Pudgy Penguins to Launch Webkinz-like Virtual World in 2024

Move over, Club Penguin. Pudgy Penguins, the NFT-linked toys that waddled into Walmart earlier this year, are marching into a new industry: online gaming.

They’ll be chilling in “Pudgy World” – an interactive digital playground for Pudgy Penguins NFT holders and toy owners as well as the uninitiated. The platform’s early-access version will launch sometime before next April, offering players both narrative-driven and open-ended gameplay options, Pudgy Penguins CEO Luca Netz said Saturday at contemporary art convention Art Basel in Miami.

“Pudgy Penguin fans have long been waiting for more ways to interact with their characters,” Netz said in a statement. “Having a place like Pudgy World will allow players to take their fandom to the next level.”

Launched in July 2021, the NFT project of chubby flightless Antarctic creatures endured a period of internal backbiting involving management changes, before recovering and ultimately, in September, announcing a line of tangible, in-real-life toys, including plushies and figurines, to be sold across 2,000 Walmarts in the U.S. The deal marked one of the first major breakthroughs by an NFT brand into mainstream consumer culture.

The toys are expected to rake in more than $10 million in sales during the second half of this year, Netz told TechCrunch.

Pudgy World’s debut comes as toymakers increasingly roll out tangible toys alongside virtual gameplay tie-ins for a generation of digital-native consumers. Last summer, toy maker Spin Master released Bitzee, a tamagotchi-like virtual pet that comes in a handheld box. Meanwhile, Hot Wheels earlier this year debuted its Rift Rally Game, an immersive virtual world accessible to owners of its toy-car kit.

Each Pudgy Penguins toy will come with a scannable code containing a birth certificate for a digital ‘Forever Pudgy,’ or a unique character that lives inside Pudgy World, CoinDesk previously reported.

Players can explore Pudgy World as their own customizable characters, according to Pudgy Penguins. The virtual world will also feature the brand’s first “Hero Characters:” Pudgy and Peaches, the company said.

The Pudgy Penguins NFT collection first dropped in July 2021, selling out within minutes. Since then, the collection has grown to 8,888 NFTs held by more than 4,000 people, Open Sea data shows. The collection’s floor price is roughly $27,000, up from $90 more than two years ago. The collection’s market cap stands at nearly $250 million, CoinGecko data shows.

Tether Freezes 41 Crypto Wallets Tied to Sanctions

Stabelcoin issuer Tether froze 41 wallets controlled by people on the Office of Foreign Assets Control’s (OFAC) Specially Designated Nationals (SDN) List on Saturday.

Tether described the actions as a “precautionary measures” in a blog post.

On-chain data shows that several wallets had been using coin mixing service Tornado Cash in the past six months. One of the frozen wallets is also associated with the $625 million Ronin Bridge attack, which according to the U.S. Treasury Department was executed by North Korean hacking group, Lazarus Group.

“By executing voluntary wallet address freezing of new additions to the SDN List and freezing previously added addresses, we will be able to further strengthen the positive usage of stablecoin technology and promote a safer stablecoin ecosystem for all users,” said Tether CEO Paolo Ardoino.

In October, Tether froze 32 wallets that were linked to terrorism and warfare in Ukraine and Israel. It also froze $225 million last month in relation to a human trafficking syndicate following an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ).

Edited by Stephen Alpher.

U.S., South Korea, Japan Discuss North Korean Crypto Thefts in Trilateral Meeting

National security officials with the U.S., South Korean and Japanese governments discussed North Korea’s crypto thefts and other efforts to work on its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the White House announced Friday night.

U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, Republic of Korea National Security Advisor Cho Tae-Yong and Japan National Security Advisor Takeo Akiba met in Seoul, South Korea to discuss various issues, including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, the official name for North Korea) and its ongoing weapons of mass destruction program, a White House readout said.

“The National Security Advisors reviewed progress on a wide range of trilateral initiatives, including the Commitment to Consult on regional crises, the sharing of ballistic missile defense data, and our collective efforts to respond to the DPRK’s use of cryptocurrency to generate revenue for its illicit WMD programs,” the readout said.

The three officials also discussed North Korea’s relationship with Russia, the readout said.

North Korea’s theft of billions of dollars’ worth of crypto from various projects in the industry have drawn attention from various government entities. The U.S. government alleged that Lazarus Group, a notorious hacking entity tied to the DPRK, stole over $600 million from Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge last year.

