Bitcoin ETFs and Bitcoin ETPs, what’s the difference? 

Bitcoin ETFs and ETPs: what are they and how are they different?

Bitcoin ETFs and ETPs are becoming increasingly popular. But what are these financial instruments, and what are the differences?

 

Before we look at what a Bitcoin ETF is and the differences with an ETP, let’s understand what an ETF or Exchange Traded Fund is in a more general sense. It is a passively managed financial product that replicates the performance of a stock index (called a benchmark) step by step. ETFs are sold and bought like ordinary shares and are therefore considered more accessible and less expensive financial instruments than classic investment funds. Like shares and all instruments listed on financial markets, the price of ETFs can go down as well as up. In short, ETFs can be considered as “basketsof securities of different companies or entities that refer to a common theme‘, which can be the market of a geographical area or a specific sector. Buying an Exchange Traded Fund is like buying the shares of the companies or realities related to the benchmark that the ETF wants to track.

What is a Bitcoin ETF?

According to this definition of an ETF, Bitcoin Exchange Traded Funds replicate the performance of BTC and assets related to Satoshi Nakamoto‘s crypto. Bitcoin ETFs in essence allow exposure to BTC without actually buying any cryptocurrency, which is why in most cases they appeal to those unaccustomed to dealing with cryptocurrency exchanges, wallets and private keys. In other words, you can say that Bitcoin ETFs are BTC but traded on traditional exchanges, not on crypto exchanges. 

The difference between ETFs and ETPs

Have you also heard of ETPs? Exchange traded products are a macrocategory that bring together a number of financial products that replicate stock indices or other assets by following their performance in the market of reference. ETFs are thus a subset of ETPs, along with ETNs (Exchange Traded Notes) and ETCs (Exchange Traded Commodities). What all these financial products have in common is that they are traded on the stock exchange like shares and that they passively replicate the performance of a reference asset, thus without the intervention of traders. Beyond these similarities, each of these products has its own peculiarities. For example, ETCs do not track the price of indices but that of physical commodities such as gold, silver, oil, sugar, or commodity derivatives. There are ETCs of individual commodities or of several assets.

The difference between ETFs and ETNs

ETFs and ETNs are distinguished by only one letter: ‘F’ and ‘N’, which stand for ‘fund’ and ‘note’ respectively. Both Exchange Traded Fund and Exchange Traded Notes replicate the performance of a certain index, but they are two different products because the latter is a debt instrument. If you buy an ETF you actually own securities, whereas when you choose an ETN you have bonds, ‘promises’ from the ETN issuer to one day pay back what you have spent. The difference between ETFs and ETNs is the ownership of securities. ETNs are subject to so-called ‘counterparty risk’, so if the issuer goes bankrupt, the person who bought them risks losing all the capital invested.

A new Bitcoin ETP on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange

On the 23rd of September 2022, a new Bitcoin-themed Exchange Traded Product was listed on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The ETP, which by definition consists of ETFs and ETNs, is issued by Valour, a company that offers financial products related to the Web3 sector, and is called ‘Bitcoin Carbon Neutral’. What is special about this Bitcoin ETP? When you buy Valour’s BTC Carbon Neutral ETP, all carbon dioxide emissions related to the product will be automatically offset. These emissions include, for example, energy consumption related to mining.

Concretely, the carbon-free plan will be implemented in cooperation with Patch, a platform offering solutions for companies that want to play their part in combating climate change. At this juncture, Patch will select projects related to BTC that prevent emissions and remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Valour also offersUniswap (UNI), Cardano (ADA), Solana (SOL) themed ETPs and many other crypto projects.

Another recently launched BTC-themed product is the 21 Shares Bitcoin ETP listed, in July 2022.

Working on a European CBDC, the ECB is also getting Amazon involved

Digital Euro: the ECB working with Amazon for its CBDC

Is the Digital Euro on the way? The European Central Bank is collaborating with five tech companies to study its CBDC

In a statement dated from the 16th of September 2022, the European Central Bank announced its collaboration with five tech companies to test and develop a possible Central Bank Digital Currency. CBDCs are digital currencies that differ from cryptocurrencies in that they are issued by central banks and are therefore not decentralised like Bitcoin is. For the ECB, the main advantage of the digital euro would be its ease and accessibility, since all it would take is a simple internet connection to use CBDC-related banking services. In 2021, the European Union prompted an investigation phase for the development of a CBDC that was supposed to last two years. By mid-2023, the ECB will deliver its final verdict: digital euro yes or no?

Companies selected to develop prototypes and use cases for the CBDC

Before taking a decision on the digital euro, the ECB involved five companies to develop prototypes and use cases in which the CBDC could be used. To choose these companies, a call for applications was made in April 2022. 54 companies interested in working on the digital euro answered the call. On the 16th of September, the selected companies were announced, each with an area of relevance:

  1. CaixaBank: peer-to-peer online payments;
  2. Worldline: offline peer-to-peer payments;
  3. EPI: payments at the point of sale arranged by the payer;
  4. Nexi: payments at the point of sale arranged by the payee;
  5. Amazon: e-commerce payments.

The ECB is therefore working with Amazon and Co. to develop its CBDC. It is time for the prototype operation! These tech companies are called upon to develop front-end service interfaces for the digital euro. The aim is to test transactions with the digital euro, peer-to-peer payment systems, in e-commerce but also at the point of sale. The work on the prototypes will last until the first quarter of 2023 and will then be presented in a report.

Why is the ECB interested in the digital euro?

