LevelField Aiming to Be First FDIC-Insured Bank to Offer Crypto Services

• LevelField inched closer to its goal of offering both traditional and crypto banking services following its acquisition of the FDIC-insured Burling Bank.
• The full-service bank plans to offer its clients cryptocurrency-related services alongside a host of traditional banking services.
• Financial terms of the deal have not been disclosed, though LevelField may become the first FDIC-insured bank to offer crypto services.

LevelField Aims to Offer Crypto Services

Banking startup LevelField is making progress towards becoming the first FDIC-insured institution to offer digital asset services, following its acquisition of Burling Bank. The full-service bank plans to offer both traditional and cryptocurrency-related services for their customers. Although this could potentially provide a safer way for investors to get involved in cryptocurrencies, it remains uninsured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). The financial terms of the deal have not yet been disclosed, but are expected be finalized by the end of this year pending regulatory approval.

Burling Bank Senior Management Team

The senior management team at Burling Bank will remain with LevelField as part of the acquisition and join forces with their existing team in order to expand their business nationwide. This could potentially open up new opportunities for clients looking for more comprehensive banking solutions that encompass both traditional and cryptographic assets.

Crypto Growing Adoption by Traditional Finance Companies

Cryptocurrency’s growing adoption by traditional finance companies has been on an upward trajectory over recent years, with notable names like Bank of America, Goldman Sachs and USAA embracing digital assets in various ways. This move from LevelField indicates a potential trend towards further integration between crypto exchanges and conventional financial service providers in future years.

Potential Risks Involved

While FDIC insurance provides protection against losses up to $250,000 in case of a bank failure, investors should be aware that cryptocurrencies still remain an asset class that is currently uninsured by them or any other organization at present time. Therefore they should always exercise caution when investing in any form of digital asset due to their volatile nature and lack of protection against possible losses if things go wrong.

Conclusion

By acquiring Burling Bank, LevelField has taken a major step forward towards becoming one of first FDIC insured banks offering both traditional financial services as well as cryptocurrency related facilities – something that may become increasingly common over coming years given recent developments within the industry itself. Investors should however remember that these currencies remain largely unregulated at present time so they should always do their own research before diving into any kind of investment decision relating to them.

Celsius Network Granted Court Approval to Process Customer Withdrawals and Airdrop Flare Tokens

• Celsius Network has been granted court approval to process customer withdrawals.
• The U.S. bankruptcy court authorized eligible XRP holders to receive Flare tokens due under a prior agreement.
• Celsius filed for bankruptcy on July 14, 2022.

Celsius Network, a crypto lender, has been granted court approval to process customer withdrawals. This comes after the company filed for bankruptcy on July 14, 2022. Following the court’s approval, funds that were transferred to the platform prior to the filing will now be eligible to be returned to customers.

The U.S. bankruptcy court also authorized eligible XRP holders to receive the Flare tokens due under a prior agreement. The Flare tokens will be distributed to XRP holders as part of the airdrop, which is being done in partnership with Flare Networks. Flare Network is a blockchain-based platform which offers smart contracts and decentralized finance products.

The court’s approval of Celsius’s request shows that the company is continuing to move forward with its bankruptcy proceedings. Despite filing for bankruptcy, Celsius remains committed to helping its customers. This is evidenced by their willingness to process customer withdrawals, as well as their agreement to the airdrop of Flare tokens to eligible XRP holders.

The court’s approval is a major win for Celsius and its customers, as it shows that the company is still committed to providing the best service possible. It also shows that the court is willing to work with Celsius on its bankruptcy proceedings, which is a promising sign for the future.

Overall, the court’s approval of Celsius Network’s request to process customer withdrawals and the airdrop of Flare tokens to eligible XRP holders is a positive step forward. It shows that the company is still dedicated to providing the best services possible to its customers, despite its bankruptcy filing. This is an encouraging sign for the future of Celsius and its customers, and it’s likely that the company will continue to be successful in its bankruptcy proceedings.

Polygon Hard Fork Reduces Gas Fees and Chain Reorgs

• Polygon, an Ethereum-scaling project, completed a hard fork to reduce gas fee spikes and disruptive reorgs.
• The two proposals included in the hard fork were put forth in December and approved by a majority of Polygon validator teams.
• The hard fork aimed to adjust a mechanism that sets gas fees, to keep prices low when there is a lot of activity on the network.

Ethereum-scaling project Polygon successfully completed a hard fork on Tuesday, designed to reduce instances of spiking gas fees and disruptive chain reorganizations. The update included two proposals that were put forth in December and approved by a majority of Polygon validator teams.

