Crypto Market Daily Highlights – May 17

Key Insights:

  • The global crypto market cap is back above the $1.3trillion mark. 
  • BTC’s price has tested the $30,300 resistance. 
  • Both bullish and bearish news is driving market volatility higher.

 The larger cryptocurrency market has been rangebound for most of this month, as the global crypto market cap oscillated between the $1.2 trillion low and $1.34 trillion. 

Data from Coin Market Cap top 100 suggested that Kadena (KDA) jumped by 14.70%, and Algorand (ALGO) saw 11% daily gains leading market the crypto majors. 

It has been an eventful 24 hours for the crypto market, with BTC jumping back above the $30,000 mark and several altcoins in the top 100 making gains. Sustained gains, however, still remain in question as the market continues to be volatile. 

BTC risks falling to $20,000

According to some market experts, BTC’s chances of revisiting the lower levels are still high. The Luna Foundation Guard (LFG) recently revealed that it had sold almost all of its BTC reserves during last week’s Terra (LUNA) and TerraUSD meltdown. The higher amount of circulation BTC in the market added to price volatility. 

Famous trader Phoenix said in a recent Twitter post that if bitcoin’s price falls below the $29,494 mark, the next price range to watch would be $21,800-23,800. 

As highlighted in an FXEmpire article earlier this morning, the Bitcoin Fear & Greed Index fell from 10/100 to 8/100, its lowest level since March 14, 2020. 

The early-week BTC losses witnessed this week could be blamed on global investors in the equity markets and the crypto market responding to dire economic data from China.

Despite short-term price gains, weak technical signals and low buying pressure left bitcoin’s price in a rangebound movement. That said, in the traditional market, weak stats coupled with the threat of a recession left the NASDAQ 100 down 1.20%.

Even though Federal Reserve chair Jerome Powell’s assurances on the rate hike front have delivered support, the same has failed to change the larger economic outlook. Furthermore, the correlation between bitcoin and the NASDAQ strengthened marginally on Monday.

On a one-day chart, BTC’s price made some positive progress; however, high gains didn’t seem to be on bitcoin’s cards as RSI highlighted high selling pressure in the market. 

FXempire, BTC, Crypto, Bitcoin
BTC 1-day price | Source: FXEmpire

Analyst Rekt Capital pointed out that the $20,000 zone is an area of interest should current levels fail to hold and buyers not materialize.

LUNA and UST Debacle Continues

The South Korean Conservative Party has requested a parliamentary hearing on the dramatic fall of Terra’s LUNA and its algorithmic stablecoin UST. 

On Tuesday, the South Korean National Assembly’s Political Affairs Committee summoned Terraform Labs co-founder Do Kwon for a parliamentary hearing regarding the issue. The committee’s representative, People’s Power’s Yoon Chang-Hyeon, said,

“There is a part that raises questions about the behavior of exchanges during the crash. Coinone, Korbit, and Gopax stopped trading on May 10, Bithumb on May 11 stopped trading daily, but Upbit did not stop trading until May 13.”

However, amid the negative commentary, TerraUSD’s price managed to register 11.83% gains trading at $0.1216 at the time of writing. 

High Volatility Sends Altcoin Prices Up

A recent Santiment report highlighted that for those ‘expecting less volatility for crypto markets in the first weeks of May after the rocky first four months of 2022, a continued pattern of downswings shook even crypto’s optimistic traders to their cores.’

After the second FOMC meeting that resulted in the US Fed increasing interest rates by another 0.5%, crypto markets showed some life for 24 hours. At press time, some of the top gainers were altcoins like Elrond (EGLD), Kava (KAVA), Aave (AAVE), and Kadena (KDA)

Algorand (ALGO) also gained close to 7.82% as the token traded at $0.49 at the time of writing. On the other hand, BAYC’s ApeCoin (APE) also noted 7% gains, trading at $8.73. 

Interestingly, Litecoin’s price saw a bounce of over 6% in the last 24-hours as it traded at $70.83. 

One of the most interesting news came from China, as bitcoin mining was back in the news this week, with new data showing China as the second-largest bitcoin mining nation, despite an outright ban.

A recent, FXEmpire article also highlighted that the world’s largest digital currency asset manager, Grayscale, confirmed that it would be bringing its first European ETF called the Grayscale Future of Finance UCITS ETF (GFOF).

Thus, with both bullish and bearish developments taking place in the crypto market, volatility could continue to push BTC and the global crypto market’s boat in the near term. 

Dogecoin Creator Blasts Shiba Inu Metaverse for Cash Grabbing $300M

Key Insights:

  • Dogecoin Creator Billy Markus shared his disappointment on Twitter today.
  • Shiba Inu’s Metaverse intends on selling the virtual plots as a method of expanding their horizons.
  • Billy called the entire project a $300 million cash grab.

As reported by FXEmpire yesterday, Shiba Inu recently introduced its Metaverse, called SHIB: The Metaverse. While some people (mostly SHIB supporters) rejoiced, others brought in opposing views which can also be considered facts.

Dogecoin, Shiba Inu Not Friends?

The creator of one of the most famous cryptocurrencies, Dogecoin, Billy Markus, also known as Shibetoshi Nakamoto, did not seem to be too happy with Shiba Inu’s plans.

Markus, whose creation of Dogecoin was responsible for spawning an entire category of cryptocurrencies called ‘Memecoin’, was dissatisfied with the way SHIB is treating its investors.

In response to CoinDesk’s coverage of SHIB’s Metaverse this morning, Markus said,

“how is making a random metaverse and selling fake land with Ethereum adding utility to their project. (sic)”

He went on to say that while it is undoubtedly a huge opportunity for developers to earn more money, this would not sit well with him if he was a SHIB investor.

