Crypto Moves — Bitcoin up, Ether down; Twitter pilots virtual currency payments

Update Crypto Moves — Bitcoin up, Ether down; Twitter pilots virtual currency payments
Eligible users of Twitter’s Ticketed Spaces and Super Follows programs will be able to receive their earnings from the company in USD coin. Image Shutterstock
Short Url
Updated 24 April 2022

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin up, Ether down; Twitter pilots virtual currency payments

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin up, Ether down; Twitter pilots virtual currency payments

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded higher on Sunday, up 0.30 percent to $39,702 as of 08.30 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ether, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $2,949, down 0.14 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

Twitter, Stripe pilot cryptocurrency payments

Twitter Inc. and digital payments processor Stripe Inc. will pilot cryptocurrency payouts for select users of the social media site’s content monetization products, the companies announced on Friday.

Eligible users of Twitter’s Ticketed Spaces and Super Follows programs will be able to receive their earnings from the company in USD coin, a stablecoin whose value is pegged to the US dollar.

Twitter added the monetization features last year in an effort to integrate more into the “creator” economy and boost revenues.

Users who receive crypto payments can hold their earnings in crypto wallets on the Polygon network, a crypto infrastructure firm on the Ethereum blockchain, and can then exchange them into other currencies.

The crypto payments will be routed through Stripe Connect, which will also handle know-your-customer requirements, Stripe said.

Stripe plans to add options for payment in other cryptocurrencies in the future, the company said.

Twitter is in the midst of a takeover attempt by Tesla head Elon Musk, a prominent figure in the cryptocurrency world who has used the platform to promote bitcoin and “meme coins” like dogecoin.

India praised by IMF for leading the charge on digital currencies

RIYADH: The IMF has praised the Indian government’s approach to cryptocurrency at the fund's press conference.

“It is a country that is on the frontline of digital currencies, especially central bank digital currency and how it handles a reduction of risk from crypto assets for the Indian people and businesses,” Managing Director at the IMF,  Kristalina Georgieva said. 

Officials of India’s Ministry of Finance have reportedly been consulting with the IMF and the World Bank on crypto policies as the government works on how to treat crypto assets, Bitcoin.com reported. 

The Indian government started taxing cryptocurrency income at 30 percent without allowing loss offsets or deductions on April 1, which has led to a sharp drop in crypto trading volumes on exchanges across the country.

An additional 1 percent tax deducted at source, known as TDS, will come into effect soon, according to Bitcoin.com. 

“I think the biggest risk for all countries across the board will be the money laundering aspect and the aspect of currency being used for financing terror,” the Minister of finance, Nirmala Sitharaman said. 

She added: “Regulation using technology will have to be so adept that it has to be not behind the curve, but be sure that it is on top.”

While Tobias Adrian, Financial Counselor and Director of the IMF Monetary and Capital Markets Department, said last week that “regulating crypto assets is certainly high on the agenda” for India.

Meanwhile, the Reserve Bank of India is working on a digital rupee which the finance minister said will be introduced this year. 

US regulator says crypto bank violated anti-money laundering rules

The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency on Thursday said flagship crypto bank Anchorage Digital Bank National Association violated rules for monitoring for suspicious activity and preventing money laundering.

The Sioux Falls, South Dakota-based firm failed to adopt a compliance program that meets Bank Secrecy Act and anti-money laundering requirements, OCC said in its order. 

Anchorage Digital received a conditional bank charter from the regulator in January 2021.

A spokesperson for Anchorage Digital, which did not admit or deny the OCC’s findings, said the firm has already begun to strengthen and “will continue to bolster” the areas OCC identified as deficient in 2021.

The OCC’s order requires the company appoint a compliance committee within 15 days and have that board submit a progress report and plan for remediation to the regulator, among other actions.

Anchorage has begun corrective action and is committed to remediation, the order said.

(With inputs from Reuters)


Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer

Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer
Updated 14 sec ago

Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer

Riyadh no longer one of the 100 most expensive cities for expats: Mercer

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh, has dropped 72 places in a ranking of the world’s most expensive cities for expats as it tumbled out of the top 100, according to a report issued by Mercer.

Riyadh was positioned at 103 in Mercer's Cost of Living Index 2022, falling from 29 in the previous year’s list. 