The U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC) has sanctioned multiple mixers it alleged North Korean hackers used to move stolen funds. Just last week, OFAC added two crypto addresses tied to the Sinbad mixer. Police officials from multiple nations jointly seized Sinbad’s website as well.

OFAC has also banned various wallet addresses and individuals from the dollar-based global financial system, alleging similarly supported North Korea’s efforts to launder stolen funds in support of its weapons program.

Most famously, OFAC listed privacy tool Tornado Cash as a sanctioned entity, alleging more than $100 million in stolen crypto has flown through the mixing service.

Two of the project’s developers, Roman Storm and Alexey Pertsev, are currently facing charges in the U.S. and the Netherlands respectively tied to their work on Tornado Cash. A third developer, Roman Semenov, was charged with money laundering and sanctions violations, but has not yet been arrested.

Storm is set to go on trial next year.

Crypto Provisions Dropped From 2023 U.S. Defense Bill

Two crypto provisions addressing anti-money-laundering concerns were dropped from a joint version of the National Defense Authorization Act, a military-funding bill viewed as must-pass legislation, ending a backdoor effort to get digital-asset rules passed this year in the U.S.

According to a joint bill published Thursday by lawmakers from the U.S. House and Senate, provisions that would create an anti-money-laundering examination standard for crypto assets and require a report analyzing the use of privacy coins or other “anonymity-enhancing technologies” in crypto were dropped. The House of Representatives version of the NDAA did not contain the provisions that the Senate version did.

The NDAA details the military budget for the upcoming year, though as one of the U.S.’s few must-pass bills, it’s often amended with various other provisions.

Senate amendments included one for the Secretary of the Treasury “to establish a risk-focused examination and review process for financial institutions” to look at whether reporting obligations for crypto assets under money-laundering rules were adequate and whether firms were compliant.

The other would direct the Treasury Department to produce and publish a report on the use of mixers and tumblers, the magnitude of transactions using privacy tools, the extent to which sanctioned entities might be using those tools and more.

It would also direct the Treasury to come up with “recommendations for legislation or regulation relating to the technologies and services described.”

Later on Thursday, Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) introduced a bill intended to expand U.S. sanctions rules to any parties that “facilitate financial transactions with terrorists,” naming Hamas as one key example.

The bill focuses much of its attention on “foreign digital asset companies” that might process or otherwise support transactions to terror groups.

Edited by Nick Baker.

Jito’s Token Launch Pushed Competitor Marinade’s MNDE to All-Time Highs

Jito’s successful JTO token launch is lifting many ships in the Solana (SOL) ecosystem, including that of a direct competitor: Marinade.

Marinade, which like Jito issues a liquid staking token (LST) for SOL investors, saw its governance token reach all-time highs this week. The brisk rally – MNDE doubled to $0.50 in a matter of hours – came as Jito’s own JTO token launched and rallied, too.

Marinade now has a fully diluted valuation of $500 million compared to Jito’s valuation of $3.5 billion. This is in spite of Jito being a smaller business: Its total value locked (a measurement of the size of a crypto project) is $460 million, whereas Marinade has a TVL of $737 million.

The seeming contradiction caused consternation in Marinade’s community Discord server, where some investors speculated on why MNDE fell behind JTO. Both assets are governance tokens whose holders have sway over decisions like the fee rates and treasury of their respective LST protocols.

“Jito has the added benefit of its block building engine and MEV infrastructure,” said Barrett Williams, founder of Solana-based futures trading venue Cypher, explaining why investors put a premium on the smaller protocol.

Still, the Thursday airdrop of JTO indirectly spread wealth to MNDE holders, too, by prompting the entire market to reevaluate how it was pricing the Marinade protocol, said Ally Zach, a research analyst for Messari.

“Investors were probably speculating that they will be valued similarly over time,” she said in a Telegram message.

The psychology of free money airdrop also might have been a factor. Jito distributed at least 4,900 JTO tokens to around 10,000 wallets apiece, “which left a lot of people on the sidelines,” she said. The token’s post-launch surge put a spotlight on this corner of Solana, and then “a lot of these sideliners probably came in and started buying.”

Marinade and Jito have both drawn comparisons to Lido (LDO), the best-known and, by far, the largest LST protocol in crypto. Lido has commanded most LST activity on Ethereum (ETH) but struggled to replicate that success on Solana. In mid-October, right at the start of the recent Solana rally, it quit the ecosystem. This left a wider opening for Marinade and Jito, both of which started on and stuck with Solana.

