New Australian Islamic finance DeFi platform is ‘guided by Sharia’

Islamic finance is not always compatible with DeFi's focus on risk and yield. A new platform aims to blend the best of both.

A team based out of Sydney, Australia is building what it claims is the world’s first “Shariah-guided” decentralized finance platform to navigate a course between the advantages of DeFi and the beliefs of Islamic finance.

The Marhaba Decentralized Financial Platform — Marhaba translates to “welcome” in Arabic — is expected to launch in the coming months and seeks to offer the Islamic world a DeFi platform informed by the core tenets of Shariah.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Blockchain Australia Solutions CIO and Marhaba’s CEO and founder, Naquib Mohammed, emphasized a core tenet of Shariah-based finance is ensuring that “both the financial body providing a service and the client must win in the financial transaction.”

“We are building a platform that aims at the inclusivity of the community and a trusted place where faith-conscious Muslims can be onboarded without any hesitation or doubt.”

After founding enterprise-focused platform Spherium Finance in early 2020, Mohammed turned his attention to designing a platform that caters to the world’s Muslim population of two billion.

Mohammed noted the Marhaba team has done research into the attitudes of many Arabic communities regarding crypto assets. He recounted:

In the Muslim countries, we found that 99% of the time, people ask: ‘Is this token Halal? Is this token Shariah compliant?' [...] Question number two is: ‘Where do you buy this?’”

While most new crypto projects begin by tinkering on a testnet and seeking out talented meme-lords on social media, Marhaba’s journey began with Mohammed seeking out respected Islamic scholars who also understand the crypto asset sector and believe decentralized finance can be conducted in a way that adheres to Shariah thought.

The Islamic concept of “Riba” (usury) prohibits “high-interest loans or aggressive derivatives” products as well as transactions akin to gambling (“Maysir”), and those that pose excessive risk or doubt (“Gharar”) are also banned. Mohammed noted:

“The reason that Bitcoin is still under discussion by some scholars in the Islamic ecosystem is because nobody knows who the creator of Bitcoin is. If you don’t know who created it — that means the thing is under doubt.”

Marhaba DeFi will first launch its non-custodial “Sahal Wallet,” which will support custody and transfers in “Shariah-screened tokens and NFTs.” 

Marhaba will hire a team of “highly qualified in-house Shariah advisors” tasked with ensuring the products and tokens supported by the platform are Shariah-guided. The team will systematically assess the tokens listed on crypto data aggregators from largest to smallest, and will conduct regular reviews of projects after they have been approved.

Future versions of the wallet will be integrated with Marhaba’s forthcoming “ethical trading,” “yield maximizer buckets,” decentralized charity, payments solution, and NFT marketplace products.

Mohammed describes Marhaba’s yield maximizer buckets as a “shariah-compliant version of yield farming, noting:

“It’s not exactly yield farming, it's pretty innovative because we are making different investment buckets for you to maximize profits.”

Although charging interest on lending is banned under Shariah, Marhaba is also exploring borrowing and lending products that mobilize the depositors' assets without charging them interest.

The NFT marketplace is scheduled for launch later this year, with the Marhaba team working to onboard respected artists creating traditionally-inspired Islamic calligraphy to tokenize on the platform.

GoodFi coalition adds 22 industry leaders to help attract 100M to DeFi

The decentralized finance coalition has onboarded 22 leaders from 19 teams to help further its mission of bringing 100 million people into DeFi by 2025.

Non-profit decentralized finance alliance, GoodFi, has announced the addition of 22 DeFi industry leaders to its newly formed Board of Advisors including representatives from many of the sector’s top projects.

It’s also launched a website to hook new users up with appropriate DeFi protocols.

Announced May 13, the advisory board features Chainlink account executive, Michael Zacharski, SushiSwap core developer, Omakase, and Aave digital marketing manager, Isa Kivlighan. In total, 19 leading teams building in DeFi from across the globe are represented, including Ava Labs, Acala Network, and Maple Finance.

The Board of Advisors is expected to pool knowledge and experience to reduce the barriers to enter the crypto and DeFi sectors. GoodFi has also launched a website offering in-depth resources to first-time users regarding the value proposition and basics underpinning decentralized finance.

The site will offer a “matchmaker” feature from next month. It’s designed to recommend beginner-friendly DeFi protocols to new users tailored to their individual needs. The tool will also provide real-time data for yield products on “a range of proven platforms.”

Adam Simmons, Radix’s head of strategy, emphasized GoodFi’s mission of onboarding 100 million DeFi users by 2025:

“While opening a new cryptocurrency wallet and interacting with various DeFi DApps is second-nature to crypto natives, these processes will initially be intimidating to the uninitiated majority across the globe. To get 100 [million] DeFi users by 2025, GoodFi needs to guide users at each step so they feel confident bringing assets into the ecosystem.”

Speaking to Cointelegraph, Maple Finance’s CEO and co-founder, Sidney Powell stated that Maple will “help establish partnerships with a goal of building awareness about the power and sovereignty which DeFi puts in the hands of the everyday person.”

Powell predicted that the development of increasingly user-friendly interfaces will help “spur greater adoption” of DeFi, adding that “the longer DeFi has been around, the more comfortable people will be with it.”

“[DeFi] is already starting to appeal to people I know from Wall St and more traditional finance backgrounds so this is just a matter of time. We see DeFi’s adoption as increasing society’s progress by giving new tech and finance businesses access to capital for growth and innovation.”

The GoodFi alliance was launched by DeFi-focused layer-one protocol Radix in February, with Chainlink, Aave, and Messari pledging early support.

DeFi consortiums have sharply proliferated in recent months, with Polkadot announcing an alliance in December, the Ren Alliance expanding to more than 50 members in April, and the Open DeFi Alliance launching a decentralized autonomous organization earlier this month.

Coinbase revenue tripled in Q1, plans to add bank-like services and to list DOGE

During the first quarter, Coinbase’s active users increased by 120% while trade volumes tripled.

The first quarter revenue of leading U.S.-based crypto exchange, Coinbase, more than tripled its Q4 2020 performance.

According to documents filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Coinbase generated earnings of $3.05 per share and total revenues of $1.8 billion. However, the firm fell slightly short of its expected $3.07 per share.

By contrast, the company generated $585 million in revenue amid Bitcoin’s rally into new all-time highs during the fourth quarter of 2020, and just $191 million in Q1 a year ago.

Approximately 94% of the firm’s quarterly net revenue came from crypto asset trading fees.

Coinbase’s net profits also surged, with the firm reporting profits of $771 million — more than quadruple its profits from the previous quarter and an increase of 24 times year-on-year.

Trading volume on the exchange roughly tripled compared to the previous quarter, with Coinbase’s active users more than doubling, from 2.8 million to 6.1 million.

The company abstained from providing detailed guidance for its future performance, stating:

“It is important for investors to remember that our business is inherently unpredictable.” 

However, the company was willing to predict it will host between 5.5 million and 9 million monthly users over the entirety of 2021.

Coinbase also revealed that it plans to list the popular meme-coin Dogecoin within the next eight weeks or s, and to increase the speed the platform is able to launch new listings. Appearing on CNBC’s Mad Money show on May 13, Coinbase CFO, Alesia Haas, said:

“We are slow. We need to add more assets. We’re making big investments to improve the speed of our asset addition.”

Haas also noted the firm’s plan to expand the types of financial services it offers to users, stating: “We hope to be the primary financial account in the crypto economy, and engage our users with all the transaction types.”

In addition to services most people “are very familiar with in a typical fiat system,” such as “credit cards, loans, deposit accounts,” Haas emphasized the unique services enabled by crypto assets such as staking and governance, adding:

“I think that crypto will enable new transactions that we can’t even envision today.”

Despite posting a strong first quarter for the year, Coinbase’s shares are down roughly 30% since its direct listing on April 14, having last changed hands for roughly $265.

NFT game developer Animoca Brands completes capital raise at $1B valuation

NFT game developer Animoca Brands is claiming the status of crypto’s latest unicorn after raising almost $89 million at a $1-billion valuation.

NFT-focussed game developer Animoca Brands has announced the completion of an $88,888,888 capital raise based on a valuation of $1 billion.

The raise was announced on Thursday, with participants including Kingsway Capital, HashKey Fintech Investment Fund, RIT Capital Partners and Huobi. Up to 93.4 million newly issued shares in Animoca Brands will be distributed to the investors at a subscription price of $0.85 each.

