December 10, 2022
Issue No. 32
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
- Blockchain & Defi: Waves Founder Explores New DAO Model; MetaMask Co-Founder Wants to 'Dump' Apple…
- NFTs: Nike’s RTFKT Unveils Web3 Sneakers; Pplpleasr’s Shibuya NFT Video Platform Raises $6.9M
- Web3 & Metaverse: Starbucks NFT Rewards Platform Beta Launch; Decentraland Enabled Virtual Landlords
- Gaming: Amazon Games brings Blue Protocol MMO to Western audiences; Diablo IV Arrives In June
- Legal Landscape: US Banking Regulator’s Crypto Warning; UK Pushes Crypto Efforts via Financial Services Reforms
Blockchain & DeFi Developments
Waves Blockchain Founder Explores New DAO Model to Improve Crypto Governance
Sasha Ivanov, the founder of the Waves blockchain, says he has a way of tackling some of the governance shortcomings apparent in managing decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), including the risk of manipulation and voter apathy.
DAOs form the backbone for numerous decentralized applications (dapps), such as Uniswap, Compound, and Aave, in which token holders propose and vote on changes or updates that affect a project’s future.
Existing DAOs based on simple token governance models and weight-based voting systems grant voting power proportional to the number of governance tokens a holder has. That leaves the DAOs open to exploitation by well-capitalized manipulators who can also take advantage of non-accountable and apathetic voters.
“Simple token governance seems attractive on paper, but has proven ultimately to be inadequate,” Ivanov said in a statement on Monday. “Without sufficient accountability built into governance models, bad actors and those who wish to disrupt the decision-making process have no deterrent and will keep on gamifying the system.”
Instead, Ivanov developed the "Power Protocol," a set of rules and incentives to encourage community participation. The protocol is designed to set and then measure key performance indicators (KPIs) and offer financial rewards and penalties to facilitate accountable, transparent, and efficient community collaboration. The first DAO to use the Power Protocol was Waves’ Power DAO.
These KPIs, if fulfilled, result in rewards for participating communities. Conversely, if they aren't met, a community can be penalized as a portion of its staked governance tokens is destroyed. This may help disincentivize predatory behavior from large token holders who may vote favorably on proposals solely to gain token rewards.
Power Protocol can be implemented in third-party DAOs. By limiting individual users’ total voting power, the model can successfully mitigate the risk of potential damage from bad actors and increase the efficiency of any DAO, be it financial, charitable, private, or governmental.
MetaMask Co-Founder Wants to 'Dump' Apple, Calls iOS Purchase Tax 'Abuse’
MetaMask co-founder and ex-Apple employee Dan Finlay says he’s all in favor of the crypto industry ditching Apple’s App Store altogether, calling Apple’s 30% in-app purchase tax “an abuse of monopoly.”
“I'll absolutely stand in solidarity here,” Finlay wrote in response to the news that Coinbase’s iOS Wallet app had previously been blocked by Apple until it removed NFT transfer features.
Coinbase’s Wallet announced Thursday that its users would no longer be able to trade or transfer NFTs through its iOS app, arguing that even if it wanted to comply with the “Apple tax,” it would not be able to due to Apple not being integrated with blockchains like Ethereum.
“I assume [MetaMask] and every other wallet is next,” Finlay tweeted today. “I'm ready to dump the Apple ecosystem. The 30% tax is an abuse of monopoly.”
It’s unclear what this would mean for current users of the MetaMask iOS app. In emailed comments to Decrypt, Finlay said: “As of now, Metamask remains on the app store but we will closely monitor the situation in the coming weeks and months to ensure our users continue to have unfettered access to their crypto assets.”
Finlay also elaborated on his tweets regarding his feelings about Apple's new policies. “We are disappointed to see the news that app stores are becoming strict gatekeepers, which is not just obstructing growth, but also an avenue for censorship," he said. "We believe as a community we should come together to find a workable solution so that the end users can continue to have the freedom to transact and the technology can flourish.”
