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NFT Tech

Ethereum Merge: Everything to Know About The Upcoming Upgrade

Ethereum is the second most valuable blockchain following Bitcoin, and is number one in NFT transaction volume. However, that doesn’t mean it is fully optimized. In fact, the Ethereum Merge aims to make the network even better.

The Ethereum Merge will move the blockchain from a proof-of-work consensus mechanism to proof-of-stake. This merge means that ETH holders will operate as validators opposed to energy-intensive computers doing the work, hence creating a more efficient blockchain and reducing its carbon footprint.

The Merge is just one part of the overall upgrade. Below, we will discuss what The Merge is and what it means for users of the Ethereum blockchain.

Ethereum Merge: What is it?

Currently, Ethereum operates on a proof-of-work (PoW) consensus mechanism. This mechanism requires special computers to solve arbitrary mathematical problems to prevent anybody from compromising the network. Although PoW is very effective, it is also extremely energy-intensive.

Even though Ethereum still utilizes proof-of-work, its new mechanism proof-of-stake (PoS) is currently operating parallel to it on the Beacon Chain. This chain is responsible for creating new blocks, validating them, and rewarding validators with ETH for keeping the network secure, without the use of smart contract functionality.

Mainnet will enable the new network to run smart contracts into the proof-of-stake system, and includes the full history and current state of Ethereum. This is to ensure that the transition is smooth for all ETH holders and users.

The Merge is when these two chains will finally come together. Upon completion, The Merge will successfully end the proof-of-work mechanism and initiate the new proof-of-stake mechanism.

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Why Does Ethereum Need an Upgrade?

There’s no doubt that the current Ethereum network, the leading NFT blockchain with over $27 billion in all-time transaction volume, gets the job done in a secure manner. Still, there are many improvements that could make it better.

If you have used Ethereum to buy, sell, or create NFTs, then you understand how pricey each transaction can be. Gas fees can range anywhere from five dollars to hundreds of dollars for a single transaction. 

That’s because Ethereum can only complete 13 to 15 transactions per second (TPS). And when you’ve got thousands of people trying to push through a transaction at the same time, the cost to transact increases significantly.

Moreover, from mint to sale, a single NFT on Ethereum uses approximately 340-kilowatts of energy per hour. This equates to more than one-third of the energy a typical home in the U.S. consumes in one month. Yikes.

Ethereum currently not cost effective or environmentally friendly. This is likely part of the reason it has not seen mainstream adoption quite yet. That’s exactly what The Merge Upgrade aims to change.

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What Does Ethereum Merge Mean For Users?

The Merge of the main chain with the Beacon Chain aims to solve a lot of problems.

More scalable

The ultimate goal of the upgrade is to make Ethereum more scalable. That means the network needs to be capable of handling thousands of transactions per second to make transactions faster and more cost effective to use. 

In comparison, Visa claims to have the ability to handle 24,000 TPS. However, they average around 1,700 TPS with an estimated 150 million transactions per day. So, if Ethereum can successfully scale to be able to handle thousands of transactions per second, mainstream adoption becomes much more of a reality. The Merge is a big step in the right direction to increasing scalability of the network.

Increased security

The more blocks that are verified on Ethereum, the more secure the network becomes. As the adoption of Ethereum continues to grow, the protocol becomes more secure against all forms of attack. Even though proof-of-stake is secure, it’s a more complicated system. But, if executed properly, the result will be an even more secure network.

Better sustainability

Today’s Ethereum network is not environmentally friendly. The amount of energy consumed by the special computers designed to solve equations is outrageous—not to mention expensive for those who set them up. Since proof-of-stake removes high-power computing from the consensus algorithm, it’s claimed that the network will become 99.95% more efficient than it is today.

All that being said, there is a common misconception that The Merge will reduce the current gas fees. It won’t. Gas fees will remain the same. But, there’s still hope. The Merge is just part of the macro upgrade that is taking place on Ethereum. Of course, the end goal is to reduce gas fees, we’re just not quite there yet.

What About Triple Halving?

On August 5, 2021 Ethereum executed an upgrade known as the London hard fork. This fork brought on a major change in the form of EIP-1559—a code that began to remove ETH from circulation and changed how transaction fees on Etherum work.

Currently, anyone who makes a transaction on the blockchain pays a base fee that is burned (rather than going to miners). Burning is the process of sending something to an inaccessible address. ETH is sent to a burn address that takes it out of circulation. 

Although new ETH is created every time a block is added to the chain, a small amount of ETH is also disappearing, causing a deflationary pressure on the network.

A similar scenario has already been experienced on the Bitcoin blockchain. Bitcoin’s most recent halving occurred on May 11, 2020, when BTC rewards were reduced from 12.5 BTC to 6.25 BTC. At that time, Bitcoin was $8,800.

Then, as many of us know, it nearly doubled in price over the next six months, and today 1 BTC costs about $31,000.

Now Ethereum is about to experience what’s referred to as “Triple Halving”.

In theory, the combination of EIP-1559 and The Merge into a proof-of-stake mechanism, would represent a “triple halving,” as they would reduce sell pressure by an estimated 90%. 

The Merge will cut rewards for new blocks drastically from 12,800 ETH to 1,280 ETH per day (about 90% according to Blockchain analytics firm IntotheBlock), creating a system where more ETH is burned via gas fees than is created daily. As a result, ETH will become a deflationary asset, where before, it was an inflationary one.

Because the amount of ETH issued post-merge is expected to drop by 90%, many are speculating that the price of ETH could skyrocket. But, no one knows if that will happen for sure.

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When Will The Ethereum Merge Occur?

