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Crypto Currents: SVB, His Ex-cellency, SG NFT Hotel, Final Fantasy

This week, First Citizens buys SVB assets, Tether domination grows as USDC picks up the pieces, Tron founder loses his diplomatic status, Ledger raises funding as demand for hardware wallets grow, and news from the NFT space.

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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.

First Citizens Acquire Failed Silicon Valley Bank

Silicon Valley Bank's (SVB) 17 branches reopened this week under new ownership in a government-backed deal that sees First Citizens Bank assuming SVB's assets of $110 billion, deposits of $56 billion and loans of $72 billion.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) said the $72-billion purchase of SVB's assets came at a discount of $16.5 billion.

First Citizens is a fairly large regional bank, founded in 1898 and headquartered in Raleigh, N.C., with around around $109 billion in assets and total deposits of $89.4 billion. The combined company will have total assets of $219 billion and $145 billion of deposits. The FDIC said the $72-billion purchase of SVB's assets came at a discount of $16.5 billion.

Earlier this month, the FDIC took over SVB, a startup-focused lender, after depositors rushed to pull out their money in a bank run that also brought down Signature Bank and wiped out more than half the market value of several other U.S. regional lenders.

Read more: Silicon Valley Bank's Collapse Underscores Risks From Rising Cost of Money

Investors Flee Circle's USD Coin Stablecoin

Since March 10, investors have redeemed over $10 billion from Circle's USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin, with many turning to Tether, which now holds a 60% market share among stablecoins – its highest level since May 2021– according to DefiLlama, Coindesk reported.

USDC's plunge comes amid increasing regulatory scrutiny of the stablecoin sector and after banking sector uncertainties. Circle had backed USDC's value with short-term government bonds administered by BlackRock and cash reserves at various US banks, with most cash now held at BNY Mellon after Silicon Valley Bank's collapse.

Stablecoins play an important role in the cryptosphere because of the ease with which they can be converted to and from other cryptocurrencies or fiat currencies.

But Tether, the issuer of USDT, has faced scrutiny over its reserve assets and lack of transparency for years. There have been concerns about whether the company has enough reserves to back its stablecoin, as well as worries about the company's lack of transparency regarding its banking relationships and its issuance of USDT tokens.

For now, a winner has emerged, and USDC lives to fight another day.

Justin Sun Lost His Diplomatic Status

Tron founder Justin Sun isn't a Grenada diplomat any more according to the Grenada Broadcasting Network.

In a report, the network described Sun as the country's "immediate former Ambassador to the World Trade Organisation."

Sun's status, which he held since 2021, was reportedly dropped following the 23 June 2022 general election when the New National Party was put out of office.

The 32-year-old has not publicly revealed the loss of his status, despite speculation on social media. Instead, Sun still retains the title "His Excellency" in interviews and on his social media accounts.

Read more: SEC Sues Justin Sun, Lindsay Lohan, Rappers, Pornstar for Crypto Violations

Ledger Raises $108m to Boost Production of Hardware Wallets

French startup Ledger, which designs and manufactures hardware wallets for securing crypto assets, has added an additional €100m ($108m) to its Series C funding round. The company raised €356m in 2021, and the new funding is an extension round as the valuation of the company remains unchanged at €1.3 billion.

Ledger's hardware wallets, which store the private key of a crypto wallet in a certified secure chip, have sold 6 million devices since its inception in 2014. In addition to its hardware business, the company offers enterprise solutions for secure crypto asset storage, as well as NFT management and DeFi features. The company estimates that it secures 20% of cryptocurrencies and 30% of NFTs worldwide.

It's latest product Stax, a crypto wallet with an e-ink display that also allows users to manage their NFT collections, is expected to ship in the next two months.

Metaverse & NFT News

Wassies-Themed Hotel Opens in Singapore, NFT Price Pumps

A themed hotel based on the Wassies by Wassies NFT collection opened its doors in Singapore on Monday, sending its NFT price up over 20%.

Hotel by Wassies is located at 5 Hongkong Street, Singapore. The six-floor hotel features 55 rooms; 49 rooms are furnished in shades of Wassie-themed purple, six are Wassies & Friends themed.

The hotel, which also features a cafe and other themed amenities will run from March 2023 until September 2023.

A Deluxe Double Room is listed on for S$138 per night.

Wassie NFT holders can claim a discount of up to 20% on room booking and 69% off drinks at Coffee by Wassies, the in-house cafe. The project's NFT floor price hit 0.5 ETH on Monday and is currently sitting at 0.45 ETH.

Square Enix Triggers Gamers Again With Final Fantasy 7 NFT Trading Cards

Square Enix clearly isn’t afraid of triggering their fans. To celebrate the 25th anniversary of Final Fantasy VII, the Japanese game developer is releasing a set of collectible NFT cards.

The Final Fantasy VII Anniversary Art Museum Digital Card Plus collection will be available from March 31, and will feature “art, visuals, and famous scenes” from the 25 years history of the game.

Priced at JPY 440 (US$3.30), each pack contains six physical cards, and one digital exchange card displaying an alphanumeric code. The collection features “99 types of trading cards, 3 types of another normal cards, 102 types of premium cards (normal cards, foil specifications of another cards), and 3 types of secret cards for a total of 207 types”.

In order to access the digital cards, buyers must use the Enjin Wallet crypto currency phone app. Once the user has created an Enjin account and has linked the app with the Square Enix website, they can register the code on the exchange card to claim one Final Fantasy VII NFT of their choice.

These NFT cards are non transferable and cannot be resold to a third party. Worse still, if the service is discontinued, the NFTs could be rendered useless.

Predictably, gamers expressed their disapproval of the NFT cards on social media.

"If these are just collecting cards and the NFT cannot be transferred or resold.... then why make it a redeemable NFT. 🤦‍♀️ Kind of defeats the purpose of "Trading" in "Trading Cards"," pointed out one Twitter user.

"Stop with the NFTs," another simply pleaded.

Earlier this month, Square Enix was slated after dropping a trailer for its upcoming NFT game "Symbiogenesis”, which incentivizes holding the NFTs.

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