The 3 main Ethereum hard forks: ETC, ETHW and ETHF

Ethereum 2.0: the 3 main forks after The Merge: ETHW, ETC, ETF

Ethereum Classic, Ethereum Proof-of-Work and Ethereum Fair. Everything you didn’t know about the 3 main Ethereum hard forks after The Merge!

On the 25th of September 2022, The Merge update that changed the consensus mechanism of the Ethereum blockchain was successfully activated. The Ethereum network went from Proof-of-Work to Proof-of-Stake without a hitch. For users,The Merge did not bring significant changes, but the same wasn’t true for miners. In the previous version of the blockchain, miners were in charge of validating transactions and consequently blocks on the blockchain, thus earning ETH rewards for each validated block. Therefore, many of them had to move to other blockchains out of necessity ; some of them already existed, others were specially created as hard forks of the main Ethereum blockchain. A hard fork, in cryptocurrency jargon, is when a project is updated in such a way that it is incompatible with the previous version, giving rise to something new. Let’s learn about the 3 main hard forks after The Merge: ETHW, ETC and ETHF.

The most classic of hard forks, Ethereum Classic

Ethereum Classic is perhaps the most famous hard fork in crypto history. ETC was born as a result of a hack on Ethereum’s DAO in July 2016. The hack targeted was an early form of a DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation), a type of organisation that is very popular nowadays in the Web3 world. It allows users who own the crypto of an ecosystem to actively participate in the initiatives and politics of a project.

Ethereum’s The DAO was supposed to be a kind of Venture Capital, with the aim of financing projects within Web3, based on users’ Ether votes from the community. In the days immediately following its launch, the DAO managed to raise $150 million in ETH from more than 11,000 different users. However, in July 2016, one or more hackers breached The DAO’s smart contract. They managed to steal 3.6 million Ethereum, about 14% of the total supply at that time. Following this breach of the Ethereum blockchain, the community was called upon to take a vote on the future of the network. The solution that most people agreed on was the creation of a hard fork.

The main Ethereum blockchain became the Ethereum Classic blockchain, while the new fork that came about as a result of the hard fork became the Ethereum network we all know. But what does Ethereum Classic have to do with The Merge update? ETC is the best-known hard fork of the Ethereum blockchain and has been active since 2016. Although it has been the victim of a few attacks in the past, it continues to resist and process transactions without any particular problems. Precisely for this reason, a large number of miners, left ‘unemployed’ after The Merge, decided to use their computational power to validate ETC transactions instead.

The hashrate of the Ethereum Classic blockchain went from about 50 trillion hash functions per second (Th/s) to about 150 trillion today. It peaked on the day of The Merge, with a hash rate of 300 Th/s. The term indicates the total performance of the network, specifically the amount of hashing functions executed in one second. The increase in hashing functions that occurred simultaneously with the activation of The Merge update shows the amount of miners that migrated from Ethereum to Ethereum Classic.

The resilience of miners, Ethereum Proof-of-Work is born

ETHW was the main Ethereum hard fork after The Merge. Some Ethereum miners decided to copy Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work blockchain and thus create ETHW. The ETHW crypto was distributed to all those who owned Ethereum on both decentralised wallets and exchanges via a snapshot. The latter makes it possible to see the amount of crypto and the addresses that owned that amount at a given time.

Despite the great popularity of this crypto in the days immediately preceding The Merge, the launch was not the best. ETHW’s network suffered various problems allegedly caused by a hack that now seems to have been resolved. In the hours immediately following the launch, ETHW was subject to very high volatility. In fact, it peaked at $50 and then fell back to around $10 in the following hours.

The future direction of ETHW is still uncertain. The project’s white paper, a document in which the main information of a blockchain protocol and goals for the future are usually found, as of today consists of ten pages. The first five pages are devoted exclusively to the title of the whitepaper ‘The Original Ethereum Blockchain powered by Proof of Work’ in English and Chinese, the remaining five have the words ‘these pages have been left intentionally blank’. So the whitepaper is not very constructive. We will see whether ETHW plans to design something for the future or whether it will remain only the ‘second home’ of the now former Ethereum miners.

