This Week in Blockchain

This Week in Blockchain on 21st June 2021

June 21, 2021 Conor Svensson Season 1 Episode 19
This Week in Blockchain
This Week in Blockchain on 21st June 2021
Show Notes Transcript

Each week your host, Conor Svensson, founder and CEO of Web3 Labs, provides a rundown of the major events that took place in the blockchain industry during the past week. 
We cover #crypto​, #enterprise​, #DeFI​ and #NFTs​.

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Links to items discussed:

Tesla + Bitcoin
Thai SEC Ban
Goldman Sachs
World Bank
Six Clovers
'Keanu' DAO 
blog maverick
Ledger Live 
Kyber Network
Space Force
WWW Source Code NFT
Egyptian Pyramid NFT
NFT Hot Wheels
LAND record sale 

Hi it's Conor Svensson here, Founder and CEO of Web3 Labs and this is your Week in Blockchain on Monday the 21st of June 2021. The highlights this week include Tim Berners-Lee, creator of the world wide web, selling his first NFT, MicroStrategy's latest Bitcoin purchase, Tesla might start accepting Bitcoin again, BitDAO pre-launch raising $230 million, Mark Cuban on DeFi and Goldman are planning to support Ether options. Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the world wide web, has listed a NFT that he's going to be selling on Sotheby's. This NFT contains a digital poster but also source code for the early parts of the world wide web that he worked on. For those of you who are slightly geeky like me, he's got the actual python code that was used for creating their HTML markup language, the HTTP protocol that's used for web browsers talking to websites and URIs which is like the addressing layer used of the internet. The actual auction starts on June 23rd with bidding starting at a $1000, but I'm sure it's going to get a lot higher than this. The proceeds of the sale will be going to initiatives supported by Tim Berners-Lee and his wife. It's huge news and it's also great to see such a significant person creating an NFT like this. I often think about how if you were to get a version of the Ethereum white paper for instance that was signed by Vitalik or the yellow paper by Gavin Wood, there could be some really interesting NFTs that could be created by these significant technical innovators. It'll be really fun to see how this goes forward. Elon Musk's been tweeting again about Bitcoin. This time he said that Tesla will resume allowing Bitcoin transactions if there's confirmation of reasonable i.e 50% clean energy use by miners. This did rise the price of Bitcoin by approximately 1%. The tweet was in response to a Coin Telegraph story where someone was accusing Musk of a Bitcoin pump and dump scheme after Tesla bought a whole load of Bitcoin and then sold some of this exposure at the peak. Musk responded saying that this wasn't the case and that they were just checking the liquidity of the market. The story is obviously not over yet with Tesla and Bitcoin. MicroStrategy have been continuing to plow more and more funds into Bitcoin too. This time they've announced that they did a $500 million offering of secured notes which they then used to buy more Bitcoin. The expectation with this latest purchase is they'll be able to take their Bitcoin holdings up to over a hundred thousand Bitcoin, a huge number! They've also spoken about having a one billion dollar stock offering as well and this was announced just after their close for this funding round. Of course it's going to be another way for investors to get more exposure to Bitcoin via MicroStrategy. There's been a very interesting project that's bubbled up this week called BitDAO. So DAOs are decentralized autonomous organizations, basically organizations that live within code on a blockchain and governed decentrally. What's fascinating here though is that this DAO project hasn't actually launched yet but it's been backed by Peter Thiel, Founders Fund, Pantera Capital and Dragonfly Capital. Other participants including Jump Capital, Fenbushi and the Synthetix founder as well. So, there's some really interesting people getting behind this this raise. Given it's not actually launched yet, the only information that is available is that they're planning to promote and propel the mass adoption of open finance and the decentralized token economy so, potentially a fascinating project but we shall see. Mark Cuban put out a lengthy blog post this week talking about how he believes DeFi will be the next great growth engine for the US market. The actual post was called 'The brilliance of yield farming liquidity providing and valuing crypto projects'. He did call out the US government and regulators saying that they need to get behind a lot of these innovations such as DeFi because otherwise the US might actually 'miss out on the the next big growth engine that the country needs' in his words. He was quite direct, calling out the 'absolute stupidity' to quote him of the regulators there and he believes that in the next 10 to 20 years that people will look back at this period of time and see it as very pivotal and that world-changing companies were built with DeFi being a big portion of that. It's fascinating that he's really been quite vocal here and also quite critical about the the