Last week saw impressive gains yet again for the top 5 cryptocurrencies (with the exception of Litecoin), and some important milestones being reached for the first time in a year. Most notably, Bitcoin’s price surpassed the $10k mark for the first time since March of 2018, then overtook the $11k mark the following day, while other coins also achieved significant weekly increases in price. Among last week’s news developments, the most significant was the release of the Libra cryptocurrency whitepaper and the different repercussions that Facebook’s crypto project has had thus far in the cryptocurrency space. Other developments include all-time highs for the Bitcoin hashrate and BTC futures contract open interest, new regulations and regulatory updates for Russia, France, and Brazil, and a new wrinkle in the QuadrigaCX saga.
Here’s what you need to know about last week’s happenings in crypto.
Bitcoin (BTC) opened on Monday at $8,988.92, its lowest price of the week, and grew 4.8% throughout the day to peak at $9,416.41. Tuesday experienced losses, closing at $9,081.76, but from Wednesday on, BTC closed everyday with gains. Thursday ended with the price of BTC at $9,527.16 and Friday saw Bitcoin break over $10k for the first time since March 2018, when it peaked at closing time at $10,144.56. Saturday’s high came in at $11,157.35, also breaking $11k for the first time since last March, and the highest price of the week occurred on Sunday, when the original cryptocurrency hit $11,246.14, 25% higher than the week’s low on Monday. The weekend closed with Bitcoin at $10,855.37, with a 1.5% gain for the day and a 20.8% gain for the week. Bitcoin’s market capitalization closed at $165.6B on Monday and by Sunday it had grown 16.6%, closing the week at $193B.
Bitcoin 7-day price and market cap chart. Source: COIN360
Ethereum (ETH) the week at $269.09, and experienced a small increase during Monday, closing at $274.35. Tuesday featured the week’s lowest price, at $263.14, and from then on, ETH’s price began to slowly rise, closing at $265.05, $269.43 and $271.70 on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday respectively. By Friday, however, ETH was peaking at $295.30 and on the weekend the price of ETH passed the $300 mark for the first time since last September, hitting $315.19 on Saturday and $318.57 on Sunday, the latter being the high of the week, a full 21.1% jump from Monday’s low. Sunday closed with ETH at $307.83, with a 0.5% loss for the day and a 14.4% gain for the week. Ethereum’s market capitalization started the week at $29.2B, grew 12.3% throughout the week and closed at $32.8B on Sunday.
Ethereum 7-day price and market cap chart. Source: COIN360
Ripple (XRP) opened at $0.427161 on Monday and grew 7.5% throughout the day, peaking at $0.459385, its third highest price of the week. The rest of the week had XRP’s price fluctuating, with Tuesday and Thursday closing with losses, and the latter seeing the lowest price of the week at $0.423504. Towards the weekend the price of XRP began to increase, as Friday closed with gains and Saturday saw the highest price of the week at $0.505467, 19.4% higher than the week’s low on Thursday, and the highest price for XRP since last November. Sunday’s high came at $0.488133 and by the end of the day it had gone down to $0.46829, closing with a 1.4% loss for the day and a 9.6% gain for the week. The market capitalization for Ripple grew 4.5% this past week, closing at $19B on Monday and at $19.9B on Sunday.
Ripple 7-day price and market cap chart. Source: COIN360
Litecoin (LTC) opened on Monday at $137.13 and closed at $134.44, showing little change after the past few weeks’ constant rise. Tuesday held the lowest price of the week at $129.75 and the cryptocurrency closed Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday almost seamlessly at $135.16, $136.60 and $135.48 respectively. On Friday LTC went above $140, and the highest price of the week took place on Saturday at $146.43, 12.9% higher than Tuesday’s low. Litecoin opened at $141.95 on Sunday and closed at $136.88, with a 3.6% loss for the day and a 0.2% loss for the week. The market capitalization for Litecoin closed at $8.4B on Monday, grew almost 2% throughout the week and closed at $8.5B on Sunday.
