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Blockchain This Week – NFTs and Crypto Vying for Attention, Countries Navigating Their Way In and Out of Crypto, Tools to Fight Crypto Crimes

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Beeple’s NFT Garners US $69.3 Million on Christie’s 

Digital artist Mike Winkelmann, a.k.a Beeple, created history this week. His digital artwork – Everydays: The First 5000 Days – was sold on Thursday for a final price of US $69,346,250. Everydays, a collage of 5,000 unique images produced each day was minted as an NFT on Feb 16 and auctioned on Feb 25 with a starting price of US $100. 

Dorsey’s Tweet NFT on Track for Setting a New Record

Meanwhile, Jack Dorsey of Twitter put up his first-ever tweet from 2006 for auction late last week. The auction will end on Mar 21. At the time of writing, the highest bid has been US $2.5 million, making it one of the most expensive tweets to own. Dorsey tweeted that he will be converting the proceeds into Bitcoin and donating to GiveDirectly’s Africa Response

A House Sold as an NFT

An investor, Ivan Malpica, has listed a portion of his property at St.Louis, US, as an NFT on the marketplace Mintable. Malpica has quoted $75648.69 as the price of the NFT. He plans to form a Limited Liability Company with the buyer, making the buyer 50 percent owner of the property legally.

Taco Bells Now Sells NFTs

The fast-food chain, Taco Bell, sold a collection of five taco-themed NFTs on Rarible marketplace this week. The starting bids for the 25 tokens were 0.001 wrapped ether (WETH). They were sold out in minutes, with the highest bids reaching 1.5 WETH. The proceeds go to Taco Bell Foundation.

Wonder Woman’s Wonders in the NFT World

José Delbo, an artist who worked on the Wonder Woman illustrations during the late 1970s, has made $1.85 million in an auction selling NFTs. The 914 NFTs represent the popular DC heroine Wonder Woman. Each token depicts one of seven illustrations of Wonder Woman in scenes relating to women’s empowerment.

Art Platform Shelves NFT Plans Amid Backlash

An online artworks platform ArtStation, planned to auction NFTs representing the works of several prominent artists on Wednesday. It, however, within hours of the announcement, received a severe pushback from artists and connoisseurs. The choice of resource-hogging Ethereum as the platform to create these NFTs drew the ire of the eco-conscious users. Finally, ArtStation decided to shelve the plan for now.

PayPal Buys Crypto Security Firm

The payments giant, PayPal, announced this week of its imminent acquisition of Curv. Curv is a digital asset security provider based out of Israel. According to PayPal, Curv will help it “accelerate and expand its initiatives to support cryptocurrencies and digital assets.”

German Bank to Offer Crypto Services

Donner & Reuschel, a private bank based out of Hamburg, Germany, is moving ahead with launching crypto buying and custody services for its customers. The bank also plans to focus on asset tokenization shortly.

UK Firm to Build Crypto Mining Rig in the US

Argo Blockchain, listed in the UK, announced that it has acquired a New York firm, DPN LLC, and bought its 320-acre plot. Argo plans to construct a crypto mining data center on the land. It also intends to use up to 800 MW of renewable energy to power the facility. 

Atari Builds a Virtual Casino

The gaming company Atari plans to build a virtual casino run on crypto. This casino will reside in Vegas City – a district in Ethereum-based virtual world – Decentraland. It will emulate real-life gambling experience. 

Swiss Retailers Offer Bitcoin Gift Cards

Two Swiss retailers are taking advantage of the ongoing crypto hype cycle. Manor, the largest department store chain in Switzerland, has started issuing Bitcoin voucher cards in 59 of its branches. Meanwhile, another retail giant, Valora, will start selling Bitcoin gift cards starting Apr 1. These vouchers, called Cryptonow, are offered from the crypto services firm Värdex Suisse.

A Luxury Hotel Group to Accept Crypto Payments

Kessler Collection, a luxury hotel chain based in the US, has started accepting crypto for bookings. The payments firm, BitPay, will process the crypto payments. The guests can pay in Bitcoin, Ether, Bitcoin Cash, and Dogecoin. Several stablecoins are also supported.

Dogecoin Focused Peer-to-Peer Exchange

The crypto firm, Komodo, is the latest one on the Dogecoin bandwagon. It announced this week the launch of DogeDEX that facilitates the users to swap Dogecoin with other cryptos. The trading will be atomic, and the users can trade directly with each other without going through centralized exchanges.

