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UAE-Based Emirates Plans on Adding Bitcoin as a Payments Service: Report

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UAE-Based Emirates Plans on Adding Bitcoin as a Payments Service: Report

United Arab Emirates-based major airline service Emirates has plans to add “Bitcoin as a payment service” and also will launch a non-fungible token (NFT) trading platform. The Chief Operating Officer (COO) of Emirates, Adel Ahmed Al-Redha disclosed this information at a media gathering at the Arabian travel market — an international travel trade show, on May 12. The move arrives weeks after the airline in an official statement announced its interest in launching digital collectibles and enhance the metaverse experience of its flyers.

As per remarks published in a report by Arab News, Al Redha hints that his company may have to recruit employees to assist it in creating applications that monitor customer needs. Al Redha refrained from revealing a timeline for when the airline expects to launch its Bitcoin payment service.

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Al Redha also spoke of the differences between NFTs and the metaverse at the event, explaining, “NFTs and metaverse are two different applications and approaches. With the metaverse, you will be able to transform your whole processes — whether it is in operation, training, sales on the website, or complete experience — into a metaverse type application, but more importantly making it interactive.”

In an official announcement shared by Emirates in mid-April, it said that the first NFT and metaverse projects are already underway, with launch anticipated in the coming months.

Emirates has always embraced advanced technologies to improve our business processes, enhance our customer offering, and enrich our employees’ skills and experiences,” HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, the chairman of Emirates said in a statement.

In addition, Emirates is also repurposing its Emirates Pavilion at the Expo 2020 site as a contact point for people that can contribute to the airline’s future-focused projects including those relating to the metaverse, NFTs, and Web 3.

“It is fitting that our future-themed Emirates Pavilion at Expo is being repurposed as a hub to develop cutting-edge future experiences aligned with the UAE’s vision for the digital economy,” the Emirates chairman added.


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Ethereum’s Eco-Friendly Revamp ‘Merge’ May Go Live in August, Unless a ‘Difficulty Bomb’ Explodes

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Ethereum, the popular and largely commercialised blockchain, is currently undergoing a software revamp after which, its functioning would be more energy efficient and eco-friendly. Preston Van Loon, a developer working on Ether 2.0, has said that if everything goes according to their current plans, the ‘Merge’ would be ready for launch by August this year. The developers are recoding Ethereum’s mining protocol to ‘Proof-of-Stake’ (PoS) from its current ‘Proof-of-Work’ (PoW) model. The Merge upgrade is reportedly expected to reduce Ethereum’s power consumption by 99 percent.

Speaking at a public event, Van Loon said that Merge is almost ready. It is just a few more trials away from entering the industry.

There is however, the fears of a ‘difficulty bomb’ explosion that could further delay the launch of the Merge, that was initially slated to go live in June.

The “difficulty bomb” refers to the program coded into the Ethereum blockchain that intentionally slows down the network, a report by CoinTelegraph explained.

This feature has been designed to encourage Ethereum’s transition to PoS by increasing difficulty levels for miners so that they lose time for mining on the previous PoW chain after using Merge.

If triggered, this difficulty bomb would need to introduce another update to delay its trigger. This will extend the time for Merge’s launch further.

“As far as we know, if everything goes to plan, August — it just makes sense. If we don’t have to move [the difficulty bomb], let’s do it as soon as we can,” Van Loon added.

Back in April, Merge developers successfully stress-tested the network using a so-called mainnet shadow fork.

At the time, another Ethereum developer Marius Van Der Wijden had called this a “huge success”.

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Despite the positive test results, the launch of Merge has faced repeated delays.

The developers are running extensive tests on the Ethereum revamp because decentralised finance (DeFi) apps reportedly worth over $100 billion (roughly Rs. 7,61,110 crore) are supported on the blockchain, and cannot be put in jeopardy.

While the PoS mining operations use randomly selected miners to validate transactions, PoW mining needs a competitive validation method to confirm transactions and add new blocks to the blockchain. Hence, the operations of PoW mining is costlier to maintain.

Like Ethereum, Bitcoin also functions on PoW mining model.

Recently, FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried dismissed Bitcoin as a viable payment network option, blaming its energy-consuming PoW mining model.

