Coinbase Bytes: The Countries Leaning into Crypto

CRYPTO WORLDWIDE

From Brazil to Nigeria, global crypto adoption is on the rise despite market uncertainty

One of the hallmarks of a crypto downturn is a steady drip (or deluge) of negative headlines, and this summer’s seen plenty already, from crypto prices plummeting to overextended crypto firms with liquidity issues. But this means promising developments, including the gradual rise of global crypto adoption, often fly under the radar. A new report from Boston Consulting Group indicated that one billion people could be crypto users by 2030; and for the past several months, countries in Africa, South America, and the Middle East have increasingly explored crypto tech. Let’s take a closer look at some key developments around the world.

Europe and Africa saw an increase in crypto venture deals in Q2, bucking a 22% global decline in venture funding last quarter. While Africa saw a 189% jump to $280 million in fundraises, Europe recorded a 25% spike to $1.8 billion, led by investors including Animoca Brands, Coinbase Ventures, and Polygon Studios, per The Block. The U.S., meanwhile, saw a 24% decline, but still led overall with $5.4 billion raised. (Check out Coinbase Ventures’ full Q2 recap.)

Honduras, Brazil, and Paraguay are expanding Latin America’s crypto footprint, nearly a year after El Salvador legalized Bitcoin. Paraguay’s senate passed a bill in mid-July that creates regulatory frameworks for crypto exchanges and miners (it now awaits the president’s signature). The bill could play a major role in attracting mining firms to Paraguay, which boasts cheap and renewable hydroelectric power. Meanwhile, Brazil’s largest crypto exchange, Mercado Bitcoin, is looking to expand operations in Mexico in the second half of the year as regulatory talks enter their final stages. And Honduras is experimenting with “crypto tourism” by turning the town of Santa Lucia into “Bitcoin Valley,” with 60 local merchants planning to accept crypto payments.

Africa, home to some of the world’s highest-inflation countries, has seen a flurry of crypto developments in recent months. Nigeria, which has the continent’s largest economy, has seen its citizens pile into crypto to shield wealth as they continue to lose confidence in the weakening Naira. Since becoming the second country after El Salvador to legalize Bitcoin this May, the Central African Republic last week launched Sango Coin, a national digital currency meant to attract foreign investment and boost the country’s mining sector (so far the token has had a slow start). Meanwhile in Kenya — which ranks fifth-highest globally in digital currency ownership — a climate activist sold NFTs to fund a 30-foot sculpture made from recycled plastics.

In the Middle East, Dubai announced a “Metaverse Strategy” which aims to add $4 billion to its economy over the next five years by quintupling the number of metaverse and blockchain companies and supporting 40,000 virtual jobs. The metaverse is also having a moment at global academic institutions. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School is launching an online course called “Business in the Metaverse Economy;” The University of Tokyo will also begin offering similar courses; and The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology plans to build digital replicas of its campuses in the metaverse.

Why it matters… Just like it’s wise not to be overly optimistic during the frenzied hype of a bull market, it’s also important not to be excessively pessimistic during bearish downturns. In fact, smart investors will tell you that bear markets are inevitable — and are often when fortunes are built. During June’s crypto market crash, “Shark Tank” investor and crypto convert Kevin O’Leary remained bullish about the sector’s long-term future. One of the main reasons?  “Look at an MIT graduating class of engineers,” O’Leary told Markets Insider. “The smartest people want to work on the [block]chain.”

Coinbase Bytes: The countries leaning in to crypto

NFT Markets without Cryptocurrency

Big Brands, Big Bucks, Minimizing Risks

Several Digital Asset Marketplaces are using the NFT model without the “risk” of using volatile cryptocurrency, i.e. value fluctuations of crypto, e.g. Ethereum.

In NFT Marketplaces we don’t have to buy and sell using cryptocurrency?

non-fungible token (NFT) is a non-interchangeable unit of data stored on a blockchain, a form of digital ledger. Types of NFT data units include digital files such as photos, videos, and audio. Because each token is uniquely identifiable, NFTs differ from blockchain cryptocurrencies, such as Bitcoin.

Non-fungible token on Wikipedia

Are NFT Marketplaces using Blockchain?

By definition all NFT Marketplaces are using Blockchain, but don’t necessarily need to be based on Cryptocurrencies for the buying and selling of digital assets.

