Tether Crosses $10B, Leaving Competing Stablecoins in the Dust

Tether Crosses $10B, Leaving Competing Stablecoins in the Dust

Tether, USD Coin, and Binance USD have posted triple-figure market cap growth this year.

Crypto market data aggregator Messari reports that the market cap of leading stablecoin Tether (USDT) has surpassed $10 billion for the first time.

Alongside Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH), Tether is now one of three crypto assets with an eleven-figure capitalization. 

Tether’s reported $10 billion market cap comes after year-to-date growth of 144% — with Tether representing $4.1 billion at the start of 2020. 

However, data aggregators are at odds on Tether’s capitalization, with CoinGecko and CoinMarketCap estimating USDT’s market cap to be just over $9 billion. 

USD Coin and Binance USD post strong growth

The second-largest stablecoin by market cap, Circle’s USD Coin (USDC) has also seen triple-digit growth since early January — increasing from less than $450 million to over $930 million today.

USDC has steadily grown since launching in October 2018 to currently comprise the 18th-largest crypto asset overall.

Since launching in September of last year, Binance’s USD stablecoin BUSD has quickly emerged as a major player in the stablecoin sector — currently ranking fourth among stablecoins with a market cap of nearly $166 million.

Binance has grown by more than 875% since representing roughly $17 million at the start of the year, now ranking as the 49th-largest crypto market.

PAX and TUSD stagnate

After starting the year with a capitalization of $225 million, Paxos Standard (PAX), the third-ranked stablecoin by market cap, has seen its market cap stagnate at $245 million since April, according to CoinMarketCap

CoinMarketCap ranks Paxos as the 37th-largest crypto asset overall. However, the data may not take into account PAX that have been issued on the Ontology blockchain since April. 

TrueUSD (TUSD) has actually posted a drop in market cap since the year —  falling from $155 million to $144.5 million as of this writing.

TUSD is the fifth-largest stablecoin and the 55th-ranked crypto asset by capitalization.

Nvidia Files Motion to Dismiss $1B Class Action Over Crypto GPU Sales

Nvidia Files Motion to Dismiss $1B Class Action Over Crypto GPU Sales

Nvidia has filed for the dismissal of a complaint alleging it fraudulently attributed over $1 billion in sales to gaming markets amid the 2017 crypto bubble.

Major manufacturer of graphics processing units (GPUs) and computing hardware Nvidia has filed a motion to dismiss a proposed class-action lawsuit alleging that the firm misrepresented more $1 billion in sales during 2017 and 2018.

In addition to its popular ‘GeForce’ and ‘GTX’ products — favored by both gamers and crypto miners — Nvidia launched a GPU specifically designed for virtual currency mining dubbed ‘Crypto SKU’ in May 2017. 

However, Nvidia reported only its Crypto SKU sales as having been made to cryptocurrency miners, and investors claim this misrepresented $1.126 billion in other sales as having been driven by demand from the gaming market.

In the motion to dismiss, Nvidia asserts that statements issued by its executives made it clear to investors at the time that it was impossible to know the exact purpose for which customers were purchasing the GPUs.

Nvidia rejects amended complaint from investors

Nvidia cites an August 16, 2018 earnings call in which the firm’s founder and chief executive Jensen Huang stated “whether they buy it for mining or do they buy it for gaming, it's kind of hard to say” in regards to the firm’s GeForce GPU sales.

As such, Nvidia claims that its executives did not lie when they described crypto sales as representing a “small” portion of its revenue, as alleged in the amended lawsuit.

The firm also emphasizes that the original complaint was dismissed due to the allegations relying “entirely” on a report produced by Prysm Group — with the court rejecting the suit on the basis of the plaintiffs’ failure to plead in favor of the “assumptions and analysis” laid out in the Prysm report.

Amended complaint relies on flawed data

Similarly, Nvidia asserts that the amended complaint fails by relying on the findings from a 2018 report into the impact of crypto mining on the firm’s sales that was authored by consulting firm Jon Peddie Research:

“The Jon Peddie estimate rests on a host of unidentified and unexplained assumptions and inputs, which the [first amended complaint] does not allege that Prysm investigated at all. This renders Prysm's analysis even less reliable than before.”

The firm also claims that the complaint selectively quotes its executives to mischaracterize states made concerning its GPU sales, and fails to address shortcoming previously identified by the judge.

DC Bar Association Gives Nod to Crypto Payments For Lawyers

DC Bar Association Gives Nod to Crypto Payments For Lawyers

The Washington DC Bar Association became the fourth to issue an opinion endorsing crypto as an acceptable form of payment.

Four bar associations across the United States have now issued opinions stating they are not opposed to cryptocurrency or digital currency as a form of payment for an advance or services rendered.

The District of Columbia Bar Association (DCB) became the most recent, releasing an ethics opinion which states that lawyers in the nation’s capital could accept cryptocurrency as a form of payment as long as the fee is reasonable and objectively fair to clients. According to the DCB, any lawyer who accepts crypto as payment must also take “competent and reasonable security precautions to safeguard that property”. 

Other bars accepting digital payments

The DCB currently has roughly 100,000 members, making it one of the larger bar associations in the U.S. to state it is “not unethical for a lawyer to accept cryptocurrency.” 

The New York City bar association issued a statement in July 2019 calling crypto payments “business transactions”, while the DCB refers to them as “payment in property” rather than in fiat. 

Bar associations in Nebraska and North Carolina were the earliest organizations to issue statements on crypto for lawyers in 2018. The Nebraska Bar singled out Bitcoin (BTC) in particular and called attention to illegal uses of digital currency, naming Silk Road, the online contraband market infamous for its associations with crypto, as one example.

However, the North Carolina Bar may have written the most skeptical opinion questioning the ethics of crypto as payment. Though ultimately agreeing cryptocurrency is a form of property, it recommended against investing in virtual currency:

“The bulk of people we know regard Bitcoin as “shady money,” and they may well regard lawyers accepting Bitcoin as “shady lawyers.” Will Bitcoin be legitimized one day in the eyes of average Joes and Janes? Maybe—but not soon.”

Why now?

Though the DCB refers to crypto as a “volatile alternative currency” that “raises ethical challenge for lawyers,” it also admits digital currency may be in everyone’s future:

“Lawyers cannot hold back the tides of change even if they would like to, and cryptocurrency is increasingly accepted as a payment method by vendors and service providers, including lawyers [...] the rules are flexible enough to provide for the protection of clients’ interests and property without rejecting advances in technologies.”

American Pundi X Merchants Can Now Sell Crypto Via PayPal

American Pundi X Merchants Can Now Sell Crypto Via PayPal

As the crypto community’s anticipation for PayPal’s exploration into crypto grows, Pundi X has integrated the payments processor for its point-of-sale devices.

