FBI Crypto Unit, Universal Music NFTs + More
- The US Justice Department confirmed that the FBI has its new Virtual Asset Exploitation Unit, a specialized team of crypto experts dedicated to providing analysis, support, and training across the FBI, as well as innovating its crypto tools to stay ahead of future threats. Also, the Department announced the selection and appointment of Eun Young Choi, “a seasoned prosecutor,” to serve as the first Director of the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET). The NCET was established to ensure the department meets the challenge posed by the criminal misuse of cryptocurrencies and digital assets, and comprises attorneys from across the department, including prosecutors with backgrounds in cryptocurrency, cybercrime, money laundering, and forfeiture, they added.
- Sequoia Capital, a Silicon Valley venture capital powerhouse, said it is earmarking USD 500m — USD 600m for investments in “liquid tokens and digital assets” via its new Sequoia Crypto Fund. “Our goal with this fund is to participate more actively in protocols, better support token-only projects, and learn by doing ourselves,” the firm said, adding that they are “committed to working collaboratively with the crypto community, including providing ongoing support for open-source research.”
— Payments and infrastructure firm Stronghold has launched new a investment fund, Stronghold Capital, worth USD 100m, which will focus on the areas of “overlooked and underrepresented” founders and fund managers, the payments and fintech ecosystem, and the Web3 and blockchain ecosystem.
— Venture capital companies Digital Currency Group, Multicoin Capital, Reciprocal Ventures, gumi Cryptos Capital, NGC Ventures, and HashKey announced the launch of a USD 205m ecosystem fund to support developers building on indexing and query layer of Web3, The Graph (GRT).
— Animoca Brands announced it has completed the acquisition of indie game developer Grease Monkey Games. Grease Monkey Games is the developer of Torque Burnout and Torque Drift, and it has a new major motorsport title in development.
- Entertainment giant Universal Music Group (UMG) said that NFT platform Curio will serve as a dedicated global outlet for future officially licensed NFT projects from UMG’s record labels, operating companies and recording artists worldwide.
- The Ukrainian Parliament adopted a law on virtual assets, in accordance with the President’s proposals, the Ministry of Digital Transformation said today. This means that Ukrainians will be able to declare their income in virtual assets, banks will open accounts for crypto companies, and Ukrainian crypto exchanges will work legally, they added.
— The United Arab Emirates is poised to issue federal licenses for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) by the end of the first quarter in an effort to attract some of the world’s biggest crypto companies, Bloomberg reported, citing an unnamed government official. The Securities and Commodities Authority is in the final stage of amending legislation to allow VASPs to set up, the official added.
— Former US presidential candidate Andrew Yang said he launched Lobby3, “a blockchain-based fundraising effort and community aimed at building a powerful lobbying infrastructure that can bring the voices of Web3 to Washington DC.” “Once the initial lobby infrastructure is built, a portion of proceeds will be used to fund a Lobby3 DAO treasury controlled by its members — the token holders,” Yang added.
- Crypto platform Bakkt announced that their 2021 combined net revenue (non-GAAP) of USD 39.4m increased USD 10.9m or 38% over the prior year, and is expected to grow between USD 60m and 80m in 2022 for an increase of approximately 50% to 100% compared to 2021 combined net revenue, respectively. The platform also expects to use between USD 150m and 170m of cash during 2022 for investments, but they add they have strong available liquidity with more than USD 390m of available cash on hand as of December 31, 2021. They also expect quarterly net losses this year due to growing business investments.
- Global cosmetic giant L’Oréal could be venturing into the virtual goods economy, according to recent trademark filings in the NFT and metaverse categories. The filings are in the names of their subsidiaries, and the Kiehl’s filing includes rights to “non-downloadable virtual perfumery,” along with “hair care preparations and cosmetic body care preparations in a virtual environment including a metaverse.”
— DeFi borrowing and lending platform EQIFI announced a partnership with metaverse accelerator and venture builder TDeFi to provide banking and DeFi solutions to metaverse projects within the accelerator program. EQIFI will establish further partnerships in the near future and expand its products onto additional metaverse platforms, they added.
- Bitpanda said it will extend their cryptoasset offering in response to growing user demand with the aim of providing the broadest cryptoasset selection in Europe starting March 2022, when new assets will be added on a weekly basis, they said. Additionally, the platform is opening up for coin creators worldwide who can now apply to get their crypto projects listed, pending approval — a process that takes into account market capitalization, stability, and user number, amongst other metrics.
- The Australian National Rugby League (NRL) entered a partnership with crypto exchange Swyftx across a three-year term, with options to continue until the end of the 2026 season. The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the deal is worth more than AUD 25m (USD 18m). Swyftx’s partnership with the NRL will support the NRL and NRLW games, finals, and the State of Origin as well as the All-Stars games.
— Crypto platform Bitget has announced a partnership with Turkish football club Galatasaray for the rest of the 2021–22 season. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.
- UEFA, the governing body for European football, unveiled non-fungible token (NFT) issuer Socios.com as its first official fan token partner in a new partnership that will be in place until 2024. Socios, which is already a fan token provider for a large number of the elite clubs in Europe, including Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, and FC Barcelona, will become the regional sponsor for the Champions League, UEFA’s most prestigious competition, in the US.
- Crypto mining colocation services provider BitRiver claims that it is now Russia’s first company to be verified as one with a net-zero carbon footprint. The company added that their largest data center in Bratsk, in the Irkutsk region, runs completely on alternative energy sources.
- Crypto platform CEX.IO named Joel Kosloski as Chief Information Security Officer and John Werneke as Chief Product Officer. Prior to joining CEX.IO, Kosloski was the Chief Technology Officer of money transfer specialist Sigue Corporation, while Werneke was Director of Global Digital Product Management for Hyatt Hotels Corporation.