Welcome back to our bi-weekly edition of Web3 News Updates.
This keeps you in the loop with the blockchain industry’s happenings and whatnot, ranging from startups, funding, adoption, and partnerships.
Here’s a rundown of events and news over the last two weeks:
TL;DR (QUICK TAKE)
- COINBASE MULLS OVERSEAS MOVE AMIDST U.S. CRYPTO CRACKDOWN
- SILICON VALLEY BANK DECLARES BANKRUPTCY: TECH INDUSTRY BRACES FOR IMPACT
- RIPPLE AND BLOCKCHAIN FOUNDERS FUND JOIN FORCES TO BOOST WEB3 ADOPTION
- OFFICIAL TARGET DATE SET FOR ETHEREUM’S SHANGHAI HARD FORK
- USDC DEPEG MAY IMPEDE STABLECOINS’ EXPANSION AND INTENSIFY REGULATORY OVERSIGHT
- MICROSOFT TESTS WEB3 WALLET IN EDGE BROWSER
- FIDELITY CRYPTO QUIETLY LAUNCHED, OFFERING BITCOIN AND ETHER ACCESS TO MILLIONS OF RETAIL CUSTOMERS
- BINANCE SWAPS BUSD FOR TUSD AND USDT IN SAFU FUND
COINBASE MULLS OVERSEAS MOVE AMIDST U.S. CRYPTO CRACKDOWN
Crypto exchange Coinbase is reportedly in talks with institutional clients to establish a crypto trading platform outside the U.S.
The move comes as U.S. regulators, including the SEC, scrutinise crypto firms for their alleged involvement in the failure of central banks like Silvergate, Silicon Valley Bank, and Signature Bank.
However, according to a notice issued to users in March, Coinbase is determined to continue its staking program despite the crackdown, which could see it expand further.
At the time of publication, Coinbase had not confirmed the location of its new global client-servicing venture.
SILICON VALLEY BANK DECLARES BANKRUPTCY: TECH INDUSTRY BRACES FOR IMPACT
SVB Financial Group Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy to Preserve Value, Ventures and Broker-Dealer Operations Remain Unaffected
SVB Financial Group, the parent company of Silicon Valley Bank, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the U.S. U.S.ruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.
The move is aimed at preserving the company’s value. However, the bankruptcy filing will not affect the venture capital arm, SVB Capital, or the broker-dealer, SVB Securities, as well as funds of general partner entities.
SVB Financial Group has also confirmed that it is no longer affiliated with Silicon Valley Bank N.A. N.A.ts private banking and wealth management business, SVB Private.
The bank’s successor, Silicon Valley Bridge Bank, N.A. not included in the Chapter 11 filing. The company is exploring strategic alternatives for its businesses and has $2.2 billion of liquidity and valuable investment securities accounts and other assets.
SVB Group plans to evaluate strategic options for SVB Capital, SVB Securities, and other assets through the court-supervised process while ensuring their independent teams continue to serve clients, according to CEO Kosturos.
The SVB crisis has caused uncertainty in traditional banking and cryptocurrency markets, with Circle’s USD Coin holding $3.3 billion tied to SVB.
On March 13, HSBC UK Bank acquired Silicon Valley Bank U.K. foU.K.£1, strengthening its commercial banking franchise.
RIPPLE AND BLOCKCHAIN FOUNDERS FUND JOIN FORCES TO BOOST WEB3 ADOPTION
Ripple, a prominent provider of enterprise-level blockchain and cryptocurrency solutions, revealed that it had made a calculated investment in the Blockchain Founders Fund (BFF), an early-stage venture capital fund headquartered in Singapore concentrating on leading Web3 startups worldwide.
This investment is a component of Ripple’s objective to expedite the widespread implementation of blockchain technology.
In addition, BFF intends to utilise the funding to support promising startups creating the necessary infrastructure and products for a smoother transition to a decentralised future.
