At the height of the pandemic, TV star Ben McKenzie, known to many as James Gordon from the Gotham City series without Batman, was sitting at home doing nothing and working. As he says to himself, I was the perfect target for cryptocurrency: the head of the family, stuck at home with cash in his pocket. Seduced by big promises to take power away from the banks, possibly improve democracy and, of course, a bit of FOMO, McKenzie has taken a deep dive into the blockchain, bitcoin and other coins and tokens, and the exchanges they are traded on.
But since he decided to find out how deep the rabbit hole goes, the question has not ceased in his head: “Am I crazy or is this all a complete scam?”. The result of his investigation is the book Easy Money: Cryptocurrency, Casino Capitalism, and the Golden Age of Fraud, which will be available from July 2023.
Judging by the name, Ben does not expect anything good from the blockchain. But the analytical company Bitwise gives the following forecasts for the current year:
There are no comments here. I will give only a captain-obvious quote from CZ:
"I think there is a short term and long term theme in crypto. Short term: there will be a lot of fluctuations - industry players are still building it. In the long term, I think we will see mass adoption of this technology. In 20 years, global adoption could reach 80-90 %"
The number of validators in Ethereum, meanwhile, has crossed half a million ahead of the Shanghai upgrade scheduled for March this year.
And ETH supply deflation has indeed reached pre-Merge levels again.
Circle and Uniswap talk about the usefulness of DeFi in the Forex markets. The study reports that DeFi could solve the $2 trillion currency risk problem.
By the way, BIS, in turn, is already fully engaged in the topic of using DeFi in FX markets and has even presented a research model for studying the integration of DeFi with traditional finance (TradFi). I talked about this in one of my previous issues.
Circle this week released a great report on the progress of their USDC stablecoin. Also, don't forget that Circle has connections with the regulators, the Fed, BlackRock, Goldman and many other big guys.
For example, company representatives take part in the well-known economic forum in Davos.
However, not only they are represented at the WEF this year. A lot of crypto projects are announced among the participants.
The forum also presented a prototype of its own metauniverse — the “Global Village of Cooperation”. The initiative was developed in partnership with Accenture and Microsoft.
While the village will be deployed in Davos, its influence could be much greater in the remaining 51 weeks of the year. After the conference, Schwab says, the WEF itself will start holding many meetings in the countryside. Schwab is interested in how virtual meetings with 3D avatars can create more understanding, trust and the potential for ideas between people around the world compared to the non-immersive Zoom meetings that everyone has become accustomed to in recent years.
Elon Musk (who was not invited to the forum) suggests that the event is turning into an unelected world government that people did not ask for and do not want.
Shiba Inu also got a ride with the presentation of their CF at the IEF, but the company does not despair and is preparing with might and main to launch the beta version of Shibarium.
At the same time, according to Nansen, over the past week, the SHIB token has become the most popular token among new crypto wallets, if stablecoins are not taken into account. Let's talk about them later.
Despite the success of Circle, USDT (Tether) does not give up and at the end of last year for the first time surpassed the giants Visa and Mastercard in terms of transaction volume. The stablecoin payment network processed $18.2 trillion worth of payments in a year. That's more than Mastercard, which handled $14.1 trillion, and Visa, which handled $7.7 trillion in annual volume.
In the meantime, Visa has included Alchemy Pay in the list of official service providers. Let me remind you that the Alchemy Pay project received the Forbes Web3 Innovation Award
Cardano developers have confirmed that the company will launch its own DJED algorithmic stablecoin as early as January 2023.
And National Australia Bank, one of the 4 largest banks in Australia, has created its own stablecoin for instant settlements in AUD on the blockchain.
But the most interesting news from this area is that Russia and Iran have begun working on a common stablecoin pegged to gold. The Central Bank of Iran is considering the possibility, together with Russia, to create a certain token of the Persian region, which can be accepted as a means of payment in foreign trade settlements instead of the dollar, ruble and Iranian rial.
