This week in tech: China matches on, Ubisoft and Carnegie Mellon on board

The year has just started, but blockchain adoption is already in high gear. China kicked off the year with huge strides, both in blockchain and crypto adoption. This week saw the application of the first-ever blockchain-focused exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the country. The ETF application was filed by asset manager Penghua Fund, the China Securities Regulatory Commission revealed in a disclosure.

The proposed ETF will track the performance of a basket of publicly-listed stocks from companies that deal with blockchain technology. If approved, it will be China’s first blockchain ETF and could pave the way for more.

China also passed the Password Law this week which will serve as a foundation for the country’s digital currency rollout. The law establishes three types of passwords: core passwords, common passwords and commercial passwords. The first two will be heavily regulated and will be for retail use. This serves as a critical foundation for the legal protection of private keys, which will be crucial in the rollout and adoption of digital currencies in the country.

This week, it emerged that one of the largest video game companies in the world is exploring blockchain technology. Ubisoft partnered with blockchain-powered gaming platform Ultra and will become a block producer for the latter’s UOS blockchain. Ubisoft, which is the fourth-largest video games company globally, will also offer such services as verifying transactions on the UOS blockchain. Ultra will also be looking to explore the use of its non-fungible token with Ubisoft.

The Carnegie Mellon University will be establishing a research program on decentralized finance. This is after one of its alumnus and a contributor in stablecoin project MakerDAO contributed over $4 million for the program. The alumnus, Nikolai Mushegian, stated in a blog post that the money will go towards sponsoring Masters and PhD students in Web3 research and development.

Turkey’s Istanbul Clearing, Settlement and Custody Bank (Takasbank) debuted its blockchain-powered gold transfer system. The platform allows commercial banks to issue, transfer and repay digitized gold conveniently over the blockchain. The system is in full compliance with the existing regulations, with the physical gold stored in vaults owned by the Borsa Istanbul stock exchange.

It wasn’t all good news, however. It has emerged that leading ASIC mining rigs producer Bitmain will lay off 10% of its staff. The Beijing-based company is reported to be preparing for the BTC halving this year which could see its profits dwindle. The layoffs are expected to be completed before a general meeting that’s to be held on January 17.

Crypto miners in the Chinese province of Sichuan are also reportedly being pressured to scale down their mining due to electricity shortages. Local news reports claim that local authorities believe the miners must reduce their power usage during the dry season which is expected to run all the way to April.

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