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Russia might take bitcoin as payment for oil and gas as sanctions rise

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Russia might take bitcoin as payment for oil and gas as sanctions rise


Employees pass beneath pipes leading to oil storage tanks at the central processing plant for oil and gas at the Salym Petroleum Development oil fields near the Bazhenov shale formation in Salym, Russia.

Andrey Rudakov | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Faced with stiffening sanctions from Western countries over its invasion of Ukraine, Russia is considering accepting bitcoin as payment for its oil and gas exports.

In a videotaped news conference held on Thursday, the chair of Russia’s Duma committee on energy said in translated remarks that when it comes to “friendly” countries such as China or Turkey, Russia is willing to be more flexible with payment options.

Chair Pavel Zavalny said that the national fiat currency of the buyer — as well as bitcoin — were being considered as alternative ways to pay for Russia’s energy exports.

“We have been proposing to China for a long time to switch to settlements in national currencies for rubles and yuan,” Zavalny said in translated comments. “With Turkey, it will be lira and rubles.”

He didn’t stop with traditional currencies.

“You can also trade bitcoins,” he said.

Bitcoin is up close to 4% over the last 24 hours to about $44,000. The price of the cryptocurrency spiked around the time that news reports of Zavalny’s remarks first crossed.

Read more about cryptocurrencies from CNBC Pro

The energy chair also doubled down on President Vladimir Putin’s promise on Wednesday to require “unfriendly” countries to pay for gas in Russian rubles. Putin’s announcement sent European gas prices soaring over worries the move might aggravate an energy market already under pressure.

“If they want to buy, let them pay either in hard currency, and this is gold for us, or pay as it is convenient for us, this is the national currency,” Zavalny said, in comments that echoed the president’s warning from the day before.

Though the U.S. has banned imports of Russian oil as part of its response to Moscow’s war on Ukraine, sources have told CNBC it’s unlikely that the European Union will follow suit, given its heavy dependence on Russian energy, in part to heat homes during the winter months.

“Russia is clearly looking to diversify into other currencies,” said Nic Carter, co-founder of Coin Metrics. He told CNBC that Russia had been preparing for that kind of transition since 2014, when it started to divest all U.S. Treasurys.

Read more about clean energy from CNBC Pro

“But the country wasn’t fully prepared for foreign FX assets to be frozen,” said Carter, who is also a founding partner of Castle Island Ventures, an early-stage firm focused on cryptocurrency.

Russia now appears to be serious about moving away from the dollar.

“They have something the world needs,” Carter said. “Russia is the No. 1 exporter of natural gas globally.”

Russia could potentially convert energy reserves into hard assets that could be used outside the dollar system.

Putin has changed his tune on bitcoin. In 2021, the Russian leader told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble that while he believed bitcoin had value, he wasn’t convinced it could replace the U.S. dollar in settling oil trades. Now, the Kremlin’s top brass is weighing it as a form of payment for major exports. It’s unclear, however, whether bitcoin’s relative lack of liquidity could support international trade transactions of that magnitude.

WATCH: The $1.7 billion controversy over ApeCoin, explained: CNBC Crypto World



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Sushiswap developers propose to divert 100% of fees generated to Sushi’s multisig

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Sushiswap developers propose to divert 100% of fees generated to Sushi’s multisig


  • Sushiswap developers have submitted a new governance proposal to the community.

  • The proposal seeks to divert 100% of fees generated on the platform to Sushi’s multisig.

  • The funds would be used for Sushi’s multisig for a year or until new tokenomics are implemented.

Sushiswap developers want to divert trading fees

Developers of the decentralised finance (DeFi) protocol, Sushiswap, have submitted a new proposal to the community. According to the proposal, 100% of the fees generated on the platform would be diverted to Sushi’s multisig for one year or until new tokenomics are implemented.

This latest cryptocurrency news comes as Sushiswap is currently facing a significant deficit in its treasury. The deficit threatens the protocol’s long-term operational viability. 

In his proposal, the Head Chef, Jared Gray, said;

“After reviewing expenditures, it’s clear that a significant deficit in the Treasury threatens Sushi’s operational viability, requiring an immediate remedy. In my original proposal, Sushi operated with an annual runway of 9M USD. However, after my detailed review, we reduced that requirement to 5M USD. We made the reduction possible by renegotiating infrastructure contracts, scaling back underperforming or superfluous dependencies, and instituting a budget freeze on non-critical personnel and infrastructure.”

Despite reducing the project’s annual runway requirement from $9 million to $5 million, the treasury still provides for only about 18 months of runway.

The developers are now proposing to set up Kanpai, a fee-diversion protocol. The proposal, if accepted, will lead to 100% of fees diverted to the Treasury multisig for one year or until the project’s new token distribution and reward schemes become active. 

Sushiswap’s fee-diversion solution is temporary

The developers pointed out that the proposal is a temporary solution to a long-term problem. The proposal was put in place because new tokenomics will take time to implement

The Head Chef said;

“Kanpai is a temporary solution to a long-term problem, and a new tokenomics proposal is on the horizon, which will help address the long-term value proposition of Sushi for stakeholders. Sushi must implement a holistic token model that allows the rebuilding of the Treasury and delivers value for all stakeholders while reducing the fiscal liability carried solely by the protocol.”

In addition to Kanpai, the Sushi team said it increased its funding by securing several multi-million dollar partner deals. 

However, the developers added that relying on business development deals is only part of a successful business model to secure Sushi’s future. In October, asset management firm GoldenTree invested $5.2 million in Sushiswap.