The Merge is scheduled to go live on Ethereum’s Ropsten testnet on June 8, 2022. This test network allows for blockchain development testing before deployment onto the Mainnet.

On May 19, 2022, Ethereum co-founder, Vitalik Buterin, addressed The Merge at the ETH Shanghai Web 3.0 Development Summit, saying this will be a major challenge.

Vitalik Buterin

This will be a major test, larger than any of the tests that we have done before. Taking a large existing test network with many applications with proof-of-work, moving into proof-of-stake.

What Happens After The Ethereum Merge?

Ultimately, The Merge gets us one step closer to achieving the full scale as outlined in the Ethereum vision. The main goal of The Merge is to expedite the transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake.

According to Ethereum, a post-merge cleanup upgrade will take place after The Merge.

To ensure a successful merge, developers are minimizing additional features that could delay The Merge. This means that those of you waiting to withdraw staked ETH will have to wait a while longer after The Merge is complete.

Also, let’s not forget about the Shard chain portion of the upgrade. Originally, Ethereum developers planned to work on the Shard chain before The Merge to address the current scalability issue. However, with layer 2 scaling solutions in high-demand, the priority has shifted to swapping proof-of-work for proof-of-stake.

What Are Shard Chains and How Will They Affect Ethereum?

The Shard chains aim to expand Ethereum’s capacity to process transactions and store data, but are not used for executing code. These shards will be rolled out in numerous phases and will gain more features over time.

Sharding is often used in computer science to split databases horizontally to spread the load. 

In Ethereum’s case, sharding will create new chains known as “shards”. Hence, reducing network congestion and increasing transactions per second and providing additional, cost effective, storage layers for applications and rollups to store data while still maintaining the same security of the Ethereum mainnet.

The Shard portion of the upgrade will likely occur some time in 2023.

Trent VanEpps

In reality, The Merge is the next sensible step in the Ethereum upgrade process. The ultimate goal is to make Ethereum more scalable, secure, and sustainable. Although The Merge won’t complete the upgrade entirely, it gets us closer to completion and to mainstream adoption.

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NFT Tech

Solana Is Now on OpenSea | What Does This Mean for Solana?

Solana is the fastest growing blockchain in the world, with thousands of people spanning across DeFi, NFTs, Web3, and more. Recently, OpenSea announced that Solana is now a supported blockchain on their platform, so what does this mean for Solana?

Solana’s integration into the OpenSea marketplace means that Solana is a real competitor in the world of NFTs. Boasting quick transaction speeds and low gas fees, Solana has all the right things to compete with popular blockchains like Ethereum.

So what does this all mean for Solana?

Why use Solana on OpenSea?

If you are wondering why someone might want to use Solana over Ethereum on OpenSea, there are a few legitimate reasons.

  • Keep NFTs in your wallet right until they’re sold

Unlike other NFT marketplaces, when you list an NFT on OpenSea, your NFT remains in your wallet until it is sold. This may not seem like a big deal, but it’s nice to know where your NFTs are at all times in my opinion.

  • It’s energy-efficient and eco-friendly

We all know that Solana is one of the most efficient NFT blockchains in the world, and that remains true on OpenSea. A transaction on the Solana blockchain uses less energy than two Google searches. Take that, Ethereum! 

  • Enjoy low gas fees and fast transactions

In addition to the minimal amount of energy required to transact on the Solana blockchain, the gas fees are extremely low (less than $0.01) and super fast, with a theoretical throughput of 65,000 transactions per second.

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If this seems too good to be true, it’s not. This is the future of blockchain technology. Most of us are accustomed to exorbitantly high transaction fees and subpar throughput times, but that is only because this technology is so new.

As blockchain technology continues to progress, as will its optimization. Solana is a good example of what the potential of blockchain tech will look like for all users, and likely in the very near future.

OpenSea’s Solana Beta

To be completely honest, Solana is still in the Beta phase on OpenSea, but that doesn’t mean its potential to take over the NFT industry is any less. So, what can you do with OpenSea’s Solana Beta phase?

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The initial beta launch of Solana on OpenSea means that there will be limited collection coverage. Currently, there are approximately 190 NFT collections from the Solana blockchain showcased on OpenSea, but that hasn’t slowed anyone down from buying their own Solana NFTs. 

One of the main reasons OpenSea is starting off slowly with the integration of Solana is to receive feedback from the community. Web3 is all about community involvement, and I believe this is the right move on OpenSea’s end, simply because the community knows what they want, and all Opensea has to do is watch and listen.

OpenSea asks that users share any feedback in the #solana-discussion channel in their Discord.

How to see your Solana NFTs on OpenSea

If you want to see your Solana NFTs on OpenSea, first make sure that you are logged in with your Solana wallet. For the time being, you will have to use separate wallet accounts for your Ethereum-based and Solana-based NFTs.

Opensea.io

Ensure that you are logged into your Solana account by checking that the wallet address on your OpenSea account is the one associated with your Solana wallet. Once you are logged into OpenSea, you can view all your Solana-based NFTs under the Collected tab in your profile.

Without a doubt, OpenSea’s decision to integrate Solana into their platform was a wise move, not only for the Solana network but for OpenSea as well.

Considering Solana is one of the most popular NFT blockchains following behind Ethereum, this should bring even more users to the OpenSea platform. Ultimately, it’s a win-win for everyone.

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NFT Tech

What Is Emblem Vault?

There is a rich history of NFTs that were created on the Bitcoin blockchain, predating many of the popular NFTs we know today. However, because these NFTs are so old, many people aren’t aware they exist, and even if they did, buying and selling them is not easy. That is, until the creation of Emblem Vault in 2020.

