Crypto.com Expands Services With Shopify Offering 0 Transaction Fees

Key Insights:

  • Shopify will use Crypto.com Pay to enable crypto payments.
  • The facility will allow merchants to receive cryptocurrencies with 0 transaction fees.
  • Crypto.com is pushing adoption by recently announcing a five-year partnership with AFL.

In an announcement today, one of the world’s best-known cryptocurrency exchanges, Crypto.com, enabled Shopify merchants to receive payments in cryptocurrency with the help of Crypto.com Pay. 

Crypto.com Expands Merchant Reach

With this integration, Shopify merchants will be able to tap the market of customers who prefer to pay in cryptocurrencies and also open up opportunities for the current users who are looking to make use of this facility.

Crypto.com is even offering to waive the 0.5% settlement fee for the first month after integration on all transactions to incentivize Shopify merchants further. This will also help Crypto.com expand its payment services to other Shopify users as well.

Currently, Crypto.com enables users to make payments all around the world with 0 transaction fees, and they also incentivize individuals to make use of its native token, Cronos, with its payment platform. Users who pay through Crypto.com using Cronos receive a significant amount in crypto-cashback, which can run up to 10% during certain periods.

Going forward, Crypto.com users will be able to pay Shopify merchants using 20 cryptocurrencies ranging from Bitcoin to Apecoin, including Ethereum, Cronos, Dogecoin, and Shiba Inu as well.

Commenting on this announcement, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Crypto.com, Kris Marszalek, stated,

“Providing more customers and merchants the ability to engage in commerce using cryptocurrencies is a priority for Crypto.com. We are incredibly excited to integrate into Shopify, and to bring this capability to even more customers and merchants around the world.”

Crypto.com Furthers Its Partnerships

Marketing and advertising are the strongest suits of Crypto.com with brand ambassadors like Matt Damon. The exchange is thus building on it to reach a wider audience. 

As per that strategy, the most recent play was Crypto.com’s five-year partnership with Australian Football League, becoming the Official Cryptocurrency Exchange and Official Cryptocurrency Trading Platform for both AFL and AFLW.

But while it excels on the expansion front, it might not be doing so well on the investor front as Cronos holder try to recover from the devastating crash of May 9.

Although CRO is up by 16.64% over the week, it will be hard for the altcoin to counter the 43.35% plunge in price during the crash.

Cronos lost over 43% during the recent market crash

Near Protocol (NEAR) Joins the Crypto Sell-Off after a Bullish Sunday

Key Insights:

  • NEAR Protocol (NEAR) rallied by 7.2% on Sunday to buck the broader market trend.
  • A surge in total value locked (TVL) supported the upward trend, with NEAR’s TVL striking an ATH of $605.89m this morning.
  • Technical indicators are bearish, with NEAR sitting below the 50-day EMA.

On Sunday, NEAR bucked the broader crypto market trend, rallying by 7.2%. Reversing a 3.15% decline from Saturday, NEAR ended the week down 5.66% to $11.16.

A 13.5% slide on Thursday did the damage, as market risk aversion spilled over from the US equity markets.

Despite the modest weekly loss, NEAR has lost significant ground in April, falling back from an April high of $19.32 to an end-of-April month low of $10.08.

On Saturday, NEAR tested support at sub-$10.00 with a low of $9.86 before finding support.

Avoiding sub-$9.00 and a February 24 current-year low of $8.21 will remain key near-term.

New Address Counts and Total Value Locked Delivers NEAR Support

A surge in total value locked delivered support on Sunday and continues to deliver support at the start of the week.

According to Defi Llama, NEAR’s total value locked jumped to an All-Time-High of $605.89 this morning before easing back. The upswing continued from May 7, when the TVL stood at $483.35.

Over the last 24-hours, the TVL is up 3.14%, with Ref Finance dominance standing at 43.41%.

NEAR TVL
Total Value Locked NEAR price positive.

NEAR Protocol’s market cap is up 3.3% to $7.52bn since May 7, according to CoinMarketCap. Considering a TVL surge of 23.8% over the same period, divergence suggests more price support for NEAR in the coming days.

On December 31, 2021, NEAR’s TVL stood at $136.61m.

Another positive for NEAR is the upward trend in new addresses. According to Coin98 Analytics, NEAR has the highest address growth this year. New addresses are up 212% to 6,867,647. Crypto.com (CRO) ranked second, with new address growth of 166%.

 

The upward trend in new addresses reflects community support for the protocol.

What is Total Value Locked, and Why Does it Matter?

The total value locked is the value of crypto assets deposited in a DeFi protocol. In recent months, TVL has drawn significant interest. Traders consider the TVL a key metric in measuring market interest and native token value.

The market will be looking for divergence between the TVL and the market cap of a token. Buying or selling opportunities present themselves at times of greatest TVL and price divergence.

NEAR Price Action

At the time of writing, NEAR was down by 2.51% to $10.88. A mixed start to the day saw NEAR strike a morning high of $11.66 before falling to a low of $10.69.

NEARUSD 0905 Daily
NEAR gives up early gains as the crypto bears take control.

Technical Indicators

NEAR will need to move through the $10.76 pivot to make a move through the First Major Resistance Level at $11.65.

Broader market sentiment would need to improve to support a return to $11 levels.

In the event of another extended rally, NEAR should test the Second Major Resistance Level at $12.15 and resistance at $12.5. The Third Major Resistance Level sits at $13.54.

Failure to move through the pivot would bring the First Major Support Level at $10.26 into play. Barring an extended sell-off throughout the day, NEAR should avoid sub-$9.5. The Second Major Support Level sits at $9.37.

NEARUSD 0905 Hourly
Failure to move through the pivot will leave NEAR under pressure.

The EMAs and the 4-hourly candlestick chart (below) send a bearish signal. NEAR currently sits below the 50-day EMA at $14.31. This morning, the 50-day EMA pulled back from the 100-day EMA. We also saw the 100-day EMA fall back from the 200-day EMA; NEAR price negative.

NEAR would need to move through the 50-day EMA and return to $12 to support an extended breakout.

NEARUSD 0905 4-Hourly
A move through the 50-day EMA would support a return to $12.

Crypto.com Drives Fan Engagement at Miami Grand Prix Through NFTs

Key Insights:

  • Crypto.com delivers fans an F1 experience at the Miami circuit.
  • Sports continues to be a key focus area for Crypto.com, which is looking to become a top-20 brand name.
  • Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Crypto Exchange FTX also partnered with an NFT drop at the Miami Grand Prix.

This year, crypto exchanges have ramped up activity across a number of sporting disciplines, with Crypto.com among the most active. Other exchanges targeting sport to build brand awareness and gain access to a wider customer base include Binance, Coinbase, and FTX.

With the 2022 Formula 1 season in full swing, the glitz and glamour of F1 reached the shores of Miami over the weekend. Amidst the glitz and glamour, there was also no shortage of crypto presence.

Crypto.com drives fan engagement at the Miami Grand Prix circuit

On Sunday, the inaugural Crypto.com Miami Grand Prix took place, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen taking the chequered flag.

As the official title partner, Crypto.com delivered on fan engagement. The crypto platform provided a number of opportunities for fans to walk away with non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and more.

Crypto.com offered F1 fans a commemorative Miami race-day NFT via Crypto.com/Miami by signing up to Crypto.com NFT. For those who signed up, there was also “a chance to win a limited-edition NFT of one of the 52 laps from the race.”

Crypto.com announced the chance to win a limited-edition NFT on Twitter.

For fans unable to attend the inaugural Miami Grand Prix, Crypto.com also offered a pair of Paddock Club tickets to F1 Aramco United States Grand Prix 2022 in Austin, Texas.

