Get the top stories, funding deals, technical analysis, cryptocurrency jobs and much more delivered to your inbox, every Monday morning.

September 18,2022

Ethereum’s Merge Finally Occurs, But What Happens Now?

On Thursday morning at approximately 06:40 UTC, Ethereums highly anticipated Merge to PoS (Proof-of-Stake) was completed. The new system invites validators to stake 32 ETH with the platform, granting them access to the Ethereum ledger along with the ability to confirm and write transactions. However, because of the high capital requirement, as well as the technical difficulty associated with setting up a validator system, only a select number of people can become validators on their own.

Important details

More than 40% of the networks blocks were added by only two companies following Ethereums Merge event last week, namely Coinbase and Lido.  Developers framed the switch Proof-of-Work to PoS as a way to combat centralization on the second biggest blockchain network by making it more difficult for individual entities to interfere with the Ethereum ledger. However, there were signs of network consolidation early on which have since raised concerns that those expectations may not be realized in the way that everyone was hoping.

Nevertheless, ETH has flowed to services provided by Coinbase, Lido, and other staking pools that make it simple for users to become validators and earn rewards for doing so. Despite this, concerns have been raised as a result of so much money going to so few services, as should a single entity own over 66% of the networks staked Ether, it can make it increasingly difficult for others to successfully write transactions to Ethereums ledger.

More than meets the eye?

Although the Ethereum Merge is a truly historic event that will be discussed and revisited for a long time to come and will reportedly cast aside miners who were previously the key driving force behind the blockchain in exchange for the more environmentally-friendly PoS system, concerns about validator centralization have been steadily increasing since August, when sanctions imposed by the United States government involved validators being forced to censor transactions coming specific blockchain addresses.

Some, but not all, validators in the country have hence announced that they shall start ignoring transactions the Tornado Cash mixer program, thereby preventing any chances for those transactions to come onto Ethereums decentralized ledger.  SmartFi Executive Chris Terry stated that this is essentially consolidation which in this context is just another term for centralization. This is extremely dangerous as it grants more control to the government and other intermediaries. Without a doubt, he continued, the Ethereum blockchain will witness plenty of transaction censorship now on.

Additionally, concerns about Ethereum becoming more centralized have resulted in a number of comparisons regarding the new PoS system to the types of centralized fiat currencies which blockchains were designed to avoid in the first place. Max Gagliardi, Ancova Co-Founder, said that ETH is now solely created digitally by guidelines and parameters laid by its central planners. Whatever the case may be, all eyes are fixed on Ethereum as the world's second largest crypto by market capitalization looks to convince everyone that the move to PoS was indeed worth it.

September 17,2022

Do Kwon, Infamous Co-Founder Of Terra Takes To Twitter

Do Kwon, the infamous Co-Founder of the Terra ecosystem which had completely collapsed earlier on in the year and for whom the Singapore Police Force recently issued an arrest warrant, is currently the most wanted man in crypto.

Kwon and five of his associated were named in an arrest warrant issued by South Korean prosecutors. He was primarily responsible for the creation of two cryptocurrencies, the demise of which shocked the global cryptocurrency markets and caused a widespread crash.

Terraform Labs, the blockchain platform that Do Kwon had co-founded, was accused of fraud by its investors shortly after the companys demise. Moreover, for what seems like the longest time, the Seoul Prosecutors Office claimed that both Kwon and the others who were accused of violating capital markets law were indeed all in Singapore.

Do Kwon took to Twitter shortly after the local police issued a statement, claiming he has nothing to hide and is in fact willing to cooperate with government agencies. However, his exact current whereabouts remain unknown at the moment.

After the collapse, a thorough investigation and public outcry in South Korea resulted in the arrest warrant. As per Elliptic, a blockchain analytics startup, global investors in LUNA and TerraUSD lost a total of $42 billion.

Kwon recently tweeted that he is not on the run or anything similar, however he did not specify where he was. Nevertheless, he assured the government that both he and his associates would be fully cooperative and shall not hide anything from any agency that has shown an interest in communicating with them.

September 13,2022

Chamber Of Digital Commerce Declares Its Support For A Bitcoin (BTC) ETF

The Chamber of Digital Commerce has declared its support for a Bitcoin (BTC) ETF spot in the United States. In the report titled The Crypto Conundrum, the organization does not mince words as they ask why the SEC is refusing to approve a Bitcoin ETF.

