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Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe: Innovations, Companies, and Progress

Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe is history in motion. You may be surprised by how active Eastern European countries are in the cryptocurrency space. According to Statista research, Poland, Latvia, Georgia,…

The post Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe: Innovations, Companies, and Progress appeared first on CoinCentral.

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Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe is history in motion.

You may be surprised by how active Eastern European countries are in the cryptocurrency space. According to Statista research, Poland, Latvia, Georgia, Estonia, and Lithuania, all ranked among the top 15 countries by the total value of alternative finance market transactions in Europe in 2018. In the same year, per capita funding for alternative online finance transactions was highest in the UK, but followed by Latvia and Estonia. 

This is not the only evidence that Eastern Europe is exploring financial paradigms outside of traditional channels like central banking. One might be surprised to learn that Georgia is the world’s second-largest mining country after China, Moldova has legalized cryptocurrency mining, and Belarus is predicted to become the European Hong Kong? 

This article is brought to you by Solomon Brown, Head of PR at Freewallet, to give you an idea of which countries favor Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and which ones strictly forbid them. Get the full picture of the suddenly-hot crypto ecosystem of Eastern Europe.

Cryptocurrency Regulation in Eastern Europe

Most countries in Eastern Europe are split on cryptocurrency: either pro or con. Here’s a chart displaying where crypto and mining are legal (+), not legal (-) or unregulated (0). 

Country  Cryptocurrency Mining
The Republic of Belarus + +
Georgia 0 +
Czech Republic 0 0
Russia
Bulgaria 0 0
Hungary 0 0
Slovakia 0 0
Poland +
Moldova 0
Ukraine 0

+ The Republic of Belarus and Cryptocurrency

 Let’s start with the fact that Belarus has its own Silicon Valley that operates on the principle of extraterritoriality. Hi-Tech Park (HTP) is a Belarusian tax and legal zone, facilitating IT evolution, and home to 450 companies working in software development. 

In 2017, the cryptocurrency activities of the residents of the HTP received full comprehensive legislative support from the government. The administration of the HTP, together with the National Bank, the Department of Financial Monitoring of the State Control Committee, international experts, and other bodies, compiled and signed all the necessary documents. 

For instance, Decree No. 8 “on the development of the digital economy” legalized crypto exchanges and cryptocurrency exchange operators, mining, smart contracts, blockchain, tokens, etc. 

From the moment the Decree was adopted, any transactions with tokens (mining, storing crypto, purchase, exchange) became exempt from income tax and VAT until January 1, 2023. The rules regulating the operations of companies involved in the cryptosphere have been accepted by the HTP, and the full legal regulation of cryptocurrencies in Belarus has been established. It is worth noting that only entities that are registered as residents of the Hi-Tech Park are allowed to carry out activities related to cryptocurrencies. If you are interested in this topic here is another article about Common cryptocurrency cyber-attack vectors which you might find interesting. 

– Georgia’s Powerful Mining Pools

In 2019 UN statistical publications, Georgia is assigned to Western Asia, not to Eastern Europe. But, geographically it belongs to Eastern Europe and is a member of the Council of Europe. We’ve decided to include it not because of favorable crypto legislation, but due to its triumphs in mining. 

A document from the Ministry of Finance notes that each unit of a crypto-asset has a market value, it can be issued, it can have an owner, its property rights can be transferred to another and divided into parts and it can be bought and sold. At the same time, the note states that, in accordance with the legislation of Georgia, a crypto asset is not a legal means of payment or electronic money.

Nevertheless, the country is experiencing a hydro-powered Bitcoin boom. According to BBC, the fact that cryptocurrency mining is “sucking its power grid dry,” doesn’t matter because of Georgia’s vast reserves of renewable hydroelectric power. Probably this reason and lack of regulations have encouraged home miners and attracted foreign businesses. According to NPR, most of the Georgian mining facilities belong to the American company Bitfury.

And although the legislation of Georgia does not regulate activities related to virtual currency, and cryptocurrency in the country does not constitute a legal means of payment, transactions of virtual money between individuals are nevertheless made. However, the government of Georgia has taken the first step towards regulating the crypto business. The multiple mining pools that will use the services of intermediary companies registered in Georgia will be subject to a value-added tax of 18%.