For the ECB, the digital euro could be a functional supplement to cash. In what sense? The digital euro is not envisaged as a replacement for the euro as we know and use it, but as an additional choice available for payments: ‘it could foster financial innovation and improve the overall efficiency of the payments system’. The CBDC would be an electronic currency issued by the ECB and national central banks, accessible to all citizens and businesses. According to the ECB, the digital euro can only be successful if it is used by European citizens in their daily lives, so it must add value and be genuinely useful. The ongoing tests are verifying precisely these aspects. The ECB continues to test the ground while the White House seems more determined than ever to launch its digital dollar!

The White House finally has a plan to regulate crypto and DeFi

Cryptocurrencies: US plan for regulations and CBDC

The US government has published the ‘first comprehensive framework for the responsible development of digital assets’. What new laws should we expect?

The United States has taken another step for the regulation of cryptocurrencies. On the 16th of September 2022, a document entitled ‘White House Releases First Ever Comprehensive Framework for Responsible Development of Digital Assets was published on the White House website. It is a report summarising the investigations into the crypto sector carried out by nine federal agencies over the past six months, which will be used to implement a legislative plan. The work is the result of President Joe Biden’s executive order issued on the 9th of March of this year. It asked federal agencies to outline guidelines for regulating the industry based on six areas of focus such as consumer protection, promoting financial stability, and financial inclusion.

Over the past six months, agencies across the US government have worked together to develop guidelines and policy recommendations on these issues: from the Treasury Department to the Justice Department,. Let’s take a look at the highlights of the document!

What is the White House document about?

The document drawn up by the federal agencies is divided into seven sections. From their titles, you can already guess the content presented by the White House. A series of actions that will soon take the form of laws and guidelines:

  1. Protecting consumers, investors and businesses;
  2. Promoting access to safe and affordable financial services;
  3. Fostering financial stability;
  4. Advancing responsible innovation;
  5. Reinforcing our global financial leadership and competitiveness;
  6. Fighting illicit finance;
  7. Exploring a US Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC).

Which crypto laws are essential?

The paper starts with a significant figure: 16 percent of American adults have already purchased digital assets. This figure is accompanied by a stance: digital assets are defined by the US government as ‘potential opportunities to strengthen US leadership in the global financial system’, as well as in the field of technological innovation. Federal agency reports explicitly promote research and development in the area of next-generation cryptography, transaction programmability, cybersecurity, and privacy protection. The document expresses great confidence in cryptocurrencies as a resource, but at the same time calls for measures to counter the risks associated with digital assets.

The main risks identified by the federal agencies are volatility and the danger of scams: “outright fraud, scams and theft in the digital asset markets are on the rise: according to FBI statistics, reported monetary losses from digital asset scams were nearly 600% higher in 2021 compared to the year before.” In this context, reference is also made to the lack of crypto regulation that has led to huge losses for consumers following the collapse of the Terra (LUNA) ecosystem. In addition to volatility and the danger of scams, there are also the risks of possible money laundering and the use of funds for illicit activities. According to the White House document, all this must be monitored to ensure the safe use of digital assets. In short, we need laws that promote innovation and at the same time contain the risks.

Proposals such as instructing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) to ‘aggressively pursue investigations and enforcement actions against illegal practices in the digital asset sector’ have been made in this regard. Also, a call for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to redouble its efforts to monitor consumer complaints and to enforce against unfair, deceptive or abusive practices has been made. Finally, proposals were also made for a series of initiatives for financial education and literacy, to raise awareness of the use of cryptocurrencies and to learn how to spot fraudulent practices.

The US is preparing a plan to be ready for any eventuality, and the document published on the 16th September presents all the issues that the legislation will then target.

The digital economy is an asset for all

One interesting aspect that emerged from the White House document is the realisation that the digital economy is a real opportunity for Americans: ‘Today, traditional finance leaves too many people behind. Roughly 7 million Americans have no bank account. Another 24 million rely on expensive nonbank services, such as cheque cashing and money orders, for everyday needs. And for those who do use banks, paying with traditional financial infrastructures can be costly and slow, particularly for cross-border payments’. To encourage the spread of digital services, the US plans to develop instant payment systems and networks for digital assets that are usable, inclusive, fair, and accessible to all.

The CBDC of the United States, a work in progress!

The report also features a section entitled ‘Exploring a US Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC)’. The US is therefore considering a digital form of the US dollar that ‘has the potential to offer significant benefits’. In what sense? A Central Bank Digital Currency “could enable a payment system that is more efficient, provide a foundation for further technological innovation, facilitate faster cross-border transactions, and be environmentally sustainable. It could promote financial inclusion and equity by providing access to a wide range of consumers.” The project for the CBDC appears to be on track, although the federal agencies believe that further research and considerations should be carried out, especially on the technological level.

Criticism of the Biden administration report

The White House’s publication has prompted criticism and objections from some crypto industry members and opposition politicians. They called the document drafted by federal agencies ‘outdated and unbalanced’ and unsuitable for building a legislative framework. The Blockchain Association, which works to raise awareness and improve policy in the crypto world, believes the report lacks “substantive recommendations”. Blockchain Association Executive Director Kristin Smith explained that the federal agencies’ reports are “a missed opportunity to consolidate US leadership in cryptocurrency,” and criticised them for focusing too much on the risks of cryptocurrency. Sheila Warren of the Crypto Council for Innovation, another crypto promotion organisation, said the report does not provide clear policy guidelines. Patrick McHenry, a Republican member of the House Financial Services Committee, offered a criticism in the same vein. He claims that the document is too vague: ‘with clear rules, this innovative technology [cryptocurrencies] can revolutionise our financial markets, modernise our payments system infrastructure, and provide new opportunities for consumers’. Regarding the US CBDC project McHenry explained that ‘Republicans have always said that the benefits of a potential US CBDC must outweigh the risks: these reports fail to demonstrate this’.

A benchmark for international crypto regulation?

