How did 2023 start for Crypto?

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An Asia-Driven Bull Run on the Horizon

Many traders have been trying to determine what’s behind Bitcoin’s recent move up to around $25,000. One of the most prominent emerging narratives is that it’s being driven at least in part by optimism coming from Asia.

Earlier this week, the Hong Kong securities regulator proposed guidelines for virtual asset platforms.

Notably, in contrast to previous statements, they open the possibility of legal crypto trading for retail investors. On top of these rules, Bloomberg reports that Chinese officials have also been attending crypto-related events in Hong Kong, leading to positive interaction with the community.

While China’s crypto trading ban doesn’t show any signs of being lifted, many are now wondering if the country is giving its tacit approval to more open rules in Hong Kong as a way to stay connected to the industry without threatening its own currency.

Whether this theory is right or wrong is something we’ll have to wait and see, but regardless, it’s driving some much-needed, large-scale optimism.

The Global Crypto Roundup

  •  Blockchain infrastructure provider Ankr has announced a new partnership with technology giant Microsoft to offer enterprise node services to customers.
  • The United States is hunting for staking, Kraken was forced to close its staking service and pay a fine of $30 million. A few days later, Nexo also announced the end of its Earn Interest product for US user
  • New York regulators have ordered Paxos to stop issuing Binance’s BUSD stablecoin with almost immediate effect due to an investigation into a potential violation of investor protection laws.
  • While Bitcoin is still banned in China, the digital yuan (e-CNY) has recently been distributed millions of digital yuan to encourage its adoption.
  •  BNY Mellon’s head of digital assets and advanced solutions states that “the digital asset industry isn’t going anywhere”
  • Binance and Huobi freeze $1.4M in stolen funds

US Banking Giant BNY Mellon Says Digital Assets Here to Stay

New York, United States — Michael Demissie, head of digital assets and advanced solutions at BNY Mellon, stated that “the digital asset industry isn’t going anywhere”. This statement marks a significant shift in the bank’s stance on digital assets.

The bank, which is the oldest bank in the United States, has long been a traditional player in the financial industry. However, Demissie’s recent remarks shows that the bank is adapting to the changing financial landscape. Last October, BNY Mellon launched its own digital custody platform, offering selected clients the possibility to invest in Bitcoin and Ether.

Stablecoins and CBDCs

  • The head of the Bank for International Settlements threw cold water on the idea of stablecoins as money and said he anticipated the G20 to make a “strong statement’ about increasing regulatory scrutiny around them.
  • Paxos updated stakeholders, with their CEO saying in an email that they’re holding constructive discussions with the SEC but are still prepared to litigate that BUSD is not a security.
  • In CBDC land, the Bank of Russia announced that they could begin piloting the digital ruble for retail users in April.
  • “Not so fast,” says GOP Majority Whip Tom Emmer, who this week introduced the CBDC Anti-Surveillance State Act.”

Britcoin and the Latest in CBDCs

Alongside growing scrutiny of cryptocurrencies is a rising interest among governments of the world in central bank digital currencies (CBDCs).

The Indian government, which is no fan of decentralized crypto, launched two CBDC pilots late last year. Their retail CBDC pilot was initially started in four cities but has recently been extended to 15 cities.

The motivation behind a digital rupee seems to be not only trying to block out cryptos but positioning the Indian currency to compete with rival China.

In the United Kingdom, meanwhile, the UK Treasury and the Bank of England kicked off a public consultation period until June on a proposal to adopt a CBDC dubbed “Britcoin.”

They wrote that “the Bank of England and HM Treasury judge that it is likely a digital pound will be needed in the future.” Many have seized on the suggested limits capping citizen CBDC holdings between 10,000 and 20,000 pounds as an example of CBDC’s fundamentally changing the nature of money as a freely exchangeable good.

Between digital yuans, digital euros, and now the potential of a Britcoin, the CBDC conversation is certainly heating up.

Lightning Network adoption is breaking records

While the cryptocurrency market has been on a downward trend for more than a year, in terms of usage, we are seeing the opposite trend. The number of bitcoins (BTC) locked up on the Lightning Network (the second-layer solution of the Bitcoin blockchain) has only grown since April 2021, and the end of the bull run has not stopped its growth. Almost 5,400 bitcoins (BTC) are now deposited in this solution

The NFT market is on the rise again

After a very complicated year in 2022 for the NFT sector in terms of volume, the beginning of 2023 is rather encouraging. Since the end of last year, sales volumes have been on the rise again with, as a bonus, some spectacular sales on the most popular collections.

Mainstreaming and NFTs

Hey, hey, here’s a category we haven’t been able to use lately! The extremely popular US TV singing competition “The Masked Singer” has launched an NFT-laden digital fan experience.

Fox partnered with several firms to build what they’re calling “The Maskverse” featuring token-gated content, NFTs that come with access to multimedia content, and more.

Fox is also still on track to launch an NFT-driven TV series involving the creator of “Rick and Morty” later this year. An even higher conviction about the long-term role NFTs have to play in mainstream entertainment.

We have shared recently an article on how to to Transition your Web2 brand to Web3

Bitcoin’s best days since Sept

A week that started out with some major regulatory intrigue and proceeded into a slightly hotter-than-expected inflation print in the U.S. wouldn’t necessarily be your pick for a major 10%+ daily move in the price of BTC, and yet, here we are.

Bitcoin absolutely ripped up on Wednesday, surging more than 11% to over $24,000 – its most significant daily percentage increase since last September.

The community had many different explanations for the move.

Some thought it was increased demand and excitement thanks to Ordinals. Some pegged the factors as more macro. Others pointed to a short squeeze with $60M in BTC short positions liquidated. Whatever it is, we’re not complaining but we’re stacking.

Other metrics like the BTC price movement contributions from different regions also put this as the best days since September.

Bitcoin Mining

Even by 2022 standards, Bitcoin miners have had a rough go of it. Depressed prices, combined with significant hashrate competition, combined with debt overhangs from leverage taken on during the bull market created an incredibly challenging environment. Some of the recent news:

  • Cloud mining BitFuFu delayed its SPAC IPO
  • Stronghold Digital restructured $55M in debt
  • Hut 8 merged with US Bitcoin Corp 
  • Kazakhstan’s President has signed crypto mining limit legislation into law
  • Core Scientific extinguishes $38.6M in debt to NYDIG
  • New Hampshire state report seeks to incorporate Bitcoin mining 


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