Cuba will now recognize and regulate cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, citing “reasons of socioeconomic interest.”

Resolution 215, which was published Thursday in the state-run Official Gazette, says the central bank will set new rules for how to deal with digital currencies. Commercial providers of related services will now need a license from the central bank to continue operations.

The American embargo on the communist state has turned Cuba into a pariah in the global economy. Cuba’s decision to join El Salvador in embracing decentralized virtual cash could help the country to circumvent the U.S. sanctions regime, which was dialed up under former President Donald Trump and has been extended under President Joe Biden.

“It’s historic that they are embracing it,” said Boaz Sobrado, a London-based fintech data analyst, who spent four years working in crypto in Cuba.

“This is a conservative government still set in traditional Marxist ways. In fact, the communist Cuban central bank was founded by Che Guevara. The fact that they are cautiously regulating shows they are interested in what it can bring them,” Boaz said.

Sending and receiving money between the U.S. and Cuba became extremely difficult under the Trump administration, according to Dr. Mrinalini Tankha, a professor of anthropology at Portland State University, who has been doing research on Cuba for 10 years.

In 2020, Western Union, a particularly significant channel for remittances that had been operating in Cuba for more than 20 years, shuttered all of its 400-plus locations, amid increasingly aggressive Trump-era sanctions.

The process of getting money into and out of the country was made even more complicated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before the Covid outbreak, Tankha said, some Cubans would turn to underground and somewhat semi-formalized courier services called mulas, where agencies would carry cash to Cuba and distribute it to people on the island. But as the pandemic grounded flights around the world, even this path to cash became much more difficult, she said.

It was this desperate need of cash — against a backdrop of a global pandemic and blocked access to the world economy — that helped foment a rise in crypto adoption in Cuba, experts say.

“There is a kind of niche sector of people who have turned to cryptocurrency,” said Tankha.

She credits the burgeoning crypto community for the rise of the internet in Cuba, as well as the fact that there are so many more people who have smartphones and 3G connectivity. A weak local currency is also a factor likely contributing to the appeal of bitcoin.

The use case for crypto in Cuba transcends the cross-border transfer of money. It’s also about Cubans looking to open up their income-generating potential.

“If you’re a software developer, or if you’re an NFT artist, you could actually get paid through cryptocurrency for your labor, and I think that’s where the potential actually is,” said Tankha. “It opens up a whole new economy for Cubans to participate in.”

Photographer Gabriel Guerra Bianchini is doing just that. Havana-based Bianchini was one of the first artists in Cuba to break into the world of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.

“My first work sold in six days for 1.6 ethereum,” said Bianchini. “This is bigger than just making money. This is really freedom.”

However, receiving funds, even via crypto channels, requires some creativity, because many of the exchanges require know-your-customer compliance.

“The minute that Cubans participate in this ecosystem, they face a lot of risks, even if they’re operating with a VPN where they’re able to hide their location,” said Tankha.

Tankha told CNBC that many exchanges, including those not based in the U.S., continue to geo-block Cubans.

Experts told CNBC that it is still a long road ahead for mass adoption of crypto in Cuba.

The resolution itself — while a promising sign for Cubans keen to participate in the world economy via bitcoin rails — is hardly a warm embrace of all things crypto. The text includes a healthy dose of skepticism, such as a disclaimer warning citizens about the risks of virtual assets and the ancillary service providers, which the government says operate at the “margins of the banking and financial system.”

But Sobrado is optimistic that any sort of regulatory attention with respect to crypto is a good thing.

“Regulators around the world, from communist Cuba’s central bank to the SEC, are trying to come to grips with the cryptocurrency industry. This implies that crypto is a global phenomenon and regulators have decided that it’s here to stay and worth engaging with,” said Sobrado.

“Strangely enough it’s bringing some sort of legitimacy to the space. It’s gotten too big to ignore,” he said.

This content was originally published here.

As more and more musicians embrace the controversial world of NFTs to help pad their coffers, Rammstein frontman Till Lindemann has hooked up with digital brokers twelve x twelve to offer up a number of pieces of digital art.

The NFTs range from a short animated clip featuring Lindemann pictured at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia (a limited edition of 299, priced at €299 each) to an unreleased one-shot music video of an orchestral version of Lindemann’s Любимый город [Beloved Town] shot at the same venue [presumably in tribute to Alexander Sokurov’s ground-breaking 2002 historical fantasy Russian Ark, a one-shot, 96-minute film shot at the Hermitage – Culture Ed].  

