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What the COVID-19 pandemic has taught community about curbing our emissions

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For the first time ever, the World Economic Forum’s Global Risk Report’s top-five global risks were all climate-related. From devastating wildfires in Australia and the Amazon to ravaging locust plagues on the Horn of Africa, 2020 was punctuated not only by the global COVID-19 pandemic but also a number of worrying reminders about the effects of climate change if left unchecked.

Over the past year, we witnessed the severe effects of belated action amid impending crises. While the timeframe for climate change is not measured in days or weeks, climate change headlines over the coming decade may not look dissimilar to those of the coronavirus pandemic. To this end, the blockchain and crypto community should look to apply lessons learned from the coronavirus pandemic to the next impending global crisis: climate change.

Crypto and climate change

The blockchain and crypto community has undoubtedly been a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions produced by the aviation industry. According to a study published in the journal Global Environmental Change, frequent flyers are defined as individuals who travel “about 35,000 miles (56,000km) a year…equivalent to three long-haul flights a year, one short-haul flight per month, or some combination of the two.”

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As a global, distributed community, those working in blockchain and crypto have probably spent an above-average amount of time in the air pre-pandemic. Frequent flyers, as defined above, likely account for more than half of the total emissions from passenger air travel, and around 2.4% of global CO2 emissions come from aviation. In total, experts estimate that the aviation industry is responsible for around 5% of global warming.

One roundtrip flight from London to New York produces the equivalent of 11% of the average annual emissions for someone in the United Kingdom, or nearly the same total emissions as someone living in Ghana over an entire year. Emissions produced by air travel can not only make up a significant portion of an individual’s carbon footprint but are also evidence of the stark inequalities of who produces emissions and who bears the heaviest burden.

An unintended consequence of coronavirus shutdowns included steep declines in air pollution and CO2 emissions. In China, for example, CO2 emissions temporarily fell by a quarter. While signs of environmental resilience are promising, these effects are only temporary unless sustained action is taken to curb emissions.

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Unfortunately, improvements in fuel efficiency are not keeping pace with the rapid increase in total passengers year-over-year, meaning successful solutions to curb aviation emissions require individuals to reduce their flying.

The pandemic has shown us better solutions

While attempting to recreate in-person interactions over video conferencing yielded mixed results over the course of the pandemic, technology has been rapidly evolving to deliver more promising ways of interacting virtually, namely, using social, virtual and augmented reality.

Big Four auditing firm PricewaterhouseCoopers published a report that predicted that “23.5 million jobs worldwide would be using AR and VR by 2030 for training, work meetings, or to provide better customer service.” Online video conferencing wasn’t ready for a transition to fully virtual work, but in time, new promising solutions could deliver better, more immersive, photorealistic virtual environments far beyond our current 2D video conferencing realities.

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The advancements in virtual reality being made by some companies point to a more widespread need for VR beyond its traditional uses in gaming and entertainment. As 2020 demonstrated, the world was unprepared for stay-at-home office culture. And while 2021 will surely realize the launch of more virtual office environments, reestablishing the loss of “being there,” the year will likely be defined by popular concerts using social-virtual reality, or SVR, technology. Take for example how concerts in Ibiza with David Guetta were being digitally created combining the most advanced technologies of SVR and AI. Pulling together such a concert is immensely more labor-intensive than recreating most office environments, and so it does seem that these new company launches will greatly accelerate the overall uptake of the SVR industry.

As the old saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention. Developments in virtual reality will create a future where fewer meetings will need to take place in-person, allowing the blockchain and crypto community to reduce or eliminate emission-heavy non-essential business travel. Further innovations in the way of better emissions monitoring and standardization around how to calculate carbon footprints or a single blockchain-based platform to track carbon emissions could also lead to greater accountability for companies and individuals.

As an industry with a deep ethos of disruption, innovation and social responsibility, we should continue to look to new and innovative technologies, rather than the status quo, in doing our part to change our habits and tackle one of society’s most pressing challenges

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Grayscale’s Top Executive Joins Robinhood as New Chief Compliance Officer

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Robinhood hires a new CCO, the chief compliance officer of Grayscale

Robinhood brokerage app has welcomed Benjamin Melnicki as a new Chief Compliance Officer, who is also the holder of the same position at Grayscale Investments. He joined Grayscale in early January this year.

