This Week In Blockchain on 19th April with Conor Svensson – Crypto, DeFi, NFT, Enterprise

Hi I'm Conor Svensson, founder and CEO of 
Web3 Labs and this is your Week in Blockchain   on Monday 19th of April 202. Highlights in 
this week's issue include Coinbase's IPO,   another roller coaster week for cryptos, ConsenSys 
closing a major funding round, Binance continuing   to grow their influence in DeFi and Sotheby's 
big NFT sale. Coinbase this week went public.   It wasn't in fact by an IPO, it was via a direct 
public offering. This meant that instead of   investment bankers investing in the first set 
of shares and then selling them to the markets,   Coinbase sold their shares directly on the 
market.

It was a very successful listing,   their closing price for the stock was just 
shy of $330 which gave an implied valuation   of just under $86 billion. The Binance exchange 
also listed a COIN based stock token shortly   after this to allow people on their platform 
to get exposure to tokens that track the price,   much like they've done previously with 
Tesla. Other beneficiaries of the Coinbase   listing also include its 1700 employees who were 
all given 100 shares right at the last minute,   which was a nice windfall for them, the rapper 
Nas who was one of the early investors alongside   some of the more familiar names you see in this 
space like Andreessen Horowitz and Union Square   Ventures. With all of the activity that we saw 
happening here, there was also a lot of movement   in the crypto markets too with Bitcoin and 
Ethereum hitting new all-time highs just before   the Coinbase listing: Bitcoin going up to just 
shy of $65000 per Bitcoin and Ether over $2500.   However, there was a significant drop in 
the the last few days with Bitcoin's price   dropping down to $52 000 and Ether to $2100. 
There's been some funny movements though with   Dodgecoin which has continued its rapid ascent 
recently.

Earlier on in the week it actually   eclipsed UniSwap and Litecoin to become the eighth 
largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.   Now it's gone even further and is up at number 
six. The returns that we've seen with Dodgecoin,   it's up over 6000% this year to date. Mark Cuban's 
also come along and said that his Dallas Mavericks   basketball team is planning to hold Dodgecoin on 
their balance sheet so one-upping Elon Musk with   the Bitcoin on Tesla's balance sheet. Another 
really big piece of news this week was ConsenSys   closing a $65 million funding round 
which was backed by JP Morgan, Mastercard   and a number of others. It's fascinating that this 
has happened now because for a number of years   ConsenSys have been investing very heavily in a 
number of different products and projects across   the blockchain ecosystem.

Getting this serious 
funding really is the signifier that they've now   got a very clear strategy that they've been able 
to get good institutional buy-in. If you remember   back to August last year, ConsenSys acquired JP 
Morgan's Quorum technology team and allegedly   took an investment from JP Morgan but there wasn't 
really much public information about this. Then in   October of last year there was an announcement by 
ConsenSys and Protocol Labs, the creators of IPFS   and the Filecoin platform which is a decentralized 
file storage platform, to be partnering together   in terms of bringing decentralized file storage 
technologies and bridging the gap between IPFS,   Filecoin and Ethereum. When you look at the people 
who are involved in this investment, you've got   UBS and Mastercard (we've seen that Mastercard 
have announced their own payments cryptocurrency   technology), other investors included Protocol 
Labs as well and the Maker Foundation. Given that   you have JP Morgan and others involved in this 
there's clearly a focus on the DeFi angle here and   ConsenSys certainly believe very heavily in 
the opportunity that it presents, especially   when you've got some very well established players 
like UBS and Mastercard here alongside some of the   pioneers and the decentralized landscapes like 
Protocol Labs.

So it's no doubt setting them in   a really good position to continue to grow and 
scale and continue to execute on their vision of   building out the Ethereum ecosystem. It's really 
big news and a significant milestone for the team.   We've also had MicroStrategy announce that it's 
now paying its board of directors in Bitcoin. Then   HSBC, the bankers, have come along and said that 
they won't support trading in MicroStrategy shares   on their platform because HSBC has got no appetite 
for direct exposure to virtual currencies. This   also took effect as well with the Coinbase listing 
earlier in the week and HSBC doesn't allow their   clients to hold it via their platforms either so 
although this is legislation, that's kind of been   in place for a number of years since going back 
to 2018, with HSBC they're certainly taking a far   more conservative stance about cryptocurrency 
and cryptocurrency exposure than we're seeing   with a lot of the other banks out there that 
are looking to find ways to leverage from it.   Grayscale have added another billion to their 
portfolio, assets that they actually hold, so   it's taking their overall assets under management 
to over $50 billion.

