Crypto roundup: Plus, Binance bets on blockchain, Celsius Network gets boost from Caisse and UBC makes CoinDesk’s list of top schools for blockchain
Canada fourth in bitcoin mining rankings
Thanks to China’s recent crypto crackdown, for the first time ever, the U.S. is the top global destination for Bitcoin miners. According to the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance , 35.4 per cent of Bitcoin’s hash rate is now taking place in the States, which is an astronomical 428 per cent increase from September of last year.
By comparison, in September 2020, China had a 67 per cent share of the hash rate. But their almost-overnight restriction on mining led to a mass exodus, and it looks like the U.S. has picked up a significant amount of the slack. The U.S. proved ideal for many miners thanks to the low energy costs in states such as Texas.
Within the U.S. , New York is on top with about 19.9 per cent of the country’s hash rate. Next up is Kentucky at 18.7 per cent, Georgia at 17.3 per cent and 14 per cent in Texas.
As of August, Canada was fourth in the world, with an average of 9.5 per cent of the global Bitcoin hash rate, up from under two per cent last September and about six per cent in June, before the Chinese crackdown.
Kazakhstan, which saw an influx of miners from China, is second in the world with an 18.1 per cent share, but analysts say that is unlikely to last thanks to older equipment and an incoming tax hike for crypto miners starting in 2022. Russia is third.
Binance bets on blockchain with US$1B investment
The torrent of troubles Binance has faced in recent months has not put a stop to their lofty ambitions. The crypto exchange has announced an injection of US$1 billion into its smart-contract blockchain, Binance Smart Chain, with the company looking “to accelerate adoption of digital assets and blockchain technology.”
Specifically, that money is going to four initiatives: investments (US$500 million), builder programs (US$300 million), liquidity incentives and talent programs (both will get US$100 million). The company had previously put US$100 million towards funding decentralized projects last September.
Binance is also looking to encourage the development of decentralized apps, or dapps. “A total of 100 innovative dapps/infra building on top of BSC will receive mentoring from top VCs along with funding opportunities,” the company said in a release. There are also plans for regional and global hackathons, joint bug-bounty programs and developer conferences.
According to CEO Changpeng Zhao, the money will allow BSC to “be better equipped to disrupt traditional finance and accelerate global mass adoption of digital assets” on its way to becoming the first blockchain ecosystem with one-billion users. BSC has plenty of users to go before it reaches that milestone.
As of writing, the highest number of transactions occurred July 29 of this year at 13,173,787. There are also about 99.1 million unique addresses on the blockchain.
Binance is not the only exchange expanding its reach. On Tuesday, Coinbase announced that it is launching an NFT marketplace. There is currently an option to sign up for a waitlist for early access. Simply called Coinbase NFT, the exchange also promises “social features” for the marketplace. Given that Coinbase is currently reliant on exchange fees, the move into NFTs can be seen as a way to diversify their revenue streams.
Last week, several U.S. federal agencies expressed concerns about crypto regulation. Then on Friday, a report suggested the White House was joining the chorus. Citing unnamed sources, Bloomberg reported that the Biden administration was mulling an executive order requiring agencies to study the crypto industry.
The industries included the Treasury Department, Commerce Department, National Science Foundation as well as national security agencies.
In May, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and Federal Reserve formed a team to work on crypto. According to Bloomberg, one of the provisions of the executive order would be to co-ordinate that work.
While it isn’t the first time crypto has been on the Biden White House’s radar, the move represents a significant escalation of interest.
Celsius Network gets a boost from the Caisse
On Tuesday, the Financial Times reported that cryptocurrency lender Celsius Network raised $400 million in equity funding. This round of funding was organized by WestCap, the fund set up by former Airbnb and Blackstone executive Laurence Tosi, and Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Canada’s second-largest pension fund.
The money is meant to reassure regulators of Celsius’ legitimacy after it attracted plenty of heat in the increased scrutiny over crypto in recent months. For example, state authorities in New Jersey and Texas have said that the Network’s yield-bearing accounts amount to an unregistered securities offering and that it engages in “proprietary trading.”
In September , Kentucky’s Division of Securities filed a cease-and-desist order against the start-up over its language regarding its interest-bearing accounts. The state organization alleged that they violate Kentucky’s securities laws and fail to indicate to customers what happens with their deposits. Alabama also filed a cease-and-desist order for the same reason. For its part, the network has stated that it is compliant with U.S. law.
So the funding is meant to do more than just fill some pockets. Alex Machinsky, Celsius’ CEO, told the Financial Times: “It’s not the $400 million. It’s the credibility that comes with the people who wrote those cheques.”
But also, it is about the money. This latest round of funding puts Celsius’ valuation at $3 billion, up significantly from last year’s small equity raise led by Tether, where they were priced at $120 million. Celsius also revealed that the total assets on their platform hit $25 billion this month, up from $10 billion in October. There are over one million registered users on the network.
UBC makes CoinDesk’s list of top schools for blockchain
Last week, CoinDesk ranked 230 universities from around the globe on their work in blockchain. Their methodology for determining ‘scores’ looked at five main categories: an institution’s strength in research and academic contributions to advancing the field; the existing blockchain offerings on campus, whether in the form of classes, educational centers, clubs, etc.; employment and industry outcomes; cost of attendance; and overall academic reputation.
CoinDesk started these rankings last year, and for the 2021 edition expanded their options beyond the States, making an open call to schools around the world to be considered.
The sole Canadian entry, the University of British Columbia, is ranked at 28. So far it has published 40 blockchain-related research papers. It was given a score of 55.80 out of 100, flanked on either side by Sun Yat-sen University and Peking University in China. Many of the top fifty schools are in Asia.
At number one is the National University of Singapore with a perfect score, followed by the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, the University of California Berkeley, University of Zurich and MIT.
Source: Financial Post