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HK game firm to buy $100M crypto for treasury, China/UAE CBDC deal: Asia Express

Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.

Boyaa Interactive International, a publicly-traded Hong Kong holding company specializing in online card and board games, wants to secure the approval of its shareholders to invest $100 million in crypto.

According to this week’s announcement, Boyaa Interactive directors want to allocate $45 million of corporate funds to Bitcoin (BTC), $45 million to Ethereum (ETH), and $10 million to stablecoins such as Tether (USDT) and USD Coin (USDC). As for rationales for the investment, directors wrote:

“The Internet gaming business mainly operated by the Group has a high degree of logical fit with Web3 technology. It attaches great importance to communities and users, covers virtual asset attributes and other characteristics, making Web3 technology easier and more widely used in the Internet gaming industry.”

The company’s brand of 75 online games, such as its Texas Hold’em casino, has around 1.18 million daily active players. In Q3 2023, Boyaa Interactive generated $14 million in revenue and $4.2 million in earnings, respectively. 

A Boyaa Interactive online casino.
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Games need bots? Illivium CEO admits ‘it’s tough,’ Web3 games 42X upside: Web3 Gamer

Some think that bots in games is a sign of the apocalypse, or perhaps just the makers trying to fill up an empty venue to make it look popular.

But Pixels founder and CEO Luke Barwikowski says that conversely, if people aren’t trying to fill your game with bots, then it’s probably because the game isn’t exactly the talk of the town.

“If people aren’t trying to bot your game — it’s not because they can’t — it’s because they don’t care enough to do it.”

According to Barwikowski, if you’re making a game that doesn’t have any bots and flaunting it, that’s not something to boast about.

“It’s not always the flex you think to say you don’t have any bots in an ecosystem,” he declares.

Crypto game Illuvium. Looks a little like Axie Infinity Mark II?
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Crypto is for criminals? JPMorgan has been fined $39B and has its own token

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon is being hauled over the hot coals by the crypto community on X (formerly Twitter) after claiming Bitcoin (BTC) and cryptocurrency’s “only true use case” is to facilitate crime.

“The only true use case for it is criminals, drug traffickers, money laundering, tax avoidance,” Dimon said in a hearing before the United States Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs on Dec. 5. “If I were the government, I’d close it down.”

But crypto pundits quickly pointed out the hypocrisy in Dimon’s statements, highlighting that JPMorgan is the second-largest penalized bank, having paid $39.3 billion in fines across 272 violations since 2000, according to Good Jobs First’s violation tracker.

About $38 billion of these fines came under Dimon’s watch, who has been CEO since 2005.

“Talk about being a fucking hypocrite!” said crypto lawyer John Deaton in a Dec. 6 post on X. 

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Price analysis 12/6: BTC, ETH, BNB, XRP, SOL, ADA, DOGE, AVAX, LINK, TON

Bitcoin (BTC) has been on a tear, rising more than 10% this week. This shows that traders are urgently scrambling to buy Bitcoin as they anticipate the price to rally further. CoinShares data shows that investors have pumped in more than $1.44 billion into Bitcoin investment products in the past ten weeks.

The expectation is that the approval of a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) will attract huge investments. Animoca Brands CEO Robby Yung, while speaking at the Next Block Expo conference in Berlin, said that Bitcoin ETFs could generate a potential income of “$10 to $12 billion.”

Daily cryptocurrency market performance. Source: Coin360

While long-term investors have been accumulating Bitcoin, the short-term holders (STHs) holding coins for 155 days or less have been busy booking profits in December. CryptoSlate research and data analyst James Van Straten, while sharing a Glassnode chart on X (formerly Twitter), said that STHs in profit sent roughly $5 billion worth of Bitcoin to exchanges in the first four days of December.

Could Bitcoin continue its up-move and reach $48,000, or will profit-booking set in? Let’s analyze the charts of the top 10 cryptocurrencies to find out.

Bitcoin price analysis

Bitcoin has been in a strong uptrend. The momentum picked up after the bulls catapulted the price above $40,000. The minor resistance at $41,160 has been cleared with ease.

