Here’s why ‘virtual land’ NFTs are selling for millions of dollars on Ethereum

Japanese videogame maker Atari says it plans to launch its own non-fungible token (NFT)-based virtual world, as per a report on news outlet Reuters today. Atari would soon announce details.

Frederic Chesnais, head of Atari’s blockchain division and the company’s former CEO, said that online environments and ecosystems were going to be “very very big” regardless of the price movements or adoptions of other cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. “NFT real estate could one day fetch millions of dollars,” he said.

For the uninitiated, NFTs are blockchain-based representations of tangible or intangible assets that prove that the holder is the true owner of the underlying asset. The latter can include but is not limited to, digital collectibles, crypto art, and real estate…to just about anything.

The next NFT hype

Virtual land on Ethereum and other blockchains has been around for years. However, the recent surge in the NFT space has rekindled their allure, with projects like Decentraland, Cryptovoxels, Somnium Space, and The Sandbox seeing both their token prices and virtual land valuations hitting record highs.

In the past few months, Decentraland (MANA) has seen more than $50 million in total sales on the many lands, avatars, usernames, and wearables it offers in its universe. One such piece of land—a plot measuring 41,216 virtual square meters—sold for $572,000 on April 11, a self-proclaimed record.

Another Decentraland plot sold for $283,567 on March 21, while one Somnium Space estate sold for half a million dollars on March 16 last year.

The rationale behind these big-money purchases is simple: Buyers say early projects (and early virtual lands) are akin to early internet domain names. This means that if blockchains like Decentraland and Ethereum become bigger than the internet industry in the future, a handful of people would stand to reap the benefits of the earliest virtual relics on those platforms.

Another reasoning is that as more users and players jump into these virtual environments, the plots of land in central locations will be highly sought-after, similar to what happens in the real world.

“All of virtual land and these virtual spaces are basically real estate on which experiences will start to centre, on which attention will start to focus,” said NFT investor ‘Twobadour,’ in a statement. They added:

“That’s where all of the attention is and that’s monetisable in a million different ways.”

Companies in on the virtual land trend

Virtual land investors are already selling to companies, as per Samuel Hamilton, community and events lead at the Decentraland Foundation.

As per Reuters, Atari has already licensed a retro arcade within Decentraland and is due to open a casino, while an area called “Crypto Valley” is home to various crypto companies.

Decentraland, on the other hand, has hosted a virtual fashion exhibition in collaboration with Adidas where several designs were auctioned as NFTs. It is also seeing surging interest from musicians who can perform in virtual arenas, sell tickets to fans, and distribute merchandise on virtual storefronts.

“We’re going to have several well-known global festivals all doing stages, and when we get to that point we expect hundreds of thousands or even millions of people,” explained Hamilton.

Meanwhile, the concerns remain and linger. The broader crypto market is in a strong uptrend and could soon represent a price bubble, leaving ‘land’ investors with illiquid pieces of mere online fantasy.

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You can now trade Coinbase (COIN) options on the NASDAQ

Nasdaq traders can bet on the future share prices of Coinbase Global (COIN) starting today, as per a report on news outlet Reuters on Tuesday.

Coinbase options arrive a week after DPO

As per the report, the launch of the equity options on the stock will offer a new way for investors to bet on the price movements of Coinbase as it reacts to trends in the crypto market and sees its own valuation gyrate as a result.

For the uninitiated, options are a financial instrument that allows their holders the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset or instrument at a specified strike price prior to or on a specified date. 

‘Call’ options allow the holder to buy the asset at a stated price in the future, while ‘Put’ options allow the holder to sell the asset at a stated price within a specific timeframe.

Their pricing is based on the value of underlying securities, such as stocks, bonds, or cryptocurrencies, and the holder pays a small upfront amount to capture a price gain. Option payouts can range from small percentages to many multiples of the capital amount, with the downside being the loss of the upfront amount (including any fees).

Bitcoin options have, in recent times, become a popular market. As per data on analytics service Glassnode, crypto exchange Deribit underwrites several billion dollars worth of BTC options each month. Similar products on Binance and OKEx see a fraction of those volumes but are a growing market.

Insider selling

The options listing comes a week after Coinbase traded its shares to the public for the first time. CEO Brian Armstrong sold over $292 million in shares in total, as per regulatory filings.

As per Reuters, Armstrong sold 749,999 shares in three batches at prices ranging from $381 to $410.40 per share for total proceeds of $291.8 million. The exchange, in all, sold over $5 billion worth of shares in total during the first day of trading.

The Coinbase direct listing was one of the most iconic developments for the broader cryptocurrency space in recent times, with the exchange reaching a valuation of as high as $100 billion last week.

Shares of COIN have since tumbled, but options could be a savvy way for investors to hedge against the exchange’s potential volatile price movements.

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Venmo launches investing service for Bitcoin, Litecoin, Ethereum, and Bitcoin Cash

Mobile payment service Venmo announced its crypto investing service today, allowing its 70 million customers to buy, hold and sell cryptocurrency directly within the app in the coming weeks.

Customers using crypto on Venmo can choose from four types of cryptocurrency: Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash.

Venmo makes a crypto move

As per the release, customers can view cryptocurrency trends, buy or sell crypto, and access in-app guides and videos to help answer commonly asked questions and learn more about the world of crypto.

“Crypto on Venmo is a new way for the Venmo community to start exploring the world of crypto, within an environment they trust and rely on as a key component of their everyday financial lives,” said Darrell Esch, senior vice president at Venmo.

Esch added that crypto on Venmo would allow users to learn and explore cryptocurrencies on a trusted platform and using an in-built investing service on the app.

“Our goal is to provide our customers with an easy-to-use platform that simplifies the process of buying and selling cryptocurrencies and demystifies some of the common questions and misconceptions that consumers may have,” he stated.

Rising user demand

According to a 2020 Customer Behavior Study, over 30% of Venmo customers reported that they had already started purchasing crypto or equities, 20% of which started during the pandemic.

Now, with the introduction of crypto, the company says users will now have access to an easy-to-use and intuitive crypto platform to help them take part in the cryptocurrency market.

It added the launch of the feature furthers PayPal’s commitment to educating its customers on the potential of digital currencies as they continue to grow and drives understanding and utility of cryptocurrencies on a mass scale.

 

Crypto on Venmo is enabled through PayPal’s (its parent company) partnership with Paxos Trust Company, a regulated provider of cryptocurrency products and services.

PayPal was also granted a first-of-its-kind conditional Bitlicense by the New York State Department of Financial Services (NYDFS), allowing PayPal and Venmo to offer its customers the ability to buy, sell and hold cryptocurrency.

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Crypto-convert JPMorgan is hiring developers skilled in Ethereum

US bank JPMorgan is hiring blockchain engineers skilled in Ethereum, Corda, and Hyperledger development, a job posting on recruitment site Glassdoor shows.

The listing is part of over 64 open positions advertised by the bank as of today, in locations ranging from Bangalore to New York in mainly engineering and development roles.

The bank is infamous for shunning Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies for the past many years but turning a new leaf earlier in 2021—when it even said the asset could see a price of as high as $138,000 in the near future.

It is yet to give similar price targets for Ethereum, the world’s most-used blockchain. But that isn’t stopping the bank from hiring talent experienced in developing applications on the protocol.

Wanted: Ethereum devs at JPMorgan

As per the listing for the ‘blockchain software engineer’ job, candidates are expected to work on designing and build robust blockchain-based solutions and protocols for JPMorgan if selected. They are additionally required to design new blockchain-based product features for users.

The ‘skills required’ part is where things get interesting for Ethereum fanatics. “Have practical experience developing on blockchain platforms such as Ethereum, Hyperledger, or Corda,” the listing reads, alongside requiring applications to have a background in computer science or mathematics.

The listing further calls for a robust understanding of the cryptographic principles that power blockchain-based systems and urges applicants to “enjoy sharing blockchain knowledge with other developers.”

As such, the job posting comes days after JPMorgan participated in a recent fundraising round for Ethereum incubator ConsenSys Labs—which saw firms like Mastercard and UBS invest a total of $65 million in the New York-based firm.

The posting is, however, not the first time JPMorgan has showed its interest in hiring blockchain developers. In 2019, the firm advertised roles for several individuals skilled in distributed technologies—as part of the JPM Coin project—hiring even more than ConsenSys at one point.

Crypto convert

JPMorgan’s job listing comes on the back of increased interest from institutional and traditional firms in the cryptocurrency space.

As CryptoSlate previously reported, bank analysts said in a client note that Bitcoin could see the $140,000 price level in the long-term as the cryptocurrency gains favor among investors instead of gold.

