A final glance at the top blockchain news announcements that made headlines in 2021
It was only last year when Bitcoin was worth just over $7,000 and Non-fungible token (NFT) was unheard of.
Today, blockchain, the technology that underpins Bitcoin and other digital currencies, has become important to the global economy. So much so that the world today eagerly awaits the Web 3.0 — the internet that will run on blockchain-based tokens.
2021 has been a good year for crypto enthusiasts and investors who believe in the power of blockchain and the future it can offer. Global leaders such as Elon Musk, Mukesh Ambani, Jeff Bezos demonstrated their trust in blockchain technology, and consumers are beginning to understand the value, especially of cryptocurrency.
Several blockchain companies such as BitMEX, Coinme, BRD, Chainalysis, and Setki are paving the way for the future of blockchain. From digital currencies accepting payments to blockchain tech becoming a part of the business stack, 2021 witnessed several big headlines. Here are our top picks.
David Barral became the first footballer bought with Bitcoin
David Barral made history. The former Real Madrid player was the first professional player to be solely bought with Bitcoin by Segunda B side DUX International de Madrid. In other news, the Sacramento Kings of the NBA announced that players or coaches could avail a portion of their salary in Bitcoin. Also, Mark Cuban’s team began to accept Bitcoin as payment for tickets and merchandise.
PayPal acquired cryptocurrency security startup Curv
PayPal acquired a cryptocurrency security startup based in Tel Aviv and created a business unit solely focused on blockchain. It also partnered with Paxos to begin offering cryptocurrency transaction services. And with Curv’s cloud-based infrastructure for digital asset security, PayPal enhanced transaction security, expanded its footprint, and tapped into Curv’s technical talent.
JPMorgan launched crypto exposure basket
With the growing interest of cryptocurrencies, by more than 80 per cent, on Wall Street in 2021, JPMorgan’s crypto exposure basket gives exposure to the Bitcoin players, such as MicroStrategy and Square. An SEC filing demonstrated that the basket is dominated by MicroStrategy, Square, Riot Blockchain, and Nvidia. JPMorgan created debt products linked to the performance of the crypto basket. It allows investors to have an indirect exposure to the market.
Elon Musk and the DOGE- 1 SpaceX mission
In May, Elon Musk announced that SpaceX would accept the meme-inspired cryptocurrency Dogecoin as payment. It will also launch a DOGE-1 Mission to the Moon early next year, for which Tesla partnered with Unizen, a smart crypto exchange ecosystem and Geometric Energy Consumption (GEC). For this mission, companies are building DOGE-1, a 40-kilogram CubeSat. Although the crypto’s price has been falling recently, only 2022 will tell us if DOGE-1 is a hit or a miss.
Samsung facilitated blockchain use on Galaxy devices
Earlier this year, Samsung announced that blockchain users can now manage and trade virtual assets from third-party wallets on Galaxy smartphones. The Blockchain Wallet supports several cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin, Ethereum, ERC tokens, and Tron. Along with a Samsung Blockchain Keystore, the devices could now connect to hardware wallets such as Ledger Nono S and Ledger Nono X2.
S&P Dow Jones brought Bitcoin, Ethereum indexes to Wall Street
Mainstreaming digital currencies, S&P Jones Indices launched cryptocurrency indexes, S&P Bitcoin Index, S&P Ethereum Index and S&P Crypto Mega Cap index that measures the performance of the digital assets tied to them. The indexes use data from New York-based virtual currency company Lukka, and it wants to cover over 550 of the top-traded coins and allow clients to create customised indices and benchmarking tools on cryptocurrencies.
Square established a decentralised Bitcoin exchange
In July, Square CEO Jack Dorsey announced his plan to create a non-custodial, permissionless, and decentralised financial services business platform. In August, Dorsey took to Twitter to announce the establishment of a decentralised Bitcoin exchange. And in November, Square released a whitepaper outlining the decentralised Bitcoin exchange proposal – thDEX. The project aims to make Bitcoin the native currency for the Internet. It is expected to merge the gap existing between fiat currency and digital currency.
VISA bought CryptoPunk NFT for $150,000
According to Cuy Sheffield, Head of Crypto at Visa, NFTs will play an important role in the future of retail, social media, and entertainment. VISA bought CryptoPunk for $150,000 in ethereum. The purchase marked the beginning of the company’s work in the crypto sector. The company laid plans to help clients and partners understand the infrastructure requirements for a global brand to store and leverage an NFT.
