Blockchain This Week – NFT Craze, Green Blockchain, Continued Mainstream Adoption

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Beeple’s Drop Brings Down NFT Marketplace

This week, digital artist, Mike Winkelmann, who goes by the name Beeple, was set to sell 333 hand-picked images from his 5000 Day Commemorative Selects on MakersPlace for a dollar per piece. It resulted in such unusual traffic to the platform that the marketplace went down.

Musician’s Debut NFT Auction Sees Record Sales

Musician Claire Elise Boucher, a.k.a Grimes, launched her first NFT auction, WarNymph, a collection of eight tokenized artworks, on the Nifty Gateway marketplace. She garnered US $5.8 million from token sales in less than 20 minutes.

Kings of Leon Go the NFT Way

Popular music band Kings of Leon is releasing their latest album as NFT. As per reports, the band will issue three types of tokens – A unique album package, lifelong front-row seats, and exclusive audiovisual art.

NFT Issued After “Burning” the Artwork

In what seems like a bizarre reverence to digital art, a group of crypto artists literally burned the physical painting before immortalizing it in the digital world as an NFT.  A group of crypto artists bought a piece, incidentally named Morons, by a famous street artist Banksy. The work that pokes fun at art collectors, was burned by the artists and minted as an NFT. 

A Pepe Representing Homer Simpson Sells at Record Price

Pepe is a cartoon frog created by artist Matt Furie. It has inspired several memes on the internet, including Rare Pepes, one of the first NFT experiments. This week, a rare Pepe that conflates Homer Simpson and Pepe the frog has sold for a whopping US $320,000 (205 ETH.)

Associated Press Auctions US Elections-Based NFT

The Associated Press is auctioning an NFT representing the first US election that was recorded on Blockchain. The artwork titled –The Associated Press calls the 2020 Presidential Election on Blockchain – A View from Outer Space — is on sale on the NFT marketplace OpenSea. 

Custody Service For NFTs

Finally, with NFTs sold for millions of dollars per token, the buyers are bound to look for reliable custodians for their precious assets. The custody platform, Hex Trust, is planning on seizing this opportunity. It has launched a licensed NFT Safe service that offers a custody facility to the NFT collectors and investors.

Volkswagen on the Renewable Energy Blockchain Bandwagon

Volkswagen Group has partnered with the Energy Web, an energy Blockchain ecosystem, to integrate electric vehicles (EV) with power grids. The goal is to efficiently manage the demand for electricity by increasing the supply. The firms plan on leveraging the surplus green energy stored in the batteries of the Volkswagen EVs.

French Utility Company Joins Hedera With Eyes on Carbon Neutrality

This week, the French utility firm Électricité de France (EDF) joined the Hedera Hashgraph governing council. EDF will run a node in Hedera’s decentralized ecosystem. It aims to use the technology to pursue its goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

Blockchain to Back Sustainable Aluminium Claims

Norsk Hydro ASA, a Norwegian aluminum and renewable energy company, announced its pilot on Blockchain. The company aims to trace aluminum from factory to customer. According to Hydro, this action will provide trusted and verified data for the manufacturers to support their sustainability claims.

Mazzanti’s Bitcoin Payment and Security Token Offering

Italian luxury car manufacturer, Mazzanti, is dabbling its feet in the crypto space. This week, Mazzanti made two announcements. First, it is now accepting Bitcoin as a payment option for its cars. And second, it has launched a security token offering (STO) on STOKR, the EU’s digital marketplace for alternative assets. Mazzanti aims to raise US $1.2 million with the token sales and use the money to develop a special edition of its supercar, Evantra Millecavalli.

Rakuten’s Customers can Now Shop with Crypto

Japanese retail giant Rakuten announced this week that its customers could use cryptocurrencies to shop at its member stores. They can load their Pay app and Point credit card with Bitcoin, Ether, and Bitcoin cash and pay via the app or card. The retailer also confirmed that it would not be leaving any fees for transfers ranging from 1,000 to 100,000 yen per month.

Google Finance Adds Crypto Price Comparison

Google Finance has added a Crypto section to its finance webpage. The tab appears in the Compare Markets segment along with conventional categories. Pricing information about several cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, and Bitcoin Cash are available.