The repricing and market mechanics may also have to do with liquidity – or lack of it, said InfraRAY, head of partnerships for Solana-based DEX Raydium. There’s only so many JTO tokens in circulation after Thursday’s airdrop. Even though 95% of the current distribution has been claimed – and is therefore circulating – it’s still only a fraction of the JTO’s total supply. Fewer tokens floating around means fewer available to buy or sell.

“Sometimes markets aren’t as efficient as they are made out to be,” he said in a Telegram message.

Edited by Nick Baker.

Cardano Jumps 20% as Analyst Eyes Bitcoin Pullback to $40K to ‘Fill CME Gap’

  • Layer 1 tokens ADA, ALGO, DOT, SOL among best performers as capital rotation from stalling BTC lifts altcoins.
  • Bitcoin may revisit $40,000 to “fill CME price gap,” crypto analyst Willy Woo speculated.

Native tokens tied to layer 1 (L1) blockchains gained the most Friday, with Cardano (ADA) being the best performer, as steady bitcoin (BTC) price fueled capital rotation to altcoins.

Bitcoin bounced between $43,000 and $44,000 during the day, quickly shaking off a minor dip following a stronger U.S. employment report than analysts expected that dampened interest rate cut expectations for next year.

The top crypto was recently trading at around $43,800, consolidating as investors digested its swift rally to near $45,000 this week after its breakout from $38,000 a week ago.

Altcoins, meanwhile, jumped across the board, resembling early November’saltcoin rotation” when slowing bitcoin momentum drove traders to realize some gains and invest in smaller, riskier cryptocurrencies. These capital rotations are typical in the crypto markets after large bitcoin run-ups, followed by a rally in bigger crypto assets then among meme coins and micro caps as traders chase tokens that haven’t moved yet to profit.

ADA surged 25% to 57 cents at one point during the day, its highest price since August 2022. It gave up some of the early gains later in the day, but was still up almost 20% today. Other notable top performers were native tokens of Polkadot (DOT), Algorand (ALGO) and Solana (SOL), which posted 7%-11% gains.

The CoinDesk Market Index (CMI), a basket of almost 200 cryptocurrencies, was up 1.5% through the day, more than BTC, underscoring altcoin outperformance.

What’s next for BTC

As bitcoin’s momentum stalled, some analysts speculated about a potential pullback to retest lower price levels.

Bitcoin-focused analyst Willy Woo eyed a price level between $39,000-$41,000 based on a price gap in the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) bitcoin futures market, which BTC might “fill” sometime in the future.

These price gaps occur because the CME futures market, unlike native crypto exchanges like Binance or Deribit, don’t trade around the clock, and there could be a difference between closing and opening prices depending on bitcoin’s price action when the market is closed. Some analysts reckon that asset prices tend to revisit these levels during a correction, filling the gap.

BTC rallied last weekend surpassing $40,000, when the CME futures market was closed, creating the price gap on the chart.

“By my count 28 out of 30 gaps have been filled on CME daily candles (93%),” Woo posted on X, formerly Twitter.

However, these gaps do not always get filled. For example, BTC hasn’t revisited the CME gap at around $20,000 yet, formed in March during the weekend collapse of Silicon Valley Bank (SVB).

Institutional inflows to bitcoin are “underappreciated”

Despite a potential short-term pullback, bitcoin’s outlook is bullish, with growing interest among institutional investors, Hany Rashwan, co-founder and CEO of digital asset management firm 21.co, said in a Friday interview with CoinDesk TV.

Rashwan opined that market observers are “underappreciating” future inflows into BTC if – or once – a spot-based exchange-traded fund gets approved in the U.S, which will likely happen according to analysts.

“There are a lot of prospective buyers, who for various reasons wanted to invest in crypto but has been prohibited to do so” because of regulations, he said. Rashwan noted that 75% of inflows into digital asset funds during the year happened in the past 60-90 days. “That’s not normal,” he said, adding that it’s “a sign of change in sentiment across primarily institutional players.”

Rashwan prognosed all-time high prices for bitcoin, but not in the short term.

“I think we will beat the bitcoin all-time highs sometime in the next 12-18 months,” he said. “We are not fully out of the woods yet.”

Edited by Nikhilesh De.