At the moment, Robinhood’s cryptocurrency arm is facing scrutiny from financial regulators. Last year, Robinhood was a target of an investigation connected to anti money laundering and certain cybersecurity problems experiences by its crypto division.

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As reported by U.Today previously, later this year, the brokerage firm plans to roll out cryptocurrency wallets for its users. The trials of wallets will kick off in October and will allow customers to deposit and withdraw cryptocurrencies to addresses beyond Robinhood seamlessly.

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Average Aussie crypto portfolio grew 258% in FY 20-21, survey reveals

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The average portfolio size on Australian cryptocurrency exchange BTC Markets has grown from $577.65 (795.5 Australian dollars) to $2,069.16 (2849.5 AUD) in the financial year 2021, signaling a 258.2% increase in portfolio holdings, according to exchange data compiled by Statista on a recent BTC Markets survey.

Data on the survey shows that the average portfolio size of female and male investors in fiscal 20-21 on BTC Markets was $1,924.30 (2,650 AUD) and $2,214.03 (3,049 AUD), respectively. However, in 2020, the average portfolio size of female Aussie investors exceeded male investors slightly. 

Transaction data on the exchange also showed a pattern of growing investment demand with aging. Considering the data provided by BTC Market on Australia’s average initial investment, investors above 65 years old have invested roughly $3,158.03, the highest ofall demographics.

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Following an incremental reduction across the various age groups, the youngest cryptocurrency traders, ranging from 18 to 24 years, tend to make comparatively small investments, standing at $792.96 on average. While older Australian crypto investors outweigh the new generation in initial investment, the younger crowd shows comparatively more activity in terms of daily trades.

Resonating the findings above, a September report from financial comparison website Finder shows that one in six Australians own cryptocurrencies, amounting to $8 billion in total investment. The report suggests that, like many other users in advanced industrialized countries, Australians were increasingly viewing cryptocurrencies as a new asset class. 

According to Cointelegraph’s report on the matter, Bitcoin (BTC) is the most popular cryptocurrency for the Australian crypto market held by 9% of investors. Other popular investments include Ether (ETH), Dogecoin (DOGE) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). The report showed that, despite the growth in crypto investments, a significant barrier to entry for Australians is the difficulty in understanding crypto and the risks related to volatility.

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Switzerland to Impose Anti-Money Laundering Rules on Crypto Providers: Report

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FINMA requires all cryptocurrency providers to step up their game and monitor whether criminals use digital assets in illicit transactions.

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority – FINMA – would reportedly require local digital asset providers to take additional steps in preventing criminals from employing cryptocurrencies. The watchdog would also turn its sight towards bitcoin ATMs as it believes that drug dealers often use these machines.

FINMA Targets Criminals Operating with Crypto

According to a Finews report, Switzerland’s financial regulator – the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority or simply FINMA – would closely supervise local crypto providers as an attempt to clamp down on money-laundering transactions.

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Swiss platforms and brokers dealing with digital assets would have to enhance their monitoring efforts and observe if bad actors employ cryptocurrencies. The Bern-based watchdog believes the initiative is “urgently necessary,” stressing that criminals use the asset class even to fund terrorism acts.

FINMA also turned its attention towards bitcoin automated teller machines. According to the regulator, drug dealers frequently use such ATMs as payment systems. It is worth noting that Switzerland is a relatively small nation, but its 130 Bitcoin automated teller machines place it in the sixth position among the countries with the most stations.

FINMA also passed an anti-money laundering provision according to which it lowered the threshold for unidentified crypto purchases from 5,000 Swiss Francs (CHF) to 1,000 CHF (around $1,080). Or, in other words, all financial providers dealing with digital assets have to collect data on anyone initiating transactions that exceed this amount.

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UBS: Crypto Regulations Could Spell Trouble

One of the leading banks in Switzerland – UBS – recently shared its views on the hot topic of digital asset regulations as it indicated that implementing certain rules might negatively impact the market.

Furthermore, the bank warned its customers that regulatory crackdowns can pop the “bubble-like” crypto markets. The Swiss bank also labeled the asset class as “speculative” alerting that it could be dangerous for professional investors:

“While we can’t rule out future price gains in cryptos, we see this as a speculative market that poses significant risks to professional investors.”

On another note, though, when the cryptocurrency market was booming at the beginning of May, UBS demonstrated a different attitude. Back then, it intended to enable its wealthy customers to receive digital asset exposure later in 2021 through third-party vehicles.

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