Emblem Vault is a tokenized multi-asset wallet on the Ethereum blockchain that can contain one or more tokens or NFTs. You can use Emblem Vault to trade portfolios of NFTs and cryptocurrencies, including assets from different chains, as a single token.

Emblem Vault isn’t exactly new, however, this extraordinary protocol remains relatively unknown. I think it’s time that we open up the vault to the rest of the world, and learn more about what it is and how it works.

What is Emblem Vault?

Every vault within Emblem Vault contains a series of blockchain addresses and is generated from a single secret phrase. You can store various digital assets in each of the addresses and only the person with the secret phrase can send assets to other wallets.

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Essentially, the Emblem Vault protocol allows you to take different blockchain tokens and put them into a single token, which acts as a multi-asset crypto wallet in itself. The vault is created as a unique ERC-721 token.

Currently, Emblem Vault can utilize assets from Bitcoin, Ethereum, XDai, Polygon, BSC, and Phantom.

What can you do with Emblem Vault?

You can use Emblem Vault in ways unimaginable, let’s take a gander at the various ways you can use it.

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  • Value backed digital assets

You can create a value-backed digital vault that contains one or more digital assets, along with some cryptocurrency. 

  • Tradeable portfolios

You can create tradeable portfolios that combine multiple assets into a single token. For example, you can make a portfolio that contains 50% ETH, 40% Bitcoin, and 10% LINK, and trade all these assets as a single ERC-721 NFT.

  • Portable liquidity pools

You can create a vault with multiple pooled tokens to make transferable liquidity pools, as well as transparent funds. You can do this because Emblem Vault enables you to create a vault that is held by a community, or other trusted third parties.

So, how does all of this work? Great question.

How does Emblem Vault work?

Emblem Vault works by wrapping digital assets to make them modern ERC-721 NFTs, the same type of NFTs that are often traded on popular NFT marketplaces, like OpenSea. That way you can buy and sell assets that predate the ERC-721 standard.

Emblem.Finance

One example of a popular NFT that predates the ERC-721 standard is Rare Pepe’s. These NFTs are some of the first NFTs that were ever created. Rare Pepe NFTs were originally created on the Bitcoin blockchain and were often traded on the CounterParty platform.

However, because Rare Pepe NFTs weren’t originally minted as ERC-721 NFTs, they couldn’t be traded on popular NFT marketplaces like OpenSea, unless they were wrapped to this new standard.

Where to buy Emblem Vault NFTs

If you want to buy your own Emblem Vault NFT such as a Rare Pepe, you have a couple of options to choose from.

Opensea.io

You can buy Emblem Vault NFTs on OpenSea, LooksRare, and their official website. OpenSea is currently the most popular platform for trading Emblem Vault NFTs, but the others are worth looking into, in order to find the best possible deal.

To create your own vault using Emblem Vault, simply go to Emblem.Finance, select Create, connect the wallet that you would like to create your vault with, and then you can add a name and description.

If you want to sell your Emblem Vault NFTs on a marketplace like OpenSea or Rarible, you will want to follow this how-to guide for more in-depth instructions.

Ultimately, Emblem Vault acts as a modern-day digital asset wrapper that enables old NFTs to be traded in the current market with ease.

Additionally, Emblem Vault gives you the ability to combine multiple assets into a single token, making it easier to trade, and even build a strong digital portfolio.

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NFT Tech

What Is the Stacks Blockchain?

The Bitcoin blockchain is one of the most trusted and well-known blockchains available, however, it does have its limitations. Now developers are figuring out how to utilize Bitcoin’s secure blockchain technology while adding new features. Such is the case with the Stacks blockchain.

Stacks is a layer-1 blockchain that is linked to Bitcoin by its Proof of Transfer (PoX) consensus mechanism. This enables Stacks to leverage the security and capital of Bitcoin for decentralized apps and smart contracts.

At this point, there are so many blockchains it can be hard to keep track of them all. With that, the Stacks blockchain is completely different from any other blockchain currently available. Let’s take a look at how it is different.

What is Stacks?

A popular misconception regarding the Stacks blockchain is that it is a layer-2 sidechain of the Bitcoin blockchain, however, this is not true.

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Stacks is its own layer-1 blockchain, similar to how Ethereum and Cardano are their own blockchain, except the Stacks blockchain is linked to the Bitcoin blockchain using the first-of-its-kind Proof of Transfer (PoX) consensus mechanism.

This type of blockchain runs parallel to another blockchain—in Stack’s case—the Bitcoin blockchain.

How does Stacks work?

Stacks’ one-of-a-kind mining algorithm assures the history of all blocks ever created is resolved on Bitcoin. A maximum of one Stacks block is mined for each Bitcoin block, and if there is competition, a winning Stacks block is selected at random by a cryptographic sortition process.

PoX is a unique mining system in which block producers are chosen by sending another cryptocurrency to a preset list of addresses on another blockchain. It sends Bitcoin to Bitcoin addresses that STX token holders specify on a regular basis in the Stacks 2.0 version of PoX. 

PoX mining, like PoW mining, is a kind of single-leader mining. Each block is created by a single miner, and each miner can pick any existing block as its parent block.

Why is Stacks important?

The importance of the Stacks blockchain stems from its aim to bring new functionalities to Bitcoin’s mainnet blockchain. However, since Stacks’ blocks are anchored to Bitcoin’s blockchain, the time to mine a Stack’s block remains the same as Bitcoin, which is approximately 10 minutes.

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So, does that mean that Stack’s blockchain is limited to the same throughput that the Bitcoin blockchain is limited to? Absolutely not.

