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Weekly Report: FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried to spend billions on political and acquisition initiatives

FTX chief Sam Bankman-Fried early this week hinted that he would continue with his political donations, financially backing the ‘right’ presidential candidate in the 2024 US Elections. Details on this and other top headlines in the crypto space below:

SBF to join the league of major political donors in the next US elections

The crypto exchange billionaire known to be pro-Democratic party has set his sights on breaking the biggest political donation ever made in the US. 

In a podcast session, SBF revealed that he was willing to spend as much as $1 billion – a figure he described as a “sort of a soft ceiling”. He confirmed he would put “north of $100 million,” adding that the exact amount would depend on the candidate running and the political seats in question.

This is not the first instance of the FTX founder pledging to back presidential candidates. During the previous US election, Bankman donated approximately $5.2 million to the Biden train. 

This donation, should he make it happen, would break the existing record as the biggest known political donors to date are business mogul Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. They shelled over $218 million to the Republican party during the 2020 elections, according to data by Open Secrets.

Though SBF didn’t specify where his vote would go this time, he acknowledged that the bet is a gamble and he is willing to accept either outcome. Specifically, he observed that financially backing a candidate likely to win is a mistake. His ideal ‘candidate’ is one that has a fair chance of winning just as losing.  

FTX exchange chief  executive SBF is ready to go all out on acquisitions 

Beyond political strategies, Bankman is keeping his eyes and ears open to acquisition deals. In a Friday interview with Bloomberg, the exchange founder disclosed that the FTX will inject billions of dollars to acquire stakes in firms in the blockchain space. 

FTX’s financial books show that the exchange is capable of actualising this goal. The exchange secured $400 million at the start of this year in a fundraising that featured big VC names like SoftBank, Paradigm, and Tiger Global. The January raise followed a $40o million funding round by its US subsidiary FTX.US. 

Last week, there were reports that the giant exchange sought to net new funds to the tune of $400 million to $1 billion. Sources familiar with the matter didn’t reveal the investors leading or participating in the raise but they noted it would be made public in June.

GameStop launches a digital assets and NFTs wallets

Consumer electronics and gaming merchandise retailer GameStop, is delving further into cryptocurrencies and is doing so with a new offering.

The Texas-based video game company announced Monday that it is launching a wallet supporting crypto assets and non-fungible tokens. The move will allow in-gamers and others to conveniently send, store, receive and use these digital assets across decentralised apps without having to leave the browser.

The beta version of the Ethereum wallet is readily available for download from the retailer’s website. The firm is also progressing with its plans to launch an NFT trading platform. 

Beyond active efforts in the space, GameStop has sealed strategic deals projected to boost its position in crypto, including Immutable X’s partnership to build a marketplace. The two companies set up a $100 million grant fund to support developers for the initiative. The fund, denominated in Immutable X’s token IMX, is valued at around $200 million.

Immutable X’s platform is built using StarkWare ZK roll-up technology, boasting no custodial risk, instant trade confirmation, zero gas fees, and massive scalability. GameStop stands to benefit most with the launch of the marketplace.

Mercado Bitcoin teams up with Stellar in the Brazilian CBDC

The Brazilian central bank is keen on harnessing blockchain tech’s potential and becoming a pioneer in innovation through virtual currency adoption. Popular crypto exchange Mercado Bitcoin on Tuesday revealed a joint venture with the Stellar Development Foundation to partake in one of the nine selected LIFT projects.

The specific project aims to explore the feasibility and requirements for a digital currency launch that will attract banks, payment settling institutions and tech companies.

The exchange, which operates in Latin America, explained that it chose to work with Stellar because of the network’s efficiency, speed, and security merits. Backing from the government of Brazil and Stellar makes the exchange optimistic about their product’s (CBDC) ability to revolutionise the country’s financial system. Real Digital, however, won’t be available to the entire population upon launching as the release will only be a pilot version. 

With Mercado Bitcoin already boasting freedom, security, and liquidity in asset trading, a partnership with SDF will enable the platform to grow bigger than it already is. The open-source network provider will make Mercado Bitcoin implement fast and low-cost transactions, KYC protocols and promote overall simplicity.

Several already established players in the industry like Visa, Microsoft, and Oracle will further aid in the implementation of the LIFT plans, of which Mercado Bitcoin is already part. This indicates a high likelihood of success that will open up the global financial system.

Binance is set for a return to Italy after winning approval as a crypto service provider 

Binance exchange has been on an expansion (and compliance) mission across various jurisdictions over the last few months. So far this year, the exchange has received approval in Bahrain and Dubai markets. The CZ-led exchange has now brought focus to Europe – a region where it had trouble with regulatory authorities not long ago. 

Yesterday, the exchange shared that it had registered as a legal virtual asset service provider in Italy. The approval from the Organismo Agenti e Mediatori follows a green light in France. The registration of Binance as an authorised virtual assets service provider is in line with the exchange’s ambition to expand as a compliant entity.

Last July, the exchange got a warning from Italian regulators. Its operations in the country were described as illegal by the CONSOB last July, compelling the exchange to withdraw its services. Changpeng Zhao spoke highly of the Italy return, adding that the implementation of proper regulations in the industry will help foster mass crypto adoption.

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