With Ripple’s support, Blockchain Founders Fund is a leading venture capital fund with over 100 Web3-focused portfolio companies.
In addition, BFF has the expertise to scale startups.
It will invest in diverse companies with promising growth potential while continuing to support its existing portfolio companies, such as Splinterlands, Dogami, Krayon, Altered State Machine, Magna, and LunarCrush.
Ripple’s investment in BFF accelerates blockchain adoption globally, supporting early-stage Web3 and crypto startups to drive innovation and shape the future of decentralised technologies.
OFFICIAL TARGET DATE SET FOR ETHEREUM’S SHANGHAI HARD FORK
During the All Core Developers Execution Layer #157 call on Thursday, Ethereum developers agreed on April 12 as the target date for the highly-anticipated Shanghai hard fork.
The upgrade, known as “Shapella,” will finalise Ethereum’s transition to a proof-of-stake network and enable staked ETH withdrawals.
After voting and confirmation through GitHub, the Shanghai upgrade will be set for slot 6209536, expected to occur around April 12, with a slight delay from the developers’ initial target for this month.
With Ethereum’s transition to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, the network began utilising validators instead of miners.
These validators must stake 32 ETH to approve or add blocks to the blockchain.
Before joining the PoS blockchain, validators were informed that their staked ETH and rewards would be locked until the Shanghai upgrade.
Some validators have had their funds locked up since the PoS Beacon Chain went live in December 2020.
After April 12, validators will have the option to decide what to do with their stake.
To ensure the proper functioning of staked ETH withdrawals, Ethereum developers conducted several tests since the Merge.
All three tests on Ethereum’s testnets ran smoothly, but the last testnet hard fork on Goerli experienced low participation rates due to some validator nodes not upgrading in time.
Staked ETH withdrawals were processed on the testnet, but blocks were delayed 90 minutes after the fork.
All client types produced valid blocks, and participation increased over time. Ethereum developers are not worried about similar issues on the mainnet.
USDC DEPEG MAY IMPEDE STABLECOINS’ EXPANSION AND INTENSIFY REGULATORY OVERSIGHT
Moody’s Investors Service has expressed concerns that the recent turmoil in the traditional banking sector, which resulted in the USD Coin (USDC) losing its peg, could adversely affect the adoption of stablecoins and potentially lead to increased calls for regulation.
In a “Sector Comment” report released on March 16, Moody’s suggested that fiat-backed stablecoins could encounter fresh resistance in the aftermath of USDC’s de-pegging on March 10.
The report’s authors, Cristiano Ventricelli, Vincent Gusdorf, Rajeev Bamra, and Fabian Astic, noted that while large fiat-backed stablecoins had shown resilience in the face of past scandals like the FTX collapse, recent events have revealed that the reliance on stablecoin issuers on a relatively small group of off-chain financial institutions can impede their stability.
On March 10, Silicon Valley Bank’s sudden collapse posed a significant risk event for Circle Internet Financial, the issuer of USDC, which had $3.3 billion worth of assets locked up in the bank.
As its stablecoin plummeted to approximately $0.87, Circle processed around $3 billion in USDC redemptions over three days.
By the close of U.S. banking operations on March 15, the company had reportedly “cleared all of the backlogs of minting and redemption requests for USDC substantially.”
After the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation declared that it would guarantee all deposits held at Silicon Valley Bank, USDC rapidly regained its peg. Jeremy Allaire, the CEO of Circle, revealed to Bloomberg on March 14 that his company could now fully access its $3.3 billion reserves.
Despite the collapse of Terra prompting heightened calls for stablecoin regulation, Moody argues that fiat-backed stablecoins, such as the one issued by Circle, function differently than Terra’s algorithmic token, which failed in May 2022.
Nonetheless, Moody predicts that regulators will likely seek stricter sector oversight.
Moody’s stated that USDC could only restore its peg following the decision by U.S. regulators to reimburse Silicon Valley Bank’s unsecured deposits.