According to Billy, the fact that SHIB: The Metaverse is selling plots of the land in ETH for no intrinsic value was baffling.

Justifying the same, he explained that for 100,000 (actual figure is 100,595) plots of land, with each selling between 0.2 ETH to 1 ETH, the team would collectively raise about $100 million to $300 million.

This, according to him, is pointless as it would only serve to fill the developers’ pockets beyond what they have already gained by making SHIB.

Billy probably said so because Shiba Inu, in the name of development, is slyly capitalizing on the Metaverse hype.

On the other hand, Dogecoin has set itself up to go through proper development with the phases described in its roadmap ranging from a library for enabling the development of Dogecoin-based DeFi protocols as well as creating a test suite.

Even though these are yet to come into existence, it is better to know that a potential DeFi chain has some inherent DeFi potential before it jumps onto creating its virtual world.

DOGE and SHIB on the Charts

Whatever may be the case with their on-chain developments, on the investor front, both the coins seem to be cooling off into consolidation after their recent rallies.

DOGE on the daily chart was unmoved at the time of writing, trading at $0.1381. SHIB, too after its 5.69% drop yesterday, marked a 1.35% recovery today, moving at $0.00002622.

Shiba Inu fell by 5.69% yesterday

Not an April Fools Joke! BAYC Confirms Its Discord Was Compromised

Key Insights:

  • NFT collection Bored Ape Yacht Club discovered its Discord server’s hack.
  • During the hack, the attacker managed to steal a MAYC NFT worth $69.5k.
  • The reason behind the hack is said to be the Ticker Tool.

As the day of the pranks dawned upon the world, the first suspicion of the same came from early reports of Bored Ape Yacht Club’s (BAYC) Discord server’s hack on Twitter.

However, it turns out that it was not a prank after all since the hack led to a much more severe mishap than a couple of spam messages.

BAYC Discord Hacked

In a tweet, the BAYC team confirmed that their Discord server’s compromise was true, and during the time that it was compromised, the hackers even managed to steal a valuable Mutant ApeYacht Club (MAYC) NFT.

Although the NFTs in the MAYC collection has a floor price of 23.6 ETH ($77.4k), the NFT 8862 had a lower bid to its name of about 21.3 ETH ($69.5k). While reports began appearing early on, it was only after this theft that people started taking this seriously. 

But BAYC wasn’t the only one to experience this, as another NFT Collection Doodles also observed a similar hack with its Discord server. Over 1,000 spambots infiltrated the ‘General chat’ channel of the server and flooded it with messages directing users to mint NFTs. 

However, this wasn’t the first instance of a compromise for Doodles. Not too long ago, on February 27, the collection’s Discord server was penetrated by a hacked bot. But the team managed to regain control and secure the server pretty quickly.

The Cause of the Hack

Although official confirmation is yet to be received from the BAYC team, a Twitter user, Serpent, claims to have found the cause of the hack. According to Serpent, the Ticket Tool was the real source of the hack. 

The user also stated that according to the inside information received from the hackers, the official Captcha Bot was also hacked and that the source code had been stolen.

As of the time of writing, BAYC has only issued a precautionary message for all its Discord members to be wary about the messages that appear on their Discord server by tweeting,

“STAY SAFE. Do not mint anything from any Discord right now. A webhook in our Discord was briefly compromised. We caught it immediately but please know: we are not doing any April Fools stealth mints / airdrops etc. Other Discords are also being attacked right now.”

Blockchain.com Hits $14 Billion Valuation in New Funding Round

Key Insights:

  • Blockchain.com has reportedly raised new financing in a recent funding round. 
  • An undisclosed amount in funding has been received from global VC firms.
  • The round was led by Lightspeed Ventures and Baillie Gifford & Co. 

Cryptocurrency and financial services startup Blockchain.com has reportedly raised new funding that has sent the firm’s valuation up by over 160%.

More Funding, Pumping Capital

A recent Bloomberg report stated that Blockchain.com had raised new funding that values the company at close to $14 billion. This funding round more than doubled the financial services provider’s worth, indicative of capital flowing into crypto firms by investors even amid turbulent markets.

Blockchain.com raised an undisclosed amount in funding from global VC firms. The financing round was led by global venture capital firm Lightspeed Ventures and Baillie Gifford & Co. Baillie Gifford & Co, an investment management firm renowned for its early involvement in growth stocks such as Tesla.

However, Blockchain.com or the investors haven’t officially confirmed the funding round. According to reports, the recent funding reportedly saw the firms’ valuation shoot from $5.2 billion to $14 billion. The total amount of financing raised remains undisclosed for now.

Exchanges Bagging Fundings

Recently, Pantera Capital-backed African crypto exchange VALR.com in its latest funding round, valuing the company at $240 million. Of late, exchanges bagging VCs and other high-profile investors have been a relatively common occurrence.

Blockchain.com was in the news in April 2021 after securing a $100 million investment from Baillie Gifford & Co. The funding secured by the firm in April last year was the single largest investment ever made in the company at that time.

Blockchain.com’s last significant funding round was in March 2021. The Series C round saw the firm raise $300 million at a $5.2 billion valuation. DST Global, Lightspeed Venture Partners, and VY Capital led the March funding round. Before that, the firm raised $120 million from various VC firms, with the financing primarily aimed at institutional business development.

Blockchain.com offers blockchain-based financial services from its exchange platform and crypto-wallets. The firm was founded in 2011 and had close to 37 million verified users with 82 million wallets and over $1 trillion in total transaction value across its platform.