Finlay is far from the first crypto advocate to express disdain toward Apple’s policy. Epic Games CEO Tim Sweeney and Polygon Studios CEO Ryan Wyatt have voiced similar levels of disgust with the 30% in-app purchase tax.
As crypto companies try to build out features for their mobile applications to give users an alternative to browser-only experiences, many are hitting Apple’s tax roadblock and are being rejected or removed from the iOS App Store.
The crypto industry was up in arms in November following reports that the firm's keystone products, MetaMask and Infura, collected users' wallet and IP addresses. ConsenSys was quick to remind in today's note, however, that these revelations were not a deviation or change from its existing policies but rather "aimed to solely provide greater transparency."
Notably, ConsenSys reported today that it plans to delete user data after one week and highlighted that data collected via its crypto wallet MetaMask and infrastructure provider Infura is never sold to third parties. The type of data collected includes users' wallets and IP addresses, but only when they make transactions (rather than simply checking an account balance).
MetaMask users will also soon have the option to select an alternative Remote Procedure Call (RPC) provider instead of the default setting of Infura.
"There are many good reasons why users may want to use different RPC configurations, in particular hosting their own nodes, and we have always believed that part of the value we offer is in the user’s right to exit our offerings," reads today's announcement.
Users will have the option from next week to choose their own RPC providers and opt out of other services implemented to improve user experience.
Nike’s RTFKT Unveils Web3 Sneakers, Angers Some with U.S.-Only Drop
RTFKT, a digital fashion and collectibles firm owned by Nike, unveiled what it said is the first native web3 sneaker.
Dubbed "Cryptokicks iRL," the shoes have advanced features such as auto-lacing, enhanced lighting, haptic feedback, gesture control, walk detection, and app connectivity. The sneakers will support NFC-NFT linking and NFC-NFT authentication with a special chip.
In a Monday tweet, RTFKT hinted that the sneakers might have a move-to-earn system, perhaps comparable to the Solana-based game Stepn that rewards users for walking or running. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for more information from The Block. Public mints for the shoes start on Dec. 14, and the drop is only available to users in the U.S. in a move that irritated some based elsewhere who expressed their displeasure on Twitter. The company said the geographic limitation was "due to advanced tech and product regulation."
Opera to Add Drag-and-drop NFT Creation Tool to Browser in Early 2023
Opera will roll out an NFT creation tool next January.
Created by cloud-based ecosystems company Alteon and integrated into Opera's crypto browser, the launchpad will give users an easy, no-code way to create NFTs and review simplified properties of their smart contracts.
Media files can be dropped in the launchpad, previewed, turned into NFTs, and then shared, stored, or sold.
No-coding NFT minting platforms aren't new. Still, with the browser targeted at not only crypto enthusiasts but also the crypto curious, the Norway-headquartered firm is hoping it will encourage more people to explore the burgeoning NFT industry.
“We are giving users the opportunity to contribute freely to this ecosystem. Now, our users will be able to create NFTs instantly and simply with no platform usage fees,” said Susie Batt, crypto ecosystem lead at Opera.
The offering follows the introduction of Opera's DegenKnows in November, an NFT analytics tool for discovering and tracking collections. In addition to providing on-chain data including trades made by whales, it also tracks social signals such as collections’ social media footprints and interest among NFT insiders.
Opera claims about 350 million people use its browsers, which for computers include the original Opera browser, a Chromebook browser, a gaming-focused browser, and the crypto browser.
The crypto browser itself rolled out in January but wasn’t the first entry into crypto. Its crypto wallet dates back to 2018.
Pplpleasr’s Shibuya NFT Video Platform Raises $6.9M to Build the 'A24 of Web3’
Following its launch earlier this year, Shibuya—co-founded by artist Emily “pplpleasr” Yang—announced today that it has raised seed funding to expand its Ethereum NFT-driven, interactive video platform and onboard new creators.
Shibuya raised $6.9 million in a round co-led by VC heavyweights Andreessen Horowitz and Variant Fund. The round also included participation by notable angel investors including NBA star Kevin Durant, entertainer (and NFT creator) Paris Hilton, Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai, and Aave founder and CEO Stani Kulechov.
