Posted In:

Gaming, Crypto

To Infinity And Beyond


Sep 11, 2021


Posted In:

Gaming, Crypto


Sep 11, 2021



DeFi has seen more than $700 billion worth of spot trading volumes in 2021 and is on pace to settle trillions of dollars of dollar-denominated value flow across public blockchains this year. It also has become the backbone of new global virtual economies, where users around the world can leverage public infrastructure to facilitate new forms of digital commerce.

A flag-bearer for this movement is the most popular NFT game to date, Axie Infinity, where users can purchase NFTs of digital Pokemon-like creatures (called Axies) and battle against other players. For winning a battle, players earn an in-game currency (SLP) that can be traded across various decentralized exchanges.

Axie Infinity has pioneered the idea of play-to-earn gaming economics to fuel eye-watering user traction that now counts more than a million daily active users; up from 500 DAUs just a year ago. It also has created a dynamic self-contained digital economy where users can recycle in-game winnings to breed new Axies or engage with an in-game marketplace that includes digital real estate NFTs.

The success of the play-to-earn flywheel has been big business: Axie Infinity has nearly $2 billion in total NFT game sales, almost 50% higher than the second-highest NFT asset CryptoPunks. But more importantly, it’s offering a life raft for service and gig economy workers in frontier markets during the Covid pandemic. According to The Block, more than half of Axie Infinity’s daily active users on the platform are from the Philippines, where the average daily salary is about $20. Many players in the region have taken up the game as a full-time job or a way to supplement income.

For those of us here that have been anxiously waiting for evidence of product-market fit within crypto that extends beyond trading and speculation, the emergence of a thriving virtual economy centered around a crypto-based game is a welcome development for the industry. It is also an early indicator of the types of new commerce that blockchain and crypto can help to unlock in the coming years.

Portfolio News

BlackRock joins blockchain platform Axoni for equity swap trades - BlackRock is embracing blockchain technology to make it easier to handle complex equity derivatives. The world’s largest money manager joined Goldman Sachs and Citigroup on Axoni's distributed-ledger system called Veris. The network is designed to help firms match and reconcile post-trade data on stock swaps. Read more

Flutterwave announces new mobile money partnership with MTN across Africa - In recent years, Africa has witnessed an explosion in mobile penetration as smartphone adoption has risen rapidly. Through this partnership, MTN and Flutterwave will positively contribute to this trend by increasing mobile money usage and penetration in Africa to improve local economies and livelihoods as well as create opportunities for individuals and businesses across the continent. Read more

MVB Bank teams with NYDIG to enable bitcoin offerings - Under the partnership, the MVB FinTech clients will be able to offer bitcoin and other related products, powered by NYDIG's full-stack platform. With the partnership, companies will now be able to offer both traditional financial products as well as bitcoin services like trading and rewards. Read more

Sigma Ratings named to AIFINTECH100 - The AIFINTECH100 is an annual list of 100 of the world’s most innovative AI solution providers for financial services selected by a panel of industry experts and analysts. These are the companies every financial institution needs to know about as they consider and develop their digital transformation strategies and new customer propositions. Read more

To Infinity And Beyond

RealVision: The play-to-earn revolution in gaming - With Axie Infinity paving the way, Anil Lulla, COO at Delphi Digital; Yan Liberman, managing partner at Delphi Digital; Jeffrey Zirlin, co-founder of Axie Infinity; and Gabby Dizon, CEO and co-founder of Yield Guild Games, join to discuss the new trend taking over the metaverse, which is expanding at a rapid pace. Read more

The jobless turn to crypto video game for financial relief - Axie Infinity is among the biggest—and most polarizing—of these new games, which allow players to accumulate tradeable crypto coins. To investors like billionaire Mark Cuban and Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who were part of a $7.5m funding round for Vietnamese game-maker Sky Mavis in May, it’s a gateway to crypto for people around the world. Read more

Axie Infinity is getting so popular it has struggled to stay running - The so-called play-to-earn game Axie Infinity has seen its total number of daily active users increase by over 233% since the end of June, hitting 900,000 players last month. Read more

Industry News

PayPal's $2.7b Japan deal heats up buy now, pay later race - U.S. payments giant PayPal Holdings Inc said it would acquire Japanese buy now, pay later (BNPL) firm Paidy in a $2.7b largely cash deal, taking another step to claim the top spot in an industry experiencing a pandemic-led boom. Read more

How Joseph Lubin became Wall Street’s crypto whisperer - A great long read from the FT on Joseph “Joe” Lubin, a Canadian programmer in his mid-fifties and founder of the Brooklyn-based financial software-maker, ConsenSys. Read more

The Fintech Startups Plaid, JPMorgan, and Stripe Could Buy Next - Fntech startups have targets on their backs. Big banks and payment processing companies, propelled by the jump in online commerce during the pandemic, are snapping up software firms that help consumers pay, trade, and borrow online. Read more

NFT marketplace OpenSea sees $3.4b transaction volume in August - With increased demand and attention driving up the prices of high-profile NFT collections, prices are also on the rise for Ether, Solana and other smart contract blockchains used to create NFTs. Solana hit its highest trading price ever last week, with Ether on the road to a similar record. Read more

