Investments’s Cronos launches $100M accelerator for DeFi and Web3

The Cronos Accelerator Program is backed by $100 million to help crypto projects seeking mentorship, funding and growth in the seed and pre-seed stages.

Cronos, a blockchain ecosystem built by major crypto exchange, announced the launch of an accelerator program to fast-track advancements across the decentralized finance (DeFi), Web3 and Metaverse space, among others. 

Driving the initiative, the Cronos Accelerator Program is backed by $100 million to help crypto projects in the seed and pre-seed stages seeking mentorship, funding and growth. According to the announcement, projects shortlisted for the accelerator program will be matched with compatible mentors.

Some of the prominent investment partners backing the Cronos Accelerator Program include Mechanism Capital, Spartan Labs, IOSG Ventures, OK Blockchain Capital, AP Capital, Altcoin Buzz and Dorahacks. Cronos plans to onboard other partners in the future. Providing further clarity into the program, Cronos managing director Ken Timsit added:

“In the current climate, it is more important than ever to put our heads down and start building aggressively.”

Timsit aims to enhance the potential of projects by providing end-to-end support across the project’s operations. As part of this initiative, Cronos’ Web3 startup accelerator arm Cronos Labs conducts weekly workshops that cover various aspects of building crypto projects.

Aspiring projects get the opportunity to procure between $100,000–$300,000 seed investment in addition to having the option for additional grant funding. In addition to mentorship and other marketing initiatives, projects will be able to integrate into’s ecosystem including a DeFi wallet, crypto exchange and nonfungible token marketplace.

Related: Philippines to explore blockchain use cases, launches training program

The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in the Philippines recently launched a training program for researchers to check the feasibility of blockchain technology within the healthcare, financial support and emergency aid industries.

Enrico Paringit, a DOST official, highlighted the department’s intent to “build non-cryptocurrency applications” and simultaneously produce blockchain development specialists for ramping up the government’s in-house initiatives.

‘Bitcoin-thematic’ ETF lists on Italian stock exchange Borsa Italiana

A Bitcoin-thematic ETF listed on the Borsa Italiana, providing savers, institutions and pensions planners exposure to BTC.

On Tuesday, Borsa Italiana — Italy’s stock exchange — listed a “Bitcoin-thematic” exchange-traded fund (ETF) by Melanion Capital, bringing Bitcoin (BTC) exposure to Italian institutions and retirement plans.

Cyril Sabbagh, managing director of Melanion Capital, told Cointelegraph that “The Melanion BTC Equities Universe UCITS ETF is an equity ETF around stocks in the crypto ecosystem.” He explained that the ETF would be “accessible to as many people as possible.”

“The Italian Stock Exchange (Borsa Italiana) has not accepted any ‘spot ETFs’ but welcomes our thematic ETF!”

Following the successful launch of a Bitcoin-thematic ETF in October 2021 on Euronext Paris, a pan-European stock exchange, Melanion Capital targeted Italy for its ETF. Sabbagh explained:

“In Europe, spot ETFs (exchange-traded funds) are ETNs (exchange-traded notes) or ETCs (exchange-traded certificates) and, as such, carry counterparty risk and are not UCITS (the highest regulatory standard for a fund in Europe).”

The Bitcoin ETF also allows savers to gain exposure to Bitcoin in their retirement plans as a result of the UCTIS specification:

“Today, investors are frustrated that they cannot integrate a crypto allocation into their traditional investment envelopes. Indeed, investors will be able to integrate our ETF into their securities accounts, life insurance policies and even their retirement savings plans (this is already the case in France).”

Nicolas Bertrand, adviser and ambassador of the Global Blockchain Business Council and a former board member of Borsa Italiana, told Cointelegraph that “Italian investors and traders showed early interest in trading Bitcoin and other digital assets.”

Related: Bitcoin investment giant Grayscale debuts ETF in Europe

Despite sluggish price action and calls for a sub-$20,000 Bitcoin price, Bertrand highlighted the interest in digital assets:

“From my position of adviser to a number of crypto exposed businesses and my direct contact with investors, I can confirm that there is a significant level of interest and that a number of firms are getting ready to embrace digital assets.”

Bertrand shared that investor appetite for Bitcoin in Italy has been robust, particularly prior to 2021. “Italy was in the top 10 globally in terms of volume of activity on Bitcoin, and a number of trading venues have emerged offering direct access to these markets.”

