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Cryptocurrency exchange Binance is trying to woo France

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A representation of cryptocurrency Binance is seen in this illustration taken August 6, 2021.

Dado Ruvic | Reuters

Crypto giant Binance is bolstering its presence in France after a choppy year of regulatory scrutiny.

The world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange is financing a 100 million euro ($113 million) initiative with industry group France FinTech in an effort to support the cryptocurrency and blockchain sector in France.

The initiative, announced in November and dubbed Objective Moon, will see Binance establish a research and development office in France and collaborate on an incubator program for start-ups and training programs. 

“The aim of Objective Moon is really to develop an ecosystem and to nurture and accelerate an ecosystem. You cannot do it alone,” David Princay, Binance’s French GM, told CNBC.

“We need to be also able to capture the talent and to have more capabilities to grow bigger,” he said of plans to open an R&D office. “Having an R&D center is one step that we need to go for our next evolution.”

Ledger, the French crypto hardware firm recently valued at $1.5 billion, and edtech company OpenClassroom are also involved in Objective Moon on developing educational programs.

France may prove to be fertile ground for the initiative given its growing fintech scene. According to figures from Dealroom, fintech investments in France have ballooned this year with bumper funding rounds for the likes of Lydia and Qonto.

Regulatory attention

Binance has had a turbulent year in its relationships with regulators across the globe. Among its headaches were a ban by Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority and an investigation by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission. The company also put an end to the trading of its digital stock tokens and, most recently, shut down its trading platform in Singapore.

While its roots are in China, Binance has been famously shy about pinning itself down to any one location, leaning into the decentralization maxims associated with the crypto industry.

Binance has recently changed its tone on that front, however, as CEO Changpeng Zhao has spoken out in favor of regulation and of a willingness to work with regulators while expressing an interest in France as an official base of operations.

Princay was tight lipped on whether the company’s significant investment in France was a precursor to establishing its formal headquarters there; “We have nothing yet to add on that,” he said.

However the company’s moves in the country have not gone unnoticed by watchdogs. Last month the governor of France’s central bank said that Binance must have strong anti-money laundering checks in place if it wants to set up operations in the country.

Meanwhile, France’s digital minister Cedric O was present with Binance and France FinTech at the announcement of Objective Moon.

Cedric O has been very clear with us, they are welcome to see us and to have us, but they are also very exigent and that’s for the better,” Princay told CNBC. He added that Binance is in discussions with regulators in France on licensing.

“It’s a very positive sign for innovation,” he said of regulation for crypto in France and Europe generally. “We need to be fully scrutinized and audited to pass and that’s for the better because when we’re going to pass, it is going to be a sign of trust, compliance.”

“Our aim is to be 100% compliant in every activity and country we operate.”

Read more about cryptocurrencies from CNBC Pro

Regulation is often playing catch-up with cryptocurrency businesses. On a European level, the industry’s next big challenge will be the EU’s Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) regulation.

MiCA, which was recently approved by the European Council, will introduce greater investor protection and expand the licensing and passporting for crypto firms in the bloc. It is due to be discussed in the European Parliament in the coming months.

Spreading awareness

“We are very much still at a stage of mainstream curiosity and if we want to get to mainstream adoption and have individuals have the education they deserve — for it to be a secure, seamless and open source future — then we have to come together as businesses to provide that now,” she said.

“Education in web3 should not be something that is siloed or held against one another, it should be open to any person that wants to learn about this space.”

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Teladoc Tumbled 38% After Big First-Quarter Loss. Is It Just a Pandemic Play?

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After pandemic drop, Canada’s detention of immigrants rises again By Reuters

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Two closed Canadian border checkpoints are seen after it was announced that the border would close to “non-essential traffic” to combat the spread of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the U.S.-Canada border crossing at the Thousand Isla

By Anna Mehler Paperny

TORONTO (Reuters) – Canada is locking up more people in immigration detention without charge after the numbers fell during the pandemic, government data obtained by Reuters shows.

Authorities cite an overall rise in foreign travelers amid easing restrictions but lawyers say their detained clients came to Canada years ago.

Canada held 206 people in immigration detention as of March 1, 2022 – a 28% increase compared with March 1 of the previous year. Immigration detainees have not been charged with crimes in Canada and 68% of detainees as of March 1 were locked up because Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) fears they are “unlikely to appear” at an immigration hearing, according to the data.