Singapore-based blockchain firm Pundi X has integrated PayPal support for its point-of-sale device ‘Xpos.’ 

PayPal is the first mobile payment gateway to be integrated onto Xpos, and users from more than 30 countries can now accept funds via the payments processor.

The integration will take place over two stages, with U.S-based merchants who use Xpos able to apply for PayPay-based keyed transactions from July 1.

A PayPal app is expected to be integrated onto all Xpos devices within two weeks — completing the roll-out.

70% of Xpos users request Paypal support

Pundi X decided to launch the integration after conducting a Twitter poll asking followers which mobile payment app they would like Xpos to support first.

PayPal received almost 70% of votes, beating out WeChat Pay, Alipay, and GoPay, among others.

The integration brings credit card payments to Pundi X’s point-of-sale system, and allows cryptocurrencies to be purchased via PayPal from supporting Xpos merchants.

Pundi X chief executive and co-founder Zac Cheah emphasized that integrations with leading global firms such as PayPal will help drive adoption blockchain-based services and products outside of the crypto community:

“To be able to support a leading online payment provider in our XPOS devices can give people more confidence in using them, and can move usage of blockchain technology closer to the mainstream."

PayPal loves crypto all of a sudden

After shunning cryptocurrencies for a decade, recent job listings for blockchain engineers responsible for “new initiatives” at PayPal global appear to support rumours it will soon offer cryptocurrency sales to users. 

PayPal payments are only supported by a handful of crypto exchanges, such as peer-to-peer marketplaces Localbitcoins and Paxful.

Last week, KuCoin’s P2P Fiat Market became the latest P2P platform to support PayPal, introducing the payment gateway alongside support for USD.

The ETH/BTC ‘Flippening’ Is 53% Complete According to New Index

The ETH/BTC ‘Flippening’ Is 53% Complete According to New Index

The Ethereum/Bitcoin flippening is more than half complete, according to a new metric.

A new metric from German site The Blockchain Center suggests that the long awaited ‘flippening’ —  where Ethereum overtakes Bitcoin — is more than halfway complete.

The newly created ‘Flippening Index’ currently stands at 53.3%. Backtested, it shows this is the first time the index has topped 50% in 18 months — the highest point since March 2019 when it was around 56.2%.

Of course, this latest version of ‘the flippening’ has completely altered the traditional definition. It originally referred to Ether's market cap relative to Bitcoin, but given Ether is currently at just 14.9% of Bitcoin’s market cap, it still has quite the mountain to climb.

Flippening Index

Much more thorough comparison

The Flippening Index (which shares some features with the now defunct Flippening Watch) is designed to be a more thorough comparison, weighting the average of eight other indicators to hopefully provide a better overall metric of the use of and interest in the two blockchain networks. The site says:

"The term Flippening refers to the possibility of Ethereum (ETH) overtaking Bitcoin (BTC) as the biggest cryptocurrency. Initially it described the hypothetical moment in the future when Ethereum overtakes Bitcoin by market cap. This tool takes that concept a step further and looks at the long term trend of eight different metrics, that show the status of both networks."

On Reddit, the Blockchain Center's Holger Rohm who designed the metric, explained why he’d simply weighted all the metrics:

"I thought about weighing market cap twice, since that's what it was all about initially, but how should I weigh without it being arbitrary?"

Ethereum leads on two and a bit indicators

Ethereum leads on just two of the eight indicators — transaction count and transaction fees. While it lags behind Bitcoin with 37.8% of BTC’s dollar-denominated transaction volume, the site notes that Ethereum would be “way ahead” if the metric included the value of ERC-20 tokens and stablecoins transferred on the network.

Ethereum has 56.4% of Bitcoin’s active addresses, just under one third of the exchange trading volume, and only 10.4% as many Google searches compared to Bitcoin.

Ethereum does have two-thirds as many nodes as Bitcoin — which excited at least one member of the Ethereum subreddit. ‘Sudden’ Mind said node count is something “we can flip today! Seriously we just need a couple thousand people more to run a node. Let’s get a campaign started!"

The majority of the data for the site is sourced from CoinGecko and Coin Metrics.

Australian Securities Exchange Switch to Blockchain Delayed to 2022

Australian Securities Exchange Switch to Blockchain Delayed to 2022

After stakeholders raised concerns about the Australian Securities Exchange’s blockchain infrastructure plan, it has been postponed until 2022.

The Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) has further delayed its switch to blockchain after public lobbying from key stakeholders.

According to a June 30 update from the ASX, the exchange has officially delayed the rollout of Distributed Ledger infrastructure to replace its current system for processing equity transactions. ASX will now release the project — the replacement for the Clearing House Electronic Subregister System (CHESS) — in April 2022, a one-year push from its most recent timetable.

The exchange cited a number of reasons for the change including the current pandemic, accommodating changes requested by stakeholders, and providing a larger window of opportunity for development.

Peter Hiom, ASX Deputy CEO, said the exchange had “listened to the diverse views of stakeholders and accommodated feedback on timing, user readiness and changes to functionality.” He stated that the new CHESS system would “underpin Australia's financial markets for the next decade and beyond."

Customer feedback drives postponement

Users of the CHESS system lobbied hard to delay the launch of ASX’s blockchain system, with some saying the switch “lacked clarity.”

The CHESS timeline had been under review since March, when ASX announced it would  undertake consultations in June about the rollout due to the pandemic. 

Computershare, one of the main share registry companies in Australia, put pressure on the ASX during the consultation period, asking for a two-year delay. The company stated it had not been given critical information about how the blockchain system would operate or any difference in fees that may be required for services.

Tony Cunningham, founder of CPS Capital, a Western Australian stockbroker, also suggested a delay might be appropriate to better clarify how distributed ledger technology (DLT) would work at ASX for the share registry and broking.

Development of ASX blockchain project

As one of the first large stock exchanges to commit to using DLT, ASX has been working on the transition to blockchain since December 2017. 

The exchange released the first code for its replacement app development tool based on blockchain technology in May 2019. In October 2019, the Australian subsidiary of market operator Chi-X — the sole competitor of ASX at the time — called on regulators at the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to investigate the possible effects of blockchain technology on trading activities. 

Cointelegraph reported that prior to the current pandemic, the CHESS rollout date had been set at April 2021.

Africa Posts Triple-Digit P2P Volume Gains in Three Months

Africa Posts Triple-Digit P2P Volume Gains in Three Months

Sub-saharan Africa now represents more than $15 million in combined weekly peer-to-peer trade following triple-digit growth over just a few months.