Ethereum’s third hard fork after The Merge: Ethereum Fair

The third Ethereum hard fork after The Merge is Ethereum Fair, which was created on the 15th of September 2022. The ETHF crypto, at first named ETF, was however not distributed to Ether holders, but to those who owned Bitcoin, Dogecoin and Ethereum Classic. ETHF, however, does not seem to have won over the miners, and the market in general. The crypto was launched at a starting price of about $15 and in a fortnight has lost more than 70 per cent of its value.

Polkadot’s new roadmap explained in 5 points

Polkadot: 5 new features coming in 2022

On the 26th of September, Polkadot released its roadmap for the last quarter of 2022. Check out Gavin Wood’s 5 new features for the blockchain!

On Monday the 26th of September Polkadot, and its development company, Parity Technology, released a document outlining all the most important features the network is working on for the last quarter of 2022. The updates planned by Polkadot are mainly related to scalability, parachain development, governance and staking. Let’s take a look at 5 new features for Polkadot coming in 2022 and all the improvements planned for the network!

1.   Polkadot is becoming increasingly scalable

The first of five features coming to Polkadot in 2022 is called Asynchronous Backing and will be implemented to increase the scalability of the Polkadot network. Scalability is the ability of a network to process transactions quickly; the more scalable a blockchain is, the more transactions it can process in a given period of time. Thanks to the Asynchronous Backing functionality, the time per block on each parachain is expected to be reduced from 12 seconds to around 6 seconds. This will ensure that networks process transactions faster and with less latency: the time between when a transaction is sent and when it is actually processed.

Asynchronous Backing will make it possible to double the space available on each block, and to ‘reuse’ blocks when they are not validated on the first attempt. This upgrade is intended to increase the amount of work each parachain can do and to optimise the performance of the Relay Chain: the infrastructure on which all parachains are built. It will therefore be possible to register more parachains. Moreover, the TPS (transactions per second) capacity of the Polkadot network, i.e. that of all its parachains and parathreads, should increase significantly, to between 100,000 and 1 million.

2.   Parathreads: launch and enhancements

The second novelty for the Polkadot ecosystem concerns parathreads. Parathreads are parachains which are not permanently integrated on Polkadot due to winning one of the auctions, but who pay for the use of Polkadot’s infrastructure ‘on a consumption basis’. As opposed to parachains, parathreads can also be built by non-professional programmers since, in terms of code complexity, they can be compared to simple smart contracts. Both Polkadot parachains and parathreads do not have their own consensus algorithm, but make use of the Proof-of-Stake Relay Chain algorithm. The launch of parathreads was planned for this summer, but it has been postponed to early 2023. Regarding parathreads, Parity Technology is exploring a solution called Next-Generation Scheduling. This technology allows Polkadot parachains that have won auctions (and have thus been awarded the opportunity to participate in the network and in parathreads) to increase the amount of space on their blocks in order to save on the costs resulting from the consensus mechanism.

3.   Restructured governance

The third point in Polkadot’s roadmap for the last quarter of 2022 concerns governance. By governance within Web3, we mean the way in which community members can participate in decisions about the future moves of the project. The new system, called Overhaul, will eliminate the board and technical committees and introduce the Polkadot Fellowship. The Polkadot Fellowship has the Polkadot Fellowship Manifesto as its ‘constitution’.

The term fellowship, which is usually used to refer to a company of friends, was not attributed to Polkadot’s new governance system by chance. The system in fact aims to change the decision-making process by making it as similar as possible to what normally takes place in a group of friends. Polkadot’s new governance aims to decentralise the old system consisting of three chambers and a 13-member board elected by DOT holders. With the changes, all members of the community will have a say through periodic referendums and a proxy system that will speed up the decision-making process. Governance V2 is expected to be implemented on Kusama, the blockchain parallel to Polkadot that is being used to test the new features, at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2022.

4.   The New Staking Dashboard

The fourth new feature for the Polkadot ecosystem concerns staking. Since Polkadot is a blockchain that works thanks to the Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, staking is available and indispensable in order to guarantee the security of transactions. The challenge for the end of 2022 for Gavin Wood‘s blockchain is to make staking more accessible and easier for users who want to participate in the network’s consensus mechanism or obtain rewards. To this end, Parity Technologies has developed a Staking Dashboard, a platform for staking Polkadot’s crypto, DOT. The main focus of Parity Technologies’ development is to make the dashboard user-friendly and to lighten the infrastructure. In fact, staking on Polkadot works without a centralised external provider thanks to light-client technology. The latter allows validators to interact with a blockchain without having to store the entire network history, all the while maintaining the same level of security. The beta version of Polkadot’s dashboard for staking is already usable and the final version should be released soon!

