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Blockchain Bites: IBM Blockchain Bleeds, Exchange Tokens Pump, ETH Hits New High

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Daniel Kuhn

Happy Groundhog Day. Bitcoin is ticking up, though still rangebound. XRP continues to bleed after a semi-successful orchestrated pump. Exchange tokens are seemingly benefiting from GameStop-style gamesmanship. 

Three stories

1. IBM Blockchain has reportedly missed its revenue goals by a wide margin two years running. The legendary computing giant’s enterprise blockchain unit has atrophied to approximately 10% of its peak size, according to anonymous sources close to the matter.

  • Expectations for enterprise blockchain were too high, they said, adding that IBM “didn’t really manage to execute, despite doing a lot of announcements.”
  • Big Blue is most notable for its work on Hyperledger Fabric, a network of networks that supports the IBM-incubated FoodTrust, a farm-to-supermarket tracking system backed by Walmart, and TradeLens, a shipping container logistics blockchain backed by Maersk.

2. A Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) director spoke publicly for the first time regarding the controversial wallet rule floated late last year.

  • FinCEN Deputy Director Michael Mosier said the rule, which would increase reporting requirements for exchanges, seeks to align crypto with standing regulations related to cash. “It’s a proposal, it’s not all or nothing. Tell us about what works” and what doesn’t on the technical and conceptual front, Mosier said.
  • Others have pointed out that increasing the amount of identifiable information tied to specific accounts on the blockchain would actually diminish crypto’s cash-like qualities.

3. GameStop drama is spilling out into the land of decentralized exchanges, according to CoinDesk’s Muyao Shen. New data suggests that CEX and DEX trading volumes have risen over the past week, bringing exchanges’ tokens to new highs, with at least some action coming from disaffected traders temporarily blocked from trading meme-stocks on Robinhood.

  • Binance’s BNB token hit a new all-time high at $50.27 during early U.S. trading hours on Monday, while FTX’s FTT token logged a record price of $12.95 on Friday, according to data from Messari.
  • Meanwhile, volumes on DEXs hit $55.8 billion in January, up from a previous high of $26.5 set in September 2020. Uniswap saw approximately 45% of total DEX volume, with rival clone SushiSwap reaching 22%.

At stake

Outliers and developers
Outlier Ventures, a fund and accelerator dedicated to Web 3.0, released its latest blockchain developer report, with findings that hew close to previously reported estimates. According to Outlier’s data, Ethereum was the most actively developed blockchain in 2020, followed by Cardano and Bitcoin. The venture firm relied on the number of code commits.

It might seem odd that Bitcoin is only considered the third-most active blockchain (with 441 commits to Ethereum’s and Cardano’s 866 and 761, respectively). But Cardano went through a major upgrade last spring, bringing proof-of-stake consensus to the interoperable network. By contrast, Bitcoin developers have chosen a slow and steady approach towards development, with several rounds of discussions about discussions around upgrading.

Last December, Electric Capital, another venture firm, measured developer activity by counting the number of actual people building these protocols. They found that 2,300 average monthly developers worked on Ethereum across Q3 2020, with Bitcoin in second at a bit under 400. Development was up across the ecosystem.

Outlier’s figures are a bit different, measuring monthly estimates rather than quarterly. They write: “Ethereum also leads the monthly active developer count, with 220 monthly active core developers on average, followed by Hyperledger, Cardano and Bitcoin having 149, 144 and 103 active core developers on average, respectively.”

But not all chains are seeing increased activity. A class Outlier calls “Ethereum killers,” including Tron, EOS, Komodo and Qtum, “[is] seeing a decrease in core development metrics and developer contribution.” Though other protocols many view as Ethereum competitors, like Polkadot and the aforementioned Cosmos, saw an uptick in dev contribution.

It’s hard to put too much stock in reports like this – Outlier readily admits the potential pitfalls in scraping GitHub for determinative data – but they do function as a kind of map of the crypto territory. With the launch of Filecoin, for instance, a much-awaited decentralized file storage network, the protocol jumped into the “top five” of most actively developed projects.

Like all else in crypto, hype begets hype. While it’s easy to get lost in the dazzling amount of capital flowing through this nascent economy, it’s important to remember the human sacrifice, too.

