Led by Litecoin, major cryptocurrencies surged in a news-worthy rally last Friday that added $10B in market cap to the total cryptocurrency market. The QuadrigaCX saga continues to inspire conspiracy theorists, and an interview leaked in which a SEC commissioner claims crypto ETFs will eventually become a reality.
Here’s what you need to know about last week’s headlines:
This was an extremely eventful and uplifting week for the crypto markets, which reshuffled the top ten coins market cap board and ended in a dizzing rally led by Litecoin (LTC) on Friday 8th – by far the most significant gains for the crypto markets this year.
Bitcoin (BTC) hovered between $3,480 and $3,450 from Monday 4th to Tuesday 5th. A sudden dump hit on the 6th, depreciating BTC by 1.4%. Bitcoin had been following a falling wedge pattern which is usually an indicator of bullish action. Sure enough, right after the price of BTC bottomed at $3,391 on the 7th, the coin gained 7.4% in under 24 hours, peaking at $3,645 on February 8th at 17:00 UTC – though this may have been a reaction to the optimistic words of SEC commissioner Jackson, who expects a Bitcoin ETF to pass SEC requirements not too far in the future (details in a section below). At press time, Bitcoin is valued at $3,648 for a 7.33% gain on the day and a 5% gain on the week. Some analysts believe Bitcoin may test the major resistance level of $4,000 in the coming days, but it is too soon to tell.
Ethereum (ETH) began the week at $107 and remained stable Sunday through Tuesday. In a dump that preceded Bitcoin’s, the price of Ethereum lost 3.8% on February 5th. The altcoin recovered and was trading at $105 again on the 6th, $107 on the 7th and $108 on Friday 8th at 9:00 UTC. Ethereum was a huge winner in the Friday rally: by 17:00 UTC, it had peaked at $119.8, a 10.9% gain in just 8 hours. At press time, the price of Ethereum is $118.7, a 13.8% gain on the day and a 9.9% gain for the week.
Ripple (XRP) peaked at $0.304 on Monday 4th and bottomed at $0.290 on Wednesday 6th (a 1.6% loss). Sticking between $0.290 and $0.294 until the 7th, Ripple climbed all the way from $0.290 to $0.315 on the 8th, a, 8.6% pump. At press time, the price of Ripple is $0.308 for a 6.56% gain on the day and just a 0.6% gain on the week.
EOS’s 4th place was usurped by Litecoin this week. EOS traded between $2.38 and $2.42 Monday 4th through Tuesday 5th, when it dumped, losing 2.9%. The coin reached $2.34 on the 7th, before rallying to $2.74 on the 8th, a 17% surge. At press time, the price of EOS is at $2.79 for a 14% gain on the day and a 19.6% gain on the week.
TRON (TRX) keeps defending its 8th place in terms of market cap. Sun’s coin peaked on February 4th at $0.0286, falling to $0.0254 the next day (a 12.6% loss). It recovered to $0.0264 on the 6th and stayed stable until the Friday rally, which added a 3.4% (peaked at $0,0274). At press time the price of TRON is $0.0276 for a 5.5% gain on the day and a 4.4% gain on the week.
On Friday, February 8th, the crypto market added more than $10B in a matter of hours. The surprising rally was lead by Litecoin, which is most probably surging thanks to CEO Charlie Lee’s announcement that the team is exploring the idea of using MimbleWimble to implement anonymous transactions on the Litecoin network. MimbleWimble is a scalable, privacy-based blockchain protocol that verifies transactions without needing to store the entire history of the chain. Implementing MimbleWimble in Litecoin will not require a hardfork according to Lee. Analysts were actually agreeing days ago that Litecoin was looking bullish and might surge soon.
Just during February 8th, Litecoin (LTC) increased by 25% and became the 4th largest currency in the global cryptocurrency market, taking EOS’s place. At press time, the price of Litecoin is $44, which represents a 16% gain on the day and a 33% gain on the week.