Peer-to-peer Bitcoin (BTC) trading has seen rapid growth in recent months, with the African continent now the second-strongest region in the world for P2P volume behind the U.S.

Africa was the sole region to produce an increase in seven-day P2P trade this past week — with sub-saharan African trade posting its seventh all-time high for weekly trade in nine weeks.

Since early January, the sub-saharan African has overtaken the Asia-Pacific, Eastern European, and Latin American regions to emerge as the second-strongest P2P market by a volume margin of more than 50%.

African P2P trade surges

Data posted to Twitter by crypto analyst Kevin Rooke on June 30 indicated triple-digit P2P activity among Africa’s top P2P markets over just three months, with volume increases of 125% in Nigeria, 194% in South Africa, 199% in Kenya, and 257% in Ghana.

Speaking to Cointelegraph, a spokesperson for top P2P Bitcoin marketplace Paxful noted that in addition to Africa’s top markets, Cameroon has emerged as a “breakout country” with $5 million in volume during 2020 so far.

Paxful attributes the dramatic increase in trade activity to its ethos of staying “connected to the streets” and fostering grassroots communities in developing markets:

“There’s no one catalyst for the recent significant jump in volume, rather it’s a result of a collective effort on the part of our various teams who have enabled us to successfully enter new markets like India and Argentina, build local communities (in Kenya, Ghana, South Africa, etc.) and form new partnerships.”

“With every new market comes an opportunity to improve and we plan to continue to focus on our users' needs as a roadmap for growth,” Paxful added. 

US dominates P2P volume

Despite Africa’s meteoric rise, North America has further consolidated its lead in P2P volume with recent all-time highs for weekly trade exceeding $30 million.

Regional P2P trade volume

Regional P2P trade volume: UsefulTulips

The United States represented $30 million in trade by itself this past week, comprising nearly twice that of the entire continent of Africa. Paxful’s spokesperson noted that California is the strongest U.S. state for P2P trade year-to-date.

Nigeria is the second-strongest national P2P market, representing almost $10 million in weekly trade.

Bitcoin Price Stalls Below $9.2K but Data Shows Investors Are Bullish

Bitcoin Price Stalls Below $9.2K but Data Shows Investors Are Bullish

Bitcoin price has stalled below $9,200 but on-chain data, investor sentiment, and BTC’s strong quarterly performance are bullish signals.

Earlier today Cointelegraph reported that “Bitcoin (BTC) price recorded its strongest second quarter performance in history” despite a startling crash to $3,750 on March 13. Data from Skew also shows that Bitcoin currently has a quarter-to-date return of 42.39% and the digital asset remains the top-performer for 2020 with a 27.31% return.  

Macro assets year-to-date returns %

Macro assets year-to-date returns %. Source: Skew

Data from on-chain analytics provider glassnode also showed that since the Black Thursday crash, the total number of Bitcoin whales rose above the 2017 high to 1,800 over the last 3 months. 

Another positive signal of investors’ sentiment towards Bitcoin comes from a recent survey conducted by crypto custodian Bitcoin IRA that shows 43% of the platform’s clients expect Bitcoin price to top $15,000 by the end of 2020

After surveying 300 clients, the custody provider found that 57% of participants confirmed that they buy and hold crypto-assets as a long-term investment. 

Each of these data points underscore the growing bullish sentiment surrounding Bitcoin price despite the short-term price action showing the top-ranked crypto asset trading in a neutral zone.  

Bitcoin price continues to consolidate

BTC USDT daily chart

BTC USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

At the time of writing, the price remains pinched in between the 20-MA and midline of a descending channel. The $9,200-$9,550 resistance cluster remains a hurdle for the digital asset to overcome. 

As discussed previously by Cointelegraph Markets, the 4-hour and daily time frame Bollinger Bands show consolidation is taking place and Bitcoin is forming higher lows on the daily time frame despite trading volume being relatively flat. 

In a recent Bitcoin market update to clients, Delphi Digital pointed out that “Bitcoin has been trading in a relatively tight range over the last month, spending a vast majority of time between low $9,000s and $10,000.” 

BTC-USD vs 30-day realized volatility

BTC-USD vs 30-day realized volatility. Source: Delphi Digital, Bloomberg

The research group also pointed out that “BTC’s 30-day volatility has dropped to its lowest level of the year, which historically has preceded sizable price moves as vol reverts.”  

BTC-USD vs intraday price range

BTC-USD vs intraday price range. Source: Delphi Digital, Coinbase, Gemini

Delphi Digital also noted that as Bitcoin price consolidates between a key overhead resistance and crucial underlying support zone the intraday volatility decreased, suggesting that a strong directional move is imminent. 

Volatility, COVID-19 and correlation

Since the coronavirus pandemic led to a sharp correction in equities markets in early March 2020, Bitcoin price action has followed that of traditional markets. The strong rebound in BTC price from $3,750 to $10,350 occurred in tandem with the V-shaped recovery currently seen in the S&P 500 and the Dow. 

Currently, crypto investors are deeply interested in whether the short-term correlation between the asset classes will remain or whether a decoupling will take place.

In private comments with Cointelegraph, Delphi Digital market analyst Kevin Kelly said: 

“Historically when the S&P 500 gains 15% or more in any calendar quarter, in every instance (9 before this) over the last 80 years, the index has ended the following quarter in positive territory as well. Now I'd say a positive Q3 for the SPX is far from guaranteed, but still a notable stat nonetheless, especially if you expect BTC to continue trading in line with riskier asset classes in the short-term.”

Regarding market volatility within equities markets and its impact on Bitcoin price action, Kelly explained that: 

“If equity market volatility remains high (or above historical average) then I would expect the correlation between stocks and BTC to remain relatively high as well. Historically, large spikes in the VIX, for example, have coincided with sizable sell-offs in BTC, and so if we did see another violent leg lower in equities I'd expect BTC to suffer in the short run as well.” 

For good reason, equities and crypto investors remain concerned that markets will suffer due to the drastic increase in COVID-19 infections across a number of U.S. states, the recent European Union ban on Americans travelling to EU countries, and the knock on effect his will have on the U.S Airline and global tourism industry. 

According to Kelly:

“When you think about it, the major short-term catalysts for both are quite similar i.e. historical policy responses to a major economic collapse. Also, currency devaluation can actually give stocks a bid as the demand for scarcity and real assets rises.” 

The general view among analysts is that over the coming weeks Bitcoin price could revisit recent lows if the $8,800 support collapses. Despite this mild short-term bearish bias, BTC’s market structure and bullish investor sentiment suggest that the digital asset remains well positioned for further gains in Q3.

