Weekly Report: Robinhood wallet goes live, Binance has both feet in Dubai and more

Here are the top headlines that you might have missed from the last week throughout to the weekend:

  • Block, Blockstream and Tesla collaborate to achieve scaled Bitcoin mining using entirely renewable energy
  • Abu Dhabi grants Binance in principal approval as a digital assets broker-dealer
  • Robinhood’s crypto wallet is live but does not support NFTs and some cryptocurrencies, including Solana and Tether
  • Pether Thiel terms Buffet, Dimon, and Fink as members of the “finance gerontocracy” holding back Bitcoin
  • Coinbase has halted deposits via India’s UPI payment instrument

Blockstream and Block launch a joint solar-powered Bitcoin mining initiative in Texas

Blockstream co-founder Adam Beck on Friday announced during the Bitcoin 2022 Conference in Miami that his firm was launching a collaborative venture to mine crypto using solar energy with Jack Dorsey’s Block, powered by car manufacturer Tesla. The latter will help set up the necessary infrastructure and provide batteries for the project.

According to Adam Beck, this initiative will show that Bitcoin is the answer and not the question, as widely thought of. In this regard, it will demonstrate that Bitcoin mining can be done with 100% renewable energy on a massive scale.

The solar-powered mining firm will generate computing power of a minimal 30 petahash/second and have an energy capacity of 1 MW. It will also cost $12 million, a figure to be evenly split between Block and Blockstream

With “raw data” on real-time operational figures and financial data set to be published on a public dashboard, Beck assured the audience that there wouldn’t be any distrust as is typically associated with reports, blog posts, and data.

Ultimately, the plan is to also include the use of wind energy in the mining process should the project show viability.

Binance snaps another regulatory stamp in Abu Dhabi

The Abu Dhabi Global Marketing Financial Services Regulatory Authority (ADGM FSRA) yesterday announced it granted the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, Binance, an in-principal approval to operate in Abu Dhabi.

This marks the exchange’s third approval in the Middle East and North Africa region. Mid last month, the exchange was endorsed to operate as a virtual asset service provider in Bahrain and the UAE’s Dubai Emirate. This is part of Binance’s renewed surge in 2022 as it seeks to become a fully regulated crypto exchange following a bumpy run last year.

With the approval, Binance has now gained the Financial Services Permission (FSP), which ratifies it to serve as a broker-dealer of digital assets such as cryptocurrency tokens.

Going ahead, the ADGM intends to flash out even more approvals to both local and global crypto exchanges to boost Abu Dhabi’s already rapidly-growing digital asset economy. Abu Dhabi also aims to become a formidable presence in the MENA region and set up as a “virtual assets hub and digital economy.”

Last month, the ADGM specified NFTs as intellectual property rather than investments or financial assets in a consultation paper that rooted for approval of NFT trading by licensed entities.

Robinhood’s crypto wallet goes live, but not all tokens are supported

Online brokerage and trading platform Robinhood finally launched its crypto wallet, which has been in the talks since last year. Speaking at the Bitcoin 2022 Miami Conference, the platform’s Chief Product Officer Aparna Chennapragada said last Thursday that users on the 2-million large waitlist can now send and receive crypto tokens supported by the app.

They can also scan QR codes to easily send crypto to an address. Further, users will not be charged withdrawal fees for completing transactions. The only amount users will incur is mining or gas fees, a huge distinction from the market’s inherent crypto wallets.

The new wallet additionally allows users to migrate their crypto tokens to external wallets. This feature has previously not been on the platform despite Robinhood facilitating crypto purchases.

However, it’s not all good. Robinhood said that only listed tokens would be supported, including major coins such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. However, some other major players such as Solana, Binance Coin, and Tether are left out. The wallet also doesn’t have the architecture to support NFTs.

PayPal CEO labels Warren Buffet Bitcoin’s biggest enemy in a spree of criticisms at the Bitcoin conference

Still at the Bitcoin conference last week, PayPal billionaire CEO Peter Thiel didn’t hold back in criticising figures atop the financial and investment space, who he considers problematic for Bitcoin.

Speaking on Thursday, Thiel gave a combative presentation that shed light on major figures he feels are trying to discredit the status of blockchain technology’s most valuable product – Bitcoin. Top of the list, the PayPal executive placed Berkshire Hathaway’s CEO Warren Buffet, who he described as a “sociopathic grandpa from Omaha.”

The crowd responded with boos at the mention of the veteran investor’s name, who has previously described Bitcoin as rat poison, an asset class he has also vowed never to invest in. The PayPal CEO also questioned JPMorgan CEO’s Jamie Dimon anti-Bitcoin campaign, which he described to be inspired by a ‘New York City banker bias.’

He also blasted BlackRock’s Larry Fink, another member of the “finance gerontocracy” that stands in Bitcoin’s way to growing “10x or 100x.” Thiel pointed to political motivation and vested interests in the fiat financial system as the rationale for their opposition. The PayPal chief further noted that the said figures support Bitcoin’s underlying blockchain tech and not the token itself for the same reason.

Coinbase suspends UPI crypto payments in India just days after launch

Coinbase halted customer deposits via the United Payments Interface (UPI) payments instrument on Sunday, barely three days after debuting full-scale crypto trading in India. The UPI service was intended to allow crypto enthusiasts in the world’s second most populated country complete crypto trades via their most widely used payment method.

The decision to suspend the offering is likely motivated by the National Payments Corporation of India’s (NPCI) declaration on April 7 (the same day Coinbase launched support) that it did not recognise any crypto exchanges using the UPI. UPI, which falls under the remit of the NPCI, enables users to complete P2P and retail transactions.

In response, according to a report published today by news outlet Business Standard, an unidentified spokesman from Coinbase said on Friday that the exchange is working with regulators to solve the predicament to ensure that “local expectations and industry norms” are satisfied.

While most local banks have largely abstained from cryptocurrencies due to the Reserve Bank of India’s long-running disapproval of the digital assets, the UPI would have enabled Coinbase users to leverage payments infrastructure powered by a coalition of banks.

Worth mentioning, India’s 30% tax regime on crypto trading began on April 1.

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Author: Sam Grant