Blockchain This Week – Solana,  FTX.US, Ripple, Diem, OpenSea, Fantom, Google, and More

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FTX.US Hits $8 Billion Valuation

The US arm of crypto exchange FTX has raised $400 million in Series A round with investors, including Paradigm, Temasek, and SoftBank Vision Fund. As a result, FTX.US is now valued at $8 billion. It plans to expand its derivatives portfolio and add stock trading with the funding.

Ripple Buys Back Shares

Ripple revealed that it had bought- back shares from investors who had invested $200 million in the Series C round a couple of years back. As a result, the company hit a valuation of $15 billion.

Fantom Overtakes BSC

Fantom protocol briefly overtook Binance Smart Chain to become the third largest DeFi platform in terms of total value locked (TVL). The network has grown 25.26% in the last week, with over $10.43 billion locked on the chain at the time of writing.

Solana Network Outage

Earlier this week, the Solana network suffered an outage that lasted over 48 hours, making it the second incident that the platform has endured in January. The Solana team reported performance degradation late last week and took over 24 hours to diagnose the problem. The issue was resolved on Sunday evening UTC after upgrading to version 1.8.14. The fallout of this incident was that the users who had taken loans were forced to liquidate their holdings.

Growing Pains

Following the performance issues and the frequent complaints by the Solana user base, Solana Labs CEO Anatoly Yakovenko acknowledged the problem with the network. He agreed that the user experience is not what it should have been and ascribed the troubles to the network’s “growing pains” due to increasingly complex transactions.

Solana’s Double Digit Slide

The price of Solana (SOL) fell by over 17% this week due to several reasons, including US stocks decline and 48 hour long network disruption. At the time of writing, one SOL was worth $92.62, down from $142.54 a week back.

OpenSea Adding Solana NFTs?

Ethereum focused NFT marketplace OpenSea seemingly is extending support to Solana NFTs and Phantom wallet. Leaked screenshots from Jane Manchun Wong, a well known blogger and hacker, give a preview of these integrations.

Bug Exploited on OpenSea

Blockchain analytics firm Elliptic has discovered a bug in the OpenSea protocol that has been exploited by at least five attackers. According to Elliptic, these hackers have purchased around 12 NFTs worth $1.1 million for much less than their market value, with some even selling immediately at a premium profit. OpenSea, however, has reimbursed 750 Ether worth close to $1.8 million to affected users.

Warner Music Enters Metaverse

Warner Music Group has teamed up with The Sandbox to create a music theme park in the metaverse. This virtual park will feature concerts from artists, including Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, and many others.

Google Hiring Blockchain Experts

Google Cloud plans to hire people with blockchain expertise to win blockchain business. It is also considering the types of services it can offer directly to developers in the blockchain space and contemplating on accepting crypto payments.

BMW Demos Blockchain for EV Recharge

BMW along with Energy Web, the non-profit building operating systems for energy grids, and Elia, grid operator (TSO) in Belgium and Germany, has successfully demonstrated a blockchain solution for EV charging. In this solution, the vehicle’s digital identity would be shared with the TSO as well, along with the charging stations.

Coinbase’s New Service

To ease the challenges Americans face while calculating the tax they owe for crypto transactions, Coinbase has launched a new service called tax center. The tax center will give customers information about their taxable activities, gains, and losses.

Reddit To Test NFT Profile Pics

Following the footsteps of Twitter, Reddit is also experimenting with NFTs as profile pics where users can make any NFT they own as their profile pic. The details, however, are still awaited.

YouTube and NFT

YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, in her annual letter to the creators on the platform, has hinted that YouTube is interested in expanding the ecosystem to include NFTs. Shortly after the announcement, two executives, YouTube’s head of gaming Ryan Wyatt and senior director of creator partnerships Jamie Byrne, disclosed their departures to join Web3 companies.

Grimacecoin!!

Earlier this week, a banter on Twitter between Tesla CEO Elon Musk and McDonald’s had an unusual consequence. Musk attempted to get the fast food chain to accept Dogecoin as payment. McDonald’s responded, saying it would take Dogecoin only if Tesla would receive the then non existent “Grimacecoin.” Shortly after the tweet, scores of coins under the name Grimacecoin started surfacing on several networks, including Ethereum, Fantom, and BSC.

Lennon NFTs

John Lennon’s son Julian is auctioning digital representations of several memorabilia belonging to legendary Beatles’ star John Lennon as NFTs. The Lennon Collection NFTs are built on Polygon, the layer 2 Ethereum protocol.

ETH Rebrand

The Ethereum Foundation announced the retirement of terms “Eth1” and “Eth2” in favor of “execution layer” and “consensus layer,” respectively. The rebranding, it says, is an effort to avoid confusion over terminology, for inclusivity, and prevent scams.

Sandbox’s Metaverse Accelerator

The metaverse game, the Sandbox, has launched a $50 million accelerator program in collaboration with Animoca Brands and Brinc. The program aims to invest in over 100 startups over the next three years.

Cash or Coin

Elevate Brands, a company that buys businesses from Amazon Marketplace owners, announced its “Cash or Coin” acquisition program with Coinbase Prime. Through this initiative, Elevate will offer sellers payouts in bitcoin and other cryptos, as well.

Hacker Helps Recover Crypto

In 2018, entrepreneur Dan Reich and his friend lost access to their Trezor hardware wallet after they realized they had forgotten the PIN to the wallet. Now, however, thanks to a computer engineer and hacker, who were able to crack the wallet access code, Reich is able to recover over $2 million worth of crypto.

Qubit Hacked

Qubit Finance, a bridge between Ethereum and Binance Smart Chain, suffered a hack that resulted in attackers making away with $80 million worth of crypto. Hackers exploited the protocol to mint unlimited tokens on the network.

Diem Shutting Down

The Diem Association, the enterprise behind the beleaguered Diem/Libra coin, is exploring ways to sell its assets. It is seemingly selling its technology to Silvergate Capital for $200 million.

Kazakh Miners Off Grid

Kazakhstan’s national grid operator KEGOC issued a memo this week stating that the electricity supply to people involved in mining crypto will be cut off until the end of January. The worsening energy crisis is considered the reason for this action.

IMF and El Salvador

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is asking El Salvador to discontinue using bitcoin as a legal tender. It posits that bitcoin as legal tender could potentially impact the country’s financial stability.

BSTX Gets SEC Nod

The US regulator, SEC, has approved for BSTX, the joint venture of tZero and Boston Options Exchange markets, to launch a blockchain based securities exchange. As a result, for the first time, blockchain will be used to operate an automated national bourse.

Fidelity Seeks SEC Approval

Fidelity has applied for a Metaverse ETF that will track the Fidelity Metaverse Index, which follows the companies that develop and sell products and services that support metaverse. Alongside, it has also filed for the Crypto Industry and Digital Payments ETF, which will track the Fidelity Crypto Industry and Digital Payments Index that looks at the performance of crypto companies. Meanwhile, the SEC has rejected Fidelity’s application for a spot market Bitcoin ETF.

And Finally, Valkyrie’s Bitcoin Miners ETF

Valkyrie has filed an application with the SEC for listing its Bitcoin Miners ETF. The fund will invest 80% of its net assets in companies that derive at least 50% of their profit from mining bitcoin.

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