TAC & Polygon Team Up to Bring EVM Functionality to TON Ecosystem

The integration will expand the range of applications available to the TON Network’s users, including decentralized finance (DeFi), gaming, and identity solutions.

The TON Application Chain (TAC) and Polygon Labs teamed up to integrate Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) functionality into the TON ecosystem to improve the network's capacity to support decentralized applications (DApps) in DeFi, gaming, and identity solutions. Standard Chartered’s Zodia Markets is in talks to acquire Elwood Capital Management, while DeFi Technologies is set to acquire Stillman Digital. Meanwhile,Bitcoin miner Hut 8 is expanding its operations after announcing its purchase agreement for 205 megawatts of power and land in West Texas.

TON Network Upgraded with EVM Compatibility 

The TON Application Chain (TAC) and Polygon Labs teamed up and will integrate Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) functionality into the TON ecosystem. The July 9 announcement explained the TON L2 integrated Polygon CDK and the interoperability protocol Agglayer to bring EVM-compatible decentralized applications (DApps) to TAC.

This integration will expand the range of applications that are available to the TON network's users, including decentralized finance (DeFi), gaming, and identity solutions. TAC CEO Pavel Altukhov stated that EVM compatibility removes barriers to using the TON Network, and is anticipating a lot of interest in DeFi and GameFi applications as a result.

Currently, EVM applications are not available on the TON network, which requires users to navigate complicated user experiences. However, the recent integration of USDT on TON and the rise of Tap-to-Earn applications, like Notcoin, have driven growth in the mini apps ecosystem. In fact, Telegram boasts 5.8 million monthly active on-chain wallets. The EVM-compatible integration will now allow Ethereum developers to access a large user base on Telegram,

According to a July 5 post by Messari, the number of daily active addresses on the TON network surpassed Ethereum in June. 

Despite the success and increased trading activity on the TON ecosystem, there has been a rise in phishing attacks on the blockchain. On June 24, SlowMist founder Yu Xian warned that the Telegram ecosystem's openness has led to phishing links being spread through message groups, airdrops, and other deceptive methods. Phishing risks are much higher for users with anonymous numbers, as these accounts are not linked to SIM cards and can be lost if phished by bad actors. 

Standard Chartered’s Zodia to Acquire Elwood Capital

TAC and Polygon’s latest announcement is not the only strategic move happening in the crypto space. Zodia Markets, the crypto subsidiary of British multinational bank Standard Chartered, is reportedly in talks to buy Elwood Capital Management, a crypto firm backed by billionaire hedge fund manager Alan Howard. 

The deal involves Elwood Capital's over-the-counter crypto trading and settlement services, and is expected to close by the end of the month. This acquisition would provide Zodia Markets with licenses as a virtual asset provider and investment business in Jersey, suggesting that Zodia is shifting some of its focus on OTC settlement services.

Zodia Markets was launched in 2021, and is a crypto exchange formed as a joint venture between Standard Chartered's venture capital subsidiary and Hong Kong's BC Technology Group. The exchange had to shut down its services earlier this year because of low demand for crypto products, according to CEO Usman Ahmad. 

Alan Howard, the hedge fund manager behind Brevan Howard Asset Management, started selling several of his private holdings in crypto companies in February to reinvest the proceeds into Brevan Howard Digital, the crypto arm of his hedge fund.

These latest acquisition plans are not an anomaly as Standard Chartered has been actively expanding its presence in the crypto industry. On June 21, it was reported that the bank might launch its own trading desk for Bitcoin and Ethereum. This would make it one of the first global banking institutions to engage in the spot trading of cryptocurrencies.

DeFi Technologies to Buy Stillman Digital

On July 9, DeFi Technologies agreed to buy trading desk Stillman Digital in an all-stock deal valued at approximately $3.1 million. Analysts now believe this acquisition will transform the Canadian crypto platform into a "smaller version of Galaxy Digital."

DeFi Technologies CEO Olivier Roussy Newton described the buyout as a strategic step that expands the company's trading capabilities and diversifies its client base and revenue streams. Although the deal has been agreed upon, it is not completed yet.

Mark Palmer, an equity research analyst at The Benchmark Company, speculated that the combined DeFi platform would include crypto asset management, execution trading, and proprietary trading, very similar to Galaxy Digital's offerings. He also believes in the importance of scale when it comes to crypto platforms navigating industry momentum swings and increasing competition.

Through its investment management subsidiary Valor, DeFi Technologies operates one of the largest Solana exchange-traded products (ETPs), Valor Solana, in the European Union, along with other altcoin ETPs. The company manages about $600 million in assets and is among a few asset managers that are permitted to incorporate staking into its publicly listed funds. 

Valor’s staking investment products include Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Internet Computer (ICP). DeFi Technologies also launched a new business line focused on market-neutral crypto trading strategies earlier this year.

Curtis Schlaufman, DeFi Technologies’ vice president of marketing and communications, stated that acquiring Stillman will improve the company's trading capabilities and provide upside during bear markets because of Stillman’s lucrative crypto onramping business line.

Since its inception, Stillman facilitated more than $15 billion in trading volume, with around $4 billion happening in the first quarter of 2024.

According to M&A advisory Architect Partners, mergers and acquisitions in the crypto space have increased in 2024, mostly driven by consolidation among brokerages, exchanges, and other financial infrastructure providers.

Hut 8 Expands Texas Mining Capacity

Meanwhile, Bitcoin miner Hut 8 has secured a deal to expand its operational mining power in Texas. On July 9, the company announced a purchase agreement for 205 megawatts of power and land in West Texas, which will increase Hut 8’s energy infrastructure platform to approximately 1.3 gigawatts of capacity. 

The site is adjacent to a wind farm and connected to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), giving Hut 8 access to some of the lowest locational wholesale power pricing in North America. This is the first time a large data center load has been approved under the complex regulatory framework in this market, according to Hut 8’s CEO, Asher Genoot.

In December of 2023, Hut 8 merged with US Bitcoin Corp in a deal valued at $725 million, and since then, the company has been expanding its presence in the United States. In February, Hut 8 started constructing a new 63-megawatt mining facility in Culberson County, which is expected to deliver 30% lower mining costs compared to its other U.S. sites.

Bitcoin miners have been diversifying revenue streams and increasing their hashrate after the recent halving in April. CleanSpark recently announced a $25.8 million deal to buy five mining facilities in Georgia, and is expected to exceed 3.7 exahashes per second (EH/s) in processing power. 

Public Bitcoin mining companies also secured $2 billion in equity financing ahead of the revenue cut, with Marathon Digital, CleanSpark, and Riot Platforms leading the fundraising. They ended up holding over $1.33 billion in cash and very large Bitcoin reserves by the end of March.

According to CryptoQuant data, miners' daily revenues have declined by 63% since the halving. Bitcoin is currently trading at $59,219, up 3.6% over the last 24 hours.