Blockchain and Cryptocurrency News Roundup

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  • April 19, 2021
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19 April 2021.

Here’s a short summary of some of the biggest headlines in Crypto. Coinbase direct listing gets $100B+ valuation as share price jumps in Nasdaq debut, Central bank of Turkey to ban use of cryptocurrencies to purchase goods, China aims to let foreigners use digital yuan at Winter Olympics in 2022 and Edward Snowden NFT sells for $5.4M in Ethereum. 

Coinbase direct listing gets $100B+ valuation as share price jumps in Nasdaq debut

Coinbase, the biggest U.S. cryptocurrency exchange, went live with its direct listing on Nasdaq, on a day when bitcoin rallied to a fresh all-time high.

The shares fluctuated in the first hours of trading, starting at $381 and initially jumping above $400 but dropping as of press time to about $378.

“The price of COIN will be very volatile,” said James Angel, a finance professor at Georgetown University who specializes in financial-market structure. “We can expect it to fluctuate along with the prices of cryptocurrencies. Investors should buckle up their seatbelts and expect a wild ride.”

Analysts, traders and economists characterized the share sale as a milestone for cryptocurrencies, with the biggest U.S. exchange now getting exposure to mainstream stock-market investors. The event has also been tabbed as a catalyst that might drive adoption of digital assets.


Central bank of Turkey to ban use of cryptocurrencies to purchase goods

Although many retail and institutional investors alike have been overtaken by Bitcoin fever lately, with the cryptocurrency breaching a new all-time high, not all banking institutions are convinced by the digital asset’s benefits.

The Central Bank of Turkey has issued a ban against the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies by its citizens to pay for goods and services. This regulation is to be implemented by April 30, 2021. Per the banking institution:

“The purpose of this Regulation is not to use crypto assets in payments, not to use crypto assets directly or indirectly in the provision of payment services and electronic money issuance, and payment and electronic money institutions to platforms that offer trading, custody, transfer or issuance services for crypto assets.”  

The Central Bank attributed the ban to possible damage and major irreparable risks that may occur with crypto transactions.

China aims to let foreigners use digital yuan at Winter Olympics in 2022

China’s central bank is looking to enable foreign athletes and visitors to use the country’s digital currency during the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, according to a top central bank official.

Li Bo, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, said that the upcoming Winter Olympics could potentially become the first test of China’s central bank digital currency, or CBDC, by foreign users.

“For the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, we were trying to make e-CNY available not only to domestic users, but also to international athletes and like visitors,” Li said Sunday at a CNBC panel at the Boao Forum for Asia. The bank previously announced its plans on testing the digital yuan at the event in August 2020.

Despite the PBoC’s focus on the domestic digital yuan, China’s central bank is still exploring cross-border CBDC use. “At the same time, working with our international partners. Hopefully, in the long term, we have a cross border solution as well,” Li said. At the forum, Li also said that China’s central bank now views the major cryptocurrency Bitcoin (BTC) as an “investment alternative.”

After launching its first domestic digital yuan tests in 2020, China started cross-border CBDC pilots in collaboration with central banks in Hong Kong, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates in February 2021. On April 1, PBoC director of research bureau Wang Xin announced that China’s central bank completed the first cross-border pilots of the digital yuan with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.


Edward Snowden NFT sells for $5.4M in Ethereum

“Stay Free” is a piece of art that combines Snowden’s image and a court ruling. An NFT artwork created by Edward Snowden has sold for $5.4 million in Ethereum.

“Stay Free” portrays the NSA whistleblower and exiled American with hand on chin like a modern Rodin statue. (Photographer Platon snapped the pic.) Look closer, however, and you’ll find the image has been formed from the pages of a US appeals court decision that the Patriot Act did not permit mass collection and surveillance of Americans’ phone records by the National Security Agency.

While the ACLU won that case, Snowden remains persona non grata in the US for his role in making the NSA’s surveillance program public. In 2013, while the computer analyst was contracting for the security agency, he began leaking classified documents to the press. Shortly after being charged with espionage, Snowden flew to Russia, where he was granted asylum, then residency.

Those amounts seem relatively paltry to the 2,224 ETH spent on Stay Free, Snowden’s first NFT.

NFTs are unique digital tokens that often come in the form of artwork, trading cards, or other collectibles. There is only one edition of “Stay Free,” meaning the auction winner has the only copy of the work.

According to Snowden, the proceeds will go to Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit established in 2012 that develops open source communication and encryption tools as well as tracks press freedom. As the foundation’s president, Snowden serves on the board alongside John Cusack, journalist Glenn Greenwald, and Daniel Ellsberg, the Vietnam-era reporter best known for shuttling the Pentagon Papers to the New York Times.


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