A Bitcoin payments processor for the gaming industry has raised $35 million in funding.

US-based ZEBEDEE, led by Simon Cowell – not the music mogul – has won backing from Kingsway Capital, global merchant bank The Raine Group and videogame giant Square Enix in the Series B round. 

Existing investors including Lakestar and Initial Capital also participated in the round.

ZEBEDEE says it has created a platform that allows any game developer to easily add programmable money into their games. Anything that happens in a game can trigger a payment, which is sent instantly and at nearly zero cost. 

When a player shoots someone in a competitive CS:GO match (pictured), they can take a small amount of money (e.g. a fraction of a cent) from them in real-time inside the match itself. When a character in a platform game jumps and picks up a coin – as in Super Mario – that coin can be worth real money, which the player receives instantly and can also spend instantly. 

ZEBEDEE offers both API-based tools for developers as well as an app for gamers, which enables them to discover the growing range of ZEBEDEE-powered games and acts as the wallet for sending and receiving funds between games and players.

To make this work from a technical standpoint, ZEBEDEE uses the Bitcoin Lightning Network as a key piece of its payments infrastructure. 

The company’s user count has increased by over 10x since the startup announced its Series A round in September 2021. It has a growing number of partnerships both with game studios and notable finance industry players.

“We are pleased to be in a position where we can confidently scale our team and grow our business even as the macroeconomic backdrop becomes increasingly uncertain,” said CEO Cowell. 

“This funding round gives us the ability to meet our highly ambitious roadmap both in terms of building out our infrastructure to support the hundreds of millions of users that play our partners’ games, as well as hire the top-level talent needed to ensure every partner has the best possible experience working with ZEBEDEE.”

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Binance and FTX break into Top 10 exchanges

Binance and FTX have broken into a quarterly ranking of the top 10 cryptocurrency exchanges.

Coinbase, Binance and Kraken took the top three spots for the second quarter in the ranking compiled by Paris-based data provider Kaiko.

FTX.US, Gemini, Itbit, Bitstamp, CEX.IO, FTX and Huobi complete the top 10.

The exchanges are ranked according to six criteria: governance, business, technology, data quality, security and liquidity. Governance receives the highest weighting (30%).

FTX, Binance and Huobi saw the biggest ranking improvements, boosted by an increased governance score.

Cryptocurrency shorts

XLD Finance, a startup which offers cross-border decentralised finance tools for emerging markets, raised $13 million in a pre-Series A funding round led by Dragonfly Capital and Infinity Ventures Crypto. 

Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighter Luana Pinheiro has partnered with Bitwage to receive her salary in Bitcoin. The Brazilian, who receives fiat payments from her sponsors but converts them to BTC immediately through Bitwage, has won eight consecutive fights. 

Japan’s self-regulation crypto industry ‘experiment’ is falling flat. The Japan Virtual Currency Exchange Association (JVCEA) counts Coincheck, BitFlyer and Rakuten Wallet Co, along with the Japanese subsidiaries of FTX and Coinbase, among its members. Created following the $530 million hack on the Coincheck exchange in 2018, JVCEA is recognized by Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) and has the power to pass and enforce regulatory frameworks for local crypto exchanges. However the FSA is unhappy that it is slow to bring in new regulation.

The Twitter and Discord accounts of NFT influencer Zeneca have been hacked and used to send out a fake airdrop of her ‘Zen Academy Founders Pass’, amid fears that unsuspecting users may have had their crypto stolen.

The United States Department of Justice has seized and returned $500,000 in fiat and crypto from a hacking group tied to the North Korean government. and Coinbase have been approved by Italia’s Organismo Agenti e Mediatori (OAM) to offer crypto trading, custody services and other products in Italy.

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Crypto prices

The overall market cap of the more than 20,200 coins is at $1.12 trillion at the time of writing (7am UK), a 4.7% increase in the last 24 hours.

Market leader Bitcoin – the original cryptocurrency created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto – gained 6% to $23,500. BTC is 20% up in a week.

Ethereum, the second most valuable crypto coin – created as a decentralised network for smart contracts on the blockchain – added 2% to $1,570. ETH is 48% up over the course of a week.

Binance Coin is a cryptocurrency created by popular crypto exchange Binance to assist its aim in becoming the infrastructure services provider for the entire blockchain ecosystem. Its BNB token added 4% to $270, leaving it 20% up over seven days.

The XRP token of Ripple, a payment settlement asset exchange and remittance system, acts as a bridge for transfers between other currencies. XRP rose 5% to 37.8 cents, but its price is 20% up on seven days ago.

Cardano is an open source network facilitating dApps which considers itself to be an updated version of Ethereum. Its ADA token, designed to allow owners to participate in the operation of the network, gained 10% to 53c and is 26% up in a week.

Solana is a blockchain built to make decentralised finance accessible on a larger scale – and capable of processing 50,000 transactions per second. Its SOL token jumped 4% to $45.54 and is 37% higher than its price a week ago.

Meme coin DOGE was created as a satire on the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies but is now a major player in the space. DOGE climbed 7% to approach 7.1c and is 18% up over seven days.

Polkadot was founded by the Swiss-based Web3 Foundation as an open-source project to develop a decentralised web. Its DOT token, which aims to securely connect blockchains, grew 4% to $7.98 and is 25% up on its price a week ago.

Avalanche is a lightning-quick verifiable platform for institutions, enterprises and governments. Its AVAX token rose 9% to $25.78 and is 51% up in a week.

To see how the valuations of the main coins have changed in recent times – and for round-ups of recent cryptocurrency news developments – click here.

For valuations of the top 100 coins by market cap in US dollars, plus 24-hour price change, see below.