 

5.   Parachain enhancement

Polkadot’s future in the coming months will obviously also involve parachains. Parachains are Polkadot’s core functionality and the reason why blockchain has gained so much popularity. They are the secondary blockchains that exploit Polkadot’s infrastructure. Their performance will be improved through a new mechanism called Weights V2. Weights V2 will make it easier to validate parachain blocks and consequently make it easier to ‘write’ and develop them. The update is the first in chronological order that will be implemented and is expected to arrive by mid-October 2022.

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.

7 changes happening to Ethereum following The Merge

Ethereum 2.0: new features after The Merge explained in 7 points

The Ethereum 2.0 update has been successfully activated! Find out what’s new after The Merge in 7 points

The Merge was a major achievement in the field of computing. The update went live on Thursday, the 15th of September 2022 without any hiccups. The Ethereum blockchain started validating transactions through the Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm smoothly starting from block number 15537393. As is usually the case with big events, the general euphoria passes and many questions begin to circulate about the aftermath. Will Ethereum become more centralised? What happened to the price of Ethereum? If you want to know more, read the news after The Merge explained in 7 points!

1.   Why did the price of Ethereum plummet after The Merge?

On the day of the activation of The Merge, ETH lost about 10 percentage points by drawing a red candle on the chart. But why did Ethereum collapse after the success of The Merge? Two main reasons can be identified, one is closely linked to The Merge and the other is inherent to the macro-economic situation we find ourselves in at the moment. In the current economic context, we are witnessing a raise of interest rates by the FED (the US central bank), and an increase of supply in the markets. This is certainly to the detriment of assets considered risky, such as cryptocurrencies. The price of Ether therefore fell by more than 20% after The Merge.

The second reason is precisely due to the activation of The Merge. Miners, who in the previous version of Ethereum Proof-of-Work were in charge of validating transactions, reportedly sold around 20,000 ETH in the hours following The Merge (according to OKlink‘s data). This helped to drive Ethereum’s price down.

2.   Is Ethereum more centralised after The Merge?

Someone pointed out that after The Merge, Ethereum would be more centralised than before. This is because there are currently fewer nodes involved in validating transactions on the Proof-of-Stake blockchain than on the Proof-of-Work network.

In a blockchain that works via the Proof-of-Stake consensus algorithm, transactions are validated by staking. The validator nodes of the Ethereum network, i.e. those with at least 32 ETH, are responsible for approving all transactions and are rewarded by the network through Ether rewards. Most of these nodes are organisations called staking pools that pool users’ Ether who want to delegate their crypto to participate in the consensus mechanism.

Criticism regarding centralisation has been raised because these staking pools are few in number and hold large amounts of Ether on behalf of users. One of the risks of this situation could be the centralisation of decisions and processes in the Ethereum network. However, this criticism contrasts with the idea that providers would earn money in relation to the amount of Ether they possess and consequently the number of users who choose to use them. According to this hypothesis, they would have no incentive to censor transactions and thus risk losing users and revenue. What will be the next developments? Will other staking pools arise that will help to further decentralise the Ethereum network?

The second point that Ether’s detractors try to leverage is the geographical location of the validator nodes. In response to this, a report available on the official website of Lido, one of the most widely used staking pools, shows that Lido’s validator nodes are geographically distributed. No country has more than 15% of the total in terms of the presence of validators on its territory. Not only that: Lido itself is an organisation whose goal is to improve its decentralisation and whose staking protocols are already regulated by a DAO.

3.   Beware of fake news post The Merge

On Thursday,  the 15th of September 2022, some major Italian newspapers reported the news that the founder of Ethereum, Vitalik Buterin, had hacked the Twitter profile of the Ministry for Ecological Transition, led by minister Roberto Cingolani. Obviously, none of this happened; Vitalik Buterin’s name that appeared as a profile handle was inserted by a fraudster. The Italian Web3 community was obviously very critical of the famous newspapers that raised the alarm. A series of very funny memes were born, which emphasised the misinformation and the tendency to instrumentalise information without verifying it.

