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Final Fantasy creators join Oasys blockchain, gamers whine about it

As part of the deal, Square Enix will develop games on Oasys’ PoS network, joining the likes of Sega, Double Jump, Bandai Namco and Ubisoft.

Square Enix, the Japanese game developer behind the beloved Final Fantasy franchise has signed on as a node validator for blockchain gaming project Oasys, with the duo also teaming up to create blockchain games.

The move has predictably been met with criticism from some crypto and NFT hating members of the gaming community, irritated that the firm is continuing to double down its focus on blockchain tech.

In a Sept. 12 announcement, Oasys revealed that Square Enix had jumped on board to be the project’s 21st node validator, taking up the final slot of initial validators.

Moving forward the duo will also team up to develop new games on Oasys’ EVM compatible Proof-of-Stake (PoS) blockchain, which hopes to become a hub for Triple A quality games with Play-to-Earn (P2E) integrations.

Square Enix joins a host of big names in gaming to partner with Oasys such as Sega, Double Jump, Bandai Namco and Ubisoft — with the latter also having a troubled history with gamers who have pushed back against the firm’s NFT gaming initiative Quartz.

In 2022, Square Enix has done irreparable damage to its image by

– Investing in crypto
– No longer prioritizing “fun” in gaming
– Selling off all their western studios

I’d call it self sabotage, but compared to what’s happened to Warner Bros this year, it’s honestly nothing https://t.co/TD8d1O1nj9

— Bruh Momento (@JBoop_is_ballin) September 12, 2022

The pitchforks are out

While the prospect of having reputable gaming giants jumping behind a blockchain project is welcome news in the blockchain world, the traditional gaming community has not received Square Enix’s move well.

The Gamer reported the news, with the headline: “Square Enix Sets Its Dreaded NFT Plans In Motion By Partnering With Crypto Company.”

 Square Enix article: The Gamer

“Unlike most video game developers who decided to announce their ventures into the jpeg-filled world of NFTs, Square Enix has only been doubling down on it,” the article notes, as it questions Square Enix president and CEO Yosuke Matsuda’s previous statements about introducing P2E elements into games:

“He probably ignored the fact that so many NFT games aren’t just scams, but also look like they were made by an actual bored ape.”

On Twitter gamer @ShyVortex said the partnership was “truly disgusting. Never buying a Square Enix game again,” while @eramaster12 questioned “what does it take to f#ckin force them to stop?.”

@Pilnok also chimed in that this “has become tiresome and embarrassing” and @ManuelRomer2 added “what about just don’t entirely?”

pic.twitter.com/AVI7Kf2lB0

— RecklesFlam1ngo (@RecklesFlam1ngo) September 12, 2022

Square Enix and blockchain

Square Enix has been gradually ramping up its blockchain related plans in 2022, despite pushback.

Matsuda stated in a New Year’s Letter in January that he was particularly interested in the idea of introducing blockchain-enabled “token economies” into games to incentivize both players and users that generate content to add to the games.

“With advances in token economies, users will be provided with explicit incentives, thereby resulting not only in greater consistency in their motivation, but also creating a tangible upside to their creative efforts,” he wrote.

Related: Ubisoft cools off on NFTs and blockchain, says it’s in ‘research mode’

While blockchain is yet to creep into Square Enix’s games, the firm kicked things off in July by releasing tokenized character figures for $129.99 featuring characters such as Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy.

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Linux to launch Foundation to support digital wallet development

The foundation apparently does not intend to create its own digital wallet, however. Its’ goal is to make it easier for companies to create wallets for themselves.

The Linux Foundation, a global nonprofit organization that enables innovation within the blockchain ecosystem through access to open source technology, has announced plans to launch the OpenWallet Foundation (OWF). 

The OWF is a collaborative effort between companies in the technology and public sector, as well as stakeholders within the blockchain ecosystem, to develop open-source software to support the interoperability of digital wallets; software designed to send, receive, store and monitor digital assets.

According to a press release issued on Sept. 13, the primary goal of the OWF is to build a multi-purpose open source engine that anyone with the technical understanding can use to build safe, secure, and privacy-protected interoperable wallets. The foundation also said it seeks to establish best practices for digital wallet technology.

Rather than creating a digital wallet itself, the foundation will focus on building an open-source software engine that other organizations, companies, and developers can use to create their own multi-use digital wallets. Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, shared:

“We are convinced that digital wallets will play a critical role for digital societies. Open software is the key to interoperability and security. We are delighted to host the OpenWallet Foundation and excited for its potential.”

