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U.S. seizes $30 mln in crypto from North Korea-linked hackers

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By: Reuters, September 9, 2022

Sept 8 (Reuters) – The United States has seized over $30 million in cryptocurrency stolen by North Korean-linked hackers Lazarus from the popular online game Axie Infinity, crypto intelligence firm Chainalysis said on Thursday.

The company said in a blog post it played a role in the recovery with U.S. law enforcement and other crypto organizations, without naming them, in the first ever recovery of stolen cryptocurrency by a North Korea hacking group.

Chainalysis and North Korea’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The FBI did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The seizures represent about 10% of the total funds stolen in March from Ronin Network, a sidechain built for the play-to-earn game Axie Infinity, Chainalysis said.

Ronin said in March hackers stole about $615 million in cryptocurrency.

“We estimate that so far in 2022, North Korea-linked groups have stolen approximately $1 billion of cryptocurrency from DeFi protocols,” Chainalysis said. He was referring to decentralized finance protocols, an umbrella term for financial services offered on public blockchains.

The U.S Department of Treasury in May sanctioned virtual currency mixer Blender, saying it was used in the laundering process for the Axie Infinity heist.

The Treasury Department in April also linked Lazarus to the attack.

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Bitcoin falls below $19,000 as cryptos creak under rate hike risk

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By: Reuters, Updated September 19, 2022

SINGAPORE, Sept 19 (Reuters) – Cryptocurrencies fell to fresh lows on Monday on regulatory concerns and as investors globally turned shy on risky assets with interest rate rises looming around the world.

Bitcoin , the biggest cryptocurrency by market value, fell about 5% to a three-month low of $18,387.

Ether , the second largest cryptocurrency, dropped 3% to a two-month low of $1,285 and is down more than 10% in the last 24 hours. Most other smaller tokens were deeper in the red.

The Ethereum blockchain, which underpins the ether token, had a major upgrade over the weekend called the Merge that changes the way transactions are processed and cuts energy use.

The token’s value has fallen amid some speculation that remarks last week from U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler implied the new structure could attract extra regulation. Trades around the upgrade also were unwound.

“It’s speculation as to what might or might not happen,” said Matthew Dibb, COO of Singapore crypto platform Stack Funds, on the regulatory outlook.

“A lot of the hype has come out of the markets since the Merge,” he said. “It’s really been a sell-the-news type of event,” he added, given the nervous global backdrop, and said ether could test $950 in coming months.

“Looking at the landscape right now, both fundamentally and technically, it’s not looking great. There’s no immediate bullish catalyst that we can see that’s going to prop up these markets and bring in a whole lot of new money and liquidity.”

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Bitcoin once again slips below $20,000

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By: Reuters, September 18, 2022

Sept 18 (Reuters) – Bitcoin on Sunday dropped 1.54% to $19,804, slipping from the 20,000 mark after losing $310 from its previous close.

The world’s biggest and best-known cryptocurrency is down 58.9% from the year’s high of $48,234 on March 28.

Ether , the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, dropped 3.2 % to $1,422.1 on Sunday, losing $47 from its previous close.

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Crypto gaming firm Animoca Brands raises $110 million

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By: Reuters, September 8, 2022

LONDON, Sept 8 (Reuters) – Hong Kong-based blockchain gaming developer Animoca Brands has raised $110 million from investors, the company said in a statement on Thursday.

The company said the fund raising values the company “similar to its previous funding round” but did not specify its new valuation.

In July, Animoca said it had a valuation of around $5.5 billion. read more

(This story corrects paragraph 1 to read Hong Kong-based not Singapore)

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Binance to convert users’ USDC into its own stablecoin

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By: Reuters, September 6, 2022

Sept 5 (Reuters) – Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange, said on Monday it is introducing “BUSD Auto-Conversion,” which will be used to convert any existing user balances and new deposits of USD Coin (USDC), Pax Dollar (USDP) and True USD (TUSD) into its own stablecoin.