The goal of blockchain is to allow digital information to be recorded and distributed, but not edited. In this way, a blockchain is the foundation for immutable ledgers, or records of transactions that cannot be altered, deleted, or destroyed.

Blockchain Definition: What You Need to Know – Investopedia

So, in lieu of cryptocurrency, some NFT Marketplaces are using Fiat money. What is Fiat money?

Legal tender is fiat money, or currency (bank notes and coins). It has value because a government creates it and backs it, and people using it have faith in its value. Fiat money such as US dollars can be used as an exchange for goods and services.

Legal tender – Simple English Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Hey batter, batter, batter, batter! Swing, batter!

Major League Baseball (MLB) is now live on the Candy MLB NFT Network. Their Marketplace Opening Weekend (1/14/2022) produced stellar results:

With over 15,000 sales in three days, our secondary marketplace got off to a memorable start in its opening weekend. Join those fans who have already built up their collection by adding your favorite MLB stars and moments to your wallet.

Email correspondence from info@candy.com 

Stipulations

The Candy NFT Network accepts ONLY USD and is available in the US and Canada. The MLB NFT Platform is still in “BETA” mode as it appears in small characters on the top of the page. This just means that you may find bugs in the system. I just found one now using Chrome, and the “Sort By” feature on the top right of the screen.

What is a [Digital] Asset Class?

An asset class is a grouping of investments that exhibit similar characteristics and are subject to the same laws and regulations. Asset classes are thus made up of instruments that often behave similarly to one another in the marketplace.

Investopedia.com

Where will people flock to sell and buy their digital assets? That may depend upon the [digital] asset class the assets align under. For example, NFT Art may be the simplest NFT Marketplace to buy and sell works of digital art. However, collectables that go under extreme scrutiny, such as Sports Memorabilia may gravitate toward NFT Markets with less volatility from a cryptocurrency. Under normal, fiat paying conditions, those who invest in memorabilia are looking for stability in an investment from traditional, physical memorabilia. We can assume that same digital asset class of memorabilia would be sought by conservative investors, and would minimize risk when the time comes to sell the digital asset. Art NFTs are a gamble in may cases, and one might argue, so is cryptocurrency.

Experience an NFT Marketplace with One Digital Asset Class

Obvious benefits, functionality around the NFT marketplace with a single asset class allows the owners of the platform to specifically cater to their primary audience. Features that you might see with an Art NFT marketplace might differ from a sports memorabilia NFT Marketplace. Also, lots of traditional, physical assets that morph to digital assets have a rich history, and experience sought by particular collectors. If you go to an NFT marketplace without a specifically catered to digital asset class, the buying and selling experience will be muted by comparison.

MLB NFT Marketplace with “Custom” Properties

Because of the single [digital] asset class of baseball memorabilia, the Candy NFT Platform can deliver a unique experience to their buyers and sellers. Each of the digital assets are showcased to accentuate their customer base loyalty such as the classic baseball trading cards, but now digitized. Each baseball “player” card has a set of unique digital properties, recognizable by the physical trading card collectors, such as a “Player Bio” including age and height.

Even referencing the “classic” style NFT Marketplace functionality has it’s own unique display, such as List Date, Edition #, and even a “Get it Now” button. There are other types of digital assets particular to the MLB NFT Marketplace, such as a “World Series Trophy” NFT, and a “MLB Play of the Day” (Below).

Veve Digital Collectables – Marvel NFT Marketplace

Another great example of a digital asset marketplace using Fiat tender instead of Cryptocurrency. Comic books also have a rich history of physical collectibles with an eye toward a stable investment over time. Buying and selling with cryptocurrency adds volatility that a conservative investor may not want.

Mint Comparison (Part Two): OpenSea.io verse Mintable.com

Before reading this post, it’s suggested you read Part One focused on the OpenSea.io NFT Marketplace

Mintable.com – The Basics

Select “Mint an Item” from the main menu on the page header. Mintable allows you to share your existing NFTs already minted from another NFT marketplace, or mint a new item. Note: not all NFTs already minted are compatible. For example, OpenSea minted items are not compatible. Select “Create a new item”.