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Crypto Crash to Have Little Impact on US Household Wealth, Claims Goldman Sachs

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Crypto Crash to Have Little Impact on US Household Wealth, Claims Goldman Sachs

Analysts at banking giant Goldman Sachs claim that even though US households account for a third of the global cryptocurrency market in terms of total investments, the recent crypto market meltdown will have very little impact on the economy. Goldman Sachs economists explain that the overall US household net worth stood at $150 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,16,31,27,920 crore) as per last year’s data. On the other hand, the crypto market has lost a $1 trillion (roughly Rs. 77,53,395 crore) valuation over the last year. Thus, the economists believe that this is still “very small” to the entire US household net worth.

Bloomberg quoted a study by Goldman Sachs showing that every Dollar lost in stocks led to a reduction of 3 cents in spending. This five-month sell-off in 2022 means over a $300 billion (roughly Rs. 23,26,265 crore) spending cut. As per the Goldman Sachs study, stocks constitute 33 percent of the total US household net worth by the end of 2021. On the other hand, crypto accounted for only 0.3 percent.

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“These patterns imply that equity price fluctuations are the main driver of changes in household net worth, while cryptocurrencies are only a marginal contributor,” Goldman Sachs economists wrote.

Moreover, Goldman Sachs doesn’t expect the ongoing market correction to cause a major spike in labour force participation among young men, the demographic group that is the most likely to suffer from declining prices.

The banking giant adds, “…cryptocurrency investors skew younger and male, a demographic group whose labour force participation has generally been less affected by wealth fluctuations.”

That said, the bank does believe that more people will be incentivised to return to work due to tighter financial conditions, also noting that the decline in crypto prices will have ‘limited scope’ in that regard since it makes up for such a small percentage of the average household net worth.


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Binance US Ropes-In Ex-DoJ Official of Indian Origin as Head, VP of Legal Team

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Binance US Ropes-In Ex-DoJ Official of Indian Origin as Head, VP of Legal Team

Binance US has roped-in Krishna Juvvadi as the vice president and head of its legal team. The Indian origin official has previously served as a trial attorney at US’ Department of Justice (DoJ) and as the global head of operations compliance at Uber. The news about Juvvadi’s appointment in Binance US’ legal team comes days after its parent company Binance Global job-listed 42 vacancies in its legal team in several parts of the world. Company CEO Chengpeng Zhao had launched Binance US in 2019, in order to help the crypto community that thrives in the US.

The company has published an official blog-post to introduce Juvvadi as the chief of its legal team on Thursday, May 19.

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“In this role, Krishna leads the day-to-day operations of the company’s legal department, helping to support the organisation’s continued build out and advancing its efforts to become the most compliant digital asset platform in the United States. He reports to Binance US’ General Counsel, Norman Reed,” Binance US said in the post.

In recent times, Binance has made it its aim to bag operational licences in as many countries as possible. CEO Zhao wants to make Binance, the most licenced crypto exchange in the world.

To achieve this, the company is focussing on strengthening its legal teams in different parts of the world, to ensure that its operations there are in compliances with the laws of the land.

“We recognise the importance of remaining responsive to and complying with the evolving rules and regulations governing the crypto ecosystem, and we continue to attract and invest in top legal and compliance talent to ensure this priority remains at the forefront of our operations,” said Brian Shroder, CEO of Binance US.

At a time, the US government is accelerating its research work around crypto laws, Binance US is focussed on establishing its presence in different states of the country.

On April 6, Binance US completed its first-ever external funding. After raising over $200 million (roughly Rs. 1,525 crore) from various investors like Circle Ventures, it has reached the valuation of $4.5 billion (roughly Rs. 34,322 crore).

Earlier this month, Binance US officially received approvals to operate as a money transmitter in Puerto Rico. The US-focussed subsidiary of Binance Global also has similar licences in other American states like Wyoming, Connecticut, and West Virginia.

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Currently, Binance is looking to onboard legal personnel in Israel, Canada, UK, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Hong Kong, Singapore, and other regions of the Asia-Pacific, Europe, Middle East, Africa, and Latin America.

Gathering a strong legal team is also Binance’s way to ensure customer protection against unethical entities, as per company spokesperson Jessica Jung.


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