Binance converts remaining $1 billion in Industry Recovery Initiative to native crypto amidst concerns around stablecoins
However, the decision by the Binance co-founder to sell the Binance USD (BUSD) stablecoin and convert the fund to more “volatile” assets received mixed reactions on Crypto Twitter. Some praised the decision, while others questioned the move to sell stablecoins and convert the fund to more volatile assets.
The depegging of the USDC stablecoin was caused by the failure of three major crypto-friendly banks – Silicon Valley Bank (SVB), Silvergate Bank, and Signature Bank. Circle, the company behind USDC, disclosed on March 10 that it had around $3.3 billion tied up at SVB. This caused the USDC stablecoin to fall to as low as $0.87 from its $1 peg. However, by March 13, USDC had bounced back towards its $1 peg and is currently hovering around $0.99. Circle also has an undisclosed amount of reserve funds stuck in Silvergate, another US-based crypto-friendly bank that went bankrupt.
The instability surrounding USDC caused a domino effect on other stablecoins such as Dai (DAI), USDD, and FRAX, which also slipped from their $1 peg. Since the events began unfolding on March 10, the crypto space has been on edge as to what will happen next. Twitter users have claimed that there is “nobody left to bank crypto companies.”
This recent event highlights the concerns surrounding stablecoins and the reliance of the crypto industry on traditional banking systems. As a result, some experts are suggesting the need for a decentralized banking system that is not reliant on centralized entities such as banks. In the meantime, it remains to be seen how stablecoins and the crypto industry will adapt to these challenges and uncertainties.
Chinese Banks Support Hong Kong Crypto Firms
The Chinese banks’ support for Hong Kong’s crypto industry is noteworthy given the Chinese government’s ongoing ban on crypto-related activities. One source even claimed that a Chinese bank sales representative visited a crypto firm’s main office to pitch banking services.
“This development is encouraging for both the industry and the broader ecosystem, as it demonstrates a maturing understanding of the crypto sector by traditional financial institutions,” said a representative from a Hong Kong-based crypto firm.
It is unclear which crypto firms have been approached by the state-owned Chinese banks, as a spokesperson for a firm declined to comment. However, this move is seen as a positive step towards legitimizing crypto-related activities in Hong Kong.
In October 2022, the Hong Kong government proposed introducing its own bill to regulate crypto-related activities in the region. The Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong released a proposal for a regime for cryptocurrency exchanges on February 20, which is set to take effect in June. The new licensing regime will require crypto exchanges to obtain licenses from the Securities and Futures Commission and comply with regulations on KYC (know-your-customer), AML (anti-money laundering), and other areas.
Despite China’s ban on crypto-related activities, representatives from the China Liaison Office have reportedly been attending Hong Kong crypto gatherings. This could signal a shift in China’s approach to cryptocurrencies, as the country looks to tap into the growing market for digital assets.
The move by Chinese banks to offer banking services to crypto firms in Hong Kong also reflects a growing trend among traditional financial institutions to embrace cryptocurrencies. As more countries introduce regulations for crypto-related activities, financial institutions are starting to recognize the potential of digital assets and the need to integrate them into their existing systems. This move could help bridge the gap between the crypto industry and traditional finance, paving the way for greater adoption of cryptocurrencies.
Kokomo Finance Accused of $4M Exit Scam
According to CertiK, the deployer of the KOKO token attacked the smart contract code of a wrapped Bitcoin token, cBTC, by resetting the reward speed and pausing the borrow function. An address beginning with “0x5a2d..” then approved the new cBTC smart contract to spend over 7000 Sonne Wrapped Bitcoin (So-WBTC). The attacker then called another command to swap the So-WBTC to the 0x5a2d address, which produced a $4 million profit, according to the security firm.
CertiK also noted that Kokomo Finance removed all social media accounts immediately following the alleged rug pull. The protocol rose up the ranks quickly in recent days, with blockchain data platforms like CoinGecko and DefiLlama officially tracking it shortly after Kokomo Finance went live on Optimism on March 25. Recent screenshots reveal that more than $2 million was locked into Kokomo Finance prior to it falling more than 97%.
Over 72% of the total value locked in the Kokomo Finance protocol came in the form of wrapped Bitcoin, according to data from DefiLlama. While most aspects of the audit were passed, “typographical errors” were found, and the owner of the KOKO token was also found to have a one-time ability to mint 45% of the maximum supply to an arbitrary address.
Kokomo Finance is a lending protocol that enables users to trade for wBTC, Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT), USD Coin (USDC), and Dai (DAI). It operates on the Optimism layer 2 scaling solution, which allows for faster and cheaper transactions on the Ethereum network.
The exit scam allegations against Kokomo Finance have raised concerns about the security of decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols. While DeFi has enabled greater financial freedom and accessibility for users, it has also brought with it new risks and challenges. Smart contract vulnerabilities and security loopholes can be exploited by bad actors, as in the case of Kokomo Finance.
Despite this incident, the DeFi space continues to grow and evolve, with new protocols and platforms emerging all the time. As the industry matures, it is likely that greater attention will be paid to security and risk management, in order to protect users and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.
First Citizens Bank to Acquire Silicon Valley Bank Deposits and Loans
As part of the agreement, all Silicon Valley Bank depositors will automatically become depositors of First Citizens Bank. The FDIC will keep approximately $90 billion in securities and other assets in receivership for disposition. In addition, the FDIC will receive equity appreciation rights in First Citizens BancShares, Inc. common stock worth up to $500 million.
First Citizens Bank is now the 30th largest commercial bank in the US, with $167 billion in total assets and $119 billion in deposits as of March 10. The acquisition of Silicon Valley Bank’s deposits and loans is expected to boost the bank’s assets and expand its operations in California’s tech hub.
Silicon Valley Bank collapsed on March 10 after rumors of a severe liquidity crisis sparked a bank run. The FDIC was then appointed as the receiver of the failed bank and attempted to auction off the fallen bank’s assets. The process included two separate auctions for Silicon Valley Bank’s assets: one for its traditional deposits unit and the other for its private bank, which catered to high-net-worth individuals and was housed within its retail operations.
Several firms were reportedly planning or had submitted bids for Silicon Valley Bank. First Citizens Bank was one of them, with reports suggesting it had been planning a bid as early as March 18. Three days later, the bank reportedly submitted a bid for all of Silicon Valley Bank. A First Citizens spokesperson declined to comment on “market rumors or speculation” at the time. Valley National Bancorp was also understood to have submitted a bid for the collapsed bank.
Meanwhile, Citizens Financial Group, another US regional bank, was reportedly preparing to submit an offer for Silicon Valley Bank’s private banking arm. The bank’s collapse highlights the challenges faced by banks in the tech industry and the importance of maintaining adequate liquidity. The acquisition by First Citizens Bank underscores the bank’s confidence in the US banking system and its ability to weather crises.
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