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Stader Labs announce $12.5 million strategic raise, receives praise from Terra founder Do Kwon

There are now over 15,000 unique wallets staking on Stader Labs, with total value locked of around $500 million.

On Thursday, Stader Labs, a crypto firm building decentralized finance, or DeFi, products for proof-of-stake blockchain networks, announced that it raised $12.5 million in a private sale. The funding round was led by Three Arrows Capital with additional participation from Blockchain.com, Accomplice, DACM, GoldenTree Asset Management, Accel, Amber, 4RC, Figment, and anger investors. This puts Staber Labs at a valuation of $450 million.

Amitej Gajjala, CEO of Stader Labs, issued the following comment regarding the development:

This capital will be strategically deployed to accelerate our cross-chain expansion, as well as to nurture our growing ecosystem of third-parties developing staking applications with decentralized Stader infrastructure.

Stader Labs' two core products are Stake Pools and Liquid Staking. Stake Pools enable retail and institutional investors to earn staking rewards in pre-defined baskets of validators grouped by performance. Meanwhile, Liquid Staking allows users to receive liquid tokens (LunaX) when staking, which can then be deposited into other DeFi protocols to farm yields. It's a derivative of the original token that can potentially lead to compounded rewards, as well as compounded risks.

According to Kyle Davies, co-founder of Three Arrows Capital, there are now over 15,000 unique wallets staking on Stader Labs, with total value locked of around $500 million. Its protocols launched last November.

Currently, Stader Labs only support staking on the Terra (LUNA) blockchain but has plans to expand to Solana (SOL), Ethereum (ETH), Fantom, Hedera, and Polygon (MATIC). Do Kwon, founder, and CEO of Terra, commented:

These tools will bring Stader closer to its vision to be the most convenient and safe non-custodial staking platform — and a core ally in the future of finance thanks to its embedded decentralization for layer-one solutions.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection

Wiki continues to accept crypto donations despite pressure to stop

Crypto donations will still be accepted at Wikimedia Foundation as the foundation wishes to be “as inclusive as possible.”

Following a proposal from users to stop accepting crypto donations to Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit confirmed that it would proceed with crypto donations.

Contributors banded together to urge the foundation to disable the option to donate in crypto because of environmental concerns. However, while the organization will continuously monitor the conversations around crypto within its communities, it will not budge on accepting crypto donations.

Elise Flick from the Wikimedia team told Cointelegraph that Wikimedia’s fundraising approach is meeting donors where they are. Flick mentioned that the foundation aims to “provide the most desired payment options in different parts of the world.” This includes catering to the requests that the foundation received from donors requesting to be able to donate in cryptocurrency.

"We want to be as inclusive as possible, and allow people to contribute with the method they feel most comfortable with."

Julia Brungs, the Senior Community Relations Specialist from Wikimedia Foundation, also responded to Molly White’s (GorillaWarfare) questions in the original proposal. According to Brungs, the most used crypto for donations was Bitcoin (BTC). However, the organization immediately converts it into fiat. “We have never held cryptocurrency, and spot-convert donations daily into fiat currency (USD), which doesn’t have a significant environmental impact,” wrote Brungs.

The response also cited data from Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index that says that there is very little evidence that connects Bitcoin directly as a contributor to climate change. The data “shows that even in the worst-case (i.e., mining powered exclusively by coal), Bitcoin’s environmental footprint currently remains marginal at best.”

Related: ‘Emergency’: Wikipedia editors vote against classifying NFTs as art

Meanwhile, not all organizations are willing to continue crypto donations after receiving anti-crypto community feedback. Earlier this January, Mozilla paused its acceptance of crypto donations after receiving a reaction from a co-founder. Because of this decision, the creator of Dogecoin slammed Mozilla saying “thank you for succumbing to an ignorant, reactionary internet mob.”

