January 14, 2023
Issue No. 37
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
- Blockchain & Defi: Shanghai Upgrade on Track for March; AWS Users Can Launch Avalanche Blockchain Nodes…
- Gaming: Video Game Calendar for 2023; Marvel Snap PvP Mode Dropping Soon
- Web3 & Metaverse: House of Blueberry Digital Wearables on Roblox; Top NFT Artists Launching on Instagram Sell Out in Seconds
- NFTs: Yuga Labs Announces Skill-Based NFT; Crypto Twitter Reacts to GoT NFTs
- Legal Landscape: SEC Alleges Gemini & Genesis Sold Unregistered Securities; New Federal Virtual Asset Law in UAE
Blockchain & DeFi Developments
Ethereum Developers Say Shanghai Upgrade Remains on Track for March
Ethereum core developers say they are chugging steadily towards their goal of launching Shanghai and enabling staked ETH withdrawals on the network by March.
This week, the group launched “devnet 2,” a developer network designed specifically to allow client teams to tweak the ETH withdrawal process and make sure they get it right. The network launch went mostly smoothly, with minor but expected hiccups, according to a developer call Thursday.
ETH withdrawal capability will launch as the central component of Ethereum’s much-anticipated Shanghai upgrade. A previous upgrade, known as the “merge,” officially transitioned Ethereum to a proof-of-stake system, which involves network participants known as validators pledging ETH to the network in order to verify transactions and keep the network secure. These validators also earn newly minted ETH as a reward for staking.
Even before the merge, network users were given the opportunity to start staking on Ethereum in anticipation of the upgrade. A total of $22.7 billion worth of ETH now sits in the staking contract. But these users have yet to be able to unstake those funds, meaning they still can’t retrieve the ETH they have pledged.
Ethereum’s Shanghai upgrade is expected to roll out that capability—assuming it all goes according to plan. Given that more than 16 million ETH is currently staked with the network, introducing the ability to withdraw those funds is understandably a priority for the Ethereum community and the network’s developers.
The Shanghai upgrade, for example, was initially intended to include a number of other eagerly awaited updates, including proto-danksharding, a streamlined data-sampling process that would make layer-2 transactions on Ethereum substantially cheaper and faster. Proto-danksharding was eventually scrapped from Shanghai, to make sure ETH withdrawal capability was rolled out as quickly as possible. The feature is expected to instead roll out later this year.
Amazon Web Services Users Can Now Launch Avalanche Blockchain Nodes
Ava Labs announced Wednesday that they will be offering crypto infrastructure through Amazon Web Services (AWS) to facilitate enterprise, institutional, and government adoption of blockchain. This includes the ability to launch custom Subnets on the AWS platform, which are blockchains built on Avalanche with custom rulesets and their own token for paying network gas fees.
“At AWS, we are all about bringing the most cutting-edge technologies to builders, no matter if they sit in a multi-million-dollar enterprise, a government office, or a dorm,” said Howard Wright, VP and Global Head of Startups, AWS, in a statement. “The new capabilities brought by Avalanche enable us to do just that."
AWS has agreed to a deal with Avalanche to help expand its adoption to new regions and customer groups, as well as provide new tools for its infrastructure and ecosystem.
Avalanche nodes can now be used in AWS GovCloud, allowing government organizations to use the technology for public sector projects while adhering to stricter data control regulations.
“It has been a huge boon for both individual and enterprise developers to be able to spin up nodes and test networks on the fly with AWS in whatever legal jurisdiction makes the most sense for them,” said Emin Gün Sirer, Founder and CEO of Ava Labs, in a statement. “I’m proud that we’ve implemented a protocol that can accommodate millions of participants with near-instant finality.”
“Our work with Amazon can accelerate the positive impact of Avalanche,” Sirer added.
Ava Labs has also joined AWS Activate and the AWS Partner Network (APN) to strengthen their connection to Amazon, providing tech startups with support and access to resources such as growth tools and funding.
AWS will also participate in future Avalanche-related events like the Avalanche Summit, Avalanche Creates, and hackathons, according to the announcement.