Poly Network hacked, ethical hacker received the largest bounty for identifying bug
As a platform that supports the trio of Binance Smart Chain (BSC), Ethereum and Polygon, these blockchain networks were simultaneously breached, with the total assets lost summing up to about $610 million. Fortunately, this largest hack in decentralised finance (DeFi) history was neutralised when the stolen funds were returned by the hacker. A couple of months later, white-hat hacker Gerhard Wagner, received the largest bug bounty for discovering the vulnerability in Polygon’s plasma bridge.
Microsoft Tackles Software Piracy With Ethereum
Microsoft announced that it would counter the threat of software piracy with blockchain. The company announced the creation of a system built on Ethereum — Argus. It will allow users to anonymously report piracy in exchange for a bounty. Additionally, Microsoft Research Asia partnered with Alibaba Group and Carnegie Mellon University to release a paper on Argus. It promises to provide a transparent incentive mechanism while protecting the data collected from the open population of piracy reporters.
Indian, Chinese governments, took severe action against cryptocurrencies
In September, China’s central bank made this announcement: “Virtual currency-related business activities are illegal financial activities.” Although a ban of sorts had existed since 2019, the absolute ban of cryptocurrency trading in all its forms was enforced in 2021. Meanwhile, India recorded over 100 million crypto owners – the highest globally. But in November, the cryptocurrency bill triggered panic among all the investors and stakeholders. Although it was later clarified that it would enforce regulations and not a complete ban, uncertainties prevail.
Rarible and Adobe partnered for NFT security
NFT marketplace Rarible partnered with Adobe to enhance the authentication process of NFTs created through Adobe Creative Cloud solutions such as Photoshop, Stock, and Behance. The partnership is billed to use the Content Authenticity Initiative (CAI) to combat visual misinformation and protect creators through digital provenance. With the partnership, Adobe solution users could link their social media accounts and crypto wallet addresses to their work.
Over 10,000 Bitcoin ATMS globally installed this year
Bitcoin ATMs are on an upward trajectory. Data from Finbold showed that in the first quarter, 4033 Bitcoin ATMs were built. It was followed by 4430 in Q2 and 4779 in Q3. A total of 13,242 machines were installed globally. Bitcoin ATMs emerged as a key element in the growth of cryptocurrencies this year as more investors aim to profit from the sector.
Slovenia became the first country to launch NFT series
Showcased at the Dubai Expo, the NFTs promoted the UAE’s business and tourism advancements. It represented a collection of digital 3D exhibits and exclusive 360-degree panoramic high definition photographs. The series was created by the Slovenian government.
Collins Dictionary named NFT as the Word of The Year
One of the most popular buzzwords this year has been the NFT. Beating buzzwords such as crypto, metaverse, double vaxxed, and hybrid working, NFT was declared the word of the year by Collins Dictionary due to its “meteoric” rise in its use this year. It also beat pop culture references like Netflix’s Bridgeton-inspired word Regencycore.
El Salvador raised $1 billion for ‘Bitcoin City’
With a plan to build a Bitcoin City near a volcano, El Salvador, that officially adopted Bitcoin as its official legal tender, partnered with Blockstream, a digital assets infrastructure company, to raise funds. The city is to include residential and commercial areas, complete with restaurants, airports, and entertainment services.
United Nations showcased NFTs to foster climate change awareness
The United Nations’ Human Settlement Programme and the International Association for the Advancement of Innovative Approaches to Global Challenges partnered with NFT platform Unique Network to help combat climate change. The UN recognised NFT technology as the new medium for creative expression for climate change awareness.
Meta Cryptocurrency Head, David Marcus Called Quits
David Marcus’s departure came after Meta tried and failed to launch a cryptocurrency that could transfer money through Facebook products. The digital product Novi is yet to be launched. “While there’s still so much to do right on the heels of launching Novi — I remain as passionate as ever about the need for change in our payments and financial systems,” said Marcus.
Adidas entered Metaverse, Made NFT Partnerships
In November, Adidas bought a piece of virtual land called adiVerse. Two days later, it announced its partnership with crypto exchange company Coinbase. And finally, in December, the brand took to Twitter to announce that it was placing its bets on the metaverse. In collaboration with Bored Ape Yacht Club, gmoney NFT, and PUNKS Comic, Adidas said that it would become an active player of the NFT system. “It is time to enter the world of limitless possibilities,” the company tweeted.
UAE launched first NFT-backed stamps
The NFT-backed postage stamps were launched on December 2. The Emirates Post Group stated that the NFTs would have a dual identity, one of a physical card linkage and an NFT. With the physical and digital versions linked by a cryptographic QR code, flaws in postage issuance are future sutured, which adds security to the venture. Being tradable, each of the four stamps revolves around different themes signifying the nation’s futuristic vision.
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