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Crypto Crown Race 👑
Poland's crypto game is strong, but France's got a takeover plot. Venezuela's prison raid and Argentina's Bitcoin beacon. A $6.7M mistake. Microsoft's throwing AI everywhere, from Windows to Bing.
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There's a hot race unfolding in the European Union.
It's all about the race to be the EU's crypto hub.
Right now, Poland's leading the pack.
But France is gearing up for a takeover.
Poland's crypto magnetism
So, here's the deal.
Poland, against all expectations, has become the it-spot for new crypto ventures in the EU.
With an incredibly easy registration process and less red tape, it's no wonder businesses are flocking there.
Half of the 2,000 crypto companies registered in the EU are chilling in Poland.
But what makes Poland such a hotbed for crypto?
Well, setting up shop there is a breeze.
You need just two weeks, a tiny fee (less than €150), and bam!
Plus, registering in Poland grants companies an easier pathway to the wider European market.
But hold up.
MiCA is set to shake things up by December 2024. And with it, the crypto landscape could see a significant transformation.
France's power play
Meanwhile, as Poland basks in its current crypto glory, France is plotting a takeover.
The French are not only looking to streamline their registration process to align with MiCA but are also eyeing the top spot as the EU's go-to destination for crypto businesses.
While Poland's current process is a walk in the park, it doesn't mean it's entirely MiCA-ready.
To be a true crypto hub, you need more than just easy registration. We're talking a clear regulatory environment, vibrant startup culture, and, importantly, collaboration between crypto ventures and traditional banks.
Rest of the gang
Italy requires firms to set up offices, suggesting they're keen to keep tax-paying crypto businesses even after MiCA kicks in.
Then, there's Malta, another dark horse, already revamping its crypto rules to get a head start on MiCA compliance.
So, who'll wear the crypto crown?
France, with its thorough licensing process and foresight, seems poised for the top spot, especially if heavyweights like Circle and Binance see the French license as a golden ticket for MiCA compliance.
A report by the European Parliamentary Research Service (EPRS) has recommended that non-European Union (EU) nations tighten their regulation of cryptocurrencies.
What's This About MiCA? If you're in the crypto loop, you know the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA) Act is making waves. Set to be in play by December 2024, an EPRS report mentions that non-EU areas need to match the vibe by getting their regulatory ducks in a row.
EPRS's primary concerns? Stability in the financial world, giving the market a boost, and ensuring stablecoins don't lose their charm.
"There are yet several channels through which the EU's financial system and autonomy is still at risk as it remains dependent on non-EU countries' policy actions in the context where the MiCA is applicable."
Moving across the pond, the report mentions the UK's Financial Services and Markets Act. With the UK and EU paths expected to diverge on how they recognise crypto-assets, it's a space to watch.
Galaxy comes in
Galaxy Digital, led by Mike Novogratz, is expanding into the European market as regulatory hurdles in the US drive firms to seek opportunities elsewhere.
The company has appointed Leon Marshall as its Head of Europe to establish a regional presence in London.
Europe's progress in developing legal frameworks for digital assets, such as MiCA, has made it an attractive destination for crypto firms.
Galaxy Digital plans to onboard staff across its investment banking, asset management, crypto lending, and derivatives businesses. This expansion comes as the US regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies remains unclear.
“The European market demand that we’re seeing, combined with the regulatory framework established by Mica, is robust. That makes Europe a desirable destination for crypto firms to build and grow. We’ve seen a lot of competitors exit the space and that’s offered a unique opportunity for us.” - Leon Marshall, first Head of Europe, Galaxy Digital.
Malta's Move: Malta isn't just chilling on the sidelines. On September 18, their Financial Services Authority kicked off a public chat about tweaking their crypto guidelines. They're looking to fall in line with (you guessed it) MiCA's incoming regulations.
The game plan? Rework the rules for crypto bigwigs like exchanges and managers to be on the same page as MiCA.
TTD Numbers 🔢
Melbourne's Millionaire Mix-up
Instead of a mere 100 AU$ refund, Thevamanogari Manivel found her bank swelling by millions after a transfer mismatch with her partner, Jatinder Singh's account on the exchange.
A whopping 10.5 million Australian dollars (6.7 million USD)
But by the time Crypto.com spotted the error during their December 2021 audit, the money was already in play.
The couple, apparently believing they'd hit the jackpot, splurged on four houses, fancy wheels, and more, even sending around 4 million AU$ overseas.
The court has since ordered the sale of one of their properties, a chic Craigieburn pad worth 1.35 million AU$.
In October 2022, the couple defended their spending spree in court, asserting they believed they'd won a Crypto.com competition.
However, the exchange's compliance officer, Michi Chan Fores, was quick to debunk that claim, emphasising no such contest existed.
Fast forward to September 2023, Manivel faced the music, pleading guilty to recklessly handling the surprise funds.
She got slapped with an 18-month community corrections order, complete with six months of unpaid work.
As for Singh, he's bracing for his plea trial coming up on October 23.