Only 10 of these collectables exist – a snip at just €100,000 each – with owners able to join Lindemann in Moscow for dinner as part of the deal. According to twelve x twelve, the NFT assets will include “cost coverage for flight, accommodation and visa for buyer and companion.” And, hopefully, the meal. 

At the time of writing, no one has stumped up a hundred grand for the big prize.

For anyone who wishes to enjoy Lindemann’s Beloved Town (Orchestral Version) without handing over more than the price of a new Porsche Taycan 4S, the video’s director Serghey Grey uploaded an edited one-minute clip to his Facebook page back in May. 

Last month Lindemann released Ich Hasse Kinder on CD digipack and 7-inch red vinyl, backed by AlterBoyz and Ship Her Son remixes of the song. Both formats are limited editions and can be ordered from the Rammstein Shop.

In March, Rammstein postponed their 2020 stadium tour for a second time, until 2022. The tour had been due to kick off in Leipzig in May.  

This content was originally published here.

The price of bitcoin broke past $46,000 Monday morning after a high stakes weekend for the crypto industry as the Senate continued debating the details of its part in the still yet-to-be-passed infrastructure bill.

Bitcoin traded as high as $46,050.61. That marks its highest level since May 16, when it hit a high of $49,770.33, according to Coin Metrics. It last traded at $45,980.62, about 5% up on the day. The price of ether also broke through $3,000 over the weekend for the first time since May.

On Sunday night, the Senate further delayed the vote on the infrastructure bill to Tuesday to allow for more time to debate what has become two competing amendments to a cryptocurrency tax provision, which was initially included in the bill as a pay-for to help the government raise some $28 million for the infrastructure. It’s likely that’s increasing optimism among traders that cooler heads prevail, said D.A. Davidson’s Chris Brendler.

The bitcoin community has made more than 35,000 calls to lawmakers and beefed up its lobbying efforts in the past few days. Notable community figures including Square CEO Jack Dorsey, Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong (as well as surprise crypto advocates like rock icon Gene Simmons) have spoken up on social media urging lawmakers to avoid stifling innovation.

Gabor Gurbacs, director of digital assets strategy at VanEck, agreed the market seems to have shrugged off worries about the infrastructure bill but said the gold sell-off and stock market rally are the back bones of bitcoin’s price movement Monday, he told CNBC.

“I don’t believe that Bitcoin rallied because of the gold price correction,” he clarified. “The more likely explanation is that market participants are learning how important crypto markets became and are increasingly allocating to these markets. Crypto is so important that it made it into the infrastructure bill and senators are debating crypto provisions before passing the bill.”

Bitcoin hovered in the $30,000 range for weeks after it fell from its May highs and has been climbing back up since the end of July.

It has cleared three tiers of resistance in the past three weeks, including the 50-day moving average, the cloud model and, as of today, the 200-day moving average, according to Fairlead Strategies.

“The minor breakouts reflect positive short-term momentum and improved intermediate-term momentum following July’s successful test of support near $30,000,” said Fairlead’s Katie Stockton. “The next hurdle on the chart is just above $51,000, which seems in store for a test given no signs of upside exhaustion at this time.”

This content was originally published here.

Non-fungible token or NFT has taken the world by storm since the earlier part of this year and many artists have benefited from the surge of interest in NFT including those in Malaysia. Among the latest example is graffiti artist and illustrator, Katun.

Made available on 18 August through the SuperFarm platform which was co-founded by Elliot Wainman, a well-known figure within the cryptocurrency world, Katun’s NFT art collection managed to gain a total sale of 127.60 ETH, equivalent to around RM 1.63 million on the day of their release*.

Priced at 1 ETH (~RM12,840 on 18 August*), the Apes Stand Strong NFT art was made available as a limited-edition release and all 50 pieces were snatched within 30 minutes. Those who have purchased it would also receive a physical and numbered print of the artwork although they have to hold the NFT for at least two months.

Over 1000 entries for 50 pieces…🙈

50 Quick & Lucky Apes made it out victoriously, and will have exclusive access to “Apes Stand Strong” for a period of 30 minutes at the drop.

After 30 minutes, we’ll open the floodgates for any unsold pieces.

