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House Dems request Trump admin. briefing on crypto seized from terrorists

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On Monday, two Democratic Representatives asked the Trump administration to provide more information on cryptocurrency recently seized from terrorists.

According to an Aug. 26 report by The Hill, the request is related to the millions of dollars in crypto assets that the U.S. Department of Justice seized from several terror organizations. Organizations involved included Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas and al-Qassam.

The request was initiated by Emanuel Cleaver — chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy — and subcommittee member Josh Gottheimer. Together, they requested information about the operation from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Attorney General William Barr. Their request reads:

“It is vital that Members of the Subcommittee on National Security, International Development and Monetary Policy receive a briefing, at the appropriate classification level, on this action, the largest ever seizure of online terrorist financing, from the Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury on this investigation.”

Furthermore, the request also asks the Treasury Department to provide an assessment of its efforts to tackle malicious actors who attempt to target the United States’ financial systems.

The document clearly states that this information is needed to understand what kind of regulation is needed to limit the illicit use of crypto:

“This will further inform the Subcommittee on what legislative actions we should be undertaking to provide regulators and law enforcement the proper resources and tools to continue to address the illicit use of cryptocurrency and disrupt terrorist organizations’ financial networks.”

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Nigeria transacts an estimated $39 million worth of Bitcoin in July

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The Nigerian interest in cryptocurrencies keeps increasing as July saw Bitcoin P2P transactions settle at approximately $39 million. This represents a 3% growth from last month’s transaction volume of $37.95 million.

In Nigeria, due to its foreign exchange crisis, many businesses and individuals turn to cryptocurrencies to help process payments faster than its already challenged traditional financial institutions. In the country, Bitcoin is used regularly, not necessarily as a form of asset class meant for long-term holding but as a means to carry out international currency transfers and Nigeria is leading the way in Africa.

In February 2021, the CBN banned financial institutions from honouring cryptocurrency-related transactions and services with immediate effect. The CBN has claimed that the decision was to protect Nigerian investors from the “volatility” and “Insecurity” of cryptocurrencies but many speculate that it was an attempt to stop the funding of certain groups which are hostile to it.

With Nigeria’s P2P volume at approximately $39 million in Bitcoin for July, which is up 3.00% from last month’s level of transaction of $37.95 million, it confirms that despite the ban on cryptocurrencies, the CBN’s decision has not stopped the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in the country. This is possible because there are online platforms that are outside the control of the CBN and the Nigerian Government which are being used to trade Bitcoin in Nigeria.

This information does not give a full picture of the level of transactions recorded in the month of July as it only combines the transaction volume of 2 exchanges; Paxful and LocalBitcoins. Other popular exchanges like Binance and Remitano are not included.

This brings the total estimated volume of P2P Bitcoin transactions so far for the year to approximately $244.82 million.

What to expect

With Bitcoin trading above the $40,000 trading zone, the fear and greed index currently neutral and the recent banning of the sale of forex to BDC’s, the level of Bitcoin transaction is expected to go even higher in August.

Even with an outright ban on cryptocurrency-related transactions for financial institutions within the country, it has not stopped Nigeria from being the leading pioneer for cryptocurrency-related transactions on the continent. Cryptocurrency traders have now moved to P2P (Peer-to-Peer) trading, which is the first method of trading cryptocurrencies for cash.

Although the government intends to launch its own CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency) called the e-Naira by October, this may have little effect in deterring Nigerians from using cryptocurrencies as the ease and convenience is second to none.

Bitcoin is trading $41,300, down 0.10% for the day, as of the time of writing this report.

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Stellar is flying high on Moneygram buyout rumours

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Stellar’s XLM token is enjoying great buying pressures following rumours that the Stellar Development Foundation has expressed interest in buying popular American remittance provider, MoneyGram.

Reports that Stellar is working with Advent on a potential acquisition of MoneyGram further pushed the crypto asset past its strong resistance level of 25 cents.

Though private sources reveal no final decision has been made yet, investors are weighing positively on the crypto asset on the account it could provide additional synergy for Stellar, which already oversees a network for facilitating cross-border payments.

At the time of drafting this report, the fast-rising crypto asset on the FTX exchange posted daily gains of about 12% as it traded near $0.27 cent with a daily trading volume of $1.2 billion.

The 17th most valuable crypto asset presently has a market value of $6.3 billion. It has a circulating supply of 23.4 billion XLM coins and a maximum supply of 50,001,806,812 XLM coins.

Stellar began its operation about six years ago with the major aim of facilitating financial inclusion globally by reaching the world’s unbanked, particularly in many parts of Africa and minor Asia.

However, the fintech company updated these objectives by focusing on assisting financial institutions to connect with each other through blockchain technology.

Its crypto token is known as the lumens, with the purpose of making it fairly cheap to trade financial assets across borders. The mission is to outplace many existing payment providers, who often charge high fees for such services.

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Binance U.S plans IPO

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Binance U.S, a cryptocurrency exchange and one of the subsidiaries of Binance Group that operates in the United States, is looking to go public. This news comes as the exchange is facing a lot of heat from regulators around the world.

The announcement was made by Binance CEO, Changpeng Zhao popularly known as “CZ” at the blockchain virtual summit “REDeFiNE Tomorrow” 2021.

CZ spoke about the ongoing regulatory issues and plans the exchange has for the future. He expressed his optimism on Binance facing a lot more regulations in the future, noting that the company “is in the mindset of shifting from a tech startup to a financial service.”

He reiterated that Binance had been aggressively increasing its compliance efforts, including hiring former regulators. Last week, at the Binance 4th anniversary, CZ stated that it had increased its compliance team by 500% and expects to increase by another 1000% by the end of the year.

The CEO admitted that the company has not been fully complying and cooperating with regulators, stating that their relationship with regulators has not been the firm’s “strong suit,” and pointing out the urgent need to localize compliance communications.

CZ stated that regardless of the current regulatory crisis Binance is facing, he does not rule out the possibility of Binance US going public one day, as the exchange is seeking ways to go for an initial public offering (IPO). He stated, “Binance US is looking at the IPO route. Most regulators are familiar with a certain pattern or having headquarters, having corporate structure. But we are setting up those structures to make it easier for an IPO to happen.”

Bottomline

Binance US is a subsidiary of Binance Group and it operates as a separate entity from the parent company. Binance US was Launched in 2019 and receives branding support from the parent company. Brian Brooks, who was the former acting comptroller of the United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, became CEO of Binance US earlier this year to help the exchange compete with other exchanges like Coinbase and expand its operations across the United States.

Also, to add, Binance has been subject to a lot of regulatory sanctions and investigations from global regulators, including the United States. The States Department of Justice (DoJ) and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) have been investigating Binance for alleged illegal trading activity involving users in the United States. In March, Binance reportedly became the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) regarding alleged trades by U.S. customers.

Binance’s native token BNB is currently trading at $293.20, down 0.09% for the day, as of the time of writing this report. Binance has also recently burned the equivalent of $400 million BNB token as part of its obligation to burn 20% of its quarterly earnings.

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