This Week in Blockchain

This Week in Blockchain on 5th July 2021

July 05, 2021 Season 1 Episode 21
This Week in Blockchain
This Week in Blockchain on 5th July 2021
Show Notes Transcript

Hi, I'm Conor Svensson, founder and CEO of Web3 Labs and this is your Week in Blockchain on Monday the 5th of July 2021. The highlights this week include more regulatory ways for Binance, Circle's USDC stablecoin is launching on a number of additional blockchains, the digital Yuan is now being accepted on Beijing subways, Tim Berners-Lee's web source code NFT sells sales but there's a glitch with it, Polygon have announced a general purpose data availability scaling layer as well. Binance's woes have continued this week with Singapore's watchdog, the Monetary Authority of Singapore have said that they're closely watching the regulatory developments surrounding Binance holdings limited. Also heard that the Cayman Islands financial regulator has joined in with the scrutiny of Binance and has said that Binance isn't licensed or regulated to actually operate in the Cayman Islands and then as well, the Thailand SEC has filed a criminal complaint against Binance and this is because they've failed to meet a deadline for responding to an earlier warning apparently. Last week we discussed the number of challenges that Binance was facing from other jurisdictions which were saying that it wasn't able to provide services in those jurisdictions. One thing to note is that although these regulators have come up against Binance in all cases it doesn't necessarily stop consumers from being able to access the platform. It's more that they can't provide financial services in those jurisdictions so although the scrutiny isn't a good thing for Binance, it doesn't mean necessarily that the exchange is not going to be available in these different jurisdictions. In related news, at the UK bank Natwest Markets, which we've spoken about previously, they've said that they're limiting transactions to different crypto exchanges. They haven't got a single approach they're using for all the different exchanges, it's more they have limits they're applying to accounts for various different exchanges in order to protect fraud with their customers. In China, the Chinese Central Bank Digital Currency is continuing to gain traction with the Beijing subway now accepting this digital Yuan for its services. It can be used on all 24 Beijing subway lines and four suburban railway stations but it's only available to those who bank with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. That being said, it's incredibly fast this rollout and so compared with many other jurisdictions who are just kind of trialling these digital currencies, the fact that China already is live (albeit in a limited subset of their infrastructure) and paying for services, it's still very significant how much progress is being made there. The leading stable coin USDC, have announced that they're planning to expand to an additional 10 blockchains. Currently the market cap of Circle's USDC is $25 billion. It's not quite as big as Tether ,which is the leader, but at the same time it's continuing to grow in adoption. It's also got some good financial backing by the likes of Goldman Sachs and so on which certainly positions it well for expansion. They anticipate that they're going to be expanding to support Avalanche, Celo, Flow, Hedera, Kava, Nervos, Polkadot, Stacks and Tezos in the coming months. The USDC was launched on Ethereum back in 2018 and expanded to Algorand, Stellar and Solana in the second half of 2020. There is already lots of USDC available on the Tron blockchain which has surpassed more than $108 million in less than a month so this kind of growth just shows the general appetite there is for stable coins across these different blockchain networks. We've spoken previously about how regulation is coming out to support them albeit they are being treated as a high risk asset whereby anyone who holds them on their balance sheets has to back them with 100% of the value of the collateral of those coins. Tim Berners-Lee's NFT of the world wide web source code has sold on Sotheby's for $5.43 million to an anonymous buyer. Now the funny thing here was that the text file that contained the code that was converted to html they made a mistake there. So this NFT, the image there of the source code, it contains an 'and' and then the letters 'gt' instead of an angle bracket. As with some art sometimes, things have a mistake in it and there's the question there as to whether it's more valuable because of it so it's a funny twist anyway in this whole sale. One of Mexico's billionaires, who's actually the third richest man there, Ricardo Salinas Pliego, has tweeted that the bank he founded, Banco Azteca, want to become the first bank in the country to accept Bitcoin. If he manages to get it to accept Bitcoin, the bank would join one of a small list that are actually transacting in Bitcoin. It claims to be one of Mexico's largest banks with over 16 million savings accounts and 19 million credit accounts and they did operate previously in El Salvador which of course recently made Bitcoin their legal tender. Coinbase has become the first company to get a crypto custody license in Germany. The German Federal Financial Supervisory Authority or BaFin as they're called, they've given Coinbase the right to carry out their crypto custody business in the country. Coinbase is the first company authorized to provide this over there. The leading crypto wallet and exchange, crypto.com, has announced a partnership with Formula One. crypto.com and the Formula One will develop various exclusive NFTs connecting new fans to the sport and although no financial details have been made available about the actual terms of the agreement, it's rumored to be a five-year deal which totals over $100 million in value. We're starting to see more and more different crypto exchanges starting to do these sponsorship deals. We spoke previously about FTX and their Major League Baseball deal last week and so you're starting to see these crypto companies and blockchain companies start to establish themselves a bit more in mainstream by securing these various sponsorship deals. 