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Texas and New Jersey regulators go after Celsius Network

"Companies dealing in cryptocurrencies are not immune from oversight,” said New Jersey’s acting attorney general Andrew Bruck.

The Texas State Securities Board has filed for a hearing with the potential to impose a cease and desist order against crypto lending firm Celsius Network for not offering security licensed at the state or federal level, while the New Jersey Bureau of Securities has ordered the platform to stop offering and selling interest-earning cryptocurrency products.

According to a Sept. 17 filing, the Texas regulator will be holding a hearing related to allegations thaCelsius Network is offering and selling securities in Texas that are not registered or permitted in addition to not registering as a dealer under the state’s Securities Act. Should the judge accept that the platform’s offerings represented unlicensed securities, Celsius Network may be subject to a cease and desist order.

On the same day, the New Jersey Bureau of Securities announced that it had issued a cease and desist order against Celsius for allegedly “funding its cryptocurrency lending operations and proprietary trading at least in part through the sale of unregistered securities in violation of the New Jersey Securities Law.” According to the state regulator, the platform raised roughly $14 billion from those sales.

“Financial companies operating in the cryptocurrency marketplace are on notice,” said New Jersey’s acting attorney general Andrew Bruck. “If you sell securities in New Jersey, you need to comply with New Jersey’s investor-protection laws. Companies dealing in cryptocurrencies are not immune from oversight.”

The hearing in Texas will be held either online or in-person on Feb. 14. Should the judge grant a cease and desist order, Celsius Network and its affiliates Celsius Network Limited, Celsius US Holding, and Celsius Lending would likely be required to stop offering crypto services in Texas without registering with the state’s securities board or the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

According to the Texas filing, Celsius held more than $24 billion in digital assets as of Sept. 3, making the company one of the largest in decentralized finance. Its holdings have grown by more than 2,300% since June 2020, when it reported $1 billion in digital assets. In Texas, Celsius Network has more than $344 million in assets under management from more than 9,000 residents and local businesses as of June 9.

Texas’ Enforcement Division of the State Securities Board notified Celsius on May 14 that it may not have been in compliance with the state’s Securities Act. In a Sept. 17 filing, it alleged that the platform’s Earn Interest-Bearing Accounts were in violation of Section 4.A of the Securities Act, saying they constituted “investment contracts, notes, or evidences of indebtedness regulated as securities.”

Related: Texas regulator allows state-chartered banks to hold Bitcoin

The allegations against Celsius are similar to those both state regulators — as well as their peer in Alabama — levied against crypto lending platform BlockFi in July. The company is scheduled to appear at a virtual hearing in Texas on Oct. 13 to discuss imposing a cease and desist order for allegedly illegally funding its crypto lending operations and proprietary trading through the sale of unregistered securities. In New Jersey, the cease and desist order against BlockFi prevented the platform from onboarding new interest account clients in the state.

Cointelegraph reached out to Celsius Network, but did not receive a response at the time of publication.

$2 Billion Worth of Unpeeled Casascius Physical Bitcoins: There’s Less Than 20,000 Coins Left Active

Satoshi Nakamoto statue goes up in Budapest

“Whoever he or she was, Bitcoin creates value, and especially the technology behind Bitcoin, blockchain, creates value,” said András Győrfi.

A bronze depiction of legendary Bitcoin creator Satoshi Nakamoto is now on display for visitors to Graphisoft Park in Budapest. 

In an unveiling ceremony on Sept. 16, András Győrfi, the co-founder of the statue project and editor of crypto news site Kripto Akademia, spoke to a crowd of journalists and Hungarian residents before revealing the shining face of Satoshi. The artwork shows the upper half of a figure with a featureless face wearing a hoodie with the Bitcoin (BTC) logo.

“Whoever he or she was, Bitcoin creates value, and especially the technology behind Bitcoin, blockchain, creates value,” said Győrfi.

Debreczeni Barnabás, CEO of Hungarian crypto exchange Shinrai, also spoke at the ceremony, adding:

“Satoshi Nakamoto has created an independent money free of any middlemen that empowered people with financial sovereignty [...] We have erected this statue to remind ourselves courage is virtue. We need to keep on dreaming big.”