+ Czech Republic Pioneers Bitcoin Regulations

The Czech Republic was one of the first European countries open to operations with Bitcoin, even before the cryptocurrency market boom of 2017. In April 2015, the Czech National Bank issued a document that clarified the attitude of the state towards cryptocurrencies called, “Safety of online payments and virtual currency from the Czech National Bank point of view.” According to this document, operations with cryptocurrencies were not limited by the law of the country, only the norms of EU law applied to them.

Later on, in 2017, the Czech Republic decided to comply with the EU’s requirements for anti-money laundering and introduced the amendments to the Act on Selected Measures against Legitimization of Proceeds of Crime and Financing of Terrorism. According to the new law, all exchanges, including banks, have to verify client ID for crypto to fiat transactions amounting to €1000 and more.

– Russia and Cryptocurrency

On March 16, 2020, local news outlet Vesti.ru announced that cryptocurrency production and circulation would be banned in Russia. The issuance and circulation of cryptocurrency in Russia carries an unjustified risk, according to the bill on “Digital Financial Assets”. 

The bill levied a ban on the issuance and circulation of cryptocurrency in Russia, and established penalties for violations of the ban. Nevertheless, the authorities don’t intend to ban ownership of digital currencies. 

+ Bulgaria’s Prized Stash of Nearly $2B Bitcoin

A Bitcoin retailer spotted on the streets of Bulgaria (via Reddit)

The Bulgarian government sees cryptocurrencies as a financial asset (and owns 213,519  BTC confiscated from criminals, which is more than Bulgaria’s GDP). This state has neither recognized the legitimacy of Bitcoin nor declared it to be illegal. The main condition for the use of cryptocurrency in Bulgaria is the payment of a tax in the amount of 10% of the exchange or sale. 

– Hungary and Cryptocurrency Taxes

Cryptocurrencies are not considered a legal means of payment in the country. According to the local news outlet Portfolio (restricted access), the government has created a special group of Hungary’s central bank, the Finance Ministry, and the tax authority that is studying the industry to develop a legal framework. All cryptocurrency transactions are filed under “other income” and taxed under Hungarian capital gains tax code, which contains 15% capital gains tax and 19.5% health contribution which is called as (EHO).

+ Slovakia Monitors Cryptocurrency Transactions

Slovakia is on the list of countries that have officially recognized Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, in 2018, the authorities tightened their stance on digital business. Following the initiative of a national regulator — the Slovak National Bank — all banks began to close the accounts of firms associated with cryptocurrencies. A similar hostile reaction from the existing financial system to digital currencies was observed in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

In spite of the restrictive measures, non-fiat currencies are not regulated in Slovak law in any way, and their exchange, mining, and other operations are not outside the legal framework. Like the rest of the European Union, Slovakia recognizes that cryptocurrency transactions should be monitored and taxed.

+ Poland Forward Thinking Finance

The Republic of Poland ranks 36th in the world in terms of population. It stands to reason that such a large European country is forward-thinking when it comes to finance. The attitude of local financial regulators towards investing in cryptocurrencies is quite positive. The country’s Central Statistical Office (GUS) has recognized the trading and mining of virtual currencies as an official economic activity. In a statement from 2016, the ministry stated that despite virtual currencies not being subject to any separate regulations under Polish legislation, they are fully legal and subject to income tax. 

Along with that, the government supports blockchain startups. For example, in January 2019, the financial and budgetary supervision service of Poland (KNF) granted state licenses to blockchain startups Coinquista and Bitclude.

+ Ukraine’s Approach to Digital Money

The Verkhovna Rada has registered a bill proposing to legalize cryptocurrency. Plans for this were announced back in 2017, but then authorities did not dare to take such a step. And now “digital money” can be recognized as legal assets. The document titled “On Amending the Tax Code and other laws of Ukraine regarding the taxation of operations with crypto assets” was developed by representatives of the blockchain community, inter-faction elected representatives, the Office of Effective Regulation of BRDO and the Ministry of Digital Transformation.

Along with that, recent introductions to the legislative structure haven’t been that positive. The law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Ensuring the Effectiveness of the Institutional Mechanism for the Prevention of Corruption” No. 140-IX, which entered into force on October 18, 2019, made amendments to the law “On Prevention of Corruption” and establishes the need to declare cryptocurrency as an intangible asset.