If they managed to do that, they would also be in the running to receive an “evolutionary version” of Apes Stand Strong that is dubbed as Inferno on 18 October. As for his second NFT artwork which is called Mystical Fruit, it is not a limited-edition release although the artwork was only made available for a short duration of time with a price tag of 0.10 ETH (~RM1,284 on 18 August*) each.

Similar to Apes Stand Strong, Mystical Fruits also has its own special feature in which 20% of the NFT will randomly evolve into a special edition artwork called Garden of Bloom on 18 October. It was well-received as well since 776 pieces of the artwork were sold over a span of 24 hours.

[L – R] Katun’s Mystical Fruits and Garden of Bloom.

The phenomenal reaction to Katun’s NFT releases came just a month after another local artist, Red Hong Yi sold her Doge to The Moon NFT for 36.3 ETH which was around RM320,000 at that time. In case you are wondering what NFT is all about, then do check out our explainer on that subject right here.

*these figures are based on the conversion tool by Google.

This content was originally published here.

A recent Chainalysis report examining wallets holding bitcoin shows that 11.8 million bitcoin is in the hands of long-term investors, 3.7 million is lost, another 3.2 million is circulating among traders, and the remaining 2.4 million have yet to be mined.

“We can guess which wallets are cold storage – as they have particular behaviors, like receiving large amounts of crypto from a single source and not sending any for a long time until they are emptied all in one go – but you cannot definitively tell that a wallet is being used as cold storage,” said Gradwell.

In the case of the Taihuttu family, 26% of Didi’s crypto holdings are “hot.” He refers to this crypto stash as his “risk capital.” He uses these crypto coins for day trading and potentially precarious bets, like when he sold his dogecoin for a profit and then bought it back when the price of DOGE bottomed out. 

The other 74% of Taihuttu’s total crypto portfolio is in cold storage. These cold hardware wallets, which are spread around the globe, include bitcoin, ethereum and some litecoin. The family declined to say how much it holds in crypto.

Bitcoin, ethereum and litecoin are all in the midst of yet another climb higher, up 57%, 83% and 61%, respectively, in the last three weeks.

Moving bitcoin to cold storage isn’t a new idea. For as long as there’s been bitcoin, there’s been a way to store it cold. But it requires more upkeep.

“Cold storage requires a lot more permissioning in order to access it, whether it be in a bank vault or whether it be buried in the Andes mountains,” said Van Phu, a software engineer with crypto fintech start-up Floating Point Group. 

And while Taihuttu said it’s easy to top up the addresses of these cold storage wallets with fresh crypto coins, retrieving them is a different story. Drawing down on his cold crypto requires physically flying to his many hiding spots.

Taihuttu is trying to put a crypto cold wallet on every continent so it’s easier to access his holdings.

This content was originally published here.

Tory Lanez Fires Back At Cassidy On “‘When Its Dark (E-NFT) 8-10-21’ Freestyle”

“When Its Dark (E-NFT) 8-10-21” Freestyle

0 MAKE IT STOP

Tory Lanez flips A$AP Rocky’s “Ghetto Symphony” and targets Cassidy on his latest freestyle.

Tory Lanez is on his way to release a full NFT album this week which some fans believe is a product of being blackballed following the incident with Megan Thee Stallion last summer. He dismissed this theory during his comeback journey these past few weeks. “SKAT” ft. DaBaby has combated the efforts of cancel culture and it feels like it’s still getting heavy spins in the club. Meanwhile, he hit up Funk Flex where he showcased his lyrical sword, though it didn’t go as planned. Cassidy, out of all people, called out Tory for his attempts to “pay homage” before unleashing his own diss track, “Perjury.”

Today, Tory fulfilled Royce Da 5’9″‘s wishes and officially offered a response to Cassidy on his new freestyle. The rapper tackles A$AP Rocky’s “Ghetto Symphony” record and breezes through the production with lavish flexes before putting the battle rapper on blast. “I leave Cas’ body in that casket his career is in,” raps Tory. “Ding, ding, ding, 15 minutes of fame is up/ Was in them hotels with R. Kelly, we should flame you up.” 

We’ve yet to hear from Cassidy on the matter but we’ll keep you updated if he responds.

Quotable Lyrics
Old n***as talkin’, I ain’t hearin’ em, I put fear in ’em
I leave Cas’ body in that casket his career is in
My prime to your prime, dawg, it’s no comparison
What you gon’ compare? Some SMACK DVD appearances?

“When Its Dark (E-NFT) 8-10-21” Freestyle

This content was originally published here.