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News summary 6/7: Optimism, Solana, Bored Apes, Stepn, Binance

The airdrop of the Optimism token did not go as planned. Another outage on the Solana network. Bored Apes and Stepn were under attack. Reuters and Bloomberg published breaking news about Binance.

Optimism token airdrop

ICOs were the major driver of the cryptocurrency boom five years ago. Almost every new project launched its token through an ICO. This boom has since died as US regulators have cracked down on ICO projects.

Many new tokens have been launched in recent years through an airdrop. The aim is often to reward the early adopters, meaning people who have been using the protocol from the very beginning. One of the big airdrops of spring 2022 has been Apecoin. Tokens were dropped to holders of the Bored Apes NFT collection.

Last week we saw a large-scale airdrop when Ethereum’s scaling solution Optimism launched its own OP token. Optimism is a so-called Layer 2 solution designed to ease traffic on the Ethereum platform. It uses Optimistic Rollups technology.

The launch of the OP token was a rather chaotic event. This is how the team commented on the Twitter thread.

The launch of airdrop did not go smoothly, as some users managed to catch Airdrop by communicating directly with a specific smart contract before the official interface was released.

In addition, the Optimism network was severely blocked during the official launch. Almost 250,000 addresses were eligible for the OP token airdrop, which is comparable with the famous Uniswap airdrop a couple of years ago.

As usual, the token’s price quickly plummeted by tens of percent after its listing on the exchange. Many airdrop receivers immediately sold their coins and pocketed the free money. Depending on the exchange, the OP was trading in the $2-4 range on the day of the launch (31 May). Now the price has dropped at around $1.2.

The OP token received immediate support from the largest exchanges in the market. It is a governance token.

Solana had technical issues again

Solana is one of Ethereum’s biggest challengers. Its SOL token was one of the hottest coins of 2021, rocketing more than 100x to a price peak of around $260 in early November. Solana is particularly popular with institutional investors, with hundreds of millions of VC money poured into the project.

But the past year has been a difficult time. Solana has suffered more technical problems than its competitors combined. Its blockchain has also been down on several occasions. This happened again last week.

Solana already suffered problems earlier when its internal blockchain clock started to fall behind real-world time. This was due to the processing of blocks taking longer than the allowed time. The clock delay did not yet cause major problems.

Last week, however, more snow came in.

A new bug was found in Solana, which caused a four-hour downtime for the whole network. The bug is related to offline transactions. Yesterday, it was announced that Solana has disabled the feature.

Last week’s news caused a drop of about 10% in the SOL token in one day. The market as a whole also fell on that day, so the impact was not large in the end. The Solana price has now fallen by 85% since the November ATH. Most investors still have faith in the future of the project.

Bored Apes and Stepn targeted by cybercriminals

In recent years, hacks in the crypto world have moved from exchanges to entirely new targets. We have already reported numerous hacks of DeFi protocols, ranging in size up to hundreds of millions of dollars.

The 2021 NFT boom has also popularized a new type of approach. Cybercriminals have been hacking into NFT social media accounts. A post has then been published, for example on airdrops or another kind of prize, asking the user to link their NFT wallet to the criminals’ smart contract.

The super-popular Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) recently suffered a similar attack when the project’s Instagram account was hacked. At the time, losses amounted to a couple of million dollars. Last week, the Bored Apes community suffered again when its Discord channel was successfully hacked.

This time, BAYC investors lost around 200 ETH or $350,000 worth of NFT tokens. Therefore the financial losses were small, but Bored Apes’ continued hacking is not good for its profile.

Another popular project in the NFT world was also hit. This was Stepn, a Move-To-Earn game running on the Solana platform. Its GMT token was one of the biggest gainers in the crypto top 100 for several weeks in March. Since then, GMT’s price has plummeted by just over 76%.

Stepn was the victim of several DDOS attacks. DDOS stands for Distributed Denial-Of-Service, which is network spam designed to paralyze a service. This was the third DDOS attack on the project in three months.

Stepn also suffered a blow two weeks ago when the project announced it would ban the game in China. The news caused a drop of more than 25% for the GMT token.

Binance in the spotlight

Binance, the world’s leading cryptocurrency exchange, has ended up in the headlines twice this week. Unsurprisingly, one of them comes from Reuters. The magazine is known for its anti-crypto reporting.

This time Reuters reported that $2.4 billion had been laundered through Binance in recent years. According to the report, cybercriminals who carried out a series of hacks transferred cryptocurrencies to Binance and did withdraw them.

Changpeng “CZ” Zhao, the founder of Binance, has condemned the Reuters report using the words “cherry picking, misleading, and time-wasting journalists.” Zhao published more than 50 pages of correspondence between a Binance spokesman and Reuters to prove the paper’s agenda. You can access the material via the Tweet below.

The other news is related to the BNB token. It was previously known as Binance Coin but was rebranded as BNB in spring 2022.

The financial publication Bloomberg reported that the SEC is investigating whether Binance violated US securities laws with the launch of Binance Coin in 2017, as Binance Coin (BNB) was launched through an ICO. In recent years, the SEC has attacked almost every major project that was launched as ICO.

Binance responded that it was in continuous dialogue with regulators and would voluntarily provide the requested material. Many projects have paid fines to the SEC in recent years in connection with ICOs. The amounts have generally been small compared to the market value of the cryptocurrency.