The first proposal aimed to adjust a mechanism that sets gas fees – a kind of tax one pays in order to transact on a blockchain – in order to keep prices low when there is a lot of activity on the network. The second proposal enabled an emergency gas fee override that could be activated in the event of a fee emergency. This emergency override would set the gas fee to a reasonable rate and reduce the likelihood of a chain reorg.

The new hard fork was a key step for Polygon in their mission to bring scalable and cost-effective blockchain infrastructure to the Ethereum ecosystem. They are looking to make Ethereum more accessible and user-friendly, allowing users to transact and interact with the Ethereum network in a cheaper and more efficient manner.

The Polygon team is very excited about the successful completion of the hard fork and the positive impact it will have on the Ethereum network. The team has reiterated their commitment to continuing their development and support of the project, and to ensuring that Polygon remains a top choice for scaling and cost efficiency.

The Polygon team has been working with Ethereum developers, miners, and users to create a better Ethereum experience, and they hope that the hard fork will be the first of many steps towards making Ethereum more accessible and equitable. They are dedicated to making sure that Ethereum is a platform that is accessible to everyone, and that no user is left behind due to high fees or lack of scalability.

Crypto 2022: Ethereum Merge, Regulations, and Macro Correlations

• 2022 was a bear market for Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH), with a 65% and 67% pullback, respectively.
• CoinDesk Research Associate George Kaloudis discussed the year-in-review for the crypto industry, including the significance of the Ethereum Merge and crypto regulations in 2022.
• The correlation between macro assets and Bitcoin remains an unfinished story.

2022 was a bear market for the crypto industry, with Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) suffering a 65% and 67% pullback, respectively. CoinDesk Research Associate George Kaloudis discussed the impact of this performance on the industry and looked back at the events of the year.

The Ethereum Merge was an important development for the Ethereum network, allowing it to expand and scale more effectively. This was a significant step for the network, and has enabled numerous decentralized applications to be built on it.

Crypto regulations were also a major topic in 2022. Regulatory authorities around the world took steps to create a more unified landscape for the industry, aiming to create a safe and secure environment for investors to engage in. While there is still a long way to go in terms of regulation, it is encouraging to see governments taking steps to protect investors and create a level playing field for all.

The correlation between macro assets and Bitcoin remains an unfinished story. While some assets have been correlated with Bitcoin in the past, it is unclear if this will remain consistent in the future. As the crypto industry evolves and matures, it is likely that the correlation between macro assets and crypto will become clearer.

Overall, while 2022 was a bear market for the crypto industry, it was an eventful year with significant developments. The Ethereum Merge, regulatory developments, and correlations with macro assets all had a major impact on the industry. As the industry continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see what the future holds.

Crypto Price Volatility: What Does the Future Hold?

• Cryptocurrency price volatility has been an issue for the past 14 months.
• Financial advisors have likely already encountered the wild world of annual cryptocurrency predictions.
• Tim Draper’s most optimistic call is $250,000 by year-end 2023, while Standard Chartered’s most pessimistic call is $5,000.

The past 14 months have been a wild ride for those investing in cryptocurrencies. Price volatility has been the norm, making it difficult for financial advisors to accurately forecast the future of these digital assets. As a result, many investors have turned to the world of annual cryptocurrency predictions for insight.

The most optimistic call for 2023 came from digital venture capitalist Tim Draper, who boldly stated that the price of bitcoin could reach $250,000 by the end of the year. This is in stark contrast to the most pessimistic call, which was made by Standard Chartered and predicted a 70% plunge to $5,000. The difference between these two estimates is staggering, and it serves to illustrate the volatility of the crypto market.

In addition to these calls, many investors are keeping a close eye on the current political and economic climate for clues about the future of crypto. For example, the election of a new president or major changes to the country’s monetary policy could have a significant effect on the price of digital assets. Furthermore, the ongoing development of blockchain technology and the growing use of cryptocurrencies in commerce will continue to be key factors in determining the future of these assets.

Ultimately, while some investors may be willing to take risks by investing in cryptocurrencies, financial advisors should be cautious when offering advice on these investments. As the above predictions illustrate, the future of crypto is anything but certain, and investors should always be mindful of the risks associated with investing in these digital assets.

Bitcoin Resilient in Face of Turbulent Year, Trading Above $16,000.