Across the road from the Borsa Italiana, the world’s largest crypto exchange, Binance, will soon open an office, while the European Central Bank shared that cryptocurrency ownership in European households is thriving.

Indonesia-licensed crypto asset platform Pintu raises $113M in Series B

The latest $113 million fund injection will be redirected to scale the platform’s existing offerings, such as introducing new features and added support for blockchains.

Indonesian crypto asset platform Pintu announced the closure of a $113 million Series B funding round with participation by four prominent investors: Pantera Capital, Intudo Ventures, Lightspeed and Northstar Group. 

Licensed by the Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency, or Bappebti, under the Ministry of Trade, Pintu caters to Indonesian crypto investors dealing in popular cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH).

Bappepti previously highlighted that the number of Indonesian crypto investors in 2022 doubled from 2021, to which Jeth Soetoyo, founder and CEO of Pintu, said:

“We believe that crypto adoption in Indonesia is only in its beginning stages, and educating users on the fundamentals is critical to ensuring this growth continues in a healthy way.”

The latest $113 million fund injection will be redirected to scale the platform’s existing offerings, such as introducing new features and support for blockchains. The company also plans to add more tokens and launch new products to solidify its position in Indonesia further.

In the only two years since its inception, Pintu has launched numerous features on its mobile application that allow users to earn and stake their crypto holdings. In addition, a part of the Series B funding will be dedicated to Pintu Academy, an educational program for crypto traders that aims to spread awareness about the opportunities and risks of crypto investing.

Related: Celebrity tokens: Signs of rising crypto adoption in Indonesia

As Cointelegraph recently pointed out, crypto investments in Indonesia saw considerable growth between 2020 and 2022, with 4% of the country’s population having invested in crypto.

Celebrity involvement in crypto seemingly fueled the adoption spree among Indonesian investors. In addition to the participation of popular stars such as Joe Taslim, Jessica Iskandar and Shandy Aulia, the Indonesian celebrity crypto scene witnessed numerous nonfungible token (NFT) launches.

Amid crypto bear market, institutional investors scoop up Bitcoin: CoinShares

Bitcoin investment funds are seeing positive inflows while Ether funds continue to be drained, according to industry data.

Digital asset investment products registered positive inflows last week, though the gains were mainly concentrated in Bitcoin (BTC) funds, signaling a more cautious approach to crypto allocation on the part of institutional investors. 

Bitcoin investment products saw cumulative inflows totaling $126 million in the week ending Saturday, according to the latest fund flows report from CoinShares. Year-to-date, Bitcoin investment funds have quietly added $506 million in net inflows.

Investors appear to be allocating to Bitcoin at the expense of Ether (ETH) and other altcoins. Ether funds saw $32 million in outflows, marking the ninth consecutive week of declines. Outflows from Ether investment products have totaled $357.4 million this year.

Meanwhile, investments in multi-asset crypto funds rose by $4.3 million last week, bringing the year-to-date total to $201.3 million.

Grayscale remains the single largest digital asset manager with over $27 billion under management. Roughly 99% of Grayscale’s total assets are devoted to the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, also known as GBTC.

Related: BTC price approaches $32K as analyst warns of ‘boring’ summer for Bitcoin

Unable to escape the gravitational pull of the traditional financial markets, crypto assets have been in a protracted downtrend for much of 2022. BTC price endured nine consecutive weekly declines — the longest in history — as investor sentiment entered a prolonged period of “extreme fear” on the Bitcoin Fear & Greed Index.

June 6, last week and last month: Bitcoin’s Fear & Greed Index has been in extreme-fear territory.

Bitcoin narrowly avoided its tenth down week in a row by closing at $29,900 on Sunday — a mere $450 higher than the previous week.

Nevertheless, there are some positive signs that institutional investors are buying the dip. In addition to the CoinShares report, a Canadian spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund operated by Purpose Investments scooped up thousands of BTC last month. By May 13, the Purpose Bitcoin ETF had registered its highest-ever Bitcoin holdings at 41,600 BTC

Fed governor explains who needs crypto regulation and why demand for it is growing

Experienced investors know how to survive, Christopher Waller reasons, but there can be wide repercussions when small investors are hit with losses.

