Cryptocurrencies December 30, 2022
Could Midas’ Pivot to CeDeFi Signal the End of Decentralized Finance?
Midas Investments is shutting down as a decentralized finance platform and pivoting to so-called CeDeFi, a hybrid type of structure that combines centralized finance (CeFi) and DeFi.
The decision is significant. It could indicate the direction that the decentralized finance (DeFi) sector may be taking in order to stay afloat at a time of increased regulatory scrutiny and project failure. Midas focused on DeFi yields.
Also read: Why Market Collapse Doesn’t Signal the End of Centralized Crypto Exchanges
Founder and CEO Iakov Levin revealed in a long blog post on Dec. 27 that Midas lost 20%, or $50 million, of the assets it managed under its decentralized finance portfolio earlier in year due to bad market conditions.
In this article, we want to share with you the story of what led us to this difficult decision, provide you with an overview of our balance sheets, P&L, and DeFi portfolio composition, and give you some insight into our plans for the future.
Link: https://t.co/Oa6uTDYN6L pic.twitter.com/3mIg4fAK7l
— Midas.Investments (@Midas_platform) December 27, 2022
The firm had a total of $250 million assets under management. Losses worsened after the demise of several crypto projects in 2022. Levin, also known as “Trevor”, said the collapse of Terraform Labs, Celsius, and FTX made it difficult for Midas to sustain its fixed yield model.
Users withdrew 60% of their assets from under Midas’ management after the trio went under, “creating a large asset deficit.” According to the CEO, Midas lost a further $14 million in Ichi protocol and $15 million due to the devaluation of the DeFi Alpha portfolio position.
“Based on this situation and current CeFi [centralized finance] market conditions, we have reached the difficult decision to close the platform,” Levin wrote.
Midas pivots to CeDeFi
Midas is the latest victim of cryptocurrency’s most dramatic year, which has seen more than $2 trillion of value wiped from the industry. The list includes prominent crypto firms Voyager Digital, Three Arrows Capital, and BlockFi.
Following its closure, Levin revealed that the company would pivot to a new on-chain project “that aligns with our vision for CeDeFi” starting in 2023.
“This project will be fully transparent, on-chain, and built with the goal of offering a new and improved investment experience,” he said.
CeDeFi refers to a combination of centralized finance (CeFi) and decentralized finance (DeFi). Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao, also known as “CZ”, is credited with creating the term during the launch of the Binance Smart Chain in 2019.
The structure typically leverages the advantages of decentralized finance but with more centralized decision-making at the top, according to experts. People will still get access to things like yield farming tools, lending protocols, and other DeFi products.
CeFi works just like traditional finance, allowing people to borrow or lend money, in this case crypto, from a central point, usually controlled through an exchange like Binance or Coinbase. DeFi does the exact opposite of this, facilitating peer-to-peer transactions in a decentralized way. Unlike CeFi, DeFi users have complete control over their funds.
How is Midas utilizing CeDeFi?
Midas Investments has always utilized the centralized-decentralized finance model at some level in its operations, even before its recent closure. The company uses DeFi algorithms to maintain transparency of funds and “provide viable risk projections to users.”
The centralized layer helps to keep the “conventional yield generation process intact, allowing it [Midas] to offer a seamless user experience.” In the blog post, CEO Iakov Levin said Midas “plans to offer scalable…verifiable tokenized CeDeFi strategies for both CeFi and DeFi users.”
“The goal of the new project is to create a win-win situation by connecting competing protocols with liquidity and offering a simplified yield to a range of decentralized finance and centralized finance audiences,” Levin claimed.
“The first product will be a transparent, on-chain treasury that allows users to mint tokens backed by stablecoins, Bitcoin or Ethereum by depositing collateral in ETH,” he added.
Midas is nursing a $63.3 million deficit on its balance sheet. It hopes that its pivot to CeDeFi will help to facilitate lower fees, improved security, and faster transactions. All in an effort to avoid the pitfalls that led to massive losses linked to its DeFi operations.
The end of DeFi? Decentralized or centralized.
For governments, cryptocurrency is becoming too mainstream to ignore and too chaotic to neglect. Across the world, government agencies are targeting crypto investors not only with taxes but mandatory registration and full disclosure rules.
This raises existential questions about the direction of the industry, in particular, whether decentralization as a tool for resisting censorship is a myth. Until now, the DeFi industry has continued to hold true to the founding principles of Bitcoin of privacy and decentralization.
Midas Investments pivoting to CeDeFi may be cast in a different light – a pivot that signals the beginning of a trend that eventually leads to the dismantling of decentralized finance, as the rampant failure of crypto projects invites increased government scrutiny.
Centralized financial institutions embrace regulation. In a previous blog post, renowned DeFi architect Andre Cronje explained how the industry has moved on from its pioneers’ autonomous fundamentalism and is now seeking regulation and safety.
“Instead of trying to fight regulatory bodies because of crypto regulation, we should be trying to engage and educate on regulated crypto. What should a token issuance license look like? What should an exchange’s activities be expanded to?” he said.
