This Week in Crypto (20-27 July)



Jul 26, 2021


Allegations of Forex Law Violations Lead Indian Regulator to Probe Crypto Exchange WazirX

French Government Pushes for a Singular Agency for Uniform Digital Currency Regulations Across the EU

JPMorgan Posts More Blockchain-Related Vacancies

OpenSea Secures $100 Million Funding from VC Firm Andreessen Horowitz

Amazon Looks for New Digital Currency Strategy Executive


The past week’s developments in the crypto world point towards both its accelerating growth and the need to streamline it. The French government has proposed a singular digital currency regulations agency across the EU. 

At the same time, the Indian regulators have show-caused Binance-backed platform WazirX for violating the country’s foreign exchange laws. It is evident from these events that there is a need for streamlining, which can only happen in a voluminous market. 

Standing testimony to its growth potential, business stalwarts like JPMorgan and Amazon are looking for crypto and blockchain professionals, while NFT marketplace OpenSea has secured a $100 million funding.


Allegations of Forex Law Violations Lead Indian Regulator to Probe Crypto Exchange WazirX

The Directorate of Enforcement has issued a show-cause notice to the crypto-exchange WazirX, based out of Mumbai, India. 

The notice was served against the allegation of violating the Foreign Exchange Management Act to the scale of US$372 million, or 2,790.74 crore Indian Rupees (INR). Binance is the owner of WazirX. 

According to an official of the regulatory agency, the cross-border payments that the exchange allowed violated forex rules as users could transfer cryptocurrencies without proper documentation, making it a fit case as a “route for laundering.”

While, as a decentralized exchange, WazirX allows the movement of cryptocurrencies across international borders, it requires its users to furnish their KYC documentation like PAN and Aadhaar Cards. 

These are documents in India that are equivalent to the Social Security system in the US. According to WazirX, having its KYC and Anti-Money Laundering processes right ensured that all the platform users could be traced with their official identity information. 

The exchange has also said that it has cooperated with “investigation so far and is preparing a response to the detailed notice” it has received on FEMA violations.”


French Government Pushes for a Singular Agency for Uniform Digital Currency Regulations Across the EU

The French Government believes that the European Securities and Market Authority (ESMA) should regulate digital currency activities across the EU. ​​

Autorite des Marches Financiers, or AMF, the French Securities regulator, has made a proposal in this regard. It believes that ESMA should have the direct power to supervise “public offers of crypto-assets in the EU (scrutiny of white papers) and of crypto-asset service providers.” 

To cite its benefits, AMF said that having ESMA as the sole agency would help “create obvious economies of scale for all national supervisors and concentrate expertise in an efficient way, for the common European benefit.”

Many governments, across different parts of the world, are sincerely discussing the issues around digital currency regulations. For instance, the United States Treasury Secretary is meeting the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, Office of the Comptroller of the Currency and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation to discuss stable coin regulations.


JPMorgan Posts More Blockchain-Related Vacancies

One of the globally leading American investment banks, JPMorgan, has posted a series of fresh blockchain-related job openings. The list of open positions includes software developers, engineers, marketers and auditors. 

In terms of their geographic locations, these jobs are not concentrated in any one part of the world and include countries like the United States, Singapore, India, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom, and other countries. 

In the US alone, the bank has advertised for 30 such positions in the past seven days. Many job postings are seeking specific talents for Onyx, JPMorgan’s digital currency-focussed division, and Liink, the proprietary blockchain-based interbank data network of JPMorgan. 


OpenSea Secures $100 Million Funding from VC Firm Andreessen Horowitz

Becoming the latest Crypto Unicorn, OpenSea, the well-known NFT marketplace, has secured a $100 million Series B from venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz. This funding round leads the valuation of OpenSea to $1.5 Billion. 

The other crypto unicorns, businesses with a valuation of more than $1 billion, include the likes of Coinbase, Animoca Brands and Chainalysis. Apart from Andreessen Horowitz, other entities to back the funding round included private equity firm Coatue, Walt Disney president Michael Ovitz, actor Ashton Kutcher and NBA star Kevin Durant.

Apart from receiving the funds, OpenSea also expanded its blockchain support, with a “gas-free” marketplace on Polygon. Owing to this partnership with Polygon, an Ethereum scaling solution, buyers won't have to pay fees for trading on OpenSea.

The earlier funding round of OpenSea, raising $23 million, was also led by Andreessen Horowitz in March 2021. Reports suggest that the newly infused funds would go into growing the team, building further cross-chain support and improved user experience. 


Amazon Looks for New Digital Currency Strategy Executive

The Payments Acceptance and Experience team of Amazon is looking for a major hire, someone who can serve as the company’s product lead to develop its digital currency strategy and a blockchain product roadmap. 

The potential hire should have experience and expertise in blockchain, central bank digital currencies and cryptocurrencies. The executive’s role would include cross-functionality, requiring to work with other teams, such as customer experience, technical strategy and capabilities. 

Although the recruitment news highlights Amazon’s growing interest in digital currencies, it is yet not clear whether it is to launch its own digital currency.