According to Market and Market, the United States cryptocurrency business is expected to balloon more than $2 billion by 2026.
Below, the Crypto News Talk team breaks down the latest changes, trends, and players making noise in the fast-growing US cryptocurrency market:
US Crypto News Item 1: Ethereum Completes First Merge Dress Rehearsal
Ethereum launched its first dress rehearsal for the Ethereum Merge. The test successfully set the stage for the main network merge.
The test network, Ropsten, merged its proof-of-work execution layer with the Beacon Chain proof-of-stake consensus chain. The process is identical to the one the main network will complete in a few months.
As part of the project, tests are expected to occur on two other networks over the next few months. The massive software upgrade will transition Ethereum from proof of work to proof of stake.
Once the Merge occurs, energy-intensive mining in data centers will no longer be necessary, and network transaction fees will disappear.
Some analysts believe the Merge will raise the value of Ether, Ethereum’s convertible virtual currency. Crypto Expert Mark Cuban told the Coindesk that he is “very bullish” about the future of Ethereum.
However, Brad Yasser, the founder of the decentralized finance (DeFi) platform EQIFI, told Coindesk that miners, who make new blocks, are essential on the Ethereum blockchain-based platform. Gauging the long-term impact of eliminating miners on Ether’s value is difficult.
Ethereum is one virtual currency operating with blockchain technology. Ethereum is the second-largest cryptocurrency by market cap after Bitcoin.
Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency in the U.S. Bitcoin, unlike Ether, has a stored value. Other cryptocurrencies include Ripple, Binance coin, and Dogecoin.
US Crypto News Item 2: Proposed U.S. Cryptocurrency Regulation Would Treat Most Digital Assets as Commodities
US Sens. Kristen Gillibrand (D-NY) and Cynthia Lummis have introduced a bill to classify digital assets as commodities and allow the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to regulate crypto markets. According to CNBC, the bill, entitled The Responsible Financial Innovation Act, is the first attempt at creating federal cryptocurrency regulations.
The U.S. government considers digital tokens to be securities that are only subject to securities laws if the crypto owners receive dividends, liquidation rights, or financial interest in the issuer, CNBC says.
Most U.S. cryptocurrency exchanges and decentralized finance applications are considered money transmission exchanges. As money transmitters, they are already subject to regulations governing money services businesses, including the Bank Secrecy Act.
An article in Time’s Next Advisor quotes experts saying crypto regulations would be good for those investing in digital or virtual currencies. The regulations could stabilize markets.
On the other hand, many oppose the financial and professional regulation of the cryptocurrency industry, saying it would hinder decentralization.
US Crypto News Item 3: Bear Market May Accelerate Cryptocurrency Regulation, Advisers Say
Two financial advisers believe the crypto markets crash may accelerate the regulation of crypto exchanges and transactions.
Tracy Basinger and Jonah Crane already see regulations pending, according to their article in Coindesk. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has urged Congress to adopt a framework for governing stablecoins. The Treasury Department also is working on crypto money-laundering and financial reporting requirements to present this fall.
The SEC also is probing the marketing of TerraUSD, a stablecoin that crashed. The agency will add 20 investigators to its digital finance and cybersecurity enforcement team.
While transmitting money using cryptocurrency platforms is legal in the United States, cryptocurrency is not legal tender. Crypto currently constitutes legal tender in only two countries.
At least40 states have crypto regulations in place or pending in legislatures. Nevada, for example, quickly changed its interpretation of what constitutes a money transmitter. Regulators now consider ATM operators to be money transmitters and are requiring that crypto kiosks be part of the state’s money transmission licensing scheme.
US Crypto News Item 4: U.S. Should Explore Implementing Central Bank Digital Currency, Fed Chair Says
The U.S. should investigate the issuance of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC), Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell is quoted as saying in Decrypt. He says the Fed will eventually give guidance to Congress on how to implement a CBDC.
The Fed has been considering the prospect of a digital dollar since 2017. Congressman Jim Himes (D-Ct) has proposed the implementation, saying it will preserve the U.S. dollar’s role as the leading reserve currency.
Meanwhile, the Biden administration has issued an “Executive Order on Ensuring Responsible Development of Digital Assets.” The document says the U.S. must support “technological advances that promote responsible development and use of digital assets.”
The executive order also cites the government’s responsibility to ensure that digital payment ecosystems and digital asset technologies are implemented to protect consumers who hold crypto assets. It calls on federal agencies to implement the policy.
US Crypto News Item 5: Investors’ Interest in Crypto Explodes, Study Says
Consumers are investing more heavily in cryptocurrency than ever before, except during a brief Reddit-fueled trading frenzy. For crypto investors, digital assets represent 24.7 percent of total investment deposits, according to a Cardify study of more than 1,300 crypto investors.
