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Crypto Lender Blockfi Files for Bankruptcy Protection to ‘Maximize Value for All Clients’

Crypto Lender Blockfi Files for Bankruptcy Protection to ‘Maximize Value for All Clients’

On Nov. 28, 2022, the crypto lender Blockfi informed the public via a press release that the company has voluntarily petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Blockfi is now one of many digital currency businesses dealing with significant financial hardships and bankruptcy proceedings in 2022.

Blockfi Voluntarily Petitions for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection

Blockfi has officially filed for bankruptcy protection according to a press release distributed on Monday morning at 10:17 a.m. (ET). The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filings encompass the crypto lender Blockfi and eight of its affiliates.

The crypto firm insists the plan is to “stabilize its business and provide the company with the opportunity to consummate a comprehensive restructuring transaction that maximizes value for all clients and other stakeholders.” Blockfi has cited the FTX collapse as a period when the company took steps to protect Blockfi customers.

On Nov. 10, 2022, Bitcoin.com News reported that Blockfi had paused withdrawals and the firm also cited FTX in that specific announcement. Months prior it was assumed that FTX would be buying Blockfi as the company’s CEO said in July that the exchange had an “option to acquire” the crypto lender.

“With the collapse of FTX, the Blockfi management team and board of directors immediately took action to protect clients and the company,” the company’s financial advisor Mark Renzi detailed. “From inception, Blockfi has worked to positively shape the cryptocurrency industry and advance the sector. Blockfi looks forward to a transparent process that achieves the best outcome for all clients and other stakeholders.”

Compute North, Voyager Digital, Celsius, Three Arrows Capital, and FTX have all filed for bankruptcy protection after dealing with financial problems. Numerous problems are reportedly associated with over-leveraged assets and the Terra blockchain implosion that took place six months ago.

What do you think about Blockfi filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Amid Civil Unrest in China, Gold and Silver Prices Hold Steady — Equity, Crypto Markets Flounder

Reports on Monday detail that the zero-Covid policy protests in China have lowered market sentiment as U.S. equity markets show the top four Wall Street indexes are struggling. The global crypto market cap is down 3.5% and getting awfully close to dropping below the $800 billion mark. Precious metal prices, on the other hand, like gold and silver have remained steady and since Nov. 3, an ounce of gold has jumped 7.06% higher in value against the U.S. dollar.

Gold and Silver Hold Steady Amid Turbulent Global Economy, Precious Metals Outpace Stocks and Crypto Assets


Financial markets on Monday have been shaky as far as stocks and cryptocurrencies are concerned. Precious metals like gold and silver, however, are holding steady amid the craziness in the world.

Some reports are citing Monday’s market shake-up to the civil unrest in China over the country’s zero-Covid policies. Indexes like the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, S&P 500, and NYSE have all opened the day in the red.

Additionally, the crypto economy is close to dropping below the $800 billion zone as bitcoin (BTC) is down over 2% during the last 24 hours. Ethereum (ETH) has shed 3.82% during the last day and the entire crypto economy has lost 3.5% against the greenback.

An ounce of gold is trading for $1,744 per ounce, which is up more than 7% against the U.S. dollar since Nov. 3. On that day, a troy ounce of fine gold was exchanging hands for 1,629 nominal U.S. dollars per unit.

Silver too has gained in USD value since that day as an ounce of fine silver was under $20 per unit on Nov. 3. Today, silver is exchanging hands for 20.99 nominal U.S. dollars per unit.

Silver’s rise since that day outpaced gold’s jump in value as silver increased by 7.91% during the last 25 days. While the world watches the events in China unravel, the U.S. employment report is due this Friday.

Additionally, the U.S. Federal Reserve’s chief Jerome Powell plans to discuss the U.S. economy this Wednesday. Reports indicate that some believe Powell will reveal plans to slow down interest rate hikes.

With gold doing so well amid the macroeconomic backdrop, some believe a ‘Santa rally’ could be in the cards. So far, during the last 25 days, both precious metals (Ag, Au) are doing better than stocks and crypto assets.

