Last night, Sunday 17th, put an unexpected surge at the end of a week that had consolidated Bitcoin under the $3,700 barrier. The team at QuadrigaCX seem to have pocketed some money into company cryptocurrency wallets (though they still claim they cannot move any assets), and a libertarian tax-free government-free settlement in Norway has adopted crypto as its sole currency.
Here’s what you need to know about last week’s markets and headlines:
1. Cryptocurrency market analysis
February 8th’s falling wedge breakout had investors predicting a rally to take Bitcoin’s price over the $4,000 psychological barrier. Alas, this past week’s performance discouraged the bulls. Bitcoin shed some value since that $3,691 peak on the 8th, but consolidated near $3,600 during the week days. On Monday 11th, Bitcoin’s price peaked at $3,665. It lost 1.2% of its value by Tuesday, but recovered back to $3,664 by Wednesday 13th. In a roller coaster pattern, Thursday saw the coin fall to $3,609. It regained 0.9% to reach Friday’s highest point, at $3,642. Bitcoin’s price peaked at $3,650 on Saturday, and finally managed to break over $3,700 on Sunday. At press time, Bitcoin is trading at $3,899, for a 7.45% gain on the day.
Ethereum (ETH) regained it’s second place once more, leaving Ripple (XRP) behind in third. The graphs show a pretty steady performance throughout the crypto week, starting on the 11th at $120.86. Monday peaked at $123.11 and Tuesday’s highest point upped it by 0.3%, peaking at $123.47. Wednesday through Saturday didn’t show major changes, peaking at $125.45 on the 13th, dropping 1% of its value on Valentine’s Day. On Friday, the ETH coin dropped another 0.6%, regained it on Saturday, and the peak of the week was on Sunday, when Ethereum’s price surged 10%, peaking at $137. Ethereum is trading at $144.88 at press time, with a 12.7% gain on the day.
Ripple (XRP) started the week on the 11th at $0.308, dropping to $0.300 at one point on Tuesday. The peak of the week happened on Wednesday at $0.310, but it didn’t last long, as the XRP coin was at $0.306 the next day. It went further down by 2.2% on Friday, when the coin was at its lowest price at $0.299. The weekend didn’t show much improvement, peaking at $0.303 the 16th and bottoming again at $0.299 on the 17th. Towards the end on Sunday, however, the coin was at $0.306 again and the price kept going up into the new week. At the time of press, Ripple is $0.323, the gain on the day at 7.69%.
TRON (TRX) started the week on the 11th at its peak, with the price of the coin at $0.0261. However, by the end of the day it had sunk more than 6% at $0.0245. On Tuesday the highest point was at $0.0252 but the price of TRX stayed within the $0.024 almost thoughout the entire day. The rest of the week showed little changes, prices staying between the $0.0236 and $0.0249 on the 17th and the 13th respectively, evidencing a decrease towards Sunday. The TRX coin is at $0.02525 at press time, with a 5.17% gain on the day.
EOS took its 4th place back from Litecoin this week thanks to its performance going in towards the end of Sunday 17th. Monday 11th varied from $2.74 to $2.80 and small fluctuations set the tone of the week. The peak of the week occurred on Tuesday, with EOS price at $2.98 towards the evening, and it peaked again early on Wednesday. During the rest of the weak, prices remained in the $2.74 – $2.92 range. Towards the end of Sunday, things began to pick up again, like the rest of the market’s coins, but in a flash the EOS coin gained momentum and at press time is at $3.52, with an impresive 25.03% gain on the day.
2. Ethereum News: ProgPoW and Create2
An online vote asked users last week about the implementation of “ProgPoW”, an ASIC resistant proof-of-work algorithm which is set to replace ETHash (Ethereum’s current proof-of-work algorithm). Results show that a majority of voters (76%) are in favor of the change. In this case, “ASIC-resistant” means that the algorithm would decrease (but not eliminate) the efficiency advantage of ASIC miners over generic hardware like GPUs. These voting results will not be binding.
In other news, Vitalik Buterin and other core devs were forced to dismiss allegations that Create2, a new smart contract creation feature to be introduced through the Constantinople hard fork, would introduce attack vectors into the network. Create2 is intended to allow for interactions with “addresses that do not exist yet on-chain but can be relied on to only possibly eventually contain code.” In a discussion held on February 15th, developer Jeff Coleman stated that “one of the things that is counter-intuitive about Create2 is that theoretically redeployments can change the contract byte code, because the address is only a commitment to the init code.” You can watch the developers’ meeting here.
3. Altcoins Making Headlines: Litecoin, Binance Coin and Ripple
Litecoin (LTC) is currently the fifth largest cryptocurrency by market cap, trading at $46.27 at press time. After Litecoin’s incredible surge the week before last, which led Friday 8th’s crypto rally, speculators are suggesting investors may be preparing for the mind reward halving coming later in the year. On August 8th, the LTC mining reward will be reduced from 25 LTC to 12.5 LTC. This hypothesis is backed by the fact that Litecoin also rallied before their first halving, in August 2015. Meanwhile, Binance Coin (BNB) has retained its position as tenth biggest coin, and set a new all-time high in Bitcoin-denominated value (do not mistake for its USD-denominated value) when it reached 0.002688 BTC at 10:00 UTC on February 11th. At press time, the price of BNB stands at $9.44.
