Kraken Exits Japan, Urges Users to Withdraw Funds by Month’s End

• Kraken has announced that it will deregister from the Financial Services Agency of Japan and will cease operating in Japan as of January 31.
• Users in Japan have until the end of the month to withdraw their holdings, either transferring crypto to another wallet or wiring Japanese yen to a local bank.
• The decision to leave Japan is part of a larger effort to prioritize resources and investments to ensure the long-term stability of the exchange.

Kraken, a popular cryptocurrency exchange, has announced that it will be exiting Japan and deregistering from the Financial Services Agency (FSA) as of January 31. The decision comes amid “current market conditions in Japan in combination with a weak crypto market globally”, according to a blog post released by the company.

The exchange, which has been in operation since 2011, is one of the largest and oldest in the industry. It was co-founded by Jesse Powell, who departed from his role as CEO in September 2020 and was to be replaced by Chief Operating Officer Dave Ripley. However, in November 2020, the company faced a major setback when it was forced to cut 30% of its global workforce due to the crypto market’s stagnation following the collapse of rival exchange FTX.

In light of the current market conditions, Kraken has decided to prioritize resources and investments to ensure the long-term stability of the exchange. As a result, the company will be ceasing its operations in Japan and deregistering from the FSA. All users in Japan are being advised to withdraw their holdings by the end of the month, either transferring crypto to another wallet or wiring Japanese yen to a local bank.

Kraken is not the first exchange to make the difficult decision of leaving Japan. Earlier this month, Binance also announced its departure from the country, citing a “challenging business environment”. The move prompted the FSA to issue a warning to companies considering leaving the country, stressing the importance of ensuring that users are able to withdraw their funds.

The move by Kraken is indicative of the difficult market conditions in Japan, as well as the wider crypto market. Despite the current challenges, the exchange is committed to ensuring the long-term stability of its platform and its users.

Argo Blockchain Avoids Bankruptcy with $65 Million Deal with Galaxy Digital

• Argo Blockchain (ARBK) has avoided filing for bankruptcy protection after agreeing to sell its Helios mining facility in Dickens Country, Texas, to Galaxy Digital for $65 million.
• The miner will also get a new $35 million loan from investor Michael Novogratz’s crypto-focused financial-services firm, which will be secured by Argo’s mining equipment.
• Argo will also enter into a two-year hosting agreement with Galaxy, securing a place for Argo’s computers to keep mining at the Helios facility.

Argo Blockchain, one of the world’s largest Bitcoin miners, has managed to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection after agreeing to sell its Helios mining facility in Dickens Country, Texas, to Galaxy Digital for $65 million. This new deal will also provide Argo with a new $35 million loan from investor Michael Novogratz’s crypto-focused financial-services firm, which will be secured by Argo’s mining equipment.

The transaction was structured to bolster Argo’s balance sheet and capital structure, helping the miner to stay afloat during the bear market. This is especially important, given that the miner was in a precarious situation after a previous deal for $27 million in funding fell through in October.

In addition to the sale of the Helios mining facility and the loan from Galaxy Digital, Argo will also enter into a two-year hosting agreement with the firm. This will secure a place for Argo’s computers to keep mining at the Helios facility.

Speaking on the deal, Argo CEO Peter Wall said: „Over the last few months, we have been looking for a way to continue mining through the bear market, reduce our debt load and maintain access to the unique power grid in Texas. This deal with Galaxy achieves all of these goals, and it lets us live to fight another day.“

Chris Ferraro, president and chief investment officer at Galaxy, also commented on the transaction, saying: „When the miner kicked off its process, we were in a position to solve the problem completely for Argo, while accelerating the expansion of our own mining capabilities.“

The news of the deal sent Argo’s shares more than doubling in early London Stock Exchange trading, prompting a 24-hour suspension of trading in its Nasdaq-listed shares. This is a much-needed boost for the miner, which has been struggling to remain profitable in the bear market.

With this new deal, Argo has managed to secure its future and remain in the mining business, something that could have been impossible had it gone ahead with filing for bankruptcy protection. This deal with Galaxy Digital is a major step forward for the miner and will likely help to secure its future in the long run.