Litecoin 7-day price and market cap chart. Source: COIN360
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) started the week at $428.26 and, following last week’s pattern, closed Monday with small gains at $432.52. On Tuesday, however, BCH’s price experienced a 6.3% drop and it fell to its week low at $405.31. Wednesday and Thursday didn’t experience important changes and on Friday, BCH grew 6.3% to close at $439.45. On Saturday, Bitcoin Cash’s price skyrocketed when it went from $439.69 at the beginning of the day, to $522.09, the highest price of the week (and the first time it has reached $500 since last November) and an astounding 28.8% higher than its low of the week from Tuesday. Bitcoin Cash closed at $475.02 on Sunday, with a 0.9% loss for the day and a 10.9% gain for the week. Bitcoin Cash’s market capitalization closed at $7.7B on Monday, grew almost 10% throughout the week and closed at $8.5B on Sunday.
Bitcoin Cash 7-day price and market cap chart. Source: COIN360
Following months of speculation, Facebook released the white paper for its cryptocurrency project on Jun. 18. The project, named Libra, will run on its proprietary Libra blockchain, and it will consist of a token that is backed by a reserve of real assets in order to keep its value stable. The mission of Libra is to “empower billions” who currently have no access to banks. Most notably, Libra coin will be governed by a consortium called the “Libra Association”, which includes companies such as Mastercard, Visa, eBay, and Vodafone. Libra is currently set to be launched in the first half of 2020, and its governing consortium will reportedly expand to have 100 members by then.
For more information on the Libra project, you can read our summary on the white paper and the community reception here.
Calibra, Facebook’s wallet for its Libra cryptocurrency, will not be available in countries that have banned or taken a strict regulatory stand against cryptocurrencies. According to the report, current legislation would prohibit the wallet from use in India, which accounts for more than 260 million Facebook accounts, making it Facebook’s largest market by a margin of 70 million. According to a Calibra spokesperson, “the Libra Blockchain will be global, but it will be up to custodial wallet providers to determine where they will and will not operate. Calibra won’t be available in U.S.-sanctioned countries or countries that ban cryptocurrencies.” The Economic Times of India reports that Facebook has not filed any application with the Reserve Bank of India, but specialists say the RBI will most likely be concerned with a currency that is not meant to operate within a closed system, as is the case with Libra.
Additionally, Calibra will not be available in countries where Facebook doesn’t have a presence, including countries like China, North Korea, and Iran.
Shortly after the release of the white paper, Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the U.S. Committee on Financial Services, issued a statement calling for a halt in development for Libra. In her statement, Waters brings up Facebook’s troubled past with data protection, which has led to multiple U.S. citizens having their data exposed to malicious actors. The Chairwoman expresses that Facebook’s announcement of Libra should be a “wake-up call (for regulators) to get serious about the privacy and national security concerns, cybersecurity risks, and trading risks that are posed by cryptocurrencies”. She also states that with the announcement, Facebook is continuing its “unchecked expansion and extending its reach into the lives of its users.'' Waters concluded her statement by saying that the development of Libra should be stopped until congress and regulators have adequately investigated the situation.
As per a Jun. 21 Reuters report, France created a G7 task force to examine how central banks can be certain that cryptocurrencies like Libra are in compliance with AML laws and consumer protection rules. According to Francois Villeroy de Galhau, governor of France’s central bank, the intention is to combine openness to innovation with firmness on regulation. The Russian government, on the other hand, has been more categorical, according to a report from local news outlet TASS. Anatoly Aksakov, Chairman of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets, stated that Russia will not be legalizing the use of Libra, as it may pose a threat to the country’s financial system. Aksakov stated that the creation of trading platforms or sites that allow for the exchange of cryptocurrencies will likely be prohibited, but people will still be able to purchase crypto on platforms that are regulated by foreign legislation.
Data from Blockchain.com reveals that the Bitcoin hash rate, also known as the total computing power of the network, reached new all-time highs twice last week, on Jun. 19 and Jun. 22. The latest all-time high had happened recently, on Jun. 13, when the hash rate reached 62.2 trillion hashes per second, surpassing the previous all-time high of 61.8 Th/s from August of 2018. The first all-time high of last week took place on the 18th, when the hash rate reached 65.1 Th/s, only for it to be surpassed on the 22nd, when it reached 66.6 Th/s. On a related note, it was reported on Jun. 17 that Bitcoin had surpassed one million daily active addresses, further demonstrating the buzz around cryptocurrencies.
Similarly, data released by the CME Group shows that open interest in Bitcoin futures, which refers to the total amount of open or outstanding futures contracts that exist at a given point in time, reached an all-time high on Jun. 17. According to the data, which was released on CME Group’s official Twitter account, the new all-time high is 5,311 contracts, which equals 26,555 BTC (approximately $291M at press time).
