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Cryptocurrencies December 25, 2022

Why Market Collapse Doesn’t Signal the End of Centralized Crypto Exchanges



Why Market Collapse Doesn't Signal the End of Centralized Crypto Exchanges
A centralized exchange, as imagined by AI (Midjourney).

Uphold Head of Research Martin Hiesboeck says that centralized crypto exchanges (CEXs) remain a good bet in spite of the recent market collapse. The rampant hacking in DeFi makes mass adoption of decentralized finance an “impossibility,” he argued.

Hiesboeck spoke as the multi-billion-dollar collapse of FTX exchange in November due to a liquidity crisis brought increased attention and scrutiny to CEXs. Confidence has hit rock bottom and investors are moving assets off centralized exchanges.

Investors withdrew more than $5 billion from Binance within days of FTX’s demise, worried whether the world’s biggest crypto exchange by volume was the next to fail. It was a time of unprecedented fear, uncertainty and doubt, or FUD.

Amid the chaos, Binance executive Patrick Hillman commented that centralized exchanges are seeing their last days. He pointed out that the platforms may not be around for another decade because of the severe loss in investor confidence.

Also read: Crypto Price Charts Added To Twitter

Hiesboeck: Centralized crypto exchanges not going anywhere

Hillman’s comments reflected the general market sentiment at the time, which continues to this day. However, Uphold’s Hiesboeck told MetaNews that CEXs are here to stay. He argued more crypto assets have been lost from misplaced private keys than any exchange collapse.

He quotes industry data which says that 20% of all Bitcoin (BTC) is lost due to users losing passwords to their wallets. That represents a range of between 68,110 BTC and 92,855 BTC worth – or between $1.15 billion and $1.57 billion at existing market prices.

“That’s only known Bitcoin,” Hiesboeck said. “True cryptocurrency lost irrecoverably being sent to wrong addresses, without tag, etc. is over $30 billion!” He added that exchanges are compliant to security laws, which gives users a guarantee on the safety of their investments.

“It [compliance] helps to keep security breaches to an absolute minimum. Whereas, in DeFi, all hackers need to do is get into a vulnerable wallet on its own without a platform to protect it,” said Hiesboeck.

Hacking makes DeFi impossible alternative

Decentralized exchanges, or DEXs, and other forms of decentralized financial offerings have been proposed as alternatives to centralized exchanges because of their supposed ability to avoid a single point of failure.

Why Market Collapse Doesn't Signal the End of Centralized Crypto Exchanges

A centralized exchange, as imagined by AI (Midjourney).

Hiesboeck explained that centralized platforms carry an enhanced ease-of-use and security benefits that DeFi cannot provide. He said the “cumbersome management of illegible wallet addresses and 12-word recovery keys is anathema to mainstream adoption.”

“Ongoing hacks in the DeFi make mass adoption of decentralized finance an impossibility,” Hiesboeck detailed. “Security must be improved exponentially before it becomes suitable for everyday usage. This will likely mean having wallet addresses tied to real world identities.”

“The notion of ‘not your keys, not your coin’ is ridiculous. Exchanges don’t hold on to private keys because they need to, but because it makes it easier for the user. There’s no need to memorize 12 random words or countless passwords, which is a huge barrier to entry in DeFi for those who aren’t crypto-native.”

DeFi is a part of cryptocurrency that has broadly remained true to the foundational ethos of Bitcoin of decentralization and privacy, maintaining cynic detachment from governmental oversight. Unchecked, however, such liberties come with great risk.

According to blockchain security firm PeckShield, hackers have pilfered more than $2.32 billion in over 135 exploits, from the DeFi industry this year. The figure is 50% higher than what was stolen from the entire sector for the whole of 2021.

Over the years, online thieves have employed a variety of tactics to carry out their work. The most used methods of attack include honeypot, exit scam, exploit, access control, and flash loan, says the REKT Database.

Catching up with centralized exchanges

Phil Zimmerer, chief strategy officer at Spool, a DeFi middleware firm, told MetaNews that in order to fully replace centralized platforms, decentralized options need to catch up in terms of convenience, user experience, and features.

