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. 

This week, the UK’s Economic Secretary revealed a six month window to introduce UK cryptocurrency regulations which, whilst developing, conflicts with the roadmap laid out by the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority. 

Are the UK’s crypto regulation plans aligned? 

Bin Afolami, Economic Secretary to the Treasury, recently revealed at a Coinbase-hosted event in London this week that the UK government wants cryptocurrency regulations to be done as soon as possible within the next six months. 

Regulatory proposals for stablecoins by the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority – which are overseeing the regulatory process – are progressing, but have earmarked 2025 as the year for implementation. 

However, both financial bodies have been receiving feedback for the stablecoin regulation proposals and intend to draft final rules mid-2024. Whether this aligns with Afolami’s ambitions remains unclear. 

Zhao to get protective order ahead of April trial

Changpeng Zhao, former CEO of Binance, has been proposed a protective order by the US Department of Justice ahead of his rescheduled trial for 30 April. 

The crypto billionaire, who pleaded guilty to breaking US money laundering charges, was scheduled to face trial in February, but this has ultimately been rescheduled for two months as more details emerge from the lawsuit. 

Zhao’s defence team were denied twice by a Federal Judge for him to return back to his residency in the UAE after prosecutors deemed the former CEO a flight risk. 

ECB assures that digital euro will be payment-focused

Aiming to quell concerns regarding the accelerating plans for a digital euro, the European Central Bank (ECB) has reassured potential users that the digital currency will remain a payment method and not a course for investment. 

To deter users from using the digital euro as an investment opportunity – and potentially taking this function away from Europe’s vast traditional banking sector – the ECB has a series of measures planned.

The ECB asserts that limitations on digital euro holdings would prevent customers from withdrawing deposits rapidly in the event of an economic crisis. 

Stake deepens MMA presence with UFC and Lucky Block, two prominent crypto sportsbook and casino operators, have strengthened their links to MMA via deals with the UFC and former pro-athlete Michael Bisping respectively.

Cyprus-based Stake’s agreement with UFC is a regional deal with a focus on Asia, and builds on the company’s pre-existing partnerships with individual fighters from the tournament. 

Marketing material will also feature Israel Adysena, the former long-running UFC middleweight champion who partnered with the crypto sportsbook back in January 2021.

Mastercard to reward customers in crypto deprived regions

Mastercard is deepening its involvement with cryptocurrency by offering customers loyalty rewards of the digital currency in partnership with mobile payment app Swoo Pay

The initial offering will be rolled out to emerging crypto regions such as Southeast Asia and Africa in an attempt to service markets that have largely been underserved by similar offerings from the likes of Google Pay, which don’t typically provide access to these regions.

DKK the latest to seize upon Dubai’s growing market potential

DKK Partners FZE (DKK FZE) has bolstered its operations through obtaining initial approval from the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA).

The fintech launched its Dubai operations last year, naming the Dubai World Trade Centre its central hub in the region, granting greater access to trade corridors in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia.

Dubai has emerged as a prime destination for companies seeking to obtain licences for digital assets, with OKX and recognising the market’s potential as a hub for crypto and digital assets.