Crypto.com didn’t stop there, however. There was a Crypto.com #MiamiGP AR filter on Instagram and for fans attending the race, Kinetica.

Crypto.com described Kinetica on Twitter as:

“Kinetica, the world’s first NFT gallery powered by the energy unleashed during the race.”

In February, Miami Grand Prix announced Crypto.com as the official title partner in a nine-year deal.

While Crypto.com enjoyed the first year of its nine-year relationship with the Miami Grand Prix, other crypto platforms were also present on race day.

Crypto exchange FTX partnered with Mercedes-AMG Petronas to deliver Web3 to the Miami Grand Prix.

Despite the success of the Miami Grand Prix, Crypto.com’s native token, Cronos (CRO), faces the prospect of a fifth consecutive day in the red.

CRO price action

At the time of writing, CRO was down 1.76% to $0.2517. A mixed start to the day saw CRO rise to an early morning high of $0.2582, before sliding to a low of $0.2494.

CRO tested the First Major Support Level at $0.2499 early on.

Crypto.com Daily 090522
Daily Chart shows a bearish trend embedded.

Technical indicators

CRO will need to move through the $0.2608 pivot to target the First Major Resistance Level at $0.2670.

Broader market sentiment would need to improve to support a return to $0.26.

In the event of an extended rally, CRO should test the Second Major Resistance Level at $0.2779 and resistance at $0.28. The Third Major Resistance Level sits at $0.2950.

Failure to move through the pivot would bring the First Major Support Level at $0.2499 back into play. Barring another extended sell-off throughout the day, CRO should avoid sub-$0.24. The Second Major Support Level at $0.2437 should limit the downside.

CRO 090522 Hourly
Failure to move through the pivot will leave CRO under pressure.

The EMAs and the 4-hourly candlestick chart (below) send a bearish signal. CRO sits below the 50-day EMA, currently at $0.2517. This morning, the 50-day EMA pulled back from the 100-day EMA. The 100-day EMA also fell from the 200-day EMA, CRO negative.

A move through the 50-day EMA would shift market sentiment and support a near-term return to $0.35 levels.

CRO 090522 4-Hourly
EMAs send bearish signals, with CRO sitting well below the 50-day EMA.

Crypto.com Native Token Cronos (CRO) Eyes $0.35 Despite a Bearish Start

Key Insights:

  • Crypto.com native token Cronos (CRO) is on the move this week.
  • CRO continues to find support after the Crypto.com u-turn on reduced rewards.
  • CRO technical indicators are bearish, with CRO sitting below the 50-day EMA.

On Wednesday, Cronos (CRO) jumped by 7.22%. Following a 5.44% rally on Tuesday, CRO ended the day at $0.3119.

Network news updates gyrated CRO in recent days, with market sentiment towards Fed monetary policy testing investor resilience.

This week’s reversal demonstrated the power of decentralization that has failed elsewhere in the crypto sphere.

Cronos Eyes for a Return to $0.35 After a Testy Start to May

Following two consecutive days in the green, CRO is under pressure this morning. Investor sentiment remains mixed as the broader global financial markets react further to Fed forward guidance on monetary policy.

While a 50 basis point rate hike was in line with market expectations on Wednesday, the market hadn’t predicted a less hawkish Fed to curb the inflation runaway train.

Network news updates were also CRO price positive this week.

On Sunday, FX Empire reported a Crypto.com decision to cut CRO card rewards effective June 1.

Investors dumped CRO in response to the news, leaving CRO at a low of $0.2650 before support kicked in.

A Crypto.com decision to u-turn the decision has since delivered CRO support, with CRO returning to $0.30 levels.

CRO Price Action

At the time of writing, CRO was down 0.99% to $0.3088. A mixed start to the day saw CRO rise to an early morning high of $0.3137 before falling to a low of $0.3064.

CRO Eyes a return to $0.35
Daily chart suggests a bottoming out.

Technical Indicators

CRO will need to avoid the $0.3045 pivot to target the First Major Resistance Level at $0.3197.

Broader market sentiment would need to improve to support a return to $0.31.

In the event of an extended rally, CRO should test the Second Major Resistance Level at $0.3274. The Third Major Resistance Level sits at $0.3503.

A fall through the pivot would bring the First Major Support Level at $0.2968 into play. Barring an extended sell-off throughout the day, CRO should avoid sub-$0.29. The Second Major Support Level sits at $0.2816.

CROUSD 050522 Hourly
Steering clear of the pivot would support another breakout.

The EMAs and the 4-hourly candlestick chart (below) send a bearish signal. CRO sits below the 50-day EMA, currently at $0.3320. This morning, the 50-day EMA pulled back from the 100-day EMA. The 100-day EMA also pulled back from the 200-day EMA, CRO negative.

A move through the 50-day EMA would shift market sentiment and support a near-term return to $0.35 levels.

CROUSD 050522 4-hourly
A move through the 50-day EMA would support a return to $0.35.

Crypto Market Daily Highlights – May 3

Key Insights:

  • Crypto.com native token Cronos (CRO) finds floor after dramatic two-day sell-off.
  • From the crypto top 100, Algorand (ALGO) is up 18% over 24-hours to lead the pack, with Sandbox (SAND) and Helium (HNT) also on the move.
  • Regulatory risk lingers with SEC expanding its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit while industry leaders respond to lawmaker ire over Bitcoin mining.

CoinMarketCap top 100, Algorand (ALGO), jumps 18% to lead the crypto majors. It has been an eventful 24 hours for the crypto market, with a number of the top 100 cryptos making early moves while others falter.

Regulatory risk has continued to hit the crypto news wires early in the week. Bitcoin (BTC) mining and the Securities and Exchange Commission have been areas of market focus to test investor sentiment. Investors will also be mindful of the Fed as the FOMC kick-off the two-day monetary policy meeting later today.

Algorand Surges by 18% to Lead the Top 100

Over the past 24-hours, CoinMarketCap top 100, Algorand, is up 18% to lead the broader crypto market.

On Monday, FIFA announced Algorand as an official partner ahead of this year’s FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

At the time of writing, ALGO was up 11.52% to $0.6872 for the current session, while up 18% over the last 24-hours.

A bullish morning saw ALGO strike a high of $0.7408 in response to the news before easing back.

Algorand follows in the footsteps of Crypto.com, which became an official FIFA World Cup 2022 sponsor in March.

ALGO 030522 Daily

Other big movers over the last 24-hours include Helium (HNT) and The Sandbox (SAND), which were up 16% and 10%, respectively.

Crypto.com native token Cronos (CRO) is on a breakout this morning. Crypto market reaction to staking reward updates caused a sell-off before finding support this morning.

Over 24-hours, CRO is up 0.21%, while down 26.14% over 7-days.

The Securities and Exchange Commission Expands Crypto Team

This week, FX Empire reported news of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) planning to expand its Crypto Assets and Cyber Unit with 20 new positions.

According to the report,

“The Cyber Unit has managed to take enforcement action against 80 fraudulent and unregistered crypto-asset offerings and platforms, which resulted in monetary relief worth more than $2 billion.”

While the SEC takes aim at the crypto market, industry leaders have responded to a letter from US lawmakers to the Environmental Protection Agency on Bitcoin and crypto mining and the impact on the environment.

According to the FX Empire report,

“Industry leaders and executives have refuted claims by politicians that crypto mining is an environmental disaster.”

In April, US lawmakers called on the EPA to look into crypto mining, a hot topic since the January subcommittee hearing.

While the crypto news wires have influenced investor sentiment, the crypto market will also be mindful of the Fed monetary policy decision.

Bitcoin (BTC) Slips Ahead of Wednesday’s Policy Decision

At the time of writing, BTC was down 0.01% to $38,508. A mixed morning saw BTC rise to a morning high of $38,645 before easing back.

