Digital-asset markets are heating up, especially for blockchain tokens. In this week's issue, we highlight November's 19% jump in the CoinDesk Smart Contract Platforms Index (SMT), the biggest gain in 10 months. Hype is creeping back in too. Our Sam Kessler takes a look at the drama surrounding Blast, the latest entry to the growing competition among Ethereum layer-2 blockchain networks. We're also covering BanklessDAO's "education" proposal, Vitalik Buterin's verbosity, Wormhole's $225 million raise and Bitcoin "mempool sniping." This article is featured in the latest issue of The Protocol, our weekly newsletter exploring the tech behind crypto, one block at a time. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Wednesday. Network news BANKLESS BRAND-LASH: In crypto it's never too early to call a trend. And lately, based on a grand total of two data points, various research and educational outlets are trying to get millions of dollars from the layer-2 blockchain project Arbitrum's treasury. So far, they're face-planting. The latest effort came courtesy of BanklessDAO, which submitted a proposal to Arbitrum's affiliated DAO for about $1.8 million in ARB tokens to fund a year-long education initiative, according to a CoinDesk report this week. The cost of the proposal sparked criticism on social media, but also led to aspersions against Bankless HQ, a crypto media outlet whose co-founders started the DAO though now claim to be "hands off." Damage control ensued. The episode bears an uncanny resemblance to The Protocol's account just a couple weeks ago of a separate attempt led by the research arm of crypto media firm Blockworks to get more than $2 million in ARB. That proposed expense was compared with the fees that might be paid to "Harvard lawyers." It was later shot down by Arbitrum community voters. As to the BanklessDAO fracas, Bankless HQ's leaders are now seeking to "clarify branding separation." The prolific Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin penned a dissertation about his "warm but nuanced" feelings about "techno-optimism." The Defiant's Cami Russo summarized Buterin's philosophy as advocating for a "deliberate and balanced path in technological development." CoinDesk's Daniel Kuhn noted that the essay was "extremely aphoristic, and only slightly repetitive." Here's a sample of the 10,000-plus-word piece: "There are certain types of technology that much more reliably make the world better than other types of technology…. The world over-indexes on some directions of tech development, and under-indexes on others." Sold-out mint of "OrdiBots" augmented-reality Ordinals collection on Magic Eden touches off discussion of Bitcoin "mempool sniping," and whether the "front-running" technique might soon become a matter of a "few clicks" on a website. Avalanche's Emin Gün Sirer teases "sneak peak" of AvalancheGo performance optimizations, including "optimistic probabilistic sampling" and "Warp Messaging." ALSO: Crypto mixer "Sinbad" sanctioned by U.S. Treasury, based on allegations it supported transactions tied to the North Korean state-sponsored hacking group Lazarus Group; FBI and Finnish police seize website. KyberSwap offers 10% bounty to attacker who made off with $50M; according to Messari, some $20 million were stolen from the project's Arbitrum deployment, $15 million from Optimism and $7 million from Ethereum. U.S. treatment of CZ, Binance is "absurd," when compared with the handling of how prosecutors have handled cases of similar magnitude against Wall Street firms, writes former BitMEX CEO Arthur Hayes, himself no stranger to such matters. CoinDesk's Nikhilesh De adds his two cents here on "Binance's Future and Other Questions Post-Settlement." Bitcoin's anti-censorship ethos surfaces after mining pool F2Pool acknowledges "filter." Hamas, Hezbollah now prefer Tron to Bitcoin, Reuters reports. Protocol Village Highlighting blockchain tech upgrades and developments. 1. BNB Chain developers are looking to more than double the transaction speed and slash network fees by 90% as part of a new technical roadmap for layer-2 network opBNB, a representative shared with CoinDesk over email. 2. ARPA Network's random number generator (RNG), Randcast, has launched on Base, the layer-2 chain created by Coinbase, according to the team: "Following a recent integration with Optimism, Randcast is expanding its reach by adding new blockchains to reach a wider number of users and developers in an effort to create immersive online experiences." 3. Chainlink, the biggest blockchain oracle project, announced that the "v0.2" upgrade of its native staking mechanism is now live. According to a press release: "V0.2 features an expanded pool size of 45 million LINK in total, representing 8% of the current circulating supply, increasing the accessibility of Chainlink Staking to a more diverse audience of LINK token holders." 4. Pimlico, a ERC-4337 infrastructure provider, which recently closed a $4.2 million seed funding round led by a16z crypto, is integrating Safe accounts via the newly launched ERC-4337 module from Safe, the smart account infrastructure provider. 5. Movement Labs announced the launch of M2, "the first Move Virtual Machine L2 for Ethereum, scaled with Celestia as modular DA," according to the team. See the entire Protocol Village list from this past week here. Money Center Funraisings Blockchain Messaging Platform Wormhole Raises $225M at $2.5B Valuation Republic to List Profit-Sharing Digital Security Token on INX Next Week Digital Asset Platform Coinchange Raises $10M to Scale API Yield Service Deals and grants Santander Selects Crypto Custody Firm Taurus for Safeguarding: SourceSantander Selects Crypto Custody Firm Taurus for Safeguarding: Source KyberSwap Offers 10% Bounty to Attacker Who Made Off With $50M Dogecoin Funded SpaceX ‘Doge-1’ Moon Mission Gets a Step Closer to Launch Data and tokens Bitcoin Remains On Track for $100K by Year-End 2024: Standard Chartered Aave's GHO Stablecoin Nears Elusive Dollar Peg Terra's USTC Gains 300% as Bitcoin-Focused Comeback Plan, Binance Perpetuals Listing Fuel Speculative Frenzy Regulatory, Policy, and Legal Bitcoin Group Addressing 'Serious Deficits' in Money Laundering Measures Flagged by German Regulator Central Bank Project Shows CBDC Payments Can Be Private UK to Hit Crypto Users With Penalties for Unpaid Taxes CoinDesk Smart Contract Platform Index Gains Most Since January (Tracy Stephens/CoinDesk Indices) At least in the eyes of digital-asset traders, crypto winter appears to be over, and crypto spring in full bloom. Bitcoin (BTC) has climbed 11% in November, its third straight monthly gain, and native tokens from major blockchain projects are now pumping as well. The CoinDesk Smart Contract Platform Index (SMT) is up 19% on the month, the biggest jump since January. The leaders were Sei's SEI and Axelar's AXL, each doubling in price. Ethereum's ether (ETH) rose 13%, the most in seven months. All but one of the SMT's 47 members were in the green for the month; Qtum's QTUM was the laggard, losing 2.7%. Calendar Nov. 28: EOS native consensus upgrade with “instant finality.” Dec. 1-3: Africa Bitcoin Conference, Ghana. Jan. 30: Stellar upgrade for Soroban smart contracts, public network readiness date. Feb. 22-24: Bitcoin++, Buenos Aires. April 2024 (estimate): Next Bitcoin halving. April 8-12: Paris Blockchain Week. May 29-31, 2024: Consensus, Austin Texas July 25-27: Bitcoin 2024, Nashville.