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: Ethereum’s Shapella upgrade sails through without a hitch, Elon doubles down on crypto by teaming up with eToro to offer Twitter-enabled trading, and a16z’s second “State of Crypto” report shines a light on some encouraging trends after a deeply turbulent year for the sector.
The Big Picture
- Ethereum’s long-awaited Shapella upgrade took place without incident last week. For the first time, stakers could unstake their ETH, sparking fears of a price crash that thankfully didn’t materialize. In fact, ETH prices reached eleven-month highs in the days following the event. There’s even some tentative talk that the worst of the bear market could be behind us. Dare we hope?
- CNBC reported last week that Twitter will launch stocks and crypto trading with eToro, in one of the first partnerships announced by the company since Elon Musk took over last year. It comes after Twitter recently changed its homepage logo to the Doge meme, causing a temporary yet now-typical surge in DOGE.
- Leading VC firm a16z has published its second annual “State of Crypto” report, illustrating several encouraging trends across the sector. These include more active blockchain users, rising activity in segments like DeFi and NFTs, and technological advancements in fields such as zero-knowledge technologies bringing enhancements in scalability and privacy.
What’s new in Web3?
- Web3 enthusiasts descended on the Big Apple last week for NFT.NYC, a three-day festival comprising over 180 events dedicated to celebrating NFTs and Web3. Thanks to the advent of Ordinals, Bitcoin enthusiasts put in an appearance this year.
- Events included the launch of RZR, a Web3 TV show straight out of Hollywood, directed by David Bianchi and featuring appearances by Danny Trejo and Mena Suvari, as well as a panel discussion focusing on less easily-exploitable alternatives to the play-to-earn gaming model.
- DEXs are the biggest beneficiaries of US regulatory crackdown, according to data from DeFi aggregator DeFiLlama. Trading volumes for March spiked to their highest monthly total above $133 billion at the same time US regulators were targeting operators such as Kraken for offering staking services.
Focus on fintech and digital assets
- As US regulators become increasingly draconian in their approach to crypto, it seems some countries are ready to move into the gap. According to a Bloomberg report, , France is becoming a “startup nation” for crypto firms. The Banque de France is also examining the certification and incorporation of DeFi protocols in advance of the upcoming EU MiCA regulation. With France’s proximity to Switzerland and its established Crypto Valley hub, and more comprehensive regulation due to come into force across the EU bloc soon, Europe now looks like a desirable region for blockchain developers.
- Also from Bloomberg, Wall St firms including investment giant T. Rowe Price are reportedly testing the finance-focused Avalanche blockchain for use in trade settlement and execution after it launched “evergreen subnets” some weeks ago. The subnets are effectively blockchain instances that can be launched by firms for research purposes, or for production-ready use cases.
Inside the infrastructure
- The legal team behind FTX debtors indicated last week that crypto’s highest-profile failure could yet make a comeback following the news that it had recovered over $7 billion in assets. While the injection of capital makes things easier from an operational perspective, the firm has its work cut out to build a brand following the revelations regarding the previous management.
- US lawmakers prepare to discuss a landmark stablecoin bill later this week following the publication of draft text over the weekend. The bill could outlaw the issuance of crypto-backed stablecoins such as Maker’s DAI to US users, while also putting issuers of fiat-backed stablecoins like USDT under the eye of the Fed.
Meme of the week
Because in the week that Bitcoin made it back to $30,000 for the first time in ten months, we all have that one friend, right?