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RUSSIA TO EXPAND DIGITAL ROUBLE TESTING STARTING FROM 15 AUGUST |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 14 Aug 2023

Following an extensive testing period with banks, Russia will commence a pilot program of its digital rouble on 15 August. The initiative is part of the country’s strategy to enhance its financial system and offer an alternative to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Countries like Nigeria and several in the Caribbean are already using their own digital currencies. The pilot will involve opening digital wallets, conducting transactions using digital roubles and transferring funds between around 600 customers and 30 companies across 11 cities. The digital rouble is scheduled for mass adoption in 2025. One of its aims is to eventually facilitate cross-border transactions with countries that have their own digital currencies. Source: https://www.reuters.com

BITTREX AND EX-CEO SETTLE SEC ACCUSATIONS WITH $24M PAYMENT |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 12 Aug 2023

Crypto trading platform Bittrex and its former CEO, William Shihara, have reportedly settled with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for $24 million over allegations of operating an unregistered exchange. The sum includes disgorgement, prejudgment interest, and civil penalties. In its announcement, the SEC highlighted Bittrex’s continued attempts to sidestep federal securities laws. Shihara described the settlement as a “good outcome” and stressed the importance of striking a balance between promoting innovation and ensuring consumer protection. Source: https://cointelegraph.com

BINANCE GAINS APPROVAL FOR OFFERING CRYPTO SERVICES IN EL SALVADOR |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 12 Aug 2023

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance has reportedly received regulatory approval from El Salvador’s Central Reserve Bank and the National Commission of Digital Assets. The licences will allow Binance to introduce tailor-made crypto-related products and services in the country. Binance’s Latin American head, Min Lin, highlighted the lengthy process leading up to this approval. This move follows El Salvador’s decision in 2021 to recognise Bitcoin as a legal tender. Continuing its global expansion, Binance also recently set foot in Japan and Dubai. Source: https://cointelegraph.com

PAYPAL PARTNERS WITH PAXOS TO LAUNCH USD STABLECOIN |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 12 Aug 2023

US payments giant PayPal announced on 7 August the launch of a dollar-backed stablecoin named “PayPal USD”. This launch comes despite the increasing regulatory scrutiny of the crypto sector in the US, leading some firms, like Revolut, to withdraw their crypto activities in the country. PayPal will partner with Paxos to issue PayPal USD, which is redeemable one-to-one for US dollars. PayPal users will be allowed to transfer the stablecoin between wallets, make payments, and also convert it into other digital currencies, including Bitcoin. Stablecoins, which are designed to have a stable value pegged to a fiat currency like the dollar, help bridge the gap between traditional finance and the cryptocurrency market. Source: https://www.ft.com

REVOLUT HALTS CRYPTO SERVICES FOR US CUSTOMERS DUE TO REGULATORY UNCERTAINTIES |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 10 Aug 2023

British fintech firm Revolut has reportedly decided to halt cryptocurrency services for its US customers due to mounting regulatory complexities and market instability. Starting 2 September, US users will no longer be able to purchase cryptocurrencies on the platform. All crypto-related activities, including buying, selling, and holding, will be fully disabled for US customers from 3 October. The company highlighted that this change impacts less than 1% of its global cryptocurrency users. Source: https://www.reuters.com

HASHKEY TO OFFER CRYPTO SERVICES TO HONG KONG RETAIL CUSTOMERS |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 10 Aug 2023

HashKey is set to become Hong Kong’s first licensed cryptocurrency exchange offering services to retail users following the licence update from the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission. Securing its Type 1 (dealing in securities) and a Type 7 (providing automated trading services) licence last November, HashKey is one of two licensed crypto exchanges in the region, alongside OSL. Meanwhile, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority has recently urged local banks to accommodate the business needs of licensed crypto exchanges. Source: https://www.reuters.com

BRAZIL’S CENTRAL BANK SETS TO LAUNCH ITS DIGITAL CURRENCY IN 2024 |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 10 Aug 2023

