Currently Relevant
October 26, 2023

Currently Relevant: Edition 15

This week: Three important considerations for Web3 founders going into the next market phase; the potential return of FTX; Uniswap and Ledger come under fire from privacy advocates.

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: Three important considerations for Web3 founders going into the next market phase; the potential return of FTX; Uniswap and Ledger come under fire from privacy advocates.

What’s currently relevant in THE RELEVANCE HOUSE

New on THE RELEVANCE HOUSE blog, our latest article dives into the idea that branding is simply human-readable code. Learn how to write the code, and you can learn how to land your message in a way that resonates at the deepest level.

Read: Human-readable code: why branding is the programming language of humans.

Our Co-founder German’s latest piece for Cointelegraph was published last week, zooming in on the issue of brand consistency in Web3 companies, which are outperforming Michelle Yeoh in their attempt to be everything to everyone, all at once. Check it out here:

Read: “Why brand consistency matters and how Web3 companies are failing to deliver on Cointelegraph.

German also added his two cents worth to this collaborative piece from Cointelegraph, which summarizes helpful tips and insights from founders to help Web3 companies survive precarious economic times:

Read: Expert advice to help Web3 companies survive precarious economic times

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.

The bulls are back in town, but what have we learned?

Well, what a difference a fortnight makes! The imminent likelihood of a spot ETF approval has sent crypto prices soaring by 25% over recent days, gains which appear to be holding for now. After a prolonged time spent in deep freeze, the crypto space is finally starting to fizz again. And it feels good – an industry starved of good news for months deserves to get a little giddy and enjoy the moment.

However, if, as speculators are saying, this marks the start of a new phase, then this time, we have an opportunity to become better insulated against the harder times in the inevitable future cycles that will eventually follow. “Bear markets are times for building” is now a well-worn adage in crypto, but it refers to products. Bull markets are the time when we need to build brands. They represent an ideal chance to establish an audience of real, loyal users and supporters who will help to maintain your business during the down times.

Based on the hard-won experience of three (yes, three!) successive crypto cycles, here are three lessons I’ve taken from working with Web3 projects of all shapes and sizes.

  1. There will always be critics pointing out deficiencies or people demanding features and functionality not core to your business and your brand. Don’t play to the crowd! Find your USP – your “why” – and focus on those who choose you because of it. When it comes to branding, consistency is paramount, and the fact is that many Web3 companies could better seize this opportunity – a topic I discuss in depth in my latest op-ed on Cointelegraph. Have a read!
  1. In an industry that’s still recovering from the fallout of FTX, LUNA, and the other 2022 disasters, the old marketing tactics are now transparently a poor effort. Engaging celebrities and sports clubs to hype up opportunities to get rich is no longer a differentiator. Real products and services with real users saying good things will make your project stand out to people and investors alike, creating a virtuous cycle.
  2. Your brand is the Layer 1 of your entire marketing effort – without it, your marketing spend is simply draining revenue from your business. This time around, let’s focus on building brands that can deliver a meaningful return on investment.

Funding news

  • “Shrapnel”, a Call of Duty-type Web3 videogame, has raised $20 million in Series A funding in a round led by Polychain Capital. Developed by Neon Machine, the first-person shooter aims to gain AAA status to rival the top-performing titles on Playstation and Xbox.
  • Privacy protocol Nocturne Labs completed a successful seed round led by Bain Capital and Polychain in which the project raised $6 million. The funds will be used in part to pay the legal bills associated with launching a compliant privacy protocol.
  • Web3 healthcare platform Rymedi gathered $9 million in Series A funding to further develop its decentralized platform for the transfer of medical data and documents.

What’s new in Web3?

  • Mastercard continues its exploration into Web3 with the announcement of a new partnership with crypto payments firm Moonpay. The partnership aims to “explore how Web3 tools can enhance experiential marketing to connect with consumers in new ways.”
  • A new hook in the code for Uniswap V4 indicates that permissioned pools accessible to users who have been whitelisted via a KYC check are on the way. The news has caused inevitable controversy among the privacy-minded members of the crypto community, even though the hook is an opt-in feature for developers, not a core feature of the Uniswap platform. However, critics view it as the key to a regulatory takeover.

Focus on fintech and digital assets

  • Chainalysis has released its latest adoption statistics, showing that cryptocurrency usage is down, perhaps unsurprisingly, given the market. However, adoption is on the increase in middle-income countries such as India, Ukraine, and Nigeria, which make up 40% of the total world population.
  • Euroclear, a Brussels-based settlement house, has settled a €100 million World Bank bond via its newly launched digital securities issuance platform. While the move to digital bond issuance isn’t the first of its kind, the large value – as well as the issuer – are both noteworthy. After all, there’s no better route to worldwide adoption than adoption by worldwide institutions.
  • The Bank of Spain has thrown its support behind a digital euro, publishing a note which attempts to assure users that their privacy and data would be protected. The Finnish national bank has also previously made a similar move. The European Central Bank is currently in the “preparation phase” of the project to launch a digital euro.

Inside the infrastructure

  • Like Uniswap, wallet maker Ledger is also currently in the doghouse among the privacy-centric factions of the crypto community following the rollout of its cloud-based wallet recovery solution. The firm has sought to assure users that the ID check involved is not a formal KYC check and has released the open-source code to demonstrate the privacy protocols in place.
  • Polygon has deployed the smart contracts for the upcoming POL token, which will replace the legacy MATIC token as the network's native currency. The contract performs a simple exchange of MATIC, automatically sending back the equivalent value of POL.
  • Decentralized exchange dYdX has published the open-source code ahead of its mainnet launch as part of the Cosmos network. The move to becoming a Cosmos-based chain enables the DEX to decentralize its order book.

Weird crypto story of the week

Crypto’s notoriously terrible self-custody UX was once again in the spotlight this week in a story in Wired magazine, which outlines the dilemma faced by Stefan Thomas, the owner of a 2011-era hardware device called IronKey. Thomas has long since lost his password, locking him out of the 7002 BTC held on the device, worth over $230 million at today’s prices. Now, engineers at cybersecurity firm Unciphered have found a way to crack the device’s encryption.

The only catch is that Thomas is determined to honour a previous handshake agreement with two other competing companies, to which he had promised a share of the proceeds if they could access his funds. So now, Unciphered has a key without a lock to use it on.

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