weekly roundup – CBDC Test Successful in Korea | NBA NFTs Surge | Fed Takes No Policy Stance on CBDC Debate
Here’s our roundup of the top stories from the past seven days in crypto.
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FIRST PHASE OF CBDC TEST SUCCESSFULLY COMPLETED BY BANK OF KOREA
South Korea’s central bank finished the first phase of a central bank digital currency (CBDC) simulation in December 2021, according to a report published Monday.
The first phases tested the basic functions of a CBDC with the report concluding that the CBDC “works normally under test conditions”.
South Korea central bank plans to explore further functions after the successful completion of the first phase, but emphasised that more experiments are needed to ensure the CBDC would work effectively in a real environment. The second phase should be completed this June.
Banks around the world are increasingly exploring the potential of CBDCs, and the Bank of Korea has been working on this pilot project since at least 2020.
BLACKROCK LOOKS TO ENTER CRYPTO ETF ARENA WITH BLOCKCHAIN FUND
As bitcoin drops 10.8% to $36,900 as of late last week, the world’s largest asset manager is working on an iShares Blockchain and Tech ETF that would track the investment results of the NYSE FactSet Global Blockchain Technologies index, according to a regulatory disclosure made on Friday.
The fund would invest at least 80% of its assets in stocks included in the index, which consists of companies involved in the development and deployment of crypto tech around the world. It will not invest directly in crypto or indirectly via crypto derivatives.
BlackRock’s CEO, Larry Fink, told CNBC in October that he sees “huge opportunities” for digital currencies, but is unsure how the space will fare over the coming years.
CRYPTO BAN PROPOSAL DENOUNCED BY RUSSIAN TECH AND POLITICAL EXECUTIVES
Russia’s recent proposed ban on crypto has drawn criticism from a number of executives, including Telegram founder Pavel Durov.
Russia’s Central Bank proposed a blanket ban on domestic crypto trading and mining, in a report published on 20th January, stating that crypto risks are “much higher for emerging markets, including Russia”.
A number of industry executives have since spoken out against the ban, with Durov stating that it would “destroy a number of sectors of the high-tech economy”.
BANK OF AMERICA: SOLANA COULD BECOME THE VISA OF THE DIGITAL-ASSET WORLD
In a recent research note written by analyst Alkesh Shah, the Bank of America told clients that the Solana blockchain could become the “visa of the digital asset ecosystem” due to its scalability, low transaction fees and ease of use.
Since launching in 2021, Solana has settled over 50 billion transactions, has over $11 billion in total value locked, and has been used to mint more than 5.7 million NFTs.
The research note stated that: “Solana prioritises scalability, but a relatively less decentralised and secure blockchain has trade-offs, illustrated by several network performance issues since inception”.
NBA NFTs QUIETLY SURGED 72% IN 30 DAYS
Even as the crypto market dips, NFTs are still drawing in a huge amount of money and interest. The top NFT marketplace, OpenSea, recorded a new all-time high in monthly Ethereum trading volume, soaring past the $3.5 billion mark.
One collection in particular that has taken off is the NBA Top Shot, the license NBA “moments” on the Flow blockchain from Dapper Labs, seen as the series that started the mainstream craze last year.
In the past 30 days, NBA Top Shot’s collection has shot up by 72%, with $53.8 million in sales. This is, at least in part, thanks to a new TV and social media ad campaign launched by NBA Top Shot, featuring NBA star Kevin Durant.
Durant has been involved in a number of crypto promotions, including working as an ambassador for Coinbase, who became the official crypto exchange of the NBA in October 2021.
FED OPENS DEBATE ON CBDC, TAKES NO POLICY STANCE
In a long awaited and highly anticipated white paper on CBDCs, published last week, the Federal Reserve avoided taking a side on the issue.
The 40-page report outlines the advantages and disadvantages of creating and implementing a CBDC, stating that it would be the safest digital asset available to the general public, but makes no policy recommendations.
Other nations, such as China and Russia, have expressed interest in creating CBDCs, but the Fed has taken a more cautious approach.
The Fed will be accepting public comment until 20th May 2022, and noted that the central bank has no intention to move forward with a CBDC without congressional and executive support.
MASTERCARD LAUNCHES VIRTUAL CARD FOR INSTANT B2B PAYMENTS
Mastercard has recently unveiled a virtual card offering for instant payment of supplier invoices, using machine learning and straight-through processing.
Mastercard Track Instant Pay is the firm’s answer to the slow and inefficient payment processes that hamper businesses. It will be able to safely and intelligently authorise an immediate payment to a supplier once an invoice is submitted.
Executive Vice President of New Payment Flows, Ron Shultz, stated that “delayed payments create significant challenges for businesses…Track Instant Pay helps solve these pain points by enabling buyers and suppliers to automate their manual payment processes…”
OPINION: THE BALANCE BETWEEN ART AND IP THEFT IN NFT CULTURE
Sam Evans at CoinDesk writes about the “orgy of intellectual property infractions” that are emblematic of the NFT boom.
“Not only is the line between brand and NFT creative use blurring but determining who owns the rights to sell NFTs between an IP owner and those who originally came up with the concept can be troublesome. Nobody would challenge that Quentin Tarantino wrote and directed Pulp Fiction. But Miramax is still trying to block him from selling the pages from his handwritten script as NFTs, arguing it holds the IP rights to the work”.
Read more: CoinDesk
UK TO CRACKDOWN ON MISLEADING CRYPTO ADS
Following the lead of other countries such as Spain and Singapore, the Treasury Department announced that crypto ads will be brought in line with other financial advertising to ensure they are both fair and clear. Therefore, the promotions of cryptoassets will be subject to FCA rules.
These new rules aim to protect consumers whilst also encouraging innovation. Although around 2.3 million people in the UK now own a cryptoasset, research suggests there is still a lack of understanding surrounding them.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak stated: “cryptoassets can provide exciting new opportunities…but it’s important that consumers are not being sold products with misleading claims”.
ROBINHOOD DEPLOYS BETA CRYPTO WALLETS ALLOWING SELECT CUSTOMERS TO TRANSFER OFF PLATFORM
Stock trading platform, Robinhood, is allowing 1,000 customers to test the beta version of its crypto WenWallets, with the intention of extending the wallets to a further 10,000 customers by March.
“Beta testers will help us test core functionality and provide critical feedback to inform the final version of the product” said Robinhood. “We’ve built world-class security integrations to monitor all transactions, ensuring that customers are able to both safely invest and transfer their crypto”.
BINANCE CEO IGNORED INTERNAL WARNINGS OVER REGULATORY FAILINGS
According to a Reuters investigation, Binance CEO, Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao ignored a number of concerns raised by employees over the exchanges weak KYC checks.
According to the report, in one message sent in mid-2019, CZ told former Global Money Laundering Reporting Officer, Karen Leong, that he wanted “no kyc”.
Binance has faced previous allegations of multiple compliance shortcomings, which have raised the ire of regulators in the UK, Italy, Malaysia, Singapore, and other jurisdictions.
FANTOM BECOMES THIRD-LARGEST DEFI PROTOCOL BY VALUE LOCKED
In the past week, the value locked on DeFi-centric projects built on Fantom surged 52%, which allowed it to overtake Binance Smart Chain (BSC) to become the third-largest decentralised finance ecosystem by total value locked.
The relatively new 0xDAO sits in second place, while cross-chain swap Multichain is the biggest protocol by value locked on Fantom.
Tokens of Fantom have been top performers in recent months, with investors betting on the tokens of layer 1 projects as an alternative to Ethereum.
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