Before proceeding to mint a new item, there are relatively new minting options. “Gasless” or “Traditional Minting”. From what I understand, “Traditional Minting” requires a Gas (Fee) upon minting of the digital asset / NFT transaction, and the new “Gasless” option puts the Gas/Fee on the acquisition/purchase of the digital asset.

Another option before the minting process is “Which Blockchain do you want to mint on?” , and the choices are “Ethereum Mainnet”, the traditional blockchain , or “Immutable X”.

Immutable X uses a validity-based proof. Validity-based proof means that your assets can never be traded without your permission, which is the same security measure as the Ethereum mainchain, and your items can never be taken from you either. Nov 5, 2021

What is Immutable X? Ethereum’s First Layer 2 For NFTs

Select the classic options, Ethereum Mainnet, and Traditional [Mint], then “Proceed to Mint”.

Create and List an item for sale

Another difference between minting an NFT on Mintable.com and OpenSea.io is that when minting on OpenSea, the collector/user is allowed to mint an item without selling the digital asset. On Mintable.com, you mint and post the item for sale at the same time. On OpenSea, the user can mint new NFTs to collections of digital assets without needing to sell them.

The first step in the Mintable.com “Mint an Item”, or “Create and List an item for sale”, is to categorize and subcategorize the digital asset. The user is required to add this metadata about their digital asset. You can see why this would be a benefit, such as searching the marketplace for particular items to purchase. On the negative side, users minting assets are cornered into slots to categorize their work..

“What kind of item are you making?”

  • Art
  • Music
  • Videos
  • Collectibles
  • Sports
  • Utility

“Select Sub-category” has lots and lots of choices for each kind of digital asset.

“Mint in the Mintable Store” option to place your Digital Assets in the “generic” store verse a user defined store. A user defined store, similar to a collection from the OpenSea perspective, allows you to place your digital assets in a collection/store and popularize your assets based on the store front. Its a selling tool as well as a method to collect your works.

Once you select the Store option, a Token Address and Token ID is generated automatically for the digital asset / NFT.

Token name” – This is the name of the NFT on the blockchain that will be displayed everywhere.

Listing Title” – This is the name of the listing on Mintable. Can be the same as the Token name.

Listing Subtitle” – This is the listing subtitle

Listing Tags” – Use a comma, tab, or enter to separate your tags. Tags help your item become more searchable.

Add Files” – Images, Videos, and GIFs. The digital assets being declared as unique, and ownership by the person creating the NFT.

Other Metadata” – Add extra data on your token (maximum of 20 data allowed). Key / Value pairs of metadata for the Digital Asset.

Item description” – allows the user minting the digital asset to provide a long description for this NFT.

Transfer Copyright when purchased?” Yes/No Checkbox

Allow buyer to resell?” Yes/No Checkbox

Price and Type” – Fixed, Auction, Auction with Buy Now

Fixed price – in USD or ETH

Auction “Starting Bid Price

Auction Length” – from 12 hours up to 7 days

List this Item” button

Comparison Summary

The Sniff Test

Mintable.com has an interesting feature that “scans” the user’s digital asset attributes using some type of object recognition then scans the internet to see if, in fact, the proposed digital asset is unique. So far that feature is exclusive to Mintable.com . This process takes place when the user goes to mint the proposed NFT.

Collections and Stores

OpenSea.io provides their marketplace users the ability to create Collections to group their NFTs as they see fit, and as of this writing, that is a free feature. Mintable.com provides their NFT Marketplace sellers the ability put up a storefront, which a user may use to sell similarly designed NFTs. There appears to be a significant cost to using one’s own store, or a user may use the generic Mintable.com store.

Interoperability / Portability

Both platforms, OpenSea.io and Mintable.com have the ability to add metadata to the NFT being minted using key/value pairs allowing for compatibility cross platforms, I.e. other NFT marketplaces or multiplayer online gaming, for example. As standards for cross platform NFTs develop, these key/value pairs may contain JavaScript or HTML.

Mint Comparison (Part One): OpenSea.io verse Mintable.com

Evolving, Fluid Functionality of NFT Marketplaces

Let me start out by saying, the NFT marketplaces’ functionality are very fluid, so what I’m about to describe today, may change in the days or weeks ahead.

