Institutional Crypto Giant Adding Ethereum Rival Avalanche (AVAX) to Suite of Altcoin Offerings

A leading institutional provider of digital assets is adding Ethereum (ETH) competitor Avalanche (AVAX) to its arsenal of altcoins.

In a new blog post, BitGo CEO Mike Belshe says that the firm can offer investors the security and efficiency they need to enter the world of digital assets – especially as the demand for high-speed decentralized finance (DeFi) platforms, such as AVAX, rises.

“BitGo is excited to provide our institutional clients access and safe custody to Avalanche as we see the strong demand for a more efficient DeFi ecosystem.

Institutional custody is not the same as retail custody and BitGo wallets and custody were designed from the ground up to meet the needs of institutional investors, and BitGo is the only independent qualified custodian focused on building the right market structure and facilities to enable institutions to enter the digital asset space with confidence.”

In a new interview with Yahoo Finance, Ava Labs President John Wu says Avalanche’s partnership with BitGo will not only provide assurances to larger institutions but for individual investors as well.

“BitGo [is] one of the old hands in the space. They are a trusted and secure source for not just individual people in crypto but also for enterprises and institutions.

Their partnership with us allows our fans more access because they are plugged in with many access points… and they allow institutions to really gain comfort in their own custody of things.”

BitGo was founded in 2013 and was acquired earlier this year by the capital market company Digital Galaxy. BitGo offers its services to 700 institutions across 50 nations and processes 20% of all Bitcoin (BTC) transactions worldwide.

The Ethereum rival’s native token AVAX is exchanging hands at $112.34 at time of writing, a 44% increase from its seven-day low of $77.87.

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Billionaire and Former Crypto Skeptic Ray Dalio Issues Inflation Warning About Cash: Report

Veteran hedge fund manager and American investor Ray Dalio is warning about the implications of climbing prices in consumer goods.

In a new interview on Yahoo Finance, Dalio explains why he is significantly concerned about high inflation.

“I’m significantly concerned about it because the amount of money and credit that has to be produced and is budgeted is a large increase and yet if it is not spent, it produces its own problems.

The markets have a sensitivity to that.”

Dalio’s comment comes after the Labor Department’s Consumer Price Index rose by 6.8% in November, the fastest in 39 years. In a LinkedIn post, he says that high inflation can be particularly devastating for those whose money is in fiat.

“Some people make the mistake of thinking that they are getting richer because they are seeing their assets go up in price without seeing how their buying power is being eroded.

The ones most hurt are those who have their money in cash.”

The billionaire, who once told investors to stay away from Bitcoin (BTC) before changing his stance on the flagship cryptocurrency, warns about the US printing too much money without raising its productivity levels.

“Now, when we look from an investor’s point of view or an individual’s point of view, we have to remember that you can’t raise living standards by just creating money and credit, particularly if you don’t raise productivity more than that.

Over the long run, the wealth and buying power you have will be a function of how much you produce. That is because real wealth doesn’t last long and neither do inheritances.

That is why being continuously productive is so important.

Based on his research on why nations succeed or fail, Dalio says that countries that print too much money typically do not fare well.

“When there’s a financial problem… and the coffers are empty, they print money. And when they print money… it devalues money.

With that, when you have a large gap of people at each other’s throats, then you create a risk of an internal conflict, the risk of some kind of civil war.”

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Ethereum Alternative Avalanche Climbs Top 10 Coins as Price Rises 11%

In many ways, the story of 2021 has been Solana. The “Ethereum killer” boasted faster speeds and lower transaction costs than its established rival, pushing SOL’s price to astronomical highs.

But back on earth, another Ethereum challenger, Avalanche, is enjoying a big second half of the year. Its native AVAX coin, priced between $10 and $11 less than six month ago, is now worth $110. And thanks to a 31% price rise this week and 11% rise over the last 24 hours, it’s become the ninth-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization.

Avalanche got its first taste of the top 10 at the tail end of November, when it booted Dogecoin into the dog house. But a market correction brought the price back down from its all-time high of $144.96.