First announced in May, the statue created by sculptors Gergely Réka and Tamás Gilly was intentionally designed with a mirrored face, seemingly to express the idea “we are all Satoshi” for onlookers. Mr. Coin, Kripto Akademia, the Blockchain Hungary Association, and Bitcoin and Blockchain Budapest backed the ‘Statue of Satoshi’ project.

Related: From Dorian Nakamoto to Elon Musk: The Incomplete List of People Speculated to Be Satoshi Nakamoto

Satoshi’s likeness will be in the park near depictions of Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and other notable figures. Though there has long been speculation as to Satoshi’s identity and appearance, no one has successfully identified the Bitcoin creator.

$2 Billion Worth of Unpeeled Casascius Physical Bitcoins: There’s Less Than 20,000 Coins Left Active

YouTuber trades Tesla Roadster for NFT

“Looking back on this in one year, two year, three years from now it could be a monumentally dumb decision but it also could be a great decision,” said Dan Markham.

Dan Markham, the creator of the 7-million subscriber What’s Inside YouTube channel, has traded his Tesla Roadster for a single non-fungible token.

In a Sept. 15 video on his What’s Inside Family channel, Markham exchanged a blue Tesla Roadster — which he estimated could be worth “a quarter million dollars pretty soon” — for a non-fungible token of a “positive porcupine.” The NFT was a creation of the VeeFriends project and owned by Eli Burton, artist behind The Adventures of Starman graphic novel.

“Looking back on this in one year, two year, three years from now it could be a monumentally dumb decision but it also could be a great decision,” said Markham. “I think these cars have a lot of value for a long time and I do believe in NFTs.”

The YouTuber added:

“It's a picture for a car — clearly he's getting the better end of this deal.”

Burton said he had originally been planning to sell the digital art for more than $100,000 before learning of Markham’s offer. According to the graphic novelist, trading the NFT for the car was “as simple as supply and demand,” saying there were 10,000 of the tokens currently available valued for a starting price of $60,000. VeeFriends lists 40 similar porcupines in a variety of backgrounds.

“There's almost no difference as far as the money perspective goes by having it whether it's in a collectible car or a collectible NFT — it's still collectible,” said Markham.

Related: 'Why I spent $111K on a digital F1 Car' — NFT collector

Though the two collectors swapped the NFT on the blockchain, the trade was largely carried out in the real world, with Markham physically handing Burton the paper title and key to the Tesla. The porcupine is currently listed on OpenSea with a high bid of 16.339 Wrapped Ether (WETH) — roughly $56,445 at the time of publication — but Markham hinted he planned to keep the NFT to gain admission to an exclusive conference for VeeFriends token holders.

Some crypto users have also been experimenting with linking NFTs to physical collectibles. In July, an entrepreneur launched simultaneous auctions for a job application from Apple co-founder Steve Jobs and an NFT of the same. The physical paper ended up selling for $343,000, while the final bid for the NFT was 12 Ether (ETH), or roughly $27,460 at the time.

$2 Billion Worth of Unpeeled Casascius Physical Bitcoins: There’s Less Than 20,000 Coins Left Active

Vitalik Buterin makes list of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in 2021

Prince Harry, singer-songwriter Billie Eilish, Olympian Simone Biles, and the Ethereum co-founder all made the cut.

Time magazine has named Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin one of the most influential people this year across those in entertainment, world leaders, activists, and others.

Appearing in the list of Time’s innovators for 2021, Buterin is named alongside Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang, Tesla CEO and Dogecoin (DOGE) proponent Elon Musk, and others. In his profile on the Ethereum co-founder, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian cited Buterin’s role in building the Ethereum network to a market capitalization of more than $400 billion, and encouraging the development of decentralized apps and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

“No one person could’ve possibly come up with all of the uses for Ethereum, but it did take one person’s idea to get it started,” said Ohanian. “From there, a new world has opened up, and given rise to new ways of leveraging blockchain technology.”

The long-running magazine has seemingly become more open to both reporting on the crypto space and accepting it in its own business. In March, Time said it would be seeking a chief financial officer who has "comfort with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies" and auctioned three NFTs inspired by some of its magazine covers.