To avoid this potential issue, Stacks has implemented a mechanism called microblocks that enables increased transaction throughput and speed. Blocks that are confirmed on the Stacks blockchain simultaneously to Bitcoin blocks are called anchor blocks, which occur about every 10 minutes.

That is where microblocks come in. Between these blocks, microblocks make a rapid settlement of Stacks transactions. Then, once the associated anchor block has been approved on the Bitcoin blockchain, the microblocks are also approved.

Through this innovative method, Stacks achieves scalability.

What is STX?

STX is the native cryptocurrency of the Stacks blockchain. It is used to fuel smart contracts for Bitcoin and to reward miners on the Stacks network, plus it enables holders to earn bitcoin by Stacking.

What can you do with Stacks?

Of course, the Stacks blockchain wasn’t just created as a way to increase Bitcoin’s throughput speed. The stacks blockchain allows you to do many things that can’t be done on the Bitcoin blockchain, including:

Stacks.co

Bitcoin NFTs

The Stacks blockchain enables users to create their own NFTs with Clarity smart contracts. Because Stacks is linked to the Bitcoin blockchain, NFTs created on Stacks are just as secure as Bitcoin.

Additionally, marketplaces are enabling Lightning and Bitcoin payments and even Bitcoin yield-generating NFTs.

Bitcoin DeFi

Given Bitcoin’s roughly $1 trillion market cap and rising acceptance, Bitcoin DeFi represents a vast, unexplored industry. Despite its expanding usage as sovereign money, Bitcoin hasn’t been as productive of an asset for DeFi as other cryptocurrencies without passing through controlled exchanges or distinct blockchains in the form of wrapped BTC. Stacks alters this.

Considering Stacks contracts’ visibility into the Bitcoin state, as well as Stacks’ natural ability to exploit Bitcoin’s security and settlement assurances, Stacks is positioned to allow real Bitcoin DeFi. Because the Stacks chain is linked to Bitcoin via the Proof of Transfer (PoX) consensus mechanism, all Stacks transactions settle on Bitcoin.

This assures that Stacks shares Bitcoin’s long-term, unprecedented security for transaction reorgs.

Blockchain Domain Names

Stacks enables what is known as a Blockchain Naming System (BNS), which binds Stacks usernames to an off-chain state without relying on a single centralized entity. Unlike Domain Name System (DNS), anyone has the ability to create a namespace and set its properties.

A blockchain Naming System (BNS) is a network system that binds Stacks usernames to an off-chain state without relying on any central points of control. Unlike DNS, anyone can create a namespace and set its properties.

Namespaces are generated on a first-come, first-served basis, and they are permanent once formed. BNS names have three important qualities that make them a great tool for developing all types of network applications, such as:

  • The protocol does not allow name collisions.
  • Human meaning, each name is chosen by its creator.
  • Only the owner of the name can change the state to which the name belongs.

Ultimately, Stacks is a blockchain that retains the safety and trust of the Bitcoin blockchain by using a Proof of Transfer (PoX) consensus mechanism, but allows for some new features, in addition to an increased throughput speed.

To learn more about the Stacks blockchain, visit Stacks.co.

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NFT Tech

What Is Arbitrum?

Although Ethereum is the most preferred blockchain, it does lack speed and scalability. That is why layer-2 solutions such as Arbitrum have been created.

Arbitrum is a layer-2 scaling solution that is designed to increase speed and scalability, while still retaining the privacy of Ethereum’s mainnet, to enhance Ethereum smart contracts.

There are several layer-2 scaling solutions currently available, but Arbitrum offers some additional features that others do not. In this article, I’m going to walk you through what Arbitrum is and how it works.

What is Arbitrum?

Arbitrum was created to allow developers to execute unmodified Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) contracts and Ethereum transactions on layer-2 technology, while still maintaining the security that the Ethereum mainnet offers its users.

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This layer-2 solution aims to solve the long transaction times and high gas fees experienced when using the Ethereum blockchain. Arbitrum does this by using a technique called a rollup.

In simple terms, a rollup takes multiple Ethereum transactions and rolls them up into a single piece of data before submitting them all to the main Ethereum blockchain. This saves space, increases transaction speed, and reduces the cost to transact.

The Arbitrum initiative was started by Ed Felten, Steven Goldfeder, and Harry Kalodner. All of whom are blockchain experts on a mission to make cryptocurrency a better experience for the world.

How does Arbitrum work?

Arbitrum is an optimistic rollup. This particular rollup allows smart contracts on Ethereum to scale by sending data and messages between smart contracts on the Arbitrum layer-2 chain.

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Scalability is increased because the transaction processing occurs on layer-2, while all the records of the transactions still appear on the Ethereum mainnet. As a result, the transaction speed and overall efficiency is increased.

The future of Arbitrum

The future of Arbitrum includes other modes as well: the AnyTrust channel and the sidechain.

Individual nodes can participate in the Arbitrum chain, as they do in many other blockchains. Validator nodes monitor the chain’s status and work with full nodes to integrate layer-1 transactions.

Aggregators who transfer transactions to the layer-1 chain are rewarded in ETH, while other network contributors, such as validators, get user transaction fees. 

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This layer-2 solution project adds a challenging stage for block rollup, in which additional validators evaluate the block’s validity and issue a “challenge” if they feel it is incorrect. 

If the block is proved to be incorrect or the challenge is proven to be false, the assets of the validator who lies will be seized. This procedure assures that all validators always play by the rules and accept the penalties if they do not.

