News Roundup — UAE Cracks Down on Unlicensed Crypto Firms

November 13, 2023

Major news stories this week;

  1. UAE Cracks Down on Unlicensed Crypto Firms
  2. Justin Sun's crypto exchange Poloniex seemingly hit by hack for over $100 million
  3. Binance announces self-custody crypto wallet during conference
  4. Wallet on Telegram chose custody by default to ease onboarding
  5. HSBC to Offer Tokenized Securities Custody Service for Institutions

Story Summaries;

  1. The UAE has announced strict new measures to crack down on unlicensed cryptocurrency companies operating within the country. The Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE) and other financial regulators published joint guidance this week outlining civil and criminal penalties for virtual asset service providers (VASPs) working without proper licensing. According to the guidelines, owners and managers of unlicensed VASP companies can face fines and other sanctions. The move comes as part of the UAE's ongoing efforts to strengthen anti-money laundering controls and combat financial crimes. The country was placed on the Financial Action Task Force's (FATF) "grey list" in 2022 over deficiencies in these areas.
  2. Centralized crypto exchange Poloniex appears to have suffered a security hack on one of its wallets, tagged as Poloniex 4 on Etherscan. Suspicious outflows from the apparent hot wallet indicate the incident affected a large sum of its funds, although the exchange has yet to confirm the amount. Initial analysis of the addresses receiving the outflows suggests that over $100 million in crypto assets were taken, according to analyst firms PeckShield and Arkham Intelligence. “Our wallet has been disabled for maintenance. We will update this thread once the wallet has been re-enabled,” the exchange stated on its customer support X account. Poloniex has operated as a centralized exchange since 2014. Tron founder Justin Sun acquired the exchange in 2019. In response to the incident, Sun stated that Poloniex is conducting an investigation and has affirmed the intention to reimburse all affected user funds.
  3. Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, has launched a self-custody wallet that works within its native app. The company made the announcement during its Binance Blockchain Week conference in Istanbul, Turkey, it said in a statement. "Millions of Binance users can now explore and experience web3, without the risk of losing seed phrases or struggling with complicated onboarding processes," Binance said in its statement. Binance's aim is that its customers will use the wallet to "swap thousands of tokens across" more than 30 networks, explore decentralized applications, transfer funds between exchange and wallet in addition to earning yield on digital assets, the company said.
  4. Wallet, a third-party Telegram bot allowing users to buy and sell cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Toncoin (TON), has chosen custody over self-custody to chase easier onboarding goals, according to a senior executive. In September 2023, crypto-friendly Telegram messenger announced the integration of the custodial crypto wallet bot known as "Wallet," to allow users to access the bot directly from the messenger’s settings. Though Telegram has enabled existing Wallet users to see the wallet bot directly in the messenger, those who have never used the bot are still not seeing it in their settings. According to Wallet chief operating officer Halil Mirakhmed, the full rollout is expected to begin sometime in November, starting with “several African and Latin American countries.” With the rollout, Telegram users in select countries can access the Wallet and start buying, selling and transacting cryptocurrencies. “The rollout will continue throughout MENA, South East Asia, Central Asia and Eastern Europe,” Mirakhmed added.
  5. HSBC, one of the world's largest banks, said it plans to start a digital-assets custody service for institutional clients focusing on tokenized securities in conjunction with Swiss crypto safekeeping specialist Metaco. Once live in 2024, the custody service will complement HSBC Orion, the London-based bank’s platform for issuing digital assets, as well as a recently introduced offering for tokenized physical gold, HSBC said in a statement. Together, the platforms will form a complete digital asset offering for institutional clients, the bank said. Banks and financial institutions are bringing a range of real-world assets (RWA) onto blockchains, both private ledgers and public networks like Ethereum, in a process known as tokenization. Last month, regulators in Singapore, Japan, the U.K. and Switzerland said they will test tokenization for fixed income, foreign exchange and asset management products.

And that’s all for last week’s news! Wishing you a great week ahead!

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