It was another busy week in the crypto world, from El Salvador adopting bitcoin as legal tender to a CryptoPunk NFT selling for a record amount.
In case you missed it, here are seven things worth knowing about what happened in crypto over the last week.
1. FBI recovers $2.3 million in bitcoin paid in the Colonial Pipeline ransom
The Justice Department on Monday reported it successfully retrieved $2.3 million in bitcoin paid by Colonial Pipeline to ransomware hackers in April.
The news caused a stir of confusion online — some speculated that bitcoin was “hacked,” and on Tuesday, the price of bitcoin seemed to slide due to concerns over security of the cryptocurrency.
Though it isn’t exactly clear how it was done, experts say the FBI’s ability to retrieve the bitcoin ransom was due to the criminals’ storage of their private keys, rather than any vulnerability with the cryptocurrency itself.
2. El Salvador passes legislation to adopt bitcoin as legal tender
El Salvador passed a new law to adopt bitcoin as legal tender on Wednesday, being the first country to do so.
This allows bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market value, to be used as payment for goods and taxes. Businesses can price their goods in bitcoin, and exchanges will not be subject to capital gains tax, CNBC reported.
Following the news, bitcoin’s price jumped 6% to over $37,000 on Thursday.
3. Sen. Elizabeth Warren calls for crypto regulation
During the Senate banking committee hearing on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) on Wednesday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., called for cryptocurrency regulation in the U.S.
“Cryptocurrency has created opportunities to scam investors, assist criminals and worsen the climate crisis,” she said on Wednesday. “The threats posted by crypto show that Congress and federal regulators can’t continue to hide out, hoping that crypto will go away. It won’t. It’s time to confront these issues head on.”
However, Warren had a different outlook on the possibility of a digital dollar backed by the Federal Reserve.
“Digital currency from central banks has great promise,” she said. “… But in order for those advantages to be realized, the digital version needs to be secure, stable and accepted everywhere.”
4. Bitcoin 2021 Conference attendees report testing positive for Covid-19
Several attendees of the Bitcoin 2021 Conference in Miami, Florida, last weekend have tested positive for Covid-19.
There was no mask mandate and no proof-of-vaccination requirement to attend.
On Friday, the Miami mayor’s office told CNBC that the speculation about attendees contracting Covid-19 at the conference is unconfirmed: “We have no reason to believe the conference was a ‘Super Spreader,'” the office wrote in a statement. “At this point, with the information we know, this characterization of the event is not only unfair, but also irresponsible.”
5. CryptoPunk NFT sells for record $11.7 million at Sotheby’s auction
A rare CryptoPunk sold on Thursday at Sotheby’s for over $11.7 million. The 7-figure sale set “a new world auction record for a single CryptoPunk,” according to Sotheby’s.
Dubbed “Covid Alien,” CryptoPunk 7523 is an NFT, or nonfungible token, collectible. It is one of nine “alien punks” in the entire series and is the only one with a mask.
The buyer, Sotheby’s tells CNBC Make It, is billionaire Shalom Meckenzie, the largest shareholder of DraftKings.
6. The first bitcoin upgrade in four years was approved
Taproot, the first bitcoin upgrade in four years, was approved on Saturday.
It will take effect in November, and it will better the blockchain in a number of ways. First, it will increase transaction privacy and efficiency. In addition, the upgrade will also allow for smart contracts, which can power applications like DeFi, or decentralized finance, which is already a key part of the ethereum blockchain.
“The most important thing for Taproot is…smart contracts,” Fred Thiel, CEO of cryptocurrency mining specialist Marathon Digital Holdings, recently told CNBC. “Smart contracts essentially give you the opportunity to really build applications and businesses on the blockchain.”