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Fintech CEO: Vastaamo Breach Could Spell Disaster for Crypto Exchange Startups

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This month, Wired broke a story about the Vastaamo data breach. Vastaamo, a mental health start-up, announced that their systems had been hacked, exposing patient information, including email addresses, social security numbers, and even notes that therapists had taken during sessions. Hackers held the information for ransom, sending patients notes requesting payment in cryptocurrency.

“There are parallels here to the crypto industry, without a doubt,” said Richard Gardner, CEO of Modulus, a US-based developer of ultra-high-performance trading and surveillance technology that powers global equities, derivatives, and digital asset exchanges. “There are few more concerned about privacy than those in the mental health industry. Health data is among the most sensitive information a person has. Yet, the stewards of this information were simply ill-prepared to protect it.”

“What we see with start-ups, regardless of industry, is that they are in a rush to get to market. That makes sense, of course. The faster you get to market, the sooner you can start soliciting customers and bringing in revenue. But, the challenge, when you’re talking about a technology driven industry, is that the technology must hold up. What I mean by that is, if you’re an exchange — whether of digital assets or mental health information — and you’re cutting corners in your technology stack, whether done to save time or money, you’re really betting on your own failure,” said Gardner.

Modulus is known throughout the financial technology segment as a leader in the development of ultra-high frequency trading systems and blockchain technologies. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable exchanges, with a client list which includes NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago. Notably, Modulus recently filed for a patent on its Exchange Trust Score System, a revolutionary solution which aims to restore trust in financial exchanges, particularly those dealing in digital assets and cryptocurrencies.

“When you build your technology to fail, it means that you release it before ensuring that it can stand up to success. It’s easy to build technology that can support relatively few users. It’s easy to build technology that repels hackers when your exchange isn’t worth hacking. It’s another thing entirely to build technology that works as designed during peak traffic and continues to repel hackers once you’re successful enough to draw interest from experts. The more successful you are, the more value there is in hacking your exchange. Unfortunately, most start-ups don’t consider this component when they’re racing to market. It is why exchange operators must seriously consider their long-term needs before engaging with a technology vendor,” opined Gardner.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

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Bitcoin

Bitcoin ‘Whales Are Re-Entering As Risk Appetite Returns’, Says Stack Funds Research

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On Wednesday, Lennard Neo, Head Of Research at Stack Funds, a Singapore-based crypto-focused fund management company, explained why they believe that “Bitcoin is very close to the bottom.

His comments about Bitcoin were delivered in a research note (titled: “Strong support observed as Bitcoins get scooped up at $30,000”), which was published yesterday.

The research analyst wrote:

“We have observed a meltdown in long liquidations (7D MA) over the past few weeks. This coupled with the Leverage ratio (grey line) falling to a 2-year low after dipping below that of March 2020 levels, provides evidence that traders are more cautious in taking positions.

“Inflows for Bitcoin have skewed to spot accumulation as opposed to speculation, as investors match their expectations towards a longer-term horizon – signaling less propensity to sell.

“In the face of the recent sell-off, we also see significant support levels around the $30,000 handle, with substantial bids coming in to fill up the offers. The strength comes on the back of Microstrategy accumulating more Bitcoins, and we have noticed that Whales are also re-entering the market as risk appetite returns. Short squeeze hunters have also begun waning away in the near term as markets continue to establish ground on a consolidation phase.“

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Canaan Begins Its Own Bitcoin Mining Operations in Kazakhstan

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Bitcoin mining machines manufacturer Canaan has started mining bitcoin in Kazakhstan, following the crackdown on bitcoin mining in China.

Canaan said its AvalonMiner units are already in operation in Kazakhstan. When asked how many units and of which model has been deployed, a Canaan spokesperson declined to comment on specifics but said “a first batch of small-scale mining machines” have been deployed to start with.

Canaan foresees “a gradual ramp-up to full operational functionality over time,” the spokesperson added. The company has partnered with local mining companies in Kazakhstan for the initiative, they said.

China-based Canaan has been preparing to launch a crypto mining business in Kazakhstan for some time now. Earlier this month, the Nasdaq-listed company opened its first overseas after-sales service center in Kazakhstan as its global sales continue to increase.

Kazakhstan appears to be growing in popularity for bitcoin mining after China moved to shut down local bitcoin mining farms last month. Kazakhstan is close to China and has one of the cheapest electricity rates in the world.

Earlier this week, China-based BIT Mining, formerly known as 500.com, also shipped some of its bitcoin mining equipment to Kazakhstan. The company is set to send more machines to the country next month.

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Andreessen Horowitz Officially Launches New $2.2B Crypto Venture Fund

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Andreessen Horowitz /(a16z)- Investors King

Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) — prominent venture capital fund led by Ben Horowitz and Marc Andreessen — announced Thursday the close of its third crypto venture fund, a $2.2 billion fund that the firm says is the largest of its kind.

The new “Crypto Fund III” will be co-led by Chris Dixon and Katie Haun.

“The largest crypto fund ever raised to date, Crypto Fund III is a validating moment for the ecosystem and another sign that crypto becoming an ever more mainstream part of our financial infrastructure,” the firm said in a press release.

Rumors of Andreessen Horowitz (also known as a16z) raising a mega-fund have appeared in various reports in recent months. The Financial Times reported in April that the California-based investment firm would be raising $1 billion for a crypto fund. In late May, tech blogger Eric Newcomer wrote that the firm was raising $2 billion.

A source familiar with the raise now told The Block that interest came mostly from limited partners in the firm’s previous crypto funds, which have seen large returns. a16z netted more than $440 million from selling Coinbase stock soon after the exchange made its public markets debut on Nasdaq, according to CoinDesk.

a16z’s mandate in crypto has been broad, ranging from decentralized finance (DeFi) to bitcoin applications to so-called Web 3, or a decentralized version of the internet. The firm’s portfolio includes Dapper Labs, Celo, Uniswap, and Near.

“This fund allows us to find the next generation of visionary crypto founders, and invest in the most exciting areas of crypto,” Dixon and Haun wrote in a blog post. “We invest in all stages, from early seed-stage projects to fully developed later-stage networks.”

In addition to securing more than $2 billion to invest in crypto, a16z’s crypto business has been hiring aggressively. It has made a number of key hires including Anthony Albanese, who joined the firm last year from the New York Stock Exchange. Albanese is now being promoted to chief operating officer of a16z crypto.

The firm also hired Bill Hinman, a former director at the Securities and Exchange Commission, who once said ether (ETH) is not a security, and Rachael Horowitz, a veteran Silicon Vally communications strategist who previously was the top communicator at Coinbase, also recently joined. Horowitz has also held positions at Twitter, Google, and Facebook.

Additional new hires include policymaker Tomicah Tilleman, who is joining the firm as global head of policy after serving as a senior advisor to President Joe Biden.

“As with any new computing movement, crypto has endured a variety of challenges and misconceptions,” Dixon and Haun said. “That’s why we are also bringing together heavy-hitters across several functions to help translate “crypto” to the mainstream.”

The announcement of Crypto Fund III follows a flurry of recent activity in crypto venture investing. Despite the slump in coin prices, investors have been raising large sums of cash to pour into new crypto startups.

Framework Ventures recently announced a $100 million new fund to invest in DeFi. Blockchain Capital, meanwhile, recently announced a new $300 million fund with backing from tech giants PayPal and Visa.

Data from The Block shows investors poured more than $8.8 billion into startups during 2021, compared with 3.07 billion in all of 2020.

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