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​​Expert Warns CBDCs Won’t Carry the Same Advantages as Bitcoin

A leading Russian academic has told Moscow what many in the crypto world have been thinking for a very long time – that central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) like the so-called digital ruble will not provide many of the advantages of a cryptoasset like bitcoin (BTC).

Speaking in an interview with Finveria, Vasily Solodkov, the head of the Higher School of Economics’ Banking Institute, stated,

“The Russian Central Bank says it wants to position its own official cryptoasset as a competitor to existing tokens, but the digital ruble will obviously lose to them and will be weaker. … The digital ruble will not have the indisputable advantages of existing cryptoasset as anonymity, cross-border functionality and a finite supply.”

The expert added that payments firms would likely suffer as a result of the Central Bank’s project, which would effectively wipe out the need for third-party financial providers.

And he added,

“Bitcoin’s main advantage is its ability to bypass various restrictions. You buy bitcoin, pay it to anyone, anywhere, or vice versa. You get paid in bitcoin, you sell it and get your money. Can this be done with a digital currency offered by the Central Bank? Most probably not.”

However, it appears that Solodkov’s points would be relevant not only to Russia and its digital ruble project, but also to the many other countries now working on CBDC issuances and hoping to gain all the same advantages tokens like BTC currently have – while retained what some would claim are outmoded financial models, including centralization.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Russia, Alfa-Bank, the head of one of the country’s biggest commercial banks, has urged Moscow to regulate crypto. In an interview with media outlet RBC, the bank’s chairman of the board of directors Petr Aven stated,

“I don’t believe in cryptoassets. And it seems completely natural to me to tighten the existing legislation on crypto. Not one single nation state – as I learned at university – will allow a parallel currency to emerge.”

And in a further development, the Russian parliament, the State Duma, has approved a new crypto tax bill in its first reading. According to the Parliamentary Gazette, the lower house has voted in favor of the bill, which will now head toward a second reading – and could become the nation’s second piece of crypto-specific legislation.

The bill proposes levying taxes on crypto trading profits – with a failure to declare crypto-related taxes made a criminal offense, with violators facing jail time if convicted.
​​Data Leaks, Regulatory "Fun" and 20 Crypto Jokes

In the week leading to the holidays, a Twitter exchange between Elon Musk and Michael Saylor added fuel to the BTC rally, but shortly, as BTC dropped below USD 23K, and then it went back up. You know, the usual. But then serious problems hit the fan for Ledger and their users when personal info was dumped on Raidforums, with users reporting increased phishing attempts and even death threats hours later. The fan was hit some more when Ripple said the SEC plans to file a lawsuit against it because it allegedly violated investor-protection laws when it sold XRP, and then it filed it, and then some exchanges started suspending XRP trading. Meanwhile, Mike Novogratz said very few cryptoassets will become lasting SoV outside of bitcoin, but that the Ethereum community will help reshape the future of finance. And we got the answer to the question how many Spark tokens will XRP holders get when Flare launches. Meanwhile, BitPay data suggested that major altcoins are slowly gaining ground on bitcoin in the payments sector.

In exchanges news, Thai regulator filed a criminal lawsuit against Bitcoin Company Limited, FTX listed Coinbase pre-IPO contracts, and American crypto exchanges have begun a fightback against new Treasury-backed proposals that would 'wall off' the poor. And while BTC prices have been skyrocketing globally of late, and crypto adoption ballooned in Venezuela and Argentina this year, in South Korea crypto fever is not yet making its mark to the extent that it did three years ago. Meanwhile, Telegram is forced to monetize and the US SEC may be to blame. A Puerto Rico neobank was the latest to unveil bitcoin and ethereum custodial services, while GamerHash prepares its services for South Korean gamers. As Russia’s parliament braces for a “surge in token issuance” in 2021, Russian mining giant Nornickel issued metal contract-backed, blockchain-powered digital coins.

And now, your crypto jokes, last of this year. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Cryptoverse!
​​South Korean Crypto Exchanges Prepare for Order Book Sharing Shutdown

A number of South Korean crypto exchanges are ceasing policies that see them share order books with overseas exchanges in preparation for the promulgation of a new crypto law that comes into force early next year.

