Day to day we hear different news about blockchain technology, crypto, and new projects in this area. The fast-growing high-tech industry offers new solutions to its community in an effort to protect its users and create the most favorable conditions. In the article below, we will take a look at interesting current events.
This year, payment companies from the traditional financial industry actively began to develop projects related to blockchain and cryptocurrency.
Visa has developed a solution for auto payments on the blockchain. The new concept is based on Account Abstraction (AA) technology from Ethereum designers. (Details can be found in the document published by the company.) This solution will enable users to automatically make pre-planned payments using smart contracts in noncustodial wallets of users.
Account Abstraction technology was proposed back in 2016. With Ethereum's core network not yet supporting AA, the payment company has implemented its solution in StarkNet, a second-tier blockchain built on top of the Ethereum blockchain.
In contrast with regular accounts, which check whether a transaction is signed correctly for a specific address, on StarkNet it’s enough to simply check that the transaction comes from a given address. In addition, the introduction of the Visa concept in this blockchain allowed not only to deploy a new auto payment function, but also to increase transaction throughput.
Visa notes that it sees auto payments as a core functionality that lacks existing blockchain infrastructure, and invites interested companies working in the field to collaborate on programmable payment projects.
Huobi Partners with Visa
On December 22, Huobi announced a joint event with Visa: the launch of the Huobi Visa card to promote the virtual asset industry.
Initially, the Huobi Visa card will be offered in the European market. Subsequently, the map will be distributed in other regions.
Justin Sun argues that the launch of the Huobi Visa card is a milestone for both the company and the crypto community. He tweeted: "In future. Every Huobi user will automatically obtain a citizen of the Dominica universe, and visa card enjoying the freedom of identity, financial freedom. Travel around the world with one card in hand!”
The launch will help promote virtual assets around the world. In addition, it will provide access to virtual asset services for all and expand access to global financial services.
“We are thrilled to partner with an innovative platform like Huobi and look forward to Visa being able to serve as a bridge between the crypto ecosystem and our global network of merchants and financial institutions,” said Kay Sheffield, Head of Cryptocurrency at Visa.
The Huobi Visa card will be linked to the Huobi user account. The Huobi account's virtual asset balance can be used to make payments to more than 80 million Visa-enabled outlets worldwide. Also, the card offers advantages such as cashback in Huobi Token (HT), discounts and drop-off coupons, as well as investment privileges in Huobi Earn products, etc.
MetaMask Swaps Get Sidechain Support
MetaMask wallet-based swaps now support Arbitrum and Optimism sidechains. This was reported on the official website of the wallet. The new features are also available in the MetaMask Portfolio DApp service.
Before supporting sidechains, MetaMask users could convert tokens based on Ethereum, BNB Chain networks (formerly Binance Smart Chain), Polygon, and Avalanche. MetaMask will collect sidechains data on decentralized exchanges, according to the announcement.
In early December, MetaMask co-founder Daniel Finlay threatened to withdraw the app from the App Store due to Apple's non-replaceable token (NFT) policy. Apple's 30% commission on payments within the iOS ecosystem is an "abuse of monopoly," Finlay said. He also warned that Apple is likely to take on all cryptocurrency wallets to maximize its profits from activity in the crypto market.
To stop Apple's monopolistic manners, the co-founder of MetaMask proposed using a third-party service that would relay on-chain transactions for prepayment. Such a decision would make cryptocurrency applications "free" for users of Apple devices, saving them from commission cheating by the Cupertino company, Finlay said.
Developers of the Cardano cryptocurrency ecosystem spoke about the key innovations: updates will include both the blockchain itself and decentralized applications built on its basis.
One of the key developments was developed in conjunction with Cardano's co-founder, Charles Hoskinson, and represents a network control mechanism. The innovation is outlined in the CIP-1694 proposal (Cardano Improvement Proposal). This will be an important stage in the transition to the Voltaire phase (Voltaire).
The proposal, put forward by Hoskins' colleague Jared Corduan in late November 2022, is currently going through the voting process. The Voltaire era itself is intended to be the last stage in the development of the Cardano network. It should be an example for the entire crypto industry in terms of how decentralized platform management is carried out.
Another major innovation is the development of the Cardano native token price index. An independent dcSpark team is standing behind its creation. The idea is that the index can be deployed locally and for free without using the API or involving a third party. At the moment, the number of tokens based on Cardano exceeds 7 million.
This index is already supported by the three largest decentralized exchanges by total value locked (TVL): Minswap, WingRiders, and SundaeSwap.
Polygon Launches Second zkEVM Test Network Before Core Network Deployment
Over the past couple of years, Polygon has made several acquisitions and in-house zero-disclosure evidence developments, a relatively new technology that can improve network scalability and privacy — and what Vitalik Buterin says can be used for Ethereum long-term improvement.
Now the test network experiences a new update called "recursion", which, as it claimed, can lead to exponential scaling of Ethereum. Polygon does not disclose the scheduled time of the main network launch.