4.   How do Ethereum’s tokenomics change after The Merge?

One of the 7 innovations after The Merge concerns Ethereum’s tokenomics. Tokenomics is the model that describes the economic characteristics of a token and contains all information related to the issuance and distribution of a blockchain token. The switch from the Proof-of-Work consensus algorithm to the Proof-of-Stake algorithm will result in lower ETH issuance, which will also affect the crypto’s inflation. In the period before The Merge, inflation was around 4%. Immediately following The Merge, Ether had a deflationary trend, in other words, more Ether were destroyed than issued.

Ethereum’s tokenomics will also undergo changes after the next scheduled update for Ethereum, called Shanghai. In the months following The Merge, until the activation of Shanghai, it will not be possible for stakers to withdraw their ETH. The update will regulate ETH withdrawals from staking, affecting the amount of cryptocurrency circulating.

5.   Has The Merge turned Ethereum into a zero-impact blockchain?

The Ethereum team hopes so. According to the Ethereum Foundation, thanks to the consensus algorithm change, the network will reduce energy consumption by 99.5 per cent. In Proof-of-Stake blockchains, transactions are validated through staking and not thanks to the computational power provided by the miners. It has been estimated that due to The Merge, worldwide energy consumption will be reduced by 0.2%. The Merge update could therefore change the entire industry’s narrative regarding potential climate damage.

6.   Next steps after The Merge for a more scalable network?

Now that The Merge has been activated, what is the next step for Ethereum? Vitalik Buterin spoke about this at a conference on the 21st of July 2021. The main goal is the scalability of the network, as it has been since 2017 when the use of the network increased exponentially. Today, Ethereum’s network is able to process around 20 transactions per second. In the future, with the use of some scalability solutions, it will be possible to reach even 100,000 transactions per second. The next upgrade to The Merge will be The Surge. Two phases will coexist within The Surge, the first is called proto-Danksharding and should take place within a year. With this update, which will serve to increase the amount of data that can be stored on each block, it will be possible to make transactions on Ethereum Layer 2s even cheaper. The second phase of The Surge will be called Danksharding and will aim to scale the Ethereum network also on Layer 2s through the use of so-called rollups. Rollups deal with aggregating multiple ‘off-chain’ transactions that are then ‘presented’ to the Ethereum blockchain as unique transactions.

7.   Where will Ethereum miners go?

The last point of news after The Merge concerns the fate of ETH miners. They had to equip themselves to find new blockchains where they could move all their computational power. By analysing the hash power, and thus the computational power of some alternative blockchains to Ethereum, it became clear where the miners left without employment were headed. For instance, Ethereum Classic‘s hash power skyrocketed by 500% and Ravencoin’s by 800%. Are these the cryptos favoured by miners? Those who have not moved to these alternative coins are probably thinking about other options, such as offering their computing power to cloud computing or data processing players like Amazon Web Service or validating the Proof-of-Stake version of the network by creating nodes. Other former Ethereum miners decided to create hard forks to continue their activities. There have been two hard forks since The Merge: ETHW (Ethereum Proof-of-Work) and ETF (Ethereum Fair). The two hard forks have not been recognised by Ethereum and are therefore unrelated projects to the blockchain created by Vitalik Buterin. An interesting fact about the Ethereum Fair hard fork is that it was distributed to those who owned Dogecoin, Ethereum Classic and Bitcoin but not to those who owned ETHs. Both hard forks were subject to great volatility in the hours immediately following The Merge.

Apecoin: a staking feature is coming for the crypto of the Bored Ape Yacht Club

Apecoin: staking for the Bored Ape Yacht Club’s crypto is arriving

From the 31st of October 2022, it will be possible to stake Apecoin, the Bored Apes Yacht Club’s crypto, thanks to a partnership with Horizen Labs!

The crypto of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, Apecoin, continues to evolve and grow its use cases. In August 2022, the fashion brand Gucci began accepting the token of the Web 3’s most famous NFT monkeys, thus helping to enhance their reputation. On the 22nd of September 2022, the blockchain company Horizen Labs, which had already been involved in developing the Apecoin token, announced a (still tentative) date for the release of the APE staking platform. We will see if the Horizen Labs team will be able to accomplish the goals of their roadmap by the 31st of October. Will this be a Halloween-style prank or sweet news for the Web3 world?

