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Citigroup Launches Digital Assets Group to Provide Clients Access to Cryptocurrencies

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Citigroup has reportedly set up a “digital assets group” to offer clients access to cryptocurrencies, which will operate within the bank’s wealth management division.

Iain Armitage, global head of capital markets for Citi Private Bank, and Rob Jasminski, who oversees the bank’s investment management arm globally, said in the memo that the new digital assets group will be led by Alex Kriete and Greg Girasole, the publication conveyed.

They will serve as liaisons to “all other business groups at Citi who are expanding into this rapidly emerging space also,” the memo says. In addition: “They will be responsible for developing our future product capabilities, client delivery mechanisms and thought leadership around all digital assets.”

The memo further explains that Citigroup plans to help clients invest in cryptocurrencies, stablecoins, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as well as central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

In May, the Financial Times reported that Citigroup was contemplating launching crypto services after seeing a “very rapid” accumulation of interest in bitcoin across a broad spectrum of clients, including large asset managers.

In March, the firm said bitcoin was at a tipping point and could become the preferred currency for international trade.

At the end of May, Citigroup CEO Jane Fraser gave her testimony on cryptocurrency before the Senate banking committee. She stated that Citigroup was taking a “measured approach” to cryptocurrency as the bank sought “to understand changes in the digital asset space and the use of distributed ledger technology, including demand and interest by our clients, regulatory developments and technological advancements.”

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Bitcoin Drops Over $10,000 in Value in 24 Hours

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Global financial markets rout plunged Bitcoin, the world’s most dominant cryptocurrency, by $10,000 to $47,000 a coin, according to the data obtained from Coindesk.

Bitcoin was trading at slightly above $57,000 a coin on Friday before falling by 17 percent or $10,000 to $47,000 within 24 hours to further highlight the state of the global financial markets amid growing concerns over the Omicron COVID variant spread.

Ether, the second most capitalised cryptocurrency, also sheds 10.26 percent to $4,047.96 a coin while Solana, XRP, Terra (Luna), Cardano and Stellar dropped 10.19 percent, 17.54 percent, 11.96 percent, 13.95 percent and 16.74 percent to $204.67, $0.796952, $60.85, $1.40 and $0.292059, respectively.

There is no clear reason as to why bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are falling besides rising global uncertainty surrounding the fast-spreading Omicron covid variant.

Selling pressure in the Bitcoin spot market seems to have dragged on the entire cryptocurrency before triggering huge stop losses in the derivative markets.

“The evidence points to this being yet another derivative-induced selling event,” wrote J.C. Parets, chief market strategist for All Star Charts technical research, in a note Saturday morning. “The September flash crash had the same drivers as this selloff — leverage was flushed from the system in a violent fashion, which later enabled the market to eventually move higher toward a new all-time high in October.”

Despite the uncertainty surrounding financial assets, El Salvador, the first country to accept Bitcoin as a legal tender, announced it has bought the dip. President Nayib Bukele acquired 150 Bitcoin for about $48,700 a coin.

Tether (USDT), the largest stablecoin by market value, moved away from its 1:1 peg against the US Dollar to $1.025, largely because of its usage as a hedge against market uncertainty. Traders usually move their cryptocurrency to USDT during high market uncertainty.

“Our expectation for the coming days/weeks is sideways choppy price action. A contraction and basing process is likely to take place after such a violent move and we want to treat sharp upward rallies suspiciously right now,” added Parets.

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Bitcoin and Ether Will be Outperformed by Solana in 2022: deVere CEO

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Cryptocurrency Solana is likely to again outperform both Bitcoin and Ethereum, the world’s two biggest digital currencies, in 2022, according to the CEO of a $12bn financial giant.

The bullish prediction from Nigel Green, chief executive and founder of deVere Group, one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations, comes amid another sharp bearish dip for leading cryptocurrencies on Friday.

Bitcoin, Ethereum and Solana were down around 5.7%, 6.8%, and 8.9% respectively over the previous 24 hours of trading.

Mr Green says: “End of the week trading was hit by negative sentiment of high-growth stocks, which went on to impact Bitcoin, the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market cap which, in turn, weighed on the wider crypto market.

