This Week in Coins: Markets Barely Move, Biden Asks Agencies for Plan, FTX Expands to
If you’ve been following this column closely since 2022 began, you’ll likely have noticed that while crypto prices have been as volatile as ever, broadly speaking, they haven’t moved much the last few months.
With a market capitalization of $742 billion, Bitcoin is the clear market leader, and often you can take the temperature of the global crypto market simply by looking at Bitcoin’s performance. And while every week throws up new signs of crypto’s steady integration into mainstream markets, Bitcoin has yet to steadily break out of the $40,000 range in 2022.
The world’s favorite cryptocurrency currently trades at around $39,000—negligible growth over the last seven days. Main rival Ethereum fell 2.5% this week, trading at $2,582 as of this writing.
In a week where few prices changed dramatically, two coins did make modest gains: Terra’s LUNA rose 5.8% to $89.86, while Polkadot jumped 6.6% to $18.18.
At the other end of that spectrum, Solana fell 8.3% this week to $81.48 at the time of writing, and Cosmos dipped 8.7% to $27.42.
This week’s news
On Monday, news broke that the Securities and Exchange Commission in Cyprus—a European Union nation despite its geography—approved the launch of FTX Europe, now the second affiliate of the popular FTX exchange after FTX US launched in May 2019. An FTX spokesperson confirmed to Decryptthat the exchange also will soon start servicing the Middle East.
A couple of weeks ago, the European Union had added a provision calling for a ban on energy-intensive, proof-of-work (PoW) crypto mining to a set of draft regulations. Voting on the legislation had been delayed over concerns the draft package “might be misinterpreted as a de facto Bitcoin ban,” according to Stefan Berger, chairman of the European Parliament’s Economics Committee.
The language in question has since been reworked to clarify that the regulations are unambiguously not a Bitcoin ban, and voting is scheduled to go ahead on Monday.
The centerpiece of the American crypto news cycle this week was President Joe Biden signing an executive order to lay out a strategy for crypto regulation. Front and center is the need to protect “consumers, investors, and businesses in the United States.” It probably goes without saying that national security concerns also fall squarely within its remit.
The executive order doesn’t introduce any specific legislation, instead calling on existing agencies—the FTC, the SEC, and the CFTC—to coordinate regulation efforts.
It also requires multiple leading authorities—the Environmental Protection Agency among them—to submit a report to the president that will examine the “potential for these technologies to impede or advance efforts to tackle climate change at home and abroad.”
Reactions to Biden’s announcement ranged from, on the one hand, optimism that there soon will be clarity on regulations and compliance measures to, on the other, cynicism that the order focused too much on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), which many feel are antithetical to crypto’s founding ethos of decentralization.
South Korea on Wednesday elected a new president—Yoon Suk-yeol, who’s crypto-friendly and has pledged to overhaul what he feels are “unreasonable” regulations. The president-elect described his ideal policy approach as “a negative regulation system” that will ensure the crypto industry “has no worries.”
On Thursday, Warner Bros. announced it was collaborating with card and board game company Cartamundi to create over 6 million DC Comics-inspired physical trading cards that will come with redeemable NFTs. The cards are due out later this month.
That same day, global payments giant Stripe started offering institutional clients the ability to use the app as a payment method for crypto and NFT transactions. Stripe also launched its own NFT collection called Cube Thingies. Proceeds from the NFTs go to the healthcare nonprofit Watsi. In a separate announcement, the company said that it has tapped FTX, FTX US, Nifty Gateway, Just Mining, and Blockchain.com for its Web3 pivot this year.
Finally, American companies are still having no luck getting SEC approval for a Bitcoin Spot ETF. On Thursday, the federal agency turned down applications from investment manager NYDIG and ETF provider Global X.