The BitTorrent token (BTT) sale on Binance’s Launchpad platform last January 28th raked in over $7M, and pushed Binance Coin (BNB) into the top ten largest. From the BTT sale until the peak of the February 8th rally, the price of BNB gained 40%. This was a complete success for Binance and TRON, but not so much for the general public. People took to social media reporting they were unable to participate because of multiple errors, in addition to the fact that 28.44% of the tokens appeared as sold a mere 3 seconds after the commencement of the launch (you can see this here). One YouTube channel even put out a three part video series postulating what nearly amounts to a conspiracy theory (see parts 1, 2 and 3). Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao apologized for the glitches via Twitter, and TRON airdropped 5K BTT to users who failed to get their orders through (equivalent to around $4).
Today BitTorrent is also in the news for something else: it is partnering with CoinPayments crypto payments gateway, which will now offer BTT token support. Justin Sun, CEO of TRON, said the partnership with CoinPayments is a bid to “make BitTorrent (BTT) liquid in the online marketplace before [the token] is fully integrated into our desktop and mobile products.” BTT increased its value 6 times over with the Launchpad ICO but has since shed some of it.
The investment management firm AdvisorShares and the investments advisory company Sabretooth Advisors have partnered up, and announced on February 7th that they are launching an ETF focused on cloud and blockchain technologies on the NASDAQ exchange: the BKCH.
BKCH began trading that same day. To be clear, the BKCH ETF does not invest in cryptocurrencies, but rather, as their announcement reads, “BKCH invests in U.S.-listed equities and American depositary receipts (ADRs) of digital and cloud companies.“ The team believes that companies that use cloud computing and implement emerging tech like blockchain can realize increased profitability and appreciation in stock prices over time.
The plight of QuadrigaCX’s lost crypto funds continues. Users have been complaining for over a month that they cannot withdraw their funds, and suspicions of a scam were already in the air before it was announced this week that CEO Gerald Cotten reportedly died of complications from Crohn’s disease on December 9th in India; and that he had held “sole responsibility for handling the funds and coins,” and left behind an encrypted laptop with no evidence of the private passwords. This meant the exchange might have no way to access the $190M USD ($53M in fiat and $137M in crypto) that Cotten’s widow claimed it owed to 115K users. Last week, QuadrigaCX went offline for “maintenance.” A Nova Scotia Supreme Court judge has granted the exchange 30 days to recover the cryptocurrencies or find another way to reimburse customers.
It took until this week for Cotten’s death statement and a death certificate to become public, and users still speculate the CEO may not even be dead (notice that the death certificate misspelled his last name as “Cottan”). Another point of controversy lies in the fact that Cotten had claimed in 2015, that the exchange used multi-signature wallets – so, did Cotten single-handedly manage all of the signatures, or was this security precaution never really taken? QuadrigaCX had already faced legal trouble in November 2018, when a judge ruled in favor of a Canadian bank that had frozen $19.6M in the exchange’s accounts, because it was unable to determine the funds’ owners.
An interview has leaked to Twitter this week in which US SEC commissioner Robert J. Jackson Jr. claims that, eventually, a proposal for cryptocurrency-based funds will pass the minimum requirements and get accepted. “Getting the stamp of approval from the deepest and most liquid capital markets in the world is hard, and it should be," said Jackson, adding “Eventually, do I think someone will satisfy the standards that we’ve laid out there? I hope so, yes, and I think so.”
It has proven extremely difficult for cryptocurrency ETFs to pass the SEC’s bar; 10 proposals have been rejected so far. Bats BXZ Exchange’s proposal to list Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust shares was rejected last July over lack of surveillance. About the twins’ case, Jackson commented “There you had a situation where the risk for manipulation and for people getting hurt was enormous. The liquidity issues in the market were very serious.”
In the midst of their political crisis, Bitcoin trading volumes have skyrocketed in Venezuela, surpassing 2K BTC (or $6.8M) on the peer-to-peer exchange LocalBitcoins during last week. Sources report that many Venezuelans are actually trading from within neighboring countries. Colombia and Venezuela account for 85% of trading volumes in the exchange, with 8571 transactions in Venezuela and 1709 in Colombia during the first five weeks of 2019.
