Blockchain This Week – Ethereum 2.0, Libra to Diem, Crypto Carbon Credits

Ethereum 2.0 Beacon Chain Is a Go!

The much anticipated Ethereum 2.0 has finally arrived. After spending years designing the Proof-of-Stake driven architecture and facing repeated delays leading to the launch, the second-largest crypto by market cap has released Beacon Chain – the first stage of its version 2.0 on Dec 1, noon UTC. Fortunately, the launch went through unhindered and swiftly reached the required staking rate to attest a block.

Vitalik Buterin joked about how the first block did not have any inspiring messages, such as “giant leaps for mankind.” Instead, the genesis block had a cryptic message – “Mr F was here.” Soon after, the Sherlock Holmeses of the crypto world started investigating this mysterious Mr. F. 

It was soon revealed through some Discord chats that it was a Dapp developer who goes by the pseudonym Mr Fahrenheit. Mr Fahrenheit was awarded the honor of creating the first Ethereum 2.0 block.

Finally, within days of the launch, a whooping million Ether (ETH) are now locked in the Ethereum 2.0 smart contract as per on-chain explorer service Etherscan. Additionally, the US crypto exchange Coinbase has outlined plans for supporting Ethereum 2.0 staking rewards. As per reports, Coinbase says it plans to roll out staking, trading, and conversion services for Ether 2.0 in early 2021.

Libra Seeks a Revival by Rebranding

On Dec 1, the Libra Association announced that it would be changing its name to the Diem Association. The move is intended to revive its efforts to step away from under the shadow of Facebook and its failed attempt to launch a global stablecoin last year. The new name is derived from the Latin word, “Diem” which means day. In the announcement, the rebranded Diem Association also revealed its new logo. In addition to this effort, the association has taken several measures, including hiring some of the prominent members from the financial sector to appease the regulators and redesign its planned digital currency that will be named the Diem Dollar.

Carbon Tokens on Blockchain

Universal Protocol Alliance Introduces Tokenized Carbon Credits

Universal Protocol Alliance, a coalition of crypto companies led by Uphold, is launching tradable carbon tokens on a public Blockchain. These tokens represent carbon credits that people can purchase to offset the amount of carbon footprint they generate. According to the alliance, the users can burn, hold, or trade the tokens on the wallet provider and trading platform, Uphold.

ClimateTrade to Launch a Marketplace for Carbon Offsetting

The Blockchain marketplace ClimateTrade is planning to build its new carbon offsetting platform on Algorand Blockchain. ClimateTrade stated that this marketplace would help organizations to achieve CO2 neutrality that is vital for arresting climate change.

Meanwhile, Cabify, the Latin American ride-sharing giant, will use the ClimateTrade platform to digitize and track its carbon emissions. The CO2 generated by users’ rides will be offset by the carbon credits distributed on the marketplace.

Blockchain Adoption Across the Globe

Polish City to Use Blockchain for Emergency Services

Olsztyn, Poland is purported to be the first city in the world to leverage Blockchain to provide emergency services. It is using the SmartKey application built on Ethereum Blockchain to streamline the emergency services. SmartKey will connect the Blockchain smart contracts with the IoT devices of Teltonika used by the local rescue services. It will aid the emergency crews to enter any building during rescue measures without having to wait for the keyholders or permissions.

Russian Alfa-Bank to Offer Blockchain-Based Services for Freelancers

Alfa-bank, one of the largest private commercial banks in Russia, announced this week that it would use Blockchain-driven applications to offer various services to gig workers such as cab drivers, handymen, and private tutors. These services would cover the registration process for the freelancers and manage their remuneration and income tax payments.

Venezuelan Army Starts Crypto Mining

Amidst the economic collapse, the South American country of Venezuela is increasingly turning to Bitcoin mining. On Instagram, the engineering unit of the Venezuelan army launched the new Digital Asset Production Center. This center houses several ASIC mining equipment required to solve the proof-of-work algorithms. According to General Lenin Herrera, the aim of the mining operation is to strengthen the army and make it self-sustainable. He added that the mining centers would also generate “unblockable sources of income.”

Visa to Support USDC Payments

Visa announced this week that it is partnering with the Circle Internet Financials and will bring the Circle US Dollar Coin (USDC) to its global payments network. Visa will not have the custody of the digital currency. But, it will help select Visa credit card issuers to integrate USDC into their platforms and enable them to send and receive payments in USDC.

Crypto Debut on Wall Street

This week, S&P Global Inc became the latest traditional finance company that ventured into the crypto space. On Thursday, S&P Dow Jones Indices announced that it would launch cryptocurrency indices in 2021.  S&P will use data from Lukka, a New York-based digital currency firm, on more than 550 of the top traded coins. In a joint statement, these companies indicated that the clients of S&P would be able to create customized indices and other benchmarking tools on cryptocurrencies.

Pizza Hut to Accept Bitcoins as Payments

This week, Pizza Hut joined the likes of Burger King and Church’s chicken, when it started accepting cryptocurrency payments in Venezuela. Pizza Hut is partnering with Latin American crypto services firm Cryptobuyer to enable its patrons to pay for their pizzas and pies in crypto.

Music Veterans, Selah, Join the Crypto Train

The famous Christian music vocal trio Selah launched their crypto fan token this week. It is available on the Rally platform and is a 3CR8 token that will give the music fans exclusive benefits such as private messages, video chats, and signed merchandise from the artists.

A New Twist in Chinese Bank’s Blockchain Bond

Over the last month, the world’s second largest bank by asset, China Construction Bank, announced the launch of a US $3 billion Blockchain-powered debt securities bond and quickly rescinded its issuance. However, in a new twist to the tale, the bank announced the revival of the Blockchain bond this week. It stated that it is continuing to work with the Malaysian national stock exchange, Bursa Malaysia, and the Labuan Financial Exchange. However, there was no mention of Fusang Exchange, indicating the company’s exit from the bond. 

Aussie Crypto Exchange Reveals Their Customer Emails in a Marketing Email Blast

In what seems to be an honest mistake, Aussie exchange BTC Markets revealed the names and email addresses of its customers when they sent out marketing emails to the very customers. The emails were sent in batches of 1000 with the recipient addresses in the “to” field instead of in blind carbon copy. As a result, now each recipient of the marketing mail has the details of the other 999. The firm has reported the incident to the Office of Information Commissioner. It is also working on how to respond to the breach and on mitigating the resulting damages.

And Finally, Bitcoin’s Struggle to Breach 20K Continues

In some good news, at the beginning of the week, the price of the premier cryptocurrency returned to US $19K. It was an 18 percent increase from being below $17K late last week. Additionally, the price hit an all time high of $19,892 in some exchanges. However, the event that many crypto enthusiasts were anticipating did not happen this week. Bitcoin did not cross the US 20,000 threshold. At the time of writing, one Bitcoin was costing US $19,115 on Coinbase exchange.

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