Why Market Collapse Doesn't Signal the End of Centralized Crypto Exchanges

A centralized exchange, as imagined by AI (Midjourney).

“This includes things like performance, execution, spreads, and liquidity but also a replacement for secondary financial services, such as simple ‘earn’ programs offered by centralized exchanges,” he said.

“To make this happen, decentralized financial protocols need to become more accessible and manageable, which requires infrastructure to be built first.”

Strategists at top bank JP Morgan argue that because of their demonstrated efficiencies, CEXs are likely to remain the preferred platform among users. In a note to clients, they argued that DEXs’ slower transaction speeds, pooling of assets and order-traceability features are likely to limit institutional participation.

Marcello Mari, CEO of SingularityDAO, told MetaNews that now is the right time for conversations around the utility of centralized exchanges in a cryptocurrency world designed to avoid fiat-like monetary system.

More regulation

It is obvious that after the spectacular collapse of the FTX exchange governments are going to tighten regulation. We asked Martin Hiesboeck, the Uphold Head of Research, whether he believes that state regulation would help bring transparency into the crypto sector.

“Absolutely,” he declared. “The cryptocurrency industry needs more transparency, and regulations which force them to do so ensures that platforms cannot skirt around their security responsibilities.”

“Regulations will expose those who aren’t ensuring the best transparency and highest reserves, allowing investors to see who’s the real deal and who can’t be trusted,” Hiesboeck added.

Several exchanges have taken steps to increase transparency and trust amongst their users in the wake of the collapse of FTX, the world’s second largest crypto exchange. Exchanges have started publishing proof-of-reserves, a process that verifies it has adequate cash and crypto in reserve to back customer balances.

“The most important thing an exchange could do to restore confidence and remain relevant is by publishing a proof of solvency. It’s not enough, but it’s a start,” said Hiesboeck.

Image credits: Shutterstock, CC images, Midjourney, Unsplash.


Floki Inu (FLOKI) Volumes Surge 300% on China Metaverse Game Plans



Floki Inu (FLOKI) Volumes Surge 300% on China Metaverse Game Plans

The price of Floki Inu (FLOKI), a memecoin inspired by Elon Musk’s pet dog, jumped 15% on Sunday and trading volumes soared over 300% on Monday. The rally came as traders and investors bet on the project, which is pushing to attract more users for its Valhalla metaverse game in China.

FLOKI surged from $0.00003120 to $0.00003587 over the weekend, according to CoinGecko data. Trading volume for the token climbed to $99 million on May 29, up nearly 300% from the previous week’s average of $25 million.

As of writing, however, the price of FLOKI fell 2% on the day to $0.00003291 and average 24-hour trading volume dropped to $17.12 million. The token is down more than 90% since its all time high of $0.00033651 on Nov. 4, 2021.

Floki Inu (FLOKI) Volumes Surge 300% on China Metaverse Game Plans

FLOKI 7-day price ($)

Chinese flock to FLOKI

Floki is a cryptocurrency that began life as a memecoin but has evolved to become a fully fledged web3 project. Created in Sept. 2021 by an anonymous team of developers, the Floki ecosystem now includes a decentralized exchange, an NFT marketplace, and Valhalla.

In February, the team announced it would be targeting China in its latest push to attract more players for Valhalla, a play-to-earn (P2P) metaverse game that allows players to earn FLOKI tokens by completing quests and battling other players.

Also read: BBC’s Doctor Who and Top Gear Coming to the Sandbox Metaverse

Since the announcement, Floki now has a Chinese website and its technical documents, including the whitepaper, are available in the language. Floki is working with Btok, a popular web3 social network in China, to “introduce FLOKI to 10 million Chinese crypto users.”

Floki has also been running ads for Valhalla during some of the biggest sporting events in China such as the Chinese Super League and the Chinese Basketball Association. It also sponsored the just-ended World Table Tennis Championships Finals in South Africa.

The ads have helped to raise awareness of the metaverse game among Chinese gamers.

“We’ve gotten an influx of Chinese traffic today due to the CCTV-5 [the main sports channel in China] feature, and we want to remind you that FLOKI is strategically positioned for Hong Kong and China opening up to crypto,” said the Floki team in a tweet.

