ProBit Bits — ProBit Global’s Weekly Blockchain Bits Vol. 31

Last week was quite eventful in the aftermath of the FTX exchange’s collapse. It was dominated mainly by various reports of the saga’s implications on the crypto industry. We were able to capture some of them for you, and we believe you’ll find them worthy of interest. Happy reading!

Visa Terminates Debit Card Deal with FTX

Payments processor, Visa, last week announced the termination of its global agreements with FTX and their U.S. debit card program which it says is being wound down by their issuer.

FTX and Visa had announced an expanded partnership in early October, including plans to introduce account-linked Visa debit cards in 40 new countries. The termination comes as a new bankruptcy filing shows that the troubled exchange has significantly lesser crypto holdings than its disgraced founder, Sam Bankman-Fried, had claimed. They found FTX has $659,000 worth in crypto as against the supposed $5.5 billion, a situation the new FTX CEO, John Ray III, who is overseeing the liquidation of the company, says he has never seen before in his career.

El Salvador’s Bukele Made a Tough Decision as Bitcoin High Hopes Slow

As one of the major Bitcoin believers that was affected by the FTX saga, the president of El Salvador, Nayib Bukele, last week announced that the country would sign a free trade agreement with China exactly as the former second largest crypto exchange declared insolvency.

The agreement, according to the country’s vice-president, Félix Ulloa, would see China buy El Salvador’s $21 billion foreign debt as it seems they are in a tough financial position.

Bukele reportedly spent over $107 million on 2,381 bitcoin — now worth over $40 million as the price of the top cryptocurrency has dropped to about $16,000. Also, his planned bitcoin-backed volcano bonds sale hinged on a projection that Bitcoin will reach $100,000 is yet to materialize since he made the cryptocurrency legal tender in his country a year ago. Meanwhile, Bukele remains popular in Latin America with an approval rating of around 90%.

Crypto Regulation Voices Emerge From US Congress

In the face of meteoric rises and once-unfathomable collapses, the chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), said he has been exploring the need for comprehensive cryptocurrency legislation but often failed due to industry lobbying. Yet, he maintains that crypto companies that have put investors at risk “need to be held accountable.” His comment came as Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), the caucus chair, said that the crypto industry situation will be one of the party’s priorities as the year ends

The House Financial Services Committee, led by Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), plans to hold a hearing on FTX, while Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.), harps on the failure of Congress to pass legislation and the failure of regulators to provide clear related guidance as creating ambiguity that has driven crypto developers and entrepreneurs overseas. On his part, though, Sen. Josh Hawley, (R-Mo) is concerned about whether three top Biden admin regulatory bodies officials had investigated FTX or its sister firm, Alameda Research, and if their respective agencies had entered into settlements with the two companies.

Top Hong Kong Crypto Trading Platform Ceases Operations

The FTX fallout last week saw a leading crypto retail service provider in Hong Kong cease trading. Genesis Block, which once ran one of Asia’s biggest bitcoin ATM networks (29 locations in Hong Kong and six in Taiwan), told Reuters it would be closing down its over-the-counter trading portal on Dec. 10 out of fear of not knowing which counterparties would fail next.

The company has asked customers to withdraw their funds while it says it is not accepting new customers. Its ATMs are now operated by CoinHero.

Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) last month started consulting on giving retail investors “a suitable degree of access” to virtual assets. The move, which will also see the reviewing of property rights for tokenized assets and explore legalizing smart contracts, could pave the way for real estate security token offerings (STOs).

Skeptics Can Scoff at FTX’s Collapse But Not Blockchain

Despite the scale and prominence of FTX, and how it has spooked the market, its collapse has not undermined the entire ecosystem, particularly the underlying technology, Blockchain, an op-ed has shared.

It has thrown a spotlight on the business model of unregulated crypto exchanges but still upholds one of the initial promises of cryptocurrency which is to enable a financial system free from the meddling of central banks. This is particularly imperative considering the costs and consequences of the Reserve Bank’s money-printing efforts in recent years, and the quantitative easing projects of other central banks around the world. Cryptocurrency also seeks to strip out layers of fees from the system so that transactions are less costly to end consumers, investors, and businesses while being indelibly traceable on a visible and verifiable ledger. Blockchain’s promises of a more accessible and transparent system shouldn’t be scoffed at.

Bank of America, Mark Cuban Want Blockchain Separated From Speculative Crypto Trading

In the wake of FTX’s implosion, the need to separate speculative crypto trading and token prices from the underlying blockchain technology is important, a Bank of America (BAC) report and billionaire, Mark Cuban, have suggested.

BAC released its report after the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a group of major banks including Citigroup ©, HSBC (HSBC), BNY Mellon (BK), and Wells Fargo (WFC) as well as payments giant, Mastercard (MA), started testing the use of digital tokens representing dollars.

Cuban still believes in crypto and in smart contracts which he thinks will have a significant impact in creating valuable applications that will be useful for everyone. He is of the view that a token’s value is derived from the applications it can be used for and how useful those applications are for users, he says on Twitter.

World’s Largest Publicly-traded Hedge Firm Still Starting Exclusive Crypto Fund

With all the hullabaloo surrounding the FTX collapse, the world’s largest publicly-traded hedge fund firm says it is still starting a dedicated cryptocurrency hedge fund. Man Group Plc is developing its strategy to delve deeper into the market through its computer-led trading unit AHL with a plan to start as soon as the end of the year, Bloomberg reports. While the crypto market has so far lost over US$200 bln in its market capitalization since November started, according to CoinMarketCap, the planned cryptocurrency exclusive fund will be approved for investors only after the London-based Man Group assesses it for counterparty risks. The chief executive officer Luke Ellis had earlier in the year said that Man Group was considering scaling up its involvement in crypto.

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