Bitcoin has soared in 2020 and everyone is talking about the price. But I want to talk about how Bitcoin is actually being used and the new capabilities it enables.
Sure, bitcoin is the hardest form of money that exists and the best store of value. But it is also the most practical form of digital value that we have, as it is global, interoperable and programmable. So, what other use cases does Bitcoin enable? And what are the revolutionary new capabilities that people didn’t even know they needed Bitcoin for?
The team at ZEBEDEE had a very simple idea. The purest form of global, digital economies are video games, but they lack a purely global and digital form of transactional value. So why not take an existing popular game and integrate Bitcoin as the value transfer protocol. The question we wanted to answer is: Does this add a new dimension to the gameplay that dramatically increases enjoyment and engagement?
On December 27, 2020, we demonstrated this concept live at MintGox in front of an online audience of over 5,000 viewers. We successfully infused bitcoin into Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO), a multiplayer first-person shooter video game with 28 million monthly active users. And with that, the first public reveal of ZEBEDEE’s newest product, Infuse, will bring Bitcoin to the world’s most popular games. The results are here to see:
In this simple integration, players pay a bitcoin invoice to stake themselves into a match prize pool and then fight it out to win the lion’s share of the pot by the end of the game. This “skin in the game” totally transforms the experience and depth of engagement.
When you see it, you get that “holy shit!” moment — the realization that something big has just been born. CS:GO is one of those games that you can mindlessly play for hours. But wait until you see what happens when you have some real skin in the game that persists outside of the game, instead of just playing for a score. CS:GO tournaments are huge, but now everyone can play to earn, not just the l33t gamers.
This is it. Forget CBDCs and dreams of replacing existing inter-bank settlement layers. Bitcoin is the native settlement layer for the new virtual economy.
Back To The Future: Reintroducing Value Into Games
But as we evolved into the digital age, this dimension was lost, only to be replaced by meaningless in-game gold:
“There is a strong historical precedent to argue that value transfer has always been an integral part of what makes games fun to play,” he wrote. “But, whereas games have evolved into the digital age, the medium of value transfer between players has not. This leaves an enormous hole in the modern gaming experience.
“Value transfer was therefore limited to in-app purchases, loot boxes, in game ads etc which arguably had a detrimental effect on gameplay.
“With Bitcoin and the Lightning Network we now have a global currency that is both peer-to-peer and interoperable between games — analogous to the usage of gold or silver in early games.”
Levelling Up The Gaming Industry
We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. People play games because they are fun, not because they are on a blockchain. When it comes to gaming, most cutting-edge crypto innovation is putting the cart before the horse by focusing on decentralized, censorship-resistant game mechanics and in-game asset ownership.
Making a successful game is hard and competitive; blockchain games face a lot of challenges and can focus on the wrong incentives. The low hanging fruit is to give already great games and great game developers an additional tool: the ability to programmably integrate the largest store of digital value into their games.
This is a straightforward way for video games to unlock an enormous amount of potential for new types of economics, player engagement and creativity. We have already demonstrated this through new types of activities that were not previously possible in a time before programmable Bitcoin interactions:
- Breaking the fourth wall: Audience members can participate in esports events, directly interacting with the game using sats to pay for power ups or bounty increases. The blurring of the line between players and audience is something I really hope will be a revolutionary moment in gaming.
- New revenue models: At the last MintGox tournament, we recorded more than 10,000 Lightning transactions. With that amount of value activity flowing through games come new ways for game developers to harvest the real economic activity they are creating.
- Better ad integrations: In-game advertisements can more directly reach players. For example, players interact directly with a brand by picking up corporate-branded Bitcoin power ups throughout a map.
- Microtransactions: Not only top placers can win prizes, as Bitcoin payouts make microprizes possible, creating yet another avenue for micro earning.
How Will This Play Out In 2021?
I know that 2021 will be the year that everyone on earth realizes they need a piece of Bitcoin. But, not everyone is a trader or investor, or even has the spare cash to stack sats. Gaming is the way emerging generations will onboard onto Bitcoin and stack sats through their own skills.
My team at ZEBEDEE will be doing its part to support this. Firstly, by not only hosting more CS:GO Bitcoin servers, but also striving to infuse Bitcoin into any open game that we can get our hands on.
I also expect to see game devs realize that they can make their own games more engaging and profitable by integrating Bitcoin into their game mechanics. We’re here to support that with the tools to make that happen and a rapidly growing audience of gamers eager to start pwning.
This is a guest post by Simon Cowell. Opinions expressed are entirely their own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Inc or Bitcoin Magazine.
Grayscale Now Owns More Than 3% of Total 21 Million Bitcoins That Will Ever Exist
The leading digital asset manager Grayscale continues to tighten its grip on the bitcoin supply. According to recent estimations, the company now owns over 3% of all the 21 million BTC that will ever exist.
Grayscale’s BTC Domination
Launched in 2013, Grayscale is the largest cryptocurrency asset manager with over $27 billion in assets under management.
