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‘Move-to-earn’ Solana app StepN is latest crypto gaming craze – TechCrunch

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Since its launch in December, StepN, an app that lets users walk and run to earn tokens, has quickly become a household name in the play-to-earn blockchain gaming, or GameFi, world. Two to three million users worldwide are now active on the app every month, StepN’s co-founder Jerry Huang recently told TechCrunch.

That number is nowhere close to the hundred-million player size enjoyed by popular Web 2.0 titles, but in the world of crypto, it’s a meaningful breakthrough for a five-month-old app. As of May 22, the market cap of StepN’s native token GMT stood at around $860 million.

Founded by Huang and his co-founder Yawn Rong in Adelaide, Australia, StepN debuted at a Solana hackathon in October. After coming in fourth, its exposure at the event helped land its first batch of beta users. When it officially launched two months later, words about the app that let one earn by staying fit had already spread within the blockchain community. Without any splashy ad campaign, scores of users signed up.

In weeks, StepN was growing so fast that the team needed to cap the number of daily registrations. Now, tens of thousands of new users are joining the app per day, according to Huang.

Huang, a serial entrepreneur, and Rong, a blockchain venture capitalist, were self-funding the project at first for the pair were “financially stable.” But in September, they decided that fundraising could bring in other meaningful resources such as partnerships and publicity. The founders spoke to over 100 investors and revised their pitch deck over 40 times before closing a $5 million seed round from Sequoia Capital and others in November.

“We didn’t have a product at the time, and many investors couldn’t understand what we were doing. Sequoia did. The process of addressing investor questions also helped us refine the product to where it was later,” said Huang.

Indeed, the fast-growing app appears to be self-sustainable for now. It’s generating $3 million-$5 million in net profit from trading fees a day and earning up to $100 million every month. In April, it picked up another round of strategic investment from Binance.

Is it a game?

Some argue what makes StepN — and other play-to-earn blockchain games like Axie Infinity — successful is the fact that they are essentially financial products with a gamified twist.

To start earning tokens and logging one’s mileage on StepN, users need to first spend at least 12 sol or around $600 on a pair of virtual shoes at the current market rate. The digital shoes are in the form of a non-fungible token (NFT) that runs on the Solana network and Binance’s smart chain so can be resold later, but the entry fee is still not a trivial amount for any casual player.

Over time, StepN users will need to accumulate new kicks to level up. The usual return on investment requires about a month, upon which people can start generating income of up to several thousand dollars per day depending on their level, activeness and the current price of StepN tokens. In other words, the game can be quite lucrative.

In the eyes of some gaming veterans, the gameplay of most existing GameFi apps is “easy and mindless.” Axie Infinity, for instance, features cute blob-like creatures that fight in simple battles. As such, Web 2.0 gaming incumbents are entering GameFi in droves, pledging to bring quality back to the industry.

Huang begged to differ. “A lot of the triple-A games overemphasize aesthetics and big budgets, but they aren’t really that innovative when it comes to gameplay, whereas some simple-looking games like Plants vs. Zombies come with brilliant gameplay that makes them last,” said Huang, who ran his own gaming studio in China before moving to Australia a decade ago.

“Many newcomers to GameFi are blindly pursuing triple-A productions,” he continued. “But if they weren’t already successful in web2, why would they be in web3? Some simple-looking games aren’t that simple behind the scene; for instance, how we design the economics of our app.”

Is it sustainable?

Other critics question the financial sustainability of play-to-earn. Maintaining such a business model means the gameplay needs to be either so addictive that users continue to play without cashing out their coins, or that the app continues to attract new users who buy in only to replace those who cash out. Critics have even drawn parallels between play-to-earn to pyramid schemes.

Axie Infinity hasn’t been able to sustain its meteoric rise. Sky Mavis, the Vietnamese gaming studio behind the game, was valued at $3 billion in a $150 million financing round last October. But its token has lost over 80% of its value since peaking in November at $160, and its sales volume has nosedived from $754 million to just $5 million.