Bored Ape Yacht Club and Horizen Labs

The staking platform for the Apecoin token will be called ApeStake and is entirely being developed by Horizen Labs. But let’s go in order, what is Apecoin (APE)? APE is the official crypto of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, the most popular NFT PFP collection ever! It is a governance token, i.e. it is used to give holders a say on decisions that affect the future of the BAYC ecosystem. APE is built on the Ethereum blockchain and was distributed to Yuga Labs’ NFT holders in March 2022. Besides being a governance token, Apecoin is also a utility token, and is used to purchase all products and services developed by Yuga Labs. The startup, which was founded at the same time as the first ever NFT collection, has evolved very quickly. It now deals with three different collections (BYAC, MAYC and Bored Ape Kennel Club) as well as a metaverse, Otherside, and the respective ‘lands’ of which it is composed.

On the other hand, Horizen Labs is a blockchain infrastructure focused on privacy and scalability. Their platform allows companies and developers to create decentralised applications on its network. Horizon Labs also offers the ability to use zero knowledge protocols to ensure fast, secure and cost-effective transactions with sidechains. The Horizen ecosystem and its ZEN cryptocurrency were launched in May 2017 under the name ZenCash. However, in 2018, ZenCash fell victim to a hack. This forced the team to relaunch the project under the new name Horizen. The Horizen Labs platform was chosen by the DAO (Decentralised Autonomous Organisation) of the Bored Ape Yacht Club through a vote. The weight of the voters, as is usually the case in a DAO’s voting initiatives, was determined by the amount of Apecoin each of them possessed.

How will Apecoin and Yuga Labs’s NFTs staking work?

Thanks to some sneak peaks released by Horizen Labs, it is already possible to get a picture of how ApeStake works. Users will be able to choose between four different pools in which to deposit their APEs and block NFTs from the BAYC ecosystem in their possession.

In doing so, users can obtain rewards by staking their tokens. Each pool and each combination of amounts of Apecoin and NFTs will provide specific rewards and benefits. Let’s take a look at the four staking pools of ApeStake:

  1. Apecoin Pool – Within the first staking pool, people will be able to stake their APE tokens without necessarily owning an NFT from Yuga Labs’ collection. The total allocation of APE, to be divided among all those who will use the staking in proportionally to the blocked amount available for this pool, is 30 million APE;
  1. Bored Ape Pool – The pool dedicated to Bored Ape owners is the one with the most rewards. The Bored Ape Pool provides users with 47 million Apecoins that will be divided among those who block a maximum of 10,094 APE tokens during the first year for each BAYC owned;
  1. Mutant Pool – The Mutant Pool will allow users to block around 2,000 APE and their own MAYC to share the 19 million APE reward during the first year;
  1. Paired Pool – In the Paired Pool you can participate by pairing two NFTs created by Yuga Labs according to set combinations. For example, a BAKC (the Bored Apes’ collection of dogs) must be paired with an ape , so you will not be able to stake your APEs in the pool by blocking two dogs. The rewards in it will be about 4 million APE.

The other features of the platform developed by Horizen Labs have yet to be announced. In the video preview, you can see the Market Tools section. The way it works is still being kept a secret.

Algorand and Chiliz grow through crypto-football

FIFA and Algorand’s NFTs released, new features for Chiliz

Algorand and FIFA successfully completed the Genesis Drop of the first FIFA + Collect collection and the Chiliz Chain 2.0  is coming by 2023

More and more interesting news is coming from the world of crypto-football. The first NFTs of Algorand and FIFA are now out. Chiliz, the crypto of the Socios platform, has important news in store for the release of their Mainnet.

Exactly two months before the start of the World Cup 2022, FIFA and Algorand have released the first NFTs on the FIFA + Collect platform. The first NFT drop of the collaboration is called Genesis Drop and has been available for purchase since the 22nd of September 2022.  The price of Chiliz has seen an increase of more than 40 per cent since early September and the Chiliz Chain 2.0 is expected to arrive by the end of 2022. Check out Algorand and FIFA’s NFTs and what’s new in the Chiliz ecosystem!

It’s all about the FIFA+ Collect Genesis Drop, in collaboration with Algorand

Algorand and FIFA have been collaborating since May 2022 when the green blockchain became an official sponsor of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association. The first creation born from this collaboration is the NFT Genesis Drop collection that was launched on the 22nd of September 2022 on the FIFA+ Collect platform. Collect is the section of the FIFA+ web application dedicated to Web3 initiatives. The collection consists of 532,980 ‘packages’ each containing three NFT videos of iconic highlights from the history of the men’s and women’s World Cup. The highlights comprise the best actions from matches, such as acrobatic saves, defence piercing through-balls and incredible goals. The idea is reminiscent of NBA Top Shot, an initiative by Dapper Labs dedicated to the world of American basketball. On the FIFA+ Collect platform, it is already possible to preview the NFTs that can be found within each package. The FIFA+ Collect NFTs are divided by rarity, just like most other NFT collections . The platform’s first drop contains 18 common highlights, 13 rare, 5 epic and 2 iconic.

