NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash

NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash
A PsychoKitty NFT created by psychedelic artist Ugonzo is displayed on a phone and an NFT logo is displayed on a computer screen from a Crypto.com NFT marketplace. (AFP)
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Updated 23 May 2022

NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash

NFTs losing luster as cryptocurrencies crash
  • Fraud a major reason cited for the downturn, with amounts lost to scams described as "eye-watering"
  • At least 80 percent of NFTs on leading exchanges OpenSea and LooksRare found to be fake

PARIS: A slew of celebrity endorsements helped inflate a multi-billion dollar bubble around digital tokens over the past year, but cryptocurrencies are crashing and some fear NFTs could be next.
NFTs are tokens linked to digital images, “collectable” items, avatars in games or property and objects in the burgeoning virtual world of the metaverse.
The likes of Paris Hilton, Gwyneth Paltrow and Serena Williams have boasted about owning NFTs and many under-30s have been enticed to gamble for the chance of making a quick profit.
But the whole sector is suffering a rout at the moment with all the major cryptocurrencies slumping in value, and the signs for NFTs are mixed at best.
The number of NFTs traded in the first quarter of this year slumped by almost 50 percent compared to the previous quarter, according to analysis firm Non-Fungible.
They reckoned the market was digesting the vast amount of NFTs created last year, with the resale market just getting off the ground.
Monitoring firm CryptoSlam reported a dramatic tail-off in May, with just $31 million spent on art and collectibles in the week to May 15, the lowest figure all year.
A symbol of the struggle is the forlorn attempt to re-sell an NFT of Twitter founder Jack Dorsey’s first tweet.
Dorsey managed to sell the NFT for almost $3 million last year but the new owner cannot find anyone willing to pay more than $20,000.

Molly White, a prominent critic of the crypto sphere, told AFP there were many possible reasons for the downturn.
“It could be a general decrease in hype, it could be fear of scams after so many high-profile ones, or it could be people tightening their belts,” she said.
The reputation of the industry has been hammered for much of the year.
The main exchange, OpenSea, admitted in January that more than 80 percent of the NFTs created with its free tool were fraudulent — many of them copies of other NFTs or famous artworks reproduced without permission.
“There’s a bit of everything on OpenSea,” said Olivier Lerner, co-author of the book “NFT Mine d’Or” (NFT Gold Mine).
“It’s a huge site and it’s not curated, so you really have no idea what you’re buying.”
LooksRare, an NFT exchange that overtook OpenSea for volume of sales this year, got into similar problems as its rival.
As many as 95 percent of the transactions on its platform were found to be fake, according to CryptoSlam.
Users were selling NFTs to themselves because LooksRare was offering tokens with every transaction — no matter what you were buying.
And the amounts lost to scams this year have been eye-watering.
The owners of Axie Infinity, a game played by millions in the Philippines and elsewhere and a key driver of the NFT market, managed to lose more than $500 million in a single swindle.

“As soon as you have a new technology, you immediately have fraudsters circling,” lawyer Eric Barbry told AFP.
He pointed out that the NFT market had no dedicated regulation so law enforcement agencies are left to cobble together a response using existing frameworks.
Molly White said strong regulation could help eliminate the extreme speculation but that could, in turn, rob NFTs of their major appeal — that they can bring quick profits.
“I think less hype would be a good thing — in its current form, NFT trading is enormously risky and probably unwise for the average person,” she said.
NFTs are often likened to the traditional art market because they have no inherent utility and their prices fluctuated wildly depending on trends and hype.
But Olivier Lerner suggested a different comparison.
“It’s like the lottery,” he said of those seeking big profits from NFTs. “You play, but you never win.”


Riyadh Cement’s board approves transition to Saudi Arabia’s main market TASI

Riyadh Cement’s board approves transition to Saudi Arabia’s main market TASI
Updated 15 sec ago

Riyadh Cement’s board approves transition to Saudi Arabia’s main market TASI

Riyadh Cement’s board approves transition to Saudi Arabia’s main market TASI

RIYADH: Riyadh Cement Co. has secured its board of directors’ approval to transfer to Saudi Arabia’s main market TASI, a bourse filing revealed.

