The funds, which are equivalent to roughly $1.3 billion, will be used to bootstrap the Fei decentralized stablecoin.
Fei Labs concluded a successful genesis launch of its Fei stablecoin on Saturday, raising nearly $1.3 billion in Ethereum (ETH) from over 17,000 contributors, highlighting once again the market’s growing appetite for digital assets and decentralized finance.
A total of 639,000 ETH was committed to the so-called minting of the FEI stablecoin, the company announced Saturday. At the time Genesis concluded, the ETH commitments were worth nearly $1.3 billion.
The funds will be used to bootstrap Fei’s Protocol Controlled Value, or PCV, which is a category of total value locked. PCV represents all assets that are not redeemable by users, including treasuries and insurance funds.
Fei Protocol Genesis has officially ended! Thank you to everyone who contributed to a successful Genesis period in bootstrapping the $FEI stablecoin and $TRIBE governance token
The Fei Protocol Genesis was launched on March 31 and concluded Saturday. Users who participated in the genesis event will receive a pro-rata percentage of FEI generated from the so-called bonding curve, which is a mathematical formula for defining the relationship between price and token supply.
“Users that participate at Fei Protocol Genesis can commit ETH as part of the Genesis Group to bootstrap the protocol. By doing so, this entitles participants to a pro-rata percentage of FEI generated from the bonding curve.”
As some have speculated, Fei Protocol’s raise marks one of the biggest DeFi launches of all time.
Biggest launch in Defi history? @feiprotocol raised $1.2B from its Genesis event, and the $FEI – $TRIBE pool is #1 on Uniswap with $2.6 BILLION in liquidity.
Fei Labs noted in its Twitter feed that the FEI-to-ETH trading pair was the largest pool on Uniswap as of Saturday. A pre-swap of $385 million FEI for TRIBE, a governance token, “probably marks the largest ever AMM swap,” Fei Labs said, referring to automated market makers.
Over time, networks have evolved to cater to different needs, and with Web 3.0, blockchain isn’t just decentralizing power in financial systems.
Over the last year, the decentralized finance space has been making waves in the financial sector, building on blockchain technology to decentralize a multitude of banking services. The adoption of DeFi services has been steadily on the rise, and all kinds of assets are making their way onto the blockchain.
With nonfungible tokens popularizing digital art ownership representations, blockchain technology is creeping into the most unexpected places, and DeFi is fuelling its expansion. These unique and sometimes quite valuable tokens are especially relevant today, with art galleries closed due to restrictions pertaining to the global pandemic and cultural experiences now taking place online more than ever before.
During 2020, DeFi saw an explosion in the kinds of ways liquidity can be generated, with marketplaces for financial products, community-based social and governance tokens, and unique art pieces. Today, a significant amount of Bitcoin (BTC) is used as a store of value, but that isn’t what it was created for. Slow transaction times, high fees and a history of rising value hinder Bitcoin’s use as a payments system, but that hasn’t stopped the blockchain industry from creating others.
The advent of programmable smart contracts catalyzed the formation of our modern decentralized finance ecosystem, making financial services accessible to anyone with an internet connection. The expensive overheads of centralized banks have made international transfers slow and uneconomical for most use cases. However, by implementing a set of interweaving protocols, decentralized finance delivers alternative ways of distributing value to different communities across the world.
The traditional financial system works for most, but it could be doing a lot better. While blockchain isn’t quite ready to take the mantle from it, today’s decentralized networks have big ambitions, and as access to digital assets continues to improve, people around the world are increasingly engaging with the global economy sans trusted intermediaries, banks or lawyers. With more development resources allocated to DeFi systems than ever before, blockchain is the next frontier for any financial services company worldwide.
Scattered but strong
The internet has changed how data and information flow across the world, and this evolution of communication channels has had a profound effect on the banking system. As the world begins to shift to platforms that offer quicker registrations, faster service and more reliable products, the ways of centralized banking stick out in stark contrast.
Smart contract platforms allow people to interact with several decentralized applications using a single financial identity. With nearly 2 billion people on the planet not having access to financial services, lowering the barrier for entry is in everyone’s best interests.