“A crowding out of gold as an ‘alternative’ currency implies big upside for bitcoin over the long term,” wrote JPMorgan Chase strategists led by Nikolaos Panigirtzoglou. However, “a convergence in volatilities between bitcoin and gold is unlikely to happen quickly, and is in our mind a multiyear process,” the note added.

But given the bank’s sudden switch from a naysayer to an admirer, who’s to blame if such predictions call for doom again?

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One of the biggest Bitcoin miners says Ethereum will soon cross $5,000

The owner of one of the world’s biggest mining pools says Ethereum (ETH) could reach the $5,000 to $6,000 range this bull run, as per Chinese news outlet Wu Blockchain.

Li Tianzhao, the co-founder of mining firm Poolin, said that the impact of the upcoming Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP)-1559 on miners would be “almost negligible.”

“In the short term, it is estimated that the income of ETH miners drop by 10% to 20% after EIP-1559, but the entire ecosystem will benefit, the price will be reflected, and miners also get the benefits of MEV,” he stated.

As per markets tool CoinGecko, ETH currently trades at $2,090—meaning a 2.5x increase is on the card for traders who bet on higher prices ahead of the EIP-1559. That would, in turn, peg the network’s market value at over $600 billion, up from its current $244 billion.

Unpacking EIP, MEV, and what they mean for Ethereum

For the uninitiated, “miners” are entities with huge computing power at their disposal who validate and process transactions on a proof-of-work blockchain, such as Ethereum. They receive ‘rewards’ in return (in the form of ETH in this case) for using their resources for the betterment of the network. 

In recent times, ‘gas’ fees—ETH paid by network participants for transacting on Ethereum—have become a concern due to their perennial high pricing. Average network fees top $50, making it nearly unusable for smaller account holders.

The EIP-1559 is a proposal to combat just that. Scheduled this July as part of the ‘London’ hard fork, any ‘gas’ paid by the user would be ‘burned’ out of circulation forever, with only an optional ‘tip’ paid to miners.

But while burning ETH out of circulation forever would mean higher prices, it would also mean potential losses for the miners, who may end up spending more money on their mining rigs (the building, maintenance, labor, etc), than earning rewards.

And that’s where the MEV, short for miner extracted value (MEV), comes in. A new-ish term, this theoretically involves miners taking advantage of transactions by “front-running” trades and turning a profit.

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Dogecoin leads gains as crypto markets crash further

Over 1 million trading accounts were liquidated over the weekend. But one crypto shows no signs of stopping: We’re talking about meme cryptocurrency Dogecoin—the world’s fifth-largest crypto as of press time.

Who let the Dogecoin out?

DOGE is up 34.7% in the past day, 459.8% in the past week, and over 615.1% in the past month. This means an investment into Dogecoin has outpaced the rise of any large-cap cryptocurrency in a comparable period, and any traditional savings account in a 10-year period (probably underestimating that).

As the below image shows, DOGE pumped like a literal space-bound rocket in the past week, from nearly $0.057 to over $0.40 at press time. A small pump of just a few cents more would take DOGE to its highest-ever value of $0.45.

Image: Tradingview.

The coin has no use-case, no active development, no official roadmap ahead, and no ‘official’ face for the project, but this hasn’t stopped DOGE from reaching a market cap of $53 billion—ahead of arguably useful projects like Uniswap, Chainlink, and Polkadot.

One narrative that sticks out for Dogecoin is its clear-cut meme presence. Its mascot is a Shiba Inu and its logo is a cute cartoon of a Shiba Inu. And there’s then the offbeat points:

It did, however, get some coverage in the Korean market recently. As MakerDAO’s Asia head of business development Doo Wan Nam pointed out on Twitter, Dogecoin saw a mention on Chosun, the country’s oldest newspaper, today—which may have contributed to the price rise.

Meanwhile, the DOGE pump took place as other cryptocurrencies gradually recovered from the aftermath of the past weekend. However, the market bleed continued as of press time.

As CryptoSlate previously reported, the weekend saw 1 million individual trading accounts see over $10 billion in liquidations—the largest ever for this year. Bitcoin alone saw $5 billion in liquidations while altcoins turned red across the board and saw double-digit percentage losses. 

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World’s eight-oldest bank to explore the launch of a digital currency (CBDC)

Bank of England (BoE), the UK’s central bank and the world’s eighth-oldest bank, said it would form a task force to explore the launch of a digital currency, as per an official release today.

“The Bank of England and HM Treasury have today announced the joint creation of a Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) Taskforce to coordinate the exploration of a potential UK CBDC,” it explained.

CBDCs, in their current theoretic form, are state-backed digital currencies pegged to their respective national fiat currency that is operated wholly digitally. Proponents hope these would use a blockchain (public, semi-public, or private), and hence provide more privacy to individuals apart from reducing fraud (addresses can be universally blacklisted, etc.)

The announcement comes on the back of previous statements by officials who said the country wasn’t keen on developing the local cryptocurrency sector but saw CBDCs playing a huge role in the future.

‘New’ form of money

The BoE the potential digital currency would be a new form of digital money issued by the Bank of England and for use by households and businesses. “It would exist alongside cash and bank deposits, rather than replacing them,” it said.

China is the forerunner of CBDCs today. Its upcoming DCEP, short for Digital Currency Electronic Payment, is slated for a mid-2022 launch and is already being extensively tested in local regions. Other countries like France, South Korea, and Japan are weighing their own digital currency launches—and England does not want to be left behind.

In the statement, the British Government and the Bank of England said they have not yet made a decision on whether to introduce a CBDC in the UK, but will ‘engage widely’ with stakeholders on the benefits, risks, and practicalities of doing so.

“The Taskforce aims to ensure a strategic approach is adopted between the UK authorities as they explore CBDC, in line with their statutory objectives, and to promote close coordination between them,” the bank noted.

Key areas of CBDC development

The Four major areas of focus of the CBDC Taskforce would be as follows:

  1. To coordinate the exploration of the objectives, use cases, opportunities, and risks of a potential UK CBDC.
  2. To Guide evaluation of the design features a CBDC must display to achieve our goals.
  3. Support a rigorous, coherent, and comprehensive assessment of the overall case for a UK CBDC.
  4. Monitor international CBDC developments to ensure the UK remains at the forefront of global innovation.

Meanwhile, two forums would be established for officials and stakeholders to discuss the technicalities and legalities of the CBDC.

An ‘Engagement Forum’  would see senior stakeholders gathering strategic input on all non-technology aspects of the digital currency such as helping the Bank and HM Treasury understand the practical challenges of designing, implementing, and operating a CBDC.

On the other hand, a ‘Technology Forum’ would engage stakeholders and gather input on all technical aspects of digital currencies and helping the Bank to understand the technological challenges of designing, implementing, and operating such an instrument.

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Chinese regulator says Bitcoin is an ‘alternative investment’

Li Bo, a deputy governor of People’s Bank of China (PBoC), the country’s central bank, said over the weekend that Bitcoin and stablecoins are ‘alternative investments’ in the eyes of the law.

Bitcoin, stablecoins are all ‘alternative’

“We regard bitcoin and stablecoins as crypto assets. Crypto assets, as Agustin just discussed, are investment alternatives, they are not a currency per se. The main goal we see for crypto assets, going forward, they are mainly investment alternatives,” said Bo during the Bo’Ao Asia Forum.

Stablecoins are cryptocurrencies pegged to a fiat currency, such as the US dollar or the British pound, on a 1:1 basis that are redeemable for each other and match a supply equal to the underlying assets.

They are a big market as well. Stablecoins like Tether and USDC represent over $48 billion and $12.5 billion worth of US dollars effectively but remain in a regulatory gray area in most countries. However, authorities are starting to take notice and make create relevant policies for their smooth functioning in the broader ecosystem.

And as per Bo, if stablecoins are to gain widespread popularity in China, their issuers would be legally regulated as traditional banks, “For stablecoins, they are crypto assets, and if they want to be accepted widely as a payment solution, we need stronger regulations, stronger than bitcoin maybe, in the sense, something like a currency board,” he said. 

Bo added:

“Going forward, I think stablecoins, which may have the vision to become a widely accepted payment solution, has to be regulated like a bank or a quasi-bank.”

Digital currency on track

China has enjoyed a love-hate relationship with cryptocurrencies so far. The government is very strict about their usage and possession, but the local market remains one of the biggest crypto trading zones (by userbase and interest) in the world. It’s also home to over 80% of the world’s Bitcoin miners.

Still, the country has not banned the ownership of cryptocurrencies outright, with certain court cases in China even considering the assets as ‘legal property’ to settle matters in previous instances.

