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Down in El Salvador, President Nayib Bukele is taking a victory lap after making good on his country’s $800 million debt payment.
Bukele is now dunking on the haters who predicted his demise after his “Bitcoin bet”.
Farther north, New York’s top financial watchdog has set its sights on careless crypto companies co-mingling customer funds.
Guidance published by the regulator this week dictates company assets need to be kept separate from that of customers.
Across the pond, EU lawmakers are also paving the way for change. Parliament has advanced a string of new rules imposing stricter requirements on crypto-dealing banks.
Meanwhile, on-chain, Bitcoin and Ethereum are off to a helluva start in 2023 – up 38% and 32%, respectively.
Having said that…let’s get to it!
Binance continues to raise flags
Are NFTs back?
1. BlockFi leak
An unredacted version of previously redacted BlockFi financials was mistakenly uploaded leaked this week, showing greater exposure to FTX and Alameda Research than previously reported.
According to the filings, the lender has $415.9 million worth of "assets" stuck on FTX and $831.3 million loans to Alameda.
That $1.247 billion sum has since been marked down to zero.
The report also revealed that BlockFi has under $1.3 billion in assets, of which only roughly half are liquid or distributable.
GRIT'S TAKE: Meanwhile, BlockFi's 125 remaining employees will take home $11.9 million on an annualized basis to work through the bankruptcy proceedings (average yearly salary of +$134k per employee).
2. Binance continues to raise flags
Binance keeps finding itself in the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Earlier this month, the founder of crypto exchange Bitzlato was arrested for running a money laundering scheme and processing $700 million in illicit funds.
This week, blockchain data revealed Binance was the largest counterparty to Bitzlato over a +4-year period in which it moved over 20k Bitcoin across 20k transactions for the fraudulent exchange.
Other top counterparties included a Russian darknet drugs marketplace and an alleged crypto Ponzi scheme based in Russia…
Meanwhile, Binance has also admitted to mistakenly mixing customer funds with company assets, keeping collateral for its pegged token (B-Tokens) in the same wallet that holds customer coins.
You know what would've caught some of this stuff?
A proper audit.
3. Are NFTs back?
With volume in January already exceeding that of December, OpenSea just posted back-to-back months of rising Ethereum NFT sales for the first time in a year.
Even after accounting for Ethereum's 34% gain this year, this month's sales are still outpacing December's $283.5 million.
Are NFTs back?
There's a (very) long road ahead to reclaim the highwater mark of $4.86 billion worth of Ethereum NFT sales a year ago, but the recent surge isn't only limited to OpenSea.
Solana NFT sales, for example, have surged 95% while prices and volumes for top collections like Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunks have also seen sharp upturns.
We'll need to see more than two months of rising sales to declare a sustained rebound, but the pickup in volumes and prices are an encouraging sign.
What else we Grittin’ On?
SWIFT. Signature Bank will no longer process >$100k SWIFT transactions. The bank is reducing its crypto exposure.
NYDFS. The NY regulator is taking aim at firms commingling funds. It issued new guidance this week.
ATHs. These crypto projects are hitting all-time highs. Some include Rocket Pool, Aptos, and Optimism.
COIN. Coinbase trading volumes increased in January. Meanwhile, volumes at other exchanges fell.
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