The Arbitrum Virtual Machine is the platform’s unique virtual machine (AVM). The AVM is the execution region for Arbitrum smart contracts, and it sits on top of EthBridge, a smart contract collection that interacts with the Arbitrum chain. Smart contracts that are compatible with Ethereum are automatically translated to operate on the AVM.

Benefits of Arbitrum

When compared to other layer-2 solutions, Arbitrum has many benefits, including:

Low cost

Considering Arbitrum is a layer-2 solution, the highly efficient rollup technology cuts costs to a minimum. Even though transaction costs are lower, Arbitrum still provides nice incentives for its validators. 

High EVM compatibility

Arbitrum is EVM-compatible, meaning that developers from the Ethereum blockchain can use any language, such as Solidity and Vyper, to build on Arbitrum. No new language is necessary to learn.

Developer tools

Developers can use tools that already exist on Ethereum, which means there are no plugins that are necessary to download. It’s basically a turn-key solution for Ethereum developers.

Expanding ecosystem

Arbitrum has fostered partnerships with multiple Ethereum DApps and infrastructures, including DODO, Sushiswap, Uniswap, and many more.

As the world of Web3 continues to expand and people desire more optimized technologies, solutions such as Arbitrum will continue to transform the way we view and utilize blockchain technology.

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NFT Tech

What Is Gem.xyz?

As the NFT ecosystem continues to expand, it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of all the NFT marketplaces and varying prices, making it hard to find the best deal. However, thanks to Gem.xyz, now you can view NFT prices on several NFT marketplaces all at one time.

Gem.xyz is an NFT marketplace aggregator that allows you to discover and collect NFTs across numerous marketplaces including Opensea, Rarible, Larva Labs, LooksRare, and NFTX. Their goal is to aggregate every NFT marketplace starting with Ethereum.

To learn more about Gem.xyz and how it world, continue reading below.

What is Gem.xyz?

Gem is on a mission to create a decentralized and open future for the internet, and even more so, the metaverse. Gem.xyz is a single interface that covers a wide range of deals and data from across the most relevant NFT marketplaces and products.

The Gem platform started as the Cross-Asset-Swap in early 2021 and has evolved into the Gem.xyz platform that it is known as today.

What does Gem.xyz offer users?

As of today, Gem is one of the best NFT marketplace aggregation platforms available. With that comes many perks for users who are looking to keep an eye on the entire NFT market, not just a single marketplace.

Gem.xyz

Below is what you can do with Gem.xyz:

  • Locate the best deals across the most popular NFT exchanges.
  • Buy multiple NFTs in a single transaction using Gem’s Web3 shopping cart.
  • Spend your tokens on NFTs, and save on gas. Gem provides up to 39% gas savings compared to buying NFTs from your favorite marketplaces directly.
  • Find all NFT analytics in one place including sales volume, floor price, live sales and minting activity, top holders and distribution, top buyers/sellers, and more.

In addition to all these features, Gem is considered to be the NFT price leader with up to 39% cheaper gas fees when compared to buying from an individual marketplace.

Also, the more NFTs you add to your Web3 shopping cart, the greater the gas savings are. That is because you are bundling multiple transactions into one, saving you big time!

Gem utilizes a low-level programming language called Yul, which optimizes smart contracts upon purchase.

How to use Gem.xyz

Gem is just as easy, if not easier to use than other NFT marketplaces. The user interface is very straightforward and uncomplicated to navigate.

Gem.xyz

To use Gem.xyz, simply connect your Web3 wallet and start browsing. You can add NFTs to your cart as you go, then once you are ready to checkout, simply go to your shopping cart and pay for your transaction.

Moreover, you can search for specific NFT projects and view holders, leaderboards, and search volume, as well as find any social links that might be associated with the project. All data is pulled from Dune Analytics, so you can trust that the information you view is from a reliable source in the space.

One negative opinion that I have about Gem.xyz is that the floor prices for projects aren’t always up-to-date. So, Gem might be good to use as a more generalized tool for finding the marketplace that offers the cheapest NFT from a collection, but may not be the most reliable source to find the cheapest NFT on a particular marketplace.

Ultimately, Gem.xyz is your go-to platform for buying, selling, and researching NFT prices and sales volume, all in one place. There’s no need to go back and forth between different tabs, it is all laid out right in front of your eyes so you can easily make the best decision when purchasing an NFT.

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NFT Tech

What Is X2Y2.io?

With the NFT marketplace, OpenSea, having a monopoly over 90 percent of the NFT transactions, comes several issues. Many of which X2Y2 is attempting to alleviate.

X2Y2.io is an NFT marketplace with the goal to build a truly decentralized NFT market and give it back to the community. The marketplace’s smart contract, frontend, and backend are all 100% independently developed.

X2Y2 is in the infant stages of development, but its mission seems promising. Let’s take a closer look at what X2Y2 has to offer the NFT ecosystem.

What is X2Y2?

X2Y2 is a truly decentralized NFT marketplace on a mission to solve some of the greatest issues in the current NFT marketplace infrastructure. The popular NFT marketplace Opensea is not only one of the oldest and most well-known marketplaces, but it also has a considerable amount of issues.

The fact that Opensea has monopoly over 90 percent of the NFT market is one of the biggest problems. Why? The issues stem from having such a strong impact on the entire industry, meaning whenever there’s an issue with Opensea, it affects the entire NFT industry, that’s a dangerous pool to swim in if you ask me.

Some of these issues include:

  • System downtime impacts the entire NFT industry. 
  • Centralized management model, arbitrarily withholding user assets. 
  • Siding with investors in Silicon Valley and Wall Street to share the enormous profits of the transaction fees, which were contributed by the community.

