🔍Tether's Dark Role in Cambodia,⚖UAE's Crypto Regulation Upgrade,🪙African Fintechs Embrace USDC

Your 5 minute emerging markets web3 weekly update

In This Issue

🔸Tether's Underworld: How USDT Is Fueling Cambodia's Shadow Economy
🔸UAE Boosts Digital Asset Regulations with Updated AML Rules

🔸African Fintech Leaders Embrace USDC for Rapid and Cost-Effective Cross-Border Payments
🔸Blockchain-Powered World Mobile Partners With Vodafone Subsidiary to Deliver Internet to Remote Mozambique

Latin America and the Caribbean
🔸Brazil's CBDC Advances as Visa and XP Join Drex Network
🔸FTX Resolves Dispute With Bahamas Unit Liquidators, Averting Litigation and Advancing Asset Recovery

Eastern Europe
🔸The EU’s Latest Sanctions Package Bans Russians From Owning and Managing Crypto Companies
🔸Sanctioned Belarus Welcomes Chinese and Russian Miners

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We are taking a short break for the holiday season and will be back at the end of January to continue to serve you and help you stay up-to-date on all things web3 from emerging markets.

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Cambodia's shadow economy is increasingly relying on USDT, Tether's US dollar pegged stablecoin, despite its official ban in the country. It's used for various purposes, including moving money in and out of China, gambling, and cashing out gains from cyber scams. Security experts have raised concerns about the cryptocurrency's role in Cambodia's vast dark economy, as it offers low fees and no restrictions for money movement, hiding, and laundering. In November, the US Department of Justice seized assets linked to online scams, involving Tether Holdings and the crypto trading platform OKX, raising concerns about the cryptocurrency's role in Southeast Asia's money laundering activities. Tether's use in Cambodia highlights the challenges posed by cryptocurrencies in combating illicit financial flows in the region, with criminal groups exploiting its ease of use and cross-border nature.

The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) Financial Services Regulatory Authority has introduced updated Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and sanctions rules specifically tailored for digital assets. These amendments to the AML Rulebook align with the Financial Action Task Force's Travel Rule and explicitly enforce it on digital assets, requiring Virtual Asset Service Providers to share specific customer information during cryptocurrency transactions. This move is expected to enhance transparency, traceability, and regulatory robustness in the UAE's digital asset space, aligning with the country's proactive approach to crypto regulation and its diversification efforts into technology and finance.


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Several African fintech companies are utilizing USD Coin ($USDC), a stablecoin pegged to the value of the United States Dollar, for cross-border payments, cost-effective transactions, and as a bridge between traditional finance and the emerging digital asset landscape, contributing to the growth of stablecoin adoption in Africa. AZA Finance, Yellow Card, FonBnk, Chipper Cash, Scalex, ClickPesa Debt Fund, and OnAfriq are actively using $USDC to improve financial access and support businesses in Africa, showcasing its potential for enhancing interoperability across diverse financial systems in the region. Flutterwave is also set to launch $USDC payment settlements in partnership with the Hedera blockchain, leveraging its ability to enable nearly-instant, low-cost transactions across the internet.

Blockchain-powered telecom company World Mobile is collaborating with Vodacom Mozambique to deliver internet and mobile services in Mozambique using a tethered aerostat, which is an unpowered, lighter-than-air balloon positioned 300 meters off the ground, and containing telecom equipment capable of connecting 100,000 users. World Mobile has been utilizing unused television spectrum and Starlink technology in field tests in various African countries and has an economic model that rewards equipment operators with fiat while offering World Mobile Tokens (WMT) to blockchain node operators, stakers, and users staking for discounted services on its decentralized infrastructure network on Cardano. This initiative, which began in November, aims to provide cost-effective and quick connectivity solutions, particularly in remote regions in Mozambique. World Mobile currently has 60,000 paying customers in Africa.

Latin America and the Caribbean

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Visa and XP Investimentos have successfully integrated their nodes into the digital real network, Drex, marking a significant milestone Brazil's efforts to develop a CBDC. Visa's strategy for the Brazilian market now includes offering tokenization services to financial institutions, facilitated by XP's technical expertise and connections to the National Financial System (SFN) network through simple APIs and front-ends. The Drex network uses Hyperledger Besu, and the Central Bank of Brazil is focused on privacy and security. Recent tests involving intra and interbank operations were successful, including those with tokenized federal public bonds.

FTX has reached a settlement with the liquidators of its Bahamas unit, resolving a dispute over the priority of its U.S. bankruptcy proceedings versus the Bahamian liquidation. FTX and FTX Digital Markets will merge their assets and coordinate their approach to valuing customer claims, allowing most customers of FTX's international crypto exchange to choose between seeking repayment from the U.S. bankruptcy or the Bahamian liquidation. FTX CEO John Ray called the agreement a critical milestone in repaying customers, while Bahamian liquidators welcomed the settlement, stating it will avoid years of litigation and accelerate the return of funds to customers, with the U.S. bankruptcy team leading asset recovery, while the Bahamian liquidators handle real estate assets and certain litigation claims.

Eastern Europe

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The European Union has approved a twelfth round of sanctions against Russia, including a ban on Russians owning, controlling, or holding positions in management bodies of cryptocurrency service providers, such as wallets, accounts, and digital asset storage services. European legal entities established by Russian citizens or residents must also report fund transfers outside the jurisdiction. These measures aim to prevent circumvention of previous sanctions and will come into effect after publication in the Official Journal of the European Union. The EU previously banned crypto companies from providing services to Russian residents with deposits exceeding €10,000, and the European Parliament prohibited servicing Russian cryptocurrency wallets and owning any volume of such assets.

Belarus is welcoming foreign miners, particularly from Russia and China, who have expressed interest in cryptocurrency mining in the country, according to the Ministry of Energy of Belarus. Mining facilities are already operational in Belarus, and the country's energy system is prepared for increased electricity consumption from mining activities. Belarus legalized cryptocurrencies in December 2017, providing tax exemptions until 2049 and enabling citizens to own, exchange, buy, and sell digital currencies for Belarusian rubles and foreign currency. Additionally, Russian financial services company Finam Investments plans to create a crypto-broker in Belarus, aiming to offer crypto trading services for Russian users, with the platform expected to launch by spring.

Thanks for reading and have a great week ahead!

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Written by Jon Lira. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

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