Future of Crypto | Edition #4 – March 2022
We’re back with a new edition of the Future of Crypto Newsletter! If you're new and curious, read on to find out what happened in the Cryptosphere across six dynamic verticals, and join other crypto nerds in receiving some fresh Weekly Crypto Cuppa delivered right to your inbox every Saturday! ☕️
With Edition #4’s eventful stir, a diverse range of trailblazing product launches were observed to be disrupting the digital landscape. The avant-garde NFT segment came to light as the most active segment of this edition.
Here's the TL;DR
FC Barcelona announced plans to develop its first NFT and cryptocurrency.
Hike launched Rush Avatar NFTs for its play-to-earn gaming platform Rush Gaming Universe.
Gucci partnered with The Sandbox to purchase an undisclosed amount of virtual land.
JPMorgan made a strategic investment in Blockchain analysis firm TRM Labs.
Paypal’s updated policy to no longer provides seller protection on NFT sales above $10K.
For the longer read, let's get going –
The CBDC segment has been in the limelight for quite some time now, pertaining to more and more countries entering the world of modernization with their respective CBDC rollouts.
In Africa, the Bank of Uganda made the news bulletin for drawing lessons from case studies developed by peer central banks in Jamaica, Nigeria, Ghana, and Kenya, amongst others, on the implementation of CBDC. The National Bank of Rwanda announced that the research pertaining to economic, financial, and technological aspects related to CBDC will be concluded by the end of December, and the country will have a clear policy on whether it will issue the digital currency or not.
In North America, members of the Mexican Bank Association (ABM) have stated their intention of helping the central bank of the country in the design and issuance of a potential CBDC. Charting the coastal waves in Oceania, New Zealand has started working on a proof-of-concept design work for a CBDC in a bid to modernize the central bank money, taking into account the public’s feedback received during a recent consultation.
On the partnerships front, Blockchain company R3 joined forces with Hong Kong’s tech hub, Cyberport, enabling R3 to offer Corda – its distributed ledger platform – and Conclave – its confidential computing platforms – to Hong Kong’s fintech startups, and help them develop technologies related to CBDCs. Similarly, credit union service organization Bonifii (formerly CULedger) joined R3 Sandbox for Digital Currencies to evaluate and develop CBDC use cases for its members through Bonifii’s digital network and peer connections.
As cryptocoins continue to enter the mainstream, varied players from sectors far and wide are trying to evaluate the integration of these digitized tokens into their existing frameworks.
Popular e-commerce platform eBay is one such company that announced the possibility of adding cryptocurrencies as a possible means of payments, in a bid to attract the generation of consumers of today and tomorrow. Similarly, Facepay added cryptocurrency payment processing to its subscription platform through the release of Facepay Crypto – an addition that will free business owners from credit card transaction fees and help them leverage the security of blockchain technologies. Prominent soccer club FC Barcelona also made the news for its plans to create its own cryptocurrency as well as its own metaverse. Even Colorado became the first state in the US to accept cryptocurrencies for state tax and fee payments.
On the other hand, Alternet Systems (ALYI), together with Revolt Token Corporation (RVLT), announced that it will accept RVLT in exchange for the purchase of ALYI electric motorcycle taxis in a managed commercial purchase program. US-based AMC Theaters was also among those who announced that they will start accepting payments in the form of Dogecoin and Shiba Inu cryptocurrencies using BitPay. While integrated payment and technology solutions provider Shift4 grabbed the headlines for its plans to acquire cross-border e-commerce payments provider Finaro to deliver unified commerce experiences across the world, super app CryptWire entered into an agreement with Bitbns exchange for trading India’s first global cryptocurrency index, IC15. Additionally, crypto investment platform Zignaly secured up to $50M in financing deal to propel significant new product development and global adoption of the platform.
In light of the recent events in Ukraine, many platforms took to showing their support and assisting those affected by the aftermath through crypto donations. Cryptocurrency exchange Binance was in the spotlight for its $10M donation to Ukrainians impacted by the invasion. Ukraine is also set to conduct an airdrop for donations after having received $33M in crypto donations.
However, the Russia-Ukraine conflict last week served to bring even more volatility to the crypto market. After a 25% rally for the week, Bitcoin found itself trading at US$42,200, down 4% over the past 24 hours. Ethereum was found to be down by 3.03% at US$2,911.02. After global sanctions hit Russia and the local currency tumbled, there had been a sudden spike in stablecoin transactions resulting in a 0.02% increase in Tether, and a 70% rally by Terra in the past 7 days to US$92.
The stablecoin ecosystem is witnessing the introduction of several emerging protocols that are revolutionizing the way payments are viewed. One such initiative is Blindex, the world’s first multi-currency fractional-algorithmic stablecoin protocol, which has recently launched on the RSK Infrastructure Network, advancing its aim to stabilize the world’s fiat currencies. Another protocol that has been garnering attention as of late is Circle’s USDC stablecoin, which hit $50B in total circulation, moving closer to frontrunner Tether.
Many brands are exploiting present-day technologies to further their growth and take advantage of opportunities that will drive their sustainability. Social media company Hike launched Rush Avatars, which will be non-fungible tokens (NFTs) built on Polygon blockchain that will be used as a digital identity by users on Hike’s web3 play-to-earn (P2E) gaming platform. Leading IoT company WISeKey’s WISe.ART NFT marketplace also added a new collection of NFTs of artworks by Spanish artist Pedro Sandoval. Even Nelson Mandela’s My Robben Island paintings of life in prison are set to be sold as NFTs. FC Barcelona was once again hitting the headlines for its plans to generate interesting emotional experiences through the launch of its first NFT soon; supplemental to the creation of its own cryptocurrency and metaverse. Furthermore, Authentic Brands (AUTH) was in the news for its plans to expand its clothing offerings and add NFT and cryptocurrency payments in an effort to bolster sneaker company Reebok following its $2.5B purchase last year.
