Cryptocurrency exchange and financial services firm Blockchain.com has denied attempts to sell assets or subsidiaries, and it is not in talks with other crypto firms about possible deals, a spokesperson told Cointelegraph on Feb. 18.
According to reports citing anonymous sources, executives of the company discussed selling parts of its business to other crypto firms, including Coinbase, between December and January. Blockchain.com refutes the rumors:
“No Blockchain.com businesses are for sale. Blockchain.com is an asset buyer, not a seller.“
The company, however, has been working on raising additional capital for its operations since October 2022, even at a significant discount to previous valuations. At the time, the round was expected to result in a $3 billion to $4 billion valuation, according to a Bloomberg report. The potential round would help Blockchain.com to navigate the crypto bear market better.
Blockchain.com doesn’t deny the efforts to raise capital but disputes claims about selling assets. The company’s venture arm recently exited an 80% position at PolySign, a startup working on infrastructure for financial institutions.
About 110 employees from Blockchain.com, or 28% of its staff, were laid off in January, just a few months after the company downsized its headcount by 150 in July 2022 following a loss of $270 million on loans made to the bankrupted hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC).
Blockchain.com claims to have over 37 million verified clients using 86 million wallets and a presence in 200 countries. In March 2022, the company secured new funding led by global venture capital firm Lightspeed Ventures and investment management firm Baillie Gifford & Co, bringing its valuation to $14 billion from $5.2 billion.
Previous funding includes a $300 million Series C round in March 2021 led by DST Global Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners and VY Capital, as well as $120 million from a wide array of venture capital firms.
Google-owned YouTube has appointed Web3-friendly exec Neal Mohan as its new CEO following the departure of Susan Wojcicki this week.
Wojcicki stepped down from YouTube on Feb. 16 after nine years at the helm, outlining plans to start a “new chapter” focused on family, health and personal projects. During her tenure, she oversaw the pivotal introduction of the revenue-sharing model, among other things.
Moving forward, she will remain an advisor for Google’s parent company, Alphabet.
Thank you, @SusanWojcicki. It's been amazing to work with you over the years. You've built YouTube into an extraordinary home for creators and viewers. I'm excited to continue this awesome and important mission. Looking forward to what lies ahead... — Neal Mohan (@nealmohan) February 16, 2023
Before becoming the new CEO, Mohan served as YouTube’s chief product officer and oversaw the controversial removal of the video dislike button, the introduction of YouTube Shorts to compete with TikTok, and YouTube Music.
In terms of Web3, Mohan outlined tentative plans in February 2022 to integrate a host of new features, such as Metaverse-based content experiences and content tokenization via nonfungible tokens (NFTs), much to the dismay of the NFT-hating community at the time.
In particular, Mohan emphasized that NFTs could provide a new way for creators to engage with their audiences and develop additional revenue streams. He cited the potential for creators to tokenize their videos, photos, art and experiences as examples.
“Web3 also opens up new opportunities for creators. We believe new technologies like blockchain and NFTs can allow creators to build deeper relationships with their fans. Together, they’ll be able to collaborate on new projects and make money in ways not previously possible,” he wrote in a blog post on Feb. 10, 2022.
Despite being intended to potentially roll out last year, the Web 3-related plans are yet to materialize but could be set for another push in the near future, given that Mohan is now leading the firm.
Following the news of Mohan becoming the new CEO of YouTube, there has been a surprisingly limited amount of FUD from the feisty NFT skeptics on Twitter, who are usually quick to flame anything to do with reports of mainstream connections to the tech.
Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) calls for public feedback on its newly proposed licensing regime for cryptocurrency exchanges set to take effect from June 2023.
A key consideration of the public consultation window is whether to allow licensed exchanges to serve retail investors in the country and what measures should be implemented to provide a range of “robust investor protection measures.“
The SFC announced the consultation process on Feb. 20, outlining a new licensing regime for the industry which proposes that all centralized cryptocurrency trading platforms operating in Hong Kong must be licensed with the regulatory body.
The SFC’s proposed regulatory guidelines are based on existing requirements for licensed securities brokers and automated trading venues, while modifications have been made to some of the existing prerequisites.
A statement from SFC CEO Julia Leung highlighted the “recent turmoil” in the cryptocurrency ecosystem and the collapse of industry players like FTX as a primary reason for clear regulatory guidelines for the industry with investor protection top of mind:
“As has been our philosophy since 2018, our proposed requirements for virtual asset trading platforms include robust measures to protect investors, following the ‘same business, same risks, same rules’ principle.”
According to the announcement, any person or business providing cryptocurrency-related services must apply for a license from the SFC. Furthermore, a number of requirements are set out for cryptocurrency exchanges and service providers.
This includes a host of prerequisites, including the safe custody of assets, Know Your Customer, conflicts of interest, cybersecurity, accounting and auditing, risk management, Anti-Money Laundering/counter-financing of terrorism and prevention of market misconduct.
Businesses that intend to continue operating and applying for a license are encouraged to review and revise existing systems and controls to meet the requirements of the upcoming regime. Exchanges and service providers that do not intend to apply for a license will have to prepare to close down their businesses in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong’s SFC also intends to publish and maintain a list of licensed cryptocurrency exchanges and service providers to inform the general public of the registration statuses of different firms.
As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Hong Kong-based financial service providers had begun to enquire about licensing requirements after an amendment to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing Ordinance in December 2022.
This Daily Dose was brought to you by Cointelegraph.