Satoshi would be disappointed
Although crypto was conceived as an anti-authority invention where unmediated business is conducted peer-to-peer, the lack of internal controls, requiring users to utilize their own discretion, has been exploited by those with criminal motives.
For example, hackers have stolen more than $2.32 billion from the DeFi market this year alone. Across the crypto universe, this all bundles into a disarming pretext for state control. .
The current direction of crypto mapped by government regulators is, however, a far cry from Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto’s whitepaper, which declared:
“What is needed is an electronic payment system based on cryptographic proof instead of trust, allowing any two willing parties to transact directly with each other without the need for a trusted third party.”
Third parties are now fully immersed in the crypto ecosystem. As the industry matures, it is becoming increasingly tangled in institutional oversight that cedes its envisioned autonomy in a big way.
The Sandbox Unites with Ledger to Boost Metaverse Security
The Sandbox, one of the most patronized decentralized virtual worlds, recently announced that it has teamed up with Ledger Enterprise, a company whose infrastructure solutions safeguard businesses’ crypto assets. As part of the deal, Ledger will provide security integration to all of The Sandbox’s enterprise brand partners.
An ongoing collaboration
The alliance will enable brands to easily and simply secure their LAND, virtual parcels digital real estate within The Sandbox metaverse. LAND allows game designers create digital experiences such as dioramas or games and populate them with assets.
What’s more, enterprise brands will be able to secure wallets that house their Sandbox NFT collections. To be more specific, brands can add The Sandbox as a decentralized application (dApp) on Ledger Enterprise.
Additionally, users of Ledger’s live desktop application will see the integration of a widget for the Sandbox. The Sandbox will recommend Ledger Enterprise to clients, while Ledger returns the favor by recommending The Sandbox to those interested in breaking into the possibilities of the metaverse.
We are partnering with @ledger_business to enhance security for enterprises in the #metaverse! 🔒
Bringing scalable security and treasury management to #TheSandbox, and allowing for seamless integration for brand partners.#LedgerEnterprise @Ledger pic.twitter.com/WELaF0MiXm
— The Sandbox (@TheSandboxGame) March 23, 2023
Lastly, with crypto hacks soaring by 15% from 2021 ($3.3 billion) to $3.8 billion in 2022, the alliance with enable clients to migrate all Sandbox NFT collections to a secure Ledger Enterprise wallet that benefits from additional security.
The latest collaboration between The Sandbox and Ledger comes seven months after the two firms partnered to develop “Ledgerverse” in August 2022.
Ledgerverse was created to educate people about the need for crypto security education, with detailed content on how users of the entire DeFi sector can protect their wallets from cybercriminals.
Tommy Hilfiger partners with the Sandbox
On March 28, Tommy Hilfiger announced via its verified Twitter handle that it has teamed up with several metaverse-related firms including Roblox and The Sandbox. According to the post, this will bring the brand’s lifestyle into multiple digital communities.
The Sandbox remains one of the most sought-after digital collections in the market. As of 09:30 UTC on March 29, the project’s highest seven-day sales ranged from $2,000 to $5,000 despite a sharp decline in the total number of sales, data from Nonfungible.com showed.
Sandbox token up over 60% this year
Unlike other metaverse tokens that have seen mild gains in 2023, SAND is one of the cryptocurrencies that has brought multiple percentage returns to its holders.
Following the market rebound earlier in the year, SAND soared by 114% to a yearly high price of $0.9365 on February 8 after opening the first day with a trading price of $0.3831 amid a substantial rise in investor demand.
As of 09:30 UTC on March 29, SAND was exchanging hands for $0.6455. Overall, this brings the SAND gains year-to-date (YTD) to 68%, data from crypto price tracker CoinMarketCap showed.
Disney Dismisses Metaverse Division, Polygon Feels the Heat
Disney has announced that it is abandoning plans to explore the metaverse, and the news has vibrated through many parts of the Web3 industry including cryptocurrencies.
The animator, together with major fashion brands (Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Rolex, Yves Saint Laurent and Nike), automotive companies Mercedes-Benz and BMW, and fellow media company Warner Brothers, are the pioneer companies that have filed for NFT and metaverse trademarks with the United States Postal and Trademark Office (USPTO).
According to the Wall Street Journal, around 50 employees in Disney’s metaverse division have been dismissed. The layoff in the AR and VR-powered division represents a modest fraction of the company’s downsizing that will see about 7,000 lose their jobs.
While the mass media, multinational, and entertainment conglomerate has been experimenting with several technologies under the metaverse banner, including producing AR films, creating virtual stores, and integrating blockchain technology, the slow adoption of the virtual world has made the sector largely unprofitable for Disney and other firms.
The latest development has not just affected Disney employees. Stakeholders of the crypto economy, particularly Polygon (MATIC) holders, have also seen a substantial reduction in their portfolios amid the layoffs.