The goal of this post is to familiarize the reader with the Minting process, compare two minting processes from separate NFT Marketplaces, and begin to discuss the portability of NFTs.

  1. The NFT owner may share a minted item (unique) on one marketplace, and share that minted NFT across multiple marketplaces.
  2. Import and use NFTs in Massively multiplayer online gaming (MMOG, or more commonly, MMO). Anything from NFT art to a useable NFT sword can be crafted and sold in Marketplaces, and then used within other 3rd party platforms, such as a multiplayer, online gaming engine.

OpenSea.io – NFT Marketplace

OpenSea.io was my first NFT Marketplace experience, and for the most part it was a great experience. VERY user friendly to “Mint” non-fungible tokens (NFT).

An NFT is unique digital identifier that cannot be copied, substituted, or subdivided, that is recorded in a blockchain, and that is used to certify authenticity and ownership (as of a specific digital asset and specific rights relating to it).

Merriam-Webster

Getting started was a breeze, setting up an ETH Wallet, and then linking it to the OpenSea platform. From there, you are ready to jump into the marketplace.

OpenSea.io – Minting Process

The Basics

What unique, one of a kind, digital asset do you want to upload to the NFT Marketplace? It could be an Image, Video, Audio, or 3D Model. The File types supported are JPG, PNG, GIF, SVG, MP4, WEBM, MP3, WAV, OGG, GLB, and GLTF. There is also a Max size of a file of 100 MB. Seems kind of small for a high quality video? Besides the file itself, the only other required field is the Title, a single line text field.

The Collection field empowers the person Minting the NFT to group NFTs together. It’s a great way to show off your collection of a particular theme . You need to have created a single Collection / repository to group NFTs.

Optional Fields to expand the Digital Asset

Description is an available field to add verbose details beyond the Title.

External link field is provided, a URL on the NFT’s detail page, so users can click to learn more about it. You can link to your own webpage.

Conformity of Metadata

The following fields represent several ways to add metadata to an NFT. Here is an opportunity for conformity / uniformity across platforms (e.g. NFT Marketplace; E.g.2 Multiplayer Online Gaming)

The Property field enables the person Minting the NFT to add key/value pairs. The user interface “Add Properties” menu popup doesn’t indicate any limitation to the number of Properties a user can add. For each Property, the person minting the NFT must specify two parts to a property, a Type field and a Name field. There does not seem to be any limit to the alphanumeric values that can be set for either of these fields.

Add Properties

Optional Fields Continue

Levels – Numerical traits that show as a progress bar. Levels show up underneath your item, are clickable, and can be filtered in your collection’s sidebar.

Add Levels / Add Stats

Stats – Numerical traits that just show as numbers. Stats show up underneath your item, are clickable, and can be filtered in your collection’s sidebar.

Unlockable Content – Include unlockable content that can only be revealed by the owner of the item. When you are minting the NFT, this field shows as a multiline text field, showing the following hint text: “Enter Content. access key, code to redeem, link to a file, etc.”

Explicit & Sensitive Content – Set this item as explicit and sensitive content.

Hit the “Create” button, and you’ve started the journey to mint an NFT.

Next – Mintable.com- Minting Process

NFTs Accelerate Adoption with Sports Memorabilia

Sweet Spot for Digital Collectables – collecting sports memorabilia has flourished as far as I can remember. Kids are indoctrinated into collecting baseball cards here in the US at an early age. So why the “Wait and See” attitude from athletes and clubs hesitant to dive into the NFT marketplace?

There are many types of NFTs produced classified as”art” in some shape or form. These NFTs, in some cases, are met with mixed skepticism, but Sports Memorabilia is not in the same “asset class”. Sports have a global following with a massive influx of capital from all sorts of sources. Not being “all in” with developing Sports NFTs is a missed opportunity, and let me tell you why…

Collectables as a Kid

It was engrained in me as a kid to collect baseball cards. When I first started collecting, after school I would buy a few packs of cards that contained 5 to 10 cards in each package. Sometimes you would get duplicates, and not of the ones you wanted to get duplicates of. Then the idea came to me, along with the coaxing of the collectables store proprietor, why not buy the entire year’s worth of cards, the complete annual set, an unopened box. Why unopened, in the sealed box? The cards are more valuable, and the promise of Mint condition. When I first started to collect baseball cards in the early 1980s, there were just a few major players, Topps, and Fleer among the best. So, every year I would buy the unopened box set of Topps (approx. $30), and then I would still buy the packs of 5 – 10 cards, looking for the outstanding players. I’d use a large loose-leaf book with plastic pages with baseball card like inserts to show off the cards, and maybe trade with other kids. It was fun, and to some extent, I carried that collectible “bug” into my adult life.

