Robinhood’s crypto business explodes in the first quarter despite GameStop controversy

The popular trading app offers commission-free trading for Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.

Robinhood, a popular trading app targeting millennials and other inexperienced investors, has become a major hub for cryptocurrencies, offering further evidence that digital assets are garnering mainstream appeal. 

The company reported Thursday that 9.5 million users traded digital assets on its platform during the first quarter of 2021 – a six-fold increase from the previous quarter.

Robinhood provides commission-free trading for several major cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Bitcoin SV (BSV), Dogecoin (DOGE), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ethereum Classic (ETC). It provides real-time market data for nearly a dozen more digital assets.

That Robinhood’s crypto business is on the rise is hardly surprising given the size and growth rate of the crypto market over the past six months. The combined value of all cryptos reaching $2 trillion in early April, having doubled in just three months.

A huge chunk of those gains was catalyzed by Bitcoin’s nearly twofold increase since January. As Bitcoin’s gains moderated, altcoins have taken over. Cryptos not named Bitcoin now account for roughly 45% of the overall market, according to CoinMarketCap data.

But 2021 hasn’t been entirely positive for Robinhood. The company was embroiled in controversy after deciding to suspend trading of GameStop and other stocks that had grown in popularity among retail traders. As a result, public opinion of the company tanked, forcing its executives to rethink their plans for a public listing.

Despite the controversy, Robinhood is moving ahead with its initial public offering, according to paperwork it filed with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission last month. Although the company didn’t specify when its IPO would take place, it confirmed that the offering would go ahead “after the SEC contemplates its review process, subject to market and other conditions.”

Robinhood joins crypto-focused exchanges Coinbase and Kraken in reporting stellar first-quarter results. As Cointelegraph recently reported, Kraken appears poised to follow in Coinbase and Robinhood’s footsteps in pursuit of a public offering, perhaps as early as next year.

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China using Bitcoin as ‘financial weapon’ against United States: Peter Thiel

Peter Thiel has urged the U.S. government to reappraise China’s relationship with Bitcoin from a geopolitical perspective.

PayPal co-founder and venture capitalist, Peter Thiel, has warned that the Chinese central government may be supporting Bitcoin as a means to undermine the foreign and monetary policy of the United States.

But, he added, it has tried to use the Euro the same way.

Speaking at a virtual event hosted by conservative non-profit, the Richard Nixon Foundation, Thiel was commenting on whether China’s central bank-issued digital currency, or CBDC, could threaten the U.S. dollar’s status as a global reserve currency.

While Thiel, who is known to be pro-Bitcoin, suggested an “internal stablecoin in China” will amount to little more than “some sort of totalitarian measuring device,” he added that China may view Bitcoin as a tool to erode the dollar’s hegemony:

“From China’s point of view, they don’t like the U.S. having this reserve currency, because it gives a lot of leverage over oil supply chains and all sorts of things like that,” he said, adding:

“Even though I’m a pro-crypto, pro-Bitcoin maximalist person, I do wonder whether if at this point, Bitcoin should also be thought of in part as a Chinese financial weapon against the U.S. where it threatens fiat money, but it especially threatens the U.S. dollar.”

Thiel alluded to Chinese efforts to denominate oil trades in Euros during recent years in a bid to undermine the global standing of the dollar, stating: “I think the Euro, you can think of as part of a Chinese weapon against the dollar — the last decade didn’t really work that way, but China would have liked to see two reserve currencies, like the Euro.”

The venture capitalist speculated China does not actually want its renminbi to become the global reserve currency, noting the government would have to “open their capital accounts” among other measures “they really don’t want to do.”

As such, Thiel concludes that supporting Bitcoin offers China an elegant means to weaken the dollar’s standing internationally:

“China wants to do things to weaken [the dollar] — China’s long Bitcoin, and perhaps, from a geopolitical perspective, the U.S. should be asking some tougher questions about exactly how that works.”

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BitMEX’s Arthur Hayes surrenders in Hawaii, released on $10M bond

The former CEO of BitMEX surrendered in Hawaii and was later released after posting a $10 million bond.

Former BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes surrendered to U.S. authorities in Hawaii on Tuesday, six months after federal prosecutors first levied charges against him and three fellow BitMEX executives.

In a statement, Hayes’ lawyers described the Singapore resident as “a self-made entrepreneur who has been wrongly accused of crimes that he did not commit,” adding:

“Mr. Hayes voluntarily appeared in court and looks forward to fighting these unwarranted charges.”

Hayes was released after posting a $10 million bail bond pending future proceedings in New York.

