Future of Crypto | Edition #10 – April 2022
We’re back with our weekly cuppa filled with some hot-off-the-press headlines in the latest edition of the Future of Crypto Newsletter! If you're new and curious, read on to satisfy your taste buds and join other crypto nerds in receiving some fresh Weekly Crypto Cuppa, delivered right to your inbox every Saturday!
Subscribe to receive your Weekly Cuppa!
Edition #10 brings intriguing headlines from around the Cryptosphere to keep your cup of curiosity filled. A flurry of innovative launches and funding rounds remained at the forefront for the week. The Crypto-coins, NFT, and Metaverse verticals were bustling with activity, noticeably the most active segments of this edition.
Here’s the TL;DR:
Robinhood’s crypto wallet opens up for 2 million waitlisted users.
Forbes launches Virtual Billionaires NFT collection on FTX.
Uniswap launches a venture arm to invest in companies across various stages and areas within web 3.
Epic announces $2B in funding for its metaverse efforts.
Pantera Capitals raises $1.3B for a blockchain fund.
For the longer read, let’s get going –
The CBDC segment was bustling with regulatory undertakings from several countries around the globe.
In Asia, the Reserve Bank of India is now in a position to launch a pilot test of CBDC in the country. South Korea’s NongHyup Bank started work on a blockchain system to deal with the introduction of a CBDC. Chinese e-pay platform WeChat Pay unveiled a digital yuan interoperability solution that will allow users of the service to make payments in the central bank-issued token.
In the Middle East, the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) notified domestic banks and credit institutions about a series of regulations related to Iran’s forthcoming CBDC crypto-rial.
In North America, the US Securities processor was in the news for building a prototype called Project Lithium that will experiment to measure the potential benefits of a US CBDC and guide the design of future clearing and settlement offerings.
In South America, the president of the Central Bank of Brazil confirmed that the country’s sovereign digital currency pilot will go live in 2022. In Africa, South Africa took another step closer to implementing its CBDC as the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) concluded a technical proof-of-concept for the project. Similarly, the governor of the Bank of Namibia (BON) announced that they’re planning to launch a CBDC.
In other news, the world’s largest securities settlement organization DTCC announced plans to test a tokenized CBDC prototype for settling stocks using blockchain.
The Crypto-coins vertical has been a witness to several market expansions, with companies worldwide embracing various cryptocurrencies within their current portfolios.
Future's Finance launched its proprietary crypto wallet, the FuFi Edge, for all Future Fi holders that will enable them to store FuFi coin-built assets in one integrated safe house. Fundraising platform Pledge launched PledgeCrypto allowing nonprofits to accept crypto donations in over 130 cryptocurrencies and instantly convert them to fiat. While Robinhood’s cryptocurrency wallet was in the news for being made available to all eligible customers’ on its waitlist, Fidelity Investments hit the headlines for its plans to launch crypto exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to enable investors to gain exposure to the broader world of digital assets.
On the partnerships front, Strike, a crypto payments firm, announced partnerships with Shopify and Blackhawk to help merchants across America and the world accept Bitcoin payments using the Bitcoin Lightning Network. The partnership with Shopify in particular will provide merchants who opt-in with the ability to receive payments from customers globally via the Bitcoin Lightning Network. As for another notable collaboration, Colombia-based delivery unicorn Rappi partnered with BitPay and Bitso for a crypto payments pilot program to convert crypto into credits for purchases within its platform. Similarly, UFC partnered with Crypto.com to pay fighters crypto bonuses based on fan vote fans will vote.
As for the regulatory picture, world’s largest crypto exchange Binance got in-principle approval from Abu Dhabi Global Market to operate as a broker-dealer in virtual assets. Cryptocurrency exchange CoinSwitch Kuber disabled all modes of payments for purchasing crypto purchases on its platform, including bank transfers.
Additionally, checkout startup Bolt acquired crypto startup Wyre in a $1.5B deal as it races to push into web3.