Cointelegraph Brazil reported on Jun. 19 that Brazil’s Department of Federal Revenue released new regulations in order to identify tax fraud. According to the guidelines, crypto trading platforms that are based in Brazil will have to provide information about all transactions that are carried out within the system to the regulator. Foreign platforms will also have to provide information, though only when the monthly value of operations exceeds 30,000 BRL (around $7,850 at press time). Aside from this, Brazilian exchange operators will also have to provide information such as the nationality of the crypto holder, their address, registration number and crypto assets used in transactions. This new regulation will be enforced starting from September of 2019.
According to a report from TASS, Russia’s deputy Minister of Finance Alexander Moiseev revealed that the Russian State Duma is expected to adopt the “On Digital Financial Assets” cryptocurrency bill, which aims to formulate cryptocurrency legislation for the country. The Minister claims that the bill is to be approved in its second reading within the next two weeks. In addition to this, Moiseev talked about the approval of additional legislation for Initial Coin Offerings, which will be considered as part of Russia’s crowdfunding laws.
An official blog post from Jun. 18 has announced that the Odyssey-V3.6 update will come with various types of improvements, including a lighter built-in event server for DApp developers, an enhanced protocol data check to further prevent malicious data in the chain, additional transaction permission settings, and more stability in the network.
After an official Ethereum Classic Labs blog post proposed an adjustment to the block height of the Atlantis hard fork, they adjusted it to 8,772,000 in the latest ETC Core Dev/Contributor Call. This means that Atlantis is currently scheduled for Sep. 17, which will be a Tuesday. The reason behind the change was that the previous block height, 8.75M, is predicted to run on Sep. 15, a Sunday. By increasing the block height, the update will take place during the week, when developers and exchanges are more likely to be present.
Two books, Wave and Ripple Design Book and The Official Bitcoin Coloring Book, have recently appeared on Amazon, and both are supposedly authored by Satoshi Nakamoto. Their descriptions and featured reviews are filled with meta-referential commentary about the crypto industry and some of its most renowned members, and the profile of “Nakamoto” states that he hopes that the books “enlighten the curious and make the enlightened even more curious.” The publisher of the books is a Santa Fe-based independent publisher that claims to be dedicated to publishing works that have cultural significance, and proceeds from the book reportedly will be donated to support STEM and education programs for underprivileged youth.
According to the latest Jun. 19 report on the matter from court monitor Ernst & Young, the now-deceased Gerald Cotten was allegedly involved in off the exchange trading activities, wherein he used user funds for personal margin trading purposes. The report calls the operations of QuadrigaCX “significantly flawed” in terms of finance reporting and operational control perspective, noting that Cotten conducted most of the activities of the exchange himself, and that there was no segregation of assets between the exchange and its users. The report states that by incurring in such trading activities, “significant volumes of cryptocurrency” were transferred from QuadrigaCX to competitor exchanges into accounts that were personally run by Cotten.
The report also reveals that there were multiple false accounts found within QuadrigaCX. These accounts were reportedly funded with fiat and crypto that didn’t exist, and were subsequently used to trade within the platform. This resulted in inflated revenue figures, artificial trades, and the eventual withdrawal of user-deposited crypto from the exchange into Cotten’s personal accounts. The subsequential trading of these funds from Cotten led to losses. At press time, reportedly 76,000 users are owed $162.7M in total. Other substantial amounts of crypto were transferred into other wallets, though Ernst & Young could not confirm the identity of the wallet holders.
There is no denying the significance Libra has to the crypto space. However, there seems to be more than a healthy dose of skepticism directed towards the projection, as its mission to “bank the unbanked” has been met with sneers and reminders of Facebook’s past public gaffes. Nevertheless, despite its controversial privacy issues and the harsh reception it has received from governments and the community, Libra is bringing eyes to crypto, and it has the potential to amplify the bullish sentiment prevalent in the market. Other important developments, especially the revelation of the nefarious practices of QuadrigaCX, can also be seen from a positive standpoint. This saga has wisened up traders and other parties alike about the risks of cryptocurrency trading and exchanges with shady motives.
We wish you a great week,
The COIN360 Editorial Team