Square to Support Greener Bitcoin Mining as Part of Zero-Carbon Pledge

Square (SQ) intends to support the use of renewable energy in bitcoin mining with a new Bitcoin Clean Energy Investment Initiative, and it’s dedicating $10 million to the effort.

  • Announced Tuesday, the company said it aims to become a net-zero carbon contributor for operations by 2030 and wants to help drive the adoption and efficiency of renewables within the Bitcoin ecosystem.
  • Square said it has mapped out a path towards a net-zero carbon target by lowering its own carbon footprint in conjunction with scaling a verified carbon removal portfolio, which Square intends to launch in the first quarter of 2021.
  • The Bitcoin Clean Energy Investment Initiative is part of a broader push to support clean energy efforts at Square.
  • The company has also partnered with Watershed, which powers climate programs and reducing its carbon footprint.
  • “We believe that cryptocurrency will eventually be powered completely by clean power, eliminating its carbon footprint and driving adoption of renewables globally,” said Square CEO Jack Dorsey, who is also the founder of Twitter. “Published estimates indicate bitcoin already consumes a significant amount of clean energy, and we hope that Square’s investment initiative will accelerate this conversion to renewable energy.”

Ukraine’s legislative effort involving cryptocurrency regulation has had a successful first hearing in the nation’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada.

After being discussed and given the initial thumbs-up by lawmakers Wednesday, the Draft Bill on Virtual Assets now has two more hearings before it can become law.

If that happens, Ukraine will join the still-short list of nations that have put in place dedicated laws regulating cryptocurrencies. The country was named a global leader in crypto adoption by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis in September when citizens were actively using crypto for savings, investment and cross-border trade.

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Things were not completely smooth for the bill during the parliamentary hearing: Some lawmakers decried spending time on virtual assets when there are more important issues besetting the Ukrainian economy. However, in the end, the bill received 229 “yes” votes out of 340 and passed this first stage of the legislative process.

The bill defines virtual assets as “a set of data in electronic form,” which “can be an independent object of civil transactions, as well as certify property or non-property rights.” The law suggests not considering virtual assets as legal tender in Ukraine.

The document singles out virtual assets backed by goods or services, suggesting they must be taken out of the market in cases where the backing ceases to exist.

The ownership of virtual assets is considered as being the entity holding the private keys, unless they are held with a custodian, forfeited by the court decision or acquired illegally.

Virtual assets would be regulated by Ukraine’s Ministry of the Digital Transformation, and crypto service providers must register to be able to operate in the nation. Firms must provide information on ownership structure and beneficiaries, as well as ensure they don’t facilitate money laundering and are diligently protecting users’ personal data.

Also read: Why Ukraine Is Ripe for Cryptocurrency Adoption

The Ukrainian crypto community sometimes finds itself at a disadvantage on global trading platforms. For example, in September, Bittrex temporarily stopped serving users from Ukraine, along with Belarus, Burundi, Mali, Myanmar, Nicaragua and Panama. The exchange did not give specific reasons, citing only “the current regulatory environment” in the affected jurisdictions.

The Ministry of the Digital Transformation believes introducing a clear regulatory regime would encourage crypto businesses to work with Ukrainians and open shop in the country. The ministry drafted the bill in collaboration with Ukraine’s crypto community, although some members are vocally opposed to the very idea of crypto regulation.

As bitcoin dominated headlines in November with its rally toward an all-time high, one of the most prominent alternative cryptocurrencies, XRP, quietly jumped 169% during the month to top the performance rankings among digital assets in the CoinDesk 20.

The move left XRP (XRP, -1.96%), the payments token used in Ripple’s global payments network, up 225% in 2020, versus the older and larger bitcoin’s 165% gain. XRP has a market capitalization of $21.4 billion, a fraction of bitcoin’s roughly $350 billion.

CoinDesk 20 Asset Returns, November 2020

Source: CoinDesk

The frenzy in XRP may be driven by a looming airdrop of free “spark” tokens to anyone who holds XRP, some digital-markets analysts told CoinDesk last month.

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There’s also the possibility that some first-time cryptocurrency buyers are unaware that it’s possible to buy a fraction of a bitcoin — divisible up to the eighth decimal, instead of a whole token. For the novice investor, XRP, currently changing hands at 62.3 cents, looks a lot cheaper on a price table than bitcoin’s $19,087.

“As the digital asset space has seen renewed interest in the second half of 2020, a new wave of investors are looking for ways to get exposure,” said Brian Mosoff, CEO of the publicly traded Canadian investment fund Ether Capital. “Ripple appears to offer exposure in their portfolio, and a quick Google search may result in some users believing XRP is cheap and likely to become a product banks utilize for cross-border settlement.”

Stellar (XLM, -4.21%), another payments token founded by Ripple co-founder Jed McCaleb, was the second-best performer in November among the CoinDesk 20, gaining 153%. It’s up 313% on the year.

For comparison, bitcoin rallied 40% in November while ether, the native cryptocurrency of the Ethereum blockchain, rose 56%.

Ether Capital’s Mosoff, for what it’s worth, says he’s skeptical of XRP’s gains.

“Ripple has struggled to gain widespread institutional adoption despite years of effort,” Mosoff said.