Hayes’ lawyers proposed his surrender in Hawaii last month. Discussions centered around Hayes’ potential release subject to the $10 million bail bond, his retention of a passport for travel between Singapore and the United States, and a waiver of extradition mutually agreed upon by both parties.

Hayes’ representation began talks with the U.S. government after his indictment was unsealed in October 2020.

The government accuses Hayes, BitMEX co-owners Ben Delo and Greg Dwyer, and former BitMEX CTO Samuel Reed of violating the Bank Secrecy Act by failing to maintain adequate anti-money laundering safeguards and failing to prevent U.S. residents from accessing the exchange despite the company not being registered with the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Reed was arrested in October, while Delo voluntarily surrendered to authorities in New York last month, with both pleading not guilty and being released on bond. Dwyer remains at large, however his lawyers state they have notified the U.S. government as to Dwyer’s whereabouts and intention to fight the charges against him.

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FORCE token sees volatile 24 hours following coordinated attack on ForceDAO

The DeFi platform was the victim of an attack shortly after launch, with 183 ETH compromised. After an initial selloff, FORCE tokens are in recovery mode Monday.

Hackers made off with 183 Ethereum (ETH), worth roughly $386,000 at the time of writing, following a coordinated attack on DeFi platform ForceDAO Sunday. Following an initial selloff, ForceDAO’s native FORCE token was in recovery mode on Monday, capping off a highly volatile 24 hours for the newly launched project. 

ForceDAO detailed the Sunday exploit in a series of tweets, taking ownership of the “engineering oversight” that resulted in the attack, which centered around the platform’s xFORCE contract. 

In a follow-up blog post, Alberto Cevallos explained:

“The exploiters were able to deposit FORCE tokens that would fail the transfer [f]rom call and receive xFORCE tokens, as the xFORCE contract expects a revert from the token but instead receives false.”

He continued:

“A user could then withdraw these newly minted xFORCE tokens for the remaining FORCE tokens in the vault, and liquidate them for ETH on exchanges.”

An additional 14.8 million FORCE tokens were compromised in the initial attack, though they’ve since been returned to the pool.

Often described as a quantitative hedge fund, Force is both a protocol and decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, that’s designed to produce higher-yielding DeFi opportunities for its community.

The FORCE token collapsed more than 99% on Sunday, from $2.21 to a low of just 2 cents, according to CoinGecko. The token has since recovered 173% in the last 24 hours.

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Singapore PM tells followers to ‘remain vigilant’ on crypto after seeing name used to sell tokens

“I have nothing to do with the platform,” said Lee Hsien Loong. “It is misleading and done without my permission.”

Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, claims someone set up a profile on the social token platform BitClout to sell tokens using the information from his Twitter account. 

In a Facebook post Friday, Loong urged Singaporeans to “to remain vigilant when dealing with cryptocurrency platforms.” He said that someone had used BitClout to create one of the platform’s Creator Coins using his name, Twitter account bio, and photo. According to the screenshot Loong posted, there were 27.4088 of his tokens with a market capitalization of more than $9,800, with at least one user holding $4.77 worth.

“I have discovered that my Twitter profile (and others as well) has been used without my permission or knowledge on a blockchain platform that allows users to buy and speculate with its proprietary cryptocurrency,” said the prime minister.

He added:

“The site’s creators are anonymous, but I have sent an open tweet out to ask that my name and photo be removed from the site immediately, as I have nothing to do with the platform. It is misleading and done without my permission.”

Loong’s account has since been removed, but could have been added to the platform at launch. According to BitClout, the site pre-loaded the top 15,000 Twitter influencers — purportedly based on the number of followers — allowing users to “buy and sell their coins even though they’re not on the platform yet.” The Singapore PM has more than 792,000 followers.

However, it appears that the figures behind the BitClout accounts do not have to reserve their profiles for the buying and selling of the tokens to start. Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s BitClout profile shows he has not officially joined the platform, but many users are currently holding his tokens, worth $89,379.39 each at the time of publication. When creators activate their accounts by tweeting out their BitClout address, they’re entitled to claim a certain number of their own tokens.

The prime minister’s warning went out to his 1.6 million Facebook followers in addition to his Twitter followers, but was purportedly intended for all 5.7 million people living in Singapore. Loong seemed to imply investing in the crypto platform was akin to “falling prey to scams,” and encouraged users to only deal with companies regulated by the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

BitClout has also attracted the attention of former Baywatch star Pamela Anderson, who is handing out signed copies of her final 2016 Playboy magazine cover to the three biggest holders of her Creator Coin. Anderson’s token is currently valued at $6,749.89 with a market cap of more than $800,000.

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