“An opportunity to start a new chapter for this industry”

“An opportunity to start a new chapter for this industry”

Coinbase’s CEO says the crypto industry has “an opportunity to start a new chapter” following this week’s news. (Gladiathor / Getty Images)

There’s never a dull moment on the blockchain. Here’s what you need to know this week:

Brian Armstrong on the Binance news. Coinbase’s CEO says this can be an opportunity for the crypto industry going forward. 

Inside crypto’s ongoing autumn rally. ETF moves by two of Wall Street’s biggest firms were among the recent market catalysts. 

NFTs are bouncing back. From gaming to Van Gogh, the latest wave of NFT innovation.

The week in numbers. The percentage of BTC that hasn’t traded in a year, and more stats to know.

BINANCE

Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong on this week’s news

On Tuesday, the cryptocurrency exchange Binance, and its CEO Changpeng Zhao, pleaded guilty to U.S. anti-money laundering and sanctions violations. As part of a settlement with U.S. authorities, the company agreed to pay fines totaling $4.3 billion, while Zhao agreed to pay a fine of $50 million and to step down as chief executive officer.

As Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said following the news: “Since the founding of Coinbase back in 2012 we have taken a long-term view. I knew we needed to embrace compliance to become a generational company that stood the test of time.”

“Today’s news reinforces that doing it the hard way was the right decision. We now have an opportunity to start a new chapter for this industry,” Armstrong wrote. 

Read the full statement here.

MARKET UPDATE

ETF buzz grows as BlackRock and Fidelity pursue ether products

For much of 2023, crypto markets have been boosted by a major catalyst: Wall Street’s renewed intention to launch exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that would buy BTC and sell shares via conventional brokerages. 

This week, crypto’s autumn rally rolled on with “spot” BTC ETF optimism remaining high and ETH getting some ETF buzz of its own. 

Here’s what you need to know. 

Bloomberg: Spot BTC ETFs are a potential $100 billion opportunity 

At least eight such “spot” BTC ETF proposals — from both TradFi giants like BlackRock and more crypto focused firms like Grayscale — are currently in front of the SEC, which Bloomberg Intelligence expects to finally begin issuing green lights by January. (The agency has repeatedly punted on BTC ETF decisions.)

As Bloomberg reports, the huge popularity of ETFs makes this a big deal. By selling bitcoin in “the famously tax-efficient and cost-effective ETF wrapper,” Wall Street could drive wealth managers and financial advisers to “finally start to lavish a small portion of their trillion-dollar portfolios on the crypto promise.”

How big of a deal? “[W]ith the likely involvement of respectable heavyweights like BlackRock, Fidelity and Invesco, the spot-Bitcoin ETF market has the potential to grow into a $100 billion juggernaut in time,” said Bloomberg.

Ether rallies as Fidelity races BlackRock for spot ETH ETF bid

Two of Wall Street’s biggest players — BlackRock and Fidelity — have doubled down on their crypto ETF ambitions by seeking SEC approval for spot ETH ETFs that would work the same way as the spot BTC products they have in the pipeline. Fidelity’s Friday filing follows BlackRock’s submission from earlier this month. 

After lagging behind BTC for much of the year, ETH has surged in recent weeks. "To this point, approval of a Spot ETH ETP would represent a major win for the protection of U.S. investors in the crypto asset space," Fidelity’s filing states.

The bottom line…

According to analytics firm CoinShares’ latest report, enthusiasm over the potential of spot crypto ETFs has driven traders to existing crypto investment products for the eighth consecutive week — last week’s $176 million in inflows pushed the 2023 total to $1.32 billion. 

And as Bloomberg found, ETF fever is clearly catching on with American investors: Money managers are reporting inquiries from a wide range of the newly crypto curious, from millennials to “high net worth individuals” to institutions.

I WANT MY NFT

How Van Gogh, Disney, and Nike are helping power the next wave of NFTs

Just two months after a Rolling Stone headline declared “Your NFTs Are Actually — Finally — Totally Worthless,” NFTs actually look more like they’re starting another journey to the moon. As of Monday, NFT sales volumes were up more than 100% over the last 30 days, according to onchain analytics firm CryptoSlam. Not so fast, skeptics! 