• Bitcoin defied the odds today, trading above $16,630 at the close of a historically, massively, tragically bad year.
• Crypto markets are preparing for more rough times ahead in 2023.
• Craig Erlam of Oanda noted that Bitcoin is fluctuating in a range of around $16,000-$17,000, and is expected to remain that way barring any unexpected headlines.

The past year has been a tumultuous one for the cryptocurrency market, with some ups and downs that have tested the mettle of even the most loyal crypto believers. But today, on the third to last day of the year, Bitcoin remained defiant, trading just above $16,630, up a few fractions of a percentage point over the past 24 hours. This is a remarkable feat when considering the historic, massive, and tragic losses seen across the cryptocurrency market this year.

Mark Connors, head of research for digital asset manager 3iQ, is optimistic about the future of crypto, predicting a rebound by the third quarter of 2023. He believes that financial services firms and other players in the industry will take a more proactive role in the development of regulation.

Craig Erlam, senior markets editor for foreign exchange market maker Oanda, noted that Bitcoin is fluctuating in a range of around $16,000-$17,000 and is expected to remain that way barring any unexpected headlines. He also added that while other cryptos were mixed, Solana continued to tailspin before erasing losses late in the day.

Overall, the crypto market is in a precarious position right now, but Bitcoin has shown remarkable resilience in the face of a tumultuous year. While the future is still uncertain, many are hopeful that the market will pick up in 2023 and that cryptocurrencies will continue to gain traction in the financial sector.

FBI Investigates $20M Cryptocurrency Data Breach at 3Commas

• The FBI is investigating a data breach involving 3Commas, a cryptocurrency trading service.
• The breach was discovered after users noticed their funds had gone missing without their consent.
• The estimated losses of the affected users is over $20 million.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has launched an investigation into a data breach involving 3Commas, a Estonia-based cryptocurrency trading service. CoinDesk has learned that the investigation was initiated after weeks of criticism from users of the service, who reported that their funds had gone missing without their consent. This then led to the discovery that 100,000 Binance and KuCoin API keys linked to 3Commas had been leaked, prompting the FBI to reach out to two 3Commas users in connection to the leak.

The breach has been a source of immense frustration for 3Commas users, with one group of victims reaching out to the US Secret Service and other law enforcement agencies in an attempt to understand what had happened. The group leader, Edmundo (Mundy) Pena, has estimated the collective losses of the group to be over $20 million.

Initially, 3Commas had suggested that the users were likely victims of phishing, and insisted that their platform was secure. However, the leaker of the API data insinuated that the keys had been sold by someone from within 3Commas. In response to this, 3Commas CEO Yuriy Sorokin released a statement on Thursday, stressing that an internal investigation had found no evidence of any employees being involved in the attack or the sale of the keys.

In addition to the internal investigation, 3Commas has also contacted law enforcement authorities to inform them of the breach and the situation at hand. It remains to be seen what the outcome of the FBI’s investigation will be, and if any of the users will be able to recover their funds.

Cryptocurrency Returns Outperform Equities and Bonds in 2022

• Bitcoin and Ether returns in 2022 per unit of risk were about the same as equities and significantly better than bonds.
• Stocks were nearly twice as risky in 2022 as 2021.
• According to CoinDesk research, liquidity has been identified as a partial cause of negative events in the cryptocurrency industry.

The cryptocurrency market has seen a rollercoaster of a ride in the past year, with Bitcoin being the largest cryptocurrency by market value, experiencing a 64% decline in value year-to-date. Despite this, research from CoinDesk has shown that the returns for Bitcoin and Ether in 2022 per unit of risk were about the same as equities and significantly better than bonds.

Andrew Baehr, CoinDesk Indices managing director, discussed this on CoinDeskTV, noting that this isn’t too different from the traditional stock markets, where many darlings from 18 months ago have lost 80-90% of their value.

When looking at the causes of this, Baehr stated that liquidity has to be the number one candidate. It has been suggested that deteriorating liquidity conditions could have partially contributed to the negative events in the cryptocurrency industry.

The data collected also showed that stocks were nearly twice as risky in 2022 as 2021, which could be attributed to the high inflation and the looming threat of recession.

Overall, CoinDesk’s research indicates that the cryptocurrency market is not too dissimilar to traditional markets, with both being affected by the same forces. Although the cryptocurrency market has experienced its fair share of ups and downs, the returns in 2022 per unit of risk seem to be on par with equities and significantly better than bonds.

