cryptocurrency

IRS Snooping Flexes Government Power, but May Drive Crypto

September 14, 2021
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government challengeTo fight tax evasion, the federal government wants the IRS to track any account in the United States that transacts more than $600 in or out over the course of a year. The tracking will apply to banks and other financial institutions. The feds claim that they will use any found tax dollars to help finance the administration’s new $3.5 trillion spending plan.

Such a move could push a suspicious populace into crypto, where records, however openly recorded on blockchains, could potentially obscure the parties involved.

Banks have fought against the government’s push to share account transactions, as they argue it will be a major invasion of privacy. This will undoubtedly create an entire new workload for them as well, as the banks will have to provide intricate details on most of the accounts on their books — an unprecedented task.

“I don’t believe that much is going to change,” said Yoel Wagschal, a CPA. Wagschal stresses to his clients to always live their life as if the government has access to the information about their spending habits for the sake of their wellbeing.

“The issue at hand is how far this is going to [go], how far the government’s reach will be,” said Wagschal. “When a government body gets power, they don’t give it back. Look at the power wagon they are on.”

As crypto becomes more of an avenue to store and invest money, it may also be a new channel for coin holders to keep their finances shrouded behind additional layers from the federal government.

Brokers Say “Yes” to Commissions in Crypto

September 12, 2021
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Jay AvigdorOne month after Velocity Capital Group began offering broker commissions in crypto, CEO Jay Avigdor says it is taking off. It’s completely optional of course, but already seven of VCG’s ISOs have opted to get paid that way.

“The feedback has been fantastic!” Avigdor says.

In a previous interview with deBanked, Avigdor said that the initiative wasn’t about speculating on cryptocurrencies but instead about taking advantage of the transaction speed. Crypto can change hands faster than an ACH or a wire, for example, and VCG will send funds via a stablecoin so that there is no volatile exchange rate risk.

“Our goal since day 1 of VCG, was to give ISOs and merchants the ability to access capital as fast as possible,” Avigdor said. “With VCG’s proprietary technology, we have been able to change that mindset from ‘as fast as possible’ to ‘the FASTEST possible.’”

One broker attested on facebook that he received his commission from VCG within 5 minutes from the moment the deal funded via the DAI stablecoin.

Even a merchant requested that they be funded with crypto, according to Avigdor, which they accommodated. Payments back to VCG are still done via ACH debit, however.

The market cap of the cryptocurrency industry is currently at more than $2 trillion.

deBanked Mints NFTs, Puts First Magazine Cover on the Ethereum Blockchain

September 12, 2021
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deBanked March/April thumbdeBanked has been forever etched into the Ethereum blockchain.

The first print magazine cover ever published by deBanked has been turned into an NFT. Over the weekend, deBanked deployed its own NFT smart contract on to Ethereum and minted several NFTs including the deBanked logo and the Broker Fair 2021 logo. The exercise was prompted by a deBanked TV discussion about athletes selling “digitally-signed” memorabilia.

“I think it’s important that as we talk about this technology, that we fundamentally understand how it all works,” said deBanked President Sean Murray. “There are some drag-and-drop style NFT ‘makers’ online, but I thought that would defeat the purpose, so I did it all through the Terminal. Once I got our NFT smart contract on the Ethereum mainnet, I minted a handful of NFTs with it.”

Murray, who started using and mining crypto in 2014, has offered Bitcoin as a deBanked customer payment option for more than 6 years.

Although the NFT contract and token IDs are visible on etherscan.io, images themselves are not. Users need a particular wallet or app that is equipped to display NFTs.

nft“It’s a somewhat strange system in which these tokens basically contain metadata with a URL to where the images are hosted somewhere else online. So you need something that’s interpreting the metadata,” Murray said.

Using a mobile wallet like MetaMask can accomplish this, but so can a quick web tool like checkmynft.com.

Murray added that there’s actual costs involved too.

“A lot of people are joking about how someone paid $1.3 million for a picture of a rock,” he said, “but it does cost money by way of eth to mint an NFT. It could cost someone more than $100 just to put a single NFT on Ethereum so selling an NFT, even if it’s something silly, could fetch a significant price by virtue of the high transaction fees on the network.”

broker fair NFTNetwork fees are a known obstacle. NFTs on the sports star operated Autograph.io are minted on the Polygon blockchain where costs are lower, for example. Autograph boasts that anyone can buy “digitally signed autographs” from celebrities like Tom Brady, Derek Jeter, and Wayne Gretzky.

