Lightning Labs and Tari Labs agree to halt Taro protocol development
The temporary restraining order was initially issued on March 13, 2021, by California District Court Judge William Orrick, and prevented Lightning Labs from making any updates or announcements regarding the Taro protocol. The court’s decision to convert the order into a preliminary injunction now means that the development of the protocol will be halted until a court decision is reached.
As part of the agreement, Lightning Labs cannot make any updates to the Taro protocol or merge internal updates with the protocol’s public-facing open-source code. It is also not allowed to announce or launch any milestones of the protocol. However, Lightning Labs is permitted to respond to communications from non-Lightning developers and users, as long as it does not use those communications to further Taro’s development.
Lightning Labs can still reference Taro as the “prior name of the protocol” for announcements pertaining to changing the protocol’s name, as long as it is not “confusingly similar” to Taro or Tari. Tari Labs had first filed a complaint for trademark infringement against Lightning Labs in December 2020, alleging that both firms “compete in the same digital blockchain ecosystem” and provide similar, “in some cases identical,” services.
The Taro protocol is an ambitious project that was announced by Lightning Labs on April 5, 2021, amid a $70 million funding round. It aims to build upon Bitcoin’s Taproot upgrade and allow stablecoins to be transferred via the Lightning Network, a Layer 2 solution for the Bitcoin blockchain that enables faster and cheaper transactions than those executed on the base layer.
The news of the temporary restraining order being converted to a preliminary injunction prompted a backlash on Twitter, with Tari Labs co-founder Riccardo Spagni defending the lawsuit, arguing that the letters “I” and “O” are close enough together on a computer keyboard to cause confusion. He also mentioned that Tari had offered to fund Taro’s rebrand a year ago. Tari co-founder Naveen Jain also defended the lawsuit, suggesting that it is “hard to call something ‘frivolous’ when a judge issues a temporary restraining order in your favor.”
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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