Blockchain This Week – Crypto Climate Accord, Cross Border Trades, NFTs, Bitcoin Funds

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Crypto Climate Accord

This week, a new global accord called Crypto Climate Accord was set up to address how the crypto industry can pivot to use 100 percent renewable energy by 2030. Energy Web, CoinShares, ConsenSys, Ripple are among the scores of organizations partnering in this initiative. The United Nations is also backing this group.

Blockchain to Alleviate COVID-19 Induced Slowdown

A Moroccon fertilizer company is looking at Blockchain to reduce the cross-border trade and supply chain disruptions resulting from the COVID-19 related restrictions. OCP Group, a state-owned phosphate mining and fertilizer company announced this week that it had exported US $270 million worth of fertilizers to an Ethiopian buyer. The trade was recorded on dltledgers Blockchain. The trade finance transaction was facilitated by the Eastern and Southern African Trade and Development Bank (TDB.)

Canada’s First Bitcoin Mutual Fund

CI Global Asset Management, a unit of CI Financial that has over US $230 billion AUM, launched CI Bitcoin Fund this week. The asset management firm claims the fund to be the first one in North America to give dedicated exposure to Bitcoin. Canadian investors can access the Bitcoin market with a minimum investment of US $500 and management fees as low as 0.4 percent, according to CI Global.

CoinShares Launch a Litecoin-Backed ETP

Asset manager CoinShares launched a new physically backed litecoin (LTC) exchange-traded product (ETP) on the Swiss SIX exchange. Each unit of the ETP will be supported with 0.2 LTC. The ETP has a base fee of 1.5 percent per annum. CoinShares, in the past, has released two ETPs backed by Bitcoin and Ether, respectively.

Singapore PM Warns About Crypto

Lee Hsien Loong, Prime Minister of Singapore, claims that someone has set up a profile on the social token platform BitClout. He alleges that his Twitter bio was used to set up the account without his consent. He posted a screenshot that shows his account had 27.4088 tokens. He has urged Singaporeans “to remain vigilant when dealing with cryptocurrency platforms.

MicroStrategy’s Growing Bitcoin Reserve

MicroStrategy, the business intelligence firm, is on the path of making Bitcoin its primary reserve currency. This week, Michael Saylor, its CEO, announced that the company had bought 253 more Bitcoin for US $15 million. As a result, the firm now holds 91,579 Bitcoin worth over US $2 billion.

Hackers Using GitHub to Mine Crypto

GitHub admitted this week that hackers have been using its infrastructure to mine several cryptocurrencies. A French software engineer had reported the attack last November. The attackers have exploited a GitHub feature called GitHub Actions. Actions allow users to automatically execute tasks and workflows whenever their GitHub repositories are updated.

Abkhazia Bans Crypto Mining

Abkhazia, a partially recognized autonomous state in the South Caucasus, considered by most countries as part of Georgia, has been attracting crypto mining because of its cheap electricity. Now, however, its government is putting an end to it. This week, its parliament passed several bills that penalize the illegal use of electricity and extends the ban on Bitcoin mining until May 2022.

South Korea’s Kimchi Premium Takes a Nosedive

Kimchi Premium is the longstanding elevated cost of Bitcoin in South Korea. It is the difference between Bitcoin’s price on South Korean crypto exchanges and its price on global trading venues resulting from the regulatory limitations enforced in South Korea. This week, this premium saw a steep fall following an announcement by the country’s regulators to crack down the illegal crypto activities. As a result, the price of Bitcoin fell sharply in the South Korean markets.

Ledger and Shopify Faces Class Action Suit

Crypto wallet operator Ledger and Shopify, which handles the online sales of Ledger’s wallets, are facing class action over last year’s data breach and their alleged cover-up. John Chu and Edward Baton, two of the over 270K victims, have filed a lawsuit in California. They claim that the firms “negligently allowed, recklessly ignored, and then intentionally sought to cover up” the data breach.

GO-NET, MUFG, and Akamai Partner To Provide Cheaper Payment Options

Earlier this week, Global Open Network (GO-NET), a Blockchain-based payment network, launched its service to connect payment service providers. GO-NET has partnered with Japan’s MUFG and Akamai for this venture. The purpose is to reduce the transaction fees involved in small payments.