“Despite this current volatility, crypto investors who have consistently stayed in the market have generally had a positive year. Year-to-date Bitcoin is up 46%, Ether 376%, and Solana around 13,000%.

“Savvy investors – both retail and institutional – know that crypto is the future of money. In times of volatility, in which there are lower entry points to top up portfolios, they typically continue to drip-feed money into the digital assets market.”

He continues: “I’m confident that a key one to watch in 2022 is Solana, currently the fifth largest crypto by market cap. It started off the year trading at around $2, now it’s changing hands on the deVere Crypto app for about $200.

“It’s likely it will outperform both Bitcoin and Ethereum again next year.

“Why? Because of its masterful technology and its cost-effectiveness.”

Mr Green explains: “Solana is a blockchain platform that has superior high transaction speeds, processing over 2,500 transactions per second – main rival Ether’s is 15 – and at a lower cost and without compromising decentralisation.

“Like Ether, it supports smart contracts, which are algorithms that are designed to operate automatically based on predefined agreements on blockchain technology.

“This revolutionary tech will ultimately change the way almost all business and financial services are delivered in the future. As such, a growing number of decentralized finance (DeFi) applications are moving to Solana.

“They’re also attracted by the considerably cheaper fees compared to Ether, whose prices have exploded in recent months.”

In September, the Solana network went down for about 17 hours. At the time, on Twitter, Solana explained a large jump in transaction load to 400,000 per second overwhelmed the network.

“It’s a young network still and this was just a temporary glitch,” comments Nigel Green.

He concludes: “In-the-know investors are watching it with interest.

“There’s no reason why it shouldn’t again outperform headline grabbers Bitcoin and Ethereum next year if the current momentum continues.

“It’s a momentum driven by a booming DeFi space as retail investors seek alternative funding opportunities and institutional investors continue to pile in.

“2022 will be Solana’s breakout year.”

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Fintech CEO: FBI Crypto Ransomware Seizure Brings Custody to Forefront

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The FBI seized a cryptocurrency wallet used by Aleksandr Sikerin, it says, which holds $2.3 million in assets which were tied to ramsomware attacks. Sikerin is associated with REvil, which is known for its ransomware malfeasance. Earlier this month, the Justice Department announced a similar seizure of over $6 million in ransomware payments to Yevgeniy Polyanin, who targeted law enforcement and municipal organizations, among others. It is said that REvil has been responsible for more than $200 million in extortion since 2019.

“While identifying these criminals, and seizing their assets, is a step in the right direction, many of them are resting safely in countries, such as Russia, without extradition treaties with the United States. That’s why it is important that governments ensure that exchanges and other companies working in concert with these bad actors are held accountable,” opined 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. Earlier this year, Suex was sanctioned for allegedly doing business with hackers.

“There are three kinds of companies in the digital assets space. Those who actively and knowingly provide services, including money laundering, which aid in the efforts of hackers and bad actors. Those who are complicit and provide aid with no direct knowledge, but, instead, because they fail to adequately vet their clients with the AML & KYC procedures which have become industry best practices and, in most jurisdictions, mandatory. Finally, there are those which take every precaution and employ industry leading technologies to thwart hackers at every turn. Those that fall into the latter group, those are the companies with long-term potential, and it is time that the industry recognizes that in a more substantial way,” 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. Modulus has provided its exchange solution to some of the industry’s most profitable digital asset exchanges, including a well-known multi-billion-dollar cryptocurrency exchange. Over the past twenty years, the company has built technology for the world’s most notable institutions, with a client list which includes NASA, NASDAQ, Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Barclays, Siemens, Shell, Yahoo!, Microsoft, Cornell University, and the University of Chicago.

“This isn’t just an issue with exchanges, of course. Even in the custody space, we’re faced with companies who are following the law but are still leaving massive vulnerabilities in their operation. It isn’t that they are trying to do a lackluster job. It’s just that they don’t appreciate how important the security aspect is in the digital assets space. Blockchain technologies, including digital assets, are a truly transformative innovation. We’re going to see them play out over the next decades. They will completely change how we interact with finance. In order to enhance the opportunities in front of us, it is incumbent upon us to do everything we can to ensure that the technology is safe and secure,” said Gardner.

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