The White House document and the framework that will follow could be the inspiration and guide for many other countries. This is certainly Biden’s aim. In the text, you can read that the US explicitly intends to be an example for the regulation of digital assets: ‘US agencies will leverage US positions in international organisations to communicate US values related to digital assets. U.S. agencies will continue and expand their leadership role in digital asset work at international organisations and standard-setting bodies, such as the G7, G20, OECD, FSB, Financial Action Task Force (FATF), and the International Organisation for Standardisation.” All while trying to convey the US values of privacy, free markets, financial stability, consumer protection, and environmental sustainability.

Young Platform supports the Ethereum Proof-of-Work (ETHW) airdrop

Young Platform supports the ETHW airdrop

Young Platform supports ETHW’s airdrop. When will it be distributed? Who is entitled to it?

After the activation of Ethereum’s The Merge update, a group of miners performed a hard fork, creating a new blockchain on which mining can continue. This alternative blockchain, called Ethereum Proof-of-Work, has its own new token, ETHW. It will be distributed via airdrop to all those who owned Ether before The Merge.

When will ETHW’s airdrop be released?

Excluding possible delays by the Custody Provider relied upon by Young Platform, which is carrying out checks and monitoring the blockchain created from the hard fork, we expect to airdrop the ETHW tokens over the next 15 days, during which a date will be announced as soon as it is certain. The airdrop will be carried out in a 1:1 ratio, meaning that for every ETH held prior to the activation of The Merge, one ETHW will be released.

There are currently no plans to list the ETHW token. However, the Young Platform team is considering it. A possible listing will be announced with advance notice!

Who can participate in the airdrop?

The distribution of the ETHW token is calculated on the basis of the snapshot taken on  the 15th September 2022 at 06:42 UTC. This corresponds to the time when The Merge update was activated.

To check whether you are entitled to ETHW airdrop on Young Platform, please refer to these three different cases. If on the 15 September 2022, at 06:42 UTC:

1. You had ETHs in your Spot Wallet

You will receive the ETHWs you are entitled to directly in your Spot Wallet.

2. You had ETHs active in your Earning Wallet

If you had not deactivated the Earning Wallet functionality for your ETHs by the 15th of September 2022 06:42 UTC, your right to receive the ETHW airdrop depends on the outcome of the analysis that Young Platform’s Earning Wallet Provider is performing on the new blockchain created from the fork. You will be able to receive ETHW in proportion to your Ether in the Earning Wallet only if the Ethereum Proof-of-Work blockchain is supported by Copper (the Custody Provider) within 30 days after the hard fork. Moreover, the new blockchain must simultaneously meet at least two of the three requirements explained below. 

The three requirements, two of which must be met by the Ethereum Proof-of-Work blockchain, are:

  1. Hash Power: the average hash power mining of ETHW on the 30th day following the occurrence of the Hard Fork (calculated as a 30-day average on such date) is at least 5% of the hash power mining of ETH on the day preceding the Hard Fork (calculated as a 3-day average of the 3 days preceding the Hard Fork).
  2. Market Capitalization: the average market capitalisation of ETHW (defined as the total value of all ETHW) on the 30th day following the occurrence the Hard Fork (calculated as a 30-day average on such date) is at least 5% of the average market capitalisation of ETH, calculated as a 30-day average on such date.
  3. 24-Hour Trading Volume: the average 24-hour trading volume of the ETHW on the 30th day following the occurrence the Hard Fork (calculated as a 30-day average on such date) is at least 1% of the average 24-hour trading volume of ETH (calculated as a 30-day average on such date).

The fulfilment of the requirements and the consequent right to receive the airdrop will be promptly communicated according to the required timeframe for the analyses (approximately one month).

3. You deactivated the Earning Wallet functionality for your ETHs before the 15th of September 2022

If you deactivated the Earning Wallet functionality for your ETHs before the 15th of September 2022 06:42 UTC, but your ETHs were not yet transferred from the Earning Wallet to your Spot Wallet, you are still entitled to the airdrop. You therefore fall under case 1 “You had ETH in your Wallet”.

The Merge is live! The first hours of Ethereum 2.0 and the crypto community’s reactions

The Merge is live! Ethereum 2.0's first moments and reactions

The Merge was activated on the 15th of September 2022. What happened during the first hours of Ethereum 2.0? How did the crypto sector react?

The activation of The Merge update has been called a ‘milestone’, a ‘historic moment‘ and a ‘revolution’. In recent months, The Merge has been narrated in a few different ways. It has been interpreted as the engine change of a running car, or as a spaceship not yet ready for interstellar travel according to the Ethereum Foundation’s comparison. Any narrative has tried to do justice to the scale of this update, one of the largest open-source software projects in history, which required the coordination of dozens of teams, researchers, developers and volunteers.

Some people on the night of 14th – 15th of September followed the crucial moments of The Merge minute by minute as if they were watching the launch of a space mission. As the TTD approached, watch parties and streams began to follow the precise moment the Merge was completed. Everyone gathered together from all over the world. Those who watched the Ethereum Foundation’s live broadcast also received a celebratory POAP, an NFT that will forever prove attendance at the pivotal event of the blockchain conceived by Vitalik Buterin. Check out the first hours of Ethereum 2.0 and the crypto community’s reactions to the activation of The Merge!

Ethereum is now Proof-of-Stake!

With Proof-of-Stake, Ethereum is now ready for interstellar travel. On Thursday the 15th of September at 06:42:42 UTC, the Total Terminal Difficulty 58750000000000000 was reached and the Beacon Chain was finally integrated with Ethereum’s mainnet. Vitalik Buterin, the founder of Ethereum, commented on the activation of The Merge with this statement: “And we have finalised! Happy merge everyone, this is a great moment for the Ethereum ecosystem. Everyone who helped make the merge happen should feel really proud today.”