BTCUSD 030522 Daily

Investor angst over the Fed’s monetary policy decision has pegged BTC back. Negative sentiment towards Fed monetary policy has resulted in a stronger correlation between BTC and the NASDAQ 100.

At the time of writing, the NASDAQ 100 mini was up 46.5 points. Earlier today, the NASDAQ was up 120 points before easing back.

Cronos (CRO) on Breakout After Crypto.com Driven Sell-off

Key Insights:

  • Crypto.com native token Cronos (CRO) is on an early breakout to lead the broader crypto market through the early session.
  • On Sunday, CRO came under selling pressure following news of Crypto.com slashing staking yields.
  • Technical indicators are bearish, with CRO sitting well below the 50-day EMA.

Crypto.com (CRO) is on a breakout this morning. On Monday, Cronos (CRO) tumbled by 11.94%. Following a 10.59% slide on Sunday, CRO ended the day at $0.2759.

The sell-off came in response to Crypto.com updates on staking rewards from the weekend.

CRO tanks in response to Crypto.com cutting staking rewards

On Sunday, Crypto.com announced a reduction of CRO card rewards for the Crypto.com Visa Cards, effective June 1, 2022.

For the Obsidian Card tier, which requires a minimum stake of $400,000 in CRO, Crypto.com cut the reward from 8% to 5%.

This morning, CRO found support, however, in response to news of a Crypto.com about-turn on CRO staking rewards.

Crypto.com CEO turned to Twitter, saying:

While today’s update has provided some support, CRO remains some way off levels seen before Sunday’s announcement.

CRO price action

At the time of writing, CRO was up 4.86% to $0.2893. A bullish start to the day saw CRO rise from an early morning low of $0.2751 to a high of $0.3022 before easing back.

CROUSD 030522 Daily
CRO in recovery mode after 5 sessions in the red.

Technical indicators

CRO will need to avoid the $0.2874 pivot to target the First Major Resistance Level at $0.3095.

Broader market sentiment would need to improve to support a move through the morning high of $0.3022.

In the event of an extended rally, CRO should test the Second Major Resistance Level at $0.3430. The Third Major Resistance Level sits at $0.3992.

A fall through the pivot would bring the First Major Support Level at $0.2536 into play. Barring another extended sell-off throughout the day, CRO should avoid sub-$0.25. The Second Major Support Level sits at $0.2314.

CROUSD 030522 Hourly
A fall through the pivot would bring support levels into play.

The EMAs and the 4-hourly candlestick chart (below) send a bearish signal. Following five consecutive sessions in the red, CRO sits below the 50-day EMA, currently at $0.3503. This morning, the 50-day EMA pulled back from the 100-day EMA. The 100-day EMA also pulled back from the 200-day EMA, CRO negative.

A move through the 50-day EMA would shift market sentiment and support a near-term return to $0.40 levels.

CROUSD 030522 4-Hourly
A move through the 50-day EMA would support a return to $0.40.

F1 Team Mercedes-AMG Petronas Partners with FTX for Miami Grand Prix

Key Insights:

  • Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Crypto Exchange FTX Partner for new NFT drop at the Miami Grand Prix.
  • Mercedes follows F1 team McLaren, which dropped NFTs in 2021 and in January 2022.
  • Crypto platforms continue to forge stronger bonds with sports to build brand awareness.

It has been a busy 2022 for crypto exchanges that have forged strong bonds with sporting franchises to build brand awareness.

In February, FTX bought airtime at Super Bowl LVI featuring Larry David. Binance (BNB) and Crypto.com (CRO) have also been active in the sports world through advertising and sponsorships.

FTX is in the spotlight this month, partnering with F1 racing team Mercedes-AMG Petronas.

FTX and Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 Team Partner at Miami GP

On Friday, crypto exchange FTX announced a partnership for the Miami Beach race weekend.

From May 6 to May 8, 2022, FTX and Mercedes-AMG Petronas will take “the thrill of racing onto the beach with all-day entertainment and a soundtrack to match, including epic headline acts closing the show each day.”

In addition to getting up close and personal with a Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 car, there will also be an NFT gallery, where attendees can buy and create their own NFTs before enjoying game experiences and more.

Via the FTX Off The Grid website, F1 fans and NFT enthusiasts can claim their free NFT ticket to upgrade their experience.

FTX also took to Twitter to announce the three-day event.

 

Mercedes-AMG Petronas announced the launch of the first in a series of NFT drops powered by FTX.

According to the announcement, eleven digital artwork NFTs will feature Mercedes-AMG Petronas cars. Mad Dog Jones exclusively designed and created each NFT.

Several NFTs be available for auction on the FTX platform during the Miami Race Weekend. The remaining NFTs will go to auction later in the F1 season.

For F1 fans, the “NFTs will each be bundled with a physical item.”

The announcement goes on to say,

“Two are bundled with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 rear wings wrapped in the artwork from the NFT, that were driven on track in Miami. The third NFT is bundled with a full size 2022 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula 1 replica car, wrapped in the NFT artwork.”

The auction for all three NFTs starts on Sunday, May 9. The proceeds from the auction will go to Ignite, “a joint charitable initiative from Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Mission 44, to support greater diversity and inclusion in motorsport.”

Mercedes-AMG Petronas Follows F1 Team McLaren into the NFT Space

In January, FX Empire reported F1 team McLaren and Sweet partnered to drop the McLaren Racing Collective.

On the Sweet NFT marketplace, collectors and F1 fans could trade digital car components and build an MCL35.

The 2022 NFT drop followed a summer 2021 drop where McLaren Racing gave fans the chance to collect 22 digital images to build an MCL35M 2021 F1 car.

One avid McLaren fan procured all 22 digital components to build a Gulf X McLaren Livery MCL35M 2021 collectible. The McLaren Race Collective is on the Tezos (XTZ) blockchain.

Rumors Hit the News Wires of Liverpool FC Eyeing a Crypto Sponsor

Key Insights:

  • Liverpool Football Club explores the idea of a crypto sponsor as the current sponsorship contract draws to a close.
  • In March, Liverpool FC launched an NFT collection in its first brush with the digital world.
  • Crypto platforms are particularly active in the world of sport, with Crypto.com and Binance targeting soccer teams.

Crypto exchanges and sports have continued to bridge the real world with the world of digital assets and virtuality.

For sports teams, fan engagement has become an ever-growing priority, with several leading soccer teams from around the world already in partnership with crypto exchanges.

Sponsorship deals have proven lucrative for soccer teams as demand for cryptos rises and trading fees balloon.

This week, news hit the wires of the digital asset world targeting the coveted English Premier League and one of the league’s most well-known clubs.

Rumors of Liverpool FC Eyeing a Crypto Sponsor Hit the News Wires

On Monday, The Athletic reported Liverpool exploring the possibility of a crypto firm as their new shirt sponsor.

Liverpool’s sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered Bank ends at the end of the 2022-23 season. While the UK bank is interested in extending, Liverpool FC is reportedly exploring alternative options before commencing more serious negotiations.

Discussions are ongoing with cryptocurrency companies, with £70m a target number. Liverpool’s current sponsorship deal with Standard Chartered Bank is £40m per season. The deal leaves the club well behind Manchester City Football Club’s £67m and Manchester United’s £47m a season deal.

At the time of writing, Liverpool is still on for a historic quadruple that includes the Premier League title, the FA Cup, the League Cup, and the Champions League. A quadruple would certainly give the team significant bargaining power and even the chance of more than £70m per year.

Liverpool’s talks with crypto firms follow the launch of the Liverpool Heroes NFT collection in March.

Liverpool FC Partners with Sotheby’s to Launch NFT Collection

Last month, in partnership with Sotheby’s, Liverpool FC launched the LFC Heroes Club NFT collection.

