Worldcoin’s Global Identity Protocol Hits 2 Million Sign-ups

Worldcoin, aiming to be largest identity and financial network, led by chatgpt owner OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, as a public utilityan innovative global identity protocol, has announced a significant milestone, reaching 2 million World ID sign-ups during its beta phase. This  achievement was made possible in less than half the time it took to reach the first million sign-ups, indicating the Worldcoin ecosystem’s quick growth and rising demand.

Participants have signed up from cities all around the world, including Barcelona, Berlin, Buenos Aires, New York, Seoul, and Tokyo. On the project’s worldwide tour, Orbs, Worldcoin’s unique biometric imaging devices, have been made accessible for the first time in these places.

With an average of over 40,000 people signing up for a confirmed World ID every week, Worldcoin has seen amazing growth. In the next months, Orb supply is anticipated to rise in response to this spike in demand.

The World ID protocol is gaining traction among various apps and services. Okta’s Auth0, a global authentication and authorization platform, recently integrated “Sign in with Worldcoin,” making it available to tens of thousands of applications and online services. Additionally, Talent Protocol became the first web3 platform in Europe to integrate World ID.

Worldcoin’s recent achievements build upon its history of significant milestones. The company emerged as the largest deployer of Safe wallets on the Polygon blockchain, successfully onboarding 1.2 million self-custodial Safe Smart Accounts. Furthermore, Worldcoin saw unprecedented growth in Spain, becoming the country’s largest operating market with more than 20,000 individuals signing up for World ID each month.

According to official, Worldcoin’s rapid growth and its mission to address the global identity verification crisis underscore its potential to revolutionize the way we think about digital identity and access to financial services. With its innovative approach and commitment to inclusivity, Worldcoin is poised to continue making waves in the blockchain and cryptocurrency space.


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FTC Investigates ChatGPT over Consumer Protection Concerns

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has begun a thorough check into OpenAI, the company from San Francisco that created the well-known AI chatbot, ChatGPT. News outlets The Washington Post reported on July 13, 2023, that this check is to see if OpenAI has gone against laws that keep customers safe, possibly putting their personal reputations and data at risk.

The FTC has issued a 20-page demand for records to OpenAI, seeking to know more about how the company handles possible problems related to their AI models. This government agency is particularly checking if OpenAI has been unfair or misleading, causing damage to people’s reputations.

The FTC’s inquiry extends to a security incident that OpenAI disclosed in March 2023. A bug in OpenAI’s systems had allowed some users to view payment-related information and some data from other users’ chat history. The FTC is probing whether OpenAI’s data security practices in this incident violated consumer protection laws.

The FTC is also seeking information on any research, testing, or surveys conducted by OpenAI that assess how well consumers understand the “accuracy or reliability of outputs” generated by its AI tools. Furthermore, the FTC has requested details about how OpenAI licenses its models to other companies.

This investigation comes in the wake of previous concerns raised about OpenAI’s practices. In March 2023, the Center for AI and Digital Policy (CAIDP) asked the FTC to investigate OpenAI for alleged violations of consumer protection rules, citing that the rollout of AI text generation tools has been “biased, deceptive, and a risk to public safety,” as reported by The Verge.

The CAIDP had pointed out potential threats from OpenAI’s GPT-4 generative text model, including the production of malicious code, highly tailored propaganda, and the potential for biased training data to result in unfair race and gender preferences in areas such as hiring.

The FTC’s investigation into OpenAI represents a significant step in the agency’s ongoing interest in regulating AI tools. It has previously warned that biased AI systems could draw enforcement action. An investigation of OpenAI, one of the major players in the generative AI field, marks a major escalation in the FTC’s efforts.


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NEAR Protocol’s Q2 Market Cap Holds at $1.25 Billion, Experiences 25% QoQ Decline

According to Mesari, NEAR Protocol, a leading smart contract platform, demonstrated resilience and growth in Q2 2023, despite being listed in the SEC’s complaint against Coinbase. The platform’s financial and network fundamentals remained stable, with strategic partnerships and grassroots initiatives driving user adoption.

The introduction of the Blockchain Operating System (BOS) in March 2023 marked a significant milestone for NEAR. Within four months, NEAR Social, the social layer of the BOS, attracted over 15,000 user accounts and saw the creation of nearly 6,000 widgets. The BOS, an open-source platform, allows developers to build on any blockchain using familiar languages and a broad set of community-built components.

