The UNI Airdrop is Now Worth Over $7k as Google Searches Rise Up & Volume Hits New Highs

The traditional investors are coming to the world of decentralization. Uniswap allows users to front-run the rest of the world amidst the ongoing censoring.

UNI, the 13th largest cryptocurrency by market cap of $5.14 billion, is the largest DeFi token. The digital asset that enjoyed an uptrend throughout last week to reach nearly $20 is up 275% YTD.

These gains made the UNI airdrop currently worth a whopping more than $7,000. The popular decentralized exchange (DEX) Uniswap launched its governance token UNI in September, less than five months back. UNI tokens were airdropped to all of the users who provided liquidity to the platform before Sept. 1st.

UNI tokens’ worth is increasing as more and more users are using the decentralized exchange, which gained momentum after the Robinhood fiasco. The zero-commission broker halted the trading of popular stocks like GME and has now limited the number of shares that can be purchased. The popular retail app also halted crypto trading last week.

This pushed the traditional investors to the world of decentralized finance (DeFi).

Uniswap is actually allowing traders to front-run the rest of the world as it is open for trading 24/7/365, as is the entire crypto space.

This can be seen in the Google search volumes for “Uniswap,” which is now reaching their DeFi summer levels. The search volumes gained momentum last week just as the WallStreetBets vs. Wall Street battle intensified with trading platforms and social media platforms limited the retail traders’ scope.

Google Trends for the search term “Uniswap”

Source: Google Trends “Uniswap”

Another indicator showing an increased interest in using Uniswap can be seen in its volumes.

Interestingly, throughout January, the decentralized exchange (DEX) has been recording higher than ever volumes. All four weeks of Jan. saw $5.5 billion of volume, as per Uniswap.info.

When it comes to daily volume, it kept above $700 million, and several times it went over $1 billion.

According to Dune Analytics, Uniswap did over $25 billion in volume in January, while its competitor Sushiswap did $12.17 billion, and $6.7 billion was recorded by Curve.

The total DEX volume recorded in the last 30 days was $54 billion, with Uniswap accounting for 48.4% of the share, followed by SushiSwap’s 23.5% and Curve’s 9.6%.

“The writing is on the wall. The majority of non-fiat trading will end up on decentralized, borderless, uncensorable venues,” commented Erik Voorhees, the CEO of the self-custody crypto platform ShapeShift, which is integrating with decentralized protocols and apps.

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Author: AnTy

This DeFi Blue Chip is Coming to Bitcoin with The RSK Market Proposal

“An Aave approach to the Bitcoin world” is what the DeFi Bluechip project is trying to achieve now.

The popular decentralized finance project announced this week that it is now coming to Bitcoin with a new proposal “for an RSK market on the Aave Protocol.”

“This is a huge step for expanding the DeFi ecosystem,” noted the team which launched Aave V2 last week, which saw its market size surpassing $35 million. The upgrade makes the project easier and cheaper to use, with its flash loan functionality also getting a revamp.

Following the launch of the latest version, the team proposed the ability to separately delegate proposal power and voting power —

“a major step in governance scalability as we believe the ability to assess proposals require different skills than those needed to make a smart contract proposal.”

Aave is the fourth largest DeFi project whose governance token AAVE continues to grow strong, trading at $76.28, with a whopping 4,147% year-to-date performance.

The project has $1.6 billion in TVL, with 432.5k ETH, 10k BTC, and 15.55 million DAI locked in it.

The proposal on Aave’s governance forum explains that for leveraging Bitcoin, they will be incorporating the RSK Market. This will be completely done by RSK devs, and integration has already been done with Chainlink, which will be used by Aave.

RSK’s full technology stack is built on top of Bitcoin, and its goal is to add value and functionality to the ecosystem of the largest cryptocurrency by enabling smart-contracts, near-instant payments, and higher-scalability.

Instead of a bridge, Aave proposes creating a Market, a new idea that incorporates new customers that are not using Aave. All new tokens already on RSK Marketplace natively will be brought along with the new proposal to increase the liquidity and opportunities for both companies. The team noted,

“We will bring to the table new customers that will bring new business and liquidity from the bitcoin world that look the DeFi platforms differently.”