Pplpleasr and co-founder Maciej Kuciara, a concept artist on numerous Hollywood blockbusters, launched Shibuya in March with the first chapter of the original anime series, “White Rabbit.”
Shibuya’s Web3 hook is that viewers can purchase NFTs that both fund new content and give them the ability to vote on the story’s direction across chapters—a sort of choose-your-own-adventure story fueled by decentralized governance. While the platform was initially self-funded, the crypto and NFT market declines that followed convinced the founders to raise money to push forward.
“What became more important to me [than self-funding] was that we can continue building out this vision,” pplpleasr told Decrypt, “with that safety in mind of being able to focus on what's important, and not have to worry about the market.”
Since the launch, Shibuya has added the second chapter of “White Rabbit,” with the third due in January. The startup plans to use the funding to expand its team as it seeks future creative collaborators to develop additional interactive, NFT-fueled film projects to debut in Web3.
TIMEX Launches $2,500 Bored Ape Watches and Matching NFTs
Owners of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs will soon be able to show off their PFPs on their wrist, enshrined in a one-of-a-kind TIMEX watch.
The collaboration between TIMEX and the Bored Ape Yacht Club community will bring the release of 500 timepieces that will display an owner’s Ape or Mutant prominently on the watch’s face. Those who buy the watch will be able to customize it, with a choice of case, strap, and selected etchings.
The sale of Timepiece Forge Pass NFTs began today, which can be minted for 2 ETH, or around $2,500 as of this writing. Around mid-December, Forge Pass owners will be able to design their own watch on TIMEX’s website.
Each physical watch will be accompanied by an identical, digital version as an NFT, separate from the Forge Pass NFT. But they won’t arrive in time for the holidays and are expected to be shipped to purchasers sometime in the second quarter of 2023.
"Timex is entering Web3 by keeping creativity and community at the forefront," said Shari Fabiani, Timex Group’s senior vice president of global marketing and creative services. “We are redefining and pushing the boundaries of physical, virtual, and now phygital products."
Just last month, Timex declared itself "timekeepers of the metaverse" with a release of a branded challenge in the game Fortnite.
Web3 & Metaverse
Starbucks Sees 'Unprecedented Interest' as Polygon NFT Rewards Platform Launches its Beta
Starbucks Odyssey, the coffee chain’s new Web3 rewards platform built on Ethereum sidechain network Polygon, is rolling out its Beta test to the world. The company says that demand for the platform so far has been “unprecedented.”
Starbucks launched the platform’s beta @December 8, 2022 for an initial group chosen from its waitlist. Additional testers will be added to the platform in January 2023 ahead of increasing functionality and access to come early next year.
The company did not disclose how many customers signed up for the waitlist, nor how many users were given access this week. However, a spokesperson told Decrypt that Starbucks has seen “unprecedented interest in Starbucks Odyssey,” and that the response from customers has been “overwhelming” so far.
First announced in September following months of teases, Starbucks Odyssey builds upon the firm’s existing Starbucks Rewards initiative, but with a Web3 twist. Users can earn rewards points for buying food and drinks at stores, but also for participating in activities via the Odyssey mobile app, such as quizzes and other digital experiences.
Completing activities and amassing points then earns users “Journey Stamps” tokenized as NFT collectibles on Polygon. These stamps, which reflect the history of the 51-year-old coffee juggernaut, can be collected and eventually traded. An NFT is a blockchain token that represents ownership in a unique asset, including digital goods like artwork and collectibles.
The stamps and points also collectively unlock access to potential exclusive experiences, such as online drink-making classes, events at Starbucks’ flagship Reserve Roastery locations, or even a trip to the company’s coffee farm in Costa Rica.
In 2023, Starbucks Odyssey will launch its NFT marketplace powered by Nifty Gateway, letting users buy and sell their Journey Stamps, as well as purchase limited-edition NFTs created in collaboration with company partners. Funds from the latter NFT sales will be used in part to donate to charitable causes, the company said.
