Ban less likely? Putin says crypto mining has advantages in Russia
Russia’s President Vladmir Putin has come forward to support crypto, saying that his country has “competitive advantages” in crypto mining.

Russian president Vladmir Putin has given crypto enthusiasts a glimmer of hope for the future of digital assets in the country, which have been under threat from a recent push to ban cryptocurrencies and mining.

The strongman leader opened a Jan 26 video conference with members of the Russian government by saying he would like to “start with an issue that is currently in the spotlight — the regulation of cryptocurrencies.”

“Of course, we also have certain competitive advantages here, especially in the so-called mining. I mean the surplus of electricity and the well-trained personnel available in the country.”

According to analysts in spring 2021, the price of electricity in Russia was $0.06 per kilowatt-hour for household use and $0.08 for business. To compare, in France, a kWh of electricity costs $0.2 for householders and $0.14 for business, which is four times more expensive than in Russia.

He also called on the country’s Central Bank to meet with his government in the near future so that they might come to a consensus on the use of crypto.

Last Thursday, Russia’s central bank published a report proposing a blanket ban on domestic crypto trading and mining. The report stated that the risks of crypto are “much higher for emerging markets, including Russia.”

Russia’s Central Bank has held concerns regarding crypto for some time now. In Dec 2021, Central Bank of Russia governor Elvira Nabiullina said: "We cannot welcome investments into cryptocurrencies".


Crypto money laundering up by one third in 2021 but still below record
Chainalysis has issued a report detailing the extent to which crypto funds were laundered in 2021 and how the methods of cyber criminals have changed.

A new Chainalysis report has revealed that $8.6 billion in value was laundered through cryptocurrency in 2021. It marks a 25% increase from 2020, but still remains well below the high watermark hit in 2019.

That year $10.9 billion in value was laundered via cryptocurrency. Since 2017, Chainalysis estimates that a total of $33.4 billion in crypto has been laundered.

Chainalysis points out the $33.4 billion in crypto laundered since 2017 pales in comparison to the estimated $2 trillion in fiat is laundered yearly from offline crimes such as drug trafficking. However, a reliable assessment of the amount of fiat laundered is more difficult to determine than crypto due to the use of untraceable cash in offline crimes. The report states:

“The biggest difference between fiat and cryptocurrency-based money laundering is that, due to the inherent transparency of blockchains, we can more easily trace how criminals move cryptocurrency between wallets and services in their efforts to convert their funds into cash.”

According to the cybersecurity analytics provider the value of the laundered crypto was derived from “crypto-native crimes” in which “profits are virtually always derived in cryptocurrency rather than fiat currency.”


The Sandbox announces $50M fund for its startup accelerator program
Metaverse startups can now apply to be part of The Sandbox’s accelerator program.

Virtual world project The Sandbox announced its metaverse accelerator program that will push the development of the open metaverse by investing $50 million in startups. The Animoca Brands subsidiary is partnering with the venture accelerator firm Brinc to target 30 to 40 blockchain startups a year for the program.

The Sandbox Metaverse Accelerator Program will allocate up to $250,000 in investment to each potential project and will give additional incentives to top-performing projects. The bonuses include The Sandbox (SAND) digital asset and LAND, digital real estate within The Sandbox’s metaverse. Apart from this, the best-performing startups will also have access to additional investment grants and high-profile mentors.

According to The Sandbox Co-Founder Sebastien Borget, the program is an expansion of its goal to support a new wave of metaverse entrepreneurs. Through this, startups across the world can make their ideas come to life. “We’re especially eager to support underrepresented founders in their ambitions as they explore the infinite possibilities offered into The Sandbox ecosystem,” he said.

Applications are now open, and the first batch of investments is scheduled to proceed by the second quarter of 2022. The program runs within Launchpad Luna, a collaboration effort by Animoca Brands and Brinc that aims to support the development of startups.

The program supports the development of an open metaverse, the metaverse that is not owned by any single entity. According to Animoca Brands Co-Founder and Executive Chairman Yat Siu, the open metaverse “presents an incredible opportunity to create a participatory and collaborative nonzero-sum environment based on openness, equitability, user governance, and digital property rights.”


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