The Chambers representatives claim that all of the SECs requirements have been met, but a Bitcoin ETF is still as far away from approval as it was when the Winklevoss twins first requested it back in 2013.

The Chamber argues that capital which could have been invested in the United States has instead been deployed in other, more innovative countries. These other advanced economies, including Sweden, Switzerland, Germany, Canada, and Australia, have already approved Bitcoin ETFs. More importantly, there were no reported instances of hacking or theft in these countries, as well as no indications of market manipulation either.

The Chamber of Digital Commerce is a trade association that represents the blockchain technology ecosystem. Its purpose is to advance digital assets and blockchain technologies mainstream acceptance and usage. Despite its title though, it is not a governmental institution.

September 13,2022

Adobe Acquires Figma

Adobe has officially confirmed a $20 billion acquisition of Figma, a web design application, in an attempt to compete with its biggest rival.

Figmas products will be combined with some pre-existing features, such as photography, illustration, and video technology, according to the creative design software company. Adobe offers paid features such as After Effects, Behance, Illustrator, Photoshop, and Premiere Pro.

Adobe and Figma working together is transformational, and it will undoubtedly accelerate the overall vision for collaborative creativity, said Adobe CEO Shantanu Narayen.

For its part, Figma, which was founded in 2012, expects to generate more than $400 million this year. Kleiner Perkins, Index Ventures, and Greylock Partners have all previously invested in web design platforms.

Dylan Field, Figma CEO, seemed enthusiastic about the collaboration, believing there is massive potential for both parties as well as features designers who can gain a lot from this collaboration.

The combination of the two companies may even result in more NFT initiatives before long. In fact, Adobe already entered the NFT sector when the company announced last October that it would integrate an NFT preparation feature into Photoshop. Among other things, the option will allow users to prove ownership of their NFTs.

September 11,2022

SEC And Ripple Labs Story End?

The infamous story between the SEC and Ripple Labs may be coming to an end after months of legal drama, as both parties have reportedly agreed to show their cards.

Parties to the suit recently sent a letter to Hon. Analisa Torres requesting that the court approve a joint proposal to govern the upcoming summary judgment motions to be filed within the next few weeks. Before filing summary judgment motions, the SEC, Brad Garlinghouse, and Chris Larsen all agreed to a joint proposal regarding the sealing issues.

If the judge grants the request, both parties shall have access to details of briefs along with other previously unseen documents. Both parties therefore agree that redactions would be kept to a minimum, and they will discuss a redaction schedule, if any, after approval.

As per the proposal, the parties reasoning for all this is to ensure that any potential sealing issue can be raised before the court in a single set of briefs rather than piecemeal, and to allow enough time for everyone from both sides to meet and confer.

September 11,2022

Ethereum Merge Finally Gets Underway As The Entire World Waits To See What Will Happen

The Ethereum blockchains Merge has begun and will most likely take effect between September 13th and 16th. The Bellatrix upgrade, the networks final hard fork before the Merge, went live this past Tuesday, ushering in Ethereums long-awaited transition from PoW (Proof-of-Work) to PoS (Proof-of-Stake).


Important details

Essentially, the Bellatrix upgrade is responsible for preparing Ethereums PoS Beacon Chain, also known as its Consensus layer, to be ready for a Merge with Ethereums mainnet Execution layer.

As such, the Merges TTD (Terminal Total Difficulty) value has been set at 58,750,000,000,000,000,000,000. This figure, which represents the total difficulty of all mined Ethereum blocks, is expected to be reached between September 13th and 16th. At the moment, predictions currently indicate that it will occur around September 15th.

When the TTD number is attained, the networks Execution layer will be merged with the new PoS Consensus layer, enabling the chain to proceed with a new system for granting and validating transaction blocks.


Falling behind?

It should be noted that Ethereum has been falling behind other PoW cryptocurrencies prior to the Merge. Hive Blockchain, a crypto mining company, has been working to substitute ETH mining with other coins in the event that Ethereum switches to PoS.

Hive had therefore begun beta-testing various GPU-mineable coins in anticipation of the upcoming Merge. Hives technical division is also working to implement a strategy to maximize its Ethereum mining capacity of 6.5 terahashes per second. Additionally, another major miner named Hut 8 Mining shall reportedly explore ventures outside of crypto in the meantime.

