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Weekly Trends (12/12 – 17/12)

  • 21/12/2021
  • Market Sotheby’s Makes $ 100 Million in Profit on NFT Auction

Sotheby’s, one of the first brick-and-mortar auction houses to host NFT auctions earlier this year, announced in a recent report that it made around $ 100 million this time around.

In the report, Sotheby’s revealed that entering the NFT sector with the launch of Metaverse helped draw the attention of the broader crypto community to its auctions. According to the company, 78% of auction participants at their NFT auctions are new to the platform and, interestingly, they are under 40 years old. Bored Ape Yacht Club and CryptoPunk – two of the most popular projects in the NAT area – are the most sought-after collections in their virtual showroom.

The auction house’s first NFT sale took place in April and lasted 3 days. That wave drew 3,000 buyers and generated $ 16.8 million from NFT by Pak, a popular digital artist. Sotheby’s then sold the NFT of the original World Wide Web (WWW) source code for $ 5.3 million. This was followed by a rare CryptoPunk sale for $ 11.8 million, while an NFT Bored Ape Yacht Club sold for $ 24.4 million.

  • Virtue Gaming launches play-to-earn crypto model to bring online poker to US players

Virtue Gaming, a decentralized online poker platform built on the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain, launched the first play-to-earn digital poker casino in the United States.

In the U.S., only six states (Nevada, Delaware, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Michigan) have legalized and currently regulate online poker. The country has been slow to act on the subject due to concerns that international poker platforms would take revenue away from domestic, land-based gambling venues. Moreover, even in the states listed, poker platforms must obtain licenses from each individual jurisdiction to operate. 

As a result, U.S. residents typically cannot access popular online poker platforms, such as PokerStars or 888 Poker, available to players in the rest of the world. To solve this issue, Virtue Gaming proposed a play-to-earn setup where the platform gives users 500 Virtual Player Points, or VPP, worth an approximately $147.37 USD. 

Players will receive these for free upon signup. Players who meet the minimum playtime requirements via cash games and tournaments can then cash out their VPP for Tether (USDT). U.S. players would then be able to compete with players for the rest of the world, who transfer VPP, Ether (ETH), or other cryptos into Virtue Gaming’s locked sidechain smart contracts to stake in the game. To prevent cheating, the platform implements peer-to-peer encrypted shuffling for all decks.

  • Nike acquires NFT collectibles studio RTFKT

RTFKT designs virtual sneakers and other collectibles. It is currently behind one of the most talked-about NFT project drops of the month — a sweeping avatar partnership with artist Takashi Murakami called CloneX. Since its initial drop less than three weeks ago, the project has already seen nearly $65 million in transaction volume according to crypto tracker CryptoSlam. The acquisition is a bold step for Nike to enter NFT and metaverse space. Nike could leverage RTFKT’s expertise in game engines, NFTs, blockchain authentication and augmented reality to help extend Nike’s digital presence. 

  • Bitwise Launches Blue-Chip NFT Index Fund

This is the first NFT Index Fund. The index allows investors broad exposure to the world’s largest and most-established NFT art collections, without participating in buying or holding  individual pieces of art. 

From its launch, the fund will begin to purchase and hold in custody NFTs from blue-chip collections with a combined total market capitalization of more than $6 billion, including CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, Autoglyphs, Fidenza, VeeFriends, and etc.

  • Layer 2 Optimism to Remove Whitelist and Open Floodgates to Devs

The removal of Optimism’s whitelist was a “one-way” decision signposting the team’s commitment to launching a permanent mainnet. Developers can easily deploy their Ethereum apps to Optimism as simple as “ “one-click deployment”. Anthony Sassano, host of The Daily Gwei podcast, predicted the removal of the whitelist will drive a new wave of adoption on the Optimism network.

The layer-2 segment is very bullish with Optimism currently ranks as Ethereum’s fifth-largest Layer 2 with a total value locked (TVL) of $383M, dwarfed by Arbitrum’s $2.15B, dYdX’s $985M, and even Optimism fork Boba Network’s $709M. Optimism also ranks third among L2’s by DeFi TVL with roughly $300M.

  • S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 Game Cancels Its NFT Plans After Backlash

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl has canceled its in-game NFT plans after receiving negative criticism on social media, largely from the gaming community. It is not the first time the gaming community showed their anger at NFT.  Last week, game maker Ubisoft met vocal backlash from gamers upon announcing its first three in-game NFTs for Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Breakpoint. And in November, chat app Discord came under immediate fire from its core users after it teased a possible Metamask Ethereum wallet integration that has since been scrapped.

It’s not yet clear if anti-NFT gamers represent the majority of gamers, or if they’re just a small (but vocal and angry) minority. As gaming companies each announce their stance on blockchain gaming and NFTs, it will be interesting to see whether the polarized gaming community’s vitriol has any long-term effects on the industry. 

  • Justin Sun leaves TRON to become Grenada’s WTO ambassador

Sun accepted an invitation by the Grenadian government to become their ambassador and permanent representative to the World Trade Organization, an intergovernmental body that regulates international trade between nations. Under the new office, Justin Sun will fight for the country’s interests while also promoting blockchain.

Starting this new journey meant Sun steps down from his long-time position as the CEO of TRON, one of the biggest public blockchains. The control and development of the blockchain will be managed by 27 super representatives hosted by the community. “I do not doubt that TRON has embarked on a new phase of true decentralization,” Justin Sun tweeted.

The Tron foundation dissolved itself on July 25, 2021, and “justinsuntron,” “BitTorrent,” and “µTorrent,” reportedly withdrew as members of the TRON representatives, leaving the blockchain in the control of the community.

  • Bitcoin, Ethereum Jump as Fed Doubles Tapering, Signals Rate Hikes, Talks Crypto

The price of bitcoin (BTC) moved up immediately following the conclusion of a two-day US Federal Reserve (Fed) meeting on Wednesday, with the statement from the meeting saying interest rates will be kept unchanged for now, while the amount of tapering doubled from last month. The Fed signaled that 2022 will see three interest rate hikes.

Bitcoin traded at USD 49,200 on 16 Dec , up 3.1% for the past 24 hours and up nearly 3% in the first 10 minutes after the release of the statement. Ethereum jumped 4% during the same 10 minutes, moving above USD 3,965.

During the press conference specifically whether he sees any risks to the financial system from cryptocurrencies, Powell said that he is not concerned about it from a financial stability perspective for now. He added that he is more concerned for individual investors who may not understand what they are investing in. “I do think they are risky … they are not backed by anything,” the Fed chair said. 

Further, Powell also added that he believes stablecoins could be useful “if they are properly regulated.” Stablecoins could also scale to a much larger size if they were to be adopted by major technology companies, the Fed chair noted. Meanwhile, in projections released today, the Fed also said it expects three rate hikes in 2022, followed by two in 2023 and two more in 2024.

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