In a recent twist of events, and while the United States gears towards its presidential elections, a new political action Committee (PAC) called Fairshake and its network which includes names such as CoinBase, Kraken and Ripple, have announced that they will be reporting $78 million raised and in the bank at the end of the 2023 to support leaders who support US crypto and Blockchain innovation and responsible regulation in 2024 elections.

Fairshake is dedicated to advancing leaders who are poised to champion innovation and navigate the complexities of responsible regulation in the digital age.

It has already garnered support from Andreessen Horowitz,  Ark, Brian Armstrong, Blockchain Capital, Wences Casares, Circle, CoinBase, Ron Conway, Cumberland, Framework Ventures, Hunter Horsley, Jump Crypto, Kraken, Lightspark, Messari, Multicoin Capital, Paradigm, Potter Ventures, Ripple, Fred Wilson, Cameron Winklevoss and Tyler Winklevoss.

Interestingly Binance and other prominent players are still not on this list.

In a reccent Coinbase blog post the company noted, “The US’s current crypto regulatory standards are sub-par, ultimately driving innovation and financial freedom offshore. Given the stakes, crypto’s superpower of grassroots support will now be amplified through significant spending. Fairshake Super PAC and its affiliates representing the nation’s crypto community, have raised over $78 million – and counting – from 20 companies and leading industry voices to support bipartisan, crypto-forward candidates in 2024. That’s over $78 million to support the 52 million Americans who own digital assets and want a fair shake at the American Dream.”

Fairshake and its affiliates remain steadfast in their mission to support leaders who champion the interests of progressive innovation, including blockchain technology and the crypto industry, through independent advertising efforts.

In the  press release, Fairshake stated,”  In order for the blockchain economy to realize its full potential, a clear regulatory and legal framework for success is needed. The crypto community continues to advance initiatives to promote stability, tech innovation, and growth of the blockchain economy in the U.S., positioning it as a hub for blockchain technology development and adoption.”

Fairshake is a federal independent expenditure-only committee (super PAC) registered with the FEC and supports candidates solely through its independent activities. Protect Progress and Defend American Jobs are also federal super PACs registered with the FEC and are affiliated with Fairshake.

So could we soon be seeing a US president that will foster the crypto blockchain ecosystem in the United States?

Circle Internet Financial (Circle), a leading global digital financial technology firm, and UAE based Fuze, MENA’s pioneering digital assets infrastructure provider, to expand adoption of USDC stablecoin in MENA region, after signing MOU (Memorandum of Understanding). Circle, the issuer of the US-dollar backed stablecoin USDC, will work with Fuze to expand the adoption of USDC amongst new customers in the region, such as banks, fintechs, traditional enterprises and Web3 firms.

The scope of the agreement covers the Middle East, Africa and Turkey, paving the way for the expanded use of USDC in these regions and the piloting of new use cases relevant to these markets.

Miriam Kiwan VP, Partnerships & Business Development, MENA for Circle said, “This collaboration marks a significant milestone in our efforts to enhance financial inclusion and drive the adoption of full-reserve payment stablecoins across MENA. By joining forces with Fuze, we aim to expand the accessibility and usage of USDC, while fostering closer integration between regional and global finance. We look forward to a successful partnership that propels financial innovation and creates new opportunities for individuals and businesses in these dynamic markets.”

Fuze Co-Founder and CEO Mohammed Ali Yusuf (Mo Ali Yusuf) said, “Circle and Fuze share a common vision to create more efficient financial services and deliver digital assets infrastructure that builds a more connected, inclusive economy. We look forward to fostering a close working relationship with the Circle team and are excited about developing the future of finance together.”

Fuze, which was co-founded by Mo Ali Yusuf (CEO), Arpit Mehta (COO) and Srijan Shetty (CTO), has made rapid strides towards building digital assets infrastructure across the region. This includes securing robust regulation and licensing and receiving the largest seed funding round for a digital assets start-up in MENA history. Fuze continues to accelerate its product implementation and growth, in close collaboration with local and regional regulators.

A week prior Fuze signed an MOU with UAE Al Fardan exchange to offer digital asset services to their clients.

In a Zawya exclusive interview, GEMINI, digital asset exchange founders expressed their interest in applying for a license in UAE. As per the article US crypto exchange Gemini, is interested in a license in UAE because of the hostility and lack of clarity in the USA. Several other global virtual asset service providers have already expressed their interest as well including Coinbase, Bittrex, IoTa, and Circle. 

The license application is set to come after meetings in both Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss are the founders of GEMINI. Tyler told zawya, “There is a lot of customers and amazing investors here.” As for the USA, Tyler told Zawya it as hard to get things done in the US.

