What happened in crypto this weekend?


Tether confirms $435M in criminal-linked USDT has been frozen

Stablecoin issuer Tether (USDT) has revealed it has frozen 326 wallets linked to criminals, totaling $435 million as of Dec. 15, and is working closer with U.S. law enforcement agencies than ever before.

“We have assisted in freezing, as of the date of this letter, approximately 326 wallets totaling approximately USDT 435 Million,” the firm’s CEO Paolo Ardoino explained to Senator Cynthia Lummis and U.S. Representative French Hill on Dec. 15.

Tether said it also onboarded the United States Secret Service into its platform to strengthen its compliance measures with U.S. law enforcement and is in the same process with the FBI.

“These strategic relationships reinforce our commitment to supporting law enforcement in combating nefarious activities and contributing to the recovery of victims’ funds.”

The letter addressed requests for intervention by the Department of Justice about the illicit use of Tether’s stablecoin.

It followed Lummis and Hill’s remarks that Hamas used cryptocurrency to facilitate its attack on Israel in early October.

Tether stressed it has a Know Your Customer (KYC) program, a transaction monitoring system and a “proactive approach” to identifying suspicious accounts and activities.

“We have always assisted law enforcement when called upon to act, and we remain fully committed to continuing to work proactively with agencies globally. Tether has and will assist in identifying and freezing addresses subject to sanctions, engaged in illicit activity, or engaged in any form of terrorist financing.”

Tether initiated a voluntary wallet-freezing policy on Dec. 9 efforts to mitigate criminal and terrorism-linked transactions with USDT as much as possible.

The stablecoin issuer was initially reluctant to proactively freeze sanctioned wallets in 2022 but the intense crackdown on cryptocurrency firms in the U.S. prompted the firm to rethink its strategy.

Bitcoin ‘pay friends’ app leaks customer information in hack

Shakepay, a Canadian-based Bitcoin “pay friends” application, has revealed that some customer information has leaked after detecting “suspicious activity” on an employee’s work device.

“Our security team launched an investigation as part of our incident response protocol and immediately locked, deauthenticated, and offboarded this device,” the firm said in a Dec. 15 post on X.

Shakepay said the malicious actor was only able to extract personal information from a “very small” number of its customers, which didn’t include financial information:

“We want to emphasize that only data was compromised. No bank accounts, crypto wallets, custodians, or customer credentials were affected.”

Only customer names, emails, addresses, date of birth, phone numbers, occupations, trusted contacts, account balances, and transaction activity would’ve been potentially accessible to the exploiter, Shakepay noted.

The Shakepay team suggested customers enable factor authentication to strengthen security measures and to beware of suspicious emails, texts and phone calls with links requesting them to change passwords, withdraw funds, or confirm or reject transactions.

To make amends, Shakepay said it will be providing free credit monitoring for two years to affected customers who are interested.

The firm said it contacted the relevant local authorities and is still working with law enforcement to investigate the matter further.

Ordinals-based Tap Protocol raises $4.2M to build on Bitcoin

Tap Protocol, a Bitcoin Ordinals-based development platform, has raised $4.2 million in a round led by Sora Ventures.

“With this, we open a new chapter on further development and look forward everything new to be added to TAP and TRAC,” Tap Protocol said in a Dec. 16 X post.

Tap Protocol is owned by German-based parent company Trac Systems.

According to reports, the firm plans to use the investment to enable more decentralized finance, tokenization and gaming applications on Bitcoin.

The Tap Protocol is designed to find and track Ordinals and facilitate Ordinals applications without layer 2 chains.

Its main mechanism called “tapping,” is what streamlines transaction verification within the protocol.

Animoca Brands, Cypher Capital, Quantstamp and PetRock Capital are among the other cryptocurrency-focused venture capital firms that invested in Tap Protocol.

VanEck CEO tips Bitcoin to reach new high in 12 months

The CEO of investment management firm VanEck says Bitcoin will surpass its all-time high price of $69,000 within the next 12 months.

“I expect all-time highs in the next 12 months,” Jan van Eck said in a Dec. 16 interview with CNBC. Part of this price appreciation could be fuelled by several spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund applications that could be approved by the U.S. securities regulator sometime between Jan. 5-10.

Related: Bitcoin Ordinals could be stopped if blockchain bug is patched, claims dev

Van Eck believes all applications will be approved on the same day.

The CEO — with $76.4 billion in assets under management — also crushed accusations that Bitcoin is in a “bubble” — explaining that no asset has ever been in a bubble that continues to outperform itself every market cycle. He added:

“Bitcoin is the obvious asset that is growing up in front of our eyes.”

Other news

Solana-based gaming ecosystem Aurory was reportedly breached on Dec. 17, resulting in a drop of nearly 80% in liquidity of the AURY-USDC pool on the decentralized exchange Carmelot. The exploit targeted Aurory’s SyncSpace bridge on Arbitrum’s native DEX Camelot around 1:00 pm UTC, reducing the liquidity of the AURY-USDC pool to roughly $312,000 from $1.5 million, according to unconfirmed estimates.

The Ministry of Finance of Palau has officially launched the second phase of its Palau Stablecoin (PSC) program. The country’s finance minister Jay Hunter Anson said Palau aims to extend its partnership with Ripple in phase two, allowing the PSC team to leverage Ripple’s central bank digital currency platform and technical expertise.

Magazine: Ordinals turned Bitcoin into a worse version of Ethereum: Can we fix it?