Daily Crypto News

The Fintech Files: Royal Mint NFT still a go, JPMorgan hires from Celsius

When Liz Truss stepped down as prime minister last week, crypto firms were worried it could further undermine Britain’s plans to become a so-called “crypto hub”. That ambition was announced six months ago. It feels like a lifetime.

“We spent more than three years educating the right MPs at the Treasury and now we are back to square one,” Ian Taylor, head of crypto trade body CryptoUK, told Financial News after Truss announced her exit.

The one potential “silver lining”, added Taylor, was the possibility that Rishi Sunak, who announced the crypto hub scheme in the first place, would succeed her. Well, crypto fans got their wish. 

Not just a token gesture

While crypto may not be top of Sunak’s bulging in-tray, FN can confirm his plans to jump on the NFT bandwagon – a key part of the “crypto hub” publicity blitz – have survived the chaotic summer we’ve all endured from Westminster.

Responding to a Freedom of Information Act request, the Royal Mint, the official maker of UK coins, which is owned by the Treasury, said it is still working to create a token.

The project, it said, “is still in the development stage” but has “not yet been launched”.

However, the plans are several months behind schedule, with the Treasury initially having promised that the project would be launched over the summer, and it won’t reveal the cost.

Given that NFT sales plummeted to $3.4bn last quarter (down from $12.5bn in the first three months of the year), Sunak had better get a move on, otherwise there’ll be no one left to sell to. 

The Treasury did not respond to requests for comment.

Headlines this week

Hedge funds pile into cryptoassets as FOMO outweighs potential risks

Three Arrows liquidators seek court permission to subpoena crypto hedge fund’s missing founders over Twitter

Binance’s US arm turns to ex-FBI agent to head investigations team

Comment: The scale of crypto disruption means regulation must keep up

Fidelity snaps up cut price crypto talent amid industry downturn

‘You hired who from where?’

JPMorgan has hired Aaron Iovine, a former lobbyist at Celsius Network, as its new crypto policy head. Yep, that Celsius Network.

Iovine joins the bank as executive director of digital assets regulatory policy, a spokeswoman for JPMorgan said on 19 October. 

He served as head of policy at Celsius between February and September of this year – the period in which the lender froze its customers’ assets, filed for bankruptcy protection and became embroiled in a court battle over creditor claims.

Iovine’s position at Celsius was not, of course, a C-suite one. He was not around the table making decisions about how to run the company, a source with knowledge of the situation told FN. But it is a bold move for JPMorgan, whose chief executive Jamie Dimon recently called cryptocurrency tokens like bitcoin “decentralised Ponzi schemes”.

Before Celsius, he worked for more than two years at Cross River Bank, a small New Jersey-based community bank that caters to fintech companies. Iovine was its head of policy and regulatory affairs when he left the bank.

On his LinkedIn profile, Iovine said he has “focused on developing policies that foster responsible innovation while emphasising consumer protection and regulatory oversight,” and has worked on issues related to crypto licensing, anti-money-laundering requirements and cybersecurity standards.

Our favourite stories from around the web

Last week, FTX boss Sam Bankman-Fried published his definitive version of what he thinks crypto regulations should look like. But after angry backlash from crypto bros on Twitter, he is now planning to edit them again, reports Blockworks.

The Securities and Exchange Commission has cracked down hard on crypto this year – much to the outcry of the industry itself. For outside investors, however, it has made it more attractive, reports Bloomberg.

As a developed nation, you know your currency is in a tight spot when investors start to hedge with bitcoin. That’s exactly what happened when former prime minister Liz Truss unleashed her short-lived fiscal plan in September, reports Reuters.

And finally…

Binance is getting closer to working out who orchestrated a hack on its BNB blockchain, CEO Changpeng Zhao told CNBC on 24 October.

The company intervened to limit the damage, pausing activity, meaning about $100m was actually stolen.

“In this particular instant, law enforcement gave us some tips of who they think it might be. So we’re actually narrowing down,” he said.

The massive security breach hasn’t stopped Binance’s security chief getting snarky with critics, however. 

In response to a LinkedIn post criticising Binance’s security record, Tigran Gambaryan said “no other exchange is doing more” to find a solution to crypto hacks. 

Gambaryan, a former Internal Revenue Service agent, clearly read the memo – but not the room.

To contact the author of this story with feedback or news, email Alex Daniel

Read More: The Fintech Files: Royal Mint NFT still a go, JPMorgan hires from Celsius

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