Of course, X2Y2 isn’t the only attempt at competing with Opensea, both OpenDAO and LooksRare have had their shot at challenging Opensea’s monopoly, however, these marketplaces proved to be not as great as they set out to be initially.

From a lack of transparency to wash trading, these NFT marketplaces have fallen short in their attempt to compete with the almighty Opensea.

Why is X2Y2 so significant?

X2Y2 plans to resolve many of the issues of the LooksRare marketplace specifically, with their own tokenomics:

  • No private token sale — The liquidity bootstrapping comes directly from a public Initial Liquidity Offering and is locked permanently.
  • Share the market fees — 100% of market fees collected are rewarded to X2Y2 stakers.
  • Inclusive airdrop — An airdrop that covers all OpenSea users that had traded before (expired on March 30, 2022).

The total supply of 1,000,000,000 X2Y2 tokens will be allocated as shown in the picture below, taken directly from X2Y2. 

To ensure the airdrop reached real potential users of X2Y2, there was a precondition for claiming: users must have listed all NFTs currently listed on OpenSea on X2Y2 at the same price.

To maintain transparency, X2Y2 will not hold any private rounds to “strategic investors” and will only do a public liquidity pre-sale. The sale will be based on a whitelisting system, with the following rules (rules were taken directly from X2Y2’s litepaper):

  • 15,000,000 (1.5%) X2Y2 tokens will be divided into 1,000 shares, each for 1.5 ETH. A total of 1,500 ETH will be raised. (15,000 X2Y2 = 1.5ETH, 1 X2Y2 = 0.0001ETH ≈ $0.25)
  • 1,000 addresses will be whitelisted among Discord community members and users traded during the beta. X2Y2 will publish the results on Discord.
  • All users who win the whitelist can claim the X2Y2 Founding Edition NFTs (check the X2Y2 Marketplace section for NFT features). All unsold X2Y2 tokens will be burned directly after the sale.
  • After the sale, 10,000,000 (1%) X2Y2 tokens + 1,500 ETH will be put into Uniswap to create the initial liquidity.
  • All LP Tokens will be burned to 0x…dead, thus locking the liquidity permanently.
  • 5,000,000 (0.5%) X2Y2 tokens will be used to provide LP staking rewards. And with the above 1% constitute the 1.5% Liquidity Management part of the token allocation.
  • The X2Y2 obtained by participating in the sale will be unlocked linearly within 360 days.

To complement X2Y2’s honest intentions to create a fair NFT marketplace, the platform has some pretty exciting features as well.

X2Y2 Marketplace features

The X2Y2 marketplace will be a full-fledged NFT market offering all the things you’d expect from an NFT marketplace, plus some additional features, including:

  • Instant push notifications for buys & sells.
  • Integrated rarity ranking and analysis.
  • Bulk sending & listing.
  • Bidding on a collection and traits.
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To be fair, these initial features are just the beginning of what X2Y2 aims to accomplish.

The future of X2Y2

This year is set to bring some exciting developments to the X2Y2 platform. Users will enjoy a 3D/VR immersive user interface and experience, socializing, and trading. Ultimately, the X2Y2 team plans to take the final form of the platform to a DAO.

Upon the completion of the X2Y2 first phase of market construction, they will slowly transfer the leadership and financial control from the team to members of the DAO who will assist in the direction of the project thereafter.

Oh, and if you were wondering why it’s named X2Y2, it’s because that is the formula for creating a perfect circle, and coincides with X2Y2’s vision to build the perfect NFT marketplace.

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NFT Tech

What is Universe.xyz?

Various NFT marketplaces and ecosystems tend to take more than they give and in the Web3 space, that doesn’t sit well with a lot of us, especially creators. That is why Universe.xyz aims to provide a platform for creators to make their dreams a reality.

Universe.xyz is an initiative that grants voting rights to $XYZ holders and lays the foundation for the Universe Protocol. The protocol is a social media NFT platform that provides minting, a marketplace, social tools, NFT tools, and auctions.

Universe was built by artists for artists to allow anyone to bring their own universe to fruition. Below you will find out exactly how they plan to do this.

Universe.xyz minting

When minting in Universe, you have the option to mint single NFTs, or entire collections. Formats of content that can be minted include videos, music, images, and more. Also, collections have the ability to hold sub-collections in them. The sub-collection can be used to add additional NFTs like layers of art, shows, merchandise, and music that can evolve over time.

This allows content to grow over time with community input, while still retaining links back to its origins and creators. In the future, Universe also aims to enable creators the ability to turn collections into mini DAOs in addition to an integrated social network.

Universe.xyz auction

Universe is also developing a decentralized auction house for NFTs. The auction feature will be structured so that you can use existing NFTs or mint new collections and create a multi-tier auction with numerous winners.

That means there can be ten winners of an auction starting from the highest bidder, and each winner can receive multiple NFTs. Of course, you will be able to specify the currency used to bid, and have the option to set a reserve price for specific tiers.

There will be no fees for initial auctions, allowing for all the revenue to go to the original creator. However, the xyzDAO will receive a 2% fee on every resale that occurs on the universe platform to support the DAO.

Universe.xyz creator royalties

Universe will allow creators to specify their royalty fee percentage for all their secondary sales. For example, if the creator chose to put a 10% royalty on an NFT, and it sold on secondary for 10 ETH, then the seller incurs a 1 ETH fee which is paid to the creator, and a 0.1 ETH fee for the 1% xyzDAO fee, meaning the seller receives 8.9 ETH after all fees have been paid.