The collection comprised 24 players and went on sale between March 30 and April 1.

Following in the footsteps of other footballing giants, including Manchester City FC, FC Barcelona, and FC Paris St Germain, Liverpool was looking to drive fan engagement in another successful season.

With a crypto exchange and a blockchain company reportedly now in talks with Liverpool, leading crypto exchanges Binance and Crypto.com could be in the running.

Lucrative sponsorship deals have been on the rise, giving Liverpool reason to explore. This year, Binance became the sponsor of Argentina’s national soccer team, with Crypto.com sponsoring US professional women’s soccer team Angel FC.

Crypto.com has been particularly active in the soccer world. The exchange has sponsored South America’s Conmebol, French football team Paris Saint Germain, and the Coppa Italia.

In February, several leading crypto exchanges, including Binance, lost out to Spotify in a sponsorship deal with FC Barcelona worth €70-€75 million a season.

Considering blockchain companies, Dogecoin became a sleeve sponsor of English football club Watford FC in 2021.

David Beckham Files for NFT and Metaverse-Related Trademarks

Key Insights:

  • Football icon turned businessman David Beckham filed for NFT and Metaverse-related trademarks.
  • Last month, Beckham joined other sporting icons to become a global brand ambassador for a digital asset platform.
  • The filings suggest plans for NFTs, digital tokens, virtual clothing, and virtual events.

NFT and Metaverse-related trademark filings continue to roll in as mainstream players look to Web3 and the future.

In recent months, big names from the world of fashion, fast food, finance, healthcare, music, and sport have filed trademark applications to target NFTs and the Metaverse.

The sheer number of trademark applications in the US alone suggests a seismic shift in sentiment towards towards NFTs and the Metaverse.

Football icon turned businessman; David Beckham is following in the footsteps of the corporate world into Web3.

David Beckham’s DB Ventures Limited Files for NFT and Metaverse Trademarks

Last week, David Beckham filed three trademark applications with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis shared the filing on Twitter, announcing,

“The international football star has filed 3 trademark applications hinting at plans for

  • NFTS + digital tokens
  • Virtual clothing + footwear + headgear
  • Virtual performances + entertainment events

DB Ventures is David Beckham’s global brand management company. This year, David Beckham sold 55% of DB Ventures to Authentic Brands Group (ABG), a retail and entertainment conglomerate.

Authentic Brands Group owns Forever 21 and Barneys New York and also the rights to Elvis Presley and Shaquille O’Neal.

The latest link with Web3 follows David Beckham’s entrance into the digital world in March.

David Beckham Follows Other Sporting Icons into the Digital World

In March, David Beckham became the brand ambassador of DigitalBits, a layer-one blockchain protocol enabling the tokenization of assets, including NFTs.

According to DigitalBits,

“Beckham will embark on a series of exciting projects that will demonstrate the power and potential of DigitalBits blockchain technology, which is fast and eco-friendly compared to many other platforms.”

At the time, DigitalBits added,

“As DigitalBits is the Blockchain for Brands, Beckham will utilize his extensive experience and relationships working with global brands including Adidas, Maserati, Tudor, Sands, Diageo, and EA.”

Via Twitter, DigitalBits released a short video to commemorate Beckham’s dip into the Metaverse.

David Beckham is not alone in entering the digital space as a brand ambassador.

Last month’s news coincided with tennis grand slam champion Naomi Osaka becoming a brand ambassador for FTX.

From the world of football, the link with the digital world has also been fast-growing.

In 2021, FX Empire reported that football legend Lionel Messi would receive a part of his welcome bonus to Paris St Germain in the club’s fan token.

Sponsorship deals have also been on the rise, with Binance becoming the sponsor of Argentina’s national soccer team and Crypto.com sponsoring US professional women’s soccer team Angel FC.

Crypto.com has been particularly active in the soccer world, sponsoring South America’s Conmebol, French football team Paris Saint Germain, and the Coppa Italia.

Binance and Crypto.com are leading crypto exchanges supporting the trading of cryptos such as Bitcoin (BTC), and more.

Crypto.Com Commits to a Four-Year Crypto Research Program with MIT

Key Insights:

  • The platform views the Initiative as critical to building a sustainable blockchain ecosystem.
  • Crypto.com has a goal of becoming a top 20 brand within the next 3-5 years.
  • Cronos (CRO) technical indicators are bearish, with CRO sitting below the 50-day EMA.

Founded in 2016, Crypto.com provides users with more than just a crypto exchange. The platform offers multiple features enabling users to earn, spend, and borrow against cryptos. Cronos is the platform’s native token.

The exchange has enjoyed plenty of crypto news airtime in recent months. Aiming to become a top 20 global brand within 3-5 years, Crypto.com has been on a marketing blitz through advertising and sponsorship deals.

Crypto.com recognizes that to build a top 20 brand, it takes more than lucrative sponsorship deals and clever advertising.

Crypto.Com Announces Support for New Acadmic Research

On Friday, Crypto.com announced it has committed to a four-year gift to the Digital Currency Initiative (DCI) at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Media Lab.

According to the announcement,

“The gift aims to support DCI’s research in the security of Bitcoin (BTC) and to support open-source development of protocols that underlie the network.”

Crypto.com went on to say,

“The gift is designed to support continuing research efforts into the stability of fee-based rewards and software to provide strong robustness and correctness guarantees.”

Crypto.com views MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative as critical to building a ‘sustainable blockchain ecosystem.’

Crypto.com Chief Operating Officer Eric Anziani said,

“We are excited to further support blockchain research across the globe with such an  esteemed institution and help accelerate the world’s safe transition to using cryptocurrencies.”

For Crypto.com, it is not the first brush with academia, which also supports a Carnegie Mellon University Secure Blockchain Initiative. Crypto.com is a member of the Blockchain Association of Singapore. The Association collaborates with corporations and universities worldwide to ‘improve blockchain technology.’

This year, Crypto.com was a platinum sponsor of the MIT Fintech Conference alongside Visa.

The platform’s native token, Cronos, currently ranks #19 on CoinMarketCap, with a market cap of $12,246m.

Cronos (CRO) Price Action

At the time of writing, CRO was up 0.07% to $0.4045.

CROUSD 230422 Daily
CRO will need to avoid sub-$0.40 to support a bullish day ahead.

Technical Indicators

CRO will need to move through the $0.4052 pivot to target the First Major Resistance Level at $0.4134. CRO would need broader crypto market support the return to $0.41 levels.

In the event of an extended rally, CRO should test the Second Major Resistance Level at $0.4225 and resistance at $0.4250. The Third Major Resistance Level sits at $0.4398.

Failure to move through the pivot would bring the First Major Support Level at $0.3961 into play.

Barring an extended sell-off throughout the day, CRO should avoid sub-$0.39. The Second Major Support Level sits at $0.3879.

CROUSD 230422 Hourly
Failure to move through the pivot would bring sub-$0.40 support into play.

The EMAs and the 4-hourly candlestick chart (below) send a bearish signal. CRO currently sits below the 50-day EMA at $0.4131. This morning, the 50-day EMA pulled back from the 100-day EMA. The 100-day EMA also pulled back from the 200-day EMA, a bearish signal.

A move through the 50-day EMA would bring $0.4150 into play.

CROUSD 230422 4-Hourly
CRO will need to move through the 50-day EMA to avoid another pullback.

NEAR Inches Closer to New ATH As Addresses Grow by 139% in Q1 2022

Key Insights:

  • Near Protocol launched its awareness-focused Foundation to support the development of projects.
  • At the same time, it registered the highest growth in addresses for Quarter – 1 of 2022.
  • Consequently, the price has risen by over 25% since yesterday.

NEAR was almost considered a blimp on the radar after it defied the market trend and marked an all-time high (ATH) in January.