– Moldova’s Legal Mining

Cryptocurrency transactions are not legalized in the country, however, according to local media reports, digital money is popular in Moldova. In the center of Chisinau, there are several points that accept digital money as a means of payment. 

In May 2018, the Association of Digital and Distributed Technologies of the country introduced its own cryptocurrency exchange that accepts fiat like Moldovan Leu, the Russian ruble, the US dollar, and the Euro, as well as all top ten cryptocurrencies. Even though the National Bank of Moldova hasn’t officially permitted making transactions with crypto, it sent a letter to Drachmae Market, the first local crypto exchange in Moldova, which indirectly allows it to do banking. 

Moreover, in 2018, this small country hosted its first conference on blockchain and cryptocurrencies called the World Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Summit Chisinau – WBCSummit. Reporting on the conference, Crуptovest noted that “the central bank recognized the potential of blockchain for the financial system and revealed that it was assessing the implementation of technology via local banks.” Cryptocurrency legislation might be on the horizon in Moldova, as mining is already legal here.

Cryptocurrency Mining in Eastern Europe

The Transdniestrian Moldavian Republic (DMR) adopted a law on the development of information blockchain technologies, which technically makes cryptocurrency mining legal. According to the president of DMR, the law will contribute to the development of the information technology industry and attract investment from entities operating in the field of blockchain technologies. DMR may become a paradise for miners. 

The law provides for the creation of a targeted free-trade zone, where foreign companies and individuals can become legal entities without additional bureaucratic procedures. Thus, the country is becoming a relatively attractive region for investment. Local authorities have guaranteed the duty-free import and export of mining equipment for residents and special electricity tariffs for miners. The president promised that the energy supply to mining farms will be provided by the Dubossary hydroelectric station and three thermal power plants.

Who would have thought that such a small country like Georgia could become a world leader in the field of cryptocurrency mining? A study by the Cambridge Alternative Finance Center (CCAF), which was published in 2018, indicated that Georgia ranks second in the world in terms of mining volume after China. At least 60 MW of electricity was officially spent on the mining of virtual currency in the country.

The first, and perhaps most important, thing that attracts mining lovers to Georgia is cheap electricity. And there is plenty of it since, after the collapse of the USSR, small Georgia inherited 20 hydroelectric power stations from the defunct Soviet state. The country was meant to become a kind of energy hub in the Caucasus. Obviously, such a large amount of electricity for a country with a population of 3.7 million people is a lot. As a result, the cost of electricity in Georgia is among the lowest in the world. 

So, as of May 2019, the price of 1 kW in Tbilisi was approximately 6 cents. But, there are still mountainous areas where electricity is cheaper or even free of charge (due to state subsidies), and free industrial zones (where the cost of electricity is 18% lower due to the absence of VAT). 

Belarus is another strong Eastern-European player in the field of mining. As you already know, a crypto-friendly economic policy and the creation of its own Silicon Valley is a part of the country’s strategy of becoming a global IT center. Though mining has lost ground after Bitcoin halving, Belarus is ready to invest its fairly cheap energy to gain profit from BTC mining. 

In 2019, during a meeting with representatives of the IT sector in Hi-Tech Park, Alexander Lukashenko said that he was going to employ a new Belarusian nuclear power plant, to mine Bitcoins. The president explained he wanted to use the surpluses of electric power to ensure the operation of mining farms. “I even especially left a place there! Let’s build farms and mine this Bitcoin (…) If there is Bitcoin, you can always sell it” – Lukashenko commented.

Cryptocurrencies in Eastern Europe: Where to Buy and How to Spend

To buy cryptocurrencies, a lot of countries in the so-called “second world” use one of the largest crypto exchanges, Exmo. This trading platform supports 183 trading pairs with many leading cryptocurrencies and local fiat currencies like the euro, Russian ruble, Ukrainian hryvnia, Polish zloty. The website is available in Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, and other languages. Users can buy crypto with a credit card, SEPA transfer, Yandex Money, Qiwi, and Payeer.

Non-EU former Soviet countries, like Russia and Ukraine, use Bestchange.ru. The service provides structured information about automatic and manual exchangers of crypto and electronic currencies, and also supports the ruble and hryvnia.

Eastern European countries are home to many of Freewallet’s regular customers with Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Belarus, and Moldova making up about 10% of our user base. From our family of simple and secure wallets, these countries most often go for Freewallet: Crypto Wallet, which supports BTC, ETH and 100+ other cryptocurrencies, and our Bitcoin Wallet. Freewallet apps are highly rated for their built-in exchange and fee-free transactions within the ecosystem.

