Last week’s biggest crypto news with a special bonus deal inside.
Biggest Crypto News Last Week
Last week in the crypto world we saw the launch of the biggest stablecoin on the Bitcoin blockchain (but not the first), EA and Nike signed a groundbreaking NFT agreement, and concerns over the impact of a Grayscale victory over the SEC.
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US Stablecoin Launched on Bitcoin
The Bitcoin world celebrated the launch of the network’s first stablecoin last week thanks to crypto platform Stably, which has utilized the new BRC-20 format to bring a dollar-backed cryptocurrency to the network.
According to Stably, the USD token will be backed 1-to-1 with actual US dollars held by a US-regulated custodian and will require full KYC/AML verification. However, while Stably is certainly the only stablecoin on Bitcoin right now, its claim to have been the first is disputed.
Stably has been able to launch USD on Bitcoin thanks to an upgrade that took place on the Bitcoin network in 2021 called Taproot. Taproot allowed smart contracts to be deployed on Bitcoin, allowing Bitcoin to be used in the same way as Ethereum, which is used for everything from NFTs to DeFi lending platforms.
It has taken a while for developers to make use of Taproot but this year they have with ‘ordinal inscriptions’, a system which has opened the door for Ethereum-like projects on the ultra-secure Bitcoin blockchain.
The introduction of ordinal subscriptions means that we can expect a development boom on Bitcoin much as we have seen with Ethereum over the years, and stablecoins are a natural part of this.
However, Stably’s claims that its USD coin is the first stablecoin on the Bitcoin blockchain aren’t entirely true; when Tether first launched back in 2014 as Realcoin, it did so on Omni Layer protocol, a platform for creating and trading custom digital assets and currencies on the Bitcoin blockchain. Stably can claim, therefore, to be the first stablecoin to run on the ‘pure’ Bitcoin blockchain, which is an impressive enough accolade in itself.
EA and Nike Sign Groundbreaking Partnership
Sportswear giant Nike and videogame maker Electronic Arts last week announced a groundbreaking deal that will see NFTs from Nike’s .Swoosh collection make their way into future EA Sports releases.
EA said that the partnership will “look to build new immersive experiences and unlock brand new levels of customization” within its ecosystem, with exclusive .Swoosh “virtual creations” made available to players to allow “unique new opportunities for self-expression and creativity through sport and style.” While this deal isn’t the first between videogame makers and NFT creators it is by far the biggest yet and could mark a turning point in the relationship between gamers and NFT fans.
Nike’s exposure to the crypto/blockchain world dates back to April 2019 when it filed a trademark for Cryptokicks, which it turned into a popular NFT collection three years later. This launch presaged a deep dive into the NFT world, with the launch of Nike Virtual Studios coming in 2022 following its acquisition of NFT studio RTFKT in late 2021.
Nike Virtual Studios developed its in-house platform, .Swoosh, throughout 2022 and launched it in November, with its first collection earning the company $1 million in sales last month.
While Nike, EA and NFT fans might be looking forward to the prospect of in-game NFTs, one group that isn’t is gamers themselves. Gamers have threatened boycotts of gaming studios that add NFTs to games ever since the idea was first mooted in 2021, and last week’s announcement was a continuation of the theme, with many criticizing EA for prioritizing profits over customers. However, if the collaboration can prove a success it could end up being the moment when the tensions finally ease.
Grayscale Victory Would Not Guarantee Bitcoin ETF
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) could still reject Grayscale’s Bitcoin ETF proposal even if it loses its legal battle with the fund operator, according to Bloomberg analyst James Seyffart.
Seyffart expressed his concerns during an interview last week where he emphasized that the SEC would search for other grounds on which to deny the conversion from the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust to a fully operational Bitcoin spot ETF were it to lose, thereby nullifying any potential victory on Grayscale’s part.
Grayscale initiated legal proceedings against the SEC in June of last year after the agency rejected its application to convert the Grayscale Bitcoin Fund into a Bitcoin ETF. This conversion is crucial for Grayscale’s customers to access their investments, which currently total some $17 billion worth of bitcoin, although GBTC shares are trading at a 43% discount to this value.
Bloomberg analysts were initially skeptical of Grayscale’s chances of success, but the situation changed in March of this year when oral arguments were presented. Following the hearing, Bloomberg changed its stance and now predicts a 70% probability of a favorable outcome for Grayscale.
Despite the optimistic outlook, Bloomberg analyst Elliott Stein cautioned that the court’s decision might not be conclusive and binding. Stein suggested that the judge could potentially allow room for the SEC to continue opposing a Bitcoin ETF rather than making a definitive ruling, a view Seyffart reiterated, emphasizing that a victory in the legal battle would not guarantee the establishment of a Bitcoin ETF because the SEC could still deny the conversion for other reasons.
Such an outcome would be the worst possible outcome for the struggling GBTC shareholders, as it would eliminate their best opportunity in years to liquidate their investments.
- Hong Kong opened its doors to regulated crypto trading with more than a dozen platforms registered.
- Crypto exchange Bybit has followed Binance out of Canada after new regulations on crypto platforms.
- Stablecoin Tether has announced that it will fund a Bitcoin mining operation in Uruguay, the first in the country.
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