The first epoch, i.e. the first packet of 32 blocks, of Ethereum 2.0 was finalised at 06:59. This was the litmus test that kept everyone in suspense. The finalisation of the first epoch confirmed that Ethereum 2.0 was working properly. The last block of Ethereum Proof-of-Work, number 15537393, was mined by the F2Pool mining pool, one of the first pools to deal with Bitcoin mining. The gas paid by the pool for the transaction was 29,991,429 gwei, which is the smallest unit of Ether (1 ETH consists of one billion gwei). The miner of the last PoW block included a message in Mandarin in the block itself: “七彩神仙鱼F!”, which translates to “Colourful Angelfish F!”. From then on, the miners were no longer responsible for the validation of Ethereum transactions. An NFT was created from ethereum’s last mined block and created for sale on OpenSea under the name ‘The Last POW Block’.

Celebrations for The Merge and the first NFT on Ethereum PoS

A few hours after the activation of The Merge, someone paid 36 ETH (the equivalent of $57,600) to ‘mine’ the first NFT on Ethereum 2.0. The non-fungible token represents a panda and some details of the state of the blockchain at the time it was created.

Why a panda? The animal became the symbol of The Merge because it was pictured as a combination of a white bear and a black bear. A few days ago, Sam Padilla, Google’s Web3 engineer, introduced a small easter egg in the search engine screens. When a user would search for ‘The Merge Ethereum’ or similar terms, the countdown for the update appeared alongside two little bears, one white and one black. As the countdown elapsed, they moved ever closer to each other. The timer was directly connected to the blockchain and updated in real time. From now on after the successful completion of the merge, a panda appears clutching the ETH symbol between its paws.

Beeple, the famous NFT artist, also paid homage to The Merge by posting his latest work depicting a giant Ethereum symbol on Twitter.

The crypto community’s reactions to The Merge

The crypto community exploded in comments and celebrations after the activation of The Merge. Here are some of them!

1. Yuga Labs

Yuga Labs, the founders of Bored Ape Yacht Club, the leading NFT collection built on Ethereum, wrote: “Congratulations to the entire Ethereum team on a successful merge. This is a historic moment for us and a big step in scaling Ethereum to its first billion users.” For Yuga Labs, it is crucial that Ethereum becomes a blockchain capable of handling a large volume of transactions simultaneously. Especially now that it is building Otherside, its Metaverse.

2. Tim Beiko, the spokesman for the developers of The Merge

‘We are done. It’s done. We merged. Holy s**t. Amazing work everyone!” was how Tim Beiko, one of the developers most involved in The Merge, commented on the success of the update.

https://twitter.com/TimBeiko/status/1570307466075992064?s=20&t=cA8QX-T2r-DJp3y9dPCkgg

3.    Justin Sun, Charles Hoskinson, Emin Gun Sirer

Congratulations on the successful upgrade of Ethereum also came from competitors. Among them, congratulations came from the founders of Tron, Avalanche and Cardano.

         Charles Hoskinson, who was part of the core founders of Ethereum, recorded a video in which he explained that he wanted to take a moment to praise the hard work of the people who brought about this ‘historic moment’. According to Hoskinson, The Merge is the most complex thing ever achieved in the crypto sector. An example of scientific progress and a victory for all!

On the same wavelength, Emin Gün Sirer of Avalanche wrote that the Merge was: ‘a moment and a milestone to remember. Congratulations to the developers who navigated enormous technical complexity. You should be incredibly proud’.

What happened to the price of ETH after The Merge

In the minutes immediately following the activation of the update, the value of the cryptocurrency dropped slightly (by 0.4 per cent compared to the previous 24 hours). However, the price of ETH after The Merge remained essentially unchanged, hovering around $1,600.

What is NBA Top Shot? Here come the basketball NFT collectibles

What is NBA Top Shot: a guide to basketball NFTs

An NFT platform dedicated to memorable moments in basketball now exists on the Flow blockchain. Find out what NBA Top Shot is and how it works!

What is NBA Top Shot? In essence, it is a platform for fans of the most famous basketball league! Created from a collaboration between the blockchain company Flow, the Dapper Labs team and the National Basketball Association, NBA Top Shot offers videos of the most memorable moments of basketball in the form of NFTs. NBA Top Shot NFTs can be collected and used as playing cards. So, how do the challenges work? Where can you buy NBA NFTs? What are the differences with Sorare? We explain all this and much more in this guide to NBA Top Shot!

What is NBA Top Shot? The origins of the project

The NBA Top Shot project was launched in 2019 to allow fans and supporters to exclusively collect highlights of American basketball. The idea for Top Shot came from the National Basketball Association (NBA) and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA). The technical creation of the NFTs, on the other hand, was entrusted to Dapper Labs, a Web3 influencer. They registered the NFTs’ information and metadata on the Flow blockchain via smart contracts.

The reception of the project by fans was good right from the start, and NBA Top Shot continues to be very successful. This is partly due to the popularity and reliability of the NBA brand. Confidence in the project came from the positive values associated with the NBA, and many people bought an NFT from the Top Shot collection as their first one. A good portion of Web3 novices owe a lot to the NBA! The NBA Top Shot community has also expanded to include dozens of celebrities, including well-known faces from US basketball such as Michael Jordan and Kevin Durant. In 2021, the NFTs of the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) league were also integrated.

Flow, the blockchain for NFTs

Flow is a Proof-of-Stake blockchain that aims to be the benchmark in the development of Web3 projects. Flow works to be highly scalable, fast and low cost. But its real strength is its user-friendliness for developers, who can create customised projects that are instantaneous and easy for users to use. Flow aims to support everything the Web3 world has to offer: NFTs, DAOs, play-to-earn games. Flow aims to engage the public, even those outside the crypto sector  by building the most innovative blockchain experiences. This vocation towards entertainment originates from a well-known incident in the NFT world, namely the congestion of the Ethereum network in 2017 due to the launch of the CryptoKitties collection. After this episode that demonstrated Ethereum’s weaknesses, the CryptoKitties team decided to found a blockchain suitable for hosting NFTs. Thus, the Dapper Labs startup was born, which in turn gave birth to the Flow blockchain. 