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Author: AnTy

Bitcoin Mining: Network Congestion, Fees Uptick, China Ban, & Russian Hash Power in Play

In the world of Bitcoin mining, the hash rate of the network, the computing power used to validate BTC transactions has taken a drop following the positive difficulty adjustment of 8.8%.

The 7-day average hash rate of the network is currently at 131 EH/s, down from the all-time high of 146.8 EH/s, as per Blockchain.com.

A decline in the hash rate resulted in a sudden jump in the total number of unconfirmed transactions in the mempool to over 91.2k today only to get back down to 43k shortly.

This clogging of the network happened as the Bitcoin price broke new ATH’s yesterday. This led the crypto exchange Coinbase to experience delays in BTC withdrawals.

Before the issue was resolved less than five hours after the incident was first reported, Coinbase stated, “We are currently experiencing delays in processing BTC withdrawals due to Bitcoin network congestion.”

This, as usual, had the fees on the network jumping to $5.3, up from around $2 on Nov. 22nd. Miners are enjoying this spike in fees and price with their 7-day average revenue pushing above $18 million.

China is at it again

Amidst this came the report from China that crypto miners located in Baoshan, Yunnan have received a notice of the ban on November 30. As per the document, the power station is asked to stop supplying power to the miners.

After Sichuan and Xinjiang, Yunnan is the third-largest mining place in China.

According to Chinese publications, the attitude of Chinese local power companies continues to change towards crypto mining. It is reportedly more of a demand for economic interests than because of political pressure.

“China rolling out all the old tricks. Bull market confirmed,” commented Alistair Milne on this.

Siberia Dominates Russia’s Hash Power

According to a report by HASHR8 Inc., Russian bitcoin miners rank among the top three countries for contributing hash rate to the largest network.

It further reveals that Russia’s Siberian region accounts for the dominant portion of the country’s mining facilities. It is the “significant energy surplus from advanced hydropower infrastructure in the region” that enables the miners to “secure extremely competitive electricity rates.” The report stated,

“The estimates indicated that Russia’s share of hashrate was comparable to that within the United States. Recent estimates by industry professionals in Russian mining put Russia’s energy draw from mining at ~800 to 900 MW.”

The report mentions that the federal law passed in the country this year “clearly defines Bitcoin mining as an economic activity.”

It further noted that pooling activities must be carried out with a “foreign entity.” While the mining hardware imported is subject to a 20% tax, those imported indirectly through Kazakhstan only involve a 12% VAT charge.

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Author: AnTy

WEF Report Says Blockchain Is A Core Component in Sustainable Digital Finance

The World Economic Forum (WEF) recently released a new report about the future of digital finance on Wednesday. The WEF report noted that blockchain and Artificial Intelligence, the Internet of Things (IoT), and mobile platforms represent a core element of digital finance’s sustainable future.

The report noted that blockchain combines coming of age technologies with a sustainable environment-conscious business model. In the report, UBS executive Karin Oertli noted that all these nascent technologies could help organizations and governments to meet their sustainability goals. Oertli wrote,

“We believe that sustainable digital finance will play an essential role in efficiently channeling this capital to fuel innovation, growth, and job creation, at the same time supporting the transition to a sustainable, low-carbon economy.”

Currently, many European countries and top silicon tech firms’ save pledged to reduce their carbon footprint to zero in the next decade owing to the growing concern over climate change and global warming. Thus it has become even more important to bring sustainable business models to rescue the planet earth before it’s too late.

New WEF Report In Line With OECD Research

The latest sustainability report from WEF is not the first report of its kind, which has touted Blockchain as the key to sustainable future business models. It reinstates the research conducted by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). The OECD report had made similar claims regarding blockchain and said,

“The core properties of blockchain and other DLT can enable deeper technological integration, standardization, and the possibility of new business models.”

Carbon dioxide emissions are growing significantly with each passing year. Some of the western countries have taken it upon themselves to make sure to cut their carbon footprint from now onwards.

The emergence of blockchain as key to a sustainable future comes just in time as crypto space has been battling the criticism over Bitcoin’s network electricity consumption and carbon emission.

