Payment Expert’s Blockchain Bulletin analyses how the world of blockchain is constantly evolving and heavily impacting the payments industry, with cryptocurrencies, NFTs and the metaverse revolutionising the space. 

The year so far has started with regulatory successes for the wider blockchain space, with the SEC recently approving a Bitcoin ETF, as well as the UK government officially launching its digital securities sandbox. 

Crypto sector scores landmark Bitcoin ETF win

A near 15-year wait for a Bitcoin ETF is finally over as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) agreed to launch after months of back-and-forth with interested parties. 

BlackRock and Grayscale were the two predominant asset management companies angling for the launch of a Bitcoin ETF, which will now enable potential investors to securely and seamlessly invest in the world’s largest cryptocurrency without directly owning it. 

Last August, Grayscale had won a court battle over the SEC’s continuous rejection of its Bitcoin ETF calls, and will now launch its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust for potential suitors. 

Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein, stated: “The approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs in the United States is a monumental step forward for GBTC investors and all those who realise the potential for crypto to transform our future.”

UK’s digital sandbox launch to deepen its commitment to innovation

The UK government officially launched its digital securities sandbox for interested parties to enter and collaborate within the distributed technology ledger space. 

The Financial Conduct Authority and the Bank of England will provide oversight of regulations within the digital space, which will aim to foster further innovation and the handling of data with various use cases. 

Dr. Alisa DiCaprio, Chief Economist at R3, believes the official launch of the digital sandbox marks a “significant milestone” in increased adoption of DLT and signifies the UK’s commitment into innovating and exploring new methods of its financial system. 

She said: “The official implementation of the UK’s Digital Securities Sandbox regulations marks a significant milestone in the adoption of distributed ledger technology within financial markets, reflecting the UK’s commitment to advancing financial innovation.”

Coinbase targets further European growth via new licence

Coinbase is continuing its plans to spread all across Europe as the crypto exchange seeks a Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID) licence for its derivatives products. 

Already present in countries such as Italy, Germany and Ireland, the company has announced its plans to secure the licence in order to grow its presence across the continent, aligning with its ‘Go Broad, Go Deeper’ strategy. 

The strategy campaign encompasses five key targets that Coinbase is following in order to become a leader in crypto compliance. 

Logan Paul begins refund effort for CryptoZoo victims

Nearly one year removed from promising to pay back victims of the CryptoZoo scam, Logan Paul announced that he is in the process of doing so. 

The internet personality has announced he intends to give back up to $2.3m in refunds to those who had their money vanished from faulty CryptoZoo NFTs, which was first exposed by YouTube journalist CoffeeZilla

A lawsuit was filed against Paul and several others last year. 

Potential ban on credit card buys for Crypto in South Korea

The Financial Services Commission (FSC) of South Korea is aiming to place a ban on buying and selling cryptocurrencies with credit cards. 

The FSC stated it plans to make amendments to the Credit Specialized Financial Business Act “in order to diversify the financing methods of credit finance companies”, citing “illegal outflow of domestic funds overseas”.

Visa dives deeper into Web3 with loyalty programme

Visa is diving deeper into Web3 by launching a new loyalty program that enables brands to create digital wallets for customers. 

SmartMedia Technologies was brought onboard to develop the Web3 loyalty program in partnership with Visa. The service will enable brands to provide additional perks and benefits like online and real-world opportunities in the travel, sports and entertainment fields.