McLaren Enters the Metaverse through InfiniteWorld

McLaren Automotive, a British automotive manufacturer, has entered the metaverse by giving customers a new level of experience where they can mint and sell non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

Through InfiniteWorld, McLaren will showcase its luxury hypercars and supercars in the metaverse in the form of NFTs or other digital artworks. 

Per the announcement:

“Holders of NFTs minted on behalf of McLaren Automotive will be able to get unique benefits, which may include, but are not limited to, exclusive and buyer-only experiences.”

InfiniteWorld is a US-based IT firm that provides Plug & Play NFT and metaverse infrastructure.

By entering the metaverse arena, users will have the chance to own McLaren-branded products irrespective of whether they can afford an automobile from the company or not.

The metaverse continues to gain steam in the modern era because it entails shared virtual worlds where avatars, buildings, land, and even names can be bought and sold, often using NFTs. For instance, Italian luxury car manufacturer Lamborghini launched its NFT collection earlier this year to cement its foothold in the emerging digital art world.

NFTs are also deemed a game-changer because they will define the future of sports, per a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report. The study noted that they would revolutionize the way fans interact and consume in the sporting arena. 

Last September, William Quigley, the co-founder of stablecoin Tether (USDT), disclosed that non-fungible tokens (NFTs) would become the revenue model of the metaverse. 

He added that when the reality is combined with digital numbers, unimaginable changes would be produced based on how the world interacts. 

Some celebrities are already reaping the dividends of entering the metaverse. Reportedly, Taiwanese pop singer and musician Jay Chou earned nearly $10 million after venturing into the metaverse NFT market.

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Digital Asset Income Application Finblox Completes $3.9m Funding in Seed Round

On March 15, Hong Kong-based digital asset income application Finblox announced the completion of a $3.9 million seed round.

The funds raised will be used to expand the staff of its engineering and product teams. and will spend most of it on accelerating its regulatory compliance process, marketing and user education programs.

It is reported that the core product of Finblox is an application that allows users to earn passive income by using Bitcoin, Ethereum, Solana, Avalanche and Axie Infinity tokens, etc., with a yield of up to 90%, and no lock-up and deposit restrictions.

For USD Coin, a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar, users can earn a 15% annual return. The platform earns revenue by lending its assets to financial institutions or trusted decentralized finance protocols, thereby generating token revenue for its clients.

Investors include Three Arrows Capital, MSA Capital, Coinfund, Venturra Discovery, Kyros Ventures, First Check Ventures, Ratio Ventures, founder Ron Hose, Xfers founder Liu Tianwei, etc.

Amid the prospect of recent rising interest rates, high inflation, and geopolitical uncertainty caused by the war between Russia and Ukraine, the digital asset investment platform Finblox, founded in 2021 by Peter Hoang and Dmitriy Paunin, has caught investors’ attention by offering cryptocurrency tokens with annual yields of up to 90%.

As reported by Blockchain, News on February 17, Annual inflation rates have been going through the roof in Argentina by surging more than 50%. Argentinians, therefore, have resorted to transacting in cryptocurrencies to tame runaway prices.

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Nepal to Shut Down Crypto Trading Mediums

The crypto industry in Nepal is about to witness further setbacks as the government has started to ban trading mediums for digital assets. - 2022-03-16T171803.901.jpg

According to a report by NepalPress, the Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) is shutting down all mobile apps and websites that engage in trading cryptocurrency trading in the country.

The report said that this action is being taken to stop the remittance of capital to foreign banks by converting them into cryptocurrency.

The NTA started taking action after the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology ordered national internet providers to ban websites and platforms that engage in trading cryptocurrencies.

Surya Prasad Lamichhane, deputy director at the NTA, confirmed the authority’s action saying that “the government has directed to close the apps after carrying out an investigation.”

The Nepalese government has pointed towards crypto trading as a major reason behind rising economic-related crimes and a potential instigator of financial instability.

In January, the Nepal Rastra Bank released a directive banning any form of investment or transactions in cryptocurrency or hyper funds. It stated that the action was being taken to fight fraud and illegal outflow of domestic capital.

The bank also announced that any Nepali or foreigner living in Nepal and Nepalis abroad is liable to prosecution or further investigation if they are found to be dabbling in virtual currencies.

Nepal Bankers’ Association, the umbrella organisation of commercial banks, shares a similar sentiment towards cryptocurrencies.

The association said that virtual currency and network marketing business and transactions are illegal in Nepal.

However, despite warnings, Nepalis have not backed away from investing in cryptocurrencies, according to local media. A report from Nepali Trends said that “cryptocurrency can be the future currency in the world… So, there is a huge suspect that some people are still transacting bitcoin.”