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Author: Hank Klinger

COVID-19 Accelerated Digital Payments Growth and Fintech Regulatory Innovation: Study

A joint study by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance (CCAF) and the World Bank has revealed that COVID-19 greatly accelerated Fintech regulatory innovation developments. Dubbed Global COVID-19 Fintech Regulatory Rapid Assessment Study’, the report was released on Oct 28 as part of an effort to empirically equip regulators and central banks in the digital currency era. Notably, the study highlights that increased digital payments activity did not result in a similar spike in crypto exchange use; however, these platforms also grew by smaller percentages.

The study’s results are based on responses from 118 central banks and financial regulators in 114 jurisdictions, from both developed and developing economies. Generally, there have been increased efforts to further accelerate the current regulatory innovations and introduce new initiatives to further support the burgeoning sector. According to the study, 72% of the sample has increased or debuted digital ecosystem initiatives, while 58% have already pivoted on RegTech/SupTech focused policies. Innovation offices are also on the rise, with 56% of the respondents noting progress.

Despite the bullish outlook in digital payments adoption, the study found that developed and developing economies faired differently. As per the findings, emerging market and developing economies (EMDEs) made more progress in accelerating or introducing Fintech initiatives. Most notably, EMDEs initiatives to support digital ecosystems have been focused on remittances and payments; some respondents reported waiving fees and altering transactional thresholds to mitigate the pandemic’s effects.

Crypto Exchanges Lag Behind

Although not as much as the digital payments arena that was already in place for most economies, the nascent crypto sector grew. As per stats from the study, digital payments are reported to have grown by around 60%, while activity on crypto exchanges only managed to gain 3%. Interestingly, there was a clear difference in the crypto exchange growth for developed and developing markets. The former grew by 6% while the latter saw an increase of 2% in crypto exchange usage.

Prevailing Challenges in Fintech Integration

At the core of regulators’ decision-making process is the risks associated with volatile Fintech environments, especially in upcoming markets like crypto. This study’s respondents identified cybersecurity as the top threat of digital ecosystems, followed by operational risks, consumer protection, and fraudulent activity. The report reads,

“In particular, 90 percent of surveyed regulators from advanced economies see cybersecurity as one of the top three increasing risks associated with FinTech activities.”

As for oversight, it appears that most central banks and regulators are comfortable with adopting and being resilient to innovations. Nonetheless, the respondents highlighted some shortcomings; they include the performance of core regulatory functions, access to reliable data, restriction to essential tech or information, and cooperation with local domestic agencies.

A Prospectus Future with CBDCs

This study has painted out the current status of digital payment networks globally and coincides with an increased interest in CBDC research and development. Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs) are now a hot topic with the latest insights from the Bank of International Settlements (BIS) in a collaborative report with 7 major central banks.

Developed economies have currently leaped research, while some like China has gone further and launched a pilot for its prospectus digital yuan. This initiative has been in place for some months and is a reference for most ongoing projects in the space. In 2021, South Korea and Japan are also set to pioneer their CBDC tests to prepare for the virtual currency shift.

Well, UK’s Minister for Africa at the Foreign Commonwealth & Development Office, James Duddridge, is optimistic that the study will complement the current approaches to Fintech policies,

 “I trust that this report will inform and inspire countries around the world, help support their FinTech regulatory strategies, and encourage greater collaboration across jurisdictions.”

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Author: Edwin Munyui

PwC: “Large Crypto Unicorns to Become Increasingly like ‘Crypto Octopuses'”

The value of the M&A’s in the cryptocurrency world saw strong growth this year as it exceeded the total of 2019 just in the first six months of 2020, according to PwC’s latest report on the crypto merger, acquisition, and fundraising landscape.

Compared to last year’s $481 million, the first half of this year recorded $597 million in global deal value as tie-ups became less frequent but bigger.

In the first half of 2020, there were 60 tie-ups versus 125 in the whole of 2019, said PwC.

However, activity continues to shift away from the US as the volume in Asia-Pacific and Europe, the Middle East, and Africa was 57% compared to 51% last year.

The biggest deal of 2020 was made by Binance Holdings, which purchased CoinMarketCap for $400 million. PwC Crypto Leader Henri Arslanian said,

“We expect crypto M&A activity to remain strong for the coming months particularly with some of the larger or more profitable players acquiring firms that offer ancillary services to their current offerings.”

