Future of Crypto | Edition #5 – 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! ☕️
Subscribe to receive your weekly Crypto Cuppa!
Edition #5 comes with a lot of head-turning launches and partnerships that remained at the forefront, with NFT once again taking the crown as the most active segment of the week.
Here's the TL;DR
Payment giant Stripe launches a suite of products to support crypto payments on its platform.
Bain Capital Ventures is launching a $560M fund focused exclusively on crypto-related efforts.
Ledger announces limited edition NFT-focused hardware wallet; partnership with POAP.
Wirex partners with DEX aggregator Paraswap to make DeFi more accessible than ever before.
Bandai Namco to spend $130M creating Gundam ‘metaverse’ – featuring games, videos and shopping.
For the longer read, let's get going –
The CBDC segment continued to bustle with activities in the second week of the month, with many more countries trying to hop onto the digital currency bandwagon and ride the modernization train.
In America, President Joe Biden geared up to sign a much-anticipated executive order on cryptocurrencies, paving way for detailed studies on the viability and risks of a US CBDC. Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro announced that the country’s minimum wage would now be pegged to the value of half a Petro (PTR), the country’s national cryptocurrency. The Central Bank of Brazil has also chosen nine partners – that include crypto exchange Mercado Bitcoin, Santander Brasil, Itaú Unibanco and DeFi platform Aave, amongst others – to help develop Brazil's CBDC. Furthermore, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank’s DCash digital currency pilot project, which was unavailable since January 2022, resumed trading.
In Asia, the Philippines central bank Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) and the Alliance for Financial Inclusion organized a joint event where BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno announced the rollout of Project CBDCPh, a pilot implementation of a CBDC aiming to improve the payment system’s safety, resiliency, and efficiency of the country.
In other news, enterprise blockchain supplier Ripple joined the Digital Pound Basis discussion board to help with the design and implementation of a digital Pound.
The Crypto-coins segment has been in the limelight as of late – driven by a plethora of market expansions and launches.
London-based crypto exchange Bitstamp made the news for announcing the listing of the Avalanche (AVAX) cryptocurrency and Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) on its platform, which can be traded in exchange for the Euro and the Dollar. Crypto exchange FTX set up a new division in Switzerland, with an additional base in Cyprus, after winning an approval from the Cyprus financial market regulator. While Quidax became the first fully African-owned crypto exchange to be listed on leading crypto price-tracking website CoinMarketCap, banks in Virginia hit the headlines as they will soon have the option to provide cryptocurrency custody services – after the state's Senate unanimously voted to approve a bill amendment focused on the custody of digital assets.
As for the various launches, investment goliath Bain Capital Ventures launched a $560M fund focused exclusively on crypto-related efforts, out of which the firm invested around $100M into a dozen undisclosed efforts. Leading crypto exchange platform Binance was also in the news for releasing a new payments technology company called Bifinity, which will also serve as Binance’s official fiat-to-crypto payments provider. Similarly, Bitmarkets.com launched its cryptocurrency exchange in a bid to provide their clients with a simple and secure environment for trading cryptocurrencies. Making a comeback to the crypto business, payment giant Stripe launched a suite of products – including exchanges, on-ramps, wallets, and NFT marketplaces – to support crypto payments on its platform.
Additionally, Premier League soccer club Manchester City announced cryptocurrency exchange OKX as a new sponsor, becoming the exchange’s first partner in the sports industry. Dogecoin grabbed the headlines with Ukraine adding it to its list of approved cryptocurrencies amidst war against Russia in order to generate funds. Leading cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase also blocked over 25,000 addresses related to Russian individuals or entities engaged in illicit activity.
After a prolonged sell-off, crypto prices were trading higher on the back of multiple positive news – including resumed talks between Russia and Ukraine. The global cryptocurrency market cap in one day jumped to the $1.80T mark, adding almost 2 per cent in 24 hours. Total cryptocurrency trading volume zoomed more than 23 per cent to $97.07B. Barring the dollar-pegged stablecoins, all of the top digital tokens were trading higher as Terra zoomed 6 per cent to $104, followed by a 4 per cent rise in Bitcoin to $40,000 and XRP each. Solana, Ethereum, Cardano added 2 per cent each.
The stablecoins segment is quickly gaining traction as places far and wide are exploring the possibilities of changing the way payments work. The Swiss city of Lugano made USDT Tether, Bitcoin and LVGA token legal tender to be used along with the Swiss Franc to pay taxes, municipal bills, and transact every day. Kado – a stablecoin payment infrastructure provider – also closed a $5.4M fundraise with the aim to onboard new users to Terra’s UST stablecoin and expanding cross-chain.
The NFT space was abuzz with its own set of eventful activities across diverse partnerships and launches that took place last week.
While The Sandbox joined forces with NFT profile picture project World of Women to provide $25M in grant funds to found the WoW Foundation, Solana NFT marketplace Magic Eden partnered with popular sporting entertainment platform Overtime to launch an NFT collection proposing to enhance fan engagement and exclusive experiences. Similarly, sports betting powerhouse DraftKings (DKNG) teamed up with digital asset startup Zero Hash to become one of the largest Polygon validators. Swappables partnered with digital fashion brand Another-1 (AN1) to launch the NTR1-Meta NFT sneaker collection, allowing holders to wear digital sneakers in Decentraland, trade them on Swappable, or redeem them for the real-life physical pairs.
