The function enables users to speculate on future prices of cryptos and settle their trades using USDC.
The function enables users to speculate on future prices of cryptos and settle their trades using USDC.
NFTs are adding complexity and diversity to the blockchain ecosystem, and this new wave of utility is attracting a much wider audience. The blockchain-cryptocurrency sector is a little more than a decade old and still fighting an uphill battle for widespread acceptance. Those who have closely followed the industry’s rise know its potential to solve the biggest problems plaguing legacy financial systems, but before crypto can go truly mainstream, it must first reckon with some of its own inherent shortcomings. For starters, crypto-based transactions are considerably slower than conventional payments, with the exception of some cross-border use cases. Faster transactions are possible, but not without a hefty price tag out of reach for many users. This sluggish speed often means long waits for transactions to settle, resulting in network congestion. As we witnessed with CryptoKitties in 2017, scalability is a serious concern for existing blockchains and protocols running on them. Beyond these technical limitations, myths and misunderstandings abound in the blockchain-cryptocurrency domain, which presents significant obstacles to onboarding. Those skeptical about cryptocurrencies often perceive it as “magic internet money” with little or no value in the real world, or worse, a means for criminals to transact shady business outside of the watchful eye of financial regulators. This is despite the fact that just 0.34% of crypto-based transactions involve criminal activity globally. Cryptocurrency is also frequently criticized for its gluttonous energy consumption, with the average Bitcoin transaction consuming twice as much energy as a typical U.S. home uses in an entire month. Mass-scale Bitcoin mining operations around the world consume enormous amounts of fossil fuels to power their server farms, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions in our atmosphere. Some companies have begun to partner with energy plants to use excess energy that might otherwise be wasted. Bitcoin and Ethereum are trying to resolve these issues through innovations like the Lightning Network and Ethereum 2.0. Emerging blockchain platforms are also introducing radical and promising enhancements, but as a whole, mass adoption in the mainstream is still a distant reality. In spite of these and other obstacles, the burgeoning community of crypto enthusiasts have put tremendous effort into spreading awareness and education—which is steadily coming to fruition. Moreover, as innovators build user-friendly solutions to improve the first-time experience of amateurs, we are gradually moving towards broader adoption. Let’s take a look at some of the major catalysts of this change. NFT Collectibles One of the most successful and innovative discoveries to emerge from the blockchain sector in recent memory is non-fungible tokens (NFTs). Although NFTs have multiple applications, the oldest and perhaps the most popular is their role as collectibles. NFTs caught the fancy of crypto enthusiasts beginning in 2017 with CryptoPunks, and have since become cultural artifacts, unfolding one of the most important chapters in blockchain’s history. NFT-based collectibles are not mere JPEG images sitting idle in their owner’s crypto wallet. People are buying these assets to flaunt them on social media as a sort of virtual status symbol. Realizing the enthusiasm, Twitter has been working to offer users the ability to authenticate their ownership of NFTs and show them off in your profile. NFTs also have the potential to be much more than mere collectibles—fractionalization is possible, for instance, and so are DeFi derivatives. Torum is one company focused on growing the NFT and Crypto Community and has recently taken investment from KuCoin Labs. Torum’s NFT marketplace is powered by their token XTM, which helps meet the NFT-centric needs of crypto communities. They will be connecting users in a SocialFi (Social Finance) ecosystem where cryptocurrency users and projects can collaborate and, according to their twitter, already have close to 200,000 users. Another market player lowering the barrier to entry to NFTs among new and existing crypto users is Chronicle, a marketplace creating authenticated digital collectibles for the world’s biggest brands, including for stars of stage, screen, and television. Chronicle makes it easy for users to buy, sell, trade, and gift officially licensed NFT collectibles, even without technical knowledge, with a user-friendly platform that accepts a multitude of payment options including credit and debit cards. Play-to-Earn (P2E) Games Blockchain-powered gaming is rapidly becoming a sensation, with the combined market cap of top gaming tokens having peaked at over $52 billion. Traditional gamers are already familiar with the idea of in-game assets, such as weapons, vehicles, or loot boxes, around which entire in-game economies with corresponding real world value have begun to spring up. By leveraging NFTs and other blockchain-based innovations, decentralized protocols are taking in-game assets (and gaming) to a whole new level. Unlike traditional gaming, where assets are confined to individual games’ worlds, tokenized in-game assets have real monetary value transcending the games’ virtual boundaries, and persist even if the game ceases to exist. This development has given rise to a totally new, user-centric gaming paradigm: Play-to-Earn or P2E. In our pandemic-ravaged economy, people had to get creative to make ends meet, and P2E games shot to fame in this climate. The prospect of earning real money by playing games is indeed exhilarating, however the focus on the economics of these virtual realms usually comes at the expense of compromised gameplay and visuals. The sector is evolving, though, and quite rapidly, with participatory and people-centric titles like what we are seeing from Iron Sail, Whydah’s GameFi hub that has received $25 million funding from major blockchain ventures. Running on KardiaChain, Iron Sail’s Mytheria is an NFT trading card game set to release in the coming months that adds a whole new layer to the Play-to-Earn model: Create-to-Earn. This allows artists to submit artwork to the game community and even create games to generate revenue from their work. Thetan Arena is another game from Iron Sail that, in a span of 2 weeks since launch, accumulated a total of more than 5 million users across all platforms. They reported a number of daily active users has reached a peak of 2 million. User-Oriented Services & Privacy Prioritization Disrupting user-oriented services like Data Management Platforms (DMP) and Creator Economies is another prominent outcome of leveraging blockchain technology. Blockchain-based solutions can improve these services, providing better security, privacy, and transparency, especially concerning personal and sensitive data. This benefits not only enterprises and content creators, but above all, the end-users themselves. We have already moved beyond ordinary cryptographic encryptions in this regard, thanks to companies like ARPA. ARPA CEO Felix Xu, who owns more than 3,000 NFTs, attended Art Basel 2021 in Miami to network with NFT artists. Xu said that ARPA’s Randcast technology uses cryptographic methods to provide a secure, fast, and affordable way for projects to generate onchain verifiable random numbers. Verifiable randomness can improve the transparency of minting NFTs, blockchain gaming, generative art, and more. The Tip Of The Iceberg? Despite its nascency, the crypto sector has already attained a market cap of $2.57 trillion though it has seen a sell-off around the new year. As blockchain innovations continue to evolve, crypto companies will devise new ways to onboard new users to their platforms. With more investments coming into the crypto industry all the time, companies will eventually adopt people-friendly technologies for mass adoption. By any measure this is an exciting time, and we’re still at the very beginning of the blockchain and cryptocurrency story. As that story unfolds, we may be about to witness an exponential and world-moving technology boom, with echoes of the early days of the internet. Image: Pixabay
From arcade systems to home consoles and mobile apps, gaming has made its way into the lives of billions across the world. As a result, gaming is a popular activity for many in the modern age and remains one of the globe’s most profitable industries. The first recognized example of a gaming machine debuted at the 1940 New York World’s Fair and was based on the ancient game of Nim. Played by about 50,000 people, the computer won more than 90% of the time. In the mid-20th century, gaming was regarded as an oddity and primarily was just the subject of scientific and academic research projects. It was not until 1967 that the first prototype multiplayer video game system emerged. By 1972, the design turned into the Odyssey console that later inspired Atari’s Pong video game. The 1990s finally brought the gaming industry to prominence. The rise of 3D gaming and successful franchises like Mortal Kombat and Sonic the Hedgehog cultivated generations of loyal gamers. Interest in gaming also established companies like Nintendo and Sony as household names. The Internet Revolution And The Rise Of Modern, Digital Gaming The rise of the internet and better computer processing power ushered in new gaming frontiers. Games and graphics became more intricate while internet servers allowed global gamers to play together. In addition, online storefronts like the Apple App Store and Xbox Live Marketplace made buying and updating games much more effortless. Ease of access through these tools helped bring gaming into popular culture. In 2018, a Newzoo report revealed how mobile gaming revenue had captured more than 50% of the global gaming market, bringing in about $70 billion in revenue after enjoying a decade of double-digit growth. By 2021, the worldwide gaming market revenue had jumped to $178.2 billion as continued technological innovation led to more impressive year-over-year totals. Estimates project the number of global video game players will jump to just over 3 billion in 2023, up from 2.69 billion in 2020. While the popularity of titles like Lost Ark, Fortnite, and PlayerUnknown’s Battleground has drawn many to the gaming industry, growth also comes through the marriage of cryptocurrency and gaming, primarily through the ‘play-to-earn’ model. Blending entertainment with financial speculation, Axie Infinity users can buy NFTs and use their virtual ‘creatures’ to win battles and create new NFTs. The platform made $1.3 billion in revenue in 2021. From Q1 2021 to the same period in 2022, blockchain-based gaming jumped by 2,000%. Crypto Developers Look To What Works In Traditional Gaming And Aim To Replicate Crypto gaming has grown in popularity as developers work to understand how to welcome traditional gamers into the Web3 world. One strategy is to offer free-to-play gaming options for those who might be newer to the cryptocurrency world, following in the legacy of apps like Angry Birds or Candy Crush that allowed users to jump into a game quickly. Crypto gaming’s social aspects are also taking shape as guilds and DAOs begin to spring up in conjunction with the space’s more popular titles. But the play-to-earn model, where crypto users can collect assets while playing, stands as one of the most transformational aspects of the gaming world. The structure brings in a shift from a ‘publisher or developer first’ game economy to a ‘player first ecosystem’ where gamers stand to benefit instead of companies releasing titles. As a result, play-to-earn games like Axie Infinity and DeFi Kingdoms continue to grow in popularity as gamers flock to platforms where they can enjoy an energetic community and win. The technology continues to prove its potential as projects like Illuvium, one of the most anticipated blockchain titles in the gaming industry, develop gameplay similar to most AAA games available today. There is no doubt that the potential for play-to-earn games is nearly limitless. They can cater to different gaming genres, one being a classic card trading game where users can hold their card packs as NFTs. One project that aims to do just that is Shiryo. Shiryo players will be able to mint packs of NFT cards, form decks, and compete against each other in individual games and weekly competitions for rewards that include tokens, cards, card packs, and avatars. Powered by the Ethereum blockchain, Shiryo’s multiplayer experience comes from Amazon’s AWS Gamelift service, as traditional platforms like Steam do not allow NFT-based games. Team members plan to release more packs and boost gameplay in the future after launching the first couple of phases in late 2021. Continued investment from venture capital firms and the play-to-earn model’s popularity only attracts more people to blockchain-based gaming. As a result, the industry remains strong even amid immense volatility in cryptocurrency markets. Crypto gaming only looks to accelerate as more people, especially traditional gamers, get comfortable with virtual currencies and see how crypto-focused games continue to deliver on their promises.
First announced by India’s finance minister in February, the amendment to existing laws proposed a 30% tax targeting digital asset transactions.
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