Today in Crypto: Bitget Q3 Report Finds BGB Trading Volume Exceeded $1.3 Billion, US Doctor Pleaded Guilty to Hiring Hitman With BTC, Beluga Raises $4 Million

Today in Crypto: Bitget Q3 Report Finds BGB Trading Volume Exceeded $1.3 Billion, US Doctor Pleaded Guilty to Hiring Hitman With BTC, Beluga Raises $4 Million

Exchange news

  • Bitget released a financial report highlighting the platform’s achievements for Q3 2023, stating that, despite the spot trading and derivative trading volume on centralized exchanges (CEXs) declining by 22% and 23%, respectively, Bitget achieved one of the highest increases in market share of 9.43%. It further reported that the BGB token reached the top 5 CEX tokens by market cap, with a 300% year-to-date price growth; the number of BGB holders overpassed 350,000 in Q3; the trading volume for BGB exceeded $1.3 billion; the exchange unveiled its expansion plans into the Middle East region, and it launched the $100 million fund to support the Web3 ecosystem.

Crime news

  • A Georgia, USA, doctor pleaded guilty to using the dark web to hire a hitman to kill his girlfriend, paying over $16,000 in bitcoin (BTC) for the job. According to the US Attorney’s Office, the order included the victim’s name, address, Facebook account, license plate, and car description, with James Wan (54) stating: “Can take wallet phone and car. Shoot and go. Or take car.” In April 2022, Wan transferred a 50% downpayment of approximately $8,000 in BTC to the dark web marketplace, but that payment was lost, so he followed it up with another one. The administrator confirmed the new address was correct and that the BTC had arrived in the escrow account. A week later, he sent another $8,000 worth of BTC to ensure his escrow account contained the total required to complete the order, followed by $1,200 in May after the BTC price had dropped. FBI agents learned about the order, notified the victim, and provided her protection, the press release said.

Investment news

  • Crypto platform Beluga announced a $4 million seed round from crypto and FinTech investors. The round was led by Fin Capital with participation from AnagramUDHCDispersion CapitalAptos Labs2 Punks CapitalBorderless CapitalKyber Capital186 VenturesW11 CapitalRubik Ventures, and more. Angel investors included Charlie Lee, Founder of Litecoin; Mike Lempres, Former Chief Risk and Legal Officer of Coinbase; Brandon Gath, Head of Kraken Ventures; Akash Garg, Former CTO of MoonPay; Salil Pitroda, Former Blockchain.com Board Observer; Howard Lindzon, Co-Founder of Stocktwits; and Jim Robinson, Co-Founder of RRE VenturesAccording to the press release, in the coming months, Beluga plans to launch more tools to help onboard new users and help them find and use the best crypto products.

Regulation news

  • The use of cryptocurrency by Hamas to fund its strike on Israel is likely to raise red flags in Asian countries that are framing regulations to govern the digital currency, the South China Morning Post reported, citing analysts. “It is a kick on the backside for most governments. All regulatory bodies will take a closer look at crypto regulation. Governments will need to start implementing new rules and regulations,” said Raj Kapoor, founder of India Blockchain Alliance. Some countries may even “bring up the narrative that banning cryptocurrencies is the way forward,” argued Anndy Lian, Singapore-based author of the book NFT: From Zero to Hero. He added that banning crypto would just drive terrorist financing underground and make it harder to trace and stop. “Cryptocurrencies can be traced and tracked, while fiat (currency) such as US dollars cannot.” Terrorist financing underscores the need for harmonizing standards across jurisdictions, analysts opined.

AI news

  • ELONN.AI (ENHANCED_LANGUAGE_ORIENTED_NEURAL_NETWORK), backed by SMART VALOR, a Switzerland-based technology company and the only digital asset exchange listed on Nasdaq in Europe, today announced the first stage of its product roadmap and the app launch. Per an announcement, “in a bold pursuit to disrupt the supremacy of Big Tech in the realm of AI, the founders’ vision is to craft an AI companion, elevating every investment experience with heightened intelligence, safety, and effortless simplicity.” Olga Feldmeier, the Chief Evengelizer of ELONN.AI, said that “we believe that the future of AI is decentralized, open-source and does not belong in walled gardens.” As an initiator, SMART VALOR, has funded the initial development of ELONN.AI for the amount of $14 million, with part of the funding stemming from the company’s initial public offering (IPO) on Nasdaq First North last year, it said.