They've expanded to include   Litecoin, Stellar, Zcash and Bitcoin cash. Time 
has also followed suit after Tesla announced that   they were keeping Bitcoin on their balance 
sheet. Time magazine now plans to as well,   they've also announced the partnership with 
Grayscale where they're going to be working   together on a new video series that's going to 
come in the summer explaining the crypto space.   The Swiss insurer AXA now allows its customers to 
pay in Bitcoin however, they're not planning to   hold these Bitcoin on their balance sheet. When 
customers pay in Bitcoin it goes to a broker,   Bitcoin Swiss who will then convert them into 
Swiss Francs for AXA. But, AXA have really   embraced this because they had feedback from a 
significant number of customers who were surveyed   that they're interested in cryptocurrency 
so they thought they'd experiment and see   if it would change things if they accepted 
Bitcoin. Turkey's central bank has banned the   use of crypto currencies for payments so it's 
a significant blow to those individuals and   companies working on these services.

It hasn't 
actually banned the holding of cryptocurrencies   but you're not allowed to use them for payments 
anymore. On the Ethereum network, we're now   up to having almost nine billion dollars worth of 
Eth staked on the Eth2 network and also we saw the   Berlin hard fork go live this week which really 
lays the foundations for reducing the very high   gas fees which we've discussed in previous 
editions. So the EIP1559, which is somewhat   controversial between miners versus the broader 
Ethereum community supports this, it's core   planning is in place so to speak, so that come 
July as long as they can get the general support,   it'll be able to go live as planned with the 
hard fork. There were some issues with the Open   Ethereum client which is one of the many different 
Ethereum clients that's used and this impacted   Coinbase, Ledger and other crypto services. They 
stopped people being able to withdraw Eth during   this period just as a safety measure. We've also 
seen Ticketmaster, the owner of Live Nation,   partnering with a blockchain ticketing firm 
subsidiary which is partnered with a ticketing   service called Fan Dragon Technologies to use 
TixTo.Me, which is a blockchain based digital   entertainment wallet.

Behind the scenes Live 
Nation have been using Ethereum but they've hit   issues with the transaction fees being 
prohibitively expensive for a ticketing   application so they made use of what's called 
the Aventis network which is a layer 2 scaling   technology that runs on top of Ethereum, Artos 
Systems is the company that that created this.   In the first stage of this partnership it will 
enable thousands of Live Nation France tickets to   be purchased through the platform and they will be 
processed through this underlying Aventus network   as a combination of fungible and non-fungible 
tokens. There isn't anything yet about secondary   market trading, of course one of the key issues 
that a lot of ticketing providers have is the   inability to prevent resales and also fraudulent 
tickets so no doubt that is going to be factoring   in but there haven't been any announcements about 
this just yet. Another piece of significant news   this week has been Ethereum's Gitcoin Network 
raising an $11.3 million round, actually being   spun out of ConsenSys.

Gitcoin's a fascinating 
project and company because what they do is fund   individuals to contribute to open source projects. 
One of the big challenges facing open source   developers is how to sustain the funding for their 
projects and this is something that I personally   can relate to with Web3j, which is an open source 
library I've written, in that people will happily   use these things but it's hard to get funding 
for ongoing bug fixes and maintenance and so on.   Gitcoin provide a model for this and they've been 
very successful with it and testament to this is   who they've got behind this funding round as well 
which which includes the former Sequoia Capital   partner but they've also got Naval Ravicant in 
there as well as some some other big names. The   Linux Foundation has also launched a blockchain 
based platform for insurance.

The Linux Foundation   announced this platform called the Open Insurance 
Data Link platform and the idea here is that   it reduces the cost of insurance reporting and 
creates a standardized data repository using DLT.   This open IDL platform is a joint initiative of 
the Linux Foundation and the American Association   for Insurance Services and it's making use of 
the Linux Foundation's open governance model   which means that the network is built on a number 
of different nodes run by multiple organizations   using a shared ledger. So this common 
ledger provides an industry utility   platform for recording transactions and automating 
business processes. Having these bodies behind   this initiative is certainly very powerful 
to help establish this kind of standardized   consortium type of blockchain networks.