There are a few reasons for the price increases. The most recent one is the December 14 announcement by financial services company Circle that its USDC stablecoin would be available on Avalanche, providing a boost of liquidity for the up-and-coming network; stablecoins provide easier onramps for users looking to use applications on a blockchain network.

In recent months, Avalanche creator Ava Labs has guided the protocol to several new developments. The Avalanche mainnet went live in September, giving the coin utility. What’s more, the mainnet came fully loaded with smart contract functionality so that developers could build decentralized applications on it right away. 

That means DeFi—the decentralized finance protocols that let people borrow crypto, lend assets, or swap tokens without an intermediary—and NFTs, the tokenized deeds of ownership to digital collectibles that originated on Ethereum before becoming en vogue this year. DeFi and NFT have helped boost the appeal of Ethereum over the past 18 months, but high demand pushed crypto traders to find speedy alternatives like SOL and AVAX.

Venture capitalists were also eager to fund upstarts. In September, Polychain Capital and Three Arrows Capital contributed to a $230 million private sale to the Avalanche Foundation, which is redirecting much of the cash into project grants and other development support.

That’s a lot of cash to kick around. But now that Avalanche is a top-10 mainstay, the network will certainly need it.

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U.S. Credit Unions Permitted to Work With Crypto Firms

Key Takeaways

  • Federally insured credit unions (FDICs) are permitted to establish relationships with digital asset services, according to new regulatory guidance.
  • This means that U.S. credit unions can refer their members to digital asset services.
  • Credit unions serve 126 million American citizens, representing just under 39% of the U.S. population.


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Federally insured credit unions (FICUs) are now permitted to work with digital asset services, according to new regulatory guidance.

Credit Unions Can Refer Members to Digital Assets Services

A Dec. 16 letter from the National Credit Union Administration says that credit unions have the existing authority to form relationships with third-party digital asset services. This includes services that allow clients to buy, sell, and hold uninsured digital assets.

“As insurer, the NCUA does not prohibit FICUs from establishing these relationships,” the government agency’s letter reads.

It goes on to establish the conditions in which credit unions can refer members to other services. In particular, credit unions can refer members to a non-deposit service so long as it offers similar risks to a credit union. Those services must also be useful and logically related to the credit union’s other business activities.



Ultimately, FCIUs are “not limited” in the services that they can refer members to, but must use “sound judgment and due diligence.” This leaves credit unions free to refer members to crypto services.

The NCUA noted that other U.S. regulators, such as the SEC, CFTC, and FinCEN have authority over some crypto activity. It noted that credit unions “should be cognizant of this fact” and that it will “continue to study and address these issues.”

Previous Developments in Crypto Banking

Today’s news may be relatively minor, as only about 126 million Americans are members of credit unions—representing less than 39% of the population of the United States.

Nevertheless, this development adds to the ways in which banks and financial institutions are explicitly allowed to work with crypto. The OCC permitted banks to work with stablecoins in September 2020. The SEC and OCC also issued statements allowing banks to act as digital asset custodians in the same year.


Additionally, Texas regulators allowed banks in that state to store cryptocurrency for their clients in June 2021.

Recent statements from the Federal Reserve, OCC, and FinCEN suggest that the role of banks in the crypto market will be further refined in 2022 following inter-agency discussion.

Disclosure: At the time of writing, the author of this piece owned BTC, ETH, and other cryptocurrencies.

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Struggling Prices Beats Bitcoin Expectations Down From $100K To $50K

At the height of the bitcoin rally, end-of-year predictions had flown around with abandon. Most had placed the price of the digital asset at $100,000 before 2021 ran out. With the movement of the asset at that point, one could easily look at those predictions and see how it could be a possibility. However, the crypto market has proved again that there is really no telling what might happen with it.

Bitcoin had ridden the wave up to $69,000 but that would prove to be the top of that rally as a crash sent the price back towards $40,000 not too long after. Now, the price of bitcoin is struggling to regain its footing above $50,000.

Related Reading | Investors Take Refuge In Bitcoin As Inflation Rises

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Hoping To Finish At $50,000

Craig Erlam, a market analyst at Oanda, has given thoughts on bitcoin in a recent client note. The analyst noted that although many had been hoping for the price of bitcoin to finish the year above $100,000, market momentum had dashed those hopes and now a finish above $50,000 for the year is what is being hoped for.