As reported, a series of amendments to a financial law will take effect in March, and is set to transform the way exchanges (previously unregulated) go about their business. As well as multiple banking-related regulations, the terms of the amendment specify,

“Cryptoasset providers may not allow customers to trade tokens with the customers of other cryptoasset providers through alliances.”

However, order book sharing with international exchanges is a common practice among South Korean exchanges, and this regulatory headache is just one of the many that has many smaller exchanges contemplating their very survival.

Others have decided to move fast ahead of the legal change, ending their order book sharing deals before 2020 is out.

Per Decenter, on Monday, the Aprobit exchange announced it was ending its order book sharing policies with the Bitfinex platform, although Aprobit claimed it would continue to do other forms of business with the firm.

Huobi Korea has also stated that it will stop its order book sharing with its parent company, Huobi Global, in accordance with the new law.

However, others are less keen on the policy and would prefer to bide their time while organizations such as the Korea Blockchain Association prepare legal challenges or lobby for a late amendment to the new ruling. The association and a number of its most prominent members are thought to believe that the rule will provide an unfair restriction of trade for domestic exchanges.

The same media outlet quoted a spokesperson for the Korea Digital Exchange – the firm that operates the Flybit exchange – as stating that the trading platform is “preparing plan to stop sharing our order books if it becomes a problem,” but will wait to see on the result of the association’s bid to reverse the ruling.

Flybit currently has an order book sharing deal in place with international exchange giant Binance.

Some exchanges have claimed that the block on order book sharing is nonsensical as they believe they can comply with good banking practices without needing to end their dealings with overseas exchanges and their order books.
​​Order Book Sharing Ban Could Shake South Korean Exchanges to the Core

New government regulations that will force South Korean crypto exchanges to cease order book sharing with overseas trading platforms could have a seismic effect on the crypto players in the country - and the issue is reportedly the main reason why major player Binance is set to close down its Binance Korea operations next month and only four out of 77 exchanges on target to meet stringent new guidelines.

Per EBN, the problematic ruling, which Cryptonews.com reported on earlier this week, Binance Korea “decided to close down due to the difficulty of discontinuing its order book” sharing policies with its international platforms.

Binance gave other reasons for the shutdown in its own official notice earlier this month.

Rival Huobi, however, has claimed it will stop its Huobi Korea exchange sharing order books with its overseas branches. Digifinex Korea has indicated that it is prepared to do likewise.

Regardless, the scale of the issue appears to be large than first thoughts. As the EBN report’s author notes, small and medium-sized exchanges have relied on order book sharing with overseas partners as a means of getting by, and many appear stumped as to how they will proceed without it.

Industry bodies have petitioned Seoul to amend a key crypto-related law that will promulgate in March 2021, ending order book sharing, and some exchanges are hopeful lawmakers will change their minds.

Per Bizwatch, only 11 out of South Korea’s 77 crypto exchanges have obtained the information security management system (ISMS) accreditation that the new law requires them to have in order to continue operating after March (plus a six month grace period).

And of that number only four (namely Bithumb, Upbit, Korbit and Coinone) have put into place real-name banking systems, making it “highly likely that only these four companies will survive” past the deadline.

However, some are doubtful about the possibility of a u-turn, with the regulatory Korea Financial Intelligence Unit writing ominously about the money laundering-associated risks of allowing exchanges to deal with “cross-transactions” between domestic and overseas trading platforms in the report that led to the clause being included in the act.

And EBN quoted an unnamed industry official as claiming that the upshot of the legislation would likely be that South Korean crypto investors take their funds to overseas exchanges.

“South Korean investors only use domestic exchanges out of convenience’s sake. There is no reason for investors to use domestic exchanges rather than overseas exchanges if they are high-volume traders,” the source said.

And another unnamed industry player was quoted as saying,

“I don’t expect the government’s attitude to crypto to change rapidly. Many people who are tired of the government’s strict regulations have already left the industry.”
​​What's in Store for Ethereum in 2021?

The second-largest crypto network by market capitalization, Ethereum (ETH), had an eventful 2020 as many other players in the Cryptoverse. But what awaits the network in 2021? The picture looks green price-wise and busy when it comes to new developments, according to industry insiders talking to Cryptonews.com.

ETH went up more than 400% last year, surpassing the USD 700 level for the first time since 2018. Not only was it a beneficial year price-wise, but the network also saw several testnets – some of which were more successful than others - on its road to the much-promised Ethereum 2.0 (ETH 2.0), culminating in the launch of the deposit contract, followed by the first phase of ETH 2.0, Phase 0, in December.