How NBA Top Shot, NFTs and challenges work

The NFTs on NBA Top Shot are called “Moments” because they depict various championship moments, such as on-court actions or memorable points. This is done through videos lasting only a few seconds. Each NFT video also features player statistics and codes indicating the rarity of the ‘Moment’. These non-fungible tokens are designed first and foremost as collectible items. However, you can “participate in challenges to earn new incredible Moments” or exclusive prizes such as match tickets. There are different types of challenges. In some, you get points based on the league performances of the players you want to play with. In others, it’s a matter of guessing which players will do certain things or obtain titles. For example “the player with the most points in the playoff game” or “the player who scores the most points in the … vs … game “. To start playing on NBA Top Shot, you first have to create an account by entering your personal data, confirming that you are at least 18 years old and having your residence in one of the countries where the project is active, including the US and the UK!

Where to buy NBA Top Shots and how much do they cost?

The value of NBA NFTs, like everything on the blockchain, varies over time and according to factors such as rarity. Tokens can be found as low as $2. However, the most expensive NBA Top Shots can go up to six figures. Since the launch of the first ‘Moments’, NBA Top Shot has generated more than $1 billion in sales. You can purchase individual NFTs or “Packs” containing a number of tokens. These “Packs” are often released in special editions (members on the platform will be notified of the drop 8 hours in advance). NBA Top Shot NFTs can be found directly on the platform’s marketplace or on secondary marketplaces such as OpenSea. For purchases you can use Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, DAI, USDC, Ether and also fiat currency (US dollar). Packs’ can also be purchased with FLOW, the native token of the blockchain.

Sorare vs NBA Top Shot: basketball on the blockchain

Basketball on the blockchain goes beyond NBA Top Shot! On the 7th of September 2022, Sorare, the well-known crypto fantasy football platform, announced that the NBA will be the next league to join the list. There are essentially two main differences between the platforms:

  1. The blockchain on which they are built: while Sorare relies on Ethereum, NBA Top Shot uses Flow;
  2. The topics of the NFTs: NBA Top Shot depicts significant moments in the form of videos, while Sorare displays the figurines of American basketball league players recorded on blockchain.

In general, NBA Top Shot can be said to be less of a play-to-earn and more of a collector-oriented platform than Sorare.

The Merge and Young Platform: what will happen to your ETH?

The Merge and Young Platform: deposits, withdrawals and airdrops

Get ready for The Merge: everything you need to know about the impact of the Ethereum update on Young Platform

*Updated 14/09/2022: new features for the Earning Wallet functionality.

As an additional security measure for the funds of Young Platform users and in agreement with our partner provider of the Earning functionality, the Earning Wallet functionality will also be suspended during The Merge. All information can be found in the last paragraph of this article. 

The Merge, the update that will make Ethereum a Proof-of-Stake blockchain, is just around the corner. This is one of the biggest and most impactful updates in the entire crypto industry. In fact, Ethereum is the blockchain on which most of DeFi and NFTs are built and Ether, its coin, is the second largest crypto by market cap.

You may have wondered if the activation of the historical update will have consequences for your ETH. Here is what will change on Young Platform with The Merge.

Temporary suspension of ETH deposits and withdrawals

Deposits and withdrawals of Ether (ETH) and ERC-20 tokens on Young Platform will be suspended as of the 14th of September 2022 (10 pm UTC).

We recommend that you complete your transactions in advance of this date so that deposits and withdrawals are properly processed. Deposits made close to this date may not be counted in a possible Ethereum hard fork.

Your tokens will remain safe in your Wallet and during The Merge you will not have to perform any specific operation. Everything will be handled by Young Platform. You are free to convert your Ether before The Merge but this is not a necessary action. Likewise, your ETHs locked in the Earning Wallet section will not be affected by the Ethereum update.

Temporary suspension of MATIC, AVAX and FTM deposits

Deposits of Polygon (MATIC), Avalanche (AVAX) and Fantom (FTM) will also be suspended from the same date and time : the 14th of September 2022 (10 pm UTC)

Will there be a new Ethereum 2.0 token? What will happen to my ETHs after The Merge?

After the activation of The Merge update on the Ethereum blockchain, two possible scenarios could occur:

1. No new token will be created:

The Ethereum blockchain will switch to the Proof-of-Stake mechanism without a hard fork. In this case, there will be no substantial changes for ETH holders and Young Platform will rehabilitate deposits and withdrawals as soon as possible;

2. A new token will be created:

During The Merge, the Ethereum blockchain could undergo a hard fork and thus split and create a new token. In this scenario, one chain will operate under the new Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, while the other will retain Proof-of-Work. In this case Ether (ETH) will be assigned as the coin of the new Ethereum 2.0 Proof-of-Stake blockchain. Meanwhile the new token (ETHPOW) will replace the ETHs of the Proof-of-Work chain and will be distributed via an airdrop.

The distribution of the new token will be calculated on the basis of a snapshot concurrent with the activation of The Merge. A snapshot means that establishes which users possess ETH and in what quantity.

So, what will happen on Young Platform at this point? Should Ethereum’s hard fork occur, detailed updates on how the new token will be airdropped and what is new for the exchange will follow.

The hard fork and the creation of the new token are currently only a possibility, not a certainty.

In any case, before deciding whether to support the new token, Young Platform will subject it to all the verification procedures typical of any listing. Announcements regarding the new token will be made in a dedicated announcement.

