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The hype around cryptocurrencies is on the rise but is it here to stay?

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The global cryptocurrency sector will soon account for nearly $35 billion worth of transactions worldwide

When Bitcoin was born in 2009, the word ‘cryptocurrency’ was hardly typed into a Google Search browser.

Fast-forward to 2022, and the vice chair of the Federal Reserve Lael Brainard, has described “serious vulnerabilities” within the crypto financial system.

“Despite significant investor losses, the crypto financial system does not yet appear to be so large or so interconnected with the traditional financial system as to pose a systemic risk,” Ms Brainard said.

According to recent data, 16 per cent of Americans used or owned cryptocurrencies this year.

This is three times more than 2019 figures.

What’s all the fuss about?

The hype surround cryptocurrencies is spreading around the world, according to new analysis by the Statista Global Consumer Survey.

Digital currencies like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Binance have drawn the interest of more and more people during this time.

In fact, Brazil, Germany and the U.S. reported a jump in crypto users between 2018–19 and 2021–22.

In some cases, like in India, the number of crypto users more than tripled.

Indian crypto users rose from 8 to 27 per cent in the same reporting period.

Ms Brainard said the ‘get rich, quick’ promise of cryptocurrencies is not as attractive as it seems.

“Contrary to claims that crypto-assets are a hedge to inflation or an uncorrelated asset class, crypto-assets have plummeted in value and have proven to be highly correlated with riskier equities and with risk appetite more generally,” she said.

U.S. cryptocurrency users have risen from 5 per cent in 2019, to 15 per cent by 2022.

Meanwhile, Spain and South Africa have seen modest gains, with slight increases to 26 and 23 per cent respectively.

Is this growth sustainable?

While India has the highest number of crypto users, the U.S. is responsible for 53 per cent of all transaction value.

Over $18 billion will be generated in the U.S. market, while Japan, Britain and South Korea all contribute more than $1 billion annually.

As the sector continues to grow, the Federal Reserve is pushing for regulatory action.

“It is important that the foundations for sound regulation of the crypto financial system be established now before the crypto ecosystem becomes so large or interconnected that it might pose risks to the stability of the broader financial system.”

Lael Brainard, FEDERAL RESERVE

Statista believes the adoption of cryptocurrencies will continue growing on a global scale.

In fact, estimates show 257.2 million crypto users worldwide, or 3.2 per cent of the world’s population.

The base of crypto users will expand at double-digit rates through to 2023, despite user growth slowing down.

Statista expects close to 294 million crypto users next year. This is an annual increase 14 per cent.

Costa is a news producer at ticker NEWS. He has previously worked as a regional journalist at the Southern Highlands Express newspaper. He also has several years' experience in the fire and emergency services sector, where he has worked with researchers, policymakers and local communities. He has also worked at the Seven Network during their Olympic Games coverage and in the ABC Melbourne newsroom. He also holds a Bachelor of Arts (Professional), with expertise in journalism, politics and international relations. His other interests include colonial legacies in the Pacific, counter-terrorism, aviation and travel.

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A British digital currency “later this decade”

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The Bank of England and Britain’s finance ministry think the UK is likely to need to create a central bank digital currency later this decade.

“On the basis of our work to date, the Bank of England and HM Treasury judge that it is likely a digital pound will be needed in the future,” the Telegraph quoted BoE Governor Andrew Bailey and finance minister Jeremy Hunt as saying in the joint report.

“It is too early to commit to build the infrastructure for one, but we are convinced that further preparatory work is justified,” the Telegraph quoted the report saying.

The BoE declined to comment on the Telegraph article, but said a joint consultation on CBDC issues would be published shortly.

A government source said the report would be published next week.

BoE Deputy Governor Jon Cunliffe is due to give a speech on Tuesday to update the finance industry on the BoE’s CBDC work.

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Crypto

Sam Bankman-Fried attempting to resolve bail conditions dispute

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Sam Bankman-Fried is in talks with U.S. prosecutors to resolve a dispute over his bail conditions

The 30-year-old former billionaire has been blocked from contacting employees of FTX or his Alameda Research hedge fund, after prosecutors raised concerns he may tamper with witnesses.

Bankman-Fried has pleaded not guilty and is under house arrest at his parents’ California home.

Once worth an estimated $26 billion, Bankman-Fried was arrested in December after FTX collapsed.

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Crypto

Crypto heists in 2022 totalled $3.8 billion

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Last year was the worst on record for cryptocurrency heists, with hackers stealing as much as $3.8 billion, led by attackers linked to North Korea

A Chainalysis report found hacking activity that “ebbed and flowed” throughout the year, with “huge spikes” in March and October.

October was the biggest single month ever for cryptocurrency hacking, with $775.7 million stolen in 32 separate attacks.

North Korea-linked hackers such as those in the cybercriminal syndicate Lazarus Group have been by far the most prolific cryptocurrency hackers, stealing an estimated $1.7 billion worth of in multiple attacks last year.

North Korea has denied allegations of hacking or other cyberattacks.

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