Brazil’s central bank has unveiled its digital currency, DREX, set to launch in 2024 to enhance the country’s financial services. DREX will employ distributed ledger technology (DLT) for wholesale interbank transaction settlements and offer retail access through tokenised bank deposits. Although the initial rollout was expected by the end of 2024, possible delays could arise due to staff strikes. Fabio Araujo, the coordinator of this project, said the goal is to make financial services more accessible in the country. Source: https://www.reuters.com

GAMESTOP TO RETRACT CRYPTO WALLETS IN LIGHT OF REGULATORY UNCERTAINTIES |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 2 Aug 2023

GameStop, the well-known gaming retail company, has announced its decision to stop offering iOS and Chrome Extension wallets from 1 November due to regulatory uncertainties in the industry. In an announcement on its website, GameStop advises users to secure their secret passphrases by 1 October. These crypto wallets, introduced in May 2022, helped users manage their cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs). Following GameStop Stock’s Short Squeeze in January 2021, the company rolled out its NFT marketplace and disclosed plans to explore digital assets and Web3 applications as growth drivers. Source: https://cointelegraph.com

BINANCE RE-ENTERS JAPAN WITH REGULATED CRYPTO EXCHANGE ARM |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 2 Aug 2023

Cryptocurrency exchange Binance has announced a re-entry into the Japanese market through the launch of Binance Japan, previously known as Sakura Exchange Bitcoin. The exchange’s acquisition of Sakura Exchange Bitcoin in November 2022 is seen as an attempt to tap into the local digital asset market. The newly branded local arm, now operating in accordance with the country’s regulatory framework, supports spot trading for 34 tokens and plans to migrate global users from 14 August. This comes after the Financial Services Agency (FSA) of Japan’s warning to Binance in 2021 for operating without a licence. Source: https://cointelegraph.com

DUBAI APPROVES CRYPTO LICENCE FOR NOMURA SUBSIDIARY |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 2 Aug 2023

Nomura’s cryptocurrency arm, Laser Digital, has reportedly acquired an operating licence from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA). The Switzerland-based company, which maintains offices in Dubai and London, will soon offer crypto-related broker-dealer, management, and investment services. Laser Digital’s forthcoming trading and asset management services aim to provide institutional investors with access to over-the-counter crypto trading and other investment products. This follows Societe Generale’s recent achievement as the first company in France to obtain a crypto services licence. Source: https://www.reuters.com

BANK OF KOREA TARGETS THREE REGIONS FOR POTENTIAL CBDC PILOT |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 1 Aug 2023

The Bank of Korea (BoK) has selected Jeju, Busan, and Incheon as potential sites for its central bank digital currency (CBDC) pilot program, notably excluding the capital, Seoul. The country’s central bank will ultimately select one region to experiment with public-level payments and distribution, alongside securing franchises capable of processing CBDC payments. Despite Busan’s significant user base, reports indicate the officials’ preference for Jeju. Meanwhile, several Korean banks are exploring stablecoins as an alternative to CBDCs. Source: https://cointelegraph.com

WORLDCOIN UNDER INVESTIGATION BY GERMAN REGULATOR OVER BIOMETRIC DATA CONCERNS |1300 HKT | 0600 UKT | 1 Aug 2023

Worldcoin, the new project led by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, has come under scrutiny from the Bavarian State Office for Data Protection Supervision in Germany due to concerns about its large-scale processing of sensitive biometric data. The project, which launched recently, requires users to provide iris scans for a digital ID and potentially free cryptocurrency. The primary concern raised by Michael Will, the president of the regulator, is whether users have given explicit consent for their biometric data to be processed based on “sufficient and clear” information. Although Worldcoin asserts that it complies with EU laws, privacy advocates and supervisory authorities across Europe are voicing worries and interest in its wide-scale data collection and storage practices. Source: https://www.reuters.com