What will happen to the Earning Wallet with The Merge? (Updated 14/09/2022)

From the 14th of September 2022 (10 pm UTC) onwards, and until further notice, it will not be possible to activate a new Earning with the Earning Wallet functionality or to deactivate an already active Earning. 

This means that during the suspension period:

  1. You will not be able to stake or unstake your cryptos in the Earning wallet until the end of this period
  2. Automatic renewals will be disabled until the end of this period
  3. The counting of rewards related to activated Earnings will continue uninterrupted.

In summary, you have these options: 

  1. Activate new Earnings before the 14th of September 2022 (10 pm UTC), your rewards will continue being counted as normal;
  2. Deactivate your already active Earnings before the 14th of September 2022 (10 pm UTC) to unstake your cryptos and send them to your Spot Wallet. Caution: if you deactivate an Earning before the end date indicated on the app, you will lose the accumulated reward.
  3. Keep your Earnings active and continue to claim rewards

Follow the activation of The Merge on the Young Platform Blog, if you have further questions, please contact the Support Centre.

‘In-chain’ NFTs? The Moonbirds collection offers an explanation

Moonbirds NFTs: What are on-chain and in-chain NFTs?

The future of the Moonbirds NFT collection is all about being on-chain. Let’s find out what the difference is between on-chain, in-chain and off-chain NFTs

PROOF, the Web3 startup that created the Moonbirds NFT collection, has just unveiled the project’s future plans. Among the planned features is making all its non-fungible tokens ‘in-chain’. You may have already heard about the difference between on-chain and off-chain NFTs. But what exactly is meant by ‘in-chain’? 

All the records in the Moonbirds collection

The NFTs of the Moonbirds collection were released in April 2022 and within 48 hours of launch, all 10,000 NFTs were sold out. Moonbirds is a PFP collection of images designed to be used as profile photos, depicting automatically generated, pixelated avatars of owls. According to CryptoSlam, Moonbirds ranks 10th in total sales of collections, PROOF’s NFTs have generated sales of over $590 million! Thanks to these impressive numbers and the support it has received from the industry, this collection has earned blue chip status for some. Moonbirds also stands out from other collections because it introduced the staking of NFTs, called ‘nesting’.

At the end of August 2022, PROOF (coordinated by Venture Capital investor Kevin Rose) offered an explanation for the future. The creation and storage of NFT projects, including Moonbirds spin-off collections, will be managed in-chain. To understand what in-chain NFTs are, let us first look at the difference between on-chain and off-chain NFTs.

On-chain and off-chain NFTs, what is the difference?

The parameter for recognising whether a non-fungible token is on-chain and an off-chain concerns its storage. We know that the ownership and uniqueness of NFTs is guaranteed by the blockchain, but where are NFTs stored? An NFT is composed of:

●     An ID: a unique identification code that distinguishes tokens from one another and is registered via smart contracts on blockchain;

●     Metadata: as digital content. Each NFT consists of a set of metadata that configures its appearance, such as shapes, colours, names, sizes, the type of hat, the plumage or expression of the owls (in the case of Moonbirds) but also information such as maximum supply.

The non-fungible token ID is always stored on blockchain, and functions as a certificate of authenticity and uniqueness of an NFT. However, metadata is often stored elsewhere, i.e. off-chain. Storing metadata off-chain is the most popular option used by creators of NFT collections, who rely on external, centralised or decentralised hosting services and servers. In contrast, storing an NFT on-chain means that the entire token – including metadata – exists on a blockchain.

Is on-chain storage better than off-chain storage?

On-chain storage may be preferable because all aspects of the token are directly manageable and verifiable by the owners. However, it is a very expensive route due to the size of the data that has to be recorded on the blockchain. JPEG images for instance contain a lot of data, and collections often consist of hundreds or thousands of images all different from each other. Most NFT projects, including CryptoPunks and the Bored Ape Yacht Club, have chosen to store their content off-chain.

As anticipated, off-chain hosting and archiving services can be either centralised or decentralised. With centralised hosting providers, there is a risk (although unlikely) that they could shut down at any time, jeopardising the existence of the stored NFTs. All that would remain for the owner would be the ID on the blockchain. Decentralised storage is managed by systems such as IPFS. When a file is stored on IPFS, it receives a unique hash of the content that links it to the entire network. Although NFTs on IPFS are not technically stored on the blockchain, no one can lose or hack files on IPFS as no one can shut down the cloud. This is because it is managed in a decentralised manner by thousands of nodes.

Moonbirds: what are in-chain NFTs?

In contrast to this, PROOF has a plan to make its NFTs ‘in-chain’. By this term, PROOF implies that not only the data storage will be on-chain, but also the creation itself: ‘to make sure that it is fully decentralised and visible for generations to come’. The metadata will therefore be created by the same smart contract that attests to the existence and certifies the authenticity of the token. In other words, the code that creates the digital artwork will be on the blockchain. Harri Thomas of PROOF explained that with this procedure, the graphic representation of each Moonbirds NFT “will be built by the smart contract itself from art layers, which will also be stored on the blockchain”.

PROOF and Moonbirds’ roadmap also includes the establishment of a DAO and a governance token. The launch of a spinoff collection called ‘Moonbirds Mythics’, which will comprise 20,000 NFTs and will be launched in early 2023. The new collection will not follow the pixel art aesthetic, the images will be drawn with a technique that mimics the freehand style. These new designs will be made possible thanks to newly obtained funding. In fact, PROOF has just raised $50 million in a Series A funding round led by venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, also known as a16z.

5 interesting facts about The Merge, the update that will change crypto forever

The Merge: 5 things you didn't know about the Ethereum update

The update that will change Ethereum and crypto forever is coming. Find out 5 things you didn’t know about The Merge!