Commenting on Riyadh’s fall, Khaled Al-Mobayed, CEO of Menassat Reality Co., a Riyadh-based real estate developer, said: “The results came in contrary to the expectations, due to the pandemic’s ongoing consequences and the rising cost of logistics and supply chain.”

“Being out of the 100 top expensive cities is a good sign despite the challenges that the economy has gone through,” he added.

UAE's Dubai took over Lebanon's capital, Beirut, as the most expensive city among Arab countries in the region, ranking 31.

Despite being placed third in 2021, Beirut was not even on this year’s list of 227 cities due to the country’s economic turmoil.

The city’s fall reflects the severe drop in value of the Lebanese pound, according to Lebanese economic analyst Bassel Al-Khatib, who pointed out the minimum wage is now worth $20, while it was $450 before the economic crisis gripping the country. 

“Lebanon is extremely expensive to those who get paid in Lebanese pounds yet very cheap for those who get pain in US dollars,” he told Arab News, adding: “Lebanon was expensive for both citizens and foreigners, and with the currency dropping 95 percent and the dollar reaching record levels, the situation changed.”

“Everything has become expensive but not for foreigners who have dollars. All services by the government such as water, electricity fees, or internet are still the same but food prices skyrocketed,” he added.

Abu Dhabi was the second highest Arab city from the region, ranked at 61, while Jeddah came in at 111 this year compared to 94 in 2021.

Jordan's capital Amman ranked 115, followed by Bahrain's Manama at 117, Oman's Muscat at 119 and Kuwait city at 131.

Egypt's capital, Cairo, was placed at 154 while Rabat, Algiers and Tunis came as the least expensive in the region, ranking 162, 218 and 220 respectively.

Hong Kong topped the list as the most expensive city in the world in 2022, moving from second rank last year and taking the top spot from Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat.

Switzerland’s Zurikh and Geneva followed as second and third most expensive cities, replacing Hong Kong and Beirut respectively.

Turkey’s capital, Ankara, came in as the least expensive city, ranking 227, taking the spot from Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek.


France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official

France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official
Updated 01 July 2022

France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official

France eyes ‘good investment opportunities’ in Saudi Arabia: Official

RIYADH: France is intensifying efforts to take advantage of Saudi investment opportunities in all sectors, mostly energy, technology, water and other industrial services, the country's Ambassador in Saudi Arabia said.

Saudi Arabia is an attractive region and a suitable environment for investments in all its vital sectors, Ludovic Pouille told a press conference.

The French government and the private sector are working to expand the number of companies operating in the Kingdom, which currently stands at about 135, Aleqtisadiah reported citing Pouille.

The aim is to gain large investment spaces, and to benefit from the reforms and economic developments undertaken by Saudi Arabia, which constitute a good opportunity for French companies, he said. 

The French ambassador said France will take the model of agreements between the Al-Ula Authority and his country’s institutions in the fields of infrastructure and culture, as a starting point for expanding the map of investments in the future.


New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon

New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon
Updated 01 July 2022

New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon

New Saudi smart city AlNama to be zero-carbon

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s new AlNama smart city will be a zero-carbon community, according to the company charged with designing the development.

The hospitality hub, located on a 10 sq. km area in Riyadh, will create 10,000 jobs in various sectors, including green-tech industries to create a ‘green circular economy’, Construction Week reported. 

The project is planned to provide 11,000 residential units and an eventual population of 44,000 people.

ALNAMA will be designed by Dubai's URB, and the firm’s CEO Baharash Bagherian said: “AlNama aims to be the next generation of self-sufficient city, producing all the city’s renewable energy needs, as well as the resident’s caloric food intake on site.

“Biosaline agriculture, productive gardens, wadis, and carbon-rich habitats are key features of the development’s innovative and resilient landscape design.

“The city was planned through the design of its landscape, rather than its buildings. This creates an urbanism that is more socially inclusive, more economically valuable, and more sensitive to the environment.”

AlNama will consist of eco-friendly glamping lodges, eco resorts and a nature conservation center to promote ecotourism, while an autism village, wellness center and clinics within the medical hub will help promote medical tourism.