The Sweat Economy, a leading application on NEAR, continued to thrive. Within a year, it accumulated a total of 19 million Sweat wallets and recently conducted one of the largest governance votes in DAO history, attracting over 350,000 participants.

NEAR’s circulating market capitalization stood at $1.25 billion at the end of Q2, reflecting a 25% decrease QoQ. However, the platform’s market cap quickly recovered following the SEC news, and NEAR ranked as the 40th largest crypto project by market cap at the end of the quarter.

NEAR’s native token (NEAR) is used for staking, transaction fees, and storage fees. As of Q2, approximately 81% of the total NEAR supply is currently in circulation. Stakers on the NEAR network are earning an annual staking yield of 9.4%, resulting in a real yield of 4.4%.

The NEAR Foundation’s treasury totaled $0.9 billion at the end of Q2 2023, which included $349 million in fiat reserves, 315 million NEAR ($435 million at a closing price of $1.38), and $90 million in loans and investments.

In terms of decentralization, the NEAR Foundation announced in early January that it is actively working towards a more decentralized model of capital allocation by handing over decision-making to community DAOs. The first community DAOs have already been created, each with a specific focus and mandate.

The second quarter witnessed significant developments, including high-profile lawsuits by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) against major players like Binance and Coinbase. Despite regulatory uncertainty in the United States, the NEAR network remained resilient, with financial and network metrics showing stability throughout the quarter.

In conclusion, despite regulatory challenges, NEAR Protocol continues to make significant strides in its mission to drive adoption and attract more users to its platform. The introduction of the BOS and the continued growth of applications like the Sweat Economy are testaments to the platform’s resilience and innovative approach.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Job Cuts at Circle and Dapper Labs: Bear Market Not Over

Even the crypto giants are not immune to market pressures. Recent reports have highlighted significant workforce reductions at two major blockchain companies, Circle and Dapper Labs, despite their substantial fundraising successes.

Circle, a leading stablecoin issuer, has recently reduced its workforce slightly to maintain a “strong balance sheet”. The company has raised a total of $1.1 billion in funding over 11 rounds, with the latest funding raised on April 12, 2022, from a Private Equity round.

Despite this financial backing, the company has found it necessary to reduce or end investments in non-core activities and reduce operational expenses, which includes a marginal reduction in headcount. However, Circle continues to identify new areas for investment and hire in key areas of focus on a global basis.

Similarly, Dapper Labs, known for developing popular NFT collectibles such as CryptoKitties and NBA Top Shot, has announced its third round of staff layoffs in less than a year as a reflection of the broader slump in the crypto and NFT markets.

The company has let go of 51 employees, representing around 12% of the company’s staff. This comes despite Dapper Labs raising a total of $612.5 million in funding over seven rounds, with the latest funding raised on November 21, 2022.

Although Bitcoin price has been above $30,000 for nearly 20 days and some traders have anticipated a bull market, the workforce reductions at both Dapper Labs and Circle remind us of the ongoing challenges in the crypto market overall and the bearish market is not over yet.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Solana SOL Maintains $7.2 Billion Market Cap Despite SEC’s Security Claim in Q2 2023

According to Messari, Solana, the high-performance, open-source blockchain, faced a challenging Q2 2023, marked by regulatory hurdles and a decline in its market cap and revenue. However, the network also saw a surge in fee-payer activity and an increase in non-vote transactions, indicating continued user engagement and network utility.

The market cap of Solana (SOL) declined by 9.2% after the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) alleged that SOL is a security in its regulatory actions against Coinbase and Binance. This led to some exchanges, such as Robinhood, announcing plans to delist SOL. Despite these challenges, Solana concluded the quarter as the 10th largest cryptoasset by market capitalization, reaching $7.2 billion.

Solana’s revenue, measured in SOL, decreased by 15% QoQ as the utilization of priority fees cooled off during Q2. This decline was due to fewer users opting to pay priority fees, leading to a drop in the network’s average transaction fee.

Despite these setbacks, Solana saw a surge in fee-payer activity in May 2023, driven by user accounts interacting with an unknown program. This led to a 15.9% QoQ increase in the average Unique Fee Payer metric. Additionally, average daily non-vote transactions increased by 24.1% QoQ, suggesting sustained economic activity on the network.

