Welcome to Currently Relevant, THE RELEVANCE HOUSE’s regular roundup curating the best of news, views, and stories from the blockchain, crypto, and Web3 space.
This week: FTX asset sell off, SEBA partners with SGKB and receives Hong Kong license, new retail and wholesale CBDC pilots get the green light, and asset holders left out of pocket due to a rogue app and hack at Microsoft and LastPass.
What’s currently relevant in THE RELEVANCE HOUSE
AI — no magic bullet, but a useful tool
For a few months, everybody was raving about the virtues of generative AI tools like ChatGPT. But as the hype begins to subside and the dust slowly settles, what will be its lasting impact on the working world? How can you use AI to save time and generate creative ideas, while retaining a credible and consistent brand voice? We explore all this and more in the latest Relevance House blog article. Read it here.
Swiss InsurTech Hub Awards
In addition to Web3, we are also engaged in other disruptive industries on occasion. Later this month, our co-founder German Ramirez will be moderating the Swiss InsurTech Hub Awards and Summit in Zurich. The event showcases innovative insurtech solutions in Switzerland and beyond, this year featuring a keynote by Andrew D. Vieyra of Google, a panel discussion on generative AI, and a pitching competition — all followed by a networking apéro. It kicks off on November 16th at 15.30 and tickets are available here.
The Big Picture
In each edition, THE RELEVANCE HOUSE founder German Ramirez brings his marketing and strategy insights to the biggest stories from the world of Web3, delivered with a pinch of spice.
Sam Bankman-Fried: world’s sexiest inmate
The verdict is in. Wire fraud, wire fraud conspiracy, securities fraud, commodities fraud conspiracy, and money laundering conspiracy: Guilty on all counts.
As the news broke that Sam Bankman-Fried was convicted on seven charges and faces a potential 100-year sentence, all the internet could talk about was how great he looked in an artist court sketch circulating online. Alas, like many aspects of SBK’s life and business plan, the drawing turned out to be a hastily thrown together fake, generated using AI.
Not known to be overly concerned with such details, Donald Trump Jr. approached the artist covering his civil fraud trial and demanded that she draw him like one of her crypto whales, saying “Make me look sexy”.
The resulting sketch by court artist Jane Rosenberg suggests that she was not in the mood to oblige the former President’s son.
FTX asset sell off in aftermath of SBF ruling:
- As the crypto world digested the news that Sam Bankman Fried had been found guilty on all counts and faces up to 100 years behind bars, industry observers turned their attention to the liquidation of assets. FTX is reportedly seeking to sell over $744 million of assets held by crypto asset manager Grayscale Investments and custody service provider Bitwise. This is not the first time FTX has sought to liquidate assets, with the last request to sell $3.4 billion of crypto, including Solana, Bitcoin, Ether, and other altcoins, being approved in September. Grayscale is reportedly one of the largest Bitcoin holders globally. To prevent excessive downward market pressure, however, it is likely that the sale will be staggered into weekly tranches.
SIX and SEBA lead the charge in Swiss crypto news:
- The crypto-focussed Swiss bank SEBA has announced that it is teaming up with St. Galler Kantonalbank (SGKB) to offer digital asset custody and brokerage services to its clients. St. Galler Kantonalbank, which is the fifth largest cantonal bank in Switzerland, joins other private and retail banks on SEBA’s client list including LGT Bank Liechtenstein and Bank Julius Baer. In 2019, SEBA was one of the first crypto-focused banks to receive a FINMA banking license alongside Sygnum.
- Following on from the SGKB partnership, SEBA’s Hong Kong subsidiary announced that it has received a securities license from the local regulator. The license grants SEBA Hong Kong permission to deal and distribute securities, OTC derivatives, and structured products, to offer advisory services, and to serve as an asset manager for both traditional and digital assets. The bank has already begun offering such digital asset services to corporate treasuries, funds, family offices, and high net worth individuals.
- In other Swiss blockchain news, financial infrastructure provider SIX is partnering with the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and six commercial banks to pilot a wholesale central bank digital currency (wCBDC). In contrast to retail CBDCs, the wholesale variant is used for the settlement of intra-bank transactions between financial institutions. The pilot will test the settlement of such secondary market transactions in a live production environment between December 2023 and June 2024. The participating banks are UBS, Zürcher Kantonalbank, Basler Kantonalbank, Banque Cantonale Vaudoise, Commerzbank, and Hypothekarbank Lenzburg.
UK regulators pave the way for retail stablecoin adoption:
- The Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) have published proposals that would make it possible for companies to issue stablecoins for use by retail customers in the UK. The discussion paper argues that stablecoins could result in greater efficiency and cheaper international payments, but the bank also warned of the need to clearly differentiate between stablecoins and traditional currencies so as not to confuse customers. If adopted, the proposals would see stablecoins fall under the auspices of the Bank of England whereas most other crypto assets would remain regulated by the FCA.
A rogue app at Microsoft and hack at LastPass leave crypto holders out of pocket and looking for answers:
- A fake Ledger Live application was posted on the Microsoft app store, resulting in a hacker stealing more than $500,000 in Bitcoin in early November. Although the app has since been removed, the victims may feel justifiably frustrated by the tech colossus’s inability to adequately vet the app before it was admitted to the store. The incident highlights the need for crypto and mainstream platforms to collaborate more closely to combat scams.
- News of the Ledger Live hack came on the back of reports that at least $35m has been stolen from crypto holders since a breach of the centralized password manager service LastPass in December 2022. Crypto security specialists are advising anyone who has ever used LastPass to store their crypto wallet seed phrases or keys to move their assets immediately.
Weird crypto stories of the week
- While laser eyes have become a fixture of crypto Twitter, an event in Hong Kong left some guests with real-world eye strain. Organized by Yuga Labs of Bored Ape fame, the event dubbed ApeFest was supposed to be a celebration of NFT art. But some of the ape NFT holders who attended came away with more than they had bargained for, complaining of a burning sensation in their eyes, possibly caused by the UV lights used during a live DJ set. One attendee reported that they were diagnosed with “photokeratitis” in both eyes after the event. Yuga Labs says that it will conduct a “thorough investigation” into the case.
- Art roasts life. Life imitates art. Undeterred by receiving a roasting on legendary animated show The Simpsons, crypto enthusiasts responded by buying up related NFTs in their droves. The so-called “Springfield Punks” collection accumulated over $2.5m in sales in 24 hours, along with jumps in value of similar collections such as “SimpsPunks”, “The Chimpsons Official” and “Springfield Apes”.