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Blockchain This Week – Coinbase Goes Public, Turkey Bans Crypto

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Coinbase’s Direct Listing On Nasdaq

The largest US crypto exchange, Coinbase, went live with its direct listing on Nasdaq on April 14. Coinbase shares are listed as “COIN” on Nasdaq. They had a reference price of US $250 from Nasdaq. But, Coinbase opened at a significantly higher value of US $381. It quickly vaulted to $429.54 before dropping to $322. At the time of writing, a Coinbase share was worth $342.00. The shares closed at US $328.28 on Day 1, valuing Coinbase at US $85.8 billion.

Meanwhile, on the day of go live, the crypto company asked the mining pool, f2pool, to embed a message referring to the New York Times article on US House of Representatives giving their approval for President Joe Biden’s US $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill. It is supposedly a homage to Bitcoin pioneer Satoshi Nakamoto who had similarly embedded a message in the first Bitcoin block mined.

Both Bitcoin and Ether reached their new all-time highs buoyed by the Coinbase listing. Bitcoin crossed US $64K, while Ether breached $2,400 earlier this week. Bitcoin seems to have pared back since, but Ether is still going strong and has gone past $2.5K.

Furthermore, Coinbase going public has made their angel investor, Garry Tan, richer. Tan, who had invested US $300,000 in Coinbase in 2013. Today, that investment is worth US $2.4 billion.

Ethereum’s Berlin Hard Fork

Ethereum Blockchain upgraded its network this week with the Berlin hard fork. At block 12,244,000, the chain incorporated four improvement proposals (EIPs). The EIPs — EIP-2565, EIP-2718, EIP-2929, and EIP-2930 intend to reduce the gas prices conditionally and add new transaction types.

Binance’s Tokenized Share Offering

The crypto exchange Binance launched Binance Stock Tokens earlier this week. These zero commission tokens enable the Binance users to buy fractions of shares of other companies, starting with Tesla. Users are allowed to buy as little as one-hundredth of a Tesla share using Binance USD. One share of Tesla, at the time of writing, is worth US $739.78.

Additionally, when Coinbase went live on Nasdaq, Binance announced it is listing Coinbase shares as stock tokens. On the launch of the COIN/BUSD trading pair, Binance users can buy fractions of COIN shares with BUSD.

Dogecoin Runs Past Barclays

The cryptocurrency that started as a Bitcoin parody now has a market cap of over $52 billion. In comparison, one of the world’s leading banks, Barclays, has a market value of $44 billion. Among the digital currencies, Dogecoin, which tripled its market value this week, ranks eighth. It is above Bitcoin Cash, Litecoin, and Chainlink.

Turkey Bans Crypto Payments

The Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey announced yesterday that it is banning the use of cryptocurrency for payments throughout the country. Turkish central bank deems virtually created cryptocurrencies as intangible assets that are not qualified as payment instruments. According to the press release, the bank prohibits direct and indirect use of crypto for payments. Additionally, payment service providers are banned from developing business models that propose using crypto as payments or issues electronic money. The regulation will be enforced from April 30, 2021.

Immediately following the news, Bitcoin price crashed to US $60,000 but has slightly recovered since and is hovering at $62,218.05 at the time of writing.

US Government Sanctions Crypto Addresses

As a part of a crackdown against the alleged Russian interference with the 2020 US Elections, the US Government has imposed sanctions on crypto addresses reportedly linked with the organizations that enabled Russian interference. According to the US treasury department, these addresses were used to receive crypto payments for creating false identities for members of IRA. IRA is the Russian organization accused of cybercrimes and meddling with the elections.

Jack Ma’s Ant Group Bows Down

Jack Ma’s Ant Group will become a financial holding company under the terms set by China’s central bank. This announcement from the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) comes two days after e-commerce giant Alibaba was issued a US $2.75 billion antitrust penalties. Ant Group is an affiliate of Alibaba. Besides, Jack Ma has drawn the ire of Chinese authorities since he criticized the Chinese financial system last October. It also resulted in the Chinese regulators pulling the plug on the fintech giant’s $37 billion IPO in November last year.

SEC Denied Access to Ripple Executives’ Financial Statements

This week, Judge Sarah Netburn of the US District Court of the Southern District of New York dismissed the petition of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. SEC had requested the court to grant them access to the last eight years of financial data belonging to Brad Garlinghouse and Chris Larsen.

EU’s Investment Arm Explores Blockchain-Based Bond Issuance

The European Investment Bank (EIB) has hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Banco Santander SA, and Société Générale AG to explore a digital bond in euros. These bonds would be registered and settled using blockchain.

