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Trezor Blocked from Shipping to the Philippines
Yesterday Manny Pacquiao promoted a crypto I’d never heard of, 100xCoin, on his Twitter account, saying he was pleased to be in an alliance with a “deflationary altcoin.” 100xCoin is so new that it doesn’t currently have a rank on Coingecko, but it appears to be built on BSC and is a project of the founders of CremePieSwap. (I’m not even going to dignify that name with a joke here.) With a daily trade volume of just $150,000 globally, I am not optimistic about Manny’s latest shill.
Pacquiao doesn’t have a great win record when it comes to crypto projects. In 2019, he launched PacToken/PacPay, in an initial exchange offering that was so insubstantial that it didn’t even make it to Coingecko. He also recently took a stab (a jab?) at NFTs, tweeting that he was launching an exclusive collection on the Ethernity marketplace “soon.” Other than that one tweet from June 11th however, I could not find any evidence that a collection was actually forthcoming.
Celebrities like Pacquiao are always looking for ways to monetize their reach. With 2.6M followers on Twitter, Manny probably gets a ton of endorsement opportunities every week … and I don’t know, maybe he needs the money? My problem with celebrities shilling crypto investment opportunities is that they often don’t check whether these are actually sound projects. When one of the greatest boxers in the history of the sport promotes a token with fewer holders than your average Axie streamer has followers, I’m left wondering whether Pacquiao’s managers did any research at all before accepting that check. To be fair: Mayweather endorsed EthereumMax, so I guess nobody does any research anymore. (And in case you’re wondering if it was worth it: $EMAX has lost over 90% of its value since Floyd endorsed it in May 2021.)
One of my heroes in the early cryptocurrency space, Ricardo “FluffyPony” Spagni, has apparently been in jail for the last two weeks in Texas. Spagni is the former lead developer of Monero, my favorite privacycoin project. **Unrelated anecdote about my connection with Fluffypony: A few years ago I was commissioned by someone in the community to create a short comic about him, his partner Saskia, and their two loyal dogs. (I guess I’m just the artist that people go to for crypto doggos.) That comic book now exists as a single hardcover edition in the Spagni family home, and has no other existing copies. Anyway, they were always nice to me, and their dogs are wonderful.** Ricardo was detained on charges of fraud and will be extradited from the US to his home city in South Africa. Interestingly, the charges are related with a company called Cape Cookies, and pre-dates any of the work he’s done in the cryptocurrency world.
Yesterday, Trezor — makers of one of the leading cryptocurrency hardware devices — published this announcement on their Facebook page.
What are these “administrative difficulties”? Well, it looks like the Optical Media Board (OMB) is now requiring permits for crypto-related hardware devices being shipped into the Philippines, as you can see in the screenshot below. (Thanks for the tip, Rico M!)
If you don’t know who the OMB is, they’re the people behind all those televised raids on pirated-DVD vendors. In 2003, they had to change their name from “Videogram Regulatory Board” to “Optical Media Board” in order to better describe their area of focus, and it looks like they may soon have to re-brand again. My suggestion: “Digital Utilities & Media Board” (DUMB)
I’ve been meaning to buy a new crypto hardware device for awhile now, so to test a theory, I bought a Trezor this morning while writing this newsletter. I wanted to see if it was possible to use a forwarding service to circumvent the OMB/customs checks on the Philippine side. If you’ve never used a forwarding service, it’s basically like having a personal mailbox in another country. You receive shipments there, package them all up, and then forward them to your Philippine address. These types of services are exceptionally handy for eliminating customs duties, which is usually 30%++ for all packages costing more than 10,000 pesos. How do they eliminate customs duties? Because the sale didn’t happen in the Philippines. You bought it in the country where the package was originally received, and thus paid the sales tax there. It’s the productized equivalent of buying a laptop when you’re in the US and then carrying it home with you in your luggage … but way less COVID-prone. I’ve used JohnnyAir for this in the past, but for today’s experiment, I sent my Trezor package to ShippingCart. I chose them because they have presence in the United Kingdom, and Trezor is in Prague, and as you can see from the screenshot, it’s a very short wait.
If you’re wondering how reliable these forwarding services are: over the years I’ve bought everything from cameras to laptops to technical clothing this way, and they’ve never failed to deliver, literally. So I’ll be updating all of you on the status of my Trezor shipment when it hits my ShippingCart mailbox in the UK, and then we’ll all see what happens when we try to forward it to my address in La Union. *BTW, I’m aware of the potential security concerns of entrusting my hardware device to a third-party prior to shipping it to me, but I’m confident that I would be able to detect any tampering if/when I actually receive it. **I’m also aware of the fact that this is a particularly expensive way to buy a Trezor, since there will be another $30-40 charged by ShippingCart, but if we have no other options, then that’s the new price we have to pay I guess.
This evening, I’ll be speaking about NFTs in a private session with the US Department of Justice. The event is part of their regular efforts to learn about private-sector innovations, and through some extremely convoluted social connections, I ended up as the main resource person for NFTart. They’re particularly interested in the role of NFTart as a new medium for money-laundering :( There’s no link to share and no social media to re-post, but I just thought I’d mention it here in case you all never hear from me again.
See you all on Friday (hopefully) cryptofam!