The legal back-and-forth continues to go on for now. “As for investment alternatives, many countries, including China still, [are] looking into it and thinking about what kind of regulatory requirements – maybe minimal but we need to have some kind of regulatory requirement – to prevent the speculative nature of such assets [from creating] any serious financial stability risk,” said Bo, adding the PBoC would maintain its “current regulation” of the crypto market until newer laws are introduced.

Meanwhile, the PBoC governor said China is on track when it comes to its digital yuan. As CryptoSlate reported previously, the upcoming state-backed digital currency (pegged to the yuan) is slated for a mid-2022 launch and has already seen extensive testing in the region.

However, other governments need not fear. “Our goal is absolutely not to replace the U.S. dollars or any other international currency. Our goal is to let the market to choose,” explained Bo, addressing concerns.

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1 million crypto traders see nearly $10 billion in liquidations

Traders saw nearly $10 billion in liquidations on Sunday morning as the crypto market saw a deep pullback, data from markets tool Bybt shows. Over 1 million individual accounts were liquidated.

Wooosh

‘Liquidations’ occur when traders borrow excess capital from brokerages/exchanges (i.e., ‘margin’ or trading futures) to place bigger bets on the assets they trade. They pay a fixed fee for doing so, while exchanges close out these positions at a predetermined price—when the trader’s collateral is equal to the loss on that position. Such a trade is then said to be liquidated.

And amidst all the euphoria from last week, such as bank executives stating Bitcoin would eclipse gold’s valuation and the asset setting new all-time highs, traders likely borrowed in excess of what their books would allow and contributed to what became an overheated, overleveraged market.

Saturday night was the pin of that balloon. Markets tumbled by nearly 10% on average—some altcoins even seeing losses of 25%—while traders ended up losing $9.85 billion.

Of that, $8.68 billion worth of liquidations happened on ‘long’ trades, or from traders betting on a price upside. Binance saw $4.6 billion worth of longs getting destroyed, Huobi with $1.59 billion, and Bybit with $1 billion.

Crypto takes a hit

Bitcoin (BTC) alone saw $5.6 billion worth of liquidations, followed by Ethereum (ETH) at $1.1 billion and XRP at $462 million.

A gnarly 1 million traders were liquidated. The largest single liquidation order happened on Binance on the Bitcoin/USDt pair with a value of $68.73 million.

Meanwhile, some market veterans commented on the price action. “All you over-leveraged longs got punished. 20-40% drawdowns are increasingly common and happen every few weeks now,” said Bobby Ong, co-founder of market analytics tool Coingecko.

He added, “Be careful when using leverage. This is becoming the usual sharp V-shape recovery.”

At least newcomers would now know: crypto doesn’t always go up.

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Inside the Chainlink 2.0 whitepaper—the 7 updates you should know

Decentralized oracle platform Chainlink unveiled its whitepaper 2.0 yesterday, making improvements and update to seven aspects of its network.

Oracles are third-party tools that fetch data from outside to blockchain to within, as blockchains, by design, are immutable stores of data but cannot automatically verify the authenticity of that data. 

Chainlink helps solve that issue by fetching highly verifiable data from a variety of sources to ensure the smooth functioning of a blockchain network and application. It’s the largest oracle network with its $17 billion marketcap.

Chainlink’s seven

The whitepaper brought forth the so-termed ‘hybrid’ smart contract, an improvement over the currently-used mechanism. Smart contracts a self-executing contract with the terms of the agreement between buyer and seller being directly written into lines of code. The code and the agreements contained therein exist across a distributed, decentralized blockchain network.

In all, seven new features were released:

  • Hybrid smart contracts

An improvement over the existing smart contract system, these increase the capabilities of smart contracts by composing on-chain and off-chain computing resources in a highly secure manner that aims to be a flexible, customizable solution for data.

“What a hybrid smart contract—the reason that we’ve gone with that term in the white paper—is that we’re trying to define that conception of a smart contract that’s more holistic, in terms of what it enables people to do when to build,” explained Chainlink creator Sergey Nazarov during an appearance on virtual conference BlockDown today.

  • Scaling

Updates to scaling would ensure Chainlink provides data and throughputs as per the high requirements of high-performance blockchains, layer-2 solutions, and Web2 systems—some upcoming high-speed networks like Solana strive to eventually process 65,000 transactions a second, and Chainlink ‘2.0’ aims to match those oracle requirements.

  • Abstracting away complexity

This would present developers and users with simple functionality that eliminates the need for familiarity with complex underlying protocols and system boundaries.

  • Confidentiality

Increasing confidentiality would see higher security and trust measures (for sensitive data and computations) keeping the transparency of blockchains in mind.

  • Order fairness

Chainlink would introduce measures that allow transactions to occur as requested, instead of being gamed by opportunistic users to benefit themselves. This would prevent front-running and other forms of value extraction by bots and exploitive miners, a growing concern in the crypto space since last year.

  • Trust-minimization

Using decentralization, cryptographic guarantees, and guardrails, a trustworthy layer of support for smart contracts and other oracle-dependent systems would be created.

  • Cryptoeconomic security

Lastly, the update would ensure nodes in decentralized oracle networks have “strong economic incentives to behave reliably and correctly, even in the face of well-resourced adversaries.”

LINK, Chainlink’s native token, rose by nearly 10% yesterday on the release of this whitepaper. It trades at $41 at press time and has a market cap of $17.5 billion.

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Dogecoin pumps 200% to become 5th largest crypto, and no one knows why

Joke currency Dogecoin (DOGE) is probably a joke no longer, if today’s price run and market cap is anything to consider.

The meme coin doubled its value in a single day in a price surge that left nearly everyone surprised. It trades over $0.35 at press time, reached a high of $0.45 earlier today, and breached into becoming the fifth-largest cryptocurrency with a hefty market cap of $53 billion.

Dogecoin is intrinsically valueless and is intended to have absolutely no use, save the memes and jokes. Co-creator Jackson Palmer launched the currency as an alternative to Bitcoin that could reach a broader demographic, with its 1-minute block intervals made it much faster than other blockchains at the time.

But the coin has since ended up seeing unprecedented success in the past few years, catching the attention of retail investors and mainstream news outlets worldwide and even billionaires like Mark Cuban of ‘Shark Tank’ fame and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

DOGE’s face-melting pump

DOGE netted over 19,676.6% to investors in the past year, 523.8% in the past week, and 200% in the past day—should anyone have latched on to the meme narrative.

Supporters at now calling for a price surge to $1, which, at its current 129 billion circulating supply, would make it worth over $129 billion—or the world’s third-largest cryptocurrency behind Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Interestingly, the rest of the crypto market moved downwards, even as DOGE doubled. Bitcoin tumbled by $3,500, Ethereum by $300, Binance Coin by $50, and other large-caps recorded decreases of a few percent as well.

Some DOGE traders were burned, however. Data from analytics tool Bybt showed over $680 million worth of Dogecoin positions were ‘liquidated’—or put up as collateral for traders to place bigger bets (the collateral amount is lost if the trade moves the other way).

Of that, $493 million worth of liquidations came from ‘short’ positions, or from traders who were betting on Dogecoin prices to move downwards. Binance traders saw nearly $220 million worth of liquidations, followed by Huobi at $199 million and OKEx at $60 million.

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Crypto exchange Binance burns nearly $600 million worth of BNB

Crypto exchange Binance ‘burned’ over $594 million worth of its own BNB token today, in a move that marked the largest ever burn that the exchange did.

But it wasn’t a case of Binance trying to pump its own coin (by decreasing supply) or setting money on fire. The ‘burn’ mechanism is an integral part of how BNB works, one that has contributed to the coin becoming the third-largest cryptocurrency even.

$595 million…gone

As wallet data shows, Binance burned over 1,099,888 BNB this morning, a move about which CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted, “Imagine burning half a billion dollars, wait, don’t imagine. It’s real.”

It was the 15th burn in BNB’s history and scheduled as a part of the January to March 2021 burn. It took $595,314,380 worth of BNB out of circulation forever and decreased the overall supply of BNB from 170 million to 169 million.

BNB’s original supply was capped at 200 million tokens during its initial coin offering. At the time, 100 million tokens were released to the public during the ICO, while 80 million were allocated to the founding team and 20 million to angel investors.

The burn mechanism was put in place to stabilize the monetary value of BNB over the years as more coins are released in the market and BNB is utilized. Binance eventually aims to burn 100 million tokens.

The BNB use case

Originally intended as a way for traders to pay fees on Binance and trade other coins using the Alt/BNB pairing, BNB has grown to a $77 billion market cap in a little over 3 years of its existence.

