HSBC to Buy Virtual Land in The Sandbox to Join Peers in Metaverse

HSBC Bank has decided to purchase a chunk of digital land in The Sandbox metaverse in order to engage with sports, esports, and gaming enthusiasts. The British bank will be joining other popular finance brands who are also taking steps into the Web 3 sector with their metaverse entry plans. A fully functional virtual universe is what metaverse can be explained as. It’s rich in Augmented Reality (AR) experiences and is gaining popularity among people and brands who want to connect different communities.

Consumer adoption demands more efficient experiences in the metaverse through decentralised and gamified offerings, which is what the agreement between The Sandbox and HSBC intends to explore.

The Sandbox posted an official confirmation on this sealed deal on its Medium handle.

“The metaverse is how people will experience Web 3, the next generation of the Internet — using immersive technologies like AR, Virtual Reality (VR) and extended reality. Through our partnership with The Sandbox we are making our foray into the metaverse,” said Suresh Balaji, HSBC’s Chief Marketing Officer for Asia-Pacific.

The Sandbox is a gaming virtual universe that is built on the Ethereum blockchain. It also supports minting, use, and, selling of non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in order to add the element of monetisation for gamers on the platform.

The in-game economy is governed by its native token called SAND, each of which is currently priced $3.15 (roughly Rs. 239) on CoinMarketCap.

Several big brands have struck partnerships with The Sandbox to fuel their virtual universe debuts.

The Warner Music Group (WMG), Gucci, Adidas, and, CryptoKitties among others are already in metaverse deals with The Sandbox.

“We’re pleased to see large, trusted institutions such as HSBC join The Sandbox open metaverse and embrace the culture of Web3. This is the beginning of a broader adoption of Web3 and the metaverse by institutions driving brand experiences and engagement within this new ecosystem,” Sebastien Borget, co-founder of The Sandbox said in a statement.

HSBC, however, is not the only financial institution to have forayed into the metaverse.

Earlier this week, American Express filed for seven trademark applications surrounding its foray into the virtual universe and NFT sectors.

Visa, JP Morgan, and Mastercard have also marked their presence in the crypto and metaverse spaces.

Research reports expect the market opportunity for the metaverse to reach $800 billion (roughly Rs. 59,58,719 crore) by 2024.

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Crypto Exchange Coinbase Adds New Feature to Let Users Fund Crypto Wallets From Chrome Browser Extension

Coinbase has loaded up its platform with a new feature that allows users to fund their crypto wallets directly via an extension on the Chrome browser. This new feature is named ‘Coinbase Pay’. The US-based crypto exchange aims to get more participation from the general public in the emerging decentralised finance (DeFi) space. The company aims to keep up with the developing Web 3 sector, where cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and the metaverse will make for key elements.

The Coinbase Pay feature will allow users to select a cryptocurrency that they want to add to their wallet, specify the amount, and click ok to process the transaction.

“Before Coinbase Pay, users who wanted to add funds to their Coinbase Wallet from the browser extension needed to navigate to, sign in to their account, copy-paste their wallet address, and manually transfer funds from their Coinbase account. The process was not only cumbersome, but also left the user vulnerable to user error,” the company explained in a blog post.

The feature will prevent the need of switching between apps and engaging in manual transactions for Coinbase users.

“With the Coinbase Wallet extension, your Chrome browser can securely interact and engage with all manner of Web 3 applications. Kickstart your NFT collection, earn yield through DeFi lending protocols, and grow your crypto portfolio with hundreds of thousands of tokens supported via decentralised exchanges (DEXes),” the blog post added.

Surojit Chatterjee, the Chief Product Officer of the crypto exchange also tweeted the development.

Despite uncertainty around crypto regulations, Coinbase has emerged as one of the world’s most popular crypto exchanges. The company first launched in 2012 with the intent of allowing Bitcoin transactions.

The firm has joined 16 other crypto players in the ‘Crypto Market Integrity Coalition (CMIC)’ group that aims to make the overall crypto market a safe space for conducting business.

