Web3 gaming will onboard up to 100M gamers in next 2 years, Polygon and Immutable presidents predict

Two key players in the web3 gaming space predict exponential expansion in the next few years.

Robbie Ferguson, co-founder and president of web3 gaming company Immutable, and Ryan Wyatt, president of layer-2 chain Polygon Labs, told TechCrunch+ that web3 will add the first 10 million to 100 million gamers within the next year or two.

“We’re going to see 40% of the web3 games [ever] built go live over the next 12 to 18 months, which will be a huge amount of attempts or shot-on-goal to have that 100 million players,” Ferguson added. If this prediction becomes true, it would represent a massive wave of adoption that the decentralized gaming industry didn’t have before.

On Monday, web3 gaming firm Immutable teamed up with layer-2 blockchain Polygon to help grow the scaling and adoption of the subsector. The collaboration will focus on making web3-enabled games faster to build, easier to use and less risky for larger gaming studios and independent developers to get involved.

“What we now are seeing is these games are being built to go live because games have a lead time of two to four years,” Ferguson said. “What’s required is incredible infrastructure for them to build an incredible customer experience where players can use this.”

“Over $100 billion are spent by players every year on in-game items,” Ferguson said, implying that the market for web3 games could be large. “This is not the box copy of Fortnite or the ability to download a game. This is literally [money spent on] skins, Candy Crush coins and costumes.”

But those assets are not ownable by players or, at best, are part of a gray marketplace, he added. “The opportunity here is to take a multi-100-billion-dollar asset class and make it truly ownable by players and make sure that the rights and the keys stick with them rather than a major third-party company.”

The only way web3 gaming scales is through true property rights, Ferguson thinks. “And if they have no idea how web3 works under the hood.”

Web3 gaming will onboard up to 100M gamers in next 2 years, Polygon and Immutable presidents predict by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

Chaos in US banks could push crypto industry toward decentralization

The crypto industry lost a number of banking on- and off-ramps due to the recent turmoil in the U.S. banking industry, signaling that there may be a shift in the space toward decentralization and a need for regulation going forward.

Last week, Silvergate Capital, Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank all shut down or were closed, which resulted in crypto companies and users alike scrambling to move their assets.

“Silvergate and Signature serve as the major on- and off-ramps for the crypto space with their SEN and Signet products, respectively,” Aaron Rafferty, CEO of Standard DAO, said to TechCrunch+. “The tie for SVB was more on the side of major startup and VC capital for the space with organizations like Lightspeed, Y Combinator.”

The shuttering of these banks also has bigger implications on the crypto industry because some of them were providing services to the industry, Mina Tadrus, CEO of quant investment management firm Tadrus Capital LLC and general partner of Tadrus Capital Fund, said. “These banks enabled cryptocurrency traders and companies to deposit, transfer and convert fiat currency into digital assets such as bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.”

With these banks’ closure, it will become difficult for cryptocurrency businesses to move money between entities and access banking services, Tadrus noted. “Furthermore, such closures could mean reduced trust from investors who may no longer be aware of the necessary safeguards involved in their bank transactions.”

This could lead to an overall decline in participation within the crypto community and ultimately could decrease liquidity within crypto markets and make it difficult for crypto startups to build new products or remain operational in the long term, Tadrus added.

Chaos in US banks could push crypto industry toward decentralization by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

SVB’s mess could become stablecoins’ problem

After USDC depegged from $1 last week, many in the crypto industry are questioning whether Silicon Valley Bank’s collapse will have bigger implications on the stablecoin ecosystem.

The supposedly stable stablecoin USDC initially depegged Friday and fell as low as 88 cents on Saturday due to uncertainty around the $40 billion USDC empire, the second largest stablecoin by market cap. Circle, the issuer of USDC, shared that $3.3 billion, or about 8.2%, of its total USDC reserves were held at SVB. Circle later announced that the reserve risk was “removed” since the funds became available on Monday morning.

USDC’s depeg over the weekend exposed a crucial flaw with existing fiat-backed stablecoin design, Nevin Freeman, co-founder and CEO of Reserve, said.

“If any one of the banks that the stablecoin issuer relies on fails without a bailout, and the issuer can’t fill the hole with their own capital or a new capital injection, that would either force a bank run on the stablecoin and leave the last to redeem with nothing, or the issuer would have to close down and go into bankruptcy to prevent such a run,” Freeman told TechCrunch+. “This isn’t the fault of stablecoin issuers; they have no choice but to rely on fractional reserve banks when providing liquidity to their users.”