Wyre Lifts Withdrawal Limits After Fresh Funding From Strategic Partner
Wyre, a San Francisco-based crypto payments firm, has lifted its depositing freeze and 90% withdrawal limit after receiving financing from a strategic partner, the company announced yesterday on Twitter.
The reversal came a little less than a week after Wyre had implemented withdrawal limits for user accounts, citing “the best interest of our community.”
On January 7, the company issued a statement noting that customer withdrawals would be restricted to no greater than 90% of the funds in each account, in compliance with the current daily limits. In addition, the company revealed that its CEO, Ioannis Giannaros, would be transitioning to a different role, with Stephen Cheng, previously the firm's chief risk officer and chief compliance officer, taking the lead as interim CEO.
This move is part of the company's ongoing effort to ensure that customer funds are protected and managed responsibly. The company remains committed to providing a secure, reliable, and compliant financial services platform for its customers.
In its Twitter post yesterday, the firm added, "This additional capital will help us continue to deliver on our mission to simplify and revolutionize the global financial ecosystem."
It’s unclear who the strategic partner is, and Wyre has not immediately responded to Decrypt’s request for comment.
Games & Blockchain Gaming
Video Game Calendar for 2023
2023 is set to be a monumental year for the video game industry, with a large number of delayed games being released and the potential outcome of the biggest attempted merger in the sector.
The first six months alone are stunning:
- January: Sony's highly anticipated game adaptation "The Last of Us" will debut on HBO on January 15th, while Google will end its Stadia service on the 18th and EA will launch a remake of Dead Space on the 27th.
- February: In February 2021, virtual reality technology will get one of its biggest boosts with the launch of Sony's PSVR2, while Nintendo will open its first U.S. theme park. Warner Bros. will release Hogwarts Legacy, Bungie and Sony will release Destiny 2 Lightfall, and industry leaders will gather for the DICE convention near Las Vegas.
- March: Capcom will release the highly anticipated remake of Resident Evil 4, EA's Respawn Studios released Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Storyteller will be released by an indie studio, and thousands of game makers will gather for the Game Developers Conference and PAX East.
- April: Nintendo will make its return to the big screen with the premiere of the "Super Mario Bros. Movie" and the long-awaited release of Dead Island 2.
- May: Nintendo is set to release The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom on May 12th, a sequel to the highly acclaimed Breath of the Wild, while Warner Bros. will release Rocksteady's Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League on May 26th.
- June is a big month for gaming, with the first in-person E3 since 2019, the competing Summer Game Fest, and the release of Street Fighter 6, Diablo IV, Final Fantasy XVI, and Xbox's Starfield all taking place.
Summer: Microsoft's deadline to purchase Activision-Blizzard is set to expire in July, while the FTC's trial is scheduled for August. Sony's next feature film, "Gran Turismo" is set to be released in August, Baldur's Gate III is advancing to a full release, and the Games 4 Change summit is taking place in July.
Fall: Sony is expected to deliver on its 2023 promise of Marvel's Spider-Man 2, while Ubisoft is set to release three major games in 2023, including Assassin's Creed Mirage, Avatar Frontiers of Pandora, and possibly its first free-to-play franchise spinoffs.
2023 could potentially be a big year for video game releases, with the Ukrainian-developed S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2, Remedy's Alan Wake 2, and the anticipated indie side-scroller Hollow Knight Silksong all potentially being released due to war-related delays.
Marvel Snap PvP Mode Drops Very Soon
On @January 31, 2021, Marvel Snap's Battle Mode will launch, allowing players to face off against their friends in PvP mode after weeks of playtesting, theorycrafting, and ladder-climbing. Associate Design Director Kent-Erik Hagman has written a blog post detailing what players can expect.
In Marvel Snap's Battle Mode, players bet with their health instead of cubes, with each player starting with 10 health. At the end of the match, the winner deals the amount of wagered health as damage, potentially dealing up to 8 damage to the loser if both opponents "snap".
