Blockchain Bites: Ethereum's Inroads and Libra's Concessions

The Facebook-led cryptocurrency project has been scaled back while investors try to take advantage of market turbulence. Here's the story.

AccessTimeIconApr 16, 2020 at 5:40 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 8:29 a.m. UTC

The world's second-largest blockchain by market capitalization is making major inroads despite the new coronavirus-led market turmoil.

The total amount of value transfer on the network has reached parity with Bitcoin, while dapp usage is reported to have surged 64 percent in Q1. Still, crypto isn't confined to the major chains: With Quora finding a use case for charity and Solana entering the world of decentralized finance (DeFi) with a stablecoin integration, decentralized tech continues to earn its reputation as a disruptor.

You're reading Blockchain Bites, the daily roundup of the most pivotal stories in blockchain and crypto news, and why they're significant. You can subscribe to this and all of CoinDesk's newsletters here. Here's the story:

Top Shelf

Ethereum's Inroads

  • Data shows the total value transferred on the Ethereum network, including ether and ERC-20 stablecoins, now matches that of the Bitcoin network, according to Messari research. "Ethereum is becoming the dominant value transfer layer in crypto," Ryan Watkins, research analyst at Messari, said.
  • DappRadar found Ethereum saw a 64 percent increase in dapp usage in the first three months of 2020, outpacing other “layer-one” blockchains like Tron and EOS. (Decrypt)
  • Chainlink’s link token, which funds a system of oracles built on top of the Ethereum blockchain, is outperforming Bitcoin by leaps and bounds as the oracle network’s various use cases garner investor attention, leading to a self-feeding bullish cycle. "Link has a strong fan base that constantly promotes or ‘shills’ the project to potential buyers. This often creates a positive reinforcement cycle, further driving up the price," Connor Abendschein, crypto research analyst at Digital Assets Data, said. 

Libra's Concession
In a major concession to global regulators, the Libra Association is pulling back from its original vision of a digital currency backed by a basket of national currencies. The Facebook-led consortium now plans to develop a handful of stablecoins each representing a different national currency, which will back their multi-currency stablecoin, rather than holding fiat currencies directly in a bank. The new model limits libra’s flexibility, since adding (or removing) a currency from the basket requires issuing (or retiring) another digital token, but still maintains its blockchain-based tech stack.

Institutional Investors
The crypto-focused investment firm Grayscale raised a total of $503.7 million in the first quarter, primarily from institutional investors looking to take advantage of market turbulence. While bitcoin-weighted trusts continue to be the company's most popular product, the report noted that ether trusts also received record inflows in the same quarter as investors added multiple Grayscale products to their portfolios.

Original image by Trevor Jones
Original image by Trevor Jones

Former presidential candidate Andrew Yang argues the one-time $1,200 federal stimulus paid to American citizens is not enough to curtail the financial hardship caused by the COVID-19 crisis. An advocate for universal basic income, Yang is instead throwing his support behind continuing payments of $2,000 monthly checks until the crisis is well and truly over. 

Hermit Kingdom
The United States government has outlined an aggressive set of countermeasures it said could stymie North Korea’s highly lucrative and often cryptocurrency-dependent global cybercrime campaigns. This includes implementing tough anti-money-laundering frameworks for digital currency, expelling North Korean IT workers, following best cyber practices, and communicating with law enforcement. The Hermit Kingdom is thought to have accrued a $1.5 billion cryptocurrency warchest, which could fund the regime’s development of weapons of mass destruction.

Stable Partners

  • Solana, a blockchain that aims to function at "web-scale," is partnering with Terra to launch its first stablecoin to facilitate a decentralized finance (DeFi) ecosystem. "By bringing stablecoins onto our network, we aim to dramatically expand the design space for developers, opening the door to novel applications that require price-stable payments," the Solana team wrote in a draft blog post.
  • Crypto custodian BitGo has acquired Lumina to increase its cryptocurrency offerings as it transitions to its role as a “full service” crypto firm. (Fortune)

Series B
Swiss holding company Crypto Finance AG has closed a $14.5 million Series B funding round co-led by Swiss investor Rainer-Marc Frey, Beijing-based private equity firm Lingfeng Capital and joined by Hong Kong’s QBN Capital. The funds will go towards fulfilling capital requirements for obtaining a broker-dealer license from the Swiss financial regulator FINMA.

