News: World Wildlife NFT, Diem sale details, ECCB DCash offline

  • It’s been a busy week — I’ve been helping a relative in hospital, stuck on flaky NHS wifi. (You’d almost think hospitals weren’t constructed with a view to wireless connectivity.) There’s a pile of stupid blockchain tricks still to get to, but here’s a quick update.
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Silence, greenwashing hexagon

The World Wide Fund for Nature, a.k.a. the World Wildlife Fund, announced an NFT. This met with the standard reaction of absolute horror from everyone who’d ever supported WWF for their environmental work. [Climate Change News]

Here’s the WWF Non-Fungible Animals page. You could only buy the NFAs with the USDC stablecoin. [WWF NFA, archive]

WWF backed down from NFTs two days later: “We have now agreed with our partners to bring this trial to a close this evening.” [WWF]

The WWF NFA page lists the blockchain partners who promoted this great idea to them — Robin Hellmann (Blockchain Advisory & Consulting), Max Penk, Polygon, MoonPay, Unifty and Moonwolf. [WWF NFA, archive]

WWF UK claimed that the Polygon chain was proof-of-stake, so didn’t have the carbon footprint of Ethereum — but Polygon is a sidechain of Ethereum, so that doesn’t really work out. Digiconomist has some numbers — Polygon’s share of Ethereum’s CO2 production turns out to be around 430 grams per transaction, or 2200 times what WWF claimed. [Digiconomist]

Admittedly, NFTs are not as bad as that time the WWF ended up funding mercenaries to rape, torture and kill suspected poachers. Whoops! [Wikipedia]



An artist dies a hero or lives long enough to pump an NFT

NFTs are immutable, until the Premier League brings legal action. English footballer John Terry made an NFT featuring a Premier League Trophy — which happens to be trademarked. They were not happy, and the NFT was updated. [Daily Telegraph]

Cracked: Honest Ad for NFTs. [YouTube]

Nike sues online sneaker reseller StockX for selling NFTs of Nike shoes. [Reuters]

New York Post: “How retired Tom Brady could become NFL’s first billionaire player” — with a quote from me warning that fans tend to react badly to NFTs. [New York Post]

Here’s an extension for the Chrome browser that changes Twitter NFT hexagons to Jared Fogle when he was representing Subway. I wonder if Fogle ever got into cryptos. [GitHub]



Carpe Diem

Here’s Diem’s press release on selling their assets to Silvergate Bank. [PR Newswire]

Silvergate paid $50 million in cash and 1,221,217 shares to buy Diem’s “intellectual property” — Silvergate wants to do a stablecoin running on the Diem blockchain. “Through its close partnership with Diem, Silvergate has gained deep familiarity with the network and developed strong appreciation for its potential to enable a Silvergate-issued stablecoin that will power the future of global payments.” [Silvergate]

Apparently Diem had some blockchain patents that might be worth something to Silvergate. Facebook (Meta) joined Jack Dorsey’s Crypto Open Patents Alliance — but it’s not clear if Diem’s portfolio is included. [CoinDesk]

There have been various forks of the Libra/Diem codebase. OpenLibra started quite early on — and in the form of 0L Network (zero-L), they’ve just been joined by engineers from Mysten Labs, funded by Diem Association member Andreesen Horowitz, to work on the Move smart contract language. I wonder if they have a version of the blockchain that does more than 24 transactions per second yet. [press release]



Central banking, hopefully not on the blockchain

Leaving aside for the moment whether a US dollar CBDC even has a use case, the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston and MIT’s Digital Currency Initiative are working out how technically feasible a CBDC would be. There’s a pile of fancy speculative ideas in there, and some test code — but even as programmable money, such a CBDC wouldn’t use a blockchain: “Despite using ideas from blockchain technology, we found that a distributed ledger operating under the jurisdiction of different actors was not needed to achieve our goals.” [Boston Fed]

There’s no reason to presume that when a central bank puts a blockchain into place, it’ll be any less clown-shoes than any other blockchain endeavour. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank DCash CBDC pilot has been out of commission since 14 January. This turned out to be due to an expired certificate in Hyperledger. The fix: upgrade Hyperledger, which they’re currently trying to do. The future of legal tender! [St. Lucia Times; Central Banking, paywalled]



I know nothing! Nothing!

