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Hi, I'm Conor Svensson, Founder and CEO of Web3 Labs and this is your Week in Blockchain on Monday the 12th of April 2021. The big news this week is that Ether has reached another all-time high and Bitcoin is back up, Coinbase's IPO is now imminent, MicroStrategy and Meitu have continued to increase their cryptocurrency holdings, some high-profile industry bodies have joined the Crypto Climate Alliance to help address some of the climate issues associated with blockchain, Shopify has been inquiring about DeFi, another big DeFi protocol has been hacked, we're seeing Gucci and McDonald's have expressed hints around NFTs and finally an NFT 'Shark Tank' with Mark Cuban, Snoop Dogg and other high profile people. So the big news this week is that there's been more rallying of the leading crypto prices. Bitcoin's hovering very close to its all-time high of just under $62000 and Ether has set a new all-time high of $2190. One of the other big milestones that's been reached is that there's now 100 cryptocurrencies that have a market capitalization of one billion US dollars or more. In the last two months the number of cryptocurrencies which have a one billion plus capitalization has doubled since the last time it was surveyed by Coin Telegraph so there's been a huge increase. There's also been some significant movement in the space of sustainability with the Crypto Climate Accord. Ripple, Coinshares and ConsenSys have joined. The intent behind this is that it's an initiative to have the cryptocurrency industry run entirely on renewable energy by 2025. The initiative which was led by Energy Web and the Alliance for Innovative Regulation is inspired by the Paris Climate Agreement. The intent in addition to running on top of renewable energy, is to develop an open source accounting system for measuring emissions for key players in the industry to adopt. There's been another big piece of news in the Ethereum ecosystem this week with key researchers on the Eth2 protocol voting to ship a proof of stake in 2021. This is something that was anticipated would likely be next year. The poll by the Eth2 researcher Justin Drake surveyed Eth2 researchers, the client teams and the coordinators so all of the key individuals involved in the ecosystem. They said that they were keen to hit this milestone before the end of 2021. This would massively reduce the cost with transacting with the Ethereum network, more importantly it would have a significant reduction in its climate footprint because it would no longer require this power hungry proof of work mining which it uses currently. Japan's Central Bank has started experimenting with central bank digital currencies. The first phase has just started which is focusing on the basic functionality, using it for payments and issuance and distributions and redemptions of currencies. That's going to carry on for the next year, then they're hoping to move on to phase two to test more details and functionality, then potentially onto phase three which will enable businesses and end users to participate in a pilot program. We've spoken previously about CBDCs and it's a key area for a number of governments for providing a digitized version of their currencies. Many of them are building on top of the well-known blockchain technologies in order to do this so it's great to see one of the significant economies such as Japan really making progress with their pilot program. The basketball team the Sacramento Kings are set to offer Bitcoin as a salary option. The chairman and CEO announced on a Clubhouse chat last week that anyone in the organization could receive their pay, or as much of their pay as they wanted, in Bitcoin. Of course, the news quickly broke out of Clubhouse and became mainstream news! It'll be fascinating to see if people have taken up this offer, again it's testament to the interest that organizations are seeing in terms of offering people flexibility with being paid in cryptos. Grayscale have announced that they're very committed to converting their investment vehicles that enable investors to buy and hold cryptocurrencies through them into an ETF when the regulators are ready for this. At the moment there hasn't been an ETF launched for any of the cryptocurrencies in the US market. ETFs have been launched in other markets such as Canada but really what they're saying is that they want to be able to convert these instruments that they currently have to ETFs when they can. They've also added additional cryptocurrencies including Chainlink to their Large Cap Fund and they've registered a trust for the Microsoft partnered Nahmii project token. This is something that we spoke about previously, which is a decentralized identity solution that Microsoft's been building. It'll be great to see how this helps the network evolve when they're giving more people exposure to the cryptocurrency that powers this decentralized identity platform. MicroStrategy