Blockchain This Week – Big Names Bet on NFT and Metaverse, Crypto Ads Crack Down, Twitter’s NFT Profile Pics

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Walmart To Offer Digital Currency and NFTs

Walmart had reportedly filed several patents with the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) late last month. These are related to virtual currencies and digital tokens. Though the retailer declined to divulge the details of the trademark filings, it has stated that it is continuously exploring how emerging technologies could share future shopping experiences.

Microsoft To Buy Activision Blizzard

Microsoft is acquiring gaming company Activision Blizzard for $68.7 billion. While this acquisition is expected to shake up the gaming industry, it is also seen as Microsoft’s significant investment in the metaverse.

Google To Set Up Blockchain Unit 

Google is reportedly establishing a dedicated blockchain division that will focus on blockchain and other distributed computing and data storage technologies. Furthermore, it has hired former PayPal executive Arnold Goldberg to head its payments division.

Crocs Too?

The American shoe company Crocs also seems to have filed for an NFT related trademark application with the USPTO on January 11. According to the filing, the registration would cover downloadable virtual goods, NFTs, digital tokens, etc., which are created with blockchain and smart contracts.

Meta Working on NFT

Meta is reportedly exploring a feature that will allow users to mint and sell NFTs. They will also be able to use their NFTs as profile pics on their Instagram and Facebook profiles.

Intel to Launch a Mining ASIC?

Intel is likely to launch an “ultra low voltage energy efficient bitcoin mining ASIC” in February. The release is listed as one of Intel’s “highlighted chip releases” in the International Solid-State Circuits Conference (ISSCC) slated for February 23.

Opensea Hits a Record High Trading Volume

With two weeks to spare, the leading NFT marketplace OpenSea has seen its monthly trading volume soar higher than it ever had, surpassing the earlier record of $3.42 billion in August 2021. At the time of writing, OpenSea’s trading volume for the month of January 2022 was a whopping $4.1 billion, with the highest single day volume of $261 million recorded on January 9.

Singapore Clamps Down Crypto Ads

Other countries seem to be following the UK’s footsteps in imposing stricter rules on how crypto is advertised to their citizens. Singapore’s financial regulator, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), has decreed digital payment token (DPT) companies, commonly known as crypto firms, to stop advertising the trading of cryptocurrencies in a manner that trivializes the risks involved. They are also banned from promoting their services in public areas. 

Singapore Crypto ATMs Shut Down

Furthermore, the monetary authority of Singapore, MAS, posits that crypto ads could egg people to trade crypto on a whim without entirely understanding the consequences. As a preemptive measure, several crypto ATMs are closing down their shops to be compliant.

Spain To Limit Crypto Promotions

Spain is imposing similar restrictions where the country’s regulator, the National Securities Market Commission (CNMV), would regulate the crypto adverts. Alongside it is also mandating crypto “influencers” to notify the authorities before launching their promotions and are also required to warn their audience of the risks.

Britain To Regulate Crypto Ads

The British government will soon introduce new legislation intended to protect people from misleading crypto ads. The announcement, made on the government website, alludes to a research that suggests that as more people are dabbling in crypto, the understanding levels of what crypto is is declining. Hence, it deems that new consumer protection laws are warranted.

Binance’s New Exchange

A Thai public company, Gulf Energy Development, has notified the country’s stock exchange that it has signed an MoU with crypto company Binance to launch a new digital assets exchange in Thailand. Meanwhile, Binance has destroyed 1.6 million BNB tokens in the first automatic burn event.

Governing Council To Buy Hashgraph IP Rights 

Enterprise DLT company Hedera announced that its Governing Council has voted to buy the IP rights of the hashgraph consensus algorithm from Swirlds, Inc. The council members reportedly also intend to open source the code under Apache 2.0 license soon.

Puppy Bowl NFTs Are Here

The Puppy Bowl, an event to drive animal adoptions, has been airing on Super Bowl Sunday since 2005. This year, it will include 23 different and rare Puppy Bowl NFTs. A part of the sales proceeds will go to Orange Twins Rescue – an animal rescue center co-founded by singer Ariana Grande.

Sotheby’s To Accept Crypto

The 277 year old British auction house Sotheby’s is accepting bitcoin, ether, and USDC as payment for the sale of a rare 555.55 carat black diamond named “The Enigma.” Sotheby’s said this decision was influenced by the success of an earlier auction held in July 2021, where crypto was first offered as a payment option.

NFT of a Gift to Pope Funds Afghanistan

The digital representation of a carpet presented by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi to Pope Francis in 2016 was sold for 25 Ether. The proceeds from this NFT sale would be used to support families in Afghanistan during the winter months.

Crypto Meltdown

There was a severe downward spiral in the crypto market yesterday, which followed the massive selloffs in Wall Street on Thursday. Bitcoin slumped below $40K, while ether fell below $3,000. The crypto market lost over $150 billion overnight. At the time of writing, Bitcoin had tanked to $35,947.42, and ether had dropped to $2,490.26. Several altcoins have also taken a hit.

Crypto.com Hacked

The crypto exchange Crypto.com has been hacked, with the attackers making away with at least $34 million worth of crypto. In a blog post, it admitted that a total of 483 users were impacted, with hackers withdrawing 4,836.26 ether, 443.93 bitcoin, and close to $66,200 in other cryptocurrencies.

REvil Clamp Down

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) claims to have taken down the REvil ransomware group at the appeal from the United States. The FSB reportedly conducted an operation where it detained and charged several suspected members of the group.

Low Liquidity High Loses

A user supposedly has lost over $135,000 worth of ether trying to buy Fees.wtf (WTF) tokens following an airdrop. Due to the low liquidity of WTF in a trading pool, the user seems to have swapped 42 ether for 0.00004 WTF, which at the time of writing cost $0.00000105772.

$1.4M Ether Siphoned

A security flaw in the approvals mechanism was detected earlier this week in the cross chain bridge Multichain protocol that made six tokens – WETH, PERI, OMT, WBNB, MATIC, and AVAX – vulnerable to hacks. Though Multichain immediately issued a patch, those who failed to remove approvals for the six assets have supposedly lost  $1.4 million in crypto.

Cash App To Add Lightning Network

Block’s Cash App is adding support to the bitcoin lightning network. This integration, which will be available to its US customers shortly, will allow users to send Bitcoin for free to anywhere in the world within seconds.

Buy Coinbase NFTs With Mastercard

Crypto exchange Coinbase has partnered with Mastercard, which will offer its payment option on Coinbase’s upcoming NFT marketplace. Coinbase plans to simplify the process of buying NFTs and thereby address the underlying “pain points.”

BitMEX To Acquire German Bank

Crypto exchange BitMEX is eyeing to buy 268 year old German bank, Bankhaus von der Heydt, subject to approvals from Germany’s financial authority (BaFin). This move is reportedly part of  BitMEX’s aim to establish a regulated market for crypto products in Europe.

Singapore and Shenzhen Building Cross Border Trade Exchange

Shenzhen Municipal Government and Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority have signed an MoU to set up a blockchain based Transnational Trade Network (BTTN). Under this MoU, Red Date Technology, one of the founding members of China’s BSN, is building the network that enables a cross border trade data exchange between Singapore and Shenzhen.

And Finally, Twitter’s NFT Profile Pics Are Here

Twitter is rolling out its NFT profile pic feature, starting with those who have iOS devices and use the Twitter Blue service. This feature is powered by the OpenSea NFT marketplace. People can add the NFTs they own as their profile picture, by connecting to supported wallets such as Metamask and Coinbase wallet.

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