This Week in News: Major Highlights

July 6, 2024 11:54 am

Commodity
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Caroline Pham issued a statement
calling for immediate action to address alleged misconduct by CFTC staff in an
ongoing enforcement case against Traders Global Group, the operator of the proprietary
trading firm My Forex Funds (MFF).

In her
statement, Commissioner Pham expressed concerns over allegations made in a
motion that reportedly accuses CFTC staff of making false statements to the court
over a six-month period. For MFF, this could be a turning point in the case
that has been ongoing since last September, as the proprietary trading firm has
consistently suggested that the commission may have misinterpreted some of the
payments it made, which led to the freezing of its assets.

Breaking: My
Forex Funds Seeks Sanctions against the CFTC

However, the
legal representatives of Traders Global Group, operating as My Forex Funds, are
seeking sanctions against CFTC. In a motion filed this week, the lawyers allege
that the regulator knowingly misrepresented facts and its “staff acted in bad
faith.”

The motion,
which is part of the ongoing litigation against MFF and its CEO, Murtuza Kazmi,
highlighted the alleged misrepresentation by the regulator against Debtbox as
grounds for the sanctions. Much of the allegations were based on earlier claims
that the CFTC knowingly misrepresented some tax payments while suing My Forex
Funds and its CEO for fraud. Earlier, the court later unfroze the majority of
Kazmi’s assets.

CFDs Broker
ThinkMarkets Launches Its Own Prop Trading Brand

The influx
of retail brokers in the prop trading space continues, as ThinkMarkets became
the latest to launch prop trading services this week under the brand
ThinkCapital. Although the broker has yet to announce anything officially, the
prop trading brand’s website is already live.

Australia-headquartered
ThinkMarkets has become one of the many forex and contracts for differences
(CFDs) brokers offering prop trading services and technically funded trading
services. The trend started with Axi, OANDA, and Hantec Markets and was later
joined by IC Markets, Traders Trust, and Trade.com.

Prop Trading Chaos: SI World Shuts Down, while The Prop Trading AU Teases Comeback

At the same time, chaos continues to rock the prop trading industry as SI World, a brand operated by the UK-based Stocknet Institute, announced its “permanent closing” this week. Interestingly, at the same time, Australia’s The Prop Trading AU teased a comeback one and a half years after being accused of fraud.

Stocknet Institute announced the closure of its prop trading business with a notice on its social media channels addressing its clients. “After much consideration and strategic planning, we have decided to formally begin the process of winding down our operations with the goal of permanently closing,” the announcement read. The company has already stopped engaging new clients and disabled the purchasing of challenges.

Prop Firm Funding Pips Reports DDoS Attack: Payouts amid Disruptions

Elsewhere, Funding Pips, another proprietary trading firm, faced significant disruptions this week due to a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack. The attack reportedly affected various operational processes throughout the day. However, the firm reassured its users that efforts are underway to restore normalcy swiftly.

Specific issues addressed include minimal email communication from the application. Additionally, some users have reported multiple accounts on the trading platform that are not visible on the dashboard. These accounts are slated for removal, while new account creation following successful payments through crypto providers has been temporarily blocked.

NAGA Slashes Staff by 40% amid Mounting Losses of €61M in 2023

Despite a significant revenue decline, a notable deepening of net loss, and 40% staff cuts in 2023, the supervisory board of the publicly listed NAGA Group is satisfied with the results achieved over the past year. According to company representatives, they managed to “achieve the planned turnaround in earnings” through a positive change in EBITDA and cost reduction.

The consolidated statement of comprehensive income published by NAGA shows that revenues dropped 32% from €57.6 million reported in 2022 to €39.7 million in 2023. The results turned out to be worse than the preliminary outcomes that the company reported at the beginning of this year. Gross profit fell to €31.9 million from €48.5 million, and net loss deepened by almost 40% from €44.1 million to €60.9 million last year.

ActivTrades Becomes Loss-Making as 2023 Revenue Almost Halved

Still on financial results, the revenue of ActivTrades, a London-headquartered forex and CFDs broker, plunged to £27.5 million in 2023 from the previous year’s £50.2 million, a decline of 45.2%. Further, the broker turned a net loss of £5.8 million, down from a profit of almost £16.3 million.

However, ActivTrades ’s sales cost did not follow the revenue decline, remaining at £2.8 million, compared to £2.9 million in 2022. Administrative expenses last year increased by 17 percent to £34.4 million. Interestingly, the broker earned a substantial £2.7 million as interest income, 350% higher than the previous year.