It started out as an ERC20 token (i.e. on Ethereum) but has since moved over to the Binance Chain. The latter does not, however, support smart contracts like Ethereum does, which culminated in the launch of the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) in 2020—a move that gave BNB even more use cases across decentralized finance (DeFi) apps, yield farms, and DEXs.

The BSC has since seen success. As per a report published today by Binance, BSC reached as much as 4.9 million daily transactions (as of April 8). That’s 300% more than Ethereum’s all-time high in daily transactions.

The report, written by Zhao, further claimed, “BSC played a significant role in growing the number of active dApp wallets (+639% in Q1 across all blockchain platforms), bringing in an average of 105,000 daily active wallets, compared to 458,000 daily active wallets for the entire industry.”

Its total unique address count on BSC has reached 64 million in just eight months, and over 450+ projects have been built on top of the Binance Smart Chain.

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Sergey Nazarov talks Chainlink 2.0 and ‘hybrid’ smart contracts at BlockDown

Chainlink, the widely-used decentralized oracle network, released its ‘2.0’ whitepaper yesterday in a move that sent LINK surging by 10%. The whitepaper described “hybrid smart contracts” and other mechanisms to make Chainlink’s oracles even more useful and resilient.

Oracles are third-party tools that fetch data from outside to blockchain to within, as blockchains, by design, are immutable stores of data but cannot automatically verify the authenticity of that data. 

Chainlink’s big leap

Oracle networks like Chainlink help solve that issue by fetching highly verifiable data from a variety of sources to ensure the smooth functioning of a blockchain network and application.

And the 2.0 whitepaper takes these mechanisms even further by advancing oracle technology in seven key areas: Smart contracts, scaling, simplifying complexity, higher security and data confidentiality, order fairness, trust-minimization, and overall cryptoeconomic security.

Talking about the 2.0 upgrade today was none other than Sergey Nazarov, the co-founder of technology firm Smart Contract and Chainlink Labs and creator of Chainlink. Nazarov sat down with Brave New Coin’s Andy Pickering as part of the ongoing BlockDown 4.0 virtual conference.

Nazarov revealed why Chainlink came up with the 2.0 upgrade anyway, after a bit of background. “The thing that really got me into the blockchain industry was this conception of a smart contract and that it was smart enough to discern and prove what had happened. And I quickly realized that you need an Oracle for that, right, you need something called an Oracle mechanism.”

“And at first, we had a centralized oracle mechanism. And then, after many years, we worked on how to decentralize it, and then eventually we arrived at what Chainlink is with an Oracle mechanism that can provide certain decentralized guarantees,” he added.

He further explained, “And those decentralized guarantees and tamper-proof guarantees are very important. Because just like the contract that’s codified, is tamper-proof, the guarantees about what happened, which essentially controls that codified agreement in the form of a smart contract on-chain, that proof and that trigger, and those set of events or computations, need to also meet this very high standard.”

What’s a ‘hybrid’ smart contract?

A relatively newer term used in the whitepaper was the concept of a ‘hybrid’ smart contract. The latter, for the uninitiated, a set of codes and rules that govern a blockchain application or tool, ensuring all conditions are met before any transactions or smart contract integrations are executed.

What makes them hybrid? Here’s Nazarov’s explanation: “I think the way to think about a hybrid smart contract is really the initial conception where there was always this assumption that a smart contract would know that if something happened, it would have proof and it would be able to interact with all of the world’s systems in a meaningful kind of valuable real-world outcome type of way.”

“Therefore, a smart contract just in and of itself has come on has gone on to mean, the code running on a blockchain, which due to the nature of blockchains, has really come to mean a piece of code that can define conditions,” he added.

Nazarov further explained, “But it can’t know what those whether those conditions have been met unless those conditions are about token generation events, token movement events, or private key signatures, or token-based voting type of type of schemes.”

“And I think what a hybrid smart contract—the reason that we’ve gone with that term in the white paper—is we’re trying to define that conception of a smart contract that’s more holistic, in terms of what it enables people to do when to build. And it’s considered a hybrid smart contract,” he ended.

Explore all Oracle Coins here.

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An NFT just sold for $1 million on the Waves blockchain

Waves.tech, an ecosystem of next-generation technologies built on blockchain toolkit Waves, has concluded the highest sale of a non-fungible token (NFT) outside of Ethereum, it said in a release shared with CryptoSlate.

NFT frenzy continues

A Waves Duck called “Perfection” sold for 1,000,000 Neutrino Dollar (USDN) on SIGN Art, a web gallery for blockchain-certified digital art. To celebrate the sale, the team has released its roadmap for a series of NFT gamification initiatives coupled with DeFi yield farming mechanics on the Waves ecosystem.

Created in 2018, SIGN Art is the first NFT marketplace on the Waves blockchain and currently features over 170 artists with a total of 1245 drops and 627 sales. Minting on SIGN Art is free, and the publishing fee is $1 per edition, which can be unique releases or in sets of ten.

NFTs are blockchain-based representations of tangible or non-tangible assets that prove their holder is the true owner of that underlying asset. These are immutable and non-replicable and can range from digital collectibles to crypto art, to real estate.

Perfection is the only NFT created in a series of one by Sasha Ivanov, founder of Waves. It received over 40 bids in an uncapped auction model before selling for 1,000,000 $USDN (Waves Neutrino Stablecoin).

To date, the Waves Duck sale is the highest NFT sale outside of Ethereum, beating the “2019-20 LeBron James dunk,” which sold for $208,000 on NBA Topshot, and Bitcoin Origin’s “4MB Block (M2),” which sold for $345,300 on Atomic Hub.

Why Waves

In a statement, Ivanov said that all profits from the NFT sale will be used towards buybacks of NFT duck packs that will be built by Hunters through the Duck Hunters games.

“This week we celebrated Waves 5th anniversary and we took this opportunity to give back to our community for their continuous support and enthusiasm towards Waves tech,” said Ivanov.

NFTs originated on the Ethereum blockchain, but amidst growth in popularity for the coveted digital assets and increasing costs on Ethereum, many pioneering blockchain protocols have launched their own NFTs and marketplaces including Flow, EOS, Waves, Tron, and more.

“On Waves, all transactions are instant and we have low-fixed transaction fees, which makes it a perfect playground for NFTs innovations,” explained Ivanov about the appeal of lower-cost blockchains for NFTs.

Meanwhile, it’s not the NFTs sector that Waves is disrupting. The company has made inroads into the DeFi space through the Neutrino protocol, an infrastructure for plug-and-play algorithmic finance and its native interest-bearing stablecoin USDN, governance staking token NSBT, and Swop.fi, an automated market maker built on Waves.

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211-year-old investment firm buys $4.75 million of Ethereum (ETH)

Chicago-based financier Rothschild Investment Corporation purchased over 265,302 shares of the Grayscale Ethereum Trust (ETHE), marking its first-ever investment into ETH, the asset powering the world’s most-used blockchain.

Dipping into Ethereum

Rothschild’s shares in the ETH trust were worth over $4.75 million on March 31 (as per the filing).

The firm is a part of the legendary Rothschild family, a secretive group with interests in global finance, real estate, mining, jewelry, winemaking, and others. The family possessed the largest private fortune in the world in the 19th century, and even in the modern world.

As such, the ETHE is one of the many crypto-backed ‘Trust’ products offered by Grayscale. These are fully regulated, institutional-focused financial instruments that hold a small amount of spot crypto as part of each share offered to investors.

The product is currently one of the only ways—unlike unregulated crypto exchanges that could go bust anytime—for institutional investors and family offices in the US to gain exposure to the burgeoning crypto market. Such an arrangement attracts the likes of Rothschild.

In addition to the ETHE investment, Rothschild upped its position in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust by nearly 8,000 shares to 38,346 shares—an increase over the 30,454 shares it held at the end of 2020. These are now worth $1.92 million.

The firm became the first name-brand institutional fund to seek ETH exposure through Grayscale’s trust product.

Rising ETH interest

Most institutional crypto activity is majorly limited to Bitcoin, but Ethereum’s strong fundamentals, upcoming technological updates, and an overall wider use-case is starting to make it a better bet for some investors.

As per a report by analytics firm CoinShares last month, ETH-related investment products attracted a total of $4.2 billion inflows in Q1 2021, the highest-ever level on record.

“Fund flows data highlighted Ethereum as being increasingly popular amongst investors with inflows of $113 million last week, comprising almost 50% of total flows,” it said in the report.

Some are even buying spot ETH instead of spot crypto-backed financial instruments. Chinese firm Meitu, a Hong Kong-listed photo editing app, become the first company earlier this year to do so, buying $22 million worth of the asset in a single day.

