Timothy Stranex Steps Down as CTO of Luno, Simon Ince Takes the Helm

• Timothy Stranex, co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO) of cryptocurrency exchange Luno, left the company in December 2020 to pursue personal projects.
• He was replaced as CTO by Simon Ince, who joined Luno two years prior as vice president of engineering.
• Luno, owned by Digital Currency Group, has over 10 million customers worldwide and offices in multiple countries.

Cryptocurrency exchange Luno, owned by Digital Currency Group, announced on Thursday that its co-founder and chief technology officer (CTO), Timothy Stranex, has departed the company in December 2020. Stranex was one of the four founders of Luno, alongside Carel van Wyk, Pieter Heyns and current CEO Marcus Swanepoel, and his departure comes nearly 10 years after the company was founded.

Stranex’s role as CTO has been taken over by Simon Ince, who joined Luno just under two years ago as its vice president of engineering. Ince has extensive experience in the technology industry, having held various positions in companies such as Google, Microsoft and Samsung Electronics.

Luno has over 10 million customers worldwide and offices in Singapore, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Lagos and Sydney. The company has been actively expanding, recently launching the first cryptocurrency exchange in the United Arab Emirates, with plans to expand to other countries in the Middle East and North Africa region.

In response to Stranex’s departure, Swanepoel said: “We thank Tim for his contribution to Luno and wish him the best in his future endeavors.” He continued by highlighting the company’s commitment to “building a strong and vibrant cryptocurrency ecosystem” and its commitment to developing the “best-in-class products and services” for its customers.

Stranex’s exit from the company marks the end of an era for Luno, which has seen tremendous growth since its launch in 2013. The company has become one of the largest and most successful cryptocurrency exchanges in the world, and its success is a testament to the hard work of its founders.

Senators Urge Judge to Appoint Independent Examiner in FTX Bankruptcy Case

1. A bipartisan group of four U.S. senators sent a letter to the judge in the FTX bankruptcy case urging him to appoint an independent examiner.
2. The senators believe that having an independent examiner will ensure that all facts and laws in the case are presented openly and fairly.
3. Judge John Dorsey, of the Bankruptcy Court of the District of Delaware, has stated that the letter will have no impact on his decisions regarding the case.

A bipartisan group of four U.S. senators have sent a letter to the judge in the FTX bankruptcy case, urging him to appoint an independent examiner. The signatories of the letter, which includes both crypto supporters and skeptics, are advocating for an independent examiner to have full authority and resources to review and investigate the case.

The letter was addressed to Judge John Dorsey, of the Bankruptcy Court of the District of Delaware, and was signed by Senators Sherrod Brown, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, and Marco Rubio. The senators believe that having an independent examiner will ensure that all facts and laws in the case are presented openly and fairly. They also believe that it will provide necessary oversight to the proceedings and that it will protect the interests of all involved parties.

In response to the letter, Judge Dorsey stated that the letter „will have no impact whatsoever on my decisions in this case which will only be based upon the facts and law presented by the parties.“ He also noted that he will take into consideration any motion that is filed by any party in the case.

The FTX bankruptcy case is one of the most high-profile cases in the crypto space, as it involves the collapse of the second-largest crypto exchange in the United States. The case has already seen several twists and turns, and the appointment of an independent examiner is sure to make the proceedings even more interesting.

The FTX bankruptcy case has been ongoing since June 2020, when the exchange filed for bankruptcy protection in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court of the District of Delaware. Since then, the case has seen several attempts to resolve the issues and the parties involved, including a $150 million debt restructuring agreement that was approved by the court in October 2020.

The motion for the appointment of an independent examiner was filed in October 2020 by FTX chief executive Sam Bankman-Fried. The motion is still pending before the court, and it remains to be seen whether the court will approve it. If it is approved, the examiner will have the authority to review and investigate the case, which could result in further changes to the proceedings.

The Hash team will be closely following the developments in the FTX bankruptcy case and will provide updates as the situation progresses.

Friendship Bracelet NFT Collection Rockets to Top of OpenSea Leaderboard

• Art Blocks‘ Friendship Bracelet NFT Collection was available to existing holders of Art Blocks NFTs until the claim period ended on Tuesday.
• After the claim period, the collection quickly shot to the top of the leaderboard on secondary marketplace OpenSea with a 24-hour trading volume of 996 ETH (over $1.3 million).
• The collection was conceptualized by Art Blocks founder Erick Calderon (Snowfro) and designed by artist and Japanese Generative Art Foundation Director Alexis André.

