In what is a major victory for the San Francisco-based Ripple Labs, the blockchain firm has been granted access to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission’s documents and discussions about whether Ripple’s XRP tokens are similar to cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ether.
A motion to compel the SEC to produce Bitcoin and Ethereum documentation had been filed by Ripple last month, with the firm arguing that “under a proper application of Howey, the economic substance of a transaction in XRP is no different from one in Bitcoin and Ether – Currencies that Director Hinman publicly stated were not securities.”
In fact, a similar contention was part of Ripple’s preliminary response back in January when it argued,
“How does the SEC explain telling the public that BTC and ETH are not securities, then turning around and alleging the opposite is true for XRP?”
To the same, the SEC had claimed that Ripple is not like Bitcoin because the company is the “one entity” that created these assets. “That is fundamentally different,” it had said.
It was to discuss this point of order that a telephonic discovery conference was scheduled for the 6th of April. However, in what is a major setback to the regulatory agency, it was during this conference that Judge Sarah Netburn granted “in large part the defendant’s motion.”
Under the said ruling, the agency will not be compelled to produce staff-to-staff email communication. Alas,
“…. other information, such as SEC minutes and memos expressing the agency’s interpretation or views on crypto are likely discoverable.”
Here, it’s worth noting that Judge Netburn also left the door open for either party to return to the court with specific disputes they may have.
The aforementioned lawsuit has seen a lot of back and forth between the involves parties over the past few months. While Ripple and its execs Garlinghouse and Larden have taken issue with the fact that “for almost a decade, the SEC watched as XRP grew and developed, all the while issuing no formal guidance that its sales may be illegal,” the SEC has argued that the defendants have been trying to put the agency itself on trial.
The implications of the said ruling are significant, to say the least. According to Garlinghouse’s counsel Matthew Solomon, for instance, it would be “game over” for the whole case if any information pertaining to the SEC talking about XRP akin to Bitcoin and Ether is dug up.
In this respect, it’s worth noting that Attorney Jeremy Hogan recently pointed out that an SEC-filed public document dated 2016 has Ripple Labs characterized as a “Digital Currency Company.” According to Hogan,
“The SEC must now explain to the Court how a “digital currency” transformed to a “digital security.”
As for XRP, the token has been surging up the charts lately, with the same up by over 90% in the month of April. With the latest ruling going the firm’s way, one can expect the cryptocurrency to keep surging, despite some corrections setting in at press time.
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Pele NFTs to Drop on Ethernity Chain from May 2
NFTs is about capturing value of precious moments compliantly. Ethernity Chain does this brilliantly, this time by dropping a new collection of NFTs honoring the legacy of the iconic Brazilian soccer player, a world cup winner, and a legend in soccer halls, Pele.
Pele is coming to Ethernity Chain
An announcement from Ethernity Chain—a differentiated platform introducing authenticated NFTs, on Apr 16, said Pele’s collections would be available in two weeks from May 2.
These valuable collections are created by Kingsletter and Visual Lab–leading Australian Concept artists. It is the first time the legend’s trading cards have been released digitally.
The second batch will be Pele NFTs will be released later this year.
It is easy to see why the physical vintage cards of Pele are worth millions and considered the most valuable in the world.
Pele’s Golden Records make his NFTs Valuable
Pele is award-winning and honored severally in the last 60 years or so.
Together with Diego Maradona, they are joint winners of the FIFA’s Player of the Century award.
He was also instrumental in three World Cup-winning teams of 1958, 1962, and 1970.
Besides, he was unplayable during his playing years. Thus far, he remains the highest goal scorer in Brazilian national team history, scoring 77 goals in just 92 appearances.
Before retiring in 1977, Pele scored 500 goals for Santos—a professional football club in Brazil.
For this, Pele is adored and endeared by football fans and bodies globally for his contribution to Soccer and tireless efforts in eradicating poverty. Through the Pele Foundation, the mega football star is empowering Children battling poverty.
For this reason, 90 percent of Ethernity Chain’s sales will directly benefit the charity.
Jason Heuser’s NFT Collections Sold out for Big Dollars
This collection will be the second following Ethernity Chain’s partnership with Jason Heuser, which saw the drop of the “Welcome to the Internet” collection.
It was an immense success since the “Legendary Edition NFT” eventually sold for $162k from 22 bids. The NFT hard a reserve price of $35k.
Other NFTs—the “Limited Super Edition” sold for $173,824 while the “2012 Original” was scooped for a whopping $224,800.
Mergers and acquisitions are rising, leaving crypto assessments in question
Fintech, cryptocurrency and mergers and acquisitions are poised to intersect significantly in the coming year. M&A activity is expected to rebound quickly — more than 60% of decision-makers at large companies who were surveyed by FTI Consulting for a February report agree that their company has recently been a target of aggressive M&A, and 39% say their companies are looking at M&A as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the same time, the cryptocurrency market is making strides toward mainstream acceptance.
As a result, there’s likely to be an uplift in deals involving cryptocurrency assets and valuations throughout 2021. While this trend is likely to spur some exciting developments in the financial sector, it is also starting to raise unprecedented questions about whether cryptocurrency and these complex business models can be accurately assessed and verified in the context of dealmaking.
Digitizing the world of finances
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have driven significant shifts from physical to digital services across a wide range of industries — none more dramatically than in the financial services industry, in which S&P Global has reported that an estimated 420 billion transactions, worth $7 trillion, will switch to cards and digital payments by 2023, reaching $48 trillion by 2030.
