Block 1: Essential news

Ethereum is popular

In just one year, the number of validators securing the Ethereum blockchain (ETH ) has increased by 64%, reaching over one million validators on the network. Currently, 27% of all ETH are staked, or nearly 32.7 million ETH. Lido dominates the staking market with a 29% share, followed by unidentified validators (16.3%) and Coinbase (13%). The forthcoming Pectra update could, however, change the amount of ETH per validator node, which could alter these figures. To be continued.

Validators on Ethereum
Beaconchain

Binance on the roof of the cryptosphere

The Binance cryptocurrency platform has surpassed 200 million users, representing around 2.5% of the world's population. This success confirms its position as the world's largest centralized exchange, despite ongoing regulatory difficulties in some parts of the world. On the other hand, while Binance manages $120 billion in assets, Coinbase, its main competitor, reported over $171 billion in assets under management in the first quarter. This discrepancy is explained by the billions of dollars in Bitcoin Spot ETFs entrusted to the American platform. Richard Teng is Binance's new CEO, while its founder Changpeng Zhao is jailed for four months in California for money laundering while he was at the helm of the platform.

The digital yuan gains ground

HSBC China becomes the first international bank to offer digital yuan services, marking an important milestone in the development of China's central bank digital currency (MNBC). Currently, only corporate customers can use the digital yuan in addition to their traditional bank account. The system has been tested in several major Chinese cities, and recently introduced in Hong Kong. China continues to promote the MNBC while restricting the use of decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin.

Bitstamp falls into the hands of Robinhood

Robinhood has announced the acquisition of Bitstamp, Europe's leading cryptocurrency exchange, for $200 million to strengthen its presence in the crypto sector on the Old Continent. The acquisition, to be completed by the first half of 2025, will enable Robinhood to expand its services and target institutional customers. More globally, Bitstamp, founded in the UK in 2011 is respected for its reliability, and will continue to operate under current management.

Block 2: Crypto Analysis of the week

Artificial intelligence (AI) is everywhere, and soon even in Iphones. Unsurprisingly, it has even found its way into the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Coders and researchers are taking advantage of AI to develop new protocols and optimize their settings, while, sadly but unsurprisingly, crooks are exploiting it for malicious activities.

This is underlined by a new report from blockchain analytics firm Elliptic, which highlights the emerging risks of AI facilitating criminal activity in the cryptocurrency space.

The report recognizes the immense potential of AI to drive innovation in the crypto space, but also warns of the risks associated with its misuse by threat actors for illicit purposes. Elliptic's researchers have identified five main ways in which AI can be misused.

These include the creation and dissemination of "deepfakes" for more convincing and realistic scams, the development of scam tokens sporting an AI marketing veneer to capitalize on the general public's infatuation, the use of large-scale computer language models to design hackers, and the use of AI for the development of new scams.language to design hacks, spreading misinformation and creating more sophisticated Web/Prompt phishing websites to take identity theft to the extreme.

Constant awareness of these new scams (whose principle is not new, but which are now boosted by AI) enables users to remain vigilant.

Pete Pachal, author of Media CoPilot Substack, brilliantly explains that the complexity of these problems means there are no easy solutions, as each problem has unique variables and solutions. This is particularly the case with deepfakes.

In one of his articles on deepfakes, AI and cryptography, Pachal highlighted the increasing difficulty of spotting deepfakes due to advances in AI image generation. For example, earlier this month, a video circulated on social networks showing a fake Elon Musk promoting the bogus Quantum AI trading platform that promised users fake, jaw-dropping returns, which apparently fooled more than a few people.

According to verification firm Sumsub, nearly 90% of deepfake scams in 2023 targeted the cryptocurrency sector. Although the effectiveness of these scams is difficult to assess, the FBI still reported a 53% increase in losses related to cryptocurrency investments in the US last year, totaling $3.9 billion.

It has to be said that cryptocurrencies are optimal for crooks: regulations that are still opaque in a majority of countries, technological complexity that jettisons most interested parties and high-flying financial speculation. An explosive cocktail for stealing money or falsely claiming to buy cryptocurrencies.

Cryptocurrency users, in particular, must remain vigilant to social engineering schemes and malicious scripts that fraudulently use the identities of well-known and influential people to promote scams.

Cryptography is already a low-trust environment, simply because of the nature of the technology. And this could get even worse with the rogue wave of AI in the global economy.

Block 3: Gainers & Losers

Cryptocurrency chart(Click to enlarge)

MarketScreener

Block 4: This week's readings

Robinhood doubles down on crypto strategy in Bitstamp deal (WSJ)

Lightning is the common language of the Bitcoin economy (Bitcoin Magazine)