Hagman has proposed a new Battle Mode for the game, where players will use one deck for the duration of the match and have a limited health pool, making every point of damage important. This will add an extra layer of excitement to the head-to-head showdown.
"We also knew that over a series of games, the mind games of learning and anticipating what was in your opponent's deck and their specific play style was something that would add a ton of fun," he wrote.
In Issue No. 37, Hagman discussed the development of Battle Mode, including the introduction of a high-stakes round. He noted that matches should take around 20 minutes, but early testing revealed that players were intentionally losing the first two rounds to gain insight into their opponents' decks, resulting in longer matches.
"To keep Battles around 20 minutes, we added 'High Stakes Rounds,' which kick in starting on Round 5. High Stakes Rounds start with the stakes at two damage, so it's much more deadly," Hagman wrote.
Battle Mode in Marvel Snap has a restriction that prevents players from risking more health than they have, which is beneficial as it prevents players from losing a match due to a risky wager on the last turn.
Battle Mode isn't the only thing coming to Snap in the next patch. If you missed out on purchasing Black Panther during its season or still haven't cracked a She-Hulk, they're about to get easier to obtain.
Essentially, Marvel Snap is introducing a series drop, which will transition cards from rare to more common tiers, and will also add badges to denote if a card was obtained before its drop.
My grumblings at bundle pricing and card progression aside, I'm excited for Battle Mode. I can't wait to terrorize all my friends and Snap-playing colleagues, and I'm really looking forward to all the community tournaments that are sure to crop up when Battle Mode hopefully goes live on @January 31, 2021.
Hypercasual Goliath Voodoo is Launching its Own Blockchain Ecosystem and Cryptocurrency
The French publisher of hypercasual games Voodoo has revealed Voodoo Infinity, its new blockchain ecosystem, and cryptocurrency Voodoo Coin along with it. Expected to launch in Q3 2023, Voodoo’s new crypto is planned to be made available via an initial coin offering.
A working title
Voodoo Coin is the current working title for the company’s crypto, which will be used within upcoming blockchain games released throughout 2023 as a global ecosystem. As reported by The Big Whale, this cryptocurrency will enable access to paid segments of Voodoo’s blockchain games; players who miss out on the initial coin offering may also earn in-game rewards that can be converted into Voodoo Coins.
The publisher is expecting to rely primarily on a Discord community that has yet to be built, but that is planned to be ready by summer 2023.
"There will be an advantage to being part of this community because those who test the games in advance will be able to earn tokens in a privileged way," said Voodoo blockchain investment manager Yoni Lasry. "They can also receive NFTs."
Seeking to acquire such NFTs ahead of time, there are reportedly "major" players in Web3 already getting involved. As for the blockchain games themselves, there are said to be around 10 in development right now with three expected to be in the launch catalog.
If all goes to plan, Voodoo Infinity will be launching as an app on the App Store and Google Play Store, and given that Voodoo tends to focus on the casual mobile playerbase, the company’s hope is that crypto advocates and the general public will both see the appeal in its upcoming titles.
It was revealed last February that, across the company's library of apps and games, Voodoo had surpassed six billion downloads. 1 billion of these were achieved within the nine months prior.
More recently, in December, Voodoo also reached a noteworthy milestone with its Academy program.
Axie Infinity leverages Cloud9’s Stratus fan subscription for esports
Axie Infinity and Cloud9 have partnered to bring Axie's popular esports game to a wider audience, with Cloud9's competitive talent and streamers, reasonable price point, and willingness to promote blockchain technology making it an ideal choice.
Etienne is a firm believer in codifying ownership of digital assets. “I paid my student loans by selling in-game items and characters. Back then and today, there were a lot of risks, particularly chargebacks. It’s personally interesting to me to see publishers supporting players to sell their in-game items.”
This shared vision and goal of communicating the potential of blockchain technology in a way that resonated with the traditional gaming audience was the foundation of the partnership. Given the potential pitfalls seen with other NFT projects, both Campbell and Etienne wanted to avoid something that felt like a scam to users.