Animoca Brands co-founder and chairman Yat Siu noted that its strategic investors share the company’s “vision for NFTs redefining equity and property rights online.” Kingsway founder and CEO Manuel Stotz added:

“The emergence of digital property rights, whether via Bitcoin or NFTs, is perhaps the greatest opportunity for financial inclusion for the bottom three billion frontier and emerging market consumers, as well as an opportunity for a more decentralized and thus more equitable global internet.”

To commemorate the raise, Animoca will issue a special nonfungible token to its investors and key partners.

The company says that funding will be used for product development, acquisitions and securing licensing rights for its games. Animoca has released notable titles including The Sandbox, F1 Delta Time and MotoGP Ignition, and has invested in leading teams in the NFT space including Dapper Labs, OpenSea and Axie Infinity.

Last month, Animoca was ranked among Statista’s list of the top 500 high-growth companies in the Asia-Pacific region for 2021 in addition to being named one of Australia’s fastest-growing companies.

In February, Animoca announced that its entire REVV motorsports ecosystem would be deployed on Polygon’s layer-two sidechain to alleviate the high gas fees associated with using Ethereum’s mainnet, beginning with F1 Delta Time.

In December, an NFT representing 5% of the Monaco track in F1 Delta Time was auctioned for $222,000. The winning bidder will be able to earn dividends from races held on the track.

Bitwise launches US ‘crypto ETF’… sort of

Bitwise has launched a new ETF offering exposure to the top publicly-listed firms operating in the blockchain and crypto industries.

Bitwise Asset Management has announced the launch of its Crypto Industry Innovators exchange-traded fund, or ETF.

Unlike the numerous proposals for Bitcoin and cryptocurrency ETFs offering direct exposure to digital assets that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission takes great delight in shooting down, Bitwise’s new fund, dubbed BITQ, offers exposure to the shares of leading “public companies that are participants in the growing Bitcoin and cryptocurrency sector.”

BITQ investments are based on Bitwise’s Crypto Industry Innovators 30 Index, which tracks top firms “engaged in actual, material activity in the crypto sector” that hold a minimum of “$100 million of liquid crypto assets on their balance sheet.”

A May 12 announcement notes that most companies included in the index derive “at least 75% of their revenue from directly servicing cryptocurrency markets or have at least 75% of their net assets accounted for by direct holding of liquid crypto assets.”

Hunter Horsley, Bitwise’s chief executive, noted that the absence of regulated financial products offering exposure to Bitcoin in the United States has resulted in many investors missing the “stellar cryptocurrency returns” produced during rallies of recent years.

“We’ve heard time and again from clients that the primary challenge has been finding a way to access the incredibly complex and fast-moving crypto space. With BITQ, our aim is to make crypto investment opportunities available through traditional investing platforms and a familiar, liquid, and cost-effective ETF.”

Inspired by Coinbase’s direct listing on the Nasdaq last month, Bitwise’s index recognizes crypto firms within 24 hours after they debut through an initial public offering or direct listing. 

While BITQ may be the first ETF to have “crypto” in its title, it is not the first ETF offering exposure to the crypto sector’s leading firms. The crypto-heavy portfolio of the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK) has seen it rank among the 50 top-performing ETFs of 2021 so far when excluding leveraged and inverse products with a year-to-date gain of 36.4%.

While BLOK’s ticker is at best an oblique reference to blockchain, nearly every company allocation in its portfolio has direct connections to the crypto and digital asset sector. Its 10-largest positions — representing 41% of assets under management, includes industry leaders MicroStrategy (MSTR), Square (SQ), Galaxy Digital Holdings (GLXY), and Marathon Digital Holdings (MARA).

BLOK is the single-largest holder of Microstrategy by percentage allocation with 8% of its capital invested, and the largest MARA holder by number of shares held.

Backlash to Elon Musk’s Bitcoin bombshell as traders start to buy the dip

Tesla’s decision to suspend accepting Bitcoin as payment has sent crypto Twitter into a frenzy, with some onlookers alleging a 'pump n dump' while others are boldly buying the dip.

With Tesla’s suspension of Bitcoin payments causing chaos in crypto markets today, critics have targeted CEO Elon Musk’s cavalier attitude to the dramatic effects his words and actions can have on the sector.

On May 13, Tesla and Musk announced that it had ceased accepting BTC as payment for vehicles due to concerns regarding the “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal.”

In response to the news, Bitcoin shed 15% in less than three hours, plummeting from nearly $55,000 to $46,600. Bitcoin’s “Fear & Greed Index” has also swung aggressively from yesterday’s greedy score of 68 to a fearful score of just 31 today.

Bitcoin’s Fear and Greed Index

Tesla’s decision to accept BTC as payment for its vehicles in late-March was seen as an important factor in Bitcoin’s most recent rally into new-all time highs near $65,000 during mid-April. Many disappointed Bitcoiners are now accusing the car manufacturer and its CEO of having executed an elaborate “pump n dump.”

In an “emergency press conference”, sometimes crypto trader and Barstool Sports founder, Dave Portnoy, asserted that Musk “just tried to tank Bitcoin,” stating:

“[Musk] has been pulling the levers like the Wizard of Oz on crypto, and everyone’s following his every move — he’s sending Dogecoin up, he's sending Bitcoin down, this is bullshit [...] Elon, you have responsibility when one second you say to buy something, and the next second you don’t - that’s playing with people’s futures and their fortunes.”

He asked: “How can you live with yourself?”

Adrian Przelozny CEO of Independent Reserve told Cointelegraph that Tesla's move was “disappointing.”

“However, we’ve seen Bitcoin receive all sorts of bad press throughout the years, such as Governments banning its usage. And despite that, Bitcoin has always recovered and grown to new highs,” he said.

“Long-term, I’m still very bullish on Bitcoin and don’t believe that this announcement will significantly impact price or adoption.”

Buy the dip?

However, others are inferring opportunity in the markets, with many high-profile crypto analysts taking Twitter to boast about buying the dip.

William Clemente III tweeted to his 58,700 followers that the dip “will be looked at as one of the greatest bull market buy opportunities in BTC history.”

Blockstream co-founder, Adam Back, stated: “Buying the Doge-tweeter dip. Thanks for all the sats.” Morgan Creek Digital founder, Anthony Pomplino, similarly announced: “I bought the dip. Thanks Elon,” adding:

“Elon didn’t sell his Bitcoin. He and I are both still long. Same team.”

Bitcoin dipped to just above $47,100 in the wake of the news but has since recovered to $50,450 at the time of writing.

Messari’s Mira Christanto expressed skepticism regarding the long term impact of Tesla’s decision, emphasizing that, “Tesla still holds BTC on its balance sheet” and challenging Tesla's assertions regarding the dirtiness of Bitcoin mining.

Christanto shared a memo published by financial services firm Square last month titled “ Bitcoin is Key to an Abundant, Clean Energy Future” that argues the mining sector is driving demand for cheap renewable electricity.

Bitcoin loses 6% in an hour after Tesla drops payments over carbon concerns

Bitcoin has shed nearly 6% in an hour after Tesla suspended its support for payments in BTC.

The Bitcoin markets are pulling back after electric car manufacturer Tesla suspended its support for vehicle purchases using BTC.

In a May 13 tweet, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk noted the company’s concerns regarding the “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal.”

While Musk predicted that cryptocurrency “has a promising future,” he concluded that the rise of digital assets “cannot come at a great cot to the environment.

However, the firm has not ruled out accepting BTC again in future, with the post noting the firm will resume using Bitcoin “for transactions as soon as mining transitions to more sustainable energy." Musk added:

“We are also looking at other cryptocurrencies that use

On social media, many within the crypto community have contradicted Musk and Tesla’s assertion regarding the environmental impact of Bitcoin mining, with Twitter use “The Wolf of All Streets” noting that “miners primarily use renewable energy.” 

However while the 3rd Global Cryptoasset Benchmarking Study by the University of Cambridge in October 2020 showed that up to 76% of cryptocurrency mining uses some renewable electricity, it estimated only 39% of the total power consumed by Proof of Work cryptocurrencies was green energy.

As of this writing, BTC has crashed roughly 6% in the past hour, tumbling from $54,800 to roughly $51,600.

