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Top Headlines for 13 April, 2022

Pantera Fund Raises $1.3B

Crypto hedge fund giant Pantera Capital has closed its ‘Blockchain Fund’ after raising $1.3 billion for early-stage investments in emerging Web 3.0 and digital token startups.

The investment company launched the fund in May 2021 and had initially planned to raise $600 million. It surpassed that target significantly; in March 2022 the firm disclosed that it had added more than $1 billion.

During an investor call on 12 April 2022 the company revealed that it had raised $1.3 billion. The capital from the ‘Blockchain Fund’ will be used to make seed investments in early-stage projects.

Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead said that the company plans to come back with a more extensive, diversified, and probably more extended investment period growth-stage fund in 2024.

Despite a market-wide downturn, institutional investors have continued funneling capital into Web 3.0 startups.Crypto companies have raised hundreds of millions of dollars between April 2021 and April 2022: Binance brought in $200 million, Near protocol acquired $350 million; and the Metaverse startup Genies collected $150 million and became a Unicorn. Last month, Katryn Vaun, a former general partner at a16z announced $1.5 billion for her new solo fund, Kathryn Ventures. A16z itself also has a crypto fund with nearly $2.2 billion.

BTC Mining Competition Spikes

Blockchain analytics firm Glassnode reported that mining competition for Bitcoin has become intense despite reduced.on-chain activity. The company observed that investors appeared to take profits as the cryptocurrency briefly rallied to hit the $45000 resistance level in early April 2022. In the week that followed the price slumped back to a consolidation range of around $40000.

Glassnode reported, “We have yet to see a convincing influx of new users or demand.” In this same period transaction fees on the network have also sunk to all-time lows, a situation that should discourage mining activity as there is less profit to be made at such levels. However, Glassnode observed that despite these challenges the competition for mining BTC is steadily increasing.

It now requires an estimated 122.78 Zettahashes to solve a single block of BTC. Glassnode says, “This would be equivalent to all 7.938 billion people on earth guessing a SHA256 hash 15.5 trillion times, every 10 mins to solve a BTC block.”

Coinbase Accused of Insider Trading

On 11 April 2022 a Twitter user named Cobie flagged an Ethereum wallet that purchased over $400,000 worth of altcoins soon before Coinbase announced its intention to list those digital assets on its exchange

The suspicious wallet purchased Indexed (NDX), Kromatika (KROM), DFX Token (DFX), DappRadar (RADAR), RAC (RAC), and Paper (PAPER) just minutes before the exchange went public with the listing of those tokens. Coinbase itself did not immediately release a public response to the insider trading allegations.

The trades suggested that the investor had prior knowledge of Coinbase’s listing announcement. Cryptocurrencies have often witnessed increases of up to 60% soon after a listing on Coinbase. The assets purchased by this insider trading suspect were worth $572000 just a day later, representing a 42% return within 24 hours.

This incident is not the first time Coinbase has been under fire due to insider trading allegations. In February 2022 a similar event took place. In which a wallet holder purchased seven figures worth of Pawtocol and Aventus tokens in advance of their listing on the crypto exchange.

Genies Raises $150M At $1B Valuation

Metaverse startup Genies has raised $150 million in a Series C funding round led by venture capital firm Silver Lake, giving it a mammoth valuation of $1 billion and making it the latest unicorn in the space.

Genies enables users to custom-build virtual avatars, a digital representation of themselves on emerging metaverse platforms. Genies’ CEO Akash Nigam said that the company would use the newly raised capital to build an avatar-based metaverse platform for GenZ users. Egon Durban, Silver Lake’s CEO, said, “They make it possible for people to build avatar eco-systems that we think will drive the next evolution of human expression, creativity, and communication.”

The tech startup released its NFT marketplace called the Warehouse in December 2021, built on the Flow Blockchain, a proof-of-stake (PoS) network specifically designed for blockchain gaming projects and non-fungible tokens.

Genies has since entered into exclusive partnerships with several high-profile media brands such as Warner Music and Universal Group to create customized virtual avatars and wearable NFT items for their artists. Unlike other leading metaverse avatar platforms like Roblox, Genies promises full commercialization rights of their characters to the users, meaning creators on the platform are free to monetize their creations with no strings attached.

35% of Nigerians Adopt Crypto

According to KuCoin exchange, as of April 2022 35% of the Nigerian population has adopted cryptocurrencies due to the country’s lack of reliable financial services.

Crypto is becoming popular as a decentralized alternative to traditional financial assets. Roughly 33.4 million Nigerians, generally between the ages of 18 and 60, are either currently cryptocurrency holders or have done some kind of crypto trading in the 6-month period between November 2021 and April 2022.

Another research report states that 52% of crypto investors in the country have invested at least half of their portfolio in some form of cryptocurrency. As much as 70% of this group plan to increase their cryptocurrency holdings in the six months following April 2022, which suggests that digital asset adoption in Nigeria is accelerating.

NFTs Outperform Other Crypto in Q1 2022

Nansen analytics firm reported that the NFT market has significantly outperformed other cryptocurrencies in 2022. Results varied for different niches from the NFT sector; art and metaverse cryptocurrencies showed tremendous growth while gaming NFTs did poorly.

The NFT market was affected by the wider market downturn in Q1, yet quickly recovered from the price slump. Growing popularity has brought many more big brands to the industry. Chinese tech giant Huawei’s cloud computing arm is set to airdrop an NFT collection based on the brand’s mascot. The series will be minted on Huawei’s proprietary ‘Petal chain.’

The mobile manufacturer is not the first Chinese giant to jump on the NFT bandwagon. Companies like Alibaba, JD.com, Tencent, and Baidu have already launched their own NFT marketplaces.

The expansion in NFT activity has come at the same time that Axie Infinity fell victim to one of the biggest hacks in the industry. On 23 March, 2022, Axie’s Ronin chain was reportedly hacked for $625 million. The U.S. government has identified the Lazarus hacking group from North Korea as a suspect. The platform has launched a bug bounty program with $1 million in rewards to prevent future security breaches.