Accenture’s David Treat, a member of the Foundation, stated:

“Universal digital wallet infrastructure will create the ability to carry tokenized identity, money, and objects from place to place in the digital world. Massive business model change is coming, and the winning digital business will be the one that earns trust to directly access the real data in our wallets to create much better digital experiences,”

Joining Linux Foundation in this endeavor are other renowned companies like CVS Health, The Open Identity Exchange, Okta, OpenID Foundation, Ping Identity, polypoly, Procivis AG, Transmute, and Trust Over IP Foundation.

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SWIFT and Symbiont announce corporate data blockchain pilot

The message-system processes over five billion transactions a year and seeks to maintain its relevance by integrating disruptive technologies to its business.

The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) disclosed on Tuesday a partnership with fintech company Symbiont to provide more accurate data for financial firms through blockchain technology. 

Vanguard, Citigroup, American Century Investments, and Northern Trust are among the companies participating in the initiative.

According to the announcement, the pilot project “could help providers distribute data in near real time to global custody clients.” Through Assembly, Symbiont’s proprietary technology platform, smart contracts will be used “to create a network effect that leverages the 11,000+ institutions connected to SWIFT globally.”

In 2017, Symbiont partnered up with Vanguard to improve price index data distribution through blockchain, consuming data from funds worth $1.3 trillion at the time.

“By bringing Symbiont’s Assembly and smart contracts together with SWIFT’s extensive network, we’re able to automatically harmonize data from multiple sources of a corporate action event,” said Tom Zschach, chief Innovation Officer at SWIFT, adding that Assembly’s smart contract would allow to “compare information shared between participants and flag discrepancies, contradictions or inconsistencies across custodians.”

Due to the rise of Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDC), the company has been making efforts to maintain its relevance in the international economic order. In 2017, the interbank cooperative launched its global payments’ innovation, gpi, seeking to enhance payments tracking and fee transparency, allowing customers to send cross-border payments 24 hours per day.

In February, the European Commission decided to deactivate the SWIFT network for several Russian banks due to the war in Ukraine. Recently in a panel session at the Blockchain Central Davos conference, Michael Miebach, Mastercard’s CEO, said that he does not expect SWIFT is unlikely in five years. Founded in 1973, SWIFT handles over five billion financial messages a year and has a presence in 200 countries.

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Celsius CEO plans to restructure firm to focus on crypto custody: Report

Alex Mashinsky reportedly made the announcement at a Sept. 8 meeting, at which Celsius discussed possible scenarios for its future after filing for bankruptcy in July.

Crypto lending platform Celsius, currently in the middle of bankruptcy proceedings, reportedly plans to rebuild around crypto custody services.

According to a Tuesday report from the New York Times, Celsius CEO Alex Mashinsky and head of innovation and chief compliance officer Oren Blonstein aimed to revive the company using a project named Kelvin — storing users’ crypto and charging fees on certain transactions. Mashinsky reportedly made the announcement at a Sept. 8 meeting for employees, at which the company discussed possible scenarios for its future after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in July.

A legal entity representing Celsius’ creditors, called the Committee of Unsecured Creditors, reportedly requested the firm continue offering services including loans, staking, and custody. Maskinsky compared the platform’s possible comeback to those of Apple and Delta Airlines — the companies came close to bankruptcy in 1997 and filed for Chapter 11 in 2005, respectively.

Under its current business model, Celsius said it did not charge any fees for transactions, withdrawals, origination, or early termination. The report cited a person with knowledge of the matter who said the committee expressed concerns about Mashinsky’s involvement with Celsius and the proposed Kelvin project.

“If the foundation of our business is custody, and our customers are electing to do things like stake somewhere or swap one asset for the other, or take a loan against an asset as collateral, we should have the ability to charge a commission,” Blonstein reportedly said to Celsius employees.

Related: Celsius bankruptcy proceedings show complexities amid declining hope of recovery

Regulators have leveled allegations Celsius amid bankruptcy proceedings in court. On Sept. 7, Vermont’s Department of Financial Regulation claimed both the lending platform and Mashinsky misled state regulators about the firm’s financial health and its compliance with securities laws. Users have also sought legal remedies to access more than $22.5 million in funds which have been in Celsius’ custody since freezing withdrawals in June.

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OpenNode sets up BTC payment infrastructure in Bank of Bahrain regulatory sandbox

The kingdom in the Persian Gulf is taking its latest step in transforming its economy away from oil with the Bitcoin and Lightning Network infrastructure provider’s trial.