In other news, PayPal’s updated policy states that it won’t protect NFT sales of more than $10K starting March 21. Conversely, Saudi Arabia’s first Digital Art Forum – hosted by Sotheby’s and the Kingdom’s Visual Arts Commission – featured 10 NFTs, including the highly popular Bored Ape Yacht Club collection. Hong Kong-based crypto billionaire and NFT artist Allan Banford joined forces with Hong Kong’s leading magazine #legend to launch six unique cover arts as NFTs on the OpenSea NFT platform. What’s more – Learfield dived into NFTs by teaming up with NFT developer Recur so as to create a marketplace for college-licensed digital collectibles; and indie feature film ‘Calladita’ seized the opportunity to break into the film industry using cryptocurrency and NFTs to fund the project.
An assorted mix of funding rounds and game-changing launches were the key highlight for the DeFi sphere.
Crypto derivatives platform Thetanuts Finance, in hopes to redefine the crypto options market by offering users the ability to earn a high base yield on their digital assets, closed an $18M seed round led by Three Arrows Capital. Correspondingly, both AdaSwap and Nested made the news for their respective funding rounds of $2.6M and $7.5M to further their ambitions of ramping up blockchain-based projects.
As for the diverse launches introduced to the space last week, Pandora Digital made headlines for the launch of its DeFi platform with a unique, all-encompassing incentive structure that will overcome the limitations of conventional DEXs. DeFi Technologies, a technology company bridging the gap between traditional capital markets and decentralized finance, began the trading of the Valour Terra (LUNA) SEK and Valour Avalanche (AVAX) SEK on the Nordic Growth Market. Moreover, DeFi platform Altrucoin created a DeFi service platform to provide custom staking, presales, token referral, and governance systems for other tokens on the Binance Smart Chain (BSC). Not only that, but Cardano’s first ZK rollup layer 2 solution to support DeFi innovation; and Oceidon expanding NFT utility into DeFi through the integration of the OBLOX utility token with its Gen 1 Oceidon Blox Meta NFT collection, also made for the notable activities for the DeFi sector for the week.
With the notion of metaverse is fast-becoming a favorable concept for the business ecosystem, numerous names from industries and sectors all over the map are developing their own projects to make their mark into this emerging segment.
While Tech Mahindra launched the TechMVerse to allow customers to build immersive experiences and transact in the metaverse, HTC is set to integrate certain metaverse functions in their new high-end smartphone. UAE property developer DAMAC is also foraying into the immersive universe by planning to launch a project in the metaverse soon, one that will integrate the real estate developer’s different platforms which range from real estate to fashion and jewelry. Additionally, vEmpire DDAO launched a blockchain-based play-to-earn trading card game ‘The Beginning’ to enable vEmpire investors to earn even more lucrative returns from the DDAO. We’re already familiar with China betting big on the metaverse, but now South Korea has also joined in this hype with its own plans to spend $187M in order to become the fifth-largest metaverse market in the world by 2026. The government also wants the metaverse platform to focus on industrial convergence and lifestyle, using it for growing Korea’s education industry, media, and its cities.
Several industry players made it to the list for their market expansions and growth of existing products and services. Infosys launched its metaverse foundry to give clients the on-demand ability to securely and efficiently explore the metaverse and its functionalities. The Sandbox and Square Enix collaborated to bring the Dungeon Siege gaming franchise on the mobile metaverse to allow players to take part in interactive RPG experiences. Danish architecture studio BIG’s recently opened Viceverse metaverse office on Decentraland; and OVRLands’ milestone of minting over 778K NFTs on Polygon were also key highlights for the segment.
As for partnerships, Ferrari’s signed a deal with tech firm Velas to create digital content for its fans; OverActive Media’s multi-year partnership with Zilliqa to enter the metaverse; and luxury fashion house Gucci’s teaming up with The Sandbox to purchase an undisclosed amount of virtual land remained at the forefront of the metaverse world last week.
A plethora of activities across various sectors made for the majority of the headlines for the DLT vertical.
When it comes to innovative launches, Vodafone was in the news for the launch of its new Digital Asset Broker blockchain-backed platform that authorizes connected devices to perform secure automated transactions on a customer’s behalf. Blockchain application services provider Digital Asset also announced the general availability of Daml 2.0, the newest version of the company’s privacy-focused DLT platform to help financial institutions and businesses adopt blockchain technology. At the same time, blockchain technology-focused company BTCS added decentralized solution Polkadot (DOT) to its blockchain infrastructure operations.
On the fundings front, while Subspace Labs raised $32.9M to develop an entirely new blockchain that aims to balance scalability, security, and sustainability, blockchain infra startup Tenderly raised $40M in a Series B round to continue building out its product offerings. Seattle startup Nori also raised a $7M Series A investment to help the platform expand the sources of carbon capture within its marketplace as well as move its operation from Ethereum to the Polygon sidechain to reduce the company’s indirect environmental impact. Furthermore, decentralized ARPG game Mecha Morphing completed its private round of financing to continue bringing players a visual feast. Even JPMorgan stole headlines for making a strategic investment in blockchain analysis firm TRM Labs; and on a similar note, Airtel acquired a strategic stake in blockchain technology startup Aqiliz.
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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