For the second week, crypto prices have remained fairly stable — a welcome reprieve following a period of intense volatility. Bitcoin is currently consolidating in the $34,000 range with ETH settling in the high $2,000s. This comes amongst a series of positive news announcements; like the blizzard of press around the Bitcoin 2021 conference in Miami and El Salvador’s President introducing legislation to make the nation the first to adopt Bitcoin as legal tender. 

Miami hosts biggest-ever Bitcoin convention

This week, the 2021 Bitcoin conference landed in Miami, bringing a wide range of crypto advocates, including Wyoming senator Cynthia Lummis, Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey, skateboarding legend Tony Hawk, and Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary. The annual conference is the largest Bitcoin event in the world, and this year’s edition attracted at least 12,000 attendees. The convention was a coup for Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, who has long been vocal about his efforts to make the city America’s crypto capital. But Miami isn’t the only locale hoping to attract the booming crypto industry. Here’s how some of the competition stacks up.

  • Interest in Miami isn’t limited to Bitcoiners. A new $25 million fund called Borderless.Miami — which incorporates USD Coin (USDC) and the Algorand blockchain — will assist local financial technology companies.
  • El Salvador president Nayib Bukele appeared via video at Bitcoin 2021 to announce that he would be sending legislation to his nation’s congress that would make Bitcoin legal tender. 
  • Texas is also making a bid to attract crypto capital. Governor Greg Abbott signed a law creating a new regulatory framework around crypto. “Blockchain is a booming industry that Texas needs to be involved in,” Abbott said.
  • Texas is already a hub for Bitcoin mining — with companies including Bitmain, Blockcap, Argo Blockchain, Great American Mining, Layer1, Compute North, Riot Blockchain and Whinstone operating in the state. 
  • Wyoming has attracted crypto-focused firms for years. In April, it became the first state to recognize decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) as LLCs, paving the way for online collectives governed by blockchain-based smart contracts to have the same legal status as companies.
  • A pending bill in South Carolina would make the state a potential incubator for blockchain innovators.

Has the NFT bubble really burst?

A new analysis by crypto news site Protos showing that NFT sales have fallen by 90 percent since early May has gotten a lot of attention — with headlines declaring that the bubble in digital art and collectibles has popped. But is that analysis accurate? According to the Block’s Data Dashboard, weekly users of Ethereum-based NFT platforms reached all-time highs just last week. So what’s the real story?

  • It’s possible that both are true: while eye-popping sales seem to have slowed in the months since Beeple broke art-world records, the number of individual users — people interacting with NFTs in a variety of smaller ways — could be rising. And there’s certainly no shortage of new projects. 
  • Big names in traditional art continue to explore NFTs. Auction giant Sotheby’s (which facilitated a $16.8M digital art sale for artist Pak in April) has created a digital replica of its London gallery in the Decentraland virtual world. 
  • The auction house has also assembled a sale of significant NFTs — including Kevin McCoy’s 2014 image “Quantum,” which is considered to be the first-known NFT.
  • NFT news from the world of sports seems to break every day. Crypto is “definitely a big conversation in our clubhouse” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone, who is also an investor in an NFT memorabilia program called Athlete Direct. 

E-sports teams score huge crypto deals; Solana seeks to rival Ethereum

  • In a deal that rivals the size of traditional stadium-naming sponsorships, Hong Kong-based crypto exchange FTX paid a popular e-sports team $210 million to change its name to TSM FTX. In a smaller deal, Decrypt reports that the Uniswap community has voted to sponsor e-sports squad Team Secret — in exchange for the $112,500 grant, the team will “create educational content around Uniswap and cryptocurrency.” (Coinbase partnered with e-sports team Evil Geniuses in April.)
  • Solana is raising up to $450 million to challenge the dominant smart-contract compatible blockchain, Ethereum. Solana claims it can process 50,000 transactions per second (compared to Ethereum’s 10 to 15). However there are concerns about Solana’s decentralisation, with many critics pointing out that their high transaction comes at the expense of decentralisation and network security. Ethereum is currently undergoing a shift to the ETH2 blockchain, which will hugely increase speeds and lower costs.  
  • With Bitcoin mining’s energy use in headlines, payments company Square invested $5 million to build a solar-powered mining facility in the U.S. with mining firm Blockstream.

Insula Fund Highlights

This week we will be looking at Uniswap (UNI) in the Insula Pala investment fund. Not only has UNI become one of the most highly valued cryptocurrencies in its own right, it is also the platform on which many other elements of Insula’s fund are based. Uniswap is a popular decentralized trading protocol, known for its role in facilitating automated trading of decentralized finance (DeFi) tokens.

An example of an automated market maker (AMM), Uniswap launched in November 2018, but has gained considerable popularity this year thanks to the DeFi phenomenon and associated surge in token trading. Uniswap aims to keep token trading automated and completely open to anyone who holds tokens, while improving the efficiency of trading versus that on traditional exchanges.

Uniswap creates more efficiency by solving liquidity issues with automated solutions, avoiding the problems which plagued the first decentralized exchanges. In September 2020, Uniswap went a step further by creating and awarding its own governance token, UNI, to past users of the protocol. This added both profitability potential and the ability for users to shape its future — an attractive aspect of decentralized entities.

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