Weekly News Digest for Jan 30 Feb 05 | by Bitcoin.com | Feb, 2024

A weekly digest of the news that matters.

Last weeks cryptocurrency market showcased a complex interplay of bearish and bullish signals amidst significant anticipation and speculative forecasts. Bitcoin oscillated within a tight trading range, reflecting market volatility and investor caution, with technical analyses suggesting both bearish and bullish potentials amid Federal Reserve decisions and macroeconomic factors. Ethereums trading volume remained low, underscoring the prevailing selling pressure and caution among investors. Notably, veteran trader Peter Brandt and institutions like Standard Chartered projected optimistic future trends for Bitcoin, emphasizing patterns and regulatory developments that could propel prices upwards. Amidst this, the AI cryptocurrency sector witnessed a notable increase in market cap, driven by Bittensors rise, highlighting a growing interest in AI-driven blockchain projects. Predictions around Bitcoins price post-halving further fueled speculative optimism, with figures such as Scott Melker suggesting significant potential for price escalation. Ark Invest identified several catalysts expected to drive Bitcoins price in 2024, including the launch of spot ETFs and the halving event, suggesting a transformative year ahead for Bitcoin as it gains traction among institutional portfolios.

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Blackrocks IBIT and Fidelitys FBTC spot bitcoin ETFs are leading nine newly launched ETFs in BTC holdings with 52,025.76 BTC and 46,238.09 BTC, respectively. Ark Invests 21shares (ARKB), Bitwise ETF (BITB), and others follow, bringing the collective BTC possession of these ETFs to approximately 139,247.69 bitcoins, valued at nearly $6 billion. Despite the substantial accumulation by these new ETFs, they hold just 27.69% of the bitcoin reserves compared to Grayscales GBTC, which has 502,712.60 BTC, worth $21.10 billion.

El Salvador has reiterated its stance to keep Bitcoin as legal tender, despite the IMFs persistent recommendations to retract the cryptocurrencys legal status due to associated financial stability risks and liabilities. Vice President Flix Ulloa confirmed the governments unwavering decision and mentioned future plans like launching bitcoin-backed bonds and constructing Bitcoin City. The IMF has consistently expressed its concerns over El Salvadors adoption of Bitcoin since November 2021, highlighting possible implications for financial integrity, consumer protection, and the countrys financial system.

U.S. presidential candidates Donald Trump and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. have pledged to prevent the establishment of a U.S. central bank digital currency (CBDC) if they win the presidency, citing concerns over government overreach and the surveillance of private financial transactions. Trump has vowed to protect Americans from government tyranny by opposing a CBDCs ability to give the federal government absolute control over your money. RFK Jr. has similarly cautioned that a CBDC would enable the government to monitor all private financial affairs and restrict financial freedoms, promising to support Bitcoin and end the current administrations war on it.

Robert Kiyosaki, the author of Rich Dad Poor Dad, is cautioning that the stock and bond markets are on the verge of a crash, doubting the strength of the economy despite rising market levels. He has previously expressed mistrust in U.S. institutions and warned of an economic depression and potential conflict, alongside advocating for investment in bitcoin as a hedge. Kiyosaki continues to voice concerns over the U.S. governments increasing debt and suggests that investors should consider bitcoin before the upcoming halving, predicting it will reach $150K.

Argentine President Javier Milei has reiterated the imminence of the dollarization of Argentinas economy, mentioning the acquisition of $5 billion to support this initiative and signaling his administrations ongoing reforms to reduce the states influence. Bitfarms, a cryptocurrency mining company, is expanding in Paraguay with a new sustainable 100MW mining site, leveraging the regions abundant renewable energy resources. Lastly, El Salvador has authorized the issuance of ESOY, the countrys first private tokenized asset backed by soybeans, following the precedent set by the Volcano Bond issued in December 2023.

The Coinover study found that 17% of the over 16,000 participants own cryptocurrencies, with Bitcoin being the most popular, and 30% plan to invest in the next year, demonstrating a significant cryptocurrency curiosity. Despite positive attitudes from some, 50% reported satisfaction with their financial earnings from crypto, 20% expressed dissatisfaction, and concerns about trust in exchanges and crypto as a technology remain prominent. The study highlights the need for the crypto industry to address consumer concerns and improve its reputation for security and reliability to foster consumer confidence.

Kaspersky, the Russian cybersecurity firm, has warned about new malware targeting Mac users cryptocurrency wallets, especially through counterfeit applications affecting bitcoin wallets like Exodus. The malware exploits pirated software, providing a fraudulent patch that allows it to gain administrative rights and replace legitimate wallet applications with compromised ones to steal crypto assets. While not unique in targeting crypto wallets, this malware distinguishes itself by utilizing DNS records for malicious script delivery and directly substituting wallet applications with infected versions.

Hong Kong is set to enhance its regulation of over-the-counter (OTC) cryptocurrency trading amid concerns over risks associated with virtual assets and an increase in mainland Chinese investors using the city to access crypto markets. The Under Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury, Joseph Chan Ho-lim, announced the governments intention to improve the transparency and oversight of crypto investments. The move contrasts with Chinas 2021 crypto trading ban and comes as Hong Kong remains relatively open to cryptocurrencies, recently outlining rules for Bitcoin ETFs.

The comprehensive report from the PWN DAO Foundation highlights a 33% decrease in onchain fees within major blockchain networks and dapps over the past year, although layer two (L2) solutions saw a 411% increase, suggesting a shift in user preferences. L1 blockchains continue to lead in fee generation with a 59% share, despite a fee decline in Ethereum due to the migration to L2 networks, while Bitcoin fees grew by 461%, largely due to the popularity of Ordinal inscriptions. Despite the overall fee reduction, the report points out a 93% increase in fees from liquid staking derivatives and the stable trading volume on decentralized exchanges, indicating evolving economic models and user engagement in the cryptocurrency landscape.

James Jimmy Zhong, a computer science graduate, committed the largest bitcoin heist in history by exploiting a vulnerability on Silk Road and stealing over 50,000 bitcoins valued around $3.4 billion. Despite living a life of luxury and previous legal issues, Zhong evaded capture for nearly a decade until he reported a burglary at his home in 2019 and made a small bitcoin transfer to a KYC-compliant exchange, triggering an IRS investigation. After a search revealed the majority of the stolen bitcoins, Zhong was arrested, pleaded guilty to wire fraud, and was sentenced to 366 days in prison, his crime deemed victimless as the funds were taken from a criminal enterprise.