In the not-unlikely scenario that you’ll be encountering said skeptics around the Thanksgiving table this year, here’s a quick roundup of some of the ways NFTs have rebounded during crypto’s latest rally

A new NFT platform features some of Disney’s biggest IP 

NFT pioneers Dapper Labs — creators of CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot — are launching a new NFT platform inspired by the pin-collecting culture at Disney resorts. The Pinnacle collection will feature characters from Disney, Pixar, and Star Wars properties (including, according to Dapper Labs’ CEO, Buzz and Woody from “Toy Story,” as well as Darth Vader) and is built on the Flow blockchain. 

“When we launched [NBA Top Shot], it was clear that NFTs were still sort of in their ‘dial-up’ stage, in the sense of the kinds of products you had access to and how portable and interoperable everything was,” said Dapper’s CEO. “We're so excited about where the future of this technology is going.”

Nike’s $1 billion-plus NFT project keeps dropping sneakers

Earlier this month, the Block reported that the sneaker giant’s Nike-RTFKT NFT collectibles universe has generated $1.4 billion in sales volumes and around $170 million in revenue — with some of the NFTs allowing holders to buy rare “token gated” sneakers, like the RTFKT x Nike Air Force 1 drop from earlier this year. 

Now, in a new twist, two “Void” editions of Nike’s classic Dunk sneakers come with NFTs. As Decrypt reports, “There’s an embedded near-field communication (NFC) chip within the sneakers, called the RTFKT World Merging chip, which lets the owner ‘obtain a digital collectible.’”

Gaming giant Ubisoft launches original web3 RPG

Ubisoft, creator of blockbuster video game series like  “Assassin's Creed” and “Far Cry,” is starting to roll out its first original web3 role-playing game — meaning, per Decrypt, “that it’s being developed from scratch with NFTs front and center.” “Champions Tactics: Grimoria Chronicles” involves two different sets of NFTs called Warriors and Champions. (Warriors will be minted on the Ethereum blockchain by the end of the year.) 

In other Ubisoft news, the developer is bringing NFTs of game characters to the Sandbox metaverse platform using the Polygon blockchain — including vintage gaming icon Rayman and heroes from the cult game “Beyond Good & Evil.” The bottom line…

Two Van Gogh paintings rendered as NFTs on the Tezos blockchain by the Musée d'Orsay in Paris just sold for more than $2.5 million this week. But it’s not just NFTs of Impressionist masterpieces that are bringing in big bucks: An image of Ethereum cofounder Vitalik Buterin dressed as a jester recently went for nearly $400,000, while an NFT pet rock sold for more than $200,000 last week. 

Whether you’re a skeptic or a booster, you should probably start expecting more blockbuster NFT sales as long as crypto markets are rallying.

NUMBERS TO KNOW

100

Percentage of crypto media outlet CoinDesk that was acquired by crypto exchange Bullish in an all-cash deal this week. CoinDesk’s reporting gained prominence last year after it broke news on the troubled state of Sam Bankman-Fried’s crypto businesses. A new editorial committee will be formed to maintain its journalistic independence, CoinDesk said. 

78

Minimum number of games with blockchain elements on the Epic Games Store, according to Decrypt: “While many of these games are unreleased or in early access, their listings are reflective of Epic Games’ more open approach to hosting titles with crypto or AI elements compared to rival PC game launcher Steam.”

70%

Amount of BTC in circulation that hasn’t been traded in the last year. “This is an all-time high in bitcoin’s history – these churn rates are extraordinary for a financial asset,” noted a recent Bernstein research report.

TOKEN TRIVIA

What is the smallest unit of a bitcoin?

A

1 Cryptopenny

B

0.01 USD

C

1 Satoshi

D

0.001 BTC

Find the answer below.

Trivia Answer

C

1 Satoshi