Billions and Billions: How Brands Take Blockchain From Niche to Normal

Billions and Billions: How Brands Take Blockchain From Niche to Normal

“The value we create inside of our virtual worlds will become indistinguishable from the value we’ve historically created outside of them.”

Dapper Labs – the company behind CryptoKitties – has a simple mission. They want to introduce a billion people to blockchain.

“The reason we decided to go for entertainment — specifically games — is because we felt that it’s just a much easier way to introduce folks to decentralization,” explains co-founder Mik Naayem. “Gamers are the perfect target market as they already understand virtual currencies and virtual worlds.”

In November 2017 CryptoKitties was Dapper Labs’ Trojan Cat, and the game introduced the revolutionary concept of NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) to hundreds of thousands of people who had never used the word “fungible” in their lives.

It is widely believed, at least by those in the blockchain industry, that these unique or scarce digital objects have the potential to transform the internet and underpin new virtual economies. Dapper is now leveraging the power of major sports, entertainment and music brands — including the National Basketball Association and Warner Music — to help draw their passionate fans into blockchain too.

The NBA isn’t the only major organization excited about NFTs. Some of the biggest brands on the planet are developing blockchain based games, collectibles and virtual worlds including Formula 1, MotoGP, Atari, Ultimate Fighting Championship, Nike, and even Shaun The Sheep.

It’s a massive opportunity with the potential to bring about adoption by mainstream users.

Between them Fortnite and Minecraft alone have 300 million users per month — a user base that dwarfs the 16 million blockchain wallet users per month. Formula 1 reached 471 million unique viewers in 2019. And the NBA claims to reach over a billion people.

Games generated revenue of $150 billion last year and if blockchain is adopted by the gaming and collectibles industries — and marketed by global brands — in the way believers think it will be, then NFTs may well be blockchain’s killer app. 

The revolution will be gamified

Galaxy Interactive is a $325 million investment fund that’s helping fuel this revolution. Its investment thesis is based on the conviction that the billions of people who spend their lives glued to screens want more meaningful ways to connect and engage with each other.

“The virtual goods that we buy, trade and sell will imbue status and define our identity just like their physical counterparts,” a Galaxy Interactive pamphlet explains. “The value we create inside of our virtual worlds will become indistinguishable from the value we’ve historically created outside of them.”

Sam Englebardt, who co-founded Galaxy Digital with Mike Novogratz, heads up the Interactive division.

“I think where brands are concerned, I just think adoption is going to happen in games and in content,” he says. “If you’re thinking about digital worlds and a technology that enables you to do really interesting things with digital objects, and to create scarcity of these objects, it just feels to me like that’s the sort of environment where this (blockchain) tech is likely to scale first.

“That’s where the people are and where the eyeballs are. That’s where the brands go.”

A story that culminates in the creation of The Metaverse, starts with CryptoKitties in November 2017.

Cool cats of the blockchain

Naayem explains the whole idea behind CryptoKitties was to teach new users about blockchain.

“When we created CryptoKitties, what we were trying to do was test whether we could get people who’ve never used a blockchain before to use it… and understand why it’s different and why it’s valuable.”

Until now everything in virtual worlds has been endlessly reproducible and consequently of little value. But NFTs ushered in the revolutionary concept of real and persistent ownership of unique objects.

Three million people visited the website to buy a virtual cat, but only about 100,000 succeeded — thanks in part to the game clogging up the Ethereum network, and in part the hoops users need to jump through to obtain cryptocurrency. But it proved that the ownership of cute NFTs appealed to people who didn’t care less about Bitcoin.

“With Crypto Kitties, a little over 40% of our audience had never owned a cryptocurrency before and through analyzing their user behaviors we can see they’re behaving differently in this game than they would in regular mobile games,” he says. “And so we got convinced around that.”

The game enables users to ‘breed’ their NFTs with others and sell the offspring, which helped encourage the creation of a virtual economy (a couple of million cats have now been bred). The value-accretion deck was heavily tilted in favor of users who made $20 million in the first year, while Dapper Labs only took $7 million. Users also created an ecosystem of DApps, building everything from racing games to Tinder and Facebook for cats.

“In terms of user behavior they didn’t see it as spending, so much as value transfer,” he says. “People were spending a lot more because they felt this was more akin to a digital stamp or a piece of art that I can liquidate at a certain time, rather than spending virtual currency in a game.”

Naayem says that once users have experienced uniqueness, scarcity and ownership in a virtual world, handing over cash in ordinary games completely loses its appeal.

“When someone has had that experience, it’s hard for them to go back and spend in virtual worlds where they don’t have those promises. A big part of the way I’ve been thinking about it recently is that it’s almost akin to giving users digital rights in their virtual lives.”

Blockchain in gaming is still a fledgling industry at the moment. My Crypto Heroes made $1.5 million in its first year and players took home $118,000. Gods Unchained made $4.2m with the company pocketing the lot. But the success of CryptoKitties saw some of the biggest brands in the world sit up and take notice.

“A lot of great IPs were reaching out to have these conversations,” Naayem says. “And we thought that was a really great way to tap into their vibrant communities.”

Sports fans: the perfect score

Sports fans are some of the most devoted on the planet and sports brands make a significant proportion of their revenue from video games, merchandising and memorabilia. Combining all of these things using blockchain makes a lot of sense.

The numbers involved are huge: in two decades the NBA 2K game sold 86 million units and last year the NBA signed a seven-year deal to extend the license for a cool $1.1 billion.

With that sort of money on the table, it’s not that surprising that the NBA had already set up a working group on blockchain to think about ways the brand could benefit from the technology. They approached Dapper Labs and the result, NBA Top Shot is in beta and due for release soon.

The platform allows fans to ‘own’ their favorite sporting moments. That time your hero hit a three-point buzzer beater to win the game? You can now own a limited edition NFT commemorating the occasion. The idea evolved through discussion with the NBA’s fan panel.

“We gained an understanding that one of the reasons people like sports a lot is because of what I call ‘moments of greatness’,” Nayaam says. “That’s where you create that really strong emotional attachment with that player, with that team, with a moment that essentially brought you, your family, your city a lot of joy.

“We realized that could be turned into a digitally native piece of memorabilia.”

The moments will also be game pieces too, and players will be able to compete with them, trade them and use them in online tournaments and leagues.

The mixed martial arts Ultimate Fighting Championship has also partnered with Dapper to release a range of UFC branded digital collectibles on its Flow blockchain and Warner Music is exploring how its artists can leverage their technology too. 

“A big part of it is these brands, whether it’s the NBA or UFC, allowing us to tap into very passionate fan bases which then allows us to hopefully bring those communities to blockchain,” he says.