The green-tech hub will provide an innovative ecosystem for urban-tech companies related to food, energy, water, waste, mobility, and building materials


Volatile rouble slumps to 10-day low; Gazprom shares extend losses

Volatile rouble slumps to 10-day low; Gazprom shares extend losses
Updated 01 July 2022

Volatile rouble slumps to 10-day low; Gazprom shares extend losses

Volatile rouble slumps to 10-day low; Gazprom shares extend losses

MOSCOW: The Russian rouble plunged more than 6 percent against the dollar on Friday to its weakest level in 10 days, while shares in Gazprom extended losses after the gas giant canceled dividend payments, pressuring Russian stock indexes, according to Reuters.

As of 1019 GMT, the rouble was 5.9 percent weaker against the dollar at 54.50, earlier hitting its weakest point since June 21 at 54.9250. The currency scaled its highest level in more than seven years on Wednesday.

The unit lost 5.9 percent to trade at 56.85 versus the euro .

The likelihood of the rouble strengthening past 50 to the dollar has eased, said Dmitry Polevoy, head of investment at Locko Invest, although high commodity prices were supporting the Russian currency.

The rouble has become the world’s best-performing currency this year, boosted by measures taken to shield Russia’s financial system from Western sanctions imposed after Moscow sent troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

The measures have included restrictions on Russian households withdrawing foreign currency savings.

The rouble’s strength has raised concerns among officials and export-focused companies because it dents Russia’s income from selling commodities and other goods abroad for dollars and euros.

Expectations that Russian authorities could resort to foreign currency interventions were putting pressure on the rouble, Polevoy said.

Dividend Fallout 

Shares in Russian energy giants Rosneft and Gazprom followed divergent courses as investors responded to the two companies’ opposing dividend decisions.

Gazprom’s shares were down 5.5 percent, extending heavy losses from the previous session after the gas giant decided not to pay dividends on last year’s results for the first time in more than two decades.

Meanwhile, shares in oil major Rosneft, which approved 2021 dividend payments after Thursday’s closing bell, were gaining ground, up 4.5 percent.

“There are few reasons for optimism in the Russian market,” said Otkritie Research in a note.

The commodity sectors of the market will be under pressure and the rouble may lose some ground before the weekend, Otkritie said.

Russian stock indexes were mixed, with the dollar-denominated RTS index shedding 4.3 percent to 1,286.8 points, hitting its lowest mark since mid-June.

The rouble-based MOEX Russian index was 1 percent higher at 2,225.8 points.

 


Saudi Arabia licences 79 factories with $266.5m investments in May: Ministry

Saudi Arabia licences 79 factories with $266.5m investments in May: Ministry
Updated 01 July 2022

Saudi Arabia licences 79 factories with $266.5m investments in May: Ministry

Saudi Arabia licences 79 factories with $266.5m investments in May: Ministry

RIYADH: The Ministry of Industry and Mineral Resources licensed 79 new factories in May, with investments exceeding SR1 billion ($266.5 million), reaching 411 as total number of licenses since the beginning of the year.

The number of industrial facilities across the Kingdom reached 10,638, led by non-metallic minerals with over 2,056 factories, Saudi Press Agency reported.

Rubber and plastics factories followed with 1,346, while food factories reached 1,268.

Making food products accounted for the largest proportion of the total new licenses with 16 licenses, a report by the ministry’s National Industrial Information Center showed.

Small establishments acquired the vast majority of the new industrial licenses during May, with a rate of 92.4 percent, followed by medium enterprises with 6.3 percent. 

Large enterprises consisted of 1.3 percent of the new licenses, while national factories acquired new licenses by type of investment by 77 percent, followed by foreign enterprises with 13 percent, and joint investment enterprises with 10 percent.

The ministry's report showed that 62 industrial facilities began actual production in May, with investments of SR1.3 billion.

As many as 32 new industrial licenses were issued in the Saudi capital Riyadh, while 19 were issued in the Eastern region, and 11 in Makkah, the report said.

The eastern region occupied the largest number of factories that started production with 17 factories, followed by Riyadh with 16, and the Asir region with 10 factories.

Number of jobs created by the industrial sector during May reached 2,516, all of them citizens, while more than 19,000 expatriate workers left the sector during the same month, the ministry said.