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Lawmakers’ fear and doubt drives proposed crypto regulations in US

Real bipartisan legislative efforts are rare in Washington, DC, these days, but Democratic Senators Elizabeth Warren and Joe Manchin and Republican Senators Lindsey Graham and Roger Marshall have managed to come together to co-sponsor a bill focused on crypto crime. 

According to the senators, the Digital Asset Anti-Money Laundering Act of 2023 aims to close loopholes in the nation’s Anti-Money Laundering rules. The bill would amend the Bank Secrecy Act and would designate a diverse range of digital asset providers as financial institutions. 

The Bank Secrecy Act establishes program, recordkeeping and reporting requirements for national banks, federal savings associations, federal branches and agencies of foreign banks. Digital asset providers would be required to adhere to many of the same regulations as traditional banks.

Warren introduced the legislation to the United States Senate on July 27, 2023, on behalf of herself and Senators Joe Manchin, Roger Marshall and Lindsey Graham. The bill was then referred to the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs. It hasn’t been voted on by the entire Senate or sent to the U.S. House of Representatives for consideration. Nor has President Biden signed it, and it is not a matter of law at this time. 

The legislation would add several types of cryptocurrency providers to U.S. regulators’ list of financial institutions. These include unhosted wallet providers, digital asset miners and validators or other nodes that validate third-party transactions, miner extractable value searchers, other validators or network participants with control over network protocols, or just about anyone else who facilitates or provides services related to exchange, sale, custody or lending of digital assets.

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Bitcoin Ordinals ORDI token tops $1B market cap after 850% monthly gain

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The Bitcoin Ordinals-based ORDI token has become the first BRC-20 token to top a $1 billion market capitalization after staging triple-digit monthly and weekly percentage gains.

ORDI notched a new all-time high of over $65 on Dec. 5, surging more than 850% from around $6.80 on Nov. 5, according to CoinGecko data. ORDI is up 216% in the last seven days.

The sudden ORDI price uptick saw it become the first BRC-20 token to reach a $1 billion market cap on Dec. 5. At the time of writing, it has a value of $1.3 billion.

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Debt Box urges judge to toss suit, says SEC got case ‘badly wrong’

Debt Box and other defendants in a United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawsuit want the case tossed after a court found the agency lied to secure a temporary restraining order against them.

“The SEC got this case wrong. Badly wrong,” lawyers for Digital Licensing, which does business as Debt Box, told Judge Robert Shelby of the U.S. District Court for the District of Utah in a Dec. 4 motion to dismiss. “The SEC should not be allowed to continue to spin a false narrative to avoid dismissal.”

The SEC won a temporary restraining order to freeze Debt Box assets on Aug. 3, claiming the firm would remove evidence and secretly transfer assets overseas if they were notified the order would be imposed on them.

The agency accused the firm of perpetrating a $50 million fraudulent crypto scheme. Debt Box sold software mining licenses tied to real-world assets, which the SEC claimed were unregistered securities. The defendants refute this claim.

“Not only are such allegations false, but they also fail to meet the basic pleading standards,” it wrote in its latest motion.

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Coinbase rolls out crypto transfers via links sent on WhatsApp, Telegram

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A new feature from Coinbase Wallet allows for the transfer of crypto through a link that can be sent through some of the most popular social media sites and messaging apps as the crypto exchange looks to make its service accessible to a wider market.

“Users can now send money on any platform that they can share a link,” Coinbase said in a Dec. 5 blog post, naming apps like iMessage, Telegram, WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

There’s no payment fee when sending USD Coin (USDC), a U.S. dollar stablecoin Coinbase launched in 2018.

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Real AI use cases in crypto, No. 2: AIs can run DAOs

For every genuine blockchain project harnessing artificial intelligence there are 100 coins trading off the hype.

Magazine spoke with Near founder Illia Polosukhin, Framework Ventures founder Vance Spencer, MakerDAO founder Rune Christensen, Richard Ma from Quantstamp, Ralf Kubli from Casper and others to explore some of the key hype-free, genuine use cases for AI in crypto and blockchain.

We’re rolling out one genuine use case for AI in crypto each day this week — including reasons why you shouldn’t necessarily believe the hype.

