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Fentanyl for Crypto? China's Got You Covered

Japan "travels", Do Kwon's bail bails, MAS and NYIC partner, Solana goes AI, and OKX says SVP

May 25, 2023

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Welcome to Blockhead's Daily Digest, your go-to source for the latest and most exciting news in the world of cryptocurrency. Our mission is to provide our subscribers with accurate, insightful, and timely coverage of the rapidly evolving crypto space.

Looking for an incentive to learn Chinese? How about fentanyl? It's no secret that cryptocurrency is used in countless get-rich-quick or otherwise shady schemes, but Chinese chemical producers have taken it to the next level.

London-based blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, found over 90 China-based dark web companies selling fentanyl precursors, 90% of which accepted cryptocurrency payments like Bitcoin and Tether.

Cryptocurrency wallets used by these companies received thousands of payments totalling over $27 million, with transactions increasing 450% year-on-year. This volume of fentanyl is enough to produce pills with a street value of $54 billion.

“It’s underappreciated how much crypto is accepted by Chinese companies for materials that are used to manufacture these narcotics,” said Elliptic co-founder Tom Robinson.

So there you have it, learn Chinese, trade crypto, buy fentanyl. Simple.

All jokes aside, fentanyl is one of the most dangerous trades in crypto, leading to over 150 deaths from overdoses per day. It tragically stands as the primary cause of death among individuals aged 18-45 in the United States.

Notably, the opioid is 50x more potent than heroin, despite being cheaper to produce. Consequently, the illicit drug has become an immensely lucrative venture for global drug cartels.

Anyway, that's enough drug talk for Thursday. On to your daily update:

  • Japan will enforce the "travel rule" for crypto exchanges from 1 June 2023. The travel rule requires virtual asset service providers, including cryptocurrency exchanges, to gather and exchange customer information during each stage of a  transaction. Its aim is to improve transparency and combat money laundering and terrorist financing. The move is in line with global standards supported by the G-7.
  • A higher court in Montenegro has revoked the bail of €800,000 previously approved for crypto villain Do Kwon and Terraform Labs' former finance officer Han Chang-joon. Both were detained in March as they tried to board a flight to Dubai. The court agreed with the prosecutor's argument that there was no guarantee the pair would not attempt to flee upon release from detention.
  • The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s New York Innovation Center (NYIC) and the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) have teamed up to publish a cross-border payments report. The study presents findings from the collaborative Project Cedar Phase II x Ubin+ initiative, which investigated the potential of distributed ledger technology (DLT) in enhancing the effectiveness of cross-border wholesale payments and settlements that involve multiple currencies. The findings of the report revealed several key benefits of DLT including interoperability and autonomy, atomic settlement, and near real-time settlement.
  • Solana Labs has integrated a ChatGPT plugin, marking the first layer 1 blockchain to integrate with AI. Users can directly retrieve information from the blockchain by engaging in conversational interactions. It allows users to gain a comprehensive understanding of Solana data and products.
  • OKX has applied for French regulatory approval as it plans to build a European hub in Paris. In a statement, the world’s second-largest crypto exchange said it filed an application to become a registered Digital Asset Service Provider (DASP) under requirements set out by Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF) and the Autorité de Contrôle Prudentiel et de Résolution (ACPR). The company plans to hire 10 people in France within the next six months, with a target of 100 employees over the next three years. and Binance have also made Paris their European base.

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow.

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