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Ethereum Berlin upgrade is now live—how will it affect ETH prices?

The new ‘Berlin’ upgrade stands to make high gas fees on Ethereum are all set to be a part of history, at least by a small amount.

What Berlin brings to Ethereum

Completed today, Berlin has incorporated four Ethereum Improvement Proposals (EIPs), submitted by users in its upgrade. Two of the major ones are EIP-2565 and EIP-2718—the former helps reduce some gas costs algorithmically; the latter a ‘wrapper’ that allows multiple transactions on the blockchain.

Understanding ‘Gas’ requires preliminary knowledge of how Ethereum works. The network is maintained and all transactions are processed by ‘miners,’ or entities with massive computing power at their disposal who solve millions of complex mathematical problems each second to ‘mine’ blocks and win ETH ‘rewards.’

These miners use up a lot of resources in maintaining the network, meaning they are economically incentivized to do things that, ultimately, lead to more revenues for them.

This is where Gas starts to creep in. On paper, it’s simply a small ETH amount included by users conduct a transaction or execute a contract on the Ethereum blockchain platform. Miners pocket these fees, and prefer to include blocks or process transactions which brings them the most gain.

And in bull markets, token pumps, and jaw-dropping yield farms, the inclusion of transactions into blocks becomes a numbers game. ‘Wealthy’ users can include bigger amounts of Gas as fees, which in turn ends up making the whole network more expensive.

It’s where the EIP-2565 and EIP-2718, i.e. today’s Berlin upgrade, step in. These would make the network a tad cheaper while bringing in other technical advantages.

ETH prices

The buildup to Berlin saw ETH touch new all-time highs of nearly $2,500. The asset powers the world’s most-used blockchain, and is used to pay for transactions and smart contract integrations on the Ethereum network.

Lower fees mean active code development and an engaged developer community, which, in turn, translates to a better long-term outlook for the currency. As the image below shows, ETH trades above its 34-period moving average, a popular tool used by traders to determine the market trend, and remains in a strong ‘uptrend.’

Image: TradingView.

ETH trades at $2,447 at press time and has a network value of $282 billion. Its current circulating supply is 115 million ETH.

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This message was included in a Bitcoin block after the Coinbase listing

Expect hidden messages to pop on Bitcoin every time something iconic happens. Yesterday, after crypto exchange Coinbase offered its shares to the public for the first time, a message embedded on the block contained a newspaper headline that screamed of government extravagance.

The Coinbase stamp

“On 03/Jan/2009, Satoshi coded a message into the Bitcoin Genesis Block. As a nod to Satoshi on our listing day, we asked F2pool to embed a message in the Bitcoin blockchain,” the firm revealed in a tweet yesterday.

The message—processed by Chinese mining player F2Pool on block 679187—read, “NYTimes 10/Mar/2021 House Gives Final Approval to Biden’s $1.9T Pandemic Relief Bill.” US president Joe Biden signed off the relief bill yesterday, one in many such bills to protect the economy from the perils of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Messages in Bitcoin?

The move was nothing random. Bitcoin’s first ever block, mined by none other than the protocol’s mysterious, pseudonymous creator Satoshi Nakamoto, contained the now-historic headline from English daily The Times of that date. 

“Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks,” it read, a nod to banks absolutely hemorrhaging the financial system at the time (with copious amounts of fraud involved), and Bitcoin arriving in the midst of all that.

While Coinbase followed up with a nod of its own yesterday, there have been several such messages contained in Bitcoin blocks.

Incidentally, F2Pool itself stamped a message after it mined the Bitcoin ‘halving’ block last year. Like Nakamoto’s message, that one was a newspaper headline as well: “NYTimes 09/Apr/2020 With $2.3T Injection, Fed’s Plan Far Exceeds 2008 Rescue.”

Not every message is a doom story, however. Miners have previously included prayers, a portrait of computer engineer Len Sassaman, a simulation of a creature, encoded photographs, the entire Wikileaks files, and the Bitcoin whitepaper itself.

Wonder what the next newspaper headline to find its way to a Bitcoin block would be?

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KuCoin kickstarts new startup incubation program with a $50 million check

Crypto exchange KuCoin has launched its new incubation program, KuCoin Labs with the goal of helping new projects and developments flourish early inside the crypto arena.

KuCoin Labs is opening up an incredible $50 million fund to bestow on new startups to help uncover crypto projects that provide deep value to the overall space.

This is an excellent development in an arena that badly needs funding. Worthwhile projects have had to compete in a messy environment which has become dirtied by so many scam ICOs taking place. This has led investors to seek returns in other directions. 

There is a huge amount of talent buried inside the crypto and blockchain pool and KuCoin Labs objective is to help uncover it, by giving founders much-needed capital, in order to develop and promote their ideas.

Helping startups gain traction

KuCoin Labs gathers a collection of crypto experts who are on call for these startups to gain knowledge and help in boosting their tokenization, market research, marketing, monetization technology and more.

KuCoin Labs currently boasts a portfolio of more than 50 projects which include names like OneLedger, MultiVac, LUKSO which work in the areas of decentralized finance (DeFi) and NFT.

According to the CEO of KuCoin Global Johnny Lyu, now is the best time to help these projects develop as the industry is swiftly growing to a state of mass adoption. 

“Kucoin Labs goal is to discover more hidden gems in the crypto space and empower their development through various KuCoin offerings including the upcoming KuCoin Community Chain. Together, we will drive for the mass adoption of blockchain,” he said.

KuCoin, the exchange behind this initiative is one of the most widely used digital exchanges. According to KuCoin, 1 Out of every 4 Crypto holders worldwide uses KuCoin.

KuCoin has seen explosive growth in line with the crypto market passing the $2 trillion level. KuCoin’s saw a trading volume increase  in Q1 of 465%, and user growth gaining 577%. To date, IDG-backed KuCoin, which was founded in 2018, has helped 250 new projects to gain traction.

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Macau’s high-rolling casino industry faces a digital currency threat

The island-nation of Macau is inching closer to the launch of its state-backed digital currency as it looks to shed off money launderers and fraudsters from the casinos and gambling dens that dot the city, as per a report today on Bloomberg.

Macau turns to digital currency

Dubbed the ‘Vegas of the East,’ Macau sees billions of dollars flow through its high-profile casinos and gambling junkets—businesses that act as middlemen for Chinese high-rollers who make up half the city’s gambling revenue—each month.

Such high-stakes gambling dens are, however, notorious for money laundering, tax evasion, and allegedly playing a role in terrorism financing.

And for the government, a digital currency could help combat that. “The government will work with China’s central bank to study the feasibility of issuing a digital currency,” said Macau chief executive Ho Iat Seng.

Macau’s casinos. Image: NPR

He added the government planned to amend laws to regulate the issuance of a digital currency, but said no formal plans had been discussed regarding the rollout of a digital currency.

As CryptoSlate reported previously, several Macau casino operators had already been approached in December by local regulators to discuss the feasibility of a digital currency to purchase casino chips, instead of cash or fiat.

This could, theoretically, mark every transaction on a ledger that is accessible to regulators, individuals, and banks, alike, helping cull the chance of laundering money or underreporting purchases.

Impacts on casinos

Casino industry watchers say they need more details to evaluate the impact of the potential launch of a digital yuan in Macau’s multi-billion dollar gambling industry.

An earlier note by Sanford C. Bernstein analysts concluded that using digital currencies could entirely erase the junket system and potentially cause irreversible monetary losses for the industry.

However, they added that the move could be a net positive in the very long run, as a digital currency would become one of the options that offer easier access to money in the city. 

At press time, it is not known if Macau’s digital currency would use a public blockchain (or a blockchain at all) or be different from China’s ‘digital yuan’ (Macau uses the pataca, not Chinese yuan).

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The U.S. just got a ‘pure-play’ Bitcoin and crypto ecosystem ETF

Global investment manager VanEck launched its ‘Vectors Digital Transformation ETF’ (DAPP), yesterday, as per a release. The fund offers ‘pure-play exposure’ to companies that do business or derive revenues from Bitcoin- or crypto-related activities.

ETFs, short for exchange-traded funds, are financial instruments that allow traders and investors to bet on the prices of any asset in a safe and regulated manner. Several companies have long-tried to launch Bitcoin ETFs in the US to no avail (VanEck being one of them), but the DAPP allows for BTC exposure indirectly.

“A pure-play ETF that offers exposure to Bitcoin exchanges, miners, big hodlers & infrastructure cos,” said Gabor Gurbacs, CEO of VanEck, announcing the launch.

