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NFT & Social Impact - Every quarter FAS | Fintech Advisory Services sponsors and co-organizes the exclusive crypto pop-up event Supermoon Camp. FAS is proud to present the NFT and Social impact panel from Supermoon Camp 2021 Miami, discussing the major positive impacts NFTs are having on society across the globe. Expert panel featuring Mattie Goedecke from Ponyo, Isaac Rodgin head of BD at Fuse, Pietro Moran partnerships manager at Giving Block, with our own CEO and Co-Founder Elena Obukhova as moderator.

Hear the Supermoon panelists share fascinating insight into their NFT charity projects such as the Coral Reef Restoration, NFTrees, Giving Block donations, therapeutic cancer drug and much more.

See full panel below:

Q: What are your thoughts on the European Parliament regulatory measures? Do you think something like this was inevitable or do you think it is a major overstep?


Jumping straight to my favorite topic, I strongly agree with Brian Armstrong. Many of you know that I am a big advocate for decentralization and data privacy along with many other people in the crypto space. I also made a statement on our previous podcast “good luck regulating cryptocurrencies” that I addressed to all people trying to do such a thing.

It’s very important to understand that blockchain is not equal to privacy and can lead to a complete loss of privacy if handled incorrectly. It's interesting that the statement on privacy is coming from Brian Armstrong when Coinbase is a centralized crypto exchange that is complied with government regulation and has the possibility to ban users. Many people learned a lesson the hard way in 2017 when one of the largest and earliest exchanges of that time, BTC-E, was shut down by the FBI and all individual funds were seized. I know a small number of people were able to recover a portion of their lost funds, but I was not as fortunate. However, I was grateful for that painful lesson.

The reason I mentioned it is because we all need to understand that crypto belongs to us if and only if we keep our private key and/or seed phrase secured. If we use custodial wallets, keeping funds on centralized exchanges, it’s no better than keeping money at the bank. Those funds can be taken away from you meaning that they don’t really belong to you.

I don’t want to attack Brian Armstrong or other founders of centralized exchanges; they’re doing a great job bringing more people into the space offering a simpler way to purchase cryptocurrencies. Since they do involve fiat in that chain, they’re facing completely different regulatory demands. And for sure I don't want to be a hypocrite as I also run a centralized NFT platform FlashBack.One. The reason for this was to bring more people from the Web2 space into the world of Web3 seamlessly. At FlashBack we want to bring them on board and then educate about Web3, crypto, NFT, and how to store their data in a more secure way afterward.

I should definitely say if you’re buying crypto at the centralized exchange with your bank card. You’re actually making other people’s jobs easier to track you. Public blockchain transactions are available to everyone, you can see how much funds are stored on a specific wallet and where these funds came from. So now imagine if the entry point was your bank card with your name on it. Do you think all other transactions are fully anonymous? No, they can easily be traced back to you.

Q: What are your thoughts on the Stablecoin transparency act and do you believe Senator Hagerty’s remark that the bill won’t put stablecoins in the hands of “unaccountable bureaucrats who threaten to choke off innovation"?


We need to start with another question. Why do people use stablecoins? With increased globalization, remote work, and cross-border business transactions, why do bank transfers take days when they should just take seconds? And that’s one of the reasons why stablecoins took off. You need to do a USD transfer to your colleague, the bank will take a few days, you don’t want to do a transfer through Bitcoin as your settlements are in USD and you don’t want to bear the risk that comes with the currency conversion. Now you have USDT or USDC, a stablecoin that is pegged 1 to 1 to USD. And this stablecoin allows you to send money in a few seconds without any interference from banks.

Every time someone is offering you help or a “protection”, do you think they are just very nice people? No, there’s always some other reason that you might not know and you might never know about. The Transparency Act is pretty much this kind of person telling you “I want to help and protect you because I care about you”.

The first USDT tokens were created in 2014, why didn’t the Transparency Act appear then. Do you think it’s somehow related to USDT reaching a size of 93 billion dollars in 24-hour trading volume? I feel there’s some connection here.

The government securities are a very nice attempt to bring extra funding for the government. You see, here’s your friend who wants to help for his own reasons. It seems quite interesting to hear that act being introduced when USD is no longer having sufficient gold reserves as it used to have.

The government's actions with this act totally make sense if you put yourself in the shoes of regulators. The question is would it affect you if you switch to another crypto that is decentralized?

Q: What are your thoughts on both the concerns about security and the worries over energy?


I’m always laughing when people say Bitcoin is affecting the environment as if money printing does not. El Salvador, for example, found a way to use a volcano to mine bitcoins from a natural energy source. There is a Canadian project that already uses green energy for Bitcoin mining in North Vancouver. I also watched one video not so long ago where one lady was showing their fancy tesla power station. Following this, a journalist asked what energy they use for these electric power stations, and she pointed at their coal plant that was just behind these stations.