Charities have popped up in the past to provide humanitarian aid in Venezuela through cryptocurrencies, and some think this is a good use-case to prove their worth. Starting this week, however, Venezuela has issued a regulatory framework for crypto service providers, including exchange platforms and miners. According to an official government document, businesses working with crypto assets will now have to register with Sunacrip, the Venezuelan superintendency of crypto-related activities. Failure to register will mean a 100–300 petros penalty. Maduro’s government has also hinted it may limit the number of crypto exchanges that are allowed to operate in the country.
The island state Mauritius has announced it will begin issuing Crypto Custodian Licenses by March 2019 through the Financial Services Commission (FSC) in order to offer a regulated place for digital assets. Those obtaining a license will be held to similar standards of existing financial institutions following anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism funding laws.
In other international news, as a response to US sanctions and following the lead of Venezuela’s “Petro”, Iran has officially launched PayMon, a gold-backed cryptocurrency, as reported by the Financial Tribune. One billion PayMon will be released by Iran Fara Bourse, an OTC crypto exchange. The collaboration between blockchain company Kuknos as well as Bank Pasargad, Bank Melli, Bank Mellat, and Bank Parsian will allow Iran to bypass economic sanctions and aid in domestic and international transactions.
According to a report by Cheddar, Facebook has aqui-hired Chainspace, a blockchain startup from University College London. Facebook is reportedly looking to expand skills and expertise in the blockchain field with four researchers from this company. In 2017, Chainspace made strides with cryptography and security described in their academic white paper illustrating Chainspace as a smart contracts platform with the goal of bringing speed to transactions through blockchain technology. Their alpha system running in Golang does sharding, consensus, and executes smart contracts.
Meanwhile, Telegram has released an investor update on the developments of its Telegram Open Network (TON). The public was surprised to hear that TON is already 90% complete (the mainnet launch has been delayed for this March). TON is working to get its native token, GRAM, listed on Asian exchanges such as Huobi, Binance, and OKEx. With 200 million active users, GRAM can expect to see strong support. Media expects there will be paralleled competition with TRON as a top crypto coin.
The Bitcoin Lightning Torch continues its journey after reaching Jack Dorsey, CEO of Twitter and payment app Square. Dorsey explained on Twitter that he is a long proponent of Bitcoin because “it is native to internet ideals.” He took on the torch and passed it to Elizabeth Stark, CEO of Lightning Labs. Each participant in this game has added 10K satoshis. The torch has reached over 30 countries.
Twitter users and Bitcoin enthusiasts have called on Elon Musk to take on the torch and continue the LN Trust Chain to show just how powerful and valuable Bitcoin lightning network can be. The torch, started by a Bitcoin user known on Twitter as Hodlonaut, has a hard-coded limit of 4,390,000 satoshis. Once it hits the limit, the satoshis will likely be donated to a charitable cause.
Brock Pierce, chairman of the Bitcoin Foundation, has launched efforts through the movement Gox Rising to recover assets lost in the Mt. Gox bankruptcy. Pierce plans to “maximize creditor recovery through quick payout of the estate’s current $1.2B in assets. This includes an ongoing effort to recover and distribute the missing Bitcoins,” as described on the new site, goxrising.com.
The hack of 2011 led to a complete collapse in 2014, resulting in the loss of 850K BTC as stated in a Mt. Gox press release. By recovering and redistributing lost assets, Pierce and the Gox Rising team hope to revive the platform as well as launch “Gox Coin”. However, this week it was discovered through incomplete BitPoint transaction scans that Mt. Gox trustee, Nobuaki Kobayashi had been selling off BTC and BTH for a total of $318M and creating devaluations in the currencies.
The crypto community is ecstatic this week; the $10B added to the crypto market and the stoked expectations of a cryptocurrency ETF have put a pleasant mood in the air (one that continues to be egged on by TON’s advances, the limits imposed by Canadian courts on the QuadrigaCX saga, etc). One word of caution: let’s not get ahead of ourselves. After all, no Bitcoin ETF’s have yet passed SEC regulations, market tides may change, and deadlines can eternally be pushed forward. Let’s wait and see.
We wish you a great week,Coin360 Editorial Team