In fact, even some centralized banks have started offering cryptocurrency custodial services, allowing users to store their cryptocurrencies in a secure manner with a party that can be held responsible for its security. While this might seem like it goes against the ethos of decentralization and blockchain, centralized custodial services might actually be beneficial for the broader industry.
Brian Kerr, CEO of the Kava DeFi platform, told Cointelegraph: “To me, having a bank use Kava on the back end to deliver loans and great APYs safely to their users is a natural progression of banks, finance and the evolution of fintech services.”
According to Kerr, holding cryptocurrencies is much scarier for the average citizen than fiat, since transfers cannot be reversed, making errors all the more costly. “I believe banks supporting digital asset custody is a great step to making crypto available to mainstream users,” he said.
However, as fintech companies continue to improve their products and services to provide better experiences to the end-user, the current schema for development hasn’t been altered much in the last few decades. Furthermore, as pointed out by Anton Bukov, co-founder of the 1inch decentralized exchange aggregator, as banks start to provide huge amounts of stablecoin liquidity to DeFi platforms, APY for lending and borrowing will decrease in the future.
Over time, networks have evolved to cater to different needs, and with Web 3.0, blockchain isn’t just decentralizing power in financial systems; it’s redefining value. In the near future, these systems are likely set to grow stronger and will eventually be seen as a valuable proposition for all kinds of businesses.
The introduction of automated market makers was a critical factor contributing to both decentralized finance and blockchain’s overall growth during 2020. Before AMMs, decentralized exchanges weren’t nearly as popular as they are currently. Instead of using order books to match trades in a decentralized manner, AMMs make users trade with a smart contract, improving liquidity and removing counter-party risk.
With decentralized exchanges like Uniswap occasionally reporting volumes higher than Coinbase Pro, there’s talk of whether centralized exchanges are sustainable in the long run. However, while DEXs have certainly improved over the last couple of years, replacing order-book exchanges doesn’t appear to be on its agenda.
While trading fees have become increasingly competitive, so too have the services offered by cryptocurrency exchanges. From initial exchange offerings and staking to lending and borrowing services, exchanges could begin to defend their positions by increasing margins from other lines of business and face competition from their decentralized counterparts. “Just as banks don’t earn on deposits, they earn on the back-end services and cross-selling of other financial products — so too will centralized exchanges as the industry advances,” Kerr said. Bukov added:
“Coinbase named DEXs as one of the biggest risk factors for their business during preparations for the upcoming IPO. I think they could try to compete in this space, too, while offering their own L1 solutions or DEXs, for example.”
In a nutshell, an AMM consists of token pair pools, where their ratio in the pool determines the price of the individual tokens. Uniswap is currently the most popular AMM DEX, allowing anyone to join liquidity pools for any token pair. This provides liquidity to the pools while pushing some risk to participants for a share of returns.
As AMMs become more and more complex, some platforms have even incorporated features such as multi-token liquidity pools and more efficient algorithms for calculating asset prices. Unlike IEOs, there are no gatekeepers preventing someone from launching a token or platform, and while this can be exploited by users with malicious intent, it could lead to some very interesting projects over the years to come.
Interoperability is in
While most DeFi applications currently run on Ethereum, interoperability is slowly becoming a reality. This will give developers the freedom to choose different platforms to best suit their individual decentralized applications. With platforms like Cosmos and the Substrate-based Polkadot, developers can now even create interoperable blockchains tailored to their application’s requirements.
Today, developers rely on monolithic layer-one blockchains that provide open smart contracting platforms. “These platforms try to do everything well and nothing great,” said the Kava CEO. “In the future with interoperability, these platforms will remain useful for prototyping, but developers will select the most specialized and optimized services for their app and use cases.”
One of the biggest trends of late 2020 was the heightened demand for access to Ethereum’s liquidity and economic activity on other blockchain-based protocols. From wrapped Bitcoin (wBTC) to blockchain-based data storage, the space has seen a surge in activity on cross-chain platforms.
For example, Kava built with the Cosmos framework has seen significant growth, offering collateralized loans and staking opportunities for various cryptocurrencies. The platform uses its Kava token for governance and to secure the network through staking.
