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November Wrap-Up: Dynamic Shifts in AI, Finance, and Blockchain

As we approach the end of the year, November has ushered in significant developments across a host of sectors, including technology, finance, artificial intelligence, and cryptocurrency. Amidst a backdrop of economic uncertainty, these fields witnessed pivotal moments of innovation, regulatory shifts, and groundbreaking advancements. Here’s a detailed overview of the key stories that shaped their respective landscapes this month.

Binance Reaches $4.3 Billion Settlement with US, CZ Steps Down

Binance, once led by its founder Changpeng Zhao (known as CZ), recently finalized a $4.3 billion settlement with the US Department of Justice, resolving criminal and civil charges. As part of the agreement, CZ has pleaded guilty to a felony charge with the announcement being made by Attorney General Merrick Garland, who further addressed concerns about Binance’s role in enabling criminal transactions across the globe. 

Following the settlement, CZ stepped down as CEO, replaced by the company’s head of regional markets, Richard Teng. He emphasized that the settlement did not accuse Binance of fund misappropriation or market manipulation. CZ, currently on bail, is contesting restrictions on his travel to the UAE, with sentencing scheduled for February.

RTGS.global’s Expansion with New Bank Partnerships

RTGS.global has announced new pilot agreements with several banks, signaling a significant step in enhancing cross-border settlement processes. Partnering with Tajikistan-based Alif Bank and Bank Arvand, as well as Montenegro’s Universal Capital Bank, RTGS.global aims to streamline complex cross-border transactions across Europe and Asia. 

These partnerships follow earlier successful pilots with MDO Humo in Tajikistan and Credo Bank in Georgia. RTGS.global’s involvement in this sector is notable, given the Commonwealth of Independent States region’s handling of 39% of the world’s cross-border payment traffic.  

Sam Altman’s Dismissal and Return to OpenAI

Sam Altman resumed his role as CEO of OpenAI on Nov 22, just days after his abrupt dismissal from the firm. This decision followed extensive deliberations regarding the future of OpenAI, a leader in the artificial intelligence sector and creator of the well-known ChatGPT. A new initial board was introduced, featuring former Salesforce Co-CEO Bret Taylor as chair, alongside Larry Summers, a former US Treasury Secretary, and Quora Co-Founder Adam D’Angelo. 

This leadership shift signified a potential new direction for OpenAI, which had been grappling with balancing AI’s risks with its commercial potential. Altman’s return was seen as a move favoring both him and Microsoft, which has invested billions in OpenAI and is deploying its technology globally​​​​​​.

SEC Alleges Kraken as Unregistered, Accuses it of Mixing Funds

The SEC has filed a lawsuit against cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, alleging that it mixed client assets with its own while failing to register itself as a securities exchange. The SEC claims that Kraken’s practices led to the mixing of approximately $33 billion in customer assets, posing a significant financial risk to them. In response, Kraken asserted in a blog post that the allegations were based on the exchange’s usage of already-earned fees, denying any loss of user funds.

Nvidia’s Q3 Revenue Surges Amid AI Boom

Nvidia Corporation announced a record-breaking revenue of $18.12 billion for the third quarter of the current fiscal year, marking a 206% increase from the previous year and a 34% rise from the previous quarter. This surge was largely fueled by a significant 279% year-over-year increase in data center revenue, reaching $14.51 billion. Nvidia’s CEO, Jensen Huang, attributed this growth to the industry’s shift towards accelerated computing power and generative AI. 

BlackRock and SEC Discuss Potential Bitcoin ETF

BlackRock, in collaboration with Nasdaq, engaged in discussions with the SEC about introducing a Bitcoin spot ETF. The talks revolved around BlackRock’s proposal for an ETF, focusing on either an in-kind or cash redemption model under its iShares Bitcoin Trust. These discussions hint at the SEC’s potential readiness to approve a spot Bitcoin ETF in the US. 

Alongside BlackRock, other financial institutions like Fidelity and Invesco Galaxy are also awaiting the SEC’s response on their crypto ETF applications. This development comes amidst the SEC’s meetings with various stakeholders, including Grayscale, about similar ETF listings.

DeepMind’s AGI Framework

Google’s DeepMind team recently released a groundbreaking paper providing a detailed taxonomy for Artificial General Intelligence (AGI). This framework was designed to clarify the often ambiguous and controversial concept of AGI. It defines AGI as AI that equals or surpasses human abilities across a range of tasks. The DeepMind team established five levels of AGI: emerging (including advanced chatbots), competent, expert, virtuoso, and superhuman, noting that only the emerging level has so far been achieved. 

This new classification emphasizes that AGI must be general-purpose and high-performing, capable of learning a range of tasks, self-assessment, and able to seek assistance when necessary. The framework aims to provide clarity and direction in discussions about AGI, which has gained significant attention and debate in the tech community​​.

PayPal Subpoenaed by SEC Over PYUSD Stablecoin

PayPal is facing scrutiny from the SEC concerning its US dollar-backed stablecoin, PYUSD. The financial services giant has been subpoenaed to provide specific documents related to this stablecoin. In a financial statement, PayPal confirmed its cooperation with the SEC’s inquiry. This action is part of the SEC’s broader efforts in the crypto industry, which has seen similar actions against major firms like Coinbase and a recent decision to withdraw a lawsuit against Ripple, the entity behind XRP and a leading cryptocurrency.

Commerzbank Steps into the Crypto Custody Services Realm

Germany’s Commerzbank has obtained a license that allows it to offer a range of digital asset services, primarily focusing on cryptocurrencies. The move enables the Frankfurt-based bank to establish a secure and reliable platform for its institutional clients, offering them access to a range of crypto asset custody services.