Minting an NFT or two or three, or as many as one wants, is as simple as pressing a button once a proper script is written. Interested collectors would have to establish just how genuinely or intimately signed an autograph is and how rare it is. Is it an agent executing a script? Is it the celebrity pressing a button? Or could it be that the image itself is unique and that the seller drew or signed it with their own hand in Adobe Photoshop or something similar? As the mysteriousness of the technology becomes more understood, the market may become more cost normalized.

Murray says that the smart contract is still accessible so that there is the potential to mint more deBanked-originated NFTs in the future and that deBanked NFTs can also be sent to others that have Ethereum-equipped wallets.

“I think 2021 is as good a year as ever for Broker Fair in particular to be memorialized into Ethereum,” Murray said. “What better way than to be on the forefront of technology in the commercial finance space?”

The Sports World Is Going Nuts for Crypto

September 9, 2021
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football crowdMiami Mayor Francis Suarez wants NFL Quarterback Tom Brady to know that he’s totally in to crypto.

Strange times as it may be, and stranger yet with a new TV commercial that has Brady communicating agreeably with New York Jets super fan Fireman Ed, the cool place to be is “in crypto.” That’s the substance of a commercial for FTX, an international cryptocurrency exchange with a US operation known as FTX US.

FTX already has the naming rights to Miami’s major sporting arena that is home base for the NBA’s Miami Heat. That arrangement excited the likes of Mayor Suarez, who has jumped on the crypto bandwagon so heavily that he actually launched his own crypto conference back in June.

On the other side of the country, Golden State Warrior powerhouse Steph Curry, announced he had signed on as an FTX partner/spokesperson.

“I’m excited to partner with a company that demystifies the crypto space and eliminates the intimidation factor for first-time users,” Curry said in a release.

Curry was one of several celebrities (including Brady’s supermodel wife Gisele Bundchen who also stars in it) that Tom Brady tagged in a tweet promoting his commercial.

“Whatever you do… don’t laser eyes!” Brady separately tweeted to Curry, a joke at the fact that crypto’s twitterverse has adopted “laser eye” profile pics to signal to others that “they’re in.” Brady is no different. Though his account profile description is short and to the point, “Family and Football,” his red laser-eyed pic is a signal that FTX and crypto are not just another random endorsement deal.

Brady is also a co-founder & co-chairman of the Board at Autograph, for example, a blockchain-based NFT autograph site that is currently selling digitally signed Derek Jeter autographs at high prices.

“NFTs bring an entirely new dimension to the collector experience, and I cannot wait for people to discover and engage with this first ever drop of Autograph’s official digital collectibles,” Brady said in a public statement about the company. “We created Autograph as a way for fans and collectors to own a piece of iconic moments in sports and entertainment through authenticated and official digital collectibles and we are just getting started!”

Derek Jeter Joins Athletes Looking to Cash in with NFTs

September 7, 2021
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derek jeterThe trendiest merch in tech has made its way into the world of professional sports and entertainment, as professional athletes have begun selling NFTs. DraftKings Marketplace already offers several tiers of NFTs from Tom Brady, Simone Biles, and Wayne Gretzky—some of which are valued at over $167,000. Jeter’s NFT will be dropped Tuesday afternoon in two separate bids.

“We are excited to bring this special Derek Jeter offering exclusively to our DraftKings Marketplace customers, and believe it will have a place in history as our first digital baseball collectable drop,” said Matthew Kalish, co-founder and President of DraftKings North America to deBanked. “There has been such a strong and positive response from our community around the iconic athlete drops so far, and Derek Jeter, the iconic Yankees superstar and soon-to-be Hall of Famer, will be no different. We look forward to seeing thousands of collectors add to their digital collections this week on DraftKings Marketplace.”

Alongside age requirements specific to the state in which the purchase takes place in, potential buyers must also have a verified DraftKings account with all of the terms and conditions agreed upon.

Hosted by the NFT platform Autograph, Jeter is one of the many athletes that sits on the board of the company. Co-Founded by Brady, all the athletes that have had NFTs sold through DraftKings thus far are the board of advisors for Autograph.

With a reliance on live events, merchandise, and sponsorships with brands to engage with millions of viewers, the NFT market is an interesting platform for athletes to take the trading card to the digital space, while also opening up another avenue of revenue outside the arena.

