Blockchain & Cryptocurrency

Blockchain Bites: Mastercard Expands Digital Asset Partnerships, Celebrity Lawsuits Over Clickbait Giveaway Scams, and Project Participate Discusses Indicators of Suspicion

Authors: Michael Bacina, Louisa Xu, Tom Skevington

Michael Bacina, Tom Skevington and Louisa Xu of the Piper Alderman Blockchain Group bring you the latest legal, regulatory and project updates in Blockchain and Digital Law.

Mastercard embraces digital currency integration with Accelerate program and Wirex partnership

Mastercard recently announced the expansion of its cryptocurrency program ‘Accelerate‘, which gives digital payment providers a path to a Mastercard partnership. In addition to the expansion of the Accelerate program, Mastercard announced that London-based crypto payment processor Wirex is the first native cryptocurrency platform to be granted principal membership, enabling it to directly issue digital and crypto payment cards.

Principal membership with Mastercard enables an entity to issue Mastercard payment cards directly to consumers. With their card, consumers can instantly convert their digital currencies into traditional fiat currency, which can be spent everywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world. Of course, the cryptocurrency aspect is ring-fenced to the digital currency partner, and Mastercard confirms that currency will always enter Mastercard’s network as traditional fiat currency only.

Celebrities sue Youtube over clickbait giveaway scams – what happens next will SHOCK you

“[Random celebrity]’s investment secret has Big Banks terrified” – words that anyone who has googled “Bitcoin” more than once and spends a few hours a day on the internet will be intimately familiar with.

Recently, this kind of scam has been proliferating wildly on Youtube, with a reasonably sophisticated trap using familiar local celebrities. Members of our team (including the writers) have been inundated with Youtube advertisements claiming that tech entrepreneur Dick Smith is offering to double my Bitcoin, or that Andrew “Twiggy” Forest is dying to tell me the secret to making millions with Bitcoin, in a similar format to the thumbnail image.

The scam appears to be replicating faster than Youtube can wield their ban-hammer, which has led to Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak and 17 other individuals who are featured in the scam to file a complaint in the California Superior Court in the County of San Mateo.

Wozniak and his co-plaintiffs are accusing YouTube and Google of violating their rights of publicity, misappropriating their names and likenesses, as well as aiding and abetting fraud and a negligent failure to warn users of the scam by not taking enough steps to remove the scam.

Project Participate; the secret indicators of suspicion

Project Participate is a collaboration of the world’s leading digital asset companies to discuss, on a strictly confidential basis, indicators of suspicious transactions. Companies involved include Scotiabank, Binance, Bitfinex, Tether and Chainanlysis.

The confidential document titled “Indicators of Suspicion for Virtual Asset Service Providers” has been described by Forbes as the digital assets industry’s very own Valachi papers . The document was formed in March 2019 and formally announced in June of the same year at Europol’s 6th Cryptocurrency Conference. The document goes to how the Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP’s) can better detect and deter the potential criminal use of their platforms.

DeFi decentralisation boom sees renewed VC interest

Former Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) investor Jesse Walden has announced the launch of a new venture capital firm called ‘Variant Fund’, focusing on blockchain platforms which decentralise ownership among users.

Renewed venture capital interest in the space is hardly surprising, with decentralised platforms going through something of a renaissance at the moment. With platforms like Compound, Uniswap, Synthetix and the like currently going from strength to strength, Walden argues that:

As user participation becomes evermore mainstream and complex, the next step is platforms that are not only built, operated, and funded by users, but owned by users too

Although Variant Fund has reportedly already made a number of early investments, they have yet to be announced. It remains unclear how much Variant Fund has or intends to raise for its first fund, and what its ideal investment stake will be. What is clear is that the movement towards commonly owned platforms relying on interlocking incentives and decentralised infrastructure will continue to grow.

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