Accelerating Acceptance And Investment In Metaverse
Several notable companies like Samsung, Emirates, and Nike have already started using the metaverse, with many more expected to follow suit as the emerging technology continues to gain mainstream attention and funding.
In fact, JPMorgan recently described it as a $1 trillion-per-year opportunity, prompting the company to open the first ever virtual bank. This is a significant indicator of the possibilities for brands and businesses to enter the growing decentralized metaverse economy.
An increasing number of brands are thus actively viewing the metaverse as a kind of extension of the Internet or even its evolution, said Yonatan Raz-Fridman, CEO of Supersocial and host of the Into The Metaverse podcast.
The CEO further stated that although there is a lot of work yet to be done, the potential is massive and the main point of attraction is about inviting consumers in to experience different brands in a fresh and innovative way.
With technologies like VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) steadily becoming more accessible, many believe that it is only a matter of time before the metaverse is thought of in the same way as social media is in this day and age. Notable celebrities like Snoop Dogg, Paris Hilton, and Reese Witherspoon have also previously endorsed the metaverse concept alongside crypto, blockchain, and NFTs.
Swiss Mcdonalds Accepts Crypto
The Plan ₿ Foundation, a collaboration between the Swiss City of Lugano and USDT stablecoin issuer Tether, recently unveiled a new partnership with payment facilitator GoCrypto to bring Bitcoin, Tether, and LVGA payments to Lugano. This will reportedly allow locals to use their wallets at McDonalds as well as a slew of other merchants.
As such, citizens may utilize their wallets to pay through either USDT, BTC, or the local payment token LVGA at these locations. It has also been reported that Lugano shall try to usher in additional businesses to this new arrangement over the next month or so.
The Plan ₿ Foundation hopes to have more than 2,500 merchants accepting these three currencies by the end of next year. Meanwhile, they anticipate serving more than 2,000 customers at the upcoming Plan Forum, which is a Bitcoin conference taking place from October 28th-29th in Lugano, Switzerland.
Oklahoma Senator Introduces The No Digital Dollar Act.
Oklahoma Senator James Lankford has recently proposed legislation to ensure that Americans can continue using physical bills and coins regardless of whether the United States adopts a digital dollar.
Lankford stated that he introduced the No Digital Dollar Act in response to residents' concerns that cash would be phased out once the US created a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency).
Lankfords bill follows the signing of Executive Order 14067 by President Joe Biden, which instructs the government to investigate the potential dangers and advantages of digital assets.
Lankfords proposed legislation, if passed, would prohibit the US Treasury as well as the Federal Reserve from meddling with Americans who tend to favor paper currency irrespective of whether a digital currency already exists. Lastly, the legislation also seeks to ensure that people can retain their privacy while transacting with cash and coins.
Blockchain ETF Officially Launched By BlackRock For European Customers
BlackRock, the worlds biggest asset manager, is rapidly increasing its exposure to digital assets by launching a new European blockchain ETF (Exchange Traded Fund). The company, which manages approximately $10 trillion in assets, announced on September 29th that it had successfully added the iShares Blockchain Technology UCITS ETF to its product suite, thereby providing European clients with exposure to an ETF after launching one earlier this year within the United States.
What to expect?
The BlackRock team firmly believes that digital assets and blockchain technologies will become increasingly relevant for clients as use cases grow in complexity, scale and scope, said Omar Moufti, Product Strategist for Thematic and Sector ETFs at the company.
Moreover, BlackRock has recently increased its exposure to the world of digital assets, initially launching its U.S. focused blockchain and tech exchange traded fund earlier on in 2022, and then partnering with Coinbase to provide its customers with indirect access to a wide range of cryptocurrencies through its Aladdin trading platform. Additionally, it even launched a spot Bitcoin (BTC) private trust in August, which is available to institutional clients residing in the United States.
The future looks bright
Although we are still in the midst of an ongoing bear market, this has not deterred institutional investors from regularly expressing their interest in crypto, blockchain, NFTs, and the metaverse. In fact, BlackRock is not the only financial services titan entering the fray. Banks such as JPMorgan and Nomura, as well as asset managers such as Fidelity and Abrdn, have recently launched digital asset offerings as well, and analysts predict that even more big names in the traditional finance sector are likely to follow suit.