Another analyst at Oanda, Edward Moya, notes that the digital asset had taken a beating alongside big techs which had sent its price towards its current levels. Nevertheless, the analyst added that despite this, the market continues to face a medium to long-term bullish outlook.

“The cryptocurrency space is seeing a lot of repositioning and that is leading to some unwanted selling pressure, but the medium to long-term outlook remains strong,” said Moya.

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Bitcoin price chart from TradingView.com

BTC holding steady above $47,000 | Source: BTCUSD on TradingView.com

How Is Bitcoin Ending 2021?

Analyst Craig Erlam notes that bitcoin has had another chaotic week of trading. This has been the case since the first market crash rocked the market at the beginning of December, sending the market straight into the red. However, bitcoin has managed to pick up support at $47,000, which the analyst said means that the digital asset is unlikely to give up this price.

Related Reading | WikiLeaks And Bitcoin: A Crypto Love Story?

On the other hand, crypto bulls are also trying to pull bitcoin out of the current trend. The holidays have already begun, signaling the end of the year, and the bulls would prefer to end what has been a “stellar year” on a positive note. “Many were hoping for six figures by year-end, now they may be crossing their fingers and hoping for half that,” said Erlam.

Finishing at $50,000 is not necessarily a bad finishing point for bitcoin. Compared to the beginning of the year, it would mark an at least $20,000 higher close.

Featured image from CNBC, chart from TradingView.com

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

In brief

  • Video game publishers have been trying to incorporate NFTs into their titles.
  • Some gamers are unhappy.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2: Heart of Chernobyl, sequel to first-person shooter game S.T.A.L.K.E.R., has cancelled its in-game NFT plans after receiving negative criticism on social media, largely from the gaming community. 

It’s the latest example of gamers rising up against NFTs—blockchain-based tokens representing ownership of a digital item. 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.

On December 15, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 developer GSC Game World announced it was including NFTs in its sequel. It started by revealing its most ambitious NFTs: three NPCs, or non-playable characters, dubbed “metahumans,” would be purchasable using blockchain technology. Buyers would then have their name or alias tied to that in-game character, giving them a cameo as a “bartender, comrade or enemy,” according to the announcement website. The NFTs were set to be sold through Dmarket, a third-party marketplace where players can buy and sell in-game items.

While some gamers supported the idea, others did not and expressed their frustration by creating memes

GSC’s NFT pitch may have been bungled due to a lack of education for fans. GSC provided little explanation as to why it was making NFTs, leading many gamers to believe the company was jumping on to a fad. It also declined to name the blockchain it would use—which would have helped substantiate its claim that the project would be environmentally-conscious. Many blockchains use much less energy than electricity-intensive Bitcoin, but some of the most adamantly anti-NFT gamers have painted all digital tokens as environmentally destructive.

The Ukrainian company then tweeted out some clarifications: S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is not a blockchain game, NFT metahumans would be optional buy-ins, and the NFTs would have no impact on gameplay. The small developer also revealed its rationale, citing a need to fund its game. If GSC sold NFTs for lots of money, the reasoning went, it would be able to continue funding game development to make the sequel better.

A GSC announcement to gamers.
GSC attempted to clarify the reason for its NFTs.

But GSC ultimately chose to kill the idea altogether. The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 NFT site includes an update. “Based on the feedback we received, we’ve made a decision to cancel anything NFT-related in S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2.”

Unlike GSC, billion-dollar companies like Ubisoft can push forward on NFT projects with less concern. Ubisoft has invested in blockchain gaming company Animoca Brands and has doubled down on its NFTs, despite criticism from anti-NFT video game journalists and gamers threatening to cancel subscriptions and stop buying the company’s games.

While S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2’s game devs must have taken all the angry replies on Twitter seriously, 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. 

That said, there are plenty of gamers who are into cryptocurrency and NFTs. Some mine Ethereum for fun on their gaming PCs while others own NFTs themselves. 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. 

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Nifty News: Melania Trump drops NFT, Arabian Camels produces NFT film and Whitney Houston keeps selling hits

Catch up on nonfungible token (NFT)-related news this week from restaurants to movies and music. Below is a roundup of stories you don’t want to miss. 

