tokens’

Juno has today also launched a tokenized loyalty program, which will distribute its native ERC20 token, JCOIN, to verified users as a reward for certain activities on the platform. Those activities are receiving deposits, such as a paychecks, in the Juno account, and spending funds with the Juno debit card.

“Juno makes money via interchange and trading fees,” Deshpande said.

As for rewards to users for the activities, they are set at 1:1, meaning if someone receives or spends $1,000 in their Juno account, they will be rewarded with 1,000 JCOINs, according to Juno’s website. The firm terms JCOINs as “loyalty tokens.”

Juno says it will not distribute JCOINs to employees or investors and will not facilitate secondary trading of the tokens. Token holders will be able to shop products with partner brands, starting with crypto hardware wallet maker Ledger, said Deshpande. One billion JCOINs have already been minted and after their exhaustion, the firm plans to mint 1 billion more tokens. The supply of the token is uncapped.

Juno says more than 75,000 users are eligible to claim free 150 million JCOINs in an airdrop today, according to a snapshot taken on Sept. 30.

With fresh capital in hand, Juno plans to expand its loyalty program, team and product line. Deshpande said there are currently 80 people working for Juno, with 75 in India and 5 in the U.S., and the plan is to expand the U.S. team to 25 people and the overall team to 150 people in the next 12 months.

As for geographical expansion, Juno plans to continue to focus on the U.S. market “for the foreseeable future,” said Deshpande. Still, he added, “We are excited about potentially launching in Latin America.”

Juno was founded in 2021 by Deshpande, Ratnesh Ray and Siddharth Verma. The team had created decentralized finance protocol Nuo in 2019 but shut it down a year later “to pursue a more regulated approach to crypto.”

© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author: Yogita Khatri

September by the numbers: A look at crypto exchange volumes, open interest, and miner revenue

Quick Take

  • The highly anticipated ETH Merge was successfully executed on September 15.
  • Total adjusted on-chain volume decreased by 8.4%, to $365 billion.
  • A total of 34,873 Ethereum, equivalent to $52.1 million, was burned.
  • Monthly volume of NFT marketplaces on Ethereum decreased, by 17.6%, to $504 million.
  • Centralized exchange spot trading volumes increased by 16.4% to $733.6 billion.

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Author: Lars Hoffmann

Solana back online following latest network outage

Solana is back online following an outage on Friday night caused by a misconfigured node that stopped the blockchain from processing transactions.

A validator appeared to be running a duplicate validator instance, meaning that instead of the validator producing a single block, each instance produced one each.

“Not an issue in itself and something the network should handle,” said software and blockchain company Stakewiz, which operates a validator node on Solana, in a Twitter thread.

This caused the blockchain to fork because validators couldn’t agree on which one was correct. This fork caused an obscure code path that left validators unable to switch back to the main fork. Stakewiz suggested the Solana network’s failure to rectify the situation could be due to a failed node failover setup.

A decision was made to restart the network from 153139220, the last confirmed slot. The restart was completed at 7 a.m. UTC. Dapps are working to restore services.

Despite promoting itself as a high-performance blockchain, Solana has suffered a series of outages over the last year. In September 2021, it went offline for almost 18 hours.

It also froze for about seven hours in early May until validators restarted, and was knocked offline for about four hours in June. The network saw degraded performance in January, March, April and May. 

© 2022 The Block Crypto, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This article is provided for informational purposes only. It is not offered or intended to be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice.

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Author: Callan Quinn