RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Thursday, up 0.25 percent to $41,533 as of 09.00 a.m. Riyadh time.
Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $3,082, down 0.29 percent, according to data from Coindesk.
US imposes sanctions on crypto miner
The US on Wednesday imposed sanctions on dozens of people and entities, including a Russian commercial bank and a virtual currency mining company, Bitriver, hoping to target Moscow’s evasion of existing sanctions over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The US Treasury Department said it designated a virtual currency mining company for the first time, alongside more than 40 people and entities led by US-designated Russian oligarch Konstantin Malofeyev.
“Treasury can and will target those who evade, attempt to evade, or aid the evasion of US sanctions against Russia, as they are helping support Putin’s brutal war of choice,” Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, Brian Nelson, said in a statement.
UN panel coordinator urges extra vigilance on North Korea
The coordinator for the UN body monitoring enforcement of sanctions on North Korea said on Wednesday a stepped-up focus was needed on cybercrime, which had become fundamental to Pyongyang’s ability to finance its banned weapons programs.
Eric Penton-Voak, of the UN Security Council’s Panel of Experts on North Korea, noted that despite the widest sanctions regime ever imposed by the UN on a nation-state, North Korea had markedly accelerated its missile testing, particularly over the past six months.
“It may be no coincidence that the words cyber and cryptocurrency do not actually appear in the UN sanctions resolutions,” he told a discussion hosted by Washington’s Center for a New American Security think tank.
Penton-Voak said he believed cyber activity had become “absolutely fundamental” to North Korea’s ability to evade UN sanctions to raise money for its nuclear and missile programs, but biannual reports of the experts’ panel had not reflected this as member states had been reluctant to report breaches.
“We rely on UN member states to inform us about breaches in order to investigate. But many, many member states are quite cautious about their own cyber capabilities,” he said.
Coinbase launches NFT marketplace for select US users
Major US crypto exchange Coinbase Global Inc. launched its NFT marketplace on Wednesday, in a sign of confidence in the niche digital asset even as the market shows signs of cooling.
The platform, first announced in October, will initially be available for a “small number” of people in the US, a Coinbase spokesperson said. More users will be added from a waiting list over the next three to five weeks as the platform is tested.
NFTs are a type of crypto asset which uses blockchain to record the ownership of digital files such as an image, video or piece of text.
They exploded in popularity in 2021, echoing the ballooning embrace of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin by mainstream investors and companies. Some NFTs have fetched millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency, but growth has slowed in 2022.
On the popular marketplace OpenSea, NFT sales on the ethereum blockchain halved to around $2.5 billion in March, from $5 billion in January.
“We believe NFTs are here to stay,” a Coinbase spokesperson said.
(With inputs from Reuters)
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