What do you think about the two precious metals’ market performances during the last month? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Kevin O’Leary Reveals How He Almost Secured $8 Billion to Rescue FTX Before It Collapsed

Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary, aka Mr. Wonderful, has shared how he and Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) almost raised $8 billion from institutional investors to save crypto exchange FTX before it collapsed. However, when reports emerged of FTX being investigated by several authorities, including the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), all interested investors vanished.

Kevin O’Leary Tried to Raise Funds to Save FTX

Kevin O’Leary shared how he tried to save cryptocurrency exchange FTX before it collapsed in an interview with the Insider, published Sunday. O’Leary is a paid spokesperson for FTX and has investments in the company.

Prior to FTX’s bankruptcy filing on Nov. 11, Mr. Wonderful was talking to a number of prospective investors interested in owning a stake in the crypto exchange. Sovereign wealth funds were interested in investing $8 billion to rescue FTX, he told the publication.

Noting that Bankman-Fried called him to discuss the investments, O’Leary shared:

We had a brief conversation. He was very rational. We discussed a few things about, you know, the timing on that $6 billion to $8 billion. But it was enough information for me to go back to the interested sources and confirm the number was eight.

Mr. Wonderful noted that Bankman-Fried said during their call that regulators will “come down hard” on the situation.

However, as reports emerged that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Department of Justice (DOJ), and other global regulators were closing in on FTX, rescue offers immediately dried up. O’Leary continued:

All of those interested parties were gone … I texted that back to Sam … and I told him that was not going to be an option.

Nonetheless, O’Leary believes that if a sovereign wealth fund or other buyers had put in roughly $4 billion, then investors would have felt confident in keeping their assets in FTX. “So really what was on the table and being debated all around the world was you could buy a $32 billion asset for $4 billion,” he said.

‘There’ll Be a Mountain of Litigation’

Mr. Wonderful has started moving his assets elsewhere, he revealed, noting that Canada is the only country that offers fully-regulated broker-dealer exchange accounts. “We have confidence that the regulatory environment in Canada scrutinizes accounts that can’t be commingled,” the Shark Tank star opined, adding that he believes the market has not seen the bottom of the FTX fallout yet.

Commenting on the FTX meltdown rattling trust across the crypto sector, O’Leary opined:

There’s a lot of allegations flying around … It’s a difficult situation, there’s no question about it. There’ll be a mountain of litigation.

Despite regulators investigating Bankman-Fried and the crypto industry screaming fraud, O’Leary maintains he’s never met a more brilliant mind when it comes to crypto and blockchain. He described:

He’s a savant … He’s probably one of the most accomplished traders of crypto in the world, and so I was very impressed.

Last week, the Shark Tank star said he would back Bankman-Fried again if he has another venture. This has outraged the crypto industry since most people believe that the former FTX CEO engaged in multiple fraudulent activities.

Like other FTX investors, including the Singapore government’s Temasek Holdings and Ontario Teachers’ Pension Fund, O’Leary is writing down all of his FTX investments. He stated: “I’m writing that all down to zero … It’s not clear what can be recovered.”

What do you think about the comments by Kevin O’Leary? Let us know in the comments section below.

JPMorgan Expects Major Changes Coming to Crypto Industry and Regulation Post FTX Collapse

JPMorgan has outlined key changes it expects in the crypto industry and its regulation following the collapse of crypto exchange FTX. The global investment bank envisages several new regulatory initiatives, including those focusing on custody, customer asset protection, and transparency.

JPMorgan Expects Major Changes in Crypto Industry Post FTX Meltdown

Global investment bank JPMorgan published a report Thursday outlining major changes it expects to happen in the crypto industry following the collapse of cryptocurrency exchange FTX.

Global strategist Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou explained that “Not only has the collapse of FTX and its sister company Alameda Research created a cascade of crypto entity collapse and suspension of withdrawals,” but it is also “likely to increase investor and regulatory pressure on crypto entities to disclose more information about their balance sheets.”