He added, “My message to institutions: Understand & support #Bitcoin companies. Innovation is unstoppable.”

How DAPP brings Bitcoin exposure

As per the release, DAPP seeks to track the price and yield performance of the MVIS Global Digital Assets Equity Index, a rules-based modified capitalization-weighted, float-adjusted index intended to give investors a means of tracking the overall performance of companies involved in digital assets. 

The index is designed as an overview of the big crypto-relevant players in the institutional space. 

To be included, a company must generate at least 50% of its revenues from cryptocurrency projects, build products generate at least 50% of their revenues from cryptocurrencies, and/or have at least 50% of its assets invested directly or indirectly in Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other cryptocurrencies.

As a result, the index provides exposure to companies involved in mining, hardware, exchanges, holding and trading, payment gateways, patents and services, and banking. 

The Index rebalances quarterly, and, as such, does not invest in digital assets (including cryptocurrencies) both directly or through the use of digital asset derivatives. 

An ever-growing market

VanEck said DAPP demonstrated Nasdaq’s value as a resource for growing cryptocurrency strategies in the evolving ETF market.

 “The digitalization of the global economy has been picking up steam for the past several years, and as digital assets mature, this has driven the growth of several innovative companies,” said Ed Lopez, Managing Director, Head of ETF Product for VanEck. 

Lopez added, “Investors have had to choose among funds that too often included companies only tangentially involved with digital assets. That is something we’ve sought to solve with the launch of DAPP.”

Bitcoin-related stocks like mining firms and investment products have seen a big surge in their prices over the past year, mirroring the rise of the asset.

An example is Riot Blockchain (RIOT), a mining company, whose stocks rose over 12,000% in the past year as Bitcoin surged 10x from $5,000 in mid-2020 to well over $50,000 in early-2021.

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Confused about which Polkadot (DOT) project to invest in? This ‘PINT’ aims to solves that

Blockchain research and development firm ChainSafe said it would soon launch PINT, short for a Polkadot Index Network Token, in conjunction with PoS infrastructure provider Stateless Money, it said in a release yesterday.

“ChainSafe is excited to get the project underway together with Stateless Money, and help develop a new DeFi standard for the Polkadot ecosystem,” the firm said.

Index funds allow investors to hold a variety of tradable assets (usually related and of the same sector) via a single financial instrument. These are a widely popular product among investors and have, so far, been largely absent from the crypto space. But PINT looks to change that.

Grab a Pint with Polkadot

PINT will be an on-chain decentralized finance (DeFi) index token that provides diversified exposure to the top projects within the Polkadot (DOT) ecosystem. 

It was proposed in a StakerDAO governance proposal and was formally submitted by staking provider Stateless Money last month for ChainSafe to become the primary development partner.

The StakerDAO community approved the proposal earlier this money, majorly due to the many benefits it helps bring to the wider Polkadot ecosystem.

Parachains—independent blockchains that run on Polkadot—may also choose to allocate a portion of their tokens to PINT, giving them benefits like hedging a project’s token volatility while betting on the overall boom of the Polkadot ecosystem and gaining access to financing from the PINT treasury for expensive Parachain Lease Offerings (PLO).

As such, PINT will be split into four organizing partners:

  1. Stateless Money will be responsible for overall coordination efforts around PINT
  2. ChainSafe will be the primary development partner for PINT
  3. A PINT council made up of 7 Polkadot ecosystem experts will be governing the index including responsibilities such as referenda, the composition of the index, and selecting members of the Constituent Committee
  4. A Constituent Committee, made up of one representative from each project with assets in the index, will be responsible for evaluating — and possibly vetoing — council decisions

Traction and development

Six projects have given soft commitments to being included on the index and becoming representatives in the Constituent Committee, including—Acala, Equilibrium, HydraDX, Litentry, Moonbeam, and Plasm.

ChainSafe, on its part, will be responsible for the development of the PINT Substrate pallets and runtime. 

The work will be separated out into four successive milestones to be completed over 3 months, starting with the development of the PINT pallets based on ChainSafe’s PINT Design Doc, implementation of additional XCMP dependent pallets, joining ChaChaCha and/or Rococo testnets, and finally, launch the mainnet.

The announcement comes as Polkadot sees increased adoption, market presence, and surging prices. DOT trades at $42 at press time, an increase of 6.2% in the past week.

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Tezos (XTZ) is testing a new consensus algorithm called ‘Tenderbake’

Smart contract platform Tezos has confirmed that it is trialing a new form of consensus algorithm called ‘Tenderbake,’ it said in a release shared with CryptoSlate.

First touted as “a blockchain synchronizer and single-shot consensus algorithm” in a blog post published last January, Tenderbake is being utilized in the latest Tezos testnet, with team members seeking to identify potential implementation errors and optimize performance.

The introduction of Tenderbake follows a hectic period for Tezos, which has seen approximately one upgrade implemented every quarter. The latest single-shot consensus algorithm was developed by Tezos engineers and academic researchers over the course of the last year, including those from the Baking Bad cooperative.

Demystifying Tenderbake

Distinct from Tezos’ existing Emmy+ algorithm, Tenderbake was inspired by Tendermint, the first adaptation of classical BFT-style consensus algorithms. In a recent Medium post,

Tezos revealed that Tenderbake was capable of shorter block times and near-instant finality, with block times of 1 second or less. This would make it a market improvement on Emmy+, and bring Tezos in line with Visa levels of transactions per second (TPS) – without sacrificing decentralization.

Because Tenderbake is capable of handling a large number of validators, the latest upgrade is seen as a major milestone for the network, helping users leverage irreversibility in their transactions when a block is forged.

As noted in the original academic whitepaper, a joint-effort between Nomadic Labs and the Université Paris-Saclay, the team’s methodology is “driven by the need to bound the message buffers,” a process that is “essential in preventing spamming and run-time memory errors.”

The paper also outlined how “Tenderbake processes can synchronize with each other without exchanging messages, leveraging instead the information stored in the blockchain.”

Or to put it another way, no fork is possible while Tenderbake is utilized, irrespective of network delays. With the consensus algorithm in place, even if the network degrades during an asynchronous period, the blockchain will pick up where it left off once synchrony is restored.

XTZ Rockets as Tenderbake Debuts

News of the Tenderbake testnet release inevitably reached the markets, with the platform’s native token, XTZ, up by almost 20% over the past seven days. Tezos is currently the 31st cryptocurrency by market cap, sandwiched between Bitcoin SV (#30) and Cosmos (#32). The market capitalization of XTZ stands at $4.8 billion.

While the long-term impact of Tenderbake remains to be seen, the Tezos community has good reason to be bullish at the moment.

The testnet follows the launch of QuipuSwap, an open-source automated market maker that crossed $1 million in TVL in its first week. QuipuSwap is Tezos’ very own version of Uniswap, with users free to connect their Temple wallet and swap assets like ZTZ, KUSD, tzBTC, and USDtez.

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The U.S. Postal Service wants to issue NFTs—but not in the way you’d think

The United States Postal Service (USPS) has certified blockchain services company CaseMail as the official producer of ePostage labels in the form of non-fungible tokens (NFTs), as per a release Tuesday.

How about non-fungible postage?

The USPS ePostage labels would use CaseMail’s non-fungible token (NFT) mail technology and in a move that’s touted as the world’s first blockchain-supported postage.

NFTs are blockchain-based representations of tangible or intangible assets that prove that the holder is the true owner of the underlying asset. The latter can include, but is not limited to, digital collectibles, crypto art, and real estate…to just about anything.

And now, CaseMail is taking the relatively new technology to postage stamps. “It’s fitting that the USPS, a historic institution that served as a vanguard during the founding of our country, is at the forefront of this revolution in communications and commerce,” stated founder and CEO Joe Ruiz.

He added CaseMail’s USPS-certified blockchain postage stamps provide an added layer of credibility to the many use cases of NFTs and the wider adoption of blockchain technology. into everyday life.

How NFTs help

USPS certification of CaseMail’s NFT blockchain ePostage labels highlights the practical, real-world application of the popular new technology. CaseMail tokens are digitally stamped on USPS ePostage labels and the items being mailed.

As a result, all data about the shipment and mailing history is recorded on the blockchain, creating a verifiable chain of custody for digital and physical assets. The technology certifies the content and delivery history and the chain of custody can be cryptographically verified, ensuring privacy for both the sender and recipients. 

“Using NFTs to help protect a process that’s both familiar and important to everyone – mailing a letter or package – helps demystify this important new technology. It is simply postage printed from the blockchain,” explained Ruiz.

