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Kazakhstan internet outage drops Bitcoin hash rate, Samsung enters Decentraland

2022.01.09 Adam James

Also this week, a report from Chainalysis indicates that legitimate cryptocurrency usage is far outpacing illicit activity.

New year, same blockchain and cryptocurrency industry — which hasn’t lacked for headlines in the first week of January 2022. Garnering the most attention this week is the internet outage in Kazakhstan, which has impacted the Bitcoin hash rate after miners set up shop in the country following last year’s crackdown in China. Meanwhile, leading nonfungible token platform OpenSea has raised another $300 million, though users are still left wondering if they will be rewarded for supporting the platform.

Here’s everything you need to know about these stories, and more, in this week’s edition of OKX Insights’ News of the Week.

Legitimate cryptocurrency usage far outpaces illicit activity in 2021 — report

Crime-related cryptocurrency transactions hit a record high in 2021 after increasing by 79% from 2020, per data from blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis. However, with overall cryptocurrency transactions growing by 567% over the same time period, crime-related transactions comprised the lowest share of the total transaction pool since 2017.

Key takeaways

  • Perhaps unsurprisingly, most crime in the cryptocurrency industry is related to stolen funds in the decentralized finance sector — which OKX Insights has covered throughout the year.
  • Though the overall percentage of cryptocurrency-related crime is down significantly, some mainstream media outlets have nonetheless chosen to focus on the increase in crime-related transactions — perpetuating the false narrative that cryptocurrencies are primarily used for illicit activities.

Samsung opens 837X store in Decentraland

Samsung, through Samsung Electronics America, has opened a virtual-reality version of its flagship New York City store, 837, in leading metaverse platform Decentraland. The virtual version of the Manhattan-located store is called Samsung 837X.

Key takeaways

  • Samsung is certainly making serious inroads into the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. The company recently announced that it would support NFTs in its 2022 lineup of smart TVs.
  • Samsung Next, the company’s venture unit, has also invested in Axie Infinity creator Sky Mavis, as well as Dapper Labs and Forte.

Congressional subcommittee to examine Bitcoin mining impact

A subcommittee from the United States Congress is planning to examine the impact of Bitcoin mining and cryptocurrencies on the environment. Citing three sources, The Block reports that The Oversight and Investigations subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is tasked with the examination.

Key takeaway

  • The U.S. has historically either dragged its feet or proven unfriendly towards the blockchain and cryptocurrency industry. With the country now laying claim to the majority of Bitcoin’s hash rate following a blanket ban on cryptocurrency mining in China, the subcommittee’s conclusions could prove highly damaging to the country’s claim on the industry.

OpenSea raises $300 million in Series C

Leading NFT marketplace OpenSea has raised another $300 million via a Series C funding round, which was led by Coatue Management and Paradigm. The platform is now valued at $13 billion.

Key takeaways

  • In addition to the raise, a report from Axios claims that OpenSea is ready to acquire digital wallet Dharma Labs.
  • OpenSea has come under pressure from industry participants lately, who fear the company — which is raking in billions in revenue — will eventually exit by way of an initial public offering, instead of airdropping a token to users of the platform.

Kazakhstan internet outage impacts Bitcoin hash rate

An evidently government-mandated internet outage amid escalating protests in Kazakhstan has impacted Bitcoin mining operations in the country — which lays claim to upwards of 18% of the global network hash rate.

Key takeaways

  • Though significant, the hash rate drop pales in comparison to that seen in 2021 when China banned cryptocurrency mining — which caused an influx of miners to set up shop in Kazakhstan.
  • The continuing crisis in Kazakhstan looks set to hamstring the country’s rapidly growing Bitcoin mining industry.

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