Panigirtzoglou proceeded to list the main changes JPMorgan expects after the FTX meltdown. Firstly, he wrote:

Existing regulatory initiatives already underway are likely to be brought forward.

The JPMorgan strategist expects the European Union’s Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) bill to receive final approval before year-end and the regulation to take effect at some point in 2024.

As for the U.S., he explained that “regulatory initiatives attracted more interest following Terra’s collapse,” adding:

Our guess is that there would be even more urgency following the FTX collapse.

“A key debate among U.S. regulators centers around the classification of cryptocurrencies as either securities or commodities,” Panigirtzoglou continued.

The chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), Gary Gensler, has said that bitcoin is a commodity whereas most other crypto tokens are securities. However, several bills have been introduced in Congress to make the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) the primary regulator of crypto assets.

JPMorgan also envisages:

New regulatory initiatives are likely to emerge focusing on custody and protection of customers’ digital assets as in the traditional financial system.

Noting that many retail crypto investors have already moved to self-custody their cryptocurrencies using hardware wallets, the strategist described: “The main beneficiaries post FTX collapse are institutional crypto custodians … Over time these trusted custodians will likely dominate over relatively smaller crypto-native custodians or crypto exchanges.”

Next, “New regulatory initiatives are likely to emerge focusing on unbundling of broker, trading, lending, clearing, and custody activities as in the traditional financial system,” the JPMorgan report adds, noting:

This unbundling will have most implications for exchanges which like FTX combined all these activities raising issues about customers’ asset protection, market manipulation, and conflicts of interest.

Furthermore, “New regulatory initiatives are likely to emerge focusing on transparency mandating regular reporting and auditing of reserves, assets, and liabilities across major crypto entities,” the JPMorgan strategist detailed.

Another major change identified by the investment bank is that “Crypto derivative markets will likely see a shift into regulated venues with CME emerging as a winner.”

Panigirtzoglou also discussed decentralized exchanges (DEX), noting that they face several hurdles until decentralized finance (defi) becomes mainstream. “For larger institutions, DEXs typically would not suffice for their larger orders due to slower transaction speed or their trading strategies and order size to be traceable on the blockchain,” the JPMorgan strategist opined.

Do you agree with JPMorgan’s analysis? Let us know in the comments section below.

Mark Cuban: If I Were Sam Bankman-Fried, I’d Be Afraid of Going to Jail for a Long Time

The billionaire owner of the NBA team Dallas Mavericks and a Stark Tank star, Mark Cuban, says that if he were the former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, he would be afraid of going to jail for a long time. “I talked to the guy and thought he was smart … I had no idea he was going to take other people’s money and put it to his personal use,” Cuban said.

Mark Cuban on Sam Bankman-Fried and FTX’s Collapse

Mark Cuban, a Shark Tank star and the owner of the NBA team Dallas Mavericks, talked about the collapsed crypto exchange FTX and its former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) in an interview with TMZ Sports, published Saturday.

Despite the FTX meltdown, Cuban still sees value in cryptocurrency. He opined:

There’s been a lot of people making a lot of mistakes, but it doesn’t change the underlying value.

FTX filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Nov. 11 and Bankman-Fried stepped down as the CEO. The crypto exchange is currently being probed in several jurisdictions. In the U.S., several authorities, including the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), are investigating FTX for mishandling customer funds.

Regarding Bankman-Fried, Cuban stressed:

I don’t know all the details, but if I were him, I’d be afraid of going to jail for a long time … It sure sounds bad.

“I talked to the guy and thought he was smart,” the Shark Tank star added. However, he emphasized:

I had no idea he was going to take other people’s money and put it to his personal use.

Bankman-Fried has not been arrested and so far there seem to be no efforts by law enforcement to arrest him. Crypto influencer Bitboy recently flew to the Bahamas to get some answers. He spent the past couple of days camping outside Bankman-Fried’s condo in the Bahamas waiting for SBF to come out.