The initial rollout of the service is exclusively for legal professionals and government agencies. The next step comes in Q2 of 2021, when the company will roll out global access primarily through integration partnerships with providers of consumer and business services. 

CaseMail does not have any ‘investment’ token apart from the postage NFTs.

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Analysts: Here’s why investors shouldn’t buy Coinbase at a $100 billion valuation

A report published by market research firm New Constructs cautioned investors from piling into Coinbase’s iconic public listing at a ‘ridiculously high’ valuation.

Coinbase and $100 billion

The US crypto exchange (stock ticker: COIN) is scheduled to list on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) later today, in a move that marks the first-ever time a major crypto business would offer its shares to the general public.

Secondary markets on crypto exchange FTX have valued the company at over $100 billion (and even $150 billion today), amidst growing institutional demand for cryptocurrencies and a strong earnings report earlier this month—the exchange posted revenues of $1.8 billion and a $750 million profit. 

But as per New Constructs analysts, Coinbase holds “little-to-no-chance” of meeting the future profit expectations, mainly because the crypto market is still tiny in comparison to the global financial market and newer entrants would cause those figures to drop drastically.

“Our calculations suggest Coinbase’s valuation should be closer to $18.9 billion – an 81% decrease from the $100 billion expected valuation,” New Construct analysts said.

They further pointed out the $100 billion valuation meant Coinbase’s revenue would be a 1.5x multiple of the combined 2020 revenues Nasdaq Composite and Intercontinental Exchange Inc, the parent company of the New York Stock Exchange.

They added traditional stock exchanges also faced a ‘race to the zero’ fallacy which causes them to decrease fees to entice newer investors and traders to themselves and away from other exchange businesses.

Crypto adoption? Not yet.

The numbers aside, New Constructs suggested cryptocurrencies were yet to proliferate the general populace in a meaningful way for Coinbase to have such a high valuation.

It further slammed Coinbase’s claims of cryptocurrencies having “the potential to be as revolutionary and widely adopted as the internet,” stating (citing a survey) that 66% of U.S. adults were “not interested in” crypto and 18% had “never heard of it

“While such a statement can lead to lofty valuations based on a “growth story,” the reality is the cryptocurrency market remains far from “mainstream,” the firm said.

Analysts gave the upcoming stock a ‘Neutral’ rating, stating that while Coinbase saw profitability in 2020, its expected valuation implied the company will become the largest exchange in the world by revenue.

Meanwhile, not everyone seems to hold a contrarian view of the Coinbase listing, especially not those in the crypto market. 

Alexander Vasiliev, co-founder and CCO of the global payment network Mercuryo, said the Coinbase listing was a generally positive thing for the cryptocurrency market as it will be both a stock relying on cryptocurrencies and another step toward wider recognition of cryptocurrencies themselves.

Still, New Construct remains unconvinced. “Nevertheless, a valuation at the rumored levels is far too high, and investors should not buy this stock at anywhere close to the rumored levels,” the report concluded.

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Inside DeFi and crypto builders with SwissBorg CEO Cyrus Fazel

Peek inside the crypto world and you’d find a lot of billionaires, cryptonaires, and everything in between. A lot of people seem to have ‘made it’ in the space: Some got lucky, some come from connections, while some even happened to be at the right place at the right time.

But dig deeper, and you’ll find legions of individuals who worked hard, created groundbreaking products and technology, and built value in order to reach the coveted ‘make it’ level.

Cyrus Fazel is one such individual. From studying in France to finding himself in a wealth management position in top companies many years (and tears and sweats) after, Cyrus saw he could build for and benefit billions of people around the world with crypto products.

This culminated into SwissBorg, the blockchain-based investment app that makes crypto investing simple, accessible, and available to all. The firm was founded in 2017 and is now valued at over $920 million—even becoming a ‘top 100’ crypto earlier this year.

Like with all entrepreneurs, there are stories and insights. And bringing those to you today, is Alex Fazel, the charming host of crypto edutainment channel Cryptonites and…you guessed, Cyrus’ sibling.

The crypto bros Alex Fazel (L) and Cyrus Fazel (R). Image: Cryptonites.

The brothers discussed, among many topics, how yield farming and decentralized finance (DeFi) apps were taking over the financial space and the multitudes of potential they present in today’s world.

Here’s a glimpse into what they spoke about.

Building in crypto, for crypto

For Cyrus, the success of SwissBorg, and the drive to keep delivering everyday comes from the community of dedicated users themselves. “There’s people fueling us on a daily basis, not just using our app, but literally having that spiritual connection of realising a dream for the greater good of the planet or for their family and really trying to change finance,” he shared.

“Finance could be fair, finance could be committee centric, and we’re proving it on a daily basis,” Cyrus said.

And while he loves the positive, thankful messages sent by users, Cyrus says ‘haters’ happen to inspire as well, “Thanks to haters, from bosses that were lousy and told me that you’re never gonna make it, from teachers back when I was a kid. They said you’re never gonna study, you’re not going to do this.”

The SwissBorg token

The SwissBorg token (CHSB), says Cyrus, is much, much more integrative with the firm’s app and product suite, unlike other tokens on the market that promise the world but provide intrinsically zero value.

“I’m trying to always get something better and making sure that the CHSB token is the heart of the ecosystem. I don’t see any other token, to be honest, that has so much utility today,” he shared.

“We have staking mechanism, we have governance. And we were actually really using it in different ways, such as sustainable yield farming. It’s really something different.”

But he reminds the app has not yet reached its full potential. “It’s only the early beginning…The more the token is being used, the more the token is being staked, the more the token is being loved, obviously helps all of us within the ecosystem to share great time with us,” he noted.

SwissBorg’s app has several ‘strategies’ and yield farms in place that users can access based on their holdings and personal risk levels. 

Its ‘smart yield’ products are specifically designed to hunt for yield across uncorrelated assets, meaning that if the market were to fall and things were to go awry, there would still be automatic reallocation of funds.

It’s why Cyrus suggests investing in ‘low risk’ strategies on the side. “There’s a DeFi altcoin season right now, that’s going very well. But that could change as well going forward. So you have to have your eyes on the ball all the time,” he shared.

(Catch the life of Cyrus before crypto, his journey, his insights on yield farming, ICOs, DeFi, and much, much more in the latest episode of Cryptonites, available for free streaming in its entirety right below!)

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Experts weigh in what the Coinbase (COIN) listing means for the crypto market

The shares of crypto exchange Coinbase would be offered to the public later today on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) as part of a planned listing. The move is the first time a major crypto business is going public.

Coinbase is valued at over $150 billion by analysts and pre-public traders, in part due to its impressive Q1 2021 trading volumes, revenues, and profits (it made over $750 million this year alone).

Its shares would be offered straight on the Nasdaq stock exchange via a direct listing and trade at over $577 on pre-listing markets like crypto exchange FTX. And here’s what four industry proponents say about the listing’s potential impact on the broader crypto market.

Credibility for crypto

Jun Li, founder of Ontology, the high performance, public blockchain specializing in decentralized identity and data said that the Coinbase listing will reset the entire blockchain market, even though within the space there are other giant players as well — ranging from centralized to decentralized exchanges.

“We will see welcomed increased pressure on states to bring in policy and regulation to the blockchain and cryptocurrency industries. We welcome these regulations because we understand that without regulation, the industry will not be officially recognized,” he commented.

Others like Jason Blick, CEO of EQIBank, a digital bank, said that the Coinbase listing would give key insights into how crypto exchanges operate and earn. “Coinbase’s forthcoming IPO will give long needed transparency to the financial affairs of a leading exchange, its underlying business model is subject to extraordinary pressure,” he stated.

Blick added:

“In the “race to the bottom” pricing models of all leading exchanges, investor expectations of dramatic long-term returns may be quickly vanquished as lower prices result in profit margins being permanently squeezed.”

Eric Kapfhammer, COO and Head of Polyient Capital at Polyient, the investment group behind the Polyient Games NFT Marketplace, said the Coinbase NASDAQ listing was essentially the first legitimate bridge between the traditional capital markets and the crypto markets.

“My estimate is that, once established, we will surely begin to see more flow of capital into crypto-focused companies and cryptocurrencies themselves,” he said, adding:

“You can expect maturation in the space, both in terms of investment flows, as well as the expansion and development of new services with the accompanying infrastructure.”

Overinflated shares?

Meanwhile, Amber Ghaddar, co-founder of layer-2 blockchain protocol AllianceBlock, said the current frenzy around the Coinbase listing was reminiscent of two historical events: the gold markets of last century, and the unsustainable valuations of companies across all markets.