ActivTrades PLC’s consolidated income statement

BUX Quietly Shuts Down Its Cyprus-Regulated CFDs Platform

BUX, the Dutch neobroker fully owned by ABN AMRO, closed down its contracts for difference (CFD) platform, Stryk, to focus “more on mid and long-term investing via the BUX app.” The company also allowed customers to migrate their accounts to AvaTrade, another CFDs broker.

Explaining the decision to close the platform, BUX highlighted that it has been increasing its focus on long-term wealth creation,, and the “decommissioning of Stryk completes the strategic pivot.” It also seeks to enable the company to “streamline operations and allocate resources more efficiently.” The regulatory environment also played a role in this decision.

The number of leveraged traders who trade margin forex, contracts for differences (CFDs), and financial spread betting in the United Kingdom dropped to 173,000 at the end of May, a decline of 5 percent over the previous 12 months. This figure has been declining since May 2021, when the number of active leveraged traders hit 275,000.

According to the 2024 UK Leverage Trading Report published by Investment Trends, the decline was attributed to subdued new client acquisition and modest reactivation of dormant clients. However, on the positive side, the overall client quality, meaning those who continued to trade, jumped to 124,000 from 110,000 over consecutive years.

Italian Traders Flex Muscles in FX/CFD Market with Highest Portfolio Size and Margins

Italy’s leverage trading market has emerged as one of the most valuable in Europe, according to a new report from financial services research firm Investment Trends. Traders manage larger portfolios and utilize higher margins per trade compared to their continental counterparts. The 2024 Italy Leverage Trading Report reveals that Italian traders, with an average age of 51, are committing higher margins per trade and maintaining larger portfolio sizes than traders in other European countries.

According to data provided by Investment Trends, the average margin per trade for Italian traders is approximately €1,500. Although the number of Italian FX/CFD traders is one of the smallest in Europe, standing at around 32,000, their transactions have one of the highest average values.

Digital Bank Revolut Reports 95% Revenue Jump, Record £344M Profit

According to the financial report published this week, the London-based fintech giant Revolut announced a significant leap in profitability for 2023 and expressed confidence in obtaining a UK banking license. The firm reported a pre-tax profit of £438 million for 2023, marking a substantial turnaround from its £25.4 million loss in the previous year.

This financial milestone came as Revolut continued its pursuit of a full UK banking license, a process that has been ongoing for over three years. The company’s revenue surged by 95% to £1.8 billion, compared to £922 million reported a year earlier. Interest income now accounts for approximately 28% of total revenue. Revenues are expected to be even higher in the future, as the company plans to generate $370 million from advertisements alone by 2026.

Source: Revolut

Circle Becomes First Stablecoin Issuer to Comply with MiCA Regulations

Cryptocurrency firm Circle is now registered as an electronic money institution (EMI) in France. This registration grants the company the license to become a compliant stablecoin issuer under the European Union’s cryptocurrency regulations. Circle, known primarily for its USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin, received the e-money license from the French banking industry regulator.

This makes Circle the first global stablecoin issuer to comply with the European Union’s Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulatory framework. With this approval, Circle will issue its USDC and Euro Coin (EURC) tokens in the EU, adhering to MiCA’s stablecoin regulatory requirements.

Singapore Grants Paxos Full Approval to Issue Stablecoins

Singapore issued the blockchain technology firm Paxos full approval, allowing the New York-based firm to offer digital payment token services through its entity, Paxos Digital Singapore Pte. Ltd. This approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) enables Paxos to issue stablecoins under the upcoming stablecoin regulatory framework.

Paxos has now expanded the number of markets where it is authorized to issue stablecoins, including the US and the UAE. The firm has chosen DBS Bank, Southeast Asia’s largest bank by assets, as its primary banking partner for cash management and the custody of stablecoin reserves.

ESMA Releases Second Final Report on MiCA: European Commission to Review

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s financial markets regulator and supervisor, has published the second Final Report under the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA). This report covers eight draft technical standards aimed at providing more transparency for retail investors and clarity for providers on the technical aspects of disclosure and record-keeping requirements.

Additionally, the standards include data protocols to facilitate supervision by National Competent Authorities (NCAs). The final report includes the following draft technical standards: sustainability indicators for crypto-asset consensus mechanisms, business continuity measures for crypto-asset service providers (CASPs), trade transparency, content and format of order books, and record-keeping by CASPs.

