PYMNTS MonitorEdge May 2024

Payments, Penalties and TradFi Adoption Define This Week in Web3

Crypto is as crypto does. And crypto is, by all appearances, trying to do better.

The European Union’s (EU) landmark Markets in Crypto-Assets Act (MiCA) framework is now live, and Web3 companies are already complying, a fact which industry observers believe could represent the start of the mainstream growth and adoption phase of digital assets.

But there is still a perception among some businesses and consumers that cryptocurrencies are primarily associated with illegal activities and speculation. This negative perception can be a barrier to broader acceptance.

While blockchain technology is secure, the broader ecosystem has been plagued by hacks, scams and thefts. This undermines confidence and adds an extra layer of risk for businesses considering accepting cryptocurrencies. Additionally, the regulatory environment for cryptocurrencies is still evolving.

Different countries have different regulations, and in some cases, cryptocurrencies are outright banned. This creates uncertainty and risk for businesses considering adoption.

Overcoming these barriers will require advancements in technology, clearer regulatory frameworks, broader consumer education and a more stable market environment.

Crypto Continues to Make Inroads with Global Institutions

As PYMNTS wrote last Thursday (July 4), we are halfway through 2024, and the cryptocurrency and blockchain space finds itself at a critical juncture, where regulatory developments, interoperability and scalability and institutional acceptance are at the forefront.

But recent news has shown that the cold shoulder institutions have traditionally shown to the Web3 space is beginning to thaw.

For example, Switzerland-based cryptocurrency wallet maker Tangem AG launched a payments partnership with Visa. The collaboration, announced Friday (July 5), has resulted in a Visa payments card combined with a hardware wallet that lets Tangem users make payments using their crypto or stablecoin balances at merchants that accept Visa.

Visa is not the only payment organization making crypto moves. Mastercard has been working with Tezos Foundation and Baanx to offer a range of non-custodial crypto card offerings that take place on Etherlink, per a Tuesday (July 9) report. Mastercard and Baanx also have a debit card with DeFi firm 1Inch and together are working on one with MetaMask.

Elsewhere, Singapore’s DBS Bank is set to begin a custody service for stablecoin reserves.

It’s part of a collaboration between the city-state’s largest lender and a local unit of cryptocurrency issuer Paxos Trust, PYMNTS reported last Tuesday (July 2), with the partnership also including cash management services.

Leading financial institution Goldman Sachs is gearing up to launch three tokenization projects by the year’s end, targeting major institutional clients, according to a Wednesday (July 10) report.

Even Sony now owns and operates a crypto exchange, with a July 1 report indicating that the exchange aims to collaborate with various Sony Group businesses, leveraging the conglomerate’s vast intellectual property portfolio across the entertainment, music and gaming sectors. Sony Bank is also venturing into blockchain-based financial products, including NFT rewards and stablecoin issuance.

Read more: This Week in Web3: Mt Gox Bitcoin and Crypto’s Future

Security Concerns and Market Perception

Of course, it will take time for crypto to shake its illicit connotations, because the sector still remains a favorite of fraudsters.

By the middle of 2023, hackers had stolen $657 million in cryptocurrency. One year later, that figure had more than doubled to $1.38 billion, blockchain data firm TRM Labs said in a report issued Friday (July 5).

Still, thefts from hacks are a third below the first six months of 2022, which “remains a record year.”

Cryptocurrency analysts have alleged that an online marketplace called HuiOne Guarantee is where cybercriminals in Southeast Asia, particularly those linked to pig butchering scams, go to launder their funds. Per the Wednesday report, merchants on the platform offer technology, data and money laundering services, and have engaged in transactions totaling at least $11 billion.

But that doesn’t mean that these criminals don’t ultimately end up facing the music. Two former FTX executives are set to face sentencing hearings later this year. Nishad Singh will be sentence on Oct. 30 and Gary Wang will be sentence on Nov. 20, with both having pleaded guilty to fraud, PYMNTS reported on Tuesday.

Web3 Marketplace Moves

As always with crypto, it is crucial to separate the signal from the noise. And the marketplace is continuing to innovate and build.

ThirdFi.org, a Web3 infrastructure protocol that empowers Web3 users with identity and developers with application programming interfaces and software development kits, on Wednesday raised $2 million in token financing investments.

And after a period of relative dormancy, crypto gaming is once again showing signs of life, with Tap-to-Earn games emerging in the crypto world, picking up where Play-to-Earn crypto games left off.