Cuban’s view of the FTX meltdown is drastically different from his Shark Tank co-star Kevin O’Leary who still insists that Bankman-Fried is one of the best traders in the crypto space and he would back the FTX co-founder again if he has another venture.

The Dallas Mavericks owner also recently explained that the FTX implosion is not a crypto blowup, but a banking blowup. “Lending to the wrong entity, misvaluations of collateral, arrogant arbitrages, followed by depositor runs … See long-term capital, savings & loan, and sub-prime blowups. All different versions of the same story,” he said.

In addition, Cuban emphasized that he invests in crypto because he believes “smart contracts will have a significant impact in creating valuable applications,” noting that “the value of a token is derived from the applications that run on its platform and the utility they create.”

What do you think about the comments by Mark Cuban? Let us know in the comments section below.

Don’t Forget the Importance of Censorship Resistance

Since people are once again talking about self-custody as one of crypto’s unique strengths, I would like to remind everyone about an equally important fundamental value proposition of crypto that, in the early days, was touted as the killer feature. I’m talking about censorship resistance.

The following opinion editorial was written by Bitcoin.com CEO Dennis Jarvis.

The Three Pillars of Censorship Resistance


In the financial context, censorship resistance is the ability to carry out financial actions despite the wishes of any third party.

In crypto, the three pillars of censorship resistance are:

The freedom to transact. This means third parties cannot prevent you from sending or receiving assets.

The freedom from confiscation. Third parties cannot take away or freeze your assets.

The immutability of transactions. It is impossible for third parties to change or revert transactions after the fact.


Troubling actions increasingly taken by centralized entities in the public and private sector demonstrate the importance of censorship resistance. Let’s look at some examples:

Public Sector Censorship


Governments have shown an increased willingness to exert control of financial institutions while also ratcheting up their crypto regulatory efforts. Earlier in the year, Trudeau’s Canadian government took the unprecedented step of invoking emergency powers to freeze or suspend the bank accounts of Canadian citizens without court orders. Their crime? Donating funds to fellow citizens participating in the Freedom Convoy protests.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s watchdog the Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) made headlines this summer by banning and sanctioning addresses that used Tornado Cash, a decentralized application that improved privacy for users by “mixing” ETH.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) increased crypto regulatory actions, best exemplified by this quote from SEC Chairman Gary Gensler who said, “…the SEC will serve as the cop on the beat. As with seat belts in cars, we need to ensure that investor protections come standard in the crypto market.” This isn’t merely empty rhetoric, the SEC nearly doubled the size of the Division of Enforcement’s Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit in 2022.

Private Sector Censorship


Post-merge, a majority of Ethereum’s blocks are compliant with OFAC. This is a potential problem because OFAC-compliant relays will not include any transactions that interact with the Tornado Cash smart contract or other sanctioned wallet addresses as designated by OFAC. Not all blocks built by OFAC compliant relays are censoring, however, all blocks built by OFAC compliant relays will censor when non-compliant transactions are broadcast to the network. As Martin Köppelmann, the co-founder of Gnosis, noted about the state of OFAC compliant relays, “[t]his means if the censoring validators would now stop attesting to non-censoring blocks they would eventually form the canonical, 100% censoring chain.”

Centralized stablecoin companies Tether (USDT) and Circle (USDC) have a history of cooperating with law enforcement requests to freeze assets. Circle complied with OFAC’s Tornado Cash sanctions by banning “tainted” USDC. So far Tether has decided to not comply, but that can change (and probably will, given sufficient pressure) in the future.

Outside of crypto, Paypal made international news when it released an updated policy that let Paypal fine users $2,500 for spreading ‘misinformation.’ Paypal quickly retracted the policy in public, though much of the language remains. This includes $2,500 fines that have existed since September 2021 for the very vague “promotion of hate, violence, racial or other forms of intolerance that is discriminatory…”

While Paypal was almost universally condemned, its actions are consistent with a growing number of web2 companies, such as Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook, who are using their platforms to punish behavior they deem “bad” through levers like demonetization, suspensions, and bans.

