The Hustle

🏦 How to regulate crypto

The Hustle - Silicon Valley Tech News


September 9, 2021

Today marks the FDA’s deadline to rule on millions of applications for e-cigarette products, determining which ones are “appropriate for the protection of public health.” The fate of vaping hangs in the balance.

Today’s rundown:

  • Bank rules: Inside crypto’s banking battle.
  • Cell-based diet: The future of slaughter-free meat.
  • Holy sh*t: Smart toilets could save your life one day.

Let’s do it.

The big idea

As crypto moves into the world of banking, regulators are being forced into action

BlockFi is a platform that allows customers to deposit and withdraw assets, pays interest on holdings, and lends to both individuals and institutions.

If that sounds like a bank to you, you’d be spot on. With a key difference from traditional financial institutions…

… BlockFi deals exclusively with cryptocurrencies.

The firm is the poster child of crypto’s banking struggle

Since 2017, BlockFi has amassed $10B+ in assets, 450k+ retail clients, and 850 employees, according to a New York Times report.

The company has also been the subject of regulatory action in 5 states claiming it’s violating securities laws.

Notably, BlockFi falls on the tame side of the crypto banking spectrum:

  • Platforms like BlockFi and Kraken are modeled after traditional banks, but without FDIC protections
  • Then there’s the Wild West of decentralized finance (AKA DeFi), where products like Compound and Aave remove humans entirely, using algorithms to enact transactions

The rapid growth of DeFi has baffled regulators…

… which has put new rules in flux and left crypto founders uncertain about the legality of their products.

In a recent Twitter thread, Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong called out the SEC for sketchy behavior, citing its denial of a product that lets customers earn interest on their holdings — a core feature of BlockFi.

This uneven playing field is a product of how fast crypto is moving…

… and a big reason regulators are snapping into action. So far, multiple government agencies have gotten involved:

  • The Federal Reserve and others have initiated a “crypto sprint” to collaborate on cryptocurrency regulations
  • The SEC created a stand-alone office to focus specifically on crypto and digital assets

As money continues pouring into these products, the impact of regulator efforts could decide the fate of crypto’s unicorns, and your crypto wallet.

SNIPPETS

Beauty Pie, a members-only shop for discounted luxury beauty products, scored $100m in funding to build new warehouses and pop-ups. #ecommerce-retail

Sunny news: A new report suggests solar energy could power 40% of the US’s electric supply by 2035 — if the nation invests in it. #clean-energy

Fantasy story: Chinese EV company Xpeng has plans for a robot unicorn kids can ride. #emerging-tech

Hacker Mart: The Genesis Market is where hackers go to buy and sell sensitive data, like login credentials and website vulnerabilities. #privacy

The MS Satoshi was a cruise ship bought to be a floating libertarian society where people only traded in crypto. It did not go as planned. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Moderator blues: Australia’s High Court ruled that news publishers are responsible for other peoples’ defamatory comments on their posts. #big-tech

Google Spaces are now live for all Workspace users with a bunch of integrated features. #big-tech

Now on MFM: Why D2C companies are awesome, a psychedelic story, and more. #mfm

Lab Meat

What do you call meat if it’s grown in a lab?

What do you call a hamburger when the cow it came from is still alive? That’s what the Department of Agriculture (USDA) would like to know.

Cell-based meat — AKA lab-grown, cultivated, or cultured meat — scored $360m+ in funding in 2020, per Food Dive.

And it is meat

… except it’s produced by taking cells from animals, then cultivating them in bioreactors to grow meat in ~2-8 weeks — no slaughter necessary.

Lab-grown chicken nuggets aren’t available in the US yet

But Singapore became the 1st country to approve cell-based meat last year, starting with nuggets from Eat Just, a California-based startup eyeing a $3B IPO.

Earlier this month, the USDA published an advance notice of proposed rulemaking asking for comments on how the department’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) should handle labeling regulations.

The USDA wants input on things like customer expectations and names that could be false or misleading.

And there are already differing opinions:

  • The US Cattlemen’s Association thinks only meat from slaughtered animals should be called beef or meat
  • Harvard Law School’s Animal Law and Policy Clinic is against banning common terms, arguing it could be unconstitutional

Commenters have until Nov. 2 to weigh in.

BTW: If you think cell-based beef is weird, a 2020 London art installation about growing steak from human cells was extremely controversial.

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*Peeks* The 15-page instructional guide is a great resource to bookmark.

We may deep-dive for you on the reg, but sometimes you gotta scuba yourself. They grow up so fast.

Research right →
Toilet Tech

Smart toilets, explained

In recent years, people have become very comfortable with persistent health monitoring.

Whether that’s an Apple Watch or a Whoop, having real-time stats on one’s vitals is big business.

This same consumer-focused health analysis is coming to a toilet near you, per The Wall Street Journal.

Patients regularly provide fecal and urine samples…

… to doctors as a way to monitor gut health or identify potential diseases.

One example: Stanford researchers souped up a toilet with cameras and used machine learning (ML) algorithms to study waste and urine (e.g., color, flow, volume).

To tell people apart, the toilet identifies individuals by their — we promise this is a real term — “anal print,” which are characteristics specific to their bottoms.

Stanford has partnered with Korean toilet maker Izen…

… and hopes to have a prototype ready for clinical trials by year-end.

Elsewhere:

  • Duke University’s Smart Toilet Lab has a toilet prototype that also uses camera/ML tech and extracts stool samples that can go to a lab.
  • Casana makes a toilet seat that can monitor blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen levels.
  • Medic.Life’s toilet gathers 20 health metrics (e.g., sugar, sodium levels) from a stool sample.

Per WSJ, Google even issued a smart toilet seat patent in 2015 to monitor cardiovascular health. That’s some wild sh*t.

TRENDS

Shroom startups, Elon Musk, and a $54B market…

The biohacking industry is poised for enormous growth.

High-profile projects like Elon Musk’s Neuralink are grabbing headlines, and analysts forecast the space to grow 4.5x to become a $54B+ industry by 2027.

With all of this interest and investment, there are nearly endless opportunities to get in early on the biohacking space.

So, our Trends team of analysts put together a comprehensive guide on the biohacking space that breaks down the most lucrative opportunities and niches that have been overlooked.

When you read through, you’ll learn:

  • How you can get in on the $350m in funding that is flowing into psychedelic startups, and how changing laws around psilocybin and microdosing could accelerate that investment
  • Step-by-step strategies for identifying and pouncing on opportunities within the nootropic space
  • How “wearable neurotech” devices are revolutionizing the way we interact with technology and raising big funding rounds doing it
  • And much more.

If you’re not already a member, try one week of Trends for just $1 to get access to the full report.

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AROUND THE WEB

😴 Chill out: A Soft Murmur lets you create your own white noise mixes, adding and adjusting rain, birds, singing bowls, and more.

🤯 Wow: This optical illusion works by drawing a colored grid over a black and white image. Just like that, your brain perceives the whole thing in color!

💰How to: If you don’t have a 401(k), there are other ways to save for retirement. CNBC explains.

🎸On this day: In 1956, Elvis Presley appeared for the 1st time on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” His set included “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Love Me Tender.”

🔨That’s interesting: 3 construction workers found a metal box hidden in the wall of a French mansion. Inside were 239 rare gold coins.

🐭Haha: And now, a little rat playing a little harmonica.

Tweet of the day

(Source: Twitter / @DougBoneparth)

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