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Former SEC official explains why Tether is a “giant house of cards”

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Tether is a house of cards

Former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) official John Reed Stark called Tether a “giant house of cards.”

What’s wrong with Tether

John Reed Stark noted that Tether operates without regulatory restrictions because there is currently no legal framework regulating it in the United States. Moreover, U.S. regulators themselves don’t know what requirements to impose on the issuer.

“Tether’s core business, the essence of everything Tether does, is solely related to Tether’s financial reserves. Nevertheless, these reserves remain unaudited, unconfirmed and therefore questionable,” he added.

Therefore, Stark added, customers are left to deal with the “condescending and ineffective chatter of the project’s public relations specialists.”

He also framed Tether’s attestation as questionable, saying that it cannot replace audits. He noted that audits are designed to identify potential risks. At the same time, attestations only verify whether the data presented is accurate at this time. The former top SEC executive is confident that the states should follow Canada’s lead in banning Tether from offering.

“I have no financial interest in the crypto ecosystem – but to me Tether looks like one giant house of cards,” he concluded.

USDT at the peak of popularity

Despite Stark’s harsh criticism, a few days ago, Tether reported net income of $1.48 billion for the first quarter of 2023. At the same time, the company’s excess reserves totaled $2.44 billion.

One possible reason for the strong performance is the problems of USDT’s main competitor, USD Coin (USDC). In March, the stable coin lost its peg to the U.S. dollar after the fall of California’s Silicon Valley Bank. 

We previously reported on what awaits Ethereum – a recovery or further decline.


Tether’s game plan in El Salvador: Why invest in Volcano Energy?

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Stablecoin issuer Tether has dipped into its war chest to invest in El Salvador’s $1 billion renewable energy project to help drive Bitcoin adoption in the Central American nation.

The Tether issuer is one of a handful of companies investing in El Salvador’s renewable power generation project. Volcano Energy is set to generate electricity from solar and wind energy in El Salvador to power future Bitcoin mining operations in the country.

The planned 241-megawatt (MW) renewable energy park is the latest move in El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption drive after the country made BTC legal tender back in 2021.

Cointelegraph caught up with Tether’s chief technology officer Paolo Ardoino during Money 20/20 in Amsterdam. Ardoino — who is attending the renowned finance and payments convention promoting Bitfinex Pay and the Lightning Network — delved into several topics concerning Tether, Bitfinex and the wider cryptocurrency space.

Just two days before the interview, Tether announced it would be investing in Volcano Energy to gain exposure to energy production and leverage the facility to power Bitcoin mining farms in the future.

There is also an ideological element to the move, with Ardoino stressing his belief that El Salvador is blazing a trail for sovereign Bitcoin adoption despite the relatively slow uptake of BTC as a payment option in the country.

Ardoino drew parallels to the European Union adopting the euro as a continental currency in the early 2000s, which required significant resources to change existing financial infrastructure, as well as buy-in from citizens of its 27 member states.

“Given all the powers that they had, it still took five, six years, and yet people were super confused.”

The proliferation of Bitcoin as a payment method in El Salvador has had some teething problems, as explored by Cointelegraph journalist Joe Hall in a recent visit to the country using BTC as a primary means of payment.

Ardoino contends that the path to widespread BTC use and adoption in El Salvador will take time, considering that citizens are not being forced to use the alternative currency in their everyday lives:

“It’s extremely unfair to expect that the whole population will use Bitcoin because, first of all, it’s not forced. Adoption is through private companies and public investments, rather than being taxpayer money.”

Tether’s investment in the country’s energy production program is part of a two-fold strategy. Firstly, investing in energy-producing infrastructure holds its own value, which can then be utilized to power Bitcoin mining operations.

Ardoino also argued against the prevailing narratives around the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining and critiques of the industry for putting a strain on the global energy grid:

“Firstly, the majority of Bitcoin mining is already happening with renewable energy. Secondly, Bitcoin mining is mainly using excess energy anyway, but even more so if we first build the energy production.”

Ardoino said Tether’s investment alongside a group of 12 investors aims to build an energy production facility that companies, factories and households can also tap into. The excess energy from Volcano Energy will be used for BTC mining to help make El Salvador a “unicorn with its own unique story.”

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Bitcoin price can gain 60% if ‘textbook’ chart pattern confirms

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Bitcoin may be in line for a 60% upside if a long-term chart feature stays intact. In part of his latest analysis on June 8, popular trader Mikybull Crypto flagged encouraging signs on the BTC/USD weekly chart.

Weekly Bitcoin price chart keeps $40,000 on the table

With Bitcoin still wedged in a narrow trading range it entered almost three months ago, market participants have little to go on when it comes to short-term price targets. Day-to-day performance has offered no decisive trend up or down, and $30,000 remains formidable resistance overhead.

“The market is still in the same position it has been the past few days. Don’t get chopped up, place some bids at the extremes and wait,” trader Jelle suggested in advice now typical of the current market perspective.

“Stay focussed on the higher timeframe direction.”

For Mikybull Crypto, however, those higher timeframes point to some much more interesting price action around the corner.

The weekly chart, he argued, shows BTC/USD completing and now retesting an inverse head-and-shoulders pattern.

