With help from Derek Robertson and Sam Sutton
It’s been a hectic few days in the blockchain world.
After another drop in crypto markets over the weekend, all eyes are on Celsius, a crypto lender that has suspended withdrawals, citing market volatility. Celsius has offered depositors Terra-like returns of up to 18%, and now it’s threatening to follow in Terra’s footsteps as the next big crypto meltdown (more below from POLITICO’s Sam Sutton).
In the meantime, neither the snow, nor the rain, nor the deep frost of the crypto winter is stopping tech moguls from pursuing their grand visions for a blockchainified future.
On Friday, Jack Dorsey’s TBD stepped up its crusade against the still nascent and amorphous Web3 by unveiling its vision for the Web…5.
It was that kind of Announcement à la Elon Musk which made people wonder, is this a real development or a joke?
Web3 barely exists yet. And as Dorsey’s antagonist, Marc Andreessen asked on Twitter, “What happened to Web 4?” The joking answer to such questions from Dorsey underlying Mike Brock: “We’re not talking about web4.”
But Dorsey is serious. His vision is to build this version of the web using bitcoin and a bunch of non-blockchain tools – giving up the many VC-backed blockchain tokens vying for a place in Web3.
Dorsey has been a vocal critic of Web3 since quitting Twitter last year to focus full-time on bitcoin at his payments company Square (which he soon renamed Block, as in blockchain). It presents the whole concept of “Web3” as a cash grab by venture capitalists like Andreessen and a betrayal of the open source spirit of Bitcoin.
His pitch for Web5 (expanded in a slide deck by TBD – Block’s Bitcoin-focused unit) is that it will offer a decentralized internet where users control their own data and identity.
Yes, it sounds a lot like Web3’s pitch. But Web3 apps tend to use blockchain networks – such as Ethereum, Solana, and Cardano – which often come with more features such as higher speeds, more customizable apps, and lower power consumption than the Bitcoin network. Dorsey argued that Web3 blockchains are more centralized than their backers would suggest and largely designed to benefit small groups of insiders. TBD envisions bitcoin playing a role in payments in Web5, but generally eschews blockchains in favor of other decentralized tools, including TCP/IP, the core set of communication rules the internet has relied on for centuries. decades.
As POLITICO’s John Hendel explained earlier this monththe transition to the next generation of cellular telecommunications infrastructure, 6G, involves a consortium of huge companies, years of planning, and longstanding considerations of national technological competitiveness.
In the heady, ethereal world of blockchain, by contrast, you can jump to whole new generations of the internet with little more than a PowerPoint presentation and a few wacky tweets. Although it may seem like a shortcut, the struggle for web design [insert preferred numeral here] is going to involve a lot of money and ego – and probably more philosophically charged Twitter duels.
Back on planet Earth, I written this morning about growing tensions between governments in developing countries interested in adopting Bitcoin and stewards of the global monetary system.
The continued rout in crypto markets only adds weight to arguments from institutions like the International Monetary Fund that the volatility of cryptocurrencies makes them a poor choice for national currencies.
But as I’ve learned, the efforts of major international institutions to push back against national crypto experiments are running into a different complication: many of their core employees are really into tech.
As a former IMF staff member told me, “Even though the Fund was somewhat anti-crypto, there are people in the guts like me who buy and sell crypto.”
The already bleak news from the crypto world is only getting worse. POLITICO’s Sam Sutton to the storyreporting that “With Celsius’ reported $11.8 billion in assets under pressure, the disruption accelerated a sell-off in high-risk digital markets that were already reeling from rising interest rates and a possible recession.
“Bitcoin, the most widely traded digital asset, has lost more than 17% of its value in the past 24 hours and is now trading below $23,000 – around a third of its value at the end of the month. fall… Celsius’ problems land only a month after another popular DeFi protocol, TerraForm Labs, suffered tens of billions of dollars in losses following the collapse of its algorithmic stablecoin TerraUSD.
This is darker news amid the so-called “crypto winter” which sent investors scrambling. But as DFD reported last week, even amid the market gloom, traditional institutions continue to formalize their relationship with technology, with 19 of the G20 countries actively exploring a central bank digital currency. — Derek Robertson
Of classic novelty ditties at horror films at Saturday morning cartoons, Summer camp has been a staple of the American cultural experience for decades.
Which is exactly why it needs to be moved to the Metaverse, apparently. Camp Integem is a self-proclaimed “AR Camp” with virtual and in-person offerings at its 10 Bay Area locations that offers programs in coding, game design, AR digital art, and animation, according to its website. . It might come as a surprise that something so stubbornly forward-looking and screen-centric would stick to the branding and iconography more associated with mosquito nets and leaky canoes.
What is not at all surprising is that an AR startup as Integem would like to boost the good civic vibes generated by bringing STEM education to young people, especially in Silicon Valley – and also as digital literacy and child safety shaping to be some of the top political issues and public concerns in the Metaverse as it takes shape. — Derek Robertson
Keep in touch with the whole team: Ben Schreckinger ([email protected]); Derek Robertson ([email protected]); Constantin Kakaes ([email protected]); and Heidi Vogt ([email protected]).
Ben Schreckinger covers technology, finance and politics for POLITICO; he is a cryptocurrency investor.
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