The iconic NFTs in the first collection are Ronaldo the Phenomeno’s goal in the 2002 World Cup finals in South Korea and Japan and US footballer Carli LLoyd‘s goal from midfield in the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup final in Canada. The NFT packs, similar to classic sticker packs, cost $4.99 each. They can be purchased either in dollars, through credit or debit cards, or with the USDC stablecoin in the version found on Algorand’s blockchain. To make the crypto payment, you need a wallet compatible with the Algorand network and at least 0.001 ALGO to pay the fees. What effect did Algorand and FIFA’s NFTs have on the price of ALGO?

Are Algorand and Chiliz two bear market-proof cryptos?

Algorand and its crypto ALGO seem to be only partially affected by the current bear market. In fact, the crypto has increased by more than 30 per cent against both the dollar and Bitcoin since the beginning of September 2022. The amount of wallets that hold more than one per cent of the global supply of crypto ALGO are also growing strongly. According to an on-chain analysis by The Block, the total held by so-called ‘whales’ has increased by more than $280 million since August 2022. Who knows if this bullish movement came about thanks to the announcement of Algorand and FIFA’s NFT collection?

The blockchain Chiliz and its crypto CHZ are also rising above others. Chiliz and the popular platform built on its blockchain, Socios.com, have long dominated the market for fan tokens. They allow fans to participate closely in decisions involving their favourite teams. Fan tokens also grant their owners access to exclusive experiences such as VIP tickets to matches and guided tours of the teams’ museums or stadiums. Chiliz’s crypto has been growing very similarly to Algorand’s in the last period.

The price of Chiliz has in fact increased by more than 40% since the beginning of September 2022. The increase in the price of Chiliz could be related to several factors, some concerning the world of crypto-football, others related to the technological innovation of the blockchain itself. The first important piece of news concerns Chiliz’s acquisition of 24.5% of Barça Studios, the communication and entertainment arm of Barcelona FC, on Monday 1st of August 2022. The acquisition, which cost the blockchain company around $100 million, aims to create Web3 content that will reach more and more fans around the world by guaranteeing interaction with their favourite teams through new ways. In addition, Chiliz recently renewed its partnership with the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). The partnership, which started in 2021, will continue during the 2022/23 football season and will allow us to see the Socios logo in association with all UEFA events, for example during UEFA Champions League matches.

Regarding technological innovation of the Chiliz blockchain, the launch of Scoville, the public testnet for Chiliz 2.0, was announced on the 31st of March 2021. Today, the Chiliz main blockchain is still in the first phase of development. The mainnet should be activated by the beginning of 2023. Itwill be named, as is traditional for the blockchain company, after a species of chilli: Habanero. The Chiliz Chain 2.0 (CC2) will be a Layer-1 blockchain created specifically for the sports and entertainment industries. It will enable the construction of decentralised applications that can make 100 per cent use of fan tokens. Following this update, the CHZ token will also expand its use cases. It will not only be used to buy in Fan Tokens on the Socios platform, but will become the native asset of the CC2 blockchain and will be unavailable to process all transactions taking place on the network.

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!

NFTs: David Bowie’s collection coming soon on OpenSea

NFTs: David Bowie’s collection is coming to OpenSea

The icon of pop is celebrated with an NFT collection: discover nine Web3 artists’ tribute to David Bowie!

David Bowie, the timeless artist who helped define the pop genre in the 1980s, is now appearing on OpenSea with the ‘Bowie on the Blockchain‘ collection.

The project involves the launch of a series of NFTs entirely dedicated to the White Duke. NFTs, or non fungible tokens, are digital products whose uniqueness and value are guaranteed thanks to blockchain. The NFT trend, which took off in 2021, often involves traditional artists such as singers, performers and painters. It opens the door to new horizons of digital art.

Continue reading this article to discover details about NFT’s new collection dedicated to David Bowie!