MakerDAO is creating an Atlas to the entire project to assist in AI governance (Maker)

Decentralized autonomous organizations, as they exist today, are something of a fraud. As Framework Ventures founder Vance Spencer points out, they are “not actually autonomous. There’s a bunch of people in the middle.“

“It just seems like AI is really our only way to actually make the DAO concept work,” he says. 

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Crypto payments: PayPal’s stablecoin ripple effect on markets

PayPal’s introduction of its native stablecoin, PayPal USD (PYUSD), has sparked heated debates within the crypto industry regarding its possible sway on payments and wider crypto adoption.

While this step seems to be a big jump toward accepting cryptocurrencies in regular finance, some industry observers advise caution. They underline the hurdles and limitations that could slow down broader adoption.

What is PYUSD?

This initiative aims to bridge the fiat and digital currency realms for consumers, merchants and developers. PayPal CEO Dan Schulman highlighted the need for a stable digital-fiat conduit. PYUSD facilitates various transactions, including payments, fund transfers between PayPal and compatible external wallets, and crypto conversions:

“The shift toward digital currencies requires a stable instrument that is both digitally native and easily connected to fiat currency like the U.S. dollar. Our commitment to responsible innovation and compliance, and our track record delivering new experiences to our customers, provides the foundation necessary to contribute to the growth of digital payments through PayPal USD.” 

The coin is designed to mitigate payment frictions in virtual environments, expedite value transfer, and simplify digital asset engagement by being a safer alternative to the fluctuating nature of most cryptocurrencies.

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Expect ‘records broken’ by Bitcoin ETF: Brett Harrison (ex-FTX US), X Hall of Flame

The former president of FTX US dishes the dirt on his falling out with former Jane Street colleague Sam Bankman-Fried and predicts the spot Bitcoin ETF will far outshine the record-breaking success of the Bitcoin Futures ETF.

The ex-president of FTX US, Brett Harrison, tells Magazine that he didn’t say a single word to Sam Bankman-Fried during the two-month notice period after he resigned, which was only months before the whole exchange blew up. Even getting a message to SBF to say he was resigning in the first place was hard work.

“I had to talk to other people in the company to formally resign. I wrote one text to Sam and I got back a single heart emoji. That was the last I heard from him,” Harrison declares.

Harrison and Bankman-Fried had been colleagues years earlier at quantitative trading firm Jane Street, where Harrison saw his potential while teaching SBF in a course on programming for traders. But things went south real quick between them at FTX.

Harrison claims it was due to Bankman-Fried’s inflated ego and his reluctance to accept any feedback or advice.

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Price analysis 11/29: BTC, ETH, BNB, XRP, SOL, ADA, DOGE, TON, LINK, AVAX

Bitcoin (BTC) is trying to sustain above the overhead resistance of $38,000 for the second consecutive day and start the next leg of the uptrend. The excitement among market observers may have increased after the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) delayed its decision on the applications of Franklin Templeton and Hashdex exchange-traded funds.

Bloomberg ETF analyst James Seyffart speculated in a X (formerly Twitter) post that the SEC may have taken this step “to line every applicant up for potential approval by the Jan. 10, 2024 deadline.”

While many analysts believe that the ETF listing will be a watershed moment for Bitcoin, Genesis Trading head of derivatives Joshua Lim cautioned in a X post that traditional finance investors have already bought the rumor and may exit the trade close to the ETF announcement when retail tries to get in.

Daily cryptocurrency market performance. Source: Coin360

However, the macroeconomic conditions in early 2024 may limit the downside. Pershing Square Capital Management CEO and founder Bill Ackman said in an interview with Bloomberg that the U.S. Federal Reserve will cut rates sooner than people expect. He anticipates rate cuts to start in Q1 instead of the market expectations of the middle of the year.

Could Bitcoin and altcoins witness a shallow correction before resuming their uptrend?

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Real AI use cases in crypto, No. 3: Smart contract audits & cybersecurity

Every day this week we’re highlighting one genuine, no bullsh*t, hype free use case for AI in crypto. Today it’s the potential for using AI for smart contract auditing and cybersecurity, we’re so near and yet so far.

AI artwork for the ChatGPT written TurboToad memecoin. (Twitter)

One of the big use cases for AI and crypto in the future is in auditing smart contracts and identifying cybersecurity holes. There’s only one problem — at the moment, GPT-4 sucks at it.

