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FTX, FIFA World Cup, and BitBoy

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Crypto News: How the mighty are fallen as Sam Bankman-Fried goes from hero to zero, DOGE dealing in Turkey outstrips Ethereum and Bitcoin combined, and the XRP Army goes on maneuvers.

FTX CEO Down to His Last Billion

Hubris. Arrogance. Self-important. Some of the epithets directed towards Sam Bankman-Fried following the demise of FTX.

The unraveling of an empire can be traced back to a tweet sent by influencer Ben Armstrong, alias BitBoy. Armstrong, not one to shy away from controversy himself, let rip with this tweet.

But the cracks began to show last weekend when Binance CEO CZ startled the crypto market by announcing he was liquidating his exchange’s position in FTT. That, of course, is the native token of FTX.

Reports had revealed that FTX’s sister company Alameda had assets worth $14.6 billion.

The trading firm’s biggest asset was revealed to be $3.66 billion in locked FTT, while $2.16 billion worth of FTT collateral is the third-largest asset. This meant over $5 billion of Alameda’s assets was is FTT, raising concerns about the firm’s solvency.

There has long been suspicion of the true relationship between FTX and Alameda Research. These suspicions have now been borne out with the bankruptcy action entwining both businesses.

Changpeng Zhao explained that the FTT tokens Binance was offloading were part of the $2.1 billion equivalent in FTT and BUSD tokens that it got after exiting FTX equity last year.

That decision triggered a cascade of selling as fears rose about FTX’s solvency. The FTT token shed 7.6% in the first 24 hours, but that was just the start of the landslide that saw the token dump 80% by the end of the week.

The crypto news took a bizarre twist when it emerged that CZ made an offer for Binance to take over FTX. That offer lasted less than 24 hours once FTX’s financial position became clear.

Farewell to FTX

On Nov. 10, SBF issued a public statement (well, he tweeted, which is as good as). “I f**ked up,” he said. Which, as understatements go, is up there with “Houston, We’ve had a problem.”

And as this story was going to press, news broke that Bankman-Fried had stepped down as CEO after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy with liabilities estimated between $10 billion and $50 billion.

Incidentally, while SBF has seen his net worth fall 94%, from $15 billion, he’s still worth over $1 billion. So maybe don’t feel too sorry for him.

DOGE-y Dealing in Turkey

The Elon effect took an unexpected turn this week with crypto news from Turkey (the country rather than the bird – it’s not Christmas just yet).

Apparently, the Turks trade more Dogecoin than Bitcoin and Ethereum combined due to the economy taking a stuffing.

Dogecoin Ethereum Bitcoin Turkey
Source: Nomics

Trading volume data over the last 30 days from the top three exchanges show that Dogecoin has seen over $380.3 million traded. BTC and ETH, respectively, amassed trading volumes of $154.4 million and $142.6 million. 

Crypto Coin News

Despite a dismal week for price action, a few tokens managed to buck the downward trend. ConstitutionDAO (PEOPLE) was the leader, chalking up an impressive 27% weekly gain. However, the vast majority faced collapse.

Unsurprisingly, at press time, FTX’s FTT token was down a thumping 86% on the week. Curve DAO Token (CRV) price decreased by 32.13% and Huobi Token (HT) plummeted 30%

Crypto Market Prices
Source: BeInCrypto

It’s All to Play For

The FIFA World Cup kicks off in just over a week. With an anticipated global audience of over five billion, it is expected to serve as a showcase for greater crypto use.

Cryptocurrency adoption has grown faster in the Middle East over the past year than anywhere else, according to Chainalysis. Much of this has been stimulated by investments in the United Arab Emirates, a gulf country neighboring Qatar.

Crypto Adoption
Source: Chainalysis

As the World Cup approaches, cryptocurrencies associated with the sport have also been surging.

The most notable has been Chiliz (CHZ), the token behind Socios.com, which has partnered with many major football clubs. Over the past two weeks, the price of CHZ has risen nearly 43%.

Chiliz CHZ price chart
Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripples Across The Pond

The XRP Army had reasons to cheer last week as its troops were bolstered by news that crypto exchange Coinbase and Wyoming-based decentralized autonomous organization, VeriDAO had lent support.

Even crypto influencer BitBoy (him again), who has criticized the XRP community in the past, is now trying to get a piece of the action. He recently shared screenshots showing he applied for the role of Director of Strategy and Operations for Ripple Labs.

Armstrong even called himself the Supreme Leader of the XRP Army, saying he had changed his views about the community. He was, of course, joking. At least, that’s what he said after his application was rejected.

