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Super Bowl Ads < War in Ukraine?
On Monday, the 112 million Superbowl-watching masses were introduced to cryptocurrencies for the first time, with ads from FTX, Coinbase, and Crypto.com dominating the broadcast. Of the three, the Coinbase ad was the most ambitious and non-traditional: it featured a QR code moving slowly around the screen for an entire 1 minute ($16m) time slot. People who scanned it were redirected to the Coinbase website where they received $15 in free Bitcoin. Apparently, this ad was popular enough to cause the Coinbase website to crash. Meanwhile, Crypto.com threw serious money at LeBron James and his computer-generated younger self in this cute “Moment of Truth” ad. My personal favorite was FTX’s “Don’t be like Larry” ad though, from Seinfeld co-creator and Curb Your Enthusiasm star Larry David, who is my all-time favorite professional curmudgeon.
By Friday, at least some of crypto’s newest converts were experiencing their first crypto dip, with the market sliding about 5%. Analysts are pointing to fears of a Russian invasion of Ukraine. It’s a tricky subject, because most Filipinos will probably look at this news as something happening “not here,” but I can assure you that we will feel its effects if things actually do escalate to war. Even on a pure blockchain level, an armed conflict in Ukraine will have a massive impact, due to country’s rather schizophrenic stance on Bitcoin mining and its new bill legalizing cryptocurrency trading. But the bigger picture here is that the US continues to find ways to flex its military complex, because war is historically great for their economy. With the “war” on COVID winding down, it’s time to develop some new enemies I guess? That may sound like a conspiracy theory to many of you, but the USD monetary supply didn’t start rising until after the “War on Terror” in mid-2000’s. There are now nearly 20x more dollars in the global economy since 9/11. If you thought SLP over-supply was bad, you should really see what the Federal Reserve has been up to all these years.
Speaking of banks, our own Bangko Sentral announced on Thursday that there were now 41 million banked Filipinos, which is double the number pre-COVID. What’s most interesting to me though is the ratio: 16.8 million chose mobile wallets like GCash and Paymaya, while only 3.6 million chose traditional banks. This makes sense because it took a while for banks to figure out that nationwide lockdowns make branch-based account opening really hard, and for many people, mobile wallets were the only option. I don’t need to repeat to my readers that I am not a huge fan of banks, mobile wallets, or traditional finance, but I acknowledge that they are necessary gateways into cryptocurrencies. In the coming months, I’ll be working on a couple of ambitious new initiatives to guide crypto newcomers on a much larger scale than was previously possible. Now that 53% of adults in the Philippines have been fully KYC’d into the “formal financial system,” it might be time to show them what the better options look like.
Axie Infinity: Origin, the free-to-play version of the world’s biggest play-to-earn game is right around the corner, and the dev team did a great AMA on Wednesday to talk about some highlights. In terms of economic impact, the most important bits were (a) the axies that you use in Origin are not NFTs and they will not have any on-chain footprint, and (b) you will not be able to earn SLP from using them. With a goal of onboarding the next 97 million axie players, having a free-to-play version is absolutely essential, but it’s important to highlight that they will not actually become part of the crypto economy until they decide to upgrade from the free version. I’ll have more thoughts on this in the coming weeks, but for now, I’m excited about the game getting its first major upgrade in about a year.
See you all next week cryptofam!