Cambridge University launches crypto research project with IMF and BIS


The University of Cambridge is collaborating with some of the world’s top banking institutions and private companies to introduce a new project targeting cryptocurrency research.

The Cambridge Center for Alternative Finance, or CCAF, has launched a research initiative aiming to bring more insights on the rapidly growing digital asset industry, the CCAF announced to Cointelegraph on Monday.

Dubbed the Cambridge Digital Assets Programme, or CDAP, the project is a public-private collaboration with 16 companies including public institutions like the Bank for International Settlements Innovation Hub and the International Monetary Fund. The initiative also includes banks like Goldman Sachs, financial giants like Mastercard and Visa, as well as major exchange-traded fund providers like Invesco.

Other participants include British International Investment, Dubai International Financial Center, Ernst & Young, Fidelity, the United Kingdom’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Inter-American Development Bank, London Stock Exchange Group, MSCI, and the World Bank.

As its core mission, the CDAP intends to enable evidence-based public dialogue about the opportunities and risks associated with the growing cryptocurrency adoption. The program will be focused on three main areas including crypto’s environmental implications, infrastructure, and digital assets, including stablecoins, central bank digital currencies, as well as cryptocurrencies.

According to the announcement, the program builds on the CCAF’s existing work in the crypto industry including the development of the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, CBECI. The CBECI is a widely-referred index to provide the global Bitcoin (BTC) mining hash rate distribution percentage among countries.

Bitcoin mining map as of July 2021. Source: CCAF’s CBECI

Other CCAF’s crypto research developments include the Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study series, designed to address ecosystem trends, inform regulation and policy discussion and others.

“The Cambridge Digital Assets Programme that we are launching today aims to meet the resulting need for greater clarity by providing data-driven insights through collaborative research involving public and private sector stakeholders,” CCAF executive director Bryan Zhang said.

According to CCAF digital assets lead Michel Rauchs, the CDAP will provide decision-makers with the objective analysis and empirical evidence that they need to navigate the digital assets industry.

Related: Global financial regulator wants more data to measure risks of Bitcoin

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, some global regulators have been increasingly concerned about risks associated with the lack of standardized and trusted data in the cryptocurrency industry. In mid-February, the Financial Stability Board warned that the crypto market lacks consistent and transparent data and its linkages with the core financial system, which poses a significant risk amid the rapid crypto adoption.


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South African exchange raises $50M in Africa’s largest funding round


South African crypto exchange VALR has raised $50 million in a Series B equity funding round, marking the largest-ever funding for an African crypto exchange.

With this latest round of funding, VALR’s valuation has increased to $240 million, a 10X in growth since it raised its $3.4 million in a Series A round in July 2020. This round was led by VC Pantera Capital, Alameda Research, Coinbase Ventures, and several others.

VALR claims to have processed over $7.5 billion in trading volume since 2019 from over 250,000 retail customers and 500 global institutional users. It currently has about 420 BTC ($18 million) in trading volume from 69 trading pairs according to CoinMarketCap.

Funds from this round will be used to expand VALR’s operations into other emerging African markets and India, introduce more products for its users, and hire more talent.

VALR CEO and co-founder Farzam Ehsani said in a Mar. 1 official statement shared with Cointelegraph that “Society’s financial tools should unite us, not divide us.” He added:

“VALR is helping to build a financial system that recognizes the oneness of the human race. There is no longer any room for doubt regarding the impact crypto assets are having on our global financial system.”

Ehsani also expects to inflate the number of institutional customers such as banks and insurance providers that use VALR’s platform to provide the crypto infrastructure they may need in the future. Ehsani said:

“Crypto assets will become more and more pivotal to all our lives. VALR is here to help bridge our customers from the old financial system to the new.”

Related: Crypto firms ignore Africa at their peril as continent set for major adoption

Despite a turbulent crypto market through 2022 so far, investments in crypto projects have not slowed down. On Feb. 27, the South Korean government announced a $187 million pledge to build a national Metaverse, and The Graph (GRT) opened a $205 million fund on Feb. 17 designed to attract developers to its platform.