At any rate, the pressure is certainly on Ethereum due to the fact that staking pools could be the next new breed of validation and community effort as ETH mining pools recede into obscurity. However, it should be mentioned that many former Ether miners do have alternative options even if mining ETH is no longer feasible. Decentralization is also generally viewed as a significant advantage for PoW coins and many members of the community see the advantage of PoW based on this approach. Experts with technical know-how regarding the aforementioned GPU-mineable coins will thus undoubtedly be looking at other viable options as crypto mining remains a cornerstone of the entire industry.


What will the Merge accomplish?

As per the Ethereum Foundation, a non-profit organization that funds Ethereum ecosystem development, the Merge shall reduce the network's energy consumption by over 99% and pave the way for future improvements to its core infrastructure.

The difficulty level on Ethereums PoW network shall hence increase to the point where mining new blocks would be impossible at the time of the Merge. The Merge itself has been in the works for a long time, as the Beacon Chain was originally introduced back in December 2020. Ethereum switched its Goerli testnet from PoW to PoS last month, thereby signifying the third and final preparatory stage for a mainnet Merge.

With the completion of the Merge, Ethereums energy-intensive PoW chapter will come to an end. The next steps on Ethereums roadmap include reducing fees and increasing transaction speeds through sharding and rollups, something which the Ethereum community has been requesting for the longest time since Ether is known to have ridiculously high gas fees. At any rate, the entire world waits with bated breath as the Merge finally approaches. Institutional and retail investors are also keeping a close eye on Cardanos upcoming Vasil hard fork, which is scheduled for only a week after the Merge on September 22nd.

September 08,2022

GameStop And FTX Exchange Announce Partnership

According to a recent press release, GameStop has announced a new collaboration with FTX US aimed at introducing its customers to FTXs community and marketplaces for digital assets. Following the announcement of this partnership, GameStops stock rose by about 10%.

As a result, certain GameStop retail locations will sell FTX gift cards, as it is FTXs preferred retail partner within the United States. The financial details of the partnership were not disclosed in the press release.

The retailer has attempted to diversify its business into the Web3 space by trying to introduce a digital asset wallet which enables users to receive as well as send crypto and NFTs. On July 11th, the company had even launched its very own NFT marketplace project.

Like so many other companies, GameStop was also impacted by the current global economic situation, as it laid off employees in order to save the company. Coinbase, another notable company in the crypto sector, had similarly laid off a substantial number of employees not too long ago.

September 06,2022

Nigeria And Binance Discussing Digital Economy Growth Projects

NEPZA, the Nigerian government agency responsible for export processing zones, announced that discussions are happening with Binance in order to hopefully establish a digital free zone fully dedicated to blockchain technology and the overall digital economy.

The National Economic and Production Zones Authority has therefore anticipated that, if successful, the talks will result in a similar outcome to Dubais online free zone.

Binance committed to assisting Dubai in creating an industrial hub for global digital assets last December, with the goal of fostering sustainable economic growth and attracting a diverse range of crypto-based enterprises to become licensed in the region.

As such, the Nigerian government is reportedly in advanced talks with the cryptocurrency exchange about similarly establishing a digital zone in the country in order to help the growth of the fintech sector in Africa.

The idea of accessing a country with great potential like Nigeria via this collaboration project is certainly appealing to Binance. The exchange hopes to eventually expand its operations throughout Africa, so working alongside NEPZA should be a no-brainer.

September 04,2022 Backs Out Of UEFA Sponsorship Deal

Singapore-based has backed out of a $495 million sponsorship deal with the Union of European Football Association (UEFA) Champions League, citing legal issues in some European countries.

The cryptocurrency company, which provides trading, DeFi, and wallet services, was set to replace Russian oil major Gazprom as the sponsor for the next five seasons, until 2027. This was due to UEFA terminating its contract with Gazprom in March following Russias invasion of Ukraine.

The deal, worth £428 million over the aforementioned five seasons, is believed to have fallen through at the last minute due to concerns about increased cryptocurrency regulation, which may very well be related to potential legal trading restrictions.

In recent years, digital assets have moved from the periphery of the economy to the center, with a rising number of football sponsorship deals being announced.

Chelsea F.C. and Atletico Madrid F.C. both signed deals with trading platform WhaleFin, and Manchester City F.C. has OKX as a training kit partner. Apart from this, other notable clubs like PSG F.C. and Barcelona F.C. also have their own fan tokens. laid off nearly 5% of its workforce, or about 260 people, in June. Despite losing the UEFA deal, it is still nevertheless the official sponsor of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.