Bitcoin infrastructure provider OpenNode will test a Bitcoin payment processing and payouts solution in the Central Bank of Bahrain’s (CBB) regulatory sandbox, the company announced Sept. 13. This is the latest of several steps the kingdom has taken to join the crypto economy both on its own and as a member of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). 

OpenNode will provide the first Bitcoin (BTC) infrastructure in Bahrain, although the Gulf island nation has been luring fintech companies to its shores for the past several years as it transitions away from an petroleum-based economy. OpenNode CEO and cofounder Afnan Rahman called the agreement with the CBB, “a watershed moment for the people of Bahrain, the Middle East and the Bitcoin economy as a whole.”

Bahrain Economic Development Board Investment Development for Financial Services Executive Director Dalal Buhejji commented on the addition of OpenNode to the CBB sandbox:

“As a country, we have always been ahead of the curve in adopting Fintech solutions thanks to our regulator’s flexibility and forward thinking.”

Nonetheless, Bahrain is unlikely to edge out Dubai as the most crypto-forward in the Gulf region.

The CBB set up a regulatory sandbox in 2017 and enhanced it in 2021. Also in 2021, Bahrain licensed the local Sharia-complaint crypto exchange CoinMENA.

Related: Bahrain is Eyeing at Becoming Middle East Pioneer in Blockchain

This year, the CBB licensed Binance to operate in the country, making Binance the first international crypto exchange to receive a license in the GCC. It also partnered with JPMorgan Chase’s crypto unit Onyx to create an instant cross-border payment solution.

“This is a watershed moment for the people of Bahrain, #Bitcoin economy as a whole.

OpenNode’s leading #BTC infrastructure solution continues to pave the way for countries, governments and reputable financial institutions to adopt the #Bitcoin“- says CEO & Co-Founder at OpenNode https://t.co/0Sup54AF4j

— GemCryptoFather (@GemCryptoFather) September 13, 2022

OpenNode is currently active in more than 160 countries, including El Salvador. The company was founded in 2018 with financing from venture capitalist Tim Draper and his Draper Capital.

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Filecoin service provider announces move to Singapore in light of tightening restrictions in China

The service provider also announced the launch of a new system upgrade to increase yield efficiency.

RRMine Global, a Filecoin service provider offering global cloud-computing asset management, announced Wednesday that it has shut down business operations in mainland China and is relocating its headquarters to Singapore. 

The company said the decision to move countries and launch upgrades to their system came after the it rebranded from RRMine to RRMine Global.

RRMine Global is ending its operations in Mainland China after the Chinese government tightened cryptocurrency restrictions, signaling the government’s commitment to heavily regulating the Web3 industry. Steve Tsou, the Global CEO of RRMine Global, shared:

“Very much like other entrepreneurs, we want the best for our company, employees, and community. The decision has been made after a profound examination and multiple discussions”

Singapore seems like an obvious choice for the project, as many Chinese Web3 companies have already made their move to the country. Singapore offers a relatively balanced regulatory approach toward the emerging crypto industry, and has a reputation for being one of the world’s leading open economies.

The company also revealed the official launch of a new upgrade service ‘R-Datacap storage’ expected to reduce operational costs and increase yield efficiency.

CEO, Steve Tsou shared, “We are taking the lead in Web3.0 technology research and development to create a more efficient system for tackling the issue. Data storage providers will receive ten times the output incentive under the FIP-0012 proposal, which Filecoin approved. We are excited to bring this innovation to RRMine Global and Filecoin users very soon. It will undoubtedly be a game changer for our storage industry.”

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NFT creator Doodles raises $54M in funding at $704M valuation

The firm said it will use the money from the raise to further enhance its intellectual property.

On Tuesday, nonfungible tokens (NFTs) collection Doodles announced that it had raised $54 million at a $704 million valuation in a funding round led by Seven Seven Six, with participation from 10T Holdings, Acrew Capital and FTX Ventures. As told by Doodles, the investment will allow it to scale its growth strategy and monetize its intellectual property globally through ventures in the music, culture and entertainment industries.

Doodles is a collection of 10,000 NFTs co-founded by digital artist Burnt Toast and Web3 pioneers Evan Keast and Jordan Castro. Artistically, it is known for its colorful world and joyful cartoon character portraits of skeletons, cats, aliens, apes and mascots minted on the Ethereum blockchain. NFTs in the collection are generated from hundreds of traits and hand-drawn. Blockchain development software firm Dapper Labs founded the company in 2021.

Earlier in March, Doodles invited its NFT holders to an exclusive experience at the South by Southwest festival in Texas. Users could visit Doodles-themed venues to buy a drink, get Doodles painted on their nails, order refreshments and display their NFTs throughout the exhibit. 