The Art Blocks Friendship Bracelet NFT Collection has recently taken the top spot on the OpenSea marketplace. The collection was available to existing holders of Art Blocks NFTs until Tuesday of this week, after which the collection quickly rocketed to the top of the leaderboard.

The 38,413-piece collection was conceptualized by Art Blocks founder Erick Calderon (Snowfro), and designed by artist and Japanese Generative Art Foundation Director Alexis André. The animated artwork was inspired by the novelty bracelets shared between kids and was available to any existing holder of an Art Blocks NFT. The token holders were able to claim up to two tokens for free since its release in late October up until the claim window period closed on Tuesday.

The collection has been hugely successful, with 24-hour trading volume on OpenSea at 996 ETH (over $1.3 million) and a total trading volume of 7,437 ETH (about $9.9 million).

The success of the Friendship Bracelet collection is no surprise given the past performance of Art Blocks NFTs. Generative art NFTs minted on Art Blocks have consistently ranked highly across marketplaces, and the Friendship Bracelet collection is no exception.

It is clear that the Friendship Bracelet collection has been a hit with token holders, and the success of the collection is a testament to the power of the Art Blocks platform. With the claim period now closed, the collection looks set to remain at the top of the leaderboard on OpenSea for the foreseeable future.

Defrost Finance Denies ‚Rug Pull‘ After $12M DeFi Attack

• Defrost Finance, a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform on the Avalanche blockchain, has denied claims that it „rug pulled“ the project after $12 million was siphoned out of the smart contract last week.
• The attack was perpetrated through two separate exploits, with a hacker or hackers managing to appropriate the private key and minting 100 million H20 tokens.
• Defrost Finance has since retrieved all of the funds and is optimistic that all users who lost tokens will be reimbursed.

Decentralized finance (DeFi) platform Defrost Finance has been rocked by a major attack, with $12 million siphoned out of the smart contract last week. The team behind Defrost Finance, which is based on the Avalanche blockchain, has pushed back on claims that it was a rug pull, labelling them as „slanderous and inaccurate.“

The attack was perpetrated through two separate exploits. The first targeted the V2 contract with a „flash-loan re-entrancy“ exploit, while the far larger second attack occurred on Christmas Eve. It was here that the hacker or hackers managed to successfully appropriate the private key and minted 100 million H20 tokens. The hacker then liquidated the existing vaults by manipulating the vaults‘ oracles and draining funds.

Exploits involving price oracles have become unfortunately common this year. This includes the Mango Markets incident, in which crypto investor Avraham Eisenberg was arrested in Puerto Rico for manipulating the oracle and resulting in a $114 million loss. The attacker in that case returned $67 million shortly afterwards.

Defrost Finance, which is also the group behind the failed DeFi protocol Phoenix Finance, has since retrieved all of the funds stolen in the attack. This was done by offering a bounty to the hacker and the team is now „very optimistic“ that all users who lost tokens will be reimbursed.

The incident serves as a stark reminder of the security threats that DeFi projects face. This makes it even more important for teams behind these projects to remain vigilant in their security measures and protocols. Defrost Finance’s swift actions in retrieving the funds should be commended, and the team’s optimism that all users will be reimbursed is encouraging.

Secure Your Identity and Data with Sovereign Digital Identities

• Decentralized digital services are becoming more popular, but users need to be able to protect their identities when using them.
• Sovereign digital identities are available to help users secure their access to Web3 services, making them safer and more convenient.
• Identity theft is a growing problem, but with sovereign digital identities, users can have control and peace of mind when using Web3 services.

As society moves further into the digital world, the need to protect our identities and our data has never been greater. Every year, more and more of our lives become digitized, and with each new advancement comes new security and privacy concerns. With the advent of Web3 services, these concerns are especially pressing, as users must be able to trust their identity and data to the platform they are using. Fortunately, the industry is ready to address these issues in the form of sovereign digital identities.

Sovereign digital identities are digital identities that are owned, controlled and managed by the user, and can act as both a gateway and a shield for Web3 platforms. This technology is designed to give users complete control over their identities, which can be used as a wallet address, a reputational tool, and much more.

These identities also help protect users from identity theft, which is a growing problem. According to PwC’s „Global Economic Crime and Fraud Survey 2022,“ external threats from hackers and organized crime are rising, with 46% of respondents claiming they have suffered some form of fraud in the past 24 months. With sovereign digital identities, users can have control and peace of mind when using Web3 services.