The Stablecoin segment continues to gain a lot of traction lately.
The Open Network (TON) partnered with the governments of Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and the Republic of Congo (Congo-Brazzaville) to help launch stablecoins. Institutional investment giants BlackRock and Fidelity led a $400M funding round for USD Coin issuer Circle Internet Financial Ltd to promote strategic growth as demand for dollar-pegged digital currencies and related financial services continue to scale globally.
A number of launches surrounding the NFT space created quite the buzz that turned heads last week, with significant players making their entrance into the emerging sphere.
An array of launches made its way this week:
Forbes launched a preview of its Virtual Billionaires NFT collection that includes a set of fictional investors with an enormous theoretical portfolio and virtual net worth, a first-of-its-kind NFT project for the media industry.
Global Gamefi company Digital Entertainment Asset (DEA) launched NFT marketplace PlayMining NFT Premier on the BNB chain.
Luniverse operator Lambda256 launched Luniverse Multichain NFT Bridge that provides NFT features including the NFT bridge service connecting Luniverse and Ethereum, IPFS, APIs dedicated to NFT, and a carbon-neutral blockchain environment.
Quik.com launched a marketplace that enables users to purchase and sell blockchain-based domain names, including an advanced search system where users can browse specific listings.
DAO Maker ventured into the NFTs’ realm via its upcoming debut in April 2022 with a collection of 5,000 images of the late soccer star Diego Maradona.
KOTKET announced the launch of its first beta version of Move2Earn decentralized NFT gaming platform built on the Ethereum network.
On the funding front, blockchain-based white-label loyalty rewards program GlowLabs raised $4.15M in a seed funding round led by Harlem Capital to help creators and brands reward their most loyal customers. NFT platform Genies also grabbed the headlines after raising $150M at a $1B valuation in a Series C funding round led by private equity firm Silver Lake to further its web 3 ambitions.
As for the various partnerships, Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketer’s Association officially partnered with NFT platforms Rario and BlockTrust to launch digital collectibles. Similarly, the Bored Apes Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection was also in the news for its plans with Coinbase to launch a three-part movie series titled The Dengen Trilogy, asking BAYC holders to submit their apes to be the stars of the film.
The DeFi segment was astir with an assorted mix of project launches, funding rounds, and investment fund launches.
On the project launches front, the DeFi world witnessed the launch of auto-staking & auto-compounding protocol by Very Finance. The VIF Auto-Staking Protocol (VAP) is a new financial protocol that makes staking easier, more efficient and awards VERY token holders the highest stable returns in crypto. LunarCrush launched a DeFi protocol called LunrFi to allow its users to begin staking the native Lunr token for yields of up to 25% monthly. LunrFi will allow users to stake their Lunar for a minimum of one month and a maximum of 12 months, with the earned percentage increasing at a three-month interval. And finally the big one – FIS partnered with Fireblocks to provide enterprise-grade digital asset investing and wallet technology, lending, and decentralized finance (DeFi) to FIS capital market clients. This will allow Capital markets buy-side, sell-side and corporate firms to efficiently gain access to the largest crypto trading venues, liquidity providers, lending desks, and DeFi applications.
On the fundings front, SoftBank led a $70M equity round for DeFi infrastructure firm bloXroute, with plans to expand its team to 100 people and grow its business. Peer-to-peer lending protocol RociFi Labs completed a $2.7M seed funding round to expand its team and enable on-chain credit scoring for DeFi. Crypto portfolio manager CoinStats also raised $3.2M from leading investors, and the funding will be instrumental in financing the development and promotion of CoinStats’ new features that aim to expand DeFi to millions of users.
As for the investment fund launches, DeFi giant Uniswap launched the Uniswap Labs Ventures venture capital arm to invest in companies across various stages and areas within web 3. Skynet EGLD Capital, the investment arm of Skynet Trading, was in the news for its plan to commit $40M to back projects in the Elrond ecosystem. Elrond, a layer 1 blockchain-focused on scalability, has moved deeper into the world of DeFi in recent months through strategic acquisitions.