El Salvador leads world in adopting bitcoin as official currency - President Nayib Bukele, who has pushed for adopting the cryptocurrency, says it will help Salvadorans save about $400m the government calculates is spent annually on commissions for remittances, while giving access to financial services to the unbanked. Read more

Amazon’s cashierless ‘Just Walk Out’ tech is coming to Whole Foods stores - After launching it in Go stores and then bringing it to larger Freshsupermarkets, Amazon’s cashierless “Just Walk Out” tech will soon arrive in two Whole Foods locations. The service, which lets you pick up goods from shelves and (yep) just walk out, is coming to new stores in Washington DC and Sherman Oaks, California next year, the company announced. Read more

Nasdaq data to aid blockchain-based tokenized stock trading - DeFiChain will offer tokenized stocks corresponding to the underlying price of listed companies such as Apple Inc., Tesla Inc., Inc. and GameStop Corp., the statement said. The tokenized stocks will be collateralized by cryptocurrencies, which means traders won’t have to go through an intermediary such as a broker. Read more

Coinbase gets Wells notice from the SEC on Lend product - Coinbase was warned by the Securities and Exchange Commission against launching a product that would allow consumers to earn interest on their crypto holdings, saying the agency will bring an enforcement action if the company goes ahead with its Lend product. Coinbase expressed surprise at the SEC’s move, in a blog post, adding it plans to delay the launch at least until October. Read more

Uruguay’s fintech tycoons powering payments for Netflix and Amazon - Four alumni from Uruguay’s biggest private university started payments firm dLocal in 2016. Today they are the most successful entrepreneurs in their nation’s history, worth a combined $10b. Read more

Cryptocurrencies: developing countries provide fertile ground - In advanced economies, cryptocurrencies are viewed by many in the financial world with suspicion — the domain of zealous “crypto bros” and a speculative and highly volatile fad that can only end badly. But in the developing world, there are signs that crypto is quietly building deeper roots. Especially in countries which have a history of financial instability or where the barriers to accessing traditional financial products such as bank accounts are high, cryptocurrency use is fast becoming a fact of daily life. Read more

Mastercard buys crypto intelligence firm CipherTrace - Mastercard continues to strengthen its digital asset capabilities, buying cryptocurrency intelligence outfit CipherTrace. Financial terms were not disclosed. Read more

LA’s SoFi stadium, Square ink 10-year deal for contactless payments - Square, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park will be working on “seamless commerce” as the entertainment and sports industries evolve alongside customer demands. Square’s products and services “will power commerce and contactless payments across every checkout and purchase point, spanning hundreds of concession stands, bars, roving hawkers and merchandise retail stores,” per the release. Read more

JPMorgan buys restaurant reviews group behind Zagat guide - The deal comes as America’s largest bank looks to win a greater share of the payments consumers make while dining out. The US bank said it acquired The Infatuation, which in just over a decade has grown from a New York-focused “where to eat” blog into a restaurant and bar review media and event empire, for an undisclosed sum. Read more

Peer-to-peer trades are sustaining Nigeria’s crypto activity despite a ban - Seven months after Nigerian banks were barred from enabling cryptocurrency transactions, bitcoin remains an actively traded asset in the country, partly due to the presence of platforms that enable peer-to-peer transfers. Read more

Select Financings

Addi - Bogota and São Paulo based BNPL startup raised $75m in Series B extension funding led by Greycroft. Read more

Eden Network - New York based maker of a network focused on protecting Ethereum traders raised $17.4m in Seed funding led by Multicoin Capital. Read more

HoneyBee - Los Angeles based financial wellness as-a-benefit startup raised $5.7m in Series A funding led by FFVC. Read more

Jetty - New York based renter payment platform raised $23m in new funding led by Citi and Flourish Ventures. Read more

Kalepa - New York based commercial insurance startup raised $14m in Series A funding led by Inspired Capital. Read more

Koyo - London based provider of loans for individuals with poor credit raised $50m in new funding led by Force Over Mass. Read more

Lean - California based provider of financial products for gig workers raised $4.5m in Seed funding led by Inspired Capital. Read more

Marshmallow - UK based car insurance startup raised $85m in Series B funding led by Passion Capital. Read more

MNT-Halan - Egypt based microfinance lending and payments service raised $120m in new funding from investors including Apis Growth Fund II, Development Partners International, and Lorax Capital Partners. Read more

Mooncard - France based provider of smart corporate card and expense report management solutions raised €20m in Series B funding led by BlackFin Capital Partners and Partech. Read more

Orchard - New York based home buying and selling platform raised $100m in Series D funding led by Accomplice. Read more

Ryd - Munich based in-car digital payments provider raised €10m in new funding led by BP Ventures. Read more

Scalapay - Milan based BNPL startup raised $155m in Series A funding led by Tiger Global. Read more

Varo Money - San Francisco based mobile banking startup raised $510m in Series E funding led by Lone Pine Capital. Read more

Vouch - San Francisco based business insurance startup raised $90m in Series C funding led by Redpoint Ventures, SVB Capital and Ribbit Capital. Read more

Wave - Senegal based mobile money provider raised $200m in Series A funding from Sequoia Heritage, Founders Fund, Stripe, Ribbit Capital, Sam Altman and Partech Africa. Read more

Zebedee - New York based developer of "Bitcoin-powered payment rails" raised $11.5m in Series A funding led by Lakestar. Read more


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