Sports Memorabilia

Memorabilia comes in all shapes and sizes, thousands upon thousands of things we collect, trade, and just “show off”. Some collectibles are very obscure hobbies, and some are more abundant, but by far, if I looked at the types of collectables by popularity, Sports memorabilia would be up near the top. We have sports world wide, and just like the United States loves their Baseball, Football, Hockey, and Basketball, the rest of the world loves their Football (i.e. Soccer). I see a vast potential of an undersold marketplace. There is a desire for Sports Digital Assets in the form of NFTs, so why hasn’t the market matured along with the NFT marketplaces?

“Wait and See” attitude from Athletes and Clubs

It seems like athletes, athletic clubs and leagues are taking the “Wait and See” attitude. When your brand, your image, is on the line, you want to watch the first few pioneers to see who fails, and who achieves notoriety. Arguably, art is not a cookie cutter process, and each new digital asset, minted non-fungible token (NFT), may have a style all its own, or at least a collection of NFTs applying a similar theme. Sitting on the sidelines won’t get you noticed.

Digital Agencies – Poised for Profit

I’ve had the pleasure of working for a large digital agency, specifically for medical and pharmaceuticals sectors. It was impressive to see the orchestration of people from sales pitch to project management, and creative working together for a common goal. Think of how many athletes in the world, where memorabilia is associated with their sport? How many are not represented by digital agencies?

Opportunities for All Participation Levels

Awhile back I collected 1955 Bowman cards, which looked really interesting. Each baseball card was featured within a television, one thing that made them unique. Another thing, all of the umpires got their own baseball cards as well. Classic!

Athletes Opportunities

  • Athlete’s perspective of their favorite career moment memorialized in a “Digital Moment”, e.g. brief video clip, encapsulated in a card like digital structure, signed by the player.
  • Player’s Jersey / Uniform, signed, and sponsor placement for promotion rendered as an NFT, digital card, optionally a 3D object for the 360 view.
  • Athletes sign head shots and take photos with fans, sometimes at a premium. For an additional fee, the Athlete can mint an NFT of the picture of the athlete and the fan.

Athletic Sports Clubs / Organizations

At the Sports Club, team level, there are a ton of opportunities for minting NFTs

  • The annual team photo digitized as an NFT
  • “All Stars” collection / series of NFTs, featuring best “Digital Moments” in their careers
  • Best moments from off-season, “spring training”, and impromptu moments

Why NFTs? Authenticity is Everything Collecting Memorabilia

Do you have a signed Pete Rose Baseball card from 1985? Are you sure it’s genuine? How? Authenticity may come by way of a letter, a statement declaring the physical item is authentic signed by someone or some organization of trust. That’s best-case scenario. NFTs are authentic by their very nature, how they were minted, and by whom.

Legality and Licensing

Barriers to minting their own NFTs MAY exist on an athlete based on their contractual agreement with the athletic club. Free agents may have fewer restrictions.

Who’s Making Money and How

First, the digital agency that are producing the assets for the athlete, club, and league make $$$. Then, the patrons of the sports, athletes, athletic club, or league, who commissioned the collectibles will go to the NFT marketplaces to mint the NFTs to be auctioned or bought at a fixed price. The patron can limit the number of minted items, i.e. limited edition collectible, 47/2000 minted to drive the price up for that limited edition. Then the NFT marketplaces collect fees for the transactions. Finally, the sports fans, the collectors, the sports aficionados, gain wealth and notoriety by ownership of the NFTs, Show off your collection of sports memorabilia, and occasionally sell a digital asset or two.

Online Sports Gambling Opportunities

Online sports gambling companies like Bet MGM and DraftKings should be financing the creation of sport NFTs. Everything from NFT trophies for player big wins and athlete “personalized” NFTs for example, the play of the week with athlete’s genuine signature, limited mint for rare NFT sports memorabilia.

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