“It seems that Nepalese are investing in several ways. Some reports show that people are taking help from relatives and friends living abroad to invest in cryptocurrencies,” the publication added.

However, crypto investments continue to remain largely unseen as the government lacks technological tools to track and regulate such transactions, the Nepali Trends report stated.

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ConsenSys Hits $7 Billion Valuation in New Funding Round

ConsenSys, an Ethereum application and infrastructure builder based in New York, announced on Tuesday that it raised $450 million in its Series D funding round. The financing seed gives the blockchain company a valuation of $7 billion. - 2022-03-16T173830.432.jpg

ConsenSys plans to use the latest funding to expand its business by increasing its headcount from 700 to over 1,000 employees by the end of 2022. The leading blockchain firm also said that it intends to use the fresh funds raised to support the expansion of its MetaMask and its flagship products.

The fundraising was led by ParaFi Capital, which also participated in the previous fundraising. Other Series C investors, including Third Point, True Capital Management, Marshall Wace, and UTA VC, United Talent Agency’s venture fund, also participated in the round. Serval new investors also joined this round of funding, including C Ventures, Sound Ventures, Anthos Capital, Microsoft, SoftBank Vision Fund 2, and Temasek.

ConsenSys mentioned that it would convert the raised funds into Ethereum (ETH) to build further its ‘ultrasound money’ position as a rebalance to its Ethereum to fiat ratio in line with its treasury strategy.

Joseph Lubin, the founder and CEO of ConsenSys, talked about the development and said: “I think of ConsenSys as a broad and deep capabilities machine for the decentralized protocols ecosystem, able to rapidly capitalize at scale on fundamental new constructs that emerge, such as developer tooling, wallets, security audits, DeFi, NFTs, Layer-2 scaling, DAOs, and more.”

Building Digital Infrastructure for Future Finance

In November last year, ConsenSys raised $200 million in a Series C financing round, bringing its valuation to $3.2 billion.

The firm works to fulfil its mission, which is to unlock the collective power of communities by making Web3 universally easy to access, use, and build on. Founded in 2014, the blockchain company has continued to develop tools and infrastructure being used by over 450,000 developers, including MetaMask and leading DeFi and NFT platforms.

Last month, ConsenSys acquired MyCrypto, an open-source platform that allows users to manage Ethereum (ETH) accounts securely and privately. ConsenSys integrated its Web3 wallet, MetaMask, with MyCrypto to improve security and standardize the user experience across desktop, extension, mobile, and browser wallets.

In January, ConsenSys partnered with Visa to help central bank digital currency (CBDC) networks bridge the gap with traditional financial institutions. The partnership is set to enable customers to use their CBDC-linked Visa card or digital wallet anywhere that Visa is accepted worldwide. Currently, ConsenSys’ Protocols group — developer of Hyperledger Besu and ConsenSys Quorum — is building CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) for six central banks.

In December last year, ConsenSys partnered with Mastercard to improve efficiency, scale, and speed up transactions using the Ethereum (ETH) blockchain while focusing on network integrity. ETH-based protocols are used in various industries such as decentralized finance, NFTs, Web 3.0, and metaverse platforms. Over 177 million Ethereum addresses need improved scalable applications and privacy settings on the Ethereum blockchain.

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Foreign Exchange Services Company Midpoint Completes the Acquisition of Blockchain World

UK-based, providing international payments and peer-to-peer foreign exchange services company- Midpoint Holdings Ltd, announced that it had completed the acquisition of Blockchain World Ltd (“BWL”).

The acquisition was started on December 14, 2021, and Domenic Carosa- founded Blockchain World, is a B2C (“business-to-consumer”) blockchain company. As part of the acquisition, Domenic Carosa will also join Midpoint’s board of directors as a non-executive director.

As part of the acquisition agreement, Midpoint has issued 10,000,000 shares of common stock (“Consideration Shares”) to existing shareholders of BWL (collectively, the “Sellers”). However, resale on the secondary market is not currently supported until September 14 this year.

Midpoint President Derek Ivany said he is pleased to have consummated this Transaction with Domenic and his innovative company. He further commented on the acquisition:

 “It has been one of our stated corporate goals to augment our consumer-facing business with applicable blockchain technology. As such, we believe that this Transaction represents a very compelling opportunity to take Midpoint into the digital asset space in order to assist in building shareholder value in 2022 and beyond.

The addition of Domenic Carosa is expected to further bolster Midpoint’s board with highly relevant blockchain and cryptocurrency experience that will be vital as the company moves forward in this arena. “Midpoint’s ability to tap into Domenic’s vast network within the digital asset sector will be of tremendous value as the Company assesses further product expansion and partnership opportunities,” Ivany added.

Midpoint believes that its existing foreign exchange platform can be integrated with BWL’s blockchain business, expanding the synergy in the financial foreign exchange business in the field of digital assets.