Such governance tokens enable network participants to vote on critical parameters such as the system’s global debt limit, collateral ratio and savings rate. In cases where the system is undercollateralized, the Kava token even acts as a reserve currency to be minted and sold until the system is recollateralized.
Both Ethereum and Cosmos require a significantly higher number of validators per chain than Polkadot. Compared to Ethereum’s 111 validators per shard, Polkadot’s claim of offering equivalent security at a minimum of five validators per chain requires more analysis.
Polkadot’s low minimum number more easily allows for collusion between validators for individual parachains, and the DOT slashed from malicious validators is slashed from nominators as well. Along with the lack of a minimum stake requirement, this could lead to some risky situations from a nominator’s perspective.
Decentralized finance’s growth has been unprecedented and overwhelming. Monthly DEX volumes have crossed $55 billion, which is also how much the total stablecoin market capitalization currently is. DeFi outstanding debt is over $9 billion, but decentralized finance is still a toddler against the broader financial services industry.
With fresh innovation constantly around the corner, there’s good reason to believe accessibility and variability among DeFi applications will improve with time. As gas costs on Ethereum continue to fluctuate, at times to prohibitive levels, blockchain projects are racing to create better scalability solutions such as layer-two protocols. Ethereum 2.0 promises to solve many of the issues currently faced by its predecessor, but how well the network will perform in practice will only be known in time.
Furthermore, as long as gas costs keep fluctuating, DeFi protocols will continue to attempt to poach users and, in turn, liquidity from Ethereum. Another problem the DeFi space faces as an infant industry is its reliance on an experienced user base. Today’s applications are usually designed for traders familiar with DeFi systems in mind and offer services that aren’t always useful to the average consumer, such as auditing tools and on-chain data oracles.
As the industry continues to extend its functions, projects are continually creating better utilities for DeFi tokens. Some platforms now even allow using nonfungible tokens as collateral for peer-to-peer loans, increasing the liquidity of these digital collectibles to the level of any other monetized asset.
“I believe strongly in the future of NFTs as a primitive or financial construct. However, NFTs today are mostly stupid,” said Kerr. While NFTs are incredibly powerful as a concept and despite bringing the power of blockchain technology to fields such as real estate and intellectual property, DeFi needs deep, liquid markets to consider a collateral asset useful. “It will be a long time before NFTs are useful as collateral in DeFi. By definition, NFT markets are very illiquid and thus make for horrible collateral,” he added.
According to 1inch co-founder Bukov: “Decentralized Finance projects should issue NFTs, sell them at auctions, and donate a significant part of profits to charity.” DeFi’s progress over the last few years shows promise for its future, but while DeFi has accomplished a lot in its brief ongoing lifespan, its best years are likely yet to come.
Here are the events that marked the past year in the Venezuelan crypto space and the opinions of those who experienced them from the inside.
In the year since the COVID-19 pandemic first disrupted almost every aspect of our lives, many things have happened within the crypto ecosystem around the world. So, what has the past year been like for crypto in Venezuela?
Even before 2020, Venezuela already had a number of businesses that accepted various cryptocurrencies as payment; however, considerably more have moved to adopt this form of payment over the past year. This includes everything from the hotel sector to famous pizza chain Pizza Hut announcing that it will accept Bitcoin (BTC), Litecoin (LTC), Dash and other cryptocurrencies as a form of payment.
Halfway through 2020, crypto exchange Cryptobuyer and payments processor Mega Soft announced that they would form an alliance to allow some 20,000 merchants that use their services to accept payments in crypto through the Cryptobuyer Pay solution developed by the exchange.
Another important landmark was in September 2020 when a Bitcoin node was connected to Blockstream’s satellite network — a first for Venezuela. The result of a joint effort between Cryptobuyer and crypto education provider AnibalCripto, the node was launched despite the logistical limitations imposed by COVID-19-related lockdown measures. Likewise, those responsible for the node announced that this was the first step toward building a mesh network that would be able to process Bitcoin transactions without the need for an internet connection.
Despite the ongoing economic crisis in Venezuela, the crypto mining industry has been growing. According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, Venezuela contributes the most to the Bitcoin hash rate out of any nation in Latin America, which means that there is a substantial amount of computing power being generated in the country.
