In the last two months, the number of cryptocurrencies with a $1 billion market cap has doubled since the last time Cointelegraph reported on the milestone. As things currently stand, there are 100 projects that have reached a $1 billion market capitalization.
Unicorns are typically privately held startup companies valued at more than $1 billion, but traditional finance is increasingly applying the term to high-value cryptocurrencies that institutions are only now gaining exposure to.
The entrance of institutional investors into the cryptocurrency sector over the course of 2021 has been one of the driving forces of growth for the ecosystem as a whole as multi-billion dollar companies like Tesla, Square and MicroStrategy have converted a portion of their cash reserves into Bitcoin (BTC) and other top altcoins.
These are the top 8 #Bitcoin holding public companies.
— Delta Investment Tracker (@get_delta) March 6, 2021
Decentralized finance (DeFi), nonfungible tokens (NFT) and oracles have been some of the hottest growth sectors of the cryptocurrency ecosystem, helping propel multiple projects to Unicorn level status, while stablecoin-related protocols have also vaulted in value as they help provide a solid foundation for the industry to grow from.
On that thread, here’s an update on some of the top crypto unicorn projects, as well as an introduction to some of the newest arrivals to the billion dollar club.
Nonfungible tokens steal the spotlight
Nonfungible tokens took the world by storm over the past two months as celebrities, influencers, fast food restaurants and established auction houses jumped on the bandwagon to take part in the creation, sale and distribution of one-of-a-kind digital assets.
Enjin Coin (ENJ) has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the rise of NFTs which helped rocket the price of ENJ to an all-time high of $3.08 on March 15 and firmly elevated the project to Unicorn status with a $2.6 billion market cap.
The upcoming launch of JumpNet on April 6, will enable the zero-fee creation and distribution of ERC-1155 tokens in the Enjin ecosystem and community excitement over this launch appears to be keeping investors bullish on ENJ.
Other notable NFT-related arrivals to the Unicorn club include the virtual reality platform Decentraland (MANA), which enables the purchase of digital plots of land that can be developed and monetized, and Flow (FLOW), a developer-friendly blockchain designed to be the foundation for “the next generation of games, apps, and the digital assets that power them.”
The DeFi ecosystem expands
The impact that decentralized finance has had on the cryptocurrency ecosystem is undeniable as much of the growth in the sector over the past two years can be attributed to DEXs like Uniswap and yield-farming platforms like Yearn.finance (YFI).
High transaction costs and network congestion on the Ethereum network triggered an exodus of users and liquidity to cross-chain compatible platforms and also helped to raise several DeFi protocols built on the Binance Smart Chain (BSC) above the billion-dollar mark.
PancakeSwap (CAKE) has been one of the shining stars of BSC, rapidly climbing up the charts during the months of February and March to hit a market cap of $2.55 billion.
Data from Defi Llama shows that CAKE is now ranked as the fifth-largest DeFi platform by total value locked with $6.18 billion currently locked in the protocol.
One protocol that operates on the Binance Chain and the Ethereum network is THORChain (RUNE), whose 700% price growth since January 1 has lifted the project’s total market cap to $1.95 billion.
Recent optimism for the project has been centered around the launch of THORChain Multichain, which committed to genesis on April 2 and is expected to launch between the 13th and 16th of April.
Cross-chain bridges and interoperability protocols soar
Platforms that offer a lower fee environment to that of Ethereum, including layer 2 solutions and separate blockchain networks, have received extra attention over the past two months due to record-breaking gas costs.
As the token that powers transactions on the BSC, Binance Coin (BNB) has seen its price surge enough to vault the token into the top 3 by market capitalization, which now fluctuates around $53.55 billion.
Polygon (MATIC) has also risen in stature to become one of the chosen layer 2 protocols for the Ethereum network following its pivot to become the “Polkadot on Ethereum” and help stem the tide of projects and liquidity leaving the network.
With many popular unicorn-level projects already operational on the Polygon protocol, including Aave (AAVE) and SushiSwap (SUSHI), MATIC looks well-positioned to continue its gallop higher as a rising unicorn star.