650 US banks are soon going to be able to offer Bitcoin purchases to apparently 24 million customers. This is because of a deal between the enterprise payments giant NCR and the digital asset firm NYDIG, which we spoke about previously. This will enable customers of these banks to buy crypto without having to go through a separate exchange to do it. It's going to make it a lot easier for people to get exposure there. It's a very significant move although initially this is only going to be enabled to buy Bitcoin, they're not going to be able to spend it as such but still it's a big move forward in terms of lowering the barriers to entry for people. In enterprise news, the blockchain data tracer Nansen has raised a $12 million Series A led by Andreessen Horowitz. Other investors include Coinbase Ventures and QCP Capital. It was only founded last year. Nansen analyzes blockchain data to help its clients, including hedge funds trading firms, they provide insights on top of that. What we're really seeing here is such an explosion of interest in these these data firms that provide information on what's happening in blockchains whether that's for regulatory reasons or whether it's for trading firms, there's a lot of value that can be extracted off the back of that. Also this week the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance and the Oasis Open Foundation they've actually joined forces. So the Ethereum Oasis Open Project, which is where other projects including the Baseline Protocol live, are now going to operate under the banner of the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance Community Projects. The idea here is that it leverages the strength of both standard bodies, taking the EEA's leadership in Ehereum standards for business but continuing to rely on Oasis's expertise in open source and open standards development. It's a kind of merger of these two experts in the space, which is really good news. Polygon have announced that they're going to be launching Avail, which is a robust general purpose scaling data availability layer. The idea here is that it's going to support standalone block chain sidechains and layer two solutions with these layer two block chains. One of the things that has been missing is a common data availability layer so that's when people spin up a blockchain, there's somewhere that they can store their data historically, associated with blockchains but also store off chain data in a secure way and that's what this actual platform has been announced to support. No doubt with all of the traction that Polygon's getting, I'm sure a number of their users and customers are keen to have this additional technology come to market. I believe they're one of the first layer 2 scaling technologies for Ethereum to actually announce this sort of offer but it'll be fascinating to see if some of the other platforms follow suit as well. Ethereum Classic, they've announced that they've got an upcoming hard fork. This is scheduled in late July and it's going to incorporate a number of Ethereum improvement proposals that have happened on the main Ethereum Network associated with the Berlin update. The intent is that this fork, called Magneto, will occur likely in July. A Dogecoin developer has proposed 50 time reduction in fees which has got the support of Elon Musk. It gained eight percent off the back of this announcement. Ross Nicol who's a Dodgecoin core contributor shared a tweet related to this proposal and Elon Musk replied that was important to support. The recommended lower limit for sending a Dodge transaction is one Dodge but the developer actually wants to reduce this number to .01 so this would obviously be beneficial for the cost for people transacting with the network. In DeFi, there's been another project that's been hacked. This time it was the Safe Dollar 'stable coin' which has dropped to zero following the loss of two almost $250 thousand in an exploit on the Polygon network that it was running on top of. There's not been too much information about the cause of this, but apparently a week or so ago there was an issue where the protocol had another hack where it lost about 95 000 tokens. It's not been good for the Safe Dollar. Coin Market Cap, one of the leading aggregators of information about the crypto markets and market capitalization, they have now added an integration that uses Uniswap, the decentralized exchange behind the scenes. So people can connect their crypto wallets and swap tokens when they're on the site. Again, it's just about making it easier for people when they're looking at the data rather than having to go to a separate exchange to swap they can just do it via the website. Also this week, the decentralized exchange Balancer they've announced that they're going to be launching on Polygon. The idea here is that they can bring near zero fees to make a trade which they think it's