In November, the platform had begun testing a subscription service that lets customers trade on it without having to pay a transaction fee for each trade.

Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article. 


Bored Ape Yacht Club Creator Launches Governance Token Named ApeCoin: Here’s All You Need to Know

Yuga Labs, the breakthrough crypto startup behind the most valuable non-fungible token (NFT) project by market capitalisation, Bored Ape Yacht Club, is now launching its own crypto token called ApeCoin, for use on the BAYC ecosystem. The token will be independent of Yuga labs and controlled by a decentralised community called the ApeCoin DAO (decentralised autonomous organisation), and a steward organisation called the APE Foundation will be tasked with administering and facilitating the collective decisions of the DAO.

Yuga will also airdrop 15 percent of total APE supply to BAYC holders. Yuga announced the move on Twitter, and said that 62 percent of APE’s total supply will be allocated to the community. The token airdrop will begin at 6pm later today, and the claim period will be open for 90 days.

ApeCoin will initially be used as an in-game token for Yuga Labs titles starting with action-adventure mobile game Benji Bananas. Going forward, ApeCoin sales will be used to fund various digital and physical projects. Each token awards a single vote allowing individual holders to have a say on future ventures.

According to Yuga Labs’ website dedicated to ApeCoin, only 1 billion ApeCoins will be minted in perpetuity, and 9.75 percent will be held by Yuga Labs, 14 percent will go to launch contributors, 8 percent to the Yuga Labs founders, and 6.25 percent will be donated to the Jane Goodall Legacy Foundation aimed at preserving chimpanzee habitats and inspiring the youth to care for wildlife and the planet.

Current Bored Ape and Mutant Ape NFT holders will receive 15 percent of the total allocation, and 47 percent of the total supply will be released to the general public over time as part of the APE Ecosystem Fund. Yuga Labs expects the APE token to be traded on major crypto exchanges in the near future.

“The possibilities for blockchain’s impact on culture are so endless that they can’t possibly all be predicted yet,” reads the ApeCoin website. “APE is a token made to support what’s next, controlled and built on by the community. It will serve as a decentralised protocol layer for community-led initiatives that drive culture forward into the metaverse.”

While the full scope of ApeCoin’s utility is still unclear, Yuga Labs is currently developing various games including a play-to-earn title with WWE Undefeated and Power Rangers: Battle for the Grid game studio nWay.

The announcement also arrives after the company successfully acquired full commercial rights to NFT projects CryptoPunks and Meebits.


Samsung Views Metaverse as an Area of Future Growth: Report

South Korean tech juggernaut Samsung is eyeing the metaverse and robotics as key areas of focus as the global tech giant hunts for fresh growth avenues for future bets. Simultaneously, Samsung is also looking to strengthen its portfolio through acquisitions in artificial intelligence, 5G, and automotive electronics sectors. Samsung unveiled its long-term company vision this week at a general shareholders’ meeting to alleviate concerns of a lack of fresh growth engines that has been weighing on its share price.

“We will develop optimised metaverse devices and solutions that will help customers experience the metaverse anytime and anywhere,” said Samsung’s Vice Chairman and Co-CEO Han Jong-hee said in the meeting held in Suwon, home to the company’s headquarters.

As reported by South Korean news outlet Hankyung, Samsung Electronics has spread the word that it plans to dip its toes properly into the metaverse as analysts begin to pinpoint a lack of future growth engines as a reason for sluggish performance in the company’s stock. Some even went on to state that Samsung has been negligent in preparing for the future compared to its competitors as it has not sought any significant acquisitions since 2016 when it took over Harman, a US electronics system maker, for $8 billion (roughly Rs. 60,640 crore).

The Korean tech giant’s Vice Chairman and CEO Han Jong-hee made it known at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, earlier this year (via Korea JoongAng Daily), that the onset of metaverse projects has nudged the company to get back into making new hardware. While Han Jong-hee provided very little input to speculate on, Samsung could be joining Meta and Microsoft in betting big on tech’s newest fascination.

