Blockchain This Week – Web3 Phone, Mainstream Folks in Metaverse, Crypto Lending Firms Struggle, Short Bitcoin ETF

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Solana Launches Web3 Phone

Blockchain platform Solana announced its own cell phone, Saga, intending to connect users to digital assets and help them transact with their crypto through their device. Along with it, Solana also launched the Solana Mobile Stack, the web3 layer that will consist of several products, including a seed vault, a custody solution, a mobile wallet adapter, Solana Pay, and a Dapp store. The phone is priced at $1000, and shipping starts in the first quarter of 2023.

Meta Opens Designer Boutique in Metaverse

Meta announced its designer digital clothing store, Meta Avatars Store, which will allow users to buy branded clothes to dress up their metaverse avatars on Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. The store will feature digital designs by Balenciaga, Prada, and Thom Browne.

KPMG Jumps Into Metaverse

One of the top consulting firms, KPMG, is entering the metaverse. It is opening its first “collaboration hub” between its US and Canadian units that will allow employees and customers to connect and explore growth opportunities across industries and sectors.

Shopify’s NFT Gated Store Fronts

Tech giant Shopify, which allows businesses to create their online stores using its platform, has launched a new feature – NFT gated store fronts. Using this new framework, merchants can launch gated stores with promotions and discounts to which customers can get exclusive access if they possess tokens from the particular brand. Shopify has partnered with several NFT creators, including Doodles, World of Women, and Cool Cats.

FTX Lends $250M to BlockFi

Crypto exchange FTX has come to the rescue of troubled crypto lender BlockFi by extending a $250 million line of credit. BlockFi CEO Zac Prince announced that the money would go a long way in bolstering the company’s balance sheet and platform strength.

Celsius Warns Recovery Will Take Longer

Another crypto lender Celsius who froze account withdrawals last week, stating liquidity issues, revealed that it would take longer to stabilize its liquidity and operations. Furthermore, it said it is pausing its Twitter Spaces and Reddit AMA sessions to focus on navigating the challenges. Meanwhile, BnkToTheFuture, Celsius’ lead investor, has proposed a plan that could potentially help Celsius recover.

Voyager Plummets After Revealing 3AC Exposure

Crypto broker Voyager Digital has asked the embattled crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC) to repay its $661 million loan taken in the form of bitcoin and USDC by Jun 27, failure to do so would compel Voyager to issue a “notice of default.” This news promptly brought the shares of Voyager Digital down by 60%.

Short Bitcoin ETF on NYSE

Investment manager ProShares has listed ProShares Short Bitcoin Strategy (BITI) ETF on New York Stock Exchange this week. BITI is the first ETF in the US that allows investors to bet against the price of bitcoin and hedge their bitcoin exposure.

eBay Acquires NFT Marketplace

eBay announced that it had signed a deal to buy Manchester based NFT marketplace KnownOrigin. KnownOrigin allows artists and collectors to create, buy, and resell NFTs. eBay is acquiring the IP and the team, including the three founders, Andy Gray, David Moore, and James Morgan. 

Polygon ID Launch

This week, Polygon network launched Polygon ID, a system that uses zero knowledge proofs to verify a user’s identity without compromising their privacy. These identity proofs will allow users to vote on governance proposals. Polygon’s native Matic tokens jumped 25% within 24 hours of this announcement.

FTX Pulls Out of MLB Deal

Crypto exchange FTX has pulled out of talks to sponsor a jersey patch with MLB’s Los Angeles Angels. Though it was reported that the recent crypto downturn was the reason behind this decision, FTX refuted this claim and revealed that the opportunity was declined before the crypto winter as it did not fit their marketing goals.

NHL’s NFT Plans

The National Hockey League and its alumni association have teamed up with the NFT platform Sweet to give the fans a unique experience of both an NFT marketplace and exclusive NFT drops. The platform is expected to go live by October, in time for the start of the new hockey season.

Solend Votes To Invalidate “Emergency Powers”

Earlier this week, Solana based lending platform Solend planned to implement drastic measures to avoid the potential liquidation of a whale wallet that accounted for 95% of Solend’s entire SOL pool. The criticism that followed led the team to hold a new vote to invalidate these “emergency powers.” An overwhelming 99.8% of yeses rendered the previous vote void, extended the voting period to one day, and also mandated the Solend team to come up with new and less drastic measures to handle such a crisis.

Indian Banks Experiment With Blockchain

The Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank, and retail banks, including HDFC, ICICI, and SBI, are working on a blockchain trade finance platform to establish the credibility and authenticity of Letters of Credit issued to businesses. Blockchain firm Settlemint and tech giant IBM are technical partners for this solution.

Israel’s CBDC Experiments

The Bank of Israel shared the results of its recent trials involving digital shekel and smart contracts in payments. These tests used the concept of using blockchain technology and payment providers as intermediaries.

Iran Cuts Crypto Miners off the Grid

The authorities of the Ministry of Energy in Iran have unplugged the licensed crypto mining facilities as the electricity consumption reached a record high of 62,500 megawatts last week. This measure applies to all 118 mining farms legally operating in the country.

Ledger Launches NFT Marketplace for Enterprises

Crypto hardware wallet provider Ledger is launching an NFT marketplace and a web3 services platform for enterprises. Its NFT platform, Ledger Market, focuses on security and transparency to help NFT traders avoid scams. 

Chainalysis Launches Crypto Incident Response

Blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis announced its Crypto Incident Response Program, a rapid response service for organizations that have been targets of a cyber attack where crypto theft or demand are involved. The victims can approach the 24/7 Chainalysis helpline, and then Chainalysis will assign a team of experts who will work with the affected companies and law enforcement.

Sustainable Aviation Fuel Solution With Blockchain

Shell, Accenture, and Amex Global Business Travel have jointly launched Avelia – a blockchain powered sustainable aviation fuel book and claim solutions for business travel. This solution, which promotes the use of sustainable fuel in aircraft, uses the Energy Web tech stack.

CryptoPunk Raises $100K for Ukraine

The Aid for Ukraine crypto funding campaign sold the Cryptopunk #5364, donated in March. It was able to raise over $100,000 to support the war effort as the CryptoPunk NFT was bought by an anonymous buyer for 90 Ether.

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