Crypto News: Token Gesture

Non-fungible tokens (NFTs) took a nosedive, in line with the rest of the market, with one collector announcing the sale of his entire collection to the highest bidder.

Failing that, Deepak Thapliyal said the collection would be placed in a fractional DAO, where 80% of ownership would be sold to the community. The asking price is 8,000 ETH, or roughly $10 million at the current Ethereum prices, in case you’re feeling flush.

Crypto News, Socially Speaking

Courtesy of LunarCrush

Bottom’s Up for ADA

And finally, our senior crypto analyst Valdrin Tahiri gave his price predictions for Cardano (ADA), which could be confirming a market bottom.

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All the information contained on our website is published in good faith and for general information purposes only. Any action the reader takes upon the information found on our website is strictly at their own risk.





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US Treasury Sanctions Hit Russian Arms Dealer’s Crypto Wallets

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The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has imposed full blocking sanctions on 22 individuals and entities across several countries, including Russia and Cyprus, as part of its sanctions evasion network that supports Russia’s military-industrial complex.

The sanctions were imposed under Executive Order 14024 and are part of the U.S.’s strategy to target sanctions evasion globally, close key channels, and limit Russia’s access to revenue for its war in Ukraine.

US Treasury Goes After Russian Arms Dealer’s Cryptos

The U.S. Treasury’s sanctions were imposed by the Russian Elites, Proxies, and Oligarchs (REPO) Task Force, a multilateral effort to identify, freeze, and seize assets of sanctioned Russians worldwide. This task force leverages information from international REPO partners and key data from Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) to share information, track Russian assets, and sever Russian proxies from the international financial system.

The REPO Task Force aims to maximize the impact of multilateral sanctions while preventing opportunities for Russia to evade or circumvent U.S. and partner sanctions.

The primary target of the sanctions is a Russian sanctions evasion network led by Russia and Cyprus-based arms dealer Igor Zimenkov and his son Jonatan Zimenkov. The Zimenkov network has been involved in projects related to Russia’s defense capabilities, including supplying a Russian company with high-tech devices after Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. They have also supported sanctioned state-owned Russian defense entities, Rosoboroneksport OAO and State Corporation Rostec, which are critical components of Russia’s military-industrial complex.

Igor and Jonatan Zimenkov have worked closely together to enable Russian defense sales to third-party governments and have engaged directly with Rosoboroneksport’s potential clients to facilitate sales of Russian defense material. Igor Zimenkov has also supported the Belarusian military-industrial complex by enabling the sales efforts of State Owned Foreign Trade Unitary Enterprise Belspetsvneshtechnika in Latin America.

Today, Igor Zimenkov was designated for operating in the defense and related materiel sector of the Russian Federation economy, while Jonatan Zimenkov was designated for having materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for Igor Zimenkov, Rosoboroneksport, and other sanctioned entities.

The Zimenkov network used front companies to funnel money and maintain a lawful appearance. Singapore-based Zimenkov network shell company Asia Trading & Construction PTE Limited and its director, Serena Bee Lin Ng, have sold helicopters to clients in Africa on behalf of the Zimenkov network. Additionally, Cyprus-based Zimenkov network shell company Lobster Management Limited and its director, Mikhail Petrov, have facilitated sanctions evasion by providing support to sanctioned entities.

The Treasury’s OFAC continues to work with its international partners to coordinate information sharing and enforcement and to travel the world in pursuit of sanctions evasion. The sanctions imposed today are a clear signal to Russia and its military-industrial complex that the U.S. and its partners are committed to tightening sanctions enforcement and preventing the evasion of international sanctions.

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BeInCrypto has reached out to company or individual involved in the story to get an official statement about the recent developments, but it has yet to hear back.



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Digital Wallet Growth Will Enable More Closed-Loop Transactions

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Crypto and fintech investment firm Ark Invest has made bold predictions about digital wallets, estimating that more than half the world will soon be using at least one.

In its Jan. 31 ‘Big Ideas 2023’ research report, Ark Invest revealed that digital wallet global population penetration is currently 40%. This equates to around 3.2 billion users, the firm added.

However, the research suggests that the number of online wallet users will increase at an annual rate of 8%. The firm predicted that this will result in a global population penetration of 65% by 2030:

“Having onboarded billions of consumers and millions of merchants, digital wallets could transform the economics associated with traditional payment transactions, saving them nearly $50 billion in costs.”

It also noted that digital wallets were gaining market share in online and offline transactions. Cash is definitely in decline, accelerated by government initiatives to go digital, as recently seen in Nigeria.