‘The Merge’ refers to the set of updates that will lead the Ethereum blockchain to change its consensus mechanism from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake. In the crypto world, this has been the talk of the town for months. The Ethereum update is so important that ‘The Merge’ has become a commonly used term to indicate the final activation of the update and more generally the passage to the 2.0 version of Ethereum.

So, what will change with Ethereum 2.0? Transactions will be faster, cheaper and more green. The network will be more decentralised and secure, which will make the Ethereum blockchain more scalable and energy efficient. However, The Merge will not only impact Vitalik Buterin‘s blockchain, the upgrade will also change the crypto world forever. Ethereum is the blockchain on which the main Decentralised Finance protocols are built and in which the world of NFTs is developed. To learn more about the more technical aspects of The Merge, we refer you to Academy’s article on Ethereum 2.0. However, read on to discover 5 things you didn’t know about The Merge!

1.   Why is the Ethereum update called The Merge?

This Ethereum update is called ‘The Merge’ because it consists of the merging of two chains into one. With the update, Ethereum’s Beacon Chain and mainnet will be merged together. The former is the Proof-of-Stake network that has been active since 2020 and used as a ‘Consensus’ layer, but not yet for processing transactions. The mainnet, on the other hand, is the only ‘Execution’ layer of the blockchain on which miners will work until The Merge. With the completion of the upgrade, these two chains will be merged together to improve the performance of Ethereum.

2.   Why is the release date of The Merge changing?

The final phase and activation of the update was planned for September 2022. For a long time no official date for the release of The Merge was communicated. In the past months, the date has been postponed more than once. Even when September was identified as a possible date, the Ethereum developers only hinted at a broad activation period, namely between the 10th and the 20th of September. On the 6th September, Vitalik Buterin narrowed it down to between the 13th and 15th of the month. But why is the exact release date of The Merge not known? Ethereum’s developers did not schedule the update based on the calendar, and thus on a time parameter, but by referring to the Total Terminal Difficulty (TTD). The TTD is the value reached at which the Proof-of-Stake update will be released. It can be understood as similar to the score obtained in order to pass a level in a video game. The Merge will only be completed when the TTD of the value 58750000000000000 is reached. The TTD is the parameter that indicates the level of difficulty that miners have to face to validate the last block in Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work. This value depends on many factors and it is therefore not possible to establish with certainty when the network will reach that value. This is why the date of The Merge is constantly changing.

3.   Beyond Buterin, here is the team of The Merge

Among the thousands of programmers who keep the Ethereum protocol going, you may not know that 119 experts are working on The Merge. Together with this group, some prominent personalities from the crypto world have also joined. From the Ethereum Foundation, researchers Danny Ryan and Justin Drake have contributed directly to The Merge project. The former has been working on The Merge since 2017 (fun fact: The Merge and the move to PoS had already been suggested in 2015, shortly after the birth of Ethereum), in relation to issues such as scalability, sustainability and security. Drake, on the other hand, had a coordination and public relations role.

Vitalik Buterin, of course, also contributed to The Merge update as the mastermind behind the new understanding of Ethereum and as a populariser with the general public. We can credit Buterin for the design philosophy of the new consensus mechanism. Another key figure is Tim Beiko who heads the team of developers. Beiko became the main spokesperson on social media for the development team and managed the many steps necessary for The Merge. Among all the people working on The Merge, we should also mention Mikhail Kalinin of ConsenSys, a software development company that collaborates with Ethereum. They established the details of the Beacon Chain and, according to Beiko, Kalinin is one of those who ‘literally built and steered the ship’. Kalinin called his experience at Ethereum ‘an example of true diversification and decentralisation of work on a research and development project’.

4.   Will there be a new Ethereum 2.0 coin?

As the completion of The Merge approaches, many have wondered whether Ethereum 2.0, the new version of the Proof-of-Stake blockchain, will have a new coin. And again, what will happen to the existing ETHs in our wallets? To answer this question, you have to consider the two possible scenarios following the activation of the update. After The Merge there could be a hard fork of the blockchain in which Ethereum would split into two different chains, one with the consensus mechanism it has always had (PoW) and another that relies instead on staking to validate transactions. In this case, a new coin would be created accordingly, which is currently referred to as ‘ETHPOW’. The chain with the PoS consensus mechanism will retain Ether (ETH) as its native coin, and the PoW chain will instead continue mining ETHPOW. The PoW chain will only remain in existence as long as miners continue to use and support it.

Should a new cryptocurrency actually be created, it will be distributed via airdrop in a 1:1 ratio. Basically your ETH holdings will not change because of this. To prepare for The Merge on Young Platform, read the dedicated announcement.

5.   Sustainable NFTs in the spotlight

Among the 5 things you might not know about The Merge is the green revolution in the NFT world. Let’s consider that most non-fungible tokens are built on Ethereum. Following The Merge, there will be a drastic reduction in the environmental impact of NFT production and transactions. This is because the consensus mechanism that enables Ethereum activity will no longer rely on the computing power of the miners but on the mechanism of staking. In other words, all the electricity used to power the mining hardware will no longer be needed. All blockchain-related activities will be more energy sustainable. 

One of the main criticisms levelled at NFTs concerns the energy required for their ‘minting’, i.e. the process by which digital assets are created. Concerns about the pollution produced by non-fungible tokens have intensified, especially in the current context of an environmental and energy crisis. With greener NFTs, the sector could attract new enthusiasts and experience a creative rally. Creators and new projects will be able to indulge in creating art on the blockchain, no longer intimidated by the environmental footprint.

 

Can you recognise the most common scams in the crypto world?

How to recognise a crypto scam: from social engineering to phishing

How can you recognise a crypto scam? Here’s what you need to know to unmask scams and keep your crypto safe.

