Check out the biggest breaking crypto market updates for today:
$10 Trillion BlackRock Files For Spot Bitcoin ETF
The iShares unit of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, has filed an application for a spot Bitcoin ETF (exchange-traded fund), utilizing Coinbase custody and spot market data to enhance accessibility for institutional investors.
The proposed ETF, to be named the iShares Bitcoin Trust, will be benchmarked against indices provided by CF Benchmarks. The indices will comprise price data from six exchanges: Coinbase, Kraken, Gemini, Bitstamp, itBit, and LMAX Digital.
It is worth noting that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the regulatory authority responsible for overseeing ETFs in the United States, has thus far rejected every application for a spot bitcoin ETF. Nevertheless, the commission has granted approval for several bitcoin futures ETFs, which have been successfully introduced for trading.
BlackRock’s filing for a spot Bitcoin ETF signals a turning point in the industry, as a prominent player in the traditional financial space acknowledges the potential of Bitcoin.
If approved, the Bitcoin ETF would open doors to a new wave of adoption and provide investors with an opportunity to participate in the Bitcoin market through a regulated and accessible investment vehicle.
The fact that the world’s largest asset manager is again stepping up in the crypto space is a welcome development to some – at a time when the politicized SEC has been weaponized to execute politician marching orders to crush the crypto industry in the US (thereby making the future of bitcoin a key issue in the 2024 elections), and comes just one day after the FT reported a surprising twist:
China appears to be warming up to crypto after years of crackdowns, and Hong Kong’s banking regulator is pressuring lenders including HSBC and Standard Chartered to take on crypto exchanges as clients, at a time of unprecedented crackdowns by US regulators on the industry.
Other people are skeptical of BlackRock’s true intentions, claiming that an organization this large is more likely to act in the interest of the traditional banking sector or otherwise, the “elite” rather than the people.
Some have posed questions about whether BlackRock’s ETF filing will get approved much faster than the hundreds of Bitcoin ETFs that have been rejected or put on hold – just because they’re Blackrock.
Others have been criticizing the fact that just several years ago BlackRock criticized bitcoin for being a “scam” and a vehicle for money laundering – just like so many politicians were.
BlackRock’s move comes at a time when the crypto industry is reeling from US regulatory crackdown, which recently saw the SEC suing crypto exchanges Coinbase and Binance.
The market sentiment, following the filing of the ETF application by a TradFi giant, seems to have gotten a slight boost as the price of bitcoin went up a bit on the news, rising to just shy of $25,600.
“BlackRock’s increasing engagement shows Bitcoin continues to be an asset of interest for some of the world’s largest financial institutions,” said Sui Chung. CEO of CF Benchmarks, a subsidiary of crypto exchange Kraken.
NFT Artwork Owned By Three Arrows Capital Sells For 6.2 Million At Sotheby’s
On the 15th of June, Sotheby’s concluded another sale of NFT artwork seized from bankrupt crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital (3AC). This batch included the sale of Ringers #879, a generative piece of blockchain artwork by Dimitri Cherniak which was commonly known as “The Goose” among NFT enthusiasts.
The artwork reportedly sold for just over $6.2 million, including auction house fees.
The piece has quite a history. In 2021, it was purchased by now-defunct cryptocurrency hedge fund Three Arrows Capital for a whopping $5.66 million worth of ETH. “The Goose” has since been connected to Three Arrows’ Starry Night Capital fund, which sought to assemble “the world’s finest collection of NFTs.”
The collection was short-lived, however. After Three Arrows collapsed under the weight of billions of dollars of debt last summer, its liquidators announced they planned to sell Starry Night artworks off to cover the firm’s outstanding debts.
In April, Sotheby’s announced that it would facilitate a sale, curating pieces owned by Three Arrows into a new collection titled “Grails.”
While Sotheby’s website does not specifically dig into the rocky context that facilitated the collection’s sale, the logo devised for Grails – a crown made of three arrows – cheekily alludes to that history.
A Sotheby’s representative said that the sale does not include pieces included in a trove of NFT artwork that was controlled by Vincent Van Dough, the pseudonymous NFT collector that partnered with Three Arrows Capital founders Su Zhu and Kyle Davies to found Starry Night Capital.
The auction house anticipated that “The Goose” would sell for between $2 million and $3 million today, an acknowledgment of the degree to which the NFT market has cooled since the frenzy of 2021 that still, nonetheless, forecasted ample market interest in ultra-expensive digital art.
Ultimately, the piece was sold with a hammer price of $5.4 million, but ultimately a final price of $6,215,100 including all fees.
That more than doubles the high end of the estimate and beats the 2021 sale price with all fees included.
Notable pseudonymous NFT art collector Punk6529 purchased the piece through their 6529 NFT Fund, Sotheby’s said.
“The Goose is particularly revered in the generative art community, due to the fact that it so effectively displays the combination of chance and skill involved in creating art from randomized computer code.”
Works like “The Goose,” which hail from generative blockchain art collective Art Blocks, are only created the moment they are minted as NFTs.
In the run-up to Thursday’s hotly anticipated sale, numerous artists, including Beeple, have shared artworks riffing on “The Goose” and its place in NFT and generative art discourse.
Gaming-Focused Layer 3 Xai Set To Launch On Arbitrum
Xai, a so-called permissionless “Layer 3” network designed for video games, is reportedly set to launch on Arbitrum later this year. The network will reportedly leverage the Arbitrum Orbit technology stack and is built by the Xai Foundation in collaboration with Arbitrum developer Offchain Labs and web3 games developer Ex Populus.
Offchain Labs chief strategy officer A.J. Warner stated,
“We have been working closely with the Ex Populus team for nearly a year and eagerly await the migration to the arbitrum ecosystem. The launch of Xai will enable its gaming ecosystem to live on an optimized, dedicated chain while benefiting from links to the vibrant Arbitrum ecosystem. I’m excited for the upcoming launch of the gaming franchises and gaming-focused Layer 3.”
Xai aims to address the specific scalability requirements of web3 games to become a “Decentralized gaming console,” according to a statement.
The Ex Populus team has a background at gaming companies such as Pixar, Ubisoft and Activision Blizzard. It has two games currently in development – high-frequency trading card and battle-oriented experience Final Form and online multiplayer PvP game LAMOverse, both of which will launch on Xai later this year.
Xai also plans to bring existing Ex Populus NFT collections like Mike Tyson’s Iron Pigeons and Decentralized Autonomous GigaUnits to the Arbitrum ecosystem, making them available to play in Final Form upon its launch.
“Our decision to partner with the Xai Foundation was simple. The Foundation’s decision to leverage Arbitrum Orbit was a clear indication that the ecosystem understood scaling as a requirement for gaming in web3,” said Ex Populus co-founder Soban Saquib.
“Having curated technology built into the needs of our games was critical, and with the direct support of the Offchain Labs team, we are confident that our games will run seamlessly on Arbitrum Orbit and provide our players with the type of gaming experiences they’ve come to love and expect.”
Over time, Xai plans to introduce additional features for gaming developers, including increased smart contract size support, account abstraction allowing wallets to handle complex tasks automatically, and other functionalities that appeal to the gaming community.