Market intel

BTC and ETH
The upside is looking bright for both bitcoin and ether, according to CoinDesk’s Omkar Godbole. Bitcoin’s on-chain metrics show demand continues to outstrip supply while the number of coins on exchanges slides – a sign that people expect the price to rise. Grayscale, a CoinDesk sister company, acquired 40,000 BTC in a period when only 26,000 BTC were mined.

Meanwhile, ether hit a new record high on Tuesday, amid expectations the recent GameStop trading saga would accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrencies and decentralized finance (DeFi). The second-largest cryptocurrency by market value climbed to approximately $1,490 a little before noon E.T.

Quick bites

  • DOLLARS AS A SERVICE: METACO and Cobalt want to rewire the financial system for crypto. (CoinDesk)
  • BANK-LIKE: Gemini is offering 7.4% yield on customer deposits, teaming with crypto lender Genesis. (CoinDesk)
  • PRIVACY ISSUES: Russian police may be identifying attendees of pro-Navalny protests using facial recognition tools. (CoinDesk)
  • FORBES 50: Dropped. (Forbes)
  • CYPHERPUNK CHRONOMETER: Decoding the “Bitcoin Full Node Sculpture.” (Bitcoin Magazine)
  • RISE AND FALL: The story of a crypto house in Argentina. (Rest of the World)
  • DARK DOLLARS: An estimated $1.7 billion worth of crypto went through darknet markets in 2020. (Chainalysis)

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Brave Acquires Tailcat to Offer Private Search Alternative to Google Search and Chrome

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Brave has made significant progress in its active monthly users over the past few years with even higher numbers expected to be recorded with their latest acquisition.

 In a bid to provide a private alternative to Google Search and Google Chrome, Brave Software Inc has acquired the Tailcat search engine of Hubert Burda Media to push that agenda. This makes them the first private alternative to these heavyweight platforms having decided to offer their services on both Desktop and Mobile devices.

Tailcat is an open search engine and will become the backbone of the Brave search. Brave search and Brave browser will be able to track users on various websites and according to the report, they will have a respective 70% and 92% market shares. Currently, privacy has become a very important demand of users, and Brave Search and Brave Browser factored this need in their design.

Brave search has several features including its transparency. According to them, they will have no secret algorithm to cause their results to be biased. It also promises to be independent by turning to the contribution of the community in an anonymous way to produce one of the finest search engine platforms. This will add up to the already existing tech companies that relied on a lot of years and a huge amount of money to produce quality results for users. 

Brave search has also been said to give privacy to users by not tracking their profile. There will also be an ad-free search and ad-support search which will give options to users. They promise to prioritize users than data and advertising industries and finally provide seamless and open service to users. 

Brave has made significant progress in its active monthly users over the past few years with even higher numbers expected to be recorded with their latest acquisition and their privacy integrated Browser. They have improved on their active monthly users from $11 million to $25 million in 2021. The building of a privacy-preserving, independent, and the robust search engine will be a huge boost against the bad personal data collection habit of heavyweight tech companies. 

Tailcat is built to not rely on the collection of IP addresses or personal data of users to improve upon the quality of search results. It can produce the expected quality of users whilst maintaining privacy as it is built on an independent index. 

Paul-Bernhard Kallen, the Chief Executive Officer of Hubert Burda Media stated that the entire team is very excited about their technology being used by Brave to create an alternative to Google with a focus on privacy. He assured them that they will keep providing their support and be actively involved in the project. Users will have the control they deserve over their online experience as they expand their browser into a super app. 

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Excellent John K. Kumi is a cryptocurrency and fintech enthusiast, operations manager of a fintech platform, writer, researcher, and a huge fan of creative writing. With an Economics background, he finds much interest in the invisible factors that causes price change in anything measured with valuation. He has been in the crypto/blockchain space in the last five (5) years. He mostly watches football highlights and movies in his free time.



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TRON Ushers in Prediction Markets after Partnering with Prosper

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Iva Wisher, Prosper co-founder, notes that the partnership with TRON represents a milestone in Prosper’s efforts to “collaborate with the biggest players of the DeFi world.”

TRON users will soon access cross-chain prediction markets and hedging on the platform’s burgeoning DeFi ecosystem, according to a March 3rd release announcing a partnership with Prosper, a non-custodial, cross-chain platform.