MicroStrategy’s Michael Saylor Says “Bank Loan > Bitcoin Bonds” for Now

Key Insights:

  • Michael Saylor believes that the market isn’t ready for Bitcoin-backed bonds.
  • The comment was in context with El Salvador offering $1 billion worth of Bitcoin bonds.
  • MicroStrategy recently took a $205 million loan against $850 million of its Bitcoin holdings.

El Salvador led the revolution of digital asset-based finance last year after making Bitcoin a legal tender.

But the president of the country, Nayib Bukele, did not stop there as he intended on building a whole economy on the back of Bitcoin, including a Bitcoin city.

For the same, last year, El Salvador began offering 10-year Bitcoin bonds at an interest rate of 6.5% per annum. However, as per Michael Saylor, it may not be the best idea.

Michael Saylor Doesn’t Believe in Bitcoin Bonds

In an interview with Bloomberg, the Co-founder, and CEO of MicroStrategy, Michael Saylor, stated that while he dreams of a day when Bitcoin-backed bonds would find the same demand as a mortgage-backed security, he feels that at the moment, selling Bitcoin bonds is not a good idea.

This is because, in his opinion, the market isn’t ready for that. The comment was in reference to El Salvador’s Bitcoin-backed bonds, which have become a necessary instrument for the country to relieve itself from its financial hole.

The country is dependent on Bitcoin enthusiasts and retail investors worldwide to tap into these bonds, which will help El Salvador repay its debts.

But according to Michael, that may not be the most effective strategy given the state of the market. Commenting on the same, he said,

“That’s a hybrid sovereign debt instrument as opposed to a pure Bitcoin-treasury play. That has its own credit risk and has nothing to do with the Bitcoin risk itself entirely.”

What Saylor Suggested Instead

Bank loans. According to Michael, currently, taking out a term loan from a major bank instead of being dependent on retail investors infused Bitcoin bonds is a better idea.

And it feels like the comment came as a justification of MicroStrategy’s recent decisions over an actual suggestion.

Two days ago, it was reported that MicroStrategy had borrowed a three-year term loan worth $205 million from a unit of Silvergate Bank. As collateral, the company used $820 million of its Bitcoin holdings.

This is a relatively small amount for MicroStrategy, which is the biggest Bitcoin holding public company with a stash of 126,164 BTC worth over $5.9 billion at the moment.

And the company will be increasing its BTC treasury further using this $205 million. Given the state of the king coin at the moment, there is a fair chance that the bullishness exhibited by MSTR might fuel the rally further.

As a result, Bitcoin’s 25.48% rise could flip into a bigger number to push BTC towards $50k from its current price of $47,236.

Bitcoin’s price is inching closer to $50k every day

 

Pro Stock Pickers Prepare $50M Fundamental Crypto Hedge Fund

Key Insights:

  • Two veteran stock-pickers will seek liquid cryptos and Web3 projects.
  • The fund will launch before the end of Q2 with $50 million in AUM.
  • It will be available to the U.S. and international investors.

There has been an increasing trend of stock-pickers venturing into crypto assets as investor demand has surged over the past year or two.

Tephra Digital is one such firm that plans to launch a crypto fund before the end of the second quarter, according to sources speaking to Blockworks.

The firm is run by former portfolio managers for the $739-billion AllianceBernstein, Raghav Chopra, and Ryan Price, formerly from Riposte Capital. The startup will close a significant seed investment and aims to launch with $50 million in assets under management.

Chopra is a board member at crypto mining company Argo Blockchain [ARBK] and previously worked for several stock-picking firms.

Breaking Away From Stocks

The stock-pickers will operate as portfolio managers, overseeing fundamental and strategic investments in liquid crypto assets and high-quality Web3 projects.

The fund will be based in the state of Delaware and the Cayman Islands to allow both U.S. and foreign investors to participate. It will also have offices in New York and Miami, where several analysts will be hired.

Sources familiar with the matter told the outlet:

“There’s a real chance here to break away from all the black box guys. [Investors] don’t really understand what they’re doing. They don’t know how to vet them. It’s a comfort thing, with fundamentals. They know what to do and what to expect.”

Both stock professionals have previously traded cryptocurrencies, so they already have some experience. Price plans to use his fintech stock-picking background, whereas Chopra will lean on his knowledge of trading software and internet stocks to source Web3 investment opportunities, the report added.

Crypto Market Outlook

Cryptocurrency markets have broken out of their 2022 consolidation channel and have moved upwards over the past week.

Total market capitalization is currently at its highest since January 5 at $2.25 trillion. It has gained 11% over the past seven days, according to CoinGecko. Bitcoin [BTC] and Ethereum [ETH] have led the gains with weekly increases of 10.4% and 12.4%, respectively.

Other solid performers over the past week have included Binance Coin [BNB], Solana [SOL], Terra [LUNA], and Avalanche [AVAX].

New Jersey Slaps Voyager Digital With a ‘Cease and Desist’ Order

Key Insights:

  • Voyager Digital received a ‘Cease and Desist’ notice from the state of New Jersey.
  • The order reasons Voyager’s Earn program through which it sold unregistered securities.
  • This is another big blow to crypto after SEC’s $100 million BlockFi fine.

Operating in multiple states throughout the United States, Voyager Digital LLC has been known for its earn programs.

The Delaware-based centralized company provides a variety of crypto services, including lending, digital asset staking, and proprietary trading, which became its undoing.

Voyager Digital To Desist

As explained in the notice by the New Jersey Bureau of Securities, Voyager Digital has been running its Voyager Earn Program unregistered with the Bureau.