“A few decades back, certain equity investors couldn’t access gold as they didn’t have a commodity and/or derivative mandate and were instead investing in gold miners,” Ghaddar said, adding that retail and institutional investors were playing the Coinbase listing as a proxy investment of Bitcoin or Ethereum.

She further stated Coinbase was likely overinflated with its 60 price to sales ratio (other exchanges trade between 3 (Nasdaq) to 15 (CME)). “This is further proof that the framework of traditional valuations is broken and the current euphoria, driven in part by helicopter money, is nothing but unsustainable,” Ghaddar said.

Coinbase trades on secondary markets at $570 at press time. Its public listing is scheduled for today.

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Dogecoin jumps 88% in a single day to $0.13, reviving Ponzi fears

Dogecoin (DOGE) surged by 88% today to over $0.13, setting a new all-time high and gaining a $16 billion valuation, data from multiple sources shows.

The currency is intrinsically valueless and is intended to have absolutely no use, save the memes and jokes.

The day DOGE jumped

As the below image shows, DOGE has shot up like a rocket in the past two days without any real fundamental development. It has been trading above its 34-period exponential moving average since last week and broke through all ‘resistance’ levels to its way to the ATH.

Dogecoin or a rocket? Image: TradingView

DOGE reached as high as $0.14 in the early hours before retracing all the way to $0.11. It has since regained and trades at $0.13 at press time.

The move seemed to catch the eyes of many around the world. On social media app Twitter, the term “Dogecoin” found its way to the global trending charts with over 265,000 mentions since its price move.

Even Elon Musk, the CEO of electric carmaker Tesla, seemed to tweet about the DOGE surge. He has previously posted pictures of Dogecoin going to the moon, and claims to have accumulated some DOGE for his youngest child.

Some remain critical

While the memecoin seems to have the world’s attention, some critics remain skeptical about how high DOGE can surge before tumbling back down. 

David Kimberley, an analyst at investing app Freetrade, said that people were buying the cryptocurrency because of the hope that others eventually join in, push the price up, and the early “investors” sell their holdings at a high profit.

But the pain comes afterward. “When everyone is doing this, the bubble eventually has to burst and you’re going to be left short-changed if you don’t get out in time,” Kimberley said.

Last year, there were reports of a large percentage of Dogecoin’s supply (nearly 27%) being in the hands of one investor, raising concerns about the way the currency was distributed and the potential impact on prices.

Those concerns have since disappeared. Because who complains if the music never seems to stop anyway?

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Native Bitcoin trading is coming to ShapeShift via THORChain (RUNE)

ShapeShift, a non-custodial cryptocurrency exchange, announced yesterday that it was now fully integrated with THORChain, the decentralized cross-chain liquidity network, as per a release.

Users can now trade native (unwrapped) Bitcoin with Litecoin (LTC) and Ethereum (ETH) on ShapeShift’s mobile and desktop platforms.

The move allows Bitcoin traders and investors to participate more freely, securely, and privately in trading with other coins while expanding their options in the world of decentralized finance—using a single user-friendly and incentivized platform.

Thorchain on Shapeshift

THORChain solves the problem of cross-chain trading by building efficient, bi-directional bridges between blockchains at the protocol level in a permissionless, non-custodial manner.

ShapeShift, which announced decentralized exchange (DEX) trading for ETH and ERC-20 assets in January, has now expanded its DEX assets available for trade through this integration with the THORChain liquidity platform.

“We believe finance must be open and immutable. The THORChain team has built technology that brings these properties to the trading of bitcoin and other leading chains for the first time,” said Erik Voorhees, founder and CEO of ShapeShift, in a statement.

He added:

“We saw the power of this technology and wanted to bring it to our users immediately. This is a continuation of our commitment to offering users an easy, self-custody platform for their decentralized trading needs.”

Only ShapeShift DEX users, including those making trades via the new THORChain integration, can earn FOX Tokens with every trade—qualifying them for Rainfall awards (free USDC rewarded to random ShapeShift users each time someone trades on the platform).

“The team saw an opportunity to provide a ‘public good’ network that would solve a weak point in the cryptocurrency ecosystem: decentralized, cross-chain exchanging,” said THORChain’s lead engineer.

The THORChain team remains pseudonymous, as is commonly seen in the industry for security, privacy, and project integrity reasons (as exemplified by Bitcoin’s founder, Satoshi Nakamoto). Their code is open source and available on Gitlab.

RUNE trades at $14.75 at press time and has a marketcap of over $3.4 billion.

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Kardiachain’s ‘KAIDEX’ aims to bring DeFi and CeFi to crypto traders

Traders have become used to the decentralized functionality offered to them through the explosion in DEXs that have flooded the cryptocurrency space this year, but one project wants to bring to blockchain the functionality that traders see in the traditional finance space.

Vietnamese blockchain Kardiachain has taken a step towards its goal of launching such a project, KAIDEX. It describes the project as a unique DEX platform that gives traders unparalleled functionality.

Dual node technology

The platform has been designed from the ground up to use Kardiachain’s dual node technology, which gives users all the benefits of a DEX. 

It gives uses complete control over their wallets and assets along with the ability to seamlessly switch between blockchains—both public and private—to aid communication and boost speed.

“KardiaChain’s Team is working hard to build a user-centric platform. We want to bring users the ultimate DEX experience and aim to increase mass adoption of blockchain and crypto with our unique products,” said Huy Nguyen, CTO and Co-founder of Kardiachain, 

He noted the team’s objective was to have KAIDEX ready for launch later this year, adding:

“Launching the KAIDEX landing page is the first step to the next phase. This will feature IDO Platform (Initial Dex Offering), cross-chain lending, cross-chain swap, and cross-chain farming.”

New DEX tech

KAIDEX is built upon Dual Node, a patent-pending technology that Kardiachain believes can revolutionize multi-chain swapping, and which they say allows simultaneous access to ledgers of KardiaChain and another blockchain of choice.

Kardiachain is working to include a host of features on the platform, including Trading tools: Stop and Market Order, and Limit Order, low slippage, fast transfer speed, and low fees.

The objective is to deliver speed and performance that matches centralized exchanges, and provides customers with high liquidity and very fast settlements. 

KardiaChain is the world’s first fully interoperable and non-invasive blockchain platform. Its mission is to bring a competitive edge to enterprises and governments through blockchain technology. 

The firm’s approach is to partner with existing service providers (enterprises and governments), and help them transform their centralized products/services.

Using its patented cross-chain technology, KardiaChain’s Private-Public Blockchain Platform (PPBP) solves the biggest dilemma in blockchain adoption for institutional clients: privacy versus transparency.

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Elon Musk’s favourite ‘Godzilla’ movie has got its own exclusive NFTs

The ‘Godzilla vs. Kong’ movie, a spin-off of movie characters Godzilla and King Kong, has now got its own exclusive line-up of non-fungible tokens (NFT), CryptoSlate learned in a release.

So what does Elon Musk have to do with it? He loves the movie (according to his most recent Tweets)!

The Godzilla movies have always been popular, in fact in the series there have been 38 movies made so far, so Godzilla might look scary but the scaly giant has found his way into the heart of movie fans everywhere.

Terra Virtua Godzilla Collectibles

To mark the latest epic movie, Terra Virtua, a blockchain-powered marketplace, has released their incredible Godzilla NFT collectibles to fanfare. The marketplace focuses on NFTs while even providing ‘exhibition’ spaces for those.

Unlike other marketplaces, Terra Virtua users can work with major brand owners to create digital collectibles from their intellectual property which they then sell, they also display the NFTs by providing the utility for using the NFTs clients purchase.

the Terra Virtua ecosystem offers 3 different virtual exhibition spaces—The Fancave, The Terradome, and the Art Gallery—and users can show them off via augmented reality apps on their mobile phones or PCs after the purchase is made.

Who Are Terra Virtua?

It started off in a Starbucks, as so much often does. Jawad Ashraf, the cofounder pitched the first concept to Gary Bracey. From there they started fleshing out the idea.

Jawad was always working on building companies based on disruptive technologies and saw blockchain and the permanent ownership of digital assets as the next step from in-app and in-game purchases. 

Both Jawad and Gary wanted to take this idea of theirs mainstream, as Gary had an extensive track record in licensing properties from Hollywood and beyond, and the duo saw VR as key to the next step of interactivity.

Initially, with an NFT focus on VR, they expanded the vision to include every digital touchpoint for an asset owned by a person, such as an online marketplace, mobile, 3d desktop, and VR.

They successfully raised $2.5 million in September 2020 in a massively oversubscribed funding round, which was a long time before ‘NFT’ mania hit the mainstream. And that has since converted into Terra Virtua becoming one of the top digital collectible platform that offers truly immersive experiences for users.

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