But the altcoin managed to pull back up as March began, and as a result, it is close to breaking the ATH today, fuelled by some significant ecosystem developments.

NEAR Is Pretty Near $20

Yesterday, the NEAR Protocol launched the NEAR Foundation with the aim of establishing an ‘open web world’. And to achieve that, the Foundation will be spreading awareness, supporting projects, and providing a clear path to decentralization on the NEAR Protocol.

And not only is this a step in the right direction but it also comes at the right time, given the community’s support for the protocol is at its highest.

In the last three months, which marked the first quarter, NEAR observed a stark growth in its user base, which shot up by 139%, from 2.2 million to 5.3 million.

In the last 3 months NEAR has noted a 139% rise in its addresses | Source: Twitter

NEAR outperformed most of the other up-and-coming DeFi blockchains, as the likes of Crypto.com, Fantom and Avalanche were far below NEAR’s growth.

Talking about growth, NEAR hasn’t been far behind when it comes to price action. In the last 24 hours alone, the altcoin appreciated by 25.26% and stood only 4.24% away from marking a new all-time high.

Since the last one was at $20.2, the altcoin will naturally breach the $20 level soon.

NEAR rallied by 25.07% in the last 24 hours

 

Plus, it has the support of the market since price indicators are pointing towards a bullish narrative. The Parabolic SAR was about to establish a downtrend, but the same was invalidated by the green candle yesterday, thus moving the white dots of the SAR underneath the candlestick.

Furthermore, the MACD is continuing its bullish rise with the indicator line (white) keeping above the signal line (red), supported by the green bars.

Thus, NEAR certainly has room for more growth at the moment unless broader market cues end up raining on the altcoin’s parade.

Investors Seem Excited

It isn’t surprising to see so many new investors in these last few months, and it won’t be surprising still if the streak continues over the coming weeks. And looking at the state of the market, these investors couldn’t be coming in at a better time.

At the moment, the Sharpe Ratio, which indicates the risk-adjusted returns of an asset, is at its seven months highest at 6.47. This places NEAR in a very appealing position, and for the same reason, we could note higher inflows throughout April.

NEAR’s Sharpe Ratio is currently at 6.47 | Source: Messari

UFC and Crypto.com to Pay Bitcoin (BTC) Fight Night Bonuses

Key Insights:

  • Crypto.com and UFC expand their partnership by offering Bitcoin bonuses for Pay-Per-View events.
  • Fans will vote for the top 3 fighters at Fan Bonus of the Night events, with the top fighter to receive $30,000 in BTC equivalent.
  • Crypto.com has been actively expanding its reach in sport as it vies to become a top-20 global brand.

The relationship between the world of sport and crypto continues to evolve as crypto platforms look to build brand awareness.

In the competitive world of crypto, exchanges have targeted sports fan bases to build already sizeable client bases.

Binance, eToro, FTX, and Crypto.com are particularly active in the world of sports.

Crypto.com and UFC Announce Bitcoin (BTC) Fight Night Bonuses

On Thursday, Crypto.com announced a new partnership with UFC. For Pay-Per-View UFC fights, fans will vote the top three best fighters on fight nights.

The best fighter will receive $30,000 in Bitcoin, with second and third placed fighters to receive $20,000 and $10,000, respectively.

Dubbed the ‘Fan Bonus of the Night,’ UFC President Dana White will also award performance bonuses to UFC athletes at each event.

The first Fan Bonus of the Night will be at the UFC 273: VOLKANOVSKI vs THE KOREAN ZOMBIE on Saturday, April 9.

According to the Crypto.com announcement,

  • Fans will get three votes per Pay-Per-View.
  • Each fan can vote for two fighters within each bout.
  • Voting will close one hour after the end of the event.

UFC President Dana White said,

“Crypto.com has been an official UFC partner for less than a year, and I’m telling you that they are already one of the best partners we’ve ever had.”

In July, Crypto.com became the UFC’s first-ever global official fight kit partner. The partnership expanded in November, with a UFC NFT series, where athletes would receive fifty percent of UFC’s NFT sales revenue.

UFC is the world’s leading mixed martial arts organization (MMA), with 187 million social media followers and more than 625 million fans. More than 40 live events each year are broadcast to almost 900 million homes across 170 countries.

For UFC fighters, this won’t be the first brush with Bitcoin.

In January, FX Empire reported UFC heavyweight champion Francis Ngannou would take half of his UFC270 price purse in BTC. Ngannou had $750,000 in guaranteed prize money.

Crypto.com Extends Its Reach into the World of Sport

It has been a busy 12-months for Crypto.com. The crypto exchange continues its journey to become a top-20 global brand.

In February, Crypto.com ran an ad at Super Bowl LVI, with other exchanges Bitbuy, Coinbase, eToro, and FTX also forking out hefty sums to target 112 million viewers that tuned into the NFL season finale.

Crypto.com also paid more than $700m for the naming rights on the home of the NBA’s LA Lakers and LA Clippers. Now called Crypto.com Arena, the deal was reportedly the largest U.S venue naming rights deal in history.

Other forays into sports have included sponsorship deals with Formula 1, the Coppa Italia, South America’s Conmebol, French football team PSG, and American women’s football team Angel City FC.

ESPN Enters the NFT Space with Tom Brady’s Startup

Key Insights:

  • Sports partnerships in the crypto space are more commonplace now.
  • ESPN has signed a multi-year deal with Tom Brady’s NFT startup.
  • The NFTs based on ESPN’s Tom Brady docuseries will be released on Polygon.

Driving fan engagement has been a top priority for sports marketers and enterprises. As a large chunk of the global population turns to NFTs and the Metaverse, firms, too, are turning their head in the same direction.

On April 6, sports media giant ESPN announced its debut with Tom Brady NFTs in partnership with the quarterback’s own NFT startup.

ESPN x NFTs

ESPN announced its first-ever NFT collection in partnership with Brady’s startup Autograph. Autograph is a sports and entertainment NFT startup that the quarterback co-founded in 2021.

The sports media giant’s first NFT drop will be based on Brady and ESPN’s documentary series about him, ‘Man in the Arena: Tom Brady.’ The collection consists of three magazine covers from ESPN’s special edition December issue, which included 14 stories ESPN had written on Tom Brady.

Brady will sign fifty editions of the NFT covers. After the docuseries’ release, a second NFT collection called “Back in the Arena” will drop once the tenth and last episode airs. All of the NFTs are minted on Polygon, a sidechain scaling solution for Ethereum.

Tom Brady is already well-established in NFT collectibles, and now he is joining forces with sports media giant ESPN.

ESPN’s alliance with Autograph is a multi-year deal. Autograph Co-founder and CEO Dillon Rosenblatt spoke about the agreement,

“As the first NFT partner for ESPN, the possibilities across sports and technology are endless, and we couldn’t be more excited to get this content out to the world in a massive way.”

Autograph closed a $170 million Series B round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Kleiner Perkins with Katie Haun’s new fund participation and Lightspeed partner Nicole Quinn in January this year.

NFTs Taking Over the Market

The sales of NFTs had skyrocketed to some $25 billion in 2021 as the speculative crypto-asset exploded in popularity. The last year saw a seismic shift in demand for NFTs and interest in the Metaverse.

Sports and crypto partnerships have become more commonplace now than ever. Before ESPN Sports Illustrated, ESPN partnered with NFT startup OneOf to launch NFTs based on its classic magazine covers. Basketball magazine SLAM has launched NFTs through Autograph.

In mid-March, PwC published its ninth edition of the Sports Outlook for North America and highlighted NFTs and digital assets as one area of focus. As reported by FXEmpire earlier, global crypto exchange Crypto.com added FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to its list of sponsorship deals with sports to drive brand awareness.