The cement producer, which is currently listed on the parallel Nomu market, has appointed Yaqeen Capital as a financial advisor for the transition.

The transaction is subject to obtaining the necessary regulatory approvals, the company said in the filing.


TASI gains some ground on easing inflation fears: Closing bell

TASI gains some ground on easing inflation fears: Closing bell
Updated 6 min 26 sec ago

TASI gains some ground on easing inflation fears: Closing bell

TASI gains some ground on easing inflation fears: Closing bell

RIYADH: Saudi stocks gained some ground on Wednesday amid easing inflation worries while investors kept an eye on oil prices.

The main index, TASI, gained 0.48 percent to reach 11,727, while the parallel market, Nomu, added 1.81 percent to 20,728.

This was led by a 0.90 percent increase in the Saudi oil giant Aramco and a 2.86 percent leap in one of the Kingdom’s biggest lenders, Saudi National Bank.

Retal Urban Development Co. added 0.66 percent, following the acquisition of SR339 million ($90 million) in residential land in the Sedra Masterplan Community.

In the telecom sector, stc shares climbed 0.61 percent, while Zain KSA shares shed 2.02 percent.

Saudi Advanced Industries Co. was also among the gainers, posting 9.94 percent gain.

Al Moammar Information Systems Co. edged down 1.37 percent, following an agreement with US-based Cloudera to host and distribute its services in the Kingdom.

SABIC Agri-Nutrients Co. fell 0.98 percent, following the announcement that it will pay dividends of SR4 a share in the first half of the year.

Saudia Dairy and Foodstuff Co. dropped 1.66 percent, following shareholders' approval of SR0.50 per share for dividends in 2021.

Dar Alarkan Real Estate Development Co. decreased 3.94 percent, following the appointment of Yousuf Al Shelash as chairman and Majed Abdul Rahman Al Qasim as vice chairman.

In energy trading, Brent crude settled at $119.61 a barrel and US West Texas Intermediate reached $113.42 a barrel, as of 3:22 p.m. Saudi time.


China In-Focus — S&P cuts GDP forecast; Chinese smartphone makers dominate Russian market

China In-Focus — S&P cuts GDP forecast; Chinese smartphone makers dominate Russian market
Updated 11 min 9 sec ago

China In-Focus — S&P cuts GDP forecast; Chinese smartphone makers dominate Russian market

China In-Focus — S&P cuts GDP forecast; Chinese smartphone makers dominate Russian market

BEIJING: Coronavirus lockdowns have hit Chinese growth more than expected, ratings agency S&P said as it slashed its forecast for the second time in two months, while emerging market economies will slow in the second half of this year amid high inflation.

S&P cut its gross domestic product growth prediction for China to 3.3 percent, in a report, having already downgraded it to 4.2 percent in May from a 4.9 percent forecast made in March.

It said higher than expected first quarter growth in many countries meant its 2022 growth forecast for emerging market economies excluding China was unchanged at 4.1 percent, but sounded a pessimistic note about the rest of the year and 2023.

S&P also increased inflation forecasts for a sample of 15 emerging markets, to 7.1 percent in 2022 and 4.1 percent in 2023, from 5.9 percent and 3.5 percent in March and said it expected inflation to breach most central banks’ targets until at least 2024 even as they tighten monetary policy faster.

China’s smartphones gain ground in Russia

Chinese smartphones accounted for two-thirds of all new sales in Russia between April and June, the country’s top electronics retailer said on Wednesday.

“The total share of Chinese brands in the Russian market in terms of smartphone sales is steadily increasing — from 50 percent in the first quarter, to 60 percent in April to more than 70 percent in June,” Russian electronics retailer M.Video-Eldorado said on Wednesday.

Overall, Chinese smartphones accounted for more than 65 percent of devices sold across the second quarter, up from 50 percent in the same period of 2021. Mobile operator MTS reported a jump in sales of Chinese phones in May.