“Neither of us is chasing a hype cycle. Nobody’s looking for a get-rich-quick thing. Both of us are trying to build something that delivers quality for users,” Campbell said.
For this latest activation, Cloud9 ran a tournament using the free-to-play Axie Infinity: Origins that pitted its members — including Etienne himself — against seasoned Axie pros, with commentary geared towards introducing new players to the game. Ultimately, the stream on Cloud9’s Twitch channel averaged about 180 viewers, which is more than double the game’s average viewership.
But to Sky Mavis, viewership was never the most important metric for success. The goal was quality over quantity. “It’s more important to us to reach engaged viewers that get excited enough to set up a Ronin wallet than thousands of people seeing us on the Twitch front page that just click away,” Campbell added. Along those lines, Cloud9 stood out because it gave Sky Mavis a way to directly reach its most engaged fans.
Web3 & Metaverse
Tribeca Film Festival Will Sell VIP Passes as NFTs
With the use cases for non-fungible tokens (NFT) continuing to expand, New York's Tribeca Film Festival is hopping on the trend by offering VIP passes as digital collectibles.
The VIP passes to mark the annual film festival’s expansion into NFTs. They were developed in partnership with the crypto exchange OKX. Minted on Ethereum, they will provide perks including special access to film screenings and invitations to exclusive events with the festival’s co-founders, Jane Rosenthal and Robert De Niro.
The NFTs cost $899 and are available for purchase directly through the Tribeca website using a credit card. More experienced NFT collectors can also pay for the passes in ether (ETH) through the OKX NFT marketplace. The design of the NFT artwork was inspired by the landscapes of Lower Manhattan, where this year’s festival will take place on June 7-18.
Nate Zou, head of Web3 products at OKX, told CoinDesk that the Seychelles-based exchange is excited to leverage blockchain technologies to reach new audiences and bring the event into Web3.
“[The Tribeca audience] is perfectly spread across all different demographics – from elder people to younger generations, across all kinds of work,” said Zou. “I think they’re a perfect sample for us to educate the general public about this technology.”
The VIP passes are part of a broader partnership with OKX, which signed on as the festival’s top sponsor last year.
It’s not the first time a major cultural event has commingled with crypto companies. Last year’s Grammy Awards were sponsored by crypto exchange Binance and music NFT marketplace OneOf.
Zou is optimistic that other events will incorporate NFTs as a part of their ticketing strategy.
“I think [the Tribeca festival] can be a great sample for us to try out with our partners in the future,” said Zou. “Whoever is interested can bring the new technology to their existing customer base and see what kind of spark it has.”
House of Blueberry launches Boy Meets Girl digital wearables on Roblox
Digital fashion brand House of Blueberry has teamed up with streetwear brand Boy Meets Girl to create a collection of digital wearables on Roblox.
The collection includes Boy Meets Girl branded leggings, short-sleeve tops, long-sleeve tops, and beanies.
House of Blueberry and Boy Meets Girl worked together to design and create this digital collection, which takes inspiration from the brand’s effortless “cool kid” style. The four unisex digital wearables are representative of Boy Meets Girl’s bestsellers and brand staples.
“We love the mission behind Boy Meets Girl, and are excited to bring these iconic looks and style into the metaverse,” said Mishi McDuff, CEO of House of Blueberry. “We think the iconic Boy Meets Girl branding will really come to life on Roblox and make for a fun, welcoming virtual experience for our community.”
House of Blueberry was founded by Mishi McDuff in 2012 as a solo creator and it started partnering in digital fashion with brands like Jonathan Simkhai, Natori, and Overwolf. To date, the brand has sold over 20 million units of virtual clothing and has a customer base of close to half a million. In addition to Roblox, Blueberry is live on multiple Web2 and Web3 metaverse platforms, including The Sims and Second Life.
The Boy Meets Girl and House of Blueberry collection will be available for purchase in House of Blueberry’s shopping experience on Roblox and will retail from 65 to 85 Robux (less than $1 per item). Additionally, Boy Meets Girl will carry its anti-bullying mission into the metaverse, using positive messaging in the Blueberry virtual boutique.
