President Bukele hits out at Bitcoin Bond 'FUD' as CZ jets in to El Salvador

President Bukele hits out at Bitcoin Bond ‘FUD’ as CZ jets in to El Salvador

El Salvador’s President Nayib Bukele publicly called out Reuters for spreading “FUD” about delays in the country’s $1 billion ‘volcano bond.’

El Salvador President Nayib Bukele took to Twitter on Wednesday evening, hitting out at a Reuters report claiming Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao (CZ) was flying in to save El Salvador’s Bitcoin Bond.

“Please don’t spread Reuter’s FUD,” Bukele tweeted to his 3.6 million followers, rebuking the claim that CZ was flying in to assist after the $1 billion bond offering, originally scheduled for mid-March, was postponed until September. He was responding to a tweet on the subject by Bitcoin Magazine, which has now deleted the post.

Bukele stated that the delay in the “volcano bond” offering was primarily due to legislative delays in Congress, that his meeting with CZ has nothing to do with the bond offering and that the pair intends to discuss “other issues”.

Paolo Ardoino, CTO of Bitfinex — the company underwriting the bond — came to Bukele’s aid stating that the delays were largely due to laws concerning the bond issuance tha still needed to be passed by Congress. Samson Mow, former chief strategy officer Blockstream — El Salvador’s partner in the bond launch — also joined in, tweeting that “nothing has changed”.

Earlier in the week, El Salvador’s Finance Minister Alejandro Zelaya said that the $1 billion bond, originally scheduled for mid-March would be delayed until September, citing geopolitical instability as the primary reason behind the delay.

Three hours after hitting out at Reuters reporting, Bukele was back on Twitter complaining about the US Government, responding to a proposed bill that seeks to minimize American exposure to El Salvador’s financial system following its adoption of Bitcoin as legal tender. The Accountability for Cryptocurrency in El Salvador Act was passed out of committee on Wednesday, and it is set to be voted on by the full U.S. Senate.

“Never in my wildest dreams would I have thought that the U.S. Government would be afraid of what we are doing here,” Bukele tweeted in response to the news, adding, “The US Government DOES NOT stand for freedom and that is a proven fact.”

Related: 14% of Salvadoran businesses have transacted in BTC: Chamber of Commerce

The Bitcoin-backed bond is being issued by El Salvador as a way of amassing larger BTC reserves and to fund the construction of “Bitcoin City”, a development dedicated entirely to Bitcoin and associated blockchain technology. It will reportedly use geothermal power from nearby volcanoes to power Bitcoin mining as well as the city’s infrastructure. Half of the $1 billion proceeds will go to construction costs and the remaining $500 million will be invested directly into Bitcoin.

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Crypto and NFTs at F1: What are firms bringing to the races beyond sponsorships?

Crypto and NFTs at F1: What are firms bringing to the races beyond sponsorships?

Are crypto companies sponsoring F1 for the glitz and glamor, or will NFTs demonstrate important use cases behind these partnerships?

The cryptocurrency community has always put an emphasis on decentralization and globalization. Therefore, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that a number of crypto companies are sponsoring Formula 1 (F1) racing teams in an attempt to further connect with audiences across the world. 

Research by global analytics company Nielsen Sports found that Formula 1 has the potential to reach about one billion fans globally this year, with the 16–35 age group accounting for the biggest share. The appeal of F1 is clearly on the rise, and cryptocurrency companies are jumping on board to demonstrate their presence. To put this in perspective, there are 10 F1 teams for the 2022 season and crypto companies are currently sponsoring eight.


Crypto and F1: An ideal marketing match

Mark DiMassimo, founder and creative chief of DiGo — a New York-based marketing agency — told Cointelegraph that the interest crypto companies are taking in Formula 1 certainly makes sense from a marketing perspective. “You can argue that F1 is a natural extension from a sponsorship standpoint for crypto companies since both sectors are international, exciting and involve money,” he said.