PayPal further legitimized cryptocurrency when it began accepting it in November 2020 and announced its acquisition of Israeli crypto startup Curv in March. Visa has also been active in the fintech arena, most recently with its $5.3 billion acquisition of Plaid in January. Investors are also keeping a close eye on the developments that will follow Coinbase’s recent debut on the Nasdaq stock exchange. Naturally, all of this activity is generating a lot of interest in fintech and cryptocurrency companies among traditional financial services institutions and big tech corporations. Even amid market lows during the first half of 2020, cryptocurrency-related M&A hit $600 million, more than the total for all of 2019. All signs point to an even larger year in 2021.
The need for due diligence
Of course with M&A, IPOs and capital raises also comes the need to conduct due diligence, market assessments and valuations. But when cryptocurrency is involved as the primary asset or a key asset, there are additional, complex layers to standard due diligence processes.
Buyers and target companies need to consider conducting a technical assessment of the digital assets at play. Potential buyers will want to know how to verify the cryptocurrency assets and ensure that the target company’s reported assets are accurate. Because cryptocurrency companies often operate under unconventional business models, and due to the very nature of distributed ledger systems, it’s not always clear what’s what. The crux of the issue is to find out about any problems, risks or inaccuracies in a target company’s cryptocurrency assets, framework and business model and whether they have the correct procedures in place to support their crypto-based business activities.
Likewise, cryptocurrency companies that are looking to raise money or sell their business to a larger technology or financial services corporation (or file for an IPO) can help position their business by conducting in-depth assessments that will demonstrate their differentiators and value to potential buyers, and support subsequent valuation and due diligence activities.
The nuances of the crypto space
Many may not understand the importance of conducting a technical assessment and cryptocurrency evaluation as part of their larger financial due diligence, or that it’s even possible. However, experts in this space are beginning to develop complex methodologies to conduct, fast, in-depth and cost-effective technical assessments of cryptocurrency assets and leverage digital forensic investigation techniques to sample and verify digital wallet ownership, digital asset ownership, as well as verify assets under custody, and the value and validity of assets.
Additional areas that buyers should examine in a crypto-focused technical assessment include:
- The full scope of digital asset holdings, including hot wallet services, cold wallet storage, business wallet services, portfolio management and other services.
- Size, locations, duties and other key details relating to technical and sales support, and development teams.
- Risks within cryptocurrency-related contracts, privacy, security, Know Your Customer, Anti-Money Laundering, signatures and other policy controls.
- Code audits across wallets, user interface and application programming interfaces.
- Governance implications (such as regulatory requirements and standards including the United States government’s Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation).
- Technical structure and stability.
- Third-party partnerships, data use and obligations.
- Research and development projects and developmental coin/token support.
In addition to traditional financial due diligence and valuations that accompany fundraising and M&A transactions, buyers in this space will also need to validate and assess the technical elements of the target company’s cryptocurrency assets and structures. Doing this right will require the support of a domain expert in blockchain and cryptocurrency who understands the technical complexities and knows what questions to ask. Cryptocurrency remains an enigma to many people, but a thorough, expert-driven technical audit can reveal risks and eliminate guesswork to support the execution of high-value, disruptive deals.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.
Steven S. McNew is a senior managing director within the technology practice of FTI Consulting. In his role, Steven helps clients evaluate and implement blockchain solutions and builds cost-effective, defensible strategies to manage data for complex legal and regulatory matters. Steven is an expert in blockchain, information and data security, complex discovery and digital forensics. He completed studies in blockchain and cryptocurrency at MIT and has led engagements involving blockchain assessments, pilot projects and software selection and implementation. He has also led disputes involving issues related to blockchain and various forms of cryptocurrency.
AgeUSD to Launch as First Stablecoin on Cardano Network
Multinational blockchain technology company Emurgo initially announced the AgeUSD stablecoin in January 2021. The firm has since announced a partnership between the Ergo Foundation, Emurgo, and Charles Hoskinson’s Input-Output Global, the parent company of IOHK.
The AgeUSD stablecoin will be available on Cardano as soon as smart contract capabilities are launched on the blockchain, it revealed.
Do We Need Another Stablecoin?
Emurgo is aiming to prevent events like MakerDAO’s Black Thursday which emerged through vulnerabilities in its Dai collateralization mechanism. A mass liquidation of the vast majority of Maker vaults resulted in around $4 million in Dai being under-collateralized at the time in March 2020.
AgeUSD’s so-called “Staticoin” protocol-inspired design does not rely on collateralized debt positions (CDPs).
“Thanks to its design, the scenario that happened on Black Thursday is not possible for the AgeUSD protocol. Without CDPs, we do not have liquidation events nor the requirement for users to perform transactions to ensure that the liquidations actually work properly,”
The stablecoin runs on the Ergo blockchain aiming to automate as much as possible within the mathematics of the protocol itself. Reserve providers pay Ergo’s native currency (ERG) to mint reserve coins which represent the underlying collateral. Users of the stablecoin can also deposit ERG into the reserves in order to mint AgeUSD, it explained. This is only allowed by the protocol if there are enough reserves above its reserve ratio. Banks use a similar method to loan out funds.
The Cardano partnership will also enable its native token, ADA, to be used as collateral to mint reserves. However, the potential downside is that the stablecoin is only backed by these two assets whereas Dai is backed by multiple cryptocurrencies.
AgeUSD will launch on Cardano when it rolls out the Alonzo update that ushers in Plutus powered smart contracts. This is expected in the latter half of this year according to the roadmap.
Cardano ADA Price Update
As the long-awaited update nears, ADA prices have been cranking to new highs, the most recent ATH being $1.55 on April 14. At the time of writing, ADA was trading up 2% on the day at $1.45 according to Coingecko.
It is the sixth largest cryptocurrency by market cap which currently stands at $46 billion and there are 32 billion tokens in circulation. The token was briefly flipped by Dogecoin but has regained its position in the charts, just below Tether.
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