“Please look forward to the launch [of the metaverse device], since we are working hard,” said Han, who heads both the mobile communication and consumer electronics businesses at Samsung Electronics.

That said, Han was careful to avoid any talk around the type of the device being made and when it will be launched. “It is important to raise the quality of product to the highest standards,” Han said evasively.

Industry insiders expect the gadget to be a pair of smart glasses supporting augmented reality, which in its grandest description is now called the metaverse.


Winamp to Auction Iconic 1997 Skin as an NFT, Sale Proceeds to Be Directed to Music-Linked Charities

Winamp, the popular third-party media player that dominated the music-streaming industry before 2000, has decided to sell a non-fungible token (NFT) linked to its media player’s original 1997 skin. Winamp will put the NFT up for auction through OpenSea between May 16 and May 22, followed by a separate sale of 1997 total NFTs based on 20 artworks derived from the original skin. Proceeds from the sale are expected to be directed to a newly-set up Winamp Foundation, which promises to donate them to charity projects supporting music and musicians.

As per a website set up by the media player for the initiate, Winamp plans to source the derivative art NFTs through a process that lets artists submit Winamp-based works between now and April 15. Selected artists will receive 20 percent of the proceeds from each sale of their image as an NFT. Winamp further clarifies that 19 of the 20 artworks selected will sell in editions of 100 copies, while one will have 97. However, all pieces of artwork will be sold at 0.08 Ethereum (around $210 or roughly Rs. 16,000). As for secondary sales, the artists will receive 10 percent as royalty, where the seller will set their own price.

In a statement to The Verge, Winamp’s head of business development Thierry Ascarez clarifies that those who buy the NFTs will get a blockchain token linked to an image of either the original 1997 skin or one of its derivatives, which is a common setup for NFTs. The terms and conditions page, meanwhile reveals that selected artists will have to agree to transfer all intellectual property for their work to Winamp.

“Winamp is here to support the artist community which is driving the development of the new Winamp product.” states Winamp CEO, Alexandre Saboundjian in a press release. “Supporting music and musicians is also why the work of the Winamp Foundation is very important.”

The first charity that has been selected by Winamp is MusicFund – a non-profit-association that collects musical instruments, repairs them and gives them a second life by donating them to music schools and socio-artistic projects in conflict zones, developing countries, as well as in Europe.


Crypto Trading: Be Ready to Lose All Your Money, Warn EU Regulators

Consumers risk losing all their money invested in cryptoassets and could fall prey to scams, the European Union’s securities, banking and insurance watchdogs said in a joint statement on Thursday. “Consumers face the very real possibility of losing all their invested money if they buy these assets,” the three EU authorities said in a statement.

It marks a racheting up of direct warnings to consumers about cryptoassets by EU authorities, spelling out that consumers have no protections or recourse to compensation under existing EU financial services law.

Regulators are increasingly worried that more consumers are buying 17,000 different cryptoassets, including Bitcoin and Ether, which account for 60 percent of the market, without being fully aware of the risks, the regulators said.

“Consumers should be alert to the risks of misleading advertisements, including via social media and influencers. Consumers should be particularly wary of promised fast or high returns, especially those that look too good to be true,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, consumers should also be aware of that energy consumption for producing some cryptoassets is high and the environmental impact this has, the statement said.

© Thomson Reuters 2022

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Ghana’s Central Bank Says Its Digital Currency ‘eCedi’ is Aimed at Financial Inclusion

Ghana’s central bank has outlined details on its ‘eCedi’ digital currency that it hopes will bring more people to join the national banking system. The Bank of Ghana has presented a digital paper advocating hardware wallet services for those Ghanians, who do not have access to internet and bank accounts. The West African country is planning its blockchain-based national digital currency in order to digitise its economy and axe corruption. eCedi was first mentioned by the Ghanian authorities last year in 2021.