M.Video said the average price of a smartphone sold during the three-month period was down 4 percent from last year as Russian consumers shift to lower-ticket goods amid an earnings squeeze and economic downturn.

Several major smartphone makers, including Apple and Samsung, have paused new sales in Russia following its Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, while financial sanctions and airspace bans have hit supply chains, pushing Russian retailers and consumers to look toward China to fill the gap.

 

(With input from Reuters) 

 


India In-Focus — Rupee hits record low; Shares fall; UltraTech Cement paying for Russian coal in Chinese yuan

India In-Focus — Rupee hits record low; Shares fall; UltraTech Cement paying for Russian coal in Chinese yuan
Updated 10 min 19 sec ago

India In-Focus — Rupee hits record low; Shares fall; UltraTech Cement paying for Russian coal in Chinese yuan

India In-Focus — Rupee hits record low; Shares fall; UltraTech Cement paying for Russian coal in Chinese yuan

MUMBAI: The Indian rupee on Wednesday touched record lows for a second straight session on persisting concerns about rising inflation and weak growth, even as the central bank sold dollars to limit losses.

The partially convertible rupee ended at 78.9650 per dollar after touching a lifetime low of 78.97. The currency had closed at 78.77 on Tuesday.

The rupee has lost more than 6 percent against the dollar so far this year, and analysts believe it is likely to weaken further.

“The Indian Rupee has been adversely affected mainly by the FIIs pulling out funds from the equity market, rising crude prices, the deteriorating trade balance and dollar strengthening,” analysts at Emkay Wealth Management said in a note.

Indian shares fall

Indian shares fell on Wednesday to snap a four-day winning streak as worries over inflation resurfaced amid surging oil prices, while domestic explorers rose in late trade after the country approved a plan to give marketing freedom to sell crude.

The NSE Nifty 50 index closed 0.32 percent lower to 15,799.10 and the S&P BSE Sensex slipped 0.3 percent to 53,026.97. 

India cement maker paying for Russian coal in Chinese yuan

Indian cement producer, UltraTech Cement, is importing a cargo of Russian coal and paying using Chinese yuan, according to an Indian customs document reviewed by Reuters, a rare payment method that traders say could become more common.

UltraTech is bringing in 157,000 tons of coal from Russian producer SUEK that loaded on the bulk carrier MV Mangas from the Russian Far East port of Vanino, the document showed. It cites an invoice dated June 5 that values the cargo at 172,652,900 yuan ($25.81 million).

Two trade sources familiar with the matter said the cargo’s sale was arranged by SUEK’s Dubai-based unit, adding that other companies have also placed orders for Russian coal using yuan payments.

The increasing use of the yuan to settle payments could help insulate Moscow from the effects of western sanctions imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine and bolster Beijing’s push to further internationalize the currency and chip away at the dominance of the US dollar in global trade.

(With inputs from Reuters)


UAE’s Strata seeks to expand into biopharma, EV manufacturing

UAE’s Strata seeks to expand into biopharma, EV manufacturing
Updated 13 min 33 sec ago

UAE’s Strata seeks to expand into biopharma, EV manufacturing

UAE’s Strata seeks to expand into biopharma, EV manufacturing

RIYADH: UAE’s Strata, the aviation unit of Mubadala Investment Co., is expanding into biopharmaceuticals manufacturing and it is also in discussions with global electric vehicle makers to start EV production in the country.

The company seeks to form partnerships with existing companies as part of its long-term strategy to expand its advanced manufacturing capabilities and include more industrial sectors, the local media reported. 

“We have already started conversations with partners and the intention is to announce something before the end of the year,” Strata CEO Ismail Abdulla was quoted as saying.

The company is not interested in generic pharmaceutical products and is only looking to manufacture some drugs, treatments and vaccines.

“Strata is looking for partners that are hungry for growth, are willing to relocate and start new activities in this part of the world to serve the local market, the regional market and then the Russian market,” Abdulla added.

In March, Strata said it plans to focus on opportunities in a range of high-tech sectors such as biopharmaceuticals, digitalization, automation, artificial intelligence and advanced materials manufacturing as it seeks to diversify its business.