Warner Music Group to Release Polygon Music NFTs Through LGND Platform
Artists signed to Warner Music Group labels will release music NFTs through the upcoming Polygon-based marketplace LGND Music thanks to a multi-year partnership announced today between the major record label, the Ethereum sidechain network, and the Web3 music startup.
Set to launch in January, LGND Music is an online marketplace that will offer songs as NFTs—which fans can purchase and listen to through the platform—along with other digital collectibles from musicians.
LGND will offer both desktop and mobile apps for interacting with the NFTs, akin to an iTunes-like experience for Web3, and the company says it will support music NFTs from other platforms, as well.
However, NFT purchases made via LGND’s iOS app will be subject to Apple’s controversial 30% in-app purchase fee, confirmed a LGND spokesperson to Decrypt.
Warner Music and LGND have yet to name any of the artists that will release NFTs through the platform, but WMG’s popular label Spinnin’ Records is part of the deal. Spinnin’ Records is a major player in the electronic dance music space and has released tracks from artists like David Guetta, Tiesto, R3HAB, and Robin Shultz.
Electronic dance musicians have leaned into crypto and Web3 arguably more than any other genre, and Warner’s move only continues that trend. Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, 3LAU, and Dillon Francis are among the biggest electronic artists that have bought or sold NFTs and advocated for the technology.
Decentraland Will Now Let You Become a Virtual Landlord
Virtual world platform Decentraland now allows landowners to rent out their property.
The new system lets owners of Decentraland land NFTs, called LAND parcels, find tenants in what the company says is a secure, trustless process. Virtual land owners can establish the cost of renting per day and the desired duration of the lease, and the tenant pays the owner through MANA, Decentraland's main cryptocurrency.
Once the rental period expires, the virtual landlord must manually decide whether to claim their property or put it up for rent again. Decentraland said a potential use case for the system would be a virtual DJ, who could rent a space as a nightclub for performances.
The Decentraland Foundation, which oversees the platform, will store the owner and tenant data off-chain as well as on the Ethereum blockchain.
Rentable land, of the virtual kind, has been possible since June through ERC-4907, the Ethereum standard that allows rentable NFTs. Unlike Decentraland's rental system, this token standard allows land to automatically revert back to the owner once the rental period expires. While the token standard can be applied to items beyond just virtual spaces, the firm behind the standard's creation, Double Protocol, told The Block that it envisions metaverse land rentals as one of the key markets for rentable NFTs.
Games & Blockchain Gaming
How Mighty Bear Games Rolled Out the Red Carpet to NFT Believers Among Fans
Mighty Bear Games gave out free non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for its upcoming Mighty Action Heroes Web3 game. And it found a way to roll out the red carpet for fans who were enthusiastic about joining a fledgling blockchain gaming community.
Simon Davis, CEO of Singapore-based Mighty Bear Games, said in an interview with GamesBeat that the company wanted to come up with a way to build the right community with the right supporters through its Red Carpet meta program. The company’s upcoming Mighty Action Heroes is a real-time multiplayer third-person battle royale going into early access on December 16 to December 18.
Rather than auction off its NFTs to the highest bidder, Mighty Bear Games gave its MightyNet Genesis Pass NFTs to players for free.
To create the community from scratch, Mighty Bear looked on the blockchain itself to find people who had invested in other blockchain game NFTs that were similar to Mighty Bear’s whimsical battle royale title. And it could easily see from the blockchain — the immutable ledger technology — how long those players had hung on to their tokens.
It didn’t want to find players who would receive free tokens and then immediately flip them to other players, selling the tokens for a profit, Davis said.
So the company started creating its own tokens for Mighty Action Heroes. And it curated a list of people that it planned to invite to mint their own free tokens. These players were necessarily blockchain savvy, as you have to be that to mint NFTs. So the company invited those people and gave them priority access to minting.