Crypto in Football – What’s it Being Used for and What’s it Good for?

Scores of players – some legends of the past like David Beckham and Andreas Iniesta, others contemporary superstars like Lionel Messi – are launching tokens, promoting crypto firms, or advertising crypto as a way to spin money.

Some dismiss this as a gimmick, but others are more positive about creating a brand-new model for fund-raising and fan involvement. With Crypto.com set to become one of the main sponsors of football’s biggest showcase – the World Cup – later this year, the crypto-football link is about to come under more scrutiny than ever.

How is crypto actually being used in football?

And will the increasingly tight relationship between digital tokens and the world’s favorite sport prove a hit – or will it turn out to be an own goal for the industry…and the beautiful game?

Application cases:

Sponsorship

This is possibly the most obvious connection between football and crypto. As a sport that attracts billion of USD per year in the betting markets, it makes sense that big crypto exchanges – who rely on risk-loving customers for much of their client base – would also look for a way into the picture.

As such, you can now pretty much name it – competitions, individual players, huge global teams – when it comes to football, crypto firms are keen to have their names plastered all over the lot.

Even arguably the biggest club of the lot – FC Barcelona – has had its share of crypto sponsor suitors. Not every club in the world wants a crypto exchange on the front of its matchday shirts, but it is now becoming increasingly hard to find a major club without some kind of crypto sponsorship deal in place, either major or minor.

Player payment and transfers

Transferring players is a process that looks like it belongs in the 1980s. It’s a sector of football still mired in fax machines, scanned documents, deal sheets and super-clunky bank transactions. In the fast-moving world of global football, using crypto to buy and sell players would seem to make a lot more sense. The immutable nature of blockchain protocols would help with transparency and auditing, while crypto transactions are faster and require no banking intermediaries.

Smart contracts could also be used to activate clauses in players’ contracts – performance bonuses or additional appearance fees, for instance. Some, like Messi, have even received payments in crypto.

Earlier this year month, one of Mexico’s leading women’s football clubs, Tigres Femenil, sold a midfielder named Stefany Ferrer to an American club named Angel City in a crypto-only deal. The American club’s owners include celebrities like Natalie Portman, Eva Longoria, Mia Hamm, Becky G and Serena Williams.

Other firms have even sought to pay for their own sponsorship deals in crypto, which also makes sense: It’s easy and it makes headlines.

Some may argue that crypto transfers are still a gimmick or an oddity, but their speed and efficiency could ensure that one day they become an everyday occurrence.

Fan outreach & voting rights

Fan tokens are also becoming commonplace in modern football. Clubs tout them as a way to connect to their players and former legends, but the larger coins are traded on big crypto exchanges – some of them even enjoy relatively large market caps.

Although these currently only offer fans the right to vote on relatively menial matters such as the color of a club’s next uniform or where a pre-season friendly match should be played, even this small slice of fan power is better than nothing at all.

We are still in the early days of fan tokens. Perhaps the next generation of football fan coins – perhaps if they were issued by a club itself rather than an affiliate partner – will grant fans fractional ownership rights over stadiums and training grounds.

In that kind of world, fans could one day wield the collective power to, for instance, vote on the appointment of a new coach, chairperson or manager.

NFTs and collectibles

Collectibles have been a thing almost since the modern game of football was founded. From matchday programs and ticket stubs to scarves and replica uniforms, football fans have prized ownership.

This started to really take off in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when sticker albums became a thing. In the lead-up to World Cups, playgrounds around the world were full of children swapping rare stickers for the two or three cards they needed to complete their albums.

In the digital age, then, it seems that NFTs and football make a natural match. While people in many walks of life balk at the idea of paying hundreds of dollars worth of Ethereum (ETH) for a .jpeg or .gif, football fans get it. Rarity equals value – both sentimental if you are a fan, and monetary if you have an eye for a trade.

Clubs and players will continue milking the NFT for as long as there’s demand – we might as well get used to it.

Grassroots sports club funding in Japan

Beyond the worlds of big business and speculation, crypto is also finding a role in much smaller footballing endeavors – such as crowdfunding. You might think that only mega-clubs like Paris Saint-Germain and its PSG coin, as well as Barcelona and AC Milan could realistically put their names to fan tokens. But in Japan, that isn’t the case.

Using platforms like Japan’s Financie, which now even organizes its own cup competitions, newer clubs with tens, not thousands, of Japanese fans and local investors have been funding the very basics of building a local football team with fan tokens. New stadiums are being built, many of which feature token holder-only sections.

The lower leagues of Japanese football could be the starting point for a crypto-football revolution.

Elements of Controversy

There is no guarantee that football and crypto will prove successful long-term teammates. In Spain, one of the most notable football hubs in the world, regulators have voiced their concerns about advertising unregulated financial products.

The advertising commission has warned a number of teams about their relationships with crypto firms. And in 2020, AS reported that the regulatory National Securities Market Commission (CNMV) threatened that it might “put restrictions on La Liga club advertising” – warning that a “toxic” relationship between football clubs and crypto was developing. Similar rumbling have been expressed in the most lucrative league of all: England’s EPL.

Regulators are yet to really get started with policing the sector – but conventional gambling firms that once flocked to football sponsorship have already had their fingers burned.

Crypto and Football: An Own Goal or a Winning Team?

The truth is crypto and the footballing world are still getting to know each another.

It’s far too early to predict if this team-play will be a success in the long term. But one thing is certain. As the World Cup will doubtlessly prove later this year, crypto has already radically changed the footballing financial picture – both on the field and off the pitch.

170 Australian Stores To Begin Accepting Payment in Cryptocurrencies

Key Insights:

  • Australian store chain On The Run (OTR) to begin accepting payments in cryptocurrencies.
  • The service will be enabled in partnership with Crypto.com.
  • Crypto.com has been noticing an increased interest from investors and companies alike.

Crypto.com’s presence across the crypto space is well known. The company has been making significant moves in terms of partnerships and agreements to further crypto adoption.

Now, it can do so with every other Australian citizen through the most recent deal.

Crypto Comes to Australia, Conveniently.

About 170 stores run by the service station giant On The Run (OTR) will begin accepting cryptocurrencies for payments sometime in July this year.

This service will be extended to all its stores, including C Coffee cafes, Subway stores, Wok in a Box, etc.

In order to facilitate the payment processes, On The Run has partnered with Crypto.com using its Pay Merchant service. 

The 38-year-old company has a presence across 160 locations throughout South Australia and Victoria.

This will allow over 9.3 million people currently residing in these zones to make payments in cryptocurrencies and, at the same time, enable crypto adoption to expand significantly.

Individuals can pay in crypto using the Crypto.com app, which will run through Datamesh, a payment service provider.

Commenting on the same, Yasser Shahin, the Executive Chairman of Peregrines, On The Run’s parent company, stated,

“The growth and mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrency adoption in Australia and the rest of the world has been phenomenal, and has offered us a clear opportunity to tap into the momentum of this fast-growing space for the benefit of our customers.”

Crypto.com Around the World

The company is making sure it is visible and accessible to everyone everywhere, and one of the most effective tools in doing so has been partnerships.

In fact, this will be Crypto.com’s second Australian partnership, as reported by FXEmpire, the cryptocurrency exchange signed a five-year deal with the Australian Football League.

Acting as the official cryptocurrency exchange and trading platform for AFL and AFLW, the company banked on the opportunity at the right time.

However, the most significant partnership it has ever had was its deal with the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) to become the Official Sponsor of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.

The deal would expose Crypto.com to billions of people worldwide, furthering the acceptance of Cronos (CRO).

Plus, the recent broader market recovery has already been a helpful tool in the same as CRO has shot up by over 26.6% over the last few weeks.