Blockchain news

  • Q Development AG, the company supporting the decentralized Q Protocol, which works to strengthen the governance of blockchain-based projects, announced the beginning of stage two of its Saving & Borrowing Incentive Program. Per the press release, the initiative is designed to encourage the use of Q’s Saving and Borrowing platform, which enables users to borrow QUSD stablecoins against collateral such as WBTCDAI, and USDC. Users receive Q tokens for asset bridging when assets are transferred from Ethereum to Q; locking collateral assets into a Q vault; and parking QUSD stablecoins within Q’s Saving Portal. The initiative comprises three phases, each lasting three weeks, with subsequent phases only commencing should a pre-set total value locked (TVL) goal be met. The current phase requires users to lock a total of $500,000 by October 29, it said.

 

 

Source: https://cryptonews.com/news/today-in-crypto-bitget-q3-report-finds-bgb-trading-volume-exceeded-13-billion-us-doctor-pleaded-guilty-to-hiring-hitman-with-btc-beluga-raises-4-million.htm

Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author- “NFT: From Zero to Hero” and “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.

Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.

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The US Treasury department’s first report on DeFi: Is it fair

The US Treasury department’s first report on DeFi: Is it fair

The U.S. Department of the Treasury published the 2023 DeFi Illicit Finance Risk Assessment, the first illicit finance risk assessment report conducted on decentralized finance (DeFi) in the world. This report highlights the risks associated with the burgeoning decentralized cryptocurrency market, stating that it threatens national security and requires greater oversight and enforcement against money laundering. The report addresses explicitly decentralized finance (DeFi) services and their need to comply with anti-money laundering and terrorist financing laws, in addition to highlighting the threat posed by cybercriminals and ransomware attackers.

While there are still a couple of unclear things, the report pointed out that fiats currency is used in illicit finance more than cryptocurrencies. I agree with this statement.

What is decentralized cryptocurrency?

Decentralized cryptocurrency is a type of digital currency that operates independently of intermediaries such as banks and payment processors. Unlike traditional currencies, decentralized cryptocurrencies are not controlled by any central authority or government. It offers several advantages over traditional financial systems. For one, users of decentralized exchanges do not need to transfer their assets to a third party, reducing the risk of company or organization hacks, failures, fraud, or theft. The decentralized nature of cryptocurrencies allows for peer-to-peer transactions directly between individuals, facilitating faster and more efficient transactions.

Decentralized Finance, commonly known as DeFi, is a disruptive phenomenon that has shaken the traditional financial sector to its core. In essence, DeFi is a remarkable unraveling of conventional finance that has taken the fundamental aspects of banking, insurance, and exchange, such as lending, borrowing, and trading, and disentangled them from the traditional financial infrastructure. Instead, DeFi utilizes innovative technology protocols that operate in a decentralized manner, enabling many individuals to reach consensus efficiently and make informed decisions.

Illicit activities prefer fiat or crypto?

According to a Chainalysis report, illicit activities associated with cryptocurrencies include malware, terrorism financing, outright stealing of crypto funds, investment fraud, sanctions evasion, and ransomware are on a rise. Despite the increasing popularity of cryptocurrencies, recent research indicates that fiat currency is still the preferred choice for criminals engaging in money laundering. In fact, fiat currency is used for money laundering 800 times more often than cryptocurrencies, according to a report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Fiat currencies like the USD are still more commonly used in illicit financial activities compared to cryptocurrencies. The report noted that while there has been an increase in the use of cryptocurrencies in money laundering and other illicit activities, fiat currencies remain the primary means of payment for such activities. It also highlights that the anonymity and lack of regulation in the cryptocurrency space can make them an attractive option for criminals. However, the vast majority of illicit financial activities still involve traditional fiat currencies as the barrier to entry into cryptocurrency is still high and not widely accepted.

