Weekly News Digest for Jan 2–9. A weekly digest of the news that… | by | Jan, 2024 Trending Crypto News
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A weekly digest of the news that matters

In the past week, the cryptocurrency market experienced high volatility. Bitcoin began the week with subdued trading activity and mixed technical signals, showing limited movement around a market cap of $834 billion. Amidst rumors of ETF rejections and mixed technical indicators, the markets at first reacted negatively, with BTC sliding 6.7%. ETH and SOL mirrored this volatility, dropping over 8% and 6% respectively. However, the markets rebounded, with BTC surpassing $47,000 and outstripping Meta in market cap, indicating a bullish sentiment despite the earlier downturns. Amongst top-100 coins by marketcap, the biggest 7-day gains were made by AKT (+29%), OSMO (+19%) and STX (+18%).

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In December 2023, bitcoin miners achieved the highest monthly revenue of the year, reaching $1.51 billion, which included a record $324.83 million in onchain transaction fees. This revenue is 64.27% higher than the previous record set in May, highlighting significant growth in the mining sector. The increase is concurrent with an uptick in onchain transaction rates and a backlog of unconfirmed transactions, despite the surge in fees to as high as $40 per transfer.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin has updated the blockchain’s 2023 roadmap, highlighting advancements toward single slot finality to improve the speed and security of block finalizations in the PoS consensus. The roadmap showcases progress in the ‘Surge’ phase with rollup scaling and interoperability, a redesigned ‘Scourge’ phase addressing economic centralization, and the nearing completion of ‘Verge’ phase developments like Verkle trees. Despite these updates, the roadmap has faced criticism from some in the cryptocurrency community who argue that it lacks direct layer 1 scaling, which they consider essential for true decentralization and empowerment of blockchain use.

Coinbase has thoroughly prepared to serve as the custodian for BTC in anticipation of SEC approval for spot bitcoin ETFs, with applicants like Blackrock and Ark Invest naming the platform as their chosen custodian. With the SEC currently considering 13 spot bitcoin ETF proposals, the first decision expected by January 10, Coinbase has also taken legal action against the SEC’s rejection of its request for clear crypto regulation. Despite a setback caused by the SEC’s denial, Coinbase remains ready to manage increased trading volumes and liquidity demands that would come with ETF approvals.

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is expected to make a decision about the approval of spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs) sometime Tuesday or Wednesday. A wide range of major asset management firms, including Blackrock, Fidelity, and Ark Invest, have updated their filings in anticipation of receiving the green light for these ETFs, with the first decision deadline being January 10, focused on Ark Invest/21shares’ product. Different fee structures have been proposed by the firms, with Fidelity offering a notably low fee of 0.39%, while others like Valkyrie and Ark/21shares propose a fee of 0.80%.

Ray Youssef, CEO of Noones and a proponent of P2P Bitcoin trading, suggests that widespread adoption in the Global South could represent the first real threat to the U.S. Treasury system and that the future of Bitcoin lies in these emerging markets rather than ETFs or the West. Youssef disagrees with the notion of ETFs driving Bitcoin adoption in Africa and emphasizes the need for truly free commerce to enable prosperity in the Global South. He also highlights his commitment to Noones and decentralization to ensure financial freedom, especially through initiatives like CivKit, and criticizes the U.S. for its potential crackdown on P2P platforms while suggesting that the Global South’s youth will ultimately drive a shift toward a peer-to-peer world.

Trevor Traina, a serial entrepreneur and former U.S. Ambassador, predicts non-custodial mobile wallets will evolve into comprehensive tools surpassing hardware wallets in security and user-friendliness. Traina criticizes the SEC’s approach to cryptocurrency regulation, which has resulted in the majority of the top blockchain projects being based outside of the U.S., and advocates for a change in leadership to foster innovation within the country. Furthermore, Traina envisions non-custodial wallets becoming more accessible, with functionalities that cater to various user needs in the Web3 community, secured by state-of-the-art encryption and recovery methods without the need for traditional key phrases.

Vitalik Buterin has commended the economic direction Argentina is taking under President Javier Milei, despite criticism aimed at Milei’s rapid libertarian reforms. Brazilian banks, in collaboration with the Association of Brazilian Banks (ABBC), are testing a privacy solution by Microsoft for the central bank digital currency’s (CBDC) digital real. Additionally, Mi Primer Bitcoin has successfully graduated its second class of Cuban students in basic Bitcoin knowledge, as part of its educational expansion in Latin America.

On New Year’s Eve 2023, the Bitcoin network set a new record with 731,351 transactions in one day, surpassing the previous record established on Christmas Eve. This peak in activity was driven in part by Ordinal inscriptions, which accounted for nearly 43% of the total transactions. Despite the achievement, there was still a significant backlog of around 351,000 transactions awaiting confirmation as of January 1, 2024.

In the wake of surging interest in cryptocurrency as 2023 ended, The Motley Fool offered a bleak outlook for 2024, predicting a “buy the rumor, sell the news” scenario for the spot bitcoin ETF and foreseeing that the crypto market will not detach from traditional stock indices. In stark contrast, bitcoin enthusiasts predict a much more positive year, with valuations between $80,000 to $120,000 and significant growth in certain sectors like stablecoins. This division between pessimistic and optimistic forecasts underscores the unpredictability of the crypto market and sets the stage for a potentially transformative year ahead.

Vaneck’s director of digital assets strategy, Gabor Gurbacs, has stated that people generally overlook the long-term impact of U.S. spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs), which he believes could significantly follow the price trajectory of gold post-ETF introduction. He predicts that the approval of a spot bitcoin ETF will not only create trillions in bitcoin value, potentially even faster than gold’s market capitalization growth after 2004, but will also lead to greater legitimization and adoption of bitcoin in investment portfolios. Gurbacs also suggests that the ETF’s introduction will catalyze more investment from nation-states and sovereign wealth funds directly into bitcoin, thus mirroring the role of ETPs in gold’s adoption without having the full impact priced in yet.

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