Censorship Resistance Is the Antidote


Censorship resistance is one of the main value propositions of decentralized finance in general and Bitcoin specifically because it fundamentally separates the technology from any traditional financial tools. In fact, censorship resistance is so strong in Bitcoin as to render it an economic freedom enhancing technology. This dramatization powerfully demonstrates why:

The silver lining to the concerning increase in authoritarian actions from both the public and private sector is that they are helping refocus attention on censorship resistance.

Bitcoin, once the embodiment of crypto, had become ridiculed as worse than boring — antiquated. It’s nice to see this begin to shift back as people inside and out of crypto reacquaint themselves with its deceptively simple power.

Within the crypto industry, more people are paying attention to the slow creep of web2-like features of speed and cheap transactions that are coming at the cost of censorship resistance. For example, prominent developers like the aforementioned Martin Köppelmann are sounding the alarms that the percentage of OFAC compliant blocks needs to be fixed. It’s also nice to see debates about censorship resistance begin to take up more oxygen within the broader crypto community. I particularly enjoyed Erik Voorhees’ piece on the empowering nature of defi.

This is not to say that all crypto projects need to be censorship resistant; indeed censorship resistance itself exists on a spectrum. Yet it is vital that some crypto projects remain robustly censorship resistant. At Bitcoin.com, we are proud to offer tools like the Bitcoin.com Wallet, that anyone can use to self-custody their Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. As an industry, let’s take the events of the last year to remember how important censorship resistance is. Let’s not sacrifice this industry-defining attribute for short sighted gains.

What are your thoughts on this story? Let us know in the comments section below.

Bitcoin’s Mining Difficulty Expected to Drop Significantly, Retarget Could Be 2022’s Largest Reduction

Bitcoin miners could catch a break in a week or so, on or around Dec. 5, 2022, as the next difficulty retarget is expected to see a significantly large reduction. Estimates show the next difficulty retarget could drop anywhere between 6.13% and 10% lower. Presently, the difficulty change looks as though it could be 2022’s largest reduction if it surpasses the 5.01% decline recorded on July 21.

Bitcoin’s Next Difficulty Retarget Is Expected to Decrease, Data Suggests a Notable Drop in the Cards


When the last Bitcoin difficulty change occurred on Nov. 20, 2022, at block height 764,064, it increased by a mere 0.51% that day. The increase did, however, propel the network’s difficulty to its lifetime high of 36.95 trillion. Since then, during the past week, the network’s average hashrate has been around 249.1 exahash per second (EH/s).

The average Bitcoin network block time has been slower than usual as well, running between 10.2 minutes to 11.06 minutes on Monday evening (ET). The block intervals have been a lot higher since the difficulty change on Nov. 20, as prior to that day, block times had been on average less than ten minutes since Sept. 29.

The longer block times suggest the 2,016 blocks mined prior to the next retarget will be slower than the average of two weeks. At the time of writing, statistics indicate that the retarget could drop as low as 10% on Dec. 5, and metrics from Btc.com indicate the drop is estimated to be around 6.13%.

Both estimates would outpace the largest difficulty contraction the Bitcoin network has seen all year with the largest decrease so far recorded on July 21, which was approximately -5.01%. Miners are currently dealing with the highest difficulty ever recorded, and bitcoin (BTC) prices are 76% lower than the all-time high ($69K) recorded on Nov. 10, 2021.

Mining insights from braiins.com and macromicro.me show BTC’s cost of production ($18,360) is above the current spot market value ($16,250). Additionally, market intelligence from Glassnode indicates that bitcoin miners are tapping into their treasuries.

The onchain analytics firm Glassnode tweeted about how the bitcoin mining sector and industry is “under immense financial stress,” while announcing a mining report the firm published with Cryptoslate.

“What we find is that [bitcoin] miners are distributing around 135% of mined coins,” Glassnode said. “This means miners are dipping into their 78K [bitcoin] strong treasuries.” During the latter half of the year, publicly-listed mining operations have disclosed that they have been selling BTC to bolster cash reserves and pay down debt.