Benefits for holders include using the NFTs as a PFP or an in-game avatar, playing Mighty Action Heroes before anyone else in the first-ever early-access weekend, and hibernating your bear characters to earn honey and exchange that for in-game rewards.
Holders will also get special holder-only skins for use in-game, be able to invite friends to the early access squad in Mighty Action Heroes, and get immediate access to a collection-specific holders-only section of the Mighty Action Heroes Discord.
Amazon Games brings Blue Protocol MMO to Western audiences
Amazon Games announced during The Game Awards that it’s partnering with Bandai Namco on the Western release of its new MMO, Blue Protocol. Bandai Namco plans to launch the MMO on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, and PC sometime in the second half of 2023. According to its new trailer, the game will also be free-to-play. Amazon Games and Bandai Namco will launch the title in North America, Europe, South America, Australia, and New Zealand.
Bandai Namco first announced Blue Protocol several years ago and has released a few trailers since then. The MMO has a cell-shaded art style that Chris Hartmann, VP of Amazon Games, calls “an anime come to life.” The story follows the customizable player character on a journey across the war-torn continent of Regnas. Players have five classes available at launch to choose from Blade Warden, Twin Striker, Keen Strider, Spell Weaver, and Foe Breaker.
Blue Protocol joins several other MMOs published by Amazon Games within the last year, including Lost Ark and New World. The latter has seen both initial success and resurgence within the first year of launch. Last month, it reached a new concurrent player count high. Amazon also entered publishing agreements with multiple studios, including Smilegate (New World’s developers) and Disruptive Games on a multiplayer action-adventure title.
Sokichi Shimooka, the executive producer of Blue Protocol at Bandai Namco, said of the Amazon partnership in a statement, “The Amazon Games team’s deep expertise in operating multiplayer games, combined with Amazon’s publishing resources and transmedia opportunities, made them the ideal publisher for Blue Protocol in the West. We’re excited to work together to bring players an incredible experience.”
Diablo IV Arrives In June
The Game Awards brought us a new cinematic look at Diablo IV. The long-in-development action/RPG is finally nearing release, and we got a confirmed release date @December 8, 2022. You’ll be able to confront demons to your heart’s content beginning on June 6, 2023.
While the trailer didn’t offer a wealth of new details about the game, it did show off a pretty epic battle between the forces of Heaven and Hell. The forces seem to be led by Tyrael on one side and Lilith on the other side, and two massive armies clash over the course of the battle.
Check out the full trailer for a glimpse of Blizzard’s top-notch cinematic storytelling.
Tekken 8 Story & Gameplay Teaser Trailer!
Bandai Namco has released a new trailer for Tekken 8 and it features our first look at the story & gameplay.
The trailer showcases various Tekken 8 fighters, including series mainstay Jin Kazama. His mother, Jun Kazama, makes an appearance in the trailer as well to tell Jin that together, they'll "cleanse the world of its evil and corruption."
Check out the Tekken 8 gameplay trailer for yourself below:
GameStop Undertakes 'Big' Round of Layoffs, Crypto Team Reportedly Impacted
GameStop made major moves in the web3 space this year by launching an NFT marketplace and crypto wallet. It also attempted to crack into the burgeoning blockchain-based gaming ecosystem by partnering with Immutable, the team behind Immutable X — which undergirds many popular web3 games such as Gods Unchained and Illuvium.
Unfortunately, they’ve joined other companies such as Meta, Coinbase, and a slew of other companies working on web3 initiatives in cutting their employee headcount this year.
Daniel Williams, a Lead Software Engineer at GameStop, said on LinkedIn that another "big" round of layoffs is happening at the firm and that “lots of” GameStop employees are getting cut, mainly in e-commerce product and engineering fields.
Employees working on GameStop’s blockchain wallet have also been affected, according to Axios. The total scale of the layoffs is still unclear.
The Block contacted GameStop for comment but did not immediately hear back before publication time.
GameStop laid off staff in July after firing then-CFO Mike Recupero, CNBC reported at the time.
