Ethereum Foundation Completes ‘Merge’ for Energy Efficiency

Ethereum completed its highly anticipated software upgrade known as The Merge last week, shifting to a more eco-friendly and sustainable framework. The upgrade is designed to reduce Ethereum’s energy consumption while making the platform cheaper and easier to use and laying the groundwork for future improvements. Ethereum developers prepared with diligence and attention to detail, but the industry was still on pins and needles as engineers scanned for snags and, though unlikely, braced for the possibility of systemwide collapse. Huge in scale, it was a high-wire act transitioning a live network. Continue reading Ethereum Foundation Completes ‘Merge’ for Energy Efficiency

LG Electronics Offers NFT Art Marketplace via Its Smart TVs

LG Electronics has launched a non-fungible token platform, LG Art Lab, available in the U.S. on the company’s smart TVs running webOS 5.0 or later. Accessible from the home screen, the LG Art Lab lets users buy, sell and enjoy digital artwork transacting as NFTs. Based on the enterprise-grade public Hedera network, the LG Art Lab uses onscreen QR codes and works via Wallypto, LG’s new cryptocurrency wallet for smartphones. The platform includes a discovery feature, LG Art Lab Drops, which profiles artists, previews upcoming works and includes a real-time Live Drops countdown clock to keep purchases on track. Continue reading LG Electronics Offers NFT Art Marketplace via Its Smart TVs

Ethereum’s Proof-of-Stake Method Will Reduce Energy Use

Mining on the blockchain is a notorious energy hog and bad for the environment. Ethereum is on the verge of a big change aimed at substantially reducing its carbon footprint. After seven years of using the traditional proof-of-work mining technique, Ethereum is switching to the more efficient proof-of-stake method that is expected to reduce energy consumption by 99.5 percent. That change, known as The Merge, is scheduled to take place September 14. The Merge will see Ethereum’s proof-of-work blockchain fused with the proof-of-stake Beacon Chain, which launched in December 2020 but has yet to process its first transaction. Continue reading Ethereum’s Proof-of-Stake Method Will Reduce Energy Use

Disney Accelerator Startups Focus on Web3, Immersive Tech

The Walt Disney Company has announced the six companies to participate in its latest business accelerator program. The 2022 Disney Accelerator focuses on tech startups involved in Web3 and immersive experiences through work in augmented reality, NFTs and artificial intelligence. The six participants are: Flickplay, Inworld, Lockerverse, Obsess, Polygon and Red 6. Disney will offer participants investment capital, co-working space, guidance from Disney’s senior leadership team and an executive mentor. The Accelerator program will conclude with a Demo Day this fall at the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank, California. Continue reading Disney Accelerator Startups Focus on Web3, Immersive Tech

EU Advances Crypto Regulation in Face of Small Investor Pain

The decentralization that promised to make cryptocurrencies accessible, transparent, and an everyman’s investment dream has turned into a nightmare for many. While professional investors have largely done well shorting blockchain stock, other individuals haven’t been as successful. Fortune wrote of “crypto carnage” in a market that has so far lost $1 trillion in this year’s market selloffs. Bitcoin has lost about 50 percent of its market value this year, while Ethereum has fallen by 56 percent since January. Last week, the European Union advanced a framework for crypto-assets that includes consumer protection and safeguards against cybercrime. Continue reading EU Advances Crypto Regulation in Face of Small Investor Pain

HTC Desire 22 Pro Phone Integrates Cypto, NFTs, Metaverse

HTC is launching its Desire 22 Pro smartphone, which emphasizes VR and AR integration centering around HTC’s own Vive ecosystem and the open-source metaverse platform it calls the Viverse. The Desire 22 Pro’s preloaded Viverse app lets users access and manage NFTs and cryptocurrencies and other metaverse content. In February HTC announced the Viverse, where people can attend meetings or concerts, build avatars and play games. Optimized for HTC’s 5G products and Vive VR devices, users can join the Viverse from any phone, tablet, PC or VR headset. Continue reading HTC Desire 22 Pro Phone Integrates Cypto, NFTs, Metaverse

Senate Cryptocurrency Bill Could Be a Victory for Blockchain

A debate as to whether cryptocurrencies are more like commodities than securities is playing out in Washington, with Senators Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyoming) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) introducing legislation to regulate them like commodities. If passed, the bill would put digital currency under the regulatory purview of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) rather than the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), a win for the crypto sector, which prefers the smaller agency. SEC chair Gary Gensler takes the position that digital assets are akin to publicly traded stock and should be regulated by the SEC.
Continue reading Senate Cryptocurrency Bill Could Be a Victory for Blockchain

Cryptocurrency Market Faces Challenges While Stocks Spiral

Although the cryptocurrency known as stablecoin has garnered mainstream attention recently, with the Biden administration’s call for federal guidelines, critics warn that a subset known as “algorithmic stablecoin” is a crisis in the making. Meanwhile, specific crypto brands like Bitcoin and Ethereum have seen prices drop — Bitcoin below the $40,000 per unit mark, while Ethereum shares dipped below $3,000. In fact, the entire cryptocurrency market is reported to have lost about $400 billion in April as part of what’s being described as “selloff mode.” Continue reading Cryptocurrency Market Faces Challenges While Stocks Spiral