9 CryptoPunks sell for $17M at Christie’s auction house

Famed New York auction house, Christie’s hosted the sale of nine CryptoPunks NFTs for nearly $17 million.

Despite the recent NFT frenzy starting to cool, prized nonfungible tokens with historical significance are still fetching multi-million dollar prices.

On May 12, famed New York-based auction house, Christie’s, tweeted that an auction for nine tokens from pioneering NFT CryptoPunks had cleared for nearly $17 million combined.

Despite the tokens fetching millions, some Twitter users speculated that the winning bidder scored a bargain.

CryptoPunks were launched by LarvaLabs in 2017, and were limited to 10,000 tokens in total. The NFTs depict randomly generated pixelated portraits with unique features inspired by the London punk movement, such as hair styles, jewellery, and sunglasses.

Ahead of the auction, Christie’s teamed up with non-profit and urban art proponent SaveArtSpace to display CryptoPunks in public spaces in New York. The public exhibition, dubbed Pixelated, is showcasing 193 CryptoPunks from May 10 until June 6, and expands a similar public exhibition of CryptoPunks held in Miami during April.

Adult streaming platform, CamSoda, is also jumping on the CryptoPunk bandwagon, announcing it will host a live no-reserve auction of CryptoPunk #7060 on May 13. Auction attendees must deposit the grand total of at least $1 worth of crypto assets into their CamSoda account to participate. 

CamSoda’s vice president, Daryn Parker, stated: “Right now we are in the midst of a NFT gold rush. NFTs are crypto’s hottest investment space so far in 2021, with millions in trades and rare collectibles like CryptoPunks selling for huge sums.”

“Given how CryptoPunks have captured the mainstream crypto zeitgeist, we wanted to make one easily accessible to our users,” he added.

In February, Christie’s auctioned famed digital artist Beeple’s “Everydays” NFT collection for more than $69 million.

Source: Christie’s / Larva Labs

Yearn Finance surges 45% as it joins dog pack with WOOFY

Yearn Finance is up nearly 45% in 24 hours, and it appears to be thanks to the team’s new dog token offering a bi-directional peg to YFI.

Despite Dogecoin retracing from its all-time highs above $0.70, dog tokens continue to attract astonishing levels of popularity, with DeFi “blue-chip” Yearn Finance emerging as arguably the most prominent team seeking to cash in on the canine meme coin craze with the launch of its WOOFY token.

But the YFI fans jumping in early may not have fully understood the coin’s utility which saw the price sail into the stratosphere.

Whisperings of the new project began to circulate on Twitter over the past 24 hours, with users associated with Yearn hinting at a new token called WUFFY. Rumors of an airdrop for users who posted a picture of themselves being licked a dog and tag Yearn developer “Banteg” saw a flood of face-lick photos uploaded to Twitter.

As is quickly becoming the norm for new releases from the Yearn team, fans in the community raced to purchase the new token before fully understanding its utility. 

Despite WOOFY’s sole function being to offer a means to redenominate YFI holdings — with the Woofy Finance interface offering bi-directional YFI to WOOFY conversions at a ratio of 1:1 million, over-exuberant buyers pushed the price of WOOFY so high as to imply YFI’s to be $1.5 million per token.

As of this writing, YFI is trading for roughly $88,200 after gaining 43% in 24 hours.

Community sentiment appears divided regarding WOOFY, with Twitter user “BrotherMuozone” concluding that looking like “an unsavory attempt to milk vale out of the new suckers in the market,” adding the experiment actually comprises “a brilliantly timed and themed ‘unit bias a/b test’” offering insights into whether traders prefer tokens with a larger circulating supply and lower fiat price versus a low supply and high token price.

Although whether traders choose to hodl WOOFY or YFI is arbitrary, with traders’ preference for one token over the other having no impact on Yearn’s overall market cap, the introduction of WOOFY may reduce the volatility of YFI’s price by creating arbitrage opportunities between the two tokens.

As of this writing, WOOFY last changed hands for $0.09, implying a roughly 3% premium over YFI.

According to Dextools, nine of the top 10 most-viewed pairings on Uniswap V2 are dog tokens.

SlumDOGE millionaires: Dog tokens dominate Uniswap v3’s rankings

Shiba Inu token is half of the top pairing by both fees generated and total number of trades on Uniswap v3.

Despite DOGE’s dramatic crash following the highly anticipated episode of Saturday Night Live hosted by SpaceX founder and hypothetical Dogecoin CEO, Elon Musk, many dog-tokens that recently rode DOGE’s coat-tails are still up several-hundred percent in just a couple of weeks after driving billions in trade volume on Uniswap v3.

In spite of its limited utility, the self-described “experiment in decentralized spontaneous community building,” Shiba Inu (SHIB), has dominated Uniswap v3’s rankings since the DEX’s May 5 launch.

Since Uniswap v3’s launch, the WETH/SHIB pairing ranks as the top pairing by both total fee generation with $2.4 million and number of trades with nearly 57,000, beating out second-ranked WETH/USDT with $750,000 generated over nearly 8,500 trades.

WETH/SHIB is currently third by total trade volume on Uniswap v3 with $243.2 billion, ranking behind WETH/USDT’s $299 billion and WETH/USDC’s $256.7 billion.

Other tokens of little utility have similarly surged in popularity amid the dog-token trading craze, with Akita Inu (AKITA) currently ranking eighth by fee generation, fifth by total number of trades, and 13th by total volume on Uniswap v3. Dogelon Mars (ELON) also produced an impressive performance on Uniswap, ranking sixth by total number of trades and 13th by fee generation.

Cointelegraph’s Joseph Young also noted that Dogecoin was also topping the trade volume charts, with the DOGE/USDT perpetual contract on Binance Futures overtaking Bitcoin to rank as the top trading pairing on the platform.

While DOGE is up roughly 111% over the past 14 days, SHIB has gained 973%, AKITA’s is up 347%, and ELON’s price has increased 479% over the same period.

Almost twice as much ETH locked in DeFi as on exchanges: Glassnode

While the amount of ETH locked in DeFi protocols is up 75% since the start of 2020, the sum of Ether held on centralized exchanges has fallen by 30% over the same period.

Ether is being locked up in decentralized finance contracts at an accelerating rate this year, while the amount held on centralized exchanges continues to fall.

On May 7, on-chain analytics provider, Glassnode, shared a chart comparing the number of Ether deposited in Ethereum-based smart contracts to the number of ETH held on centralized exchanges over the past 17 months.

Since the start of 2020, the share of supply represented by Ether on centralized exchanges has dropped more than a quarter, from roughly 17% to 12%.

Over the same period the percentage of ETH locked in smart contracts has increased by three quarters, from 13% to 22.8%, showing that DeFi is steadily eating into centralized exchanges’ profits from Ethereum trading fees.

Ether supply in smart contracts vs Ether on centralized exchanges: Glassnode

Figures from crypto data aggregator DeFi Llama suggest that ETH equivalent to roughly 9% of the supply is locked in smart contracts hosted by networks other than the Ethereum mainnet.

DeFi Llama estimates that 8.3 million coins or 7% of circulating Ether is locked in Binance Smart Chain protocols, while 286,153 Ether or 0.25% of supply is on Solana, and 103,902 ETH 0.09% is on Avalanche. Roughly 1.6% or 2.8 million Ether is locked in “other” networks.

Ether’s dramatic rally into new all-time highs above $3,500 has renewed discussions of a ‘flippening’ over Bitcoin, with Ether futures volumes briefly outpacing the BTC markets this week.

Square’s earnings 2.5X expectations, Bitcoin revenue up 1000% in 12 months

Square’s quarterly earnings beat out expectations by more than double thanks to Bitcoin’s dramatic rally.

U.S.-based financial services firm, Square Inc, reports that its quarterly earnings doubled analyst expectations amid booming demand for crypto assets.

Global financial data provider Refinitiv had predicted Square would see earnings of 16 cents per share in Q1 2021, but the firm ended up earning 41 cents per share. Square saw $5.06 billion in revenue, dwarfing Refinitiv's prediction of $3.36 billion.

Bitcoin alone drove $3.5 billion in revenue, an astonishing increase of 1,000% in just 12 months.

Square’s quarterly gross profit also surged 79% year-over-year to tag $964 million. More than half of the firm's profits can be attributed to its crypto-friendly payment application, Cash App, which drove $495 million in gross profits — a 171% increase when compared to Q1 2020.