To be clear, xyzDAO only takes a 1% fee from secondary sales and never takes money from an artist’s initial sale, with the exception of gas fees, meaning Universe is the first platform to give 100% of initial revenue to creators.

What is the xyzDAO?

The xyzDAO has full control over the parameters of the Universe Protocol, particularly the fees and future upgrades to Universe. Also, the DAO is in control of creating new collections and turning off the $XYZ token mint function.

The xyzDAO is a direct fork of the BarnBridge DAO, which was audited by Quantstamp and Haechi.

What is xyzToken ($XYZ)?

$XYZ is the native governance token that controls the xyzDAO and the Universe Protocol, other than that it has no other function. The initial supply of $XYZ is capped at 1 billion tokens, and a total of 69,777 $XYZ will be minted during a calendar year in order to revise the treasury and ensure long-term contributors can be a part of the project.

Universe.xyz

A stream of $XYZ will be released annually and distributed to the team, contributors, and the community.

Future plans for Universe.xyz

Future plans for Universe.xyz extends beyond what the protocol is already doing and includes things like a Universe social platform, Dapp integration, and gaming are all projected to be a part of the future economy of the Universe Protocol.

Here is what each plan might look like:

Universe social:

  • The central communication hub of Universe.XYZ
  • A rule driven ecosystem of communities
  • Reddit like forum
  • Messaging
  • Digital Identity linked to specific NFT(s)
  • Customizable Galleries and Slideshows

Universe dapp integration:

  • Showcases collections and avatars with proof of ownership identification (NFT version of blue checkmarks)
  • Forums for lore building universe.xyz’s NFTs (see Art/Media)
  • On platform web-based decentralized games, some of which may leverage specific collections of NFTs
  • Third-party network Dapp integration

Universe gaming:

  • Games built with Web3 at their forefront
  • Polymorphic Universe V2 – The first signature game on the platform. Members of the community will also be able to create new and different games as an extension of the universe
  • This is one initial model but others will be able to create gaming functionality that can integrate into the Universe Protocol

Universe aims to be an all-in-one platform for artists and collectors alike. That doesn’t mean that is all the Universe is doing though. As the NFT and Web3 space continues to develop, there will be more opportunities for the governance and DAO to propose new paths, ultimately enabling the community to guide the direction of the protocol.

To learn more about Universe.xyz and all they have to offer, check out their official Whitepaper.

Categories
NFT Tech

What is a Blockchain Bridge?

Modern blockchain technology has its limitations, especially with how quickly the Web3 space moves. With that comes the need for more options for users and increased scalability for blockchain developers. That is why blockchain bridges play an important role in the development of blockchain technology.

A blockchain bridge, aka a cross-chain bridge, connects blockchains together so that users can send and receive digital assets and data between different blockchains.

With that comes many questions regarding the impact of blockchain bridges, their purpose, as well as their safety. In this article, we cover it all.

What is a blockchain bridge?

The main point of a blockchain bridge is to act as a way for different blockchains to interact with each other. Many blockchains lack interoperability, meaning that they can’t communicate well with each other on their own. Hence why a bridge has to be implemented.

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Considering assets from one blockchain are generally not compatible with a foreign blockchain, a bridge actually acts as an asset from another blockchain.

For example, say you want to bring Bitcoin to the Ethereum blockchain to spend it, the bridge wraps the Bitcoin in a blanket of code so that it is compatible with the target blockchain.

In the case of Ethereum, the bridge simply turns the Bitcoin token into an ERC-20 token—the native fungible token of Ethereum—which allows it to be used as if it were an Ethereum native token.

Types of blockchain bridges

There are a couple of variations of blockchain bridges. Below are the two types of blockchain bridges that currently exist.

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  • One-way bridge (unidirectional)
    A one-way bridge allows you to send assets only to the target blockchain, but not back to its native blockchain. For example, Wrapped Bitcoin allows you to transfer Bitcoin to Ethereum as an ERC-20 token, but you can’t send ETH back to the Bitcoin blockchain.
  • Two-way bridge (unidirectional)
    A two-way bridge allows you to trade assets freely between blockchains. You can send ETH to the Solana blockchain, and likewise, you can transfer SOL to the Ethereum blockchain.

In addition to the freedom of which direction bridges allow you to send and receive assets, there is also a variation in the bridge’s custodian, or, who controls the assets used to create the bridged asset.

  • Custodial (centralized or trusted)
    If a bridge is custodial, that means only one centralized entity is in control of the assets. Take Bitcoin for example. All wrapped Bitcoin is held by BitGo, a centralized digital asset trust company.
  • Non-custodial (decentralized or trustless)
    A trustless or decentralized bridge operates on the blockchain using smart contracts and algorithms, as a result, users remain in control of their assets.

So what makes a blockchain bridge so significant then?

Why are blockchain bridges important?

All blockchains have their limitations, that’s exactly why bridges have been created.

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Blockchain bridges are important because they enable users to move and utilize their digital assets in more efficient and effective ways, as well as scale to support growth and change.

For Ethereum to keep up with demand, rollups have been implemented. Of course, mainnet blockchains like Avalanche have created a network to enable higher throughput, but at the cost of decentralization.

However, blockchain bridges allow networks that are limited to scale and communicate in ways they were not originally designed to do.

Blockchain bridges enable the following:

  • Cross-chain transfer of digital assets and data.
  • Dapps to access the benefits of various blockchains which enhances their capabilities.
  • Collaboration between different blockchains allows more options for its users.
  • Users to access new platforms and enjoy the benefits of different blockchains.

Blockchain bridges also come with many pros and are the reason why so many people choose to use a bridge, including:

  • Lower transaction fees.
  • Better interest rates for certain Dapps.
  • Own native crypto-assets (you can own a Bitcoin NFT like Rare Pepe on the Ethereum blockchain).