Losing a few thousand dollars isn’t the end of the world for most of StepN’s users, who are 20-40-year-olds from affluent countries like the U.S., Japan and Europe. China, where crypto trading is banned, accounts for less than 5% of its user base, Huang said. But Axie Infinity’s players are concentrated in developing countries like the Philippines and Venezuela, many of whom are betting a significant amount of their savings on the game, a major source of their income during the COVID pandemic.

StepN proposes a twofold solution to sustainability. For one, it’s working on a price stabilization mechanism to ensure the cost of its coins is always at a rate that the shoes are affordable for new users but also not so cheap that existing users lack the incentives to mint new shoes; that is, create new shoes on the blockchain and sell.

Price manipulation is achieved through its dual-token system. When the price of its “utility coin” GST is too high and shoes get pricey, StepN will ask players to burn its “governance coin” GMT to mint new shoes. The supply of GST increases as a result, leading to a sell-off and bringing its cost down.

Huang also argued StepN’s fitness component makes it fundamentally different from Axie Infinity. “Yes, users can make money from StepN in the early stage, but over time they will also grow accustomed to staying active, so they will continue to walk or run regardless of financial rewards.”

“Many people don’t see StepN as a real game. Nor do they consider it a running app because users can make money from it,” said Curt Shi, founding partner at Welinder & Shi Capital and an early investor in StepN. “It’s hard to define what it is right now, but time will tell.”

Killer app?

Huang’s other defense is the role StepN could play in evangelizing blockchain to the world. An estimate of 30% of the app’s users have never used any blockchain services before.

“Many people might have used centralized exchanges like Binance and Coinbase to trade, but few know what a DEX [decentralized exchange] is, nor have they traded NFTs on a marketplace or owned a self-custodial wallet. We have the potential to onboard tens of millions of web3 users and I think this is something very meaningful.”

“I think people are paying too much attention to the [sustainability] issue,” the founder continued. “ROI might slow over time, but all games have life cycles. You also need to look at what value an app creates.”

Momentum might slow down sooner than expected for the app amid crashing crypto values. Venture capital firms are warning startups to brace for a “crypto winter” and industry giants like Coinbase are applying the brakes on hiring. As consumers lose confidence in the market and become less willing to spend on tokens or NFTs, blockchain apps that rely on attracting new users to drive up their economies might face more roadblocks.

But Huang finds a silver lining in the current downturn. “There was a lot of froth in the market. Now the bubble is bursting, our shoes will become more affordable, and only the [blockchain] apps with real use case will survive.”

“The market was clearly frothy, so it’s a good thing that [StepN’s market cap] has shrunk over the past few days,” said Shi. “To maintain an ultra-high market cap can be stressful for the team, and now the team will be focusing more on the product itself and we believe StepN will outperform in bear and will be a winner in the next bull market.”

Operating with a rapidly expanding team of 70 people across countries including Australia, the U.K., the U.S. and Singapore, StepN’s next step is to build a social product around its token holder community. The challenge now is to prove that it can continue to draw in a constant stream of new runners.

 

Subscribe to TechCrunch’s crypto newsletter “Chain Reaction” for news, funding updates and hot takes on the wild world of web3 — and take a listen to our companion podcast!

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Tulip Protocol Officially Integrates Chainlink on Solana Mainnet

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Tulip Protocol Officially Integrates Chainlink on Solana Mainnet

Today, Tulip Protocol made the announcement that they have integrated Chainlink Price Feeds in order to better secure their yield aggregating platform that is running on the Solana mainnet. The team had previously stated their intention to integrate Chainlink Price Feeds, and at this point, the connection has been completely put into action. Chainlink is the premier decentralized oracle network in the world, safeguarding tens of billions of dollars in smart contracts. It has diversified its offerings across other blockchains, notably Solana, Fantom, Polygon, BNB Chain, and others.

In a recent blog post, the team behind the Tulip Protocol explained that they had integrated Chainlink to provide users with more confidence that leveraged positions will be liquidated equitably using extremely accurate price data and that the protocol will continue to be completely collateralized at all times.

