Today’s big news story in the blockchain tech world is the U.S. crypto exchange Coinbase’s launch of its new Ethereum layer-2 network, Base – possibly the first of its kind to be launched by a publicly traded company. Is it the start of a new era? (Please see coverage in Protocol Village, below.)
Our feature by Sam Kessler takes a look at the past two weeks' debacle (and near disaster) involving the decentralized stablecoin exchange Curve – and adds up the lingering risks the industry still needs to address.
PAYPAL STABLECOIN: PayPal, the peer-to-peer payments platform, unveiled its own stablecoin, PayPal USD (PYUSD), to be backed by U.S. dollar deposits, short-term Treasuries and cash equivalents. Built atop the Ethereum blockchain using the ERC-20 token standard, PYUSD is the first stablecoin to be launched by a large traditional financial company. The actual issuer of the stablecoin is Paxos, whose original stablecoin Pax dollar (USDP) has failed to gain significant market share compared with leaders like Tether’s USDT and Circle’s USDC. Paxos previously managed BUSD, the Binance-branded stablecoin, but stopped minting it in February at the direction of New York state regulators. Walter Hessert, head of strategy at Paxos Trust, told CoinDesk TV that holders of the new PayPal stablecoin might be have more protection since the company is regulated, and “customers’ assets are protected, including if Paxos were to go bankrupt.” X (formerly Twitter) filled up with snarky posts from blockchain sleuths analyzing the Ethereum smart-contract coding for the stablecoin. One narrative focused on an “assetProtection” role that appears to allow a centralized actor to wipe balances; another thread homed in on the project’s use of a five-year-old version of Solidity, a programming language used for Ethereum smart contracts. Scammers immediately started trying to defraud unsuspecting users by issuing fake tokens with the same trading ticker as PayPal’s. There’s some speculation that PayPal’s entrée might put pressure on U.S. lawmakers to push forward on stablecoin legislation. Our columnist David Z. Morris notes that the real prize for PayPal might be interest revenue from reinvesting customer deposits.
EXCHANGE JITTERS? Huobi, the crypto exchange advised by Tron’s Justin Sun, saw its stablecoin reserves decline by $49 million in a week, or about 33%, as financial media in Hong Kong reported that several executives had been taken away by police in China. (A Huobi spokesperson denied the reports.) Then on Tuesday, blockchain data showed that a large investor (a “whale” in crypto slang) made two large deposits into Huobi worth more than $200 million, boosting the exchange’s holdings of USDT and Ether. A Huobi spokesperson said that the address does not belong to Justin Sun. The address is tagged as one of the top-10 holders of TRX token.
OPEN-SOURCE, OPEN WOUND. Matter Labs, developer behind the Ethereum layer-2 network zkSync, was accused by rival Polygon of copying part of its open-source code without providing proper attribution. Matter Labs quickly acknowledged that some code was copied, but insisted that the attribution had been provided. Matter Labs CEO Alex Gluchowski later conceded that its attributions could have been more prominent, writing on X (formerly Twitter) that “there is a more standard approach to attributions, which we will wholeheartedly apply from now on." The kerfuffle provided a lesson on the community norms around usage of open-source software – and an example of just how touchy things can get in an ultra-competitive environment.
LinksDAO, an online community that bought a golf course in Scotland earlier this year for roughly $1 million, is accepting new members.
David Rubenstein, billionaire private-equity titan, says bitcoin is here to stay, notes that there’s demand for a form of money that can’t be controlled by governments, regrets not buying BTC at $100.
- Community members of Mantle Network, a layer 2 network, approvesd creation of an economics committee to manage its $4.2 billion treasury.
- Circle Internet Financial, issuer of the USDC stablecoin, releasesd a new, programmable web3 wallet platform that the company says can help businesses offer digital asset payments to customers.
- Safe, institutional grade multisig smart wallet, integrates with Moonpay for fiat on-ramps.
- Alchemy Pay, specialist in making fiat payments available to cryptocurrency and Web3 services, incorporates USDD stablecoin into its Ramp platform.
- Hi, crypto payments application with Ethereum sidechain, raises $30M in strategic investment, forges partnership with metaverse gaming and venture capital giant Animoca Brands. (Animoca)
- Solv Protocol, Singapore-based on-chain fund protocol, raises $6M, to expand team and continue development of technology designed to help organizations raise money through creation, usage and sale of financial products. (Laser Digital (part of Nomura Securities), UOB Venture Management, Mirana Ventures, Emirates Consortium, Matrix Partners, Apollo Capital, HashCIB, Geek Cartel and Bytetrade Labs.)
Deals and grants
- Arbitrum community votes on two governance proposals covering $5M of ARB tokens from project’s nearly $4B treasury, for grant programs to fund development in the layer-2 blockchain’s ecosystem.
- Avalanche Foundation pledged to buy $50M of tokenized assets minted on the network, adding fuel to one of crypto’s hottest trends this year.
- Yuga Labs, creator behind Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs, agreed to acquire Los Angeles-based Roar Studios in an effort to expand its Otherside metaverse.
Data and tokens
- Paradigm Capital, Andreesen Horowitz, early backers of the decentralized stablecoin protocol MakerDAO, have transferred more than $10M of the project’s MKR tokens to new blockchain addresses, raising speculation that the investors might cash out following a price rally of 73% in just one month.
- Parrot Finance, Solana-based DeFi protocol targeted by activist investors, will buy back its PRT tokens, after community vote to return slice of treasury valued north of $70M.
DeFi Stuck in Crypto Winter, Based on Key Metric: Messari
Decentralized finance or DeFi ecosystems are still suffering through crypto winter, according to the analysis firm Messari. As a whole, the industry’s total value locked, or TVL – a key metric that represents collateral and deposits put into blockchain protocols – has been declining. On Ethereum, by far the biggest DeFi ecosystem, TVL dropped by 13% drop to $23 billion over the past 30 days. Optimism and Solana eked out gains.
- Aug. 10: BNB Smart Chain Plato hard fork upgrade.
- Aug. 15-16: Canada’s Blockchain Futurist Conference, Toronto.
- Aug. 24-27: BitBlockBoom conference, Austin, Texas.
- Sept. 11-13: Permissionless II conference, Austin, Texas.
- Sept. 13-14: Token2049, Singapore.
- Sept. 20-22: Messari Mainnet 2023.
- Oct. 12-13: Bitcoin Amsterdam conference.
- Nov. 2-4 Cardano Summit, Dubai.
- Nov. 28: EOS native consensus upgrade with “instant finality.”
- Dec. 1-3: Africa Bitcoin Conference.
- April 2024 (estimate): Next Bitcoin halving.
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