This week, U.S. regulators dropped charges against Ripple’s executives; Coinbase addresses Hamas’ use of crypto; Bitcoin crosses $30,000 amid discussions surrounding spot ETFs.

SEC waves the white flag

This week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) dropped its charges against Ripple’s executives Brad Garlinghouse and Chris Larsen. However, court documents confirmed that this dismissal does not signify the conclusion of the SEC’s case against Ripple. 

Both parties are actively engaged in negotiations to address Ripple’s alleged violations related to its Institutional Sales of XRP. They have established a deadline of Nov. 9 to establish a briefing schedule, or they may face court intervention.

XRP responded with a rally. The asset surged 7.6% in an inter-day uptick, conquering the $0.50 and $0.51 price thresholds in one fell sweep.

Separately, Ripple is seeking a Senior Manager of Shareholder Communications. The move generated significant attention in the crypto community. Speculation was rife that this move might indicate potential initial public offering (IPO) plans from Ripple. The job description outlines responsibilities related to managing major undertakings, including mergers, and acquisitions.

Fake news on BTC ETF approval

Meanwhile, as the SEC continues to delay a response on the multiple spot BTC ETF applications on its desk, crypto media outlet Cointelegraph reported Monday that the agency has approved BlackRock’s iShares spot BTC ETF application. 

The report was summarily dismissed by BlackRock and the SEC, with both parties confirming that the agency is still reviewing the application. However, the effects of the fake news were felt in the market. Bitcoin jumped toward the $30,000 mark on the back of the report before dropping quickly. 

As the market reacted to the report with a surge, a large investor placed a remarkable $5.7 billion wager in the Bitcoin Futures market. The market also saw $42 million in short liquidations, as disclosed by CryptoQuant chief Ki Young Ju.

Shortly after BlackRock debunked the claims, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink discussed them on Fox Business but neglected to highlight any specifics surrounding the ETF application. He emphasized that the uproar in the market was due to a growing interest in cryptocurrencies among institutional clients.

However, industry pundits believe the effects of the fake news could be used by the SEC to reject the Bitcoin ETF applications on the grounds of market susceptibility to manipulation. 

Market analysts, such as Bitfinexed, support this view, presenting a case for market manipulation in potential ETF denials. Nonetheless, Bloomberg experts remain optimistic, predicting that there is a 90% chance of the SEC approving a spot BTC ETF by early 2024.

Another slew of global regulatory efforts 

This week witnessed another slew of regulatory efforts and enforcement actions. Despite being stretched with its ongoing lawsuits against Ripple, Coinbase and Binance, the SEC still had some time to slap a fine on another crypto entity. 

Digital asset firm Thor Technologies and CEO David Chin received a $1.05 million fine from the SEC for allegedly distributing unlicensed securities. They offered project tokens as investment opportunities, which the SEC claims violated securities provisions. They now face a substantial penalty for their actions.

The crypto scene witnessed one of the effects of the SEC’s continued crackdown on the industry. LBRY announced its closure due to insurmountable debts, including SEC-related and legal obligations. Their court case resulted in a $111,000 settlement as they lost the judgment to the regulator amid debt to other entities.

The FBI and New York AG come for crypto projects

The FBI also took center stage this week. The agency fined six individuals in New York for engaging in unlicensed cryptocurrency exchange activities between July 2021 and September 2023. 

They conducted covert crypto-to-cash conversions on the darknet, failing to comply with FinCEN’s licensing requirements. While most face consequences, one was released on conditional terms.

New York Attorney General Letitia James also jumped on the enforcement party this week. She filed a billion-dollar lawsuit against Gemini Trust, Genesis Capital, and Digital Currency Group, alleging deceptive practices in the crypto space. 

The suit focuses on Gemini’s ‘Gemini Earn’ program, where they allegedly failed to disclose Genesis’ instability. Letitia aims to restrict these companies’ operations in New York’s financial sector, sparking crypto controversy.

Coinbase’s growth moves

Amid the chaos in the industry, Coinbase made two growth-oriented moves this week. The exchange introduced a perpetual futures offering for its Advanced retail users outside the U.S. The offering supports four crypto assets: BTC, ETH, LTC and XRP. Trading began on Oct. 18, the day of the announcement.

Coinbase disclosed plans to extend its foothold in the European market, applying for a new EU license under the upcoming MiCA regulation, slated to take effect in December 2024. The exchange’s expansion plans come amid the regulatory uncertainty in the U.S.

Nana Murugesan, Coinbase’s VP of International and Business Development, confirmed their commitment to the European Union. Having first flocked to Ireland in 2018, the company aims to make the country its European base amid its expansion plans.

Concerns surrounding Israel-Palestine conflict

The Israel-Palestine conflict spilled into this week, with casualties mounting up. As the escalation progressed, market leaders expressed apprehension about Hamas leveraging crypto for donations. Reports suggested that Binance blocked over 100 accounts tied to Hamas at the request of Israel.

This week, Coinbase echoed the concerns raised by industry leaders. The American exchange expressed its stance against the use of crypto for donations by groups such as Hamas. They noted that they have a team of 400 individuals under their compliance unit. The work of this team is to report any suspicious activity in this regard.

Amid the growing concerns, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned Gaza-based crypto exchange Buy Cash, leveraged by Hamas for crypto donations. Additionally, the Treasury extended these sanctions to ten key members of Hamas and their financial associates in Qatar, Algeria, Turkey, and Sudan.

A favorable week for Bitcoin

Despite the chaos this week, the Bitcoin market saw favorable movements. These bullish metrics started surfacing on Oct. 16, when reports revealed that BTC whales have continued to accumulate more tokens, as the asset held firm above $26,000.

While the fake news on the approval of the BTC ETF artificially pumped BTC to $30,000 on Oct. 16, this rally was unsustainable, leading to a crash to $28,500 by the end of the day. BTC faced two days of constant loses following this development, as market participants actively sold off their holdings.

However, the asset made a comeback on Oct. 19, increasing by 5.53% from Oct. 19 to Oct. 21. Amid this upsurge, Bitcoin crossed the $30,000 mark, hitting a three-month high of $30,379. Despite a drop from this high, BTC is still up 10.2% from the value it started the week with.

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