As 2021 is already here, what will it bring?

2021 will definitely see a bull market, according to Matthew Gould, Unstoppable Domains founder and CEO. “We could see ETH prices over USD 3,000 … a lot sooner than people think.” Ethereum will lead in non-store of value use cases this year, he said, adding: “Expect Ethereum daily users to grow the fastest of any blockchain - including Bitcoin (BTC) - with all the new DeFi apps it brings to the table.”

At the same time, the network will keep moving towards its second version.

“ETH 2.0 will continue to advance its roadmap, with the introduction of shard chains, and eventually lead up to getting rid of the proof-of-work consensus algorithm altogether, and merging the Ethereum 1 chain with Ethereum 2.0,” said Monica Singer, the South African Lead for major Ethereum and blockchain company Consensys. This, she argued, will result in increased throughput and flexibility, as well as new network economics through staking, further leading to higher adoption.

Then “the virtuous cycle will apply,” continued Singer.

With more applications deployed on Ethereum, the more developers will join the community, and the price of ETH will increase and not necessarily correlate to the increase in bitcoin’s price, she said.

As reported, Ethereum already has more developers than Bitcoin.

Philippe Bekhazi, CEO of stablecoin platform Stablehouse, also noted that 2021 will likely see “a continuation of a bull market” for both ETH and BTC.

With the user experience gap in crypto “soon to be solved,” as well as with Ethereum scaling, institutional interest in bitcoin, and growing interest in DeFi, 2021 will see crypto start to go truly mainstream, argued Jack O'Holleran, CEO and Co-Founder of SKALE.

As a result, the number of developers building on Ethereum will grow 5 times “as they chase after these new consumers." The Ethereum ecosystem is "emerging as the backbone on which Web3 is built and will pave the path for new business models that will pave the way for the decentralized economy.”
​​DeFi 'Genie Is Out' and Is Set For Growth in 2021

n 2021, decentralized finance (DeFi) might see stronger interest not only from individual users but from institutional investors also, as the environment for this nascent sector is still favorable, according to industry players speaking to Cryptonews.com. Meanwhile, regulation might slow down this expansion.

“It appears to me that 2021 will be a year of enlightenment regarding cryptocurrency,” Bo Oney, Chief of Compliance of Bitcoin ATM Network Coinsource, said. “As the appeal of DeFi grows, you will see adoption and utility permeating as the main trends throughout 2021.”

The macroeconomic trends of low and even negative interest rates globally will mean that DeFi will be increasingly relevant to people, argued Monica Singer, the South African Lead for Ethereum (ETH)-focused major blockchain company Consensys, and not just to “the tech and financial nerds.” Another trend Singer sees picking up steam in 2021 is institutional money and professional traders increasingly wanting exposure to DeFi.

“As long as the legacy finance world keeps breaking, people will be pushed in our direction,” she said, adding that the key challenges will be education and simplifying the user experience.

Meanwhile, according to Will Liu, Head of decentralized data marketplace SAGA, DeFi passed the dramatic growing stage at the end of 2020. In 2021, it will be “a more standardized and easy-to-use form” and “a nice option for individual investors for a long time.”

While DeFi is still in its nascent phase, said Konstantin Richter, CEO and Founder of Blockdaemon, certain growing signs are indicating that it’s beginning to enter a phase of maturation. Therefore, a “particular area of interest will be whether the DeFi space can follow the lead of the crypto market and attract greater institutional investment,” he said.

Institutional adoption of crypto has proven to be a significant driver for adoption by retail users, and if DeFi can “mature and manage to attract similar mainstream investment, there are likely to be huge opportunities for early adopters of the technology in the coming year.”

Anthony Lauriola also said that DeFi will begin to define itself in 2021, with more industry players likely incorporating some element of DeFi into their existing offerings. “Last year DeFi established itself but this year, DeFi will likely see steady adoption” as it matures. “Currently, DeFi has a lot of potential to make common financial processes like lending, borrowing, and earning interest more accessible to emerging markets,” he said.

