JR Kyushu Railway Company Launches NFTs on Astar Network To Boost Customer Engagement

Tokyo, Japan, May 11th, 2023, Chainwire

The initiative will bring real-world utility to NFTs in Japan, enabling the railway operator to strengthen its customer relationship

Kyushu Railway Company (JR Kyushu) – part of Japan’s largest rail network, the Japan Railway Group – today announced that it will issue NFTs on top of the Astar Network, the smart contract platform for multichain, in collaboration with P.R.O. Co., Ltd. By distributing NFTs to its users, JR Kyushu aims to create new touch points with its users and enhance its existing relationship with its customers.

The JR Kyushu NFT project will kick off in July 2023 and provide riders with new ways to enjoy Kyushu while maintaining a holistic track record of their travel experience. As a first proof-of-concept, JR Kyushu and PRO will distribute a free NFT during the Blockchain Expo in Tokyo from May 10th-12th displaying the new Nishi Kyushu Shinkansen. 

As part of Japan’s largest railway network, JR Kyushu runs intercity rail services in the country’s third largest island Kyushu. It is also engaged in freight services, bus transportation, hospitality, and other related services. JR Kyushu serves more than 330 million people a year. 

The collaboration will bring real-world utility to non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in Japan. While NFTs are often used for trading and digital art, JR Kyushu aims to leverage the technology to provide visitors with memorabilia and proof of visiting, riding, and using their system. 

Astar Network Founder Sota Watanabe said, “At Astar Network, we’re excited to see more real-life use cases of enterprises exploring and leveraging NFTs to build closer relationships with their customers and provide new value. We look forward to supporting PRO Japan and JR Kyushu in their endeavor.”

The railway operator chose Japan’s first public blockchain Astar Network for its low fees, high scalability, and the team’s deep understanding of the Japanese market. Astar is at the forefront of the NFT craze that’s sweeping across Japan as dozens of leading brands embrace the possibilities of Web3. In the past, Japan’s leading corporations including Toyota Motor Corporation and Sony Network Communications have worked with Astar Network to explore the opportunities in Web3.

Once the project launches in July, riders will be able to purchase commemorative NFTs or obtain them through the usage of the railway system. Depending on the NFTs held, riders might qualify for further benefits and access to limited NFTs. Users will be able to purchase NFTs using the Japanese yen. 

Astar Network is the leading Layer-1 in Japan, having been voted the most popular blockchain in the country by the Japanese Blockchain Association. It is also the first public blockchain from the country to be listed there despite Japan’s strict listing regulations. Astar’s native token ASTR is registered as a cryptocurrency, not a security, by the Japanese government.

About Astar Network

Astar is Japan’s most popular smart contract platform, supporting both EVM and WebAssembly (Wasm) environments, and interoperability between them using a Cross-Virtual Machine. Astar Network is friendly to all kinds of developers, and the tools and languages they already know. Backed by the shared security of Polkadot, Astar shines brilliantly on its own within a vibrant and healthy ecosystem, and is a leading star in the blockchain industry overall, driving international corporate adoption, and consumer interest in web3 technologies.

Astar’s Build2Earn program is designed to grow the network in an innovative way, while simultaneously rewarding participants and builders. It allows developers to earn incentives for building and maintaining their decentralized applications, and users to earn incentives for supporting their favorite projects, all while encouraging growth of the ecosystem overall.

For more information, visitWebsite | Twitter | Discord | Telegram | GitHub | Reddit | YouTube 


Maarten Henskens


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Bitcoin Ordinals Inscriptions Double

The rise of Ordinals inscriptions on the Bitcoin network has sparked new interest and debate around its impact on the ecosystem. Initially used to mint images as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), users have now realized that text-based inscriptions can create fungible tokens similar to ERC-20 token standard on the Ethereum network. As a result, the number of Ordinals inscriptions on the Bitcoin blockchain has almost doubled from 2.5 million to 4.78 million in just the last eight days.

