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COVID Variant Crashes Crypto

Happy Friday, y’all. Given fears about a new COVID-19 variant, cryptocurrency markets saw a bloodbath today, akin to a Black Friday sale. It’s likely to haunt equities and crypto world for the weekend.

$BTC.X saw a sharp decline, down 8% today. It dipped as low as $54,278, which is 20% down from an all-time high of nearly $69,000 (which it hit earlier this month). $ETH.X performed even worse, dropping to the tune of double-digits and landing at a value of $4,067.

Other top digital currencies also saw a massive sell-off. Decentraland ($MANA.X) and Axie Infinity ($AXS.X), the new stars of the crypto market, also struggled a lot today.

Let’s hope that the new week will bring fresh energy to the crypto market. Take a look at today’s headlines: 

  • Digital lands sell for millions of dollars
  • Crypto mining pools face disruptions  
  • An interview with an entrepreneur on the role of blockchain in the education system 
  • Celsius CFO arrested on money laundering

Check how the major cryptocurrencies are performing:

Bitcoin (BTC)
$54,397.59
-7.88%
Ether (ETH) $4,081.06 -9.82%
Binance Coin (BNB)
$590.99
-6.98%
Solana (SOL) $197.11 -6.96%
Cardano (ADA)
$1.57
-8.30%
XRP (XRP)
$0.9529
-9.74%
Polkadot (DOT)
$35.36
-11.56%
Dogecoin (DOGE)  $0.2039 -8.80%
Avalanche (AVAX) 
$109.88
-8.69%
Shiba Inu (SHIB)
$0.00003959
-7.27%

Metaverse

These Digital Properties Sold For Millions

This week seems to have been all about the metaverse. Specifically, real estate in the metaverse. We did not mistype… land in a virtual world. 

Play-to-earn gaming platform Axie Infinity sold a plot of virtual land for $2.3 million yesterday. The animated, metaverse pet-training game tweeted that the land was sold for 550 $ETH.X or over $2.3 million in today’s value.  

Axie Infinity allows users or players to gain control over in-game assets and increase their value by playing the game. As a reward for participation, they can earn tokens and NFTs. The native token $AXS.X, one of the most popular gaming tokens.

Earlier this week, rival platform Decentraland garnered investor interest by selling digital land worth $3.2 million, or 618,000 $MANA.X, the native token of the platform. That was for an estate of 116 land parcels, according to Tokens.com, whose Metaverse Group subsidiary made the purchase.

The group said the virtual land would be developed to “facilitate fashion shows and commerce within the exploding digital fashion industry,” with Metaverse Group planning partnerships with “several existing fashion brands” to build out their metaverse e-commerce offerings.

Metaverse, a buzzy new phrase referring to the intersection of virtual and augmented reality, virtual real estate, and online gaming/experiences, has stirred up the conversation around gaming-related blockchain projects after Facebook’s announcement rebranding its name to ‘Meta.’

The growing interest illustrates just how much investors are willing to pay before the metaverse really takes off.


Crypto Mining

Connectivity Issues Plague Multiple Mining Pools

Several crypto mining pools — including Binance Pool, F2pool, Poolin, and ViaBTC — are experiencing connectivity problems, according to their Telegram channels. Mining pools are networks of cryptocurrency miners that pool their computing resources so as to improve the likelihood of finding a block or otherwise mining successfully.

Coindesk reported that the issue is caused by domain name system (DNS) “pollution.” A domain name system, also known as DNS, is the Internet’s phone book, connecting web browsers to websites. Per the report, Hackers may redirect traffic to an imposter website using DNS poisoning.

Alejandro De La Torre, founder of ProofofWork.Energy consulting firm and former Poolin vice president, told CoinDesk that the Chinese miners seem to be most affected by the connectivity issues. He alleged that the Chinese authorities are probably interfering with mining pools. 

Notably, despite banning crypto mining, a large number of pools are located in China. Right now, the hashrate of these pools has dropped. Binance Pool’s bitcoin hashrate has fallen by 14%, F2pool’s is down 8%, and ViaBTC’s is down 7%. These pools have suggested users modify their DNS to solve the issue. 


