This subject line is 100% related to “blockchain.”

I know I said this before, but anyone else feel like the news has been fairly quiet recently? I think that’s the sound of people building, though I guess it could also be the fact that many people have left the building … Then again, LinkedIn says that “blockchain” is the most in-demand hard skill for 2019, so that tips the scales in favor of the former theory.

For examples of people who are creating some of the interesting apps and products that could bring in a fresh wave of users, check out this week’s podcasts. On Unchained, we have Catherine Coley of Binance US, who doesn’t seem fazed by the regulatory hurdles companies in the US face. And on Unconfirmed, Leighton Cusack talks about PoolTogether, which Gavin Andresen named his favorite app from 2019. It’s all the fun and none of the pain of lotteries, with some decentralization thrown in.

This Week’s Crypto News…

The State of the Top 12 Cryptos

Larry Cermak of the Block has 19 great charts summarizing the state of the top 12 blockchains by market cap as of the end of 2019. Some of the trends he pulled out were mentioned by Nate Maddrey in last week’s Unconfirmed — such as that Bitcoin is becoming uncorrelated to other cryptocurrencies. It also has a low but statistically significant positive correlation with gold. Meanwhile Ethereum tends to correlate with most of the other cryptocurrencies. He also notes that cryptocurrency trading volume on the spot markets hit a nine-month low in December and web traffic on cryptocurrency exchanges has dropped by half since June. But the monthly volume of BitMEX’s Bitcoin perpetual swap reached an all-time high in 2019, and there are signs the institutional market is picking up.

‘Crypto Dad’ Forms Group With Accenture to Push for Digital Dollar

Former CFTC chairman Christopher Giancarlo, former Lab CFTC director Daniel Gorfine and investor Charles Giancarlo are forming the Digital Dollar Foundation in conjunction with Accenture to push for a digital dollar. “A digital dollar would help future-proof the greenback and allow individuals and global enterprises to make payments in dollars irrespective of space and time,” he said in a statement. To learn more about ‘Crypto Dad’ be sure to check his interview on Unchained.

Gemini Creates Insurance for Up to $200 Million in Coverage

Customers of Gemini Custody can sleep a bit easier now. Gemini has created its own insurance company to protect against a loss of coins from the Gemini cold storage — with what CoinDesk calls “a possibly record-breaking $200 million coverage limit.” And guess what they named the new insurance company? Nakamoto.

Progressive Decentralization: It’s Hard

Jesse Walden of the a16z Crypto Startup School wrote up an interesting post on progressive decentralization, which walks through the steps from launch, which needs to be centralized, all the way to full decentralization. Reading it, my main takeaway is that it’s a hard, uncertain road. He talks about how early on, finding product/market fit requires centralization. Once the product gains traction, then the founders should invest in helping the product be a true open-source project, but investing in good documentation, and offering incentives for other developers. Then it gets into trickier territory like how to offer incentives and distribute tokens, though then you run the risk of attracting speculators and run into thorny questions of how to distribute, and you may attract regulatory scrutiny.

Surprise, Surprise, IEOs Are ICOs By Another Name

The SEC issued a warning about IEOs, calling them similar to ICOs, and warning investors that they may be conducted in violation of federal securities laws.

Profiting From DeFi Liquidations 

Tom Schmidt of Dragonfly Capital had an interesting post analyzing how money is being made from being a liquidator in DeFi for protocols such as Maker, Compound and dYdX. Over the lifetime of these protocols, liquidators have earned almost $5 million in profits, with some liquidators earning $100,000 in a single liquidation. However, he says, profits are decreasing, due to more competition and borrowers wising up.

Donate 1 DAI, Plant 10 Trees

If you were interested in how PoolTogether is using interest in DeFi, you might also like rTrees, an Ethereum-based DeFi contract for donating to plant trees. If you put some Dai in rTrees, it will redirect the interest earned on your Dai to Trees for the Future, which will plant real trees. They say for every 1 Dai of interest donated, 10 trees are planted. You can see how many trees you’ve planted so far on your grove page — which rTrees calls “a DeFi-powered arboreal Tamagotchi.” Just FYI that rTrees keeps 2% of the donated interest to support its own development.

Blockchain Creme — on Sale for 126.40 Euros! 

Wistful for the days of when Long Island Iced Tea changed its name to Long Blockchain? Don’t worry, Cosmetique Bio Naturelle Suisse (which translates to Swiss Organic Natural Cosmetics), has you covered with its Blockchain Creme and its Blockchain Serum! The creme is on sale for 126.40 euros, down from 160, and the serum goes for 140 euros. I dare one of you to buy these products, slather them on your face, and send me the reviews.