OKX Releases Second Proof-of-Reserves Report, Strengthening Customer Trust

• OKX, the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, released a second proof-of-reserves (PoR) report.
• The report shows that as of Tuesday, 12:00 UTC, OKX’s wallets held 113,754 bitcoin (US$1.87 billion) against a user balance of 112,192 bitcoin (BTC).
• This PoR report allows users to verify that the exchange has sufficient assets to handle customer withdrawals and provides more transparency on the exchange’s health and the safety of their assets.

OKX, the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, has published a second proof-of-reserves (PoR) report. This report allows users to verify that the exchange has sufficient assets to handle customer withdrawals and provides more transparency on the exchange’s health and the safety of their assets.

The report, released Thursday, shows that as of Tuesday, 12:00 UTC, OKX’s wallets held 113,754 bitcoin (US$1.87 billion) against a user balance of 112,192 bitcoin (BTC). That’s a bitcoin reserve ratio of 101%, a slight decline from 102% disclosed in the first report released on Nov. 22. The reserve ratio for leading stablecoin tether (USDT) held steady at 101%, while ether’s (ETH) reserve ratio ticked higher to 103% from 102%. The exchange addresses tracked by analytics firm Nansen show BTC, ETH and USDT make up over 90% of holdings.

Proof of reserves is an audit method adopted by cryptocurrency exchanges in the aftermath of FTX’s collapse to prove that the custodian, in this case OKX, isn’t lending out customer funds, as FTX did, and has the assets it claims to hold on behalf of its users. This method has been criticized for not providing information about liabilities and internal quality controls, a focal point in the crypto community. For instance, Binance’s recent proof of reserves report from French audit firm Mazars was criticized for lack of details about the way exchange liquidates assets to cover margin loans.

OKX said in a press release shared with CoinDesk that it would release proof of funds on the 22nd day of each month to win customer trust and allow users to audit its 23,000 addresses, which the exchange plans to continue using in the future. This report helps customers to view and download the old and new reserve ratios and assess the exchange’s health and the safety of their assets.

Overall, the second PoR report by OKX is a sign of the exchange’s commitment to providing more transparency to its customers and ensuring that it is not taking any risks with their funds. By releasing these reports on a monthly basis, OKX is strengthening customer trust and providing assurance that their funds are safe with the exchange.

Fed Raises Rates to 4.25%-4.5%, Highest Level in 15 Years

Summary:
• The U.S. Federal Reserve has raised interest rates by 50 basis points (0.5 percentage point) to 4.25%-4.5%, the highest level in 15 years.
• The decision signals a slowdown in the pace of hikes by the Fed, which for the past four consecutive meetings has raised rates in 75 basis point increments.
• The FOMC also released a new set of economic projections (SEP) and “dot plot,” representing top Fed officials’ projections for the next year.

The U.S. Federal Reserve has taken action to ensure the economy continues to grow at a sustainable rate. On Wednesday, the Fed raised interest rates by 50 basis points (0.5 percentage point) to 4.25%-4.5%, the highest level in 15 years. This decision signals a slowdown in the pace of hikes by the Fed, which for the past four consecutive meetings has raised rates in 75 basis point increments.

The rate hike comes at a time when the economy is showing signs of slowing down due to increasing borrowing costs. Inflation as measured by the consumer price index (CPI) continues to slow on a yearly basis: November’s CPI report showed that inflation rose 7.1%, down from 7.7% in October, the Labor Department reported Tuesday.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has signaled that the terminal rate – the peak rate for the current hiking cycle, expected sometime next year – will likely be over 5%. Officials with the U.S. central bank had said over the past month that it might be appropriate to slow the pace of interest rate hikes while the economy adjusts to the higher level of borrowing costs. However, “ongoing increases in the target range will be appropriate,” according to the FOMC statement.

The FOMC also released a new set of economic projections (SEP) and “dot plot,” representing top Fed officials’ projections for the next year. Ten out of 19 central bankers who are part of the committee expect the terminal rate to be higher than 5% but lower than 5.25% by the end of 2023, the dot plot shows. For 2024, the majority of dots indicate that the terminal rate will be over 5.5%.

The Fed’s move to raise interest rates comes at a time of economic uncertainty, with the U.S.-China trade war and the ongoing government shutdown creating headwinds for the economy. In addition, the recent volatility in global markets has raised concerns about the global economic outlook.

The Fed’s rate hike is expected to have a ripple effect on the economy, with higher borrowing costs likely to slow consumer spending and investment. As a result, the Fed’s actions may have a dampening effect on growth in the near term. In the long term, however, the Fed’s actions are designed to ensure the economy continues to grow at a sustainable rate.