Cryptocurrency roundup for March 7: Singapore police launches investigation into Terraform Labs, Pennsylvania’s nuclear-powered Bitcoin mining facility online, Bybit card launch and more

Singapore Police Launch Investigation into Terraform Labs Linked to Crypto Fugitive Do Kwon

The Singaporean police have announced that they have started an investigation related to Terraform Labs Pte, the company co-founded by cryptocurrency fugitive Do Kwon.
In a statement, the police revealed that they have begun inquiries into Terraform Labs, adding that the investigations are still ongoing, Bloomberg reported. The statement also confirmed that Kwon is not currently in Singapore.
Kwon, who is facing charges in his home country of South Korea over the loss of $60 billion in digital assets that he created, is also accused of fraud by the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The TerraUSD, which Kwon developed, was intended to maintain a constant value of $1 through a combination of algorithms and incentives involving a sister token called Luna.

Hub-and-Spoke Model for CBDC Cross-Border Payments Reduces Risks, says BIS

The Bank for International Settlements (BIS), an organization that brings together central banks from around the world, has revealed that its Project Icebreaker experiment has shown the benefits of the cross-border payment model for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs). The project, conducted with the help of the central banks of Israel, Norway, and Sweden, used a hub-and-spoke method to connect between the countries’ different national CBDC systems. According to the BIS, the hub-and-spoke model used in Project Icebreaker can mitigate the risk of insufficient liquidity and reduce settlement and counterparty risk. It also allows for competitive quotes for the exchange rate to be submitted to the hub, ensuring that end users can benefit from the best one.
The BIS has previously conducted other CBDC cross-border experiments, such as Project Dunbar, which focused on wholesale use.

Digital Asset Investment Products Experience Fourth Week of Negative Sentiment

Investment in digital asset products recorded a minor outflow of $17 million last week, marking the fourth consecutive week of negative sentiment, according to Coinshares. The total volumes of investment products were low at $844 million for the week, which also reflects a similar situation for the entire Bitcoin market volumes, which averaged $57 billion, down 15% from usual levels. The report highlighted a regional sentiment flip, with the US seeing inflows of US$7.6 million while Europe saw outflows of US$23 million. Bitcoin continued to be the focus, with outflows for the fourth consecutive week totaling US$20 million, while short-bitcoin saw inflows for the third week totaling US$1.8 million. 

NFT Trading Volume Hits Record $2 Billion in February: DappRadar Report

The non-fungible token (NFT) market is seeing a surge in trading volumes, with February recording the highest numbers since May 2022, according to DappRadar’s latest industry report. The data platform reveals that NFT trading volumes reached $2 billion, with much of the growth attributable to the popularity of zero-fee marketplace Blur. Despite NFT sales dropping by 32% from January, trading volume increased by 120%. This can be attributed to incentivized trades ahead of Blur’s native token airdrop in mid-February. While Blur has been challenging historically leading NFT marketplace OpenSea and taking over market share, DappRadar’s blockchain research analyst, Sara Gherghelas, believes the marketplace isn’t attracting new traders.

Blockchain Attacks on the Rise: February 2023 Sees 15 Hacks and Exploits Resulting in $142 Million Loss

While blockchain technology is hailed as revolutionary, it is not immune to attacks, with the industry experiencing 15 incidents of hacks and exploits in February 2023, resulting in a total loss of $142 million, according to the REKT Database. Among the affected platforms, the BNB Chain suffered the most, accounting for 50% of the incidents, dAapp and NFT data DappRadar said in a report. Ethereum, Optimism and Avalanche followed with 16.7%, and Polygon accounted for 8% of the incidents. Notably, 33% of the attacks occurred on decentralized exchanges (DEXs). The most significant incident was the BonqDAO and AllianceBlock hack, where attackers exploited a vulnerability in the BonqDAO smart contract, manipulating its price oracle to increase the WALBT price.

TeraWulf Brings Carbon-Free Bitcoin Mining to Pennsylvania

TeraWulf Inc. on Monday announced that Pennsylvania is now home to a 100% nuclear-powered Bitcoin mining facility, a first of its kind, utilizing reliable, carbon-free, and 24×7 baseload power from the 2.5 GW Susquehanna nuclear generation station in Pennsylvania. The facility, Nautilus Cryptomine, is a joint venture between TeraWulf and Cumulus Coin, LLC. TeraWulf has already energized half of its 50-MW stake in the Nautilus Cryptomine facility and has brought nearly 8,000 of its miners online, representing a hash rate capacity of approximately 1.0 EH/s. Energization of the remaining miners will continue over the coming weeks, with TeraWulf’s full share in phase one of the facility expected online by May. The Nautilus nuclear-powered mining facility benefits from arguably the lowest cost power in the sector, just $0.02/kWh for a term of five years.

Kraken Announces Bank Launch to Assist Struggling Cryptocurrency Firms

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken is planning to launch its own bank to support struggling cryptocurrency firms that are having difficulty establishing connections with traditional banks. The move comes amid the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accusing Kraken of selling unregistered securities, resulting in the exchange ending its staking operations with retail investors and paying a $30 million fine. Kraken’s chief legal officer, Marco Santori, spoke with The Block about the plan to launch the bank and the challenges facing cryptocurrency firms in establishing banking relationships. Santori assured that Kraken’s banking relationship is secure and that they have relationships with various banks, but expressed concern about other companies not having the same access.

Bybit’s New Debit Card Empowers Cryptocurrency Users with Direct Transactions

Cryptocurrency exchange Bybit has launched Bybit Card, a debit card powered by the Mastercard network and issued by Moorwand. The card will allow users to off-ramp their cryptocurrency holdings into fiat currency to make purchases or withdraw cash from ATMs. Bybit Card will enable users to debit their cryptocurrency balances directly to pay for goods and services, without the need for intermediaries or off-ramp providers. The card will be available for clients in eligible countries in Europe and the UK, who have completed the necessary KYC and AML procedures. Initially, the Bybit Card will support blue-chip cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, Tether, USD Coin, and Ripple.

SEC Takes Emergency Action Against BKCoin Management for Crypto Fraud Scheme

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has taken emergency action against BKCoin Management LLC and its principal, Kevin Kang, following their alleged involvement in a cryptocurrency fraud scheme. The SEC alleges that BKCoin and Kang raised $100 million from at least 55 investors between October 2018 and September 2022, but instead of investing in crypto assets, they used some of the money to make Ponzi-like payments and for personal use. Kang also allegedly misappropriated $371,000 of investor money for personal expenses and tried to conceal the unauthorized use of investor money by providing altered documents with inflated bank account balances to the third-party administrator for certain of the funds.