Tech Mahindra’s Stablecoin-as-a-Service

Indian tech giant, Tech Mahindra, announced this week that it is working with Quantoz, a Dutch Blockchain firm, to launch a “stablecoin-as-a-service” tool. The goal is to reduce the costs and processing times for stablecoin transactions. This initiative targets banks and financial institutions, which are now allowed to transact in stablecoins after the official approval by the US Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

Same Day Trade Settlements on Paxos Blockchain

This week, financial services companies Instinet and Credit Suisse settled the US listed equities on the same day using the Paxos Blockchain Settlement Service. Two trades between the parties were done not only in a single day but also settled later than the daily trading time for conventional transactions.

IDB and Citi Execute Cross Border Payment on Blockchain

This week, IDB Bank and Citi executed a cross border payment settlement using Blockchain as a part of a trial. The pilot uses LACChain Blockchain, a consortium network for Latin America and the Caribbean. IDB deposited US dollars in the US Citibank account. This money was tokenized on the Blockchain platform and transferred to a digital wallet belonging to Citi bank’s Caribbean account. Finally, the transferred digital tokens were converted to Dominican Pesos. 

India’s Very Own NFT Marketplace

India’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, WazirX, launched one of the country’s first NFT marketplaces this week. Now, Indian creators can auction their digital works on this platform and earn royalty perpetually. Artists can reportedly create and list NFTs for free on the marketplace.

Sotheby’s and Christie’s Increased Interest in NFT

Top auction house Sotheby’s announced its first auction of NFT-based digital artworks created by anonymous artist Pak. The collection named “The Fungible” will go under the hammer from April 12-14 on the NFT marketplace, Nifty Gateway.

Meanwhile, after the successful Beeple NFT sale, another prominent auction house, Christie’s, is initiating another one. Christie’s is auctioning off nine CryptoPunks—the NFTs tied to tiny, pixelated unique images from the development studio Larva Labs. As per some marketing materials, these NFTs are going to be auctioned as a single lot at the 21st Century Evening Sale on May 13.

Playboy Enters NFT Space

Playboy has teamed up with the NFT marketplace Nifty Gateway to create a series of NFTs on the platform. This partnership has three objectives – to endorse Playboy’s existing archives, support digital artists, and establish a new source of revenue. The works of Slimesunday are set to be auctioned soon and will be followed by a sale of a pride-themed collection celebrating the LGBTQ community.

American Football Star to Launch NFT Platform

Tom Brady, the American football champion, is launching Autograph, an NFT marketplace, shortly. As per his representative, some of the biggest names in the sports, entertainment, and fashion industry will work with creators to develop unique digital collectibles on the platform.

Real Estate Tokenization

Vesta Equity, an equity marketplace, launched a real estate tokenization service on Algorand Blockchain. Homeowners can create a digital asset representing their houses and sell a portion of the property to accredited investors using this platform. As a result, the owners don’t have to sell their property and yet can raise money.

Akon Plans for a Second African Crypto City

American rapper Akon is ready to build another futuristic crypto-city, this time in the African nation Uganda. The government of Uganda has reportedly allocated one square mile of land for the proposed Akon city. 

Tether USDT on Polkadot

The oldest stablecoin, Tether’s USDT, will be available on Polkadot and its sister network Kasuma. Tether announced this week that the timing of the launch would depend on when Polkadot will add parachains or sharding on its network. USDT is likely to be released on StateMint, the first parachain of Polkadot.

Signal and MobileCoin

Signal, the privacy-focused messaging app, is launching a payments feature that supports MobileCoin (MOB.) MobileCoin is underpinned by Stellar Blockchain. It focuses on efficient mobile payments while safeguarding user privacy. 

This announcement, however, did not brood well with the users. Signal’s founder Moxie Marlinspike is said to be an advisor of MobileCoin since 2018. Furthermore, MobileCoin saw a 450 percent spike in its price ahead of the announcement. All these factors contributed to the users suspecting foul play.

Ripple Granted Access to SEC’s Documents on Crypto Classification

The crypto firm Ripple that is embroiled in litigation with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), has been granted access to SEC’s documents by the Southern District Court of New York. Ripple gets to see the internal communications of the SEC and learn how it determines whether a cryptocurrency is a security. Ripple believes such information could bolster its case against the SEC.

And Finally, Atari’s New Blockchain Division

Atari, the interactive entertainment giant, announced this week the creation of a new Blockchain division as a part of an organizational change within the company. As per the press statement, going further, there will be two new divisions – Atari Gaming and Atari Blockchain. The new Blockchain division will focus on capitalizing on the opportunities at the intersection of gaming and Blockchain technology.

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