To DiMassimo’s point, the F1 racing team, Red Bull Racing, recently entered a three-year partnership with Singapore-based crypto trading platform Bybit for $50 million per year. Prior to this, the cryptocurrency exchange announced a $100 million partnership with Formula 1 for its 2021 “Sprint Series.”

Igneus Terrenus, head of communications at Bybit, told Cointelegraph that the crypto exchange views sports sponsorships as a key part of its global marketing strategy to build brand awareness and sentiment in major markets. “We are also partners to some of the top e-sports teams in the world, but Formula 1 remains the most popular international racing series,” said Terrenus. He added that Formula 1 has a larger and more global following than almost every other sport:

“2021’s Abu Dhabi GP culminated in a dramatic nail-biting final-lap decider that saw Red Bull Racing’s Max Verstappen prevail over Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton — this attracted an audience of 108 million. Whereas Super Bowl 2022 between the Rams and Bengals drew an audience of 101 million.”

Patrick Hillman, chief communications officer at Binance, told Cointelegraph that F1 is a sport the crypto industry gravitates toward, given its global presence and fan base. “Binance recently announced a partnership with the BWT Apline F1 Team. There are very few sports as global as F1,” he said.

Blockchain companies are also getting involved with Formula 1. In January 2022, Fantom Foundation, a layer-one blockchain platform, announced its sponsorship with the Italian Formula 1 racing team, Scuderia Alpha Tauri. Fantom CEO Michael Kong told Cointelegraph that this partnership is important for several reasons, with exposure being a primary benefit. “It puts a lot more eyeballs on Fantom since F1 is watched by hundreds of millions worldwide. “This has partly been responsible for user growth on the Fantom network,” he said.

F1 sponsorships expand as NFTs gain traction

But, while crypto companies may have initially been drawn to F1 sponsorships from a marketing perspective, the rise of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) is presenting new opportunities for organizations involved with Formula 1. For instance, a recent Deloitte Global study anticipated that in 2022 alone, sports NFTs will generate more than $2 billion in transactions — double the volume seen in 2021. 

Additionally, the study predicts that by the end of this year, roughly five million sports fans around the globe will own an NFT sports collectible. Given this, the majority of crypto and blockchain companies sponsoring Formula 1 racing teams have also launched NFTs to coincide with sponsorships.

On March 22, 2022, Fantom announced a sponsorship with the Brazilian-American Formula 1 racing drivers Pietro and Enzo Fittipaldi. According to Kong, the duo drivers will display Fantom imagery on their race suits and helmets throughout the F1 2022 season. In addition to the sponsorship agreement, the Fittipaldi Brothers will launch their first NFT series on the Fantom network. “Both Pietro and Enzo have demonstrated a strong interest in emerging technologies. These NFTs will deliver unprecedented access to fans, allowing them to engage with the popular athletes through a new medium,” Kong said.

“The return of a Fittipaldi Grand Prix Debut” NFT created by artist Rich. Source: Infinity NFT

Pietro Fittipaldi further told Cointelegraph that he and his brother decided to launch an NFT series with Fantom due to their involvement in the crypto world:

“We wanted to be able to share some of our most exclusive items with our fans and the people who support us through the NFT community. We have always been very active on the digital side of things. My brother and I won the first F1 virtual world championship, so to be able to do something else digitally through NFTs made a lot of sense.”

Fittipaldi explained that the NFTs will be designed by the Brazilian artist Rich, who is famous for his graffiti artwork. “These art pieces will then be digitized into unique NFTs that offer access to exclusive F1 championships, along with access to my indy 500 F1 helmet and virtual mini-world championship replica helmet,” said Fittipaldi.

“Virtual World champions 2021 NFT” created by artist Rich. Source: Infinity NFT

Kong added that NFT agency Infinity NFT will support the Fittipaldi Brothers sale by delivering four NFT categories for fans to choose from, each offering varying levels of direct engagement.