This is the bullish counterpart to the standard head-and-shoulders pattern, which shows resistance being cemented and is typically followed by downside.

While daily timeframes have seen a bearish head-and-shoulders pattern materialize around April’s $31,000 local highs, the broader trend may yet play out in bulls’ favor.

“Bitcoin is flashing a textbook inverse head and shoulders on the weekly TF. Price is currently retesting the Neckline after the breakout,” Mikybull Crypto explained.

“As taught, if the range between the head and neckline is usually the sprint, we are anticipating another 60% rally on BTC.”

That 60% “sprint” would place BTC/USD at around $40,000.

The $40,000 mark and the nearby area are, in fact, already a popular target for various traders.

Crypto Kaleo has continued to describe $40,000 as a “magnet” for the market, while Bitcoin price has preserved key support trend lines throughout the three-month range.

In a prediction this week, meanwhile, fellow trader and analyst Credible Crypto said that $40,000 would not form the ceiling for BTC in 2023.

“Expectations: ‘The Bitcoin halving is in April 2024. Expect $BTC to go sideways between 20-40k for about 12 months which is when we accumulate as much Bitcoin as we can. Once the halving hits, we start our next bull run to 100k+ into 2025. WAGMI,'” he told followers.

“Reality: BTC makes a new ATH in 2023 leaving the majority sidelined. Not everyone makes it.”

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

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US senators propose AI bills for transparency and innovation

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Lawmakers in the United States have proposed two new bipartisan bills targeting issues of transparency and innovation in artificial intelligence (AI). 

On June 8, Democratic Senator Gary Peters, and Republican Senators Mike Braun and James Lankford, introduced the first bill, which would require the government to be transparent with its AI usage.

Under such a measure, U.S. government agencies would need to inform the public when it uses AI to interact with them, along with a system for citizens to appeal any decisions made by AI.

Braun stated:

“The federal government needs to be proactive and transparent with AI utilization and ensure that decisions aren’t being made without humans in the driver’s seat.”

The second bill was brought to the table by Democratic Senators Michael Bennet and Mark Warner, along with Republican Senator Todd Young, to establish an official Office of Global Competition Analysis.

This new division is aimed at helping the U.S. stay on top of AI development. Bennet commented that:

“We cannot afford to lose our competitive edge in strategic technologies like semiconductors, quantum computing, and artificial intelligence to competitors like China.”

The introduction of the bills follows an announcement from Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, which called for three upcoming AI briefings to educate lawmakers on the technology.

Regulations targeting AI are beginning to pop up in discussions among lawmakers across the globe. 

Earlier this week, officials in the United Kingdom stressed that AI models need regulation similar to those in the medicine and nuclear power industries. The same day, another U.K. official warned that if these models are not under control ​​within the next two years, they could threaten humanity.

Meanwhile, in Europe, lawmakers are finalizing the European Union’s Artificial Intelligence Act, which is a comprehensive set of regulations for the development and deployment of generative AI.

European regulators have taken a similarly urgent approach to AI regulation, most recently saying they are considering requiring all AI-generated content to be labeled as such.

Zuckerberg highlighted divergent philosophies, with Meta emphasizing a social metaverse, while Apple’s device seemed designed for solitary use.

As Meta struggles to lead the way in virtual and augmented reality, Apple’s recent entry into the market has generated curiosity and apprehension. With the official announcement of its Vision Pro headset, speculations arose about Mark Zuckerberg’s viewpoint as Meta CEO on the competition posed by Apple’s mixed reality headset.

During an all-hands meeting observed by The Verge, Zuckerberg discussed his response to the technical features of the Vision Pro. Expressing his curiosity about Apple’s offering, Zuckerberg acknowledged that he had yet to experience the Vision Pro firsthand. He revealed that Meta’s teams had “already explored” and contemplated the constraints of laws and physics, implying that Apple’s solutions were not entirely groundbreaking.

He mentioned that the headset’s pricing resulted from a deliberate “design trade-off” aimed at emphasizing more expensive technology and demanding increased computational capabilities. Zuckerberg remarked that Apple opted for a higher resolution display, leading to a sevenfold increase in costs and energy consumption, ultimately necessitating a wired connection and battery.

Expanding on his comments, the Meta CEO delved into the divergent philosophical outlooks embraced by Apple and Meta, emphasizing the differences in their values and overarching goals. During this discussion, Zuckerberg naturally explored the concept of the metaverse, which notably did not receive any mention during Apple’s recent Worldwide Developers Conference.

Zuckerberg stated:

“Our vision for the metaverse and presence is fundamentally social. Our device also encourages active engagement and participation. In contrast, every demo they showcased featured an individual sitting alone on a couch.”

He highlighted that Meta Quest is designed to foster virtual communities and encourage interaction, emphasizing its role in promoting engagement. In contrast, Apple’s Vision Pro was characterized as a device primarily intended for solitary use.

Unlike the Meta Quest and Meta Quest Pro, Apple’s Vision Pro introduces control through eye movements and hand gestures, eliminating the requirement for controllers. It also features a translucent display and a lighter design. However, these advanced technologies contribute to a higher price point, with the Vision Pro starting at $3,500. Meta’s most expensive headset, the Meta Quest Pro, starts at $1,000.

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