LooksRare NFT Marketplace Upgrades to Version 2, Reducing Fees by 75%

LooksRare, a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace, has announced an upgrade to version 2. The company revealed that the new platform would reduce fees by 75% and implement several other features. The previous version, LooksRare v1, charged 2% per trade, but this has now been reduced to 0.5% in version 2. In addition, the new version has more gas-efficient contracts, allowing users to save approximately 30% on gas fees versus the previous version of the app.

The LooksRare team explained that in version 2, sellers receive Ether (ETH) instead of Wrapped Ether (WETH) for most sales. The smart contracts also allow for bulk buying and selling orders if a user wants to place multiple trades simultaneously. Furthermore, aggregators can now implement custom recipients, allowing users to buy an NFT with one wallet but send it to another.

Sellers can now list their NFTs for sale in token prices instead of ETH. This includes the option to list an NFT for a fixed U.S. dollar price to be paid in equivalent ETH.

LooksRare v1 will be sunsetted, according to the team’s separate April 7 post. On April 12, the app’s front end will no longer allow users to post version 1 auctions through the public API. All current v1 auctions will be removed from the website at 10:00 am UTC on April 13, and the smart contracts themselves will be disabled through an admin function at 11:00 am UTC.

The announcement of the upgrade has received mostly positive reactions, as many LooksRare users believe the new features will provide a strong challenge to competitors such as OpenSea and Blur. However, some users have expressed doubts that v2 will be enough of a change to attract users from other platforms. These users have cited the lack of good token incentives and the inability to list enough collections as potential issues.

Despite some controversy in October when the company decided to eliminate creator royalties, LooksRare has benefited from the recent boom in NFT prices. The company’s latest upgrade to version 2 shows its commitment to providing users with an efficient and cost-effective NFT marketplace.


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LooksRare Version 2 Upgrades NFT Marketplace

In an effort to provide a better user experience, LooksRare has released version 2 of its NFT marketplace, which includes several new features and improvements. One of the most significant changes is the reduction of trading fees from 2% to 0.5%, which is a 75% reduction. Additionally, version 2 includes gas-efficient contracts that enable users to save approximately 30% on gas fees compared to the previous version.

Another important feature of LooksRare version 2 is that sellers will now receive Ether (ETH) instead of Wrapped Ether (WETH) for most sales. Furthermore, the smart contracts now support bulk buying and selling orders, which is useful for users who want to place multiple trades simultaneously. Additionally, custom recipient aggregators have been introduced, allowing users to purchase NFTs with one wallet and send them to another.

Sellers can now list their NFTs for sale in token prices, which means that prices can be set in US dollars or equivalent ETH. This is a useful feature for sellers who want to provide clarity on pricing and reduce the risks associated with market volatility.

Despite the positive reception to the new features, some users are skeptical that LooksRare version 2 will be enough to attract users from other platforms. Some users have expressed concerns that there are still not enough incentives for good token collections to be listed. However, most LooksRare users have responded positively to the changes, and the platform is expected to become more competitive with other NFT marketplaces, such as OpenSea and Blur.

LooksRare faced some controversy in October when it decided to eliminate creator royalties, but it has also benefited from the recent surge in NFT prices. With the release of version 2, LooksRare is poised to continue its growth and establish itself as a leading NFT marketplace.

Looking ahead, the team has announced that LooksRare version 1 will be discontinued. Users will no longer be able to post version 1 auctions through the public API after April 12, and all current v1 auctions will be removed from the website on April 13. Finally, the smart contracts themselves will be disabled through an admin function at 11:00 am UTC on April 13. By sunsetting version 1, LooksRare is ensuring that its users are fully supported on the upgraded platform and can take advantage of the new features and improvements.


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Ethereum Testnet Successfully Upgrades for Upcoming Shanghai Hard Fork

The Ethereum community is eagerly awaiting the upcoming Shanghai hard fork, which is expected to take place on the mainnet in March. In preparation for this event, the Ethereum blockchain’s Sepolia testnet underwent a successful upgrade on February 28th. The upgrade, dubbed “Shapella”, was designed to simulate the upcoming fork and test its functionality.

