Latest and important crypto news: spanning from Singapore applying to Hong Kong for a license to launch crypto services, to Bitcoin’s NFTs and their impact.
Not only that, also of relevance are Binance and Huobi freezing $1.4 million in cryptocurrencies linked to North Korean hackers.
In the latest crypto news: DBS and the licensing of Bitcoin services
Among the most important crypto news, as anticipated, is the fact that DBS, Singapore‘s largest bank, will apply for a Hong Kong license to launch Bitcoin and crypto services.
The news is also reported by Bitcoin Archive’s official Twitter account, which reads:
BREAKING‼️ Singapore's largest bank, DBS, will apply for Hong Kong licence to launch #Bitcoin and crypto services – Bloomberg 🚀
— Bitcoin Archive (@BTC_Archive) February 13, 2023
In addition, DBS Bank recently recorded an 80% year-over-year growth in Bitcoin (BTC) traded on the DBS Digital Exchange (DDEx) in 2022 and a doubling in BTC held with the bank’s digital asset custody solution.
The amount of Ethereum (ETH) held in the bank’s institutional-grade digital asset custody solution grew by 60% in FY2022. DDEx is the bank’s member-only exchange that offers accredited investors, financial institutions, and family offices exposure to digital assets, particularly security tokens and cryptocurrencies.
The exchange has observed a net buying position for its customers throughout the second half of 2022, despite the capitulation of the cryptocurrency market. Not only that, the exchange also doubled its membership, with nearly 1,200 participants registered on DDEx by the end of the year.
Overall, these metrics speak to a growing recognition among mainstream investors of the long-term potential of digital assets who are actively seeking reliable and regulated platforms to access the market.
Bitcoin featured in the latest most relevant cryptocurrency news: NFTs
On 7 February, the minting of more than 13,000 Ordinal NFTs on Bitcoin’s blockchain was carried out, occupying 526 MB of blockchain space, with a spending of 6.77 BTC. Hence, the protocol of Bitcoin’s new NFTs is called Ordinals.
Based on what we know now, it can be said that Bitcoin’s NFTs and their network are better managed than Ethereum‘s in this respect, despite the fact that most non-fungible tokens are currently minted in the latter.
The development of the newly launched Ordinals protocol mentioned above has meant that for the first time an NFT minted in Bitcoin can store an actual image, precisely on the chain.
Thanks to the upgrades Bitcoin underwent a couple of years ago, Ordinals has found a way to store information in a Bitcoin transaction beyond the limits the network previously deemed acceptable.
The process is an improvement over other chains, because such transactions can only store a link that then points to a Web page where the image is hosted.
In any case, not everyone seems to be enthusiastic about the implementation of the NFT originals on Bitcoin’s blockchain. In that, some argue that it runs counter to creator Satoshi Nakamoto‘s view that Bitcoin’s blockchain was created only for financial purposes.
However, beyond the likes or dislikes regarding the existence of Bitcoin-based NFTs, they are nonetheless making a significant imprint on the network.
Binance and Huobi freeze $1.4 million in crypto, possible links to North Korean hackers
Crypto news does not end there. Indeed, cryptocurrency exchanges Binance and Huobi have again frozen accounts linked to the $100 million Harmony Horizon bridge hack last June.
About $1.4 million of cryptocurrencies frozen by the trading platforms came from accounts linked to the notorious Lazarus group operating out of North Korea.
The investigation was conducted by blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, according to a report shared by the company on 14 February.
However, the company did not state which coins or tokens had been frozen. Elliptic explained that it forwarded the intelligence to Binance and Houbi, who then acted promptly to freeze the accounts linked to the Lazarus group:
“The stolen funds lay dormant until recently, when our investigators started seeing them funneled through complex transaction chains to exchanges. By promptly notifying these platforms of these illicit deposits, they were able to suspend these accounts and freeze the funds.”
Since the Harmony exploit, it has been well documented that Lazarus Group has resorted to the Tornado Cash privacy blender, now licensed by the US OFAC , in an attempt to disrupt the transaction trail back to the original theft.
While this supposedly makes it easier to cash out funds on an exchange, Elliptic investigators were able to trace the entirety of the stolen funds sent through the mixer in this case, the report states.
Elliptic CEO Simone Maini suggested that the events showed that the industry was taking responsibility for preventing money laundering and preventing cryptocurrencies from becoming a “haven” for illicit activities:
“Today, money laundering was detected and North Korea-linked stolen funds were frozen, in real time. As an industry we have the power and responsibility to prevent digital assets from becoming a haven for money launderers and sanctions dodgers and ensure they are a force for good.”