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Crypto groups shelter in Singapore as global regulators crack down

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Global cryptocurrency groups are expanding their presence in Singapore attracted by the city-state’s friendly regulatory environment while other markets take action against the industry.

Executives moving to the Asian financial hub include Changpeng Zhao, founder of Binance, a crypto exchange that processes trillions of dollars in trades annually. Gemini, a US stock exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins, is also expanding its workforce in Singapore.

The city is not yet required to license cryptocurrency companies, but has granted exemptions to some of the biggest players in the industry, allowing them to serve local retail and institutional investors.

While growth in the crypto industry has accelerated this year, regulators have cracked down on the sector in markets like the US, UK and China. Hong Kong, a rival Asian financial center, will restrict crypto trading to accredited or institutional investors under a new law.

Singapore was much more welcoming. The sovereign wealth fund GIC and state-backed investment company Temasek have invested hundreds of millions of dollars in the sector. The Monetary Authority of Singapore has made it easier for foreign crypto groups to incorporate and serve residents, albeit with restrictions, including restrictions on transactions. Singapore Exchange has launched two cryptocurrency indices.

“The crypto brothers around the world have read the writing on the wall and are realizing that Singapore Inc is adopting the asset class,” said the founder of a crypto start-up based in the city.

Binance received a license exemption in Singapore and posted more than 200 jobs in the city on LinkedIn last month. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of the cryptocurrency Ether, is also based there.

Binance billionaire founder Changpeng Zhao lives in Singapore © Reuters

OSL, a Hong Kong-based exchange, has also received a license exemption and plans to double its workforce by the end of the year.

“The most important factor in deciding where to put your business is regulation. Singapore is clear and precise about its dealings with the cryptocurrency and digital asset markets, ”said Kanny Lee, director of the OSL Singapore office.

Gemini, founded by Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, chose Singapore as its Asian headquarters and expects to have around 50 employees by the end of 2021, compared to just one when the office opened last June.

“Singapore is a major financial center in Asia with a good pool of customers, especially in the private wealth sector. We have had discussions with wealth management firms as many of them require crypto solutions, ”said Jeremy Ng, Gemini Managing Director for Asia.

Jihan Wu, the billionaire co-founder of the Chinese crypto-mining technology group Bitmain, has founded a crypto start-up in the city.

The MAS said that around 40 percent of applicants wanted to offer digital payment token services under the Singapore Payment Services Act, but there has not been a “significant increase” in applications that are “directly attributable to actions by other countries.”

Chia Hock Lai, chair of the Blockchain Association of Singapore, said a number of Hong Kong-based actors are setting up offices in the city. Hong Kong legislation that would restrict trading to accredited investors “says” about their stance on digital currencies, he said.

Singapore’s economy is now heavily dependent on services such as commodity trading and financial transactions.

“Without a resource industry that can draw on Singapore, there is no risk of becoming too hostile to an industry that could be a big winner in attracting talent and business,” said Daniel Burke, a Singapore-based executive director of the US Cryptocurrency administrator BitGo, adding that if Singapore failed to create the right framework, it could starve the city for much-needed future business.

However, some industry officials said the lack of clarity about when MAS would approve licenses is becoming problematic. “We get some potential customers who say they won’t contact us until we have a proper license,” said one applicant. “Unfortunately, there is no telling when that will happen.”

Additional coverage from Stefania Palma in Singapore

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Cryptocurrency

Orlando residents launch cryptocurrency group to educate and give back to international communities

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From donations to food drives, there are many ways you can give back to communities in need but three Orlando residents are turning to digital tools to support low-income families in developing countries. Chris Delgado, Fabian Kumpusch and Vance Fundora share a vision of rebuilding and impacting communities around the world.”Where can our dollar literally go the furthest?” co-founder of ‘Crypto Impact’ Vance Fundora said. The answer led them to the way they grow their own personal finances – cryptocurrency which is a type of currency that uses digital files as money. The men recently launched their group ‘Crypto Impact’ where they’re traveling abroad to help communities in poverty. “You can literally send money to an individual in need through blockchain technology where banks are shut down and you can’t really wire money like we do here in the states and those countries don’t have a cell or Venmo type thing,” co -founder of ‘Crypto Impact’ Chris Delgado said. “Normally when people donate they’re donating to a bigger cause where they’re providing food for disaster relief,” Delgado said. “This where ‘Crypto Impact’ comes into play we’re delivering specific needs to individuals and we’re there on the ground.”When WESH 2 spoke with Delgado and Fundora, their third business partner was in Vietnam where he was connecting people with clothing, food and clean water. It’s the start of future international projects that will all be funded by digital coins.”It’s just a new industry and it’s a lot of opportunity across the board in terms of technology available,” Fundora said. Being on the ground with the people they’re giving back to is vital for the men so they can educate and raise awareness. “To show not only the beauty behind crypto and bring mass adoption, but also to give in other countries where you can’t necessarily bring in hundred, 200 or 300 hundred dollars but with crypto you can,” Delgado said. The friends have plans to travel and spread ‘Crypto Impact’ to other developing countries in the future.