In addition to Fantom’s recent NFT launch, Terrenus said that Bybit will serve as the primary marketplace for the NFTs released by F1’s Oracle Red Bull Racing team. Bybit’s NFT marketplace was launched in January 2022, but Terrenus believes that it has already generated impressive support from the community.

Bybit will also issue fan tokens for the Oracle Red Bull Racing team, expected to launch next year. According to Terrenus, fan tokens will ensure that the community’s voice is amplified when it comes to the team’s decision-making processes.

F1 community learns about blockchain

While it’s notable that crypto companies are sponsoring F1 racing teams and drivers, some may question how the mainstream will receive these partnerships and NFTs. This is especially important to consider, given the fact that NFTs are still a new and sometimes unclear concept for non-crypto natives. For instance, recent research from the NFT Club found that although NFTs have increased in popularity since Dec. 2020, the most popular question of 2021 was “where to buy NFTs.” This demonstrates that there is still a large sector of individuals unfamiliar with the NFT space.

Kong noted that Fantom has had a positive experience collaborating with Alpha Taur, noting that the company was able to explain NFTs, their benefits and possibilities when Fantom worked with Alpha Tauri F1 driver Pierre Gasly on his NFT launch. “Hopefully, we’ve been able to further introduce them to blockchain technology,” Kong commented.

Fittipaldi added that he believes NFTs will be well received by non-crypto natives due to the utility behind the tokens. “A lot of times, people think NFTs are just about buying digital artwork, but behind these creations is access to exclusive F1 championships.” With this in mind, Fittipaldi shared that he and his brother plan to launch more NFT collections moving forward. “The whole idea behind this drop is for our community and fans to have something exclusive, which we plan to offer more of moving forward.”

Moreover, crypto sponsorships also seem to be resonating well with F1 team leaders. An article published this month on highlighted this notion, as the Formula 1 Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff stated that “it was fascinating to understand crypto exchanges,” in reference to FTX’s sponsorship with Mercedes. 

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Colombians Take Legal Action Against Binance for Blocking Their Funds

binanceAn account blockade that happened more than five months ago due to money laundering issues has prompted some Colombian users of Binance to commence legal action against the exchange in the country. According to reports the funds blocked exceed $1 million, and after an investigation from the FIOD, the Netherlands’ anti-money laundering watchdog, the funds […]
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Japanese crypto exchanges aim to catch up with coin listings: Report

Japanese crypto exchanges aim to catch up with coin listings: Report

The JVCEA will release a “green list” of 18 cryptocurrencies that will no longer be subject to screening by Japanese crypto exchanges before listing.

Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges are reportedly moving to increase competition with foreign crypto trading platforms by planning to simplify the process of listing new cryptocurrencies.

The Japan Virtual and Crypto Assets Exchange Association (JVCEA), a self-regulatory body of 31 local crypto exchanges, is preparing to release a “green list” of 18 widely-accepted cryptocurrencies in late March, local news agency Nikkei reported on Tuesday.

The green list aims to spare Japanese crypto exchanges from having to screen cryptocurrencies with the JVCEA each time before listing coins on their trading platforms. The digital assets included in the green list will no longer be subject to screening, the JVCEA reportedly said in an online presentation.

The upcoming green list will feature some of the most-traded cryptocurrencies in Japan, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), XRP and Litecoin (LTC). According to the report, the conditions for being added to the green list include being listed on three exchanges in Japan, with at least one trading platform having to list that digital asset for at least six months.

The JVCEA’s latest initiative aims to provide crypto investors with more options to trade on regulated Japanese cryptocurrency exchanges. “Some industry executives said sophisticated traders have flocked to exchanges that do not have a license in Japan, such as Binance, partly due to the lack of options,” the report said.

According to the latest official list of traded coins on Binance, the crypto exchange supports more than 80 cryptocurrencies as of mid-March 2022. Coinbase, the United States’ largest crypto exchange that officially launched operations in Japan last year, has listed about 160 cryptocurrencies so far, according to its official website.

