The Global Blockchain Business Council – a global industry association for the blockchain technology ecosystem – has merged with Global Digital Finance, a market standards association for the adoption of cryptocurrencies and digital assets.

The merger, announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, sees the two organisations join their respective resources, assets and membership, becoming the world’s largest industry association for the blockchain technology and digital assets ecosystem. 

The combined association will have nearly 500 institutional members and 178 ambassadors, operating across 95 jurisdictions and disciplines. Global Digital Finance will be renamed GBBC Digital Finance, based in the United Kingdom, with teams predominantly across EMEA and APAC.

Sandra Ro, CEO of the GBBC, said: “I am so grateful to our GBBC and GDF communities of changemakers. They are why we exist and drive our mission on educating, advocating, and advancing partnerships to create new opportunities for the many, not the few. 

“Our global collaboration, scale, and influence will be a game-changer for our members and for Web3 as a whole. I am incredibly excited about the forthcoming positive impact of this combined network across industries and sectors.”

Lawrence Wintermeyer, GDF board chair, has been appointed to the GBBC board of directors. He added: “The rapid growth and viability of blockchain, crypto, and digital assets means there is a clear need for effective, harmonised regulation built on a robust global framework. Leading global institutions and leaders need to work with each other, with governments and with regulators to deliver this framework, and there is a vital role for GBBC and GDF to play in facilitating and driving this crucial collaboration.”

$8bn valuation for tech firm ‘taking crypto mainstream’

StarkWare Industries, inventor of technology to make blockchain scalable for mass adoption, has raised $100 million at a valuation of $8 billion.

The company has deployed STARKs, a class of mathematical systems developed by company co-founder and president Eli Ben-Sasson and other computer scientists, which they say enables far more efficient use of blockchain.

It cuts fees by reducing the amount of information written to the blockchain, speeds up transactions and provides a way for blockchain to scale without any dilution of its original vision.

StarkWare’s first platform, StarkEx, in use for two years, today handles more transactions than Bitcoin. It compresses them using STARKs, before adding them to the Ethereum blockchain.

Businesses in finance and NFTs use StarkEx to overcome the problem of crippling congestion on blockchain, which causes delays and high transaction fees. Blockchain use is made cheaper and faster.

Applications have used StarkEx to facilitate transactions of more than half a trillion dollars.

StarkWare’s Series D funding comes six months after its Series C which valued the company at $2 billion. 

The new round led by Greenoaks Capital and Coatue, and includes Tiger Global and other new and existing investors. There is a secondary transaction as part of the round, in which employees company-wide are selling stocks.

“This is a vote of confidence for the tech stack we’ve built, which makes blockchain scalable for mass use, and cuts transaction fees incurred by users,” said StarkWare Co-founder and CEO Uri Kolodny.

“The math-based technology we’ve rolled out, known as STARKs, will serve businesses and the crypto community through thick and thin. We’re encouraged that VCs are signaling their strong support, even in the midst of a bear market.”  

The company says it has become hugely popular for facilitating the minting and trading of NFTs, making minting 20,000 times cheaper than transacting directly on Ethereum. It also has NFT services via fantasy soccer game Sorare and carbon-neutral platform Immutable X. 

Ben-Sasson said: “Tomorrow’s tech and economy will be heavily based on blockchain, and absolutely everyone developing it needs a solution to the congestion and high transaction fees we see today.

“We’re delivering this to clients via StarkEx, which is saving them millions of dollars in transaction fees weekly and opening up new possibilities for them. 

“But we want everyone to be able to use our tech, so we are building and constantly improving StarkNet, in the hope it will empower any developer to build ultra-efficient blockchain apps.”

Cryptocurrency shorts

Mega VC Andreessen Horowitz has revealed a new $4.5 billion fund for backing crypto and blockchain companies. The firm’s fourth fund for digital assets, it takes the total raised to $7.6bn. It plans to invest in both the cryptocurrencies behind projects and in company equity.

Early Solana Investor NGC Ventures has raised $100m for a Web3-focused fund. The Metaverse Ventures Fund will back early-stage projects in DeFi, NFTs and GameFi.

Crypto financial services provider to institutions Babel Finance has raised $80m Series B financing at a valuation of $2bn. Investors include Jeneration Capital, 10T Holdings, Dragonfly Capital, BAI Capital, Circle Ventures and a number of family offices in the Asia-Pacific region. The company limits its business to BTC, ETH and stablecoins, and serves a select clientele of about 500 customers.

Billionaire Frank McCourt has donated $100m plus further resources to build an ethical social media platform – known as Project Liberty – on a new blockchain capable of storing social media users’ data so they can own and control it. It is doing so with the help of Polkadot.

RELAI, a savings and investment app downloaded more than 100,000 times, has raised almost €2.2m – €1.2m from institutional investors and €970,000 from more than 850 investors on Crowdcube. It marks the crowdfunding platform’s first fully regulated Bitcoin FinTech.

Edinburgh-based crypto wallet and payments platform Zumo has launched Zumo Enterprise, a new B2B ‘Crypto-as-a-Service’ solution that enables companies to offer crypto products and services to their customers.

Stripe has resumed BTC payments four years after suspending the service, partnering with OpenNode.

The proposed relaunch of Terra has been passed, with the new blockchain to take LUNA’s token name. It will not be connected to the collapsed UST stablecoin. The old coin, which entered a death spiral earlier this month, will be renamed LUNA Classic (LUNC). There have been accusations on social media that founder Do Kwon manipulated the vote to ensure it passed.

Crypto prices

The overall market cap of the more than 19,500 coins is at $1.25 trillion at the time of writing (7am UK), a decrease of 1.7% in the last 24 hours.

Market leader Bitcoin – the original cryptocurrency created by the mysterious Satoshi Nakamoto – lost 1% to around $29,700. BTC is 2% up in a week.

Ethereum, the second most valuable crypto coin – created as a decentralised network for smart contracts on the blockchain – lost 3% to $1,925. ETH is 1% down over the course of a week.

Binance Coin is a cryptocurrency created by popular crypto exchange Binance to assist its aim in becoming the infrastructure services provider for the entire blockchain ecosystem. Its BNB token lost 4% to $318, leaving it 8% up over seven days.

The XRP token of Ripple, a payment settlement asset exchange and remittance system, acts as a bridge for transfers between other currencies. XRP lost 2% to drop towards 40 cents and is where it was seven days ago.

Cardano is an open source network facilitating dApps which considers itself to be an updated version of Ethereum. Its ADA token, designed to allow owners to participate in the operation of the network, shed 3% to 50c. It is 1% down over the course of a week.

Solana is a blockchain built to make decentralised finance accessible on a larger scale – and capable of processing 50,000 transactions per second. Its SOL token lost 5% to $46.62 and is down 8% compared with a week ago.

Meme coin DOGE was created as a satire on the hype surrounding cryptocurrencies but is now a major player in the space. DOGE dropped 3% towards 8c, leaving it 4% down in a week.

Polkadot was founded by the Swiss-based Web3 Foundation as an open-source project to develop a decentralised web. Its DOT token, which aims to securely connect blockchains, lost 4% to $9.65 yet is 1% higher than its price a week ago.

Avalanche is a lightning-quick verifiable platform for institutions, enterprises and governments. Its AVAX token shed 9% to $26.12 and is 10% down in a week.

To see how the valuations of the main coins have changed in recent times – and for round-ups of recent cryptocurrency news developments – click here.

For valuations of the top 100 coins by market cap in US dollars, plus 24-hour price change, see below.