Robinhood Eyes Bitcoin Futures Launch in Europe and US

Robinhood Markets, the popular commission-free trading platform, is making moves to expand its cryptocurrency offerings and geographical reach. The company has launched its services in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, while simultaneously exploring the possibility of introducing cryptocurrency futures trading in both the United States and Europe.

The expansion into Hawaii comes on the heels of a regulatory change by the state’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, which no longer requires cryptocurrency services to obtain a money transmitter license to operate in the state. This move has opened the door for Robinhood to tap into a market previously known for its strict financial regulations.

Binance Scales Back: Turkish Language to Be Phased Out for Compliance

Meanwhile, Binance has been monitoring regulatory developments in Turkey. The company believes in working with regulators to ensure a compliant environment for users and supports the development of a regulatory framework to safeguard the ecosystem. The company is taking necessary measures to ensure legal compliance in Turkey and globally.

Binance.com will remain accessible from Turkey. However, services will be adjusted. The Turkish language option will be gradually turned off within three months, and marketing activities for Turkish users will be completely halted.

You Won’t Believe How Much Hackers Stole from Crypto in Just 6 Months

According to a new report from blockchain security firm CertiK, the cryptocurrency and decentralized finance (DeFi) sectors suffered a staggering $1.19 billion in losses due to hacks, scams, and exploits in the first half of 2024.

The “Hack3d: The Web3 Security Quarterly Report” for Q2 and H1 2024, released this week, paints a sobering picture of the crypto industry’s ongoing security challenges. Phishing attacks emerged as the most damaging vector, accounting for $497.7 million in losses across 150 incidents.

FSMA Reports 44% Rise in Fraud Complaints with Half Linked to Crypto Scams

Lastly, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) released its dashboard for the first semester of 2024 this week. The dashboard provides statistics and an overview of the main trends regarding investment fraud.

The latest edition of the dashboard highlights several key points. Fraudulent trading platforms and cryptocurrency scams still represent about half of the reports about unlawful activities received by the FSMA. Earlier, FSMA warned of risks posed by prop trading firms, targeting consumers with promises of risk-free trading opportunities but leading to financial traps.

Commodity
Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) Commissioner Caroline Pham issued a statement
calling for immediate action to address alleged misconduct by CFTC staff in an
ongoing enforcement case against Traders Global Group, the operator of the proprietary
trading firm My Forex Funds (MFF).

In her
statement, Commissioner Pham expressed concerns over allegations made in a
motion that reportedly accuses CFTC staff of making false statements to the court
over a six-month period. For MFF, this could be a turning point in the case
that has been ongoing since last September, as the proprietary trading firm has
consistently suggested that the commission may have misinterpreted some of the
payments it made, which led to the freezing of its assets.

Breaking: My
Forex Funds Seeks Sanctions against the CFTC

However, the
legal representatives of Traders Global Group, operating as My Forex Funds, are
seeking sanctions against CFTC. In a motion filed this week, the lawyers allege
that the regulator knowingly misrepresented facts and its “staff acted in bad
faith.”

The motion,
which is part of the ongoing litigation against MFF and its CEO, Murtuza Kazmi,
highlighted the alleged misrepresentation by the regulator against Debtbox as
grounds for the sanctions. Much of the allegations were based on earlier claims
that the CFTC knowingly misrepresented some tax payments while suing My Forex
Funds and its CEO for fraud. Earlier, the court later unfroze the majority of
Kazmi’s assets.

CFDs Broker
ThinkMarkets Launches Its Own Prop Trading Brand

The influx
of retail brokers in the prop trading space continues, as ThinkMarkets became
the latest to launch prop trading services this week under the brand
ThinkCapital. Although the broker has yet to announce anything officially, the
prop trading brand’s website is already live.

Australia-headquartered
ThinkMarkets has become one of the many forex and contracts for differences
(CFDs) brokers offering prop trading services and technically funded trading
services. The trend started with Axi, OANDA, and Hantec Markets and was later
joined by IC Markets, Traders Trust, and Trade.com.

Prop Trading Chaos: SI World Shuts Down, while The Prop Trading AU Teases Comeback

At the same time, chaos continues to rock the prop trading industry as SI World, a brand operated by the UK-based Stocknet Institute, announced its “permanent closing” this week. Interestingly, at the same time, Australia’s The Prop Trading AU teased a comeback one and a half years after being accused of fraud.