More reviews of Bitcoin Widow by Jennifer Robertson, of failed Canadian crypto exchange QuadrigaCX:

  • The Toronto Star: “The first part of her book, leading up to husband Gerry Cotten’s death, is a very specific accounting of their joint wanderlust — not the best optics considering the Ponzi scheme involving his company Quadriga.” [Toronto Star]
  • Winnipeg Free Press: “Too often it reads like a wistful romance novel penned by a betrayed, and self-absorbed, heroine.” [Winnipeg Free Press, archive]

Stephen Kimber is the Halifax, Nova Scotia author who ghost-wrote Bitcoin Widow. He talks to CBC Nova Scotia about the process. [CBC]

The Sun does an “exclusive” puff piece interview with Robertson. [The Sun, archive]

Bitcoin Widow was Globe & Mail No. 8 best seller in non-fiction for the week ending 29 January 2022. [Globe & Mail, archive]

Amy Castor’s review of the book was reprinted in the Nova Scotia papers, or on their Saltwire site anyway. [Saltwire]

That time Michael Patryn from QuadrigaCX showed up running DeFi Ponzi scheme Wonderland. Founder Daniele Sestagalli tells CoinDesk what on earth he was thinking. “Sestagalli admitted that the circumstances surrounding Cotten’s death did give him pause.” [CoinDesk]



It turns out cryptos aren’t very good as money

Sharp price swings in cryptocurrencies are causing “destabilising” capital flows in emerging markets, and the use of crypto in place of traditional currencies poses “immediate and acute risks”, according to Tobias Adrian at the IMF. [FT, paywalled]

Adrian has followed cryptocurrencies at the IMF for a few years now. “Crypto is being used to take money out of countries that are regarded as unstable.”

Breaking capital controls was an explicit stated aim of Facebook’s Libra, a dream of bitcoin bros for many years (Libra Shrugged, chapter 7).

The one thing not in this article: which countries this is happening in. Large Bitcoin holders in El Salvador, for example, would, I’m sure, like to move all their money out in Bitcoin — but the Chivo interface between dollars and bitcoins works so badly that it’s not clear this is happening in practice.



Good news for Bitcoin

Frances Coppola goes through all the Bitcoin ETFs that the SEC keeps rejecting — mostly because the applicants just don’t bother addressing the issues raised in previous failed applications. “Perhaps they want the SEC to disapprove everything. After all, if the SEC disapproves all applications, the problem isn’t the applications, it’s the SEC — isn’t it?” [blog post]

US Senator Ted Cruz has been talking up cryptocurrency and blockchains — and is now a Bitcoin hodler. [CNBC]

Mike Novogratz from Galaxy Digital is launching an ESG programme to deal with Bitcoin’s image. Apparently, Bitcoin is perceived as “dirty”! Novogratz blames “misinformation” for the environmental concerns over the most inefficient payment system in human history — and not, e.g., that Bitcoin mining in the US and Canada overwhelmingly uses fossil fuels, and even incentivises previously closed fossil fuel plants to reopen. Who are you going to believe — Mike, or your lying eyes? [FT, paywalled]



Regulatory clarity

Why you can’t cash out, part 2 — banks, especially in the UK, regard crypto as inherently fraudulent. “I made $4m profit on crypto, but the bank won’t let me spend it.” [Daily Telegraph, archive]

In 2021, cryptocurrency exchanges located in San Francisco filed more Suspicious Activity Reports than all securities firms and casinos combined. [Securities Analytics]

The US Treasury is gunning for money laundering in the high-value art market — and they’re treating NFTs as part of that. [press release; study, PDF]

