Here is a recap of the major events that happened in March across the cryptocurrency space:
- Dubai recently made strides to regulate its crypto sector, and now everyone is moving there
- The EU parliament votes for a proposal that could affect privacy around digital asset transfers
- Ronin is working with authorities to track an attacker who got away with $625 million in crypto assets from the blockchain in March
- Ethereum is a step closer to the Merge
Dubai woos crypto giants as it targets becoming a hub
Dubai's crypto scene pulled in several crypto exchanges last month thanks to the environment it has created for cryptocurrencies. The Arabian city is leading the push for the United Arab Emirates to become a global leader in digital assets.
Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, ruler of the UAE, said on March 9 that the emirate of Dubai had established the country's first-ever regulatory framework for crypto, with which the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) was formed to oversee and regulate digital assets.
A week later, FTX announced that it was the first recipient of a license to operate as a crypto exchange in Dubai. The license allows the newly launched FTX Europe subsidiary to offer exposure to crypto derivatives to enterprise investors.
Around the same time, Binance secured a license to operate in Dubai. The exchange won approval to offer specific exchange products to professional investors as it's now operating in the early stages of regulation.
The net Dubai cast caught two more exchanges before the close of the month. Crypto.com announced that it would be setting up a regional hub in Dubai, and Bybit revealed it was shifting its headquarters there from Singapore.
Sceptical European Union parliament votes in favour of maiming crypto-asset privacy
Following a March 31 vote, the European Union parliament approved a proposal seeking more stringent know-your-customer (KYC) requirements and anti-money laundering rules. The proposed rule change would bust crypto-asset privacy as part of an amendment to the Transfer of Funds Regulation.
The new provisions will require that entities offering crypto products (mostly exchanges) report all transactions worth over EUR 1000 to the relevant authorities. These service providers must also verify the identity of the figure behind every unhosted wallet that comes into contact with them.
These requirements are not yet written in stone as they must survive a dialogue between the European Commission, European Council, and the EU Parliament. Their adoption would mean that exchanges have between nine months to one & a half years to ensure full compliance.
The crypto community has not gone down well with these harsh recommendations, and it's already pushing back. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong criticised the move saying it defies the EU's ambition to become a "global leader in privacy law and policy." Ledger CEO Pascal Gaunthier also censured the action adding that it is an approval for massive surveillance as the EU had chosen fear over freedom.
Ronin blockchain suffered a $625 million-large steal
Last month, multi-chain protocol Deus Finance DAO suffered a hack that saw the DeFi platform lose assets worth about $3 million. According to a series of tweets posted by crypto analytic firm PeckShield, the attacker had targeted and manipulated a flash loans price oracle, thereby rendering the lending positions of some of the users insolvent.
After settling the loans, the rogue player made away with DEI worth about $3 million, which he then ran through Tornado Cash. Though Deus Finance initially downplayed the incident, it promised to pay back the affected users.
In another separate incident, a March 29 statement by Sky Mavis' Ronin Network confirmed that the blockchain had suffered an exploit for 173,600 Ether and $25.5 million worth of the USD-pegged stablecoin USDC. The criminal managed to get control of five out of Ronin's nine validators, which is just the number of validators required to verify withdrawals and deposits.
While the exploiting party initially played low, not moving the funds, the Ronin Network said it is working with security professionals and government authorities to trace the hacker.
Investor money has been flowing, and the BAYC developer Yuga Labs is a huge beneficiary
Composable Finance last week said that it had completed its Series A funding round, worth more than $32 million. Several investors, including Coinbase Ventures, Jump Capital, Ignite, NGC Ventures, Yunt Capital, and Fundamental Labs, participated.
The firm, which offers a cross-chain multi-layer platform for Ethereum and other L1s, said the new capital injection would go into expanding its team and creating products that speak interoperability in Web3 and the blockchain space.
Cross River Bank also revealed a massive $620 million raise captained by a16z and Eldridge. The Bank plans to expand its bowl of crypto products as well as continue with its expansion plans. In another raise, Asia-based digital asset custodial platform Hex Trust confirmed that it had scored $88 million in a Series B funding round.
Across the NFT space, Bored Ape Yacht Club creator Yuga Labs was the notable name to complete a raise. The firm announced on March 22 that it had completed a seed $450 million funding round at a $4 billion valuation with the participation of industry leaders, including FTX and MoonPay. In addition to expanding its team, Yuga Labs intends to inject some funds into its upcoming Otherside metaverse.
Polygon launches a digital identity solution as Ethereum inches closer to the Merge
Polygon is leading the charge in privacy into the next iteration of the internet and, in line with this, it recently announced a new digital identity privacy-focused solution. The network announced Polygon ID built on zk protocol infrastructure on March 29.
The new open-source solution would allow users to verify identities as required by KYC rules without submitting personal information, as required in the 'traditional' verification process. The product is set for a full release in Q3 and promises ultimate user privacy.
The base layer, Ethereum, is also moving towards efficiency after completing the kiln testnet mid-month, a massive milestone towards the Merge. Barring a minor bug, the testnet was largely successful, and the network could produce post-merge blocks with transactions.
The highly-awaited Merge is the integration process of the Ethereum mainnet to the PoS Beacon Chain. This is expected to reduce the network's energy consumption by more than 99.98%.
Elsewhere, crypto exchange Binance has announced the launch of Binance Bridge 2.0, which enables integration with CeFi and DeFi. The new tool would allow users to bridge assets from any blockchain to the BNB chain, thereby increasing the accessibility of DeFi.