speed at which the US regulators are responding. He did also though, funnily enough, shortly after this post made a call for DeFi regulation after an investment went to zero. There was a cryptocurrency that launched called Titan and the actual token shed nearly 100% of its value after a few hours. Mark Cuban said that he had a small percentage of his portfolio in it but now he's suddenly saying that he wants to see increased regulation especially around stable coins, he obviously got burnt there and it's not worked out that well for him. At the same time, there's a certain irony there that this happened just after he was talking about this project. The Thai SEC have banned a number of types of crypto this week. Meme coins such as Dogecoin, fan coins that have just been created by fans for certain events and exchange tokens plus NFTs. Trading of these has all been banned, they obviously want to stamp down on some of the slightly more innovative types of tokens. Meme tokens obviously as we said that that's Doge but also NFTs which have seen huge amounts of growth this year too, they want to stop them from being traded. Exchange tokens as well, so these would be the tokens that are issued by for instance Binance, UniSwap and FTX that provide incentives for the users of the platforms which reduces their trading commission fees, in the case of say Binance. But also where people on the UniSwap for instance are contributing to liquidity pools they get compensated in the UNI token so it's not so good news for the market there. We'll have to just see how this evolves. Goldman Sachs have said that they're planning to start trading Ethereum futures, they did embrace Bitcoin futures earlier this year. It's a very positive sentiment that they're going to start supporting the second largest crypto after Bitcoin. Morgan Stanley too, the number of different funds that are available to their wealth management clients too is expanding with New York Digital Investment Group, NYDIG. They've created a new fund and this will be the fourth one that's going to be on offer to Morgan Stanley's clients who want to get crypto exposure. It's showing that they're embracing these products for their actual clients. We spoke last week about how El Salvador had implemented Bitcoin as legal tender. However, they reached out to the World Bank for help with implementing Bitcoin as legal tender but the World Bank's actually turned down their request. The reason for this was because of their concerns about the environmental impact of Bitcoin and the transparency shortcomings as well because of its pseudo anonymity associated with the accounts. It's no doubt a hit for El Salvador but it's kind of understandable the World Bank's position on that. Grayscale are apparently exploring a number of new investment products. They've been launching a large number of these exchange listed products that provide exposure to a number of different cryptocurrencies as well as tokens. Now they're looking at ones that are tied to Solano, Matic Labs and also 1inch, Bancor, Curve, the Internet Computer and so on and so forth. Clearly there's a lot of demand for these tokens and so they're continuing to find ways to offer them to investors. Moving on to enterprise news, Broadridge's blockchain platform which supports the repo market is already handling $31 billion worth of transactions daily, even though it launched only a little more than a week ago. Apparently much of this volume comes from their existing financial relationships in Europe and the US because they are a significant player there. Nonetheless, it's a significant volume although that being said, this $31 billion is still relatively small in comparison to the broader repo market, which is approximately $2.6 trillion, the overnight market that is. A number of former PayPal executives are going to be launching a cross-border payments network. It's called Six Clovers. These former executives have recently announced this project and it's apparently a completely decentralized global payments network that will connect merchant banks and other payment providers allowing them to transact digital currencies worldwide. There's obviously a lot of people already playing in this space but given that these guys are coming from PayPal, there's probably a very solid team with some good relationships there that they're going to be able to leverage. They're actually taking on the Swift payment system because they feel that it needs a more modern payment infrastructure that doesn't have all of these inefficiencies. The company Bitwise has raised $70 million from a new round of investors. It's an asset manager which has over $1 billion in assets that support a wide number of different types of assets such as indexed funds. They've also launched recently Bitwise crypto industry innovators ETF. What they're going to use with this new raise is court new clientele and enhance their brand as a trusted partner in holding crypto for the long term. This raise of $70 million was at a $500 million valuation. On the Binance platform, a 'decentralized Airbnb' platform called Dtravel has launched. This so-called Airbnb competitor provides joint ownership of the