“Bank of Ghana declared its intention to explore a CBDC within the framework of the financial sector digitalisation program. It is in pursuit of this goal that Bank of Ghana announced the concept of the eCedi — a digital version of the Cedi banknotes and coins,” Dr. Ernest Addison, the governor of the Bank of Ghana said in the introductory message of the digital currency.

A CBDC works a lot like cryptocurrency, but is built on a blockchain network and is virtual in nature. CBDCs, however, are regulated by central banks making their transactions centralised and traceable for a single authority, as opposed to the decentralised nature of traditional cryptocurrencies.

“In Ghana, the motives include a combination of factors such as; facilitation of financial inclusion, pursuit of a cash-lite economy, enhancing operational efficiency and cost-effectiveness in payments, and provision of a safe, secure and trustworthy alternative to privately issued digital currencies,” Addison noted.

In recent times, CBDCs are gaining popularity in several nations that wish to explore the blockchain tech, without having to deal with the volatility and risk factors associated with cryptocurrencies.

Jamaica, for instance, is pacing briskly towards the roll out of its CBDC named Jam-Dex. The Jamaican government will be gifting $16 (roughly Rs. 1,200) as an incentive to the first 100,000 adopters of Jam-Dex.

Meanwhile, Russia has already begun testing its CBDC named Digital Ruble.

In India, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has also confirmed plans to bring a national digital rupee in the coming days.


Crypto Gets Legal Status in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy Signs Bill to Establish Regulatory Framework

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has signed a virtual assets bill into law to legalise cryptocurrencies in the country that has been receiving millions in crypto donations for military and humanitarian aid in its fight against the Russian invasion. According to Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation, Zelenskyy signed a law that was passed by Ukraine’s legislature, the Verkhovna Rada, in February. Crypto exchanges and companies dealing in digital assets must register with the government to operate legally in Ukraine, and banks are allowed to open accounts for crypto companies.

According to a press release published by the Ministry of Digital Transformation, the law gives the National Securities and Stock Market Commission of Ukraine the authority to set the country’s policy on digital assets, issue licenses to companies trading in cryptocurrencies and act as a financial regulator.

The government agency added that Ukraine’s Ministry of Finance is also working on amending Ukraine’s tax and civil codes to create the legal framework for digital assets. It is also worth noting that the new law does not make crypto legal tender but does provide a regulatory structure for digital assets.

“We believe that the crypto industry offers new economic opportunities. We will do our best to bring the bright new future closer as soon as possible,” Alex Bornyakov, the deputy minister of digital transformation on IT industry development, said on Twitter referring to the announcement.

The law had previously been adopted by Ukraine’s parliament on February 17 after Zelenskyy rejected an earlier version approved in September 2021.

Since the start of the war with Russia, the country has relied on crypto as an additional means of attracting donations from around the world, which have been leveraged to buy supplies for the armed forces.

Earlier this week, the Ukrainian government launched a website dedicated to crypto donations. In a style similar to that of popular fundraising platforms, it shows a goal of $200 million (roughly Rs. 1,520 crore), with over $56 million (roughly Rs. 425 crore) raised at the time of writing.

Among the cryptocurrencies accepted are Bitcoin, Ether and Tether (USDT). Ukraine officials announced this week details about its plans to sell NFTs, saying that it will be “like a museum of the Russian-Ukrainian war.”

Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.


Crypto Charts Refresh With Greens as War-Struck Ukraine Legalises Crypto Sector

Bitcoin rallied up on the price charts on Thursday. With a gain of 3.82 percent, the oldest cryptocurrency is trading at $42,172 (roughly Rs. 32 lakh) on Indian exchange CoinSwitch Kuber. The market opening for Bitcoin hasn’t been shabby on international exchanges either. On Binance and CoinMarketCap for instance, BTC roped in gains of up to 4.20 percent. The price of this most valued crypto on global platforms is around $41,099 (roughly Rs. 31 lakh). Clearly, BTC has shown recovery in the last two days where previously its trading value was hovering around $38,000 (roughly Rs. 29 lakh).