There is a lot of harm from our daily routines to the environment from some really unnecessary but convenient actions. When we’re talking about using energy to mine a decentralized cryptocurrency that can help every person on a planet regardless of their gender, race, age, occupation, citizenship, or any other attributes to get access to basic finances and gain financial freedom. Why are we trying to stop it when energy waste from the banking industry is double according to the Galaxy Finance report.

Q: What are your thoughts on US Banks creating their own stablecoin? Do you feel it was inevitable and do you think most people will move towards using it? Or that it directly takes away from the birth of crypto as a decentralized asset?


My opinion here is quite short. CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currencies) are centralized and no better than fiat in terms of decentralization and privacy. I do see lots of value for banking operations, cross-border corporate transactions, and even government payments. But we all hear the same statement again “protection”. USDF will allow them to trace every single transaction far easier than they can with banking and obviously cash-based payments. I will leave it to you to connect the dots.

Q: The New York Stock Exchange, the world’s largest stock exchange by market capitalization, wants to be the marketplace for NFTs just like with stocks. Is this a positive or a negative for NFT marketplaces? Is this a signal of the power of crypto as the old guard dogs are finding footing in the space?


It makes sense for large institutions to enter the field, no one wants to miss out. The more transactions we have the larger the market grows. OpenSea and Rarible are also centralized platforms to a certain degree. I feel NYSE stepping into this market can actually drive more people into the Web3 world. It’s just our responsibility to educate them about data storage and decentralization.

Q: We see large institutions entering into the metaverse because of economic gain, what kind of opportunity do you see for small businesses and individual economic advantage?


Oh yes! For sure. Metaverse helps businesses to get access to people from all over the world without any need to commute. For large players, it’s also a great PR opportunity as now everyone talks about JP Morgan or for example Mcdonalds that opened up a location in the metaverse.

For an average business, it always depends on the use case. For example, we have so many small galleries in NYC and they only have access to people locally as no one will be taking an expensive flight to come to NYC for a small gallery meetup. However, now they can host offline and online events in the metaverse at the same time. This gives gallerys access to a much larger market.

Now, let’s imagine Real Estate. Many people are buying apartments, buildings, and land in other countries. In most cases for them, it’s an investment opportunity, however, they don’t have time to actually fly and check this place out in person. Architects usually create a 3D model of such properties for buyers’ convenience. Now they can do it in the metaverse and purchase such property with NFTs. That actually eliminates a middle man and make transaction simpler.

Another example can be a simple team-building gathering for a fully-remote company. How much fun is it to gather in the metaverse compared to a zoom meeting? I can continue with so many examples, but my main point is that metaverse allows people to engage in a more interactive way whether it’s for business or just for fun.

See the full interview below:

Q. Elizabeth Warren’s crypto sanctions bill aims to crack down on Russia and track wallets with foreign ties, the bill enhances the US government's ability to clamp down on Russian cryptocurrency use and also has a provision that requires US taxpayers to report certain types of crypto transactions. Will this push more people to use crypto and have them moving away from the US reserve currency?


I actually think that all of the new regulations and laws that Governments have introduced are introducing crypto to a far larger group of people. We all in the crypto space believe in decentralization and people using fiat currencies now realize how important it is to gain financial freedom. I think the situation in Russia, in general, showed how dependency on governments and financial institutions can be harmful to individuals. A lot of people faced restrictions on their accounts and were unable to access their funds abroad because of sanctions like Visa and Mastercard being canceled. I do believe cryptocurrency shows how financial freedom is important and instead of using fiat currencies people are switching to Bitcoin or Ethereum and even stablecoins.

I have personally noticed the volume of people reaching out to me regarding switching to cryptocurrency, and it’s not just people in Russia who have been directly affected by sanctions. Similarly, a lot of people in the US have realized how many limitations they face if they continue using a simple bank account because as long as you keep money in bank accounts it belongs to them not you. Do you think if you go with a big crowd to try to withdraw all your money from an ATM will you be able to do that? Of course not because this money isn’t yours unless you take control and power over it and that’s what cryptocurrency is allowing people to do. That’s why I feel the sanctions and new laws will bring more people to the crypto space worldwide.

Q. Russia may revive cold-war era currency pact. Will this secure cryptocurrency as a long-term digital asset? Do you think this will boost cryptocurrency prices at all? Do you think this is something that will secure the longevity of cryptocurrency as a digital asset?


First of all, if we are talking about Russia and how the situation affected Ruble which is the national currency of the Russian Federation, I had a recent article on recent Russian activities and I mentioned that Russia was the 11th largest country by GDP. I don’t believe there is a way you can impose sanctions on a country that is the 11th major economy in the world without impacting the rest of the world. We are seeing this with local businesses in the US and Europe, with a big impact on the trade of goods and services and business settlements happening with Russia. I’ve had friends in Europe reaching out asking do I think this situation is going to affect small businesses because their largest market share was Russia and Ukraine and found themselves unable to do any transactions with both Ukraine and Russia.