At the same time, these identities can also provide convenience and flexibility to users. For example, they can be used to sign up for services, access accounts, and make payments, all without needing to enter passwords or personal information. This makes Web3 services much more user friendly and secure, as users can be confident that their identities are not being compromised.

Overall, sovereign digital identities are a powerful tool that can help protect users and make their interactions with Web3 services more secure and convenient. As the digital revolution continues to grow, these identities will become more and more important as a way to protect people’s data and identities from malicious actors. With these identities, users can be sure that their data is safe and that their identities are being used in the most secure way possible.

Ethereum Merges: Promises and Challenges in 2022

• Ethereum completed its shift to a more energy-efficient system for powering its network in 2022.
• The Merge was marked with both positives and negatives, including concerns about centralization and deflationary asset value.
• The year was also marked with issues such as censorship, hacks, and high transaction costs and slow network speeds.

In 2022, Ethereum achieved a major milestone in its journey to create a global computer and decentralized financial system. Following a long-awaited upgrade, the second-largest blockchain finally completed its switch to a more energy-efficient system for powering its network. While this upgrade was widely celebrated by the Ethereum community, there were significant risks and issues that accompanied the Merge.

Ethereum’s transition to the new proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm was estimated to reduce the network’s energy consumption by a whopping 99%. However, the PoS system, which requires validators to “stake” ether (ETH) with the chain for the chance to write transactions to its ledger, has been met with accusations of centralization. Additionally, the Merge did not directly address Ethereum’s high transaction costs and slow network speeds. Further, the event coincided with a bear market, leaving the price of ETH to drop more than 20% since the Merge.

The year was also marred with other issues such as censorship, hacks, and more. In January, a group of miners attempted to censor a high-profile transaction, leading many to fear that Ethereum’s decentralization could be at risk. Later in the year, there were a series of record-shattering hacks on Ethereum-linked infrastructure, raising questions about the security of the chain.

Though the Merge was a major advancement for Ethereum, the event left many pressing issues unresolved. The blockchain’s high transaction costs and slow network speeds, combined with censorship and security concerns, remain major obstacles for the chain as it strives to become a global computer and decentralized financial system. As Ethereum continues to push the boundaries of blockchain technology, only time will tell what the future holds for the project.

Kraken Exits Japan, Users Have Until End of Month to Withdraw Holdings

• Kraken is exiting Japan and deregistering from the Financial Services Agency as of Jan. 31.
• Kraken users in the country have until the end of next month to withdraw their fiat and crypto holdings.
• Kraken is prioritizing resources and investments to ensure the long-term stability of the exchange.

Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken recently announced their exit from Japan and deregistration from the Financial Services Agency as of January 31st. This news came after a combination of the current market conditions in Japan in combination with a global weak crypto market. Those who have been using the exchange in Japan have until the end of the month to withdraw their fiat and cryptocurrency holdings either by transferring crypto to another wallet or wiring Japanese yen to a local bank.

Kraken’s team is also making sure to prioritize resources and investments to ensure the long-term stability of the exchange. This decision comes after Jesse Powell, co-founder of the exchange, departed from his role as CEO in September and was replaced by Chief Operating Officer Dave Ripley. In addition, the company had to cut 30% of its global workforce two months later due to the crypto market continuing to remain stagnant following the collapse of rival exchange FTX.

Kraken is now aiming to focus on other areas and continue to provide the best services and support to its customers in order to ensure the long-term success of the exchange. They are committed to providing the best experience for their users and will continue to strive for excellence.

Argo Blockchain Avoids Bankruptcy with $65 Million Deal with Galaxy Digital

• Argo Blockchain (ARBK) has agreed to sell its Helios mining facility in Dickens Country, Texas, to Galaxy Digital for $65 million.
• Argo will also get a new $35 million loan from investor Michael Novogratz’s crypto-focused financial-services firm, which will be secured by Argo’s mining equipment.
• Argo’s shares more than doubled in early London Stock Exchange trading.

Argo Blockchain (ARBK) has come to an agreement with Galaxy Digital to avoid filing for bankruptcy protection. Argo will be selling its Helios mining facility in Dickens Country, Texas, to Galaxy Digital for a total of $65 million.