Payment method trends - Ark Invest
Payment method trends – Ark Invest

Digital Wallet Growth to Continue

Ark reported that digital wallets were scaling faster than accounts at traditional financial institutions. Furthermore, U.S. digital wallet adoption rebounded in 2022, surpassing previous highs following a COVID-induced dip.

The firm estimates that U.S. digital wallet users will increase by 7% annually during the next eight years. This will be a growth of around 160 million in 2022 to more than 260 million by the end of the decade.

Digital wallet user growth - Ark Invest
Digital wallet user growth – Ark Invest

Furthermore, online wallets are enabling “closed-loop” ecosystems. This is where consumers and merchants can transact directly, cutting out the middleman. 

“Digital wallets are onboarding millions of merchants to platforms that enable direct consumer-merchant transactions that disintermediate traditional financial institutions,” it noted.

In this closed-loop environment, wallet providers capture more value per transaction, enabling savings to be shared with merchants and consumers.

Open and Closed Lopp transactions - Ark Invest
Open and Closed Lopp transactions – Ark Invest

Additionally, Ark noted that closed-loop transactions could boost the margin structure of wallet providers.

It used Block Inc. (formerly Square) as an example, stating that it paid around 60% of customer transaction fees to third parties in 2022. The fees were paid for interchange, assessment, processing, and bank settlement fees. Block’s net take rate could more than double if customers transacted directly with merchants.

Block Inc. fee structure - Ark Invest
Block Inc. fee structure – Ark Invest

Closed Loop Transactions Could Top 50%

Finally, Ark predicted that these closed-loop transactions could account for over 50% of digital payments by 2030.

It used China as an example where wallets and merchants are largely internal or domestic only.

Closed loop cost savings - Ark Invest
Closed loop cost savings – Ark Invest

In conclusion, digital wallet growth is set to continue. Cutting out the intermediary which they facilitate is beneficial to both the consumer and merchant.

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BeInCrypto has reached out to company or individual involved in the story to get an official statement about the recent developments, but it has yet to hear back.



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Strike Launches Lightning Remittances in the Philippines

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Bitcoin fintech giant Strike rolled out its Lightning Network money transfer service Send Globally in the Philippines, a $35 billion remittance market.

Send Globally launched in the Southeast Asian country on Jan. 31, 2023, enabling businesses and tourists to receive international money transfers in the Philippine peso. The country receives $35 billion in remittances globally.

How Strike’s Send Globally Service Works

“Remittances are a broken system and Strike delivers an incredibly empowering experience for people to send money around the world in nearly an instant,” Strike CEO Jack Mallers said.

According to a press release, Strike’s remittance service converts a sender’s fiat into Bitcoin and sends the Bitcoin to a Strike partner in the destination country using the Lightning Network, which in the case of the Philippines, is Pouch.ph. Pouch.ph then converts the Bitcoin to the recipient’s fiat currency and credits their bank or mobile money account, with Strike shielding both parties from the tax implications of handling Bitcoin directly.

Bitcoin’s Lightning Network is a layer-two solution on the Bitcoin blockchain that allows micropayments between nodes over a payment channel. Unlike traditional payment networks, Lightning’s low fees enable almost zero-cost remittances.

Recently, Mallers announced a trial to bring Bitcoin Lightning Network payments to retailers through a partnership with Fiserv’s point-of-sale solution Clover Commerce. The trial allows any application with Lightning capability to pay Bitcoin for goods and services at Clover merchants.

Philippine Smartphone and Internet Adoption Auger Well for Strike

Send Globally rolled out to Strike users in Ghana, Nigeria, and Kenya on Dec. 6, 2022, where it has reportedly gained rapid traction.

However, mainstream adoption in the Philippines will depend heavily on network effects, driven by smartphone and internet penetration.

According to Statista, the number of smartphone users will increase from 85 million in 2022 to 87 million by 2023. Additionally, forecasts suggest smartphone users will increase to 91.5 million in 2025, representing roughly 83% of the island nation’s population.

Smartphone Adoption in the Philippines
Smartphone Adoption in the Philippines | Source: Statista

Additionally, Statista predicts that about three-quarters of the population will have internet access by the end of 2023. Growing internet access increases the chance of Strike’s success, since it helped drive adoption of crypto game Axie Infinity.

For Be[In]Crypto’s latest Bitcoin (BTC) analysis, click here.

Disclaimer

BeInCrypto has reached out to company or individual involved in the story to get an official statement about the recent developments, but it has yet to hear back.



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