A weekly digest of the news that matters.
Last week, the crypto market showcased a predominantly bullish trend, with Bitcoin and Ethereum making significant strides. Bitcoin successfully defended its position above $43,000, hinting at a potential uptrend continuation, while Ethereum remained stable above $2,300, displaying neutral to bullish momentum. The markets vibrancy was further highlighted by standout performances from altcoins like FLR and LINK, which saw impressive gains, contrasting sharply with the stumbles of MANTA and CFX. Despite the positive momentum, the market faced challenges, including JPMorgans warning about the risks posed by Tethers lack of regulatory compliance and transparency, and Moneros market turbulence following Binances delisting announcement. However, Bitcoins resilience was unmistakable as it soared past $48,000, nearing a $1 trillion market cap, buoyed by bullish sentiments and predictions of substantial price increases, defying institutional traders skepticism as highlighted by a JPMorgan survey.
Blackrocks Ishares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) quickly rose to prominence in the ETF market, reaching top five inflows for 2024 within 17 days of its launch, indicating strong investor interest in cryptocurrency. The fund has attracted $3.2 billion, outperforming nearly all other ETFs this year and joining other successful crypto funds like Fidelitys Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC) in the top inflows. Despite signs of a slowdown in investment pace across new spot bitcoin ETFs, both IBIT and FBTC maintain a consistent positive investment flow, highlighting the growing legitimacy of bitcoin in diversified portfolios.
Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell has indicated that the U.S. governments fiscal path is unsustainable due to debt increasing more rapidly than the economy, necessitating a return to sustainable fiscal policies. Powell also suggested that interest rate cuts would be considered once there is more confidence in sustained inflation reduction towards 2%. Furthermore, while discounting a repeat of the 2008 banking crisis, he acknowledged that some smaller banks might need to be shut down or merged to address upcoming challenges.
The Blockchain Basics Act, aimed at protecting cryptocurrency rights including ownership and mining, has been introduced in both the Tennessee State House and Senate by Rep. Kevin Vaughan and Sen. Bo Watson, with support from the Satoshi Action Fund. This bill seeks to prohibit state-level restrictions on cryptocurrency mining and usage, while also removing state capital gains tax for crypto transactions under $200. The Satoshi Action Fund is working on expanding similar legislation across 16 different state legislatures to further support bitcoin adoption in the U.S.
Blockchain monitoring has revealed a series of unusual bitcoin transactions involving a large sum of currency that had been inactive for years. Starting on January 31, 2024, 1,936 BTC, originally acquired in March 2016, were moved through multiple transactions followed by a further 639.85 BTC from February 2017 being transferred several days later, maintaining correspondent bitcoin cash (BCH) untouched. The pattern of the transactions suggests they may be from the same owner, moving funds from old-style addresses to new legacy addresses without consolidation and with a moderate level of privacy.
The Taproot Wizards Quantum Cats NFT sale amassed 268.3 bitcoin, totaling approximately $11.3 million, despite initial technical delays. The majority of the collectibles were purchased by whitelisted individuals before the sale was opened to the public, with over 2,680 of the 3,000 Quantum Cats minted by the end of the whitelist period. As interest in Ordinal inscriptions grows within the NFT space, the final value of the Quantum Cats NFTs on secondary markets remains uncertain, especially given that Bitcoin has become the second-largest platform for NFT sales.
Cleanspark has expanded its bitcoin mining operations with the $19.8 million acquisition of three fully operational sites in Mississippi and an additional facility in Georgia, which together are expected to contribute 3.2 exahash per second to their mining capabilities. The company aims to exceed 20 EH/s by early 2024, riding on recent expansions, new acquisitions, and an impending site activation in Sandersville. Following the expansion news and a deal to purchase 160,000 S21 Antminer-brand miners, Cleansparks shares enjoyed an uptick, although the stock has seen a decline over the past month.
Solana Mobiles Chapter 2 crypto smartphone has exceeded 60,000 preorders ahead of its scheduled 2025 launch, reflecting significant consumer interest. Priced at $450 for preorders, Chapter 2 aims to offer a more affordable crypto-phone option compared to its predecessor, the Saga, which initially retailed at $1,000. In tandem with the preorders, Solana Mobile is fostering community engagement through a leaderboard and rewards system that includes non-transferrable Element NFTs and ecosystem rewards for top referrers.
Over the first five weeks of 2024, Bitcoin transaction fees have stabilized with an average of $9.39, yet have not surpassed the December 2023 peak of $37.67 per transfer. The median BTC fee has averaged $4.02, offering a more accurate representation of typical costs than average fees which can be skewed by outliers; the highest and lowest median fees were $10.28 and $1.67, respectively. The Bitcoin network is experiencing congestion with a backlog of 221,799 pending transactions, and recent data shows average transaction fees ranging from $4.27 to $14.86 per transfer.
Beijing has introduced a new energy conservation policy focusing on several sectors, including the crackdown on cryptocurrency mining to reduce carbon emissions and pollution. The policy continues the national ban on crypto-related activities, aiming to reinforce monitoring and eliminate virtual currency mining within the city. Despite the nationwide ban on cryptocurrency mining since 2021, reports indicate that Chinese miners still contribute significantly to the global Bitcoin network hashrate.
ARK Invest CEO Cathie Wood asserts that investors are increasingly favoring bitcoin over gold, with this trend becoming more evident after the introduction of spot bitcoin ETFs. Wood highlights bitcoins attractiveness as a flight to safety asset, demonstrated by its value surge during a recent U.S. regional bank crisis. Despite market volatility, including a price drop after the launch of ARK 21shares Bitcoin ETF, Wood remains positive about bitcoin, citing the strong holding pattern among investors and ARKs continued investment in the crypto sector through Coinbase stock holdings.