Ripple made a couple headlines last week as well, for two reasons. First, the remittance company SendFriend, which uses Ripple’s XRapid product for cross-border payments, converting between USD, XRP and Philippine pesos, secured $1.7M in an investment round which counted MIT Media Lab, Barclays, the Mastercard Foundation, Ripple, Techstars, Mahindra Finance, 2020 Ventures, and 8 Decimal Capital as backers. Secondly, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse was quoted saying that J.P. Morgan’s cryptocurrency, the new JPM coin, misses the point of cryptocurrency. More on this below.
4. J.P. Morgan launches its own cryptocurrency
In a very unlikely move, J.P. Morgan became the first major US financial institution to launch its very own cryptocurrency, JPM Coin, on February 14. “Unlikely” is putting it mildly; CEO Jamie Dimon has openly criticized cryptocurrencies before, going as far as to call Bitcoin a fraud in 2017. The asset, JPM coin, will be primarily used to increase settlement efficiency between clients within three of its main operations, but Umar Farooq, JPM’s blockchain chief, recognizes the potential in the different applications of blockchain technology. He discussed instant settlement for securities issuance, mobile payments, and U.S. dollar replacement for subsidiares that use their treasury services as other possible uses for JPMorgan’s cryptocurrency.
The coin will run on top of Quorum, a private Ethereum blockchain that J.P. Morgan had been developing. The plan, however, is to eventually expand into other platforms, and to make JPM Coin operable on all standard Blockchain networks, according to their FAQ.
However, there are still many people who criticize the coin, mainly for being proprietary bank-issued digital coins. Among these critics is Brad Garlinghouse, CEO at Ripple, who tweeted that JPM Coin missed the point, and would only contribute to further fragmenation in the cryptocurrency landscape; while other critics have gone as far as to say that JPM Coin isn’t even a real cryptocurrency.
5. International cryptocurrency news
In international news, Luxembourg passed a bill this week that will provide a legal framework for market participants to issue securities using blockchains, updating a bill from 2013 which “dematerialized securities.” Meanwhile, Brazil is facing a new case of crackdown against crypto: Bradesco bank will be closing Bitblue Exchange’s banking accounts—and the owner’s private bank accounts—on February 26th, reported Portal do Bitcoin. The local Association of Crypto and Blockchain (ABCB) reported the case to the Brazilian Administrative Council for Economic Defense (CADE), claiming that the bank violated free competition laws. The precedent is favorable: last October, the Federal District Court dictated that Banco do Brasil and Santander Brasil had to reopen accounts for Brazilian crypto exchange Bitcoin Max.
Finally, the Indonesian Commodity Future Trading Regulatory Agency (BAPPEBTI) is requiring crypto traders to, among other things, keep a deposit of 80 billion Rupiah (or USD $5.7 million) in order to participate in futures trading. Traders are complaining these measures will strangle the sector.
6. Follow ups on the Quadriga CX saga
The QuadrigaCX saga continues. The fact that CEO Gerard Cotten filed a will 12 days before his deathwithout making any reference to the cold wallets, that QuadrigaCX has continued to accept deposits well after being aware that they couldn’t access those wallets and the evidence that shows that there have been outgoing transactions from the company’s crypto wallets have only fueled suspicions. This has led to extensive research among the community, who have made yet another discovery.
This comes from a report made by the firm Ernst & Young, appointed by the court as a monitor to Quadriga’s hearings. It stated that, on February 6th, Quadriga transferred 103 BTC to its cold wallets, which at press time is more than $380,000 USD. After this, a user on reddit discovered five wallets that are allegedly associated to QuadrigaCX exchange platform, which seem to be only a portion of all the cryptocurrency wallets involved. These findings are not proof for anything, but are regarded by the community as important leads towards the truth. Supreme Court Judge Michael Wood was supposed to decide the law firm who would represent as many as 115,000 Quadriga CX users by February 14th, but the decision has been delayed by a week. Finally, a Bloomberg report from February 15th revealed that Cotten claimed back in 2014 that QuadrigaCX used paper wallets to store private keys.
7. Liberstad adopts City Coin as its sole medium of exchange
Liberstad, a private smart city in Norway, has adopted its proprietary token as its official medium of exchange, as stated in their official press release. City Coin (CITY), their cryptocurrency, is based on City Chain, their smart city platform that enables “design, implementation and use of next-generation services for smart cities and their inhabitants”. This platform is set to do away with government entities for their inhabitants, who can engage and carry out civic duties through the use of the platform. A municipal app, called City Hub, is where inhabitants can interact with the community and engage in voting and other civic functions. Liberstad is a project that has been backed by 100 investors from 27 countries.
