Fintech Digest

Drama Around FTX Goes On: Founder Arrest & Money Laundering Methods Exposed

The year 2022 is drawing to a close, but the fintech industry shows no signs of slowing down. Following are some highlights from last week's news coverage:

Top News | 12.12-18.12

  • Drama around FTX goes on: founder arrest & money laundering methods exposed
  • Goldman Sachs named an asset more valuable than bitcoin
  • Apple is working on Apple Watch alternative
... and expands the presence of its applications 
  • Visa is about to make a significant donation
  • Binance is accused of money laundering
  • Donald Trump pissed off NFT community
  • PayPal announced a new collaboration
  • Bank of England seeks digital currency wallet proof-of-concepts
  • Starbucks demonstrates how to use NFT right

Drama Around FTX Goes On: Founder Arrest & Money Laundering Methods Exposed

The founder and former CEO of FTX, Sam Benkman-Fried, was arrested in the Bahamas by order of the US Attorney's Office. This happened a day before he was to testify before Congress regarding the bankruptcy of one of the world's largest crypto exchanges.

It is expected that Bankman-Fried will be extradited to the United States. He faces up to 115 years in prison.

It was also revealed that FTX exploited a secret code update to obtain access to its clients' funds.

FTX's top engineer secretly changed the crypto exchange's software in mid-2020. They enabled Sam Bankman-Alameda Fried's Research investment fund to spend FTX clients' money without restriction.

Alameda had an «unlimited line of credit», according to the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Furthermore, the billions of dollars that FTX surreptitiously gave to Alameda during the following two years came from deposits from other FTX clients, not from its own reserves.

Background info: FTX, launched in 2019, declared bankruptcy on November 11 after experiencing a liquidity crisis as traders withdrew $6 billion from the platform in just 72 hours. It has since emerged that Benckman-Fried secretly used $10 billion of customer funds to prop up its business.

Goldman Sachs Named an Asset More Valuable Than Bitcoin

Analysts of the investment bank Goldman Sachs said that gold, in the long term, will surpass the highly volatile bitcoin in terms of profitability. The business predicts that the price of gold will jump by 40%.

As analysts noted, gold is less susceptible to "tighter financial conditions", which means that it is a "useful portfolio diversifier" (that is, it will diversify it).

By the way, the price of gold compared to last year against the background of the fall of bitcoin by 75% increased only slightly.

Apple Is Working on Apple Watch Alternative

Apple has patented a smart ring that can become an alternative to Apple Watch. It will allow you to track heart rate, blood oxygen level (SpO2), and blood pressure.

According to the patent application published by the US Patent and Trademark Office, the ring can monitor the main indicators of the owner's condition, detect movement and recognize gestures.

The ring can also be equipped with an NFC module for contactless payments. Thus, the new device can become an alternative to Apple Watch.

… and Expands the Presence of Its Applications

Last week, Apple also announced that it would allow applications from alternative app stores to be installed on its devices as part of a major update to comply with European Union regulations. 

The company intends to implement these changes by 2024.

Owners of Apple devices can download third-party software on their iPhones and iPads without using the App Store, bypassing Apple's restrictions and the 30% commission that the company charges on payment transactions.

Visa Is About To Make a Significant Donation

Payment giant Visa is investing $1 billion in Africa over the next five years.

The investment will boost the payment ecosystem with new ideas and technology and promote the region's digitalization and skills development, talent development, and capacity building.

All this will help, according to Visa, to increase financial inclusion on a continent where about 500 million people still do not have access to financial services and less than 50% of adults have made or received a digital payment.

Binance Is Accused of Money Laundering

Binance conducted $10 billion worth of money laundering transactions in 2022, Reuters reports.

According to Reuters, the crypto exchange has lax controls against money laundering; in 2022, it processed $10 billion transfers for criminal groups and firms seeking to avoid US sanctions.

Binance called the calculations inaccurate and said it «enforces high industry standards» and is committed to «improving methods to detect illegal cryptocurrency activity on the platform».

The investigation against Binance was launched in 2018. According to agency sources, its completion is hampered by disagreements between prosecutors of the US Department of Justice.

Donald Trump Pissed Off NFT Community

Former US President Donald Trump handed a set of NFT cards featuring his likeness. Trump appears in many pictures on them, ranging from astronaut to superhero.

The cost of each digital image is $99.

It is noted that the one who buys all 45 cards will have the opportunity to dine at the former president's estate in Mar-a-Lago.

At the time of writing, all NFTs are sold out. Most of them are available for secondary sale on OpenSea at a minimum price of 0.092 ETH (just over $110).

The most expensive token with Trump in a cape and a sheriff's star is being auctioned for 100,000,000,000,000 ETH ($121 quadrillion).

According to the NFT community representative, there are currently 35 wallets containing at least 45 NFTs, entitling them to dinner with Trump. 

PayPal Announced a New Collaboration

PayPal has announced a partnership with ConsenSys MetaMask, a Web 3.0 company. Through this collaboration, Americans will be able to buy Ethereum directly from the app using PayPal.

MetaMask, a web browser extension for Chrome, Firefox, and Opera browsers that enables users to interact with decentralized applications (DApps), is a primary way millions of people – primarily in the US – interact with NFT marketplaces and DeFi applications.

The option will first be available to a small number of US consumers. They will be able to buy Ethereum for fiat money and send it to their wallet using PayPal (provided they have enough funds, of course).

Bank Of England Seeks Digital Currency Wallet Proof-Of-Concepts

The U.K. Central Bank has announced a competition to create a wallet concept for the U.K. state digital currency.

The main task is to make the state digital currency convenient and effective for banks and businesses at home and abroad.

As for the requirements, the wallet must be supported on Android and iOS, as well as have a website. The developer will also have to demonstrate the concept of a personal account for the merchant involved in the transaction and the address of the operator's internal server. 

The Bank of England will sign a five-month contract with the winner, and the supervisor is ready to allocate $245,200 for testing.

Starbucks Demonstrates How To Use NFT Right

Starbucks launched a beta version of its non-exchangeable tokenization (NFT) loyalty program at Polygon. Marketplace Nifty Gateway was also announced to be in business.

Announced by the company in September, the Starbucks Odyssey Web3 initiative is initially available to a limited waiting list group. Participants can earn Journey Stamp Series NFTs by taking part in virtual journeys.

Users also earn Odyssey Points. They can use the resulting assets to access «immersive coffee world events they won't get anywhere else», the company said.

Beginning in January 2023, Starbucks Odyssey invitations will be extended to a wider range of customers.

Users can trade the company's NFTs on the Nifty Gateway platform. In addition, Starbucks has announced the option to buy collectible tokens for fiat and a special limited edition Limited-Edition Stamp for next year.