One of the most significant changes in the Shapella upgrade is the ability for validators to withdraw their staked Ether (stETH) from the Beacon Chain back to the execution layer. Previously, validators needed to stake a minimum of 32 ETH to validate on the Ethereum blockchain. However, with this upgrade, validators will now be able to withdraw rewards in excess of 32 ETH and continue validating. Those who wish to fully withdraw their staked ETH can take all 32 ETH plus rewards and cease validating.

The successful implementation of the Shapella upgrade on the Sepolia testnet is an encouraging sign for the Ethereum community, as it indicates that the upcoming Shanghai hard fork will likely proceed smoothly on the mainnet. However, before the hard fork can go live on the mainnet, it must first be released on the Ethereum Goerli testnet.

The Goerli testnet is an important testing ground for Ethereum upgrades, as it allows developers to test new features and upgrades in a sandboxed environment before deploying them on the mainnet. The release of the Shapella upgrade on the Goerli testnet is expected to commence in March, giving developers ample time to test the upgrade and ensure its compatibility with the Ethereum ecosystem.

Overall, the successful upgrade of the Sepolia testnet for the upcoming Shanghai hard fork is a promising development for the Ethereum community. With this upgrade, validators will have more flexibility in managing their staked ETH, which will ultimately lead to a more efficient and secure network. As the Ethereum ecosystem continues to evolve and grow, the community can look forward to more exciting upgrades and developments in the future.


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Crypto Firms Join Forces to Push for Stratum V2 Bitcoin Mining Upgrades

A group of crypto firms led by Bitcoin mining tech provider Braiins and the Block Inc’s subsidiary funding Bitcoin development called Spiral are promoting the adoption of Stratum V2 protocol.

The initiative sets to upgrade Stratum V1 (the current Bitcoin mining pool protocol) miners use to control how mining machines communicate with pool servers.

The upgrade from Stratum V1 would improve security for miners and for the network, help further decentralize the network, and make communication more efficient, a joint statement from Braiins and Spiral said.

Stratum’s second version (V2) promises to bring many improvements to the protocol, including censorship resistance and allowing miners to choose their own work rather than being assigned workloads by pools, as a result, would increase the Bitcoin network’s decentralization. The upgrade is a necessary step to support an increase in pooled mining and further growth in hashrate, the report elaborated.

The working group now focuses on building and sharing tools for all mining firms to rapidly and seamlessly upgrade to Stratum V2 protocol.

As per the announcement, the working group has released the first version of an open-source Stratum V2 reference implementation (SRI) for testing. The SRI will allow anyone to run the upgraded protocol or use it as a guide for their own implementation of Stratum V2, the report said.

The joint statement said that the working group plans to release a new “more robust” version of the SRI with more functionality in early November.

Crypto exchange BitMEX, crypto financial services firm Galaxy Digital, crypto mining and staking firm Foundry, and Bitcoin education program Summer of Bitcoin, are among the members of the working group who are giving support to Stratum V2’s key developers. Spiral and Braiins invited interested parties to participate in the group in their joint report released yesterday.

Miners “know the benefits of Stratum V2 very well,” but pushing the mining industry over the “remaining development and adoption hurdles” is a “big task,” Braiins co-founder Jan Capek said in the report.

The push for the Stratum V2 protocol comes at a time when mining difficulty has increased by 13.55 % to an all-time high. Blockchain.News reported the matter. As the individual activity becomes more difficult and competitive over time, Bitcoin mining has shifted to a pooled resource model that significantly reduces the volatility of payouts. Miners join pools, paying a service fee to the pool and obtaining a consistent share of block reward payouts relative to their hash provided.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Cardano’s Vasil Hard Fork Upgrade Confirmed to Happen on September 22

Charles Hoskinson, the founder of Cardano blockchain and a co-founder of the blockchain engineering company Input Output Global, Inc, the company behind the development of the Cardano blockchain platform, announced on Friday on his YouTube vlog that Cardano’s Vasil hard fork will happen on 22nd September.

“If we’ve all done our job right, we will wake up on Sept. 22, and it will be just another day,” Hoskinson said.

Developers at Input Output also talked about the development on Friday and said that three necessary critical mass indicators associated with the upgrade have been reached.