Bowie on the Blockchain: details of the collection

The ‘Bowie on the Blockchain’ project was conceived by the David Bowie Estate, an association that manages the artistic heritage inherited by the White Duke. The initiative came about thanks to a collaboration with OpenSea, one of the most important marketplaces for NFT purchases, and the We Love the Arts project, founded by Andrew Keller, artist manager and founder of the We Few Group company operating in the art consultancy sector, and filmmaker Joaquin Acrich. We Love the Arts is entirely dedicated to the digital works of Web3.

The proceeds of the initiative will be donated to Bowie’s widow, Iman Abdulmajid, and her charity CARE, a humanitarian organisation that has been working against poverty and gender inequality worldwide for almost 80 years.

The NFTs were developed on the Ethereum blockchain and will be available for purchase through Opensea’s marketplace. The launch of the collection, initially scheduled for the 13th of September, was postponed until a later date due to the sudden death of Queen Elizabeth II. This decision has been criticised by many David Bowie fans: in 2003, the artist refused the title of Knight of the Order of the British Empire, offered by Buckingham Palace.

This NFT project dedicated to David Bowie involves numerous artists already established in the world of crypto art. The peculiarity of the initiative is the heterogeneity of the digital works, created by artists with very different styles. There are specifically nine NFT artists who contributed to the project. FEWOCiOUS, Defaced, Glam Beckett, JAKE, Jonathan Wolfe, Lirona, Nadya Tolokonnikova of PussyRiot, Osinachi and Young & Sick.

Some of these names represent the most important personalities linked to the NFT sector. FEWOCiOUS, at only 19 years old, has managed to earn almost 18 million dollars with his digital works. Growing up in an unfriendly family environment, he was able to express his emotions and communicate with others thanks to NFT. The artist himself has described himself as a big fan of David Bowie.

On the other hand, Osinachi is an artist who grew up in a country with a strong interest in NFTs : Nigeria. His style is distinguished by his collage-like, brightly coloured works.

On Twitter, some artists have decided to share small details about the NFTs they have developed. However, at the moment, it is not possible to view the entirety of the piece previews leaked by the artists and wait for the official launch of the collection.

One of the early pioneers of the Web? David Bowie’s interest in technology

The decision to create an NFT collection to honour David Bowie lies above all in the artist’s interest in the world of technology and the web. In the 1990s, when the Internet was beginning to make its way into everyday life, the singer not only launched his official website, but also his own Internet Service Provider. With this service, Bowie gave his fans the possibility to surf the net safely and quickly and to access exclusive content about his private life.

Bill Zysblat, the artist’s former manager, commented on the initiative in an interview with Billboard. He states David Bowie would certainly have been one of the first artists to exploit the potential of Web3.

Although the initiative is exclusively aimed at raising funds for charity, the news of the launch of the new NFT collection has turned quite a few noses within the David Bowie fanbase.

The announcement of the project was heavily criticised by some users on Twitter. Duncan Jones, David Bowie’s son, commented negatively on the initiative, criticising the use of NFTs as a fundraising tool.

More and more artists are getting involved in the NFT world

The NFT collection about David Bowie is certainly not the first crypto initiative launched by prominent figures in the music world or in honour of great personalities now deceased. The Non-Fungible-Tokens, in fact, are not exclusively drawings or graphic works, but can also be entire songs.

In May 2022, Snoop Dogg, the US based rapper and leading representative of the g-funk genre, and Steve Aoki, a US based DJ, launched an album available as NFT. The tracks can only be listened to by holders of the Snoop Stashbox or Aokiverse Passport NFT token, who were created by the artists to celebrate previous events.

Even Madonna, ‘The Queen of Pop’, decided to launch her own NFT collection in May 2022, consisting of three pieces of digital art.

The project, entitled ‘Mother of Nature’ and available for purchase on SuperRare, was created with the cooperation of Beeple, a well-known NFT artist. As with David Bowie’s collection, the proceeds from the sales of the works were donated to three charity organisations: The Voices of Children Foundation, The City of Joy and Black Mama’s Bail Out.

With ‘Space Oddity’ in our headphones, we can only await David Bowie’s arrival on the blockchain.

The Merge as seen by NFT artists, fan art from Beeple to Vanity Blocks

The Merge: NFTs dedicated to Ethereum 2.0

Beeple and other digital artists celebrate The Merge, discover the NFTs created in honour of the Ethereum update!

