​Tech 5: Crypto Investors Eye Solana ETF Filings, Amazon Developing AI Chatbot

In the tech space this week, two financial institutions applied to offer exchange-traded funds (ETFs) tied to the spot price of Solana, challenging a former ruling by the US Securities and Exchange Committee (SEC).

Meanwhile, Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) pushed back the expected launch date of its satellite internet service, and Micron’s (NASDAQ:MU) earnings report wasn’t enough to meet investors’ sky-high expectations.

1. VanEck, 21Shares file to offer Solana ETFs

VanEck filed an S-1 form with the SEC to issue a Solana ETF on Thursday (June 27).

The news was shared by Matthew Sigel, head of digital assets research at VanEck, in a post on X, formerly known as Twitter, and led to a 6.5 percent boost in the token’s value in one hour.

The next day, 21Shares filed an S-1 form to issue its own Solana ETF.

Solana is a blockchain platform designed to host decentralized and scalable applications, including non-fungible tokens and decentralized physical infrastructure (DePINs). DePINs is a relatively new concept that aims to decentralize ownership of physical infrastructure such as electricity grids.

Solana uses a consensus mechanism called “proof-of-history,” where timestamps define the next block on its chain. Users report lower fees and faster transaction processing speeds than Ethereum, which has comparable functionality and features. Solana’s token, SOL, is used to pay transaction fees and for staking.

Spot ETFs allow investors to gain exposure to the underlying asset — in this case, Solana’s native token SOL — without directly purchasing and storing it themselves. The Solana ETF filings follow similar proposals for spot Bitcoin and Ether ETFs, indicating continued recognition of certain cryptocurrencies as legitimate financial assets.

Following the SEC’s approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs in January, the regulatory landscape for cryptocurrencies appears to be shifting. Eight Ether-backed spot ETFs are slated to begin trading as soon as next week.

In VanEck’s filing, Sigel lists SOL as a commodity on the grounds that it functions similarly to Bitcoin and Ether; however, in the SEC’s 2023 lawsuit against cryptocurrency exchange platform Binance, the SEC listed SOL as a security given that there is an expectation of profits derived from the efforts of others. Defining cryptocurrencies has been an ongoing topic of contention between regulators and crypto market stakeholders.

2. Amazon developing AI chatbot

According to multiple news outlets, Amazon is working on its own artificial intelligence (AI) chatbot to compete with OpenAI’s ChatGPT. The story was originally reported by Business Insider on Monday (June 24); the article notes that the service, codenamed Metis, could be revealed by the company later this year.

According to sources for Business Insider, the chatbot will be accessed via a web browser, and will use some of the same infrastructure that powers a new version of Amazon’s voice assistant, Alexa.

The Alexa upgrade, which was reported in May, will include generative AI technology and a two-tiered system. Sources have said the company is considering charging a subscription fee of between US$5 and US$10 for the higher-performance tier, a fee that would be independent of a Prime subscription.

3. Amazon delays Project Kuiper satellite launch

During an event to unveil its new satellite manufacturing facility in Washington, US, Amazon announced that it has delayed the launch of its first Project Kuiper internet satellites to the fourth quarter.

The company previously anticipated that testing would begin during the first half of 2024.

Project Kuiper is Amazon’s version of SpaceX’s Starlink, which is comprised of nearly 6,000 satellites in a low-Earth orbit. Starlink was the first to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband internet access to remote locations around the world from space. Project Kuiper aims to ship over 3,000 satellites from its new factory to its processing facilities at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Guiana Space Center in French Guiana.

Amazon’s license to deploy and operate satellites, issued by the Federal Communications Commission, requires that at least half of its satellite constellation be launched by July 2026. The first two prototypes were launched in October 2023.

“We expect to ship our first completed production satellites this summer, and we’re targeting our first full-scale Kuiper mission for Q4 aboard an Atlas V rocket from ULA,” the company said in a Thursday blog post.

“We will continue to increase our rates of satellite production and deployment heading into 2025, and we remain on track to begin offering service to customers next year.”

4. US may allow federal tax payments using Bitcoin

Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) has introduced a bill that would allow taxpayers to pay federal taxes in Bitcoin. Gaetz made the announcement via X on June 25 (Tuesday).

“By enabling taxpayers to use Bitcoin for federal tax payments, we can promote innovation, increase efficiency, and offer more flexibility to American citizens,” he wrote. “This is a bold step toward a future where digital currencies play a vital role in our financial system, ensuring that the U.S. remains at the forefront of technological advancement.”

The bill would modify the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 and would require the treasury secretary, currently Janet Yellen, to develop a system that would accept Bitcoin as a legitimate form of payment for federal taxes.

Yellen has expressed caution and skepticism about cryptocurrencies. Meanwhile, Donald Trump, the Republican party’s presidential nominee, has made the adoption of digital assets a central part of his campaign in recent weeks and has begun accepting donations in crypto.

5. Micron shares sink after earnings report

Shares of Micron had dipped by 7.34 percent as of market close on Thursday. The decline came after the chipmaker reported results for its third fiscal quarter just after market close on Wednesday (June 26).

The company’s revenue reached US$6.81 billion, compared to the previous quarter’s US$5.82 billion. Year-over-year, its revenue was up approximately 82 percent from US$3.75 billion.

The numbers exceeded analysts’ projected revenue of US$6.67 billion.

Earnings per diluted share came in at at US$0.62, higher than the anticipated US$0.53. Micron’s board of directors declared a quarterly dividend of US$0.115 per share, payable in cash on July 23.

Micron’s share price fall is being attributed to its guidance. Looking ahead, it’s projecting revenue of US$7.6 billion for its fourth fiscal quarter, with diluted earnings per share of approximately US$0.61.

Company shares closed at US$131.53 on Friday.

Securities Disclosure: I, Meagen Seatter, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.

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