Saudi Arabia also says it is open to settlements in currencies other than the US dollar. Sergei Lavrov is not far behind, saying that the process of switching to settlements in national currencies with African countries is underway.
Ray Dalio, in an interview with Nikkei Asia, again says that the era of world order with the dominance of the dollar and globalization in the economy is leaving: the main world powers are now forming their economic, financial and military blocs.
At the same time, he recommended investing in countries that have good finances, do not have serious internal conflicts, are less vulnerable to international war and continue to innovate.
His list includes members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, such as Indonesia and Vietnam, as well as India and countries that are members of the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council.
“Those who desire globalization will now look beyond the United States, China and Europe,” Ray said.
Despite Dalio's claims, the chart above shows the capitalization of the largest stock markets in the world.
And at first glance, the American market is almost three times larger in terms of capitalization than the Chinese one. Although if we compare the GDP of the two countries, then there is a very small gap, about 30% in favor of the United States.
If the trend continues, then in the coming years, the difference in the capitalization of the US and Chinese stock markets is likely to decrease. And further internalization of the yuan should contribute to this process.
Next, I propose to briefly go over the countries presented in the diagram. Let's start with the States. Of the 535 current senators in the US Congress, 196 people received donations from the head of FTX Sam Bankman-Fried.
Amazingly, curly-haired Sam fed every third US congressman!
Texas A&M University, meanwhile, is introducing a "Bitcoin Protocol" course for students. Training began on January 17th.
China, as usual, is ahead of the rest. The digital yuan, or e-CNY, a token issued by the Bank of China, was used to buy securities for the first time, according to a local report released on Monday.
Investors can now use e-CNY to buy securities using the Soochow Securities mobile app, the China Securities Journal reports, citing the securities company.
China has gone further than most countries in developing a central bank digital currency (CBDC). Last week, the country introduced the digital yuan into cash circulation for the first time. According to Yicai Global, the company has also added a feature to its e-CNY payment app that allows users to make payments offline.
The head of India's central bank calls for a ban on cryptocurrencies because "this is a gamble" that leads to the "dollarization" of the economy, and banks will "lose control" if it grows further.
But blockchain technology, in his opinion, should be developed.
According to the latest UN statistics, India has officially become the most populated country in the world, ahead of China.
Bradesco, one of the largest banks in Brazil, is launching a bill tokenization pilot. According to a Boston Consulting report, asset tokenization is gaining momentum around the world, and rapid growth is expected in this direction.
Interesting news from Europe. Bank N26 launches crypto trading in Germany, Switzerland, Belgium, Portugal and Ireland. And BMW plans to invest 800 million euros in Mexico, where the company already has a plant.
Spanish airline Vueling plans to introduce NFT strategy and crypto payments into its business in 2023. And the local Central Bank will test the euro-pegged, the first stablecoin regulated in Europe EURM.
The Central Bank of Georgia, which plans to launch a pilot CBDC project in the first half of this year, is not far behind. Georgia also offered Amazon to open a regional center in the country.
And the Central African Republic is working to integrate its Sango Coin into its economy, according to the country's government.
The South Korean government will allow the placement of Security token offering (STO)* in the country.
*Let me remind you that the STO process is similar to the ICO, where the investor exchanges money for coins or tokens. However, unlike ICOs, STOs are one step ahead by distributing tokens that qualify as securities. They are linked to the underlying investment asset such as stocks, bonds, real estate investment funds, etc. Thus, security token offerings are digital analogues of securities. Such tokens are financial instruments that have a monetary value and are part of the property or part of the company.
Also this week, it became known that the country, together with the UAE, agreed to create a market for carbon credits.
And since the Metaverse is the main topic of the IEF in Davos, I’ll probably end the issue on it. Seoul authorities announced the launch of the municipal metaverse. With its help, city residents will be able to contact city services on various issues.
Well, to completely blow your mind - blogger ChrisDaCow visualized the fourth dimension in Minecraft! http://youtu.be/0OljR8LqXEU
The guy's work was even appreciated by an expert in the field of quantum physics, calling it as close to reality as possible.