Crypto News Headlines (18-Feb-2022)

Ukraine has legalised cryptocurrencies amid soaring tensions with Russia even as many top officials of central banks across the world and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva expressed their reservations over the penetration of unbacked virtual currencies.

Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister Mykhailo Fedorovon, in a Twitter post, on Thursday said the country’s Parliament has adopted a law on virtual assets, which will legalise cryptocurrencies. Fedorovon also said that this step will protect the assets of Ukrainians from possible abuse or fraud.

Cryptocurrencies rallied in 2021 to become some of the year’s best performing investments. But this year, the story is a little different: Bitcoin, the most widely-owned crypto, is down 11% while runner up Ether has tumbled 19%. 

Besides waiting for the biggest cryptocurrencies to rebound, investors are looking for new opportunities. Metaverse tokens, used within virtual worlds to buy things like land or in-game items like avatar accessories, are considered by some to be among the top contenders for 2022.

“They have huge potential,” said Shehan Chandrasekera, an angel investor and head of tax strategy at CoinTracker.

Metaverse tokens include MANA, used within the metaverse platform Decentraland, and SAND, the coin of the land in the metaverse known as the Sandbox. You can use both of the cryptocurrencies to buy land and in-game items in their respective metaverse platforms. Both of them rallied in value in November after Facebook refocused its business on creating a metaverse—going so far as to rebrand as Meta—and a tsunami of new money poured into rival metaverse platforms.

We caught up with with Ong, who will appear at Crypto State by CoinDesk, our virtual community event tour, when it stops in Southeast Asia on Feb. 24. The discussion will explore the metaverse and its implications.

CoinDesk: What does the word “metaverse” mean to you?

Bobby Ong: I like Matthew Bell’s definition as he has covered it very comprehensively. In his easy, he says the metaverse will be a) persistent, b) synchronous and live, c) without any cap to concurrent users, d) a fully functioning economy, e) an experience that spans both the digital and physical worlds, private and public networks/experiences, and open and closed platforms, and f) offer unprecedented interoperability of data, digital items, assets, content.

A widely-followed analyst says blockchain-interoperability altcoin Polkadot (DOT) has the potential to be one of the top crypto assets of the year.

In a new YouTube update, Coin Bureau’s pseudonymous host Guy tells his 1,950,000 subscribers that DOT has a steep upside in 2022.

“DOT could become one of the top cryptos of 2022.”

According to Guy, traders expected Polkadot to reach a much higher price in 2021, but DOT failed to reach anticipated levels due to several factors.

“Despite all of Polkadot’s developments, updates, and announcements – DOT hasn’t done much in terms of price and is actually down almost 50% since I last covered the project in October [2021]. This is for a few reasons.

For starters, the crypto market has been down since November, and crypto investors have been feeling very uncertain due to various macro factors. When this happens, money tends to flow from altcoins into BTC, and this is exactly what we’ve seen…

DOT is the most popular cryptocurrency among institutional crypto funds besides BTC and ETH – and by a wide margin, compared with other altcoins. As it so happens, institution investment vehicles for crypto have seen record outflows since November, especially those for altcoins, like DOT.

In a ‘historic’ partnership, the National Rugby League (NRL) signed its first-ever crypto partnership with Australia’s cryptocurrency exchange Swyftx, making it the code’s exclusive crypto exchange partner.

While the country is still in the process of establishing a framework for cryptocurrencies in the country, crypto-affiliated businesses continue to thrive.

The best example of it is Swyftx one of the fastest-growing crypto exchanges in the country. And while it continues expanding its user base of over 500k users, its partnership with NRL will allow it to be more visible among the mainstream audience.

As per the deal, the sponsorship that comes from the crypto exchange will be used during the League’s Men’s Games as well as for Women’s games.

Along with it the finals, State of origin, and the All-Stars games will be supported by the partnership.

A New York judge ordered Terraform Labs and its CEO Do Kwon to comply with subpoenas the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) issued in its investigation of Terra’s Mirror Protocol, according to a filing dated Feb. 17.