Additionally, hardware wallet company Ledger announced the release of a limited edition hardware wallet, the Ledger Nano S Plus, as well as a global partnership with Ethereum-based Proof of Attendance Protocol, or POAP. Motherboard manufacturer ASRock made the bulletin for working on an NFT motherboard, labeled the ‘Z690 PG Riptide NFT Edition’. Zurich-based technology and go-to market advisory firm ANCORE Strategy and MBC GROUP recently launched The Fananees Genesis Collectibles – thus offering its most popular characters in digital Intellectual Property (IP) to the wide community of NFT enthusiasts, experts and collectors across the Middle East North Africa (MENA) region. Nemus also launched a collectible NFT experience to conserve and protect the Amazon rainforest by letting anyone who owns the NFT to become a Guardian.
In other news, Animoca-backed Australian NFT startup Immutable raised $200M in Series C funding at a $2.5B valuation led by Temasek. While Avalanche pledged $290M in AVAX tokens to attract gaming, DeFi and NFT ‘Subnets’, Vera became the leading multichain project that allows anyone to rent or mortgage NFTs with or without collateral, surpassing $2M NFT rentals.
An assorted mix of partnerships and funding rounds were the key highlights for the DeFi sphere.
Germany-based security provider Solidproof collaborated with FOMODEX, a free-to-use DEX tracking platform, with the aim to create posts that will not only inform the crypto community on ways to maintain anonymity while dealing with digital assets, but also educate them about vetting pre-sales to ensure that they don't become the victim of various crypto scams. DODO, a decentralized trading protocol for Web3, has announced its partnership with India-based cryptocurrency exchange WazirX in a bid to bring highly accessible liquidity to DeFi. Additionally, leading crypto platform Wirex collaborated with DEX aggregator Paraswap to enable Wirex Wallet users to seamlessly exchange multiple tokens using Paraswap's market-leading price algorithm. A few firms that grabbed headlines with their market expansion activities include Singapore’s Cake DeFi for announcing the creation of its venture-capital arm with an aim to invest $100 million in the tech ecosystem; and Centric for the launch of its Centric Rise (CNR) tokens on DeFi staking application Green House Staking.
On the fundings front, Deliq Finance, an Avalanche-based decentralized, transparent liquidity provisioning protocol powered by blockchain technology, raised $2.1M in funding via a private round. Cega Finance, the first DeFi exotic structured products protocol, raised a $4.3M seed round led by Dragonfly Capital Partners with participation from Coinbase Ventures and Solana Ventures, among others.
With the notion of metaverse fast-becoming a favorable concept for the business ecosystem, firms across industries are eager to make their debut into this emerging segment.
The funding space was buzzing with activities as
Indian metaverse firm Ikonz raised a seed round of funding from early-stage venture capital firm Village Global and technology investment firm Woodstock;
Metaverse fashion company UNXD completed a $4M funding round led by Animoca Brands, Polygon Studios and Red DAO; and
Virtual being platform Inworld AI raised $10M in strategic funding led by BITKRAFT Ventures and joined by the Venture Reality Fund, Kleiner Perkins, and CRV.
Leading global derivatives exchange Bitget announced the listing of Karmaverse, a GameFi and SocialFi metaverse on its launchpad with the partnership aiming to raise $100,000 in KNOT, the native token of the blockchain ecosystem.
Market expansion activities garnered attention as well, with Japanese video game and toy company Bandai Namco announcing a $130M investment to develop a metaverse featuring battle robots and other characters from its flagship Gundam franchise. The South China Morning Post announced its offering of a metaverse experience of Hong Kong’s star Ferry Pier on blockchain gaming platform The Sandbox. Decentralized virtual reality metaverse Saiba City was also in the news for nearing the launch of Saibu Inu token, a combination of Shiba Inu and Saitama.
A plethora of activities across various sectors made for majority of the headlines for the DLT vertical.
On International Women's Day, Tezos India launched a month-long ‘SheCrypt - Women in Crypto & Blockchain' campaign in order to encourage increased and active participation of women in the crypto and blockchain ecosystem. ICEF, a vetting body for student recruitment agencies, announced its investment in blockchain technology in a bid to provide agency credentials. Modular Asset Management hired Daniel Liebau as chief investment officer to work on a strategy that will focus on sustainable blockchain technologies. Meanwhile, Wikisoft Corp acquired 51 per cent of Etheralabs LLC, a New York City based venture lab and ecosystem that invests in, builds, and deploys disruptive technologies across the Blockchain space.
The segment also witnessed a number of collaborations, as Aleo teamed up with Forte to implement zero-knowledge proof solutions in an attempt to fuel low-energy transactions in blockchain games. Namibia announced a partnership with decentralized climate data provider dClimate, wherein it will establish a blockchain-native registry and verification system for quantifying the country’s carbon sequestration, carbon emissions and carbon credits from green hydrogen projects. Defy Trends and NEAR similarly announced a strategic collaboration in a bid to bring updated and accurate data analytics to the NEAR blockchain platform and its users, empowering data-backed investing and encouraging environmentally friendly crypto practices.
Stanford University’s innovative idea of building a new layer-one blockchain called Espresso, that will allow for higher throughput and lower gas fees while prioritizing user privacy and decentralization, garnered attention as well.
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!
Till then, if you're hungry for more FinTech insights, check out some of our other work at WhiteSight. Our latest publication in honor of women's history month explores the many FinTechs Championing Financial Services for Women.
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 ❤️