One-On-One

Can Blockchain Revolutionize Education? Find Out What An Expert Says.

After getting a foothold in industries like finance and healthcare, blockchain is transforming the educational sector. The phenomenon has gotten a lot of attention in the pandemic era. So, what exactly is blockchain-based education? 

For answers, we spoke to the co-founder of ODEM (On-Demand Education Marketplace) — a Swiss-based company, Johanna Maaghul

ST: Blockchain and education what’s the connection between them? How can blockchain help to educate people?

JM: In the remote-learning era, one major issue is the authenticity of the certificate since there are many fake online certificates/programs available. Blockchain helps record the data, verify it, and give ownership to the students of their academic credentials. 

The educational institutions can issue students their diplomas and certificates on the blockchain. Students will have continual ownership, and they can share these credentials with anyone, including employers and other learning institutes. 

ST: How’s it different from other online programs? 

JM: ODEM brings students, educators, and employers together on one platform via smart contracts. After finishing the course, the student receives a certificate of completion, and the ledger records the professor who taught the class.

Examples of courses available on the ODEM platform include professional certifications in medical billing, cybersecurity, and software development.

ST: The blockchain-based degree is a new phenomenon. Is it legal?

JM: The legal value of a student’s blockchain-based degree or credential is dependent on the acknowledgment of the issuing body to verify the legal validity of the certificate. 

Once digitally signed, the user has full certificate ownership to share with other learning institutions and employers for education verification.

ST: What’s your business model? How do you earn revenue? 

JM: ODEM’s business model includes the fee charged for programs sold on the open marketplace. The revenue also comes from an employer fee for candidates successfully placed using blockchain-based skill and experience verification.

ST: To date, in how many countries have you expanded your business? 

JM: ODEM has platform users from over 170 countries. While ODEM has a global audience and client base, its business model and focus are to work closely with local educational institutions and employers to ensure that local verified candidates fulfill in-demand professions. 

ST: What are some hurdles you face in your operations? 

JM: The biggest challenge for ODEM is timely mass adoption among educational organizations. Employers worldwide have a shortage of qualified candidates in cybersecurity, machine learning, and data science. 

While education in these fields is available, making it affordable, accessible, verifiable, and transferable changes the landscape for students hungry to learn and have meaningful livelihoods worldwide.

ST: Since people are now more aware of the crypto space, what’s your next plan?

JM: ODEM recently implemented the ability for students and educators to use the ODEM token in a model similar to a payment voucher. Students can also pay using Bitcoin and Ethereum.  With a large percentage of the world’s population unbanked and having some of the most career-relevant courses available, ODEM is excited to provide these features. 


Crypto Crime

Celsius CFO Arrested On Money Laundering and Other Charges

Yaron Shalem, the chief financial officer of cryptocurrency lending platform Celsius, has been arrested on money laundering and other charges. He was among seven people arrested in Tel Aviv last week who had some connection with Israeli crypto mogul Moshe Hogeg.

Shalem is the ex-CFO of venture capital company Singulariteam Ltd. Blockchain entrepreneur Moshe Hogeg headed the company. Hogeg and his partners were accused of involvement in many scams, including the fraud related to the initial coin offering (ICO) boom of 2017. 

Celsius tweeted today: “We were recently made aware of a police investigation in Israel involving an employee. While this is in no way related to the employee’s time or work at @CelsiusNetwork, the employee was immediately suspended. We have also verified that no assets were misplaced or mishandled.”

Shalem joined Celsius earlier this year. He served as CFO for Singulariteam, a venture capital firm founded by Hogeg, from January 2014 to March 2018. It is unclear what charges Shalem was facing at the time of his arrest. According to some media reports, the arrest is based on suspicions of money laundering, fraud, and sexual assault.

The arrest is a major jolt for Celsius, which has seen a lot of trouble in the past month as securities regulators alleged that the company’s loan product qualifies as unregistered security in Texas and New Jersey.