Hong Kong eases crypto regulations

The focus on China is a major development for Floki. The Chinese market is one of the largest and most lucrative in the world, and if FLOKI can successfully tap into this market, it could see significant growth in the coming years, observers say.

Floki’s China push comes at a time when the Hong Kong government is expected to legalize crypto trading starting June 1, allowing citizens to invest in assets such as bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH) on regulated crypto exchanges.

“While FLOKI is a global cryptocurrency our goal is to be the most known/used crypto. That won’t be possible without China and Hong Kong,” the team wrote on Twitter.

The Chinese version of Floki’s play-to-earn metaverse game Valhalla will be released in the second half of 2023 and will feature a variety of gaming experiences like racing, fighting, and role-playing, it added.

On mainnet, users would have to hold a certain amount of FLOKI in their wallet to make a character playable. The game is still in development, but it has already generated a lot of excitement among the Floki Inu community

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Hong Kong Police Launch Metaverse Platform to Fight Cyber Crime



Hong Kong Police Launch Metaverse Platform to Fight Cyber Crime

The Hong Kong Police Force cybersecurity unit has launched a metaverse platform, CyberDefender, to promote metaverse crime prevention and highlight the risks associated with Web3. The initiative will equip citizens with skills and strategies relevant in tackling technology-related crimes in the digital age.

The city is also ramping up its regulatory efforts to prevent criminals from using crypto to launder money.

Also read: UK Police Record Child Abuse in the Metaverse

To mark the launch, the police force organized an inaugural event titled “Exploring the Metaverse” within the virtual realm.

This is an initiative to raise public awareness regarding the potential risks linked to the metaverse and Web3, at a time when digitalization is fast growing and gaining traction all over the world.

The launch event took place across three virtual venues and was organized on the newly-launched platform with the aim of engaging participants in proactive conversations about ensuring safety within this virtual realm.

During the event, chief inspector IP Cheuk-yu from the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB) presented on the dangers associated with Web3 and urged the public to exercise caution.

Metaverse a breeding ground for criminals

There have been reports on cases of verbal and sexual harassment within VR games that surfaced last year. Later, campaigners said an avatar of a 21-year old researcher was sexually assaulted in Meta’s VR platform Horizon Worlds.

“All crimes in the cyberspace could also happen in the metaverse such as investment frauds, unauthorized access to systems, theft and sexual offenses,” said the chief inspectator.

UK police forces also recorded 45 cases of child abuse in the metaverse while 30,925 individual offences involving indecent images of children on social media platforms were also recorded in 2021-2022, according to figures from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The chief inspector further emphasized that the metaverse presents potential dangers such as hacking and theft of digital assets by modern cybercriminals.

“The decentralized nature of virtual assets in Web3 may also increase the likelihood of cybercriminals targeting endpoint devices, virtual asset wallets and smart contracts,” he added.

Attendees at the event were enlightened about the advancements made in combating crypto crime and the ongoing efforts to mitigate its impact, providing valuable insights into the evolving landscape of cybercrime and efforts taken to curb illicit activities involving digital assets.

Increase in cybercrimes

In 2022 alone, the city witnessed a staggering 2,336 virtual asset related crimes, according to the Hong Kong Police Force in a press release that accompanied the launch.

The incidences resulted in financial losses of $1.7 billion for victims. Figures from the police force also show that 663 cases of a similar nature have already been reported during the first quarter of 2023 alone.

These losses amounted to $570 million, an alarming increase of 75% compared to the same period last year. The police stated that most of the cases involved virtual asset investment.

“Criminals took advantage of the public’s lack of knowledge about virtual assets and lured them into non-existent investments,” they warned.

According to the police, such figures underscored the urgent need for proactive measures to address the rising trend in virtual asset-related crimes and protect individuals from significant financial harm.

City gets tough on money laundering

Concurrent with the introduction of the new metaverse platform, the Hong Kong Securities Regulatory Commission (HKSRC) released revised anti-money laundering (AML) guidelines.