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection

Regulator Reiterates Call for EU Ban on Proof-of-Work Mining

Regulator Reiterates Call for EU Ban on Proof-of-Work MiningThe EU should prohibit proof-of-work crypto mining, an executive at the European securities watchdog has insisted. Coins relying on the energy-intensive method of minting pose a risk to efforts aimed at meeting climate change goals such as those set in the Paris Agreement, the regulator says. Bitcoin Mining Now Attacked in EU for Burning Too […]

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection

Main Opposition Candidate for President of South Korea Pledges Support for Crypto Tax Exemptions

Main Opposition Candidate for President of South Korea Pledges Support for Crypto Tax ExemptionsThe leading presidential candidate of the opposition in South Korea has promised voters to ease the tax burden on crypto-related profits through exemptions. In a recent statement, Yoon Suk-yeol indicated that crypto investors will be treated like those who put money into stocks. Presidential Candidate Looks to Attract Young Voters With Crypto Tax Cuts Yoon […]

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection

Indonesian Islamic organization issues new fatwa against crypto use

The fatwa pointed towards two critical issues with cryptocurrencies that make them illegal as an investment tool as well as a medium of exchange.

The Tarjih Council and the Central Executive Tajdid of Muhammadiyah, one of the largest non-government Islamic organizations in Indonesia, issued a new fatwa against cryptocurrency use, deeming it haram, or unlawful, for Muslims.

The fatwa, a ruling on the point of Islamic law, was issued on Tuesday and pointed towards two critical issues with cryptocurrencies that make them illegal as an investment tool and a medium of exchange under Islamic laws:

  1. The speculative nature of cryptocurrencies makes them imperfect as an investment tool. The crypto tokens are believed to contain “gharar” (obscurity) which means they are not backed by anything like gold, which makes them unlawful under Islamic laws.
  2. Cryptocurrencies don't meet the standards of Islamic barter or medium of exchange laws which require them to be legal tender and accepted by both parties.

The fatwa read:

"This speculative nature and gharar is forbidden by the Shari’a as the word of God and the hadith of the Prophet SAW and does not meet the values ​​and benchmarks of Business Ethics according to Muhammadiyah."

Muhammadiyah became the third Indonesian Islamic organization to issue a fatwa against cryptocurrency use. Earlier, in November 2021, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest clerical body in the country declared crypto haram as a transactional tool. However, it noted that crypto assets can be used as an investment tool if they abide by sharia tenets. In October 2021, another major Islamic organization the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) also deemed crypto haram due to its speculative nature.

Related: Russian Orthodox Patriarch is not a Bitcoiner, church clarifies

Despite the growing calls for a ban on crypto use by Islamic organizations in Indonesia, the country has seen a mammoth rise in adoption. The country recorded $9.8 billion in crypto transactions in 2021, recording a 1,222% rise over 2020. Not just investments and transactions, the recognition of crypto as a trading commodity has made it the primary choice of many international crypto exchanges.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection

Union Bank of the Philippines selects Metaco and IBM to facilitate digital asset custody operati​​ons

"With the recent launch of our APAC headquarters in Singapore, we can ensure that we continue to offer best-in-class services to UnionBank and other clients in the region," says Patrick Enjalbal, VP Customer Success managing director of Asia-Pacific region at Metaco.

On Thursday, Metaco, an enterprise cryptocurrency platform for securing, trading, issuing, and managing digital assets, announced the addition of UnionBank as its latest client. Founded in 1982, UnionBank is one of the largest banks in the Philippines, with a collective $15 billion in assets under management. UnionBank will be also be deploying its digital asset management services on the IBM Cloud, which are fully integrated with Metaco's solutions.

Through the integration, UnionBank will be able to improve the insurability of assets with FIPS 140-2 Level 4 certified controls for managing and migrating keys. FIPS 140-2 is the highest level of U.S. government computer security standard. In addition to detecting and responding to all unauthorized attempts at physical access, the protocol also protects against environmental factors that lead to data loss or leak.

At the same time, Metaco's solutions enable use cases for financial institutions, such as trading, tokenization, smart contract management, and participation in decentralized finance. Henry Aguda, UnionBank’s Senior Executive Vice President, Chief Technology & Operations Officer, and Chief Transformation Officer, issued the following statement regarding the development:

We have a passion for meaningful and sustainable reinvention. We value our strategic partners, like METACO, and collaborate with them in an alliance that is meaningful in pursuit of a shared vision. And for UnionBank, that common vision is customer-centricity driven by emerging technologies and innovation.

