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Crypto Currents: Circle, MetaMask, DefiLlama.. Spankpay?

Drama ensues at DefiLlama whilst adult-themed payment service SpankPay prematurely ends

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While our news feed covers the top stories and market trends of the week, here's a summary of other developments in the crypto sphere that deserve our attention.

MetaMask Institutional Launches Staking Marketplace

MetaMask Institutional, in partnership with Allnodes, Blockdaemon, and Kiln, has launched an institutional staking marketplace designed to simplify and provide access to institutional staking, which aims to boost Ethereum network security by simplifying ETH staking for organizations.

The marketplace will include parent company ConsenSys’ own staking product and aims to "provide unrivaled access to institutional staking, bringing together staking providers to offer a simple one-click staking experience," according to an announcement on Thursday.

Since the Ethereum Merge, the total amount of staked ETH has grown by 4 million, reaching a current total of approximately 17.7 million. The upcoming Shanghai/Capella upgrade is expected in March-April 2023 and will enable withdrawals of staked ETH, offering greater asset flexibility and control, which could drive further institutional adoption. The announcement also noted that MetaMask Institutional is also launching a more powerful Web3 Portfolio Dashboard on March 27th.

SpankPay Shuts Down

The adult-themed payment service SpankPay has announced that it will shut down after its payment processor, Wyre Payments, terminated its agreement with the company in February, citing “violations of any third-party payment processor or network rules.”

SpankPay claimed that its contract was singled out and stated that this was a targeted shutdown by Wyre because its new payment processor, Checkout.com, does not work with adult businesses.

"Operating SpankPay in a hostile banking environment has always been challenging, but the escalating attacks have become untenable for our small team and the niche market we serve," the company said in a Tweet this week.

SpankPay was launched in August 2019 by Spankchain, an adult industry blockchain, to allow fans to pay for adult content instantly and discreetly using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Monero.

However, the adult industry has a long history of conflict with the traditional financial system, which has forced many content creators and platforms to turn to cryptocurrency  as a way to get around Visa/Mastercard payment limitations and censorship. Despite the closure of SpankPay, the company says it will focus on its other products and push for legislative change to address the discrimination the industry faces.

Related: Payment Processors Banned These Sex Workers – They’ve Turned to Crypto

Circle Eyes EU

Circle, the digital financial technology firm that issues USDC and EUROC, has announced that it has filed applications in France to become a licensed Electronic Money Institution and a registered Digital Asset Service Provider.

In a statement this week, Circle said its goal is to become the first company to receive full authorization under the DASP regulatory regime. By obtaining registration with the AMF, Circle will be able to offer its suite of products and services to customers in France while complying with local regulations.

The license will enable Circle to introduce its flagship product for the European market, EUROC, a reserve-backed stablecoin. Additionally, the company will also begin the process of making EUROC a Markets in Crypto-Assets conforming e-money token under the new regime. Circle is already regulated as a licensed money transmitter in 48 U.S. jurisdictions and holds in-principle approval as a Major Payments Institution License holder in Singapore.

"We are committed to expanding our presence and engagement with regulators in the European market, with our operations in France being critical to this," Dante Disparte, chief strategy officer and head of global policy, said in the statement.

Disparte was also the subject of Twitter account this week, in which a series of tweets from the hacked account appeared to offer USDC holders a "one-time bonus" of free cryptocurrency.  

The fall of USDC below its intended peg of 1:1 against the dollar on March 11 triggered concerns about Circle's exposure to Silicon Valley Bank, which had been shuttered by US regulators the day before. The peg returned when Circle said that it confident it will recover $3.3 billion in reserves held at SVB and will “stand behind USDC and cover any shortfall using corporate resources, involving external capital if necessary.”

Related: Delving Deeper Into the Circle Debacle

DefiLlama Settles Internal Dispute, Apologizes

Decentralized finance analytics firm DeFiLlama faced an internal conflict last weekend, which the team has since apologized for.

In an update on Twitter, the team cited “poor communication and a misunderstanding” for the dispute that occurred between pseudonymous co-founders – 0xLlam4 and 0xngmi.

0xLlam4 allegedly wanted to launch a DeFiLlama without the approval of the team, whilst the rest of the DeFiLlama team maintained its stance against a token launch. 0xLlam4 nonetheless controls the firm's Twitter and domain, through which critics felt the founder "held the team hostage."

One day later 0xngmi stated that “everything has been solved” and the firm declared it "would like to apologize for the events that unfolded", clarifying that "no LLAMA token currently planned."


Metaverse & NFT News

IRS Wants Your NFT Profits

The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is considering whether to tax non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on par with other collectibles like stamps, fine wine, and works of art, according to a document published on Tuesday.

The proposed changes mean NFTs may be subject to a higher capital gains tax rate (long-term capital gains tax for collectibles is capped at 28%). The guidance does not address tax implications for NFT creators.

In October 2020, the IRS expanded its instructions for tax forms to include NFTs and cryptocurrencies.

Trump NFTs pump on possible arrest

The value of NFTs related to Donald Trump has surged over 30% in value in the past week as the former US President Donald Trump faces possible indictment and arrest.

Trump's Polygon-based Trump Digital Trading Cards sold for 0.59 ether ($1,033), up from 0.33 ETH ($578) last week. Over 735 Trump NFTs were sold during this period, attracting 401 ETH in trading volume, according to data from NFT marketplace OpenSea, Coindesk reported.

Trump's avatar-style NFTs depict the former US president in various outfits, including a Superman costume and a Top Gun-style fighter pilot jumpsuit. Issued at a mint price of US$99, the 44,000 items sold out, bringing in a total of US$4.4 million.

Reports suggest that Trump is expected to be indicted in the coming days on charges stemming from an alleged hush money payment made to adult actress Stormy Daniels at the height of the 2016 election.


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