The guidelines outline the tactics employed by offenders to launder money through digital assets and offers comprehensive measures for financial institutions to shield themselves from illicit engagements. Changes include enhanced Know Your Customer (KYC) and due diligence requirements.

Enforcing the enhanced KYC rules means Hong Kong is stepping up efforts to prevent dirty money from flowing through the city, which will also make it less attractive for criminals to use crypto for their illicit transactions.

Under the updated guidelines, institutions that facilitate crypto transactions valued at 8,000 RMB or more must collect identifying information about both sender and receiver.

International efforts

The increase in cyber-related crimes is pushing authorities to aggressively tackle the problem and raise awareness among the public.

Aside from Hong Kong, other jurisdictions adapting their AML guidelines to keep up with the use of digital assets by criminal networks include Japan, which recently announced stricter AML rules for crypto transfers. The country will specifically impose what is known as the “travel rule,” whereby exchanges must ensure details about the sender are shared with other parties.

If effective, efforts to fight crime are expected to be as international as the criminal networks themselves. Last month, reports suggested the International Revenue Service (IRS) would deploy cyber agents internationally to investigate the use of crypto in financial crimes.

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Metaverse Token DeepBrain Chain Soars 200% Due to AI Progress



Metaverse Token DeepBrain Chain Soars 200% Due to AI Progress

Metaverse token DBC is one of the best-performing digital currencies in the first five months of the year. And its bullish cycle has been sustained by the release of a progress report with an emphasis on many areas including artificial intelligence (AI). 

DBC is the native asset of DeepBrain Chain, a platform using blockchain technology to build a scalable, distributed high-performance computing network. Its value has increased by more than 200% in value year-to-date (YTD), data from crypto price tracker CoinMarketCap shows. 

On-chain data indicates that DBC was trading hands for $0.0039884 on May 24 after starting the year with a trading price of $0.001145 – a 248% rise in five months. 

While DBC has benefitted from positive market sentiment, there are salient price drivers behind its rally.

Metaverse Token DeepBrain Chain Soars 200% Due to AI Progress


Progress Report powers DeepBrain Chain’s ascension  

Metaverse token DBC’s ability to sustain its gains is down to the work done by the DeepBrain Chain Team. 

On May 21, the team released Progress Report Number 133 and provided updates on Product Development Progress, Marketing Progress, and Ecosystem Building. 

Under Ecosystem Building, the development team highlighted Haibao GPU Cloud – a platform that allows people from across the globe to rent GPU power at affordable prices. 

According to the report, DeepBrain has used its technology to help with artificial intelligence (AI) face-changing application testing. “The platform supports A-series GPU A5000, A4000, and 30-series GPU for trial testing. It can automatically replace human faces according to view screenshot sampling, and provide marketing support for wig customers,” the DeepBrain team said. 

AI-Generated Content (AIGC) was also featured in the report. AIGC is where AI is used to automate the information creation process while fulfilling the personalized requirements of users. 

Over $4m added to DBCs market cap in May

DBC opened May with a trading price of $0.03007 and reached a month-high price of $0.004202 on May 23. 

On the first day of the month, the project’s market value stood at around $8.6 million, and this increased to approximately $13.2 million as of 11:00 UTC on May 24. 

Within three weeks, the buying and selling activities of traders improved DBC’s market value by about $4.6 million. This explains the token’s ascension by 40% in May. 

Metaverse Token DeepBrain Chain Soars 200% Due to AI Progress


DBC is supported by three cryptocurrency exchanges, namely, Huobi Global, and BitMart.

In crypto, one of the primary drivers of price is exchange listing. Aside from the aforementioned platforms, some of the largest exchanges by trading volume such as Binance, Deepcoin, Hotcoin Global, Upbit, MEXC Global, Coinbase, KuCoin, JPEX, Kraken, and Gemini are yet to add support for DeepBrain Chain’s novel token.

Should this happen along the way, DBC could conceivably become a top 500 crypto by market value. In the process, it may compete with other metaverse tokens such as ApeCoin (APE), Decentraland (MANA), Alien Worlds (TLM), Internet Computer (ICP), and the Sandbox (SAND).

Metaverse Token DeepBrain Chain Soars 200% Due to AI Progress


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