Crypto Payments to Ransomware Hackers Plummet in 2021

• According to a report by blockchain intelligence firm Crystal Blockchain, cryptocurrency payments to ransomware hackers only totaled $16 million in 2021, compared to nearly $74 million the year before.
• Analysis of on-chain activity shows that crypto services with a high money laundering risk score—meaning they receive funds from scams and cybercrime more often than others—are seeing a drop in popularity.
• Crypto exchanges and services that manage to keep “dirty” crypto out have been further tightening anti-money laundering policies, effectively scaring away criminal actors.

Cryptocurrency payments to ransomware hackers have declined significantly in 2021, according to a report by blockchain intelligence firm Crystal Blockchain. The report found that payments in cryptocurrency to ransomware hackers totaled a mere $16 million, compared to nearly $74 million USD in 2021.

The decline in cryptocurrency payments to ransomware hackers may be due to the rise in ransomware attacks since 2021. This year, the notorious Conti ransomware gang, known for terrorizing U.S. hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, ceased operations, but new groups are constantly emerging.

According to the report, analysis of on-chain activity shows that crypto services with a high money laundering risk score—meaning they receive funds from scams and cybercrime more often than others—are seeing a drop in popularity. Nick Smart, Crystal’s director of blockchain intelligence, stated that it may be too early to conclude that ransomware attacks are in permanent decline.

The report also found that crypto exchanges and services that manage to keep “dirty” crypto out, have been further tightening anti-money laundering policies, effectively scaring away criminal actors. The volume of funds sent to low-risk exchanges from scams fell by 24% in 2022 compared to 2021.

Overall, while cryptocurrency payments to ransomware hackers have declined significantly in 2021, the threat of ransomware attacks remains. Therefore, it is important for organizations to take steps to protect their data, such as using strong encryption, regularly updating their systems, and implementing a robust backup and recovery plan. It is also important for organizations to remain vigilant and monitor for any suspicious activity on their networks. Finally, organizations should not pay ransom demands if they are targeted, as this could encourage further attacks.

: A Federal Court is Being Asked by FTX to Resolve a Dispute About Robinhood Shares Valued at Approximately $450 Million

• FTX sought a U.S. bankruptcy court’s help amid a battle over ownership of about $450 million worth of stock in Robinhood Markets (HOOD).
• At issue are about 56 million shares of the brokerage owned by Emergent Fidelity Technologies Ltd., a corporate entity organized in Antigua and Barbuda and 90% controlled by former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.
• FTX has asked the judge overseeing the bankruptcy case to freeze the stock while it tries to figure out how to repay all its creditors.

FTX, a crypto exchange, recently sought the help of a U.S. bankruptcy court in order to resolve a dispute involving a large amount of stock in Robinhood Markets (HOOD). According to a filing, the stock is worth around $450 million and is owned by Emergent Fidelity Technologies Ltd., a corporate entity organized in Antigua and Barbuda and 90% controlled by former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.

The dispute centers around the ownership of the 56 million shares of the brokerage. Three parties have been vying for control of the stock: BlockFi (a lender that FTX had helped prop up earlier this year), Yonathan Ben Shimon (an FTX creditor appointed as a receiver in Antigua and granted permission to sell the shares under supervision of a court there) and Bankman-Fried himself (who has legal bills).

FTX’s bankruptcy estate has asked ED&F Man Capital Markets, the brokerage where the shares are parked, to freeze the stock until the bankruptcy court can resolve the issues in a fair manner. The exchange has determined that Emergent only nominally owns the shares and that they truly belong to FTX.

The judge presiding over the bankruptcy case will now decide whether to freeze the shares of stock in order to ensure that FTX is able to pay off all of its creditors. It is hoped that the court will be able to resolve the situation in a way that is fair to all parties involved.

The Amount of Ransom Paid in 2022 Decreased According to Crystal Blockchain

• According to blockchain intelligence firm Crystal Blockchain, cryptocurrency payments to ransomware hackers only totaled $16 million in 2021, compared to nearly $74 million in 2021.
• Analysis of on-chain activity shows that crypto services with a high money laundering risk score are seeing a drop in popularity, and crypto exchanges and services have been further tightening anti-money laundering policies, effectively scaring away criminal actors.
• Cross-chain bridges remain popular for illicit transactions, with the Bitcoin-to-Ethereum bridge service Ren being popular among hackers.

Cryptocurrency payments to ransomware hackers have surprisingly only totaled $16 million in 2021, according to blockchain intelligence firm Crystal Blockchain, compared to nearly $74 million in 2021. This comes as ransomware attacks have increased since 2021, particularly with the notorious Conti ransomware gang known for terrorizing U.S. hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to gain further insight into this trend, Crystal Blockchain conducted analysis of on-chain activity. The results showed that crypto services with a high money laundering risk score were seeing a drop in popularity, likely due to increased regulation, registration and client expectations. At the same time, crypto exchanges and services have been further tightening anti-money laundering policies, effectively scaring away criminal actors. The volume of funds sent to low-risk exchanges from scams fell by 24% in 2022 compared to 2021, which is a positive sign.

Offline wallets, allowing users to directly control their funds, are becoming increasingly popular among crypto users in general. Cross-chain bridges, however, remain popular for illicit transactions. The Bitcoin-to-Ethereum bridge service Ren, for example, received almost a half of all crypto from sanctioned entities, and is popular among hackers. This can be seen by the FTX thief, who almost drained the entire of the protocol’s liquidity crossing chains.

Nick Smart, Crystal’s director of blockchain intelligence, said that it may be too early to conclude that ransomware attacks are in permanent decline. However, the data shows that increased regulation, registration and client expectations, combined with strengthened anti-money laundering policies, are having a positive effect. It is encouraging to see that crypto users are becoming more aware of the risks associated with money laundering, and are increasingly choosing to control their funds via offline wallets.

: A federal judge has set a $250M bail for Bankman-Fried’s release from custody.

• Former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried appeared in U.S. federal court in New York on Thursday on charges of fraud, money laundering, and campaign-finance violations.
• The judge set bail at $250 million and Bankman-Fried was released after agreeing to a list of conditions including not making financial transactions for more than $1,000 and going through substance-abuse and mental-health treatment.
• Two other co-founders of FTX, Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, have admitted guilt in securities violations and are now cooperating with prosecutors in the case against Bankman-Fried.

On Thursday, Sam Bankman-Fried, the former CEO of FTX, appeared in U.S. federal court in New York on charges of fraud, money laundering, and campaign-finance violations. After listening to the prosecution and defense, the judge set bail at $250 million and Bankman-Fried was released after agreeing to a list of conditions including not making financial transactions for more than $1,000 and going through substance-abuse and mental-health treatment. His release was secured by equity in his parents‘ Palo Alto, California, home.

These charges come after Bankman-Fried was extradited from the Bahamas court on Wednesday. He had been brought to the U.S. overnight by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. This case in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York centers on accusations of fraud, money laundering and campaign-finance violations.

Two other co-founders of FTX, Caroline Ellison and Gary Wang, have admitted guilt in securities violations and are now cooperating with prosecutors in the case against Bankman-Fried. Ellison, who was the former CEO of FTX’s sister company Alameda Research, and Wang have admitted that the senior management was aware of lawbreaking in the movement of customer funds between the two firms.

The cooperation of Ellison and Wang is likely to be key in the case against Bankman-Fried. Data analysis by Delphi Digital shows that bitcoin tends to lead major stock market bottoms by at least six weeks. In response to this positive economic data, investors in traditional equities should expect to see a negative reaction, and investors in digital assets should keep in mind that both bitcoin and ether maintain strong correlations with the S&P 500 and Nasdaq.

Ultimately, the economy is still doing too well for the Federal Reserve to see positive signs in fighting inflation. Until the U.S economy starts performing poorly, asset prices are likely to suffer. Bankman-Fried’s case will continue to be closely monitored and will likely have an effect on the overall crypto markets.

: Despite having only 40-60 active developers per month, development of the Bitcoin protocol is progressing steadily, according to NYDIG.

• The report “Developers of Bitcoin” found that there are only 40 to 60 active developers of the cryptocurrency.
• Bitcoin’s success is due to its passionate but small group of developers scattered around the globe.
• Compared to traditional payment firms such as Visa and Mastercard, Bitcoin is run by a “ultra lean” group of volunteers and part-timers.

The world of finance is dominated by giants like Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal, all of which employ tens of thousands of employees. But Bitcoin, the world’s most dominant cryptocurrency, is an anomaly. It is powered by a tight ship of just a few dozen active developers, whose efforts have propelled it to the top.

A recent report, titled “Developers of Bitcoin”, published by New York Digital Investment Group (NYDIG), sheds light on how Bitcoin has steadily grown from an obscure technological breakthrough to worldwide domination. The report also examines the software developers who made it all happen, and how they have maintained the cryptocurrency over the last 14 years.

The report highlights the fact that Bitcoin has been running with no major hiccups for almost 14 years, under the care of a passionate but small group of individuals scattered across the globe. It also explores the development cycle of Bitcoin—from its inception as an idea circulated on a mailing group to its current status as a pervasive technology—and the people who continue to update the protocol.

The report reveals that the people behind Bitcoin’s success are made up of 84% of its GitHub commits from different countries. It also notes that the lead developer/maintainer role has been replaced with a more egalitarian model that elects a group of maintainers instead. This year, Gloria Zhao became the first female Bitcoin maintainer in the community’s history.

The report also states that Bitcoin’s core protocol averages 40 to 60 monthly active developers, with 1,140 developers having contributed to the project since its inception. Meanwhile, the number of developers working on related applications is estimated to range from 600 to 1,000, with a total of over 13,000 contributors.

When compared to competing networks, Bitcoin always seems to come out smaller, but much more efficient. For example, Ethereum has over 4,000 monthly active developers in its broader ecosystem, yet its current market capitalization is less than half of Bitcoin’s.

The report’s co-author, Greg Cipolaro, believes that the people who are contributing to Bitcoin are driven by a purpose, rather than money. He said that those who are working for ideological reasons tend to stay longer and make more contributions than those who are just in it for the money.

At the end of the day, Bitcoin’s success is due to the hard work of its small but dedicated team of developers. Their commitment to innovation and progress is what has made Bitcoin the world’s most dominant cryptocurrency.

: The Crypto Exchange Supported by Peter Thiel Cancels its Plan to Pursue a SPAC Merger

• Bullish, a crypto exchange, has called off its planned deal to go public.
• The deal would have seen Bullish merge with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Far Peak Acquisition (FPAC).
• Investors in Bullish include Peter Thiel and hedge fund giants Alan Howard and Louis Bacon.

Crypto exchange Bullish recently announced that it has called off its planned deal to go public. The deal would have seen Bullish merge with special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) Far Peak Acquisition (FPAC). However, the most recent amendment to the two firms‘ original July 2021 merger agreement allowed for the right to terminate the deal if it couldn’t be completed by the end of 2022.

Bullish Chairman and CEO Brendan Blumer explained that their quest to become a public company has taken longer than expected, and that they respect the SEC’s ongoing work to lay new digital asset frameworks and clarify industry-specific disclosure and accounting complexities.

Bullish is backed by notable investors, such as Peter Thiel and hedge fund giants Alan Howard and Louis Bacon. The Bullish platform handled $857 million in average daily volume in June of this year, according to its most recent investor update.

The news of Bullish’s termination of its merger agreement is the latest in a long line of canceled mergers in the formerly red-hot SPAC arena. Earlier this month stablecoin issuer Circle terminated its merger agreement with Concord Acquisition.

It is still unknown whether or not Bullish will pursue other avenues of going public in the future. However, it is clear that the company and its investors are dedicated to finding a way to make Bullish a publicly traded company. Until then, the crypto exchange will continue to expand its services and keep up with the ever-evolving digital asset industry.

1. Forecast of Digital Economy Trends in 2023 2. Anticipations of Digital Economy Developments in 2023 3. Expectations of Digital Economy Advancements in 2023 4. Projections of Digital Economy Progress in 2023 5. Predictions of Digital Economy Movements in 2023

• 2021 was the “Year of the Cryptocurrency,” but 2022 saw its collapse.
• 2023 will see the natural selection of the crypto ecosystem, regulation across the world, the metaverse and NFTs coming back from the dead, and institutional investments in the digital economy skyrocketing.
• In the US, no meaningful regulatory movements will occur due to legislative dysfunction.

2021 was a wild year for the crypto market, with massive gains and losses for investors across the world. It was dubbed the “Year of the Cryptocurrency,” but as we welcomed in 2022, the market saw a dramatic collapse. Now, 2023 is just around the corner and it is time to look ahead to the coming year in the digital economy.

The natural selection of the crypto ecosystem will be a powerful force in 2023. The companies that have been well-managed and have had the right intentions will survive and become stronger, while the ones that have had fraud, incompetence, or lack of experience will fade away or be restructured. This reshaping of the industry’s reputation and the way it does business will be driven by institutional investors requiring more controls, risk management, transparency, and reality checks.

Regulations on the crypto market will be taking shape across the world in 2023. The European Union will vote on and implement the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCAR/MiCA), which lays out a framework to regulate both the issuance of cryptocurrencies and assets, as well as transactions (i.e., trading, investment and payments). Meanwhile, Asian regulators are each taking on crypto guardrails differently. In Hong Kong, the goal for 2023 is to increase retail access to crypto, while Singapore has signaled that it will tighten regulations after big losses this year for investors. South Korea, still dealing with the aftermath of the collapse of Terra, will focus solely on enforcement, and India is using tax policy to drive behavior.

The metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) have seen their share of glitz and glamor, but 2023 will mark the beginning of how we perceive “metaverse experiences.” New use cases in enterprise, healthcare, education and more will bring the practical utility of the metaverse to our collective attention, even in our daily lives. Advances in identity technology, along with AR/VR devices, will come into focus as well in 2023. As for NFTs, the market will go through a rebirth of sorts in 2023, moving away from its current state and closer to being a digital proof of provenance and authenticity of an object, with its value deriving only from what it represents. NFTs will also have a more pervasive and permanent role in digitizing operations in industries such as supply chain and logistics, healthcare, real estate, and retail.

2023 may be the “Year of the CBDC” around the world, as central banks create alliances with commercial banks and technology providers to strengthen their position to test, launch, and execute their unique CBDC strategies. Already, China’s digital yuan is far beyond the rest, and many countries are making headway, with 2023 goals of rollout a possibility. Turkey announced it would launch its CBDC next year, while the ECB intends to start work to develop a rulebook in early 2023 on rolling out a digital euro.

Institutional investors will make big moves with their big money in 2023. Depending on the world economic sentiment, we may see an uplift in crypto prices as well as investments in the digital asset market. More traditional, blue chip funds will tokenize, making them more accessible to a broader sphere of investors. Additionally, more and more large cap market players will move into the tokenization space, and we’ll see a significant uptick in mergers and acquisitions activity as a result.

2023 promises to be an interesting year in the crypto market, with natural selection of the crypto ecosystem, regulation across the world, the metaverse and NFTs coming back from the dead, and institutional investments in the digital economy skyrocketing. While the US will likely not see any meaningful regulatory movements due to legislative dysfunction, the rest of the world will move forward in their respective strategies for the crypto market.

Clerk Wright Indicates He Has Abandoned Attempting to Persuade Courts That He Created Bitcoin

• Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist, has been trying to prove he is the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto.
• Wright has filed various lawsuits and attempted to present evidence to back up his claim, but so far he has not been successful.
• On Wednesday, Wright seemed to suggest he was putting the court crusade to rest and will now focus on his family and seeing his ideas come to fruition.

Craig Wright, an Australian computer scientist, has been trying to prove he is the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakamoto, for the past six years. It all began in 2016, when he wrote a blog post claiming he was Bitcoin’s inventor, though the evidence he provided was questionable. Ever since, Wright has been fighting a multi-year effort, trying to convince courts that he is Satoshi Nakamoto. He has filed various lawsuits containing accusations ranging from libel to copyright infringement.

Most recently, a judge has unequivocally stated that „[i]t is important to be clear that Dr. Wright has not established that he is Satoshi“ in the final judgment in a defamation case between Wright and podcast personality Peter McCormack. This latest blow seemed to be the straw that broke the camel’s back, as Wright took to Twitter to announce his change of heart.

„I have been too angry for too long, as I cared for external validation. That ends,“ he tweeted. „The only validation I seek now is from my family. The rest is no longer important.“ Wright then went on to say that he no longer cares what other people think, and that his vision is his goal. He vowed to never stop working to achieve it.

Although Wright may be ratcheting down his court crusade, he does not seem to be backing away from his claim to be Satoshi anytime soon. Creator of Bitcoin is still proudly displayed on his Twitter profile and website. Whether he will ever be able to back up his claim with concrete proof remains to be seen.