Get your daily, bite-sized digest of cryptoasset and blockchain-related news – investigating the stories flying under the radar of today’s crypto news.
- Wyoming, USA-based crypto bank Avanti now has a routing number issued by the American Bankers Association (ABA) and is one step closer to potentially acquiring a master account with the Federal Reserve (Fed), the US central bank. Routing numbers are used to identify banks for checks and other transactional purposes and are only issued to federal or state-chartered financial institutions that are also eligible to have a Fed account.
- The total value of crypto mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in 2021 increased by 4,846%, while the average deal size has also increased threefold from USD 52.7m to USD 179.7m, driven by some mega USD >1bn SPAC deals, according to a new PwC report. 51% of all deals occurred in the Americas, but in terms of deal value, Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA) slightly edge it out with USD 25.5bn in this region.
- The world’s largest known cut diamond, a rare 555.55-carat black diamond, was bought by Richard Heart, founder of the Hex.com exchange, at an auction for GBP 3.16m (USD 4.28m). Heart is renaming the diamond from “The Enigma” to the “Hex.com diamond”.
- The Philippine Digital Asset Exchange (PDAX) announced that it has raised more than USD 50m in funding led by Tiger Global, according to local outlet Fintech Philippines. The exchange, which is licensed by the Philippine central bank, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, said that the funds will go towards building a safe and accessible infrastructure for the digital asset economy.
- Ethernity, an Ethereum (ETH) non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace focused on drops from celebrities and athletes, announced that it has raised USD 20m in seed funding and established Ethernal Labs, a new umbrella company that will see Ethernity expand out its team to help celebrities and brands enter the NFT space, as well as expand into play-to-earn gaming and metaverse initiatives.
- Bitcoin (BTC) payment provider OpenNode has closed a USD 20m Series A funding round led by UK firm Kingsway at a USD 220m valuation to fuel its global expansion. The company said its systems for businesses and platforms include payment buttons, hosted checkouts, e-commerce plug-ins, and optimized application programming interfaces (APIs).
- XYO, a tech startup creating location-data software and devices, announced a strategic co-investment with Outliers Fund, a collective of joint research initiatives and venture funds with blockchain ecosystems, to develop and accelerate projects building in XYO Network. Both partners will invest up to USD 10m in equities and tokens building around the XYO ecosystem, totaling up to USD 20m.
- Web 3 building platform Kyro Digital closed a USD 10m in Series A and SaaS revenue from several blockchain companies and native crypto venture funds. Kyro works with multiple chains, marketplaces and individual IP owners to make it easier to mint, launch and scale storefronts, marketplaces and DAOs, as well as to create on-chain value through Kyro’s applications for genesis and secondary sales of all crypto assets.
- Chris Sununu, the governor of New Hampshire, USA, has announced a new state commission focused on the study of cryptoassets, their impact, and the types of legislation the state may pursue. Per the executive order, among other points, the commission will “[m]ake findings and determinations regarding the role and effectiveness of current state laws and regulations governing cryptocurrencies and other digital assets and the reasons why modifications and improvements to such laws and regulations are necessary.”
- Football giant Manchester United has announced they’ve signed a multiyear partnership with blockchain platform Tezos (XTZ), confirming a previous report that said the same. Tezos-branded training kit will be worn by the first-team squad for the first time prior to this weekend’s match against Southampton.
- The Washington Nationals baseball team said it will “explore” in-stadium payments of the TerraUSD (UST) stablecoin as part of a nearly USD 40m sponsorship with Terra. Additionally, for the next five years, the ballpark’s home plate VIP lounge will be called “The Terra Club” and feature crypto branding prominently.
- Ratings agency Fitch Ratings downgraded El Salvador deeper into junk, citing risks from its adoption of bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender last year, per Bloomberg. Fitch also said that “heightened financing risks stemming from increased reliance on short-term debt” ahead of a USD 800m global bond payment due next January also influenced its decision to cut the nation’s rating to CCC from B-.