Glassnode co-founder and chief technology officer Rafael Schultze-Kraft noted that text-based inscriptions are the most popular form of Ordinals inscription, with over 2.8 million text-based inscriptions as of May 5. Recent data from blockchain data hub Dune Analytics shows that 99% of all new Ordinals inscriptions since April 25 have been text-based, popularized as the BRC-20 token standard.

According to brc-20.io, a new tool that tracks BRC-20 tokens, there are currently 14,200 new tokens hosted on the Bitcoin blockchain. The most popular Bitcoin-based tokens include “ordi,” “nals,” and a Bitcoin-based version of the memecoin Pepe (PEPE), which is ranked third by total market cap.

The total market cap of BRC-20 tokens currently hovers around the $700 million mark, with Galaxy Digital predicting the market for “Bitcoin NFTs” may reach $4.5 billion by 2025. The rise of Ordinals over the last few months has sparked debate around whether it is ultimately positive for the Bitcoin ecosystem. Some Bitcoin proponents believe that Ordinals offer a wider range of financial use cases for Bitcoin, while others argue that it strays from Satoshi Nakamoto’s original vision for Bitcoin as an electronic, peer-to-peer cash system.

In the meantime, miners have enjoyed a surge in revenue due to transaction fees related to the burst of new activity on the network. As the popularity of Ordinals continues to grow, it remains to be seen whether it will have a positive or negative impact on the Bitcoin ecosystem.


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Binance Adds Bitcoin Ordinals to NFT Marketplace

Bitcoin ordinals, also known as Bitcoin NFTs, are gaining popularity in the Web3 space as more marketplaces adopt and offer digital assets. Binance, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, has recently announced that it will soon support Bitcoin ordinals on its NFT marketplace, expanding its multichain NFT ecosystem to include the Bitcoin network. This move follows other decentralized networks that the Binance NFT market has already integrated, including BNB Chain, Ethereum, and Polygon.

Mayur Kamat, the head of product at Binance, commented on the new offerings in the marketplace and Bitcoin’s crypto legacy, stating, “Bitcoin is the OG of crypto.” With this update, Binance users will be able to purchase and trade Bitcoin ordinals from their existing accounts. The announcement also states that the update will include royalty support and additional revenue-generating opportunities for those creating Bitcoin ordinals.

Prior to Binance’s announcement, OKX, another cryptocurrency exchange, announced in late April that it would bring Bitcoin ordinals to its marketplace and wallet ecosystem. Initially, OKX users could view and store ordinals using their accounts, with the option to mint ordinals being hinted at in the future, according to Haider Rafique, the chief marketing officer at OKX.

Bitcoin NFTs are available on marketplaces such as Magic Eden, which integrated the feature back in March. Recent data shows that inscriptions of Bitcoin ordinals have been on the rise in recent months, reaching 58,179 inscriptions on April 2, up 83.5% from the previous month. As of May 1, the total number of Bitcoin ordinal inscriptions had skyrocketed to exceed 3 million.

However, Bitcoin ordinals remain a controversial topic within the crypto community. Some Bitcoin maximalists criticize them for deviating from Bitcoin’s original peer-to-peer ethos. Nonetheless, Bitcoin ordinals offer unique opportunities for creators and collectors to buy, sell, and trade digital assets on the blockchain.

The rise of Bitcoin ordinals also reflects the growing interest in NFTs and digital art. In March, the digital artist Beeple sold a digital artwork for a record-breaking $69 million at a Christie’s auction. The sale of this NFT sparked a frenzy in the NFT market, with artists, musicians, and other creatives exploring the potential of blockchain technology to authenticate and monetize their work.

In conclusion, Binance’s move to support Bitcoin ordinals is a significant step for the NFT market, expanding the availability of digital assets to include the Bitcoin network. With the rise of Bitcoin ordinals and NFTs, we can expect to see continued innovation and experimentation in the world of blockchain and digital art.