Thus all the cryptocurrency stored in trading accounts affiliated with this program were rendered unprotected and uninsured by the Securities Investor Protection Corporation (“SIPC”), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (“FDIC”), or the National Credit Union Administration (“NCUA”).

This puts the 1.53 million account holders’ deposits at risk, which amounts to approximately $5 billion. Of these 1.53 million accounts, about 3.4% (52,800) are based out of New Jersey, which combined hold about $195 million in digital assets.

But despite the order, Voyager has not been exempted from paying the 9% annual interest to the depositors. Adding on to the same, the notice stated,

“The Bureau Chief enters this order to protect the investing public by halting the offer and sale of these unregistered securities, and the contribution of additional assets to existing Voyager Earn Program Accounts. Nothing in this order shall preclude Voyager, or any of its affiliates, from paying interest, also known as “Rewards,” on the existing Voyager Earn Program Accounts or refunding principal to the Voyager Earn Program Account investors consistent with Voyager’s Customer Agreement.”

The Government and Crypto

Recent few months have observed increased participation of government authorities when it comes to cryptocurrencies or DeFi related matters.

While the acknowledgment of the increased crypto adoption is one thing, up until now, most of their participation hasn’t been in favor of crypto service providers.

Last month FXEmpire reported about the crypto lending dApp BlockFi, which was fined by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for $100 million, which marked the biggest fine issued by the regulatory authority in its history.

Furthermore, the White House also urged multiple major cryptocurrency exchanges such as Binance, FTX, and Coinbase to block Russian sanctioned accounts.

While the motive behind the same might not be hostile for crypto, it does raise the question of how far further the government will interfere in the decentralized economy’s operations.

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.

LG Electronics To Venture in the Blockchain and Crypto Business

Key Insights:

  • LG Electronics is set to enter the blockchain and crypto business.
  • Other South Korean tech giants like Samsung have already taken their first step towards crypto adoption.
  • South Korean markets have witnessed increasing activity over the last year. 

Crypto adoption is in full swing across the globe, while institutions and corporations aim to capitalize on the growing sector. Of late, more and more top-tier firms from various sectors are jumping on the blockchain train to appease their customers and lure newer participants. 

Another tech giant recently decided to jump on the bandwagon. LG Electronics has added cryptocurrency and blockchain devices as new business areas in its corporate charter. 

Expanding Through Crypto and Blockchain

Heralding an expansion into new fields beyond home appliances, the South Korean tech giant LG Electronics has updated its business development goals to include cryptocurrency and blockchain-based software.

Local South Korean news media organization reported that LG had added two distinct crypto-related objectives during its annual general meeting on March 24. The new objectives include ‘the development and selling of blockchain-based software’ and ‘the sale and brokerage of cryptocurrency.’   

LG’s recent announcement has led people to wonder whether the firm would establish some form of crypto exchange or marketplace. 

A spokesperson from the firm told local news organizations that ‘nothing has been decided yet,’ regarding building a crypto marketplace. According to reports, the company has merely mentioned business areas to expand broadly. 

Notably, the tech manufacturer introduced smart television models with the NFT option last month with a blockchain company called Kakao’s Ground X. LG had also announced a partnership with Seoul Auction Blue, an NFT-focused company, to carry out projects related to NFT-based artworks.  

South Korean Market Looking Ripe

South Korea is a well-known hub for crypto trading activity. A recent survey highlighted that around 3.8% of the population owned some form of crypto assets. Furthermore, South Korean crypto providers booked a $2.7 billion net profit last year.  

Seemingly the market offers good scope for growth for firms as demand for digital assets in the nation is on the rise. Earlier this year, LG’s competitor Samsung announced that it would be launching an NFT platform for its smart TVs and its store in the Decentraland metaverse.

In South Korea, native blockchain platforms like Klaytn are seeing their domestic dominance dwindle, with competitors such as Polygon taking over the NFT marketplace. 

Earlier this year there were rumors about LG creating a crypto-related marketplace emerged when Bithumb CEO Heo Baek-young confirmed that the exchange was working with ‘a large company’ to develop an NFT marketplace.

Sports Icon David Beckham Becomes DigitalBits Ambassador

Key Insights:

  • Former captain of the English national soccer team David Beckham enters the digital world.
  • Beckham has become a global brand ambassador for DigitalBits.
  • Beckham will spread the word on the DigitalBits blockchain to consumers, brands, and other organizations.

It has been a busy time for digital assets and virtuality, with sports news hitting the crypto wires throughout the week.

This week, David Beckham, former England national football captain, become a brand ambassador for DigitalBits.

David Beckham Enters the Digital World with DigitalBits

On Thursday, DigitalBits announced,

“David Beckham, global sporting icon, entrepreneur, and philanthropist, has become a global brand ambassador for the DigitalBits blockchain. As one of the world’s most successful athlete-turned businessmen, Beckham will help communicate the transformative power of the DigitalBits blockchain to consumers, brands, and other organizations worldwide.”

The announcement added,

“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.”

“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.”

DigitalBits is a layer-one blockchain protocol enabling the tokenization of assets, including NFTs. The platform has partnered with tokens, including KuCoin (KCS).

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

Beckham Follows in the Footsteps of Other Sporting Icons

Beckham follows leading players from other sports into the digital space. This week, news hit the wires of Tennis four-time Grand Slam Champion Naomi Osaka becoming a brand ambassador for FTX.

Other sporting greats to become crypto brand ambassadors include NFL quarterback Tom Brady and the NBA’s Stephen Curry. Both became brand ambassadors for FTX.