According to Tomasz Wojewoda, Head of Global Sales at Chainlink Labs:

“We’re pleased that Tulip Protocol has integrated Chainlink Price Feeds on Solana, helping secure its yield aggregation protocol with highly robust, decentralized market data. With the high-throughput performance of Solana and the strong security guarantees of the Chainlink Network, Tulip Protocol is able to empower users with a performant and secure platform.”

Tulip Protocol Seeks To Take Advantage Of Solana

Tulip Protocol brings together lenders who receive a return on their deposits and borrowers who are interested in gaining access to leverage. Users who initiate leverage positions are responsible for maintaining a loan-to-value (LTV) ratio that has been previously established. The Tulip Protocol then uses the asset price data that is provided by Chainlink Price Feeds to verify that this ratio is accurate. If the value of the collateral falls below the threshold that was established by the protocol, then their position will be immediately liquidated to assist in guaranteeing that the lenders will be repaid.

Tulip Protocol intends to capitalize on Solana by giving users the ability to more regularly reinvest their income and grow their assets without having to pay exorbitant amounts of gas expenses. Chainlink oracles can now be natively integrated on Solana, making it possible for Solana-based applications to benefit from enhanced levels of security and transparency. Yesterday, OpenOcean made the announcement that they would be integrating Chainlink Price Feeds in order to help secure the limited order functionality on many chains. These chains include Avalanche, Ethereum, Polygon, Fantom, and BNB Chain.

According to Senx, Co-Founder of Tulip Protocol:

 “We’re excited to be using Chainlink Price Feeds on Solana to help secure our yield aggregation platform. By leveraging the most secure and reliable on-chain data available, we’re able to provide our lenders and borrowers with greater assurances that liquidations are based on accurate price data, and the protocol will maintain a healthy loan-to-value ratio through all market conditions.” 

Allowing Stakers To Benefit From Higher APYs

Natives of the blockchain as well as newcomers to the technology are beginning to understand that decentralization does not necessarily equate to a secure platform. Given that Web3 services are currently disclosing their susceptibilities to attacks from both within and outside the network, further initiatives should be undertaken to improve the safety of user assets. Fortunately, a growing number of blockchain businesses are beginning to add various levels of security to their services in order to solidify the trust of their existing customers and attract additional investors in the near and distant future.

Tulip Protocol is the very first yield aggregation platform to be built on Solana, and it features auto-compounding vault techniques. The dApp was developed to make use of Solana’s blockchain, which has a low cost and high efficiency, hence enabling the vault techniques to compound frequently. Stakeholders are able to reap the benefits of greater APYs as a result, without the need for active management.

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Is your SOL safe? What we know about the Solana hack

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On this week’s episode of “The Market Report,” Cointelegraph’s resident experts discuss the latest updates concerning the recent Solana (SOL) hack.

To kick things off, we broke down the latest news in the markets this week:

Bitcoin realized price bands form key resistance as bulls lose $24K, significant whale activity between $22,000 and $24,800 adds to the complexity of the current spot market setup. Bitcoin (BTC) consolidated lower on Aug. 9 after familiar resistance preserved a multi-month trading range. When will we finally break out of this price range and make the move towards $30K?

Institutions flocking to Ethereum for 7 straight weeks as Merge nears: Report, “Greater clarity” around the Merge has driven institutional inflows into Ethereum products, according to a CoinShares report. Is the ETH merge finally around the corner and will it bring new all time highs to ETH or has the price already been factored into the current price?

Circle freezes blacklisted Tornado Cash smart contract addresses, Crypto data aggregator Dune Analytics said that, on Monday, Circle, the issuer of the USD Coin (USDC) stablecoin, froze over 75,000 USDC worth of funds linked to the 44 Tornado Cash addresses sanctioned by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control’s Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list. Could this mark the end for Tornado Cash or is there a way they can redeem themselves?

Next up is a new segment called “Quick Crypto Tips,” which aims to give newcomers to the crypto industry quick and easy tips to get the most out of their experience. This week’s tip: Have some funds ready to buy further downturns.

Market expert Marcel Pechman then carefully examines the Bitcoin and Ether (ETH) markets. Are the current market conditions bullish or bearish? What is the outlook for the next few months? Pechman is here to break it down. The experts also go over some markets news to bring you up to date on the latest regarding the top two cryptocurrencies.