have continued to put more funds into Bitcoin and they've announced the purchase of another $15 million worth of Bitcoin. Meitu the Chinese app have also purchased another $10 million in Bitcoin to complete a treasury allocation plan. If you recall previously we spoke about how the treasury allocation said that they could hold up to $100 million so they must be pretty close on this number now. I think they were around about $90M when we last spoke about it. It does raise the question of what happens when they start to exceed these allocations, if they have to start liquidating the positions or not, we shall see. Coinbase has posted a record $1.8 billion in revenue, this has been helped massively by the huge growth in the crypto currencies in the last year. The valuations as well for Coinbase's IPO that is due to take place this week have been encompassing a very wide range that going from $19 up to $230 billion so I'm really interested to see how this pans out. This week we've also seen the neo bank Revolut has added a number of new tokens to to their platform. Now they support 21 different cryptos. Revolut are a neo bank platform in the UK which has had significant adoption but they are one of the earlier sort of neo banks who started offering crypto rather than being crypto first such as crypto.com. Again, it shows that there's significant demand from their customers to actually access a broader basket of different cryptocurrencies on the platform they're helping drive the overall growth and adoption of them. In the enterprise space, Fidelity, Coinbase and Square have formed a crypto council to lobby policy makers. This is called the Crypto Council for Innovation and what they want to do is demonstrate the transformational promise of crypto and communicate its benefits to policy makers, regulators and people around the globe. Of course, all of these firms have a vested interest in seeing cryptocurrencies succeed so it makes sense that they're starting to get involved in the lobbying angle as well. The city of Miami has started collaborating with some well-known Ethereum developers to put some city services on the blockchain. The Miami mayor Francis Suarez said that they're trying to come up with a project that goes through the foundation and directly with Ethereum that they can do with the city. There's a significant history with the city of Miami and Ethereum in that Vitalik Buterin first presented the Ethereum white paper at a Bitcoin conference in Miami. He's one of the people who's been involved in these discussions. The messaging app Signal have now added payment functionality using Mobile Coin in the platform. This is something that's currently only available in the UK market for Signal users where they're testing out this functionality. But, they have come under fire for their choice of blockchain platform for these payments because Moxie Marlinspike, the Founder of Signal, was actually listed as the CTO in an early white paper for Mobile Coin. Because of the close associations there are some concerns about why they were chosen. The blockchain project NEAR Protocol has launched its Ethereum bridge known as Rainbow for cross chain interoperability. The NEAR Protocol is backed by a number of very high profile investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Coinbase and Pantera Capital and has raised over $70 million to date so it's a significant project working on this. They're not the only ones, other big names involved in this include ICON and many others that we'll be hearing more about over the coming months. Tether has announced that they plan to expand their USDT stablecoin onto the Polkadot blockchain and so this will just broaden the availability of it. It's currently live on Ethereum, Eos, Alana, Tron, Bitcoin Cash and a few other protocols but Polkadot's been getting a lot of growth and traction recently so it makes for sense for them to launch there as well. In the world of DeFi, unfortunately there's been another high profile hack this week with ForceDAO being drained of millions of dollars after a white hat hacker discovered a bug in the smart contracts code. They actually took 14.8 million Force tokens which was worth $34 million at the time and although they returned the fund, this being a white hat hacker, other attackers unfortunately noticed the exploit and started to take advantage of it. ForceDAO is a collective of investment strategies for identifying productionising alpha or ways to profit across the DeFi ecosystem so it's a significant hit for them. The exploit itself centered on a bug in the x-forces contract code which allowed anyone to call this deposit function regardless of whether or not they were holding these Force tokens. This meant that anyone could start minting tokens without locking any tokens into the vault for it. Shopify this week has expressed interest in finding ways to integrate with the DeFi community. Their CEO to Tobi Lutke has turned to crypto circles on Twitter