Last year, Metaco formed a partnership with IBM Cloud to deploy its digital asset management system on the latter. Founded close to eight years ago in Switzerland, Metaco previously closed a Series A funding for $17 million in late 2020.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection

The SEC has issued $2.4B in crypto-related penalties since 2013

According to a new report, the SEC has launched a total of 97 actions against crypto players since 2013, 20 of which happened in 2021 alone.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has issued a total of approximately $2.35 billion in penalties against participants in the digital asset marketplace since 2013 according to a Jan 19 report by Cornerstone Research.

The report, SEC Cryptocurrency Enforcement: 2021 Update, found that the SEC brought a total of 97 enforcement actions worth $2.35 billion between 2013 and the end of 2021.

Fifty eight of the total of 97 were actions litigations and the remaining 39 were administrative proceedings. Of the total $2.35 billion raised by the litigations, $1.71 billion was charged in litigation and $640 million in administrative proceedings.

Allegations in SEC Cryptocurrency Litigations. Source: Cornerstone Research.

The majority of those charged were “firm respondents only,” racking up $1.86 billion of the total $2.35 billion. Meanwhile, individual respondents were charged the remaining $490 million.

Although the SEC doled out the first monetary penalty against a crypto participant in July 2013, the report points out that SEC-initiated litigation in the crypto space didn’t begin to pick up until 2017. Between 2013 and 2017, there was only a total of six SEC-initiated crypto cases.

The agency launched 20 of the total 97 actions in 2021 – 14 litigation actions in U.S. federal courts and six administrative proceedings. Of the 20 total enforcement actions, 70% were related to initial coin offerings (ICOs). The report states:

“Of the 20 enforcement actions brought in 2021, 65% alleged fraud, 80% alleged an unregistered securities offering violation, and 55% alleged both.”

The report’s author Simona Mola wrote in a statement that the SEC’s recent crackdown on crypto may be linked to the appointment of SEC chair Gary Gensler in April 2021, noting that SEC enforcement had been “notably high” between the end of May and mid-September.

“The SEC brought some first-of-a-kind actions against a crypto lending platform, an unregistered digital asset exchange, and a decentralized finance (DeFi) lender. It also imposed one of the largest monetary penalties we have seen in an ICO-related enforcement action after Telegram,” she wrote.

Related: Gensler confirms SEC won’t ban crypto... but Congress could

Cornerstone Research vice president Abe Chernin said that we can expect these tough measures to continue into the new year.

“Given the SEC’s continued focus on this space, in 2022 we may see further scrutiny of certain market participants such as DeFi platforms.”

In the last week of Dec 2021, Gensler added a new staff member Corey Frayer to help advise the agency’s oversight of cryptocurrencies. This came in the wake of news that Elad Roisman would be leaving his position as SEC board member.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection

Google Pay hires PayPal exec to head up crypto payments push

The tech giant has hired a PayPal veteran to help with the expansion of Google Pay as it sets its sights on the future, including plans to explore crypto.

Google has hired a former PayPal executive to help bolster Google Pay, with plans to expand into the crypto space.

Arnold Goldberg has been given the task of running Google’s payments division as part of a company-wide push into financial services, including crypto.

Google’s president of commerce Bill Ready told Bloomberg that:

“Crypto is something we pay a lot of attention to [...] As user demand and merchant demand evolves, we’ll evolve with it.”

Google Pay is an online payment system developed by Google to allow in-app, online and contactless purchases on mobile devices including Android phones, tablets and watches.

As part of the overhaul, Google will focus more on being a “comprehensive digital wallet” that includes digital tickets, airline passes and vaccine passports, Ready said.

Following the news, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) spiked to a high of $42,478 (from a 24-hour low of $41,254) before falling back down to $41,887 at the time of writing according to Coinmarketcap.

