Tesla and Bitcoin
This week, the attempt to drive Bitcoin into its mainstream adoption got a huge push. The billionaire Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. revealed that it plans to invest US $1.5 billion in Bitcoin in a filing with the United States SEC. The company that produces electric cars also intends to start accepting Bitcoin as a viable payment option for its vehicles. Consequently, the world’s premier cryptocurrency saw an immediate spike of over 20 percent in its price. It hit a then all-time-high of US $43,000 immediately following the announcement. Furthermore, within the next 24 hours, Bitcoin swiftly breached 45K, 46K, 47K barriers, ending up at another high of $47,697.72.
Mastercard and BNY Mellon Drive Bitcoin Over $48,000
Meanwhile, several mainstream financial institutions such as Mastercard and America’s oldest bank, BNY Mellon, are now seeing Bitcoin in a new light.
The global payments leader, Mastercard, is reportedly planning to allow its merchant partners to receive crypto payments later this year. The merchants can opt for their customers’ digital settlements in crypto.
Alongside, the American bank, BNY Mellon, announced that it plans to launch digital assets custody this year. The bank aims to facilitate digital currency payments on the same financial network as fiat, thereby providing an integrated solution for its customers.
In the backdrop of these promising announcements, Bitcoin climbed up to a new high – $48,925.53. At the time of writing, one Bitcoin was worth $47,594.58.
US Treasury Chief’s Bitcoin Skepticism
On the other hand, there was no dearth of crypto naysayers. First, Janet Yellen, the US Treasury Secretary, considers the alleged misuse of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin a growing problem. At the Treasury’s innovation policy roundtable, she said despite the promise she sees in crypto, they are often used to fund terrorism and launder money.
India’s Imminent Crypto Ban
India will reportedly issue a blanket ban on any form of crypto investments. Cryptocurrencies will be banned from usage since they are not backed by the Reserve Bank of India. The prohibition will be implemented through the new law proposed in the Parliament. The ban will include transacting via foreign exchanges. The law will, however, give the investors three to six months to exit their crypto positions.
Nigerian Central Bank’s Crypto Ban, SEC’s Crypto Regulation Put on Hold
Late last week, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) ordered all banks to close any accounts transacting with cryptocurrencies. The bank followed it up with a clarification this week, stating the ban is not new but is a rehashing of its 2017’s position on crypto. According to a circular issued by CBN, dated Jan 12, 2017, cryptocurrencies are not legal tender in Nigeria, and hence, financial institutions are not allowed to hold or transact with them.
Following this announcement, Nigeria’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced that it had put plans to regulate cryptocurrencies on hold.
Jack Dorsey and Jay-Z’s ₿trust
Yesterday, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey revealed that he, along with rapper Jay Z, had created an endowment – ₿trust. As per Dorsey, this 500 Bitcoin fund would be used to finance Bitcoin development across the world, starting with Africa and India. The fund would be set up as a blind irrevocable trust, Dorsey added. The duo would have no influence on the development teams. This news follows the purported blanket ban on crypto in India and the crypto crackdown in Nigeria.
Multiple Digital Yuan Trials Commence
Beijing has now become the third Chinese city to hold a digital yuan lottery. Announced earlier this week, the trial offers 200 yuan to 50,000 people for a total of 10 million Renminbi. The beneficiaries can spend these digital coins at any of the city’s brick and mortar stores and on the e-commerce app JD.com from Feb 10 to 17. This announcement follows the second eCNY trial that is underway in Suzhou City. This lottery gives away 30 million yuan for 150,000 people.
Miami Residents Might Pay Taxes and Get Salaries in Bitcoin
According to his tweet, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez has submitted a proposal that recommends, allowing the city’s residents to pay their taxes and to receive salaries in Bitcoin. Suarez says that the city commission has supported his recommendations and are now evaluating the next steps.
Bitcoin Mempool Clogs With Unconfirmed Transactions
The total transactions that can fit into a single block remains the same. But, the number of Bitcoin transactions placed on the network has significantly increased in the past few weeks. The result – over 125K of them are waiting for their turn in the mempool. It has resulted in a temporary blockage of the mempool and a steep rise in the transaction fees.
Hedera Hashgraph’s Native Token Service Launch
This week, the enterprise grade distributed public ledger, Hedera Hashgraph, launched Hedera Token Service (HTS.) HTS is a new service that offers users the ability to create and issue tokens on the Hedera platform. The token service leverages the inherent strengths of Hedera Hashgraph and reportedly has predictable transaction fees. It is considered a potential alternative to smart contract based token creation that is infamous for its high and volatile gas fees.
ID2020 Launches Good Health Pass Collaborative
The ID2020, digital identity alliance launched the Good Health Pass Collaborative this week. The objective is to enable interoperability among scores of COVID-19 credentialing systems that exist today. The focus of this collaboration is travel. They plan to ensure the health credentials of travelers are used seamlessly across borders and industries.
Nuclear Weapons Bought With Crypto
A report sent to the United Nations Security Council members alleges that North Korea-linked hackers stole over US $316 million in crypto. The stolen stash was allegedly used to modernize the country’s nuclear weapons and missile programs last year.
KeepChange Halts Security Breach
The Bitcoin exchange KeepChange suffered a data breach last Sunday. As per their post, the platform received several Bitcoin withdrawal requests originating from its customers’ accounts to an address presumed to be of the hackers. KeepChange, however, managed to stop the processing of these requests, thereby preventing a possible loss of a large number of Bitcoin. But the attackers managed to get away with sensitive customer data, including names, email addresses, and hashed passwords.
AWS and Blockchain
This week, the cloud computing giant Amazon Web Services was in crypto news. AWS Marketplace started offering Origin Protocol’s decentralized e-commerce platform Dshop. The platform that runs on the Ethereum blockchain is available for AWS’s software-as-a-service customers (SaaS) starting this week. Origin Protocol also confirmed that it is accepting Ether and DAI as payments within the AWS Partner Network (APN.)
Confidential Computing Platform by R3
R3, the enterprise software vendor behind Corda Blockchain, launched a new service called Conclave this week. As per R3, this platform will handle sensitive business data without compromising privacy. Conclave will also use Intel Software Guard Extensions to prevent data modifications. Additionally, it will provide APIs for clients to write applications and code to access the platform.
Bitcoin Superhero to Garner Donations
The Songs of Love Foundation, a children’s charity, has found an innovative way to raise money. It has created a Bitcoin superhero dubbed “Billy Bitcoin” to boost its fundraising efforts and increase crypto donations. The charity’s website states that donations in cryptocurrencies are more efficient than cash contributions.
And Finally, a Game With NFTs That Celebrates Accomplished Women
The Blockchain firm Enjin has teamed with the technology giant Microsoft to release a game that rewards players with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for use inside Minecraft, one of the world’s most popular games. Azure Space Mystery is an interactive game where players work to save the International Space Station. On completion, they win a limited edition NFT. This fictional game was launched on the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. While playing, the gamers get to learn about several prominent female scientists.