Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum fall; Terraform Labs staff banned from traveling; Metaverse standards body formed

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum fall; Terraform Labs staff banned from traveling; Metaverse standards body formed
Bitcoin traded lower on Wednesday (Shutterstock)
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Updated 22 June 2022

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum fall; Terraform Labs staff banned from traveling; Metaverse standards body formed

Crypto Moves — Bitcoin and Ethereum fall; Terraform Labs staff banned from traveling; Metaverse standards body formed

RIYADH: Bitcoin, the leading cryptocurrency internationally, traded lower on Wednesday, falling by 2:30 percent to $20,389.86 as of 9 a.m. Riyadh time.

Ethereum, the second most traded cryptocurrency, was priced at $1,093.61 falling by 4.84 percent, according to data from Coindesk.

No flying for crypto company Terraform Labs’ staff

According to Reuters, several employees of the company behind TerraUSD — the stablecoin that collapsed last month and roiled cryptocurrency markets — cannot leave the country.

Terraform Labs workers have been put on a no-fly list, according to a spokesperson at South Korea’s supreme prosecutor’s office. Further details would not be available until after the investigation was completed.

“We are not aware of the details of the reported ban,” Terraform Labs spokesperson said in a statement.

The stablecoin also contributed to difficulties for US-based crypto lender Celsius, which suspended withdrawals this month, and Singapore-based crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital, which has considered selling assets or a bailout.

Metaverse standards body formed without Apple by tech giants

Technology giants such as Microsoft, Meta, and others are collaborating to develop industry standards so their nascent digital worlds can be compatible, according to Reuters.

Among the participants in the Metaverse Standards Forum are chip makers, gaming companies, and established standards-setting bodies such as the World Wide Web Consortium, the group announced on Tuesday.

Analysts expect Apple to become a dominant player in the metaverse race once it unveils a mixed reality headset this year or next year.

The Sandbox and Decentraland, crypto-based metaverse platforms like Roblox and Niantic, were also not included among the forum’s participants.

Despite giving its board a sneak peek of the headset, Apple has not yet publicly acknowledged plans for the device.

Such a device would put Apple in direct competition with Meta, which has invested heavily in hardware to make its vision of interconnected virtual worlds a reality.

The company, previously known as Facebook, announced plans to release a mixed-reality headset this year, code-named “Cambria.”

BlockFi signs $250 million revolving credit agreement with FTX

In a tweet, BlockFi’s CEO, Zac Prince, said the cryptocurrency firm had signed an agreement with digital asset exchange FTX for a SR938 million ($250 million) revolving credit facility, Reuters reported.

BlockFi will gain access to capital amid a rout in digital currency markets. As part of cost-cutting measures like reducing marketing spend and executive compensation, the company said it was reducing headcount by 20 percent last week.


Hong Kong says it would support Aramco to list in the city

Hong Kong says it would support Aramco to list in the city
Updated 16 sec ago

Hong Kong says it would support Aramco to list in the city

Hong Kong says it would support Aramco to list in the city
  • Hong Kong leader John Lee posted on Facebook said the city would be able to assist the Saudi oil firm

HONG KONG: Hong Kong leader John Lee said on Monday the financial hub would support Saudi oil giant Aramco if it chose to list in the city.

Hong Kong will be able to handle any of Aramco's future funding arrangements and investment opportunities, John Lee said in a post on his official Facebook account after meeting the group's chief executive.

On Monday, Aramco also announced a strategic partnership with Zoom and an increase in funding for Wa’ed Ventures during the second edition of LEAP, being held in Saudi Arabia.


PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company signs MoU with MCIT to build digital infrastructure

PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company signs MoU with MCIT to build digital infrastructure
Updated 06 February 2023

PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company signs MoU with MCIT to build digital infrastructure

PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company signs MoU with MCIT to build digital infrastructure

RIYADH: The PIF-owned Saudi Downtown Company on Monday signed a memorandum of understanding with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to develop digital infrastructure and communication technologies.

The MoU was signed at the second edition of LEAP, a major international technology conference held annually in Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi Downtown Company aims to build and develop downtown areas and mixed-use destinations in 12 Saudi cities.

The 12 cities include Madinah, Alkhobar, Al-Ahsa, Buraidah, Najran, Jazan, Hail, Al-Baha, Arar, Taif, Dumat Al-Jandal, and Tabuk. The company will develop over 10 million sq. m of land across all projects, creating modern destinations drawn from Saudi Arabia’s diverse local culture and traditional architectural motifs, while using cutting-edge technology in every project.

The agreement was signed between Nayef bin Saleh Al-Hamdan, a member of the board of directors and acting CEO of Saudi Downtown Company, and Bassam bin Abdullah Al-Bassam, undersecretary of the Ministry of Communications and IT for communications and infrastructure.

Al-Hamdan said the deal aims to encourage investment in the digital infrastructure of the company’s projects.

With more than 700 speakers from 50 counties and 900 local and international companies in attendance at the Riyadh Front Center for Exhibitions and Conventions, this year’s edition of LEAP represents a huge economic advance in the Kingdom through many partnerships, deals, and investment tours.

