Welcome to Around the Blockchain, Huobi Learn’s daily rundown of the crypto markets.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has reportedly launched an investigation into Binance’s US arm, with regards to CEO Zhao Changpeng’s links to trading firms Merit Peak and Sigma Chain AG. The SEC has requested information on both firms from Binance as it looks into how the crypto exchange may have revealed to users its potential ties to the market makers. Both companies regularly buy and sell crypto on Binance.US, which typically lowers price volatility. At present, the SEC has not disclosed what action it might take, even if an investigation is confirmed.
Crypto prices increased on Tuesday in tandem with US equities as tensions between Ukraine and Russia appeared to subside. Nearly the entire crypto market saw price increases — BTC rose 4.6% to $44,177.34, while ETH rose 7.6% to $3,114.09. This came after the Russia announced it was pulling back some troops following ‘training exercises’ near the Ukraine border. Valkyrie Investments CEO Leah Wald said the price bounce showed that the correlation between traditional and digital markets was “as strong as ever”, adding that the firm remained “firmly bullish” and believed that H2 was “likely to see a strong rally in digital assets, including BTC”.
Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko has signed another decree to further regulate the country’s crypto. The decree outlines the Belarus High-Tech Park’s (HTP) establishment of a register for crypto wallet address that are or could be used for illegal means, and addresses legal aspects of crypto circulation in the country. If law enforcement agencies obtain information about any wallet addresses being used for illicit activity, or connected to terrorism or extremism, they will be added to the register. The decree also introduces procedures for authorities to confiscate crypto assets, with cooperation from exchanges and other crypto platforms.
A new Chainalysis study has found that Russia has a “disproportionate share” of international activity linked to crime involving crypto. Around 74% of ransomware revenue (over $400 million worth of crypto) last year went to strains the blockchain analytics firm said were “highly likely to be affiliated with Russia”, and an estimated 13% of these funds went to users believed to be residing in Russia. The study said dozens of crypto businesses facilitating the laundering of illicit funds were headquartered in or operating out of the Moscow, including crypto broker Suex, which the US Treasury Department blacklisted last year after it was accused of processing hundreds of millions of dollars in fraudulent crypto transactions.
Southeast Asia’s largest bank, DBS, plans to launch crypto trading for retail investors this year. CEO Piyush Gupta said the bank will focus on making “access to digital assets a lot more convenient” in H1 2022 by placing everything “all online”, making things “self-service and instant”, and making sure “the internal processes are robust” enough to support these changes. He added that DBS is looking into how it can expand its services “beyond the accredited investor base”, and that it would be closer to the end of the year before it could “actually bring something to market”.
After CEO Jamie Dimon famously called BTC a “fraud” in 2017 and threatened to fire any employee trading BTC for being “stupid”, JPMorgan has now become the Metaverse’s first major bank. Calling the sector a “$1 trillion opportunity”, the bank has opened a virtual lounge in Decentraland’s Metajuku mall. Visitors to the ‘onyx lounge’ — named after JPMorgan’s in-house blockchain payments system — are greeted by a roaming tiger and a digital portrait of Dimon, and can watch a presentation on crypto economics upstairs. Still, while JPMorgan pegged individual creators monetizing their work via Web3 as a driving force behind the Metaverse’s new economy, it also pointed out UX flaws, poor avatar performance and commercial infrastructure difficulties as areas that had to be “further developed and matured”.
Show me the money
According to data from Huobi Global, BTC fell slightly after breaking through 44,500 and is now located near 44,000. Similarly, ETH reached a high of 3,190 before falling to near 3,150, and daily charts show signs of an upward trend for both BTC and ETH. In terms of contracts, Huobi Futures data showed stable open interest (OI) in both BTC and ETH futures, though volume remained stable for BTH but decreased slightly for ETH.