The opportunity is not just limited to sports and music — passionate fans of anything from comic book heroes to cult TV shows are obvious contenders. “We think it makes a lot of sense around characters — I’d love to work with the Batman brand, or Marvel and create digital worlds for those characters. But it can also be things like sneaker brands. You can imagine making digital shoes for Nike or Adidas. Eventually we’ll have augmented reality. And in that case digital fashion may make a lot of sense there.”

Virtual fashion and sneakers

As it happens, Dapper Labs has already auctioned off a virtual fashion garment for $9,500 at the Ethereal Summit in New York. The owner bought the token for the opportunity to ‘wear’ the garment virtually.

And in December last year Nike patented shoes as NFTs called CryptoKicks. The concept pays homage to CryptoKitties by essentially stealing the idea outright: you can ‘breed’ different pairs of shoes to create new custom sneakers that can be made in the real world.

Englebardt expects this will be a growing trend.

“Sneaker brands are going to be a very big and important leader in this space because the sneaker culture overlaps so heavily with gaming culture and you’re already seeing a whole culture around the creation of custom sneakers,” he says.

Yat Siu, the CEO of Animoca Brands, believes that a pair of virtual Nikes may end up transferable between different worlds – enabling you to take them from one game and use them in another, or on social media.
“In the real world you don’t buy Nike shoes so that you can only use them in a Nike Basketball court,” he says.

“If suddenly millions of people end up owning Nike virtual shoes, how many game companies out there might actually say, let’s make use of those Nike shoes inside our virtual games?”

While NFTs allow for objects to exist outside of the games, interoperability is probably a little way off yet. Englebardt believes it is more likely that NFTs will first become usable across multiple games owned by the same publisher. So a Formula 1 car NFT from Animoca Brand’s F1 Delta Time game (out in July) may end up being able to drive around The Sandbox, which the company also owns.

Driving change with Formula 1   

The company made headlines in May last year when it auctioned off the first F1 car NFT for the game. Theoretically made of ‘black carbon’, the ultra-fast 1-1-1 was sold for 415.9 Ether – $106,000 at the time. Two other F1 cars sold for around 100 ETH each, demonstrating that designing collectibles that appeal to the sport’s cashed up fanbase was a clever strategy.


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“We did not expect that the 1-1-1 would sell for 415 ETH, which by any measure is an astounding amount of money,” Siu says. “It set a bar for the price of these cars which consequently also informed us of how we need to work on that scarcity model because now the cars have a certain price point. And we now have to be mindful about how we keep issuing these NFTs.”

They’ve also auctioned off 2000 ‘crates’ of in-game NFTs conferring various advantages for players for $360,000 in total. Just like CryptoKitties, a secondary market sprung up with users buying crates simply to resell various items. In August they’ll be reverse auctioning off three Star Trek vessels to rabid Trekkers to be used in the forthcoming CSC game, with bids starting at the ETH equivalent of $200,000 when the Enterprise NCC-1701 goes under the hammer. Animoca is also developing another blockchain game using collectibles for MotoGP — the motorcycle racing world championship.

While most purchasers of NFTs so far have mostly been crypto natives, Sui expects that to change after the games are released. 

That’s what happened with an experimental sale in May of 100 in-game NFT items for Crazy Defense Heroes “The top buyers are not crypto guys and that taught us something about adoption. They were players that played a lot and they wanted these collectibles because they were fans and because it had a benefit inside the game,” he says. 

325 new brands onboard

As the name suggests, Animoca Brand’s entire game plan is to leverage the power of existing brands in gaming — everything from Garfield to Snoopy and Thomas and Friends. As part of this strategy it teamed up with blockchain network Harmony to jointly acquire the digital collectible startup Quidd last year, which has sold more than 2.1 billion digital collectibles since 2017. Quidd has license agreements with 325 brands including Marvel, Game of Thrones and Rick and Morty, and Sui says they are in negotiations with the IP holders to begin releasing collectibles at NFTs. As a first step, they’ll start recording ownership on blockchain.

Siu says that speaking to brands about NFTs currently requires a lot of education. “We do have to go out and tell people about the opportunity,” he says. “It’s not yet at the point where IP holders are coming to us and saying ‘Hey I heard you guys do crypto and NFTs, let’s see how we can work together’. We’re not there yet.”

“But I think this is where Animoca Brands has an advantage because we’ve already talked to them on non-blockchain games in the past, we’ve had a long history with them.

Playing in The Sandbox

Some brands have seized the opportunity — among them Atari and Shaun the Sheep (of Wallace and Gromit fame), two brands that are building their own virtual theme parks inside the blockchain powered virtual world The Sandbox.

First released in 2012, mobile game The Sandbox gave users the freedom to create whatever they wished, and it’s since been downloaded more than 40 million times.

The new version uses blockchain to power the creation of an immersive ‘metaverse’, much of which will be built by the users themselves. They’re targeting one million monthly active users.

“It’s a 3D decentralized virtual world where the players can make 3D assets and monetize them through the use of blockchain technology, essentially NFTs and our own cryptocurrency,” explains co-founder Sebastien Borget who is also President of the Blockchain Game Alliance. Competitor Decentraland has created a similar, but more realistic looking blockchain world.

The Sandbox has held three major pre-sales of ‘land’ inside the game map: the most recent of which sold out in five hours and netted 3,400 ETH ($760,000). “What’s amazing is this strategy has been working really well,” he says. “We have already sold over $1 million of virtual land even though we are not yet launched, and we have over 1,500 land owners who are either artists, game developers, creators, crypto users and investors who believe in that vision.”


More from NFT and Blockchain Gaming Theme Week


Land closer to major attractions goes for premium prices, including the plots near pioneering game company Atari’s virtual theme park. It’s full of roller coasters, social experiences based on classic games and enables users to play classic games like Centipede, Asteroids and Pong or buy Atari branded NFT content to use elsewhere in The Sandbox. 

Shaun the Sheep, meanwhile, is building Mossy Bottom Farm from the movie Farmageddon. The community can also create their own game experiences around Shaun, Bitzer, and the flock.

“Either as a player or a creator you will have ways to engage with your favorite brand through The Sandbox platform,” Borget says. “We have more IPs coming up that we haven’t yet announced but it’s going to be really exciting, those are mainstream IPs that everyone knows about including even bigger gaming studios.”

Around 80,000 people have already downloaded the VoxEdit beta which allows them to create voxel models to sell in the marketplace, and Borget said around 70% of creators were new to cryptocurrency.

“The main proposition is that we build a great game that looks fun and will attract regular gamers without necessarily promoting blockchain first.”

