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Top Headlines for 8 April, 2022

eToro Announces $20M NFT Fund

Crypto exchange eToro has launched a $20 million NFT fund to invest in artists working in the industry. The fund is a part of eToro’s new venture called eToro.art which aims to support NFT creators and brands.

The new fund plans to eventually offer many services to allow investors to participate in the emerging economy. The trading platform now holds NFTs from popular Ethereum-based collections Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), World of Women (WOW), Doodles, and CryptoPunks.

eToro has pledged nearly $10 million to help bring new NFT projects to market in 2022. Artists can apply for the grant on eToro’s new platform. Although the company has only bought into Ethereum-based NFTs thus far, they also plan to look at artwork on chains like Solana and Avalanche.

JAN3 Helps Build Bitcoin City in El Salvador

Blockstream’s former Chief Strategy Officer Samson Mow has started a new venture, JAN3, to promote Bitcoin adoption around the world.

The company has signed a deal with the government of El Salvador to assist the country in developing its Bitcoin infrastructure.

In its first project Mow’s firm will be facilitating the development of a Bitcoin city in El Salvador. The entrepreneur has raised $21 million for the new venture at a valuation of $100 million.

Bolt Acquires Wyre For $1.5B

Payments company Bolt has announced its purchase of crypto service provider Wyre for $1.5 billion on 7 April 2022. The acquisition will allow Bolt’s retailers to accept crypto as payment for goods and services and to allow NFT purchases through Bolt using Wyre’s APIs.

Bolt provides a one-click payment service similar to Apple Pay, Gpay, and Paypal. Wyre develops software to support cryptocurrency payments. Bolt and Wyre together would build eCommerce payment solutions for mainstream, secure cryptocurrency usage for millions of online shoppers.

The two companies did not officially disclose the deal’s value; however, The Wall Street Journal cited $1.5 billion as a rough estimate. In January 2022, Bolt raised $355 million at an $11 billion valuation.

Robinhood Adds Lightning Network

U.S.-based stock and cryptocurrency trading app Robinhood announced on 7 April, 2022 that it is integrating the Lightning Network on its platform. It also said that eligible users from its beta crypto waiting list can now use its much-awaited wallet.

When Robinhood first announced the waiting list for this wallet in November 2021, it had over 2 million sign-ups. Lightning is a layer-2 scaling solution for BTC, which enables faster and more affordable transactions. The user base for this solution is growing rapidly as big platforms integrate it into their existing system.

The Chivo wallet from El Salvador already uses the network. Kraken also integrated Lightning Payments in April 2022, and social media platform Twitter also utilizes the technology for its tipping feature.

Robinhood’s users could previously only buy and sell cryptocurrency, while the app kept the assets themselves in its custody. Now its users can transfer their virtual assets to standard cryptocurrency wallet where they control their own private keys.

LFG To Buy $100M In AVAX

Luna Foundation Guard (LFG), a non-profit organization promoting the Terra ecosystem, has announced its acquisition of $100 million worth of AVAX, Avalanche’s native token, on 6 April, 2022. The Foundation previously purchased $1 billion worth of Bitcoin since January 2022 to build a reserved treasury to backstop Terra’s stablecoin, UST.

Terra’s protocol is designed to require users to burn LUNA tokens in order to mint more UST. Unlike Ethereum and Solana, Tera has a unique economic structure with dual tokens, LUNA and TerraUSD (UST). The price of UST is pegged to USD. However, Terra co-founder Do Kwon believes that this mechanism is not a reliable pegging system in the long term. Thus, the LFG has decided to build a $10 billion treasury consisting of Bitcoin and AVAX tokens that will serve as a backstop to UST.

LFG was established by Do Kwon and TerraForm labs Head of Research Nicholas Platius in February 2022. The duo managed to raise a billion dollars for the Foundation by selling LUNA tokens.

Billionaire Salinas Claims 60% Portfolio in BTC

In the current economic conditions, only a few investments make sense, and Bitcoin is one of them, according to Mexican billionaire Ricardo Salinas. At the Miami Bitcoin 2022 conference on 7 April 2022, the business magnate disclosed that 60% of his liquid portfolio is in BTC.

Salinas has a net worth of $12.8 billion, making him the third richest person in Mexico. The businessman has significantly increased his BTC holdings since 2020 when he had only 10% of his portfolio in Bitcoin.

Bitcoins are preferred by some investors over bonds, as the premier cryptocurrency protects asset holders from increases in the fiat monetary supply. Salinas said, “I have a liquid portfolio. I own 60% in Bitcoin and Bitcoin equities, and the remaining 40% is in a hard asset like oil, gas, gold miners, and that is where I am”.

Improbable Raises $150M

Game-tech startup Improbable has raised $150 million in funding for a metaverse project that will allow businesses to build distributed blockchain-enabled virtual worlds called M² (MSquared). The funding round was co-led by VC giant Andressen Horrowitz and Softbank’s Vision Fund 2 with participation from Ethereal Ventures, Digital Currency Group (DCG), Mirana Ventures, and CMT Holdings.

The initiative will enable companies and creators to create their interoperable metaverse services and products. If a creator builds a product using Msquared, it can seamlessly be integrated into virtual experiences created by other users. Msquared will function independently from the parent company, Improbable, founded in 2012, and previously developed SpatialOS, a virtual-world operating system build to provide complex simulations.

The metaverse is imagined as a simulated version of the Internet, in which users will interact with each other using 3D avatars. Some of the early iterations of this vision are Ethereum-based games Decentralnd and the Sandbox. Metaverse proponent, Mark Zuckerberg plans to invest $50 million in metaverse research and development in the next two years.