However, Venezuela introduced a new piece of legislation in September 2020 targeted at the country’s mining industry. In addition to the creation of an obligatory registry and the establishment of new taxes for those who work in mining-related sectors, the new law introduced the controversial “Pool de Minería Digital Nacional” (National Digital Mining Pool). Under this new requirement, it will be obligatory for miners to contribute their hashing power to a new, state-backed mining pool.
Overall, there is still no real clarity regarding the mining pool, which means that the way in which the law will be enforced is not really known, and it has not yet been revealed exactly how Venezuelan miners will have to participate.
Although it may seem paradoxical to see such a level of support for cryptocurrencies from a government that is often seen as being quite restrictive of its citizens and their freedoms, the past year has seen several crypto experiments, including plans to allow Venezuelans to pay for passports with Bitcoin using payments processor BTCPayServer.
However, even though the administration of President Nicolás Maduro did not end up implementing the passport plan, its vision for the use of crypto did not diminish. For example, Maduro proposed an anti-sanctions bill in September 2020, seeking to use cryptocurrencies to evade the various sanctions imposed on the country and hoping to boost crypto use in various business operations.
More specifically, there were reports that Maduro’s administration was using Bitcoin to facilitate trade between Iran and Turkey, two of the current main geopolitical allies of the state.
It was also reported in November 2020 that the Venezuelan Army decided to open the Centro de Producción de Activos Digitales del Ejército Bolivariano de Venezuela (Digital Assets Production Center of the Venezuelan Army), a center that houses ASIC mining equipment designed for proof-of-work cryptocurrencies in order to generate “unblockable” financial income, according to the military leaders who inaugurated the facility.
All this progress made on the part of the Venezuelan state in the crypto ecosystem has been to seek solutions to get around the sanctions that the United States has imposed on Maduro, his cabinet and high-ranking military officials.
However, U.S. authorities have declared that they are monitoring Venezuela’s cryptocurrency operations, and in June 2020, they even added its cryptocurrency superintendent — the highest authority on the regulation of the crypto ecosystem in Venezuela — to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Most Wanted List.
Record number of bolivars locked up in Bitcoin
The bullish surge of Bitcoin’s price has been coupled with the rapid devaluation of Venezuela’s fiat currency, which has resulted in a record number of bolivars being traded in for Bitcoin. In the first week of December 2020 alone, peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins saw 5.85 billion bolivars exchanged on the platform. By the first week of February, this number had jumped to 8.56 billion bolivars.
The complicated political and economic situation in Venezuela has led the government to consider alternative solutions. In the midst of this scenario, blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies, in particular, have been brought to the fore.
Maduro is not the only one who sees cryptocurrency as a way out of troubled waters. One of his main opponents, Juan Guaidó — who is president of the National Assembly and recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate president by some 60 countries — has used the stablecoin USD Coin (USDC) to evade financial restrictions imposed by the Maduro administration in order to send humanitarian aid to Venezuelans.
The funds used by Guaidó came from assets that were seized by U.S. authorities from the U.S.-based bank accounts of Venezuelan state companies and various members of Maduro’s administration.
Opinions within the ecosystem
To understand better what it felt like on the ground within the crypto ecosystem in Venezuela, Cointelegraph en Español spoke with some of the main actors who were involved in the various events that set the tone during the past year.
Jorge Farias, CEO of Cryptobuyer, opined to Cointelegraph en Español that the use and adoption of crypto as a form of payment in Venezuela is becoming a reality: “The global and local situation has made it so that thanks to the pandemic, businesses and individuals are looking for payment alternatives that do not require the interaction or physical presence of people.”
Ernesto Contreras, head of business development at Dash Core Group, mentioned that Dash’s plans to expand to national chains was halted due to the spread of the pandemic. Additionally, during the lockdown period, “We saw how delivery offers grew, which work in a 100% digital environment, and several services like Dingo, Piido and others have joined in accepting Dash and cryptos.” He added further:
“Despite the immense difficulties that the Coronavirus has brought, the crypto ecosystem continued to reach great milestones in Venezuela during 2020, and this added to a global environment that is increasingly digital, and with a positive trend for cryptocurrencies in the world, has opened more doors of great importance for the growth, adoption and use of Dash and cryptos.”