In Georgia, the first ATM that allows you to exchange fiat money for cryptocurrency appeared in March 2018 at the New York Burger diner. A few months later, a second one was installed in Tbilisi. As of November 2019, there are 14 cryptomats operating in the country.

Poland is one of the largest countries in Europe that welcomes the development of blockchain technology. In 2018, the first Bitcoin ATMs with BTC, LTC, and ETH appeared in Gdansk and Bialystok. 

The largest Polish food delivery service Pyszne.pl began to accept cryptocurrencies in 2017. This innovation took place after the purchase of the service by Dutch investors. Currently, Pyszne.pl serves more than 8 thousand catering establishments. The average number of customers is 955 thousand and 7% of users pay in crypto.

The Czech Republic might be small, nevertheless, it ranks sixth in the world in the number of crypto ATM machines. Globally, there are almost five thousand ATMs, and in the Czech Republic, there are about 70. Most of them are set in Prague. Bitcoin ATMs can be found not only in large shopping centers and electronics stores but also in kiosks at metro stations, along with printed materials, cigarettes, and tickets.

The number of Czech companies and organizations that accept Bitcoins as payment is increasing, and not all of them are related to the IT field. On the list, you can find the largest electronics store Alza.cz, a coffee shop in Paralelni Polis (in addition to BTC, they also accept Litecoin, Dash and Monero) and the Paper Hub coworking agency related to the same project. 

A real estate agency Home Hunters has been in the public eye since it closed on a 35-Bitcoin-deal, which at that time exceeded 5 million korunas. Also, there are places like Krypto, a local gas station, FairPlayAuto, a second-hand car marketplace, and a number of hotels and restaurants.

There is a large list of exciting blockchain and crypto projects out of Eastern Europe. We will start with the fintech startup with Russian roots Zerion. The company deals with investing and managing decentralized assets. It was founded in 2016 by graduates of the Higher School of Economics and has 15 thousand users. At the end of 2019, the startup raised $2 million during the seeding round with the American venture fund Placeholder, with Blockchain Ventures among the investors. Recently Zerion acquired the crypto platform MyDeFi that facilitates viewing crypto portfolios.

No wonder Belarus is on the list of the top 10 European countries for launching a blockchain startup. One of the local projects you might have heard of is Rocket DAO, a decentralized crowdfunding platform with independent expert evaluations of startups. These venture capitalist market analysts work with Hi-Tech Park, Angels Band, Volat Capital, Belagroprombank, friendly accelerators and foreign funds to allow startup founders to quickly and safely attract financing. The company provides startup audits, mentoring programs, and unique assessments. Their Startup Training Camp graduates get a free Startup Pack that usually costs over $7,000.

Czech Republic takes 27th place in the Global Innovation Index. The country is the cradle of innovative projects like Apiary whose parent organization is Oracle Corporation. Founded in 2014, it specializes in providing frameworks and tools for creating application programming interfaces (APIs), including the Blockchain APIs that allow you to send and receive Bitcoin, as well as convenient ways to design modern cloud applications. The startup attracted $6.8 million in investments in a Series A in San Francisco in 2015.

Have you ever thought of farm-to-table food traceability? TE-Food, a Hungarian food supply chain solution, offers this service on a blockchain. With food industry experts and Animal Welfare and Husbandry advisors in their management and FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization) and Deloitte among their partners, the company takes care of the logistics and makes livestock and fresh food supply information transparent.

Sofia, Bulgaria hosts the headquarters of Open Source University that is trying to change the world of education through distributed technologies. The project connects educational institutions, students and businesses directly by eliminating the middlemen. It helps organizations get insights on candidates’ personalities. Learners can enroll in, and track the completion of tailored educational and professional development experiences. The company behind Rechained Ltd. decided to solve the problem of trust beyond institutional and national borders in the authenticity of formal diplomas and certificates after writing a book called Blockchain in Education.

The Prospects of Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe

Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe is set to become a facet of everyday life. As people that have experienced financial instability and changing political regimes (often swings from Communism to Democracy), the residents of Eastern Europe are mentally more prepared for cryptocurrencies than Westerners. 