Ether reeled-in even bigger gains than Bitcoin in terms of escalation in its trade values. ETH gained 4.14 percent, taking its value to $2,838 (roughly Rs. 2.15 lakh) as per Gadgets 360’s crypto price tracker. On international exchanges like Coinbase, ETH price is up by 4.82 percent and its currently trading at $2,764 (roughly Rs. 2 lakh).

The gains for BTC and ETH come after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy legalised crypto in the country. Bitcoin and Ether along with other crypto assets brought in millions of dollars’ worth of donations to the war-struck Ukraine, which is still under attack from Russia.

Ukraine has pledged governmental support for national and foreign crypto exchanges as part of its new crypto legalisation law, signed on March 16, 2022. The country, unlike El Salvador, has not adopted Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency as a legal tender.

Majority altcoins including Binance Coin, Cardano, Solana, Avalanche, and Polkadot are also reaping gains from the market movement situation.

Dogecoin and Shiba Inu also saw small profits after days of laying low.

Industry experts, however, are waiting to watch the impact of US’ revised interest rate order on the crypto market.

The US Federal Reserve has raised interest rates from 0.25 percent to 0.5 percent for the first time since 2018, in order to combat the surging inflation rate.

“In most cases, the rise of interest rates tends to signal uncertainty for the crypto market as investors have greater access to yield from low-risk avenues of the market,” the CoinDCX research team told Gadgets 360.

“Yet, in contrast, the past 24 hours have witnessed the crypto market responding atypically, trending further upwards. This could be a case of a lag in market reaction and investors may only begin to witness its true impact on crypto down the line. The interest rate hike may pose another hurdle for investors entering the digital asset market.”

Under the circumstances, stablecoins such as Tether, USD Coin, and Binance USD opened with small losses.

Stablecoins are those crypto assets that are collaterised alongside a stable reserve asset such as gold or a fiat currency like the US dollar.

Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) continues to show skepticism towards the crypto sector. The IMF has agreed to extend a debt repayment time for Argentina and has listed discouragement of crypto usage as one of the conditions.

The current market cap of the crypto sector stands at $1.82 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,38,57,131 crore), as per CoinMarketCap. On March 15, the same figure stood lower at over $1.72 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,31,73,856 crore).

Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article.

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South Korea’s Icon Cryptocurrency Surges by Over 60 Percent After Yoon Suk-yeol Wins Presidency

Icon (ICX) cryptocurrency, born out of South Korean blockchain ICON, has risen over 60 percent in the last twelve hours. The development comes at a time when the overall crypto market has been fluctuating on an everyday basis in the backdrop of the Russia-Ukraine war. Presently, each ICX token is trading at $0.9027 (roughly Rs. 70) on international exchange CoinMarketCap. The overnight profit for the ICX token follows the election of pro-crypto politician, Yoon Suk-yeol as the next President of the country.

Launched in September 2017 as an initial coin offering (ICO), ICX token quickly raised $43 million (approximately 330 crore). Its current circulating supply has swelled to over 734 million ICX coins with a market cap of over $668 million (roughly Rs. 5,100 crore), as per CoinMarketCap.

South Korea’s new President, Yoon Suk-yeol , amously minted his signature on the ICON blockchain last year in December. His election as the President seems to have single-handedly influenced the ICX price increase.

Elements of the crypto sector played a pivotal role in South Korea’s election debate, with both candidates releasing campaign-related non-fungible tokens (NFTs) to attract voters.

As per South Korean daily Hankyung, the cryptocurrency sector is enjoying its second nationwide boom in South Korea since 2018, with over two million nationals experimenting in the arena.

Cryptocurrency is an unregulated digital currency, not a legal tender and subject to market risks. The information provided in the article is not intended to be and does not constitute financial advice, trading advice or any other advice or recommendation of any sort offered or endorsed by NDTV. NDTV shall not be responsible for any loss arising from any investment based on any perceived recommendation, forecast or any other information contained in the article. 

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