“We should expect the large crypto unicorns to become increasingly like ‘crypto octopuses’ by acquiring or investing in various ancillary businesses in order to remain dominant.”

Digital asset manager CoinShares also anticipates the materialization of a “more robust M&A market” but says significant industry consolidation is likely to come first to clean up the market fragmentation.

According to them, crypto companies need to demonstrate the ability to generate recurring revenue and stable cash flow, consistent delivery on growth metrics, low margin volatility and above-average margins, low revenue concentrations, and low founder involvement.

According to PwC, the first of the year also saw a spike in fundraising involving trading companies or cryptocurrency exchanges, which has been attributed to the rising digital asset prices, greater regulatory clarity, and increased institutional interest.

2020 saw legendary investor Paul Tudor Jones putting money in crypto, boosting demand from bigger players and MicroStrategy and Square making bitcoin a part of their Treasury.

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Author: AnTy

Crypto Exchange Gemini Makes an Aggressive Move, Adds 15 Hot DeFi Tokens

DeFi is all the rage in today’s crypto world, and no one wants to be left behind, especially cryptocurrency exchanges.

Over the past few months, we saw these exchanges rushing to DeFi space – in the fastest ever listing of these tokens, a complete U-turn from the past few years when crypto projects had to approach them or even pay them to get their tokens listed.

Coinbase has already jumped the altcoins and DeFi mania, this time, it’s Gemini which defines DeFi as a “warm ray of sunlight shining down on us during the winter of our financial discontent.”

According to the exchange’s official announcement, “the Decentralized Finance (DeFi) revolution is coming into bloom, and it presents the possibility of permissionless, bankless, alternatives to the legacy financial system.”

The promise of DeFi is apparently “aligned” with Gemini’s “ethos” of giving its customers “greater choice, independence, and opportunity.”

While the exchange says these new tokens make up some of the major building blocks of DeFi, still, it warns that they present “unique risks,” and the listing doesn’t endorse the protocol and “makes no recommendation that” customers participate in the DeFi ecosystem.

Up until today, Gemini’s list of cryptos was extremely limited. A meager nine coins were available on the exchange for trading viz. BTC, ETH, LTC, BCH, ZEC, BAT, LINK, DAI, and OXT.

But on Friday, Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss-founded crypto exchange has made an aggressive move and extended this list to 15 more coins.

“We are proud to be the first regulated platform to offer trading and custody support in the State of New York,” for a total of 24 cryptos.

The exchange announced new support for the most popular DeFi tokens, including Balancer (BAL), Curve (CRV), Ren Network (REN), Synthetix Network (SNX), Uma (UMA), Uniswap (UNI), and Yearn.finance (YFI) which are available for both trading and custody.

Five tokens that were previously supported for custody, Decentraland (MANA), Kyber Network (KNC), Maker (MKR), Storj (STORJ), and 0x (ZRX), are now available for trading as well.

On top of this, Keep Network (KEEP), Wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC), and tBTC (tBTC), three new coins altogether, have been added to its custody.

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Author: AnTy

Leading Iranian Power Stations to Supply Clean Energy to Crypto Miners

Iran has gradually become one of the leading crypto-mining hotspots in the world after China. The country turned to crypto amid growing concerns over its economy due to inflation and sanctions from the United States. The government regulated crypto mining a couple of years back, and since then, the crypto mining industry has flourished to become one of the key industries.

A few months back, the government authorized power plants in the country to mine bitcoin. It seems many power companies in the country are now willing to sell the electricity to the growing population of crypto miners in the country.

As per the latest report published in a local daily dated September 21st, Iran’s Thermal Power Plant Holding Company (TPPH) plans to sell their surplus electrical supply to crypto miners. TPPH is one of the largest power companies in Iran, and the reports suggest that the company is already in talks to hold a tender for supplying surplus electrical energy from three of its powerplants to crypto mining farms in the country.

The Iranian government’s expenditure on building an infrastructure for energy production has borne fruits, and the county has seen great progress in producing electricity. However, the government has also restricted power companies to stable price regimes, limiting these power companies from making great profits. Thus, supplying the surplus energy to crypto miners can prove a big revenue booster for these firms.