Away from sport, crypto brand ambassadors include film actors, supermodels, and music artists.

With cryptos, NFTs, and the Metaverse becoming more mainstream each day, more household names from the world of sport, the big screen, and the big stage are likely to take up ambassadorial roles to remain current.

Can Coinbase Adding Cardano Staking Rewards Further Aid Price Pump?

Key Insights:

  • Coinbase expands staking offerings to include Cardano.
  • The current estimated annual return for ADA staking on Coinbase is around 3.75% APY.
  • The recent price uptrend seen in ADA’s trajectory combines healthy technicals and ecosystem-centric upgrades. 

Top coins are re-tracing their way upward, with the larger market seemingly back on track to register a much-awaited recovery. Nonetheless, market-centric and ecosystem-based upgrades have acted as catalysts for the favorable price momentum apart from the more significant gains. 

One of the top show stoppers of this week has been Cardano (ADA) which finally managed to pull its price above the $1 mark after being under the price level for over a month. Positive market news has been key to ADA’s recent price jump, apart from the broader market recovery. 

Coinbase Adds Cardano Staking Rewards

The publicly-traded cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase announced on March 24 that it would offer staking for ADA, the native cryptocurrency of the Cardano blockchain.

This move aligns with Coinbase’s plans to continue scaling their staking portfolio in 2022.

A blog shared by the exchange highlighted that the current estimated annual return for Cardano staking on Coinbase is around 3.75% APY. Coinbase’s Senior Product Manager Rupmalini Sahu explained the decision by pointing out, 

“ADA is in the top 10 coins by market capitalization, and it has a flexible, sustainable, and scalable blockchain design. That design uses smart contracts, similar to Ethereum and Solana, to enable decentralized finance, NFTs, and other activities on the network.”

Notably, Coinbase has been on quite a listing spree since last year; the exchange also recently added ApeCoin (APE). Coinbase aims to increase its staking options, as Sahu highlights the exchange’s “plans to continue to scale its staking portfolio in 2022.”

Notably, ADA joins a list of coins for Coinbase provides staking services, including Algorand, Cosmos, Ethereum, and Tezos

ADA Finally Above $1

Cardano’s price has witnessed a significant boost after months of downtrend. A crucial development that fueled a bullish narrative among investors for ADA is Cardano’s network upgrade that increased Plutus’ per block script memory units to 62 million. 

Historically, Cardano’s network upgrades have had a bullish impact on altcoin’s price trajectory, fueling demand for ADA across exchanges. At press time, ADA traded at $1.11, noting a 14.66% daily and a 31.69% weekly rise in price. 

FXempire, ADA, Crypto, Cardano
ADA Price Action | Source: FXEmpire

Cardano’s recent price uptrend combines a technical bounce from oversold levels and a bullish long-term outlook considering the upcoming network upgrades. 

Meta to Enter Crypto With Trading and Metaverse Trademark Applications

Key Insights:

  • Trademark Attorney revealed Meta’s crypto and metaverse trademark application.
  • With NFTs soon coming to Instagram, Meta is opening its doors to the crypto-verse.
  • Meta is another company in the line of major mainstream companies to join the crypto-verse this year.

Although it hasn’t been officially announced yet, this development will undoubtedly place Meta among the front runners in the world of crypto.

But with the rapid adoption of Metaverse and other crypto products, Meta might want to pick up the pace so that it isn’t left behind.

Meta Comes to the Metaverse

In a reveal from the trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis, it has come to light that the parent company of social media giants Facebook and Instagram, Meta, will soon be adopting the emergence of the virtual world.

In the applications filed for trademarks, Meta aims for specific uses of the space. Along with crypto tokens, trademark applications for blockchain software, virtual currency exchanges, financial and currency trading, and digital, crypto, and virtual currencies have also been filed.

The company has also applied for a virtual currency wallet trademark.

The applications make it apparent that Meta will be knee-deep with the Metaverse and crypto products, as these applications cover all the bases related to the same.

The date of these applications has been revealed to be March 18, which was a day after Zuckerberg announced the arrival of NFTs on Instagram.

Meta and Others in the Metaverse

Earlier in January, FXEmpire had reported on the possibility of NFTs coming to Facebook and Instagram.

Since then, although Meta took a backseat, other major mainstream organizations have stepped up to be a part of the virtual world.

Yesterday, it was revealed by Kondoudis himself that football club Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) filed trademark applications for NFTs and Metaverse products and services.

Not too long before that, Victoria’s Secret and Skechers too announced their plans for NFTs and other services related to the virtual space.

The rate at which crypto adoption is expanding makes it look like the Metaverse is the next big marketing strategy after the Internet.

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.

Bored Ape Yacht Club Creator raises $450M For NFT Metaverse

Key Insights:

  • Yuga Labs wants to create an open Metaverse called ‘Otherside’.
  • Andreessen Horowitz led the $450M funding round.
  • The firm has recently purchased two extensive NFT collections and launched its crypto token.

The massive $450 million fundraising round was led by the crypto industry’s most prominent venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz (a16z).

Yuga Labs, which owns three of the largest NFT collections, has now been valued at $4 billion. Other contributors to the funding round include Hong Kong-based game software company Animoca Brands, crypto exchange Coinbase, and MoonPay.

According to reports, the team plans to use the funding to build a media empire and its NFT-centric Metaverse called ‘Otherside’.

Ready Player One

Wylie Aronow, a co-founder of the Bored Ape Yacht Club who goes by the pseudonym Gordon Goner, told The Verge that they want to create a “gamified interoperable world” that is entirely decentralized, adding:

“We think the real Ready Player One experience will be player run.”

