Italy to create the crypto art Renaissance: NFT market report

Research and Market’s latest NFT market report for Italy predicts a 47.6% growth in the country’s NFT market by the end of 2022.

Italy is one of the cultural hubs of Europe, with centuries of history, art and culture. Now, it is also posed to create the crypto art Renaissance via its nonfungible token (NFT) market, says a new report.

Data from Research and Market’s “Italy NFT Market Intelligence and Future Growth Dynamics Databook” says the country is projected to have a growth of 47.6% in its NFT market by the end of 2022.

This would make the Italian NFT market hover around a $671 million valuation.

Moreover, over the next five years, Italy’s NFT industry is forecasted to have a steady upward compound annual growth rate of 34.6%. The spending value for NFTs is anticipated to hit $3.6 billion by 2028.

According to the report, some of the country’s success with NFTs comes from its vibrant art and culture scene. Major Italian luxury fashion brands such as Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, have been some leaders in the adoption of Web3 technologies in the industry.

They not only represented an innovation for Italy but across the entire fashion industry. Over the last year, Dolce & Gabbana generated $25.6 million worth in revenue from their NFTs, and Gucci $11.5 million.

These brands also led initiatives to bring their communities into the metaverse through digital events and wearables, many of which incorporated NFTs.

Fashion brands aren’t the only forces pushing Italy into the NFT spotlight. The country’s rich cultural history has also seen some Web3-related activities.

An NFT project called the Monuverse, which is preserving historical sites via digital assets, used the Arco della Pace, or the Arc of Peace, in Milan, Italy, as its first subject.

Italian artists even have their own management organization to help Italian NFT artists, called “crypto renaissance,” which harks back to the country’s emergence as an art leader during the Renaissance period.

Related: What is an NFT whitelist, and how can you join one?

Meanwhile, the general atmosphere of the crypto industry in Italy is also picking up. Recently, the blockchain developer Algorand will use its technology to help support banks and insurance guarantee platforms in Italy. In November, Gemini received the green light to operate in Italy.

On Dec.1, however, Italy released its budget documents for the upcoming year which revealed a new 26% capital gains tax to be imposed on crypto profits in the upcoming year.

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North Korean hackers stealing NFTs using nearly 500 phishing domains

The hackers created decoy websites impersonating NFT marketplaces, NFT projects and even a DeFi platform.

Hackers linked to North Korea’s Lazarus Group are reportedly behind a massive phishing campaign targeting non-fungible token (NFT) investors — utilizing nearly 500 phishing domains to dupe victims.

Blockchain security firm SlowMist released a report on Dec. 24, revealing the tactics that North Korean Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups have used to part NFT investors from their NFTs, including decoy websites disguised as a variety of NFT-related platforms and projects.

Examples of these fake websites include a site pretending to be a project associated with the World Cup, as well as sites that impersonate well-known NFT marketplaces such as OpenSea, X2Y2 and Rarible.

SlowMist said one of the tactics used was having these decoy websites offer “malicious Mints,” which involves deceiving the victims into thinking they are minting a legitimate NFT by connecting their wallet to the website.

However, the NFT is actually fraudulent, and the victim’s wallet is left vulnerable to the hacker who now has access to it.

The report also revealed that many of the phishing websites operated under the same Internet Protocol (IP), with 372 NFT phishing websites under a single IP, and another 320 NFT phishing websites associated with another IP.

An example phishing website Source: SlowMist

SlowMist said the phishing campaign has been ongoing for several months, noting that the earliest registered domain name came about seven months ago.

Other phishing tactics used included recording visitor data and saving it to external sites as well as linking images to target projects.

After the hacker was about to obtain the visitor’s data, they would then proceed to run various attack scripts on the victim, which would allow the hacker access to the victim’s access records, authorizations, use of plug-in wallets, as well as sensitive data such as the victim’s approve record and sigData.

All this information then enables the hacker access to the victim’s wallet, exposing all their digital assets.

However, SlowMist emphasized that this is just the “tip of the iceberg,” as the analysis only looked at a small portion of the materials and extracted “some” of the phishing characteristics of the North Korean hackers.

For example, SlowMist highlighted that just one phishing address alone was able to gain 1,055 NFTs and profit 300 ETH, worth $367,000, through its phishing tactics.

It added that the same North Korean APT group was also responsible for the Naver phishing campaign that was previously documented by Prevailion on Mar. 15.

Related: Blockchain security firm warns of new MetaMask phishing campaign

North Korea has been at the center of various cryptocurrency theft crimes in 2022.

According to a news report published by South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) on Dec 22, North Korea stole $620 million worth of cryptocurrencies this year alone.

In October, Japan’s National Police Agency sent out a warning to the country’s crypto-asset businesses advising them to be cautious of the North Korean hacking group.

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NFT project blocks Chinese Twitter comments citing the need for ‘North American expansion’

NFT artist SHHAN previously told users to “switch to English” in the community chat, which went largely unfollowed.