Javier Bastardo, host of the Satoshi en Venezuela podcast, told Cointelegraph en Español that “Venezuela continues to be one of the most active p2p exchange markets.” However, he believes that the trend has not reached its peak just yet. Moreover, he believes that FOMO — the fear of missing out — is not influencing the situation as much as in 2017 and that a steady inflow of people who heard about cryptocurrencies in the past are only now opting to enter the market. He also added that another factor that has dominated the past year has been the willingness to start paying directly in crypto, which ultimately delivers a sustained level of adoption.
Anibal Garrido, CEO AnibalCripto, told Cointelegraph en Español that “Venezuela has been part of important contributions to the development of the ecosystem.” He further added that:
“The difficult situation of COVID-19 has left us with a great learning experience: NOT to depend on physical presence for the harmonious development of our society.”
He added that the local mining law sets a precedent for other countries to evaluate and consider. He also mentioned the incorporation of crypto payments in retail chains along with the developments in providing fast, secure fiat-to-crypto exchange processes.
Mariangel Garcia, community manager for Binance Spanish, believes that “Venezuelans were shaken out of our comfort zone, businesses were forced to start a digital transformation and now many users can see how options abound that before this situation did not exist.”
She further told Cointelegraph en Español that this translated into the widespread adoption of Binance’s native cryptocurrencies in the country, as well as a surge in demand for its peer-to-peer platform. For Garcia, this means that “Thousands of Venezuelans have found financial freedom in our products without limitations.”
She concluded by saying that: “Venezuela is the only country in Latin America with an inclusive vision towards the adoption of cryptos, which is a good start.”
Jorge Farias, CEO of Cryptobuyer, sadly passed away shortly after the interview.
Kimchi premium is at 11%, is this bad for Bitcoin?
The last time the Kimchi premium rose to an all-time high, the Bitcoin market topped and saw a violent correction almost immediately afterward.
Although the premium suggests that the South Korean cryptocurrency market is showing signs of getting overheated, it is not high enough to mark a top.
Ki Young Ju, the CEO of CryptoQuant, said that the premium is worrisome, but the fundamentals of Bitcoin look strong.
The difference between this time and 2017, however, is that South Korea only accounts for 1.7% of the global Bitcoin market’s trading volume.
As such, Ki explained that even if the South Korean market sees a pullback as a result of the rising premium, it would not have as big of an impact it had in 2017. He noted:
“$BTC fundamentals still look good, but the Korean bubble is worrisome to me. Shitcoins prices are skyrocketing, and Korean crypto trading volume has surpassed the national stock exchange (KOSPI). Even if the bubble collapses, the impact is unlikely to be significant since it’s just 1.7%”
More importantly, unlike 2017, the ongoing Bitcoin rally has been led by institutions and high-net-worth investors, as demonstrated by the huge outflows from Coinbase.
But, one reason why many analysts are concerned about the overcrowded cryptocurreny exchange market in South Korea is that there is significant interest in newly-emerging crypto assets.
Instead of Bitcoin and Ether (ETH), cryptocurrencies with the highest volume on Bithumb, as an example, often are new altcoins that have been in existence for a couple of months.
High-net-worth investors are continuing to buy
Less than a week ago on March 29, Ki emphasized that shorting Bitcoin is not the ideal trade as Coinbase Pro is seeing large outflows.
Outflows from top exchanges typically suggest that institutional investors are buying Bitcoin and moving their holdings to self-hosted wallets.
A new report from the World Economic Forum shows that the gender gap will take 135.6 years to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted people across the world, yet a new report from the World Economic Forum suggests that women have been one of the hardest hit gender groups.
WEF’s “Global Gender Gap Report 2021”found that the pandemic has pushed back gender parity by an entire generation. Specifically, the report notes that as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the gender gap between men and women across various professional sectors will now take 135.6 years to close, rather than the previously expected 99.5 years.
Gender parity within fast growth professions
Vesselina Ratcheva, new economy and society lead for the World Economic Forum, told Cointelegraph that the “Global Gender Gap Report” is now in its 15th year of benchmarking the evolution of gender-based gaps in four areas: economic participation and opportunity; educational attainment; health and survival; and political empowerment.