He added, “You don’t want the Wild West, but you also don’t want a wall or a gate to innovation, getting that balance right builds the healthiest markets. We have always believed that, and always tried to get that message across to the regulators to provide that clarity and consistency in guidelines, because we think that the outcomes are just so positive.”

Prior to this Gemini announced that it was launching its European HQ in Dublin. But Tyler affirmed to Zawya that Gemini would not be giving up on the USA.

This would make Gemini the latest global entity to see regulation in UAE, over the past two months, entities such as CoinBase, IoTaCircle, Bittrex, have all expressed their interest to set up in the UAE.

This is being further pushed with the new UAE Central Bank’s AML CFT guidance for financial entities regarding their dealings with virtual asset service providers.

While Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse was telling CNBC that the confusing regulation in the U.S. is pushing more crypto companies to the leave the country, Circle appointed its Vice President for Middle East and Africa, Miriam Kiwan.

Kiwan on LinkedIn stated, “I’m happy to share that I’m starting a new position as Vice President, MEA at Circle!”

Earlier this month, the Circle team was present in Dubai UAE at a dinner hosted by Miriam Kiwan, the partner of Raiven Capital, now she is the VP for Middle East.

Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle Internet Financial, during an interview with Bloomberg, blamed the shrunken value of the company’s stablecoin, USD Coin, on regulatory challenges in the United States and concerns about its banking system.

Garlinghouse from Ripple, in his interview talked about the leadership qualities of Europe and UAE when it comes to the regulation of digital assets.

But this is not the only company that is eyeing the UAE, in a tweet , Blockchain IOTA Founder Dominik Schiener stated, “It was a pleasure to meet H.E. Abdulla Al Saleh and the team at the Ministry of Economy in UAE today. It’s impressive how they’re leading their digital transformation.”

He added, “We are looking forward to bring IOTA here and create value for the region and the world.”

In the comments it was noted, “Fingers crossed for an ongoing collaboration that propels IOTA to new heights!”

The exodus of Crypto and Blockchain startups from the United States seems to be intensifying and it looks like the MENA region, and UAE are the new preferred destinations for CoinBase, Circle and Bittrex. 

Tim Draper, Founder of DFJ VC tweeted recently that Silicon Valley startups are relocating to Middle East, Asia, and Europe.

He states, “CoinBase and Gemini are moving out of the US for regulatory reasons. Dubai, London and Singapore are eating into New York’s blockchain leadership. This exodus is not good for US jobs, economy, and homelessness.”

Additionally, in the last 24 hours CoinBase announced that its CEO and Co-Founder Brian Armstrong is currently in the UAE for a series of engagements with policymakers, regulators, partners, Web3 and crypto founders as well as clients.

Armstrong is delivering a keynote address at the inaugural Dubai Fintech Summit, under the patronage of His Royal Highness, Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.

As per CoinBase blog, “Crypto and Web3 serve as enormous opportunities for economic and technological diversification for the UAE, and the region has the potential to be a strategic hub for CoinBase, amplifying our efforts across the world.”

The blog adds, “It further serves as a particularly strategic bridge between Asia and Europe – two of our existing focus international regions to date.”

CoinBase reiterated that it is not only working with Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) regulators to further expand the licensing and availability for CoinBase International Exchange but is also engaging with Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), a dedicated regulator for virtual assets, as they put forward a comprehensive retail framework built on the principles of economic sustainability and cross-border financial security. 

CoinBase believes that their presence in the UAE will not only expand their global footprint but also help to bring 1 billion users to crypto.  

The blog adds that the MENA region is out to be a leader in the development of a web3 ecosystem, making it an attractive location to consider investing in. The vacuum created by other notable jurisdictions means that international counterparts, such as the UAE, are racing to fill the regulatory gap.

CoinBase is not the only US Company that is looking at the UAE. It also seems Circle is interested in the region as well. The Circle team were recently present in Dubai UAE at a dinner hosted by Miriam Kiwan, the partner of Raiven Capital.

Jeremy Allaire, CEO of Circle Internet Financial, during an interview with Bloomberg, blamed the shrunken value of the company’s stablecoin, USD Coin, on regulatory challenges in the United States and concerns about its banking system.

In addition in March 2023 the SEC sued crypto exchange Bittrex shortly after it announced it was leaving the US markets. Bittrex, announced it would no longer do business with U.S. citizens because “it’s just not economically viable for us to continue to operate in the current U.S. regulatory and economic environment.”