The crypto miner was in a precarious situation after a deal for $27 million in funding fell through in October. In order to avoid filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Argo had been looking for ways to continue mining through the bear market and reduce its debt load. This deal with Galaxy will enable Argo to do just that.

In addition to the sale of its mining facility, Argo will also receive a new $35 million loan from noted investor Michael Novogratz’s crypto-focused financial-services firm. This loan will be secured by Argo’s mining equipment.

Argo will also enter into a two-year hosting agreement with Galaxy, to ensure that Argo’s computers will have a secure place to keep mining at the Helios facility. This deal was structured to boost Argo’s balance sheet and capital structure.

The news of this deal has already had a positive effect on Argo’s stock, with shares more than doubling in early London Stock Exchange trading. As a result, Argo requested a 24-hour suspension of trading in its Nasdaq-listed shares.

This agreement between Argo and Galaxy will not only help the crypto miner avoid bankruptcy, but also strengthen its balance sheet and capital structure. It will also allow Argo to maintain access to the unique power grid in Texas, and secure a place for its computers to keep mining.

DOJ Launches Criminal Probe into 400M FTX Hack: Insider Suspected

• The US Department of Justice has reportedly launched a criminal probe into the alleged hack of FTX-controlled wallets.
• Over an hour after the suspected hack began, FTX General Counsel Ryne Miller tweeted that his company was „investigating abnormalities with wallet movements“.
• Blockchain experts have pointed to several clues that the hacker was an FTX insider.

The US Department of Justice has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into the alleged hack that drained nearly $400 million out of FTX-controlled wallets. The incident took place the night that the Bahamas-based exchange filed for bankruptcy.

Between the hours of 11 PM on Nov. 11 and the early hours of Nov. 12, massive outflows of cryptocurrencies began moving out of FTX and FTX US’s wallets. Many FTX employees took to Twitter to report that they did not recognize the transfers.

FTX General Counsel Ryne Miller was one of the first to break the news, tweeting that the company was „investigating abnormalities with wallet movements“. He also posted a message in FTX’s official Telegram support channel, warning people not to go on the FTX site as it might contain malicious Trojans.

The official FTX Twitter account remained silent throughout the pandemonium. In the afternoon of Nov. 12, FTX CEO John Jay Ray III released a statement confirming the hack and said they were in contact with law enforcement.

The criminal investigation is separate from the fraud case against former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. Authorities have reportedly been able to freeze a portion of the stolen funds.

Blockchain experts have pointed to several clues that the hacker was an FTX insider, including the simultaneous hacks of the FTX and FTX US websites, the suspect’s access to multiple cold wallets and the use of a personal Kraken account to withdraw gas fees for at least one transaction.

These clues suggest that the hacker was very familiar with the inner workings of the FTX exchange and had access to sensitive information that enabled them to carry out the massive theft.

The US Department of Justice’s investigation is ongoing and it remains to be seen how the events of that night will pan out. FTX has since implemented more stringent security protocols to ensure the safety of their customers‘ funds, and the public is watching closely to see what the future holds for the exchange.

Judge Kaplan Assigned to High-Stakes Fraud Case Against Bankman-Fried

Bullet Points:
• U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has been assigned to preside over the fraud case against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried.
• Kaplan was appointed to the Manhattan federal court by President Bill Clinton in 1994.
• In 2020, Kaplan criticized some plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against blockchain firm Block.one.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has been assigned to preside over the fraud case against former FTX CEO Sam Bankman-Fried. He replaces U.S. District Judge Ronnie Abrams, who recused herself from the case on Friday because of a potential conflict of interest due to her husband’s involvement with law firm Davis Polk & Waddell. Bankman-Fried is currently under house arrest on a $250 million bond and is due to appear in federal court on January 3rd.

Judge Kaplan was appointed to the Manhattan federal court by President Bill Clinton in 1994 and has a long history of presiding over high-profile cases. In 2014, he ruled in favor of oil giant Chevron in an environmental case, and in 2021 he settled a sexual-assault case brought against Prince Andrew by Virginia Giuffre. Furthermore, in 2020 he criticized some plaintiffs in a class-action lawsuit against blockchain firm Block.one. The case was eventually settled out of court with Block.one paying $27.5 million.

The fraud case against Bankman-Fried is sure to be a complex and high-stakes endeavor, and Judge Kaplan’s extensive experience will no doubt be a great asset. He is sure to bring a level of insight and expertise to the case that will help ensure a just outcome.