Stablecoins and storage platforms grow in strength
Stablecoins and their associated protocols received a boost early in 2021 when the U.S. Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency gave the green light for national banks to run independent nodes for distributed ledger networks.
After Bitfinex and Tether settled their landmark case with the Office of the New York Attorney General, enthusiasm for stablecoin projects further increased as the market caps for Tether and USD Coin (USDC) increased by billions of dollars.
One protocol with a stablecoin component that has made great strides in helping establish a stable store of wealth in countries experiencing hyperinflation like Venezuela is Reserve, whose Reserve Rights (RSR) token has increased by more than 400% in 2021.
Another new entrant to the stablecoin field is TerraUSD (UST), whose market cap skyrocketed from $182 million on Jan. 1 to $1.66 billion on April 2 as its native Terra (LUNA) blockchain protocol, which specializes in the creation of fiat-pegged stablecoins to power price-stable global payments systems, has seen its price rally 3,000% since the beginning of the year.
Real-world use cases and partnerships drive altcoins higher
Several projects with specific use-cases and first-mover advantage have joined the unicorn herd by offering unique solutions to problems faced in both the cryptocurrency and traditional sectors.
Theta (THETA) has been a stand-out performer for the blockchain industry in 2021 as the streaming video-focused platform has seen its token value swell more than 900% since early January after several high-profile announcements led to record-high trading volumes for the token.
— Theta Network (@Theta_Network) March 23, 2021
The blockchain-based web browser and digital advertising platform Basic Attention Token (BAT) managed to achieve a unicorn-level valuation thanks to its own NFT and DeFi related announcements, with the project unveiling plans to launch a DEX aggregator and NFT wallet in its next browser.
Helium (HNT), a decentralized blockchain-powered network for the Internet of Things (IoT) devices through a network of nodes (hotspots), has also recently joined the unicorn club.
Running a hotspot on the Helium network gives the user a low-cost opportunity to participate in mining to help maintain network security at a fraction of what it costs to mine Bitcoin and Ethereum.
This is helped create a global network of more than 25,000 hotspots and a total market cap of $1.12 billion for the HNT.
Now that institutional investors are slowly gaining exposure to the cryptocurrency asset class, the number of unicorn-level projects is likely to continue to increase as traditional finance embraces the rise of DeFi and digital assets.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
SWFT Blockchain (SWFTC) is now available on Binance Smart Chain and Huobi ECO Chain
SWFT Blockchain, a cross-chain cryptocurrency transfer protocol, announced today that the ecosystem’s native token SWFTC is now not only available as an ERC-20 token, but also as a BEP-20 token on Binance Smart Chain (BSC) and as an HRC-20 token on Huobi ECO Chain (HECO).
This makes SWFTC available on three popular blockchains; and also opens SWFTC up to new DeFi products, allowing more people to use SWFTC for more financial activities. While SWFTC is already available on Uniswap, it will soon be available on decentralized exchanges on BSC and HECO.
SWFTC (ERC-20) still gets users 50% off of swap fees when swapping on SWFT Blockchain. And this feature will soon be expanded to SWFTC (BEP-20) and SWFTC (HRC-20).
Details about SWFTC on the respective chains:
Our Man in Shanghai: Coinbase listing scorned, graphics cards seized, nostalgia coins rule
It was a relatively quiet week in China’s blockchain space as events were overshadowed by the surge in the BTC price and the Coinbase direct listing in the U.S. Many locals reacted with surprise to the news, showing that exposure to cryptocurrencies is still relatively isolated in the world’s most populous country.
Many netizens responded skeptically to the Coinbase story, with news aggregation account “Jiemian” on Weibo calling Bitcoin a scam, highlighting its connection to terrorists, and encouraging investors to stick to China’s A-shares. (For a quick comparison, the Shanghai composite index is down 2.13% this year, while Bitcoin has a YTD return of over 116%.) Jiemian has over 10 million followers on Weibo, but caters to a more traditional audience. The takeaway here is that despite China’s aggressive adoption of DCEP (Digital Currency Electronic Payment, also known as the digital yuan), other digital payments, and internet technology, cryptocurrency acceptance remains relatively isolated.