The West is characterized by a higher standard of living and better banking services, as well as a higher average age of the population. Eastern Europe, on the other hand, is full of active young entrepreneurs who are engaged in small business and therefore are especially interested in lightning-fast financial transactions of better quality and without intermediaries. 

Many governments want to tap into the benefits of blockchain. Georgia and Belarus, for instance, are taking full advantage of the economic perks of mining. Hopefully, that new laws and amendments will not impede the development of the crypto industry in Eastern Europe, but rather will lead to this region becoming a world blockchain hub. 

Source: https://coincentral.com/cryptocurrency-in-eastern-europe-innovations-companies-and-regulations/

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Stellar Lumens, Cosmos, Zcash Price Analysis: 23 January

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After Bitcoin forfeited the $33,000-mark, altcoins such as Stellar Lumens, Cosmos, and Zcash moved within a range and awaited further signals from the market leader to make a stronger move on the charts.

Stellar Lumens [XLM]

Source: XLM/USD, TradingView

Stellar Lumens moved within the tight channel of $0.28 and $0.26 as trading volumes remained subdued over the last few days. The 20-SMA and 50-SMA highlighted some points of resistance as the candlesticks remained below the two moving averages. A bullish rally in the broader market could determine the price action over the next few trading sessions, otherwise, XLM could trade within its present channel.

The Awesome Oscillator was bearish-neutral as the red bars remained below equilibrium.

The Chaikin Money Flow showed that despite capital inflows, the price was unable to break above its press time resistance.

Cosmos [ATOM]

Source: ATOM/USD, TradingView

At the time of writing, ATOM was trading close to its support line at $8.12 after a bit of to and fro movement over the last few trading sessions. It was unclear whether the bulls could maintain the price above its support level as subdued trading volume prevented a rise on the charts. A bearish scenario could see the price lose out on the $8.12-level and move lower to $7.1. The indicators were largely neutral, and the path forward for ATOM could rely on strong cues from the broader market.

The Relative Strength Index remained neutral and stabilized just around 50.

The MACD slightly favored the bears as the bars on the histogram were moving towards the half-line.

Zcash [ZEC]

Source: ZEC/USD, TradingView

Although Zcash seemed bullish at the time of writing, the resistance at $89.9 halted a further rise on the charts. A bit of sideways movement can be expected moving forward as buyers remained subdued in the market. In case of a fall, the bulls could hold on to the $81.08-support level.

The candlesticks moved within the Signal line and the lower band of the Bollinger Bands and can be expected to continue this trajectory, unless there is a drastic move in market leaders BTC and ETH.

The On Balance Volume dipped and moved flatly as the price fell below the $89.94-resistance. The price might trade below its press time support if the OBV fails to pick up.

Source: https://ambcrypto.com/stellar-lumens-cosmos-zcash-price-analysis-23-january

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Why has Bitcoin’s brief recovery not been enough

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Bitcoin’s price bounced back on the charts after undergoing yet another price correction, with the same settling above the $32,000-price level, at press time. In fact, after seeing its value fall by over 15 percent on the 20th of January, the coin was on its way to breach its immediate resistances at the $33,000 and $34,000-levels.

In the past, Bitcoin has been troubled by minor corrections on the charts after falling from the ATH it set around the $42k-level. However, Bitcoin returning to claim a position above $35k, for example, might be a clear sign that the bulls are back in control. This raises the question – In the short-term market for Bitcoin, how probable is such a scenario?

Given the cryptocurrency’s overall market sentiment, traders may have to wait a while before the $35k-price level is claimed. In the long term, given Bitcoin’s scarcity and the fact that it has in the past gone past this price level, the $35k-level should be easily capturable.

However, in the next few weeks, the continuing bearish sentiment may stop the coin from breaching this resistance.

Source: Santiment

According to Santiment’s data, strong bearish sentiments with regard to Bitcoin are around at the moment. Santiment’s Weighted Social Sentiment metric is a clear indicator of the overall sentiment traders have towards an asset. In Bitcoin’s case, in spite of it rebounding today, many traders seem to be a bit hesitant at these levels.

For assets like Bitcoin that work in a speculative market, crowd sentiment is a key attribute. While it is wise to buy when the price takes a dip, the fact that after Bitcoin fell to the $30k-price range there were quite a few corrections without a strong uptrend could be one of the reasons traders are hesitating to buy more BTC and help its price move north.