Furthermore, BlackRocks European blockchain ETF, which has 35 holdings and is traded on Euronext, has a total expense ratio of 0.5%. Its biggest investments are presently in Coinbase, trading titan Galaxy Digital, and BTC miner Marathon Digital. IBM, Nvidia and Paypal are also on the list with more expected to join before long.
The continued spread of blockchain technology highlights its potential across several industries, Moufti added. He further stated that the iShares Blockchain Technology UCITS ETF exposure shall provide clients with the chance to participate in globally recognized companies that are actively leading the development of the burgeoning blockchain ecosystem.
Warner Music And Open Sea Collaborate To Bring Select Artists Into Web3
Warner Music Group (WMG) recently announced a collaboration with OpenSea in order to provide a platform for select musical artists to construct and extend their fanbase into the burgeoning Web3 space.
As such, the partnership will give select WMG artists early access to OpenSeas newly launched feature, which enables artists to launch their NFT collections as well as limited edition projects on their own customizable and dedicated drop pages.
These WMG artists will also have access to tailored storytelling features on personalised landing pages, in addition to industry leading protection and safety characteristics of OpenSea. The collaboration seeks to introduce current fan communities on OpenSea to new types of connections and creativity via NFTs and to provide fresh ways for fans to start engaging with music and artists through the Web3 community.
WMGs Chief Digital Officer and Executive Vice President of Business Development, Oana Ruxandra, believes that a strong community is essential to music as it is indeed artists and fans coming together to commemorate ane enjoy what they love.
Oana further stated that the new partnership therefore helps to facilitate these communities by making Web3 tools and resources available to artists in order to create opportunities for deeper engagement, access, and ownership.
Kazakhstan President States The Country Will Embrace Cryptocurrency Exchange To Cash.
Kazakhstan President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev recently stated that the country is prepared to legalize a mechanism for converting cryptocurrencies to cash if there is sufficient demand to do so.
On September 21st, Halyk Bank suspended the usage of Russias Mir payment cards in response to U.S. Treasury Department sanctions warnings, prompting thousands of Russians to enter Kazakhstan.
It was at the international forum Digital Bridge 2022 where President Tokayev said that the country aims to become an international leader in emerging digital technologies, crypto ecosystems, and regulated mining. He further indicated that the government has already drafted amendments to national law to pilot a crypto conversion mechanism at the Astana International Financial Centre.
Additionally, Eurasian Bank and Intebix jointly announced the completion of the banks inaugural regulated crypto purchase for fiat. This marked a significant milestone in cryptocurrency adoption within Kazakhstan, thereby enabling locals to legally purchase crypto in exchange for the national currency.
ATAIX, Kazakhstans largest bank, and Altyn Bank are also among the other companies involved in the pilot crypto projects. Kazakhstan is hence fully prepared to go even further if cryptocurrencies and blockchain technoogy can consistently demonstrate continued relevance and security, at which point complete legal recognition will almost certainly be provided, President Tokayev stated.
Assets Of Bankrupt Voyager Digital Purchased By FTX.
The assets of bankrupt Voyager Digital were purchased by exchange giant FTX, according to a recent press release issued by Voyager. Wave Financial, a digital-asset investment firm, was competing with FTX for the acquisition.
Voyager Digital is a crypto lender which declared bankruptcy back in July. Many had scrutinized Voyager's business practices, specifically how the Canadian-listed company stated in marketing materials that investors deposits were insured by the FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation).
Although FDIC insurance would typically cover up to $250,000 in bank-held cash deposits, it would however not cover cash that was converted to stablecoins. Voyagers loan book reportedly accounted for nearly half of its overall assets, with nearly 60% of that loan book made up of loans to Three Arrows Capital (3AC), which also filed for Chapter 15 bankruptcy in July.
Dan Morehead of Pantera Capital States His Prediction For Future Of Blockchain.
Dan Morehead, CEO and Founder of institutional asset manager Pantera Capital, believes that while there may be plenty of distressed financial sectors in the coming years, the digital asset industry shall most likely not be one of them.
Building upon his previous statements, the executive asserted that a crypto bull market is on the way, and that blockchain technology will be used by billions of people in the coming years and that mainstream adoption will continue for the foreseeable future.
Morehead believes that cryptocurrencies will thus become extremely popular sooner rather than later primarily due to the wide range of benefits they can provide to the global financial network.
He added that the most important thing to remember is that crypto is such a disruptive technology that will change nearly all aspects of our lives in the next decade.