asking about how they could potentially tie up Shopify to take advantage of some of the DeFi initiatives. He specifically asked what commerce related opportunities they are most excited about and how they'd like Shopify to fit into that ecosystem. Again, just another big sign of the broader interest about integrating with all of the great innovation that's happening here with some of the existing and widely used technology platforms. Compound, one of the original DeFi protocol projects has hit a major milestone with $15 billion available for lending on the platform. Compound does actually dominate the DeFi market making up about 19% of the total value that's locked up in DeFi currently. Balancer, the fifth largest decentralized exchange protocol, is now planning to expand to the Algorand platform as well, making use of a technology called Reach which is a protocol agnostic blockchain programming language. In the world of NFTs, Gucci and other luxury fashion brands are apparently very close to launching NFT offerings. We've also seen two Coinbase employees exchange NFT rings using their phones during their wedding ceremony this week which has been one-to-one take on using the technology but unlikely to gain wider adoption. On a more serious note, Mark Cuban has been working alongside a group called Sound Ventures which was founded by actor Ashton Kutcher and music executive Guy Oseary. They will be judging a new NFT pitching competition. Mark Cuban's very famous for his work on Shark Tank, where entrepreneurs pitch business ideas for investments. The collaboration here is pitching for a NFT related business idea with a purse of $1million up for grabs for the winners. They also have NFT producing musicians and artists involved in this as well, with Snoop Dogg and 3LAU, 3LAU had a very significant NFT auction a couple of months back, and also the pseudonymous NFT art collector Whale Shark and Metakovin, who bought the record-breaking Beeple for $69 million recently. It will be amazing to see the businesses that are pitched here, what comes out of it and who wins the one million purse that's on offer. Southeby's is hosting its first NFT sale next week too they're going a slightly different route to what their competitor Christie's did in that they're going to have this collection, it's going to be in the form of digital cubes. Each individual NFTs, one is for one cube, one is for five cubes, one is for ten cubes, one is twenty, fifty, a hundred, five hundred, and a thousand. The idea is is that a collector says how many cubes they want to purchase and then they'll get that specific number so if they say they want to have 110 cubes they'll get the 100 cube plus the 10 cube. The idea here is it's slightly more experimental in that they want to scrutinize their understanding of value and what does value actually mean to these these collectors or buyers. The sales start this week but given it's more sort of abstract nature than the sale of Beeple piece it'll be a fun take to see how it pans out. Christie's have now announced their second big NFT auction where they're going to be selling a collection of nine Crypto Punks next month. The crypto punks are some of the earlier NFTs that have been around for a while. These are nine crypto punks that were created in the early days of the Lava Labs who created them. There's also limited edition NFTs of real-life street art which are getting listed on Rarible. These KIWIE NFTs will give people exclusive rights to real artwork, not just a picture. The artist KIWIE is going to be generating a thousand and one unique NFTs but they're also going to have real life street art counterparts and the geolocation of the street art is going to be recorded in the NFT as well so it's pretty cool a convergence of the the real life and the virtual worlds with this initiative. Then finally, McDonald's have started teasing an NFT Big Mac, as well as a number of other NFTs representing their iconic menu items. However, unlike many other brands who've started experimenting with NFTs who have created an auction and then given the proceeds to charity, McDonald's is offering them as prizes in social media contests. In terms of our metrics this week, the crypto market cap is up almost 6.5% and it's just over 2 trillion dollars. The amount locked in DeFi is up a similar amount of just under $52 billion. The seven day average NFT sale price was just under $2 000 however, the number of sales has almost doubled in the last week. Most of this has been due to activity on the secondary market. That's all we have for this week, if you like what you hear please subscribe to our podcast and our youtube channel and of course rate the show and review it too! Links to all items are available in the show notes and on our website weekinblockchain.com. We're also hosting a weekly Clubhouse room every Monday at 12 p.m eastern 5 pm BST if you'd like to discuss any of the items covered here. Thanks and I'll see you next week.