While Bitcoin turnover was in the billions, the cryptocurrency represented 2% of the firm’s total gross profit with $75 million.

“Bitcoin revenue and gross profit benefited from a year-over-year increase in the price of Bitcoin, Bitcoin activities, and growth in customer demand,” noted the firm.

During an earnings call, Square CEO, Jack Dorsey, emphasized the firm’s mission of supporting BTC to become the native currency of the internet, stating:

“Our focus, first and foremost, is on enabling [...] Bitcoin to be the native currency. It removes a bunch of friction for our business. And we believe fully that it creates more opportunities for economic empowerment around the world.”

Despite predicting Cash App will continue to see triple-figure growth year-over-year in 2021, Square’s CFO, Amrita Ahuja, noted that government stimulus likely bolstered the recent performance of its payments application.

“We believe our customers had greater spending power from government funds, which drove an uplift in inflows in March,” he said, adding: “We have since seen a normalization with inflows down 16% in April, compared to March.”

Square became one of the first firms to invest a portion of its treasury into Bitcoin when the firm purchased 4,709 BTC for $50 million in October.

While the company’s first BTC buy is now worth $263.7 million, the firm is down $20 million on a further 3,318 BTC it bought in February for $170 million. The firm currently holds $472 million worth of BTC in total.

Early Bitcoin bull market buyers are hodling strong, but short term trading increasing

Data from Glassnode shows that bulls who accumulated during the second half of 2020 are still holding strong, despite a surge in short-term speculation this year.

Bitcoin buyers from the early phases of the bull run are still hodling despite BTC’s meteoric surge into new all-time highs, according to data shared by Glassnode.

The on-chain analytics provider shared its “Realized Cap HODL Waves” chart, noting that the number of coins that were last realized on-chain in the past six months has nearly doubled from roughly 40% to 80% since the third quarter of 2020 — showing that much of the BTC purchased during this period has not been touched since.

HODL Waves are used to estimate the time since BTC coins last moved on-chain, while the realized price is derived from the price the coins were last moved at, rather than the current price. As such, the colored bands shown in the Realized Cap HODL Waves chart increase in thickness “as coins mature or are spent into different age bands.”

The data evidences that a large number of BTC purchased during 2020’s later months have not since been traded, with the chart showing coins progressively maturing from the fourth-quarter 2020 onwards.

Analyzing the chart in its May 3 Weekly On-chain report, Glassnode stated: “These are coins accumulated in the early bull market that have remained dormant since.”

Short term

However, the chart also shows that the share of Bitcoin’s supply represented by coins last active between six months and three years ago has plummeted since mid-2020, dropping from more than 55% in July 2020 to around 10% now. This means long-term investors have been capitalizing on Bitcoin’s all-time highs and realizing profits on multi-year positions.

Short-term speculation also appears to have surged since November, peaking with roughly half of Bitcoin’s supply having been realized in the past three months. This suggests short term traders are driving the markets.

Much DAO: Open DeFi unveils DAO to support the entire ecosystem

Open DeFi’s new DAO will be community governed through a governance token.

Decentralized finance alliance, Open DeFi, has announced it will create a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, to support its vision for an open and global cross-chain DeFi ecosystem.

The alliance launched in late 2020 with the goal of bringing together Western and Eastern DeFi projects and has since seen some of the sector’s top projects join its ranks including as Aave, Synthetix and Balancer.

The responsibilities of the Open DeFi DAO, or OD DAO, will include launching DeFi products across multiple layer-one networks, and exploring multi-chain applications for emerging decentralized assets, including data tokens and nonfungible tokens.

The DAO will also incubate early-stage protocols and infrastructure, and seek to “generate long-term value through community-based strategies.” Open DeFi’s Marek Laskowski stated:

“The goal of Open DAO is to develop a truly integrated multi-chain DeFi ecosystem that will open up liquid markets and establish a new operating system for finance. With the support of our members and our community of more than 10,000 DeFi developers and strategists worldwide, we look forward to accelerating the next generation of DeFi.”

The DAO will be community governed through a governance token, with an announcement emphasizing that “anyone can join” the permissionless organization.

To celebrate the new DAO and support DeFi decentralized finance development, Open DAO and Gitcoin launched a hackathon on May 3. The event has been sponsored by more than 20 major DeFi projects including Uniswap and Polygon, with more than $100,000 in prizes to be awarded to the hackathon’s winners.

Open DeFi was launched by blockchain startup Conflux Network in September 2020 with support from the Chinese central government’s Shanghai and Technology Committee, describing its mission as bridging the Eastern and Western decentralized finance markets. By November, the alliance had doubled its membership to span 16 firms, including four of the 20-largest DeFi protocols by total value locked.

In addition to several decentralized finance heavyweights, Open DeFi’s membership currently includes notable actors within the broader crypto sector including fundraising platform Gitcoin and venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.

Decentralized autonomous organizations have seen tremendous growth over the past six months, with the combined assets under management, or AUM, of the DAO ecosystem increasing more than 600% from $140 million as of Nov. 5, 2020, to roughly $1 billion today, according to data provider, DeepDAO.

DeepDAO currently tracks 108 different DAOs, of which 24 hold more than $1 million in assets, and 17 comprise more than 100 members.

PayPal says its crypto efforts are producing ‘really great results’ on earnings call

PayPal’s CEO believes crypto assets are forging a more equitable and inclusive financial system.

During PayPal's Quarter 1 2021 investor update call, president and CEO, Dan Schulman said digital assets had performed strongly for the company and that he believes crypto and central bank digital currencies will be a driving force in forging “a more equitable financial system.”

Following the success of PayPal’s move to embrace crypto assets, much of the call centered around the firm’s recent and future plans for digital assets.

“We believe the current technological underpinnings of our financial system will be substantially upgraded over the coming years,” Schulman said, adding this would help efforts to recover from the pandemic:

“Both cryptocurrency and central bank-issued digital currencies can play a critical role in shaping a more inclusive recovery and a more equitable financial system.”

The CEO stated the payments provider has an extensive crypto roadmap planned, noting its digital asset innovations will be pursued “in partnership with governments and in compliance with local, national and global regulatory frameworks.” 

“We’ve got a tremendous amount of really great results going on tactically with our crypto efforts,” he added.

The firm’s shares rose by more than 5% on Wednesday, April 5 in response to the earnings update, after PayPal revealed its per-share earnings had outperformed expectations by more than 20%, coming in at $1.22 each adjusted. PayPal’s $6.03 billion in revenue also exceeded predictions by 2%.

Total payment volume was $20 billion more than expected, finishing the quarter at $285 billion. The firm also added 14.5 million new active accounts, bringing its user base to 392 million.

Schulman asserted PayPal’s adoption of digital assets “has been widely embraced,” noting productive conversations with “central banks, regulators and government officials around the world.”

The firm described its adoption of digital assets as bolstering the utility for cryptocurrency by enabling “millions of merchants around the globe” to accept crypto payments. However, transactions made in digital assets within PayPal’s merchant network are currently settled in fiat currency.

PayPal’s Venmo app also introduced buy, hold, and sell capabilities last month. PayPal noted that its 2020 Venmo Customer Behavior Study found that 30% of customers had already begun purchasing crypto assets — of which 20% began buying amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Schulman also noted the firm closed its acquisition of crypto asset custodian, Curv, last month, stating: “Curv's talented team will bolster our existing technology resources and accelerate our efforts to shape a new financial infrastructure that is efficient, low cost and inclusive.”

Will the launch of Uniswap v3 spark a new DeFi boom?

With Uniswap’s TVL growing from $13.7 million to $8.5 billion since launching its v2 iteration, some onlookers believe the DEX’s v3 launch could spark the next DeFi rally.

With the total value locked in decentralized finance on Ethereum now $89 billion, the market is eagerly waiting to see if the launch of UniSwap v3 could be the catalyst for DeFi’s next big bull run. 

Uniswap v3 promises advanced new features and opportunities for yield generation with its launch scheduled for May 5.

Uniswap is emphasizing three new features for liquidity providers — customizable capital deployment across a markets’ entire price curve in the form of concentrated liquidity, tiered market maker fees offering boosted returns for volatile pairs subject to impermanent loss, and cheaper access to oracles for improved data integrity.

