Blockchain This Week – Goerli Merge, India Probes Crypto Firms, Tornado Cash, Australia’s CBDC Pilot

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Goerli Implements The Merge

Ethereum’s third and last test network, Goerli, migrated from proof of work to proof of stake and went live with The Merge. The upgrade happened when the Terminal Total Difficulty (TTD) surpassed 10,790,000. Consequently, Ether rose to a two month high of $1,919. 

Meanwhile, Ethereum founder Vitalik Buterin, announced that the terminal total difficulty for mainnet merge has been set to 58750000000000000000000. Consequently, the merge is predicted to happen around September 15.

ED Investigates Crypto Exchanges

The Enforcement Directorate (ED), India’s regulator, is reportedly investigating at least ten crypto exchanges that have allegedly helped foreign firms launder over $130 million (1,000 crore rupees) in an instant loan app case. These companies approached the exchanges to buy high volumes of crypto, sometimes amounting to over $13 million, and later transfer the tokens to overseas wallets. The ED accused that neither due diligence was taken nor suspicions were raised about these transactions. Furthermore, it has frozen assets worth close to $46.4 million of the crypto exchange, Vauld.

WazirX Director Raided

The Enforcement Directorate (ED) also raided the properties of Sameer Mhatre, co-founder of Mumbai based crypto platform, WazirX. The ED alleges that WazirX actively assisted about 16 companies to launder money by converting to crypto. Over $8.1 million of WazirX has also been frozen by the authorities.

WazirX and Binance CEOs Clash Over Ownership

The ED’s action was followed by a public spat on Twitter between WazirX founder Nischal Shetty and Binance CEO CZ. CZ, after announcing the acquisition of WazirX in 2019, denied any involvement of Binance in the operations of Zanmai Labs, the parent entity of WazirX, now. Shetty rebutted, claiming that the ownership deal had got stuck due to Binance refusing to name its parent entity. He also remarked that WazirX IP was sold to Binance, who then licensed the same to Zanmai for the Indian market. As a result, Binance does operate crypto to crypto trading and deposits, while Zanmai takes care of INR – crypto trading.

CZ’s Tweets Panic WazirX Users  

Amid the panic created by the ED’s probe and Twitter fights, Binance CEO caused further alarm among the WazirX users by threatening to disable WazirX wallets and advising the users to transfer the funds to Binance. Both WazirX and Binance have stopped off chain transfers between the two exchanges since Thursday. 

US Bans Tornado Cash

The US treasury department’s foreign assets watchdog has added crypto mixing service Tornado Cash, to its Specially Designated Nationals list, a catalog of blacklisted people and entities. The department alleges that the North Korean hackers actively use the mixer to launder stolen crypto funds. Hence it has banned US people from employing the service.

Tornado Cash Source Code Removed, Developer Arrested

Barely 24 hours after the US treasury added Tornado Cash to its sanctions list, open source code platform Github supposedly removed the privacy tool’s source code hosted on its servers. Furthermore, it suspended the account of Tornado Cash founder Roman Semenov.

Meanwhile, the authorities in the Netherlands have arrested Tornado Cash developer Alexey Pertsev on suspicions of fraud.

Hodlnaut Freezes Operations

Crypto lending platform Hodlnaut has stopped withdrawals, deposits, and swaps, citing “difficult market conditions.” It has also withdrawn its application to the Singapore regulator for a city-wide operating license.

Australia Launches CBDC Pilot

The Australian central bank is collaborating with the Digital Finance Cooperative Research Center (DFCRC) for a CBDC trial. With this one year pilot, the Reserve Bank of Australia (RBA) intends to explore innovative use cases and models that showcase the economic benefits of a CBDC.

Nepal Central Bank Aims to Enable CBDC

The Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) has revised the Nepal Rastra Bank Act to include provisions to issue a CBDC. It plans to send the legislation to the country’s parliament for consideration.

Mailchimp Suspends Many Crypto Newsletters

Intuit owned Mailchimp email platform has executed another round of unannounced suspension of accounts, which it suspects to be promoting virtual currencies and digital assets. Those affected include crypto business intelligence firm Messari, media outlet Decrypt, crypto wallet Edge, and a few names well known in the NFT space.

Reddit Launches Community Points on Arbitrum’s New Chain

Reddit has rolled out its community points rewards program on Arbitrum’s newly launched Ethereum scaler Nova chain. It has teamed up with crypto exchange FTX for this venture.

Curve.Fi Hacked

This week, hackers stole close to $570,000 from DeFi protocol Curve.Finance. They appear to have changed the entry in the Domain Name System, which resulted in users getting redirected to a fake clone with malicious contracts when they tried to access the curve.finance website. Shortly after this issue came to light, curve.finance operators announced that they had identified the source and fixed the problem.

Meanwhile, Binance CEO CZ announced that Binance has frozen or recovered $450,000 stolen from curve.finance.

Nuri Files For Insolvency

Nuri, a Berlin based crypto bank, has filed for insolvency in a Berlin court. It maintains that the move was necessary, keeping its customers’ best interests in mind. Moreover, Nuri claims that all of its customers’ funds are safe and the clients would still have “guaranteed access” to their accounts and wallets.

Canadian Pension Fund Caught in Celsius Collapse

Caisse de Dépôt, the second largest pension and insurance fund in Canada, possibly has lost $150 million that it invested in Celsius, the crypto lending platform, which has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The volume of the losses have spurred a joint investigation by the US and Canadian regulators. Meanwhile, Ripple Labs is mulling over buying the assets of bankrupt Celsius.

Voyager and Zipmex Reopen

In an attempt to return up to $270 million in fiat currency to its customers, crypto lender Voyager has resumed cash withdrawals only. It expects the customers to receive their funds within 5-10 business days of placing the request.

Meanwhile, the troubled crypto exchange Zipmex is reopening withdrawals of Ether and Bitcoin on August 11 and 16, respectively.

Crypto.com Makes Inroads Into South Korea

Singapore based crypto platform crypto.com has expanded into South Korea with two acquisitions. It has acquired payments provider PnLink Co. and digital assets exchange OK-Bit Co. 

Galaxy Digital Posts Loss

Crypto firm Galaxy Digital posted a Q2 loss of $554.7 million but also stated that it has a strong liquidity position of $1.5 billion. The loss, the company said, was partly due to “unrealized losses” or a decrease in the price of digital assets that it holds and has not sold yet.

Coinbase Posts $1B Net Loss

Crypto exchange Coinbase posted $808.3 million in revenue, down from analysts’ expectations of $832.2 million in Q2. It also reported a loss of over $1.1 billion, resulting in two consecutive negative income quarters. Furthermore, the trading volume on Coinbase fell by 29% in Q2.

BlackRock Rolls Out Spot Bitcoin Trust

A week after announcing its partnership with Coinbase, asset manager BlackRock has launched a spot bitcoin private trust for institutional investors in the US. The trust would track the performance and offer direct exposure to bitcoin.

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