The following month, the magazine further integrated cryptocurrencies into its business by announcing it would accept crypto payments for digital subscriptions. In addition, as part of a partnership with fund manager Grayscale, Time said it would be holding Bitcoin (BTC) — received as payment for an educational video series — on its balance sheets.

“Time isn’t even in the first inning of what we want to do with crypto,” president Keith Grossman said in a Sept. 13 interview.

Related: Time magazine names two crypto firms in Top 100 ‘Most Influential Companies’ list

First published in 1923, the magazine has been an institution in the United States, profiling influential figures and companies. Time reports it has 20 million weekly subscribers across the world.

$2 Billion Worth of Unpeeled Casascius Physical Bitcoins: There’s Less Than 20,000 Coins Left Active

US and Singapore companies collaborating: Okcoin partners with Hodlnaut

“We are building the next generation of tools to help onboard the investors and traders who have been on the fence about crypto,” said Khairi Azmi.

Singapore-based crypto lending platform Hodlnaut will partner with United States crypto exchange Okcoin in an effort to drive adoption and crypto transactions among users.

In a Wednesday announcement, Hodlnaut said the partnership would allow its users and those on Okcoin to purchase cryptocurrencies and earn rewards on their holdings. The lending platform said Singapore-based users already use Okcoin as a fiat on-ramp solution to go from the Singapore dollar to Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).

“We are building the next generation of tools to help onboard the investors and traders who have been on the fence about crypto,” said Okcoin's Singapore general manager, Khairi Azmi. “We believe that this partnership will contribute positively to the crypto ecosystem for consumers.”

According to the announcement, Hodlnaut users will have the opportunity to earn $10 in Bitcoin — roughly 0.00022 BTC at the time of publication, based on a price of $44,524 — for signing up for the platform and fulfilling certain Know Your Customer and trading requirements. Okcoin users signing up for Hodlnaut will also be able to earn a bonus in fiat.

Related: Okcoin secures regulatory approval in Malta and the Netherlands

Founded in 2013, Okcoin is one of the world’s oldest crypto exchanges and has expanded to serve users in more than 190 countries. Though its headquarters are in the United States, Okcoin moved into Singapore in 2020 and allows customers to trade Singapore dollar pairings for BTC and ETH.

$2 Billion Worth of Unpeeled Casascius Physical Bitcoins: There’s Less Than 20,000 Coins Left Active

Africa’s crypto market has grown by more than 1,200% since 2020: Chainalysis

P2P platforms, the need for remittances to circumvent restrictions from banks, and putting savings into crypto as a means of avoiding inflation could have contributed to the growing market in Africa.

Digital analytics firm Chainalysis reported that the cryptocurrency market in Africa has grown significantly since last year in addition to the region having a larger share of overall retail transaction volume compared to the global average.

In a report released on Sept. 14, Chainalysis said Africa’s crypto market has increased in value by more than 1,200% between July 2020 and June 2021, with high adoption in Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, and Tanzania. The company said the popularity of P2P platforms could have been one of the driving factors towards greater adoption of crypto in the region, given some countries have restricted or banned residents from sending money to exchanges through local banks.

According to Chainalysis, the entire continent received $105.6 billion worth of crypto between July 2020 and June 2021, but had a larger share of the entire market’s overall transaction volume made up of “retail-sized transfers” than any other region in the world — roughly 7% as opposed to the 5.5% global average. In addition, P2P platforms including Paxful and LocalBitcoins account account for 1.2% of all crypto transactions in Africa.

“In many of these frontier markets, people can’t send money from their bank accounts to a centralized exchange, so they rely on P2P,” said Paxful co-founder and COO Artur Schaback. “Crypto products are getting more user friendly, so they can onboard more people into the crypto economy and help them see that crypto is faster, cheaper, and more convenient.”

Other drivers for crypto adoption in the region may include remittances as a means to get around governments limiting the amount of funds that can be sent abroad. Many crypto users in Africa may also be using crypto as a faster and cheaper way to pay for international commercial transactions, and HODL their savings to avoid any possible fluctuations in the value of their fiat currency.