Stephen Stonberg, CEO of Bittrex Global crypto exchange  has stated that the UAE and Dubai are among the friendliest jurisdictions for the cryptocurrency industry. He added in a Bloomberg interview Dubai is likely to benefit from the expanding crypto market in the Middle East as local regulators increasingly accept blockchain related technologies.

Finally in a recent LinkedIn post by Ali Jamal, CEO of UAE based Cryptos Consultancy, a crypto and Blockchain licensing firm, he noted, “We at Cryptos Consultancy have been getting lots of queries from crypto and tradfi businesses about setting up Virtual Asset practices in Dubai. There is a real buzz around Dubai’s virtual assets ecosystem now that the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) regulations are out.”

So as crypto and Blockchain businesses flee the USA, the tightening regulations in the USA continue with The New York State Attorney General (NYAG) Office announcing last week that Attorney General Letitia James has proposed “landmark legislation to tighten regulations on the cryptocurrency industry to protect investors, consumers, and the broader economy.” The announcement stated, ” Attorney General James’ program bill, which proposes the strongest and most comprehensive set of regulations on cryptocurrency in the nation, would increase transparency, eliminate conflicts of interest, and impose commonsense measures to protect investors, consistent with regulations imposed on other financial services.” 

It seems that this is only the beginning and the MENA region with UAE and Bahrain at the helm will become the new crypto Silicon Valley. 

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US based Poloniex, LLC, a Delaware company with its principal place of business in Boston, Massachusetts which previously operated an online trading and settlement platform previously doing business as Poloniex Inc. (hereinafter collectively “Poloniex”) has agreed to remit $7,591,630 to settle its potential civil liability for 65,942 apparent violations of multiple sanctions programs with countries such as Syria, Sudan, Iran, and Crimea with U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC.)

 As noted by OFAC, between January 2014 and November 2019, the Poloniex trading platform allowed customers apparently located in sanctioned jurisdictions to engage in online digital asset-related transactions consisting of trades, deposits, and withdrawals—with a combined value of $15,335,349, despite having reason to know their location based on both Know Your Customer information and internet protocol address data.

As per the OFAC statement, the settlement amount reflects OFAC’s determination that Poloniex’s apparent violations were not voluntarily self-disclosed and were not egregious.

The statement went on to read, “Although Poloniex made efforts to identify and restrict accounts with a nexus to Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Crimea, and Syria pursuant to its compliance program, certain customers apparently located in these jurisdictions continued to use Poloniex’s platform to engage in online digital asset-related transactions.”

Poloniex operations began in January 2014 by offering an online digital assets trading and settlement platform (“Poloniex Trading Platform”) that allowed customers to fund their accounts and conduct trading activity. Sixteen months later, in May 2015, Poloniex implemented a sanctions compliance program, which provided for a review of KYC information for new customers in jurisdictions subject to comprehensive OFAC sanctions; existing customers were not retroactively screened in this manner.

As a result, customers who had self-identified before May 2015 as residing in a sanctioned jurisdiction (i.e., customers who provided an address located within a sanctioned jurisdiction to Poloniex during the KYC process at the time of account opening) were generally able to continue using Poloniex’s platform. . Poloniex did not begin implementing a block on such IP addresses until June 2017. Poloniex implemented sanctions controls related to customers in the Crimea region of Ukraine only in August 2017.

 Although Poloniex made efforts to identify and restrict accounts with a nexus to Iran, Cuba, Sudan, Crimea, and Syria pursuant to its compliance program, certain customers apparently located in these jurisdictions continued to use Poloniex’s platform to engage in online digital asset-related transactions (the “Apparent Violations”).

Stablecoin issuer Circle acquired Poloniex in 2018, after which time, OFAC’s investigation concluded, the firm’s compliance measures “further improved,” specifically by closing accounts with IP addresses operating in Crimea. A group of investors, which included Tron founder Justin Sun, purchased the firm from Circle in 2019.

Unlike previous crypto winters, this time we are witnessing two weather fronts hitting crypto at the same time. One is sunny and warm and inviting, the other is cold, dreary and repellent.

If you are in the UAE for example crypto is under a warm summer spell. I mean let us take the first drop of news where MENA based Trust Smart Solutions (TSS), a payment tech service provider just partnered with PayScript global company focusing on digital assets, to enable the Crypto Payment Acceptance on Point of Sales Terminals. This is huge, as Payscript is an all-inclusive Crypto Solutions-as-a-Service platform that aims at bridging the gap between the merchants’ accepting cryptocurrencies and the owners of cryptocurrencies. The platform will allow users to do crypto payment via different channels including sending and receiving payments, accepting payments on E-commerce stores and online websites, as well as physical Point-Of-Sale transactions in Retails Stores and Cafes.

