Global regulators scrutinizing Binance, bitcoin breaks above $31,000 on rising institutional adoption| Weekly recap

Binance faced more regulatory challenges worldwide, particularly in the UK and Belgium, which increased the scrutiny on the exchange. Despite the ongoing regulatory issues in the crypto industry, there was a significant increase in institutional adoption of cryptocurrencies during the week as Mastercard and J.P. Morgan expanded their involvement in the field.

This wave of institutional adoption and renewed market confidence catalyzed the crypto market’s recovery. Bitcoin (BTC), the flagship cryptocurrency, was resilient as it surged above the $31,000 mark, rallying to the highest level this year.

Binance’s regulatory issues in the UK, Belgium, and Brazil

Being the world’s largest exchange does come with its troubles. Binance’s regulatory woes spilled into this week, with the company facing hurdles across several countries, including the U.K. and Belgium. 

In response to increasing regulatory scrutiny worldwide, Binance withdrew its registration in the U.K. Binance U.K. requested the cancellation of its registration with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA approved this request and revoked Binance U.K.’s licenses, stating that the firm is no longer authorized.

Belgium’s Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) took action against Binance this week, instructing them to suspend their crypto services within the country. 

The FSMA’s investigation revealed that Binance was offering exchange and custody wallet services involving virtual currencies and legal currencies from non-European economic area (EEA) countries, violating Belgian regulations. 

Moreover, reports from June 21 revealed that Brazilian authorities had summoned Binance’s Brazil branch director, Guilherme Haddad Nazar, for questioning at the Pyramid Scheme CPI. 

Binance is facing allegations of offering unauthorized derivative products in Brazil. Deputy Alfredo Gaspar expressed concerns about Binance’s alleged involvement in pyramid schemes and its impact on Brazilian consumers. Nazar will answer questions on these allegations. Binance has expressed readiness to cooperate.

Forging ahead…

Amid the regulatory concerns, Binance has continued to make efforts towards scaling through. In its defense against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit, Binance has engaged the services of former Department of Justice (DOJ) prosecutor M. Kendall Day. 

Day, who previously served as an acting deputy assistant attorney general within the DOJ’s Criminal Division, brings a wealth of experience. Binance has been bolstering its legal team, including the recent addition of George Canellos, a former SEC enforcement official.

Binance, along with Binance.US and CEO Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, has lodged a motion accusing the US SEC of issuing “misleading” statements in an ongoing securities lawsuit. The legal team contends that the SEC’s press release on June 17 contained deceptive assertions, urging the SEC to abide by appropriate conduct. 

The motion aims to prevent potential harm to Binance.US customers by averting confusion in the market. It would limit the SEC’s ability to make impactful public statements regarding the lawsuit if approved. 

This week, Binance.US solved issues about USD withdrawals through successful collaboration with banking partners. Consequently, users can expect the expeditious processing of their USD withdrawals, typically within a standard timeframe of fewer than five working days. 

However, Binance.US has issued a precautionary advisory, alerting customers to the banking associates’ potential discontinuation of USD withdrawal services in the future. 

Meanwhile, Binance disclosed plans to expand its reach by launching a local cryptocurrency exchange in Kazakhstan, offering users a wide range of services, including fiat and digital currency transactions. The platform aims to have over 100 approved digital assets available by the end of 2023.

An uptick in institutional adoption

Binance’s issues reflect the broader crypto industry’s regulatory challenges amid sustained uncertainty. Despite these hurdles, leading firms in various sectors continue to deepen their reach in the crypto scene. This week especially saw numerous developments in this regard.

French real estate giant, Apsys, expanded its range of payment options by partnering with fintech company Lyzi. Through this collaboration, customers now have the opportunity to utilize cryptocurrency as a means of payment at Apsys’ shopping malls across France. 

This move aims to cater to the evolving payment preferences of customers and embrace the increasing acceptance of digital currencies in the retail sector.

Animoca Brands, a digital property rights sector player, partnered with Celo, an eco-conscious blockchain ecosystem. Their collaboration aims to propel the adoption of web3 technology, particularly in gaming, while emphasizing sustainability as a critical focus.

MUFG, a prominent Japanese banking giant, is currently negotiating with multiple enterprises to explore the possibility of issuing stablecoins through its blockchain platform, Progmat. These digital assets, tied to foreign currencies like the U.S. dollar, could be deployed globally. 

The German software firm SAP has joined hands with Circle to explore cross-border payment systems using Circle’s USDC. By conducting tests on an Ethereum test network, SAP aims to address the complexities associated with international money transfers. The initiative aims to tackle high transaction costs, slow transfer speeds, and lack of transaction transparency.

Fidelity and WisdomTree eye BTC ETFs

Following BlackRock’s attempt, Fidelity, the third-largest global asset manager, is reportedly exploring a bitcoin spot ETF or potential purchase of Grayscale as part of its foray into the crypto market. 

With its expanding digital asset presence, Fidelity aims to switch from Grayscale’s trust-based model by enabling bitcoin redemption, per rumors. However, challenges may arise, as Grayscale’s previous legal battles with the SEC demonstrate.

US-based asset manager WisdomTree expeditiously applied for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), mirroring BlackRock’s recent action. WisdomTree aims to achieve a cost-effective approach while maximizing returns through its Bitcoin Trust. It utilizes independent valuation and physical storage of bitcoin assets.

J.P. Morgan and Mastercard deepen their reach in crypto

Investment bank J.P. Morgan has expanded the capabilities of its blockchain payment system, JPM Coin. The bank now supports euro-based transactions for its institutional clients and the USD. This move demonstrates J.P. Morgan’s commitment to integrating blockchain technology into its conventional banking operations.

Mastercard submitted a new crypto-focused trademark application. The application reveals their intention to develop specialized software for optimized Bitcoin and blockchain transactions and simplify crypto-based transactions. 

In addition, reports from June 22 suggested that Mastercard is bolstering its “Engage” initiative to prioritize integrating crypto assets. The program expansion facilitates strong connections between card issuers and potential partners with the necessary technical expertise, expediting the introduction of crypto credit cards. 

Deutsche Bank and FIFA dive into crypto 

Deutsche Bank applied for regulatory approval for digital asset custody services. The bank aims to diversify revenue streams and enhance its corporate banking unit. David Lynne, head of Deutsche Bank’s commercial banking division, confirmed the application. According to a Bloomberg report, the institution’s expansion into the digital asset and custody business.

Football governing body FIFA filed metaverse-focused trademark applications. As part of its “WE ARE” initiative, the applications underscore FIFA’s growing interest in utilizing virtual reality (VR) in various gaming, fashion, and entertainment sectors.

Bitcoin towers over $31,000 amid market recovery

Amid the increasing interest from global companies, the crypto market staged a recovery this week. As of June 19, on-chain data suggested that selling pressures on bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH) investors had drastically decreased. Further data revealed a looming accumulation trend.

The previous week was especially unfavorable to the market, leading to shocking lows and angst among investors. Leading price-tracking platform, CoinGecko confirmed this week that the market downturn, which spilled into the new week, was triggered by the SEC’s charges against Binance and Coinbase.

However, as institutional interest surged, a renewal of investor confidence propelled a comeback. Bitcoin embarked on a rally, carrying along the rest of the market. On June 21, BTC soared to a high of $28,800, setting sights on the $29,000 level. This came up when the number of long-term holders reached an all-time high.

On June 21, BTC eventually conquered the $29,000 mark and broke above the $30,000 mark at the back of increasing whale accumulation. Sustenance of the rally saw BTC reclaim the $31,000 level on June 23. The asset hit a yearly high of $31,431 before facing opposition.

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