Coinbase tried out ChatGPT’s capabilities for automated token security reviews earlier this year, and in 25% of cases, it wrongly classified high-risk tokens as low-risk. 
James Edwards, the lead maintainer for cybersecurity investigator Librehash, believes OpenAI isn’t keen on having the bot used for tasks like this. 

“I strongly believe that OpenAI has quietly nerfed some of the bot’s capabilities when it comes to smart contracts for the sake of not having folks rely on their bot explicitly to draw up a deployable smart contract,” he says, explaining that OpenAI likely doesn’t want to be held responsible for any vulnerabilities or exploits.

This isn’t to say AI has zero capabilities when it comes to smart contracts. AI Eye spoke with Melbourne digital artist Rhett Mankind back in May. He knew nothing at all about creating smart contracts, but through trial and error and numerous rewrites, was able to get ChatGPT to create a memecoin called Turbo that went on to hit a $100 million market cap. 

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KyberSwap DEX hacker sends an on-chain message: Be nice, or else

The exploiter behind the $46 million crypto theft against KyberSwap has demanded its execs and tokenholders ease up on the hostilities, threatening to push out negotiations until everyone is “more civil.”

In an on-chain message addressed to KyberSwap executives, tokenholders and liquidity providers on Nov. 28, the exploiter said they plan to release a statement around a potential treaty with KyberSwap on Nov. 30 — but won’t do it if hostilities continue.

“I said I was willing to negotiate. In return, I have received (mostly) threats, deadlines, and general unfriendliness from the executive team,” they said.

“Under the assumption that I am treated with further hostility, we can reschedule for a later date, when we all feel more civil,” they warned.

The team behind KyberSwap — a cross-chain decentralized exchange — initially suggested a bounty deal where the hacker returns 90% of the funds across all exploits, allowing the hacker to keep the remaining 10%.

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Bitcoin the ‘main beneficiary’ as crypto funds notch 10-week streak

Bitcoin (BTC)-related investment products have become the “main beneficiary” of recent investor interest in crypto amid growing anticipation of a spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) approval in the United States.

A total of $1.76 billion of investors’ funds have flowed into crypto products over 10 weeks, making up the most significant inflows over such a period since October 2021 when Bitcoin futures launched, according to a Dec. 4 report from CoinShares’ head of research James Butterfill.

CoinShares’ weekly reports over the past 10 weeks show that at least $1.44 billion of inflows went to Bitcoin investment products over the period, with the price of Bitcoin jumping from $26,600 to $37,700 during the period.

Meanwhile, the week ending Dec. 1 saw $176.3 million worth of inflows into crypto investment products. Bitcoin investment products were the “main beneficiary,” said Butterfill, recording $132.8 million of inflows over the past week, while Ether (ETH) and Solana (SOL) products tallied $30.8 million and 4.3 million, respectively.

Digital asset flows (in millions) week by week in 2023. Source: CoinShares

Related: Bitcoin prices should ‘logically’ correct in January, but crypto’s a ‘wild card’

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Pudgy Penguins GIFs top 10B views, CEO sets sights on Disney, Hello Kitty: NFT Creator 

Pudgy Penguins minted in July 2021, but quickly saw high drama after its former founder came under suspicion he was going to rug the project

A few months later Luca Schnetzler stepped in. With an entrepreneurial streak since his early teens he had a history of building internet businesses and bought the project and its intellectual property of 8,888 cute little Pudgys for $2.5 million in April 2022. 

“It was an instinct and intuitive decision. I saw this thing that I was hugely invested in before I bought it that I thought had all of the potential. I was complaining and crying on a daily basis to the founders about how they sucked, and how they could do better. Rather than just doing that, I just stepped up to the plate,” Schnetlzer says.

The narrative of quickly shifted from a rug that could trend to zero to one of hope and optimism when Schnetzler set out a vision for the project the community could rally behind. 

Schnetzler became one of the standout PFP project leaders during the NFT bear market, and the Penguins bucked the trend of cratering floor prices. Since he took over as CEO, the Pudgy Penguins floor has risen from around the 1 ETH mark to 6.32 ETH. Holders and the wider NFT community believe that Schnetzler has a game plan for success and the ability to execute it. 