At the time of writing at 7:30 p.m. (ET), Foundry USA’s three-day hashrate is around 60.66 EH/s, which represents 25.45% of the global hashrate. In three days, the largest mining pool Foundry mined 98 BTC blocks out of 385 discovered by all the miners.

Foundry’s hashrate is followed by Antpool, F2pool, Binance Pool, and Viabtc respectively. Between all five pools over the last three days, the top five mining pools were able to discover 315 blocks out of the 385 total.

What do you think about the chance that the next difficulty retarget could be the largest decrease in 2022? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Spanish Securities Regulator CNMV Warns About Crypto Investments; Calls for Caution After FTX Downfall

The Spanish securities regulator (CNMV) has warned investors against putting funds in crypto-related companies. Montserrat Martinez Parera, vice president of the organization, stated that lack of control is one of the causes of the downfall of the crypto exchange FTX, and that anyone looking at crypto as an investment must be very careful due to the lack of regulation in the area.

Spanish Securities Regulator CNMV Warns About Crypto-Related Investments

The Spanish securities regulator, the CNMV, has given its opinion about the recent downfall of FTX, one of the top three crypto exchanges at a worldwide level. At the inauguration of a public congress on Nov. 25, Montserrat Martinez Parera, vice president of the institution, stated that one of the things that allowed the events involving FTX to develop was a lack of control exerted by some countries.

Martinez Parera also warned investors against embarking on this kind of investment journey, and remarked that they should approach any crypto-related opportunity with extreme caution, given that this ecosystem still lacks regulation and control. She also called for interested parties to wait for MiCA, the cryptocurrency framework being discussed now in Europe, to be approved in order to have more clarity on how crypto asset investments will be regulated.

Investment Gamification and Advertising

Martinez Parera also criticized the way in which some platforms advertise their financial investment services, trying to make them look as if they were part of a game, especially in the cryptocurrency industry.

About this process, she explained:

We use the term gamification, but they are techniques more typical of video games, deep down there is an addiction component, and they promise you certain earnings in a very short space of time: we know that this is not sustainable and we have seen it in the field of crypto assets.

Martinez Perera’s criticism also tackles the way in which some of these cryptocurrency platforms purposely employ the help of influencers to advertise their services, often offering big yields to their audiences on platforms like Instagram or Twitter. She declared:

It amazes me when sometimes some ‘influencers,’ in a video of less than a minute, tell you how to get rich.

This has been the focus of the organization this year, with influencers such as Andres Iniesta, a national soccer player, being reprimanded by the regulatory body for his promotion of a cryptocurrency exchange to his fans. The CNMV established crypto promotion laws in January that forbid influencers with more than 100,000 followers from running a crypto-related advertisement campaign without informing the group about it ten days prior to its start.

What do you think about the opinion of the CNMV on crypto regulation and the FTX downfall? Tell us in the comments section below.

Blockchain Pilgrimage: Regulating Crypto ‘Should Be Combined With Education’ Says Top Wadzpay Executive

The collapse of Do Kwon’s Terra empire in May, and Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX in early November 2022, will be remembered as two incidents that put the crypto industry on the back foot. It is now widely expected that regulators around the world will use the two incidents to justify the establishment of regulatory regimes that are likely to stifle further innovation. That notwithstanding, one Singapore-based blockchain payments company, Wadzpay, has partnered with Saudi Arabian fintech Geidea to provide financial solutions for pilgrims on their way to Mecca.

Providing a Cutting Edge Payment Experience to Visitors

Faced with the inevitable, some players in the crypto industry assert that tougher regulations are not going to stop cryptos and their underlying technology — the blockchain. They point to how digital currencies have been instrumental in lowering the cost of remitting funds inside and beyond national borders. According to this view, the ease and speed of moving funds across borders is another key attribute that makes digital currencies and the blockchain an indispensable part of modern payment systems.

It is these and other attributes of digital currencies that sustain their appeal even as regulators are looking to pounce, and some crypto companies are looking to find or expand into new markets and niches.