According to a report by the data collection company Chainalysis published on the 6th of January 2022, $14 billion in cryptocurrencies were stolen through scams in 2021, mainly due to rug pulls. The figure increased almost doubled compared to the previous year. This growth in scams coincided with the development of the industry and the boom of interest in cryptocurrencies. Fraudsters and scammers take advantage of bull market periods to act on people’s optimism about the markets. When economic interests are at stake, scams spring up like mushrooms and this is also the case with cryptocurrencies. Crypto scams are unfortunately widespread. However, with a few small tricks, it is possible to learn how to recognise a crypto scam from social engineering to phishing.

Red flags: the identikit of the scam

Before reviewing the main scams that operate in the world of crypto, it is important to keep in mind some ‘red flags’ or suspicious features that could indicate you are facing a scam:

●     Someone asks you to share your private keys or passwords;

●     Someone sends you a private message offering airdrops or giveaways;

●     Someone contacts you posing as a trader or an employee of a crypto project such as an exchange;

●     The messages you receive, or the websites you surf on, contain typographical or spelling errors;

●     Someone promises you to multiply your money or receive free earnings;

No one, not even employees of crypto projects, are authorised to ask you to disclose your personal data. Very often, when something is too good to be true, in most cases it is not.

Phishing

Phishing is a common scam all over the Internet, not just for cryptocurrencies. Phishing consists of malicious people sending you messages or emails posing as services or sites that you have used before (banks, e-commerce, social networks…). They invite you to open a link or communicate personal data. When it comes to crypto, fraudsters could steal the passwords or seed phrases of your wallets through phishing, consequently stealing your crypto. Phishing messages can usually be recognised because the profiles that send them show inconsistencies with the services they are trying to imitate. Although scammers are capable of creating communications and sites that are very similar to the original ones and therefore convincing, certain details such as syntax or grammatical errors are signs of a possible scam. It is always good practice to check that the URLs of sites or e-mail addresses correspond to those of official sites, even just one character more or less can make a difference.

Fake Customer Service Representatives or Traders

In this type of scam, someone pretends to be a representative of a crypto organisation or company.  They then ask for sensitive information such as your wallet seed phrase, under the pretext of solving fake technical problems. Once the private key is obtained, the scammers drain your wallet. In this case, the scammers may also ask you to send them money in exchange for a higher value. Usually these requests are made with a sense of urgency, alerting people worried about the safety of their assets. Remember that all official communications are only ever made through official channels, do not rely too much on rumours or speculation. If you have any doubts, contact Customer Service from the official website.

Malicious people could also try to pass themselves off as telephone operator employees, offering new contracts or to change SIM cards. In possession of your phone number, they can bypass all two-factor authentications that rely on it. Some scammers also present themselves as experienced traders ready to help you. In this case, they will try to contact you, especially on social networks or online communities such as YouTube or Telegram. How to recognise this crypto scam? Due to their unrealistic promises, fake traders are easily unmasked. Beware of those who claim they can make you incredibly rich in a short time, in the world of crypto there are no shortcuts or ‘foolproof methods’.

Fake exchange apps

Among the most common scams are a number of fake apps that pretend to be the mobile version of cryptocurrency-related web services, such as exchanges or marketplaces. If you come across one of these apps in an app store, remember that the official ones are always downloadable from the relevant website. You can easily check if the two versions coincide. Again, a clue leading to a fraud can be spelling mistakes, the name of the exchange might be misspelt, or the icons might not exactly match the original ones. You can also check the number of downloads of the app. If it claims to be that of a reputable service, the downloads cannot be few. In addition, counterfeit apps usually require more permissions than necessary, as this ensures that they collect as much data as possible from the devices of scam victims.

Another type of scam app are those that promise to perform mining on your behalf and promise you rewards that never come. To avoid this type of crypto scam, it is good to know that for most cryptocurrencies, mining requires highly specialised hardware that is not compatible with mobile devices.

Rug pull

A rug pull is when scammers offer a new project, obtain funding and then disappear with the collected funds. A recent example of a rug pull was the Squid Coin scam, the token named after the Netflix series. Those who bought the token were engulfed in the hype of its quick price pump from 1 cent to $90. They then lost everything when the project’s founders stopped the activity and took the money, about $3 million, then disappeared altogether. To defend yourself against rug pull, you have to consider the project you intend to support from several points of view such as its soundness, the content of the white paper, the presence (and feasibility) of a roadmap and business model, and finally the identity and CVs of the founders. If any of these aspects are confusing or suspect, you are probably dealing with a scam.

Scams on social networks

Social networks are a frequently used channel for crypto scams. As already mentioned, YouTube is teeming with comments from fake traders promising easy money or “fake” livestreams asking people to send money in order to receive a larger sum. During these kinds of live feeds, the scammers are likely to pretend to be prominent industry figures willing to share their wealth with users. In this case, make sure that the channel from which the live is broadcast is official. On Instagram and Telegram, private messages dispensing supposed financial advice and proposing one-off deals are widespread. On Twitter and Instagram, you can also find posts promising fake or non-existent giveaways, or even fake profiles of projects or personalities from the crypto world trying to fool people. The most famous and popular ones in recent times are those that promise you NFT airdrops, but you only end up with your personal data getting stolen.

Social engineering: the basis of crypto scams

To recognise a crypto scam, it can be useful to study the basis of all such scams, namely the mechanisms of social engineering. This term refers to the persuasion schemes that fraudsters use to lure and scam people by exploiting their weaknesses and their good faith. Social engineering mechanics are behind strategies to lure victims, to befriend them via social networks or dating apps, and to induce them to download scam apps or to steal their crypto by accessing their sensitive information. Scammers investigate people’s weaknesses by exploiting people’s desires, emotions and cognitive biases to manipulate them.The techniques and types of scams that endanger our digital assets and information are diverse; learning how to recognise crypto scams is the first step to defending yourself.