Blockchain This Week – Crypto Helps Society Amid Gloom and Doom

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Binance Issued 70K Crypto Cards To Ukrainian Refugees

Crypto exchange Binance reported that over 70,000 Ukrainians had been issued the Binance Refugee Crypto Card between Apr 26 and Jun 10. The first stage of this initiative has a budget of $1.2 million and aims to help 5,000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs). According to the report, several beneficiaries of the crypto card also get a monthly assistance of 75 BUSD ($75) for a period of three months.

Pharmacist Feeds Homeless With Crypto

A pharmacist from  Pennsylvania, Kenneth Kim, got innovative with crypto three years back and started a non profit – Crypto for the Homeless (CFTHL) – which uses crypto to provide meals to the homeless. The organization that began with Kim delivering four meals to Philadelphia homeless is now feeding thousands globally through a vast network of volunteers. According to Kim, the fundamental reason behind choosing crypto donations rather than the traditional ones is its decentralized nature, which prevents funds from being frozen or locked by the authorities. Another impetus was the efficiency with which his international volunteers can be reimbursed with cross border payments in crypto.

Financial Inclusion With eNaira

The Central Bank of Nigeria, which launched its CBDC pilot in Oct last year, is now extending the eNaira service to include those who do not possess a bank account or a smartphone. In an attempt to promote financial inclusion, the central bank is offering CBDC access via feature phones where payments can be initiated by something as simple as sending an SMS.

A Week of Crypto Layoffs

This week, crypto exchange Coinbase, notorious for apathy when it comes to employees, announced that it would cut its workforce by 18%, laying off over 1,100 people. Meanwhile, crypto lending platform BlockFi has laid off 20% of its 850 employees while crypto.com severed 5% of its workforce, or 260 employees.

Accelerated Hiring as Well

On the other hand, crypto firms such as Binance, Kraken, and Polygon are growing their workforce. Binance announced 2000 open positions while Kraken plans to hire 500 more people. Polygon claims to have recently added over 50 senior members to its stead.

Crypto Winter

Bitcoin Stumbles

Various factors, including rising inflation and falling tech stocks, had a catastrophic effect on bitcoin this week. Bitcoin started the week with a then 12-month low of $25,513 and quickly slid further. By midweek, bitcoin had slumped to $20,178.38. The crypto market cap, which was at an all time high of $1.27 trillion in Nov 2021, had sunk to under $865 billion. But following the steep 75 basis point rise in the interest rate by the US Federal Reserve, bitcoin briefly bounced to over $22,000. Today, as I was composing this newsletter, bitcoin dipped below $20K and landed at $18,846.90.

Ether Too Had a Rough Week

Ethereum, too, had a rough week as its price dropped to $1,025.68, down 80% from an all time high of $4,891.70 in Nov 2021. The decision to delay the “difficulty bomb” for two months by the Ethereum core developers, which signals a longer wait for Ethereum 2.0, also added to the downward sentiment. Alongside, when a whale dumped more than 65K ether on Uniswap, the price plummeted to $950 on the decentralized exchange. The US Fed interest hike brought a slight relief with ether jumping more than 10%. At the time of writing, one ether was trading at $1,078.55.

NFTs Hit Hard

The bear market also had an impact on the NFTs, as the floor price of a BAYC NFT, which was 153.582 ether on May 1, fell to 72.503 ether on Jun 13 – a 53% decline in value. But interestingly, the NFT trading volume rose sharply this week, up by 54%, indicating that collectors are making hay while the bearish sentiments last.

USDD Loses Peg

Meanwhile, Tron network’s algorithmic stablecoin USDD lost its dollar peg dipping to as low as 96 cents. As per Justin Sun, the founder of Tron, the de-peg happened because of traders overwhelming “shorting” TRX, the network’s native token. He tweeted that TronDAO “will deploy $2 billion to fight” the short sellers. 

MicroStrategy Not Concerned

Following the crypto carnage, the stock price of several firms with exposure to crypto, such as Coinbase and MicroStrategy, also suffered double digit losses. But MicroStrategy, the largest bitcoin holder among the publicly traded companies, which also has to post a $410 million worth of collateral for the $205 million loan from Silvergate it took to buy bitcoin, seems unperturbed. As per MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor, the company has surplus bitcoin to collateralize the loan, and the firm would be forced to offload some bitcoin into the already bearish market only when the price of one bitcoin hits lower than $3,562.

Huobi Thailand Closes Shop

Crypto exchange Huobi will shut down its Thailand subsidiary on Jul 1. The Thailand SEC revoked its license in Sep last year, citing deficiencies in Huobi’s management structure and work systems.

Moonbeam Adds Chainlink Price Feeds

Moonbeam, the smart-contract platform that connects Polkadot parachains with its Relay Chain, has integrated Chainlink’s price feeds into its system. As a result, developers building their applications on Polkadot can leverage the oracle’s aggregated price information from various crypto exchanges.

Celsius Pauses Crypto Activities

While the broader crypto market was in freefall, controversial crypto lending platform Celsius announced that it is pausing all withdrawals, swaps, and account transfers. Citing the extreme market conditions, it stated that the action was taken to “put Celsius in a better position to honor, over time, its withdrawal obligations.” Its native CEL token reacted swiftly to this development and dropped over 70% in one hour. At the same time, Celsius has moved $247 million worth of wrapped bitcoin (wBTC) from Aave into the FTX exchange for reasons unknown. Besides, the embattled firm has reportedly hired restructuring attorneys from the law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP. Meanwhile, another lending platform Nexo has put forth a bid to acquire “certain remaining qualifying assets” of Celsius Network.

Binance Pauses and Then Resumes Withdrawals

Crypto exchange Binance paused bitcoin withdrawals earlier this week, which as per its CEO Changpeng Zhao, was “due to a stuck transaction causing a backlog.” Though the operations were resumed later, the brief hiatus at the heels of Celsius’s similar act was enough to drag the price of bitcoin below $24K.

OpenSea Moves to Seaport

NFT marketplace OpenSea has moved to Seaport protocol, a new smart contract that, as per OpenSea, would help its 1.8 million users save close to 35% on Ethereum gas fees. Additionally, people opening new accounts on the marketplace are no longer required to pay one time setup fee.

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