Ratcheva further noted that the report focuses on gender parity within fast-growth professions — such as cloud computing, engineering, artificial intelligence, content production, people and culture, etc. — along with the types of skills needed for each. “Among the eight distinctive job clusters the report focuses on, only people and culture and content production are currently at gender parity,” said Ratcheva.
While blockchain and crypto are not specifically mentioned in the report, Ratcheva explained that sectors such as cloud computing, data, artificial intelligence, engineering and product development are likely to strongly represent both blockchain and digital asset professions. As such, Ratcheva noted that while it’s apparent women remain a minority within the blockchain sector, there does appear to be a higher level of female participation compared to other fields:
“Between these sectors, female representation is on average 29%, which can serve as an optimistic estimate of the level of female representation in blockchain and crypto, but coordinated efforts are still needed to reach gender equality.”
Achieving gender equality after COVID-19
It’s important to point out that the “Global Gender Gap Report 2021” was published a year after COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. The report notes that the health emergency and the related economic downturn have impacted women more severely than men, further reopening gaps that could have been closed sooner.
For instance, the report found that women are now losing jobs at higher rates than men, citing findings from the International Labour Organization that show 5% of women have lost jobs compared with 3.9% of males since the pandemic began. The report states:
“This is partly due to their disproportionate representation in sectors directly disrupted by lockdowns, such as the consumer sector. Data from the United States also indicates that women from historically disadvantaged racial and ethnic groups are worst affected.”
Saadia Zahidi, managing director for the World Economic Forum, added that the pandemic has impacted gender equality in both the workplace and the home, hindering years of progress. “If we want a dynamic future economy, it is vital for women to be represented in the jobs of tomorrow,” she said.
Sue Duke, head of global public policy at LinkedIn, pointed out that women still aren’t well represented in the majority of fast-growing roles, which is leading to greater gender parity challenges moving forward.
In order to combat these issues, Zahidi suggests that both companies and governments need to focus on building diversity, equity and inclusion into their plans for recovery. “Assessing candidates on their skills and potential, and not just their direct work experience and formal qualifications, is central to that. Skills-based hiring is key if we’re going to make our economies and societies more inclusive,” she noted.
In terms of closing the gender parity gap in fast-growth professions, such as those related to blockchain and crypto, Ratcheva explained that a two-pronged approach is needed. She mentioned that it’s critical to keep building out the pipeline of women in science, technology and engineering fields. At the same time, she noted this growth should be supported by broader diversity, equity and inclusion across workplaces, particularly within fields where women are under-represented, adding further:
“It’s important to send a substantial signal to women looking to move into professions where they will be under-represented, that there are mechanisms in place for them to thrive and progress. Without such assurances we are asking women to make an irrational investment in STEM skills.”
Despite current challenges, it’s encouraging to see that a number of blockchain and crypto companies are taking steps to ensure female participation. For example, Denelle Dixon, CEO and executive director of the Stellar Development Foundation, told Cointelegraph that one of the main factors to increasing the impact of women in blockchain, and specifically in leadership roles, is through education and representation.
Dixon explained that the Stellar Development Foundation strives to educate women on the benefits of blockchain technology through frequent webinars and events. “By having a strong female leadership team, SDF is showcasing the importance of representation in emerging technologies for young women around the world.”
Ratcheva also remarked that it’s positive to see that governments and businesses have found effective ways to ensure equity and meritocracy in employment, noting that the majority of economic data shows women are gaining educational qualifications at the same rate as men.
With this in mind, Ratcheva believes that the tech sector is poised to start making gains in hiring a larger share of women for senior management roles, noting that there has been particular progress in female representation in product development positions. However, Ratcheva is aware that as businesses and governments attempt to revive economies, more gender-equal recovery strategies need to be implemented to ensure women can move into fast-growing, high-paying fields.
According to the report, the countries that have made the most progress on this front are the United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Lithuania. “The UAE made gains in the number of women elected into parliament, as well as the share of women in leadership roles in business and public policy. New Zealand made progress in gender-equal remuneration and political empowerment for women,” said Ratcheva.