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Cogni Launches KYC-Backed NFTs for Crypto Wallet Users

A recent upgrade has made it possible for users of the noncustodial multichain crypto wallet offered by Neobank Cogni to have access to a previously unavailable feature. Users of the wallet that the bank provides will soon be able to receive soulbound nonfungible tokens (NFTs) that incorporate information from the Know Your Customer (KYC) protocol. The NFTs, which will be constructed on the Polygon network, will provide customers the chance to convert their “Web2” KYC verification, which was performed by the bank when the client established their account, to a Web3 setting. This will be made possible via the Polygon network.

The cryptocurrency wallet that was introduced by Cogni in January allows users to send, receive, and store cryptocurrencies as well as NFTs. These capabilities were first made available to users. Users of wallets will now have the option to mint non-transferable soulbound NFTs, which can only be decrypted by decentralized apps (DApps) with the owner’s explicit authorization. Wallet users will be able to do this by using their private keys.

According to Ganesh Ravishankar, the Chief Executive Officer of Cogni, the user experience and a lack of faith in the ecosystem are the reasons why a lot of people have not jumped on the decentralization bandwagon just yet. This data was provided by the Chief Executive Officer of Cogni. The information about bank-level KYC that is contained on the NFT, on the other hand, satisfies the KYC rules in the United States, and it will be made available to cooperating DApps without the need for any further action on the part of those DApps.

Cogni’s mission is to provide a marketplace for decentralized apps (DApps) that can be connected to with just a few clicks, and this will include the KYC verification procedure. The use of wallets that do not contain custodial services has been on the rise, especially in light of the failure of large cryptocurrency organizations to escape bankruptcy during the crypto winter. This failure led to the money of customers being frozen in custodial wallets, which resulted in the increased popularity of wallets that do not include custodial services.

It is planned that sometime over the summer, the Cogni soulbound NFT will be made available to the general public. Initially, however, it will only be accessible to a select group of users. The objective of the firm is to improve the user experience of decentralized finance (DeFi) by creating a platform that is easy to use, has security on par with that of banks, and validates the identities of users.


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The Sandbox partners with Ledger Enterprise for NFT security integration.

In its latest move to bolster security and enhance its partners’ experiences, The Sandbox has partnered with Ledger Enterprise to develop security integration. This partnership will enable The Sandbox’s partners to migrate their nonfungible token collections to the Ledger wallet, ensuring the highest level of security for these assets.

The collaboration will also see The Sandbox appear as a decentralized application (DApp) on Ledger Enterprise, and a specific widget will be integrated into the Ledger Live desktop application. This will allow for the transfer of all NFTs in The Sandbox collection wallet to the Ledger Enterprise wallet, thereby ensuring their security.

As part of the partnership, The Sandbox will recommend Ledger Enterprise to its LAND owner ecosystem, while Ledger will promote The Sandbox metaverse to its clients. The initiative extends the recently established partnership between The Sandbox and Ledger to promote crypto education in the metaverse.

This partnership follows a successful collaboration between The Sandbox and Ledger in 2022, which saw the two companies promote crypto security education through a game called School of Block in The Sandbox’s metaverse. According to the VP of Communications at The Sandbox, Ariel Wengroff, the company was thrilled with this experience.

Ledger recently raised $109 million (100 million euros) in a Series C funding round extension, placing its valuation at $1.4 billion (1.3 billion euros). The capital, provided by investors such as VaynerFund, Cité Gestion SPV, True Global Ventures, and Digital Finance Group, will be used to expand the company’s distribution network, increase production, and develop new products.

The Sandbox is actively broadening its partnerships network and signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Saudi Arabia in February to explore, advise and support each other in metaverse development. The Sandbox has also previously partnered with some of the biggest names both inside and outside of the Web3 space, including Snoop Dogg, Gucci, Tim, Atari, HSBC, and Warner Music Group.