Although it’s been in consolidation for the previous ten days, trading at $0.4772, it has the potential of rising further on the back of its external developments.

Cronos price has risen by 26% since the last month

Binance Becomes the Grammys Official Crypto Exchange Partner

Key Insights:

  • Binance becomes the Recording Academy’s first-ever official crypto exchange partner.
  • The Recording Academy will be looking for Binance to drive Web3 initiatives.
  • For Binance, the partnership with the Recording Academy follows K-Pop collaborations to drive fan engagement.

Binance, one of the leading crypto exchanges, was back in the news today. Despite facing off with regulators across multiple jurisdictions in recent months, Binance continues to push the crypto envelope.

Crypto exchanges have targeted mainstream events to drive brand awareness. In February, eToro, FTX, Coinbase, and Crypto.com featured in Super Bowl LVI, with the crypto exchanges buying half-time ad time.

Binance Targets the U.S Market with Grammy Sponsorship

Today, news hit the wires of Binance becoming the Recording Academy’s first-ever official crypto exchange partner. The Recording Academy is the organizer of the Grammy awards, the only peer-recognized music award.

The Recording Academy announced the news on Twitter,

Binance and the Recording Academy will reportedly drive music fan engagement with Web3.

In 2021, viewership of the Grammy Awards tumbled from 18.7m in 2020 to just 8.8m.

According to the New York Times, the previous low was 17 million in 2006. The 2021 event was at Staples Corner, now called Crypto.com Arena.

Other televised award shows and major sporting events have seen similar viewership trends.

While Super Bowl LVI saw viewership tumble to a 15-year low, crypto exchanges saw a sharp increase in traffic immediately after their ads hit the airways. Binance will be hoping for a similar outcome.

The Recording Academy is no stranger to Web 3. In November, the Academy signed a 3-year deal with Tezos-based NFT platform OneOf.

Binance sponsors the Grammy Awards after forging partnerships with K-Pop.

Binance Targets the Music Industry and the Global Fan Base

In late 2021, Binance announced the launch of “THE SHOW FanBox NFT Collection” with KStarLive.

THE SHOW FanBox NFT Collection was the first NFT drop of K-Pop performance NFTs on FEATURED. FEATURED is a non-custodial, on-chain NFT platform within the innovation arm of Binance.

Binance also formed strategic partnerships with SM Brand Marketing and YG Entertainment.

Binance and SM Brand Marketing plan to establish a global Play-to-Create (P2C) ecosystem. P2C will enable users to recreate content and products in the form of games, music, dance, and goods, which are convertible into NFTs.

K-Pop’s YG Entertainment and Binance aim to develop Metaverse, NFT, and gaming opportunities.

With a global presence, Binance gives K-Pop a platform for fan retention and engagement.

The Recording Academy will be looking for Binance to drive similar initiatives to keep the Grammys at the forefront of the music industry.

Held in Las Vegas, the 2022 Grammy Awards will take place on April 3.

Ronin Hack Demonstrates the Dangers of Increasing Centralization in DeFi

On March 29, it came to light that Axie Infinity’s Ronin bridge had fallen prey to a mammoth hack worth $625 million. According to reports, this has been one of the largest exploits to have emerged from the DeFi sector. However, what’s surprising is the fact that while the hack took place nearly a week prior, it was only discovered 72 hours ago.

 

Additionally, Solana-based DeFi cross-bridge network Wormhole fell prey to a $320 million exploit earlier in January. As part of the scheme, nefarious third-party agents made their way with Wrapped Ethereum (wETH), a digital asset pegged to the price of Ethereum on a 1:1 ratio, worth the aforementioned sum.

How It All Went Down

As per an official statement, the breach took place when hackers were able to compromise Sky Mavis Ronin’s and Axie DAO’s validator nodes. This was done using illegally acquired private keys, which allowed the miscreants to forge fake withdrawals. The withdrawals resulted in 173,600 ETH and 25.5 million USDC being drained from the Ronin bridge in two transactions.

Validator nodes are external entities whose purpose is to verify the information being circulated across a blockchain. The various validators operating within a network need to ensure with one another that the data being added to their ecosystem is accurate.

Rising Centralization Is a Cause for Major Concern. Here’s Why

One of the most highly touted aspects of blockchain, at least on paper, is its high-level decentralization. As a result, most crypto networks built using this technology are highly immune to third-party intrusions. However, in recent years, project creators have started to cut corners, in lieu of making their platforms faster, cheaper, and more efficient.

To put things into perspective, Ethereum’s network currently consists of 222,052 validators who work together to secure over 7 million ETH. This means that for any verification, voting, or record maintenance-related process to be approved, a majority of these validators have to agree with one another. That said, Sky Mavis’ Ronin bridge consists of just nine validator nodes. Therefore, to confirm a deposit/withdrawal event, only five of the nine validators need to sign off a transaction.

Binance Smart Chain, one of the world’s fastest-growing networks, is also plagued by such issues. This is because, despite the blockchain offering high transaction speeds and low gas fees, it compromises on the overall efficacy of its internal verification processes. To this point, the ecosystem relies on only 21 validators, making the system vulnerable — just like Ronin — to external threats.

Lastly, Cronos, a blockchain backed by popular digital asset exchange Crypto.com, too suffers from a lack of decentralization. To elaborate, the platform has just 20 validator nodes.

Looking Towards a Decentralized Future

As we head towards a financial landscape driven by crypto-enabled technologies, it is of utmost importance that the ethos of decentralization be given supreme importance. Otherwise, incidents such as the Ronin and Wormhole hack may continue to surface and keep budding investors from entering this burgeoning sector.

Coinbase Could Reportedly Buy Mercado Bitcoin’s Parent Company

Key Insights:

  • Coinbase could reportedly acquire Brazilian Giant 2TM.
  • 2TM is valued at $2.2 billion and is Latin America’s largest crypto brokerage.
  • Crypto adoption saw a boom in Brazil as stablecoin trading tripled in 2021.

American cryptocurrency exchange platform Coinbase Global is in conversation to acquire 2TM, the firm behind Mercado Bitcoin – Brazil’s largest crypto exchange.

Coinbase to Acquire Brazilian Giant

A Brazilian newspaper Estadão reported on Sunday that negotiations between Coinbase and 2TM have been taking place since last year, and an agreement could be announced by the end of this month. No sources have been cited for now.

Estadão is the third-largest newspaper read by almost 212 million Brazilians. In 2021, Mercado Bitcoin had 3.2 million customers, with close to 1.1 million added just last year. Furthermore, the firm reached $7 billion in trading volume in 2021.

Mercado Bitcoin is one of Latin America’s largest crypto brokerages, owned by 2TM. It got its unicorn status as a billion-dollar company in 2021. 2TM is valued at $2.2 billion, and acquired firms like Meubank, MB Digital Assets, CriptoLoja, Bitrust, Blockchain Academy, MezaPro, Wuzu, and Portal do Bitcoin under its umbrella.

Furthermore, 2TM aims to expand its operations in Latin America through acquisitions in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico. Earlier this year, the Brazilian giant acquired a controlling stake in CriptoLoja – Portugal’s first regulated crypto exchange.

2TM raised $200 million in a Series B funding round and $50 million in a second closing of the funding in November last year. The funding rounds in 2021 took the firm’s value to $2.1 billion.

Exchanges Eyeing Latin America

As crypto adoption across the globe and in Brazil continues to rise, enterprises are turning their eyes towards Latin American countries. Notably, the Brazilian crypto adoption boom tripled stablecoin trading in 2021 as global exchanges such as Coinbase, Binance and Crypto.com turned their eyes to the Latin American country.

In November last year, Coinbase announced the creation of an engineering hub in Brazil and announced the expansion of its team in the country.