Polygon (MATIC) is down by 12% in March
In July 2022, Polygon was selected along with Red 6, Obsess, Lockerverse, Inworld, and Flickplay as the six participants for Disney’s Accelerator Program.
The Program came with a vision of building the future of immersive experiences with a primary focus on artificial intelligence (AI) characters, NFTs, and ARs.
As an integral part of the NFT industry, Polygon ranks 5th on the log of blockchains by all-time NFT sales volume with approximately $764 million from 1.05 million buyers involved in over 6 million transactions.
Disney’s association with Polygon at the time led to a 94% spike in the price of MATIC after opening and closing the month with trading prices of $0.4781 and $0.9283 respectively.
The opposite reaction has been felt in MATIC’s price due to the layoffs. MATIC is down by 12% in March after opening the month strongly at $1.1952 and declining to $1.0470, as of 09:30 UTC on March 28.
NFT and metaverse trademarks continue to be filed
According to USPTO data shared by licensed attorney Mike Kondoudis, a large number of companies have filed NFT and metaverse trademarks.
At a glance, these include Wynn Resorts, Seattle Mariners, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, FUJITSU, Nissan, Fallout, Lucasfilm, Samsung, Shutterstock AI, Grammarly, Amazon, Lacoste, and General Motors (GM).
Other firms to have explored opportunities via trademarks are Walmart, Sports Illustrated, Death Row Records, American Music Awards, and Disney. The latter’s latest application is for the new Marvel television TV show.
Bitcoin NFT Marketplace Launches on Magic Eden
A fully-audited marketplace for Ordinals NFTs is now available on Magic Eden. Through the popular platform, NFT traders will be able to list, buy and sell over 70 Ordinals collections, with Magic Eden also integrating support for Bitcoin wallets Hiro and Xverse.
Bitcoin NFTs reach Eden
“Ordinal digital artifacts exist on-chain, never off-chain, and are totally immutable, meaning they cannot be altered in any way,” said Magic Eden.
“Add the security aspect of BTC & the decentralization of its nodes, and you get the ultimate home for true digital collectibles.”
Ordinals has been quite the hit since it was introduced in January by Bitcoin core contributor Casey Rodarmor. The protocol effectively lets users ‘inscribe’ imagery, text and even video games onto individual satoshis, turning currency into NFTs.
According to Dune Analytics there have been 571,384 inscriptions as of March 22, equating to over 107 BTC ($3m) in fees.
Magic Eden, which was valued at $1.6bn last June, now supports trading of NFTs tokenized on the Bitcoin network, Solana, Polygon and Ethereum. The most popular Ordinals collection at the time of writing is BTC DeGods, with a floor price of 1.033 BTC. The collection previously lived on Solana and the public mint on Bitcoin sold out in just three minutes.
This BTC DeGod just sold for 3.52 BTC ($100,000). pic.twitter.com/RxkREokVFb
— Frank (@frankdegods) March 22, 2023
Instead of smart contracts, Magic Eden will facilitate permissionless swaps of Ordinals using partially signed Bitcoin transactions (PSBT) as the core technology. The platform also revealed that it will open source its PSBT signing library to help builders new to the space.
As for royalties, the marketplace acknowledged that “there is very little tooling and no secure and trustless enforcement solutions” in the current ecosystem. Consequently, Ordinals will launch with no royalty support for the time being.
The company confirmed it was “actively looking into the development of an on-chain, permissionless royalty standard” and is “committed to working with creators and the greater community.”
Magic Eden isn’t the only show in town: another NFT marketplace, Gamma.io, has launched its own trustless marketplace complete with a no-code creator launchpad and API infrastructure. In its March 20 press release, Gamma said it had already “assisted creators in producing over 30,000 inscriptions on Bitcoin.”
Other Ordinals marketplaces, such as ORDX and Generative XYZ, have spun up, give traders even more options to participate in the evolving BTC NFT ecosystem.
BTC NFTs: Good or bad for Bitcoin?
The arrival of BTC NFTs has caused some division in the Bitcoin community. While proponents argue that Ordinals brings more financial use-cases to Bitcoin and drives up demand for block space, others are uncomfortable about the financial degeneracy of NFT flipping arriving on the network.
One member of the latter camp is Bitcoin core developer and Blockstream CEO Adam Back, who referred to the “sheer waste and stupidity of an encoding” back in January.
Despite the polarization, Ordinals has been one of the most-talked about NFT projects of the year so far. And fears of skyrocketing transaction fees have proved somewhat unfounded – daily fees peaked in mid-February and haven’t come close to returning to those levels.
Although various media can be embedded in satoshis, including apps, videos, and audio, the vast majority of inscriptions thus far have been text or images, such as memes.
According to Magic Eden, its launch of an Ordinals marketplace “contributes to the culture of trust, security, and decentralization that is synonymous with the blockchain” and remains “true to the principles that underpin the technology.”
Don’t expect the arguments to die down anytime soon. In the meantime, coveted Ordinals NFTs will continue trading hands for appreciable sums. While it’s early days for the project, it shows no signs of slowing down.
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