Bloomberg update on the status of cryptocurrency in Russia: The central bank can see what a pile of toxic waste this crypto garbage is — though a CBDC might be useful — the finance ministry sees tax revenue, and the big guys see only the money. And we wait on the verdict of the one man with the one vote. Also quoted: TON Labs, maintainers of Free TON — the last vestige of the Telegram ICO! [Bloomberg]

What happens if a crypto exchange files for bankruptcy? Cryptos or money held by the exchange are not yours — they belong to the exchange, and the exchange had a liability to you for the cryptos or the money. Bank deposits work the same way — but bank deposits are insured, and crypto deposits generally aren’t. So if the exchange fails, you’re just another creditor. [Credit Slips]




Craig Wright is suing the developers of Bitcoin SV — the Bitcoin fork he leads — to give him a pile of bitcoins he claims rightfully belong to him, but were stolen. UK court costs work on a loser pays system, so Wright was asked to put up a surety.

The court has ruled that bitcoins are too unstable in value — and Wright will have to put up actual cash:

It would expose them to a risk to which they would not be exposed with the usual forms of security: namely of a fall in value of Bitcoin, which could result in their security being effectively valueless.

The case is Tulip Trading Ltd v Bitcoin Association for BSV & Ors (Rev 1) [2022] EWHC 141 (Ch). Yes, Wright called his company “Tulip Trading.” [Civil Litigation Brief; BAILII]



Things happen

The “DAO” to buy a golf course! Also features Mike Dudas, original founder of crypto news site The Block. Looks like a perfectly reasonable crowdfunding — and good luck to them — though it’s another example of how “DAO” now seems to mean any collective enterprise whatsoever that collects its capital as a pile of cryptos. [CNBC]

Tether has a new accountant to issue its attestations! It’s the old one. Moore Cayman has merged with MHA Cayman — which had the same owners and the same employees. MHA Cayman’s UK parent company, MHA MacIntyre Hudson, just happens to be in trouble with the FCA over some of its audits. [CoinDesk; FT, paywalled]

How are Reddit Community Points going? McGillby, a moderator on /r/cryptocurrency, netted $10,000 by selling Moon tokens on Uniswap. This is against Reddit’s terms of service — but who cares about Reddit’s statist jackboot, eh. [Reddit]

Real estate coin Realux paid influencers to promote the idea that it could help close the racial “wealth gap” by “democratizing real estate.” Then it rug pulled. Redistributing wealth! From you to me. [Vice]

Australian mining billionaire Andrew Forrest has launched cases against Facebook in Australia and the US. He alleges that the company failed to prevent scam ads that used his image, and breached Australian anti-money laundering laws over the spread of cryptocurrency fraud. [BBC]



Hot takes

Ryan Dsouza podcast with me: “Scams, Scavengers and the false Promise of Crypto — Conversations: David talks about his motivations to cover crypto, bitcoin etc, Shortcomings of blockchain, NFT boom and much more.” Please excuse the first two minutes of technical issues! [Spotify; Anchor; Player]

Molly White of Web 3 Is Going Great, in the Wikipedia Signpost: “Opinion: Should the Wikimedia Foundation continue to accept cryptocurrency donations?” [Wikipedia]

Cory Doctorow: “The Inevitability of Trusted Third Parties” — the search for a crypto use-case continues. “Did you know that 87% of all conversations about blockchain technology are nonconsensual?” [Medium]






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5 Comments on “News: World Wildlife NFT, Diem sale details, ECCB DCash offline”

  1. I haven’t had a real honest belly laugh in months. Glendinning’s British Museum comment broke the drought for me. THANKS!

  2. “i’ve never seen something that feels like it’s everywhere be received so universally negative by basically everyone outside the bubble.”

    That U2 album Apple “gifted” to everyone if it was accompanied by a burning tire.

  3. The board chairman of the WWF is or was Neville Isdell, who used to be the CEO of Coca-Cola. Coca-cola is the world’s biggest plastic polluter and has also been responsible for a list of crimes as long as your arm.

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