Between January 2020 and September 1921, the value of cryptocurrency investments peaked at 16 times the January 2020 baseline and fell to six times. Bitcoin, in particular, rose and crashed several times. Retail investments never rose above two times growth during that time.
Despite the investment increase, only 15 percent of investors said they understand crypto well. Most investors have been active for less than three months.
The study consisted of a survey and data from investor transactions.
US Crypto News Item 6: Blockchain.com IPO Is Expected This Year
Blockchain.com is currently in discussions with banking institutions toward launching an initial public offering later this year or in 2023, according to Finance Magnates.
With a value of about $14 billion, blockchain is considered a large crypto exchange. The crypto firm has a presence in 30 U.S. states.
Other virtual currency exchanges have said they also plan to launch an IPO soon.
US Crypto News Item 7: Nebraska Digital Asset Depository Institutions Will Have Same Exemptions as Other Banks
Beginning in October, Digital Asset Depository Institutions in Nebraska will be exempt from money transmission requirements, just as other banking businesses are. Nebraska first authorized these institutions in May 2021.
The state allows currently chartered financial institutions to operate digital asset divisions and new financial institutions to enter the virtual currency market. The bill also authorizes the depository institutions to file for federal depositor insurance, if available.
US Crypto News Item 8: Ex-NFT Marketplace Executive Indicted on Fraud Charges
Nate Chastain, formerly head of product for the non-fungible tokens (NFT) marketplace OpenSea, has been indicted on federal money laundering and fraud charges. Non-fungible tokens are blockchain tokens. An NFT can be a digital representation of real-world items such as real estate, cars, or artwork.
Chastain, who decided which NFTs would appear on the company’s home page, bought 45 NFTs before they were featured, then sold them afterward at a significant value gain.
The Securities Exchange Act of 1934 doesn’t specifically ban insider trading on the NFT market. However, U.S. Attorney General Damian Williams says he’ll use federal wire and fraud charges.
US Crypto News Item 9: Three Plead Guilty to Digital Currency Wire Fraud
Three New Hampshire residents have pleaded guilty to wire fraud involving virtual currency.
Andrew Spinella and Renee Spinella, and Nobody (formerly Richard Paul) opened fraudulent wire accounts to allow a fourth person to trade on virtual currency exchanges, according to the Block.
The three, along with three others, were charged in March 2021 with operating an illicit digital currency-based money transmission business.
US Crypto News Item 10: ForUsAll To Launch 401(k) With Crypto Option
ForUsAll Inc. will launch an Alt 401(k) that allows employees to choose to move up to 5 percent of their assets via electronic transfer into up to 50 digital currencies.
Employees will be able to access the Alt 401(k) through the company’s bundled 401(k) option or via standalone brokerage accounts. The company says it has built financial protection into the program.
The action challenges a recent Labor Department stance, according to Bloomberg Law. The federal agency said moves to allow employees to invest portions of their 401(k)s into virtual currencies would likely trigger a full-scale investigation.
A recent Capitalize survey shows that 61 percent of respondents believe cryptocurrency is a good long-term investment option, while only 46.5 percent of investment advisers do.
US Crypto News Item 11: Conference Attendees Are Hopeful About Future of Digital or Virtual Currency
The almost 20,000 attendees at Consensus 2022 are optimistic about the future of the crypto ecosystem, despite the crypto winter, according to CoinTelegraph.
Attendees spent little time discussing the prices of digital currency. Instead, participants discussed Web3 and other new projects now underway at virtual currency businesses, CoinTelegraph US said.
US Crypto News Item 12: Musk to Buy Twitter, Sees It As Crypto Payments Platform
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has agreed to buy Twitter, noting that “it makes sense” to better integrate digital payment and provide a wider range of user services.
Twitter already engages in some money transmission, using Bitcoin tipping and Ethereum functionality. It also tried a new payment processing program from Stripe, which enables payments in USD.
US Crypto News Item 13: Blockware Solutions to Build Bitcoin Mining Facility in West Virginia
Blockware Solutions, a blockchain infrastructure and mining company, will build a Bitcoin mining facility in West Virginia. The virtual currency business will run on renewable energy, according to ZDNet.
US Crypto News Item 14: Binance Launches Advanced Trading Platform
Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange, has launched Binance Institutional, an advanced platform for institutional investors to trade tokens and other digital assets.
The platform will offer over-the-counter liquidity services, execution for algorithmic trading services, instant pricing access, a suite of broker products, and a liquidity program for spot and futures traders, according to Coindesk.
Binance is the largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume and can handle 160 transactions per second.
US Crypto News Item 15: Coinbase Unveils New Mobile App and DeFi Wallet
Select users can now access DeFi and other DApps on Ethereum through the Coinbase app. The new Web3 app includes hot digital wallets and access to apps such as OpenSea and Uniswap. The DeFi apps allow users to undertake loans, receive virtual currency, and, in turn, use virtual money as payment instruments to satisfy the loan.
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