Leveraging brands for blockchain adoption

Although 2020 will mark a turning point, blockchain gaming is still in its infancy and none of the big video game companies are on board yet (although Ubisoft has started to focus on blockchain startups for its incubator). Siu predicts it’ll be some time before they incorporate the technology in the big titles.
“You’re talking about billions of dollars on the line,” he says.

“We think we’re fixing something that’s broken for the user experience. But from a (big) game company standpoint, it works just fine.”

Siu likens it to the emergence of mobile gaming a decade ago. The major companies focused on the rivers of gold from their proven model, and let smaller, more agile companies take all the risks experimenting with free games and in app purchases.

“I’m sure that there are dozens of other big video game companies around the world that are looking at it actively, but in the same way they looked at mobile ten years ago. It’s interesting, we should pay attention to it. But we shouldn’t make any big bets.”

Siu says that if it plays out the same way, once the kinks have been ironed out, the majors will swoop in and buy out the companies pioneering the space to use their tech.

In the long run, The Sandbox and Decentraland look like being the first building blocks in the creation of ‘The Metaverse’.The concept comes from Neal Stephenson’s 1992 book Snow Crash and refers to a persistent virtual shared 3D space that links all the virtual worlds together. If you haven’t read Snow Crash think of Ready Player One.

NFTs, blockchain and decentralization are key ingredients that make The Metaverse possible, as these virtual worlds and virtual economies will be largely built from ground up by the users, a concept explored by Garrison Breckenridge in this piece for Cointelegraph Magazine.

“The critically important thesis that really informs everything I do is this idea that The Metaverse is coming,” Englebardt says. “I don’t think there’s a centralized, top down creator of The Metaverse. I think it’s going to be something that utilizes all of the tools that we have at our disposal to express ourselves creatively that will allow us collectively to build this.

“The Metaverse … is the single most important opportunity of our lifetime.”


As part of our NFT and Gaming Theme Week, we are offering a free limited edition collectible in association with Blockchain Heroes.

Promotion ends July 15th 2020

Click the button to claim your TELEGRAFICO trading card!

Cointelegraph Hosts Online Meetup to Talk LGBTQ+ and Blockchain

Cointelegraph Hosts Online Meetup to Talk LGBTQ+ and Blockchain

Cointelegraph hosts a discussion on LGBTQ+ and blockchain. Join live at 1 pm EST as LGBTTech and LGBT Foundation co-founders discuss the topic.

As Pride month comes to an end, Cointelegraph hosts an online meetup to discuss LGBTQ+ issues in the crypto and blockchain community.

Called “LGBTQ+ and Blockchain: Community-Powered Tech and Tech-Powered Community,” the new session of Cointelegraph Talks features community members like LGBTTech’s Christopher Wood and UNAIDS’ Eric Lamontagne. Other speakers include Hornet’s Christof Wittig, BitBull Capital CEO Joe DiPasquale, LGBT Foundation’s Sean Howell, Muckr AI’s Susan Oh, and Fintech.TV’s Dr Jane Thomason.

Hosted by Cointelegraph's opinion editor, Max Yakubowski, the upcoming session is less than an hour away, scheduled to start at 1 pm EST and ending at 2 pm EST. Sign up for the event via the Eventbrite page or watch the live discussion on Youtube and take part by sending in questions.

Launched in April 2020, Cointelegraph Talks is a series of online events featuring top blockchain and cryptocurrency experts and executives. Earlier in May, Cointelegraph hosted an online meetup devoted to Bitcoin halving, with the event featuring John Todaro, Alejandro De La Torre, and Paolo Ardoino.

Join Cointelegraph Talks on Zoom or YouTube

Institutionalize Crypto: Big Four Analytics Tools May Lure in Traditional Investors

Institutionalize Crypto: Big Four Analytics Tools May Lure in Traditional Investors

Big Four firms introduce data analytics tools to help manage crypto and digital assets for institutional clients.

Once dominated by young and savvy retail investors, the cryptocurrency market has seen increasing interest lately from institutional investors and large fintech firms. For instance, Grayscale Investments most recently added 19,879 Bitcoin (BTC) to its Bitcoin Trust, bringing the firm’s total volume of the predominant cryptocurrency close to a whopping 400,000.

The investment firm further noted in a tweet on June 25 that it is managing $4.1 billion dollars worth of digital assets. It’s also worth noting that leading payment provider PayPal may soon be incorporating cryptocurrency options.

While some individuals in the crypto community may cringe at the thought, recent findings from Big Four firm KPMG explain that institutionalization is needed now more than ever in order for cryptocurrencies to meet their full potential. A KPMG document titled “Cryptocurrencies are here to stay” states:

“Institutionalization is the at scale participation in the market by small and large entities within the global financial ecosystem, including banks, broker dealers, exchanges, payment providers, fintechs and service providers.”

KPMG’s United States blockchain leader, Arun Ghosh, told Cointelegraph that after crypto’s 2017 peak, the space matured in such a way that large asset managers are now looking to add cryptocurrencies to their portfolios. “We are seeing both retail investors and institutional investors with crypto showing up on their balance sheets,” Ghosh said.

And while curiosity in crypto and digital assets from institutions has been brewing over the past year or so, the crypto market has especially become of recent interest. The latest research from Fidelity Digital Assets confirms this notion, indicating that out of about 800 institutional investors surveyed across the U.S. and Europe, 36% are currently invested in digital assets. Findings also show that while only 27% of the 441 U.S. institutions surveyed are exposed to crypto, this is a 22% increase from last year.

Paul Brody, the principle and global innovation leader at Ernst & Young, told Cointelegraph that markets are also seeing a repeat of the 2008 cycle where big monetary stimulus triggered a lot of interest in alternative assets that might be less prone to inflation:

“Compared to the traditional financial markets, the range and choice of offerings looks small, but companies are getting a lot better at running through the regulatory challenges associated with cryptocurrencies and bringing product to market that aren’t available in other markets.”

Brody further mentioned that there are now a lot more choices beyond crypto for investors, including asset-backed tokens based on real estate, fiat currencies and other commodities, along with a wider range of services available that are built in the decentralized finance ecosystem. “Combine even a small re-allocation of assets with a range of new offerings and you have a recipe for significant growth in this industry from its existing base,” Brody said.

New tools focused on data analytics

As 2020 may turn out to be a crucial year for institutional interest in the crypto market, Big Four firms have been ramping up their management offerings to accommodate their institutional clientele. Tools that use data analytics to address security, regulatory compliance and privacy around crypto and digital assets are particularly important for institutional investors and fintech companies.