platform for both the house owners as well as the house guests. As is always the case with these with these projects when they launch they want to ensure that there's stakes available for the users of the platform, it's what we see time and time again. Whether or not they'll be able to impact Airbnb in any way of course remains to be seen but, nonetheless it's fun to see these projects launching up with these innovative models. We've seen 15 Indian banks come together to form a blockchain trade finance consortium. It's called the Indian Bank's Blockchain Infrastructure Company. They're focusing on letters of credit which is an area that a number of different trade finance platforms are already looking at. Having these Indian banks all working in consortium here is really important to get these sorts of networks off the ground when they're working in heavily regulated industries like banking. The upside of this is that they would they will actually be able to move transaction times from four to five days to hours so it is significant. Moving on to protocol news, Polkadot's Kusama Network, their first parachain auction is going live this week. This is an auction event for slots so that projects can in effect be hooked in to the Kusama Network in its main chain. It's a big historic moment because as we spoke about previously, with the main Polkadot chain but also Kusama which is like the sort of experimental but not testnet chain for the network, they're opening up a certain number of slots for auction, parachains, to in effect plug into what's called the relay chain, which is the main blockchain so to speak of the Polkadot network. The fact that this is moving forward is a great sign of progress for that project. Also, the Keep and Nu Cypher protocols have announced that they're now getting on with their merge on Ethereum. This is due to be happening in August and so what they're doing is merging together these two protocols and creating a new decentralized autonomous organization off the back of it. They're also calling out the fact that this provides a little bit more efficiency as well for the two different projects because rather than both using duplicate sets of resources of the Ethereum network, having a single DAO will make it more efficient. In the DeFi space, the Sygnum platform have announced that they're going to add banking services for DeFi tokens. Sygnum is a digital asset bank out of Switzerland and Singapore and they've said they're going to provide banking and custody trading services for Aave, Aragon, Curve, Maker, Synthetix, UniSwap and 1inch. It's a significant move forward especially given that they're really setting themselves up as a proper bank for these digital assets. The dYdX exchange has closed the $65 million round that was led by Paradigm. This is their Series C raise, their Series B was closed only in January of this year. It's another project that's rapidly scaling up and capitalizing off the back of all the growth that we've seen in the industry. They have said that their goal is to be one of the largest crypto exchanges. They're looking at a three to five year time horizon so being slightly more conservative with their ambitions especially when you see how quickly exchanges like FTX for instance have sprung up and emerged to be leading exchanges almost overnight. Again, we'll see how it plays out over the longer term. The Ledger Live platform have provided their first DeFi platform integration called Paraswap. Ledger Live is the platform used by the Ledger hardware wallet devices so a number of people use this already but, to provide the integration with the DeFi platform is a big step forward. Why they decided to go with Paraswap versus others such as 1inch, the Ledger CEO said that it was down to the easy to use interface. This is, of course, one of the big challenges that's faced especially in DeFi right now and blockchain more generally, that it's just not as simple or smooth as it should be when it comes to transacting with these networks. It's a positive step in the right direction but there's still a lot of work that needs to happen to optimize the experience for users. The ecosystems out there need to be made easier for more people to work with. Also this week, the Kyber network are planning to bring more liquidity to Ethereum by providing an integration to Polygon and DeFi platforms that are building on top of Polygon. The idea with this is it'll make it easier for more liquidity providers, traders and developers to engage with with DeFi. With polygon the rate at which transactions can be performed is a lot higher than with the main Ethereum network. Moving on to the NFT news, with the football tournament that's happening at the moment, the European Cup, there's a Euro 2020 fantasy game that's been launched on the Football Coin platform. The idea here is that it's a free-to-play game with NFT player cards and people can register for chances to win prizes. It's fun to see the kind of old and new being brought together here especially with something that's so well established like fantasy football. Also, Space Force are set to launch satellite NFTs in conjunction with some actual launches that are