“As someone who was an early adopter of virtual markets, this was a natural partnership for me,” said Boy Meets Girl chief creative officer Stacy Igel, in a statement. “I’m thrilled to bring Boy Meets Girl into the metaverse in collaboration with House of Blueberry. It is important that in a digital world, confidence and courage never go out of style. During Covid-19, my son, Dylan, got to learn a lot about virtual worlds and has been teaching me about Roblox. So, you can imagine how excited I am to share this collaboration and how excited he is too.”
Top NFT Artists Are Launching Projects on Instagram and Selling Out in Seconds
Instagram is one of the largest social media platforms in the world, with around 2 billion monthly active users. Early last year, its parent company Meta Platforms began testing out non-fungible token (NFT) sharing, allowing select users to connect to their digital wallets and showcase NFTs that they either created or bought.
The feature gained traction as NFT creators and collectors saw future opportunities to present their digital assets to a wider audience of Web3-curious consumers. Some even suggested that Instagram's planned support could help NFTs finally reach mainstream adoption because of its expansive reach.
Encouraged by positive feedback and eager to embrace the creator economy, Instagram slowly started expanding its Digital Collectibles feature, allowing select digital artists to begin minting and selling NFTs directly on the platform.
The addition of NFT trading for a platform like Instagram makes sense considering its huge global audience. The feature exposes users to Web3 concepts, many for the first time, in a way that doesn't add friction to Instagram's core business model. Users on Instagram also pay for NFTs in fiat currency, eliminating an otherwise challenging on-ramp for Web3 newcomers.
But attracting a Web3-native audience poses more challenges. Would seasoned NFT collectors be interested in purchasing assets sold on a highly centralized, Web2 platform? In addition, Instagram in-app purchases are subject to steep fees between 15% to 30% from Apple and Google, resulting in a smaller profit for sellers.
Despite this, early NFT sales on the platform have been a success, with collections selling out quickly. Instagram's strategy of recruiting well-known NFT artists to tout the new feature has worked in two ways – it enticed NFT collectors and helped to bridge the gap between Web2 and Web3 users.
Unstoppable Domains and Ready Player Me Team Up to Create Interoperable Metaverse Identities
Web3 domain provider Unstoppable Domains is teaming up with the digital avatar creation platform Ready Player Me to make digital identities interoperable in the metaverse.
Ready Player Me allows users to create and transport avatars across various metaverse platforms, including Spatial and Somnium Space. Through this partnership, users can connect to an existing Ready Player Me account or upload a photo of themselves to auto-generate an avatar with their likeness.
By connecting their avatar to their Unstoppable identity, users can access over 6,000 of Ready Player Me’s applications, games, and metaverses, in addition to Unstoppable’s 650 partner apps. This streamlined process bolsters users' digital identity and provides extended access to Web3 technologies.
Sandy Carter, senior vice president at Unstoppable Domains, said that the integration of Ready Player Me’s avatars into a user’s profile “can envision your avatar becoming the center of your visual identity across all of your favorite metaverses.”
Timmu Toke, co-founder and CEO of Ready Player Me, added that the partnership allows users to “claim their Web3 domain and expand their digital identity beyond metaverse platforms.”
In the past year, Unstoppable has expanded its suite of products geared toward making Web3 identities accessible and interoperable. On August 16th, 2022, the firm launched a mobile application to streamline access to wallets, dapps, and metaverses. On December 16th, 2022, the company introduced Etherescan and Polyscan, allowing users to search for Unstoppable Domains addresses on the blockchain data explorers.
Yuga Labs Announces Skill-Based NFT Mint
Yuga Labs, the creative studio behind Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), has announced an expansion to its non-fungible token (NFT) ecosystem that starts with a free mint and a skill-based game.
The unique drop, which involves multiple steps, begins on Jan. 17 with a free mint for existing Bored Ape Yacht Club/Mutant Ape Yacht Club holders called Sewer Passes. These tokens are the key to unlocking a skill-based game called Dookey Dash, which opens for gameplay on Jan. 18.