Digital Asset Brokerage Firm Nonco Raises $10M Seed Funding Led by Valor Capital, Hack VC

Digital asset brokerage firm Nonco, a subsidiary of one of Latin America’s largest over-the-counter (OTC) providers, has secured $10 million in seed capital to help serve a growing number of institutional clients in the United States.

The investment included a combination of equity and convertible notes. The round was led by former U.S. Comptroller of Currency and CEO of Binance.US, Brian Brooke’s Valor Capital Group and Hack VC, the investment firm led by founder of Dragonfly Capital’s Alex Pack.

Other participants include Morgan Creek Digital, CMCC, Lvna Capital, Theta Capital,  Bullish, Bastion Trading and Libra Capital Ventures. CoinDesk is owned by Bullish.

Nonco, which got its name from the word “nonconformist,” has already seen $6 billion in volume in the Latin American region since its debut in April. According to a press release, it is now seeing growing demand in the U.S.

The company was spun off from OSL Digital Limited, the Americas division of Hong Kong-based digital asset platform OSL, an over-the-counter brokerage in Asia, and consists of the same team. OSL retains a minority stake in the new venture, the statement said.

“Our aim is to become the leading brokerage firm for digital assets, and we intend to achieve this by establishing a new standard that prioritizes technology and service while ensuring institutional risk management and compliance,” Nonco’s CEO Fernando Martinez said in a statement.

The company says it offers a non-custodial approach that leverages multiple counterparty risk-mitigating settlement mechanisms.

Both Brooks and Peck will join the company as board members.

Edited by Aoyon Ashraf.

Chainlink Staking Program Quickly Pulls in $600M, Hitting Limit; LINK Jumps 12%

Chainlink, the biggest blockchain data-oracle project, saw a powerful uptake for its expanded crypto-staking program, pulling in over $632 million worth of its LINK tokens and filling up to the limit just six hours after the start of an early-access period, the company said in a press release.

The “V0.2” community staking mechanism opened for early access from 12 p.m. ET, and within 30 minutes, some 32.8 million LINK had been staked; six hours later, the community pool had hit the new, higher capacity of 40.875 million LINK.

The price of LINK was up by 12% over the past 24 hours to $16.72, according to CoinDesk data.

Overall, the expanded staking pool capacity is 45 million LINK, up from 25 million under v0.1, a figure that includes the community pool allocation as well as a separate node operator pool.

According to a Chainlink spokesman, there are currently 1.8 million LINK in the node operator pool, out of a capacity of 4.125 million.

Some 21.9 million LINK migrated over from the earlier version of the staking program.

Staking is part of what the company calls Economics 2.0 that is meant to help secure the Chainlink system.

Chainlink staking enables node operators – which help engineers fetch external data – and community members to support the performance of oracle services with staked LINK. People can also earn rewards.

“Staking v0.2 introduces important new security features and sets the system up for even further growth in the year to come,” Chainlink co-founder Sergey Nazarov said in a press release.

Edited by Bradley Keoun.

Protocol Village: Flare Onboards Ankr, Figment as Both Validators, Data Providers

Dec. 8: Flare, a layer-1 blockchain compatible with Ethereum’s EVM standard, has onboarded Ankr, Figment, Restake, Luganodes and NorthStake as both validators and data providers for the network’s native oracles and for the first time in crypto, according to a web post. “With this move, Flare becomes the first smart-contract platform for whom these institutional validators also provide decentralized data feeds for builders on the network and provide a far wider variety of decentralized data,” based on a message from the team. The press release added: “Flare currently has a total of 91 network validators across the globe, all of whom also act as data providers for the Flare Time Series Oracle (FTSO).”

Protocol Village is a regular feature of The Protocol, our weekly newsletter exploring the tech behind crypto, one block at a time. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Wednesday. Project teams can submit updates here. For previous versions of Protocol Village, please go here. Also please check out our weekly The Protocol podcast.

Tether Provides Tech Support to El Salvador’s ‘Freedom Visa’ Program

Dec. 8: Tether, issuer of USDT, the world’s biggest stablecoin at $90 billion, is participating in El Salvador’s new “Freedom Visa” program as a tech provider. CEO Paolo Ardoino said in a press release: “It represents a unique opportunity for us to utilize our technological capabilities to foster growth and innovation in the region. Being chosen as the tech provider underscores the importance of robust infrastructure in driving meaningful change. This partnership reinforces our dedication to advancing technology, empowering nations, and enabling individuals to invest in a future where innovation and progress go hand in hand.”