According to Markets and Markets, the global blockchain market size is expected to grow $39.7 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 67.3%.

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Blockchain-based Distribution Protocol TravelX Raises $10m in Seed Round

TravelX, a company focused on using blockchain technology for distribution in the travel industry, has raised a $10 million seed round led by Borderless Capital.

The new funding raised will be used for a blockchain-based distribution protocol that the company will launch later this year. The protocol price allows airlines of all kinds and travel suppliers to tokenize inventory and create new distribution models and new use cases.

Other investors include Algorand, Draper Cygnus, Myelin Capital and Monday Capital.

Juan Pablo Lafosse, CEO of TravelX, said he is excited to be building a blockchain-enabled solution that “will help suppliers and intermediaries enhance efficiency and profitability, while also improving the traveller experience,” he added:

“Friction and inefficiency continue to be pervasive in travel distribution, and the challenges related to the pandemic have increased the imperative for change.”

Founded in 2021, TravelX is a startup promoting travel and Web3 and connecting travel and Decentralized Finance (DeFi).

Customers can also change, cancel, transfer and sell tokenized inventory more quickly and conveniently, creating a win-win picture of increased traveller flexibility and supplier profitability.

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Incoming South Korean President to Boost Crypto Adoption by Zero-Taxing Gains

Upon taking office in May, South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol vowed to zero tax crypto trading gains not exceeding 50 million won, approximately $40,000 similar to stock gains, according to Nikkei.

Deemed a crypto enthusiast, the president-elect emerged victorious in the tightly contested election held last week, and part of his crypto pledges entailed giving initial coin offerings (ICOs) the green light.

Crypto taxation has been a burning issue in South Korea since its parliament tabled a bill in 2020 where cryptocurrency gains would be slapped with a 20% gain. 

Furthermore, the crypto industry in the nation has been facing harsher and stricter administrative measures, given that nearly two-thirds of exchanges were forced to close shop with $2.6 billion in losses last year. 

Therefore, the crypto-friendly initiatives promised by Yoon Suk-yeol are seen as a stepping stone towards more adoption on South Korean soil.

The secretary-general of the Korean Blockchain Association, Yoon Seong-han, welcomed the pledges and stated:

“We definitely welcome his stance as he is confident about boosting the industry. As ICOs are banned now, we have no choice but to issue coins in Singapore and other countries. Ventures and startups will be able to raise money easily from investors (if the ban is lifted).”

The president-elect’s initiatives will open doors to more crypto opportunities as he understands the future, and it is unstoppable, according to Anndy Lian, the chairman of the Netherlands-based BigONE exchange.

Crypto investments are popular in South Korea, given that at least 15.2 million people in the nation have accounts with 24 cryptocurrency brokers, according to the country’s financial regulator. For instance, one in four Korean college students has invested in cryptocurrency based on a study carried out by part-time job information provider Alba Heaven.

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Global Investors Prioritize Crypto as Russia-Ukraine War Continues

International investors are throwing in money on cryptocurrency funds and companies as the Russia-Ukraine war has escalated, believing that the sector could provide security from the fallout of the war, according to Reuters. - 2022-03-16T155030.041.jpg

According to research firm Fundstrat’s latest report, venture capital buyers have invested around $4 billion into the crypto space in February. While another $400 million worth of venture capital investments into crypto start-ups was made last week, Fundstrat’s data showed.

The data further highlighted that the venture capital investments have been consistent with weekly investments in the crypto industry averaging between $800 million to about $2 billion since early this year.

The highest new crypto funds this year have been hit $3 billion, which was raised over the last two weeks.

Paul Hsu, founder and CEO of Decasonic, said “the conflict in Ukraine has weaponized our financial and digital economy and really accelerated blockchain adoption.”

Hsu added that “we are seeing a re-allocation to crypto and blockchain away from real estate and bond funds, for instance, because of higher interest rates. I’ve seen this with my funds but unfortunately, because I’m closed-end, I cannot admit more funds nor investors.”

Bain Capital Ventures, a unit of private equity firm Bain Capital, said last week that it is launching a $560 million fund focused exclusively on crypto-related investment.

According to Reuters, crypto assets outperformed traditional risk-on assets during the crisis. Bitcoin rose 12.2% last month, while ether gained 8.8%. Since bottoming on February 24 when Russia invaded Ukraine, the digital currencies have gained 14.5% and 13.5%, respectively, while the S&P 500 rose just 3.2%.

According to CoinShares’ data, $163 million in new institutional money was put into crypto investment products and funds in the two weeks to March 4.

The data further added that $127 million of inflows were the largest seen this year until now.