CEO Nicole Muniz said that Yuga Labs is partnering with a few different game studios to bring Otherside into fruition. She added that the Metaverse would be open to everyone, not just BAYC owners. There was no timeline for launching the ambitious project or the play-to-earn game that Yuga Labs has planned for later this year.

A16z’s crypto division lead, Chris Dixon, commented that Yuga Labs and other emerging Web3 companies are an essential counterweight to centralized tech giants like Meta (formerly Facebook, FB), adding:

“There’s a dystopian future where Meta is this kind of dominant digital experience provider, and all of the money and control goes to that company.”

However, a16z has also invested heavily in many crypto and Web3 startups, giving it a lot of leeway over its future directions, which raises the centralization issue.

Last month, Yuga Labs made a significant move to acquire more of the NFT ecosystem by purchasing CryptoPunks and Meebits from Larva Labs.

Last week, the firm also launched its token called ApeCoin (APE) to support the BAYC ecosystem. However, the token has already lost 31% from its launch day all-time high.

Yuga Labs Collections Dominate

The BAYC remains the most popular NFT collection in terms of weekly sales. Cryptoslam is currently reporting a seven-day sales volume of $116.4 million for the collection. The second-highest NFT collection is Mutant Ape Yacht Club, also from Yuga Labs, with $68.3 million in weekly sales volume.

Can this Firm Effectively Aid Bitcoin’s Carbon Footprint Reduction Efforts?

Key Insights:

  • Extending more sustainable bitcoin mining efforts, Stronghold Digital Mining is using coal ash. 
  • Coal ash is a coal by-product used to generate power for BTC mining. 
  • Analysts believe the BTC hash rate could see a short-term pullback. 

The crypto market has been called the wild west of the finance world. More often than not, the pros and cons of top assets and blockchain technology itself have been debated.

One such tedious and endless debate is around bitcoin’s carbon footprint or energy consumption.

Nonetheless, of late, organizations have tried to develop alternatives for greener bitcoin mining to flip the negative narrative around bitcoin mining that has ensued for years.

A New Green Mining Solution?

It is well-known that mining bitcoin is an energy-intensive procedure. In May last year, after China banned BTC mining, many news stories titled, ‘bitcoin consumes more power than so and so country’ was published.

Owing to this energy efficiency debate, many in the industry have argued whether the power required to mine the digital asset is worth the environmental issues it breeds.

Addressing this issue, a US-based firm claims to have discovered a method that puts the endless debates around cryptocurrency mining to rest. A recent Reuters report highlighted that Stronghold Digital Mining uses waste left behind by decades-old coal power plants to generate electricity.

Thus, the coal waste reportedly powers hundreds of supercomputers working on mining bitcoin.

The company collects coal ash from nearby mines and processes it at a waste coal processing facility. Coal ash is a by-product left over from burning coal that can be used to produce electricity.

Stronghold’s CEO Greg Beard, in an interview, stated,

“The bitcoin mining network itself is the largest decentralized computer network in the world, and it’s power-hungry, so co-locating bitcoin mining and a power plant makes a lot of sense.”

Bitcoin Mining Stats

Bitcoin set a new all-time high for hash rate last week; however, Preston Pysh, host of The Investor’s Podcast, thinks this could change. He noted how BTC’s hash rate could witness a short-term ‘lull’ in a recent Tweet.

Renowned analyst Willy Woo replied to Pysh, saying that the hash ribbons chart he shared headed into a bullish accumulation zone that backs up other positive fundamentals.

The ‘hash rate lull’ could most likely be due to short-term political disruptions like Kazakhstan confiscating nearly $200 million in mining equipment.

Notably, BTC mining metrics suggest that bitcoin’s difficulty is set to increase by an estimated 4.66% in the subsequent difficulty readjustment in eight days.

The last two difficulty adjustments were negative, which means that the upcoming increase could send difficulty to a new all-time high of 28.73 trillion.

Football Club PSG Enters the Metaverse with Trademark Filing

Key Insights:

  • PSG is arriving in the metaverse with a trademark application filing.
  • The move aims to protect the brand as the club moves into the metaverse.
  • Previously, FC Manchester City announced the creation of the world’s first football stadium inside the metaverse.

The digital asset market has seen a staggering growth in the last 12-months alongside the intersectoral expansion. Interestingly, a blossoming relationship between crypto exchanges, NFTs, and sports was one of the key highlights of the crypto market rise over the last year.

Notably, football club Paris Saint-Germain recently took a significant step into the metaverse space, furthering the crypto market’s amalgamation with sports.

Sports, NFT and Metaverse Hype

French football club Paris Saint-Germain popularly called PSG, has filed a new trademark application to register the name ‘PARIS SAINT-GERMAIN’ for non-fungible tokens (NFT) and metaverse products and services.

On March 21, metaverse trademark attorney Michael Kondoudis revealed the filing details. The attorney announced via Twitter that the trademark filing took place on March 16.

According to the information disclosed, the trademark will cover NFT backed multimedia, crypto wallets, managing cryptocurrency transactions, virtual clothing, sports gear, and electronics.

In the press release, the Washington DC-based lawyer said,

“Paris Saint-Germain is one of the world’s best-known football clubs, and the value attached to the team’s name and brand is substantial. This filing represents the next logical step to protect the brand as it moves into the metaverse.”

Kondoudis further stated,

“PSG sees the potential of the metaverse and is preparing its trademark for the virtual economy that will dominate it. This move follows the trend by other professional sports brands to begin preparations to participate in the metaverse.”