Regulation is needed to open the crypto ecosystem to a larger public, United States Federal Reserve Board Governor Christopher Waller told an audience at the SNB-CIF Conference on Cryptoassets and Financial Innovation in Zurich, Switzerland. Financial intermediaries can help manage risk for new crypto users, but cannot eliminate it, Waller said, and new and fast-growing financial products need public confidence to survive.

The banking official used historical examples to show the relationship between technical innovation, regulation and the amassing of fortunes. “New technology — and a lack of clear rules — meant some new fortunes were made, even as others were lost,” Waller said.

Experienced investors know how to operate in unregulated marketplaces and may not need or want regulation, Waller continued. He pointed to a recent Fed survey that showed that even with the explosive crypto-assets in recent years, only 12% of American adults own crypto, and 99% of them hold it for investment purposes.

Related: How does the Fed impact crypto? | Find out on The Market Report

Intermediaries in the financial market may want regulation because new users who have negative experiences with crypto could enter into disputes with them. Waller explained: “When everyday investors start losing their life savings, for no reason except wanting to participate in a hot market, demands for collective action can mount quickly.”

Those demands can grow into the socialization of individual losses, such as calls to reimburse small investors who have suffered losses in the collapse of the Terra (LUNC; formerly, LUNA) ecosystem, the central banker reasoned. That, in turn, leads to increased demand for regulation to prevent the situation from reoccurring.

To allow broad access to the crypto ecosystem, Waller concluded:

“[…] the question isn’t about what experienced users of that ecosystem want — it’s about what the rest of the public needs to have confidence in the ecosystem’s safety, and for better or worse, you can’t program confidence.”

Central African Republic to tokenize the nation’s natural resources

The impoverished country has launched an ambitious crypto project that includes using Bitcoin as legal tender, attracting investment and creating its own metaverse.

The Central African Republic (CAR) has announced plans to proceed with its ambitious Sango Project by tokenizing access to the country’s abundant natural resources. President Faustin-Archange Touadéra posted a photograph of a statement on his official Twitter account Thursday detailing the next steps in the project. 

The statement, signed by Minister of State and cabinet chief of staff Obed Namsio, read, in part: 

“We are giving everyone access to the riches of our land. In other words, we are transforming them into equally valuable and important digital assets through an unprecedented new administrative and economic movement.”

It went on to say that Touadéra has asked the parliament to prepare a new strategy to create investment opportunities in the country’s economy.

The CAR, which in April became the second country in the world to adopt Bitcoin (BTC) as legal tender, introduced Project Sango last month. On the project’s website, it is claimed that the World Bank approved a $35 million development fund for a Sango crypto hub in the country — even though the World Bank has stated that it will not support the initiative.

Creation of a legal framework for resource tokenization is a key element of the Sango Project, along with establishing e-residency for investors, crowdfunding infrastructure and the founding Sango—the so-called Crypto Island metaverse. The CAR has reserves of gold, oil, iron, diamonds, copper, uranium, rhodium, limestone, cobalt, manganese and other minerals.

The benefits of launching Bitcoin as legal tender in the CAR have been called into doubt due to the fragility of the state and the low level of development in the country. Only a small minority of residents have access to the internet or electricity.

401(k) provider ForUsAll sues US Labor Dept over anti-crypto compliance release

The retirement plan fiduciary says warning about investigation of 401(k) plans that include cryptocurrency constitutes encroachment on private rights.

ForUsAll, a 401(k) retirement provider, filed suit against the United States Department of Labor (DOL) and Martin Walsh as Labor secretary in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. on Thursday. The company is seeking the withdrawal of a DOL compliance assistance release issued in March, citing the Administrative Procedure Act, which safeguards against arbitrary official encroachment on private rights.

The DOL release warned that the department’s Employee Benefits Security Administration is expected to “conduct an investigative program” aimed at 401(k) plans that contain cryptocurrency. ForUsAll CEO Jeff Schulte told Cointelegraph:

“The government is suddenly trying to restrict the type of investments Americans can choose to make because they’ve decided today that they don’t like a certain asset class. […] They’re clearly trying to effect a ban and they don’t have the legal authority to do so.”

The DOL release has elicited a sharp response from several quarters. A group of 11 financial industry trade associations sent a letter to Acting Assistant Secretary Ali Khawar in April objecting to the “rulemaking nature” of the release without stating a position on the presence of cryptocurrency in retirement plans.

