September 10, 2022
Issue No. 19
EDWIN ONG, JOEL COLON, ASHRAF AHMAD
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
- Blockchain & Defi: Binance Consolidates Stablecoin Support on its Exchange; What are Soulbound Tokens?
- NFTs: GameStop Partners up with FTX; Japanese Government Issues Non-tradable POAP NFTs to Local Authorities
- Web3 & Metaverse: Ford Prepares to Enter the Metaverse; Sony Music Files Trademark Application for NFT-Authenticated Music
- Gaming: Ragnarok: $1.8 Million Lost through Crypto Trading; Diablo Immortal Whales are in trouble
- Legal Landscape: Australia Rolls Out Dedicated Crypto Crime Unit
Blockchain & DeFi Developments
Binance Consolidates Stablecoin Support on its Exchange; USDC, USDP, and TUSD affected
Binance announced that they are suspending spot, future, and margin trading in trading pairs involving stablecoins, USDC, USDP, and TUSD, claiming that doing so will improve capital efficiency on its exchange. Access to all USDC-denominated savings accounts, DeFi staking services, and loans will also be closed, and all pre-existing users’ USDC, USDP, and TUSD balances will be converted to Binance’s flagship stablecoin, BUSD.
MakerDAO’s ‘Endgame’ Proposal for DAI
MakerDAO’s founder published a proposal late last week discussing the future of DAI in an environment of intense financial regulation - particularly in the wake of recent TornadoCash sanctions by US Authorities. The proposal argues why DAI should be allowed to ‘free-float’ from USD, in a manner akin to negative interest rates, which is theorized to incentivize rational players to divest into other tokens in such a scenario. This critically means that DAI and its economic subsystems which ensure that it remains pegged to 1 USD constantly will likely be overhauled, and a predictable, stable rate of ‘value-decline’ of DAI will be engineered in place. The proposal also outlines exciting possibilities from this - including the concept of MetaDAOs and MetaDAO tokens. To learn more, head to the MakerDAO forum post here.
What are Soulbound Tokens?
Coindesk Author, Andrey Sergeenkov, provides us with a digestible explanation of these Soulbound Tokens.
Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin described Soulbound Tokens (SBTs) via a blog post dated January 2022. Vitalik begins this blog post by referencing in-game Soulbound items, such as those in World of Warcraft.
He continues by asking the question “What if NFTs were soulbound?”.
This idea was expanded on by Buterin and his colleagues in a May 2022 paper titled “Decentralized Society: Finding Web3’s Soul.” SBTs are described as non-transferable digital tokens that represent social identity in a decentralized society.
The non-transferrable portion of an SBT is a similar concept to Ather Labs’ redeemable Sculpture NFTs. After redeeming the Sculpture NFT, it is rendered untransferable.
However, SBTs go a bit further with their concept: they are non-tradable from the start.
In the paper’s vision for a decentralized society, accounts called “Souls” will hold or issue SBTs that represent the “commitments, credentials, and affiliations” of an individual holder. “Such tokens would be like an extended resume, issued by other wallets that attest to these social relations,” the authors explain.
In their simplest form, SBTs can be “self-certified” in the same way a person might add their education or employment history to their resume. SBTs could also be issued by Souls representing individuals, companies, or institutions, just as a university could award a diploma to a graduate for successfully completing their studies.
As of September 2022, this concept is still under research. However, here are some use cases for SBTs:
- Managing medical records
- Storing digital ID cards or memberships
- Certifying achievements, like job history or education
- Verifying attendance to an event, similar to a Proof of Attendance Protocol (POAP)
- Allowing people to build verifiable, digital reputations based on past actions. This could make it easier to track a user’s decentralized finance (DeFi) borrowing history and give out loans
- Introducing reputation-based voting for decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) governance models. This could also help DAOs mitigate Sybil attacks
- Using social recovery to gain access to an individual’s lost private keys
GameStop Partners up with FTX
Earlier in July, GameStop’s NFT marketplace went LIVE and users who managed to set up their GameStop Wallet were able to fill them with NFTs from the marketplace, along with any Ethereum they’ve set aside.
GameStop is doubling down on its Web3 strategy in a new partnership with the crypto exchange platform FTX. The partnership aims to funnel GameStop’s growing Web3-savvy customer base toward FTX’s suite of Web3 services, according to GameStop’s official statement
Binance to Issue Soulbound Tokens for KYC Users
Binance plans to issue an SBT on the BNB blockchain to all users who complete know-your-customer (KYC) requirements, according to an official announcement.
Binance's SBT – named Binance Account Bound (BAB) – will allow users to participate in "building projects" while earning rewards, according to the release.
Japanese Government Issues Non-tradable POAP NFTs to Local Authorities
The Japanese government has become one of the first to issue nonfungible tokens (NFTs) as a form of supplementary rewards to recognize the work of local authorities who have excelled at using digital technology to solve local challenges.
Seven mayors received recognition for their cities' ideas centered on the digital economy. Among them was the mayor of Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, whose administration suggested using electric vehicles for local deliveries. An NFT prize was also given to Maebashi in the Gunma Prefecture for their idea for a platform that uses cameras on mobile devices to track changes in traffic conditions in real time.
The Ethereum-based proof-of-attendance (POAP) NFTs were issued through Hazama Base; the same platform previously used to distribute NFTs at an event held by the Liberal Democratic Party Youth Bureau. The assets are non-transferable and cannot be sold on the secondary market.
FIFA Embracing NFTs for World Cup 2022
Soccer’s governing body FIFA has chosen the occasion of the 2022 Qatar World Cup to launch an NFT-based collection of classic clips from the history of the international soccer tournament.
FIFA+ Collect will launch later this month. Similar to NBA’s Top Shot, they will allow soccer fans to own and trade “moments in time” featuring the greatest goals, saves, celebrations, and more from World Cup and Women’s World Cup history, FIFA said. The FIFA World Cup NFT clips will be connected to the Algorand blockchain as part of a deal cemented back in May to be a Qatar 2022 blockchain partner and wallet provider.
Introducing the Minter Token
Fair.xyz announced a new partnership with OpenSea on Wednesday to release its new “Minter Token” feature. The Minter Token is a type of SBT that cryptographically proves that a wallet owner minted the NFT. The tool analyzes a user’s wallet and creates a 3D generative artwork that displays the minted NFT.
The Minter tokens aim to make it easy for minters to take credit for helping to build NFT communities and potentially letting them partake in token-gated community events as projects will now be able to identify who actually participated in the minting.
Here are some utility cases for the Minter Token, as described by FAIR.XYZ:
- Directly integrates into your smart contracts
- Allows you to build gated experiences for the minters of your NFT project
- Compatible with all historical, present, and future NFTs
Ford Prepares to Enter the Metaverse with Virtual Automobiles and NFTs
American car manufacturer Ford Motor Company is the latest car brand prepping its entry into the world of nonfungible tokens (NFTs) and the Metaverse — filing 19 trademark applications across its major car brands.
United States Patent and Trade Office (USPTO) licensed trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis revealed in a Wednesday tweet that the company had filed a total of 19 trademark applications covering its car brands including Mustang, Bronco, Lincoln, Explorer, and F-150 Lightning, among others.
The trademark applications cover virtual cars, trucks, vans, SUVs, and clothing for its brands and also cover a proposed online marketplace for NFTs.
According to USPTO documents filed by Ford on Sept. 2, the car manufacturer plans to create downloadable artwork, text, audio, and video featuring its cars, SUVs, trucks, and vans, which will be authenticated by NFTs.
The company also revealed plans for “downloadable virtual goods,” namely “computer programs” featuring vehicle parts and accessories and clothing for use in “online virtual worlds,” including online trade shows conducted in virtual reality and augmented reality.
There are also intentions to create a marketplace to promote the “digital artwork of others” through a website, along with “online retail store services featuring non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and digital collectibles.”
Sony Music Files Trademark Application for NFT-Authenticated Music
American music giant Sony Music Entertainment has signaled intentions to utilize nonfungible tokens (NFTs) after filing a trademark application covering music and artists under the Columbia Records logo.
According to an Aug. 30 trademark application to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shared by trademark attorney Mike Kondoudis on Tuesday, the application covers “audio and video recordings featuring live musical performances authenticated by NFTs.”
The application also covers marketing services, promotion, distribution, marketing, advertising, and online entertainment, including podcasts and audiovisual recordings.
The new trademark application comes in the wake of several other Sony Music-backed NFT projects.
In August, MakersPlace, an NFT market dedicated to digital art, secured $30 million in Series A financing from several notable companies, including Pantera Capital, Bessemer Venture Partners, Coinbase Ventures, and Sony Music Entertainment.
March saw the music company partner with Solana-based NFT marketplace Snowcrash and fellow music behemoth Universal Music Group to release Bob Dylan and Miles Davis NFT collections at some point in 2022, with plans for more in the future.
NFTs and the Metaverse are slowly becoming more prominent in the music and entertainment industry.
MTV’s Video Music Awards on Aug. 29 heavily featured online and virtual performances, including Eminem and Snoop Dogg performing their new single in a Metaverse created by Yuga Labs, the same company behind the Bored Ape Yacht Club.
What is Decentralized Identity in Blockchain?
Cointelegraph author Sasha Shilina describes decentralized identity, and self-sovereign identity, and describes why these matter.
Decentralized Identity → a self-owned, independent identity that enables trusted data exchange.
- Why it matters → A decentralized identity aims to give people official proof of identity and complete ownership and control over their identities in a secure and user-friendly way.
Self-Sovereign Identity → a concept that refers to the use of distributed databases to manage PII.
Pros and Cons:
The four main benefits of decentralized identity management include control, security, privacy, and ease of use. However, the main concerns are a low level of adoption, a lack of regulation, and interoperability.
Navigate to the link below to learn more
Brazil Esports Team push into Web3
Top esports team and gaming organization Loud has expanded its Web3 ambitions with parent company Spacecaps.
Loud said they see a “massive opportunity” in Web3 as they launch their new parent company Spacecaps, with divisions focused on Solana-powered NFTs, crypto-fueled games, and tokenized incentives for fans.
Latin American esports fans are known for being passionate and highly with their favorite teams and players, thus catapulting Brazil’s regional squads into the global conversation. Conversely, western gamers have pushed back against blockchain-based games and NFTs.
Games & Blockchain Gaming
Music NFTs Could Take Gaming to New Levels
One of the most underappreciated aspects of games is the music. Everyone always thinks of the imagery, storylines, and technical performance, but we sometimes forget about the music. To be sure, all the aforementioned factors are crucially important, but music is also what enhances the in-game experience and makes it more realistic and memorable.
Studios often access sample packs or purchase an audio file from a website and modify it as they see fit. For example, audio packs of a specific genre often provide five-to-10 options and suit the tone of the game. Most developers will have hundreds of these stacked over time if they are a casual- or medium-sized studio that ships many titles. But the limitation of this approach is that the artist behind each song receives a small fraction of the contract size.
The reason for that is economic: studios buy audio in bulk at a much lower price than they would if they were buying individual songs. While the upside for them is a lower cost, the downside is that their search is often less directed. Similarly, the upside for the artists who produce songs is that they find some demand for their audio, but the downside is that they are not remunerated for their individual contribution – rather, they’re compensated at a discount based on where in the audio pack it lands.
Nonfungible tokens (NFTs) have the potential to transform the way music is curated and even created for games. Rather than having to rely on large contracts that take forever to get approved, GameFi leaders can simply buy up individual music NFTs or commission a group of artists who agree upon an equitable split of the revenues and collectively mint an NFT. Once done, the NFT would immediately plug into the game and the artists could receive remuneration for their created content based on the popularity of the music. This could be implemented through ratings and other feedback mechanisms.
Chain Legion: "Break-even in Two Fights"
Chain Legion is an RPG project on the Binance Smart Chain that aims to provide an immersive roleplaying experience.
Chain Legion features a limited set of mintable NFTs (in further text - legionnaires) which represent playable in-game characters. Each legionnaire starts off with a blank slate, and it is up to the player to customize it as they see fit. Owning a legionnaire allows players to interact with the world on-chain.
In PVP, each battle requires a monetary stake in BNB from each participant. After a battle, the winner takes both stakes from the prize pool, netting a profit. As a fee, a percentage of the total prize pool funds will be deducted to cover operational expenses.
Ragnarok: $1.8 Million Lost through Crypto Trading
Ragnarok Meta was one of the most hyped gaming projects in 2022. Not only are gamers keeping a watchful eye on all that is developing, but the company had managed to make early moves that demonstrated the true size of the potential here.
The players can enter new dimensions, play, chat, and hang out using their NFT as their digital identity. It was an engaging new NFT drop that was said to take the gaming NFT space to the next level.
With everything set to perfection, the shock was understandable when CEO, 0xfanfaron, came clean about the fact that a whopping 12% of this capital was now gone: lost to crypto trading.
“We exchanged the ETH from the mint for 15.5 million in USD Coin. As it turns out, this was a good move in treasury management. But when ETH’s price went down, I made mistakes by buying ETH multiple times when I thought it was an advantageous investment for the project.”
The head of Ragnarok thought that he would simply reinvest when the timing was better. However, what his actions led to were losses worth $1.827 million. During this time, Ragnarok also had other expenses to cover and spent $1.9 million on outsourcing development with a further $6.9 million coin on salaries.
Diablo Immortal Whales are in trouble!
Whales who spent tens of thousands on Diablo Immortal are left reeling after blizzard decided to revoke all purchases made from third-party websites.
Diablo Immortal's Eternal Orbs are one of the primary currencies in the game. These Eternal Orbs can be bought officially through the in-game store in bundles ranging from 60 orbs for US$1 to 7,200 orbs for US$100. However, some third-party dealers were offering Eternal Orbs at extremely low prices, with the 7,200 orb bundle selling for US$10-50.
Those caught were either banned or had to repay their in-game debt by buying the currency from the store, or else they won’t be able to make further purchases or join parties and in-game events.
LG Chooses Hedera for Launching NFT Marketplace and TV NFTs
Korea-based LG is releasing a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace called LG Art Lab that plugs into the Hedera Network, which LG supports. Television owners with sets updated to LG’s most recent software will be able to buy, sell and showcase their Hedera NFTs from their screens.
LG’s strides into the NFT space follow Samsung’s release of an NFT marketplace on three of its TVs, all supported by Nifty Gateway. LG Art Lab will only be on LG TVs. Incorporating LG's mobile crypto wallet Wallypto, users can purchase assets by scanning a QR code to connect their wallets.
Chris Jo, senior vice president and head of Platform Business at LG, told CoinDesk in an email the platform aims to make NFTs accessible for users looking to step into the space.
The choice of Hedera is not an obvious one for an NFT integration. The platform NFT trading scene is not nearly as popular as on better-known blockchains such as Ethereum, where most so-called "blue chips" live (Hedera uses a different type of Distributed Ledger Technology called hashgraph).
NBA to Launch NFT-Based Fantasy Football Game on Sorare
The National Basketball Association (NBA) is to develop a digital collectibles-based fantasy basketball game with the European non-fungible token (NFT) platform Sorare.
The U.S. basketball league and its players' union, the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA), announced a multi-year partnership with the Paris-based company in a statement on its website. Sorare becomes the "Official NFT Fantasy Partner" of the NBA.
The fantasy game will involve users creating a lineup of NFT-based collectibles representing NBA star players who earn points based on their real-life performances. The game will be released in time for the 2022-23 season in October.
The NBA becomes the latest top sports league to partner with Sorare following Major League Baseball (MLB) in July. Germany's top-tier soccer league Bundesliga and La Liga, the Spanish equivalent, tapped Sorare's NFT capabilities last year.
SudoSwap to Airdrop Governance Token
Decentralized non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace Sudoswap is releasing its new governance token via an airdrop to community members, according to a blog post published Thursday.
The Ethereum-based SUDO token’s initial supply of 60 million will be distributed mostly to holders of XMON, the native token behind the 0xmon NFT collection, created by the founders of Sudoswap. XMON holders will participate in a lockup to collectively receive 41.9% of the total SUDO supply. During the three-month lockup, XMON holders can receive 10,000 SUDO per XMON token locked.
According to the post, SUDO will be non-transferrable at the beginning. “This is done as a measure to ensure SUDO does not go into circulation unless and until there can be the assurance that there will be sufficient participation from SUDO holders in governance,” the post read.
National Policies & Legal Updates
Australia Rolls Out Dedicated Crypto Crime Unit
Russia Explores Use of Stablecoins to Circumvent Sanctions
The Australian Federal Police has set up a dedicated crypto crime unit with a dual purpose - targeting illicit assets, as well as tracking investigative tracing capabilities into crypto crimes related to national security, child protection, and cybercrime. This comes on the back of Australia’s announcement to establish a crypto regulatory framework within the next year.
Russia, in the face of Western sanctions, is exploring using stablecoins for payments to ‘friendly’ countries, in a bid to avoid using actual US dollars or the Euro. While stablecoins are more commonly known to be pegged to another foreign currency, it can also be pegged to gold - which Russia is publicly known to have stockpiled on, prior to its military action in 2022. Ironically, 2 months ago, the Russian President signed into law, banning Russian citizens from using digital assets to make payments - which will seemingly need to be recalibrated in the face of the changing Russian strategy. Further developments in this will likely see further scrutiny in the stablecoin sector from major regulators in both Europe and the United States.
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