Magic Eden Appoints Chris Akhavan as Chief Gaming Officer
San Francisco-based cross-chain NFT platform Magic Eden has announced the appointment of industry veteran Chris Akhavan as Chief Gaming Officer.
In his new role, Akhavan will help drive the growth of Magic Eden’s gaming partnership and support the development of advanced game creator and collector experiences. The company hopes to solidify its identity in the Web3 space, estimating that Web3 gaming will grow into a multi-billion dollar-per-year industry.
“As a lifelong gamer, I truly believe the game industry is going to be transformed by placing ownership in the hands of players,” said Akhavan.
“There are already massive vibrant markets around in-game items in games like Counter-Strike, and Web3 technology is the perfect solution to enable game asset ownership in a scalable and connected way across an enormous universe of games and player communities. Magic Eden is one of the largest Web3 platforms in the world with over 10 million unique user sessions per month and $2.5 billion in NFT trading volume to date. The team here really believes in the mission to bring digital property rights to gamers while creating incredible new opportunities for game developers. I’m excited to see the impact we will have in accelerating Web3 gaming,”
Brave new world
Akhavan is an industry veteran who has held a variety of roles within the industry, including as Chief Revenue Officer at Glu Mobile, helping to lead its turnaround from a struggling company to a leading free-to-play studio which was acquired by EA for $2.4 billion, making it the tenth largest video game acquisition of all time.
Prior to Glu, Akhavan also served as an early employee at Tapjoy, which created a platform used by many free-to-play games and reached over a billion mobile devices. He gained Web3 experience while serving as CBO of Forte and as a part of Game7, which he will continue to advise.
“Chris is going to take us places.”
“He’s got that special sauce that only a few people in the world have, coming from traditional gaming while also being intimately familiar with blockchain technology through his experiences at Tapjoy, Glu, Electronic Arts, Forte, and Game7,” said Magic Eden COO Zhuoxun Yin.
“We have been preparing to unleash the reach of our platform to the game ecosystem, and our vision to drive distribution and revenue to Web3 games can now really come to life with Chris’ leadership and guidance. Our team and the broader Web3 game industry are lucky to have Chris here working on this.”
Uniswap Launches NFT Marketplace With $5M Airdrop For Genie Users
DeFi giant Uniswap launched a marketplace for non-fungible tokens Wednesday morning, promising the best prices on NFTs and lower gas fees.
Uniswap’s NFT aggregator will source listings from eight other NFT marketplaces, such as OpenSea, X2Y2, and Sudoswap. It replaces NFT aggregator Genie, which Uniswap acquired in June.
“Uniswap is the most used DEX [and] now we aim to be the marketplace for all digital value including tokens and NFTs!” Uniswap founder Hayden Adams tweeted Wednesday.
The long-awaited airdrop for past Genie users that was announced after the acquisition can now be claimed on the Uniswap website.
Users who made at least two transactions on Genie before April 15, 2022, are eligible to claim 300 USDC, and holders of Genie Genesis NFTs will receive 1000 USDC.
Nearly 16,000 wallets are eligible to claim the airdrop, according to a Dune Analytics query.
In addition, the first 22,000 users of the new aggregator will be eligible for a gas rebate of up to 0.01 ETH on their first transaction.
The announcement has the potential to shake up the crowded world of NFT trading. Uniswap is Ethereum’s fifth-largest DeFi protocol measured by total value locked (TVL) and the largest decentralized exchange by trading volume.
National Policies & Legal Updates
Approach with Caution: US Banking Regulator’s Crypto Warning
A United States banking industry regulator warned banks of the “emerging risks” of cryptocurrencies saying the sector should take a “cautious approach” and seek permission in some cases when engaging with crypto or crypto firms.
Citing “dislocations” in the crypto market over 2022, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) highlighted what it said were “several key risks” of crypto in its Dec. 8 Semiannual Risk Perspective for Fall 2022 report.
Its three main concerns are that “stablecoins may be unstable,” the crypto industry lacks mature risk management practices, and has a high risk of contagion due to the “high degree of interconnectedness.”