Energy Companies to Supply Only Clean Energy

The government has allowed for the distribution of surplus energy to crypto miners; however, this surplus energy needs to be clean and green. As a result, the power companies can only sell electricity produced from clean natural sources like wind and solar rather than ones generated by burning fossil fuels.

At present majority of crypto mining is done via fossil-fuel based electric power, which is available to the miners at subsidized rates. However, the move from TPPH could prove to be a big game changer and could pave the way for the use of clean and green energy for crypto mining.

In fact, Iran has single-handedly brought down the percentage of clean energy used for crypto mining due to the cheap price of fossil-fuel generated electricity. The country has also seen a significant rise in the mining operations ever since the government decided to regulate the mining industry rather than putting a blanket ban. There have been several rumors from time to time that the Iranian government is looking to launch its own central bank-backed digital currency, but nothing concrete has come out of it yet.

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Author: James W

The Bahamas Central Bank to Launch Its Digital Currency, the Sand Dollar, Next Month

The Bahamas are on the verge of becoming the first nation in the world to introduce a state-backed digital currency. The Bahamas Central Bank announced that it would issue a central bank-backed cryptocurrency (CBDC) next month.

Chaozhen Chen, the Central Bank of Bahamas assistant manager in charge of eSolutions, said that the virtual currency, known as ‘Sand Dollar,’ is set to enhance financial inclusion, especially the isolated islands within the country.

Chen explained that most people on those isolated islands have no access to banking and digital payment infrastructure. Based on reasoning that the central bank came up with a customized solution that will solve the problem while allowing the country to maintain its sovereignty.

The Sand Dollar transfers will be made using a mobile-based wallet app on users’ phones which will be much easier since more than 90% of the citizens use a mobile phone.

According to the official, the central bank digital currency (CBDC) will adhere to the regulations and rules subjected to the Bahama dollar. Users will have to comply with the anti-money laundering (AML) and know your customer (KYC) rules when it comes to the creation of accounts for the use of the digital currency.

The new virtual dollars will be issued by demand. Chen also revealed that the CBDC would be issued along with the withdrawal of the fiat Bahamian dollars to avoid an oversupply of money in the country.

The Bahamas Central Bank first indicated the desire to introduce a digital dollar in June 2018. At that time, the regulator noted that most smaller islands had witnessed a massive downsizing and closure of commercial banks, which left them with no banking services.

The central bank started a pilot project dubbed ‘project Sand Dollar’ last year in the islands of Exuma and Abaco with a population of 7,314 and 17,224, respectively.

Chen explained that every Sand Dollar would be pegged on the Bahamian dollar pegged on the US dollar.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Binance Lists Paxos Gold (PAXG) Stablecoin For Trading Against BUSD, BNB, BTC

Binance, one of the leading crypto exchanges in the world, has decided to list gold-backed cryptocurrency by Paxos called Paxos Gold (PAXG). The gold-backed token will be listed against three other digital assets, including the exchange’s native stablecoin called BUSD, the native token Binance Coin, and Bitcoin.

Rich Teo, Paxos co-founder, and CEO Asia believe the listing on Binance would offer traders exposure to real regulated gold. He said:

“PAX Gold will offer [its] users an easy and safe opportunity to gain exposure to real, regulated gold.”

Paxos is a New-York based exchange that launched its gold-backed token Paxos Gold last September and is built on top of the Ethereum blockchain. Each PAXG token represents an ounce of the physical gold currently stored in the Brink’s London vault. Traders can buy as little as $1 worth of gold.

The listing of PAXG token on Binance came just weeks after Gold prices soared to all-time-highs amid global economic uncertainty. Gold has been a haven asset for centuries, and despite Bitcoin maximalists trying to prove Bitcoin is a better alternative, a majority of the population still sees gold as the true safe-haven asset Paxos Gold token has also been cleared for listing by the New York Department of Financial Services (NYDFS).

Apart from the approval from the NYDFS, CF Benchmarks has also launched a price index against the US Dollar, which would be real-time and offer daily settlement and spot rate, which would be updated every second.

Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, also commented on their decision to add Paxos Gold and noted the importance of gold as an asset class. He said:

“Gold is an asset that has had enduring value from generation to generation. With PAX Gold now on Binance, investors can easily get and trade gold with the click of a button.”

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Author: James W