Google has been dipping its toes in the crypto space for quite some time, partnering with several crypto companies through 2021. Ready said that the company plans to pursue more partnerships with more crypto companies.

In April 2021, Google Pay announced a new partnership with global crypto exchange Gemini. The update allowed Gemini users to purchase Bitcoin through Google Pay using fiat currency on a debit or credit card.

The tech giant also partnered with Coinbase in June, allowing customers of the exchange to pay for goods and services through Google Pay using their Coinbase Card. Users also were able to gain crypto rebates of up to 4% for their shopping.

In Oct, a partnership between crypto exchange Bakkt and Google allowed customers of the exchange to purchase goods and services using some select cryptocurrencies through their Google Pay wallet.

As for Paypal, it appears that the fintech company will be one man down as it explores the creation of its own stablecoin. Earlier this month, Paypal confirmed plans to launch “PayPal Coin,” which developer Steve Moser first found in the source code of the platform’s iPhone app.

Related: Bakkt crypto exchange partners with Google for payments

This comes only three months after the tech giant axed its plans for a service called “Plex” that would allow users to create checking and savings accounts.

“We’re not a bank -- we have no intention of being a bank,” Ready said about the decision to cut Plex. “Some past efforts, at times, would unwittingly wade into those spaces.”

Google Pay debuted in 2015, with a revamp in 2020 which transformed the platform into a hub where customers could track their expenses and hunt for discounts.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection

Turkish ruling party holds meeting in metaverse, talks crypto regulation

Turkey’s governing political party has discussed the upcoming crypto regulation in its first metaverse meeting.

Ak Party, Turkey’s governing party, held its first metaverse meeting on Monday wherein it discussed upcoming crypto regulation. 

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) hosted its first meeting in the metaverse, Cointelegraph Turkey reported. Attending the virtual meeting were TBMM group deputy chairmen Mahir Ünal and Mustafa Elitaş along with Ömer İleri, the vice president of Ak Party responsible for information and communication technologies.

Physically, Elitaş attended the meeting from the parliament building, while Ünal and İleri were at the Ak Party (AKP) headquarters. Crypto regulation was the highlight of the meeting, Ünal told state-run news agency AA, adding that crypto assets require both financial and legal regulations.

Elitaş, who recently hosted a meeting with representatives from the Turkish crypto ecosystem at TBMM, stressed that it’s impossible to stay out of the virtual world. “I believe that metaverse-based meetings would be improved expeditiously and become an essential part of our lives,” he added.

Elitaş is also expected to meet with Binance Turkey on Thursday. As reported before, Binance Turkey was fined 8 million Turkish lira (about $600,000) after failing an audit for monitoring Anti-Money Laundering compliance.

As blockchain technology made digital ownership possible, Turkey has sped up its metaverse efforts, Öİleri said. Seeing the metaverse as a nascent yet quickly developing field, he predicted that it could impact many industries in the future.

The metaverse is open for development in virtual reality, product management and innovative business models, İleri noted, adding that AKP wants to pave the way for a metaverse ecosystem.

Related: Turkey’s crypto law is ready for parliament, President Erdoğan confirms

İleri argued that digital and technological advancements have legal, economic and social aspects. The AKP is striving to develop policies regarding crypto assets and social media to protect the citizens while empowering Turkey’s innovation capabilities, he concluded.

While the Turkish government is keen on blockchain technology and a central bank digital currency, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is known for his stern stance against cryptocurrencies. Last year in a public Q&A session, he “declared war” on crypto, saying, “We have absolutely no intention of embracing cryptocurrencies.”

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection

Crypto Miner Convicted in Russia for Allegedly Stealing Power to Mint Digital Coins

Crypto Miner Convicted in Russia for Allegedly Stealing Power to Mint Digital CoinsA regional court has sentenced a man accused of illegally connecting his crypto farm to the grid to two years in prison. The decision comes as authorities in Moscow prepare to address the lack of proper regulations for cryptocurrency mining, which has become a popular source of income in Russia. Illegal Crypto Farm Burns 1.3 […]

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler Stresses Crypto Trading Platforms Must Be Regulated to Ensure Investor Protection