The expected reduction in Ethereum’s fees due to the EIP-1559 upgrade come July is also expected to boost v3’s value proposition, and the latest version of Uniswap will also launch on Optimism after the layer-two rollups solution goes live

With its new concentrated liquidity feature promising users' unique and customizable yield products, a nascent DeFi sector specializing in tokenizing future yields appears poised to flourish.

Emerging projects like Alchemix have recently enjoyed meteoric growth from the promise of tokenizing future yields, while the likes of Alchemist Coin are using Ampleforth’s V2 Geyser contracts to allow users to create nonfungible tokens representing claims to future Uniswap liquidity provider fees. 

Further, new decentralized exchanges are innovating to facilitate trade in tokenized future yields, with Pendle raising $3.5 million from major investors last month to build an automated market maker specializing in time-degrading assets.

Commenting on the completion of Pendle’s public LBP offering earlier this month, Cinneamhain Ventures Partner, Adam Cochrane, described the forthcoming exchange as creating “an entirely new category of market in the DeFi space.”

Uniswap v2 in history

Uniswap v2 launched on Ethereum’s mainnet on March 18, 2020. Back then, the decentralized exchange had roughly $13.7 million locked in total value locked, or TVL, while the broader DeFi sector’s TVL was roughly $550 million.

Despite attracting controversy early on for the popularity of its open listing policy among scammers and impersonators and its relatively high trade fees compared to some centralized platforms, Uniswap's TVL pushed above $100 million in August as the sector’s TVL surged to $7.5 billion by September.

After facing a series of vampire mining attacks from rival yield farming DEXes in a bid to siphon away the platform’s liquidity, Uniswap airdropped its native governance token to the v2 protocol’s users in September and closed the month with a TVL of more than $2 billion.

While the DeFi markets cooled in Q4 2020 while Bitcoin into new all-time highs above $20,000, the sector’s TVL has rocketed since the start of 2021, while value locked in Uniswap grew from $2.15 billion to $8.53 billion, according to DeFi Llama.

Maker Foundation returns dev fund to DAO amid path to decentralization

The Maker Foundation has returned 84,000 MKR to the project’s DAO in a major milestone for the protocol’s road to decentralization.

The MakerDAO Foundation has returned 84,000 MKR tokens from its development fund to MakerDAO’s governance module, marking a milestone in the project’s path to decentralization.

In a May 3 blog post, the foundation notes that “no conditions or expectations” have been placed on MakerDAO regarding the returned tokens, with Maker Governance now having complete control over the tokens.

The announcement states that with the return of the development and the completion of recent technical contributions to Maker’s liquidation engine and its DAO’s core unit framework, the foundation will now focus on working toward its own dissolution to further decentralize the protocol:

“The Foundation now turns inward to focus solely on its dissolution.“

To manage and finance its transition to obsolescence, the Maker Foundation has retained less than one percent of MKR’s supply. The foundation is aiming to have dissolved by December 31, 2021. The foundation will continue publishing progress reports until the dissolution is completed.

On the same day, MakerDAO announced the launch of a governance poll to determine whether to expand the vaults subject to its Liquidations 2.0 Framework. If approved, the updated liquidations engine will be used for Maker’s Uniswap, 0x, Basic Attention Token, Loopring, Compound, Balancer, Kyber Network, Decentraland, Aave, and renBTC vaults.

If the governance poll is passed, an executive vote is expected to complete the upgrades within 30 days of voting.

The updated mechanism seeks to bring greater predictability and stability to liquidations executed by the protocol in a move to safeguard against the aggressive cascading liquidations that resulted in MakerDAO becoming undercollateralized amid the March 2020 “Black Thursday” crash. The project moved to decentralize governance in the weeks following the black swan event.

MakerDAO currently ranks as the third-largest DeFi protocol behind Aave and PancakeSwap with $9.75 billion in total value locked, according to DeFi Llama.

Slam dunk? LeBron James NFT drop could break Top Shot records

An upcoming auction will sell three Legendary NBA Top Shot NFTs, including a token that holds the record for most-expensive Top Shot moment sold.

Nonfungible token studio, House of Kibaa, has announced an auction of three “Legendary” NBA Top Shot NFTs depicting slam dunks from renowned pro basketball player, LeBron James.

The auction will be hosted in partnership with Heritage Auctions, and will run from May 6 until May 20. The three NFTs will be auctioned off as a single collection. Each of the tokens were released during the first season of NBA Top Shot and are of Legendary scarcity — the rarest tokens that Top Shot collectors can own.

NBA Top Shot has exploded in popularity since launching its closed beta in June 2020, and transition to open beta three months later.

By March 2021, Top Shot had generated more than $230 million in gross sales. According to CryptoSlam, Top Shot’s secondary peer-to-peer marketplace hosts more than $1.8 million worth of trades daily, according to a 30-day rolling average, with Legendary tokens having fetched six-figure prices in recent months.

House of Kibaa spokesperson, T.C. Lau, described the offering as “the largest auction sale in NBA Top Shot history,” noting that each of the tokenized moments have serial numbers that “hold a great significance to the late Los Angeles Lakers star, Kobe Bryant.” The tokens to be auctioned boast the serial numbers #26, #41, and #42.

The #26 token depicts James’ iconic “Kobe Bryant Tribute Dunk” on February 6, in which James performed the same “break away, reverse windmill, two-handed slam dunk” popularized by Bryant roughly 19 years beforehand in the same arena.

The #26 serial number also invokes the date of Bryant’s death — January 26, 2020. The announcement notes the #26 serial will never again exist in circulation for a Kobe Tribute NBA Top Shot moment.

A #3 serial Legendary token depicting the same tribute dunk from the same series set a new record for the most expensive NBA Top Shot moment sold after it was auctioned for $387,600 on April 16.

The #42 NFT depicts Lebron leading the Lakers to their 17th championship in the 2020 NBA championship finals. The win saw the Lakers secure their first championship since Bryant won his fifth and final NBA title with the team roughly a decade beforehand, with James having promised to deliver the victory in honor of Bryant’s legacy. Bryant would have been aged #42 at the time, adding significance to the NFT’s serial.

The last token up for auction boasts the #41 serial and was the first Legendary LeBron NFT minted by Top Shot. The NFT depicts a dunk performed by James two days before he and Bryant were photographed together at the following Lakers game. Bryant was aged 41 at the time the dunk was performed.

The auction will be ongoing during the May 15 ceremony for Kobe Bryant’s posthumous induction into the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.

Australian senate committee calls for national blockchain land registry

Australia’s senate committee on technology and finance wants lawmakers to establish a national blockchain land registry.

An Australian senate committee has published a report calling for a blockchain-based national land registry, better clarity over laws relating to smart contracts, and continued efforts to establish international standards for DLT.

The Select Committee on Australia as a Technology and Financial Centre's second interim report offers 23 recommendations spanning blockchain, consumer data, and corporate taxation.

Five recommendations deal specifically with blockchain and digital assets, including that the Council of Financial Regulators Cyber Working Group takes into account international data standards.

The committee recommended that National Cabinet consider supporting a blockchain-powered national land registry as a pilot project for Commonwealth-State cooperation on “RegTech’ to highlight ways to streamline administrative processes in both the public and private sectors.

“The committee was particularly impressed with the potential for blockchain to drive efficiencies in the area of land registries, and is recommending that this issue be further explored in the context of the National Cabinet.”

Zooming out, the committee noted there was a need for more clarity and certainty in digital asset regulations, and highlighted concerns from industry stakeholders regarding “the uncertain status” of smart contracts under Australian law.

Despite hearing about the concerns, the committee didn’t hear many solutions:

“While the committee heard extensive evidence on the need for such regulation, it heard less on concrete ideas for how this regulation should best be crafted." 

Instead it recommended the Australian Government “consider how best to improve clarity with respect to the standing of smart contracts.”

The report called on the Department of Industry, Science, Energy, and Resources, or DISER, to publish regular updates on the progress of the National Blockchain Roadmap and to to review and update the roadmap as the space evolved. 

Moving forward, the committee plans to review how capital gains are applied to cryptocurrency transactions, and give deeper consideration to the regulatory implications of central bank digital currencies and stablecoins during the final phase of its inquiries.

BNY Mellon fund laments it should have bought Bitcoin, not gold

SEC filings show that America’s oldest bank has attributed the underperformance of its small-cap ETF to failing to buy MicroStrategy shares after the firm invested heavily in BTC.