Ilia Maksimenka, Founder of digital payment platform PlasmaPay, argued that, while big news in 2020, DeFi’s “overnight success story has been years in the making.” The wider industry began to notice it and understand its potential in 2020. “Now that the genie is out of the bottle we expect the sector to rapidly grow in strength this year,” said Maksimenka. He added that the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated the move to a more decentralized world.
​​More Crypto Regulation Coming in Russia and Beyond, Warns Key Lawmaker

Russian politicians have issued another grim-sounding warning about forthcoming crypto regulations, hinting that 2021 may have some less-than-welcome surprises in store for the nation’s crypto community – as well as crypto enthusiasts based overseas.

Per a report from radio station Govorit Moskva, Anatoly Aksakov, the head of the State Duma Committee on Financial Markets and the chief deal-broker of Russia’s crypto legislation, stated,

“Crypto taxation and crypto holdings declarations are already in force. And there will only be increasing levels of control placed on the holding of cryptoassets to come. It is obvious that in the very near future, I think probably within 2021, crypto will be placed under strict regulation in virtually every country.”

He added that a bill proposing stricter crypto regulations had reached the committee stage in sessions late last year, a sign that politicians are prepared to usher in proposals some crypto players in Russia have called “draconian.”

Aksakov underlined that all citizens’ “digital savings” should be taxed, warning that “criminal penalties” would be enforced on non-compliant individuals.

He added,

“In Russia, the use of bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptoassets as a means of payment is prohibited. There are no signs that a change in legislation allowing cryptoassets to be used as a means of payment in Russia will be forthcoming.”

The same media outlet also reported that a prominent Russian economist painted a similarly bleak picture, claiming that more BTC growth could be on the cards – at a cost.

The radio station interviewed Mikhail L. Khazin, the author of the book Sunset of the Dollar Empire and the End of the Pax Americana, who opined,

“When any asset experiences rapid growth, it is accompanied by regular recessions. The rise in bitcoin prices is associated with the fall of the dollar against the backdrop of large problems in the United States and in the American stock market. Thus, for now, bitcoin prices are likely to keep growing.”

Khazin also predicted regulation was all but inevitable.

“Any attempt to transact using bitcoin will be viewed by finance ministry officials and the tax authorities as tax evasion. I think that legislation will be adopted soon requiring bitcoin owners to report all of their transactions to the tax authorities,” he concluded.
​​Ethereum Nears All-Time-High...but Nobody Knows which Watershed to Aim for

Media coverage of the latest crypto rally has largely focused on bitcoin (BTC)’s performance, with the token smashing all sorts of price records in recent weeks. But this bull market is not all about the BTC – altcoins are also having a field day, particularly bitcoin’s seemingly perpetual bridesmaid ethereum (ETH).

And with ether experiencing growth of over 100% in the past week, per most price aggregators, it looks like ETH is now ready to have its own time in the sun, and break through its all-time high (ATH).

There’s just one problem: Just as was once the case with BTC, nobody seems to quite agree what ETH’s historic ceiling actually is.

Coingecko puts the figure at USD 1,448.18 on its ETH page. Messari goes a bit lower with USD 1,431.77, while Coincodex goes considerably higher at USD 1,570. And Bitinfocharts has the lowest price of the lot at USD 1,355.59.

It is a discrepancy that even has the mainstream media hedging its bets about the what, whens and whys of ETH’s ATH. In a recent report, CNBC wrote about how ETH was “within reach of an all-time high above USD 1,400 which it reached in mid-January 2018.”

There is some consensus to be found, however (if one looks hard enough!). Both the ETH page on Coinmarketcap and the corresponding data at Coinpaprika agree on a figure of USD 1,432.88. And all six agree that the ATH (whatever it was) was reached on January 13, 2018 – prior to the “bubble bursting” events that saw crypto prices enter a long bear market.

At the time of writing (11:21 UTC), ETH trades at USD 1,192 and is up by almost 3% in a day and 60% in a week. It rallied by 107% in a month and 732% in a year.
​​South Korean Banks ‘Play to Their Strengths’ with Bitcoin Custody Moves

South Korean commercial banks are now in “fierce competition” with each other in the race to launch bitcoin (BTC) and other cryptoassets custody products that they believe will prove a lucrative market for them, per a new report.

According to media outlet Newsis, industry sources claim that the cryptoasset management market “is expected to grow even larger” when a landmark legal amendment that requires all virtual asset service providers (VASPs) in the country to impose anti-money laundering protocols comes into force in March this year. The media outlet claimed that this would lead to “fierce competition” in the crypto market among banks.