With Russia removed from the global financial system, many of them started switching to cryptocurrency because that’s the only way they can have cross-border transactions without any limitations. For example, our company FAS refused any fiat currency transactions this year and we had already been paying salaries to all employees in crypto for over two years because we believe it’s the most efficient way to do cross-border payments. And of course, I think the situation will have a positive impact on the cryptocurrency market, I wouldn’t give price predictions here I don’t want to give any investment advice. However, I can say that more people are switching to crypto out of necessity because it’s the only tool available right now for easy and quick cross-border payments. Russia recently asked Europe to pay for oil in Ruble in response to the international sanctions and we will still see that small businesses will not be switching into Rubles right, we still have the US dollar used for cross border international settlements and the only way for the rest of the market to trade easily is of course cryptocurrencies that are not regulated. Whatever politicians say and try to do or introduce some new regulatory network for crypto it’s not happening!! I am always saying good luck regulating cryptocurrencies.

Q. Will this bring more people to invest in cryptocurrency by signaling another big shift in investing?


There are a lot of funds and traditional financial institutions that are moving into cryptocurrencies, if we look at a list of major bitcoin holdings we will see the US, China, and El Salvador obviously where recently bitcoin was introduced as a legal tender. A lot of hedge funds and investment banks had to switch to cryptocurrency as they couldn’t miss out on this opportunity when there’s an obvious investment value in the crypto market. In terms of how it’s affecting ordinary people and retail investors, I would say all of the news is generally having a positive impact on the crypto market, as people are following the traditional financial institutions imitating their investment strategy. But, at the same time, many people understand the need for decentralization and I think many factors are driving people toward crypto adoption and we don’t need investment banks to do so. I believe access to personal funds will be a major trigger that will bring people to the space.

Q. How do You think we can start thinking more long-term instead of creating things for a short-term and quick profit? How does the current market allow for long-term positive innovation?


That’s a very good question. First of all, I do believe that scams are always going to exist and it’s not just in the crypto market. If we look at previous hypes in the market it was a similar situation with people jumping ahead when they see an investment opportunity for quick money. It’s very hard to eliminate scams from a market, whenever we have a hype people will be building projects for short-term profit even if it’s not a scam. At the same time, I think the cryptocurrency market has begun maturing a little, if we compare today with 2017 when there were many projects being stamped every day and people just replicating the same ideas, using similar whitepapers. These projects were raising crazy amounts of money with just a whitepaper of empty promises. And right now, I think there are a lot of projects that have already seen the hypes in the market so when they are building an idea using a popular technology for example nft they are seizing the hype but building a long-term project. For example, when we started FlashBack which is a platform for nft tickets we obviously understand there is hype on the nft market but we do understand the idea and technology itself is very resilient. However, we think this technology can help to build a long-term project and completely redesign the ticketing industry bringing more edge and art to the space. I have noted recently that the majority of investors are becoming more conscious of choosing projects that can overcome this hype and survive.

Q. Do you think that the stigma of the scam is what’s stopping the average person from entering the space? Or do you think that it’s something else?


I don’t feel it’s the case anymore perhaps in 2018 yes when people didn’t want to deal with the crypto and blockchain projects. Right now, I would say entrepreneurs understand the value of our technology and a lot of retail investors are starting to understand the value of cryptocurrencies. I have noticed a big change from saying friends outside of the crypto space who never grasped what I work in thinking it’s a scam, now they’re asking me for help setting up crypto wallets, etc. So people are now seeing the value of decentralized financial freedom and are joining the community. Look at Avalanche, for example, their development community has exploded, and on top of that, we also see web3 companies trying to emerge and get access to web2 demographics, their next users.

Q. What trends do you think we will see entering the NFT space? Will we start to see a rise in use cases for smaller businesses?


I feel like the NFT space is also moving a lot and I have been mentioning it in many of my other talks quite frequently. We had a massive hype in the nft art space, so people who were going crazy about digital art. Right now, we are on the next step where nft technology is merging with several other industries. That’s how we see real estate joining the nft space and there have already been cases where real-world apartments were sold using nft technology. We obviously see a lot of other applications in insurance, IP production, and ticketing where we are trying to bring art back to the ticketing industry and let event organizers be content creators. I think now people can definitely see NFTs from different angles, also another good example is memberships and Supermoon camp will be announcing very soon our nft membership program where people will be able to purchase their nft profile pictures with exclusive astronauts and get access to members-only perks. So, it’s sort of a SOHO house of crypto with a lot of perks and access to our community. So, I do believe in the membership side of NFTs as we saw with the bored apes. I think that’s the next step in the space where projects are adding additional utility on top of art and nft technology.

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