U.S.-based financial institution BNY Mellon, the world’s largest custodian bank and asset servicing company, states that the recent performance of one of its exchange-traded funds, or ETFs, was significantly impacted by its lack of exposure to companies investing in Bitcoin.

The BNY Mellon Opportunistic Small Cap Fund (DSCVX) gained 35% from September 1, 2020, through February 28, 2021, underperforming its benchmark, the Russell 2000 Index — which produced roughly 41.7% over the same period.

Filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission indicate the firm laments not purchasing shares in leading business intelligence firm MicroStrategy (MSTR) — which invested billions into Bitcoin last year, holdings that have since grown to more than $4.8 billion. The filings state:

“Fund performance was hurt as well by a decision not to own MicroStrategy, whose stock surged when it announced it had invested in Bitcoin.”

The document also notes that the fund’s position in gold mining company, Alamos Gold, “hampered performance as shares were hurt by weak gold prices.”

According to ETF.com, 88 ETFs are currently exposed to MicroStrategy, including the sixth-strongest performing fund of 2021 so far, the Amplify Transformational Data Sharing ETF (BLOK) — which is heavily exposed to crypto firms and is the single-largest holder of MSTR by percentage allocation with 5.20% of its portfolio invested in Microstrategy.

On average, U.S.-based ETFs have allocated 0.57% of their capital to MicroStrategy.

Since announcing its first Bitcoin investment in August 2020, MicroStrategy has accumulated $2.2 billion worth of BTC — with the firm’s crypto stash having appreciated in value by 120%.

Over the same period, the price of MSTR has skyrocketed by 385% from $135 to $655 at the time of writing. In early February, MSTR was trading at record highs above $1,270.

MSTR/USD since August 2020: TradingView

BNY’s small-cap ETF typically invests a minimum of 80% of its assets into the stocks of companies with a low market capitalization from the Russell 2000 Index. Some of the fund’s largest allocations include North American airline SkyWest, enterprise cloud provider Cloudera, and healthcare provider Acadia. Roughly 23% of its investments are in the industrial sector, 17.5% are in healthcare, 15.9% are in technology, and 14.2% are in financial services

After opening 2020 trading at roughly 27.5%, DSCVX crashed as low as $16 during March as the economic impacts of the coronavirus became apparent globally. Since then, the fund has more than doubled in price to trade for more than $37.

Despite regretting the lack of MSTR exposure of its Opportunistic Small Cap Fund, BNY Mellon is making significant investments in the crypto sector, leading the $133 million Series C funding round of institutional crypto custodian Fireblocks last month.

In February, BNY Mellon also announced plans to offer Bitcoin custody services.

Your future at stake: Uni of Wyoming allocates $4M to staking three coins

The University of Wyoming is embracing cryptocurrency staking as an innovative way to raise revenue.

The University of Wyoming is allocating $4 million to running nodes and staking at least three cryptocurrencies.

The news was shared to Twitter on April 28 by Caitlin Long, a Wyoming Blockchain and Fintech Select Committee appointee and founder of Avanti Bank & Trust — a local bank servicing the digital asset sector.

The documentation posted by Long notes the University appropriated $4 million from the state’s strategic investments and projects fund to establish, operate, and maintain “nodes and staking pools for no less than three publicly tradable cryptocurrencies."

The revenues generated by the University’s staking pools will first be mobilized to cover operational costs, and then to repay the $4 million to the state’s investment fund. Once the investment has been repaid, profits from the University’s staking will be distributed “to support blockchain programs and activities at the university and community colleges throughout the state.”

The expenditure of profits generated through staking is conditional on the University matching every $1 appropriated from the investment fund with at least $2 in either private donations or from the campus’ reserve accounts.

Chris Rothfuss, the senate minority leader of the Wyoming Legislature and Chairman of the state’s Blockchain and Fintech Select Committee, praised the committee’s “herculean effort” in getting the legislation passed.

Many Twitter users have responded to Long’s post with speculation that Cardano (ADA) may be one of the assets the University is intending to stake.

One commenter shared a link to information on a staking pool identified by CardanoStaking.info as being operated by the University of Wyoming’s Advanced Blockchain Lab. As of this writing, the pool has minted less than 10 blocks, and has pledged roughly $60,000 worth of ADA.

In February 2020, IOHK, the company behind Cardano, donated $500,000 worth of ADA to the university’s blockchain lab to advance its research.

Ransomware task force calls for aggressive Bitcoin transaction tracing measures

The task force has proposed new rules that would facilitate aggressive cryptocurrency tracing and tighter licensing requirements for businesses handling digital assets.

Government and industry have teamed up to fight a major increase in ransomware, with a newly formed ransomware task force calling for new measures to more aggressively trace Bitcoin and crypto capital flows.

The task force includes law enforcement including FBI and U.S. Secret Service agents working alongside representatives of leading security and tech firms.

According to an April 29 report from Reuters citing anonymous sources from the Department of Justice’s task force, the group is calling for new guidelines designed to cut through the anonymity of digital asset transfers that will soon be reviewed by Congress.

The proposed measures includes tightened KYC requirements for crypto asset exchanges, expanded licensing requirements for entities operating with cryptocurrencies, and extending anti-money laundering laws to better canvas the operations of crypto conversion kiosks and ATMs.

The group is also supporting the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s push to increase the reporting requirements for transactions valued at more than $10,000.

One Homeland Security official said the proposed guidelines would also be “huge” for law enforcement efforts to comb narcotics traffickers, human smugglers, and other actors engaging in illicit activities under the cover of crypto-pseudonymity.

“This is a world that was created exactly to be anonymous, but at some point, you have to give up something to make sure everyone’s safe,” he said.

The proposed rules seek to respond to a record year for ransomware attacks, with the task force estimating ransomware syndicates collected close to $350 million during 2020 — up 200% from the previous year. The lion’s share of profits were accumulated through targeting government agencies, hospitals, educational institutions, and private companies.

The task force also noted evidence suggesting many ransomware operators have friendly relations with North Korea, Russia, and other nation-states whose interests appear to oppose those of the United States.

In announcing the team last week, Acting Deputy Attorney General, John Carlin, wrote: “Although the Department has taken significant steps to address cyber crime, it is imperative that we bring the full authorities and resources of the Department to bear to confront the many dimensions and root causes of this threat.”

Alleged $366M Bitcoin mixer busted after analysis of 10 years of blockchain data

A Swedish-Russian citizen has been charged with operating a multi-million Bitcoin laundering service after authorities traced his crypto transactions from 2011.

U.S. authorities have arrested the alleged mastermind behind a multi-million darknet-based BTC mixing service, Bitcoin Fog, after analyzing 10 years of blockchain data.

Authorities have issued a chilling warning to other users of illegal blockchain services: Anything you do today may come back to haunt you as “this activity is on this ledger forever” and ever-more sophisticated analytics technology can track down crimes committed years earlier.

For approximately a decade, Bitcoin Fog has enabled users to conceal the origin and destination of its users’ crypto assets. However, the Internal Revenue Service is charging Russian-Swedish citizen, Roman Sterlingov, with laundering more than 1.2 million Bitcoin worth $336 million while serving as the website’s administrator.

Sterlingov was arrested on April 27 in Los Angeles, with the IRS estimating he received commissions of between 2% and 2.5% for mixing services at the time of each transaction — worth roughly $8 million then but exponentially more today.

Authorities estimate at least 23% of the Bitcoin that flowed through the mixing service was transferred to darknet-based narcotics marketplaces such as Silk Road.

Sterlingov’s arrest was the product of authorities fastidiously unpicking the web of BTC transactions associated with the mixer service dating back to 2011, using the Bitcoin blockchain to identify the site’s operator.

Sterlingov founded the website in late 2011 under a Japanese pseudonym meaning “Happy New Year, '' spruiking Bitcoin Fog as eliminating any chance of authorities “finding your payments and making it impossible to prove any connection between a deposit and a withdraw inside our service."

In 2019, undercover IRS agents engaged Sterlingov through the platform, claiming they wished to launder the profits from ecstasy sales. The transactions were processed without a reply.

Law enforcement was able to identify that Sterlingov had paid for Bitcoin Fog’s server hosting expenses using the now-defunct digital currency Liberty Reserve, allowing them to trace when he bought the Liberty Reserve using Bitcoin transferred from the collapsed pioneer crypto exchange, Mt Gox.

