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• Fed holds rates steady, indicates three cuts coming in 2024

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The Federal Reserve on Wednesday held its key interest rate steady for the third straight time and set the table for multiple cuts to come in 2024 and beyond.

With the inflation rate easing and the economy holding in, policymakers on the Federal Open Market Committee voted unanimously to keep the benchmark overnight borrowing rate in a targeted range between 5.25%-5.5%. 

Along with the decision to stay on hold, committee members penciled in at least three rate cuts in 2024, assuming quarter percentage point increments. That’s less than what the market had been pricing, but more aggressive than what officials had previously indicated. 

• El Salvador expects to sell out Bitcoin ‘Freedom Visa’ by end of year

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El Salvador’s National Bitcoin Office (ONBTC) says its $1 million Freedom Visa program has already received hundreds of inquiries since its launch on Dec. 7 and expects it to sell out before the end of 2023.

In comments emailed to Cointelegraph, a spokesperson for El Salvdor’s National Bitcoin Office said it had received hundreds of inquiries and “many dozens of applications” online and in person at its embassies and consulates.

Launched by the El Salvador government on Dececember 7 in partnership with stablecoin issuer Tether, the Freedom Visa is a citizenship-by-donation program that grants a residency visa and pathway to citizenship for 1,000 people willing to put down a $1 million Bitcoin or Tether donation toward the country.

• Bitcoin bulls eye BTC price comeback as cash inflows echo late 2020

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Bitcoin “needed to cool off” after hitting $44,000 this month, analysis believes, and after a trip to near $40,000, conditions are improving.

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Dec. 13, Philip Swift, creator of statistics resource Look Into Bitcoin, showed profit-taking surging as BTC/USD hit its latest 19-month highs.

He flagged the value days destroyed (VDD) mutiple metric, which multiplies coin days destroyed by the current BTC price and that, on Dec. 11, hit its highest level since May 2021.

“Value Days Destroyed has now reached levels seen at previous Early Bull local highs as some HODL’ers take profit,” part of commentary stated.

• Ledger patches vulnerability after multiple DApps using connector library were compromised

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The front end of multiple decentralized applications (DApps) using Ledger’s connector, including Zapper, SushiSwap, Phantom, Balancer and were compromised on Dec. 14. Nearly three hours after the security breach was discovered, Ledger reported that the malicious version of the file had been replaced with its genuine version around 1:35 pm UTC.

Ledger is warning users “to always Clear Sign” transactions, adding that the addresses and the information presented on the Ledger screen are the only genuine information. “If there’s a difference between the screen shown on your Ledger device and your computer/phone screen, stop that transaction immediately.”

SushiSwap chief technical officer Matthew Lilley was among the first to report the issue, noting that a commonly used Web3 connector was compromised, allowing malicious code to be injected into numerous DApps. The on-chain analyst said the Ledger library confirmed the compromise where the vulnerable code inserted the drainer account address.

• Ripple issues white paper on CBDCs, reiterates belief in their potential

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Ripple has doubled down on its public support for central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) in a new white paper. The 23-page document was released by the blockchain-based digital payments company on Dec. 14.

In the document, Ripple explains the basics of CBDCs, their attractiveness, risks and barriers to widespread adoption. The white paper claims CBDCs help expand financial inclusion, streamlining cross-border payments and reinforcing monetary policy control.

Among the barriers to adoption, Ripple highlights the absence of a uniform, global regulatory framework for CBDCs. Other factors include a lack of end-user adoption, “little-to-no” consumer education, fears about privacy and security protections, digital identity verification, lack of interoperability among CBDCs and offline access to transactions. However, the authors of the white paper believe these issues “aren’t unsolvable.”

• SEC wants Binance guilt admission added to own case

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Binance Holdings and its former CEO, Changpeng Zhao, have reacted to a move by the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to include Binance’s admission of guilt to the Department of Justice (DOJ) in its own legal proceedings.

In a Dec. 12 filing submitted to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, Binance insisted the SEC’s attempt to include the $4.3 billion guilty plea and settlement agreement with the DOJ in the continuing case was procedurally incorrect and should not be allowed.

The ongoing Binance-SEC legal case began on June 5, 2023, when the agency accused the company of 13 securities law violations, including that Zhao and Binance managed customer assets on Binance.US and mixed or redirected customer assets.

The DOJ negotiated a separate settlement with Binance and its former CEO in November that resolved its probe into the company. The deal required Binance to pay $4.3 billion in penalties and allowed the company to continue operations while adhering to U.S. regulations.

Concluding Notes:

  • Fed holds rates steady
  • El Salvador expects to sell out Bitcoin ‘Freedom Visa’ by end of year
  • Bitcoin bulls eye BTC price comeback
  • Ledger patches vulnerability after multiple DApps using connector library were compromised
  • Ripple issues white paper on CBDCs
  • SEC wants Binance guilt admission added to own case

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