Regarding the new fundraise, Katelin Holloway, founding partner at Seven Seven Six, said:

“We believe Doodles is developing the next digital frontier of how we experience and create content, unlocking the real value behind NFTs. Doodles is changing how the world connects and interacts by reimagining storytelling through the blockchain.”

Since its launch in October 2021, the Doodles collection has surpassed 148,500 Ether (ETH) traded on OpenSea with a floor price of 8.4 ETH. Notable collectors include Justin Bieber, Future, Gary Vee, Snoop Dog, Fat Joe, Kygo, Diplo, Steve Aoki and Pranksy.

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Bitcoin margin long-to-short ratio at Bitfinex reach the highest level ever

A key Bitcoin price metric hit a new all-time high, but is this a bullish or bearish development?

Sept. 12 will leave a mark that will probably stick for quite a while. Traders at Bitfinex exchange vastly reduced their leveraged bearish Bitcoin (BTC) bets and the absence of demand for shorts could have been caused by the expectation of cool inflation data.

Bears may have lacked confidence, but August’s U.S. consumer price index (CPI) came in higher than market expectations and they appear to be on the right side. The inflation index, which tracks a broad basket of goods and services, increased 8.3% over the previous year. More importantly, the energy prices component fell 5% in the same period but it was more than offset by increases in food and shelter costs.

Soon after the worse-than-expected macroeconomic data was released, U.S. equity indices took a downturn, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite Index futures sliding 3.6% in 30 minutes. Cryptocurrencies accompanied the worsening mood, and Bitcoin price dropped 5.7% in the same period, erasing gains from the previous three days.

Pinpointing the market downturn to a single inflationary metric would be naive. A Bank of America survey with global fund managers had 62% of respondents saying that a recession is likely, which is the highest estimate since May 2020. The research paper collected data on the week of Sept. 8 and was led by strategist Michael Hartnett.

Interestingly, as all of this takes place, Bitcoin margin traders have never been so bullish, according to one metric.

Margin traders flew away from bearish positions

Margin trading allows investors to leverage their positions by borrowing stablecoins and using the proceeds to buy more cryptocurrency. On the other hand, when those traders borrow Bitcoin, they use the coins as collateral for shorts, which means they are betting on a price decrease.

That is why some analysts monitor the total lending amounts of Bitcoin and stablecoins to understand whether investors are leaning bullish or bearish. Interestingly, Bitfinex margin traders entered their highest leverage long/short ratio on Sept. 12.

Bitfinex margin Bitcoin longs/shorts ratio. Source: TradingView

Bitfinex margin traders are known for creating position contracts of 20,000 BTC or higher in a very short time, indicating the participation of whales and large arbitrage desks.

As the above chart indicates, on Sept. 12, the number of BTC/USD long margin contracts outpaced shorts by 86 times, at 104,000 BTC. For reference, the last time this indicator flipped above 75, and favored longs, was on Nov. 9, 2021. Unfortunately, for bulls, the result benefited bears as Bitcoin nosedived 18% over the next ten days.

Derivatives traders were overly excited in November 2021

To understand how bullish or bearish professional traders are positioned, one should analyze the futures basis rate. That indicator is also known as the futures premium, and it measures the difference between futures contracts and the current spot market at regular exchanges.

Bitcoin 3-month futures basis rate, Nov. 2021. Source: Laevitas.ch

The three-month futures typically trade with a 5% to 10% annualized premium, which is deemed an opportunity cost for arbitrage trading. Notice how Bitcoin investors were paying excessive premiums for longs (buys) during the rally in November 2021, the complete opposite of the current situation.

On Sept. 12, the Bitcoin futures contracts were trading at a 1.2% premium versus regular spot markets. Such a sub-2% level has been the norm since Aug. 15, leaving no doubts regarding traders’ lack of leverage buying activity.

Related: This week’s Ethereum Merge could be the most significant shift in crypto’s history

Possible causes of the margin lending ratio spike

Something must have caused short margin traders at Bitfinex to reduce their positions, especially considering that the longs (bulls) remained flat across the 7 days leading to Sept. 12. The first probable cause is liquidations, meaning the sellers had insufficient margin as Bitcoin gained 19% between Sept. 6 and Sept. 12.

Other catalysts might have led to an unusual imbalance between longs and shorts. For instance, investors could have shifted the collateral from Bitcoin margin trades to Ethereum, looking for some leverage as the Merge approaches.