From donations to food drives, there are many ways you can give back to communities in need but three Orlando residents are turning to digital tools to support low-income families in developing countries.

Chris Delgado, Fabian Kumpusch and Vance Fundora share a vision of rebuilding and impacting communities around the world.

“Where can our dollar literally go the furthest?” co-founder of ‘Crypto Impact’ Vance Fundora said.

The answer led them to the way they grow their own personal finances – cryptocurrency which is a type of currency that uses digital files as money.

The men recently launched their group ‘Crypto Impact’ where they’re traveling abroad to help communities in poverty.

“You can literally send money to an individual in need through blockchain technology where banks are shut down and you can’t really wire money like we do here in the states and those countries don’t have a cell or Venmo type thing,” co -founder of ‘Crypto Impact’ Chris Delgado said.

“Normally when people donate they’re donating to a bigger cause where they’re providing food for disaster relief,” Delgado said. “This where ‘Crypto Impact’ comes into play [because] we’re delivering specific needs to individuals and we’re there on the ground.”

When WESH 2 spoke with Delgado and Fundora, their third business partner was in Vietnam where he was connecting people with clothing, food and clean water.

It’s the start of future international projects that will all be funded by digital coins.

“It’s just a new industry and it’s a lot of opportunity across the board in terms of technology available,” Fundora said.

Being on the ground with the people they’re giving back to is vital for the men so they can educate and raise awareness.

“To show not only the beauty behind crypto and bring mass adoption, but also to give in other countries where you can’t necessarily bring in hundred, 200 or 300 hundred dollars but with crypto you can,” Delgado said.

The friends have plans to travel and spread ‘Crypto Impact’ to other developing countries in the future.

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Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin is ‘not immune’ from stock market volatility (Cryptocurrency:BTC-USD)

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Bitcoin (BTC-USD) has often been hyped as an inflation hedge or as an alternative investing class, an opportunity to diversify a portfolio. However, evidence continues to mount, especially in the recent market downturn, that crypto holds a high correlation with stocks (SP500).

This connection is evidenced by the fact that both bitcoin and equities grinded higher in the easy money era of 2020-2021, and now both are facing cyclical downturns as financial conditions tighten and liquidity dries up.

“The correlation between bitcoin and equity indices has remained high and will continue to do so unless bitcoin becomes widely used as a medium of payment – which looks unlikely to happen soon,” Morgan Stanley analyst Sheena Shah wrote in a note May 10.

For some context, the rolling 120-day correlation between the S&P 500 index (SP500) and bitcoin (BTC-USD) was recently standing at 0.60, the highest reading since the series began in 2011, Charles Schwab Chief Investment Strategist Liz Ann Sonders wrote in a Twitter post May 10. In other words, bitcoin’s price action resembles that of stocks and therefore risk assets. Take a look at the chart below to further grasp how bitcoin has fared Y/Y with the S&P 500 as well as S&P volatility, which is inversely correlated with the major stock index.

For a macro perspective, as central banks across the globe pivot to tighter monetary policy (some more aggressive than others) in an effort to dull widespread inflationary pressures, global money supply growth continues to decelerate from its peak in Feb. 2021, Shah noted, adding that bitcoin’s (BTC-USD) market cap growth topped a month later in March 2021, implying that global liquidity and bitcoin could share a connection.

Note that in 2020, speculative assets like bitcoin soared in price in the wake of extraordinary accommodative monetary/fiscal policy and surging money supply. Stifel recently predicted for bitcoin to reach as low as $15K as shrinking M2 money supply growth, a broad measure of money in circulation, “should sharply weaken Bitcoin.”

Looking at the BTC-stocks correlation from a different lens, retail investors used to be the dominant cryptocurrency trader around four years ago, but now “the largest proportion of daily crypto trading volumes is from crypto institutions, much of which comes from them trading with each other,” Shah explained.

This dynamic has contributed to bitcoin’s (BTC-USD) strong bond with equities since those institutions are sensitive to the availability of capital and therefore interest rates, she added.

