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Biden To Name Crypto Critic Saule Omarova To Lead OCC

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U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to announce his nomination for the Comptroller of The Currency within the next few days. He will pick a female candidate, according to Bloomberg media outlets, citing three people familiar with the nomination process.

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The U.S. President is planning to nominate Saule Omarova, Cornell University law school professor, to head the Office of The Comptroller of The Currency (OCC). The nomination event is reported could happen as soon as this week.  

Omarova, a Kazakh-American lawyer, has been teaching at Cornell University law school since 2014, specializing in banking law and corporate finance. In 2006-2007, she served as special adviser for regulatory policy to the U.S. Department of The Treasury under former President George W. Bush.

As a native of Kazakhstan, Omarova would be the first woman and person of colour officially named to run the Office of the OCC that oversees the U.S. banking sector.

Omarova is an outspoken critic of cryptocurrency and traditional banking and has called for the government to play a more active and bigger role in the nation’s financial services sector. As in charge of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, she would be expected to supervise the country’s biggest banks and implement regulations concerning cryptocurrency firms and Fintech startups.

In the past, Omarova has criticized the cryptocurrency and traditional banking sector, and she is known for wanting to “end banking as we know it”

Omarova described the cryptocurrency sector as threatening the stability of the economy and believes that crypto-assets only benefit the “dysfunctional financial system we already have.” She further acknowledges that the financial sector is prone to abuse from large private financial institutions.

Omarova is therefore expected to pursue stricter rules and stricter oversight for cryptocurrency and the financial industry.

Next move for the OCC?

After Brian Brooks’ departure, the Office of The Comptroller of The Currency (OCC) signals a less crypto-friendly institution.

Brooks stepped down as the head of the OCC in January 2021as the Biden administration prepared to take the reins.

As a result, the appointment of Michael Hsu as the current acting comptroller of currency came with changes, a shift away from the aggressive innovation pushed by fintech-friendly Brian Brooks.

Mr. Brooks strongly promoted the OCC’s proposed special-purpose fintech charter. He allowed banks and thrifts to offer custody services to cryptocurrency companies, among other moves to modernize and innovate the OCC in response to rapid changes in financial services.

But all that changed with the appointment of Hus, who signalled a potential reversal of the innovations Brooks sought to achieve.

In May, Hsu called for a review of the cryptocurrency guidance issued by the OCC under Brian Brooks.   

Hsu ordered a review of several of the agency’s recent actions, including moves that gave it authority to provide crypto custody companies with banking licenses. OCC hinted that it could become less friendly to cryptocurrency.

With the current new appointments underway, more significant changes are likely to come to the OCC, creating new challenges for fintech, crypto regulations, and DeFi (decentralized finance).

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Source: https://Blockchain.News/news/biden-name-crypto-critic-saule-omarova-lead-occ

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Zimbabwe Plans to Support Crypto ETFs, Calming Lower the Cost of Remittance

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As many countries make advances toward supporting digital currency innovations, Zimbabwe’s Finance Minister, Mthuli Ncube, has confirmed that the government is exploring ways to let cryptocurrencies thrive.

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Speaking to the country’s citizens at an event in Dubai last week, Ncube said the country is already creating an avenue to make digital currencies like Bitcoin legal, but not to become a legal tender, as in the case of El Salvador.

The minister pointed out the fact that digital currencies are now too big to ignore and that the embrace of digital currencies can help lower the cost of remittance to the country. This inflow is on track to hit $1 billion this year. Amongst the major considerations, Ncube noted the country is working on the launch of a crypto ETF. According to him, the plans for these products are already underway, and private investors are fronting the initiative.

While acknowledging that the nation has no plan to ban digital currencies, he explained, “but our view is that we do not want it to be a currency. Want this to be an investment class. So,… through the Victoria Falls Stock Exchange platform, we will try to create crypto-based products there, which is ring-fenced within the offshore zone.”

He reassured that the ministry “has taken the first step already and created a sandbox, at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), where the idea and everything else is being tested in a safe regulated, environment where it will then migrate to this safe Victoria Falls environment.”

There are no timelines for these crypto ETF pursuits. However, he noted that the active partners helping to develop the index weighting the ETF products will be based on are from Dubai, one of the growing financial hubs in the world today.

Crypto ETF products are becoming popular today. While relatively new, countries like Canada, Brazil, and Germany have active Bitcoin ETF products. The current move from Zimbabwe may place the country as the first in Africa to float the country’s first crypto ETF.

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Source: https://Blockchain.News/news/zimbabwe-plans-to-support-crypto-etfs-calming-lower-the-cost-of-remittance

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DeFi Trails Broader Market Uptrend to Hit New TVL at $223 Billion

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The Total Value Locked (TVL) in decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols have crossed the biggest range in history. It is trading at its highest value of $223 billion, according to data from DeFiLlama.

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The current uptick in DeFi’s TVL is marked as an encompassing growth in the broader digital currency industry, whose market cap now sits at $2.42 trillion at the time of writing.

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By ranking, Curve Finance comes off as the most prominent protocol in the space and currently holds a total of $17.14 billion in Total Value Locked. As an interoperable decentralized exchange liquidity pool on Ethereum, the protocol’s uptrend growth is similar to the broader ecosystem, with the largest bit of assets locked on the Ethereum protocol.