For instance, KPMG launched a cryptocurrency management platform called Chain Fusion. This comprehensive tool leverages data analytics to streamline the ability for institutions and fintech companies to safely and properly manage their crypto and digital assets in one place.

Sam Wyner, the director and co-lead of the crypto asset services team at KPMG, told Cointelegraph that Chain Fusion was specifically designed to solve data problems faced by traditional financial services companies entering the crypto space: “Data challenges are much more complex in the crypto and digital asset world, as most organizations — whether they are custodians or exchanges — have lots of systems and information.” He added that “all of that data is connected in different ways, making it difficult to put that data together clearly and make sense of it.”

According to Wyner, Chain Fusion is a platform that creates one structured, consistent data model from a variety of different information sources. For example, Wyner mentioned that there is a ton of data generated when fintech companies or institutions make crypto or digital asset transactions:

“There could be fiat transactions that need to go through multiple jurisdictions, or there could be a number of on-chain transactions. There could also be transactions going through different payment providers in various currencies. There is a lot of different information containing important analytics that traditional organizations require to safely and properly operate in the crypto world.”

It’s important to point out that financial services regulatory compliance is data-intensive and, therefore, requires analytics from different sources to ensure that all challenges are addressed. For example, Wyner mentioned that Know Your Customer and Anti-Money Laundering transaction monitoring is something that traditional organizations must pay close attention to as customers move assets in and out of their businesses. KPMG’s “Cracking Crypto Custody” report further explains this, saying:

“Even established financial institutions which already have mature AML and KYC compliance programs in place are challenged to enhance their methodologies to address the unique considerations for cryptoassets and related data management challenges. Two of these challenges include foundational aspects of KYC and AML: determining customer asset provenance and meeting transaction monitoring requirements.”

Ghosh from KPMG noted that one of the most important aspects of Chain Fusion is its analytical decision framework. He also pointed out that regulatory compliance based on analytics hasn’t really been done before, but that it is needed now more than ever to accommodate institutional interest.

Yet while the concept may be new, Big Four firm EY has also embraced data analytics to address challenges faced by institutions and fintech companies. According to Brody, the single largest hurdle for traditional financial organizations entering the crypto space is regulatory compliance. He explained that many of the firm’s large institutional clients are being extremely cautious about getting involved in digital assets, as a lot is at stake if something does go wrong.

Related: The Big Four Are Gearing Up to Become Crypto and Blockchain Auditors

Regarding analytics, Brody pointed out that EY’s Blockchain Analyzer tool, which was previously only available to the firm’s audit teams, is now accessible to private clients. According to an April 2019 press release, the second-generation blockchain analyzer tool uses data analytics to help enable financial reporting, forensic investigations and transaction monitoring, and tax calculations. Brody elaborated:

“Smart contract testing is already available through, tax services are available now as well through EY’s tax service, and blockchain explorer visualization will go live later this year in a public beta as well.”

In addition to KPMG’s Chain Fusion and EY’s Blockchain Analyzer, both PricewaterhouseCoopers and Deloitte have data analytics solutions. PwC rolled out its Halo tool last year, which gathers data from crypto transactions and balances from blockchains to help institutions with audits. In October 2019, Deloitte integrated QEDIT’s zero-knowledge proof protocol into its blockchain platform. Known as Eduscrypt, this allows the platform to maintain the privacy of sensitive data collected from its institutional clients, like the Bank of Ireland.

Not just a big boys game

Although the Big Four firms have been ramping up their crypto and digital asset management tools to accommodate institutional growth, smaller companies continue to play a prominent role. Mike Belshe, a co-founder and the CEO of digital asset trust company BitGo — which claims to handle 20% of all Bitcoin transactions and most recently introduced a full-service institutional trading platform — told Cointelegraph that the firm’s offerings have enabled the Big Four to enter the digital asset market:

“BitGo’s strength in the digital asset space is precisely why large traditional firms are entering this market. We work with many of these firms globally and BitGo’s technology is powering their ability to start offering digital asset products.”

While it may be difficult to determine which solutions will reign supreme, it’s clear that institutional investors and fintech companies now require solutions to help manage their crypto and digital assets. New offerings that leverage data analytics may become more popular over time if proven to be effective.

Whatever the case may be, EY’s Brody pointed out that today, many financial institutions think of themselves as technology companies with a bank attached, noting that management solutions are extremely important:

“Keeping control of the assets and avoiding misuse of the assets is probably at the top of a (long) list of things that these organizations are exploring. Despite those fears, we’re seeing a big increase in careful consideration of this space by big financial institutions, and they’re looking for ways to add product to their portfolios and to manage thoughtfully the risks attached.”

Dfinity Opens Up the 'Internet Computer' to Third-Party Developers

Dfinity Opens Up the 'Internet Computer' to Third-Party Developers

Dfinity’s Internet Computer reached a major milestone as it opened applications from third-party developers to start using the platform.

Dfinity announced the Tungsten release of its “Internet Computer” project on June 30, officially opening up the platform to third-party developers. To mark the occasion it demonstrated CanCan, an open alternative to TikTok built with under 1000 lines of code.

So what is the Internet Computer?

The Internet Computer is a decentralized and non-proprietary network to run the next generation of mega applications. It gives developers and entrepreneurs the chance to build and develop software on an open network that is purportedly free from platform risk.

Dfinity founder and chief scientist Dominic Williams explained, “Currently, whether you are building on top of APIs, or relying solely on a big tech cloud platform, it is a red flag for investors. This changes that and will be the start of a new wave for the web where developers can push their code directly onto the internet itself, and start with inherently tamper proof and fast software.”

A new language for the internet

To help drive this push back to the free and open roots of the internet, Dfinity has introduced a new programming language, Motoko, which is optimized for the Internet Computer. It is this which enabled the CanCan demonstration to be built so code-efficiently.

Cointelegraph asked Williams what sort of applications he expected to see being developed now that the project was being opened up to third-party developers:

“Things that were previously unimaginable, and that couldn't have been done without the Internet Computer. We’re expecting it to open up a new wave of innovation in software and services. I’m sure along with that we will also see open versions of software that already exists in the closed proprietary world that developers want to make better and not cede their data to a large tech firm.”

The iPhone of blockchain?

Andreessen Horowitz, or a16z as it is also known, has been a major backer of Dfinity since its early days, and recently surpassed its funding target for a new crypto-oriented fund. General partner Chris Dixon told Cointelegraph that he believed the potential impact of the Internet Computer could be akin to that of the development of the iPhone:

“You had the iPhone came out in 2007, the app store in 2008 and then probably 2009 through 12 was actually, if you look back, was the period of Instagram, Uber, Lyft, all of the now huge iPhone apps. I think Dfinity will be the iPhone. We are pre-iPhone in the blockchain space right now [...] But the real action started afterwards.”