The U.S. dollar was the second most commonly counterfeited currency in the world in 2015, with one in 10,000 US dollars being forged. The $20 bill is the most commonly counterfeited banknote in the United States, while overseas counterfeiters are more likely to make fake $100 bills. The amount of counterfeit currency in circulation can affect everyone who receives the counterfeit money and is unable to pass it on. This problem can be reduced using Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC). With money going digital, tracing where the money went becomes easier. This would be a story to share on another occasion.

Only 0.24% of all cryptocurrency transactions in 2022 were tied to illicit activity. This was up from 0.12% in 2021, according to Chainalysis. Despite the recent increase in the share of all cryptocurrency activity associated with illicit activity, it still only represents a small percentage of overall cryptocurrency activity compared to fiat currencies.

Why not use cryptocurrency since it’s anonymous?

Of course not. Fiat money is generally considered more stable than cryptocurrency, its issuance and governance are dictated by central banks, whereas blockchain protocols, code, and communities govern cryptocurrency. It is also true that cryptocurrencies are vulnerable to abuse due to their decentralization and borderless transactions. But it is worth noting that while crypto transactions are not entirely anonymous, they can be more difficult to trace than fiat transactions. This anonymity has led to concerns that cryptocurrencies may facilitate illicit finance activities, such as money laundering and terrorist financing.

Cryptocurrency transactions are recorded on a public ledger called the blockchain, which anyone can view. Due to cryptocurrencies’ trackable nature, I would say that the transactions made and recorded on chain are generally more transparent and traceable than cash transactions. This makes it difficult for criminals to use cryptocurrency for illicit activities without leaving a trail. On the other hand, cash transactions are often untraceable and can be easily used for money laundering and other illegal activities.

An anti-cryptocurrency lobbyist once pointed out to me that some privacy-focused cryptocurrencies, such as Zcash are designed to be untraceable. I corrected him in front of the public consultation group that the right phrase to use is “They are designed to be more difficult to trace.” This means that it would be more complex if you want to track it, but it is not impossible.

Privacy-focused cryptocurrencies prioritize privacy and anonymity, making tracing transactions back to their originators difficult. Take Monero as an example, is an open-source, decentralized cryptocurrency launched in 2014 and has become one of the most popular privacy-focused cryptocurrencies in the market. Monero’s combination of stealth addresses, ring signatures, and confidential transactions makes it almost impossible to trace transaction details. It has gained a reputation for its level of privacy and security. However, while they can offer higher levels of privacy and security than traditional money, the trade-off is that privacy-focused measures may make it more difficult to track activity and could lead to government regulation or taxation. Again, the words used here are “almost impossible” and “more difficult”. It is still possible to track.

Conclusion

The U.S. Treasury Department’s report has caused quite a stir among crypto traders, with some warning about the impact it could have on the market. While the report is the first illicit finance risk assessment conducted on DeFi, it is essential to note that there is currently no generally accepted definition of DeFi. This makes it difficult to pinpoint exactly what type of DeFi services are at risk of being used for illicit purposes. It is important to note that the report does not necessarily mean that the government will immediately impose stricter regulations on the DeFi market. Instead, it lays the foundation for future regulations and greater oversight.

One thing to keep in mind is that while the report focuses on the risks associated with decentralized cryptocurrency markets, it does not necessarily condemn cryptocurrency as a whole. In fact, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has recently stated that crypto itself is not the problem but rather the lack of regulation.

So, what does this mean for the future of cryptocurrency? While it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen, we will likely see increased scrutiny and regulation of the DeFi market in the coming years. This could lead to greater stability and security in the crypto market as a whole, making it a more attractive investment option for traditional investors.

 

Source: https://www.financialexpress.com/business/blockchain/the-us-treasury-departments-first-report-on-defi-is-it-fair/3056602/lite/

Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author- “NFT: From Zero to Hero” and “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.

Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.