Crypto Bridges Creating Vulnerabilities Popular with Hackers

Cryptocurrency bridges, which enable transactions across a wide range of token types, are an increasingly important factor in the world of blockchain. A hack involving approximately $540 million in Ethereum and USDC stablecoin from the Ronin bridge in March was another drop in the $1 billion-plus bucket stolen from bridges. Successful attacks have become more common in recent years and the Ronin heist, among the largest, underscores a bigger problem. Different cryptocurrencies are typically siloed, so a Dogecoin transaction can’t be implemented on the Bitcoin blockchain, but it can by using a bridge. Continue reading Crypto Bridges Creating Vulnerabilities Popular with Hackers

CES: Highlights from the 2022 CES Unveiled Pre-Show Event

ETC’s George Gerba visited the CES Unveiled show floor in Las Vegas Monday evening looking for companies and products that would be of interest to our members, illustrate emerging trends, or are simply unusual. Gerba discovered a range of compelling technologies across areas such as blockchain, non-fungible tokens, Li-Fi, wearables, large-scale video screens, the metaverse, remote work, cell signal boosters, health, batteries and more. Among the more interesting companies at CES Unveiled this year were Icecap, Oledcomm, Somalytics, VideowindoW, Toraru, SureCall, Biospectal, Prinker, Airxom and Nanotech Energy.  Continue reading CES: Highlights from the 2022 CES Unveiled Pre-Show Event

Big Tech Concerned About Crypto Startups Poaching Talent

There are reports of a migratory wave of executives and engineers moving from Big Tech firms such as Google, Amazon, Apple and others to chase what is being described as “a once-in-a-generation opportunity” with startups whose business models rely on blockchain and involve everything from cryptocurrencies to non-fungible tokens. Google is said to be so worried about employee retention they’ve increased stock grants in categories vulnerable to poaching following the exit of Surojit Chatterjee to join Coinbase where he saw his stake in the company grow to more than $600 million in 14 months. Continue reading Big Tech Concerned About Crypto Startups Poaching Talent

Lawmakers Grapple with Crypto Regulation at Finance Hearing

Congress continues to grapple with ways to provide government oversight for the cryptocurrency industry, which has exploded from $500 billion in 2020 to nearly $3 trillion today, according to CoinMarketCap. House Financial Services Committee chairwoman Maxine Waters (D-California) called out crypto’s lack of accountability, saying its markets have no “centralized regulatory framework, leaving investments in the digital-asset space vulnerable to fraud, manipulation and abuse.” Those testifying on behalf of virtual currency argued it speeds financial transactions, can save money, and makes a new asset class accessible to people around the world. Continue reading Lawmakers Grapple with Crypto Regulation at Finance Hearing

Ubisoft Quartz Jump-Starts In-Game NFTs with ‘Ghost Recon’

Ubisoft becomes the first major game company to dive into NFTs with Ubisoft Quartz, a platform that lets players acquire non-fungible tokens on the Tezos blockchain. Quartz goes live this week in beta with “Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Breakpoint” for PC. Players will be able to purchase or earn in-game “Digits” — Quartz’s term for NFTs — which will be collectible in-game vehicles, weapons, and pieces of equipment. Ubisoft is touting Tezos as the technology behind “the first energy-efficient NFTs playable in a AAA game,” comparing it to processor-hogs like Bitcoin and Ethereum. Continue reading Ubisoft Quartz Jump-Starts In-Game NFTs with ‘Ghost Recon’

PayPal Launches Super App for Consumer Financial Services

PayPal has begun rolling out its new app, designed as a one-stop financial services tool capable of handling everything from direct deposit and automatic payments to peer-to-peer transactions, shopping and crypto capabilities. In addition, the company has announced PayPal Savings, offering high-yield accounts in partnership with Synchrony Bank. Shifting paychecks to PayPal is seen as a big step that can centralize consumer financial chores through the service, making it competitive with neobanks like Chime and Varo. PayPal now links to 17,000 billers including utilities and credit card firms. Continue reading PayPal Launches Super App for Consumer Financial Services

Coinbase Becomes First Cryptocurrency Startup to Go Public

Startup Coinbase, a secure exchange platform that helps people purchase, sell and store cryptocurrencies, has become the first such startup to go public. Shares traded at $381 each, up 52 percent from a reference price of $250, and eventually closed at $328.28, for a company valuation of $85.7 billion, ten times higher than its last private valuation. The San Francisco-based company’s IPO is a landmark for long-time crypto advocates. In its wake, Bitcoin’s value soared to $64,829 and Ether traded at a record-high of $2,487 (which also followed news about upgrades to the Ethereum network). Continue reading Coinbase Becomes First Cryptocurrency Startup to Go Public