The new legal measures will also hand banks considerable power when dealing with crypto exchanges, effectively granting them the authority to decide whether trading platforms are granted real-name banking contracts. Only platforms that abide by real-name, social security number-verified banking regulations will be allowed to continue trading.

As such, it appears that banks now hold all the aces in the crypto sector, and are looking to take advantage.

As previously reported, NongHyup, Kookmin and most recently Shinhan, three of the nation’s biggest commercial banks, have recently announced their intention to begin offering crypto custody services, and will likely look to woo custom from domestic crypto exchanges. Rival Woori Bank is also reportedly keen on entering the sector.

The Newsis report’s author quotes In Ho, the head of Korea University’s Blockchain Research Institute, as saying,

“There have even been hacking accidents at Bithumb and Upbit, the largest cryptocurrency exchanges in Korea, so some people think that if banks take charge of crypto custody, they will be compensated in the event of further hacks. Banks will be able to play to their strengths in this manner.”

And the professor added that banks are also keen to offer their services to an “increasing” number of professional investors with a penchant for crypto.

In concluded,

“Things have changed. In recent times, not only individuals, but also institutional financial companies and institutional investors are increasingly starting to invest in cryptoassets. This may be a contributing factor.”
​​This Is The Biggest Risk To Crypto Market According to Pantera Capital CIO

Leveraged trading is the biggest risk to the crypto market in terms of what could cause “something to pop down the line,” according to Joey Krug, Co-chief Investment Officer (CIO) at US-based major crypto investment company Pantera Capital.

He was speaking during Pantera Capital’s conference call yesterday.

According to Krug, some people get complacent when they realize crypto is here to stay. As a result, they lever up on it, thinking it can’t go down that much because institutions will swoop in and buy, saving the day. But eventually, when the lid blows off and bids are not there, liquidations of levered longs will drive the price down.

During the market crash on January 10-11, more than USD 3bn worth of long positions were liquidated, according to bybt.com data. To compare, on January 12, over USD 200m worth of short and also more than USD 200m long positions were liquidated.

As reported, crypto researcher and analyst Willy Woo argued that "unlike previous crashes in the past 2 years, where over-leveraged markets lead by trader liquidation, this one started on spot markets, then was greatly amplified by a single exchange partially failing, yet did not turn itself off for the good of the ecosystem."

Leveraged trading refers to borrowing funds so that you can take a larger position than you would be able to with your existing funds so that you can potentially generate a higher profit. However, while margin trading enables traders to amplify their returns, it can also lead to increased losses and liquidations, which is why experienced traders tend to advise newcomers to stay away from leveraged trading.

Meanwhile, during the call yesterday, Pantera Capital CEO Dan Morehead described the global macro environment as “off the charts,” pointing to the unprecedented pace at which the United States is printing money each month and “pushing it like crazy.”

As a result, the main two cryptoassets - bitcoin (BTC) and ethereum (ETH) - have soared, which illustrates the next point, which is that “this rally has consolidated around bitcoin and ethereum,” according to Pantera slides.
​​Lack of Crypto Regulations a Turnoff for Japanese Investors – Coincheck

The head of the Japanese crypto exchange Coincheck said there are relatively “few” crypto-keen institutional investors in Japan – and has complained of the lack of a framework to help foster professional crypto investors.

In an interview with IT Media, Satoshi Hasuo, the Representative Director and President of Coincheck, warned that “there is a possibility that the entire Japanese community will lose out on investment opportunities,” while their counterparts in the West begin to step up their crypto investments.

Coincheck is currently the only major domestic exchange that offers over-the-counter (OTC) transactions for large-scale customers and Hasuo stated that factors such as American regulators allowing banks to take charge of crypto custody had helped sway investors toward crypto. In Japan, meanwhile, banks are yet to receive the green light to offer such services.

Hasuo explained,

“There is no legal framework for domestic institutional investors. There are also accounting problems. The government needs to introduce regulations.”

And the Coincheck boss stated that a rush of investors to the market may have helped drive up prices, although bigger Japanese investors have seen little or none of the action.

He said,

“Overseas, a considerable number of institutional investors are coming in, which is spurring the market on. There is no equivalent movement from corporations and institutional investors in Japan. We do have OTC customers, but these are few in number. And almost none of them are listed companies.”