Dogecoin Mining Announcement Brings Down Website

A social networking firm based out of Vancouver, Canada, Hello Pal International, revealed that its website suffered a temporary outage following its announcement on mining Dogecoin. Earlier this week, Hello Pal stated that it has invested in a 15 percent stake in Dogecoin and Litecoin mining facility. Alongside, it had acquired an initial 51 percent of 12,500 mining rigs dedicated to both these crypto. Following this announcement, Hello Pal reported a surge of traffic to its website that eventually brought down the site temporarily.

US Lawmakers and Crypto

This week, Warren Davidson, an Ohio Congressman, made a third attempt to push forward his crypto regulations bill in the US House of Representatives. The proposed token taxonomy act reportedly seeks to exempt a few crypto and digital assets from federal securities laws.

Furthermore, representative Patrick McHenry of North Carolina introduced a bill to create a digital asset working group to support innovation in the sector. The proposed legislation directs the Commodities Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to collaborate on the initiative.

Wyoming Bill to Recognize DAOs Gets Senate Nod

The state senate of Wyoming, US, approved legislation to recognize decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) as companies. Now, the bill will be presented in the state’s house of representatives. If it is approved by the House, Wyoming would become the first US state to recognize the organizations that are run autonomously using Blockchain smart contracts.

India’s Internet and Mobile Association Recommends Crypto Regulation Over Ban

The Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) has asked the Indian government not to ban cryptocurrencies. Instead, it is recommending the government to regulate the sector. IAMAI views crypto will provide significant benefits to the country’s economy.

Nigeria Is Rewarding People for Using Traditional International Money Transfer Options

The Central Bank of Nigeria has initiated an incentive program to reward citizens when they use licensed international money transfer operators. As per the Naira 4 Dollar scheme, people will get an additional five naira for every USD they receive. This initiative will go on till May 8. Some believe that this move aims at reducing the impact of crypto that remains the popular choice for international remittances among the public.

New Zealand Firm Launches the Country’s First Stablecoin

Techemynt, a New Zealand based firm, reportedly has created a stablecoin that is one-to-one backed by the New Zealand dollar. The currency is deployed on the Ethereum Blockchain.

Crypto Crimes

First, the DeFi platform DODO was hacked this week. The hackers managed to steal close to US $3.8 million worth of tokens. DODO, however, is expecting to recover less than half of the funds.

Next, the crypto lending platform BlockFi experienced an unusual attack. The attacker registered several accounts using over 1,000 email addresses with the first and last name fields in the registration page populated with vulgar and racist language. Many of the email addresses used belonged to real people.

Finally, a spamming attack on the Nano network severely crippled the transactions on the platform this week. It was flooded with near-zero value transactions. Nano’s creator, Colin LeMahieu, asked the node operators to lower their bandwidths to throttle the attack. As a result, the network was accepting fewer incoming transactions, thereby stymying the entire network.

CipherTrace’s AML Tool

The Blockchain firm CipherTrace released its anti money laundering tool for crypto firms this week. It is called CipherTrace Traveler. As per the CipherTrace, Traveler is beneficial to all Virtual Assets Service Providers such as crypto exchanges and custodians.

A Software to Fight Flash Loan Attacks

A crypto security firm, OpenZeppelin, released a software suite targeting the DeFi projects. Named Defender, these tools are intended to alert the platforms of the flash loan and other attacks on their system and also respond to the exploits in real time.

A Crypto Tax Calculator

The Hong Kong based crypto exchange crypto.com has launched a free service that the users can leverage to estimate the taxable gains and losses of their crypto transactions. The firm claims that the service reduces the complexity in filing crypto related information in the tax returns.

Ripple and MoneyGram Part Ways

Ripple Labs announced that it is ending its three-year partnership with MoneyGram. The alliance was put on hold in February after the US SEC sued Ripple, alleging XRP to be an unregistered security.

NuCyper and Keep Network Join Hands

Meanwhile, the Blockchain data encryption protocols, Keep Network and NuCyper, have announced their plan to form an integrated network dubbed Keenu. They claim it to be the “first on-chain protocol hard merge.” 

And Finally, Crypto Donations for Texas

The Austin Disaster Relief Network (ADRN) is accepting crypto donations to provide relief to the people of Texas, US. Texas was hit by an arctic storm last month that left several people homeless and without access to clean drinking water. ADRN accepts several cryptocurrencies and stablecoins, including Bitcoin, Ether, Litecoin, Gemini Dollar.

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