Wallet Mimicker
An unknown hacker is exploiting trust in well-known brands by creating fake cryptocurrency wallet extensions for Google Chrome that trick victims into disclosing sensitive information. As originally reported by ZDNet, Google has so far removed 49 extensions that mimic Ledger, Trezor, Jaxx, Electrum, MyEtherWallet, MetaMask, Exodus, and KeepKey from its Chrome Web Store.

A mock-up of the app
A mock-up of the app

'Infectious' Giving
IntellectEU, a New York software startup, has created a blockchain-based charity app that replicates viral transmission to spread the act of giving. The #SpreadLoveNotCorona web app encourages users to share a link to donate widely, recording each donation on the Corda blockchain, so a verifiable chain of giving can track who recruited whom.

Beta Prognosis 
ConsenSys spin-off Gnosis launches decentralized exchange with focus on best-price execution, already processed $2 million in value transfers while in private beta. (The Block)

Crypto's State
Wyoming’s recently passed legislation allowing domestic insurance companies to invest in cryptocurrencies will go into effect July 1. (The Block)


  • Modern Consensus’ Brendan Sullivan sat down with “Elon Moist,” CEO of Twetch, to discuss why the social media app uses the controversial bitcoin fork BSV, the future of micropayments and why using “free” applications offered by Google and Facebook come with a cost. (Modern Consensus)
  • A Florida judge said Craig Wright's objection to handing over crucial evidence regarding billions in bitcoin left her "puzzled," as he seemed to argue the court should "blindly accept" everything he says. Wright claims to have access to 1.1 million bitcoin but has told the court he couldn't prove this as it would infringe on the privilege he has with a mysterious Kenyan lawyer known as Denis Mayaka, who is supposedly counsel for the Tulip Trust that holds the fortune. 

3D Printing
CoinDesk columnist Cathy Barrera thinks patent and intellectual property law is holding back the possibility of 3D printing to address a mismatch between supply and demand in vital protective and medical equipment.

CoinDesk Live


CoinDesk Live: Lockdown Edition
CoinDesk Live is back! Twice a week, the Lockdown Edition will feature timely discussions and public AMAs via Zoom - and shared on your favorite social platform, Twitter - with key speakers from the Consensus: Distributed agenda. Here you'll get a preview of the content we have planned for our first fully virtual, fully free conference happening May 11-15.

Register to join the first CoinDesk Live with Alex McDougall, co-founder and chief investment officer at Bicameral Ventures, as we discuss data trails and how to clean them up on Thursday, April 16, at 4 p.m. EST / 1 p.m. PST. Then join us at Consensus: Distributed May 11-15, where there are more than 200 sessions and tons of interactive networking opportunities.

Market Intel

Quick Liquidation
Bitcoin's nearly $500 price jump early on Thursday, triggered liquidations worth millions on crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX, according to data provider Skew. The top cryptocurrency by market value picked up a bid around $6,650 and rose to a high of $7,145 in the 90 minutes to 08:30 UTC, forcing liquidations of futures worth $23 million on BitMEX.


CoinDesk Research
March 12 changed how investors look at crypto markets and assets, shook out some participants and left others unmoved. The CoinDesk Quarterly Review is a Q1 analysis of how the narrative has changed for crypto blue-chips like Bitcoin and Ethereum, which assets outperformed, and how the participants in crypto markets are shifting in the wake of Q1’s defining event. Read the full report.

The Breakdown

The Road Ahead
Messari’s Ryan Selkis, an early harbinger of the coronavirus crisis, joins Nathaniel Whittemore to discuss what the economy could look like six months down the line. 


Who Won #CryptoTwitter?


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