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Binance Adds ZK-SNARKs to Improve Privacy of Proof of Reserves Report

Binance Adds ZK-SNARKs to Improve Privacy of Proof of Reserves Report
In Brief
  • Binance introduces zk-SNARKs into Proof of Reserves to prove changes to user asset balances with greater anonymity.
  • The exchange is also adding SHIB, DOT, CHZ, and SOL to the assets covered in future reports.
  • Crypto VC Nic Carter suggests the zk-SNARKs add significant privacy value to Proof of Reserves reports, but reports must be backed by other regulations related to an exchange’s fidcuiary duties.

Binance announced that it would introduce zero-knowledge proofs to improve the quality of its Proof of Reserves report.

Zk-SNARKs will allow Binance users to securely and privately confirm nonnegative balances and changes of balances using information from its proof of reserves Merkle tree.

Binance Makes Progress in PoR Roadmap, But Auditors Are Missing

As part of the announcement, Binance said it added SHIB, DOT, CHZ, and SOL to the assets covered by its proof of reserves report. Additionally, the exchange will open-source the zk-SNARKs code to improve transparency and to help other exchanges improve their reporting. Binance has yet to reveal the frequency of forthcoming reports.

Zk-SNARKs, an abbreviation of zero-knowledge succinct on-interactive arguments of knowledge, confirms a statement’s truth without revealing any information about the statement.

The zk-SNARK will verify that each user’s asset balance set is part of a global state of user funds Binance maintains. Additionally, it will anonymously ensure that the user’s net balance is not negative by including collateral posted for margin trading. Customers can use zk-SNARKs to verify that the Merkle root hash in Binance’s Merkle tree reflects asset balance changes. The Merkle root hash is essentially a cryptographic summary of all user balances. Changes to a user’s asset balances will prompt an update of the Merkle root hash, which the zk-SNARK will confirm.

Binance’s addition of zk-SNARKs is the last step in a transparency roadmap outlined at the end of November 2022. Part of its roadmap involved securing the services of a third-party auditor to audit its proof-of-reserves. This initiative has been jeopardized by the exit of accounting firm Mazars from the crypto space. Mazars was the accounting firm that conducted an agreed-upon procedure for the exchange’s first proof-of-reserves report.

Crypto VC Says Zero-Knowledge Proofs Only One Part of the Puzzle

While the technical implementations of PoRs vary, crypto VC Nic Carter expects zero-knowledge methods to supersede the technical limitations of traditional Merkle tree reports.

However, while zk-SNARKs represent an important step in the right direction for the world’s largest exchange, it is still only one part of a broader toolkit that can prevent collapses like FTX. Blockchain expert Anndy Lian agreed, saying that while not perfect, zk-SNARKs provide a “big enhancement.”

According to Carter, exchanges need additional rules to segregate corporate and user assets and protect customer assets from bankruptcy. Additionally, U.S. lawmakers must create a viable market for accounting firms to invest in tools to oversee PoR attestations. Doing so would also encourage offshore exchanges to conduct PoR reports.

Because audits are expensive and done quarterly, Carter suggests that they accompany, rather than replace, more frequent PoR reports, which provide updated customer reassurances.

Source: https://beincrypto.com/binance-adds-zk-snarks-proof-of-reserves-report/

 

Anndy Lian is an early blockchain adopter and experienced serial entrepreneur who is known for his work in the government sector. He is a best selling book author- “NFT: From Zero to Hero” and “Blockchain Revolution 2030”.

Currently, he is appointed as the Chief Digital Advisor at Mongolia Productivity Organization, championing national digitization. Prior to his current appointments, he was the Chairman of BigONE Exchange, a global top 30 ranked crypto spot exchange and was also the Advisory Board Member for Hyundai DAC, the blockchain arm of South Korea’s largest car manufacturer Hyundai Motor Group. Lian played a pivotal role as the Blockchain Advisor for Asian Productivity Organisation (APO), an intergovernmental organization committed to improving productivity in the Asia-Pacific region.

An avid supporter of incubating start-ups, Anndy has also been a private investor for the past eight years. With a growth investment mindset, Anndy strategically demonstrates this in the companies he chooses to be involved with. He believes that what he is doing through blockchain technology currently will revolutionise and redefine traditional businesses. He also believes that the blockchain industry has to be “redecentralised”.

j j j