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The Weekend’s first NFT auction raised more than $2 million for charity. (Image: Nifty Gateway)

Greetings from Coinbase Bytes,

We’re here to help you navigate this week in crypto news — from Cardano’s speedy growth to why the U.S. government is exploring a “digital dollar.” This and more in our latest edition of Coinbase Bytes:

  • Ethereum rival Cardano is growing fast.
  • The U.S. is getting into digital dollars.
  • Big names on Wall Street are planning to offer crypto exposure.



















Price changes are for the past week, ending on Apr 7, 2021 at 12:59 PM UTC

Why Cardano is the fastest-growing major crypto

Cardano (ADA) has been the fastest-growing major cryptocurrency by market cap over the last year — surging from around $5 billion at the end of 2020 to about $40 billion today. It’s designed to be a next-gen evolution of the Ethereum idea — with a blockchain that will eventually become a flexible, sustainable, and scalable decentralized-app platform.

  • Cardano will soon run DeFi apps, games, and more via smart contract compatibility — which developers plan to release “this spring.”

  • Developers recently rolled out Cardano Native Tokenswhich can be created and distributed on the blockchain.

  • The Cardano blockchain’s native cryptocurrency is ADA — which can be used to store value, send and receive payments, and for staking and paying transaction fees on the Cardano network.

  • Cardano’s goal is to be the most environmentally-sustainable cryptocurrency, in part by using a Proof-of-Stake consensus mechanism, as opposed to the energy-intensive Proof-of-Work systems currently used by Bitcoin and Ethereum. (Ethereum is also moving to a Proof-of-Stake system via the ETH2 upgrade.)
  • Coinbase recently added support for Cardano in both the retail and Pro apps.

Why it matters… Coinbase has added nearly a dozen new tokens in the last few months, but Cardano is the third-biggest by market cap (after Bitcoin and Ethereum) and growing fast. At this time last year, one ADA was worth less than three cents. Today? $1.25.


U.S. gets started on digital dollars

The crypto market cap just hit $2 trillion. Its year-long boom and COVID-19 have pushed central banks to get to work on digital versions of their currencies, also known as central bank digital currencies (or CBDCs). In the U.S., researchers at the Boston Fed and MIT say they could release a prototype as early as July

  • COVID rallied support for a U.S. digital dollar when stimulus payments revealed flaws in the system. People without access to banks had to wait longer (and often pay higher fees) for their checks.
  • An early draft of the March 2020 COVID relief plan kicked off the idea of FedAccounts, digital wallets to receive digital stimulus dollars.
  • Last month, Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell called the digital dollar a “high-priority project.” 
  • The Fed hasn’t given a definitive “yes” to digital dollars, but a lot of stakeholders have already joined the conversation.
  • Meanwhile, China continues rolling out the digital yuan. Chinese citizens can now apply to one of the six state-owned banks for digital yuan wallets.
  • There are big differences between CBDCs and crypto. Unlike Bitcoin, CBDCs are centralized under a nation or bank. It’s also unclear whether they’ll use blockchains as their underlying technology.

Why it matters… These are early days. A digital dollar could be part of a more innovative payments system — but it might not be able to shake the inequities and inefficiencies of traditional finance. Speedier, cheaper cross-border payments, for example, would only be possible if countries worked together.



Goldman, Blackrock, JP Morgan make BTC moves

As Bitcoin has grown over the last year, Wall Street’s biggest names have been offering customers increasing access. In the last few weeks, JP Morgan ChaseMorgan Stanley, and Goldman Sachs have all announced plans around Bitcoin exposure for wealthy clients. Meanwhile, BlackRock — the world’s largest asset manager — revealed that some of its funds have been investing in Bitcoin futures. 


How much more upside is left? According to a new JP Morgan report, lower volatility will continue drawing Wall Street players into crypto. 



When one NFT vanishes, another drops

  • Weeknd update… The Weeknd auctioned several NFTs Saturday, raising more than $2.2 million. “Blockchain is democratizing an industry that has historically been kept shut by the gatekeepers,” the artist said.
  • On the run… The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) ordered a U.K. man to pay $571 million in penalties after allegedly scamming people out of 20,000 BTC. One problem: “U.S. authorities don’t seem to know where the alleged fraudster … is.”
  • The vanishing… Vice looks into why some users have lost access to their NFTs: “Now there’s nothing,” said one. “My money’s gone.”
  • Bitcoin for all… Square CFO Amrita Ahuja makes the case for Bitcoin on “every balance sheet” just as Price Waterhouse Cooper predicts the crypto industry will become more institutionalized.
  • We have a deal… Ashton Kutcher and Guy Oseary’s Sound Ventures fund has teamed up with Mark Cuban and Snoop Dogg to launch a Shark Tank for NFTs. Said Oseary: “You’ve got to support the little guys, too.”
  • Cash or crypto?… Visa announced another step in making its payment network compatible with crypto — a pilot program to allow crypto-based businesses to settle payments using USD Coin. “It was a natural fit,” said Visa’s head of crypto.

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