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• PayPal’s crypto holdings increased by 56% in Q1 2023 to nearly $1B

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Financial technology company PayPal recently disclosed its cryptocurrency holdings in a quarterly report filed to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission. 

Claiming a combined total of $943 million in cryptocurrency assets as of March 31, 2023, the filing shows a 56% increase over the company’s previous quarter where PayPal disclosed $604 million.

PayPal’s reported total financial liabilities for this quarter were $1.2 billion, with crypto assets making up 77.9% — up more than 10% from 2022’s reported fourth quarter liabilities.

• BTC Network Transactions and Fees Surge

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For those wanting to use Bitcoin for its intended purpose – digital money – the current situation is untenable. Daily BTC network transactions have surged to record highs of over 600,000, according to Bitinfocharts. Furthermore, this has pushed up the price of using the blockchain.

Transaction fees surged as high as $30 on May 8 and 9, and the network remains crippled though it is still processing blocks. Industry observer Will Clemente commented: “Bitcoin transaction fees are now higher than they were at the peak of the 2021 bull market. WOW!”

• SEC Blasted on Custody Proposal by JPMorgan, Crypto Firms and a Fellow Agency

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The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) went too far when it proposed a new rule demanding investment firms safeguard all of their clients’ assets – including crypto – with approved custodians, according to an array of critics not often in alignment.

The securities regulator said the expanded requirement for how registered investment advisers keep customer assets should extend to pretty much everything the firms are in charge of. While the February proposal explicitly folded in cryptocurrency, it also included other assets in a move that drew loud objections from organizations that aren’t always on the same side as the crypto industry – financial giant JPMorgan and the Small Business Administration (SBA) among them.

As the two-month public comment period expired this week the SBA argued the SEC “drastically underestimates potential impacts” from its proposal, according to a letter from senior SBA lawyers who said the cost of the “sweeping changes” could threaten smaller investment advisers and force them to merge with others or get out of the business.

U.S. Crypto Exchange Bittrex Files for Bankruptcy in Delaware

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Crypto exchange Bittrex has filed for bankruptcy in the U.S. state of Delaware on Monday, months after announcing it would wind down operations in the country and weeks after being sued by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The exchange believes it has more than 100,000 creditors, with estimated liabilities and assets both within the $500 million to $1 billion range, according to a court filing shared by Randall Reese of Chapter 11 Dockets, a bankruptcy tracker.

Bittrex’s U.S. branch has had a rough 2023 so far, laying off 80 people in February and announcing in March that it would end all operations by the end of April. These changes have not affected Bittrex Global, the non-U.S. crypto exchange.

• Argentina says no to crypto payments, France tolerates ‘finfluencers’

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Last week brought several significant international developments in regulation. Argentina’s central bank banned payment providers from offering crypto transactions, adding that it intends to reduce the country’s payment-system exposure to digital assets. While local payment providers refuse to comment on the decision, Argentina’s fintech chamber urged the government to reconsider, claiming that “it limits access to a technology that offers multiple benefits and opportunities for our society.”

In France, the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs approved an amendment allowing registered cryptocurrency companies to hire social media influencers for advertising and promotional purposes. The new wording would allow companies registered with France’s Financial Markets Authority to hire product influencers.

• Gold flirts with all-time highs as banking concerns deepen

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Gold made another run toward record highs on Thursday, May 4th as U.S. banking concerns accelerated a flight to the safe-haven asset and sustained its stellar rally driven by bets for a pause in U.S. rate hikes.

Spot gold was up 0.3% at $2,045.79 per ounce by 1:40 p.m. EDT (1740 GMT) after climbing earlier to $2,072.19, shy of a record high of $2,072.49.

U.S. gold futures settled 0.9% higher at $2,055.70.

The melt-up in prices overnight associated with the banking stress revealed that traders are willing to deploy some of their dry powder, said Daniel Ghali, commodity strategist at TD Securities.

Concluding Notes:

  • PayPal’s crypto holdings increased by 56% in Q1 2023
  • Bitcoin transaction fees have drastically increased
  • SBA senior layers warn the SEC
  • Bittrex files for bankruptcy in the U.S.
  • France allows crypto companies to hire social media managers
  • Gold price surges over $2000

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