Terraform filed a motion in December 2021 opposing an SEC effort to compel Kwon and Terraform Labs to cooperate with subpoenas issued in the SEC’s ongoing investigation of Terra’s Mirror Protocol. Terraform and Kwon sued the agency on claims that it violated its own rules and the Due Process clause of the U.S. Constitution in serving Kwon in September last year.

The Mirror Protocol is a decentralized finance (DeFi) platform that allows users to create and trade “mirrored assets,” or mAssets, that “mirror” the price of stocks – including major stocks traded on U.S. exchanges.

The UK’s cost of living crisis has been making grim headlines for months — with no respite in sight.

Just this week, newspapers reported that inflation had hit 5.5%, a 30-year high, further pushing up prices for everyday essentials like food. Worse is yet to come as an energy price cap will end in April, when bills are projected to rise by more than 50%. The poorest households describe a stark choice — between ‘heating or eating’.

Into this grim maelstrom a new London-based startup, called Nous, is hoping to throw households a life-raft by offering a free personalized report that explains how price rises will affect their costs and gives advice on how to adapt to inflation.

That’s just step one, though. The startup’s wider pitch and “social mission” is to use (first party) household finance data and (third party) vendor data to build models that can progressively automate the management of essential service switching and/or contact renegotiating to offer a sort of household savings-as-a-(subscription)-service.

Nous, which is pronounced to rhyme with ‘house’, talks in terms of building an “autopilot” for routine household decisions — which spans and scans energy, insurance, mortgages, broadband and other subscription services to monitor activity and steer households onto better deals. 

The startup projects that its future subscription service will be able to save a “typical” household more than £1,000 a year. (Its own service pricing would of course need to be set well below that to convince hard hit consumers to buy in.)

Gala Games is a community-led platform that promises to make “blockchain games you’ll actually want to play.” It’s a good slogan, because it acknowledges one of the issues that’s held blockchain gaming back — until recently, the games weren’t that fun to play. Gala wants to change this.

Gala Games surged last year on a wave of interest in metaverse and gaming tokens. This was partly stimulated by Facebook’s Meta rebrand, which catapulted anything meta-related into the spotlight. Another driver was Axie Infinity’s dramatic growth after it pioneered the popular play-to-earn gaming model.

In late November, a pseudonymous crypto trader behind the Twitter handle @GiganticRebirth issued a warning to his legion of over 85,000 followers.

“High confidence interval that we’re very late in the cycle [and that cycles still exist],” he wrote. “Secure your freedom if you’ve won it.”

GiganticRebirth, who also goes by GCR (an acronym for Gigantic-Cassocked-Rebirth), said he was feeling increasingly bearish about the cryptocurrency market, which had just enjoyed a 20-month-long bull run that showed no signs of stopping.

 As others shilled predictions of “a new crypto supercycle” or “bitcoin to $100K,” GCR was planning a different, contrarian trade: a big short, or a major bet against overvalued altcoins that would generate massive profits if his bearish views played out.

To pull off the trade, he says he assembled a smattering of part-time crypto researchers, ranging from a professional poker champion to a medical student. They shared their findings with each other in a Discord channel and traded on their own.

After eradicating crypto trading and mining in the country, the Chinese government’s next concern lies with the growing scams around the metaverse projects.

The Chinese Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission issued a risk warning for the common public against fraudulent metaverse projects. The notice highlighted how the buzz around metaverse had made it a primary target of scammers and fraudsters illegally raising money in the name of such projects and robbing people of their hard-earned money.

The official warning highlighted four different ways in which fraudsters are illicitly making profits using metaverse as the premise of their fraud. The first and most common form of the scam includes projects promising high-tech integration, such as artificial intelligence and virtual reality support. These projects often lure investors by promising high returns. Then the fraudsters get away with the investor funds.

The second most common form of metaverse scams is blockchain play-to-earn (P2E) projects, where scammers promise high profits for investing in the native gaming token and often run away with funds once they reach a set goal. Another prominent scheme such projects use includes hyping up the metaverse real-estate to induce panic buying among users.