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Top Headlines for 21 April, 2022

U.S. Sanctions Russian BTC Mining Firms

The United States Treasury Department is reportedly going after the Bitcoin mining industry in Russia as a result of the war in Ukraine. Cambridge University’s research on Bitcoin mining shows that the mining industry in Russia is the third biggest hash rate contributor to the Bitcoin network.

The U.S. wants to block any outlet that might provide the Putin administration with a way to offset the impact of the international sanctions imposed on the country. One of the firms targeted by the new sanctions is Bitriver, a Russia-based mining corp that uses hydroelectric power. Brian Nelson, Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, said, “By operating vast server farms that sell virtual currency mining capacity internationally, these companies help Russia monetize its natural resources.”

Nelson noted that while Russia has certain advantages in natural resources, the equipment used for mining crypto assets is usually imported to the country, making them vulnerable to sanctions. However, Bitriver’s founder, Igor Runets, sees the situation differently. He stated, “These U.S. actions should be viewed as meddling in the crypto mining industry, unfair competition, and an attempt to tip the global balance of power in favor of American companies.”

DecentDAO Raises $10M

On 20 April, 2022, Decent Labs launched Decent DAO, a decentralized organization to support the development of Web 3.0 startups, with $10 million in funding from Digital Currency Group, BlockTower Capital, Cumberland DRW, and other investors.

Decent Labs creates open-source financial tools to support the development of decentralized applications on the Ethereum network.

Entrepreneur Parker McCurley founded the startup in 2017, which has expanded its product offerings to include branding, product design, and React-based smart contract development.

Bitcoin and Ethereum ETFs Goes Live in Australia

While investors in the United States might have to wait longer before the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approves Bitcoin exchange-traded funds, their Australian counterparts are likely to see one soon.

Exchange-traded funds are investment vehicles that trade on a traditional stock exchange. An ETF can track the price performance of a single stock or a basket of assets. Cryptocurrency-based ETFs allow traditional investors to gain exposure to the underlying asset without actually holding it.

The Swiss investment firm 21Shares and the Australian asset management firm ETF Securities have announced the release of a Bitcoin ETF and Ethereum ETF on 27 April, 2022. The two ETFs will directly track the price of their respective crypto assets. The first ETF in the world to launch was Canada’s Purpose Bitcoin ETF, which began operating in February 2021.

ETF issuers in the United States have not yet gotten permission from regulators to launch products that directly track the performance of a cryptocurrency. Instead, since October 2021 US-based ETFs have tracked futures contracts for Bitcoin. A Bitcoin trust, which is more expensive than an ETF, has also been operated by Grayscale in the U.S. since September 2013.

Blockchain Game Developers Raised $2.5B in Q1 2022

According to a report by crypto analytics firm DappRadar and Blockchain Game Alliance (BGA), crypto gaming will skyrocket in 2022 as game developers have raised nearly $2.5 billion in the first quarter of the calendar year. DappRadar notes that blockchain gaming has observed 2000% growth in Q1 2022.

Blockchain metrics also support the claims that consumer interest in the space is also gradually increasing. An estimated 1.22 million unique wallets visited crypto-based games in March 2022. The gaming niche accounts for nearly 52% of the trading activity in the blockchain industry.

Metaverse projects have unfortunately not yet experienced similar growth. After Facebook’s rebrand to Meta in 2021, trading volume for metaverse projects has shrunk by 12%. The price of acquiring virtual real estate in Decentraland and Sandbox, two of the biggest blockchain-based metaverse projects, has decreased by more than 40% since 2021.