The everyday life of a crypto investor is never boring – last week was eventful, as usual. Instagram announced the adoption of NFTs, hackers stole $200 million in funds, luxury fashion giant Gucci aped in, and Coinbase hit a notable milestone on the institutional side.
This is what the crypto world is talking about right now.
$200 million lost in a hack yet again
Hacks continue to plague the crypto world. If in the past the hackers targeted cryptocurrency exchanges, now they seem to have a new target: blockchain bridges. The most recent blockchain bridge to fall victim to cybercriminals is Nomad, which lost nearly $200 million in a chaotic hack.
Blockchain bridges are infrastructures that allow users to exchange digital assets between different blockchains. They are important services because currently, communication between different blockchains is basically non-existing. Bridges are one of the few ways to transfer, for example, Bitcoin to the Ethereum blockchain. In the process, the service takes the exchangeable token and “wraps” it so that it works on another blockchain.
To function seamlessly, bridge services must have large reserves of different cryptocurrencies. These reserves have naturally attracted the attention of hackers and made blockchain bridges obvious targets for robbery.
About $1.83 billion has been stolen from those bridges so far, most of which ($1.21 billion) has happened this year. For example, Harmony lost $100 million at the end of June, and Axie Infinity’s Ronin Bridge lost a whopping $625 million to hackers in March.
Nomad’s official Twitter account announced the hack on Monday, August 1. The company said that the team is working around the clock to fix the situation and had also reported the incident to law enforcement. Nomad has offered a reward to hackers who return the majority of the funds they took. The company promises not to press charges against them.
Instagram is rolling out NFTs in over 100 countries
Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced that the company has started NFT integrations in 100 countries. NFTs will be introduced in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the United States. This means that the company’s applications will in the future support e.g. Coinbase Wallet and enable digital collectibles to be sent to the Flow blockchain. The popular social media platform Instagram will be the first to get NFT integrations.
The user only needs to connect their digital wallet to Instagram to send NFTs. Integrations with third-party wallets such as MetaMask and Trust Wallet are coming soon. Instagram will support e.g. Ethereum, Polygon and Flow blockchains. Posting or sharing NFT on Instagram is free.
NFTs aren’t the only digital asset the company has taken interest in. Web3 seems to be strongly in Meta’s sights and one of the core components of its future expansion. Meta also develops its own metaverse and, according to Mark Zuckerberg, it has a business opportunity of hundreds of billions or even trillions of dollars as the industry matures.
Hackers stole millions from Solana wallets – the perpetrator was not identified
The bear market is not the only concern of crypto investors – now several hackers are plaguing the entire crypto ecosystem. The Solana ecosystem and its users have become the latest victims of a hack. Thousands of unsuspecting Solana wallet users have reported that their wallets have been completely drained of funds.
So far, more than 9,000 unique online wallets have been compromised, and the attacker is still unknown. This is no small theft; an estimated $4 million has been taken from known Internet-connected hot wallets such as Phantom, Slope, and TrustWallet.
According to the blockchain auditor OtterSec, the attack started on Tuesday evening. The exact cause of the attack remained unclear for a long time, but based on the investigation, it seemed to mainly target mobile wallet users. The hacker managed to initiate and accept transactions on behalf of wallet users, which should not be possible without private keys.
The researchers of the attack have found that the fault is not related to Solana’s smart contract. According to an investigation by developers, ecosystem teams, and blockchain auditors, it appears that the hacked wallets were created in the Slope mobile wallet app and then imported into other apps.
The attack will inevitably reignite the long-standing debate about the security of hot wallets. Online wallets are constantly connected to the Internet, which makes them a convenient way for users to send, store and receive cryptocurrencies. It also makes them vulnerable to hacking and phishing attempts. Physical “cold wallets” – devices that look like a USB stick and can be connected to a computer are a much safer option. They become online only when they are connected to a computer.
Crypto investors should think carefully about whether they value speed and convenience (hot wallets) over security of funds (cold wallets).
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Gucci x ApeCoin – the luxury brand now accepts the infamous token as payment
Fashion giant Gucci has excelled in the world of virtual currencies. The brand has previously adopted Bitcoin and Ethereum as means of payment, made an NFT collection and held a fashion show in the metaverse. Now the latest addition to the portfolio is Bored Ape Yacht Club’s token ApeCoin.
Gucci’s expanding crypto payment portfolio is the result of the BitPay collaboration revealed in May. Gucci is the first fashion retailer to support ApeCoin in select stores in the United States. Gucci customers can pay with ApeCoin using a QR code sent by email.
What is ApeCoin?
ApeCoin (APE) is a cryptocurrency created by the popular Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFT collection. The collection, released by Yuga Labs in spring 2021, is one of the most famous and expensive collections out there. Yuga Labs is developing an ecosystem where ApeCoin acts as a means of payment and so-called administrative token. It allows the community to vote on changes and access exclusive features such as games and services. ApeCoin acts as a payment method for all new products and services in the ecosystem.
Coinbase partners with the world’s largest asset manager
Coinbase, one of the most prominent cryptocurrency exchanges, announced in a blog post on Thursday that it will partner with the world’s largest asset manager, BlackRock, to facilitate institutional investors’ crypto asset management and crypto trading.
The aim of the cooperation is to offer BlackRock’s customers direct access to cryptocurrencies and especially Bitcoin investing. Users of BlackRock’s institutional platform Aladdin will gain access to crypto trading, custody, brokerage, and reporting features if they sign up for Coinbase Prime.
Coinbase Prime is an institutional trading solution that offers digital asset services and enables investment in over 300 cryptocurrencies. The service is tailored for companies such as hedge funds, asset allocators, financial institutions, and corporate treasuries. Coinbase Prime has over 13,000 customers. BlackRock, on the other hand, manages $10 trillion in assets and operates globally in 100 countries.
Due to the bear market, Coinbase, which has been in trouble lately, gets a little relief with the news. The company’s stock had lost more than two-thirds of its value this year, but the announcement of the BlackRock collaboration increased the stock’s value by 15 percent. Earlier this summer, Coinbase announced canceling employment contracts and laying off more than 1,000 employees.
The cooperation is also positive news for the entire crypto community. Institutions globally manage funds worth trillions of dollars, and BlackRock’s interest in cryptocurrencies heralds the entry of other asset managers into the crypto ecosystem. Huge institutions are subject to regulation and their entry into the crypto ecosystem increases the credibility of the technology and the confidence of investors.
Institutions and wealth management companies are likely to be one of the biggest drivers of the next bull market.
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