ZkEVM is a new technology for scaling Ethereum, which gained popularity last year. While it has not yet been proven, it’s thought to be able to significantly reduce the cost and increase the speed of Ethereum transactions — and ultimately ensure online privacy — all of which will make it easier for developers to build applications. This could open the door to a host of new online applications, bridging the gap between off-grid data and real assets in cryptocurrency.
Last month, Matter Labs raised $200 million to develop the zkSync ecosystem in a Series C funding round. The funds are intended to develop the network's ecosystem.
Privacy Protocol Web3 Aztec Network Raised $100 Million
Aztec aims to fully encrypt the Ethereum blockchain to increase privacy and reduce computational redundancy. The firm will use the new boost to develop an encrypted architecture that allows people to use blockchains correctly without revealing identifying information.
“What we are building is a revolutionary technology that is changing the way we interact with each other online, where the end user is the customer, not the product,” said Zack Williamson, CEO of Aztec Network. “Blockchains with end-to-end encryption protect people by eliminating the need for centralized financial systems.”
A Capital, King River, Variant, SV Angel, Hash Key, Fenbushi, and AVG also participate in the round, according to the company's blog post.
The company plans to use the capital mainly to hire more engineers around the world to build the network. Over the past year, Aztec's team has increased from seven people to about 40, but it hopes to double that number soon.
Overall, public blockchains lack the "missing part" of encryption, which could provide more use cases by ensuring privacy on a case-by-case basis, Andrews said. Adding encryption to blockchain technology could "spawn an entire wave of personal consumer finance," he said.
“They are a bit like Bitcoin — what you can do with these networks is determined by who created them.”
Until recently, programmable encrypted blockchain technology did not exist, Williamson said.
“One of the reasons we were able to raise $100 million is because our internal R&D made it a reality,” he said.
The firm aims to launch the test network within 12 months. Aztec Connect will launch online as its first app, Williamson said.
Glupteba Blockchain Botnet Threatens Again
Glupteba malware infects computers again despite Google's attempts to stop the spread of the virus.
The Bitcoin-based Glupteba botnet attacks computers again to steal sensitive data. This is reported by researchers of the IT company Nozomi.
Malicious software began to spread again in the summer of 2022 despite Google's successful attempts to sue Glupteba developers Dmitry Starovikov and Alexander Filippov. According to Nozomi, at least five swappers and crypto exchanges have been sponsoring the virus since 2019. What kind of sites are in question is unclear.
The Glupteba botnet was first spotted by ESET experts back in 2011. The virus is spread through torrent platforms in the form of pirated software. By infecting the victim's computer, the virus steals sensitive data, including cookies.
The main difference between Glupteba and other viruses lies in remote control through the Bitcoin blockchain network. Attackers transmit server data to the virus to steal data using the addresses of bitcoin wallets that store encrypted information in their transaction history.
At the end of September, IT researchers found a new virus called Erbium, which spreads under the guise of cheats for video games. The virus first appeared in July 2022. However, it is still unclear who exactly created the malicious software.
Among attackers, the virus spreads according to the subscription model. At the start of its existence, the virus cost $9 a week, and at the end of August the price jumped to $100. An annual subscription costs $1,000.
QuadrigaCX Wallets "Woke Up," Access to Which the Head of the Exchange Took to the Grave
Real miracles began to happen before the New Year holidays. At once, five wallets tied to the long-defunct Canadian cryptocurrency exchange QuadrigaCX, previously considered forever lost, suddenly "woke up."
On December 17 the movement of BTC worth $1.7 million was detected in these wallets.
Crypto-researcher ZachXBT alerted the crypto community in a Dec. 19 tweet, pointing to five wallets that had transferred about 104 BTCs two days earlier.
“Five wallets attributed to QuadrigaCX unexpectedly moved ~104 BTC on Dec 17 for the first time in years”.
Blockchain records show that wallets have not sent BTC since at least April 2018.
Canada's once largest crypto exchange, QuadrigaCX, filed for bankruptcy in April 2019, following the December 2018 death of its founder, Gerald Cotten. As CEO, he was solely responsible for the private keys of the exchange's wallets.
About 155,000 users of the exchange lost a total of $200 million in cryptocurrency at the time of its bankruptcy.
In February 2019, a report by Ernst & Young — the Big Four accounting firm that controls the exchange's property — said that on February 6, 2019, QuadrigaCX accidentally transferred about 103 BTCs to cold wallets, access to which only the late Cotten had.
The amount is almost identical to the BTC amount that was just moved.
At the time, the company said it would work with management to extract the cryptocurrency from cold wallets.
The mysterious death of QuadrigaCX's founder and CEO, followed by the collapse of the exchange, sparked theories that the founder faked his death to appropriate millions of client funds.
The story has received such resonance that it even became the subject of a 2022 Netflix documentary.
It is not yet clear whether the BTC movement is linked to Ernst & Young's rebuilding efforts.