One of the most retail-friendly exchanges, Binance, plans to acquire banks and payment processors in Brazil. Recently, the firm signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to acquire Brazilian securities brokerage Sim;paul Investimentos.

It is also reported that Coinbase also identified Mexican crypto exchange Bitso as an acquisition target. Still, no deals have been made for now.

Identifying Crypto Scams and General Advice on Avoiding Them

Those that have been very observant in the digital currency ecosystem can attest to the fact that there is hardly a week gone by when a hack, rug pull, or other forms of cybercrime-related activities will not make the headlines in the digital currency ecosystem.

Since the start of the year, we have heard of a number of hacking activities involving big platforms like Crypto.com, and more recently, the data breach suffered by Hubspot which exposed some data of many digital currency ecosystems like BlockFi.

Besides these general events, Avalanche-based DeFi project Atom Protocol rug pulled its investors a day after launch in February, citing a fault in its smart contracts. Whether the given excuse is genuine or not, the unsuspecting investors have been rubbed off their hard-earned money already.

Understanding that scamming people can be a big payday for those involved in it, we can hence not expect the rate to be toned down. Rather, the onus lies on key stakeholders in the space to educate the public about these possible scams, how to identify them, and offer probable ways to avoid being a victim as an active or passive investor in the space.

Forms Which Scams Takes Place in the Crypto World

To scam someone takes a sheer amount of creativity and persistence. However, the rate of occurrence of these scams is a sign that many have taken to these unhealthy acts as a career. Here are some of the forms that a scammer can attempt to scam unsuspecting investors;

Free tokens in your unhosted wallet.

It is a common avenue to rob users of the funds stored on unhosted wallets like Trust Wallet, Metamask, and Phantom, amongst others. If you ever see unknown tokens in your wallet, and you are positive that they weren’t added by you, it’s possible that you are being scammed.

Of course, it can also be a promo campaign of a new unknown token. In this case, you usually get a few dollars. However, if you suddenly receive several thousands of dollars, it’s highly likely that a scam is happening. Should you see any coin in your wallet, you can check the coin’s value by using the PancakeSwap decentralized exchange.

For these types of scams to have an effect, the scammers may prompt the potential victims to buy a subscription, connect their wallets to an unknown website to sell tokens, or report their SEED phrase. Do not try to sell these tokens!

You can see the example of unknown tokens in a Metamask wallet.

Metamask phishing with Google ADS

Scams perpetrated through Google ads are some of the most subtle and prevalent scam styles in the digital currency ecosystem today. Recently MetaMask alerted its community of such scams and recommended the use of direct links to the legitimate metamask.io URL and to stay away from sponsored ads.

It is known that the wallet’s users were being directed to a fake MetaMask phishing page through Google ads. They are prompted to install the extension, which will give them options to import an existing wallet or create a new one as shown in the screenshot below;

If they click on the ‘Create Wallet’ button, the real MetaMask.io site is opened as there is no cryptocurrency to steal. However, if they click on the ‘Import a wallet’ option, they will be asked to enter the SEED phrase of their wallet, which is then sent to the scammers. For any reason, do not input your Seed Phrase or private keys on a platform you are not sure of.

A letter from “MetaMask”

In addition to what I’ve mentioned above, you should also be aware of phishing attempts from MetaMask and other prominent crypto services. Recently, many users have received official-looking emails from MetaMask in which fraudsters request users to pass Know Your Customer (KYC) checks. Of course, as the wallet service does not require such a procedure (especially as it is a non-custodial wallet solution), it’s a scam, and you should refrain from clicking on any of the links in the fraudsters’ messages.

Telegram secret chats spam and Telegram groups

Provided a user is actively involved in the digital currency ecosystem, scammers will soon begin sending messages in a secret chat, saying that their targets have won a sale, an airdrop, or a whitelist. While this form of private messaging is not always a scam, it is wise to exercise caution in order to stay safe.

This can be an advertising technique employed by a new project. But normally, if you don’t participate in giveaways yet win, Telegram-based private messages can be a red flag. It’s better to not respond and cease all communication with the representatives of the scam project.

While the private message scams are more prevalent on Telegram, users should watch out for similar schemes on other social media platforms as well.

Fake emails

A very widespread type of scam involves sending an email with an attractive offer. Some of these emails typically read like this:

“Hooray, you have won a closed competition from Binance and now you have a personal link to the mail queue” or “Your mail has been selected as the winner in our Whitelist. Please login to our website so that your victory can be confirmed.”

Again, occasionally such messages can be real. But you should always check the information in the official sources and project chats before taking part in such things.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, crypto scams are here to stay for a long time, and the best way to prevent losses is to stay vigilant and arm yourselves with the knowledge of the tactics used by fraudsters. Crypto enthusiasts should approach their trading or investment journey with caution and it would be a wise choice to stay knitted with a trusted community that has more experienced market members in it, as they may be able to help out with reasonable advice.

Gleb Zykov, the Co-Founder and CTO of a DeFi security and analytics company HashEx

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The Sandbox’s Animoca Brands Lays Down Web3 Expansion Plans

Key Insights:

  • Animoca Brands’ Yat Siu talks about shepherding companies into the Web3 space. 
  • Web3 and metaverse expansion could be on Animoca Brands’ cards this year.
  • The Sandbox has also actively advocated the entry of institutions and celebrities in the metaverse. 

With institutional and retail interest in Web3 and the metaverse growing, the Hong Kong-based game software company and venture capital, Animoca Brands, has laid down plans to speed up the evolution of the internet into an open metaverse.

Shepherding Firms Into Web3

In a recent interview, Animoca Brands’ co-founder and chairman Yat Siu claimed that his firm would continue to ‘shepherd companies into Web3.’ Siu has advocated the evolution of the internet into an open Metaverse for a long time. 

The Hong Kong-based entrepreneur is not very fond of the idea of closed internet dominated by large centralized Web2 companies. Instead, Siu is pro -decentralization of the internet which heads towards Web3. 

In the interview during the Australian Blockchain Week event, Siu discussed the broader aspects of Web3 for companies. The discussion was hosted by the CEO of crypto exchange BTC Markets — Caroline Bowler.

It covered several topics, including the actual value of Yuga Lab’s BAYC NFTs, the limitations of Web2, and Animoca’s ever-growing portfolio of companies and investments.

During the discussion, Siu said, 

“When you buy an expensive handbag, you buy the network effect and the story that is embedded within it. The same goes for BAYC, except you receive extra commercial rights which develop deeper network effects.”

Siu’s argument remains that decentralized Web3 platforms and digital assets like NFTs offer users a chance to maintain ownership rights over their data and content online, instead of it being controlled and utilized by firms such as Meta.

Furthermore, discussing the plans for Animoca Brands, Siu highlighted that the firm is still ‘super early’ in its long-term goal of building an open Metaverse. The entrepreneur also emphasized the importance of speeding up the process of building a decentralized space due to the risk of having larger centralized firms dominating the virtual sphere. He added, 

“You will continue seeing us take that approach as we try to shepherd companies into Web3.”

Animoca Brands Strengthing Crypto Marketing

Crypto marketing has been an effective way for projects to take the lead in the market. One of the most notable names for effectively marketing its brand is Crypto.com. The firm once again made headlines after adding FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 to its list of sponsorship deals with sports to drive brand awareness.

The Sandbox, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands, has also actively marketed its brand with celebrities on board the metaverse train alongside partnerships and collaborations with institutions. 

As reported by FXEmpire, HSBC was the new corporate giant to enter the metaverse through a partnership with the Sandbox (SAND). HSBC joined a swarm of global brands working with the Sandbox, including Gucci, Warner Music Group, Ubisoft, and Adidas.

With Sandbox’s crypto marketing game on point and Web3 expansion on its cards seems like Animoca Brands is set for a bright 2022.