TRON, already one of the world’s largest and most popular blockchain-based operating systems, is enjoying a rapidly-expanding DeFi ecosystem, leading founder Justin Sun to emphasize a mantra of being “all in on DeFi” by continuing efforts to partner with top projects in the space.

Development and integration steps are expected to be announced in the coming weeks, but TRON users are expected to be able to utilize the native TRX coin as the basic prediction token for all features and functionalities on Prosper. Collaboration between the projects is expected to enhance liquidity, a critical component of DeFi prediction markets, as any TRX holder can maximize yield or hedge positions.

Decentralized prediction markets have rapidly grown in popularity as users realize the peer-to-peer networks all but eliminate the potential for corruption, manipulation, and efforts by a centralized authority to impact participation and scalability.

All types of prediction markets rely on a ‘wisdom of the crowd’ philosophy to guide decisions on future events like elections, the sale of a company, or price fluctuations of assets like fiat currencies, cryptocurrencies, or commodities.

However, the unique aspects of DeFi prediction platforms lead some to speculate they could become a “mega-industry” and serve as a clearinghouse for predictions that could impact and influence the entire crypto ecosystem.

Prosper has made waves in the predictions market by developing unique technology to aggregate on-chain liquidity. According to the team, reliance on binary models for liquidity provision across blockchains, alongside a short-term market model enabling randomized results for custom pools, enhances the ability of its market to become more accurate at forecasting events. Prosper liquidity providers also have access to high APRs and a free maximum insurance fund.

Iva Wisher, Prosper co-founder, notes the partnership with TRON, who acquired BitTorrent in 2018, represents a milestone in Prosper’s efforts to “collaborate with the biggest players of the DeFi world.”

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Having obtained a diploma in Intercultural Communication, Julia continued her studies taking a Master’s degree in Economics and Management. Becoming captured by innovative technologies, Julia turned passionate about exploring emerging techs believing in their ability to transform all spheres of our life.



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Ant Group Seeks for ‘Short-Term Liquidity Solution’ to Help Employees after Cancelled IPO

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The “short-term liquidity solution” will be a program that presupposes buying back some of the Ant Group employees’ shares.

Chinese online payments company Ant Group has said it is looking for a “short-term liquidity solution” to help its employees monetize shares after its cancelled initial public offering (IPO). According to the company’s executive chairman Eric Jing, the solution will take effect in April. Besides, in a post on the internal website, Ant Group’s leader promised the company would eventually go public.

The “short-term liquidity solution” will be a program to buy back some of the employees’ shares. The company’s employees had previously received share-based compensation. From 2017 to June 2020, Ant Group paid out 15 billion yuan in share-based compensation, equivalent to $2.3 billion at current exchange rates. And many of the employees expressed frustration on social media for not being able to sell their shares after Ant Group cancelled its IPO because of Chinese regulators.

Ant Group Cancelled IPO

Ant Group decided to go public back in 2020. Its IPO was supposed to take place In November 2020. Notably, the public listing was scheduled to take place simultaneously on the Hong Kong and the Shanghai Stock Exchanges. Notably, it would become the largest IPO in history.

In October, several days before the IPO date, the company recorded a huge retail investors bid of $3 trillion which equals the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the United Kingdom. As we reported, nearly 1.5 million retail investors trooped into the market to invest about $167.7 billion equivalent to HK$1.3 trillion at that time.

Two days before the IPO, Chinese authorities warned the company on restrictions of capital and leverage. Besides, China Securities Regulatory Commission summoned Ant Group controller Jack Ma, CEO Simon Hu, and executive chairman Eric Jing. As a result of the issues with Chinese regulators, both the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Shanghai Stock Exchange suspended the IPO.

Since then, Jack Ma has been in talks with regulators over the restructuring plans. In particular, it would address such issues as corporate governance, setting up a financial holding company, and the payment businesses.

Currently, Ant Group is working on shifting to a financial holding company structure.

In response to employees’ questions about Ant’s future, executive chairman Eric Jing said:

“The company will certainly become a public company. I’m always fully confident in that.”

He added:

“This rectification won’t make Ant weak, but will make us healthier, with a greater stage for growth.”

He also promised to review the staff incentive programs and roll out some measures to help solve their financial problems.

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Daria is an economic student interested in the development of modern technologies. She is eager to know as much as possible about cryptos as she believes they can change our view on finance and the world in general.



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