Meanwhile, another Coincheck expert stated, per the same media outlet, that some Japanese companies would likely eventually pursue bitcoin (BTC) and altcoin-buying strategies like those executed by the likes of America’s MicroStrategy – but hinted that regulatory clarity could also help expedite this trend.
​​Bitcoin Snowball Is Expected To Hit More Institutions in 2021

Institutionalization, professionalization, commercialization, and inclusion of bitcoin (BTC) in portfolios of hedge funds, treasuries and others is likely to continue its upwards trajectory, providing BTC with endorsement, recognition, and validation, further leading to adoption and price appreciation, according to industry insiders talking to Cryptonews.com.

The institutionalization of cryptocurrency was the emerging theme of 2020, said Seamus Donoghue, VP Sales and Business Development at METACO, a provider of security-critical digital asset infrastructure for financial institutions, adding that, while the investment focus has largely been focused on BTC, ethereum (ETH) “will likely be a high beta alternative to the dominant narrative of Bitcoin as an institutional investment asset class.“ He said it’s possible for the same Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) which pushed retail into crypto and BTC’s price to its all-time high in 2017 to be replicated in 2021 as institutional FOMO.

He added that an acceleration in institutional money coming into BTC would have “a much larger and profound impact on the long term valuation of bitcoin--the risk is for a parabolic move in Bitcoin’s price in 2021.” It’s Donoghue’s opinion that,

“We are now at an inflection point where allocations to bitcoin will accelerate into the mainstream in 2021 and bitcoin will become an essential allocation for any institutional portfolio.”

2020 was the year when bitcoin started being taken seriously by some large corporations, retail investors, and institutional investors.

“This has set us up for a huge 2021 and beyond,” when we may see crypto investment "exploding in growth as more funds start adding it to their portfolio, more companies start accepting it as a payment method, and governments putting some positive regulation around it,” according to Tim Bos, CEO of ShareRing, a decentralized sharing economy and self-sovereign identity platform.

And Sinjin David Jung, Managing Director of IBMR.io (International Blockchain Monetary Reserve), stated that “adoption will be meteoric in 2021 now that bitcoin has been adopted by institutions.”

“Ultimately the true added value is simply that when people or institutions are buying into bitcoin, not because they mined it, but with actual cash at the current valuation, that creates a very established monetary system which really bitcoin now has become. The world’s immutable global independent sovereign ledger,” he said.

There are many more positive expectations shared by experts. Eric Wall, the Chief Investment Officer of the crypto hedge fund outfit Arcane Assets, told Cryptonews.com that “it's quite clear that bitcoin is making rapid progress in that it's becoming an asset class that's suitable addition to many investors' portfolios.” Wall finds that the professionalization of bitcoin, as well as its inclusion in the portfolios of hedge funds, high-net-worth individuals, family offices and corporate treasuries is likely to only accelerate in 2021. “Retail investor adoption is likely to track this development,” he said.

Speaking of which, Erick Pinos, Americas Ecosystem Lead at open source blockchain Ontology (ONT), said that more large financial institutions will publicly announce that they have moved funds into BTC in 2021, which “will create a snowball effect not only for other large institutions to follow with their funds but also for the retail market to start moving more personal wealth into bitcoin.”

Seamus Donoghue added that retail will “play no small part in crypto” as they are given increasingly easier access to the markets. It’s bitcoin’s performance that will drive the narrative and, if the institutional market evolves as expected in 2021, rapidly expanding on-ramps will only add fuel to the fire. “Institutional investor adoption drives the build out of institutional infrastructure to support bitcoin’s adoption. This in turn provides the foundation for retail investment vehicles and retail on-ramps,” he said.
​​Grayscale Makes a Huge Bitcoin Purchase, But BTC Goes 'Meh'

Even though it was presumed to potentially act as rally fuel, major US-based digital asset manager Grayscale Investments added thousands of bitcoin (BTC) to its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) - but the number one's crypto price kept moving in his now usual range.

Yesterday, Grayscale investments BTC holdings increased by BTC 16,240, going from BTC 616,560 to BTC 632,800 (USD 23,5bn), according to bybt.com. Per the current price of bitcoin, this would mean they have added nearly USD 602.5m.

The company paid USD 36,280 a piece, or 589.2m in total. Total BTC trading volume on exchanges tracked by Coingecko.com reached almost USD 51bn yesterday.