City Coin is the first crypto currency that is being adopted as the official crypto currency of a smart city. It is also based on a Proof-of-Stake algorithm, which allows CITY holders to receive 20 CITY for every staked block, rewarding users who secure the network with passive income. CITY is already available for trading on the p2pb2b and Liberstad’s Block exchanges. The mainnet is already live, so it is possible for users to explore the blockchain and view the cryptocurrency transaction history.
On February 8th, an app that contains malware that replaces your crypto wallet addresses was discovered on Google Play for the first time. This discovery was made by ESET, who published a blog post reporting the issue. The malware, known as “clipper”, can be found on Google Play under the name MetaMask, and it also shares the same interface and style as MetaMask wallet. The idea is to trick users into thinking that it is an official MetaMask app, while in reality it replaces clipboard information in an attempt to replace your cryptocurrency wallet addresses with addresses that belong to the attacker. After it was reported by the ESET team, the app was quickly taken down, but it will still go down as the first time an app such as this makes it past Google’s security protocols. In response to this incident, MetaMask tweeted that things like these happen because Google Play doesn’t reserve trademarked names, allowing for impostors to impersonate legit companies. The ESET team suggests users to keep their devices updated and constantly double check to see if wallet addresses have been tampered with.
Something similar happened on February 15t, when Symantec reported findings of cryptojacking adds found on Microsoft Store. The eight apps that contained malicious XMR mining code were reportedly among some of the most popular free apps, but have been thus removed from the store.
9. Venezuela’s New Fees and Taxes on Crypto
The government of Venezuela keeps strengthening its regulations on crypto. Right at the end of last week, the Venezuelan government’s National Superintendency of Crypto Assets and Related Activities (SUNACRIP) introduced regulations for crypto remittances. This was announced via Gaceta Oficial n°41,581, the government’s official media outlet. The regulation consists of taxation in the receiving and sending of cryptocurrencies, along with many other limitations. The decree indicates that the minimum fee that SUNACRIP will charge in each crypto transaction will be of $0.28, but it also states that SUNACRIP can also charge up to 15% of any transaction. What’s more, the decree seems to allow SUNACRIP to arbitrarily decide the taxation fees.
Additionally, there is a USD $600 (or 10 Petro) monthly limit for crypto remittances. If this limit is exceeded, an approval from SUNACRIP is needed, which could move the limit up to the hard limit of $3,000 (or 50 Petro). These limitations are part of a regulatory framewok that we covered last week, which has already decreed that business must register with SUNACRIP, or face a 100-300 Petro penalty.
10. Binance DEX to launch its testnet this week
On Feb. 11, Changpeng Zhao has announced via Twitter that Feb. 20 is the target release date for the testnet of Binance Chain, the native blockchain that’s being developed to support the DEX. Zhao also hosted an ask-me-anything on Twitter to provide more details about the DEX, in which he answered 73 questions in 45 minutes.
In the AMA, Zhao revealed that Binance Chain will provide support for hardware wallets, having Ledger’s Nano S wallet already integrated, and it will be available on all platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OS, iOS and Android). He also stated that the current TPS is “a couple thousand”, but that can be scaled up if the need arises. He emphasized that right now Binance DEX can handle the volume of Binance.com. He revealed that there will be a listing fee, but it will be a high one in order to reduce the number of crypto scams; he reported that it will be an amount close to $100,000 USD, but that can be adjusted as well. All of these developments are happening amidst a string of successful events for Binance, whose coin reached an all-time-high in its Bitcoin-denominated value.
11. Bitcoin ETFs on the horizon
On Friday 8th, US SEC commissioner Hester Peirce stated that the agency’s staff are working on “supplemental guidance” to help projects determine “whether their crypto-fundraising efforts fall under the securities laws.” In other words, she announced plans to clarify when securities laws might apply to cryptocurrency token sales.
On Friday 15th, the SEC announced it was reviewing a Bitcoin ETF rule change proposal filed by NYSE Arca and Bitwise Asset Management on February 11th. They have only 45 days to make its initial decision on whether to approve, reject or extend the proposal. NYSE Arca and Bitwise had actually announced a Bitcoin ETF and filed for a rule change proposal earlier this year, but the SEC was unable to publish the filing in the Federal Register due to the government shutdown, so the proposal was never examined. These news are being received with much enthusiasm due to commissioner Robert Jackson’s hopeful words regarding the SEC’s eventual approval of Bitcoin ETFs, a headline we covered last week.
Perhaps the highlight of the crypto week has been J.P. Morgan’s change of heart (or complete misunderstanding, if Garlinghouse is to be headed) regarding cryptocurrencies. Either way, the fact that a major financial institution has launched something that at least intends to be a cryptocurrency, in the same month that the SEC seems to be letting its guard down for Bitcoin ETFs, has many speculators on the edge of their seats. 2019 might be a year of huge changes in the institutional treatment of cryptos.
We wish you a great week,
Coin360 Editorial Team