In conclusion, The Sandbox’s partnership with Ledger Enterprise is a significant step in ensuring the security and safety of nonfungible token collections on its platform. The collaboration will enable The Sandbox’s partners to enjoy the highest level of security and enhance their overall experience on the platform. With its growing list of partnerships, The Sandbox continues to position itself as a leading decentralized metaverse platform in the Web3 space.


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First Jury Hearing in OpenSea Insider Trading Case

On April 24th, the Southern District Court of New York held the first jury hearing in the case against former OpenSea product manager Nathaniel Chastain. Chastain is facing two counts of wire fraud and money laundering, with allegations of insider trading with non-fungible tokens (NFTs). The case has garnered attention from the cryptocurrency and legal communities alike, as it may have a significant impact on the legal classification of NFTs.

The allegations against Chastain were filed by the U.S. Manhattan Attorney’s Office on May 31st, 2022. The prosecution claims that Chastain used his insider knowledge to secretly purchase 45 NFTs just before their listing and sold them immediately afterward for a profit. One such example cited in the filing was the case of NFT “The Brawl 2.” Chastain allegedly bought four of these NFTs “minutes before” they were featured on OpenSea and sold them within hours for a 100% profit.

Chastain’s defense attempted to remove the “insider trading” references from his charges, arguing that the term only applies to securities and not to NFTs. However, prosecutors noted that the allegation of insider trading can be used to reference multiple types of fraud in which someone with non-public knowledge uses it to trade assets. The use of the term “insider trading” to describe NFT-related charges is a new development, and the outcome of the trial may have implications for the legal classification of NFTs.

If the case against Chastain results in a conviction for insider trading, it could set a precedent for similar charges in the future, potentially leading to NFTs being classified as securities. Alma Angotti, a former U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) lawyer, predicted this outcome in 2022, citing the Howey test, which determines whether a financial instrument is a security. Another former SEC employee, Philip Moustakis, expressed a similar concern, stating that “if this case sticks, there is precedent that insider trading theory can be applied to any asset class.”

In another recent court case, cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase supported a motion to dismiss insider trading charges against the brother of the platform’s former product manager. The defense argued that the SEC had no jurisdiction to file a lawsuit because the tokens in question did not pass the Howey test. This case highlights the uncertainty surrounding the legal classification of NFTs and the potential impact of Chastain’s trial on the industry as a whole.

The trial is expected to last several weeks, and its outcome may have far-reaching consequences for the NFT market. The case has drawn attention to the need for clear regulations surrounding NFTs and cryptocurrency in general. The outcome of this case could set a precedent for the legal classification of NFTs and have a significant impact on the future of the industry.


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Unidentified Exploit Steals Over $10.5 Million in NFTs and Coins

Since December 2022, an unidentified exploit has drained more than $10.5 million in non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and coins from experienced members of the crypto community who believed they were “reasonably secure.” The alarming incident was first brought to light by MetaMask developer Taylor Monahan, who revealed that over 5,000 Ether (ETH) had been stolen. However, the extent of the losses is yet to be determined. Monahan also cautioned that no one knows how the exploit works yet.

What is particularly worrying about this exploit is that it does not target crypto newbies but rather those who are experienced in safeguarding their digital assets. As Monahan noted, the exploit is not like the usual phishing attempts or random scammers. It targets those who are “crypto native,” with multiple addresses and work within the space. Some of the known commonalities about the exploit are that it targets keys that were created from 2014 to 2022.

To safeguard their digital assets, Monahan advised crypto veterans to use a hardware wallet or migrate their funds. Those who have their assets in a single private key are especially vulnerable and should consider splitting up their assets or getting a hardware wallet. Community member Jacky Goh echoed this sentiment, stating that the unknown hack is yet another reminder to use a hardware wallet. Goh recommended moving assets worth more than $1,000 for more than a week to a hardware wallet, which can save one in the long run.

