Blockchain This Week – Taproot, Constitution DAO, Metaverse Embassy, NFTs To Build Schools

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Bitcoin’s Taproot Upgrade Goes Live

One of the most awaited upgrades, Taproot, went live on the Bitcoin network on November 14 at block 709,632. This update is expected to enhance the privacy of the protocol by obscuring complex transactions. It also replaced Bitcoin’s signature mechanism to Schnorr, making transactions faster, improving privacy, and adding multi-sig. Furthermore, it is now easier to run lightweight Smart contracts.

Crypto Market Slumps

After enjoying new all time highs last week, Bitcoin and Ether saw double digit losses this week. At the time of writing, one Bitcoin was trading at $58,550.98 while an Ether was worth  $4,291.20. Several other cryptocurrencies have suffered as well. Though the impetus of this sudden slump is not clear, analysts speculate two primary reasons – the signing of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure bill with controversial crypto tax provisions into law and an announcement by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) that it is redoubling the efforts to root out cryptocurrency mining activities.

ConstitutionDAO – A Community Funded Attempt To Buy First-Print US Constitution

Though it fell short of its goal, ConstitutionDAO, a blockchain based crowdfunding attempt, has gone down in history as perhaps one of the best glimpses of how web 3.0 and the technology behind it would work in reality. The Goldman Constitution, one of 11 surviving first edition copies of the US constitution, was up for sale at Sotheby’s this week. ConstitutionDAO, an alliance of crypto enthusiasts, was cobbled up to pool the money required to buy the copy using an Ethereum Smart Contract. Within a week, the DAO managed to raise a whopping $47 million from over 17,000 Ethereum wallets. Yet, in the end, they were outbid by an anonymous bidder who offered $43.17 million for the historic document.

A Fairer World

Orica, a social impact NFT driven funding platform, launched this week at the Malta AI & Blockchain Summit with the first drop of NFTs called “A Fairer World.” Orica connected digital artist Mellowmann with the Ugandan NGO Bbanga Project to create this collection. The proceeds from the NFT auction will go towards funding the construction of the new school in the Ssese Islands, Uganda.

Human Trafficking Institute To Accept Bitcoin

The Human Trafficking Institute (HTI) plans to accept donations in Bitcoin soon. It will use OpenNode’s payments platform to accept both on-chain and Lightning Network Bitcoin donations.

Ethereum Foundation Earmarks $1M in Grants

The Ethereum Foundation is investing $1 million in grants to support crypto advocacy initiatives. It is donating half of it to Coin Center, Electronic Frontier Foundation, and Fight for the Future while giving the other half to the Gitcoin community.

Staples Center to Crypto.com Arena

This week, Singapore based crypto exchange Crypto.com bought the naming rights for Los Angeles’ iconic Staples Center from AEG for 20 years, for $700 million. Consequently, the 20,000 seat venue, considered home to LA’s NBA and WNBA teams, will be rechristened to “Crypto.com Arena” effective December 25. 

NFT for Enterprises

MultiChain, a build-your-own-blockchain platform for enterprises, is bringing NFTs to permissioned networks. This week, it released MultiChain 2.2, which has added support for NFTs for customers looking for NFT-like properties in their private networks.

VanEck Launches Bitcoin Futures ETF

A week after the US SEC rejected its bitcoin spot ETF, and close to three weeks since its bitcoin futures ETF was approved, VanEck has finally launched its futures ETF (XBTF) on the Chicago CBOE exchange. On the first day, the shares ended at around $59.73, with a trading volume of 44,698 shares.

Valkyrie To Offer DeFi Fund

Valkyrie Investments is set to launch a $100 million on-chain DeFi fund next week with the intent to give investors easy yet safe exposure to the growing DeFi ecosystem. As per Wes Cowan, Valkyrie’s managing director of DeFi, those who invest can earn additional yield from lending, liquidity pools, farming, and staking.

Square’s White Paper

Payments provider Square has released a white paper detailing its vision of tbDEX, a new protocol for exchanging digital assets. tbDEX aims to create a framework for establishing the provenance of these assets by using decentralized identifiers and verifiable credentials.

MetaMask’s Stellar Growth

Ethereum wallet MetaMask, which had five million users in April, has reported 21 million monthly users this month. This astounding growth is attributed to surging interest among the crypto community in DeFi, NFTs, DAOs, and metaverse games. Meanwhile, ConsenSys, the company behind MetaMask, managed to raise $200 million from Coinbase Ventures and other investors.

Brave Adds Native Wallet

Brave has added a native crypto wallet into its browser, replacing the earlier one based on the MetaMask extension. The brave browser claims that its wallet reduces security risks and also takes up fewer CPU resources compared to extension based ones.

Fidelity Launches Crypto Custody Service in Canada

Fidelity became Canada’s first regulated institution to offer bitcoin custody and trading services to Canada’s institutional investors. These investors, who earlier had to rely on US based custodians, now have an authorized service provider in the country.

Keep Innovation in America Act

This week, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers has introduced the “Keep Innovation in America Act” bill that proposes to modify the definition of a crypto broker included in the recently approved Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. It also suggests addressing the transactions between brokers and non-brokers.

Peru’s CBDC Project

Julio Velarde, the president of the Central Reserve Bank of Peru (BCRP), announced that the central bank is working on a digital currency. He also acknowledged that the bank is collaborating with its counterparts in India and Singapore on this domestic CBDC project.

India’s Stance on Crypto

First, the Indian Prime Minister, warning that crypto can “spoil our youths,” called the democratic nations to work together to ensure crypto “doesn’t end up in the wrong hands.” Next, as per reports, India plans to ban using cryptocurrencies to make payments but would allow and regulate the trading of crypto as assets. Then, yet another report stated that India is considering tightening crypto regulations and allowing only those that are pre-approved by the government to be listed on the exchanges. 

NFTs This Week

First, Time Magazine will hold ether (ETH) on its balance sheet for the first time according to an agreement with crypto firm Galaxy Digital to educate readers about the metaverse. Next, Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade will feature a series of parade themed NFTs on November 25, and the proceeds will go to Make-A-Wish Foundation. Meanwhile, Topps launched NFTs representing its classic science fiction trading card series Mars Attacks that will be hosted on the NFT platform Curio. Furthermore, NBA team Dallas Mavericks is issuing players profile pictures as NFTs – The Mavs and  20,000 NFTs per basketball game will be given to fans attending the games in person. Finally, film studio Miramax is suing director Quentin Tarantino over his plans to release Pulp Fiction NFTs, claiming that he does not have the rights to launch these NFTs.

And Finally, Governments in Metaverse

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Barbados signed an agreement with Decentraland, a decentralized digital world, to set up an embassy in the metaverse. It is finalizing similar accords with Somnium Space and SuperWorld metaverse platforms. Barbados also plans to develop facilities, embassies, and consulates, as well as provide services such as e-visas on these platforms.

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