going to enable them to innovate more and experiment with what's possible with the liquidity pools that they offer on the platform. Over to NFTs, and Marvel have said that they're going to finally be releasing their first official NFT collectibles. They've partnered with Veve and they're going to be launching these later this year. Veve also works with DC Comics so they've got two of the key comic brands under under their books. According to a press release from Marvel they're going to be making available NFT collectibles, 3D statues and digital comics. The digital collectibles will take the form of 3D models that can be viewed on any smart device, like with the NBA Top Shots that have been incredibly successful, they went for having video clips and by giving this kind of 3D effect it's going to make it a lot more interesting for the consumers that invest in them. Sotheby's have put up an auction for the first five Crypto Punk prints. That's right, they're actually doing physical prints of these Crypto Punks which come with the NFT for the Crypto Punk now. They're referring to these as phygital punks and given how popular the Crypto Punks have been in terms of NFTs, it seems natural that they want to create some physical art of them. I would argue that it's certainly a lot more interesting if you can have a print with your NFT than just the NFT on its own so iIm sure they'll be very popular. CoinFund have announced that they're going to be launching a new investment vehicle for NFTs. This is going to be called Metaversal. It will serve as a way for investors to bet on the overall NFT market and work as an NFT studio for companies as well. CoinFund have been one of the NFT's most prominent bulls on the market so although it has oscillated somewhat since going crazy earlier on this year, they're very bullish on the overall technology. Also, Katy Perry has announced she's going to be launching a line of NFTs with Theta Labs. Theta Labs are part of the Theta Network which is a blockchain based streaming platform with major entities running validator nodes on that which include Google Cloud and Sony. It's not clear exactly what the NFTs are going to be of yet but they have said that they're going to commemorate her play residency. Also, Twitter's been getting in on the NFT act as well with 140 free NFTs to 140 followers of the Twitter handle. There were several follow-up messages to this. The first NFT drop was for 'Reply Guy' as it was called or 'The man behind at mansplaining'. Twitter have also offered its vitamin T NFT as well which consists of prescription medicine bottle being filled with blue pills sporting the Twitter logo. It would be fun to see if they continue to do more releases like this. We mentioned previously how in Decentraland, there's some digital real estate that sold for over nine hundred thousand dollars. This was acquired back in June and it's going to be made into a virtual shopping district called Metajuku and it's modeled after Harajuku which is a district in Tokyo known for its street fashion. It takes up 16 000 square feet and will have two main tenants that sell digital only items which are Dress X and the Tribute Band. An 18 year old artist has sold their life story as NFTs for over $2 million. FEWOCiOUS has depicted his life from the age of 14 to 18 with his surreal digital artwork. It was kind of a coming-of-age story presented in a surreal style and it includes unseen drawings from the artist. The NFT platform Mintable has had a $13 million Series A. The platform was originally backed by Mark Cuban but now it's seen other people get on the act including a Ripple and MetaKovan's Metapurse as well. There was no lead investor in the round. Additionally, the NFT digital property company Animoca Brands has raised almost $140 million in a recent funding round. Animoca provide property rights through NFTs and blockchain technology giving gamers the ability to own or exchange digital assets or properties in video games. They plan to use the funds to finance new products investments and acquisitions and intellectual property licenses which obviously you'll be able to do a lot of with that much money. They previously created games such as F1 Delta Time and also the Sandbox which is a game with a sort of Minecraft type feel but it enables people to buy trade and sell assets created with NFTs. And finally, the VeChain have created an NFT based Covid vaccination passport and this has been green lighted by the San Marino authorities. What this will do is it will track individual vaccinations via QR codes that are available on these eNFT certificates. This is also the first ever national level eNFT adoption program. Here in the UK they've done something similar in terms of creating these vaccination passports but of course they're not using NFTs. At the same time, it's definitely an application of the technology that has good potential. Moving on to our metrics for this week, the crypto market cap is up almost 6% to $1.4 trillion. The assets locked in DeFi are up over 8% to $53 billion. The seven day NFT sales came in at almost $22 million which is up 33% with an average price of over $700. That's all we have for this week, if you like what you hear please subscribe to our podcast and our Youtube channel. Links to all items discussed are available in the show notes at our website weeknblockchain.com. We're also hosting a weekly Clubhouse session every Monday at 12 p.m eastern 5 p.m UK time if you'd like to discuss any of the items we've covered here. Thanks and I'll see you next week.