In contrast, Japanese crypto exchanges have collectively listed only about 40 cryptocurrencies so far, according to Nikkei. GMO Coin crypto exchange is the largest Japanese crypto exchange in terms of supported coins, handling 20 cryptocurrencies, a JVCEA official reportedly said.

BitFlyer, one of the largest crypto exchanges in Japan, was trading only five cryptocurrencies as of Tuesday morning, according to data from CoinGecko.

Related: Japanese government considers relaxing strict coin listing rules

As previously reported, the JVCEA was established back in March 2018 as a self-regulatory body following a series of hacking incidents that triggered intense scrutiny from regulators.

In February, the JVCEA complained that Japan’s strict screening rules were significantly impeding the $1 trillion Japanese crypto industry from growing.

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Law Decoded: Arab States of the Gulf open up to digital asset services, March 14–21

Law Decoded: Arab States of the Gulf open up to digital asset services, March 14–21

Crypto comes to the Persian Gulf, U.S. Congress moves sideways, Australia is looking at regulating DAOs.

Last week got off to an antsy start as the clause that many interpreted as a direct route to ban proof-of-work-(PoW)-based cryptocurrencies made a sudden comeback to the draft of the European Union’s key directive on digital assets. Many in the crypto policy space got immediate flashbacks to other instances of harmful last-minute additions to must-pass legislation days and hours before the vote. It all ended well, though, as the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs voted against the draft that contained the hostile language. Over in the United States, monetary policy kept growing more political, as evidenced by Sarah Bloom Raskin, President Joe Biden’s pick for the Federal Reserve’s vice chair for supervision, being forced to withdraw her nomination due to a Senate gridlock. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took time off urgent matters of national defense to sign a bill granting digital assets legal status into law. Other big narratives of the week included crypto platforms’ expansion into the Gulf region, a slew of crypto-related statements and actions by members of the U.S. Congress and some favorable policy developments in Australia.

The Gulf of crypto

Several Middle Eastern jurisdictions have welcomed major players of the global crypto industry on their soil last week. The streak kicked off with Binance, the world’s largest crypto exchange by volume, securing authorization from the Central Bank of Bahrain on March 14. The license covers services such as trading, custody and portfolio management. Less than one day later in a historic first, crypto exchange FTX landed a license from the newly established Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority. Binance, however, was hot on FTX’s heels, announcing that it had obtained a Dubai virtual asset exchange license on March 16. With crypto powerhouses lining up to set shop in Dubai, the emirate looks poised to become the region’s cryptocurrency hub thanks to its leadership’s far-sighted policy initiatives.

Much ado on the Capitol Hill

Digital assets remain high on many U.S. federal legislators’ agendas with yet another Congressional hearing, this time with national security and illicit finance angle, taking place at the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. Hot-button issues like sanctions, compliance and ransomware facilitation inevitably received much spotlight. Yet, industry representatives were also able to carve out some time to call for Congress to ramp up its work on providing regulatory clarity to U.S.-based crypto businesses. Meanwhile, crypto allies and adversaries in Washington, D.C., kept doing their respective business. A bipartisan group of congresspeople, led by Minnesota Representative Tom Emmer, have called out the Securities Exchange Commission boss Gary Gensler for subjecting cryptocurrency companies to unnecessary scrutiny. Crypto’s eternal critics: Representative Brad Sherman and Senator Elizabeth Warren, in turn, announced bills that would authorize the U.S. government to limit digital asset service providers’ ability to deal with Russia-based persons and entities.

Big news from down under

Australian Senator Andrew Bragg, the crypto industry’s longtime champion, has announced a wide-ranging legislative package called the Digital Services Act. In addition to familiar themes such as laying down rules for service provider licensing, custody, and taxation, the initiative emphasizes the need to regulate decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs. Bragg argues that such entities represent a “threat to the tax base” and thus must be recognized and regulated urgently. The New South Wales Senator unveiled the proposed framework at a blockchain conference. The document is yet to be formally introduced to the Australian legislature.

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