 


Arab region making headway on climate change, says UN official

Arab region making headway on climate change, says UN official
Updated 35 min 4 sec ago

Arab region making headway on climate change, says UN official

Arab region making headway on climate change, says UN official

RIYADH: Events such as the IAEE Conference currently underway in the Saudi capital and COP27 held in Egypt and the upcoming COP28 in the UAE are important milestones for the region toward a successful transition to green energy transition.
This was underlined by Rola Dashti, executive secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia while speaking at a session titled “Energy, Development and Climate Change” at the 44th IAEE International Conference in Riyadh on Monday.
“The Arab region is making significant headway toward climate change with two back-to-back COP conferences, the last one held in Egypt and next to be held in the UAE, and this IAEE conference will add more value to it,” she said.
Dashti praised Saudi Arabia for its green initiatives, measures for green energy transition, commitment to circular carbon economy, and scaling up the hydrogen energy program.
Echoing similar sentiments, Noura Alissa, a senior international policy analyst at the Saudi Energy Ministry, highlighted the importance of energy transition.
“Having a diverse energy mix is an important part of energy security,” she said.
Green hydrogen has a crucial role in the energy transition and the decarbonization of the economic sectors in the Arab region, said Sausan Al-Riyami, director of the Oman Hydrogen Center, German University of Technology in Oman.
“We should be ready in Oman and the Arab countries, and this could be done if we boost cooperation between all the stakeholders in the region,” she said.
Sarah Najm, assistant professor at King Saud University’s Department of Economics, noted that energy transition requires greater international cooperation.
Manjeet Kripalani, executive director at Gateway House, pointed out that India is a densely populated country with massive energy consumption. The situation is different from other countries facing energy transition challenges.
“The only country we can compare with is China,” she said.
She, however, added that China is taking a cautious approach to balancing its carbon-neutral commitment against the need for energy security, and India can follow the idea.
India is an energy-consuming country, and a large part of the energy produced locally is by coal, which is cheaper, she said.
Kripalani said there is a need to improve the efficiency of coal used to make the value chain more sustainable.
The session was moderated by Steven Griffiths, senior vice president for research and development, at Khalifa University.
 


Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia
Updated 06 February 2023

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia

Cigna Worldwide becomes 1st foreign health insurance firm to operate in Saudi Arabia

CAIRO: Cigna Worldwide Insurance Co. has become the first foreign health insurance company to start operations in the Kingdom following the issuance of a license by the Saudi Central Bank.

The permit aims to fulfill the objectives of the bank’s “Rules for Licensing and Supervision of Branches of Foreign Insurance and Reinsurance Companies in Saudi Arabia” initiative. 

It also comes as part of its role in supporting financial stability and contributing to economic growth aligned with Vision 2030’s objectives. 

The licensing falls under the strategy of the central bank, also known as SAMA, to encourage foreign direct investments to increase the sector’s competitiveness and utilize the Kingdom’s economic potential. 

“SAMA reaffirms its ongoing efforts to support the financial sector as a whole, raise the level of effectiveness and flexibility of financial transactions and encourage innovation in financial services,” stated SAMA’s website. 

Moreover, enabling new international entrants will enhance the quality of provided services, increase the diversification of investors and introduce unique business models to the market, according to the site.

 


Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 

Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 
Updated 06 February 2023

Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 

Aramco announces deal with Zoom at LEAP 2023 

RIYADH: In line with the Kingdom’s aim to accelerate digital transformation, the Saudi Arabian Oil Co., also known as Saudi Aramco, announced a strategic partnership with Zoom and an increase in funding for Wa’ed Ventures on Feb. 6.  

The announcements were made at the second edition of LEAP, a major international technology conference held annually in Saudi Arabia. 

With more than 700 speakers from 50 counties and 900 local and international companies in attendance at the Riyadh Front Center for Exhibitions and Conventions, this year’s edition of LEAP represents a huge economic advance in the Kingdom through many partnerships, deals and investment tours.

The strategic partnership with Aramco aims to build Zoom’s first global data center in the Kingdom to support the digital transformation ecosystem.

It is expected to connect to the Zoom global data center network and will serve Saudi Arabia and the region.

The two companies will also explore the joint development of innovative technology solutions for the energy sector. 

The partnership aims to contribute to the digital transformation of various market sectors, such as energy, industry, education and healthcare. 

Aramco also announced that additional funds had been allocated by the company to Wa’ed Ventures, increasing the size of its Kingdom-focused venture capital arm from $200 million to $500 million.

The increase aims to enable the company to deliver an accelerated investment performance regionally and globally.

Wa’ed Ventures intends to localize global frontier technologies to advance the Kingdom’s innovation ecosystem; expand investments in mid and growth-stage startups; and fund underserved domains such as environmental, social and governance, the metaverse and quantum computing. 

Amin Nasser, Aramco’s president and CEO, said: “Our establishment of a diversified network of partners has helped us maintain a track record of reliability, and our new strategic partnership with Zoom is expected to further enable innovative solutions focusing on the digital transformation ecosystem.”

“Furthermore, with an expanded fund size, Wa’ed Ventures aims to facilitate the cross-pollination of innovation between the global and local markets,” he added.