Yet, despite this, bitcoin barely budged. At 14:53 UTC on Tuesday, bitcoin is trading at USD 37,073 and is up by almost 2% in a day and 11% in a week. Actually, for the majority of the past seven days, it's been trading within the USD 34,500 - USD 37,500 range - a movement still undisturbed by the Grayscale purchase.

"While BTC is consolidating, Grayscale doesn't stop grabbing all the BTC they can get," commented Crypto-TA.nl founder Crypto Ed. "Past 24hrs they added another 16k BTC to their holdings. The largest 24hrs increase in past 7 months and there are still people bearish," he added.

As was reported just yesterday, the strategists at major investment bank JPMorgan stated that BTC's price could drop further or break above the relevant USD 40,000 level again, and the outlook could be determined by the pattern of demand for BTC futures and the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust. For the breakout to happen, the flow into the Trust would likely need to sustain the 100m a day pace over the coming days and weeks, they said.

The lack of price reaction to the smart money coming in seems to have baffled quite a few Cryptoverse residents, with many offering theories as to why this may have been the case. Crypto trader Loma tweeted that "either they bought the top or most of y’all wrong and this bull cycle isn’t anywhere close to being done," adding, "I’m gonna side with GrayScale on this one."

Redditors have also shared a few theories: 'Shushani', for example, suggested that the purchase was done over the counter (OTC) instead of through exchanges, and that the company bought it directly from whales or miners, with 'simplelifestyle' adding "weak hands, newbies, bears, shorters, day-traders, gamblers and speculators" to the potential sellers. While 'Jayfree138' partially agreed, they added that people have also been selling to lock in gains and pay their monthly expenses. Meanwhile, 'Illewsor' suggested that when buying OTC "the supply shock lags quite a bit before being reflected in the price."

Meanwhile, well-known crypto research and analyst Willy Woo stated that the consolidation is actually healthy, and that shaking out weak hands and fear-of-missing-out (FOMO) buyers is a beneficial thing, as is the recently much-discussed tether (USDT) FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt).
​​Idea Of Taxing Unrealized Gains Resurfaces As Money Printing Intensifies

United States President Joe Biden's Treasury secretary nominee Janet Yellen has once again become a topic of discussion in the Cryptoverse - this time over her comments suggesting she may look to tax of unrealized gains. And this has led some to question if the US is demonstrating a sign of what is to come in other countries that are printing fiat money at an unprecedented speed in an attempt to help economies.

Crypto advocates today said they were stunned by one of the many comments Yellen made during her hearing Tuesday before the Senate's Finance Committee.

Per Reuters, the nominee "raised eyebrows of some senators and Wall Street when she said that Treasury would consider the possibility of taxing unrealized capital gains - through a "mark-to-market" mechanism - as well as other approaches to boost revenues."

Unrealized capital gains are the increase in the value of assets that an investor is holding. These are then realized when that investor sells the asset at a higher price than they paid for it.

In 2019, the possibility of taxing wealthy investors on gains like these was also raised by Senator Ron Wyden, who will likely become chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, according to CNBC.

Appreciation would reportedly be taxed at the same rate as all other income - up to 37%.

However, none of the videos currently in circulation appear to show exactly what Yellen had to say on the subject.

But when asked about taxing realized appreciation of assets, she replied that she does "believe that capital gains should at some point be taxed," and she does mention the mark to market approach (MTM). Frustratingly, though, the audio becomes unintelligible at this point.

The billionaire investor and co-founder of Oaktree Capital, Howard Marks, was quoted by CNBC as saying that Yellen's plan to tax this type of gains is not practical, adding:

"I think that would hit sentiment. It would obviously make it less attractive to be an investor, all things being equal."

The only way investors would be able to avoid that taxation is by not making any profit from their assets, Marks added.

Many commenters seem to be quite puzzled about the idea that Yellen would suggest taxing unrealized gains, with some wondering how that could even work.

As reported, Yellen has also suggested that there may be tax increases on wealthy Americans and corporations, but stressed that the focus now was firmly on providing relief to mitigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The issues of further taxation and providing more aid would almost certainly involve Washington deciding to print more money. As reported, the need for more funding and stimulus measures announced last year prompted many to accuse Washington of 'money printer go brrr' tactics. Some believe that the combination of printing trillions of dollars and taxing unrealized gains would take a catastrophic toll on the economy.
​​First Grey Hat Hackers Ideas Competition 🚀🚀🚀

The high-profile event in 2021!🤩 Mr Leo Andreo leads the Hacken community in organizing the First Grey Hat Hackers Ideas Competition 🔥

🏆 The prize pool will be 35,000 USD.