Somewhat expectedly, the company’s Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) is the most popular product that enables institutions to receive BTC exposure through a publicly-traded trust that reports to the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).
Investors typically pay a premium to avoid worrying about storing and managing the assets.
GBTC’s popularity exploded in the past year as institutions have been more eager to join the space. Grayscale reported that its AUM skyrocketed by 10x in 2020. Moreover, the firm garnered more inflows in Q4 2020 alone than in 2013-2019 combined, and BTC has been on the forefront.
Investors allocating funds in GBTC buy shares in a trust, which Grayscale backs by owning bitcoins. And, the company has been purchasing massive amounts of BTC in the past year to keep up with the skyrocketing demand.
The asset manager wrote in its Q4 2020 report that “while the supply of newly-created Bitcoin has slowed as a result of the halving in May 2020, the inflows into Grayscale have accelerated meaningfully.” In fact, the firm said it bought nearly two times as many bitcoins as mined since the halving.
How Much Bitcoin Is In Grayscale’s Hands
Recent reports exemplified Grayscale’s BTC shopping spree. The monitoring resource Bloqport said that the asset manager had bought 16,244 BTC in the span of 24 hours. To put this considerable amount in USD perspective – it’s nearly $600 million.
Ultimately, Bloqport noted that Grayscale’s bitcoins under management is 3% of all BTC ever to exist. Company data confirmed this.
According to Grayscale’s website, GBTC has 666,675,200 outstanding shares with 0.00094919 BTC per share. Simple math shows that this amount equals 643,801 bitcoins – this is 3.013% of the total supply of 21 million. Moreover, it’s actually 3.40% of all 18,604,000 bitcoins in circulation as of writing these lines.
How Crucial Is GBTC For Bitcoin’s Price
Analysts from the giant US multinational investment bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, have repeatedly emphasized the significance of the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust on the asset’s performance and adoption.
In its latest report, the strategists said that the cryptocurrency needs to overcome $40,000 to avoid a correction, which could drive institutions away from investing in GBTC.
Furthermore, they noted that the Trust has to sustain at least $100 million per day pace over the next few weeks to prevent such retracement.
New ‘market fear’ index lets traders bet on crypto volatility
COTI, a blockchain-powered fintech startup, has launched a new cryptocurrency index enabling traders to profit from the market volatility.
The new Crypto Volatility Index, or CVI, brings the traditional “market fear index” to the crypto market, allowing users to deposit and open positions with Tether (UDST).
Gibraltar-based COTI explained that the new index allows traders to open CVI positions for high and low volatility. “Users who expect volatility to increase can open a CVI position. If correct, they can take profit by selling their position once the index has risen,” COTI wrote.
In contrast, traders who expect volatility to remain low can provide liquidity to the platform. If correct, traders will profit by collecting fees paid by traders who have opened CVI positions.
CVI liquidity providers are required to deposit USDT for a minimum of 72 hours, while CVI traders must maintain an open position for at least 6 hours before selling or closing it.
Users can link their accounts to major wallets including MetaMask or Trust Wallet. COTI plans to add Ether (ETH) and COTI token (COTI) as deposit tokens in the near future.
With the CVI mainnet launch, users can also stake and unstake GOVI, which is the native governance token of the CVI index. The token enables users to earn platform fees and participate in voting.
UK hospitals use blockchain technology to track the temperature of COVID vaccines.
According to the CNBC report, the National Health Service facilities in South Warwickshire, England, are using tech developed by U.K. firm Everyware and U.S. organization Hedera Hashgraph. Everyware uses sensors to monitor equipment in real-time, while Hedera is a blockchain consortium backed by the likes of Google and IBM. Originally intended as the digital ledger underpinning bitcoin, blockchain has since been adopted by various industries for applications outside the realm of finance.
Blockchain would help keep a tamper-proof digital record of temperature-sensitive vaccines.
These hospitals are using blockchain to keep a tamper-proof digital record of temperature-sensitive vaccines, like the ones developed by Pfizer and BioNTech. The U.K. hospitals would, in theory, be able to pick up on any irregularities in the storage of the vaccines before administering them to patients. Pfizer’s vaccine must be stored at subzero temperatures (-70 degrees Celsius). It can only last at two-to-eight degree Celsius conditions for up to five days, creating big hurdles for the logistics in distributing it. However, vaccines developed by Moderna and Oxford-AstraZeneca, however, can be stored at temperatures that are within reach of the average home refrigerator for longer.
Regulators around the world acknowledge the potential of blockchain tech.
Singapore had reported that it witnessed a 30% growth in its blockchain sector. Not just Singapore, many other countries witnessed substantial growth in the blockchain industry. Regulators across countries have acknowledged blockchain tech’s potential, and many are onboard with its mass adoption. Blockchain tech, which was launched as a technology to underpin the leading cryptocurrency, bitcoin, is now being used in many sectors. The technology is currently being used in fields, including healthcare and logistics. South Korea recently revealed its plan to use blockchain in the healthcare sector.
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