Dixon thinks that this may take decades to play out, although he suggests that early products could reach scale and have good financial and societal outcomes over the next five to 10 years.

Interested developers can submit an application to access the Internet Computer at from July 1. The public release of the Internet Computer is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.

Bitcoin Scam Exposes Thousands to Data Breach

Bitcoin Scam Exposes Thousands to Data Breach

Thousands have their personal data leaked by a crypto-based phishing scam.

Fraudulent websites successfully have stolen the personal records of a number of individuals from the U.K., Australia, South Africa, the U.S., Singapore, Malaysia, Spain, and more. The attack was executed as a targeted multi-stage Bitcoin (BTC) scam propagated by a number of fraudulent websites.

According to the Singapore-based intelligence company, Group-IB, the attack exposed personal data for thousands of people.

Impersonating recognized media outlets and personalities

Victim's phone numbers, which in most cases came with names and emails, were contained in personalized URLs used to redirect people to websites. These sites posed as local news outlets, even going so far as to include fabricated comments from prominent local personalities.

Analysis conducted on the leaked numbers allowed Group-IB to establish where the majority of the data had leaked from. They discovered that the U.K. was the most affected location with 147,610 personal records.

The report details that victims commonly received a text message, or SMS, which mentioned the name of the recipient. This was followed by a phishing message that was meant to impersonate a recognized media outlet.

Ilia Rozhnov, head of Group-IB's Brand Protection team in the Asia Pacific, told Cointelegraph:

"Fraudulent schemes have become more complicated. They now involve several stages, complex distributed infrastructure, and abuse of personal and corporate brands that is hard to track down and block using traditional detection methods. Companies and celebrities whose names were hijacked by fraudsters suffer reputational damage and face diminished customer trust."

Different names for the same fraudulent investment platform

Researchers spotted six active domains featuring the same Bitcoin investment platform. Each operated under a different name. Some of these include Crypto Cash, Bitcoin Rejoin, Bitcoin Supreme and Banking on Blockchain.

Group-IB adds:

"Further analysis of the URLs revealed that a short link takes a victim to another URL which already demonstrates their personal data, such as the phone number, first or/and last name, and sometimes an email address, and used for redirects to fake websites masquerading as a local media outlet. (...) The experts believe that the personal information info could have been obtained by fraudsters through a separate fraudulent scheme or simply bought from a third party."

The Group-IB team has analyzed the exposed info using a number of data breach repositories. They have also analyzed several underground marketplaces for the presence of this data. So far, they have not found any traces of the exposed info.

As of press time, the source of the leak has not been established. The team has reported the study’s findings to the proper authorities in each affected country.

Cryptocurrencies forensics experts from Xrplorer warned on June 15 that hackers were trying to steal XRP users’ secret keys by claiming that Ripple was giving away tokens.

Digital Dollars Take Center Stage in Hearing Before US Senate

Digital Dollars Take Center Stage in Hearing Before US Senate

Issues like financial inclusion and competition with China propelled a hearing on digital dollars before the U.S. Senate today.

In a hearing before the Senate Banking Committee today, June 30, central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) took center stage before an audience of Senators looking to upgrade financial infrastructure and expand financial inclusion in the country.

The witnesses and the concerns

The banking committee welcomed Paxos CEO Charles Cascarilla, financial inclusion professor and researcher at Duke Nakita Cuttino, and former CFTC Chair and current champion of the Digital Dollar Project Chris Giancarlo as witnesses.

Cascarilla provided expertise on how existing stablecoins operate and the gaps in current finance that they fill. In his words, “Stablecoins address the antiquated plumbing of our financial system.”

“We need to address the frictions that exist with the payments system now,” Cuttino said. “Of course with innovation there comes reduced cost.” Given the focus of her research, Cuttino provided the greatest insight on the specific concerns of the unbanked:

“Any solution should have low transaction costs. In the early days for Bitcoins the transaction cost was extremely high — and remains extremely high.”

As an active lobbyist for a U.S. CBDC, Giancarlo promoted a digital dollar as a sweeping upgrade to an outdated system. “The world is asking what role America will play in the future of money. The choice is we either take a leadership role or accept that others will lead and enshrine their values in money,” Giancarlo said.

Committee leadership and party lines

As has been the case for many hearings on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology, the party lines produce distinct talking points.

Committee Chair Mike Crapo (R-ID) cautioned that “the U.S. must have clear rules of the road in place that protect businesses and consumers without stifling innovation,” echoing a broad desire to support businesses. Many republican committee members emphasized competition with China, which seems to be much further along with a digital yuan than the U.S. with a digital dollar.

On the flip side, many democrats of the committee were suspicious of repeated claims that tech would save vulnerable groups. “It’s hard to think of any revolutionary products or services that have actually helped the people [tech firms] say they will,” said Ranking Member Sherrod Brown (D-OH). “Why on earth would we trust big tech with our banking system?”

In many ways, these are inevitable talking points. The interest in a CBDC is clearly there. Nobody on the committee was happy with the current system. Today’s hearing seemed more a discussion of “how” than “if” the U.S. should put together a CBDC, coinciding with a global shift in the conversation over the past six months.

The Banking Committee as opposed to other similar hearings

Giancarlo’s testimony today follows a similar hearing before the House Fintech Task Force earlier this month. This time, however, Giancarlo faced a full committee, while the task force is a subunit of the House Financial Services Committee whose members are especially up-to-speed on tech developments. As Senator Jon Tester (R-MT) put it diplomatically, “I don’t know if anybody on this committee — I’ll speak for myself, I need more information.”

Speaking with Cointelegraph in advance of today’s hearing, he predicted that the audience would probably bring a broader range of concerns than the earlier hearing:

“There'll probably be certainly some focus on what China's doing, what other countries are doing from some members of the committee. That will also be focus on financial inclusion and unbanked populations from other segments.”

Regarding the sudden rush of attention to the issue, Giancarlo expanded on the broader aims of his project:

“We began this journey nine months ago, long before COVID was even a concern, long before the insufficiencies of a lot of our payment systems were as broadly noted and and acknowledged as they are now. We have said from the beginning, and will continue to say, something as important as upgrading the U.S. dollar needs to be done thoughtfully, deliberately. But we need to start now. And if COVID response is the catalyst to starting now, if China's BSN is the reason to start now, if the Riksbank of Sweden is the reason to start now, if Bitcoin is the reason to start now — all of those pretexts are fine and all of them may appeal to a different constituency, but they say the same thing and that is we've got to get started. But we can't rush it.”