Our inaugural outing of this news roundup, looking back on the week of Jan. 24.
Welcome to the first edition of Nonfungible Tidbits, where we highlight some of the most interesting things that happened this week in cryptocurrency, NFTs and related realms.
Certainly the biggest story this week was the price of bitcoin, which isn't, um, doing well. Meta, formerly known as Facebook, is reportedly ending its stablecoin project. And last Friday, Twitter debuted a feature that allows subscribers to its paid Twitter Blue service to use an NFT as a profile picture. Here are a few other stories that caught our eyes this week.
The US Securities and Exchange Commission said no to a proposal on Thursday that would've allowed shares of Fidelity's Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust to be listed and traded, Bloomberg reported. The SEC cited concerns (PDF) over investor protections and public interest for the decision. Investors have been able to buy shares of an exchange-traded fund that tracks bitcoin futures contracts since last year. But a spot bitcoin ETF would track the actual price of bitcoin, rather than the price of bitcoin futures, and the SEC isn't ready for that quite yet.
The main thing bitcoin mining operations require is electricity -- lots and lots of electricity. This is what drives the ongoing concern about bitcoin's impact on the environment. But there's a growing presence of bitcoin miners in Texas, and Gov. Greg Abbot wants to use them to… help reinforce the state's power grid? The idea here is that mining operations use so much energy they will entice new investment in power plants in Texas. Then, when demand for electricity is high, like it was during the winter storms last year, the bitcoin miners can turn off their operations to free up electricity. We should note that there is currently no law in Texas that would require miners to do this. Maybe if the governor asks nicely?
Bud Light is the big game's official beer, so no Miller ads are allowed on America's most valued advertising slots of the year. What's the next best thing? Apparently it's a "metaverse bar." Miller Lite is partnering with Decentraland, a platform that allows people to buy and sell virtual plots of land. What's a metaverse bar? After reading this Marketing Dive story, the concept sounds like it's essentially a video game where you log in, and your avatar sits at a bar and buys NFTs. Very 2022.
The Ethereum Foundation oversees the Ethereum blockchain, which is the blockchain of ether, the No. 2 cryptocurrency after bitcoin (by market cap). The blockchain, currently in its "Eth1" phase, is scheduled for an upgrade later this year, which is supposed to make it more efficient, environmentally friendly and less expensive to conduct transactions with. Previously, the new version was to be known as Eth2, but not anymore. Why? According to an Ethereum Foundation blog post, Eth1 will be known as the "execution layer" and Eth2 will be known as the "consensus layer." This is a change in semantics, and the change reflects that the execution and consensus layers are, rather than two separate versions of Ethereum, both aspects of the same system. And that's good, right?
That's all the tidbits we have for now. Thanks for reading. We'll be back next week with plenty more to talk about. In the meantime, check out the So Money podcast featuring CNET's Farnoosh Torabi.