The crypto community has been grappling with cybersecurity threats, with data published by cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky indicating that it detected over 5 million crypto phishing attacks in 2022 alone. This marks a 40% year-on-year increase compared to 2021 when the company detected around 3.5 million attacks. The rise in cyberattacks targeting the crypto community highlights the need for robust cybersecurity measures.

Moreover, the exploit highlights the need for greater awareness and education around digital asset protection. While many crypto veterans are well-versed in securing their digital assets, it is essential to stay up to date with emerging threats and vulnerabilities. The fast-paced and rapidly evolving nature of the crypto space means that vigilance is essential. By keeping a close eye on one’s digital assets and using best practices for digital asset security, one can reduce the risk of falling victim to cyberattacks.

In conclusion, the recent exploit that has stolen over $10.5 million in NFTs and coins serves as a sobering reminder of the importance of robust cybersecurity measures for crypto assets. The crypto community must remain vigilant and educate themselves on emerging threats to safeguard their digital assets effectively. By adopting best practices and staying up to date with the latest cybersecurity trends, crypto veterans can protect their assets from theft and loss.


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Cryptocurrency Soars in Q1 2023

The cryptocurrency market has started off 2023 with a bang, as shown in CoinGecko’s Q1 2023 Crypto Industry Report. The report highlights the surge in market capitalization of Bitcoin (BTC) and decentralized finance (DeFi) protocols, making them the key takeaways of the first quarter.

BTC emerged as the best-performing asset of Q1 2023, with gains of 72.4%, outperforming other assets such as the NASDAQ index and Gold, which marked gains of 15.7% and 8.4%, respectively. The report notes that all major asset classes, except crude oil, saw gains through the first quarter of the year. Crude oil dropped by 6.1%, which was attributed to United States inflation data that cited a reduction in oil demand and the ill effects of the U.S. banking crisis.

The overall cryptocurrency market capitalization reached $1.2 trillion at the end of Q1, with a gain of $406 billion from the market cap of $829 billion at the end of 2022. The DeFi space was another standout performer, rising by $29.6 billion in value through the first quarter. Liquid staking governance tokens saw a 210% increase in market cap since the start of 2023, making it the third-largest category in the DeFi sector.

Ethereum’s Shapella upgrade played a major role in driving the increase of capital flows into liquid staking pools. The upgrade finally unlocked ETH staking reward withdrawals, which helped the network gain more attention.

While Bitcoin and DeFi have been major movers thus far this year, the top 15 stablecoins saw their market cap drop by $6.2 billion. CoinGecko attributes this 4.5% drop in market cap to the shutdown of Binance USD by Paxos and the momentary depeg of USD Coin (USDC) during the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in March 2023.

Tether (USDT) strengthened its position as the largest stablecoin by market cap in 2023, adding $13.6 billion since the start of the year, while USDC and BUSD recorded market cap losses of 26.9% and 54.5%, respectively.

Nonfungible token (NFT) trading volume has also surged again in 2023, marking a 68% rise from Q4 2022 to $4.5 billion during the first quarter of 2023. NFT marketplace newcomer Blur accounted for the majority of NFT trading volume since its launch in October 2022, accounting for 71.8% of the NFT market share in March 2023.

The cryptocurrency market is still relatively new and volatile, but the Q1 2023 report shows that it is gaining momentum and acceptance from investors. Despite some drops in stablecoin market cap and the decline in crude oil, the overall cryptocurrency market has been performing exceptionally well. This growth could lead to more mainstream adoption and could open doors for new developments and opportunities in the future.


