Crypto Moves — Bitcoin, Ether down; Gucci begins accepting crypto payments; US adds crypto mixer Blender to sanctions list; SEC charges Nvidia

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Sunday, down 3.52 percent to $34,548 at 09.25 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $2,545, down 4.32 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Gucci begins accepting crypto payments in some US stores

Italian luxury fashion house Gucci will accept cryptocurrency payments in the US from this month, Bloomberg reported. 

Customers in some stores in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Atlanta and Las Vegas will be able to pay using digital tokens from the end of May, Gucci said in a statement.

It will also adopt this payment option in all of its North American stores this summer.

Gucci will initially accept 10 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, Dogecoin and Shiba Inu.

Google creating web3 team within cloud unit

Google’s cloud unit is preparing a team to build services for developers who are composing their own Web3 software and running blockchain applications, CNBC reported. 

“While the world is still early in its embrace of Web3, it is a market that is already demonstrating tremendous potential with many customers asking us to increase our support for Web3 and crypto related technologies,” Amit Zavery, a vice president and head of the Google Cloud said. 

Zavery added: “We’re not trying to be part of that cryptocurrency wave directly … We’re providing technologies for companies to use and take advantage of the distributed nature of Web3 in their current businesses and enterprises.”

Web3 is an idea for a new iteration of the World Wide Web based on blockchain technology, which incorporates concepts such as decentralization and token-based economics.

Bitcoin used to purchase apartment

An apartment in the Portuguese city of Braga was bought with cryptocurrency without any conversion to fiat money, and local media reports describing the deal as the first in the history of the country’s real estate market, according to  

The new owner paid 3 bitcoins worth about 110,000 euros ($115.94) at the time of purchase.

The purchase was made with the help of real estate agency Zome, the law firm Antas da Cunha Ecija, and partners from Switzerland’s Crypto Valley. The Chairman of the Portuguese chamber of notaries also participated.

Buying property directly using cryptocurrency is now possible in Portugal thanks to a new provision recently adopted by the Order of Notaries, the body which regulates notary activities together with the Ministry of Justice.

US adds Blender to the sanctions list 

The US on Friday imposed sanctions on virtual currency mixer Blender, accusing it of being involved in one of the largest cryptocurrency heists on record and being used by North Korea, the US Treasury Department said.

The Treasury also identified new virtual currency addresses it said were used by North Korean hacking group Lazarus to launder illicit proceeds, accusing it of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars worth of cryptocurrency tied to the popular online game Axie Infinity.

“We are taking action against illicit financial activity by the DPRK,” Brian Nelson, the Treasury’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in the statement.

The Treasury said it was the first time the US imposed sanctions on a virtual currency mixer — a software tool that pools and scrambles cryptocurrencies from thousands of addresses — and said it would continue to investigate the use of mixers for illicit purposes.

North Korea has stepped up efforts to launder stolen cryptocurrency, significantly increasing its use of mixers, blockchain analytics and cybersecurity firm Chainalysis said.

The Treasury said Blender was used in the laundering process for North Korea’s Axie Infinity heist, accusing it of processing over $20 million in illicit proceeds.

The Treasury said Blender also facilitated money-laundering for Russian-linked malign ransomware groups, among others.

US SEC charges Nvidia

The US Securities and Exchange Commission said Friday it had settled charges against technology company Nvidia Corporation for what it called “inadequate disclosures” concerning the impact of cryptomining on the company’s gaming business.

“The SEC’s order finds that, during consecutive quarters in NVIDIA’s fiscal year 2018, the company failed to disclose that cryptomining was a significant element of its material revenue growth from the sale of its graphics processing units designed and marketed for gaming,” the SEC said in a statement.

Cryptomining is the process of obtaining crypto rewards in exchange for verifying crypto transactions on distributed ledgers, according to the SEC website.

(With input from Reuters) 

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