Melania Trump’s eyes become an NFT

Former first lady Melania Trump launched her own NFT platform and dropped her first digital collectible titled “Melania’s Vision,” which will be on sale through the rest of the month.

“Melania’s Vision” is a watercolor art piece by artist Marc-Antoine Coulon. The limited-edition digital artwork will be available for 1 SOL ($150) and includes an audio recording from Mrs. Trump. The Melania Trump NFT platform utilizes the Solana blockchain protocol and is powered by Parler, an alternative social media network. 

“Melania’s Vision” NFT by Marc-Antoine Coulon. Source: Melania Trump

A portion of the proceeds from Melania’s NFT collection will go to children in the foster care system and their education, according to the official website. The exact percentage was not revealed. 

Upcoming movie production gets decentralized

The Arabian Camels NFT community first created a collection of 12,012 digital camels living on the Ethereum blockchain. Now, Arabian Camels has partnered with Swapp Protocol to produce a $50 million decentralized feature NFT film called “Antara.” Antara is based on the adventurous life of Antarah Ibn Shaddad, an ancient Arabian knight and poet.

Prospective film distributors can buy up to 50% of the intellectual property rights to “Antara” and pay to distribute the movie in theatres and streaming channels. Swapp allows Arabian Camels to integrate DeFi capabilities into the movie’s production. Swapp’s NFT farming utility will allow Arabian Camel NFT owners to earn passive income on their collectibles.

Alexander Amaratei, the producer of Antara, shared in a statement that his vision was “to create a system to produce films that normally cost in excess of $50M, completely risk free. In addition to eliminating funding risks, this system would allow films to be owned by the fans, the NFT owners.”

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Investment in IRL NFT exhibits

Most NFTs tend to live on a digital wallet behind a screen. Danvas, a startup with a goal to help NFT owners physically display their pieces, announced this week a $7 million seed round led by Greycroft, LererHippeau, VaynerX, and others.

Danvas envisions monitors or projections displaying digital artwork but set up in a personalized way with museum-quality detail and a luxury feel. A waitlist is currently open to galleries and private collectors. Jeanne Anderson, Danvas’ CEO and former general manager of Saatchi Art, said that she views this moment in time “as the beginning of a digital art renaissance.”

Gary Vaynerchuk, CEO of VeeFriends, was among Danvas’ seed investors. Vaynerchuk is supporting the project because he believes that “one of the missing links between the traditional and digital art worlds is display. How can you show your pieces in a way that matches their value and significance?” Danvas will launch in spring 2022.

Whitney Houston’s never-before-heard recording sold as NFT

In the latest music news, an unreleased track sung by Whitney Houston at 17 years old was sold at auction on the OneOf platform for $999,999. This recording was part of the OneOf Iconic Auction collection featuring rare images and videos of Houston that has so far generated over $1.1 million in sales.

The owner of the Whitney Houston “OneOf One” NFT received the trailer video, full personal use rights of the demo track and a music video created by 17-year-old NFT artist Diana Sinclair. OneOf is supported on the Tezos blockchain.

Applebee’s restaurant hosts ‘Metaverse Mondays’

As part of a “Metaverse Mondays” campaign, Applebee’s will release a new NFT for sale every Monday in December. This week, the restaurant chain sold its first NFT of a technicolor burger created by New York artist Amber Vittoria for $25. The buyer also received an Applebee’s gift card loaded with $1,300, enough for a year’s worth of burgers. Details on each upcoming release are revealed on Applebee’s Twitter. Other dining chains such as Domino’s and Taco Bell have also entered the business of NFTs recently.

Related: Cointelegraph Consulting: Is NFT music an untapped opportunity?

Other Nifty News

The animated TV series South Park offered a grim take on NFTs in its “Post-Covid-19” episode this week. The critique likened NFT investments to a violent and seemingly apocalyptic future.

Adidas recently partnered with Bored Ape Yacht Club, GMoney and PUNKS Comics to advance its metaverse ambitions. On Friday, the sportswear brand launched its own NFT collection entitled “Into the Metaverse” promising exclusive access to physical and digital products and services.