September 03,2022

MicroStrategy Accused Of Conspiracy As Former CEO Gets Sued For Tax Fraud

Michael Saylor, the former CEO of MicroStrategy and a long time Bitcoin (BTC) enthusiast, has recently been sued for reportedly failing to pay over $25 million in taxes. Saylor says that he is a resident of Florida, where he claims to have lived for more than half the year, voted, and even reported for jury duty, but the Districts case contends that he is also a resident of Washington D.C.

According to the Attorney Generals office, Saylor, whose net worth is estimated to exceed $1 billion, has resided in a 7,000 square foot waterfront penthouse in Washington D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood since around 2015. Additionally, he also has at least two luxury yachts docked in the area, thereby further indicating that this is his true abode rather than what Michael claims which is Florida.

Whats going on?

The lawsuit, announced this past Wednesday by D.C. Attorney General Karl Racine, claims that MicroStrategy knew Saylor resided in Washington for more than half the year as it retained access to personal information regarding his whereabouts in addition to allegedly conspiring to assist him evade taxes.

Any individual is subject to District tax liability if they are domiciled in the District or establish statutory residency in the District, according to the law. Saylor has been a statutory resident of the District, or domiciled, in each year from 2013 to 2020, according to the complaint.

As such, a person can be a statutory resident of D.C. if they have a place of abode in the district. It also states that Saylor spent less than three months in Florida from 2013 to 2020 and always returned to Washington, D.C. This round trip, so it has been said, demonstrates that his true home is in the District, not Florida.

As per the lawsuit, Saylors reported address was therefore that of his house in Florida rather than his true place of abode, which is a clear tax violation. Moreover, as was ascertained through voter records, despite registering to vote in Florida, Saylor has never actually voted in person in the state, according to the complaint.

What now?

The former MicroStrategy CEO insists that he has always resided in Florida for most of the year, however the crux of  the issue is that this particular case isnt about that as it has more to do with where Saylor is actually settled.

Every tax jurisdiction in the world takes this into account otherwise, the wealthy would shuttle between low-tax jurisdictions and their home base to avoid paying taxes. Washington, D.C. has a special provision for this, namely the Part-time D.C. resident classification. This category accounts for those who spend a portion of the year in the District despite not having a statutory residence.

As such, the Attorney Generals office stated that it was attempting to retrieve unpaid income taxes and penalties from Michael and MicroStrategy, which could very well be over $100 million before all is said and done. No matter what happens though, this is a wake-up call for everyone to take their taxes seriously and ensure that everything is in order, as even the slightest slip up could have disastrous consequences.

September 01,2022

Aada Finance For Cardano Blockchain Launch Date Announced

The company behind Cardano, Input Output, has recently announced the launch date for Aada Finance, its first lending and borrowing protocol on the Cardano blockchain. Aada Finance streamlines the borrowing and lending user experience by utilizing a novel DeFi primitive known as NFT bonds.

V1 will therefore be released in mid-September of this year and shall be the first time that DeFi primitives are added to the Cardano blockchain, which is built on the Plutus smart contract platform that was first introduced in the Alonzo hard fork back in September 2021.

Aada recently formed a partnership with Minswap to assist in the liquidation of loans when the loan-to-collateral value falls below a certain threshold. The liquidity of Minswap will be utilized in the liquidation process.

Elsewhere, Input Output Global also recently partnered with Pezesha, an African fintech company that enables financial institutions to offer liquidity to small-to-medium businesses.

August 30,2022

The Federal Reserve Rolls Out FedNow, A New Payment System

FedNow, a new payment facilitation system which might mitigate the need for a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), is reportedly being prepared for launch by the Federal Reserve.

FedNow is hence an instant payment method that allows for real-time transactions between U.S-based households, businesses, and financial institutions.

The service is built with cloud technology, which enables the payment system to scale without sacrificing resilience. This scalability applies to both the systems throughput and geographic coverage, ensuring continuous service even in highly remote areas.

The FedNow Service is scheduled to go live between May and July 2023, according to Lael Brainard, Federal Reserve Vice Chair. Brainard also stated that the system would begin technical testing this September.

Brainard has therefore urged financial institutions and software providers in the United States to update their systems ahead of time. He also claims that the transition to real-time payment infrastructure will require concentrated effort but is nevertheless unavoidable, and that the time is now for everyone to devote all necessary resources to make this inevitable transition both seamless and effective.