Staking on the Solana network remained stable throughout Q2, while the average number of validators decreased by 21.1% QoQ. The Solana Foundation continued its growth initiatives, including Convertible Grants, a $10 million AI Fund, and the announcement of Grizzlython winners.

In terms of ecosystem development, Solana’s DeFi sector saw significant growth, with Solend surpassing Orca as the largest DeFi protocol on Solana. Solend’s TVL grew by ~59% QoQ, contributing to new capital inflow into the Solana DeFi ecosystem.

The NFT sector on Solana also saw continued development, despite a 41.5% decrease in secondary market sales volume denominated in USD. The Solana Foundation announced state compression, a cost-efficient method for storing data on-chain, which was quickly leveraged by various projects.

Looking ahead, Solana plans to continue its wide-reaching growth strategies, despite the regulatory challenges faced in Q2. Key developments to watch include the progress of Firedancer, the introduction of the new token standard Token-22, the launch of Neon EVM, and the expansion into AI.

In conclusion, while Solana faced significant challenges in Q2 2023, the network’s continued growth in user activity and ecosystem development indicate its resilience and potential for future growth. However, the outcome of the SEC actions remains a key factor that could impact Solana’s performance and market position.


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South Korea’s FSC to Submit Two Crypto-Related Acts to National Assembly

According to Newsis on July 13, the People’s Power Party and the Financial Services Commission of South Korea are planning to submit amendments to the Electronic Securities Act and the Capital Market Act to the National Assembly within this month. The amendments aim to institutionalize token securities. Representative Yoon Chang-hyun of the People’s Power Party, a member of the Political Affairs Committee, will lead the proposal.

Token Securities are securities issued in token form using blockchain technology. They enable the trading of various rights that were difficult to issue as traditional electronic securities. Theoretically, all assets, including commercial buildings, artworks, luxury goods, and intellectual property rights (IP), can be tokenized. This is why the securities industry anticipates new innovative businesses utilizing ST.

In preparation for the legislation, the Policy Committee, Political Affairs Committee, and the Special Committee on Digital Assets of the People’s Power Party will hold a public hearing at 10 a.m. today. The hearing will discuss the legislation that has been prepared so far, under the title “Venture Start-up Energy UP STO (Security Token Offering)”.

The upcoming legislation is expected to reflect the ‘Token Securities Issuance and Distribution Regulation System Improvement Plan’ announced by the Financial Services Commission in February. The improvement plan includes amending the Capital Market Act and the Electronic Securities Act to enable the issuance of token securities and establishing new account management institutions and over-the-counter trading brokerage businesses related to issuance and distribution.

Furthermore, on July 11, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) unveiled a new legislation mandating all companies that issue or manage cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, to reveal their holdings. The objective of this bill is to augment transparency in the accounting and disclosure of crypto assets, adhering to supervisory guidelines that necessitate the accounting of every transaction involving cryptocurrencies.

Image source: Shuttterstock


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Google Play Embraces NFT Games

Google Play Store has announced that it will now allow video game publishers to sell nonfungible token (NFT) games on its platform. The announcement was made on July 12, 2023, by Joseph Mills, the store’s group product manager, marking a significant step towards the integration of blockchain technology in mainstream gaming.

The updated policy enables developers to incorporate digital assets, including NFTs, into their apps and games. However, developers offering the ability to buy, sell, or earn tokenized assets must clearly indicate the presence of blockchain-based elements within the app on the Play Console.

This move is seen as an effort to open new avenues for transacting blockchain-based digital content within apps and games on Google Play, with a particular focus on enhancing user loyalty through unique NFT rewards.

Under the new guidelines, game developers must explicitly state if their game allows users to earn or buy NFTs or cryptocurrencies. The policy also prohibits developers from glamorizing potential earnings from playing or trading activities. Furthermore, the sale of loot boxes or any form of gambling is strictly forbidden.

The policy update does not affect the previous ban on crypto mining apps, which was implemented in 2018, or the removal of the Bitcoin Blast video game in 2020 due to deceptive practices.

The full rollout of the new policy is expected later in 2023, with the first tests of the new experiences anticipated in late summer.