Amazon Web Services Now Supports Ethereum

AWS Managed Blockchain Service will now support Ethereum nodes. The service will enable the customers to quickly spin up nodes and connect to the Ethereum mainnet network. The node will have the transaction history of the entire blockchain. Furthermore, the test networks (testnets) Rinkeby and Ropsten are also supported. 

Blockchain to Fight Insurance Fraud

KPMG and IntellectEU have collaborated to launch a Blockchain-based app to tackle double-dipping type of insurance fraud. According to KPMG, fraudulent claims make up 5 to 10 percent of the insurance payouts. IntellectEU’s ClaimShare solution will be used to address this problem.

China’s BSN to Leverage Telegram Blockchain

China’s Blockchain Service Network has partnered with TON Labs to build applications on Telegram’s TON protocol. TON Labs will adapt the platform to meet the Chinese regulations. 

Russian Aviation Firm Completes Blockchain Pilot

Gazpromneft-Aero, the aviation subsidiary of Russian oil giant Gazprom Neft, announced that it had completed its Blockchain-based refueling payments pilot – Smart Fuel. The project included more than 100 flights of Russian airlines Smartavia and banks such as VTB and Raiffeisenbank.

Sony Europe Joins Theta Network

The Center Europe Brussels Laboratory, Sony Europe’s research and development arm, has joined Theta Network, the Blockchain-based video platform. As a part of Theta’s validator program, Sony will operate a node and validate the network’s transactions. Moreover, Sony will also be a member of the Theta governance council and take part in strategic decisions about the protocol.

Tether Claims to Have Got a Ransom Demand 

Tether, the issuer of USDT stablecoin, allegedly received a ransom note demanding 500 Bitcoin, according to their Twitter thread. Tether states that the perpetrators supposedly have documents that can damage the Bitcoin ecosystem if they did not heed to the demands. The firm also tweeted that it is working with law enforcement on addressing the issue.

Inner Mongolia to Ban Crypto Mining

Inner Mongolia, an autonomous territory of China, is imposing a ban on cryptocurrency mining, starting April 2021. The region is known for its affordable energy and reportedly accounts for eight percent of the global Bitcoin mining hash rate.

Iran Bullish on Crypto Mining

On the other hand, Iran promotes crypto mining activities. The Iranian Presidential Center for Strategic Studies is a think tank associated with the office of the Iranian president. It considers crypto as a viable option to help the economy amid international sanctions. The think tank also encourages the nation to mine crypto.

Goldman Sachs Back on Crypto Bandwagon

Amid the growing institutional interest in Bitcoin and other digital currencies, Goldman Sachs Group Inc has restarted its crypto trading desk. It will also begin dealing with Bitcoin futures shortly. The trading unit will be part of the bank’s Global Markets division.

Crypto Mining Firm Pays Its CEO in Bitcoin

Agro Blockchain, a cryptocurrency mining firm, has started paying its CEO salary in Bitcoin. The salary is automatically converted from fiat to Bitcoin at a daily market rate. Other employees of the firm are also reportedly given this option.

Buy New and Used Cars With Crypto

A Canadian auto dealer HGreg plans to start accepting crypto as payment for its new and preowned vehicles beginning this month. The firm also intends to hold some cash reserves in the form of crypto.

Colombian Bank Trials Crypto Services

Banco de Bogotá, one of the oldest banks in Colombia, has announced a sandbox project to explore crypto services. It aims to investigate new business models and assess the risks associated with crypto assets.

Ripple’s CBDC Platform Pilot

Ripple, the Blockchain-based payments provider, has started a trial of a private ledger. This ledger is intended to serve as a platform for issuing CBDCs. It will be using the same backbone technology that supports Ripple’s XRP ledger.

MicroStrategy’s Long Game in Bitcoin

The business intelligence firm, MicroStrategy, is not showing any signs of reigning in on its Bitcoin buying spree. Michael Saylor, its founder, announced earlier this week that his firm had bought another US $15 million worth of Bitcoin. With this investment, MicroStrategy now holds 90,859 Bitcoin that is worth close to US $4.3 billion.

And Finally, Dogecoin Is Available Across US ATMs

Dogecoin, created as a parody of Bitcoin, has seen unrivaled popularity in the past several weeks. In the latest news, it is available to crypto users at 1,800 ATMs across 45 of the 50 states of the US.

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