After Marcel’s market analysis, our resident experts discuss whether your SOL is safe and the latest updates on the Solana hack. We also discuss why the network has been victim to so many hacks and downtimes. What exactly do these exploits mean for the Solana platform and if you should be worried.

Lastly, we’ve got insights from Cointelegraph Markets Pro, a platform for crypto traders who want to stay one step ahead of the market. The analysts use Cointelegraph Markets Pro to identify two altcoins that stood out this week: Radicle’s RAD and DigiByte’s DGB.

Do you have a question about a coin or topic not covered here? Don’t worry. Join the YouTube chat room, and write your questions there. The person with the most interesting comment or question will be given a 1 month free subscription to markets Pro worth $100!

The Market Report streams live every Tuesday at 12:00 pm ET (4:00 pm UTC), so be sure to head on over to Cointelegraph’s YouTube page and smash those like and subscribe buttons for all our future videos and updates.

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Web3-Based ZepetoX to Build on Solana

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Web3-Based ZepetoX to Build on Solana

Singapore, Singapore , Aug. 09, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, the ZepetoX team (ZTX, ZepetoX.io) announced its foray into the web3 space, sharing its vision to build an open world that empowers creators and communities to build, play and earn.

ZepetoX is the crypto metaverse initiative jointly incubated by ZEPETO – Asia’s largest metaverse platform with over 320 million registered users – alongside leading global blockchain organizations including Jump Crypto.

As the sole blockchain project comprehensively backed by ZEPETO, ZepetoX will have exclusive ties to ZEPETO in terms of IP including technological, design, and content assets as well as bridges to facilitate user onboarding between the two platforms. ZepetoX’s blockchain development efforts will be advised by Jump.

“ZepetoX is our official venture into the blockchain industry. We feel that web3 opportunities should be advanced through a crypto-native approach, which is why we are excited to have Jump as a contributor to developing a new platform that would have exclusive connections to ZEPETO. Overall, we believe that ZepetoX can build the ideal web3 platform to not only bring blockchain to our existing users but also to expand our footprint in the blockchain space through various disruptive initiatives,” said Daewook Kim, CEO of Naver Z – the operating entity of ZEPETO.

“We are excited to support ZepetoX’s efforts aimed at onboarding new audiences into the rapidly growing crypto space. ZEPETO’s expertise and technological know-hows accumulated over the past years from building an immersive social platform will serve as a springboard for ZepetoX,” said Saurabh Sharma, Partner at Jump Crypto.

Building on the Solana network, ZepetoX will offer a web-based 3D open world with varying levels of gamification integrated as well as opportunities for users to monetize via ownership of digital assets and social interaction. Ultimately, ZepetoX aims to empower self-expression through customizable avatars and lands that can be equipped with NFTs from a rich collection of assets created by diverse creators, DAOs, or communities.

“I am thrilled to see IP powerhouses like ZepetoX choosing to build their metaverse on Solana,” said Anatoly Yakovenko, Co-Founder of Solana. “Projects like ZepetoX create new pathways for onboarding millions of users to web3.”

“Our global team brings a depth of crypto native experiences and our goal is to build on the foundation of ZEPETO to spearhead the adoption of blockchain among metaverse users, developers, and creators,” said co-CEO of ZepetoX, Chris Chang.

In the coming months, ZepetoX will launch its first land sale. The lands will be tradable on the ZepetoX marketplace, which will feature a variety of different NFTs as the open world project evolves. Further details on the sale will be available on the ZepetoX website in the coming weeks.

# # #

About ZepetoX: ZepetoX (ZTX) is a web3 company building an immersive content-driven platform for users to create, trade digital assets and enjoy social interaction. Founded in 2022, ZepetoX is the blockchain initiative of ZEPETO, widely regarded as the largest Asia-based metaverse platform boasting over 320 million lifetime users with over 2.5 billion virtual fashion items sold.

Contacts:

Vera: vera@ztx.foundation

News Via KISS PR Crypto Press Release Distribution Media Contact az@kisspr.com

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