Commentary: “We’ve definitely seen [bitcoin] trade more in line with stocks and more in line with the Nasdaq and tech stocks, in particular, over the last few quarters,” Coinbase (COIN) CFO Alesia Haas told CNBC’s Squawk Box in an interview May 12. “Lots of institutional money has come into crypto, and with the broader volatility that we’re seeing, we’ve seen strong correlations,” she added.

Take a look at SA contributor’s The Digital Trend’s bullish take on bitcoin.

Earlier this past week, (May 12) Bill Miller said he hasn’t sold any bitcoin.

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Cryptocurrency

Pros, cons of cryptocurrency mining in upstate New York

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Last month, the New York state Assembly voted to pass Democratic Assemblymember Anna Kelles’ two-year moratorium on new cryptocurrency mining. The idea behind the bill is to give the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation the time to conduct an environmental impact study of the practice.

The bill would prevent new permits from being issued for a very specific kind of cryptocurrency operation, known as carbon-base fueled, proof-of-work mining operations, that use behind-the-meter energy.

The bill still needs to pass in the state Senate and be signed by Gov. Kathy Hochul before it can become law.

The allure of cryptocurrency is that by using blockchain technology, financial transactions are instantaneous, secure and very difficult to trace. But there is a downside to proof-of-work mining: it takes enormous amounts of energy to run the thousands of computers used to “mine” coins.

This is why Assemblymember Kelles said her bill is so narrowly focused.

“This particular type of validation of cryptocurrencies is called proof-of-work, which is synonymous with cryptocurrency mining. There is no other kind of method that is called mining. It has been found across the globe to use phenomenal amounts of energy in comparison to other forms of validation such as proof-of-stake, for example,” Kelles told Capital Tonight.

Cryptocurrency “mining” isn’t mining in the usual sense of the word. It’s millions of computers competing with each other to validate transactions. The more computers a miner has, the greater the advantage — and the more energy used.

Upstate New York is attractive to cryptocurrency miners for a variety of reasons, including abundant clean air and water, relatively cool temperatures and cheap hydroelectric energy with which to power computers.

Upstate New York also has several old power plants that are ready-made to house these mining operations, some of which are being purchased by publicly-traded companies. These companies are re-purposing the power plants to make their own energy “behind the meter,” meaning it is produced and consumed on-site.

“We are a prime target,” Kelles said of upstate.

One of the largest cryptocurrency mining operations in upstate New York is Greenidge Generation, located on the shores of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes region. Critics, including Kelles, argue that the crypto-mining taking place at Greenidge is hurting the already established agritourism and wine industry there.

The Greenidge Generation bitcoin mining facility is in a former coal plant by Seneca Lake in Dresden. (AP Photo)

The assembly member also argues that cryptocurrency mining is not a big job creator.

“Mining itself is not a huge job creator because the computers, first of all, are doing all the work. But secondly, what’s really important, is that the algorithm they are running is very simple. It’s not like the algorithm for the Skype app… and therefore it doesn’t take a massive amount of engineering jobs…to maintain,” Kelles said.

“[Cryptocurrency mining] is a very small fraction of jobs compared to [agritourism],” Kelles said.

But cryptocurrency advocates, including Republican Assemblyman Robert Smullen, argue that New York is a world leader in financial services, so why shouldn’t the state lead when it comes to cryptocurrency as well?

Smullen also takes issue with Kelles’ characterization of the jobs created by such operations.

“These are good jobs because they’re electrical jobs, essentially, is what they are, and they’re running all of these facilities,” Smullen explained. “This is a new form of advanced manufacturing.”

Indeed, the union IBEW is a supporter of cryptocurrency mining.

As for Greenidge Generation in particular and its plan to expand from the 17,000 computers it has operating currently, Smullen isn’t concerned.

“[Greenidge] is probably one factory in one small part of one town so I don’t think it’s disrupting any agritourism brand for the beautiful area of ​​the Finger Lakes,” Smullen told Capital Tonight.

What the assemblyman is very concerned about is the possibility of a two-year moratorium on new cryptocurrency operations.

“In this industry, two years is literally light speed in the blink of an eye,” Smullen said. “This industry, financial technical things, they can go anywhere.”

The key, according to the assemblyman, is getting miners to come to New York, and then keeping them here.

“This is commerce that’s very important to the future of financial services industry. During the pandemic, we saw that jobs in New York City, many of them could be done from anywhere. My concern then and my concern now is that we’ve set up a regulatory environment in this state which positively incentivizes the financial services industry, which is going to evolve over time with technology to stay in New York state,” Smullen said.

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