SKALE Wins Vote to Approve Chain Pricing

Dec. 8: SKALE is the first blockchain to embrace an appchain infrastructure with zero gas fees for the end user, based on a vote by the community. According to the team: “The SKALE Chain Pricing proposal brings sustainability to the blockchain, where chain owners’ subscription payments offer validators an additional revenue stream and eliminate user gas fees. This vote will propel the network into the next phase, making it one of the only blockchains to run in an economically viable manner where without inflation. The network runs at a profit for decentralized workers and stakers.”

Engineering Association IEEE to Issue Credentials on Avalanche C-Chain

Dec. 8: The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, with over 426,000 members in more than 160 countries, plans to issue credentials and certificates on the Avalanche C-Chain, according to a tweet. The effort will “make the verification process tamper-proof, instant and secure,” the post read. The team wrote in a message: “As a leader in setting technical standards, IEEE’s embrace of the blockchain for credentialing marks a significant milestone in the adoption of Web3.” (AVAX)

Blockaid Releases ‘Transaction Safety’ Feature for Rainbow Wallet

Dec. 8: Blockaid, a provider of Web3 security tools, announced a new “Transaction Safety” feature on Rainbow wallet, according to the team: “This security upgrade will provide millions of Rainbow wallet users with real-time protection against malicious sites and apps, and full transparency into the path of each Web3 transaction before signing any confirmations.”

Lantern Launches Staking Platform in 15 U.S. states

Dec. 7: Lantern Finance, a Web3 startup, has launched its user-friendly staking platform in 15 U.S. states, including major markets like California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Virginia, and Massachusetts, according to the team: “Inspired by the cofounders’ experiences with the 2022 crypto bankruptcies, Lantern aims to redefine the crypto landscape with an emphasis on clarity, security, and regulatory adherence. The platform’s goal is to democratize access to crypto banking services, making complex tasks like staking and taking on loans accessible and intuitive for everyday users, while upholding the highest standards of safety and compliance.”

Blocknative Releases New Ethereum Mempool Explorer, to Help With MEV Protection

Dec. 7: Blocknative, a blockchain infrastructure company that cut staff in October after suspending work on a major business project, is releasing a new tool to examine the “mempool” of pending transactions awaiting processing on Ethereum, an effort that could ultimately help to reduce instances of block-level manipulation and protect users from front-running bots. The real-time explorer tool is called ethernow.xyz, which gives insights into Ethereum mempool data and the block building process, and Blocknative CEO Matt Cutler described it as the Etherscan for pre-chain data.

Slide from a Dec. 6 presentation by Blocknative CEO Matt Cutler at a Columbia University blockchain conference in New York. (Blocknative)

Orchid, Decentralized Bandwidth Marketplace, Could Expand to Data Storage With ‘Storchid’

Dec. 7: The community supporting Orchid, the decentralized bandwidth marketplace and VPN app, has a new open-source initiative, “Storchid,” which expands the Orchid to include data storage and address the trust and security holes in the current centralized data storage standards, according to the team: “The initiative builds on existing core technologies such as erasure coding, bonded commitments and stake-weighted random selection for incentive alignment. A core component is the Orchid Directory Mechanism where clients and providers alike are incentivized to maintain marketplace security.”

Jack Dorsey’s Block Bitkey Bitcoin Wallet Comes to Market in More Than 95 Countries

Dec. 7: Jack Dorsey’s fintech company Block (SQ) has unveiled its self-custody bitcoin wallet Bitkey for pre-order in more than 95 countries. Bitkey consists of a mobile app, hardware device and a set of recovery tools, Block announced on Thursday.

Bitkey includes a mobile app, hardware device, and a set of recovery tools, according to the company. (Block/Business Wire)Bitkey includes a mobile app, hardware device, and a set of recovery tools, according to the company. (Block/Business Wire)

Uphold Launches Vault for ‘Assisted Self-Custody,’ Starting With XRP

Dec. 7: Uphold, a Web3 financial platform, on Thursday launched the beta version of its new assisted self-custody wallet, Vault, which uniquely addresses the UX issues that plague users of typical crypto wallets and self-custody solutions, according to a press release. “The first digital asset that will be supported on Vault is the XRP token, the native token of the XRP Ledger, a decentralized layer 1 blockchain. Vault will expand to offer additional chains starting with BTC in Q1,” according to the release.