Source: Santiment

In fact, taking a closer look at the two corrections that happened on Bitcoin’s charts over the past week, Santiment highlighted that while traders were keen on buying the dip during the first correction, there was a bit of skepticism during the second dip that happened yesterday.

To better understand social sentiments, Google trends data can also come in handy. Taking a look at user interest in Bitcoin world over, a slump over the past few days was evident, with this finding shedding new light on the cryptocurrency’s recent price performance.

According to Google’s data, a value of 100 is the peak popularity for a term, with Bitcoin seeing its levels fall to 59 at press time, from 100 on the 11th of January.

Source: Google Trends

With Bitcoin setting new highs this month, it has also, in turn, redefined what it means to buy low and sell high. Bitcoin’s press time price point is still quite steep in comparison to where it was under a year ago and one of the reasons why traders may be a bit apprehensive during these price corrections could be because the price is still in quite an expensive range.

Additionally, another reason why the bearishness continues for Bitcoin could be because of the $10k drop that Bitcoin underwent, and even after traders ‘bought the dip,’ the price has only increased marginally and ended up seeing yet another price correction. To a certain extent, one can argue that this could be the reason why in the short-term, the bearishness prevails.

However, given Bitcoin’s predicted trajectory, a $30k-price point is likely to be quite a rarity in the coming months and traders accumulating the coin may find themselves quite fortunate soon.

Source: https://ambcrypto.com/why-has-bitcoins-brief-recovery-not-been-enough

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Bitcoin in jeopardy, Ether briefly breaks records, Biden takes action: Hodler’s Digest, Jan. 17–23

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Coming every Saturday, Hodler’s Digest will help you track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.

Top Stories This Week

Three reasons Bitcoin tumbled below $30,000 in a surprise overnight correction

Intensifying sell pressure saw Bitcoin briefly plummet below $29,000 for the first time since Jan. 5. The fall from $37,000, which happened within 48 hours, resulted in the biggest daily candle ever.

There have been some signs of institutional investors taking profit, as bulls attempt to cement $32,000 as a new support level. Analysts at QCP Capital are seeing signs of “institutional exhaustion,” and they warned the rally could be in danger if appetite for BTC slows down.

Of course, some institutions are indefatigable… with MicroStrategy “buying the dip” and snapping up 314 BTC at an average cost of $31,808 — a total spend of $10 million.

Bitcoin has lost 14% of its value over the past seven days. But over this period, many major altcoins haven’t been suffering sell-offs to the same extent. Ether is down just 2.6% on the week, Polkadot is actually up 1.5%, and XRP has fallen by 5.6%.

BTC/USD is in a corrective phase since the rally became overextended above $40,000. The question now is when this will end. If the $30,000 area doesn’t hold, a further drop to $24,000 becomes likely — resulting in a retrace of 40% since recent highs.

Guggenheim CIO expects Bitcoin to drop to $20,000

Just a month ago, Guggenheim’s Scott Minerd was anticipating that $400,000 was in sight for Bitcoin. How times have changed.

Speaking to CNBC, Guggenheim’s chief investment officer argued that BTC is now poised to drop to $20,000 — and Bitcoin is unlikely to climb any higher than $42,000 until 2022.

He said: “I think for the time being, we probably put in the top for Bitcoin for the next year or so.”

ETH finally beats its 2018 all-time high, surpassing $1,428

It’s been a long time coming. This week, ETH finally reached new all-time highs against the dollar — surpassing $1,428 on Bitstamp. Unfortunately, the major altcoin didn’t spend much time in uncharted territory — falling as low as $1,050 in the days that followed.

Are Ether bulls now in trouble? Well, the large drop after the ATH has been linked to how the Ether futures market was extremely overheated, with open interest on ETH hitting a record high of $1.8 billion.

At one point, Vitalik Buterin’s main wallet saw the ETH in his wallet amount to over $470 million. That’s a stark contrast to Jan. 2020, when his ETH fortune stood at just $58 million.

Strategists at Fundstrat Global Advisors believe that 2021 could be a year to remember for ETH. According to its researchers, the second-largest cryptocurrency could climb more than sevenfold to $10,500.

President Biden freezes FinCEN’s proposed crypto wallet regulations

Joe Biden wasted little time in getting to work following his inauguration on Jan. 20. One of the first actions the new president took on his first day in office was to freeze the federal regulatory process — and this is good news for the crypto community.