Dan also argued that people often place too much emphasis on the primary digital asset when there are countless other viable cryptocurrency protocols which are equally important. He said that while Bitcoin (BTC) has been used as a proxy for blockchain for a long time, there are hundreds of other interesting projects such as Ethereum (ETH) and Cardano (ADA), both of which recently launched significant upgrades.
Cardano’s Long-Awaited Vasil Upgrade Finally Occurs With Much Initial Success
The Cardano (ADA) blockchain has officially launched its highly anticipated Vasil upgrade, which is intended to greatly increase network capacity and reduce transaction costs. The update occurred shortly after one of Cardano's main rivals, Ethereum (ETH), launched their own upgrade known as The Merge, which marked the Ethereum blockchains transition from Proof-of-Work (PoW) to Proof-of-Stake (PoS).
Whats there to know?
The blockchains developer company Input Output Global (IOG) has dubbed the update, labeled after the late Bulgarian mathematician and prominent Cardano supporter Vasil St. Dabov, the most noteworthy and ambitious Cardano upgrade to date because of its complexity.
Cardano powers over 1,000 decentralized projects along with ADA, a cryptocurrency with a market cap of over $15 billion. The critical upgrade has been delayed several times since its original June deadline. Cardano developer Adam Dean raised an alarm in August about the test networks failures and apparent rushing. In response to the criticisms however, Tim Harrison, Vice President of Community and Ecosystem at IOG, stated that the September 22nd date was fully agreed upon by the community before also mentioning that the developer team had full confidence in the code.
What will Vasil actually accomplish?
The update is expected to release the second version of Plutus, Cardanos smart-contract language, which shall enable developers to build faster and much more complex decentralized applications (dApps) on the chain. Artano, a Cardano-based NFT project that has been testing Plutus V2, reported a decrease of over 90% in transaction size along with a corresponding cost reduction of more than 75%.
Most notably, the Vasil upgrade will use Cardanos hard fork combinator technology which, according to Cardano developer IOG, introduces brand new features without losing any data from the blockchains previous version. The new Plutus script upgrades will also make additional capabilities available to developers on the mainnet on September 27th after one epoch, which currently lasts about five days.
In any case, the upgrade was described as one of the most complex and consequential updates to the Cardano network ever done. This comment was made by Bill Barhydt, founder of crypto trading platform Abra. In fact, many agree that despite all of the delays and initial problems, the Vasil upgrade is nothing short of a groundbreaking achievement which should be discussed alongside the Merge itself.
Helium Foundation Announce Migration To Solana Blockchain
After a successful community vote, the Helium Foundation has announced the migration of the Helium Network, a decentralized network that powers wireless communication protocols, to the Solana blockchain.
The network, which has run its own Layer-1 blockchain ever since its inception in 2019, suggested the migration in August through HIP70, a Helium Improvement Proposal.
The development is indicative of the teams desire to scale Helium to meet the growing needs of builders and users, while simultaneously contributing to the acceleration of the decentralized wireless network of Helium 5G along with over 945,000 user-managed IoT (Internet of Things) hotspot devices.
The Helium Foundations COO, Scott Sigel, said that the team has always had an overall objective of deploying and managing wireless networks at scale, and moving to Solana is hence a significant step forward in that direction.
The migration is planned for 2022s 4th quarter. The Helium Foundation stated that it would collaborate with the Solana Foundation to ensure a smooth transition.
Nasdaq Creating Department In Charge Of Digital Assets
Nasdaq Inc. is making its first foray into crypto by establishing a new department in charge of digital assets. Tal Cohen, the firms head of North American markets, was quoted in a recent report which is where the news initially came from.
The first milestone will be to provide institutional investors with custody services for Bitcoin (BTC) and Ethereum (ETH). Previously, instead of forming a crypto exchange to compete with Coinbase and other businesses, Nasdaq routinely provided the necessary technology to cryptocurrency market participants over the years.
As such, Nasdaq Digital Assets plans to develop an advanced custody solution which includes liquidity as well as execution services. With an added layer of protection and security, the overall focus shall reportedly be on the sectors availability, connectivity, and efficiency issues. It should be noted though that regulatory approval is required for the offering.
Cohen added that demand for digital assets among institutional investors has risen in recent years, and Nasdaq is well-equipped to accelerate mainstream adoption and become a key driving force behind sustainable growth.
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.
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.
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