Lending protocol Aave also sits comfortably in the second position with a $16.69 billion TVL, with the top five largest protocols made up by MakerDAO, Wrapped Bitcoin, and InstaDapp. Despite the biggest contributors of Ethereum blockchain native protocols, other public blockchain networks, including the Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Avalanche, and Fantom, also have protocols that contribute their bit to the overall growth.

DeFi has grown to offer new assistance to a wide range of investors as mainstream investment offerings do not look promising. The advent of the coronavirus pandemic placed a massive burden on the global economy. Based on this situation, central banks around the world set extremely low-interest rates to ease off the pressures. Investment securities, including government and corporate bonds, interests in savings, and others, directly impacted the broad economic fallout.

The shakedown of the global economy presented an opportunity for decentralized finance to showcase itself, offering higher interest rates and correspondingly lowering the barriers to entry per crypto-backed loans. 

The growth of DeFi has seen the TVL climb from $13.7 billion back in November 2020 to the $223 billion it currently is today, a price point that showcases the blockchain offshoot is just getting started.

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Source: https://Blockchain.News/analysis/defi-trails-broader-market-uptrend-hit-new-tvl-at-223-billion

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This CryptoPunk Owner Refuses to Accept a $9.5M Bid for His Rare NFT

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Owning a piece of Non-Fungible Token (NFT) nowadays is not just a way to own bragging rights today, it has become a prominent way to store assets for many people. This has pushed a Twitter user with the handle @richerd to reject a 2,500 ETH (approximately $9.5 million) bid for CryptoPunk #6046.

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NFTs provide a new way to store a piece of art on the blockchain such that they prove authenticity, and are verifiable. NFTs have become one of the most important use cases of blockchain technology today, and the innovation has unleashed the creativity in digital artists around the world today, harnessing the opportunities NFT has brought.

Amongst the pioneering NFT collections are the CryptoPunks, a collection of 10,000 randomly generated images created by the startup Larva Labs. CryptoPunks is currently the top NFT collection of all time on the NFT marketplace OpenSea, with over 551,000 ETH (~$2.1 billion) in total sales volume.

A large NFT collection like CryptoPunks are often tagged by their rarities, and one of the extremely rare ones was Punk #6046 which Richerd said is “not for sale” no matter what bid was offered.

In justifying the rejection of the bid placed by poap.eth as seen on LarvaLabs page for the Punk, Richerd stated that his refusal was partly based on the fact that a huge part of his only identity has been built around the CryptoPunk.

“My identity along with the identity of other iconic Punks and apes have value beyond the NFT itself. We have our own brands similar to any other brand and that has value. Because I value my personal brand and identity, this was an easy rejection for me,” Richard tweeted, “I have huge conviction in the NFT space and in Punks. When it comes to NFTs space I think very long term. To me, my brand, identity, and what I’m building in the NFT space will be way more valuable in the long run.”

While Punk #6046 would have been the most valuable of all the CryptoPunks sold to date had the bid been accepted, Beeple’s “Everydays” remains the highest-grossing NFT piece of all time with a $69.3 million valuation when it was auctioned off in March.

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Source: https://Blockchain.News/news/this-cryptopunk-owner-refuses-accept-a-$9.5m-bid-his-rare-nft

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Google Search Trends Show a Strong Correlation with Bitcoin Price

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The crypto community has been waiting with bated breath for Bitcoin (BTC) to breach the psychological level of $60K as this would move it inches closer to the all-time high (ATH) price of $64,800 set in mid-April. 

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This milestone recently has been attained, given that the leading cryptocurrency has been enjoying a notable upward momentum. Data shows Google search trends are positively correlated with Bitcoin price. Data analytic firm IntoTheBlock explained:

“The correlation between Google search trends for “Bitcoin search trends” and BTC’s price has climbed to 0.91, indicating a very strong correlation.”

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Bitcoin nosedived to lows of $30K in May as Chinese authorities intensified their crackdown on crypto mining. Charles Edwards, the founder of Capriole Investments, believes that institutional investments have played a pivotal role in Bitcoin’s move from $30,000 to $60,000. He added that a surge from $60K to $100K would be prompted by retail’s FOMO (fear of missing out).

NewYork takes the lion’s share of US Bitcoin hashrate

According to a recent report by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance, the United States was ranked as the largest Bitcoin mining hub with 35.4% of the global hash rate as of the end of August.

The study noted that Kazakhstan and Russia were positioned in the second and third places, respectively. On the other hand, China’s dominance which once peaked at a high of 75% back in 2019, had hit zero percent as of July, given that Bitcoin mining activities had become unwelcome on Chinese soil.

With the majority of Bitcoin’s hashrate shifting to the United States, New York emerged first with 19.9%. Digital asset firm Foundry USA acknowledged:

“Within the U.S, 19.9% of Bitcoin’s hashrate is in New York, 18.7% in Kentucky, 17.3% in Georgia, and Texas accounts for 14%.”

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The hashrate is used to measure the processing power of the BTC network. It allows computers to process and solve problems that would enable transactions to be approved and confirmed across the network.

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Source: https://Blockchain.News/analysis/google-search-trends-show-a-strong-correlation-bitcoin-price

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