Later that month, 10 investor, consumer, worker and retiree organizations sent a letter to Khawar in support of the release, saying it is consistent with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 that created the 401(k) program and imposed strict duties on plan fiduciaries.

Related: Senator’s Financial Freedom Act would ensure Bitcoin can be in your 401(k)

Schulte said ForUsAll has about 150 companies that have signed up for 401(k) plans that include crypto, and ForUsAll intended to begin rolling out 401(k) plans that include crypto this summer.

“We have met with the Department of Labor last year,” Schulte said. “We have taken great pains to make sure that our program complies with all existing regulations and rules, and we are confident in the design of our program.”

Anonymous culture in crypto may be losing its relevance

Although anonymous teams have built some of the leading infrastructure in crypto, many new participants in the ecosystem are using their real identities.

Crypto has inherited many values that were popularized in the early days of the internet. 

Many participants in the crypto space have been anonymous since the beginning of Bitcoin (BTC), since using this digital money offers a certain degree of anonymity so long as nobody knows the public address of the user. The true identity of its creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, remains unknown to this day.

The most recent wave of innovation spearheaded by decentralized finance (DeFi) and nonfungible token (NFT) projects have anonymous teams that maintain their general right to remain unknown.

The founder of DeFi analytics dashboard Defi Llama, 0xngmi, released a bug bounty on his identity. Rather than giving out this quest to find vulnerabilities in the Defi Llama code, he offered 1 Ether (ETH) to whoever could reveal his identity with a detailed explanation of how they found out. No one has managed to reveal his identity at the time of writing.

0xngmi has also been educating people that would like to become anonymous with a guide on “How to stay anon,” which is a collaborative document that allows contributors to add and edit to improve it.

Navigating through Crypto Twitter, there are plenty of pseudonymous “celebrities” that, based solely on the reputations they have built, have a digital persona with a substantial amount of followers.

Another account that remains anonymous on Twitter, The DeFi Edge, tweeted the reasons why he has decided for the account to remain anonymous. The founder of the eponymous DeFi analysis site has no intention to reveal their identity for the time being, but has dropped some minor details:

As the industry rebrands to Web3 and a wide array of talent is being lured into the ecosystem, a greater number of participants in the space have decided to take a different approach. They are in the position to later reveal different characteristics of their physical persona to become pseudonymous or reveal their true identity altogether. 

After the recent Terra collapse, the BBC reported that a man presented himself at Do Kwon’s home in Seoul only to find his wife answering the door. The 30-year-old founder of Terra has been active on Crypto Twitter, using his real identity to promote his protocol and communicate with the community in these times of crisis. Having his identity open to the public might have helped him convey trust to investors and the community, but it also exposed him to threats in real life. Situations like these are some of the reasons why many entrepreneurs in the space remain anonymous.

Related: How Terra’s collapse will impact future stablecoin regulations

In a constant struggle between the open flow of information and retaining the privacy of the individual, protecting anonymity and avoiding getting doxxed has become an important issue of the new cultural and technological revolution taking place in online society.

One of the biggest controversial identity reveals was when journalist Kate Notopoulos authored an article titled “We found the real names of Bored Ape Yacht Club’s pseudonymous founders,” in which she uncovered the identities through publicly available records associated with Yuga Labs.

Protestors in Guy Fawkes masks. In the internet age the mask has become a symbol associated with anonymity and privacy.

Revealing an identity ≠ doxxing

Usually referenced as a hostile action via the internet, doxxing is meant to insinuate the ability to find a person and reveal private information about an individual or organization. Although the term was coined by extreme groups as a way to threaten and intimidate marginalized persons online, the word doxxing currently blends into the meaning of revealing an identity without exclusive extremist connotations. 

Recently, 0xngmi gathered some findings that linked Charlotte Fang as the person behind the anonymous account Miya. The founder of the NFT art project Milady Maker allegedly used this pseudonymous online profile to spread hate speech toward minorities through social media.

After being recognized as the person behind the pseudonymous account allegedly linked to an online cult, Charlotte had to step down from the project as Milady Maker’s floor price plummeted.

Anonymous teams handling fortunes

Decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) have opened the door for many participants to be able to contribute to the governance of a project while remaining anonymous. Either for safety reasons or to avoid regulation, the majority of these projects have anonymous founders and contributors. This has been the norm in recent years. 