In 2021, venture capital firms poured in $30 billion into the crypto industry – the highest amount in the past ten years, Blockchain.News reported.

Mason Nystrom, a research analyst at Messari, previously noted that as cryptocurrencies continued gaining steam, crypto company fundraising hit $8.2 billion in the third quarter of 2021.

“Crypto attracted $30bn of venture-capital funding in 2021, more than in all other years combined. VC money almost quadruples previous high of $8bn in 2018, the year following Bitcoin’s 1,300% breakthrough gain,” said Market analyst Holger Zschaepitz. 

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Instagram to Welcome NFTs Feature, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg Confirms

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Meta will add the Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs) function to its video and photo social app Instagram in the coming months so that users might display their NFTs on the platform. - 2022-03-16T162016.702.jpg

Zuckerberg reportedly said at a South by Southwest forum Tuesday in Austin, Texas:

“We’re working on bringing NFTs to Instagram in the near term.”

Zuckerberg hopes that in the near future Instagram users will be able to mint their own NFTs on the platform. However, “I’m not ready to kind of announce exactly what that’s going to be today,” Zuckerberg refused to share specifics on when and how the framework might work.

Meta, formerly known as Facebook, its application Instagram reportedly developed non-fungible tokens (NFT) feature on its app, a mobile developer reveals since last July.

On the other hand, last June, Mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi indicated that Instagram is working on NFT bidding options to users by providing a platform to sell their “Collectible” products on its platform. However, Instagram has yet to announce the launching of NFT on its platform or show any potential payment features on the platform.

Online adult content subscription platform OnlyFans has launched a feature for users to display verified NFTs as profile pictures, Blockchain.News reported on February 11. 

As reported by blockchain. News on January 21, social media platform Twitter announced that it was rolling out an official verification mechanism for NFT avatars, allowing some users to set the NFTs they own as their profile picture.

Following in the footsteps of Twitter, Reddit is eyeing to permit users to have NFT-based profile pictures through a feature that is being tested on January 27.

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Digital Asset Firm Hashdex to Launch Web3 ETF on the Brazilian Stock Exchange

Hashdex, a global digital asset management firm headquartered in Brazil, announced Tuesday the upcoming launch of its Web3 ETF. - 2022-03-16T143307.707.jpg

The company’s newest crypto ETF will be available on the Brazilian stock exchange, B3, under the ticker symbol WEB311 starting from March 30.

Hashdex developed the crypto ETF to offer a secure and diversified method for investing in Web3 and its underlying smart contract platforms.

Built-in partnership with CF Benchmarks, a major global digital asset market indices provider, WEB311 will replicate the “CF Web 3.0 Smart Contract Platforms Index”, which allocates to digital assets native to smart contract blockchains. The index’s largest holdings are Ether, Cardano, and Solana, each at roughly 22% as well as other assets in the index include Polkadot (19.5%), Algorand (8.8%), Tezos (3.5%) and Cosmos (1.1%).

Marcelo Sampaio, co-founder and CEO at Hashdex, talked about the development and said: “The WEB311 ETF not only provides exposure to the smart contract platforms underpinning Web3 but serves as an accessible and unique way to invest in projects that will be the main engine of the internet of the future.”

Meanwhile, Sui Chung, CEO of CF Benchmarks, also commented about the development and said: “The launch of the WEB311 ETF is a further proof of growing investor demand for regulated exposure to specific segments of the fast-maturing blockchain economy, demonstrating how our partners at Hashdex are committed to delivering innovation for both institutional and individual investors.”

Bridging Traditional Financial Market Access to Digital Assets

Early this month, Hashdex partnered with Nasdaq and therefore launched a twelve-part course designed to provide informative and educational resources for financial asset managers on the evolution of the digital asset ecosystem, investing considerations, regulation, taxes, and more. Due to increased interest among financial advisors in obtaining knowledge in the digital asset space, Hashdex unveiled the course to offer resources to empower the investment managers as they consider incorporating cryptocurrency into their investment strategies.

In January, Hashdex launched a decentralized finance ETF (DEFI11). The DeFi product offers diversified, safe, and regulated exposure across all segments of the DeFi ecosystem value chain. The ETF enables investors to invest in DeFi assets (including Unisawap, AAVE, Compound, Maker, Yearn, Curve, Synthetix, and AMP) to enable them to get better benefits in the crypto market.

Last February, Hashdex launched the world’s first crypto exchange-traded fund (ETF), the Hashdex Nasdaq Crypto Index ETF. The fund, which is available for trading on the Bermuda Stock Exchange (BSX) for accredited non-U.S. investors, provides a simple solution for institutional investors to gain exposure to the cryptocurrency market.

Hashdex has more than 125,000 investors in its products globally and holds approximately $467 million under management.

Image source: Twitter/ Hashdex


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