From there, the IRS was able to identify the home address and phone number that Sterlingov had registered to his account, and eventually a Google Drive account containing instructions outlining the steps he took to purchase his Liberty Reserve coins.

“This is yet another example of how investigators with the right tools can leverage the transparency of cryptocurrency to follow the flow of illicit funds,” said Jonathan Levin, co-founder of blockchain forensics firm, Chainalysis.

Computer scientist, Sarah Meiklejohn, stated:

“With blockchain analytics, the thing we say over and over is that all this activity is on this ledger forever, and if you did something bad 10 years ago you can be caught and arrested for it today.”

Despite Sterlingov’s detention Bitcoin Fog remains online, although it is unclear who is operating the site.

100 fascinating facts about crypto’s last 100 days

A $100 investment into DOGE 100 days ago would now be worth $2,742, while the same investment into BTC would be worth $130 today. Ethereum’s hash-rate has increased at 4.5 times BTC's this year.

Crypto data aggregator CoinMetrics has compiled a list of 100 insights into the recent performance of the digital asset markets — and the figures add up to a very bullish picture for the ecosystem. 

Released to celebrate the 100th issue of its State of the Network report, the list notes that a $100 investment made into Dogecoin 100 days ago would be worth $2,742 today — outperforming the same $100 investment in Bitcoin (which would be valued at $135 today), Ethereum ($186), and Uniswap ($401).

Price performance of BTC, ETH, UNI, and DOGE over past 100 days: CoinMetrics

The report states that Bitcoin has seen $14.5 billion worth of “trusted trading volume” in 100 days, alongside $6.1 billion worth Ether, $2.4 billion worth of XRP, $2.3 billion worth of DOGE, and $1.3 billion worth of Cardano (ADA) over the same period. 

When looking at recently active addresses, veteran networks appear to still be the most popular — with nearly 611,000 active daily Ethereum addresses over the past 100 days, and 1.12 million active Bitcoin wallets. Bitcoin set a new record for daily activity on April 14 with 1.36 million wallets engaging with the network.

Over the past 100 days, a total of 1.4 million addresses have engaged with the top DeFi protocols — Uniswap, Aave, Compound, MakerDAO, and Synthetix — while the Litecoin network has hosted 24.4 million active wallets.

Users are paying to access the Ethereum mainnet at an accelerated pace, with $2.3 billion of the $3.17 billion in total fees that have ever been generated by Ethereum, having been recorded since the start of 2021. By contrast, Bitcoin has generated roughly $2 billion fees over the network's lifetime.

The average Bitcoin transaction fee was $20.68 over the past 100 days, while Ethereum transactions averaged $16.68 over the same period. Bitcoin’s average transaction size of $30,000 has been almost double Ethereum’s $15,660 since the start of 2021.

Despite Ethereum’s impending transition to Proof-of-Stake, Ethereum hash-rate has grown at 4.5 times the rate of Bitcoin since the start of the year, with Ethereum up 89% while Bitcoin’s hashing power has increased by 20%.

The report also notes the surging popularity of stablecoins, with Tether’s supply on Ethereum increasing from 13.5 billion to 24.4 billion this year— however that was outshone by the amount of USDT on TRON, which grew from 6.8 billion to 26 billion. USDC expanded 234%, from 4.1 billion to 13.7 billion, and circulating DAI was up 192%, from 1.2 billion to 3.5 billion, since the start of the year.

“It took about 2.5 years for stablecoin supply to grow from 1B to 10B. It took less than a year to grow from 10B to over 75B,” CoinMetrics wrote, adding:

Total stablecoin supply is on pace to pass $100 billion before the end of 2021.”

Japanese gaming giant Nexon invests $100M into Bitcoin

The online games and virtual world creator has snapped up 1,717 Bitcoin for $58,226 each as it believes the cryptocurrency offers “long-term stability and liquidity.”

Major Japanese game developer Nexon has become the latest publicly-listed firm to make a significant investment into Bitcoin.

On April 28, Nexon announced it had purchased 1,717 BTC for roughly $100 million at an average price of $58,226 each after fees. The firm noted the investment represents less than 2% of its “total cash and cash equivalents on hand.” Owen Mahoney, Nexon’s president and CEO, stated:

“Our purchase of Bitcoin reflects a disciplined strategy for protecting shareholder value and for maintaining the purchasing power of our cash assets. In the current economic environment, we believe Bitcoin offers long-term stability and liquidity while maintaining the value of our cash for future investments.”

Mahoney added that Bitcoin is a “form of cash likely to retain its value, even if it is not yet widely recognized as such.”

Nexon’s investment follows a wave of large Bitcoin allocations from globally leading firms, with MicroStrategy kicking off the trend in August 2020 when it purchased 21,000 BTC for $250 million, followed by Square with a $50 million buy in October, and Tesla with a $1.5 billion investment at the end of 2020.

According to BitcoinTreasuries, 35 publicly-traded companies currently hold Bitcoin on their balance sheets.

Founded in 1994, Nexon describes itself as producing, developing, and operating online games and virtual worlds. The firm went public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in December 2011, and currently operates more than 50 online games that can be played in more than 190 countries.

Nexon is not the first major Japanese firm to embrace crypto, with the country passing laws recognizing digital assets as legal currency in 2016.

Later that same year, top financial services firm SBI announced plans to launch a bank-backed virtual currency exchange, following investments in Ripple and local trading platform bitFlyer. Japan’s GMO Internet Group also announced a $3 million investment into Bitcoin mining in 2017.

Binance to launch Microstrategy, Apple, and Microsoft stock tokens

The upcoming listings will bring the total number of stock tokens tradable on Binance to five.

Top crypto asset exchange Binance has announced it will list three new stock tokens over the coming week, following the launch of tokens tracking the performance of Tesla and Coinbase shares earlier this month.

On April 26, Binance announced it will launch tokenized stock pairings for leading business intelligence firm, Microstrategy (MSTR), in addition to multinational tech firms Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT).

The tokens will allow users to trade fractionalized units of the share tokens, with minimum trade sizing set at one one-hundredth of a token.

Binance’s MSTR tokens are slated to go live at 1:30 pm UTC on April 26, while the AAPL tokens will launch at the same time on April 28, and MSFT tokens will be tradable from April 30.

The exchange asserts its stock tokens are “fully backed by a depository portfolio of underlying securities” held by German financial services provider, CM-Equity AG. The tokens will observe traditional stock trading hours.

Related: Top 5 cryptocurrencies to watch this week: BTC, ETH, BNB, XMR, CAKE

The tokens will only be tradable against Binance’s stablecoin BUSD. Binance’s stock tokens are not available to residents of mainland China, the United States, Turkey, and other jurisdictions restricted by CM-Equity.

Binance launched its first stock token on April 12, allowing its customers to speculate on the price of Tesla (TSLA). The exchange also listed fractional shares for Coinbase (COIN) on April 15.

Binance’s expansion into stock tokens appears to demonstrate increasing competition between it and Hong Kong-headquartered crypto derivatives platform, FTX — which launched fractionalized stock trading in October 2020, including derivatives tracking Tesla and Apple shares.

Bitcoin tumbles 10% in 12 hours to trade below $50,000

Bitcoin is now down 23% from it's all-time high after quickly crashing below $50,000.

The price of Bitcoin has fallen below $50,000 for the first time since March, with BTC shedding roughly 10% in the last 12 hours.

On April 17, the $60,000 range was rejected, driving a crash in the Bitcoin price of nearly 20% in a single hour. While the markets consolidated near $55,000 for several days, bulls failed to defend the range on April 22, resulting in sustained bearish action over the past day.

Yesterday, Cointelegraph reported that significant profit-taking in the Bitcoin markets may suggest an impending local top, with today’s slump appearing to confirm the hypothesis. Analysts from JP Morgan similarly warned of sustained bearish action should BTC fail to reclaim the $60,000 level.

The move below the psychological $50K mark has prompted mixed reactions on Twitter, with Messari researcher Mira Christanto noting the markets have only retraced from the all-time high by 23% — significantly less than the typical pull-backs experienced during the 2017 bull run that produced losses of 35% on average.

But notorious gold bug and crypto-skeptic, Peter Schiiff, was also quick to comment on the market action, poking fun at Bitcoin proponent Anthony Pompliano.