Rising Interest in The Metaverse

Interest in the metaverse space has witnessed exceptional growth in the last year. Top players from music, fashion, and sports have entered the virtual space.

Recently, FXEmpire reported about the English football club Manchester City building the world’s first football stadium inside the metaverse in partnership with Sony.

News about the Australian Open and the first-ever tennis tournament on Decentraland (MANA) hit the wires in January. The Australian Open replicated Melbourne Park in Decentraland, giving tennis fans a taste of Melbourne tennis.

All in all, a sheer rise in interest from sports organizations has been noted over the last year. Kondoudis anticipates a surge in the number of trademark registrations from the professional sports industry for non-traditional and virtual goods and services in the following year.

About the rising interest in the metaverse, the attorney said:

“We expect the number of trademark filings from the professional sports sector for NFT and virtual products and services to increase over the next twelve months as brands come to appreciate the need for protections in the metaverse.”

THORChain (RUNE) Rallies Ahead of Chaosnet Hard Fork

Key Insights:

  • THORChain has announced the release of Chaosnet hard fork and Cosmos v0.45.
  • RUNE’s price has appreciated by over 120% since the beginning of March.
  • Crypto.com announced support for THORChain’s network upgrade.

Over the last week, quite a few altcoins unexpectedly reaped advantages of the bitcoin’s uptrend and brief retesting of the $42,000 mark. On the other hand, some altcoins such as THORChain’s RUNE rallied based on ecosystem-centric updates and related social media attention.

Upgrades and Integrations Paving Way for Gains

THORChain is prepared for the upcoming release of the Chaosnet hard fork and Cosmos v0.45 upgrade. According to information revealed by the network, the hard fork is scheduled for 19:00 UTC on 21 March 2022.

Keeping the upgrade and hard fork in mind, Crypto.com has announced support for THORChain. Additionally, Crypto.com declared a temporary suspension of RUNE withdrawals in the Crypto.com app and exchange starting from 21 March 2022, 18:00 UTC.

Notably, the decentralized liquidity protocol’s token RUNE witnessed a surge in price and trade volume after the much-anticipated mainnet launch and integration with Terra in early March.

As highlighted by a Twitter user, Chaosnet is just the name for the beta version of Thorchain. The network is still in the beta version, but it is expected to move towards the mainnet in a few months.

Additionally, the network currently operates under a manually set liquidity cap. However, that could be lifted from next week onwards.

RUNE Rallies

THORChain is a cross-chain decentralized exchange built on Cosmos. The platform aims to provide cross-network liquidity by supporting the decentralized trading of crypto across blockchains.

RUNE’s price surged by over 120% since March-beginning. The coin’s trajectory showed a bullish recovery from the February losses.

FXempire, RUNE, Crypto, THORChain
RUNE Price Action | Source: FXEmpire

RUNE traded as low as $3.015 on 24 February but recovered soon after a series of encouraging technical developments in its ecosystem. Furthermore, THORChain nodes, over time, have witnessed a healthy growth indicative of the ecosystem maturing.

FXempire, THORChain, Crypto, RUNE
Source: Victor Kirilov Twitter

THORChain has gained traction due to its several notable features for the decentralized systems to compete with centralized exchanges.

At press time, RUNE traded at $3.28, noting 1.43% daily and 11.53% weekly gains.

Crypto Wallet Blocto Partners With Yahoo Taiwan to Launch NFT Store

Key Insights:

  • Blocto has announced its partnership with Yahoo Taiwan to launch Yahoo’s NFT store. 
  • The companies will work towards NFT adoption and accessibility. 
  • The Yahoo Taiwan NFT store could roll out in March-end. 

Portto, the company behind Blocto, has announced its partnership with Yahoo Taiwan to launch its non-fungible token (NFT) store in late March. The NFT store debuts with the ‘A-Hoo’ collection – the official mascot of Yahoo Taiwan.

Yahoo Taiwan’s NFT Store

Yahoo Taiwan’s NFT store will be made in collaboration with Blocto, the NFT and crypto wallet.

Information shared by Blocto highlights that all NFT creators in Yahoo Taiwan NFT Store would be officially curated and approved by Yahoo Taiwan. The same could pave the way for a trustworthy trading experience and a better quality guarantee.

The NFT store’s main focus would include a fiat payment gateway where credit card payment will be available, along with more fiat payment methods planned in the near future.

The platform would also lay stress on affordable pricing, providing users access to premium NFT products. Furthermore, the marketplace also aims to focus on user-empowering NFTs.

Hsuan Lee, CEO at Portto said,

“With our (Portto’s) expertise in blockchain technology, Blocto is creating this platform with Yahoo Taiwan so anyone can own and collect NFTs like ‘A-Hoo’ as easy as shopping on any e-Commerce platform.”

Thus, this new collaboration seeks to make NFT buying and selling process as easy as online shopping, thereby increasing adoption. About the same, Chen-Te Lin, VP of Taiwan E-Commerce and Regional Products, Yahoo, said,

“By collaborating with Crypto wallet Blocto and leveraging Yahoo Taiwan’s advantages in media and e-commerce to launch ‘Yahoo Taiwan NFT Store,’ Yahoo Taiwan is making NFTs accessible to all and creating a channel where local creators can expand their venture into NFTs.”

The Yahoo Taiwan NFT store will debut with its first NFT collection featuring its official mascot – ‘A-Hoo.’ A-Hoo widely appears on Yahoo Taiwan’s stickers, branded products, and delivery crates. The ‘A-Hoo’ collection would be available to trade on Blocto’s NFT marketplace BloctoBay.

