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Blockchain This Week – PayPal, Times and Crypto Options, Blockchain Alliances, Bitcoin Dips and Ether Highs

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Times Magazine to Accept Crypto Payments

Times Magazine has partnered with Crypto.com to offer its readers a choice to subscribe using crypto. This option is at the moment available only in the US and Canada. Times plan for a global rollout in July 2021.

PayPal’s Venmo Launches Crypto Trading

Venmo, the digital wallet provider owned by PayPal, is launching a crypto trading facility on its platform. Venmo’s over 70 million customers will be able to buy, sell, and hold Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash within the Venmo app.

Bitcoin Slumps Below $50K

Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency that was soaring at $64,000 last week, has slumped below $50,000. The US president, Joe Biden’s ambitious tax plans are said to be the catalyst. The Biden administration is reportedly working on overhauling the US tax code. It includes a proposal to levy a 39.6 percent capital gains tax on people earning over $1 million. Consequently, Bitcoin and other crypto stumbled more than ten percent and suffered heavy losses. Bitcoin, however, has recovered slightly in the last 24 hours. At the time of writing, one Bitcoin was worth $50,296.82.

Imminent Reduction in Ether Supply Pushes the Price Up

Though Biden tax plans hurt the second largest crypto by market value, Ether quickly recovered and set a new all time high. The price of an Ether hit an unprecedented $2,645.14 on Thursday. An upcoming upgrade, EIP-1559, is expected to reduce the supply of Ether, and has played a significant role in pushing the price.

Meanwhile, the surge in on-chain activity on the Ethereum network has prompted the miners to raise Ethereum’s gas limit. On April 22, the gas limit was increased to 15 million from 12.5 million.

Bitcoin Dominance Reduces

For the first time since 2018, the ratio of the market cap of Bitcoin to the overall capitalization of digital assets has fallen below 50 percent. It dropped to 48.5 percent. Ether’s increased market share is considered the reason for the dip.

Ubisoft Joins Tezos

Ubisoft, the gaming giant behind video game Assassin’s Creed, joined Tezos Blockchain as a corporate validator. In this role, Ubisoft will create or “bake” new blocks in the Tezos network. Besides, it is also experimenting with various proof-of-stake algorithms.

Deutsche Telekom Invests in Celo

Deutsche Telekom announced a significant purchase of Celo’s native cryptocurrency – CELO. Celo is an open source Blockchain platform focusing on enabling access to the DeFi system and tools with a smartphone. Deutsche Telekom is the first telco to join the Celo Alliance for Prosperity.

Swiss Exchange Joins Ethereum

Swiss SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) is joining Enterprise Ethereum Alliance (EEA). Its digital asset head of business, Tim Grant, will be one of the EEA’s board of directors. The exchange that is using R3 Corda is now planning to look beyond Corda and explore other options.

Blockchain Alliance of Luxury Brands

A trio of high-end luxury brands is collaborating to address industry challenges using Blockchain. Prada and Cartier have joined Aura Blockchain Consortium developed by Louis Vuitton parent company, LVMH. They plan to use Blockchain to provide undeniable proof of authenticity and thereby fight the counterfeit problem rampant in the industry.

Bank of England Approves DLT-Based “Omnibus” Accounts

Earlier this week, the Bank of England (BoE) gave a nod to a new type of account at the central bank. BoE states that it would offer an “omnibus account”  that would support a broader range of payment systems, including those based on distributed ledger technology (DLT). The payments operators can now hold funds in the omnibus account and finance their participants’ balances with central bank money. This initiative opens up new avenues for digital currency operators. Fnality, a firm founded by 15 major financial institutions, said it had submitted an application with the BoE. Fnality is looking to become the omnibus account operator for its imminent DLT-based payment system.

BoE and HM Treasury’s Joint CBDC Task Force

The Bank of England (BoE) and Her Majesty’s Treasury announced the creation of a joint task force earlier this week. This initiative aims to coordinate the exploration of the practicalities of a potential UK Central Bank Digital Currency. It will also determine the design of a CBDC and assess the overall case for a UK CBDC.

UAE’s Notary Services on Blockchain

Earlier this week, the government of the United Arab Emirates announced its plans to use Blockchain in its legal notarization services. This initiative is intended to reduce the time, effort, and costs involved in verifying the contract documentation. 

Fourth Canadian Crypto ETF Goes Live on Toronto Exchange

Yet another Bitcoin exchange traded fund (ETF) started trading on Toronto Stock Exchange. This fund — 3iQ CoinShares Bitcoin ETF — from the Canadian digital asset manager 3iQ Corp and crypto firm CoinShares is the fourth one approved by the Canadian regulators.

Furthermore, 3iQ and CoinShares also launched Canada’s fourth Ether ETF yesterday. The ETF is trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker ETHQ.