The freeze means that the controversial regulations surrounding self-hosted crypto wallets, proposed by former Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, are now on ice for 60 days.

Compound Finance’s general counsel Jake Chervinsky lauded the move, declaring: “We fought hard & earned the right to take a breath & reset. Janet Yellen isn’t Steve Mnuchin. I’m optimistic.”

It’s fair to say that Yellen isn’t wild about Bitcoin, though. During her confirmation hearing with the Senate Finance Committee, she stated that cryptocurrencies are being used “mainly for illicit financing” — and that she wanted to “curtail” their use. She later clarified that she only wanted to clamp down on cryptocurrencies being used illegally.

The former chair of the Federal Reserve is now one step closer to earning the nomination after the Senate Finance Committee voted unanimously in her favor, paving the way for a full Senate vote.

Ripple pins hopes on Biden administration as co-founder sells 28.6 million XRP

As it readies itself to face a lawsuit from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, filed under Donald Trump’s administration, Ripple is hoping that Biden’s time in office will bring favorable changes in regulations.

Executives at the embattled company have predicted that Biden’s team will most likely “bring a renewed focus on regulation and enforcement in the crypto space.” The post said that fintech and blockchain players have been left “in a state of limbo” by the lack of a clear framework — and warned countries like the U.K. and Japan are “miles ahead.”

Ripple’s general counsel Stu Alderoty wrote: “Intelligent, well thought-out regulations communicated effectively and uniformly applied can help level the playing field and unleash innovation and further mainstream adoption here in the U.S.”

When Gary Gensler’s appointment as SEC chair was announced, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse tweeted: “Congrats to Gary Gensler! We’re ready to work with SEC leadership and the broader Biden administration to chart a path forward for blockchain and crypto innovation in the US.”

Is $1 billion a day in volume the “new normal” for Uniswap?

Uniswap is nearing an average of $1 billion a day in trading volumes during January.

It’s already surpassed the previous monthly trade volume record of $15.3 billion set in September during the DeFi boom.

Uniswap traders are spoiled for choice with 1,558 coins traded in more than 2,400 pairs, however, the majority tend to favor less risky trades. 

On one day this week, ETH pairings with stablecoins USD Coin, Tether and Dai made up 45% of the $1.1 billion traded.

Uniswap strategy lead Matteo Leibowitz has already declared that $1 billion volume a day is the new normal.

Winners and Losers

At the end of the week, Bitcoin is at $32,300.43, Ether at $1,250.90 and XRP at $0.27. The total market cap is at $944,648,313,957.

Among the biggest 100 cryptocurrencies, the top three altcoin gainers of the week are Enjin Coin, Curve DAO Token and Decentraland. The top three altcoin losers of the week are IOST, Zcash and Dash.

For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis

Most Memorable Quotations

“I think for the time being, we probably put in the top for Bitcoin for the next year or so. And we’re likely to see a full retracement back toward the 20,000 level.”

Scott Minerd, Guggenheim CIO

“Only by widening the playing field and facilitating more participation will crypto reach and maintain a market cap of $2 trillion and beyond.”

Aite Group

“Ethereum will continue to see demand outstrip supply as global adoption continues.”

Danny Ryan, Ethereum Foundation researcher

“We fought hard & earned the right to take a breath & reset. Janet Yellen isn’t Steve Mnuchin. I’m optimistic.”

Jake Chervinsky, Compound Finance general counsel

“We’ve obviously seen the price of Bitcoin rise quite a bit; we’ve seen a lot of activity in the DeFi space, and I think all of these things will provide a nice framework against which a new chairman can take a fresh look at questions across the board in the crypto space.”

“Crypto Mom” Hester Peirce, SEC commissioner

“I’m honestly loving how well $ETH is holding up in this climate.”

Neko, cryptocurrency trader

“There is an increasing amount of trader doubt that #Bitcoin will revisit $40,000. But according to address activity and trade volume, the long-term trend still looks plenty healthy. Keep a close eye on whether $BTC’s usage rate stays propped up.”

Santiment

“Congrats to Gary Gensler! We’re ready to work with SEC leadership and the broader Biden administration to chart a path forward for blockchain and crypto innovation in the U.S.”

Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple CEO

“Bitcoin is the best cryptocurrency suited for store of value. In terms of what the Bitcoin blockchain can currently handle from a latency and throughput point of view, Bitcoin is very strong.”

Konstantin Richter, Blockdaemon founder and CEO

“Grayscale were buying $251 million of #Bitcoin on avg per week in Q4 2020. Last week they did $700 million in one day… And today $590 million… Pay attention.”

Danny Scott, CoinCorner CEO

“The flow into the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust would likely need to sustain its US$100 million per day pace over the coming days and weeks for such a breakout to occur.”

JPMorgan

Prediction of the Week

Hedge fund predicts $115,000 Bitcoin price and the fall of “speculative” altcoins

New data from Pantera Capital this week suggested that Bitcoin’s current price action is closely following the stock-to-flow model’s trajectory.

The firm’s analysts believe BTC will have reached $115,212 by Aug. 1 and that its price will gain an average of more than $10,000 a month, hitting six figures in the early summer.

Pantera believes that a significant difference between this rally and 2017 is linked to the overall market composition and where value is located — with altcoins losing out.

Andy Yee, a public policy director for Visa in China, tweeted: “This rally is different. Massive shift from high-speculative, non-functioning tokens in 2017 to #Bitcoin and #Ethereum today.”

FUD of the Week 

More institutions will warm up to crypto once market cap hits $2 trillion, eToro says

Barriers are still hindering institutional adoption of crypto, a new report commissioned by eToro suggests.

Researchers at Aite Group said the crypto market could reach a $2-trillion market cap if more institutional players were to get on board amid more favorable conditions. These firms would be more likely to adopt crypto if there was less regulatory uncertainty, a developed market infrastructure, and less risk surrounding security.

Tomer Niv, head of business development at eToro, said: “Only by widening the playing field and facilitating more participation will crypto reach and maintain a market cap of $2 trillion and beyond.”

The report also warned that “technical complexity” is an issue that needs to be addressed, with Niv adding: “More needs to be done from a market infrastructure point of view to make this group of investors feel comfortable joining the crypto ecosystem.”

83% of cryptocurrencies that peaked in 2018 are still down by 90%

More than 80% of crypto assets that hit all-time highs in January 2018 are still down by at least 90%, according to data from Messari.

The data set included 410 assets that posted record prices during 2017 or later, with 2018’s 157 star coins performing the worst with an average of -90.71% since the previous ATH. 

2017’s top cryptos have since crashed by 82% on average, while 2019’s crop is down 72%, and 2020’s standouts have shed 53%.

CMT Digital analyst Matt Casto, who spotted the data, tweeted: “Holding assets that hit high marks +3 years ago is proving to be a massive lost opportunity cost for deploying capital.”

Armed robbers steal $450,000 from Hong Kong crypto trader

A manhunt is underway after robbers posing as crypto buyers stole $450,000 from a woman in Hong Kong.

One member of the gang completed multiple transactions with the victim to win their trust, and an investigation has uncovered there were three previous deals ranging between $77,000 and $90,000.

On the day of the robbery, the other members of the gang rushed to the scene as soon as their colleague received the Tether tokens in exchange for the $450,000 payment.

Armed with knives, they proceeded to lock the woman in the office where the deal took place but not before snatching her iPhone and the cash.

According to The South China Morning Post, the woman was able to use her second phone to inform her husband, who contacted the police. Detectives said that the woman’s uncle, who chaperoned her to the meeting place, reportedly saw four men fleeing the scene.

Luckily, the woman was unhurt in the attack, unlike other victims who have suffered physical injuries and even death at the hands of bandits looking to steal cryptocurrencies.

Best Cointelegraph Features

Believing, not seeing: Institutions still predict $100,000 Bitcoin price

Even though Bitcoin has struggled to reclaim its recent high of $42,000, Shiraz Jagati says projections of BTC reaching $100,000 still seem achievable to some.

Access denied: Banks seem prone to cryptophobia despite growing adoption

Banks in many countries continue to either outrightly deny or limit their services to crypto exchanges.

Bitcoin as a last resort? Murmurs of crypto as a reserve currency abound

Could Bitcoin fulfill the key functions of a reserve currency? Andrew Singer talks to experts as he aims to find out whether BTC can find a new and unexpected role for itself.

Source: https://cointelegraph.com/magazine/2021/01/23/btc-danger-eth-record-biden-action-011723

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