The move is intended to enhance liquidity and capital efficiency for users, the company said in a statement.

Binance said it will remove and cease any trading on spot pairs that include USDC, USDP and TUSD; it will start the conversion on Sept. 29.

USDC, which is principally operated by Circle Internet Financial and is the second largest stablecoin, has a nearly $51.9 billion market capitalization. Binance’s stablecoin, BUSD, is valued at about $19.4 billion, according to crypto data provider CoinGecko.

USDC products affected include saving accounts, DeFi staking subscriptions and crypto loans, which will be closed and liquidated on Sept. 23.

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Crypto Exchange FTX Ordered to Halt ‘False and Misleading’ Claims by US Bank Regulator

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By Reuters | Updated: 20 August 2022

A US bank regulator ordered crypto exchange FTX on Friday to halt what it called “false and misleading” claims the exchange had made about whether funds at the company are insured by the government. The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said a July tweet by Brett Harrison, head of FTX’s US operations, contained misleading claims that funds held at and stocks purchased through FTX were FDIC insured, and ordered the company to remove any misleading language from its social media accounts and websites.

In the tweet, which Harrison has since deleted, he stated that direct deposits from employers to the crypto exchange are “stored in individually FDIC-insured bank accounts” and that stocks purchased via FTX US “are held in FDIC-insured” brokerage accounts. The FDIC said in its cease and desist letter to FTX US that those statements implied that FDIC insurance was available for cryptocurrency and stock holdings, and that the agency does not insure brokerage accounts.

The order, one of five sent to crypto firms by the FDIC on Friday, comes as regulators have ramped up efforts to police crypto firms that may be misleading investors on whether their funds enjoy a government backstop. The issue has come to a head of late, as turmoil in the crypto market has led to stress and the collapse of some high profile firms.

The bank regulator issued a similar cease and desist letter to bankrupt crypto firm Voyager Digital, arguing that the company had misled customers by claiming their funds with Voyager would be covered by the FDIC. Later, the FDIC issued an advisory urging banks dealing with crypto companies to ensure that customers are aware of what types of assets are government-insured, particularly in cases where firms offer a mix of uninsured crypto products alongside insured bank deposit products.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

In a tweet on Friday, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried emphasised FTX is not FDIC-insured, and apologised if anyone misinterpreted previous comments.

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Tencent’s NFT Platform Huanhe to Stop Sales for Public as Scrutiny Mounts

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By Reuters | Updated: 16 August 2022

Chinese Internet giant Tencent Holdings’ non-fungible token (NFT) platform Huanhe will no longer release digital collectibles to the public, it said on Tuesday, as regulatory scrutiny of NFTs mounts in the country.

The Shenzhen-based company said that Huanhe, officially launched early last August, will no longer release new NFTs to users from Tuesday. But the company said that owners of existing collectibles will still be able to hold, display or request a refund for their possessions.

“Based on the company’s consideration to focus on its core strategy, Huanhe is making adjustments to its business,” Tencent said in a statement.

Huanhe is one of the biggest NFT platforms in China, with new collectibles often sold out instantly upon launch.

The move marks a major retreat by Tencent from the NFT market, which has come under increased scrutiny from Chinese regulators. Digital collectibles in the form of NFTs have become popular around the world in recent years, in large part thanks to an active if not highly speculative secondary market.

After state media repeatedly highlighted issues around NFT speculation in the country, tech giants including Tencent and Ant Group in June signed a pact to stop the secondary trading of digital collectibles and “self-regulate” their activities in the market.

The potential shutdown of Huanhe was first reported by Chinese media last month. In its statement on Tuesday, Tencent did not elaborate on what will happen to the Huanhe brand.

Chinese tech giants have trodden carefully with their NFT platforms within mainland China. Most domestic platforms mostly avoid the wording NFT, opting to describe them as “digital collectibles” instead in a bid to distance them from cryptocurrencies, which are banned in China.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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