- Zambia is exploring a potential central bank digital currency (CBDC) and expects to complete its research later this year, Bloomberg reported. They add that the Bank of Zambia aims to cut transaction costs and increase citizens’ participation in the formal financial system.
- Kenya’s central bank has invited the public for views on the potential introduction of a digital currency, per Reuters. A digital currency could curb the effectiveness of monetary policy and increase risks of money laundering, the bank said, but added that it could also offer some benefits, especially in reducing cross-border payments costs.
- The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), an international non-governmental organization, has quietly withdrawn a series of NFTs that it planned to sell to raise money for its environmental conservation work, reported The Independent. The decision follows backlash over the environmental impacts of the technology, it said.
- Luxury brand Gucci announced it’s bought an undisclosed amount of virtual land on the decentralized blockchain game The Sandbox (SAND). Gucci will create themed experiences on The Sandbox inspired by its “Gucci Vault” platform, which lists items like Gucci-themed NFTs and vintage bags.
- Crypto miner Iris Energy reported mining BTC 364 in its fiscal second quarter (ended December 31), up 51% from three months earlier. Their revenue of USD 20m was up about 93% from the previous quarter, and adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, and depreciation (EBITDA) of USD 14.3m was up more than 156%.
- Bitcoin miner CleanSpark is considering strategic alternatives for its legacy energy business, aiming to focus solely on its bitcoin mining segment, adding that they have 20,900 machines in operation with a total hashrate exceeding 2.1 EH/s and producing approximately BTC 10 per day. The company had USD 14.5m of net income and USD 24.1m of Adjusted EBITDA, which represents net margins of approximately 35% and 58%, respectively, in the first quarter of the financial year.
- Binance announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for a strategic partnership with decentralized gaming company Netmarble F&C to build a global Play to Earn (P2E) Ecosystem and NFT offering. The two teams will develop and contribute to the infrastructure of the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) through BSC Application Side Chain (BAS).
- Crypto.com has signed a nine-year deal to become the official title partner of the Miami Grand Prix, the newest race in the Formula 1 calendar. Crypto.com’s logo will feature on the podium and winners’ trophies, and will also see the exchange’s brand displayed on the Crypto.com Terrace, with views over the track and an exclusive observation deck at the race’s fourth turn.
- Trading app Robinhood is turning its attention to international expansion, a strategy that will also see the San Francisco-based company shift much of its focus on cryptoassets, Steve Quirk, the company’s chief brokerage officer, told CNBC. Quirk said that “the path for [Robinhood] to go global and have the most traction is probably through crypto.”
- The EOS Network Foundation, the organization set up to support the development of the EOS (EOS) ecosystem, is considering legal action against estranged parent Block.one, seeking USD 4.1bn in damages. CEO Yves La Rose tweeted that the foundation is taking steps to hold Block.one “accountable for its past actions and broken promises.”
- The couple charged with trying to launder billions of dollars worth of bitcoin stolen from the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange in a 2016 hack asked a Washington judge to reinstate a decision releasing them on bail, per Bloomberg. Ilya Lichtenstein and Heather Morgan have already shown they’ll participate in the case by staying put even after finding out months ago that they were under investigation and despite allegedly having access to a stash of hundreds of millions of dollars in BTC, their lawyer said in a filing challenging a US Justice Department request to keep them locked up.
- Financial app Revolut is hiring senior engineers to lead the development of blockchain technology at the startup, specifying that candidates should be familiar with Solidity, the programming language for writing smart contracts.
- Layer-1 blockchain Concordium announced the onboarding of Kåre Kjelstrøm in a newly established position as Group CTO and CPO with the holistic responsibility for the Product and Technology. The company has also listed its native CCD token on crypto exchanges Bitfinex and BitGlobal.
- The Algorand Foundation, the organization behind Algorand (ALGO) announced the appointment of Staci Warden as its Chief Executive Officer. Warden has led global teams at the Milken Institute, JPMorgan, the Nasdaq stock exchange, and the US Treasury Department, said the press release. “Having spent over 18 critical months in the role of CEO, Sean Lee has decided to begin the new year exploring career opportunities outside of the Algorand Foundation,” it added.