The volatile price of bitcoin and the fluctuating fortunes of overnight millionaires grab the headlines, but the real story in the cryptocurrency world is far less sensational.
Entire new industries and business opportunities are being built on the blockchain, and the pace of activity appears to be quickening. Gartner Inc. forecasts that business value generated by the blockchain, a decentralized digital ledger, will expand rapidly, reaching $176 billion over the next three years. The number of large enterprises using digital currencies will reach 20% of the global business market by 2024.
Non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, are helping fuel the blockchain’s growth, and Unstoppable Domains Inc. has built its business on providing user-controlled digital identities using NFTs. TheCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s livestreaming studio, and Unstoppable Domains, explored the world of cryptocurrency and blockchain during the recent “Unstoppable Domains Partner Showcase” event. (* Disclosure below.)
Here are three insights you might have missed from the event:
1. As the blockchain expands, the use of smart contracts is exploding
Smart contracts are computer programs run on the blockchain that enable secure value exchanges. They eliminate the need for a third party because the contract is automatically activated when the conditions written in the code are met.
Ethereum holds the largest share of the smart contract market, settles trillions of transactions annually, and manages $170 billion on its platform. Its cryptocurrency – ether – is now the second largest after bitcoin.
“We’ve seen explosion in new smart contract blockchains in the past couple of years actually going live,” said Matt Mickiewicz (pictured), chief revenue officer of Unstoppable Domains, in a conversation with theCUBE during the event. “This is really interesting because they support a huge number of different use cases.”
Some of those use cases can be found in hybrid smart contracts, which combine the blockchain with new technologies or “oracles.” Decentralized oracle networks are fueling new projects, such as Arbol — which incorporates weather data to pay out on a contract when certain climate-driven events occur — or dynamic NFTs, which adjust using real-time data. One NBA player has created a hybrid smart contract NFT that changes over time based on his performance on the basketball court.
Watch the complete interview with Matt Mickiewicz below:
2. The blockchain is fostering player-owned economies in the gaming world
One of the hottest trends in the crypto space is GameFi, a melding of gaming and blockchain-powered financialization. Decentralized applications, or “dApps,” are being built to award tokens for successfully executing game-related tasks.
An example of where GameFi is headed can be seen in the recent growth of the blockchain-based Axie Infinity. The fledgling gaming platform recently recorded $564 million in transaction volume over a 30-day period.
Players purchase blob-like characters, called Axies, and get paid in tokens for winning battles and completing quests. There is an upfront cost, and some players rent existing Axies to others, thus creating a separate revenue stream.
The maker of Axie Infinity is Vietnam-based Sky Mavis Pte. Ltd., which raised $152 million in a funding round late last year, led by the prominent Silicon Valley venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.
“With Axie Infinity, 40% of their user base is in Vietnam,” said Nilkanth Iyer, head of Asia at Unstoppable Domains, during an interview with theCUBE. “The average earning that a person makes in a month out of playing this game is more than the national daily or minimum wage that is there. So that’s the kind of potential.”
Watch the complete interview with Nilkanth Iyer and Sajjad Rehman below:
3. DAOs are emerging as a key governance function for the crypto world
Most of the trading in the cryptocurrency world has, so far, not been regulated by a federal authority. This has been viewed by some as a positive because it has allowed a nascent industry to flourish. But there are others who believe that regulation will be necessary to protect a growing pool of investors.
A decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, has become the entity that is partly filling the gap in governance for the crypto world. According to data made available by DeepDAO, the amount of funds deposited into DAOs increased 1,422% in 2021, with a total of nearly $13 billion under management. The state of Wyoming has passed a law recognizing DAOs as a legal entity.
DAOs are essentially community-run business structures, usually comprised of a custom cryptocurrency and an online communications channel. Holders of the crypto hold discussions and take votes, with those possessing the largest stakes having the most sway.
DAOs have been used for a variety of purposes. LinksDAO sold $10 million of NFTs in 48 hours to buy a golf course. CabinDAO was started by a group in Austin, Texas, to manage a set of homes. The project has since morphed into an ambitious experiment in a shared culture, economy and governance for cities.
“We have recently seen some very interesting moments in Web3 culture, and we have seen how DAOs suddenly have to make certain decisions and come to moments of claiming responsibility in order to police behavior of some members,” said Ren Besnard, vice president of marketing at Unstoppable Domains, during an interview with theCUBE. “I think that’s important, and it’s going to redefine how we’re thinking about new governance models. It’s going to pave the way for a lot of super interesting structure in the near future.”
Watch the complete interview with Ren Besnard and Jeremiah Owyang below:
Catch up on SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s complete coverage of the Unstoppable Domains Partner Showcase event on theCUBE’s dedicated event channel. (* Disclosure: TheCUBE is a paid media partner for the Unstoppable Domains Partner Showcase event. Neither Unstoppable Domains Inc., the sponsor for theCUBE’s event coverage, nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)