Additionally, DeFi Yield Protocol (DYP) announced the imminent launch of its Cats and Watches Society (CAWS) NFT collection, consisting of randomly-generated Cat NFTs from more than 235 different attributes.
An eventful variety of activities were the key highlights of the expanding metaverse industry.
While Epic’s plans to build a metaverse got a huge $2B injection from Sony and KIRKBI, White Star Capital raised a $120M crypto fund, of which it intends to spend somewhere between $1M and $7M in token and equity investments into 20-25 companies. Gaming technology company Improbable also raised $150M to build a metaverse network and ecosystem that lets organizations create their own virtual worlds and web 3 businesses.
In other news, Meta made the news for its plans to begin testing tools for selling digital assets and experiences within its virtual reality platform Horizon Worlds, a key part of its plan for creating a metaverse. Germany’s Adidas Originals introduced its first personality-based AI-generated avatar creation platform in partnership with Ready Player Me, allowing each unique avatar to traverse the metaverse across over 1,500 apps and games freely. Oriental Culture, a leading online service provider of collectibles and artwork, also announced its entry into the metaverse sector. Furthermore, McLaren Automotive selected InfiniteWorld as its first official metaverse partner to offer customers a deeper, more engaging digital experience, including creating and minting original NFTs and digital artwork. Metaverse entertainment and production company Infinite Reality grabbed headlines for reaching an agreement to acquire esports conglomerate ReKTGlobal for $470M. Social metaverse company Flam, too, enabled a walk-in recruitment experience in the metaverse through its One Above platform as part of its growth strategy.
The DLT vertical witnessed diversified activities that made the headlines for the week.
When it comes to the various funding rounds, blockchain startup Zenith Chain signed an investment funding deal worth $35 million with GEM Digital Limited. Bitcoin miner Applied Blockchain was in the news for preparing for a $60M IPO on the Nasdaq market, with plans to offer 3.2 million shares at an estimated mean price of $18.54. Pantera Capital, a venture capital firm focused on the crypto space, announced that it had raised $1.3B for its Blockchain Fund, which will invest in web 3 startups, early-stage tokens, and digital tokens with established liquidity levels. Blockchain fashion house The Fabricant also raised $14M in Series A funding to cloth metaverse avatars.
What’s more – Reltime launched its revolutionary blockchain and ecosystem globally, a unique global platform that offers borderless joint accounts to its users worldwide. MYEG’s Zetrix blockchain completed its foundational development for its Layer-1 blockchain functionalities as it sets to launch its mainnet. The upcoming decentralized streaming platform for creators, InstaFanz, also made the news for having its currency, InstaFanz Tokens “IFANZ”, scheduled to fair launch on Pinksale. Additionally, Animoca Brands acquired 100% of Eden Games from Engine Gaming and Media, saying that the latter would now work on new blockchain-based racing games and contribute to Animoca’s existing titles built around its REVV token. At the same time, Equideum Health partnered with Nokia Bell Labs to research cognitive augmentation using blockchain combined with AI and edge devices such as earpieces, smartwatches, and home devices.
And that's a wrap 👋
We hope you enjoyed this edition of the Weekly FinTech Brew, and we'll be back with more next week!
If you're hungry for more FinTech insights, check out some of our other work at WhiteSight.
Our latest publications include acknowledging the many Female-focused Crypto Initiatives, and Setting The Record Straight on Digital-first Banking Taxonomy.
If you're someone who likes to read think pieces, you will likely love our monthly blog Fintersections, where our team members analyze the convergence of FinTech with the world.
FinTech research is in the WhiteSight DNA, so if you'd like to get in touch for our strategic intelligence and research content services, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
And lastly, to stay updated on everything FinTech, follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter, and don't be shy to show some ❤️