Although there are many benefits to using bridges, you can expect there to be some cons as well. This leads many of us curious to know if blockchain bridges are safe to use.

Are blockchain bridges secure?

Blockchain technology, especially bridges, is still in the very early stages of development so of course there are going to be some concerns. Below is a list of concerns that have been exposed when using blockchain bridges.

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  • Smart contract hacks
    Errors in a blockchain bridge’s smart contract put users at risk of the bridge being hacked and funds being stolen. Most recently, the popular blockchain game Axie Infinity—which utilizes the Ronin bridge—was hacked resulting in $600 million of stolen funds.
  • Custodial risk
    Technically, operators of custodial blockchain bridges could seize the funds of all their users, and even shut down the bridge to stop users from transferring assets.

In general, users of blockchain bridges are at risk if:

  • The smart contract has a bug.
  • The user makes an error.
  • The blockchain is hacked.
  • The bridge gets hacked.
  • The operators have bad intentions.

At this point in time, it doesn’t seem uncommon for bridges to be hacked. That’s why you should always educate yourself on the potential risks of using bridges, as well as the specific bridge you are contemplating using.

Obviously, blockchain bridges provide great opportunities for the market and a promising future for multi-chain interactions. But at what cost? Only time will tell.

Categories
NFT Tech

What Is the Avalanche (AVAX) Blockchain?

Although many NFT and crypto enthusiasts enjoy the Ethereum blockchain, we all wish for lower gas fees and quicker transaction times. Well, our wishes have been answered by the Avalanche blockchain.

Avalanche (AVAX) is the fastest smart contracts platform in the blockchain world, as measured by time-to-finality. Avalanche is an open, programmable smart contracts platform for decentralized applications.

Curious to know more about Ethereum’s competitor? Continue reading below to learn more about the Avalanche blockchain.

What is Avalanche (AVAX)?
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Avalanche is a smart contract capable blockchain that focuses on interoperability, scalability, and usability. Often the Avalanche blockchain is referred to as Ethereum’s rival blockchain, due to its smart contract capabilities.

The Avalanche blockchain delivers a scalable blockchain while still maintaining decentralization and security, and emphasizes lower transaction costs, quick transaction speeds, and being environmentally friendly.

Avalanche is powered by its native token AVAX and several consensus mechanisms. The cool thing about Avalanche is that users can create their own interoperable blockchain, and all that is required to do this is a subscription fee.

How does Avalanche blockchain work?
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Many modern-day blockchains like Bitcoin and Ethereum are plagued with a lack of interoperability and problems with scalability and usability. That’s why Avalanche’s mainnet uses three different blockchains to solve this problem.

C-Chain: This chain uses what is called the Snowman consensus protocol and is used to create smart contracts. 

P-Chain: This chain is used to coordinate validators and also uses the Snowman consensus protocol.

X-Chain: This chain is used to manage digital assets and uses the Avalanche consensus protocol.

The Avalanches’ consensus protocol’s main purpose is to check validators’ transaction confirmations at random, by enabling all nodes to work parallel with each other. Essentially, repeatedly doing random checks increases the likelihood of a transaction being true.

The Snowman consensus protocol works similarly to Avalanche’s protocol but uses the blocks in a linear process.

What is Avalanche (AVAX) crypto used for?

AVAX serves as Avalanches’ native utility token. In other words, AVAX is the main currency used on the Avalanche blockchain for things like transaction fees, incentives, and many other use-cases.

The native cryptocurrency is also used for staking AVAX, which secures the blockchain network. As a reward, stakers are given more AXAV—and in some cases—will even earn passive income as a result of staking.

Is the Avalanche blockchain safe?

Overall, the Avalanche blockchain is considered to be safe due to its proof of stake protocol, with nearly $10 billion of staked value securing the network.

However, the DeFi platform Vee Finance which utilizes Avalanche has been exploited twice, with the most recent attack resulting in $35 million of stolen ETH and Bitcoin.

Benefits of Avalanche blockchain

  • Interoperability
    Avalanche allows different blockchains to share data and various types of cryptocurrency effectively interoperating with one another.
  • Scalability
    Compared to a blockchain like Ethereum, Avalanche was built to be scalable and executes sub-second transaction times along with impressive processing capacity.
  • Usability
    The Avalanche blockchain provides a platform that can easily incorporate new technology and software in various applications and use-cases.
  • Low fees
    Many people consider Avalanche to be one of Ethereum’s main competitors, and with that, Avalanche loves boasting fees as low as $0.12 for creating and minting assets. Compared to Ethereum, Avalanche blockchain fees blow Ethereum fees out of the water.
Avalanche vs. Ethereum

Currently, the main difference between Avalanche and Ethereum blockchains is that AVAX uses a proof of stake protocol, whereas ETH uses a proof of work.

Also, Avalanche has faster transaction speeds of around 4,500 transactions per second (tps), compared to Ethereum’s 15 tps maximum. However, Ethereum is in the process of upgrading to its own proof of stake protocol as we speak.

It’s hard to say for sure if the Avalanche blockchain will continue to scale to be something great, but as we know it today, Avalanche shows real potential to be a competitor in the blockchain industry. With its incredibly fast transaction speeds and low costs, it gives the current Ethereum network a run for its money.

Curious about how to do your own research when it comes to buying crypto? Make sure to check out our article that teaches you all you need to know about doing your own research.

While you’re at it, you might benefit from learning about one of the safest and most effective investment techniques in crypto, called dollar-cost averaging.