Popular Web3 wallet MetaMask continues to grow rapidly. It is primarily used by consumers to navigate Web3, but unlike its competitors Coinbase Wallet and MyEtherWallet, the service has also offered an institutional version to help businesses and professional investors do the same. Crypto software giant ConsenSys announced on Tuesday that its popular wallet MetaMask, which people use to store Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies with Web3 applications, now has over 30 million monthly active users. That figure reflects a 42% increase in the last four months, when MetaMask reported 21 million users, and comes as it is positioning itself to be a key player in the emerging Web3 economy. “Global user base relies on MetaMask to collect NFTs, join DAOs, and participate in DeFi protocols. The United States, the Philippines, Brazil, Germany, and Nigeria represent some of MetaMask’s most active markets” according to ConsenSys. On the same day the new user tally disclosed ConsenSys had raised a $450 million Series D round that values the company at over $7 billion.
As part of its plan to pursue its various goals, MetaMask soon will be launching a Decentralized Autonomous Organization or DAO — a popular crypto governance tool often described as an internet community with a bank account. ConsenSys CEO Joe Lubin did not provide further details about the DAO or a date for its launch, but did confirm that MetaMask is intending to launch a token. Rumors of a token have been swirling for months. At Ethereum Denver last month, MetaMask head of operations Jacobc.eth said the token launch will proceed cautiously and that it will “not [be] a cash grab.”
In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, cryptocurrency exchanges are still grappling with how to comply with U.S. sanctions and at the same time with their own idea of decentralization. Recently MetaMask, as well as another major player in the booming “decentralized” internet space digital art marketplace OpenSea, confirmed it is blocking and deleting accounts based in countries sanctioned by the U.S. MetaMask’s parent company, ConsenSys, wrote in a statement to CoinDesk that it observes U.S. sanctions on “Iran, North Korea, Cuba, Syria, and the Crimea, Donetsk, and Luhansk regions of Ukraine.” Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, said on Monday that while it would block the accounts of sanctioned Russians, it would not freeze all Russian accounts, as some Ukrainian politicians have asked it to do. Kraken, another crypto exchange, has also refused to arbitrarily freeze Russian accounts in retaliation for President Vladimir Putin invading Ukraine. Kraken CEO Jesse Powell said that “if we were going to voluntarily freeze financial accounts of residents of countries unjustly attacking and provoking violence around the world, step 1 would be to freeze all US accounts.”
The embargoes have revived debate among crypto enthusiasts over whether blockchain projects really are as decentralized and free from political pressure as proponents claim. As Western sanctions on Russia broaden to potentially target cryptocurrencies, people who use cryptocurrency exchanges and digital marketplaces may quickly realize that these platforms are run by companies — which exist in the real world and have legal responsibilities.