The rise puts Canada at odds with Amnesty International and other human rights groups that have urged Ottawa to end its use of indefinite immigration detention, noting CBSA has used factors such as a person’s mental illness as reason to detain them.

A CBSA spokesperson told Reuters that “when the number of entries (to Canada) goes up, an increase in detention is to be expected.” CBSA has said in the past it uses detention as a last resort.

A lawyer told Reuters her detained clients have been in Canada for years.

In the United Kingdom, too, immigration detention levels rose last year after dropping earlier in the pandemic, according to government statistics. Unlike Canada, the United States and Australia, European Union member states have limits on immigration detention and those limits cannot exceed six months.

The rise in detentions puts people at risk of contracting COVID-19 in harsh congregate settings, refugee lawyers say.

Julia Sande, Human Rights Law and Policy Campaigner with Amnesty, called the increase in detentions “disappointing but not surprising,” although she was reluctant to draw conclusions from limited data.

The number of immigration detainees in Canada dropped early in the pandemic, from a daily average of 301 in the fourth quarter (January through March) of 2019-20 to 126 in the first quarter (April through June) of 2020-21.

FEW NO-SHOWS AS DETENTIONS DROPPED

Detaining fewer people did not result in a significant increase in no-shows at immigration hearings – the most common reason for detention, according to Immigration and Refugee Board data.

The average number of no-shows as a percentage of admissibility hearings was about 5.5% in 2021, according to that data, compared to about 5.9% in 2019.

No-shows rose as high as 16% in October 2020, but a spokesperson for the Immigration and Refugee Board said this was due to people not receiving notifications when their hearings resumed after a pause in the pandemic.

Refugee lawyer Andrew Brouwer said the decline in detention earlier in the pandemic shows Canada does not need to lock up as many non-citizens.

“We didn’t see a bunch of no-shows. We didn’t see the sky fall … It for sure shows that the system can operate without throwing people in jail,” Brouwer said.

He added that detainees face harsh pandemic conditions in provincial jails – including extended lockdowns, sometimes with three people in a cell for 23 hours a day.

Refugee lawyer Swathi Sekhar said CBSA officials and the Immigration and Refugee Board members reviewing detentions took the risk of COVID-19 into account when deciding whether someone should be detained earlier in the pandemic but are doing so less now.

“Their position is that COVID is not a factor that should weigh in favor of release,” she said.

“We also see very, very perverse findings … [decision-makers] outright saying that individuals are going to be safer in jail.”

The Immigration and Refugee Board did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

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Nasdaq futures rise as market attempts comeback from April sell-off, Meta shares soar

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Stock futures rose in overnight trading as the market shook off the April sell-off and investors reacted positively to earnings from Meta Platforms.

Futures on the Dow Jones Industrial Average added 70 points or 0.2%. S&P 500 futures gained 0.7% and Nasdaq 100 futures jumped 1.2%.

The moves came as shares of Meta surged more than 18% after hours following a beat on earnings but a miss on revenue, a sign that investors may see signs of relief in the beaten-up tech sector. Shares were down 48% on the year heading into the results.

Meanwhile, shares of Qualcomm gained 5.6% in extended trading on the back of strong earnings while PayPal rose 5% despite issuing weak guidance for the second quarter.

“I think a lot of people want to believe that earnings are going to pull us out of this, but earnings are not what got us into this,” SoFi’s Liz Young told CNBC’s “Closing Bell: Overtime” on Wednesday. “… But the reality is there are so many macro headwinds still in front of us in the next 60 days that the market is just hard to impress.”

The after-hour activity followed a volatile regular trading session that saw the Nasdaq Composite stoop to its lowest level in 2022, as stocks looked to bounce back from a tech-led April sell-off. The index is down more than 12% since the start of April.

In Wednesday’s regular trading, the tech-heavy Nasdaq ended at 12,488.93, after rising to 1.7% at session highs. The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 61.75 points, or 0.2%, to 33,301.93 propped up by gains from Visa and Microsoft, while the S&P 500 added 0.2% to 4,183.96.

Investors await big tech earnings on Thursday from Apple, Amazon and Twitter, along with results from Robinhood. Jobless claims are also due out Thursday.

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