Stocknet Institute announced the closure of its prop trading business with a notice on its social media channels addressing its clients. “After much consideration and strategic planning, we have decided to formally begin the process of winding down our operations with the goal of permanently closing,” the announcement read. The company has already stopped engaging new clients and disabled the purchasing of challenges.

Prop Firm Funding Pips Reports DDoS Attack: Payouts amid Disruptions

Elsewhere, Funding Pips, another proprietary trading firm, faced significant disruptions this week due to a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack. The attack reportedly affected various operational processes throughout the day. However, the firm reassured its users that efforts are underway to restore normalcy swiftly.

Specific issues addressed include minimal email communication from the application. Additionally, some users have reported multiple accounts on the trading platform that are not visible on the dashboard. These accounts are slated for removal, while new account creation following successful payments through crypto providers has been temporarily blocked.

NAGA Slashes Staff by 40% amid Mounting Losses of €61M in 2023

Despite a significant revenue decline, a notable deepening of net loss, and 40% staff cuts in 2023, the supervisory board of the publicly listed NAGA Group is satisfied with the results achieved over the past year. According to company representatives, they managed to “achieve the planned turnaround in earnings” through a positive change in EBITDA and cost reduction.

The consolidated statement of comprehensive income published by NAGA shows that revenues dropped 32% from €57.6 million reported in 2022 to €39.7 million in 2023. The results turned out to be worse than the preliminary outcomes that the company reported at the beginning of this year. Gross profit fell to €31.9 million from €48.5 million, and net loss deepened by almost 40% from €44.1 million to €60.9 million last year.

ActivTrades Becomes Loss-Making as 2023 Revenue Almost Halved

Still on financial results, the revenue of ActivTrades, a London-headquartered forex and CFDs broker, plunged to £27.5 million in 2023 from the previous year’s £50.2 million, a decline of 45.2%. Further, the broker turned a net loss of £5.8 million, down from a profit of almost £16.3 million.

However, ActivTrades ’s sales cost did not follow the revenue decline, remaining at £2.8 million, compared to £2.9 million in 2022. Administrative expenses last year increased by 17 percent to £34.4 million. Interestingly, the broker earned a substantial £2.7 million as interest income, 350% higher than the previous year.

ActivTrades PLC’s consolidated income statement

BUX Quietly Shuts Down Its Cyprus-Regulated CFDs Platform

BUX, the Dutch neobroker fully owned by ABN AMRO, closed down its contracts for difference (CFD) platform, Stryk, to focus “more on mid and long-term investing via the BUX app.” The company also allowed customers to migrate their accounts to AvaTrade, another CFDs broker.

Explaining the decision to close the platform, BUX highlighted that it has been increasing its focus on long-term wealth creation,, and the “decommissioning of Stryk completes the strategic pivot.” It also seeks to enable the company to “streamline operations and allocate resources more efficiently.” The regulatory environment also played a role in this decision.

The number of leveraged traders who trade margin forex, contracts for differences (CFDs), and financial spread betting in the United Kingdom dropped to 173,000 at the end of May, a decline of 5 percent over the previous 12 months. This figure has been declining since May 2021, when the number of active leveraged traders hit 275,000.

According to the 2024 UK Leverage Trading Report published by Investment Trends, the decline was attributed to subdued new client acquisition and modest reactivation of dormant clients. However, on the positive side, the overall client quality, meaning those who continued to trade, jumped to 124,000 from 110,000 over consecutive years.

Italian Traders Flex Muscles in FX/CFD Market with Highest Portfolio Size and Margins

Italy’s leverage trading market has emerged as one of the most valuable in Europe, according to a new report from financial services research firm Investment Trends. Traders manage larger portfolios and utilize higher margins per trade compared to their continental counterparts. The 2024 Italy Leverage Trading Report reveals that Italian traders, with an average age of 51, are committing higher margins per trade and maintaining larger portfolio sizes than traders in other European countries.

According to data provided by Investment Trends, the average margin per trade for Italian traders is approximately €1,500. Although the number of Italian FX/CFD traders is one of the smallest in Europe, standing at around 32,000, their transactions have one of the highest average values.

Digital Bank Revolut Reports 95% Revenue Jump, Record £344M Profit

According to the financial report published this week, the London-based fintech giant Revolut announced a significant leap in profitability for 2023 and expressed confidence in obtaining a UK banking license. The firm reported a pre-tax profit of £438 million for 2023, marking a substantial turnaround from its £25.4 million loss in the previous year.