“As the world becomes more comfortable with digital ownership and collection, we see an incredible opportunity to bring users high-quality and personalized content from their favorite athletes, artists and franchises,” said Dillon Rosenblatt, Founder and CEO, Autograph. “NFTs are the perfect medium to connect users to both the things they love and those who share those interests, and we want to leverage today’s incredible partnerships to provide continued value to our community.”

Autograph has also teamed up with Lionsgate to develop NFTs with their most successful films, continuing their push to develop a marketplace of purely entertainment-based NFTs.

A source at DraftKings was able to confirm that more athletes are going to be releasing NFTs on the platform within the next couple of weeks.

SEC Charges BitConnect With $2B Crypto Fraud

September 6, 2021
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crypto crashThe SEC filed an action against BitConnect last week, accusing two of the firm’s executives for defrauding retail investors by offering a digital asset investment program — while fudging the numbers. The company is accused of cheating investors out of an estimated $2 billion.

“We allege that these defendants stole billions of dollars from retail investors around the world by exploiting their interest in digital assets,” said Lara Shalov Mehraban, Associate Regional Director of SEC’s New York Regional Office. “We will aggressively pursue and hold accountable those who engage in misconduct in the digital asset space.”

Stemming from a civil case in May, Bitconnect founder Satish Kumbhani is accused of lying about his company’s profits while also violating registration laws that are put in place to protect investors. The charges also extend to Glenn Arcaro and his firm Future Money Ltd, as they’re accused of receiving fraudulent commissions from BitConnect of up to $24 million for acting as their promoter.

According to the SEC, investors were told that BitConnect used a “volatility software trading bot” that promised returns of 40% per month while also being shown false returns depicting 3,700% annualized gains. The commission called BitConnect’s actions a “textbook Ponzi scheme” where they are being accused of paying old investors with new investor money.

Arcaro appeared before a judge last Wednesday, pleading guilty to a related criminal wire fraud conspiracy charge in California. He is to be sentenced on November 15. Kumbhani, an Indian citizen, is reportedly a fugitive.

According to the SEC’s report, two of the five promoters have already settled in a related action for promoting the BitConnect offering. The commission has also obtained judgments that require promoters Michael Noble, Joshua Jeppesen, and Jeppesen’s fiancé to pay over $3.5 million and 190 bitcoin.

The complaints seek injunctive relief, disgorgement plus interest, and civil penalties.

In internet pop culture, BitConnect achieved “meme status” in 2017 when an investor went wild at a BitConnect conference, was captured on video, and was viewed half a million times on youtube. He was not personally named in the SEC complaint.

Velocity Capital Group Becomes First Funder to Offer Broker Commissions Via Crypto

August 2, 2021
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Jay AvigdorVelocity Capital Group is bullish on crypto as a means of payment. Company President and CEO Jay Avigdor told deBanked that the company is officially incorporating cryptocurrency in two ways:

(1) Brokers can now choose to get paid commissions in cryptocurrency instead of cash.

(2) Merchants can now choose to get funded via cryptocurrency instead of cash.

In both cases, Avigdor touted the speed in which cryptocurrency can change hands versus waiting around for an ACH or a wire.

“Our goal since day 1 of VCG, was to give ISOs and merchants the ability to access capital as fast as possible,” Avigdor said. “With VCG’s proprietary technology, we have been able to change that mindset from ‘as fast as possible’ to ‘the FASTEST possible.'”

The company says it will use stable coins (USD Coin and DAI) to conduct these transactions “in order to limit market volatility” but that depending on the merchant or ISO relationship, they would be open to transmitting Bitcoin, Ethereum, etc.

Merchants getting funded with crypto would still have their future receivables collected via ACH so that part of the arrangement would not change. The underlying business is the same.

VCG alluded to there also being potential tax benefits of taking payment in crypto.

Avigdor believes that among industry peers, VCG is the first to offer commissions in crypto. He further explained that this is only one piece of the puzzle and that there are plans to integrate the company’s technology in a way that will allow merchants to access funding in less than 20 minutes from the time of submission to funds actually being received.

Tether Attempts to Explain Itself On CNBC

July 22, 2021
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Both Tether’s CTO and General Counsel went live on CNBC earlier this week in an attempt to push back against critics challenging their business model. The company recently revealed that less than 3% of its digital currency was backed by US dollars after a settlement with the NY Attorney General compelled some disclosures.

The US government has since been sounding the alarms that its collapse could disrupt the short term credit markets.

Tether is no small player, having issued nearly $62 billion worth of its digital currency, an amount so large that it’s widely thought to have played a role in previous Bitcoin bull runs.

The Tether interview can be watched below: