November 5, 2022
Issue No. 27
Welcome to this week's AtherXplorer, covering the latest in gaming, blockchain, and everything in between.
This week’s top picks include:
- Blockchain & Defi: FR, CH, and SG to Test DeFi in Forex Markets; Credix to Open a $150M Stablecoin Credit Pool to Digital Lender Clave
- NFTs: ASICS Taps STEPN to Launch Running Shoe; Game of Thrones NFTs
- Web3 & Metaverse: Steph Curry Files Metaverse Trademark; NFTs on Instagram
- Gaming: Square Enix Reveals NFT Game Symbiogenesis; Microsoft Invests in NFT Game
- Legal Landscape: Proposed UK Rules Make Advertising Crypto Harder
Blockchain & DeFi Developments
Singapore’s DBS Explains How Big Banks Can Implement DeFi, Too
Singapore has quietly been playing host to some of the most advanced explorations into cryptocurrency and decentralized finance (DeFi) ever done by big banks, institutions, and regulators.
In particular, Project Guardian, which sets out to test asset tokenization and DeFi for banks, launched in early summer by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), saw Singapore’s DBS Bank joined by JPMorgan and Japan’s SBI Digital as well as Marketnode, a digital asset platform built by the Singapore Exchange (SGX) and Temasek.
The first phase of testing involved trades in tokenized Singapore government securities, Singapore dollars (SGD), Japanese government bonds, and Japanese yen (JPY), which was done using Ethereum public blockchain overlay system Polygon, DeFi lending platform Aave and Uniswap, a decentralized exchange and automated market maker (AMM).
“We wanted to show it was possible to tokenize government securities and cash within a DeFi liquidity pool,”
said Han Kwee Juan, group head of strategy and planning at DBS in an interview.
“Then using an AMM, and solving for that with price oracles and market data streaming services from Bloomberg or Refinitiv, we wanted to create an institutional-grade DeFi venue which regulators would be comfortable with.”
Banks and traditional financial institutions see opportunities and efficiencies to be gained by copying DeFi’s success in crypto, with the boldest moves involving public blockchains and promising to bring trillions in existing financial instruments to the party.
Explaining some of the protocol choices in Project Guardian, Kwee Juan of DBS pointed out Polygon made sense because of the need for cheap gas fees. Reimagining a trading venue for an immense market such as government securities, and constantly writing that to a public blockchain would otherwise cancel out the collective benefit of atomic trading, clearing, and settlement, he said.
DBS also discovered there simply isn’t an AMM currently in existence that can mimic the way pricing is done between traders in the over-the-counter (OTC) institutional space.
Read more about Project Guardian’s first pilot in the Twitter thread below 👇
France, Switzerland, and Singapore to Test DeFi in Forex Markets
Central banks from France, Switzerland, and Singapore are attempting to automate foreign exchange markets, using decentralized protocols to cut the cost of cross-border payments.
Project Mariana, coordinated by the Innovation Hub of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), is looking at whether protocols used in intermediary-free decentralized finance (DeFi) can replace traditional, more laborious processes for matching buyers and sellers of different fiat currencies.
“DeFi and its applications have the potential to become systemically important parts of the financial ecosystem,” the BIS said in a statement on its website. It added that automated market makers can become "the basis for a new generation of financial infrastructure."
Those automated protocols use stores of liquidity and algorithms to determine the prices between tokenized assets – such as the central bank digital currencies (CBDC) the three countries may decide to issue in the future.
Project Mariana is the latest in a series of projects hosted by the BIS, which works with the world’s central banks, to examine whether state-issued digital currencies could have applications in everyday transactions or financial markets.
Meanwhile, officials are also struggling with how to regulate DeFi, given that there’s no obvious entity to heap obligations on. One study from the BIS last December even called DeFi an “illusion,” saying that centralized governance is inescapable.
Aave Community Members Vote to Deploy on zkSync v2 Testnet
Community members in the decentralized finance (DeFi) platform Aave voted on Wednesday to deploy the protocol to the zkSync 2.0 testnet. The successful vote marks the first stage of Aave's rollout to the new version of the zkSync platform, a layer 2 rollup network on Ethereum that offers users faster transactions and cheaper fees.
Originally put forward by Matter Labs, the firm behind zkSync, the Aave proposal received overwhelming support from community members, with nearly 100% in favor of bringing the decentralized lending service to the Ethereum rollup’s testnet.
Like other Ethereum rollup platforms, zkSync 2.0 is a layer 2 network that aims to scale the famously sluggish, expensive Ethereum base chain. It bundles up transactions and passes them back down to Ethereum's layer 1 blockchain, where they are processed in bulk for a fraction of the cost of regular transactions.
Though Aave has previously launched on other L2 platforms, zkSync will mark the first time it has embraced a zero-knowledge rollup – a more advanced, still-in-development alternative to Ethereum's incumbent rollup platforms.
zkSync uses fancy cryptography – so-called called zero-knowledge proofs – to prove that the data it passes down to Ethereum's main chain has not been meddled with. It aims to be among the first products to make this technology accessible to virtually any app that currently runs on Ethereum.
The proposal noted that if liquidity on Aave’s decentralized exchange (DEX) improves, there will be a follow-up vote to bring the DeFi protocol to the zkSync 2.0 mainnet – the production version of the system. Today, the production version of zkSync 2.0, which is still in its "baby alpha" phase, has very limited capabilities.
Steve Newcomb, chief product officer at Matter Labs, told CoinDesk that Aave will be a prominent partner in helping bring the rollup to its mainnet in the long term.
“We are building a scaling solution that will enable significant cost savings and performance improvement without affecting security or decentralization, and we want that to be accessible to the whole Ethereum ecosystem and its projects,” Newcomb said.
Aave’s move to zkSync 2.0's testnet follows a similar move from Uniswap, the largest decentralized exchange platform, whose community voted to deploy onto the roll-up last month.
DeFi Debt Marketplace Credix to Open a $150M Stablecoin Credit Pool to Digital Lender Clave
Credix Finance, a decentralized credit marketplace, unveiled a $150 million stablecoin credit pool to Clave, a digital lending platform, to originate loans to businesses and consumers in Latin America, the firms said Tuesday.
The credit facility is set to open in 2023, with the debt being denominated in the dollar-pegged stablecoin USDC, according to the statement. As with all Credix credit pools, the Clave debt pool will be split up into various smaller funds called “tranches” to offer investment opportunities for institutional investors with different return-on-risk profiles; tranches with lower risk, for example, would pay less yield.
Clave will receive funds via on-chain transactions and smart contracts in USDC into the firm’s crypto wallet, which it can convert to any type of traditional currency in order to lend to its borrowers, Credix Chief Growth Officer Chaim Finizola told CoinDesk.
Credix connects fintech companies and non-bank lenders that need capital to originate loans to their users with institutional investors such as hedge funds and family offices on the prowl for yield. The Belgium-based firm has an outstanding credit of $26 million using USDC on the Solana blockchain, according to data from the decentralized finance data platform DefiLlama.
Clave originates loans to businesses and consumers in Argentina and Colombia, with plans to expand to Mexico next year.
The partnership comes at a time when crypto and traditional debt markets are increasingly becoming commingled as crypto companies bring and tokenize real-world assets such as traditional loans, mortgages, and government bonds onto the blockchain.
Maker, one of the largest decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols in crypto, recently incorporated $500 million in U.S. Treasury bonds to its reserve that backs the DAI stablecoin.
Clave’s debt from the Credix credit pool is collateralized by the receivables from the borrowers who take out loans, Finizola said. Technically, however, the debt is unsecured, meaning the debtor secures the loan with its reputation and its good financial situation and does not pledge any assets whose value would backstop the loan in case of a default.
Unsecured lending is standard procedure in traditional finance and is getting increasingly popular on DeFi lending protocols, but recent defaults demonstrate that there are several challenges and risks to implementing it in such a new and volatile market as crypto assets.
ASICS Taps STEPN to Launch Running Shoe
Japanese sportswear manufacturer ASICS announced today the launch of the ASICS X SOLANA UI Collection. The new line of kicks features custom-made, limited-run GT-2000 11 running shoes that also give owners a chance to win a limited edition ASICS x STEPN GT-2000 NFT.
The shoes are exclusively available to purchase with USDC digital dollar currency via Solana Pay at ui.asics.com and available for pre-order for a limited five-day period from November 4 – 8. When customers purchase their shoes, they will receive an ASICS Badge NFT. This digital collectible will unlock access to future ASICS rewards and experiences.
"The launch of the ASICS x Solana UI Collection is a major step forward for ASICS Web3 commerce. We're proud to leverage Solana Pay and partner with STEPN to help us scale our mission to inspire the global Web3 community to create healthy habits with our products. Building on learnings and successes from our Sunrise Red and Genesis STEPN collections, we're excited to continue delivering world-class Web3 experiences.”
said Joe Pace, Director of Web3 and Digital Goods at ASICS
Pace also says ASICS chose to work with Solana to create a fast, scalable product with low transaction costs for the general public.
NFT Auction on CRYPTO.COM
As the kickoff for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar approaches, Visa is releasing five soccer-themed NFTs to help raise money for charity. And during the tournament, it also will let attendees create their own digital art.
Later this month, the NFTs will come to life on an interactive pitch at the FIFA Fan Festival in Doha, Qatar, and allow fans to create digital art inspired by their own signature movements.
Eligible fans will have the option to mint this digital art into their own NFT in partnership with Crypto.com, the official cryptocurrency trading platform sponsor of FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
When the players exit the field, they can see what their digital art looks like and then choose to receive it as an NFT, or a non-NFT digital file for citizens of countries who aren’t eligible for Crypto.com accounts. Those selecting the NFT version should see it appear in their wallets within seven to 14 days.
Game of Thrones NFTs — Latest Effort to Tempt Fans with Crypto Collectibles
Hollywood juggernaut Warner Bros. Discovery is diving even deeper into the world of crypto behind another iconic brand: Game of Thrones.
The media conglomerate, which owns the premium cable channel HBO and streaming service HBO Max, announced it will be releasing a collection of NFT avatars christened “Game of Thrones: Build Your Realm.”
The move is the latest in a flurry of other initiatives aimed at enticing massive fandoms accustomed to shelling out cash for the latest round of branded collectibles.
While NBA Top Shot was the pioneer, the NFL and other sports leagues have either launched or plan to launch NFT collectibles of their own. Warner Bros. Discovery itself is no stranger to dabbling in NFTs, having announced other projects utilizing famous franchises like The Lord of the Rings, DC Comics, and Looney Tunes.
“Our goal, as always, with the fans, is to create new ways for them to interact with the stories and characters they love,” Josh Hackbarth, head of NFT commercial development for Warner Bros. Discovery, said in a statement announcing the Game of Thrones collection. The initial release will begin in December.
Warner Bros. Discovery partnered with the fan-focused, digital asset platform Nifty’s and non-fungible token creator Daz 3D, to manage the NFT launch.
CEO and Co-Founder of Nifty’s Jeff Marsilio said in a statement that the NFT series “will allow fans of the franchise to connect in ways they never have before.”
Web3 & Metaverse
Steph Curry Files ‘Curryverse’ Metaverse Trademark
National Basketball League (NBA) star and non-fungible token (NFT) enthusiast Steph Curry has filed a trademark for the “Curryverse,” indicating plans to create interactive “virtual environments” to sell metaverse and NFTs.
The full trademark filing includes rights for “entertainment services, namely, personal and virtual and metaverse appearances” by Curry as well as “online gaming services in the nature of virtual worlds.”
The filing is the first known crypto-related trademark claimed by Curry, though the three-point champion has been an ambassador for crypto exchange FTX since September 2021.
Curry is also no stranger to the NFT community, having purchased a Bored Ape Yacht Club NFT in August 2021. The basketball star’s collection also includes other digital collectibles, such as a membership pass to Web3 golf startup LinksDAO.
He released his first official NFT release in partnership with Under Armour in December 2021, grossing more than 2200 ETH (around $3.5 million) in sales volume, according to OpenSea.
Curry’s NBA team, the Golden State Warriors, has also embraced Web3 integrations with a series of partnerships to sell NFT collectibles as part of the larger “tokenized fandom” genre.
Meta to Let Users Mint and Sell Polygon-Powered NFTs on Instagram
Instagram users will soon be able to use the site to mint, showcase, and sell digital collections powered by non-fungible tokens (NFTs) on Polygon, giving creators a new way to engage with and monetize their fan communities.
Meta, which owns Instagram, today announced it will soon test these new features with a small group of creators in the U.S. first with the goal of expanding to more users and countries soon. Instagram plans to integrate a full end-to-end toolkit that can be used for the whole process — from creation, starting on the Polygon blockchain, to showcasing and selling NFTs both on and off the popular social media site.
Meta began testing digital collectibles features on Instagram in May by letting select U.S. creators share NFTs that they have created or bought. By late September, it expanded the offering to 100 countries and allowed everyone on Facebook and Instagram in the U.S. to connect their wallets, share their digital collectibles and automatically tag the creator and collector without paying any network fees.
NFTs open new venues for artists to capture the economic value of their work and a way to transform their social capital into financial reward. Fans get an opportunity to support the creators they love by collecting and curating their work.
After bursting into popular consciousness last year, NFTs have been making steady progress toward mainstream adoption. Most recently, Reddit revealed that more than 3 million of its users created blockchain wallets to purchase Collectible Avatars powered by Polygon. Meta’s entry into this space marks a new chapter in the evolution of the creator economy by opening the path for fans to become creators themselves.
Meta joins a long list of global companies like Robinhood and Stripe that choose Polygon as their entry point into Web3. The network, one of the greenest blockchains in existence, is home to tens of thousands of decentralized apps powered by a suite of Polygon solutions, including Aave, Uniswap, and OpenSea.
“This move represents a remarkable milestone in the evolution of Instagram’s existing NFT functionality and a natural next step to bring Web3 to the mainstream,”
said Polygon co-founder Sandeep Nailwal.
"The value added to the creator economy is unmatchable and championing verifiable digital ownership on a platform with such reach will help us further our goal of onboarding the next billion users to Web3."
Visa Files Trademark Applications for Crypto Wallets, NFTs, and the Metaverse
Payments giant Visa (V) filed two trademark applications to the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) related to digital wallets, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the metaverse.
Part of one of the applications applies for trademarks related to software for “management of digital transactions; use as a digital currency wallet and storage services software; use as a cryptocurrency wallet; and managing and verifying cryptocurrency transactions using blockchain technology," while another one is an application related to “providing temporary use of non-downloadable software for users to view, access, store, monitor, manage, trade, send, receive, transmit, and exchange digital currency, virtual currency, cryptocurrency, digital and blockchain assets, and non-fungible tokens (NFT)."
Other parts of the applications relate to “non-downloadable virtual goods” and “a collectible series of non-fungible tokens," as well as “providing virtual environments in which users can interact for recreational, leisure or entertainment purposes accessible in the virtual world.”
The applications were filed on Oct. 22.
Visa’s applications shouldn’t surprise you as they come after many large firms, including American Express and the New York Stock Exchange have filed similar applications over the past year.
In 2020, Visa filed a patent application for a process for turning physical fiat currency into a newly digitized version.
"At Visa, we are continually exploring technologies that might lead to new payment innovations and greater financial inclusion”,
a company spokesperson told CoinDesk by email on Friday.
The spokesperson added that
"each year we seek patents for hundreds of new ideas. While not all patents will result in new products or features, Visa respects intellectual property and we are actively working to protect our ecosystem, our innovations, and the Visa brand."
Games & Blockchain Gaming
Square Enix Reveals New NFT Game Symbiogenesis
Symbiogenesis is described as a “digital collectible art experience” anchored by NFT artwork, which works within the game and can also be used as a social media profile picture (PFP). The game will create a brand new franchise for Square Enix, rather than be an extension or spinoff of existing IP, and is tentatively planned to launch on Ethereum in spring 2023. However, the game won't be what players might have expected or had been hyped for in the past year as the experience will just be a web-based, narrative-driven platform with interactive elements.
Many traditional gamers continue to express their disappointment that the developer is focusing on blockchain/play to earn and is just out there to “grab money” from unsuspecting gamers. Gamers might not completely be in the wrong as we have yet to see a quality NFT game. Most NFT games appear to be lacking in quality and fun whilst trying to earn quick money through in-game items and NFT sales.
Last December, it emerged that Ubisoft had sold barely any NFTs in Ghost Recon Breakpoint, the first title in which it employed blockchain tech. A few weeks later, a Ubisoft executive claimed players would benefit from having a marketplace where they could buy and sell NFTs of in-game items, "but they don't get it for now." In April, Ubisoft announced that the game wouldn't receive any more content updates, effectively putting the game on ice and diminishing whatever value Ghost Recon Breakpoint's NFTs had.
Now all blockchain game developers including Square Enix might be facing more of an uphill battle to make their games succeed!
Magic Creator Richard Garfield Releases New PvP Card Game
Game designer Richard Garfield, in partnership with Tyranno Studios, is launching a new card game named Blockchain Brawlers. While playing, you build up cool wrestlers to fight against others. The twist? You have access to all the cards from the get-go.
Richard Garfield needs little introduction. He is responsible for many popular board and card games including RoboRally, Netrunner, and King of Tokyo. Oh, and Magic: the Gathering. Most people have heard of that one.
“What persuaded me to provide a game was Tyranno’s willingness to do a project that is totally not a tradable card game, where all players have the same cards and material for play. Art may vary, of course, but the game is consistent from player to player,” Garfield explained in a press release. “This is important to me because so much of blockchain gaming is tied up in making the game itself an object of speculation, and that runs against the interest of people who actually want to see games played.”
Tyranno Studios has an ecosystem goal of 80% player and 20% studio. Players can purchase these bits of land, called Brawl-O-Seums, that enable the owners to craft different moves and assets. New players coming in will need these assets to wrestle in PvP mode, thus creating a market for player-created content.
Microsoft Invests in NFT Game!
Korean game company Wemade has announced that a new investment round saw it receiving around $46 million of investment from a number of companies, including Microsoft!
Founded over two decades ago, Wemade is best known for its sleeper hit title The Legend of Mir, which at one point had more than 200 million signups.
In the last few years, Wemade has been exploring ways to incorporate blockchain technology into its new titles and offerings. It recently launched its blockchain Wemix 3.0 to mainnet and launched a stablecoin and a DeFi platform. The company says it is aiming to “transform everyday games with blockchain technology and establish its Wemix coin as a key currency in the blockchain gaming space.”
“This is a meaningful investment by reputable financial and strategic investors with proven track records. Wemade and Wemix will continue to exert efforts to attract more capital and actively invest to build the global digital economy platform.”
said Henry Chang, chief executive of Wemade
Google Play Android Games Now Available on PC in Beta
Google Play Games is launching in open beta in the US today, allowing anyone to try out a selection of Android games on PC. Google launched an initial beta of the software on Windows PCs earlier this year, but it was limited to Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan. Today’s launch sees the beta service expand to the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore.
Available games include 1945 Air Force, Blade Idle, Cookie Run: Kingdom, and Evony: The King’s Return. The app will even sync progress between PCs and mobile so you can continue where you left off on different platforms. While Google continues to add titles to the Play Games catalog, there are only 85 games available worldwide on the service right now.
Star Atlas Teases a Gameplay Demo at Solana Breakpoint Event
Click on the Tweets below to watch the videos 👇
Web3 Game Monetization — Lessons to Learn for New Beginnings
MetaPortal releases an article that focuses on the Lessons to Learn from web3 games. The purpose is to bring new monetization frameworks that can better align incentives between players and developers.
The article is divided into four sections:
1- History of Web3 Game Monetization
- This section focuses on looking back at how monetization has been implemented in web3 games. They mention Axie Infinity and other similar P2E games like Crabada and Pegaxy. The main takeaways are:
- Companies with DAO treasury structure had a hard time separating the treasury earnings vs the company’s revenue. For instance, Axie Infinity’s DAO treasury technically had not been established and essentially the market & breeding fees that were supposed to go into the treasury were actually Sky Mavis’ revenue.
- Many suffered from poorly designed economies.
- Some games were accused of being a reskin of a DeFi protocol with gaming overlay.
- Pre-selling NFTs through land sales and NFTs caused rampant speculation, gas wards, rugs, and misalignments between gameplay and asset offerings.
2- Ways to Monetize (and benefits)
- This section covered the upcoming or newer models that can be used to monetize in web3.
- Free-to-X → Many game developers have decided to adopt traditional web2 models such as F2P, but with NFTs and/or tokens.
- By adopting F2P elements, newer games can avoid some of the aforementioned pitfalls that plague mandatory NFT games.
- However, devs will now have to solve the age-old F2P question of how to make free players into paying customers
- Revenue Distribution as a way to transform a marketing cost → Revenue distribution is nothing new; Dota 2 has been giving a percentage of its revenue to its championship prize pool for the last decade
- Rather than spending money on ads and campaigns to attract new players or converting F2P players to paid players, that money is used to organically create the same result.
- In web3, you will be able to do this easily, primarily for these 2 reasons:
- A secure payment rail solution + abstracting away trust-problems
- A way to bypass regulatory red tape (for now)
- User Generated Content (UGC) → considered the holy grail for many web3 games. This is due to five primary reasons:
- Content is king. Any game that can attract talent to keep creating mods, videos, artwork, spin-offs, guides, etc. will remain relevant for years to come
- Fans of any half-decently sized game will outpace any content developers by multiple folds
- Composability, clear ownership, and easy payment rails enabled by blockchain tech means there is a clear guideline on who, where, and how much gets paid + royalties to original developers
- Rewards creators more fairly compared to the web2 platform vs creator dynamic, which means there is a greater incentive for creators to create better content knowing that they will be rewarded for it
- Current games that monetize through UGC like Roblox are exploitative financially and legally for creators, which makes the space ripe for disruption
3- Monetization beyond individual titles/IPs
- The authors believe that monetization beyond individual games/IPs will fall under one or more of these categories:
- Discovery Platform → Distribution platforms. Essentially “Steam” of web3 like Fractal.is.
- General Marketplaces → NFT marketplaces like OpenSea and Rarible. The authors believe that the platforms will offer more services like rental, loaning, and other financial services.
- Hosting Service → This mainly relates to blockspace providers; so L1s and L2s that focus on gaming.
4- General metrics to measure in web3 games for efficient monetization.
- The metrics that the authors consider key are the following:
- Engagement Segmentation → Defined by how your player base interacts with your core game loop
- Conversion → To better fine-tune your conversion, you can use the paying cohort player base to back-solve specifically which events or levers are driving the majority of conversion or repurchasing.
- Economy Contribution → As a game operator, you will need to segment the player base into creator vs consumption players, similar to Youtube content creator vs Youtube video watcher. The end goal is to measure and quantify how much engagement & monetization each of the creators is bringing into the economy of the game.
Stepn Parent Company Launches MOOAR NFT Marketplace
Find Satoshi Lab, the parent company of the move-to-earn application Stepn is releasing MOOAR, a membership-based, multi-chain non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace.
The addition of a marketplace helps the company to develop its self-sustaining ecosystem alongside the existing Stepn fitness app and DOOAR, a Solana-based decentralized exchange (DEX).
Not only will MOOAR users be able to purchase the sneakers necessary to use Stepn (which currently trades at a floor price of 0.98 SOL or about $32 on Magic Eden), but can additionally build and sell NFT collections on the platform. The goal is for the three apps to work “in collaboration to actively support each other,” the platform wrote in a press release.
Notably, the platform is launching with zero platform fees and no optional royalties. Creators intending to sell on MOOAR can set royalty fees between 0.5% and 10%, with a default rate of 2%. However, instead of charging platform fees they will charge a subscription fee of $30 per month.
SuperRare NFT Marketplace Launches RarePass for Exclusive Curated Art Drops
SuperRare, an Ethereum-based, decentralized digital art marketplace, is looking to shake up the way art is collected through the launch of its “Genesis” RarePass.
Holders of the RarePass, which SuperRare Labs Chief Operating Officer Kyle Olney compares to a subscription-like service, will receive curated crypto art by some of the most prominent artists on the platform, all within a single transaction.
“The goal is for this [RarePass] to be a trusted, curated pass offering,” Zack Yanger, senior vice president of art advisory at SuperRare Labs, told CoinDesk.
Over one year, RarePass holders will receive an airdrop once a month into their crypto wallet from 12 non-fungible tokens (NFT) artists, including XCOPY, Pindar Van Arman, Other World, Coldie, and others.
Each artist will create a series of 250 unique pieces of art for corresponding RarePass holders. The collections are intended to reflect the beginning of a new era for each of these artists, according to Olney.
Pindar Van Arman, an AI artist with over 20 years of experience, has been with SuperRare since its inception in 2018. He told CoinDesk that the idea of collecting art via a series of digitally-exclusive airdrops is something “that hasn't been done before.”
The new pass provides a curated list of artists with an edge and gets their work seen by a wider audience, he added.
Olney told CoinDesk that the participating artists were chosen by its curation team. Although the platform initially considered having community input from the SuperRare DAO, the platform decided that “for something like this that’s the first go out of the gate … we felt like being pretty careful about how we control this,” Olney said.
In an effort to gamify the art collecting experience, an additional three artworks by 12 other artists will be distributed randomly to select pass holders on a monthly basis, totaling 24 artists.
A 24-hour auction for the first RarePass will begin on Nov. 15 without a set floor price.
“We don’t want SuperRare to just arbitrarily come up with a number of what we think it’s worth,” Yanger said. “We really want the community to decide the pricing of the pass.”
The team also hinted at future passes for thematic collections, pending the success of the initial launch.
GameStop Officially Launches NFT marketplace
GameStop's NFT marketplace is live on Immutable X, a Layer 2 Ethereum scaling protocol.
The video game stores’ business is in decline but it now stands to be a major player in the NFT gaming industry, rivaling crypto-native gaming NFT platforms like Fractal, founded by Twitch’s Justin Kan.
GameStop’s marketplace will offer assets for Immutable X games, such as Gods Unchained, Guild of Guardians, and Illuvium, in addition to other web3 games. All transactions will forgo fees and offer carbon-neutral minting using Immutable X’s Ethereum scaling.
Immutable, the company behind Immutable X, partnered with GameStop in February to create a new gaming-focused NFT marketplace. Immutable had a valuation of $2.5 billion in March of this year.
"Today’s launch of the GameStop NFT Marketplace means that we can now provide access to millions of additional NFTs, more of the top web3 games being developed today while maintaining a best-in-class experience for players,”
said Robbie Ferguson, president, and co-founder of Immutable X, in a statement.
GameStop earned $1.1 billion in the second quarter — a 3.4% decrease compared to the prior quarter, according to the firm’s earnings report. The company has made other strategic web3 moves this year, partnering with the crypto exchange FTX US last month to provide GameStop users exposure to FTX’s digital asset marketplace.
National Policies & Legal Updates
Proposed UK Rules Will Make Advertising Crypto a Lot Harder, Industry Warns
The U.K. could make it difficult for crypto companies to advertise to clients within its borders if a new proposed bill is passed into law.
On Thursday, lawmakers on the committee for the Financial Services and Markets (FSM) bill – which could also end up legally recognizing crypto as financial instruments – approved an amendment to a markets bill to regulate crypto ads and promotions.
However, crypto advocates feel the rule may be too restrictive for a country that said it wants to support the digital asset industry.
They worry crypto firms would have to jump through many hoops when trying to advertise to local customers, facing high costs from having to rely on an authorized entity to approve adverts.
In January, the U.K. Treasury, the government's finance arm, said it planned to strengthen the rules governing crypto ads to improve consumer protection. The Treasury wants this measure in place to stop dangerous and fraudulent entities from reaching out to local customers.
An amendment, which was accepted unanimously by committee lawmakers during Thursday’s reading of the bill, hopes to make crypto firms comply with the country's financial promotions rules. These rules would require any type of advertisement or invitation to the public to engage in an investment activity targeting consumers to be approved by an authorized entity, according to industry representatives.
Even an advertisement that says “click here to exchange your assets” or “click here to start trading” is not allowed without approval from someone who is authorized, Diego Ballon Ossio, senior associate at London-based Clifford Chance, told CoinDesk in an interview.
Crypto services are not recognized as regulated activities in the country, which means it would be almost impossible for these companies to approve their own ads.
At present, a person or group from a company or a legal corporation can be designated as authorized entities for approving promotions. Authorized firms can also approve ads on behalf of other companies.
In 2019, the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) sent a warning letter to authorized approvers to make sure ads by unauthorized entities meet local regulatory standards before greenlighting them. The regulator has since said it wants to strengthen its rules to ensure that the firms which approve promotions have the relevant expertise to do so by February 2023.
Currently, “no crypto firm is an authorized firm … so they can’t approve their advert,” said Mark Aruliah, senior policy adviser at Elliptic at the Blockworks Digital Asset Summit in October.
Because crypto is not recognized as a regulated activity right now, service providers don’t exactly have a means of getting authorized as an ad approver either.
That means crypto firms would have to jump through more hoops and face more costs when trying to advertise to local customers because they’d have to rely on an authorized entity to approve their ads.
Hong Kong May Overturn Crypto Rules, Open Trading to Retail Investors: Report
Hong Kong is planning to put new rules in place that would make retail crypto trading legal in the city, as part of its efforts to become a center for crypto, Bloomberg reported.
The program, which is expected to launch in March of next year, would reportedly put in place mandatory licensing for crypto platforms.
But the timetable for such a move is not finalized and is still subject to public consultation.
It comes amid Hong Kong’s efforts to regain ground as a crypto hub after Covid-19, political turmoil, and regulation took the shine off the city’s reputation as a place for cryptopreneurs to do business.
The move to let retail traders back in on digital assets was teased by Elizabeth Wong, head of the fintech unit at the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), last week.
Speaking at an event, she said the government was considering its own crypto regulation bill, and that the SFC was looking to allow individuals to “directly invest into virtual assets.”
The city was in the past a powerhouse for crypto in Asia, playing host to the likes of Binance and Sam Bankman-Fried’s FTX.
But a voluntary licensing regime introduced in 2018 effectively limited crypto platforms to institutional clients with portfolios worth at least HK$8 million ($1 million).
Allowing consumer-facing platforms to operate could represent a first step to winning back firms that have turned attention away from Hong Kong in recent years.
China crucial to Hong Kong’s crypto success
Questions remain over what a looser approach in Hong Kong would mean for the industry in relation to mainland China.
Writing on his blog in response to news of Hong Kong’s “comeback” efforts, BitMex co-founder Arthur Hayes said that access to Chinese customers is crucial to Hong Kong’s attractiveness to crypto companies.
“As crypto investors, we care about Hong Kong’s ability to facilitate Chinese capital’s needs,” he wrote. “Whether it is in retail sales or capital flows, it is the ordinary wealthy Chinese people that power the Hong Kong economy.”
He also expressed misgivings about how China could exert its power over Hong Kong to undercut any pro-crypto changes.
“What’s to say that Beijing won’t change its opinion tomorrow and rescind all these positive crypto policies?”
But he added that he believes, this time, “China is for real.”
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