Currently Relevant
August 17, 2023

Currently Relevant: Edition 10

This week: We’re preparing to publish our inaugural report into the state of branding in Web3; Coinbase sets the context with an inadvertent branding gaffe; and fintech moves to the frontier of adoption.

Welcome to Currently Relevant, THE RELEVANCE HOUSE’s regular roundup curating the best of news, views, and stories from the blockchain, crypto, and Web3 space.  

This week: We’re preparing to publish our inaugural report into the state of branding in Web3; Coinbase sets the context with an inadvertent branding gaffe; and fintech moves to the frontier of adoption.

What’s currently relevant in THE RELEVANCE HOUSE

Here at THE RELEVANCE HOUSE, we’re working hard to prepare for publication a first-of-its-kind report into the state of branding in the Web3 landscape, which our Co-Founder German discusses in this week’s Big Picture below. While this has been the focus of our efforts over recent weeks, German is still out and about on the crypto scene attending events and contributing thought leadership.  

Crypto has been great at attracting headlines, but sparking mainstream adoption has been an elusive goal so far – yet one that is close to the heart of our Co-Founder. German also contributed to this article with his view about what could trigger public interest in crypto.

Read: “13 developments that could kindle the public’s interest in the crypto industry

German has also been asked to serve as a moderator at the upcoming the Swiss Association of MBAs Digital Leaders Conference in Zurich. You can catch him at PwC Oerlikon on August 23 alongside speakers from Clariant, Swarovski, Julius Baer, and more.

Visit LinkedIn for more information about the Digital Leaders Conference.

The Big Picture

In each edition, THE RELEVANCE HOUSE founder German Ramirez brings his marketing and strategy insights to the biggest stories from the world of Web3, delivered with a pinch of spice.

In the coming days, THE RELEVANCE HOUSE will publish a first-of-its-kind report on the state of branding in the Web3 sector based on our proprietary research methodology. The first in a series titled “Everything, For Everyone, All At Once,” the initial release will focus on centralized crypto exchanges. There will be further editions looking at different segments within our space.

We’ve been working on this for months, and I can’t wait to finally share the results with you all!

I initiated this research based on an observation that I could see but not easily prove – that the Web3 sector isn’t performing when it comes to brand consistency, attempting to be all things to all people all the time.

This week, in an almost perfect coincidence of timing, a story emerged about Coinbase, which demonstrates exactly how damaging this inconsistent approach can be on multiple levels.

As part of its ongoing legal dispute with the SEC regarding the alleged illegal sale of securities, Coinbase had made some extremely odd claims. To support its argument that crypto assets aren’t, in fact, securities, Coinbase claims that:

“There is no investment of money coupled with a promise of future delivery of anything. There is an asset sale. That’s it. It is akin to the sale of a parcel of land, the value of which may fluctuate after the sale. Or a condo in a new development. Or an American Girl Doll, or a Beanie Baby, or a baseball card.”

Baseball cards? Beanie Babies?

What happened to “fueling progress on decentralization, Web3, and the future of finance”?

To be fair to Coinbase, it is far from the only culprit when it comes to these kinds of mixed messages, as you’ll see in our research. Coinbase just happened to be the first that came along with such a timely, clear-cut example that illustrates the central argument: crypto brands have not clearly delineated their offerings.

They are trying to be everything, for everyone, all at once.

In the case of Coinbase, there are some clear lessons here.

✅ Those watching your brand and your messages aren’t just your target audience and competitors – other interested parties (regulators in this case) are also watching.

✅  Get it wrong, and they’ll notice.

✅  Once you start having to backtrack and re-clarify your messaging, the damage to your brand is already being done.

Coinbase’s dramatic statement very nearly had our team running back to the drawing board. After all, if a brand is changing its message, shouldn’t we update our research to reflect that?

Well, no. The objective of the report is not a general statement on branding – it’s all about consistency. So if we change our findings every time a brand updates its website or mission statement in response to external events, well, our research will end up just as inconsistent as the brands we’re trying to analyze.

So how is this inconsistency manifesting, what’s the impact, and most importantly, what can brands do to make it better?

Watch this space, as we will be publishing the research very soon!

Funding news

Good news for Web3 founders as two new crypto-centric funding announcements came out this week. CVP No Limit Fund I, a joint venture between NoLimit Holdings and private equity firm ClearVue Partners, closed with over $50 million secured last weekend. The fund will focus on early-stage investment in crypto projects and will be led by Binance’s former strategy chief, Gin Chao.

Elsewhere, Kraken Ventures announced it is seeking $100 million for its second fund, following previous investments in firms such as Blockdaemon and Anchorage.

What’s new in Web3?

  • PayPal created the biggest waves of recent weeks with its announcement of PYUSD, a dollar-backed stablecoin that can be used for payments and exchanged for fiat on PayPal’s platform. The company later followed up with news of a Cryptocurrencies Hub, a dedicated section of the PayPal platform for users to manage their crypto funds.
  • Base, the new blockchain from Coinbase, went live on mainnet, launching a new ecosystem of dApps. One of these is Friend.Tech, a social app that generated over $8 million in turnover during its first few days. However, users should be warned that there are some red flags.
  • Adidas teamed up with BAPE for a limited edition launch of 100 sneakers which will be released with an NFT digital twin version. The drop will be auctioned off, the first time Adidas has used such a distribution method for NFTs.
  • CBS Studios has secured a patent for the use of Star Trek intellectual property in NFTs and crypto collectibles for its Contiuum series.
  • Disney has reportedly let go of its metaverse chief following the apparent closure of its metaverse division. The reports underscore why it’s important for firms to have a robust strategy in place when exploring new technologies.

Focus on fintech and digital assets

  • Coinbase won approval from the US National Futures Association to begin offering regulated futures trading to accredited customers, representing a significant win in its battle for legitimacy on US soil.  
  • Former US president Donald Trump holds as much as $2.8 million in crypto, according to a recent disclosure. The 2024 Republican nominee favorite previously called crypto a scam. We can only assume this glaring inconsistency is a deliberate ingenious branding move designed to be consistent with his overall personal brand, which is characterised by inconsistency. A stable genius, indeed.
  • USDC issuer Circle has ringfenced a $1 billion “war chest” in preparation for the competitive threat of rival stablecoins such as PayPal’s PYUSD. Could stablecoins be the Web3 segment that finally beats the branding game?
  • The Stellar Development Foundation (developer of the Stellar blockchain and ecosystem) has become a minority shareholder and member of the Board of Directors of remittance giant Moneygram International. The move could further promote crypto adoption in the payments industry but also upends the traditional flow of funding from established sectors into crypto.

Inside the infrastructure

  • Visa has been testing a possible solution for one of blockchain’s biggest user acceptance barriers – the requirement to maintain a balance of native currency (such as ETH or MATIC) to transact, by facilitating payments in fiat. The move could be huge in terms of spurring future adoption, since the native currency requirement creates substantial friction.

Tweet of the week

Sam Bankman-Fried is back in jail, and the crypto sphere is having a schadenfreude party. Enough said.

California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) Opt-Out IconYour Privacy Choices Notice at Collection