Bitcoin and Ethereum Price Plummets Resulting in Another Market Crash

BTC (Bitcoin) and ETH (Ethereum), the two leading cryptocurrencies in the crypto market plummet amid fears over increased geopolitical tension between Russia and Ukraine. Both cryptocurrencies were down by more than 7% on Friday and their prices continue to decline. The crypto market has hardly recovered from the consecutive market crashes as a result of the Bitcoin crash is now again bleeding. In recent data by Coinmarketcap, the industry’s market cap is now hovering less than $2 trillion.

In a statement by Edward Moya, OANDA senior market analyst for the Americas, the recent Russia-Ukraine crisis prompted Wall Street to tighten its belt hence the latest resulting in the recent market crash today.

“Wall Street has gone full de-risking mode and Bitcoin is paying the price. Fears over geopolitical concerns and potentially aggressive central bank tightening has cryptos across the board in freefall.”

Government scrutiny particularly from the United States has also made an impact on the price of cryptocurrencies. In a report by Reuters, the US Justice Department announced the appointment of a seasoned computer crimes prosecutor as head of its new national cryptocurrency enforcement team. The report also added that the US FBI has also created a “virtual asset exploitation” unit. 

BTC (Bitcoin) is now at $38,351.94 while ETH (Ethereum) is at $2,640.53. Most leading cryptocurrencies like BNB (Binance Coin), ADA (Cardano), SOL (Solana), AVAX (Avalanche), and LUNA (Terra) were also down.

4,000 Criminal Whales Hold Billion Dollars Worth of Crypto

4,000 criminal whales hold billions of dollars in crypto

A total of 4,068 “criminal whales” hold $25 billion worth of cryptocurrencies as revealed in a recent report by Chainalysis, a blockchain data platform. The report further states that “stolen funds dominate total criminal balances”. Addresses of darknet markets are more likely to belong to criminal services but stolen funds were usually stored in private wallets. 

At the end of 2021, criminal balances have significantly increased to $11 billion, a far cry from the recorded $3 billion in 2020, and from this figure, 93% or $9.8 billion accounts for stolen funds.  The remaining amount is distributed as follows:

  • Darknet market funds $448 million
  • Scams $192 million
  • Fraud shops $66 million  
  • Ransomware $30 million

But criminal balances may also decline and in some instances can be attributed to speedy investigations conducted by authorities. Chainalysis stated :

“The fluctuations are a reminder of the importance of speed in cryptocurrency investigations, as criminal funds that have been successfully traced on the blockchain can be liquidated quickly.” 

In February 2022, the US DOJ seized $3.6 billion worth of cryptocurrencies from the Bitfinex hack in 2016 which has resulted in a massive drop in criminal balances. Couple Heather Morgan and Ilya Lichtenstein were both charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to defraud the United States. Crypto crimes do pay and animosity in cryptocurrencies is nothing but an illusion. As further added by Chainalysis:

“The ability to efficiently track criminal whales and quantify their holdings from one public data set is a major difference between cryptocurrency-based crime and fiat-based crime.”

Crypto Companies Launches “TRUST” to Counter Money Laundering

leading crypto companies created "TRUST"

“TRUST”, a system that aims to comply with anti-money laundering laws while protecting privacy was recently created by leading crypto companies like Coinbase, Circle, Anchorage, and Robinhood. This is following the implementation of new rules by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog. 

The international regulatory body has required strict compliance from financial institutions to implement KYC to senders (and even recipients if needed) for transactions above $3,000 between these institutions. In an announcement by FATF in October 2021, the said rule also applies to crypto firms. In line with this, leading crypto companies have formed a coalition called “TRUST” or “Travel Rule Universal Solution Technology” a set of arrangements made by the group to ensure compliance and at the same time protect customers’ privacy.  As stated in a blog by Coinbase:

“The core goal in designing TRUST was to achieve top-tier compliance with the Travel Rule, while fully honoring customers’ expectations over how their information is handled.” 

Compliance is a must among the members of “TRUST” as further stated in the blog.

“We require all TRUST members to meet core anti-money laundering, security, and privacy requirements before joining the solution. And we are partnering with Exiger, a global market leader in technology-enabled compliance and risk management solutions, to help us meet that bar, and to provide ongoing compliance support.”

Picasso Family to Continue Producing NFTs After Pushback

Picasso family to continue halted NFT project

Pablo Picasso’s granddaughter Marina Picasso has recently issued her statement on Youtube in response to her and DJ son Florian’s  Ethereum NFT collection following a family disagreement revealed in public. Marina stated in the video her support for NFTs and that his uncle, Claude Picasso, has already approved of the project. Since this is now the case, she and Florian will “continue to produce NFTs.” 

The NFT collection went live on the site “Man and the Beat” and was auctioned on Nifty Gateway on Feb 3. The project was a collaboration with John Legend and Nas. 

Marina and Florian’s NFT collection is a .mp4 file of art inspired by a ceramic bowl the artist made in 1958. In her statement to Associated Press, Marina commented on the NFT collection during its first announcement.

“It’s a work that represents a face, and it’s very expressive. It’s joyful, happy. It represents life.”

But due to inconsistencies within the family members, it was halted by the Picasso Administration. The foundation manages all works held by three of Picasso’s surviving children Maya Widmaier Picasso, Claude Picasso, and Paloma Picasso including grandchildren Marina and Bernard Ruiz-Picasso. And according to the foundation’s structure, any plan for NFTs should be authorized by Claude Picasso who initially opposed the project. And without his approval, any NFT inspired by the late Picasso’s work will be branded as counterfeit. But with the recent development, it seems like the project will finally push through.