Biweekly Headlines 2023.8 W3-4

“We believe in payment choice and that interoperability across the different ways of making payments is an essential component of a flourishing economy.”  – Raj Dhamodharan, Mastercard’s head of digital assets and blockchain

Biweekly News Roundup

Crypto bear market conditions persist with muted prices and trading activity. On Aug. 17, the SEC is set to approve ether futures ETFs for trading in the U.S. Ether surged around 11%. As rates go higher, Wall Street turns risk-averse, and SpaceX releases its Bitcoin write-down report, the crypto price slump on Aug. 18 saw BTC and ETH fall to a two-month low with $1B in liquidations. BTC registered its most significant weekly decline since early November since FTX’s collapse. BTC looks the most oversold since Covid crash, and BTC and U.S. real yield reached their strongest inverse correlation since April. Among the factors behind the selling is a continued surge in global interest rates, particularly in the U.S., where the 30-year Treasury bond rose to 4.42%, its highest level since 2011. The 10-year yield has pushed to 15-year highs. That’s helped put a damper on not just crypto prices, but risk assets in general. The Russian ruble on August 14 fell to 102 to the U.S. dollar, bringing its year-to-date loss versus the greenback to 33% and reaching its weakest level since March 2022. Meanwhile, Argentina devalued its already-weak peso by 18% and is now down 98% this year against the U.S. unit.

Javier Milei, a libertarian candidate who has advocated for the elimination of the central bank and spoken favorably of Bitcoin, snags primary presidential elections in Argentina on August 13. Thailand’s new pro-crypto Prime Minister was an active crypto investor, central to whose campaign has been a promise for a national ‘airdrop’, where every Thai citizen will receive 10,000 Thai baht ($300). Trump has been a long-standing crypto skeptic but holds up to $2.8M in crypto. He released a collection of NFT cards and filings showed he had made between $4.87M and $1M from this deal. El Salvador witnessed bond returns soar to 70% in 2023 and paid $800M in debt in full within the due maturing time at the start of this year.

The first EU spot Bitcoin ETF hits Amsterdam on Aug. 15. Its launch marks a milestone for Europe, while United States regulators are yet to approve a number of similar spot Bitcoin ETF applications from major asset managers, including BlackRock and Fidelity. Announcing the news on Aug. 16, Coinbase has won NFA approval to offer Bitcoin and Ether futures in the US. In Canada, these products have been approved and running successfully for the past two and a half years. Coinbase gets a stake in stablecoin operator Circle and USDC adds 6 new blockchains, taking the total to 15. Solana Pay has reportedly on Aug. 23 been added to Shopify’s payment solutions with USDC.

Judge grants SEC request to file motion for appeal in Ripple case on Aug. 18. SBF allegedly used more than $100M in user funds in campaign contributions to Democrats and Republicans. SBF has been held since Aug. 11 and again pleaded not guilty during a court appearance on Aug. 22. FTX wants to start selling, staking and hedging its sizable crypto holdings to return funds to creditors in dollars without denting value. Binance shut down its crypto payments service on Aug. 16. Visa reportedly stopped issuing new co-branded cards with Binance in Europe while Mastercard also confirmed the end of its partnerships to CoinDesk with Binance. BNB stumbles to 1-year low, the weakest level since late June 2022.  On the same day, PayPal said that it would temporarily pause crypto purchases in the United Kingdom until early 2024.

August 26, 2023

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