US Congress Approves Crypto Legislations

The US House of Representatives passed legislation earlier this week that targets cryptocurrencies. The bill introduced by representatives Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) and Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) seeks to set up a digital asset working group with members from the US regulator SEC and Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).

Wyoming Accepts DAOs as LLCs

This week the governor of Wyoming, US, signed a bill – Bill 38 – into law. Bill 38 focuses on Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs), organizations whose operations are automated by smart contracts. Starting July 1, Wyoming will recognize DAOs as limited liability corporations (LLCs)

Paxos Earns Federal Banking Charter

New York based Paxos has become the third crypto firm to be granted a federal banking charter by the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Paxos can now conduct business across states as a trust bank.

Eftpos Plans to Build Australian Smart Cities on Distributed Ledger Tech 

During the Australian Blockchain Week, Eftpos, Australia’s leading payments network, announced its plans to power Australian smart cities with distributed ledger technology. It aims to connect autonomous vehicles, digital identities, and payment solutions using Hedera Hashgraph.

South Korea Starts Crypto Crackdown

South Korea has commenced crackdowns on people hiding their earnings using cryptocurrencies. Seoul is the first city where the tax collection department uncovered assets held in three crypto exchanges belonging to 1,556 individuals and companies. The department has seized over $22 million from 676 alleged tax evaders.

Open Banking On Ethereum

Open Banking is a banking practice that gives fintech firms access to consumer banking transactions and other financial data from banks and other financial entities via APIs. This week, API3, a platform for decentralized API services, announced its ten year partnership with Open Bank Project. It aims to bring fintech services to Ethereum. API3 will work with Open Bank Project to merge over 400 banking APIs with the smart contracts, Web 3.0 apps, and DeFi.

WeWork To Accept Crypto Payments

Coworking space aggregator WeWork announced this week that it is accepting several cryptocurrencies as a form of payment. Coinbase is believed to be the first company to use WeWork’s services with crypto payment options. WeWork said it would also hold crypto on its balance sheets. WeWork will accept various cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ether, USD Coin, and Paxos Standard.

IBM Turns Its Corporate Patents into NFTs

IBM announced that it would be using its Blockchain platform to mint its corporate patents into NFTs. It is partnering with Blockchain based IP patent marketplace IPwe. IBM plans to make these tokenized IPs “commercially available” in 2021 Q4.

Binance US Appoints Former OCC Acting Comptroller as CEO

Brian Brooks, former acting Comptroller of the Currency, will soon join the crypto exchange Binance US as its CEO. Under Brooks, the OCC had published several interpretative letters giving much needed clarity on how national banks should work in the cryptocurrency space. The current CEO of Binance US, Catherine Coley, will depart by early May.

Turkish Exchange and Its CEO Go Dark

Turkish crypto exchange Thodex has abruptly halted all its operations this week. Its CEO and founder, Faruk Fatih Özer, has gone missing and has seemingly closed his Twitter account. Before closing, the exchange was trading more than $585 million in cryptocurrencies and had over 350,000 active users.

Diem’s Probable 2021 Pilot

Facebook-led Diem stablecoin project is planning on launching a pilot in 2021. The trial will have a single stablecoin pegged to the US Dollar. It will be focusing on retail payments and facilitate users to buy goods and services with Diem.

NFTb’s Marketplace for Artists on Binance Smart Chain

NFTb is a new marketplace for NFTs built on a proof-of-stake based Binance Smart Chain. Artists can auction their artwork without paying hefty transaction fees. They can also donate a portion of their proceeds towards a social cause of their choosing.

Algorand’s Plans for Carbon Negative Network

Algorand Blockchain is partnering with ClimateTrade to create a sustainability oracle network. Algorand will leverage ClimateTrade’s services to track and record its on-chain carbon footprint and lock equivalent amounts of carbon credits to offset the emissions.

Square’s Cash App Raises Bitcoin Withdrawal Limits

The mobile payments platform, Cash App by Square, has increased the minimum withdrawal limits for Bitcoin (BTC). The app users who were earlier able to withdraw a minimum of 0.0001 BTC can now take out Bitcoin starting from 0.001 BTC.

Online Retailer to Accept Dogecoin

Newegg is an American online electronics retailer, has added Dogecoin as one of the options that its customers can use to pay for their purchase. This feature was added on April 20, a day celebrated by Dogecoin fans as “Doge Day.” Newegg has supported Bitcoin payments since 2014. It is using BitPay’s services to facilitate crypto payments.

And Finally, Dogecoin Profits Donated to Animal Shelter

An anonymous woman has supposedly donated the profits she earned from investing in dogecoin to Halifax Humane Society, a dog shelter at Daytona Beach in Florida. As a result, people interested in adopting the dogs from this shelter can have their donations waived off.

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