Over the weekend, USDC’s price acted as a live prediction market for whether SVB depositors would be made whole, Freeman said. Soon after the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the U.S. Federal Reserve announced that depositors would be made whole, the stablecoin rallied from 97 cents to 99 cents, and only upon banks opening and actually operating did it recover to $1, he noted.

SVB’s mess could become stablecoins’ problem by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

Signature Bank seizure creates obstacles for crypto industry while promoting ‘unbanked’ innovations

Crypto market players expressed unease on Monday following the seizure over the weekend of Signature Bank, a crypto-friendly New York regional bank, just days after crypto-focused bank Silvergate Capital wound down its operations and U.S. regulators shuttered Silicon Valley Bank.

“Signature Bank’s closure serves as a one-two punch as worries mount over the vulnerability of any bank with exposure to the crypto industry,” Francesco Melpignano, CEO of Kadena Eco, said to TechCrunch. “With only a small number of publicly traded banks having ties to the crypto space, many investors are scrambling to place bets against them.”

Signature, known as one of the largest crypto lenders, was the second casualty from the ongoing banking crisis in the U.S., but regulators said that its customers will be made whole, meaning the government is stepping in to protect the economy from further damage.

Signature Bank had 40 branches across New York, California, Connecticut, North Carolina and Nevada. As of December 31, 2022, the bank had $110.4 billion in total assets and total deposits of $82.6 billion. Around 30% of the bank’s deposits came from the crypto industry.

The crypto industry needs to watch closely for deposit flight from regional banks over the next week, Tegan Kline, chief business officer and co-founder of Edge & Node, said. “If it gets worse, the regulators have a tremendous problem on their hands. Many regional banks may have to close.”

Signature Bank seizure creates obstacles for crypto industry while promoting ‘unbanked’ innovations by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

Is generative AI really ready for the enterprise?

OpenAI released ChatGPT just a few short months ago, and it’s fair to say that it took the world by storm: It has over 100 million active users already. No wonder, when it can generate human-like, grammatically correct responses. Related technologies can also produce artwork and code by entering a description of what you want, and the tech produces it.

You can even interact with the AI after your initial question, so if you don’t like the output you got or need clarification, you can ask additional questions or make adjustments to your picture or code, so it more closely matches your vision. All of this happens instantly without the help of a subject expert, an artist or a coder.

But none of this comes without issues, which include the sourcing of the data used to train the underlying AI model, the currency of that training data, a lack of permissions to use the source data, bias in the model and, perhaps most importantly, the accuracy of the responses, which are sometimes laughably wrong.

None of this has stopped enterprise software companies from taking the generative AI plunge. These companies see massive commercial potential and a lot of enthusiasm from users and they clearly don’t want to get left behind.

Salesforce, Forethought and Thoughtspot all recently announced betas of their own flavors of generative AI. Salesforce is adding generative AI across the platform. Forethought is aiming at chatbots and Thoughtspot wants to use AI for data querying. Each company took the base technology and added some algorithmic boosters to tune the tech for their platform’s unique requirements.

Microsoft also announced that its OpenAI service aimed at enterprise users on Azure is generally available as a managed service.

Throughout this year you can expect to see many more companies joining in, but the limitations are real, which makes us wonder: Is the technology — as early and raw as it is, no matter how cool it looks on its face — really enterprise ready?

Is generative AI really ready for the enterprise? by Ron Miller originally published on TechCrunch

Crypto bank Silvergate’s ‘collywobbles’ could add to industry’s woes

Another massive crypto-centric firm bit the dust this week, leading some analysts to forecast bigger problems for the overall ecosystem.

Silvergate Capital, a publicly traded crypto bank, announced Wednesday that it would “wind down operations and voluntarily liquidate” its bank division.

The news from the California-based firm followed a run that resulted in it selling off assets at a huge loss to cover over $8 billion in withdrawals amid the broader crypto ecosystem meltdown.

“It is not the first bank to get the collywobbles,” Katharine Wooller, business unit director at Coincover, said to TechCrunch. “Ultimately the risk/reward ratio, in the face of increasing scrutiny, was not viable, as the ongoing crypto winter, worsened by the FTX scandal, shows no sign of thaw.”