Related: South Africa's financial regulator issues warning against Binance

Nigeria is planning to pilot its central bank digital currency, the eNaira, starting on Oct. 1. South Africa is also part of a joint initiative with Australia, Singapore, and Malaysia to launch a fiat-pegged digital currency, but has not yet released a possible start date to trial the CBDC.

$2 Billion Worth of Unpeeled Casascius Physical Bitcoins: There’s Less Than 20,000 Coins Left Active

Fake news: Litecoin price surges 35% following Walmart adoption hoax

According to CNBC, a Walmart spokesperson confirmed a press release on Litecoin was “not authentic” roughly an hour after the initial report broke.

The price of Litecoin rose to more than $227 this morning following erroneous reports from major news outlets that U.S. retailer Walmart would be introducing a payment option for the cryptocurrency on all its eCommerce websites.

CNBC, Reuters, Decrypt and others reported on Monday that Walmart planned to have a “Pay with Litecoin Option” for its retail websites starting on Oct. 1 as part of a partnership with the Litecoin Foundation, the organization financing and promoting adoption of the Litecoin (LTC) ecosystem. The reports seemed to spawn from a single press release through distribution service GlobeNewsWire. The release claimed Walmart chose to adopt LTC for payments based on its “cheaper and faster” features and the token having “no central authority.”

However, according to CNBC, a Walmart spokesperson confirmed the press release was “not authentic” roughly an hour after the initial report broke. Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro shows the LTC price surged more than 35% immediately following promulgation of the fake report — from $175 to a monthly high of more than $237 — before sharply falling. At time of publication, the price of Litecoin is $182.

Related: LTC price hits 13-month high against Bitcoin

With a market capitalization of more than $406 billion, Walmart has previously hinted it would be looking into cryptocurrencies. In August, the company posted a job listing for an expert who could develop a digital currency strategy and product roadmap, but did not specifically mention it would be introducing a path for crypto payments. In addition, Walmart has used blockchain technology starting as early as 2016 for supply chain management, customer marketplaces and smart appliances.

Cointelegraph reached out to Walmart and the Litecoin Foundation, but did not receive a response by time of publication. This story may be updated.

$2 Billion Worth of Unpeeled Casascius Physical Bitcoins: There’s Less Than 20,000 Coins Left Active

1inch Network sponsors crypto-themed animated NFT series

The series follows the exploits of a team of creatures attempting to get startup projects off the ground and will feature 1inch as a plot point in the first season.

Decentralized exchange aggregator 1inch has partnered with an animated series which pokes fun at start-ups in a Silicon Valley-like setting.

In a Friday announcement, 1inch said it would be sponsoring the non-fungible token, or NFT, series Take My Muffin in addition to providing its technical expertise for the show and introducing team members to projects in the decentralized finance, or DeFi, space. The series follows the exploits of a team of creatures attempting to get startup projects off the ground — with general wackiness and blockchain-based solutions aplenty — and is scheduled to be released in the first half of 2022.

“A partnership of this kind comes as no surprise,” says 1inch co-founder Anton Bukov. “Take My Muffin was financed by the crypto-community from the very beginning, it’s actually the very first crypto-funded animated series.”

According to 1inch chief communications officer Sergey Maslennikov, Take My Muffin plans to integrate the exchange into the show’s plot starting from the first episode. As a sponsor, the project will also help with merchandise and events for the series.

He added: 

"This partnership should help 1inch reach a broader general audience. Of course, it’s fun — and DeFi segment should try to save this mood instead of turning into another traditional and boring banking-alike industry."

Related: NFTs can be a good pathway to draw women into crypto, says Lavinia Osbourne

Many crypto users have shown interest in NFT animated series in recent months. Despite having a false start in July, 10,420 Stoner Cats NFTs — which granted holders access to the animated series — sold out in under an hour. Fox Broadcasting Company has also teamed up with the creator of Rick and Morty to develop an animated series “curated entirely on the Blockchain.”

$2 Billion Worth of Unpeeled Casascius Physical Bitcoins: There’s Less Than 20,000 Coins Left Active