The Merge has finally been activated and the Web3 world is in full celebration. Digital artwork and NFTs dedicated to Ethereum 2.0 were not late to the party either! The launch of The Merge officially took place on Thursday the 15th of September at 06:42:42 UTC, activated from block number 15537393. The update marked Ethereum’s final transition to the Proof-Of-Stake consensus algorithm. Given the importance of the event, many wondered how to celebrate The Merge on the blockchain in an immutable manner. In short, with its symbols and mascots, The Merge has become the topic of many NFTs!

Ethereum blockchain blocks become NFTs

The last block of Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work blockchain and the first block of Ethereum’s Proof-of-Stake blockchain have both become NFTs. Blockchains are immutable records of information grouped into blocks, which usually contain different numbers of transactions. Bitcoin’s blocks for example contain around 2000 transactions, whereas Ethereum’s blocks usually contain fewer, around 300 to 500.

The emerging NFT brand Vanity Blocks created the NFT of Ethereum’s latest blockchain Proof of Work.

The VanityBlocks project was created to allow users to fill a block on the Ethereum blockchain with a single transaction and turn it into an NFT. The NFT block then becomes the property of the person who processed the transaction. How much did it cost to turn the last block on Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work blockchain into an NFT? 30.5 ETH, about $45,000. Now the NFT can be purchased on the OpenSea marketplace. The current offer is 20 ETH, about $27,000. Within this NFT, the Vanity Blocks team decided to write a quote by US writer Terence McKenna: ‘Make a commitment and nature will respond to that commitment by removing impossible obstacles. Dream the impossible dream and the world will not crush you, but lift you up. That is the trick’. Probably a thought to emphasise the commitment and the enormous amount of innovation that went into the creation of The Merge!

Not only did the last block on Ethereum’s Proof-of-Work blockchain become an NFT but the same thing happened to the first block on the Proof-of-Stake blockchain. One user managed to make a transaction on the first Proof-of-Stake blockchain by paying as much as 36.8 Ethereum in gas fees. The latter are the fees each user pays to process transactions on a blockchain. Gas fees are generally not that expensive, on this occasion the figure was high because the blockchain was particularly congested, in other words very active. The NFT in question depicts a black page entitled ‘The Transition’ on which there is some information such as the chain ID, the blockchain number, the timestamp, i.e. all information and data related to the transaction itself, and on the right-hand side of the page a drawing of a panda.

The panda has become the symbol animal of The Merge on social networks. Even the search engine Google, within the widget for the countdown of The Merge, has inserted two teddy bears, one white and one black, running towards each other with the aim of becoming a panda once the update has taken place. The panda became a popular animal to narrate The Merge following the custom of representing ‘fusion’ through gestures in the Japanese cartoon Dragon Ball Z. Rather than Goku and Vegeta, all the memes depicting The Merge were represented by two bears, one white and one black. They would later fuse and give birth to the panda. The peculiarity of the NFT of the first Proof-of-Stake block is definitely the block number, 15537394 the one with which The Merge was activated!

Beeple’s digital artwork in honour of The Merge

All the most influential individuals and projects within the Web3 community paid tribute to The Merge. In addition to the so-called ‘insiders’, developers and founders of major crypto projects, digital artists also spoke out to celebrate this important event. Among the various works of art produced, those by Beeple certainly stand out. He is one of the first and most influential artists in the NFT field. Beeple has been creating at least one work of art a day for more than 10 years now. In 2020, he decided to turn his artwork into NFTs. The collection containing the first 5000 works, called Everydays, was sold in February 2021 for $69.4 million. There are two digital artworks related to The Merge that Beeple created to date. One is entitled ‘THE MERGE’ and depicts a huge reproduction of the Ethereum symbol under construction. The NFT of the Ethereum logo is constructed from a diamond-like material in purple. The symbol is located inside a kind of futuristic laboratory surrounded by two mechanical arms that appear to be in the process of completing it. This artwork probably represents the completion of the ‘merging’ process and the change of consensus algorithm.

The other digital artwork is called ‘PROOF OF STAKE’ and it depicts a large cyborg panda moving menacingly inside a mine populated by stones resembling the symbol of Ethereum. The two works maintain the classic characteristics of Beeple’s NFTs, so they are both set in a dystopian, psychedelic universe and give the viewer mixed emotions.

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.