The leading cybersecurity company Hacken will support the community’s initiative First Grey Hat Hackers Ideas Competition by providing 50% of the prize pool and applying its expertise at the ideas’ valuation stage.

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​​Green Markets, Red Markets, Meh Markets and 20 Crypto Jokes

This was quite a week for ethereum which reached its ATH territory in USD, though it remained far from its ATH against BTC. But some mining pools banded together to try and stop the EIP 1559. Meanwhile, as the bitcoin snowball is expected to hit more institutions in 2021, JP Morgan strategists told us to look at the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust inflows for the USD 40K breakout signs, but when Grayscale made a major purchase, BTC went ‘meh’. And though the markets went red, altcoins may be set to receive some of the money going into BTC and ETH. As Bitcoin block 666,666 showed a Biblical message, and a battle was on over publishing Bitcoin whitepaper, investors who cashed in on their holdings before BTC hit USD 20K have been eating humble pie, while Lyn Alden said she invests in BTC but not in ETH because the latter is an unfinished product. Meanwhile, carmaking giants teamed up with auto insurance providers and tech heavyweights to work on a blockchain-powered vehicle history platform, while BlackRock revealed its intentions to invest in cash-settled BTC futures.

There's more. US Treasury Secretary nominee hinted at a new crypto environment and a potential unrealized gains tax, while stating that crypto has some benefits. While a former Coinbase exec might be replaced with a former Ripple advisor at the OCC, BIS announced work on a new blockchain-powered tokenization incentive, Japan’s reportedly gearing up to move into the second phase of its three-part digital yen project, the UAE financial watchdog is set to regulate crypto by 2022, and a British financial advisor’s petition to ban bitcoin transactions in the UK garnered just 124 signatures. Major South Korean carrier SKT launched blockchain-powered certification app, while the Upbit operator Dunamu launched a real-time digital assets “fear-greed” gauge. Maps.me took the DeFi plunge with a USD 50m fundraising effort, a Spanish football club said that it completed a transfer entirely in crypto, and a South Korean video games giant created a blockchain-powered tool for parents to monitor their offspring’s gaming time. And another Hong Kong crypto trader got robbed.
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​​Chinese Central Bank Governor Signals USD 37B Ant IPO May Still Happen

What was set to become the biggest initial public offering (IPO) in the world – the floating of Chinese business giant Alibaba’s fintech and blockchain arm Ant Group – could well be back on at some point in the future, the nation’s central bank boss has hinted.

Yi Gang, the governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), was speaking during a session named Strengthening the Financial and Monetary System at the World Economic Forum today. The moderator of the panel – Financial Times editor Roula Khalaf – asked him why the Ant Group IPO had been “stopped.”

Yi Gang replied,

“It’s a complicated issue. Everything is ruled by law, we must follow legal procedure.”

He added that an investigation of monopoly issues was ongoing and added that IPO regulatory authorities had likely “found a problem,” insisting that “all must be done according to the legal framework.” He also suggested that privacy-related issues may have played a role.

But when Khalaf asked him directly if the Ant IPO would “go ahead,” the governor refused to rule out the possibility, suggesting that “once problems are solved,” and “legal framework was “followed,” “you will have the result.”

Beijing officially stated that IPO, which had been on course to raise a projected USD 37bn, had been blocked due to new regulations that require internet platform providers to stump up a greater amount of the funding for loans they arrange.

But observers have claimed that the government was actually worried about Ant’s growing influence in the financial sector. The firm runs Alipay, which, along with WeChat Pay, is already responsible for a combined 15% of the current Chinese payments market.

And the international community has also speculated that the growing influence of Alibaba boss Jack Ma, who has all but vanished from the public view since the IPO was blocked late last year, barring a brief and inconclusive video appearance last week. In October, he made comments critical of the government, a move that is thought to have sparked ire in Beijing.

The tech world – and blockchain sector – has been asking “What happened to Jack Ma?” If Yi Gang’s comments are to be taken literally, we may all be on the verge of finding out.
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