Future of Crypto | Edition #20 – June 2022
As we get ready to wind down for another weekend, we ensure to bring you some snackable crypto headlines with your warm cuppa via the latest edition of the Future of Crypto newsletter. If you're new and curious, read on to refill your curious cups and join other crypto nerds in receiving some fresh Weekly Crypto Cuppa, delivered right to your inbox every Friday! ☕️
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When it comes to the present situation in the crypto space, we believe this meme sums it up just right. Two sides of the same coin, they say:
Getting back to the usual:
The weather surrounding the Cryptosphere seems to have gotten more chilly in the 20th Edition of the Future of Crypto newsletter. Despite such odds, the NFT segment swept the board by being the most active segment of the week.
Here’s the TL;DR:
SEC, State regulators probe crypto lender Celsius over accounts freeze.
Crypto exchange Kucoin adds fiat trading pairs.
NFT startup Magic Eden's valuation surges tenfold to $1.6 Billion.
Tech giants create Metaverse Standards Forum for software and terminology standards.
Web 3 payment provider PIP launches no-coding button to simplify blockchain payments.
That’s not all – the week’s Top 10 Crypto News Stories are also here to spice up your crypto cuppa:
For the longer read, let’s get going –
More and more countries have set the ball rolling to get into the CBDC sector, as they see it as an alternative to the much more volatile crypto.
In the Middle East, the Qatar Central Bank (QCB) announced that it is in the foundation stage of issuing a CBDC and is working on finding the right technology and platform. Israel accounted for not one but two headlines – the Bank of Israel shared details about its first set of technical trials for a CBDC, one of which used smart contracts, raising the issue of who should be allowed to write smart contracts and how to police them. Similarly, the Bank of Israel hit the headlines for cooperating with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Bank of International Settlements' (BIS) Innovation Lab in a joint venture called Project Sela to experiment with the viability of a two-tiered retail architecture for CBDC. In Asia, Japanese blockchain firm Soramitsu landed feasibility studies for CBDC with both Vietnam and the Philippines. The blockchain firm later confirmed that it would also work with Fiji and the projects are in conjunction with the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI).
In other news, the Mojaloop Foundation announced the launch of its Mojaloop CBDC Center of Excellence (COE) in Singapore to advance financial inclusion in emerging markets. BIS IH London was also in the news for its project Rosalind, which aims to develop APIs for retail CBDC distribution that best enable a central bank ledger to interact with private sector service providers.
Regulations seem to keep pouring in for the Crypto-coins segment as it faces more scrutiny over its volatility.
Cryptocurrency hedge fund Three Arrows Capital Ltd grabbed the headlines for its plans to explore options, including the sale of assets and a bailout by another firm.
South Korea put several employees of Terraform Labs on a no-fly list, effectively debarring them from leaving the country after the majestic collapse of the TerraUSD’s Luna token.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and several state regulators started investigating the decision by crypto lender Celsius Network to freeze withdrawals.
Austrian cryptocurrency exchange Bitpanda entered the Bank of Spain’s registry as a virtual currency exchange and digital asset custody service provider in the country.
What's more —
KuCoin launched support for fiat trading pairs, marking a significant step in expanding its fiat-to-crypto trading services, picking the Brazilian Real (BRL) as the first supported fiat currency available on the exchange’s spot market. Similarly, FTX entered an agreement to buy Canadian crypto trading platform Bitvo as a part of its strategy to expand its global footprint.
French firm Kaiko, which offers data from over 100 centralized and decentralized exchanges, grabbed the headlines for its plans to provide Deutsche Boerse with crypto market data. Russian crypto mining operator Bitriver also made the bulletin for its plans to use electricity generated from associated gas supplied by Gazprom Neft to mint digital coins. As part of a new agreement, the mining company will, in return, develop the digital infrastructure at the oil producer’s wells in Russia.
Crypto digital assets platform FalconX raised $150M in a Series D funding round, at a valuation of $8B led by investment firms GIC and B Capital.
Things seemed to start getting a little better for the Stablecoins segment, but clouds of uncertainty still loom.
New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) issued new “Guidance on the Issuance of US Dollar-Backed Stablecoins,” establishing state standards for USD-backed stablecoins issued by entities subject to regulation by the NYDFS. On a similar note, the Federal Reserve published the latest Monetary Policy report categorizing the stablecoin industry – particularly the algorithmic stablecoins – as a risk of financial instability and also expressed concern regarding the concentration of fiat-backed stablecoins on Tether’s USDT and Binance’s BUSD.
Additionally, Tether hit the bulletins for its plans to expand its offerings with the introduction of GBPT, a stablecoin pegged to the British pound, which will be launched in July 2022 and will become the company's 5th stablecoin.
The NFT segment was bustling with partnership events and funding rounds last week:
KuCoin’s NFT marketplace, Windvane, made the news for its plans to partner with NFT.NYC to bring global crypto enthusiasts, NFT creators, and artists together to build a better NFT space. Crypto start-up MoonPay partnered with Universal Pictures, Fox Corporation, and Snoop Dogg’s Death Row Records, among other brands, to launch a new NFT platform called HyperMint that enables large brands, agencies, and enterprises to mint hundreds of millions of NFTs a day. Even Animoca Brands KK, UCOLLEX, and MADworld jointly announced the launch of an NFT series dedicated to Japanese Culture, consisting of artists who embody Japanese culture.