Pompliano responded: “Bitcoin is up 600% in last year. Gold is up 3% in last year. No more tweeting until gold can beat inflation, Peter!” 

Twitter-user “Fintwit” also replied to Schiff, noting that “gold is up 0% since 2011.”

Ethereum also tumbled today, shedding roughly 8% in the past 24 hours. However, Ether has outperformed BTC over recent days, rallying to tag a new all-time high above $2,600 on April 22.

Yesterday’s highs saw ETH/BTC trading at its strongest level since August 2018, with Ether trading for 0.047 BTC. Ethereum last changed hands for 0.045 BTC.

Ether has dropped 11% over the past seven days, while Bitcon’s is down 21% over the same period.

‘Bitcoin incentivizes renewable energy’ agree Elon Musk and Jack Dorsey

Square and Ark Invest argue that Bitcoin miners can bolster the efficiency of the renewable energy industry by acting as an electricity buyer of last resort.

Some of Bitcoin’s most prominent backers have sought to make the case for Bitcoin’s environmental efficiency, with a collaborative paper from researchers at financial services firm Square and investment manager Ark Invest asserting that Bitcoin mining can drive increased efficiency in renewable energy production.

The paper, authored by “The Bitcoin Clean Energy Initiative,” or BCEI, seeks to counter the claim that “the computation required to secure Bitcoin [...] is environmentally damaging and ruining the planet,” arguing that Bitcoin mining incentivizes the generation of electricity “from renewable carbon-free sources.”

The paper has received support from top crypto luminaries including Square’s Jack Dorsey, Tesla’s Elon Musk, and Ark Invest’s Cathie Wood.

In an April 22 Twitter thread, Square argues that while solar and wind can produce energy cheaper than fossil fuels, these renewable sources typically produce excessive supply when demand is low and conversely struggle to meet needs of consumers and industry when demand is high.

According to the researchers, the issue of divergent renewable production and demand for electricity could be mitigated by building an ecosystem “where solar/wind, batteries, and Bitcoin mining co-exist to form a green grid that runs almost exclusively on renewable energy.”

“Not only is this doable, it is doable without jeopardizing the sector’s profitability.”

The paper describes the Bitcoin mining sector as “an energy buyer of last resort” that can be situated anywhere in the world.

Despite solar and wind energy costing between roughly half and one-third of fossil fuels per kilowatt-hour, the paper asserts the geographical limitations of renewable power plans typically results in energy supply being “either abundant or non-existent.”

“The end result is significantly more power than society typically needs for a few hours per day and not nearly enough when demand spikes. This challenge also plays out seasonally.”

By combining Bitcoin mining with renewable energy storage, the paper argues the limitations of batteries and energy dissipation can be offset by diverting excessive electricity to mining farms. If miners were able to capture just 20% of wind and solar energy that is delayed on U.S. power grids, BCEI estimates that global mining capacity could triple.

The mobilization of miners as an electricity buyer of last resort would also bolster the profitability of the renewable energy sector, offering producers the opportunity for “arbitrage between electricity prices and Bitcoin prices.”

“In a sense, the unlimited appetite of miners allows them to eat whatever remains of the ‘duck’s belly.’ Given these benefits, we believe it makes logical sense for utility-scale storage developers to augment their current battery offerings with Bitcoin miners.”

The paper also asserts that the costs associated with expanding renewable energy will see accelerated decline.

“The Bitcoin and energy markets are converging and we believe the energy asset owners of today will likely become the miners of tomorrow,” it said.

However, not everyone is convinced by BCEI’s assertions, with popular analyst Mati Greenspan describing the report as “justify[ing] Bitcoin’s massive energy consumption.”

Rather than offer a solution to Bitcoin’s ever-increasing energy consumption, Greenspan describes BCEI’s paper as offering the blueprint for “an energy-intensive feedback loop.”

“The main focus of the paper doesn't seem to seek out solutions so much as justify Bitcoin's massive energy consumption and paint a rosy picture of how it might positively impact the clean energy sector,” Greenspan argued.

Earlier this year, researchers at the University of Cambridge estimated that Bitcoin consumes 121.36 terawatt-hours annually — ranking the network among the 30-largest energy users worldwide and above the country of Argentina.

Despite scams, Australian securities regulator keen to support crypto industry

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission wants to support the local cryptocurrency industry, despite receiving large numbers of reports about crypto scams.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission, or ASIC, has expressed its desire to support the crypto industry, noting the challenges associated with regulating innovative technologies.

Speaking as part of a panel during Australian Blockchain Week on April 22, ASIC commissioner Cathie Armour described the regulator’s objectives as working to “maintain, facilitate and improve the performance of [Australia’s] financial system and the firms that operate within it,” while also ensuring that “all investors and consumers have the confidence the participate in the system.”

“When we’re talking about new innovations like [DLT], or new products like various crypto asset products, from our perspective at ASIC, we are really interested in how those products can be utilized to improve how our financial system operates.”

Armour highlighted one such innovation, noting the Australian Securities Exchange’s plan to replace its CHESS clearing system with a distributed ledger-based system.

“We are spending a lot of time looking at the ASX’s proposal to change its clearing and settlements system,” she said.

Despite the regulator’s desire to work with the crypto asset industry, Armour emphasized the high volume of complaints regarding crypto scams received by ASIC.

“As part of our job in dealing with consumer issues and investor issues, we receive a lot of complaints when things aren’t going right,” she said, adding:

“We know that this is probably a concern as much to all of you who participate in the industry as it is to us.”

Armour urged industry participants to alert the regulator about “poor practices or scam activity,” noting that ASIC “would like to take action to disrupt poor practice in this sector.”

In March this year ASIC put out a warning that dating sites and apps have increasingly become host to crypto-asset scams: "Beware of profiles that suggest or pressure you to participate in ‘third party’ crypto investments. Most crypto-asset investment opportunities reported to ASIC appear to be outright scams with no actual underlying investment."

In June of last year, ASIC warned of an increasing prevalence of crypto asset scams amid the coronavirus pandemic, estimating that overall scam activity had increased 20% between March 2020 and May 2020.

Poor infrastructure stops farmers taking advantage of blockchain

While the agricultural sector is among the industries standing to benefit the most from blockchain tech, poor access to infrastructure has been holding the industry back.

While the agricultural industry stands to reap enormous efficiency savings through the adoption of distributed ledger technologies, many farmers lack the digital infrastructure to support the integration of blockchain solutions.

Speaking as part of Australian Blockchain Week on April 21, Bridie Ohlsson, the CEO of digital agricultural infrastructure provider Geora, discussed the challenges associated with fostering DLT adoption within primary industries.

“In ag tech, it's been a problem of not having enough infrastructure, not there not being a use case,” she said. “As long as we have farmers calling up and saying, ‘Hey, your product looks great, but I don’t have internet on-farm’, that’s an infrastructure problem. And so we definitely need to be investing more in simply access to technologies."

“In 2016, when we started piloting some of the applications of blockchain for [agriculture], we were moving people off pen and paper, and our biggest competitor was Excel.”

Ohlsson also argued that agriculture has failed to realize the promise of blockchain technology as a force for democratization so far, with the majority of DLT pilots being executed by large corporate entities:

“Blockchain has been a world of multimillion dollar pilots for vertically integrated companies. It hasn’t held true to its promise necessarily of democratizing access to technology, and it's been too technical and too expensive for 570 million farmers globally to access.”

However, Ohlsson believes this is now changing, asserting the technology can now be offered at an affordable price, “rather than starting with a huge pilot agreement, a whole lot of legals, and hundreds of millions of dollars in the bank.” 

“I think that it’s shifting, and I think that puts us in a good position now to capitalize on what we haven’t been able to deliver previously,” she added.

With Australia losing billions annually to food and wine products fraudulently claiming Australian origin in the global markets, an increasing number of firms are trying to use blockchain to certify provenance and drive savings across the agricultural supply chain. BeefChain, AgChain and VeChain are just some of the providers offering solutions.

Last year, Mastercard, Visa, and AliPay were revealed to be involved in the newly launched APAC Provenance Council, which focused on supply chain tracing pilots in the Asia Pacific region.

In 2018, Australia’s National Transport Insurance announced a trial in partnership with BeefLedger to bolster the supply chain integrity of beef exports.