For instance, Wadzpay, a Singapore-based company that runs an interoperable blockchain-based payments ecosystem, has partnered with Saudi Arabian fintech Geidea to provide a “cutting-edge payments experience” for pilgrims traveling to Mecca. Khaled Moharem, president of Wadzpay for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), explained to Bitcoin.com News how his company’s partnership with Geidea enables Hajj pilgrims with e-money wallets to better manage their expenses.

In addition to highlighting the impact of the two firms’ payments solutions, Moharem, a longstanding finance professional, also shared his views on topics ranging from the FTX collapse to regulation of the crypto industry.

Bitcoin.com News (BCN): Recently it was announced that your organization had teamed up with a Saudi Arabia-based fintech, Geidea, to provide future Hajj pilgrims with what was described as a cutting-edge payments experience for the visitors. Can you start by explaining why and how your payment solution makes things easier for Hajj pilgrims?

Khaled Moharem (KM): Thank you, yes, the partnership is to support digital payments for the pilgrims. In line with the Saudi Vision 2030, the partnership is forged in the backdrop of the Saudi government targeting to host 30 million Hajj and Umrah pilgrims by 2030.

The annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca is considered the world’s largest gathering, attracting some 2.5 million pilgrims in 2019 (according to Statista) before the Covid-19 pandemic triggered global lockdowns. According to Mastercard’s latest Global Destination Cities Index, Mecca, the holiest city for Muslims, generated approximately US$20 billion in tourist dollars in 2018.

Currently, pilgrims are faced with high fees when making traditional payments or overseas withdrawals or are needing to carry cash, which is not convenient for long pilgrimages. The combination of Wadzpay and Geidea’s solutions seeks to provide these pilgrims with e-money wallets to enable better expense management with payments supported through the security of the blockchain.

Our solution ensures that pilgrims can load their wallets in their home country and are able to fully enjoy their pilgrimage without having to worry about dealing with fiat. They will save on fees while enjoying a seamless payment experience.

BCN: What prompted you to create a solution that uses blockchain?

KM: Our partner, Geidea has more than one million POS [point-of-sale] terminals throughout Saudi Arabia; we see this as an opportunity for pilgrims to make payments without any currency or network limitations. Blockchain is a secure, distributed ledger that keeps a decentralized record of every transaction; the technology can significantly improve collaboration and simplify processes. Combining the reach of Geidea and the nature of blockchain technology leads to an incredible opportunity.

The pilgrim market is an essential part of the Saudi economy. This move will unlock vast SME business success for merchants across the Kingdom and make the payment experience for the pilgrims faster, safer and trackable. Through the power of blockchain, we are able to also improve the merchant’s bottom line through fast settlement and lower fees.

BCN: What does Wadzpay’s proposal to use blockchain in facilitating payments reveal about the prospects of the technology in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

KM: Saudi Arabia is trying to accelerate their digital transformation. The Central Bank has looked to blockchain-based transfers, as has the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority. The applications of blockchain technology in various important [areas] are limitless: whether logistics, oil, education or public services.

We believe that there are blockchain use cases that have a direct impact on the P&L [profit and loss] and can solve many existing business opportunities in the Kingdom.

BCN: The crypto industry has largely had a bad year — the Terra/Luna and more recently FTX crash — and some believe this affects adoption momentum. Others believe the worst is yet to come and that unless the industry is tightly regulated, more users will fall victim to crypto fraudsters. Do you agree that the industry has not yet seen the worst?

KM: We are very much pro-regulation. Regulations set clear guidelines upon which to operate and help limit fraud.

BCN: Do you agree that more stringent regulations will make crypto much safer for users?

KM: All industries need “bad sheep” on top of regulation, it is essential to have the education to avoid falling victim to various schemes. Regulation should be combined with education (just like in the world of fiat currencies, it’s important to be aware and not put your funds at risk).

BCN: In your view, how can the industry recover from the damaging impact of both Terra’s and now FTX’s collapse?