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Europe’s McGuinness pushes for global rules after FTX collapse

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Europe's McGuinness pushes for global rules after FTX collapse


Mairead McGuinness, financial services commissioner for the European Union spoke to CNBC in Brussels.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

BRUSSELS — Some market players are purposely avoiding regulation in the crypto space, the EU’s top regulator told CNBC as she called for a global approach to protect retail investors.

The European Union agreed in June on the Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation. This is meant to reduce risks for consumers buying crypto assets. In essence, the rules mean providers would become liable if they lose investors’ crypto-assets, but the regulation is only due to start 12 months from now.

“It will not come into effect for a year, but I think it’s already having an effect,” Mairead McGuinness, European commissioner for financial services, told CNBC Tuesday.

She said that firms in the crypto industry that want to be part of the regulated system — and therefore have the seal of approval from a regulatory authority — are “already acting in a way that our legislation is pointing.”

However, she added that some crypto players are choosing to, and are fundamentally against, stricter rules.

“Some of those who were involved in crypto, from the very outset, were doing it because they didn’t want to be part of the regulated, managed system. They want it to be separate from and in parallel to it. That’s a very dangerous path,” she said.

Recent crises in the crypto world have clearly exposed the risks for consumers. The recent collapse of FTX, an exchange once valued at more than $30 billion, and the crash of supposed “stablecoin” terraUSD both highlighted the risks associated with these assets.

U.S. interest

The European Union has been stepping up rules in this space and has pushed for a global approach. In meetings last month, McGuinness discussed crypto regulation with her U.S. counterparts.

“What I found in the U.S. is huge interest in what we were doing here, and the markets and crypto assets legislation. And I believe there will be developments there,” she said.

In the wake of the downfall of FTX, some U.S. policymakers urged the Treasury to do more to tackle the risks for investors. The U.S. Treasury was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.

In the U.K., officials are reportedly working on a new plan to regulate crypto as well.

“We have seen events, let me put it like that, in this crypto space. Which maybe is a wake-up call for those who thought that investments would only increase in value,” McGuinness said.

She added that crypto is like climate change, in that it needed a global approach.



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New crypto wallet designed by iPod creator Tony Fadell

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New crypto wallet designed by iPod creator Tony Fadell


The creator of the iPod, Tony Fadell, designed a new hardware wallet for people to store their cryptocurrency.

The product, created by French crypto asset security firm Ledger, launched at the company’s annual Ledger Op3n event Tuesday. Its launch comes at a time when trust in centralized crypto platforms is fading as a result of the collapse of Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX.

It’s called Ledger Stax and resembles a small smartphone or credit card reader. Measuring 85 millimeters long and 54 millimeters wide, it’s roughly the same size as a credit card. It is also about 45 grams, weighing less than an iPhone. Users can deposit or exchange a range of tokens, including bitcoin, ether, cardano, solana and nonfungible tokens, or NFTs.

The Ledger Stax sports a black-and-white E-ink display, similar to that of Amazon’s Kindle e-readers. It also includes magnets, so that multiple devices can be stacked on top of each other, like a pile of books or cash — hence the name Stax. Users can connect it to their laptop through a USB cable or their phone via Bluetooth.

“Many Ledger owners have multiple devices, some store their NFTs, some store different crypto, some have multiple because they have different clients that they store for,” Fadell told CNBC in an interview.

The display also has a spine that curves around the edge, “so you can see what’s on each one, just like an old CD or cassette tape or book,” he said.

The iPod for crypto?

Initially, Fadell turned down working with the Ledger team on Stax. “This was not something I wanted to do,” he said. “When they first approached me I’m like, ‘I don’t want to do it. No thank you.’ I was interested in crypto, I had crypto at the time but I’ve basically got a lot of other things to do.”

The Ledger Stax is the latest hardware crypto wallet from French startup Ledger. It’s roughly the same size as a credit card and sports an E-ink display.

What is DeFi, and could it upend finance as we know it?

Ian Rogers, Ledger’s chief experience officer and a former executive at Apple and LVMH, said he’s confident about the mass market potential.

“There’s no question about the need for security and there’s no question that we lead increasingly online lives,” he told CNBC. “Instagram, Nike, Starbucks, Amazon — many companies are finding real life use cases for digital assets. And so I think that we will grow with that.”

Not your keys, not your crypto

After the recent collapse of FTX into insolvency, crypto holders have sought alternative means of storing their digital assets. One is via cold storage, where a user’s private key — the code they need to access their account — is kept on a device that’s not connected to the internet.

Since these wallets are offline, they’re less susceptible to hacks or failures. Ledger says that, to date, none of its devices have been hacked.

Ledger has seen a boost in sales as a result of fears around the contagion from the FTX collapse. Last week, BlockFi, a crypto lender, entered bankruptcy after revealing Alameda Research, Bankman-Fried’s trading firm, defaulted on $680 million worth of loans from the company.

November “will be our all-time high biggest month ever,” Pascal Gauthier, Ledger’s CEO, told CNBC. “All the news that you’ve seen since the beginning of the year, from Celsius all the way to FTX, has really pushed a lot of users towards self custody.”

Ledger has sold more than 5 million devices to date.

However, a sharp downturn in digital asset prices could spell trouble for the company with retail investors becoming more wary. Only 21% of Americans feel comfortable investing in cryptocurrency, according to Bankrate’s September survey. That’s down from 35% in 2021.

The Ledger Stax will compete with a slew of consumer gadgets this holiday shopping season, including Apple’s new iPhone 14, at a time when budgets are being constrained by rising inflation.



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