Players of Dookey Dash with a Sewer Pass can play an unlimited amount of times to try and achieve a score higher than 0, which will then transform the Sewer Pass into a mysterious power source.
The results of this wacky process will reveal themselves on Feb. 15 when Dookey Dash gameplay ends.
"Sewer Pass holders will compete for the highest score and earn their new power source," BAYC wrote in a series of tweets on Wednesday. "The highest single-run score on your specific Sewer Pass and accompanying wallet that achieved the run will determine what it reveals.”
The team also hinted that whatever is revealed will "evolve throughout 2023" and will be used in future "battles." You can read a long explanation of the mechanics of the game here.
It's clear that this new NFT mint, which began with a silly and NSFW animated video on Dec. 21 called "The Trial of Jimmy the Monkey," is part of Yuga's broader plans to develop an interoperable metaverse experience called "The Otherside." The platform will allow players to own land and turn their existing NFTs into playable characters.
"All of the projects that we have are deeply important to us," Wylie Aronow, one of the co-founders of Yuga Labs, told CoinDesk in an interview last month. "Where we see the Otherside is at that intersection."
According to the road map of Yuga Labs' latest project, NFTs created from this month-long experiment will be part of a narrative experience called "Chapter 1" at a later date.
Crypto Twitter Reacts to Official 'Game of Thrones' NFTs: 'Worst Thing I've Ever Seen’
The "Game of Thrones" official NFT collection, dubbed "Build Your Realm," has completely sold out just seven hours after its release yesterday on Nifty's NFT marketplace.
The high demand for these collectibles might have been easy to predict due to the popularity of the show (and its new spinoff series "House of the Dragon"). But many are now comparing the quality of the collection's art to the eighth season of the HBO series: a major let-down.
Nifty's and Daz 3D have collaborated to create a series of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) based on the "Game of Thrones" universe, minted on the Palm blockchain. The NFTs were distributed via a presale of 3,450 Hero Boxes and a public sale of 1,500 Hero Boxes, each costing $150 (~0.11 ETH) and containing one Hero Avatar, three Story Cards, and nine Resource Cards.
The controversy surrounding the NFT launch has been twofold: issues with the mint and mocking of the comically poor avatar designs.
“This Game of Thrones NFT collection is just like the last season of the show,” wrote Justin Taylor. “No creative vision and terrible.”
Loopify, the pseudonymous co-founder of Web3 game project Treeverse, called the collection “the worst thing I’ve ever seen,” sharing one particularly wonky-handed avatar.
NFT Passes for a Zoom Call With Donald Trump Are Selling for Under $25
Former U.S. President Donald Trump seized the attention of the NFT space in December with his digital trading cards launch, but the short-lived hype has since given way to crashing sales. Now the NFT passes tied to related perks are seeing similarly middling demand, with tokenized tickets for a group Zoom call with Trump selling for under $25 apiece.
Trump’s digital NFT cards were sold with the possibility of buyers receiving one of many potential benefits related to the disgraced politician, including dinner or an in-person meet-and-greet with Trump, private and group Zoom calls, and more.
That NFT access passes—which like the trading cards were minted on the Ethereum sidechain network Polygon—were airdropped to NFT card buyers starting last month. That rollout is still ongoing, with some NFT perk passes sent to card buyers as recently as this morning, per public blockchain data curated by the OpenSea marketplace.
Some of those NFTs are quickly being flipped to other users, but they’re not commanding sky-high prices as the original NFT cards did right after launch. Based on data from OpenSea, it’s mostly NFT passes to a group Zoom video call with Trump that is selling—and some have traded hands for less than $25 worth of ETH over the past day.
According to the NFT description, each Zoom call will include up to 2,000 people and last for 20 minutes. Attendees can submit questions before the call, but there’s no guarantee that their queries will even be asked, let alone answered.
To date, the Win Trump Prizes NFT collection—which hails from the same developer as the original Trump NFT collectibles—has yielded just 35 ETH (about $48,500 today) worth of trading volume on secondary markets, with the listed items starting at just 0.0174 ETH ($24) apiece.
