Weekly Report: Coinbase unveils NFT marketplace in beta, Binance chasing regulatory compliance

  • Coinbase NFT allows waitlisted users to join a beta program of the NFT marketplace
  • Kadena Eco launches a $100 million grant to empower developers to build on the Kadena network
  • a16z has established an academic crypto-research focused lab to solve important problems in the blockchain scene
  • Binance recruits two former regulators to its compliance and surveillance team
  • Australia defines a policy roadmap toward the regulation of crypto assets

Here are the top cryptocurrency headlines you might have missed last week:

Coinbase NFT launches in beta plans to add users over the coming weeks progressively

Coinbase announced mid last week that it started allowing a few members on the waitlist of Coinbase NFT to start using the platform, which is currently in a limited beta stage. Coinbase says the marketplace will be more than just that, as it aims to cultivate a community around it.

It is ‘only’ six months since the crypto exchange announced plans for the initiative, and now the millions of users on the waitlist will be added to the platform over the coming weeks on the ‘first-come, first-serve’ order of inclusion on the platform, running down the waitlist.

Coinbase NFT will have support for Ethereum NFTs and will add support for tokens on other blockchains in the future. In a move to further encourage user participation, Coinbase NFT will not charge any fees on users for an initial period, meaning the only charge they’ll incur is the characteristic gas fees for the Ethereum network.

Chasing a communal experience, the marketplace will integrate social feeds that would allow users to interact with specific profiles via actions such as commenting – a feed like Instagram’s.

The Kadena ecosystem aims to support developers with a $100M grant

In a bid to empower developers, decentralised infrastructure platform Kadena has announced the launch of a $100 million grant in support of web developers. The funding will be issued by Kadena Eco to encourage builders onboard the Kadena network, a layer one proof of work blockchain powered by the Kadena protocol.

The fund would be available to all Web 3.0 developers who can now apply to benefit from it. Applicants would be judged based on team experience, technical strength of their projects, the applicability in the Kadena ecosystem and details of specifications. Another qualifying factor would be that selected entities must be open to subscribing to Kadena’s “build in the open philosophy.”

The grants would be available to initiatives in DeFi, DAOs, NFTs, Web3 and the metaverse. Further, Kadena will offer more than just funding with plans to establish initiatives around a venture program, incubator, accelerator and enhance research and development. It will also be a source of mentorship and community leadership for developers.

VC firm Andreessen Horowitz establishes a Web3-focused crypto research lab

Venture capital mammoth Andreessen Horowitz, a16z, announced late last week that it launched an academic research lab – a16z Crypto Research – focused on assisting Web3 startups and solving predicaments facing the larger rapidly-evolving digital asset space.

Chris Dixon and Ali Yahya, who are partners at the venture firm, said that the newly-created research lab would collaborate with the firms under the a16z umbrella to solve significant problems and enhance the tech and development for the next iteration of the internet.

The team would be headed by Tim Roughgarden, an academic expert in game theory who serves as a professor of Computer Science at Columbia University. Roughgarden has been part of a16z since last year when he joined as a research advisor. Following the formation of the research lab, the 46-year-old now takes the title – head of research.

Alongside pursuing solutions to existing problems, a16z Crypto Research will, in some instances, develop products to be used by the list of firms under the Andreessen Horowitz roof. Roughgarden says that the work to be accomplished will be crucial, that it could potentially get taught to undergrads in universities in the 2030s.

Binance onboards two former regulators

Following last year’s rocky relationship with regulators in various countries, the world’s largest crypto exchange by trading volume, Binance has turned the tide by actively seeking regulatory compliance.

The exchange announced last Thursday that two former regulators have joined its team – Steven McWhirter, a former member of the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and Seth Levy from the US Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The two are joining Binance as Director of Regulatory Policy and head of market surveillance, respectively. 

McWhirter served as a policy subject matter professional, working policy in the UK and other countries. Levy monitored US equity markets and investigated foul play at the FINRA – a career spanning nearly two decades.

The two were recruited to enable Binance to enhance its surveillance powers and boost its compliance efforts. Levy explained that their work would ensure foul players and illegal activity are kept off Binance. He added that they intend to work with regulators and experts in the crypto scene to elicit public confidence in crypto markets.

Australian financial watchdog sets a 2025 deadline for crypto regulation

Last Thursday, the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA) unveiled a four-year crypto policy roadmap toward establishing a cryptocurrency regulation framework. The crypto risk management and policy roadmap would mandate the analysis of crypto assets and the risks associated with investing in them.

The APRA says it plans to start requiring that entities interacting with crypto-related fields conduct reconnaissance on the level of risks such as business continuity, control effectiveness, and service provider management before engaging with them.

The agency requires that they establish robust risk management measures with “clear accountability and relevant reporting.” The APRA added that Registrable Superannuation Entity (RSE) Licence holders who would seek to invest in crypto must show a strategy that assures compliance with existing regulations and that the interest of the beneficiaries is kept at heart.

Further, ARPA also aims to implement “prudential regulation” of stablecoins, collaborating with the Council of Financial Regulators (CFR) to enable their use for payments. Regulation of stablecoins is slated to be bundled with that of large Stored-value Facilities (SVFs), expected to come next year.

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Author: Sam Grant