happening. What they've done is partnered with digital artist companies WorldwideXR and VueXR to release NFTs with augmented reality. So these NFTs are digital twins for certain satellites that are being launched into space, you can go on the website, it's pretty cool to see these different kind of space based NFTs. There's also going to be VR type integrations too so it becomes more immersive. Christie's, the auctioneer have announced that they're going to be Europe's first auctioneer to accept cryptocurrency payments. Although there's been a number of different crypto things that have been sold recently, what they want to do is provide crypto as a standard payment option for things that are being auctioned. To tie in with this, on June 30th, they've got the artist Keith Haring's Untitled (1984) digital work of art and the option is for buyers to pay in cryptocurrency, the estimated price is $3.9 to $4.5 million. Burberry, the fashion company, have launched their first NFT via in-game clothing. They've worked with Mythical Games to create a 'play to earn' video game called Blankos Block Party and have exclusive NFTs that are in the game. Depending on how this goes, Burberry may well find that they go further down the NFT rabbit hole so to speak. Media company Fox have launched a hundred million dollar fund for their new NFT studio. We mentioned previously that they had this blockchain initiative that they are working on with the creators of Rick and Morty and Krapopolis. What they're doing is that Fox Entertainment are working with their animation studio Bento Box entertainment and they're going to be creating a series of NFTs on the actual platform. Given how popular these animations and shows are, they're very well positioned to be able to bring people to it because they of course own the IPR for these. Enjin, the blockchain platform who also have an NFT platform, have started working with a company called Virtual World to create photo realistic digital replicas of the Egyptian pyramids as NFTs. Obviously, no one owns them as such so it's not like these NFTs have any ownership attached to them in terms of the underlying thing that they represent. Virtual Worlds create these very immersive tours that you can go in and they've created NFTs to tie in so that people can go and have these virtual tours and can claim NFTs within these 3D environments. It's using the NFT platform behind the scenes so again, it's a fun innovation to see going forward. CNN, the news outlet, have announced that they're going to be offering historic news moments as NFTs. It sounds quite similar to what Dapper Labs have done with NBA Top Shots in terms of having historic basketball moments but now they're they're focusing on news. It's things like famous space travel, things that happened, technological advancements and presidential elections. The project is being called 'Vault' by CNN, Moments That Changed Us. It's going to be tokenized moments that spread back over their whole 41 year history and it comes along with a vault to show the NFTs too. They're going to be doing six weekly drops starting from late June and they've teased that the first ones might be around election results and space travel. They're going to be working with the Flow blockchain from Dapper Labs so it makes sense in terms of that. It'll be fun to see given how successful Top Shots were, you'd expect to see that these will get quite a lot of traction given how well-known a brand CNN is. Mattel, the toy company, are creating NFTs of their Hot Wheels cars. Most people probably remember these, they're still going strong, but it's like those small diecast cars. They're creating a number of Hot Wheel classics like their Twin Mill, Bone Shaker and Deora II. The winner of this auction will be able to pay using Ether. In the Ethereum Metaverse on Decentraland, Republic Realm a firm that invests in virtual real estate has set a new record for a piece of digital real estate in Decentraland. They've spent $913 000 on a piece of LAND, exactly what they're planning to build on that remains to be seen but it's certainly showing interest in the Decentraland platform. Then finally, Mclaren, the racing provider, have announced that they've signed up with Tezos as a blockchain and NFT partner. They're going to be creating NFTs aligned with their Formula One, INDYCAR and eSports pursuits. Apparently, they selected Tezos because of its low carbon footprint. We know that the main one for NFTs, Ethereum, in this respect will be changing early next year but companies are concerned right now about the environmental impact. Moving on to our metrics, the crypto market cap is down just over 7.5% to $1.4 trillion. Assets locked in DeFi are down 7.5% as well to $53 billion. The seven day NFT sales are actually up just over 11% to $12.3 million, with an average price of $500. That's all we have for this week, if you like what you hear please subscribe to our podcast and YouTube channel. Links to all items discussed are available in the show notes and on our website We also host a weekly clubhouse room every Monday at 12 p.m eastern, 5 p.m UK time to discuss the items we cover here. Thanks and I'll see you next week.