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Crypto NFT Today: The Latest News in Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and NFTs: Feb. 15 – 21, 2023

Welcome to another edition of Crypto NFT Today! If you enjoy cryptocurrency, NFTs, and riding emotional rollercoasters, this is the place for you. So put on some soothing music and let’s go!

Bitcoin Miners Strike Gold With Ordinals’ NFT Fees

The new and controversial NFT Ordinals protocol has resulted in a windfall for Bitcoin miners, earning $574,000 in transaction fees since Jan. 30, according to Dune Analytics

Ordinals went live in mid-December and already users have inscribed over 73,000 NFTs into Bitcoin’s blockchain using the expanded space from the Taproot upgrade. The added 4MB of inscription space allows storage of images, videos, and audio files

As a result, the mean Bitcoin block size increased from 2MB to 3.5MB. And according to BitMEX Research, it’s not unusual for Ordinals’ data to take up 50% of new block space.  

Glassnode’s latest newsletter  describes the advent of Ordinals as a “new and unique moment in Bitcoin history,” whereby innovation generates network activity without the “classical transfer of coin volume for monetary purposes.“

Critics of the new protocol counter that the Ordinals “attack” will price out actual financial activity and damage Bitcoin’s use as a trusted P2P payments network. 

Serbian Power Companies Sue 1000 Crypto Miners

Electric distributors in Siberia’s Irkutsk Oblast filed 1000 lawsuits against subsidized customers illegally mining cryptocurrency in their homes. So far in 600 cases, judges have ordered the so-called “gray” miners to pay more than 260 million rubles, or about $3.5 million, in restitution. 

According to the regional news site, Irk.ru, distributors began examining extremely high residential power consumption to identify the culprits. The site reports that one defendant in Novaya Razvodnaya used almost 80,000 kWh, which exceeded the total of the other 15 homes on his street combined. The man, who claimed he was using heat guns to dry out his basement,  was nonetheless ordered to repay the power utility more than 2 million rubles, equal to about $27,000. 

Authorities have been cracking down on home crypto mining operations in the region. Officials are proposing regulations that will scale electric rates, based on consumption. 

Currently, crypto mining in Russia is unregulated, but a new bill before parliament will change that, without prohibiting the activity outright. 

SEC Will Sue Paxos Over Binance Stablecoin

According to the Wall Street Journal, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) intends to sue the stablecoin issuer Paxos, alleging that its Binance stablecoin (BUSD) token is an unregistered security. 

Following the news of the SEC’s plans, Paxos announced that it would cease minting new BUSD tokens. 

“BUSD is a stablecoin wholly owned and managed by Paxos.,” a Binance spokesperson told CoinDesk. “As a result, BUSD market cap will only decrease over time. Paxos will continue to service the product, manage redemptions, and will follow-up with additional information as required. Paxos also assured the funds are safe, and fully covered by reserves in their banks.”

The news comes on the heels of a settlement with the SEC by crypto exchange Kraken. The agency alleged that Kraken’s staking services, which offered an APY of 20%, was also an unregulated security. As part of the settlement, the SEC confirmed that Kraken would shutdown the services for U.S. customers. 

Microsoft Puts Industrial Metaverse Program on Hold

As economic conditions deteriorate, Microsoft is hitting pause on its industrial Metaverse project and laying off all 100 employees working on it. Microsoft assembled the team just four months ago. 

The team had been building Metaverse interfaces for the energy, healthcare, and retail financial sectors. Microsoft had also partnered with tech startup Haden to deliver secure, cloud-based Metaverse for military training applications. 

As economic conditions worsen, Microsoft is shifting focus to short-term revenue initiatives. The Information reported sources saying Redmond grew frustrated by the size of the investment needed before the Industrial Metaverse project could begin generating revenue. Microsoft already laid off over 10,000 workers this year.

In an email to Coindesk, Microsoft insists that the industrial Metaverse will be part of future plans, saying:

“We are applying our focus to the areas of the industrial metaverse that matter most to our customers, and they will see no change in how they are supported. We look forward to sharing additional information in the future.”

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By I&T Today

Innovation & Tech Today features a wide variety of writers on tech, science, business, sustainability, and culture. Have an idea? Send it to submit@innotechtoday.com

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