Blockchain Bites: Airdrops, Record Volumes, $1B BTC on Ethereum

18 September 2020

There is now more than $1 billion worth of bitcoin on Ethereum, record-setting transaction volume is boosting Ethereum miners’ revenue and VeChain joins China’s food safety watchdog to build track and trace capabilities. 

Top shelf

Token reflections
Uniswap’s decision to airdrop its new governance token was less about competing with its genetic clone SushiSwap, and more about building a community, CoinDesk’s Brady Dale reports. “I think it’s genius in every way,” Robert Leshner, Compound’s founder, said. “It brought a huge number of users into the fold.” Tokens were airdropped not just to liquidity providers (LPs), but essentially anyone who has played with the app – meaning upwards of 250,000 unique Ethereum addresses that have made trades on it could come into possession. This could help Uniswap achieve the effective decentralization necessary to avoid the prying eyes of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. While the token is likely to spur a new round of liquidity mining, bumping up transactions fees on the platform, Dale also suggests UNI could be a means for the protocol – which raised an $11 million Series A – to repay its investors. 

Ethereum records
Ethereum miners earned a record $16.5 million on Thursday as the number of transactions on the network ticks up. More than 42,763 ether (ETH) were paid out in transaction fees for 1.4 million transactions – another all-time high. CoinDesk’s Paddy Baker points to a meteoric rise in decentralized finance (DeFi) to make sense of the surging Ethereum activity. There is currently over $9 billion worth of assets locked in DeFi applications, according to DeFi Pulse, up from approximately $675 million at the start of the year. Decentralized exchanges too are growing – led by Uniswap, Curve and Balancer – having recently surpassed $16 billion in total monthly volume. 

Community points
The number of monthly users who earned T-Points, or loyalty points, for bitcoin (BTC) payments on the bitFlyer exchange in Japan reached a record high in August. Though the exchange did not specify the number of users of the service, CoinDesk Japan previously reported approximately 30% of new visitors to the exchange are in their 20s. BTC was trading at 1.3 million Japanese yen ($12,400) in August for the first time in a year. Midori Kanemitsu, a market analyst at bitFlyer, indicated that this reflects a larger trend: against the backdrop of COVID-19 and global monetary easing, bitcoin is shifting from a speculative investment for individuals to an institutional hedge against inflation. 

Track and trace
The VeChain Foundation has become the first blockchain-based entity to join the China Animal Health and Food Safety Alliance (CAFA). According to a blog post, VeChain joins the 130 strong member group as its only public blockchain technology provider, and will further provide technical and infrastructural support for member firms. According to the post, CAFA intends to build a “farm to table” traceability system across China that would record the various stages of the food supply process on the blockchain in order to build trust with consumers.

Wallet challenge
U.S. Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate (S&T), wants you to build its next digital wallet. CoinDesk’s Danny Nelson reports the directorate is putting $25,000 up for grabs in their new digital wallet challenge, a user interface design competition to pair with DHS’s work in the blockchain and decentralized identity space. Finalist wallets must demonstrate “ease of use and visual consistency, while supporting interoperability, security, and privacy,” said Anil John, technical director of S&T’s Silicon Valley Innovation Program (SVIP). Applications are open through Oct. 15, with the chance for three finalists to win $5,000 and an additional $10,000 to the competition winner.

Quick bites

At stake

Tethered together?
A New York Supreme Court justice reiterated his call for Bitfinex and Tether to turn over documents detailing their financial relationship and history, in a Thursday hearing. 

Judge Joel M. Cohen, the judge who has been overseeing the New York Attorney General’s (NYAG) office’s examination pertaining to the sister firms’ alleged $850 million cover-up, is applying pressure in what appears to be an attempt to speed up what has become a 17-month-long investigation. 

Bitfinex’s legal fight with the NYAG began in April 2019, when the state prosecutor first alleged that Bitfinex had lost access to $850 million in funds held by Crypto Capital Corp., a payment processor whose operators were later indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Stablecoin issuer Tether extended a line of credit and provided a loan to Bitfinex to cover the shortfall. The NYAG’s office requested access to the documents surrounding this deal.

Specifically, the NYAG wants to know where the funds went, whether any of the funds went to company executives and why transfers from Tether to Bitfinex were necessary. 

Bitfinex and Tether are now appealing this request for documentation, with its representatives saying it is “literally impossible to comply with,” because the NYAG’s office has asked for “all documents” around USDT. A legal representative compared the request to “asking GM for all documents about cars,” earlier this week. 

Defendant’s counsel also argues the investigation is past its prime. “We’ve now had 17 additional months of disclosure. All the dirty laundry about Crypto Capital has been aired … Whatever risk there may have been 17 months ago is gone,” Charles Michael, an attorney with Steptoe and Johnson, representing Bitfinex, said. 

Cohen didn’t set a firm deadline for when Bitfinex and Tether would have to produce these documents, leaving that decision to a special referee, but said a deadline would need to be set. As part of his order, he extended an injunction that would have ended in the next few weeks barring Tether from loaning funds to Bitfinex by 90 days.

Market intel

Indecision reigns?
Bitcoin clocked highs of $11,104 and $11,050 on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, but printed a UTC closing price below $11,000 on both occasions. Indecision is now the mood of the market. Increasing amounts of bitcoin are leaving wallets associated with miners for exchanges, an indication of selling pressure. According to data source Glassnode, 1,113.85 BTC were transferred to exchange wallets from miner wallets on Sept. 13 – the biggest single-day outflow since December. Should the latest indecisive price action end with an upward move, the focus would shift to the next hurdle at $11,200, CoinDesk’s Omkar Godbole reports. 

$1B bitcoin
Over $1 billion worth of bitcoin has been tokenized on Ethereum as of Thursday, CoinDesk news reporter Zack Voell found. In January, less than 1,200 BTC were tokenized worth less than $7 million. There are now more than 92,600 tokenized bitcoins (BTC), representing 0.42% of the total BTC supply. Wrapped bitcoin (WBTC), the largest tokenized bitcoin project, has minted over 60,500 tokenized BTC since its launch in early 2019, representing over 65% of the total tokenized BTC supply, while RenBTC, the second largest tokenized bitcoin project, has issued 22,000 tokenized bitcoins since May. 


A little reality
Preston Byrne, a CoinDesk columnist and Anderson Kill partner, wants American companies to stop issuing tokens and airdrops. Reflecting on Uniswap’s decision to distribute their new governance token widely, Byrne writes, “Cheerleaders will say that entrepreneurs are leaving money on the table by not doing a Uniswap-style airdrop to the American public. … But as a practical matter, many, if not most, of [token sales are securities]. No mental gymnastics, no think-pieces, no cryptographic magic dust, no novel naming conventions, and no “gotchas!” can work around the fact that courts work with economic reality, and economic reality on this most recent DEX token airdrop looks a lot like an investment contract.”

Podcast corner

Pal’s polemic
Raoul Pal, CEO and co-founder of Real Vision, joins the latest episode of The Breakdown for a wide-ranging conversation into the mechanics behind the Federal Reserve, stablecoin disruption and why all macro debates are boring. (Editor’s note: Not this one.)

Who won #CryptoTwitter?

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