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Weekly Report: BitMEX founders fined, California hunting first-mover advantage in Web3, and more

Here are this week’s top stories from the cryptocurrency space:

Pantera Capital aims to boost its presence in India with scaled investments
Argo Blockchain’s Helios Facility is now energised and set to start mining next week
The three BitMEX co-founders have each been ordered to pay a $10 million civil monetary penalty
Rapper Ice Cube supports Dogecoin and spurs the largest commercial transaction of DOGE in an NFTs purchase
California aims to establish a comprehensive regulatory framework for Web3 technology

Pantera Capital doubles down on crypto firm funding in India

Cryptocurrency-focused hedge fund Pantera Capital has divulged that it’s enhancing its investment push in India. According to Paul Veradittakit, a partner at the firm, Pantera has closed around ten deals in India, notably the funding of crypto exchange and trading platform CoinDCX. 

Last month, CoinDCX raised $135 million led by Pantera Capital at a $2.2 billion valuation in a Series D funding round. Speaking to The Economic Times, Veradittakit said the round is part of a larger push to boost investments in India. Besides the fact that the macro factors in this region bode well for crypto adoption, the Pantera partner noted the rich developer talent present there.

Pantera Capital also revealed, in a blog post published by Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead, that CoinDCX was one of three debutants of the newly launched Pantera Select Fund. The asset manager said that the fund would focus on developed revenue-generating institutions. With the fund expected to start and close this month, beneficiary firms would receive around $20 million per.

Next month, Pantera is also launching the $1.3 billion Blockchain Fund, far above the $600 million target.

Argo Blockchain announces its Helios Facility starts mining next week

Bitcoin miner Argo started has been building its flagship mining facility in Dickens County, Texas. This week the firm confirmed that the farm has been energised and is ready to start mining from next week. Argo Blockchain had purchased a 320-acre piece of land last July and has managed to set up a 200-megawatt facility in less than a year.

By the end of the year, Argo expects that the facility would be able to clock a 5.5 exahashes/ second in total hashrate. This means Argo Blockchain would be able to produce nearly 2.5 times the current hashrate. With additional power set to come at a later time, Argo aims to get 600 megawatts onto their Dickens County facility, a point at which they expect it to clock 20 exahashes per second in total hashrate.

The mining farm will use Bitmain S19J Pro rigs – Argo Blockchain already bought 20,000 of these miners, and their installation is expected to run until September. The mining firm also expects to ship about 9,000 S19J Pro rigs following a swap agreement with Core Scientific. Texas is loved by miners for its crypto-friendly environment and the surplus power supply.

US Court slaps BitMEX co-founders with a $30 million fines

On Thursday, the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) slapped the three co-founders of the troubled BitMEX crypto exchange with a $30 million civil penalty. Each of Arthur Hayes, Peter Delo, and Samuel Reed were ordered to complete a $10 million fine in consent payments for flouting anti-money laundering regulations and unlawfully operating a crypto trading platform – BitMEX.

BitMEX, its founder, and the US Commodities Trading and Futures Commission (CTFC) have been engaged in a long-running battle that is set to finally conclude soon. The US District Court expected to deliver a judgement in the coming weeks. 

Starting February into March, the three co-founders all pleaded guilty to violation of the Bank Secrecy Act, in addition to incompliance with CTFC regulations. This signaled an end for a legal scuffle that has continued since October 1 2020, when the CTFC filed the suit against BitMEX and its co-founders. The exchange has already faced charges and was ordered to pay a $100 million civic monetary penalty after the CTFC reached a consent order with it in August last year.

Rapper Ice Cube is a Dogecoin supporter

Cryptocurrency traction is growing, and one push factor to this growth is mainstream adoption. Public figures, including celebrities, have also shown interest in cryptocurrencies and crypto-related products like NFTs and DAOs.

The most recent supporter is American Rapper O’Shea Jackson Sr., popularly known as Ice Cube. The West Coast rap legend in 2017 founded the Big3 basketball league, a 12-team ball completion that uses a three-on-three teams instead of the conventional five-on-five. Big3 launched interactive NFTs with the ambition to connect the league with the fans.

1000 NFTs are available to each team. There would be 25 Fire NFTs and 975 Gold NFTs going for $5,000 and $2,500, respectively. The NFTs seek to revolutionise the model of ownership of the teams

With the NFT set to drop this month, Ice Cube took to Twitter to announce late last month that fellow rapper Snoop Dogg had committed to buying in. That’s where Bill Lee came in and indicated a willingness to also cop the collectables. Following Ice Cube’s co-sign – “Come on with it, Bill, you know I’m down with the Doge Army” – the MyDoge chair completed a purchase of $600,000 worth of 25 ‘Fire’ NFTs. 

The deal was announced as the largest commercial exchange of DOGE in a transaction.

California aims to streamline the crypto regulatory scene

 The governor of California on Wednesday signed the Blockchain Executive order. The directive qualifies the state as the first in the US to attempt creating a regulatory framework to define a suitable environment for Web3, enhance innovation and ultimately protect users.

Governor Gavin Newsom said that the decision to clear the smoke around regulations syncs with a similar clarification provided by President Biden. Newsom acknowledges that in the past, governments have lagged in evolutions, particularly in technology, and the Order should lay a solid foundation for businesses and other users to flourish. Director of the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development Dee Dee Myers said that one in every four of the 800 blockchain businesses in North America are in California, and regulations mean they’d be able to operate more seamlessly.

Further, the Blockchain Executive Order would see the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development collaborate with several other departments to conjure the framework for regulating this asset class. Involved agencies would work with technical experts, stakeholders, consumers, and critics to establish an approach that harmoniously slots into state and federal laws.

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