Grayscale's spot Bitcoin ETF conversion is predicted to be approved by the SEC soon👇🏻
TTD Hong Kong 🇭🇰
Hong Kong's taking some major steps in the aftermath of the JPEX saga.
Crypto licensing following JPEX drama
Following a probe that led to numerous arrests, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong has a message for everyone in the crypto space: transparency is the name of the game.
The SFC has announced plans to unveil a list of all crypto exchange license applicants. It's a direct response to the mess that was the JPEX investigation.
They believe that investors deserve clarity and confidence in the virtual asset space, and this move could bring some much-needed sunshine to the crypto licensing landscape.
"The JPEX incident highlights the risks of dealing with unregulated virtual asset trading platforms (VATPs) and the need for proper regulation to maintain market confidence," the SFC said in a statement Monday. "It also shows that dissemination of information to the investing public through the Alert List, warnings and investor education can be further enhanced to help members of the investing public better understand the potential risks entailed by suspicious websites or VATPs."
This comes in the wake of the JPEX crypto exchange scandal, which is being described as one of the worst cases of financial fraud in the region.
JPEX is accused of promoting its services to Hong Kong residents without a license. The SFC placed JPEX on the alert list in July 2022 and launched an investigation involving multiple parties across jurisdictions.
The Cold Hard Numbers
According to the Hong Kong Police Force, there were 769 reports of crypto romance scams. from January to July, accumulating a loss of HKD$407.8 million (about USD$52 million).
If the trend continues, we could see a double the number of cases this year compared to 2021. The transition from physical heists to online trickery has been swift and dramatic, with deception-related crimes quadrupling from 2021 to 2022.
Microsoft is on a mission, and AI is at the heart of it.
Recently, the tech titan revealed a massive wave of AI enhancements destined for Windows, Office, Bing, and more.
The aim? To position themselves at the AI helm and revolutionise how consumers and professionals use their devices and software.
Microsoft announced the introduction of Copilot, their new digital assistant. Set to replace the retired Cortana, Copilot, backed by substantial language models, promises a personalised and context-aware touch to daily tasks.
This comes on the heels of a whopping $10 billion investment in OpenAI.
Bing is getting a facelift too.
Expect AI-driven improvements in shopping, image creation, and business chats. These upgrades harness the power of OpenAI's DALL-E 3, an advanced image generation model.
Creativity and productivity will witness a surge, with AI enhancements coming to native Windows apps like Paint, Photos, and Snipping Tool.
Microsoft rolled out the Surface Laptop Studio 2 to showcase the AI possibilities. They claim it outperforms even Apple's maxed-out MacBook Pro, especially in handling AI tasks. As Microsoft states, they're all about blending AI experiences seamlessly, securely, and responsibly.
With a 40% stock surge this year, Microsoft's AI focus is evident. They've debuted four cutting-edge AI compilers and even introduced an AI training approach called "Algorithm of Thoughts". They've also teamed up with Nvidia for next-gen infrastructure.
TTD Latina 🌎
Venezuela's Unexpected Crypto Confiscation
In what felt like a scene straight out of a thriller movie, Venezuelan authorities swooped down on the Tocorón prison, revealing a not-so-secret stash of... Bitcoin mining machines?
This dramatic raid, involving an army of 11,000 troops, wasn't just to take down the country's top-tier criminal syndicate but also to unmask their high-tech crypto endeavours.
Beyond the usual cache of rocket launchers, grenades, and ammo, the real kicker was the Twitter videos that showed building after building stocked up with Bitcoin miners.
The man at the centre of it all, Interior and Justice Minister Remigio Ceballos, gave himself a hearty pat on the back, celebrating the monumental strike against the infamous Tren de Aragua gang.
Argentina's Bitcoin saviour?
Shifting south to Argentina, there's another crypto storm brewing, but of a different kind. As the national elections approach, pro-Bitcoin advocate Javier Milei is stealing the spotlight.
He isn't just another politician; he's the potential answer to Argentina's looming financial woes. Leading polls with a promising 31% to 34%, Milei's pro-Bitcoin stance isn't the only reason for his skyrocketing popularity.
The nation's inflating cost of living (a mind-blowing 124.4% hike over just a year) has left Argentinians scrambling for solid financial solutions. Milei's rallying cry? Ax the central bank and give Bitcoin a front-row seat in Argentina's economy.
Considering 1 BTC is now a staggering 9.3 million ARS, it's clear why Milei, with his economist background and TV commentator fame, is the new favourite. It's a curveball, especially since Argentina's central bank hasn't been a fan of crypto, banning certain crypto transactions earlier this year.
TTD Surfer 🏄
Coinbase's layer-2 network Base has surpassed Solana in TVL, reaching $397.32 million compared to Solana's $358.96 million.
South Korea's largest crypto exchange, UpBit, temporarily froze deposits and withdrawals after mistaking a scam token for legitimate ones.
Coinbase has reportedly held talks to acquire FTX Europe as part of its plan to expand its derivatives business.
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