Société Générale Explores Security Token On Blockchain

Société Générale – Forge, a subsidiary of Société Générale AG, issued a EUR 5 million worth security token on Tezos Blockchain as a part of a pilot. The counterparty of this token trade was Société Générale Assurance. Société Générale plans to launch this token service for its clients by 2022.

Swiss Insurance Firm to Accept Premium Payment in Crypto

Europe’s second largest insurance firm, AXA, has partnered with crypto broker Bitcoin Suisse to enable its customers to pay their insurance premium with Bitcoin. AXA will not be holding any crypto, instead will use the services of Bitcoin Suisse to convert it to fiat currency.

Hedera Hashgraph This Week

Hedera Hashgraph, a public distributed ledger platform focusing on enterprises, was in the news for several reasons this week. First, it announced that the number of transactions on the Hedera network had surpassed 1 billion. As per the announcement, it took “one year, six months, and 28 days” to achieve this feat. In comparison, Bitcoin is close to 700 million transactions, whereas Ethereum took over five years to reach 1 billion.

Secondly, Shinhan Bank, one of South Korea’s largest banks, has joined Hedera Governing Council as its twentieth member. The bank, which actively promotes decentralization in finance operations, plans to use Hedera Hashgraph’s platform to launch several such initiatives. 

Finally, Hedera Hashgraph also announced an imminent increase in its account creation fee. It states that the price charged for a transaction should reflect “the bandwidth, processing, and storage burden that it places on the nodes of the network.” As a result, Hedera and its council members reportedly decided to raise the charge for creating an account from US $0.01 to $0.05. The new price will come to effect on Hedera mainnet from May 6.

MicroStrategy Pays Its Board Members With Bitcoin

In an 8-K filing with the US SEC, MicroStrategy, the business intelligence firm, specified that its non-employee board directors would be compensated in the Bitcoin. Under this new arrangement, at the time of payment, their fees will be converted from US dollars into Bitcoin and deposited into the digital wallet of the director.

Romanian University to Allow Fees Payment in Crypto

Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, Romania, announced this week that it plans to allow its 11,000 students to pay their $1,000 per year admission fees in cryptocurrencies. Starting July, the students can pay in Elrond (EGLD) that the university will convert to Romanian sovereign currency Leu.

China-Europe Trade Bolstered by Blockchain

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China launched a Blockchain-based Sino-Europe trade link platform at the Chengdu International railway port in Sichuan province, China. The initiative is aimed at reducing the time consumed in the verification of logistics documents. The bank also intends to allow trade companies to raise money directly and speed up cash flows.

Blockchain for Cutting Insurance Provider Costs

The American Association of Insurance Services (AAIS) has teamed up with the Linux Foundation to create a platform for insurance carriers using Blockchain. The Open Insurance Data Link (OpenIDL) platform aims to provide a standard data repository to ease regulatory reporting and reduce costs.

Blockchain for Aerospace Parts Procurement

SyncFab, a Blockchain startup based out of California, announced this week that it had signed a deal with aerospace and defense contractor Lockheed Martin. As per the agreement, Lockheed Martin will use SyncFab Blockchain to facilitate the procurement of aircraft parts.

Live Nation to Use Blockchain for a New Fan Engagement Platform

The world’s leading live entertainment company, Live Nation SAS, has partnered with Aventus Network and FanDragon Technologies to leverage Aventus’ Blockchain technology to launch TixTo.Me, a new fan engagement platform. Using FanDragon’s Universal Smart Ticket Wallet technology, TixTo.Me will enable Live Nation customers to engage and reward their fans during their events.

USPS Certifies ePostage Label NFT

CaseMail, the online postal mail and e-Signature service, announced this week that the US Postal Service had certified it as the first producer of Blockchain generated ePostal labels. These ePostage labels will use CaseMail’s NFT mail technology to create a verifiable chain of custody of the digital assets.

American Major League Baseball NFT

Topps Company, a leading card maker in the US, announced its partnership with Major League Baseball and MLB Players, Inc. On April 20, Topps plans to release a series of baseball NFT collectibles. These tokens represent several digitally enhanced baseball memorabilia.

NYSE Gets Into the NFT Game

The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) minted its first set on NFTs earlier this week. These NFTs commemorate the first trades of notable listings – Spotify, Snowflake, Unity, DoorDash, Roblox, and Coupang. They were created on the Crypto.com platform. According to Stacey Cunningham, the President of NYSE, “there will be many more NYSE NFTs to come.”

And Finally, NFT Market Cools Down?

The months of February and March marked an unprecedented uptick in the NFT market. Record sales such as $69 million for Beeple’s artwork happened. But, now, the average NFT sales reportedly have fallen by 70 percent from a high of close to 20 million daily average in March. Some patrons consider it as a burst bubble, while some believe it is a cooling down period that will eventually pass.

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