Some experts on China’s blockchain industry spoke to Cointelegraph regarding DCEP on April 10th, discussing how the digital yuan has affected the space. Kevin Shao, co-founder of Bitrise Capital, summed up the situation by stating that “overall, China’s digital currency still serves the central bank’s monetary policy and monetary functions.” It’s safe to say that the rapid DCEP advancement has little cross-over with the country’s active blockchain space, and probably will remain independent for the foreseeable future.
While all that was going on, volumes were spiking on cryptocurrency exchanges around the world. Huobi, China’s largest exchange by liquidity, experienced a wave of trading on more established tokens. The top seven most traded on Thursday were BTC, DOGE, ETH, XRP, FIL, TRX and BCH. All of these projects have roots in previous bull runs, showing that nostalgia is not lost on Chinese investors.
Graphics cards seized by Hong Kong Customs
Customs in Hong Kong have busted a smuggling operation involving nearly 300 graphics cards, which are suspected to be Nvidia CMP 30HX models and worth about 2 million RMB, or $300,000. There were no labels on the front of the graphics cards, and this particular model comes without a video output port, and is built exclusively for cryptocurrency mining. According to a source, this is the first time that Hong Kong Customs has seized graphics cards smuggled for the purpose of mining.
The state of media blockchain content
Finally, in policy news, The State Administration of Radio, Film and Television issued standards for blockchain-related media content. The standard system is intended to promote healthy and sustainable content pertaining to the use of blockchain in industries such as auditing systems, business processes, food safety and management. The State Administration is very proactive with its standards, detailing how technologies, trends, and other themes should be portrayed in the media.
This weekly roundup of news from Mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong attempts to curate the industry’s most important news, including influential projects, changes in the regulatory landscape, and enterprise blockchain integrations.
Rothschild Investment Corp snaps up quarter of a million shares in Grayscale ETH Trust
Chicago-based financial institution Rothschild Investment Corp, has acquired 265,302 shares in Grayscale’s ETH trust, according to a filing on April 15 with the United States Securities Commission or SEC.
The firm also added more Grayscale Bitcoin trust shares to its holdings, with the latest SEC filing revealing that it increased its tally from 30,454 in January up to 38,346 this month.
Rothschild Investment has been accumulating GBTC since 2017, and the latest filing shows the firm’s appetite for crypto exposure is not slowing down. Ether proponent Ryan Adams, the founder of crypto investment firm Mythos Capital and Bankless, commented on the latest move noting that “BTC is the gateway drug to ETH.”
BTC is the gateway drug to ETH https://t.co/1w7p66OkOF
— RYAN SΞAN ADAMS – rsa.eth (@RyanSAdams) April 15, 2021
The brokerage firm’s history spans back to 1908, and it has been investing in crypto for a relatively long time when compared to the mass inflow of institutions who have swooped in during the past 12 months. An SEC filing showed that the firm owned $210,000 worth of GBTC in July 2017, when BTC was priced around $2000.
Founding members Monroe Rothschild and brother in-law Samuel Karger reportedly have no relation to the famed Rothschild family dynasty, much to the confusion of the crypto community despite the New York Times publishing an article that clarified the situation in 1995.
Not the Rotschild you think https://t.co/KVUy9u1ETy
— Yann Ranchere (@tek_fin) July 23, 2017
Grayscale is the leading U.S. digital asset manager that offers institutional exposure to crypto, the firm holds roughly 660,000 BTC, which accounts for 3.5% of BTC in circulation.
The firm revealed yesterday that its total assets under management has now reached $50.6 billion, its ETH trust, or ETHE, is now up to more than $7 billion worth of AUM, with its shares currently trading at around $24. GTBC has surpassed $41 billion in AUM, and shares are trading at around $59.
04/15/21 UPDATE: Net Assets Under Management, Holdings per Share, and Market Price per Share for our Investment Products.
— Grayscale (@Grayscale) April 15, 2021
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