Pudgy Penguins - A Brave New World
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Crypto exchange FTX gets nod to sell $873M of assets to repay creditors

Bankrupt crypto exchange FTX has been given the green light to sell around $873 million of trust assets, with proceeds used to repay creditors impacted by the exchange’s collapse in 2022, according to a Nov. 29 filing in a Delaware bankruptcy court.

The $873 million in assets will be sourced from FTX’s stakes in various trusts issued by crypto asset manager Grayscale Investments, valued at $807 million, and custody service provider Bitwise, valued at $66 million.

While the court document references a total of $744 million in assets, this is due to the valuation figure being as of Oct. 25, 2023. The assets have increased in value since. 

Order authorizing FTX Trading to sell trust assets. Source: Kroll

The approval comes nearly four weeks after FTX debtors filed a motion to Judge John Dorsey on Nov. 3 requesting the sale of the six cryptocurrency trusts, including the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), Grayscale Ethereum Trust (ETHE) and Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund.

FTX currently owns over 22 million units of GBTC, Grayscale’s flagship Bitcoin product, now worth $691 million, while its 6.3 million shares of ETHE are now worth around $106 million.

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Over 75% of Web3 games ‘failed’ in last five years: CoinGecko

More than three-quarters of all blockchain games launched in the last five years are dead in the water, according to a recent study from CoinGecko.

Out of 2,817 games launched between 2018 and 2023, which were included in the study, only 690 of them still have a somewhat active player base.

CoinGecko defines a “failed” Web3 game as one where the 14-day moving average number of active users drops 99% or more from its peak.

More than 75% of Web3 games have failed over the last five years. Source: CoinGecko

While 2021 saw the highest number of blockchain games launched in a single year with 738 games, the following year — marred by major crypto collapses, saw the highest number of games to fizzle out, with 742 failing in a single year.

This puts the average failure rate of Web3 games at around 80% for any given year since 2018, according to CoinGecko.

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Outrage that ChatGPT won’t say slurs, Q* ‘breaks encryption’, 99% fake web: AI Eye

In one of those storms in a teacup that’s impossible to imagine occurring before the invention of Twitter, social media users got very upset that ChatGPT refused to say racial slurs even after being given a very good — but entirely hypothetical and totally unrealistic — reason.

User TedFrank posed a hypothetical trolley problem scenario to ChatGPT (the free 3.5 model) in which it could save “one billion white people from a painful death” simply by saying a racial slur so quietly that no one could hear it. 

It wouldn’t agree to do so, which X owner Elon Musk said was deeply concerning and a result of the “woke mind virus” being deeply ingrained into the AI. He retweeted the post, stating: “This is a major problem.”

Another user tried out a similar hypothetical that would save all the children on Earth in exchange for a slur, but ChatGPT refused, saying:

“I cannot condone the use of racial slurs as promoting such language goes against ethical principles.”

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Price analysis 12/4: SPX, DXY, BTC, ETH, BNB, XRP, SOL, ADA, DOGE, LINK

Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) surged above their respective overhead resistance levels on Dec. 4, indicating that the bulls are in no mood to slow down. The higher the price goes without a meaningful correction, the greater the feeling of missing out among traders. When traders chase prices higher, it could lead to a blow-off top before a correction sets in.

Cryptocurrency exchange Bybit said in its 4th quarter report that institutional traders held 35% of their assets in Bitcoin, 15% in Ether and a large portion kept 45% of their assets are in stablecoins. Only a miniscule 5% was held in rest of the altcoins.

This shows that there is still enough firepower available with institutional investors to buy the cryptocurrency of their choice by selling stablecoins.

Daily cryptocurrency market performance. Source: Coin360

Matrixport research head Markus Thielen said in a recent note that the three previous crypto bear markets were followed by a three-year bull cycle, and this time is going to be no different, with 2023 being the first year. Thielen anticipates Bitcoin to reach $60,000 by April and $125,000 by the end of 2024.

Could bulls hold on to the gains in Bitcoin and select altcoins, or will higher levels attract aggressive selling by the bears? Let’s analyze the charts to find out.

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