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Sotheby Alters Art Sale, Novice Player Makes Staggering Profit

In response to community feedback regarding a lack of diversity, Sotheby’s has announced that its upcoming digital art sale, “Glitch: Beyond Binary,” will place a focus on inclusivity. This comes after criticism of last month’s “Natively Digital: Glitch-ism” auction, which was temporarily paused due to the lack of diversity. Sotheby’s emphasizes that the sale will represent people from all backgrounds and identities, stating that it is committed to highlighting the diverse artist communities that make up Glitch Art.

On the other hand, a newcomer to the online game Illuvium: Beyond has made a staggering profit by finding the rarest character yet, the “Holo Blazing Rhamphyre.” The player found the character in a “D1SK,” a type of digital loot box containing random characters and accessories. The player purchased the loot box for only $32 and sold the character for $49,128.85, netting a profit of approximately 140,525%.

In other NFT news, the Ukrainian President has signed the country’s first NFT, a collection called “UACatsDivision,” featuring cats of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, with all funds donated to the Ukrainian military services. At the time of writing, 3,026 NFT cats had already been purchased out of the 10,000 available.

Meanwhile, Bitcoin miners have made over $5 million from creating NFT inscriptions using the Ordinals protocol, according to Dune Analytics data. Transaction fees for Ordinals transactions exploded from $1.5 million on March 10 to $5.2 million by April 12. Nearly 1.1 million Ordinals had been inscribed on the Bitcoin network, consisting mainly of jpeg images and text but also PDFs, video, and audio formats.

However, an NFT collector made a costly mistake by bidding 100 Ether (ETH), worth around $192,000 at the time of writing, for an NFT from the Gemesis NFT collection, which was intended to be free to celebrate the launch of OpenSea Pro. Some community members believe the transaction was a wash trade, while others argue that the trader simply made a mistake bidding 100 ETH instead of $100. However, another community member argued against theories that it was a wash trade since it was too risky.

Overall, the world of NFTs continues to grow and evolve, with new developments and opportunities for profit emerging regularly.


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NFTs Get Security Boost with New Warranty Service

The rise of Web3 has led to an explosion in the popularity of nonfungible tokens (NFTs), which offer unique ownership of digital assets, including art, music, and even tweets. However, the Web3 space has seen its fair share of exploits, with hackers exploiting more than $320 million in the first quarter of 2023 alone. As a result, securing digital assets has become a top priority for many users, particularly those considering joining the Web3 space.

To address this security gap, Wert and Avata have launched a new NFT warranty service. The opt-in service will provide coverage for up to 90% of the value of compromised digital assets in a smart contract hack, offering a sense of security and trust for both active and prospective collectors. The service will be available on nearly 80 digital asset marketplaces, including the KnownOrigin NFT marketplace.

According to Vano Basiladze, CEO of Wert, the NFT protection will be charged at 6% of the asset cost at checkout, with coverage calculated by the purchase price rather than the current market value. By offering a service that ensures some degree of protection against hacks and theft, Basiladze believes that mass adoption of NFTs and Web3 technologies in general will be perpetuated.

“Overall, any consumer looking to get into the NFT space wants to protect their money invested, and by offering them that sense of security, they are able to engage in Web3 on a deeper level with reduced risk,” Basiladze said.

Basiladze also noted that high-value NFTs, similar to traditional collectibles and art, are often bought by serious investors who are more worried about security than the average collector. By offering warranties, the NFT industry can become more open to professional collectors and investors.

The NFT market has exploded in recent years, with some projections estimating that NFT-related global transactions will skyrocket from 24 million in 2022 to nearly 40 million by 2027. In fact, a recent study from CoinGecko revealed that 25% of NFT owners have a collection of 51 digital assets or more. As such, the need for increased security and protection of digital assets is more important than ever.

In conclusion, the launch of Wert and Avata’s NFT warranty service represents a significant step forward for NFT security. By reducing the risk for both active and prospective collectors, the offering aims to encourage mass adoption of NFTs and Web3 technologies. With the NFT market continuing to grow, the need for increased security measures is paramount, and this warranty service is a welcome addition to the ecosystem.


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