Grug, a pseudonymous account on Twitter, told Cointelegraph his reasons for remaining anonymous as CapitalGrug and the value of being judged solely on performance and ideas:

“I think the main reason that I chose to be anonymous is so that I can participate in and help maintain the same type of irreverent culture that I found so cool about crypto from the start.”

Plenty of good actors in the space have remained anonymous, bringing value to projects and communities by not having other defining characteristics influence people’s perceptions of that persona.

Being anonymous can also be the path for people that need a fresh start, but this can also have the effect of allowing malicious actors to infiltrate the space.

Back in January, the true identity of 0xSifu, founder of Defi protocol Wonderland, was unveiled as Michael Patryn, the co-founder of now-defunct crypto exchange QuadrigaCX.

The co-founder of the scandal-ridden exchange had previously been sentenced to 18 months in a United States federal prison for identity theft related to credit card fraud. Patryn is not even his real name; following the prison term and previous to founding QuadrigaCX, he reportedly changed his name from Omar Dhanani.

Recent: Crypto’s youngest investors hold firm against headwinds — and headlines

The Wonderland protocol collapsed with this news and the debate of whether anonymous teams should be allowed to handle large sums of money took the center stage. Even Danielle Sesta, co-founder of Wonderland, said that he expects anonymous teams to lose relevance in favor of teams that have their full identity revealed.

Redefining anonymous identity 

Although with the transition toward transparency in crypto in recent years, anonymous culture is still very strong. One doesn’t have to remain completely anonymous in the space, as Grug shared: 

“Our fund is all anon for instance, although we have all doxxed to one another. When I go to events and people whip out their phone to follow me on Twitter they are usually anonymous.”

Identity, whether it’s public or anonymous, is a very delicate subject that we all struggle with. Finding the balance between fully anonymous and a public identity will be the key to a more rich and diverse crypto community.

Up to this point, anonymous culture in crypto has proved to bring some positive value, as it minimizes biases and allows individuals to fully express themselves. Bad actors can take advantage of this to pursue a fresh start, which can be dangerous if they keep acting maliciously. But, if they become healthy contributors to an ecosystem and provide value to the community, it could prove people deserve a second chance.

Tether’s reported bank partner Capital Union shares its crypto strategy

Tether stablecoin’s reported bank partner Capital Union supports a large variety of digital assets as part of its trading and custody services.

Capital Union, a Bahamas-based bank that reportedly holds a portion of reserves by the Tether (USDT) stablecoin issuer, has been actively involved in the cryptocurrency industry.

The banking institution has rolled out crypto trading and custody services to its professional clients as part of the bank’s trading desk, a spokesperson for Capital Union told Cointelegraph on Tuesday.

“We work with a few selected trading venues and liquidity providers and a handful of custodians and technology providers, which allows us to support a large variety of digital assets as part of our trading and custody services,” the firm’s representative said.

Capital Union’s crypto-related services still represent a “fairly small portion” of its business, which is mainly focused on providing traditional wealth management and investment services, the representative noted.

The spokesperson did not elaborate either on what cryptocurrencies are supported on Capital Union’s platform or when they were launched, stating:

“We do not have a directional view on crypto markets or on any specific coins but as a forward looking financial institution have chosen to enable our professional clients to trade in this new asset class should they desire to do so.”

According to the representative, Capital Union has also been working actively on developing “transactional blockchain related capabilities” as the bank expects this to be an area of “significant disruption for the financial industry.”

Capital Union’s latest crypto-related remarks follow a Monday report claiming that Tether held some of its reserves at the Capital Union bank. The company’s representative declined to confirm or deny the bank’s involvement in Tether’s operations to Cointelegraph, citing confidentiality reasons. The only publicly available information from the bank is included in Capital Union’s annual reports, the person added.

Related: Stablecoin supplies and cash reserves in question amid crypto exodus

Founded in 2013, Capital Union managed $1 billion of assets by the end of 2020. The bank partnered with Chainalysis in April 2022 to ensure the safe and compliant rollout of its crypto solutions like trading and custody. According to the bank’s spokesperson, the Bahamas was one of the first nations to adopt a regulatory framework known as the DARE Act in 2020.

“As a locally regulated bank, this allows us to offer crypto-related services to our clients, which are financial institutions, financial intermediaries and professional investors,” Capital Union’s representative said.