SEC doubles size of digital asset unit as Argentina bars banks from crypto services

Data from CryptoCompare shows that the price of Bitcoin started last week with a sharp move higher, to test the $40,000 mark. After being rejected the cryptocurrency endured a sell-off that saw it drop to a low near $33,000.

Ethereum’s Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, moved in a similar way trying to surpass the $3,000 mark. The cryptocurrency then entered a downtrend that saw it trade near $2,400.

Headlines in the cryptocurrency space last week were varied and focused on growing cryptocurrency adoption from some players while others decided to take a few steps back. Italian luxury fashion house Gucci is set to start accepting cryptocurrency payments in select stores in the United States, including flagship locations such as Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles and Wooster Street in New York.

The fashion house plans to expand the service to its directly-operated North America stores in the near future and will be accepting payments in several assets including Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ether, Dogecoin, Shiba Inu, and a variety of stablecoins.

The cryptocurrency payments Gucci receives will be converted into fiat currency. The payments will be processed via a QR code sent to customers.

On the other hand, the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia’s parent organisation, will no longer be accepting donations in Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, or Ethereum after its community debated the pros and cons of accepting digital asset donations.

The move came after a poll showed that more than 70% of respondents wanted to discontinue cryptocurrency donations.

The Wikimedia Foundation started accepting Bitcoin donations back in 2014, reasoning that adding the cryptocurrency as an option would help make contributions to the organisation “as simple and inclusive as possible”. Cryptocurrency donations made up 0.08% of the foundation’s revenue last year.

While cryptocurrency adoption has gone up and down over the week, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has announced it’s almost doubling the staff of its Crypto Assets and Cyber team, a unit of the regulator’s Enforcement division responsible for protecting investors from crypto scams and cyberthreats.

The regulator’s crypto unit is set to increase its headcount by 20 for a total of 50 dedicated positions. The new additions are set to include investigative staff attorneys, trial lawyers, and fraud analysts.

Argentina bars banks from offering crypto services

Over the week, two regulated banks in Argentina started looking to allow their customers to buy and sell cryptoassets on their platforms. Argentina is among the world’s top 10 countries with the highest cryptocurrency adoption rates, according to Chainalysis’ Crypto Adoption Index.

The banks were Banco Galicia, one of the largest private banks in the country, which confirmed on social media it was offering BTC, ETH, USDC, and XRP to its customers, and Brubank, which revealed the feature was being “progressively enabled” for its users.

Days later, Argentina’s central bank prohibited financial institutions in the country from offering clients any operations involving cryptocurrencies. The ban also includes assets whose returns are determined by cryptocurrency price fluctuations.

Crypto adoption has grown in Argentina as the country deals with recurring currency crises and inflation topping 50% annually. Most Argentines have said in studies they invest in crypto to protect their savings from diminishing purchasing power.

In March, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a debt package of $45 billion that included a provision discouraging the use of cryptocurrencies.

Over the week the Bitcoin Mining Council – a coalition of mining and mining-adjacent firms represented by Bitcoin’s biggest advocates – signed a letter addressed to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defending BTC mining and pushing back recent claims made by a group of US House Democrats.

Last week, 20 House representatives co-signed a letter to EPA administrator Michael Regan calling for an investigation into the potential negative consequences of BTC mining, referencing electronic waste from hardware replacement, greenhouse gas emissions, and the reopening of former gas and coal plants.

The group’s letter said the Representatives’ letter is “premised on several misperceptions about Bitcoin and digital assets mining”, and adds that its backers agree that “by embracing the Bitcoin Network and bitcoin mining, the United States of America will be more innovative, economically resilient, and ultimately stronger into the future”.

Otherside land NFTs become ‘largest NFT mint in history’

Finally, the cryptocurrency space saw the “largest NFT [non-fungible token] mint in history” last week after Yuga Labs’ Otherside metaverse project sold out all of its available 55,000 Otherdeed land NFTs in three hours, raking in $317 million in the process.

The NFTs will give buyers rights to claim land in the Otherside metaverse, a blockchain-based virtual world developed by Yuga Labs, the creator of the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and Mutant Ape Yacht Club (MAYC) NFT collections.

The mint caused gas fees on the Ethereum blockchain to skyrocket to 8,000 GWEI as a result of a gas war, as Ethereum users were outbidding each other to try and get their transactions through to mint NFTs.

Another blockchain network, Solana, suffered a seven-hour caused by a rush of bots trying to mint NFTs on its network through a program called Candy Machine. It struggled to handle the traffic bots brought in.

Francisco Memoria is a content creator at CryptoCompare who’s in love with technology and focuses on helping people see the value digital currencies have. His work has been published in numerous reputable industry publications. Francisco holds various cryptocurrencies.

Featured image via Pixabay.

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