Lockheed 
Martin have announced that they're adopting a   blockchain platform for their supply chain 
management in Switzerland. They've signed an   agreement with a company called SyncFab, 
which has come out of Silicon Valley,   which is a distributed manufacturing problem 
to streamline their supply capabilities across   the Swiss market. Within aerospace, being able to 
track the provenance of parts that are being used   in supply chains for airplanes is a really big and 
important problem and so it's another really nice   fit for the technology there. Specifically 
in this instance, the platform connects the   original equipment manufacturers or OEMs to the 
Swiss members to match the two up.

In the DeFi   market it's been a big week, well a number of 
big weeks really for Binance. The Binance Smart   Chain platform continues to grow with regards 
to supporting the DeFi landscape. Pancake Swap,   the UniSwap clone, the value locked in DeFi 
on the platform has actually gone up to $7.87   billion which more than eclipsed UniSwap which was 
the original DeFi platform. Off the back of this   increase in traction as well over the last few 
weeks, the Binance coin has really shot up in its   market capitalization with the price of Binance's 
coin jumping more than 16x increase just during   this quarter alone.

Off the back of this, Binance 
had to execute their largest ever token burn,   which is something that they do quarterly. 
They're also funding projects building on top   of the platform so the decentralized finance 
startup called Mound which is known for its   yield farming aggregator Pancake, has raised $1.6 
million in seed funding to build out a range of   DeFi use cases including farming, lending and 
swapping. In the world of NFTs there's continued   to be more and more activity here.

This time, the 
exchange operator NYSE is getting in on the action   releasing collectible NFTs commemorating notable 
IPOs. These NFTs each individually celebrate the   first trades that happened on their platform 
for the IPOs of Spotify, Snowflake, Unity,   Roblox and Coupang, which was the largest US 
IPO in 2021. The well-known card maker Topps   partnering up with the Major League Baseball 
to issue official NFTs. The range of cards will   vary in their degrees of rarity, from common 
to legendary, limited edition and platinum   anniversary cards and so on. Given how 
well established Topps is in the physical   collectible card world, it will be fun to see how 
they get on as a slightly later entrant to the   digital NFT market but certainly there's still 
plenty of space for the market to expand.

The   United States Postal Service have also certified 
Case Mail for the first blockchain generated   e-postage platform. What this means is Case Mail 
provides a non-fungible token mail technology   that can be used to pay for postage and USPS have 
certified this. In the art world, the digital   artist PAK had their first NFT sale on Sotheby's 
that wrapped up this week. PAK was selling these   cubes and a total of $17 million was actually 
made through this sale. Off the back of this,   the artist PAK has launched a new token that 
can be obtained by burning NFTs. This platform   is called burn.art and the token is dubbed 
'ash'. The idea is that someone can take their,   however valuable it is, NFT and choose to burn it 
in return for the token. Of course, the inevitable   question here is what do people value more? The 
artwork or the token so it's a fun innovation to   see. Binance has also popped up again in that 
they're working with the publisher of Vogue in   Singapore to launch an NFT platform which is 
expected in Q3 of 2021.

It would allow users   to mint auction and trade NFTs. Edward Snowden 
has created and sold an NFT for $5.4 million   which was to benefit the Freedom 
of the Press Foundation. Finally,   the NFT startup Dapper Labs have announced they're 
doing another funding round. They just closed the   $305 million funding round at the end of March but 
now they're planning to do another one which once   closed will give them a valuation of $7.5 billion. 
They've obviously got their original plans for   this year but they clearly weren't bold enough and 
they've got no doubt even more ambitious plans for   growth. That brings us on to the metrics for this 
week. We've seen the crypto market capitalizations   actually down 4.5% percent from last week of $1.95 
trillion. The assets locked in DeFi is up over 16%   at $60.16 billion and the NFT sales volume in 
the last seven days has been over $52 billion   which is down 16.5% with an average price of 
just over $1700. That's all we have for this   week.

If you like what you hear please subscribe 
to our podcast and our YouTube channel. Links to   all items discussed are available in the show 
notes and at our website weekinblockchain.com.   We also host a weekly Clubhouse room 
every Monday at 12 p.m eastern 5 pm GMT,   if you'd like to discuss any of the items we've 
covered here. Thanks and I'll see you next week..

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