According to a Twitter post dated Dec. 11, SHHAN, creator of the black cats nonfungible tokens (NFT) collection Mimic Shhans, explained to users why he was blocking posts on community social pages written in the Chinese language. The move came after users condemned the new measures as discriminatory. According to SHHAN, who is based in South Korea, but created a Chinese post to specifically address the issue: 

“It is because I previously announced on Twitter and Discord that my team is trying to enter the North American market. Therefore, I recommended everyone to use English when responding to Twitter posts. Why do this? Because when I spoke with North American holders [of our NFTs], they told us comments on the Mimic Twitter page are almost exclusively in Chinese, so it was very hard for them to feel the culture of the Mimic community.”

SHHAN elaborated that he previously posted in the community Discord recommending users speak English but that “the vast majority of people did not appear to follow it.” The artist then reiterated that he saw the European and North American consumer markets as vital for the upcoming Shhan Metaverse dubbed “Shhanverse” and wished users “turned to the more internationalized English language to talk about the project.”

Launched in October, Mimic Shhans features “playful black cat” NFTs dressed in various costumes and is minted on the Ethereum blockchain. SHHAN revealed that the collection is very popular in China, with the vast majority of NFT holders based in the country. The project currently has 2,001 holders on OpenSea with 285 Ether (ETH) in volume traded since inception.

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Helping mainstream artists into Web3: The triumphs and struggles

As the music industry continues to push into the Web3 space getting artists both mainstream and up-and-coming has its hurdles but also major rewards.

Musicians and executives alike have seen the power of Web3 tools such as nonfungible tokens (NFTs) to transform audiences into active communities with fewer barriers between artists and fans.

Recently, the crypto-savvy Snoop Dogg partnered with country music stars Billy Ray Cyrus and the Avila Brothers to create an NFT experience that crossed genres and created new communities in the process. While Snoop may be a veteran in the space, many musicians find the Web3 world a whole new frontier.

Cointelegraph spoke with Bernard Alexander, the head of IP at the company Animal Concerts, which facilitated the aforementioned NFT collection, to better understand what it takes to bring artists into Web3.

Alexander affirmed that onboarding someone like Snoop is very different from “artists who don’t typically keep up with the Web3 ecosystem.” It also can depend on the size of the artist.

He said It is likely easier to set up smaller artists just getting started who are eager for new opportunities. Whereas bigger artists can sometimes be more laden with partnerships already yet they often have greater influence across mainstream culture:

“All artists, regardless of their size, have something to gain from dipping their toes in the world of Web3.”

Nonetheless bringing the Web3-native community together with mainstream culture is not an easy task, especially when one is an established institution and the other is in a constant state of development. 

Related: Music NFTs a powerful tool to transform an audience into a community

As f the general adoption of Web3 outside of the music industry, Alexander said education and an accurate understanding of the space are both instrumental and a significant challenge:

“People can naturally be hesitant to jump into such a nascent, rapidly evolving space.”

He said that when onboarding new artists, it’s important people and companies within the space provide “a safe, secure space where they can effectively learn about this technology and work with industry experts to make sure they are leveraging it in all the right ways.”

When artists are introduced to this new, powerful technology they’re often excited by the possibility of new ways to create and connect with their existing communities. Alexander gave the example of concert experiences:

“For artists who have been putting on the same concerts for years, this possibility to push the limits of tech and music is a huge attraction.”

Additionally, he highlighted the difference in partnerships in a Web3-centered industry as more appealing to artists. “They’re more transparent, more fair, and more democratic,” he says.

This new Web3-inspired way of connecting and creating is being considered by artists and major labels alike. Recently, music industry giant Warner Music Group entered into a partnership with the NFT marketplace OpenSea to create new possibilities for artists.

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Wealthy crypto believer and incoming UK PM Rishi Sunak once commissioned a royal NFT

The new leader of the world’s sixth-largest economy is the former chancellor of the exchequer and is said to be richer than King Charles. He is also a firm crypto supporter.

Rishi Sunak is set to become prime minister of the United Kingdom within days. Sunak was defeated for the top government post by Liz Truss on Sept. 5, but she resigned after 45 days in office. Indications so far are that his selection for the office is good news for the crypto industry.

Sunak was chancellor of the exchequer, or head of the treasury, from early 2020 to July 5, when he resigned during a scandal that shook Boris Johnson’s government. During that time, Sunak repeatedly voiced his support for crypto. Speaking in April about proposed regulatory reform related to stablecoins, Sunak said:

“It’s my ambition to make the U.K. a global hub for crypto-asset technology, and the measures we’ve outlined […] will help to ensure firms can invest, innovate and scale up in this country. This is part of our plan to ensure the U.K. financial services industry is always at the forefront of technology and innovation.”

Sunak has also spoken positively of central bank digital currency. In April, he commissioned the Royal Mint to issue a nonfungible token (NFT) by the end of the year “as an emblem of the forward-looking approach the UK is determined to take.”

Related: UK hits double-digit inflation for the first time in 40 years

He also oversaw the drafting of the Financial Services and Markets Bill, which is now making its way through Parliament and promises to provide a regulatory framework for stablecoins and crypto assets.

Sunak has made history for several reasons. At 42, he is the youngest prime minister in modern U.K. history. David Cameron and Tony Blair were 43 when they assumed office. Sunak and his wife have a combined fortune worth 730 million pounds ($824 million), making him the richest British prime minister to take office.

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