Neon EVM Integrates With Web3 Marketing Protocol Tide

Dec. 7: Neon EVM, a smart-contract program on the Solana blockchain that accepts Ethereum-like transactions, integrates with Tide, a Web3 marketing and data analytics protocol, according to the team: “Tide’s approach incentivizes repeated community and product engagement, tracking on-chain transactions and fostering vibrant decentralized communities. With Neon’s cutting-edge dApp ecosystem and Tide’s features like building brand awareness, learn-to-earn incentives, Web3 quests and referral programs, users can participate in the first Neon EVM campaigns on Tide to earn badges and tokens on the newly launched chain.”

Aori Launches, Aims to Bridge ‘CEX/DEX Gap’

Dec. 7: Aori, an off-chain orderbook protocol with permissionless settlement, launches today to create more capital efficient peer-to-peer markets on Ethereum, according to the team: “Aori uses MEV ‘searchers’ as market makers for quicker settlements, bridging the CEX/DEX gap. It focuses on gasless order creation, fair pricing and speedy settlements. Aori is intended to feel like a CEX experience but is entirely self-custodied. All transactions clear through Seaport, also utilized by OpenSea. Aori seeks to move existing on-chain infrastructure off-chain, to minimize smart contract risk wherever possible.”

Safe, Sygnum Bank, CoinCover Launch ‘RecoveryHub’

Dec. 7: Safe is joining forces with Sygnum Bank and CoinCover to launch Safe{RecoveryHub}, offering a suite of crypto recovery options ranging from fully self-custodial to fully custodial, catering to individual and institutional needs, according to the team: “With Safe{RecoveryHub}, users can recover access to their accounts through designated recoverers, which can be personal backup devices, family members and collaborators, also known as social recovery. In addition, trusted third-party services like Sygnum and CoinCover can be designated as recoverers to facilitate the recovery of assets in the case of lost keys.”

Namada Makes Initial NAM Token Allocations Under Retroactive Public Goods Funding

Dec. 7: Namada, a protocol that introduced to the world the concept of privacy as a public good, and scheduled to launch early next year, has initiated the Retroactive Public Goods Funding (RPGF) program, allocating 6.5% of its total NAM token supply to acknowledge and reward the invaluable contributions of individuals in the privacy, zero-knowledge (ZK) technology, and related ecosystems, according to the team. This distribution extends to:

– Developers of Zcash infrastructure.

Rust dependencies vital for Namada.

-Contributors to various cryptographic protocols.

– Decentralized privacy solutions.

HyperOracle Integtes zkOracle Protocol With Polygon CDK

Dec. 7: HyperOracle integrates its zkOracle protocol with Polygon CDK, enhancing DeFi and on-chain AI capabilities, according to the team: “This collaboration enables the creation of advanced dApps, including decentralized stablecoins and AI-powered applications. Polygon CDK’s launch of ZK-powered layer-2 chains on Ethereum is augmented by HyperOracle’s zkOracle, offering verifiable compute and historical on-chain data access. The collaboration aims to drive innovation in DeFi, with HyperOracle co-developing a new zk-WASM based proving backend for Polygon CDK.”

Bitcoin Project Babylon Raises $18M to Bolster Development of Staking Protocol

Dec. 7: Bitcoin-focused project Babylon raised $18 million in an investment round led by Polychain Capital and Hack VC. Babylon is a marketplace offering bitcoin (BTC) as a staking asset, allowing proof-of-stake chains to acquire funding from the swells of capital stored in the largest cryptocurrency. Babylon will use the funds to advance the development of the staking protocol, according to an emailed statement shared with CoinDesk on Thursday. Framework Ventures, Polygon Ventures, Castle Island Ventures, OKX Ventures, Finality Capital, Breyer Capital and Symbolic Capital also participated in the fundraise.

Beam to Launch on Immutable zkEVM, Gaming-Focused L2 With Polygon Tech

Dec. 6: Beam, an open-source blockchain specialized for gaming and run by Merit Circle DAO, will now launch on Immutable zkEVM, a groundbreaking scaling solution powered by Polygon, according to the team: “Beam is an ecosystem and a blockchain. We want to remain chain-agnostic. Where we started as a subnet on Avalanche, we don’t want to limit ourselves to the Avalanche ecosystem. Right now, we’re working with Immutable to launch some of our products on the zkEVM, and integrate that network into our products as well.”

Edited by Bradley Keoun.

Bitcoin Dips as U.S. November Job Growth of 199K Tops Estimates

The U.S. economy saw stronger-than-expected job growth of 199,000 in November. The unemployment rate also beat expectations, dipping to 3.7%.