On the funding front, Magic Eden saw its valuation surge after investors plowed a fresh $130M into the startup at a $1.6B valuation despite a slowdown in private investment and a cratering cryptocurrency market. While NFT lending platform and liquidity engine Astaria raised $8M in seed funding to build during the bear to expand its current eight-person team, NFT scaling platform Immutable launched a $500M venture fund focused on web 3 games and NFT projects, with plans to also build on the Immutable X protocol through token grants and investments.
As for the other activities –
eBay announced its plans to acquire Manchester-based NFT marketplace KnownOrigin in an undisclosed deal to expand into the creator economy. Similarly, Uniswap Labs acquired NFT marketplace aggregator Genie in an undisclosed deal to support the trading of NFTs by integrating them into Uniswap products.
BitGo announced the launch of their NFT hot wallet and custody solution, providing the guardrails for a new class of investors to hold NFTs safely and securely. Elrond-based real-time play-to-earn shooting game Cantina Royale was also in the news for its upcoming Initial DEX Offering (IDO) and NFT drop, unlocking all P2E functionality.
An assortment of buzz-worthy happening made the scoop for the DeFi space the past week, the majority of which were product launches.
Reflex Finance announced its recent contract updates and upcoming utilities, such as No Sell Swap, which aligns with its goal of helping emerging projects launch successfully into the crypto space, and provide value to already established tokens and Decentralized Finance as a whole. Similarly, DeFi protocol Nova, which is planning a soft launch, pioneered a way to allow cryptocurrency experts to build crypto portfolios for other, less experienced investors to take advantage of by utilizing a unique module called an nAsset. nAssets are modules programmed to execute specific commands or apply specific investing rules to portfolios.
Moreover, DeFi protocol Bancor halted its Impermanent Loss Protection (ILP) function citing hostile market conditions and manipulative behavior as the primary reasons for the sudden halt. Teller Protocol partnered with real estate veteran Tower Fund Capital. The collaboration will allow DeFi liquidity providers to earn interest using USDC stablecoins via Tower Fund Capital.
Numerous head-turning launches made for most of the news in the metaverse segment last week:
3D metaverse gaming portal DigiNation announced the development of a mobile version and to release ecosystem products based on iOS and Android in Q3 as part of its expansion strategy.
Fender partnered with Meta to launch a virtual musical adventure called Stratoverse for Meta’s Horizon Worlds at Cannes Lions. The same can be accessed through Meta’s Quest 2 headsets in select countries.
KPMG also stepped into the metaverse by opening its first collaboration hub between its US and Canadian units that will allow the firm’s employees, clients, and communities to connect, engage and explore growth opportunities across industries and sectors.
Lowe’s expanded into the metaverse by offering customers 500 assets for free to help visualize building projects within its own hub.
Wunderman Thompson partnered with Odyssey to launch WT Inspiration Beach, an immersive metaverse activation to celebrate the start of advertising’s biggest festival in Cannes that allows people from all over the world to experience the agency’s unique take on creativity, content, and connectivity.
On the other hand, The Sandbox and TIMEPieces announced a new partnership to develop TIME Square destination in the metaverse for convening, art, and commerce, inspired by the visual spirit and energy of the iconic urban locale in New York City. Tech giants such as Meta, Microsoft, Nvidia, Unity, Sony, and 30 other companies came together to establish the Metaverse Standards Forum with a mission to drive interoperability and cross-compatibility in the space along with standardized terminology. Open-world metaverse platform Bullieverse raised $4M from investors led by web 3 venture funds to help build an arcade of play-to-earn games.
A flurry of product launches paraded within the DLT segment last week.
Shell, Accenture, and American Express Global Business Travel (Amex GBT) joined forces to launch a blockchain-powered digital sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) book-and-claim solution called Avelia for business travel.
KBC Group launched a token based on a blockchain platform where the customers will be able to acquire the new proprietary coins and use them through their KBC wallet and mobile app.
Blockchain firm MetaJuice announced its plans to launch an NFT marketplace in the avatar-focused social network IMVU metaverse, having over 1 million daily active users.
Web 3 payment provider PIP launched ‘The PIP Button,’ enabling users to pay for creative content that they love much faster and making it more affordable by integrating major blockchain systems, aiming to help the blockchain content creators accelerate their small business through a non-invasive payment solution.
Blockchain research firm Chainalysis launched a new hotline that will support organizations targeted by a crypto-related cyber attack or ransomware demand.
Some other news that made it to the reportage:
Decentralized exchange DYDX hit the news for its plans to develop its own blockchain based on Cosmos, using Tendermint’s proof-of-stake consensus protocol to validate transactions. Ukraine was granted observer status in the European Blockchain Partnership (EBP). Officials in Kyiv hope the move will facilitate the implementation of blockchain technologies by the Ukrainian government and lead to the adoption of more efficient crypto regulations.
Additionally, blockchain startup CredShields raised $500K from BoostVC as part of its 2022 acceleration cohort. With the capital raised, the startup will use it to expand its team and enhance product growth and user acquisition.
And that's a wrap 👋
We hope you enjoyed this edition of the Weekly Crypto Cuppa, and we'll be back with more next week!
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