MICROSOFT TESTS WEB3 WALLET IN EDGE BROWSER
According to reports, Microsoft is developing a Web3 wallet that supports cryptocurrencies and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for its Edge web browser.
Software documenter Albacore tweeted on March 17, sharing a set of user interface screenshots of the early development stages of the wallet. Albacore expressed uncertainty about the new feature being integrated into the default browser, calling it “questionable” in the tweet.
If the reports are accurate, the Web3 wallet that Microsoft is developing will be non-custodial, meaning that Microsoft will not have access to passwords and recovery keys.
Additionally, it will be “embedded in Edge” rather than a separate browser extension. The screenshots accompanying the report show the wallet’s features, such as swapping, sending and purchasing crypto assets.
It also displays the integration of Coinbase and MoonPay, which are platforms that enable users to purchase and deposit crypto to their wallets.
The Web3 wallet being developed by Microsoft includes the ability to browse various NFT marketplaces to build a collection, with the UI simply stating, “we’ll organise them here.”
This move is part of Microsoft’s efforts to boost the capabilities of its Edge browser, which has historically lagged behind rivals such as Google Chrome and Apple Safari in popularity.
In February, Microsoft announced new upgrades to its Bing search engine and Edge browser, including artificial intelligence-powered search engines and chat via OpenAI’s ChatGPT.
FIDELITY CRYPTO QUIETLY LAUNCHED, OFFERING BITCOIN AND ETHER ACCESS TO MILLIONS OF RETAIL CUSTOMERS
Fidelity Digital Assets quietly launched commission-free trading of bitcoin and ether on Fidelity Crypto for millions of retail customers, with a spread of no more than 1%.
The service is available to new and existing customers but not in some states, and withdrawals still need to be enabled.
According to sources, Fidelity has acted sooner than most peers in offering crypto to retail clients, with a full launch over the past few weeks.
As the launch occurred, the U.S. regulatory landscape heated up, and two major banking partners in the crypto industry, Silvergate and Signature Bank, collapsed.
Additionally, Fidelity filed three U.S. trademark applications at the end of 2022, one of which pertained to providing services in the metaverse and other virtual worlds.
BINANCE SWAPS BUSD FOR TUSD AND USDT IN SAFU FUND
Binance replaced BUSD in its SAFU fund with TUSD and USDT due to Paxos’ decision to stop minting new BUSD but assured users that their funds would still be held in publicly verifiable addresses without any impact.
SAFU is a $1 billion emergency insurance fund established by Binance in 2018 to safeguard users’ funds.
Binance established SAFU in July 2018 as an emergency insurance fund to safeguard users’ funds in case of security breaches or unforeseen events. SAFU was funded with a percentage of trading fees and was valued at $1 billion as of Jan. 29, 2022.
Initially, SAFU’s wallets held BNB ($342), Bitcoin (BTC) ($27,448), and Binance USD, which have now been substituted with TUSD and USDT.
Binance guaranteed users that replacing BUSD with TUSD and USDT would not affect their funds, which would still be held in publicly verifiable addresses, and BUSD would continue to be supported.
In addition, Binance would oversee the fund’s capitalisation and periodically replenish it with its funds as needed. On Feb. 13, Paxos Trust Company announced it would stop minting new BUSD from Feb. 21, per the New York Department of Financial Services’ directives.
Following reports of regulatory scrutiny of Paxos and BUSD by US regulators, Binance acquired nearly $50 million worth of TUSD on Feb. 16, according to Etherscan data.
This purchase occurred two days after Binance CEO Chanpeng Zhao suggested on a Feb. 14 Twitter Space that Binance would diversify its stablecoin holdings away from BUSD.
Given the SEC’s actions against BUSD and Paxos, some crypto community members have questioned whether the real issue is stablecoins or Binance.
The SEC did not take action against Paxos’ gold-backed stablecoin, Pax Gold (PAXG).