“1. 75% of mainnet blocks being created by the final Vasil node candidate (1.35.3); 2. approximately 25 exchanges upgraded (representing 80% of ada liquidity); 3. top 10 DApps by TVL confirming they have upgraded to 1.35.3 on PreProduction and are ready for mainnet,” the developers tweeted on Friday.

The Cardano developers said the Vasil hard fork promises to create greater scalability (to increase network capacity), lower transaction fees, expand the Ethereum competitor, and improve developers’ experience for creating decentralized applications on Cardano.

The developers further said the hard fork will incorporate the first major upgrade, known as the Alonzo update, to the Plutus script — the programming language used for developing smart contracts on the Cardano blockchain.

Plutus was introduced in the Alonzo update, a previous upgrade that occurred in September of last year. “The upgrade will also bring enhancements to Plutus to enable devs to create more powerful and efficient blockchain-based applications,” Input-Output said.

 IOHK further stated that out of the top 12 cryptocurrency exchanges, MEXC and Bitrue are ready for the upgrade, while Binance is almost there, and Upbit, Coinbase, WhiteBit, BKEX, and HitBTC are in progress.

Hoskinson reflected on the heavy workload required for the Vasil upgrade, saying collaborators were “overloaded” on the work. “It really demonstrated that we need to build better processes, and better foundations to launch things at this scale and magnitude. We kind of pushed the limit a bit on Vasil. Probably the hardest update we’ve ever had to do as an ecosystem,” the Cardano founder elaborated.

Vasil hard fork is named in honor of Vasil Dabov, a Bulgarian member of the Cardano community, who was the Chief Blockchain Advisor at software R&D firm Quanterall, before his death in December 2021.

Cardano’s Vasil hard fork is therefore set to happen just one week after the Ethereum Merge’s anticipated date of September 15. The Merge upgrade will see the Ethereum blockchain switch from the energy-intensive proof-of-work consensus mechanism to a more efficient proof-of-stake system.

Image source: Shutterstock


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Axie Infinity Transitions its P2E Gaming Platform to a New Game Mode

Online pay-to-earn (P2E) gaming platform Axie Infinity has announced the transition of its gaming mode from classical to a better-developed one dubbed Axie Infinity Origin.


According to the blogpost shared by the platform, the transition to the new game mode will be completed in 30 days, starting from last Friday. Axie Infinity has often developed an online gaming platform where users earn in crypto assets, ensuring that withdrawal is seamless. The new upgrade, however, promises a better experience for users on the platform.


In the former game mode, the Smooth Love Potions (SLP) token was well featured, however, the new gaming mode will see this vital token now integrated into the Origin’s ranked gameplay mode and completely removed from Classic (v2). The Origin Season 0 mode is billed to be fully integrated starting from the 12th of August.

The team notes that transitioning from the Classic game mode is necessary so that it achieves an expanded ability to balance the SLP economy. Hence, every step taken in this light is geared to achieve this aim.

Despite this transition, the Axie Infinity team said the SLP token “will continue to only be distributed in PvP Ranked mode when players win battles, and the higher Rank that one is competing in, the more SLP rewards they will receive per win.”


P2E games are becoming more of a central pursuit to the Non-Fungible Token (NFT) ecosystem and more startups are committed to developing new gaming titles for Web3.0 users. As one of the pioneering P2E game outfits, Axie Infinity is committed to continuous game development and strategic updates that can help keep it on top as one of the most competitive platforms today.

This is even so necessary as Venture Capital firms like Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) and Magic Ventures amongst others are largely committing new funds to bootstrap startups with unique gaming models.

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Coinbase Introduces Ethereum Staking for US Institutional Clients

Coinbase Prime – an integrated solution that offers secure custody, an advanced trading platform and prime services– has introduced an Ethereum staking service targeting corporate clients in the US.

Coinbase exchange described the addition of Ethereum to its staking options for US institutional investors as an important feature designed for financial institutions which want to enter the crypto money industry but hesitate about it.

The exchange said the staking service gives companies an opportunity to earn passive income by avoiding risks. The product offers yet another cryptocurrency on-ramp for institutions which have become interested in the industry’s explosive growth but have not always known how to get in.

Generating yield through staking plays an important role to big firms that often are looking for attractive places to invest their money.