The largest recorded sale to date was 5 ETH (over $6,900) for a redemption ticket for a digitally signed Trump NFT trading card on December 21, followed by a 2 ETH (nearly $2,800) sale of a Trump meet-and-greet pass on January 3.
Some NFT holders are at least trying to swing sizable sales of their perk passes: a ticket for a one-on-one Zoom meeting with Trump is currently listed for 200 ETH ($277,000) on OpenSea, with a gala dinner ticket NFT listed for 50 ETH (over $69,000). That doesn't mean, however, that these sellers will get their asking prices for these NFTs, or anything close to them.
National Policies & Legal Updates
SEC Alleges Gemini, Genesis Sold Unregistered Securities
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleged crypto exchange Gemini and crypto lender Genesis Global Capital sold unregistered securities in a lawsuit filed late Thursday.
The investment regulator took aim at Gemini Earn, the troubled yield-bearing product that hundreds of thousands of U.S. investors entrusted with their crypto. Gemini generated yield on billions of dollars in crypto by loaning deposits to Genesis, which loaned them out again.
But Genesis’ November closing of lending withdrawals left some 340,000 Gemini Earn customers and about $900 million in crypto in limbo, the SEC said. (Genesis is owned by Digital Currency Group, which also owns CoinDesk). The regulator accused the popular program of being unregistered security.
“Defendants offered and sold the Gemini Earn Agreements through the Gemini Earn Program without registering” with securities regulators, the complaint said. “As a result, investors lacked material information about the Gemini Earn program that would have been relevant to their investment decisions.”
The lawsuit is the latest twist in a high-stakes CEO battle pitting the Winklevoss twins of Gemini against Barry Silbert, head of DCG. The Winklevoss twins, shaken by the fall of their popular yield product, have accused Silbert of fraud in his company’s management of Genesis; Silbert calls the brothers' accusations a publicity stunt.
The lawsuit is a "manufactured parking ticket," said Gemini co-founder Tyler Winklevoss, responding in a Twitter thread. He noted that his company had been in discussions with the SEC over the Earn product for nearly 17 months and the agency "never raised the prospect of any enforcement action until AFTER Genesis paused withdrawals on November 16th.”
Lawyer Explains New Federal Virtual Asset Law in UAE
The UAE has passed a new law that establishes a federal-level regulatory regime for cryptocurrencies, building on existing initiatives in economic free zones such as the ADGM and the establishment of the VARA in Dubai. The new law in the UAE requires entities engaging in crypto activities to obtain a license and approval from the new regulator, with non-compliance resulting in a hefty fine.
“Failure to comply leads to heavy sanctions, such as a fine of up to 10 million AED ($2.7 million), disgorgement of profits and even criminal investigation by the public prosecutor.” - Noted Irina Heaver, a UAE-based crypto and blockchain lawyer.
The UAE is set to implement a new federal law on January 14th, which will require crypto entrepreneurs operating in the country to comply with the law and any existing laws. Despite the attainable minimum requirements for virtual asset service providers (VASPs), the lawyer believes many firms may struggle to meet even the basic requirements.
The crypto lawyer also highlighted that the law has also set up minimum requirements for VASPs. According to Heaver, all VASPs are required to comply with the legislation in force on combating money laundering crimes, the financing of terrorism and the financing of unlawful organizations. In addition, all legal entities that fall into the VASP category will have three months to adapt and comply with the new law.
Despite establishing a new law dedicated to protecting consumers, Heaver believes that preventing FTX-like entities from attempting to commit fraud would be challenging. Dubai’s VARA still previously gave FTX approvals before revoking it in November. She noted:
“From the evidence that emerged, FTX is a case of serious fraud of a level that will look Madoff look like an angel. Unfortunately, no levels of laws can protect us from people wanting to commit crimes intentionally.“
Overall, the lawyer believes that this new development is good for founders, investors and consumers within the UAE and that regulatory clarity gives the country the right ingredients to be the “Web3 capital of the world.”
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