Economist forecasts had been for jobs added of 180,000, up from 150,000 in October. The unemployment rate had been forecast to remain flat at 3.9%.

The price of bitcoin (BTC) fell about 0.5% in the minutes following Friday morning’s release to $43,500. In traditional markets, interest rates are shooting higher, with the 10-year U.S. Treasury yield up 8 basis points to 4.24%. U.S. stock index futures have turned lower, the Nasdaq 100 off 0.7%.

Bitcoin is in the midst of a sharp 60% rally since the beginning of October, at least in part thanks to lower interest rates on investor expectations that the Fed might soon shift to easier monetary policy. To the extent that this jobs report derails the lower rate forecast, the rally could pause or be modestly reversed.

Checking other report details, average hourly earnings were up 0.4% in November versus 0.2% the previous month and expectations for 0.3%. On a year-over-year basis, average hourly earnings were higher by 4% in line with October and forecasts.

First Mover Americas: Binance Withdraws an Abu Dhabi License Application

This article originally appeared in First Mover, CoinDesk’s daily newsletter putting the latest moves in crypto markets in context. Subscribe to get it in your inbox every day.

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Cryptocurrency exchange Binance withdrew its bid for an investment-management license in Abu Dhabi, deeming it unnecessary to the company’s “global needs.” The exchange still has an application to offer custody of digital assets to professional clients. “When assessing our global licensing needs, we decided this application was not necessary,” a Binance spokesperson said in an emailed statement. Binance is licensed in Dubai, and that is the company’s Middle East and North Africa headquarters, CEO Richard Teng said in an interview for a Financial Times conference on Tuesday. The decision is unrelated to the exchange’s legal settlement in the U.S., where it agreed to pay a $4.3 billion fine for violating anti-money laundering and money transmitter rules.

El Salvador is targeting bitcoin (BTC) and crypto millionaires in its latest push to attract long-term residents to the country. The nation kickstarted its “Freedom VISA” program on Thursday, doling out residency to a maximum of 1,000 people per year who invest at least $1 million worth of bitcoin or tether (USDT) stablecoins. Eligible participants receive a long-term residency permit and have a path to full citizenship. An application costs a non-refundable $999 in BTC or USDT, and the process is live as of Friday.

Popular U.S.-based brokerage platform Robinhood (HOOD) on Thursday started letting customers in the European Union (EU) trade crypto, hailing the region’s comprehensive digital asset rules. To spur customers to use the service, Robinhood will credit a percentage of their trading volume back every month, paid in bitcoin (BTC), according to a Thursday blog post. And users can earn more BTC for referring new customers. This expansion debuts as cryptocurrencies have been rallying after a brutal bear market, recovering to a $1.5 trillion total market capitalization, the highest level since May 2022. Rising trading volumes also mean more revenue for trading platforms.

Chart of the Day

  • The chart shows LINK’s funding rate or cost of holding tether or USD-margined long (buy)/short (sell) positions in the perpetual futures market.
  • The funding rate has surged to its highest since at least June, indicating a bias for long positions. The token has more than doubled to $16.3 since mid-October.
  • Deeply negative or positive funding rates often act as a precursor to trend reversals.
  • Source CoinGlass

– Omkar Godbole

Trending Posts

Edited by Sheldon Reback.

Starknet Foundation to Allocate 1.8B STRK Tokens ‘Soon’

The Starknet Foundation, the governing body to promote Ethereum scaling product StarkWare technology, plans to start allocating over 1.8 billion STRK tokens “soon,” the foundation said in a tweet on Friday.

StarkWare addresses the main Ethereum blockchain’s slow throughput and transaction fees using ZK rollup technologies that bundle hundreds of transactions off the main blockchain to reduce the computational stress.

In October, the Starknet Foundation earmarked 50 million STRK tokens for a new Early Community Member Program, or ECMP for short.

Some 900 million STRK have been allocated to the foundation’s Provisions Committee to reward past and future contributions by users and community members, Starknet said. A further 900 million tokens have been dedicated to user rebates, it said.

Regarding the user rebates, Starknet said: “Planning for this initiative is currently underway and a new committee is being formed to oversee the distribution of STRK to reward users for their vital transactions on the network.”

UPDATE (Dec. 8, 12:34 UTC): Adds link to tweet

Edited by Sheldon Reback.

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