Coinbase Prime also offers staking services for Solana, Polkadot, Cosmos, Tezos, and Celo tokens, the exchange said in a blog post on Monday.

Aaron Schnarch, the Vice President of Product, Custody at Coinbase, talked about the development and said institutional customers can create a wallet, decide how much to stake and start staking ETH in their Coinbase Prime account.

According to the exchange, withdrawal keys are held in Coinbase’s cold storage custody vault, and the staking process happens through the validation of new cryptocurrency transactions on a proof-of-stake blockchain.

Coinbase has launched its staking services to take advantage of “the Merge,” the highly anticipated upgrade of the Ethereum network.

Staking Rewards

Staking allows customers to earn a yield on their cryptocurrencies by putting them in a pool of assets, which helps support the liquidity and operations of a blockchain ecosystem. Staking is often compared to a high-yield savings account where investors can earn more than 20% in annual yield on some platforms.

However, that practice does not come without risks. Staking normally requires customers to store their money with a third-party called a “custodian,” who technically owns the funds while they are being staked. Few months ago, investors experienced huge losses of funds when custodians such as Celsius Networks, Voyager Digital, among others, went bankrupt after crypto markets crashed.

In January this year, institutional crypto custody firm Anchorage Digital introduced Ether staking for institutions.

The San Francisco-based federally chartered crypto bank started providing ETH holders with the opportunity to earn rewards for their holdings.

Anchorage also planned to expand its Ethereum blockchain service once the network moves to a proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism later this year.

The Merge” – the upgrade that will shift the blockchain from a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) alternative consensus mechanism – is expected to begin next month. The transition to PoS, which is intended to be faster and more energy efficient than PoW, is now anticipated to occur on September 19th.

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Bitcoin SegWit adoption lags among major exchanges: Glassnode

SegWit has come a long way since its first appearance during the 2015-2017 blocksize war. However, despite its relative success as a Bitcoin upgrade, crypto exchanges including Binance and Gemini are still not committed to using SegWit addresses for sending Bitcoin (BTC). 

Implemented in 2017, segregated witness (SegWit) is a soft fork upgrade that separates “witness” data from the base transaction. In an “explain like I’m five” kind of way, SegWit allows for a safer and faster Bitcoin, making scaling the network easier.

While most exchanges and individuals were quick to upgrade their infrastructure to take on SegWit, reaching the 50% mark for Bitcoin transactions in 2019, the largest exchange, Binance has been dragging its feet.

Glassnode’s report states that Binance “​​had trivial SegWit adoption rates of only 10% up until the end of 2021.” However, it has finally “made an earnest effort to push SegWit adoption near the end of 2021.” Its adoption rate is currently at 50%, paling in comparison to Coinbase and FTX at 100%.

Altogether, crypto exchanges consume roughly 40% of Bitcoin block space. Crucially, however, Coinbase and Binance make up the lion’s share of block space, responsible for “25% of consumed block space” last month. If leaders such as Binance, or large players such as Gemini fail to fully adopt SegWit, Bitcoin will struggle to reach its true scaling potential.

Tomer Strolight, editor in chief at Swan Bitcoin, illustrates the argument:

“The fee savings provided by SegWit (and also batching and Taproot) will inevitably lead to their near-universal use. These have succeeded already in vastly reducing congestion and lowering fees. Ironically, however, their success to date means that we may have to wait until fees become a problem again to give the late adopters the kick in pants they need to fully switch.”

Glassnode’s report also shares a more accurate measure for reading SegWit adoption, SegWit utilization. When applied to single entities, such as exchanges, it provides a more detailed picture.

Of the 18 major exchanges that Glassnode investigated, one-third are bona fide SegWit supporters at over 90% adoption levels. The second third–including Binance–are taking their best shot at adopting SegWit ranging from 50% to 80%, while the final six are still using Bitcoin addresses beginning with the number 1, rather than SegWit’s 3.

Related: 88% of all BTC transfers are overpaying transaction fees

Here is the graph detailing the exchange SegWit ranking:

It’s unlikely that the laggard exchanges will upgrade to Taproot, the most recent Bitcoin soft fork, any time soon. As Strolight points out, we might have to wait until fees rise before they wake up.