The space’s lack of “consistent or comprehensive regulation” and the volatility of crypto, along with the increased range of firms offering “bank-like products and services” using crypto and tokenized assets, were also cited as concerns, which the OCC believes raises questions regarding financial stability.
The depeg and collapse of the TerraUSD Classic (USTC) algorithmic stablecoin in May was given as an example of stablecoins’ “run risk,” and how asset-backed stablecoins also saw minor depeg events as a result.
It highlighted stablecoin backings have “incrementally evolved” since, but believes most “remain susceptible to run risk.”
Discussing risk management, the OCC said practices at crypto firms were maturing but are “not yet robust,” with firms appearing “unprepared for the stresses and surprises” over the past year that saw losses for millions of investors, it added:
“Hacks and outages are frequent, and fraud and scams remain high throughout the industry. In some cases, ownership rights, custody arrangements, and financial representations have created a high degree of confusion.”
UK Pushes Crypto Efforts Forward Through Financial Services Reforms
The United Kingdom’s Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt laid out a number of reforms aiming to “drive growth and competitiveness” to the country’s financial services sector including efforts that support the crypto space.
In an announcement, the U.K. government highlighted that it will create a smarter regulatory framework for the country that it describes as “agile, less costly and more responsive to emerging trends.”
Topics mentioned in the announcement include consulting on proposals for the establishment of a central bank digital currency (CBDC), extending a crypto tax break for investment managers, bringing stablecoins into the regulatory perimeter and creating a sandbox that lets firms and regulators test new technologies that have the potential to transform financial markets.
These are all part of the Financial Services and Markets (FSM) bill announced earlier in October. According to Hunt, the changes will show the U.K.'s status as a competitive global financial services hub. He explained that:
“The Edinburgh Reforms seize on our Brexit freedoms to deliver an agile and home-grown regulatory regime that works in the interest of British people and our businesses.”
In addition, Hunt noted that the government will be further delivering reforms that get in the way of other growing industries like digital technology and life sciences.
Andrew Griffith, the U.K.'s Economic Secretary to the Treasury, said that the reforms will deliver smarter regulation for financial services. The government official believes that this "will unlock growth and opportunity in towns and cities across the U.K."
SEC Tells US-Listed Companies They’d Better Disclose Crypto Damage
Crypto’s pains are being shared by a wide array of companies. The U.S. Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) is warning public companies that if they have a stake in the industry’s recent torments, they’d better tell investors.
“Recent bankruptcies and financial distress among crypto asset market participants have caused widespread disruption in those markets,” the agency’s Division of Corporation Finance advised U.S. public companies on Thursday. “Companies may have disclosure obligations under the federal securities laws related to the direct or indirect impact that these events and collateral events have had or may have on their business.”
A sample letter to such companies is asking, for instance, if they face any risks to their businesses “due to excessive redemptions, withdrawals or a suspension of redemptions or withdrawals, of crypto assets.”
The Division of Corporation Finance is the SEC’s disclosures arm, advising securities-issuing companies about how to properly inform investors about meaningful threats to their businesses.
The wider SEC has been in a general standoff with much of the crypto industry, insisting that many of the digital assets platforms should be registered exchanges, while many of those firms argue that they’re either not involved with securities or the agency hasn’t properly defined crypto securities.
SEC Chair Gary Gensler reiterated his views again that the agency has made clear what crypto companies should do, telling a reporter on Wednesday that “the rules are there” and that “law firms know how to advise their clients to comply.”
Thursday’s document said the sample questions it would send out are not “exhaustive,” saying that companies should evaluate their own specific risks and concerns.
The crypto industry has faced a number of high-profile failures and bankruptcies over the past several months, with crypto exchange FTX and multiple lenders revealing that they owed thousands of people millions of dollars worth of crypto.
These companies’ ties to traditional financial institutions are also under scrutiny. On Wednesday, Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Tina Smith (D-Minn.) wrote a letter to bank regulators, asking them to examine these ties and pointing to Moonstone Bank, a firm FTX invested in, as one example.
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