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News Overview 9/26: Cardano, FIFA, Wintermute, Nasdaq, Fed

Cardano underwent a major update last week. FIFA released a new NFT collection in collaboration with Algorand. Wintermute suffered a $160 million hack. Nasdaq will soon offer crypto custody services to institutions. Fed boss Jerome Powell continued his hard line.

Cardano’s Vasil hard fork was successfully completed

The biggest topic of September has been Ethereum’s The Merge update. Last week, we witnessed another major technical update with the completion of Cardano’s Vasil hard fork.

Vasil has received little media attention compared to previous hard forks (Alonzo, Mary, Shelley). The ADA token has also been traditionally mooning months before Cardano’s major updates. Vasil did not move the price of ADA in any significant way.

Technically, it was the most challenging update to Cardano to date. According to founder Charles Hoskinson, Vasil required around half a million hours of work by programmers. Hoskinson wanted to do the upgrade earlier, but the community decided to run more tests in the summer.

You can hear Charles Hoskinson’s thoughts in the video below, starting at 5:30.

What are the impacts of the Vasil hard fork? This is a significant update to Cardano’s DeFi ecosystem.

About a year ago, the Alonzo hard fork finally brought smart contracts to the Cardano platform. This didn’t bring the ecosystem to Cardano many believed. App developers have encountered many technical constraints that have prevented the DeFi ecosystem from flourishing.

Vasil hard fork will speed up the processing of smart contracts. It also brings updates to the Plutus programming language. With Vasil hard fork, Cardano is finally ready to challenge other smart contract platforms. This is what many investors thought a year ago. When the truth quickly dawned, the ADA token’s price took a major nosedive a year ago.

Cardano’s scaling updates are far from over. Next up is Hydra, which brings Layer 2 solutions to the Cardano platform. Vasil and the upcoming Hydra update are part of the Basho phase of the Cardano roadmap. This will be followed by the Voltaire phase, which has a focus on governance.

FIFA launches the NFT collection

Football’s governing body FIFA has launched an NFT collection. The timing is no coincidence, as the 2022 World Cup is only a couple of months away.

To the surprise of many, FIFA’s technical partner is Algorand. It is only the 29th largest cryptocurrency on the market and a relatively small player in the smart contract platform market, compared to Ethereum, BNB Chain, or Solana, for example.

The Genesis Drop was released last week (9/22). It contains 532980 different packages, and each package contains three NFTs. The buyer of a pack will randomly receive a common, rare, or epic-level NFT. One NFT is a video of the highlights of a previous World Cup.

You can check out the collection at

The new NFT can be purchased with the USDC-A stablecoin on the Algorand blockchain or with a standard debit/credit card. No technical skills or previous Algorand wallet experience is required. An Algorand wallet is automatically created at the time of purchase, where the NFTs are stored.

The FIFA website also offers a marketplace where you can increase your NFT collection by trading. It will also be possible to transfer your NFT collection out of the FIFA system to your Algorand wallet.

The football World Cup is the most watched sporting event in the world. It’s no wonder that FIFA was early with the NFT collection. It’s likely that we’ll see new drops during (and after) the games.

Please note that we do not provide investment tips. This news is not an investment recommendation for the FIFA NFT collection.

Wintermute was hacked

Hacks in the DeFi world have been one of the biggest topics of discussion in recent years. We have witnessed numerous hacks of hundreds of millions of dollars in various services, especially token bridges. Last week, another name was added to this list – Wintermute.

This is not a traditional DeFi hack, as Wintermute is a company acting as a market maker. Wintermute also provides liquidity to many DeFi services and trades billions of dollars daily. The company also has $200 million in loans from various DeFi platforms.

Evgeny Gaevoy, CEO of Wintermute, published a Twitter thread on the subject last week.

According to Gaevoy, the hack is linked to Wintermute’s DeFi operations. Nevertheless, the company’s assets are in good shape, with twice the number of assets on its balance sheet. Wintermute lost around $160 million in crypto assets in the hack. Therefore, there is no risk of bankruptcy – at least for the time being.

The Wintermute case shows that large-scale hacks still take place in the crypto world. The year 2022 is shaping up to be far worse than the previous year, even if as much as $1.3 billion was lost in 2021 to various DeFi hacks.

Nasdaq starts offering custody services to institutions

The second largest US stock market operator, Nasdaq, wants a stake in the cryptocurrency market. Last week, Nasdaq announced plans to offer custody services to institutional investors.

The custody service is mainly about storing crypto, but it can also include other consulting services, such as buying & selling on behalf of clients. Such services are aimed at institutions that wish to invest in cryptocurrencies but want to outsource the practical processes.

Nasdaq is attacking a sector where Coinbase is a big player. It seems that more and more traditional brokerage houses are starting to offer crypto investing first to institutions and then to retail investors. We wrote a week ago about similar news regarding Fidelity.

Nasdaq is to launch an entirely new company, Nasdaq Digital Assets, dedicated to crypto services. Ira Auerbach has been recruited from the Gemini exchange to run it.

The Fed continues to scare the markets

The Federal Reserve’s (Fed) meeting was the most watched event last week. The last FOMC meeting was held in July. At that time, chairman Jerome Powell gave investors a completely wrong impression of the Fed’s objectives, which led to a surprise market rally.

The market got the impression in July that the Fed would pivot soon due to weakening economic data. However, Powell completely dropped these views in his Jackson Hole speech a few weeks ago. Last week Powell continued along the same lines.

The message to investors was very clear: the Fed will continue to raise interest rates and tighten monetary policy until inflation is brought down to a couple of percents. Powell also said the Fed understands that this will cause pain for investors. You can watch Powell’s speech and press conference at the link below.

Jerome Powell’s words sent the stock and crypto markets into a sharp decline. The major US stock indices have fallen back to a bearish territory (down 20% or more) and are approaching June lows. This is despite Powell’s announcement of a 0.75% interest rate hike, which was also the market’s expectation.

The price of Bitcoin has even held up surprisingly well under the circumstances. Bitcoin is still almost 10% above the June bottom. The support level of around $18,500-19,500 seems to be holding for now. However, the risk of breaking it is growing every day, which worries analysts.

Markets were last week in a panic mode not seen since the March 2020 crash. “The speed at which foreign-exchange and rates markets are breaking is breathtaking…” commented popular macro analyst Raoul Pal.

We recommend watching this Real Vision Daily Briefing video from last Friday, which gives a good overview of the macroeconomic situation.

Many analysts have been talking for months about how the Fed will raise interest rates “until something breaks”. It may be that this point is fast approaching. Jerome Powell may use tough words, but he too will ultimately be driven by political pressure.

As we have said many times, cryptocurrency prices are closely tracking the US stock market. And the stock market will not start to rise until the Fed stops raising interest rates and monetary policy turns looser. This is why crypto investors are also constantly following Jerome Powell’s comments.