Lastly, bears could have decided to momentarily close their margin positions due to the volatility surrounding the U.S. inflation data. Regardless of the rationale behind the move, there is no reason to believe that the market suddenly became extremely optimistic as the futures markets’ premium paints a very different scenario from November 2021.

Bears still have a glass-half-full reading as Bitfinex margin traders have room to add leverage short (sell) positions. Meanwhile, bulls can celebrate the apparent lack of interest in betting on prices below $20,000 from those whales.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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US Treasury clarifies publishing Tornado Cash’s code does not violate sanctions

Residents would not be violating sanctions by visiting Tornado Cash’s website, copying the mixer’s open-source code, nor making the code available online or in print.

The United States Department of the Treasury said “interacting” with cryptocurrency mixer Tornado Cash’s open-source code, with certain provisions, would not be in violation of sanctions imposed by the Office of Foreign Assets Control, or OFAC.

In the guidance posted to its frequently asked questions pages on Tuesday, the Treasury Department clarified some concerns previously voiced by many U.S.-based crypto users regarding the controversial mixer Tornado Cash. According to the government department, U.S. residents would not be violating sanctions by copying the mixer’s code, nor making it available online or publishing it through another medium.

“U.S. persons would not be prohibited by U.S. sanctions regulations from visiting the Internet archives for the Tornado Cash historical website, nor would they be prohibited from visiting the Tornado Cash website if it again becomes active on the Internet,” said the Treasury Department.

The Treasury specified that users could generally interact with the Tornado Cash code provided it didn’t involve a prohibited transaction. Those who initiated transactions using the mixer prior to sanctions being imposed on Aug. 8 can apply for an OFAC license to complete the transaction or to make a withdrawal:

“OFAC would have a favorable licensing policy towards such applications, provided that the transaction did not involve other sanctionable conduct.”

The seeming uncertainty around the U.S. sanctions and how companies were expected to be in compliance came amid many platforms removing or restricting the activity of individuals associated with Tornado Cash. One of the mixer’s co-founders, Roman Semenov, reported on Aug. 8 that his account at developer platform GitHub had been suspended. He suggested at the time that his interactions with Tornado Cash’s code might have been part of the reason, questioning “is writing an open source code illegal now?”

Here’s the list of Tornado Cash resources that were banned

– Tornado Cash @GitHub organization
– personal @GitHub accounts of TC contributors
– all $USDC on Tornado Cash contracts @circlepay
@infura_io RPC
@AlchemyPlatform RPC
https://t.co/SHvgEjTOMV domain @eth_limo

— ️ Tornado.cash ️ (@TornadoCash) August 9, 2022

Related: Tornado Cash ban could spell disaster for other privacy protocols — Manta co-founder

Others have attempted to use the U.S. legal system to push back against the Treasury Department’s actions. On Sept. 8, Coinbase announced it would be supporting a lawsuit brought by Tornado Cash users against the Treasury Department, alleging it illegally sanctioned the crypto mixer’s smart contract addresses.

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New regulatory bill grants Uruguayan Central Bank control over the nation’s crypto industry

The Uruguayan government introduced legislation to the parliament on Sept. 5, accelerating industry regulation.

The Uruguayan government has introduced legislation to the parliament that accelerates the regulation of the crypto space in the country and establishes the central bank as the regulatory authority.

Introduced on Sept 5, the bill strives to clarify the country’s regulatory framework for cryptocurrency assets, stating that all companies that provide digital asset-related services, including initial coin offerings (ICOs) are under the supervision of the Superintendency of Financial Services (SSF), a central bank entity. Cryptocurrency exchanges, custody services and any financial services relating to these digital assets should also adhere to Anti-Money Laundering regulations and best practices.

Additionally, the document defined four types of digital assets: stablecoins, governance tokens, tradable assets and debt tokens, saying:

“If the activity carried out with these instruments involves the exercise of financial intermediation or financial activity, it will be subject to the regulation and control of the Central Bank of Uruguay.”

Last year, Uruguayan Senator Juan Sartori introduced a draft bill to regulate cryptocurrency and enable businesses to accept digital payments, seeking to “establish a legitimate, legal and safe use in businesses related to the production and commercialization of virtual currencies.”

This development is part of an ongoing wave of legislation or regulations being pursued by governments or legislators in Latin America. Brazil’s Securities and Exchange Commission is reportedly pursuing to change its legal framework to recognize tokens as digital assets or securities. In August, Paraguay’s president vetoed a bill that sought to recognize cryptocurrency mining as an industrial activity, arguing that mining’s high electricity consumption could hinder the expansion of a sustainable national industry.

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