The platform will be delivered in a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) model in TSS’ operating markets, which brings an element of efficiency and scalability to banks that participate in the platform ecosystem. The platform comes with a core focus to accelerate the adoption of Crypto Payments, providing the platform to bank/Financial Institution and Merchants as an alternative payment channel and additional revenue streams.

Mr. Tamim Halawani, Deputy General Manager of Trust Smart Solutions commented “Crypto is at the forefront of payment innovation globally, addressing high-impact use cases across the merchant-consumer ecosystem. We firmly believe that our partnership with Payscript will democratize access to the crypto universe and drive seamless adoption across various payment channels”.

Mr. Nadeem Shaikh, CEO of Payscript commented “Cryptography is going to be the future of money, whether it’s Bitcoin or Stable Coin or Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) still needs to be seen but it’s inevitable. Crypto provides a better, transparent, secure framework for managing money. Our partnership with Trust Smart Solutions will enable merchants across Middle East and North Africa to accept crypto payments on the point-of-sale terminals directly in addition to cards! Isn’t that amazing? I am super excited about the partnership and the opportunities lying ahead”.

But that’s not all that is happening in MENA, an entity called crypto and Properties has launched allowing anyone to purchase properties in the UAE via cryptocurrencies. As per their website their vision is to be recognized as Dubai’s most trusted and established real estate brokerage brand. They are the authorized agents of names such as Emaar, Meraas, Dubai Holding, Omniyat, Damac, Kempinski, Nakheel, and others. If crypto is dead then why so many outlets popping up supporting crypto payments?

Even globally According to a Bank of America Global Research survey of U.S. crypto users and prospective users 91% of respondents said they intend to buy cryptocurrencies in the next six months despite a sharp decline in prices. The same number of respondents also reported purchasing coins and other digital assets over the past six months.

Circle Internet Financial has announced a USD coin custody partnership with the American bank holding company New York Community Bancorp (NYCB). Under the agreement, NYCB’s subsidiary, New York Community Bank, will become a custodian for the company’s stablecoin reserves.

It is also interesting to see that even though China through its state run media has noted that Bitcoin is heading to zero amidst its previous ban on cryptocurrency transactions and mining, China is once again the second biggest crypto mining market in the world, superseded by the USA. China has reemerged as a major Bitcoin mining hub, taking second place after USA with 21 percent of market Share. USA holds 37.8 percent of market share. It seems like an oxymoron of sorts coming from a country that seems to officially despise crypto but inherently embrace it.

So there are a lot of interesting good weather news for crypto around the globe, even Luna2, the child of failed Luna seems to be skyrocketing.  The price of Terra (LUNA2) recovered sharply after falling to its historic lows of $1.62. On June 27, LUNA2’s rate reached $2.77 per token, thus chalking up a 70% recovery when measured from the said low. Still, the token traded 77.35% lower than its record high of $12.24, set on May 30th 2022.

In other areas the crypto winter is upon us. Three Arrows Capital just got struck by an arrow right in its heart. A court in the British Virgin Islands has ordered the liquidation of Singapore-based Three Arrows Capital as per a Sky News report. The order reportedly came on the same date that Voyager Digital issued a notice of default to 3AC for its failure to pay its 15,250 Bitcoin and 350 million USDC loan.

Shares of crypto exchange Coinbase Global have been downgraded by analysts at Goldman Sachs after plunging cryptocurrency prices affected the exchange’s underlying business, underscoring the challenges posed by the bear market.  The reason for the downgrade stems from the “continued downdraft in crypto prices,” Goldman analyst William Nance said in a note that was obtained by Bloomberg. Coinbase is also laying off 18 percent of its staff.

In MENA as well crypto exchange BitOasis announced a layoff of 5 percent of its employees. This comes after RAIN Crypto exchange carried out its own layoffs in May.

In the meantime, crypto mining operations globally are facing liquidity issues pushing them to sell their crypto assets or lose their operations all together such as in the case of Compass Mining.

So there is a lot of news hovering within the storm of the crypto winter, but in the end it all depends on how you want to look at it. So for example when you read a newspiece that says 80,000 Bitcoin millionaires wiped out in the great crypto crash of 2022, in that same article it also reads, the bear market has seen more than 13,000 new “wholecoiners”, a wallet that contains one or more BTC , bringing the total number of wholecoiners to just over 860,000. This significant spike in the number of whole coiners would suggest that retail investors are accumulating large amounts of BTC while prices tank.

It is up to you the reader to assess whether it is truly a crypto winter or the likings of a crypto spring.