As the company waves goodbye to its almost 10-year crypto experiment, it points to a bigger issue for the ecosystem. The institution, which was one of the few banks that acted as an intermediary in the space of institutional crypto, is yet another victim of the “crypto winter” following the implosion of FTX, which used the bank to transfer customer funds.

Although the news feels big, “market participants seem to be shrugging this off,” according to Julius de Kempenaer, senior technical analyst at StockCharts.com. The number of providers for the crypto ecosystem is shrinking, which could become a bigger problem if this trend continues, he added.

Crypto bank Silvergate’s ‘collywobbles’ could add to industry’s woes by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

Coinbase is ‘laser-focused’ on growing dev world and onboarding crypto-curious

For crypto exchange giant Coinbase, 2023 is all about getting web3 into new markets and partnerships while onboarding more users into crypto.

On Wednesday, Coinbase launched its wallet as a service (WaaS), a scalable set of wallet infrastructure APIs that allow companies to create and deploy customizable on-chain wallets to their users. This means companies can natively integrate wallets directly into their apps so users won’t be redirected to separate applications to connect their wallets (like most web3 dApps require today).

“The theme [of 2023] really is this flywheel on the supply side of getting more web3-native apps created and also more web3 capabilities integrated into regular apps,” Will Robinson, VP of engineering at Coinbase, told TechCrunch. “That’s on the supply side, and on the other side is demand: more users coming into the space whether that’s because Base gives them the easiest way to go from being a retail user to playing on-chain for the first time or because the wallet as a service offering can onboard a whole new class.”

At its core level, Coinbase’s goal is to get more apps built and get more users into the ecosystem, Robinson said.

Coinbase is ‘laser-focused’ on growing dev world and onboarding crypto-curious by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

Arbitrum co-founders see opportunity for continued layer-2 growth through DeFi, gaming

As we segue into March, the Ethereum layer-2 space is continuing to see strong demand: One of its largest scaling solutions, Arbitrum, is seeing renewed exponential growth through subsectors in the ecosystem.

While base blockchains (layer ones, or L1s in crypto-speak) remain the bedrock of the web3 landscape, technology built on top (layer two chains, or L2s) are exploding. Arbitrum recently surpassed the Ethereum chain that it is built on in terms of total transactions processed.

Arbitrum is an L2 Ethereum-focused scaling solution that aims to act like Ethereum but with transactions that cost way less and processing that’s way faster. It makes up about 54% of the market share on Ethereum and has about $3.38 billion total value locked, according to L2Beat data. The TVL, which is tracked through the amount of tokens locked in all escrow contracts for an L2, is near its highest point since May 2022, the data shows.

L2 scaling solutions like Arbitrum, Optimism, Immutable X, StarkWare and others are built on top of layer-1 blockchains like Ethereum. But L2s function in a faster, cheaper way and reduce the load on L1s by bundling up transactions and only recording final results on the main blockchain. That way it doesn’t clog up the network.

Arbitrum co-founders see opportunity for continued layer-2 growth through DeFi, gaming by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch

Ethereum NFT marketplace passes $1B in volume for first time since May as the creator royalties war heats up

The NFT market may be finding its footing again as the market for non-fungible tokens on the Ethereum blockchain surpassed $1 billion for the first time since May 2022.

Amid the recent rebound, NFT marketplace Blur has also bested the once-largest NFT marketplace OpenSea in monthly volume for the third month in a row as the crypto market debates the issue of NFT creator royalties. Earlier this month, Blur also released its highly anticipated token airdrop, which disbursed about 360 million Blur tokens to users, or about 12% of the project’s total supply.

Many speculated that Blur activity would fall off after its airdrop lure concluded. Instead, trading volume on the marketplace continued to grow. The rise of Blur in the NFT market has helped reignite a debate concerning royalties. In previous quarters, OpenSea tried to balance creator royalties as it held the top position for NFT marketplaces, but Blur’s aggressive stance is causing OpenSea to change its tack.

Blur’s NFT marketplace has a 0.5% royalty fee, which many view as so nominal it’s basically nothing.

“I get the sense that Blur is not necessarily anti-royalties,” Yat Siu, chairman of Animoca Brands, said to TechCrunch. “But what Blur is doing, and other marketplaces are doing as well, is trying to capture market share.”

Ethereum NFT marketplace passes $1B in volume for first time since May as the creator royalties war heats up by Jacquelyn Melinek originally published on TechCrunch