NFTs Still Stealing the Show

Data from market tracker DappRadar shows that sales of NFTs reached close to $25 billion in 2021 as the crypto-asset exploded in popularity.

Yahoo Taiwan’s NFT launch announcement comes only a few days after Coinbase, a US-based crypto exchange, announced plans to launch an NFT marketplace. That said, FXEmpire reported just yesterday that Meta (FB) co-founder Mark Zuckerberg said they are working to bring NFTs to Instagram in ‘the near term.’

The boom of NFTs in the crypto space has been constant despite the recent consolidation of the cryptocurrency markets as top assets like BTC and ETH continued their rangebound movement.

Furthermore, with finance giants like HSBC entering the Metaverse, as reported by FXEmpire, it seems like the NFT and Metaverse space is bound to gain popularity in the near term. HSBC is set to buy a plot of land at The Sandbox metaverse.

Defi Protocols Agave and Hundred Finance Suffer Hack of $11M

Key Insights:

  • Over $11 million from Agave and Hundred Finance was wiped off in the latest Defi exploit.
  • The attacker introduced a reentrancy bug and used a flash loan exploit to siphon funds.
  • After the protocols announced the hack, their native tokens saw a dip.

Defi protocols getting hacked have been synonymous with crypto markets as crypto crimes have risen over the years. On Tuesday, another Defi exploit came to light when an attacker siphoned over $11 million from Agave and Hundred Finance.

Flash Loan Reentrancy Attacks

Over $11 million has been wiped off in what appears to be a flash loan reentrancy attack on both Defi protocols on the Gnosis chain. The hacker took the stolen funds in Wrapped ETH, Wrapped BTC, Chainlink, USDC, Gnosis, and Wrapped XDAI.

Both the Defi platforms confirmed the hacks through Twitter posts on Tuesday, stating that their contracts have been paused to avoid further damage. Agave also mentioned that their team is currently investigating the exploit on the Agave finance protocol.

The attacker exploited a reentrancy vulnerability in the two Defi protocols.

Reentrancy is a Solidity programming language vulnerability that lets an attacker trick a protocol’s contract into making an external call to an untrusted contract.

After the call happens, the hacker can use this suspicious contract to make repeated calls to the protocol to wash away its funds.

For Agave and Hundred Finance, the hacker introduced a reentrancy bug on both protocols allowing for a flash loan exploit. The same allowed hackers to continue borrowing from the protocols.

Seemingly, the attacker was making repetitive calls to withdraw funds without putting up additional collateral. Notably, the address associated with the attacker has sent over 2,100 ETH, worth over $5.5 million, to a crypto mixer to launder the stolen tokens.

Blockchain security researcher Mudit Gupta thinks that the hack was possible because the official bridged tokens on Gnosis are non-standard and have a hook that calls the token receiver on every transfer. The same enables reentrancy attacks.

Defi Attacks Rising

The recent attack marks the second flash loan exploit on the same day after Deus Finance DAO lost $3 million in a similar attack. Agave is a fork of the lending protocol Aave.

Gupta, however, believes that the difference between Aave and Agave is that ‘Aave actively checks for reentrancy before listing tokens on the main net to avoid similar attacks.’

After the attack, both the protocols’ tokens saw a price decline. AGVE, the token of non-custodial money market and lending protocol Agave, lost over 25% value on Tuesday. Likewise, after announcing the exploit, Hundred Finances’ token HND was down 5.8%.

Notably, Cream Finance, another Defi lending protocol with a similar codebase to Compound, suffered a flash loan reentrancy attack last summer. The exploit led to a $19 million loss in crypto from the protocol.

MoonPay Freezes Operations in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus

Key Insights:

  • MoonPay has suspended operations in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus.
  • The firm has said that it’s impossible to continue operating owing to the sanctions.
  • However, Exchanges like Binance and FTX have argued against suspending payment options. 

In a direct statement released to customers, the MoonPay team informed that they have decided to suspend operations in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus due to recent events in Eastern Europe.

The Miami-based firm no longer supports customers’ accounts with physical addresses in the regions mentioned above. 

Russia, Ukraine, Belarus see Another Ban

On March 10, the MoonPay team informed all customers that owing to the political tension and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the firm had suspended operations in Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus. 

Reportedly, the firm explained their recent move by saying that they couldn’t continue operating in these regions and adhere to the current sanctions by countries across the world.

Notably, nations worldwide are tightening their sanctions on Russia, the US, the EU, and the UK are among the few doing so. 

The US and UK are banning Russian oil, and the EU has pledged to end its reliance on Russian gas. Responding to these sanctions, Russia has banned the export of several foreign-made products.

Earlier this week, FXEmpire reported US-based exchange Coinbase blocking over 25,000 addresses related to Russian users who were supposedly engaged in illicit activities.

Additionally, in late February, crypto exchange Binance highlighted how it was looking to block the accounts of any Russian clients targeted by sanctions. 

However, more recently, exchanges such as Binance and FTX argued that preserving the access of Russians to crypto is essential as the ruble falls amid heavy sanctions against Russia. 

MoonPay and Its NFT Craze

MoonPay launched in 2019 powers more than 250 wallets, websites, and applications in over 160 countries. In November 2021, the firm closed a Series A funding round at $555 million, bringing its valuation to $3.4 billion.

The firm claims that the funding was the largest and highest valued Series A for any bootstrapped crypto company. 

Of late, user-friendly payments infrastructure provider has made some bold moves in the NFT space. Recently, the startup spent $754,340 at the London Evening Sale at Christie’s auction house for a rare item in the World of Women (WoW) collection. 

The price paid by MoonPay makes the piece one of the most expensive WoW pieces ever sold.