Google Play has had “a variety of blockchain related apps”. Google Play has collaborated with several partners, including Reddit, known for its successful Avatar NFTs, to develop the new policy. The aim is to create a level playing field that promotes user trust and encourages responsible usage of blockchain technology.

This policy shift is seen as a clear indication of Google Play is embracing the adoption of blockchain and NFT. 


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Crypto Hedge Funds Thrive Despite Market Volatility, PwC Report Reveals

The latest PwC 5th Annual Global Crypto Hedge Fund Report, released in July 2023, unveils a thriving crypto hedge fund industry, demonstrating resilience and growth despite the inherent market volatility.

The report highlights a significant surge in the total assets under management (AUM) by crypto hedge funds. The median AUM skyrocketed from $15 million in 2022 to a staggering $42 million in 2023, marking a nearly threefold increase. This substantial growth underscores the mounting confidence and investment in the crypto hedge fund sector.

Crypto hedge funds have also been delivering impressive performance, with the median fund returning 128% in 2023, a substantial leap from 30% in 2022. This robust performance, outpacing many traditional hedge funds, is likely to lure more investors into the crypto hedge fund space.

Quantitative funds, employing algorithmic trading strategies, continue to dominate the crypto hedge fund industry, representing 37% of the space. The rise of these funds indicates a growing sophistication within the sector.

Institutional investors are increasingly dipping their toes into the crypto hedge fund waters. The report notes a significant uptick in institutional participation, with the percentage rising from 24% in 2022 to 32% in 2023. This trend signals a broader acceptance and mainstream adoption of cryptocurrencies.

The regulatory environment also plays a pivotal role in the industry’s growth. The report reveals that 81% of the funds are regulated or registered with a government body, up from 77% in 2022. This trend towards regulatory compliance is a positive sign for the industry, indicating a move towards a more secure and regulated crypto market.

Geographically, North America continues to be in the lead with 49% of all cryptocurrency hedge funds worldwide. The Asia-Pacific area, which made for 22% of the world total in 2022, is currently making up ground, accounting for 28% of it.

Despite the industry’s expansion and strong success, the study also points out its inherent challenges and limitations. The top three risks cited by the funds are market risk, regulatory risk, and operational risk, highlighting the need of effective risk management measures in the crypto hedge fund business.


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Digitex CEO Adam Todd Ordered to Pay $16 Million in CFTC Case

A federal court in the United States has mandated that Adam Todd, the CEO of the digital asset exchange Digitex, pay almost $16 million in disgorgement and penalties. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) filed a complaint against Digitex and Todd for suspected price manipulation and non-registration, which led to this decision.

The CFTC initially filed charges against Digitex and Todd in September 2022. The charges were related to the alleged manipulation of the price of the Digitex Futures native token, DGTX, and the failure of the company to register with the CFTC. Todd allegedly used a computerized bot to artificially inflate the price of DGTX. The bot was reportedly deployed on third-party exchanges in 2020 to buy more of the token than it sold.

The court’s ruling prohibits Todd and the four businesses he controls from trading in any CFTC-regulated markets: Digitex LLC, Digitex Limited, Digitex Software Limited, and Blockster Holdings Limited Corporation. In addition to the prohibition, the ruling mandates that Todd and his businesses pay a civil monetary penalty of $11,736,660 as well as $3,912,220 in disgorgement.

The CFTC’s enforcement action against Todd and Digitex Futures has now been resolved with this order. However, it’s important to note that the $16 million order or additional financial penalties may not necessarily result in repayment to Digitex users.

The regulatory scrutiny that cryptocurrency companies must endure is starkly shown by this example. It emphasises the need of abiding by legal requirements, such as those pertaining to registration and the outlawing of manipulative trading practises. 

In line with the SEC, the CFTC is taking action to ensure entities are lawfully registered and to address the manipulation of commodities.

On March 27, 2023, the CFTC filed a civil enforcement action against Changpeng Zhao, CEO of Binance, and three entities operating the Binance platform for numerous violations of the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA) and CFTC regulations. The complaint also implicates Samuel Lim, Binance’s former chief compliance officer, with aiding and abetting Binance’s violations. The CFTC seeks disgorgement, civil monetary penalties, permanent trading and registration bans, and a permanent injunction against further violations of the CEA and CFTC regulations.


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