This financial milestone came as Revolut continued its pursuit of a full UK banking license, a process that has been ongoing for over three years. The company’s revenue surged by 95% to £1.8 billion, compared to £922 million reported a year earlier. Interest income now accounts for approximately 28% of total revenue. Revenues are expected to be even higher in the future, as the company plans to generate $370 million from advertisements alone by 2026.

Source: Revolut

Circle Becomes First Stablecoin Issuer to Comply with MiCA Regulations

Cryptocurrency firm Circle is now registered as an electronic money institution (EMI) in France. This registration grants the company the license to become a compliant stablecoin issuer under the European Union’s cryptocurrency regulations. Circle, known primarily for its USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin, received the e-money license from the French banking industry regulator.

This makes Circle the first global stablecoin issuer to comply with the European Union’s Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulatory framework. With this approval, Circle will issue its USDC and Euro Coin (EURC) tokens in the EU, adhering to MiCA’s stablecoin regulatory requirements.

Singapore Grants Paxos Full Approval to Issue Stablecoins

Singapore issued the blockchain technology firm Paxos full approval, allowing the New York-based firm to offer digital payment token services through its entity, Paxos Digital Singapore Pte. Ltd. This approval from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) enables Paxos to issue stablecoins under the upcoming stablecoin regulatory framework.

Paxos has now expanded the number of markets where it is authorized to issue stablecoins, including the US and the UAE. The firm has chosen DBS Bank, Southeast Asia’s largest bank by assets, as its primary banking partner for cash management and the custody of stablecoin reserves.

ESMA Releases Second Final Report on MiCA: European Commission to Review

The European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA), the EU’s financial markets regulator and supervisor, has published the second Final Report under the Markets in Crypto-Assets Regulation (MiCA). This report covers eight draft technical standards aimed at providing more transparency for retail investors and clarity for providers on the technical aspects of disclosure and record-keeping requirements.

Additionally, the standards include data protocols to facilitate supervision by National Competent Authorities (NCAs). The final report includes the following draft technical standards: sustainability indicators for crypto-asset consensus mechanisms, business continuity measures for crypto-asset service providers (CASPs), trade transparency, content and format of order books, and record-keeping by CASPs.

Robinhood Eyes Bitcoin Futures Launch in Europe and US

Robinhood Markets, the popular commission-free trading platform, is making moves to expand its cryptocurrency offerings and geographical reach. The company has launched its services in Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, while simultaneously exploring the possibility of introducing cryptocurrency futures trading in both the United States and Europe.

The expansion into Hawaii comes on the heels of a regulatory change by the state’s Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs, which no longer requires cryptocurrency services to obtain a money transmitter license to operate in the state. This move has opened the door for Robinhood to tap into a market previously known for its strict financial regulations.

Binance Scales Back: Turkish Language to Be Phased Out for Compliance

Meanwhile, Binance has been monitoring regulatory developments in Turkey. The company believes in working with regulators to ensure a compliant environment for users and supports the development of a regulatory framework to safeguard the ecosystem. The company is taking necessary measures to ensure legal compliance in Turkey and globally.

Binance.com will remain accessible from Turkey. However, services will be adjusted. The Turkish language option will be gradually turned off within three months, and marketing activities for Turkish users will be completely halted.

You Won’t Believe How Much Hackers Stole from Crypto in Just 6 Months

According to a new report from blockchain security firm CertiK, the cryptocurrency and decentralized finance (DeFi) sectors suffered a staggering $1.19 billion in losses due to hacks, scams, and exploits in the first half of 2024.

The “Hack3d: The Web3 Security Quarterly Report” for Q2 and H1 2024, released this week, paints a sobering picture of the crypto industry’s ongoing security challenges. Phishing attacks emerged as the most damaging vector, accounting for $497.7 million in losses across 150 incidents.

FSMA Reports 44% Rise in Fraud Complaints with Half Linked to Crypto Scams

Lastly, the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA) released its dashboard for the first semester of 2024 this week. The dashboard provides statistics and an overview of the main trends regarding investment fraud.

The latest edition of the dashboard highlights several key points. Fraudulent trading platforms and cryptocurrency scams still represent about half of the reports about unlawful activities received by the FSMA. Earlier, FSMA warned of risks posed by prop trading firms, targeting consumers with promises of risk-free trading opportunities but leading to financial traps.

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