KM: The year certainly had some negative events (as well as many positive developments). As a company, we ensure that we avoid some of the risks that may prevail in this sector. For example, we utilize asset-backed stablecoins, as opposed to algorithmic coins which Terra/Luna was.

Similarly, to reduce the risk, we ensure that customer funds are held with insured custodians rather than on exchanges. This ensures security and accountability.

At the end of the day, blockchain is a technology while crypto is just one application of it. While pricing could be impacted by volatile digital currencies, we believe this transformative technology and its wide uses will prevail. We always focus on the tech, not the speculation.

What are your thoughts about this interview? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.

Bitcoin․com Announces Strategic Partnership with Poly Network

Join the Verse public token sale now and purchase VERSE tokens using BTC, BCH, ETH and USDT/USDC. Sale closes Dec 1 at 0:00 UTC.

Bitcoin.com, a digital ecosystem that offers secure self-custody solutions for users to easily interact with cryptocurrencies, has formed a mutually beneficial strategic partnership with Poly Network to support Bitcoin.com’s Verse ecosystem.

Poly Network is a decentralized and trustless interoperability protocol for heterogeneous blockchains, which has so far integrated support for over 130 tokens.

Verse is Bitcoin.com’s ecosystem token that will launch following the public sale, currently live at getverse.com. Verse will fuel the growth and expansion of Bitcoin.com’s ecosystem, which includes over 35 million self-custody wallets created in its multi-chain DeFi-ready mobile app, and an award-winning news portal with over 2.5 million monthly readers. Verse will provide access to exclusive platform services and act as the cornerstone for new initiatives, ultimately expanding access to decentralized technologies and finance. By interacting with the Verse DEX, staking VERSE, receiving cash back in VERSE, and using the VERSE token as collateral in various lending pools, Bitcoin.com’s millions of users will be able to take full advantage of their time spent engaging with the platform.

With the support of Poly Network, multiple application scenarios are enabled for VERSE to be used as an asset throughout DeFi. These application scenarios include DEX trading, lending, and liquidity mining across various heterogeneous blockchains and within Layer 2 ecosystems.

“Poly Network is one of the best bridges, enabling transfer of both tokens and NFTs across multiple networks with no gas fees,” said Dennis Jarvis, CEO of Bitcoin.com. “This strategic partnership is not only an effective means of increasing the utility and liquidity of VERSE, but an expression of support for Verse’s mission to enhance economic freedom.”

John Wang, Poly Network’s founding member commented, “Verse will fuel Bitcoin.com’s already successful ecosystem of crypto products. Those products are self-custodial, multi-chain, and DeFi-centric, which we are firm believers in. Poly Network hopes to lay a solid interoperability foundation to ensure the whole ecosystem will be vibrant and thrive.”

Bitcoin.com’s Dennis Jarvis added, “We’re looking forward to exploring additional future collaborations between Bitcoin.com, Verse, and Poly Network with the goal of bringing affordable access to blockchain for everyone. Affordability is a significant barrier to mass DeFi adoption and overcoming it will ultimately create more economic freedom.”

VERSE will provide value to those interacting with the Verse DEX, Ethereum blockchain, and broader DeFi ecosystem. The VERSE token will spearhead initiatives to accelerate growth and innovation in DeFi through the Verse Development Fund.

The Verse public token sale is currently underway at getverse.com, where 2% of the token supply is up for grabs in a dynamically priced sale that could see public sale buyers pay a lower price per token than those who purchased in the first round.

About Poly Network

Poly Network is a global cross-chain protocol for implementing blockchain interoperability and building Web3.0 infrastructure. Its uniquely designed blockchain and cross-chain bridge technology open up communication and enable transactions between various heterogeneous chains, including mainstream public chains from the protocol layer. Poly Network has integrated 35+ blockchains to date, including Ethereum, Aptos, Polygon, Avalanche, Fantom, BNB Chain, Arbitrum, Optimism, OKC, Neo, Zilliqa, Metis, etc. Since its launch, the protocol has enabled cross-chain asset transfers of a value in excess of USD 16 billion.