Monday evening, the Treasury’s Office of the Comptroller of the Currency told national banks that they are allowed to run independent nodes for distributed ledger networks.
Referring to of independent node verification networks, the OCC’s interpretive letter says that banks “may use new technologies, including INVNs and related stablecoins, to perform bank-permissible functions, such as payment activities.”
Coming amid a great deal of uncertainty as to the future of stablecoins, the OCC’s announcement is big news. The office, nonetheless, cautions that there are cyber risks inherent to using such technology:
“Banks must also be aware of potential risks when conducting INVN-related activities, including operational risks, compliance risk, and fraud. New technologies require enough technological expertise to ensure banks can manage these risks in a safe and sound manner.”
Major lobbyist group the Blockchain Association noted that “The letter states that blockchains have the same status as other global financial networks, such as SWIFT, ACH, and FedWire.” Such flagships mechanisms of international payments have had to up their games in response to competition from blockchain-backed payments in recent years.
Major lobbyist group the Blockchain Association noted of today’s announcement that “The letter states that blockchains have the same status as other global financial networks, such as SWIFT, ACH, and FedWire.” Such flagships mechanisms of international payments have had to up their games in response to competition from blockchain-backed payments in recent years.
The new guidance follows up on a separate group of regulators laying out new guidance for stablecoin operators immediately before Christmas.
The subject of stablecoin legal status in the U.S. has taken on an outsized role over the past month, especially after Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib introduced a bill that seemed to outlaw any operation of a stablecoin network, including private persons running, for example, Ethereum nodes that process DAI transactions.
Despite many objections to the truncated timeframe, public comments are due tonight in response to the U.S. Treasury’s proposal to require businesses like crypto exchanges to know the identities behind wallets with which they transact.
As of Sunday night, the Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN, had recorded 5,633 responses to its proposed rule. That number is despite the fact that FinCEN gave only 15 days, rather than the usual 60 for responses.
The office dropped its announcement on Dec. 18, a Friday evening a week before Christmas Day in the states. Meanwhile, today, the due date, is the first usual workday after New Year’s Day. Not to mention the fact that the Treasury is only 16 days away from the auspices of a Biden administration.
FinCEN’s timing has been the subject of criticism from a number of lawmakers as well as the crypto community. Adding to the problem, some potential commenters have reported issues on using the U.S. federal government’s main portal. Particularly on Tuesdays and Thursdays, a separate beta site has been damaging links.
Which is not to mention criticism of the rule itself, which would require registered money services businesses, especially crypto exchanges, to both adopt Bank Secrecy Act limits on transactions to and from their platforms and, indeed, go beyond them by requiring they know the beneficial identity of any self-hosted crypto wallet on the other end of a transaction valued at $3,000 or more. Many see this as a bold violation of privacy by a Treasury regime that is not going to have to see the policy through.
Beginning investors in Russia will soon find themselves with fewer options to beat plummeting interest rates offered at Russian savings accounts. In addition to the investors themselves, the big losers are likely to be trading apps like Robinhood, which aim at first-timers.
Per a Dec. 30 announcement, the Central Bank of Russia is working to get securities trading platforms to toe the line on “risk-reduction” measures first passed in July. In the latest announcement, the CBR recommends securities platforms and applications have systems to “secure the impossibility of executing on-platform trades resulting in the acquisition of stocks or other securities from foreign issuers by unqualified investors,” except those approved by the CBR.
The CBR is likewise working to stop firms from offering “complicated investment products” — a term that largely lines up with leveraged trading or derivatives — to unqualified investors unless the firms offering those investments provide guaranteed returns of at least two-thirds of the central bank’s key rate. With the key rate at 4.25% currently, platforms would need to guarantee 2.83% returns.
There are major doubts that the actual intention is to protect investors. While 4.5% would be enviable for a U.S. savings account, the ruble’s instability since sanctions in 2014 and, more recently, the market crash in March 2020 has driven huge numbers of investors to the stock market for the first time.
In October, the CBR’s similarly issued guidance to limit unqualified investors from purchasing more than 600,000 rubles (as of publication, just over $8,000 U.S. dollars) worth of crypto in a year. That guidance was part of an explanation of the country’s law “On Digital Financial Assets,” which came into effect as of the new year.
Amid speculation on social media that United States President Donald Trump may still pardon Julian Assange before leaving office, lawyers are preparing the WikiLeaks founder for many possible legal outcomes as crypto users open their wallets.
According to Twitter user Whale Alert, users have donated a sizable amount of Bitcoin (BTC) toward the legal defense of WikiLeaks and Assange in the last week. Yesterday, someone sent 8.48 BTC — roughly $280,000 at the time — to support the WikiLeaks founder, while another crypto user donated 4.51 BTC last Wednesday, a transaction worth $125,000.
A donation of 8.48 BTC (281,195 USD) was made to WikiLeaks Donation Wallet!
The funds are coming while Assange’s legal status in the United Kingdom remains uncertain. Today, District Judge Vanessa Baraitser ruled that the WikiLeaks founder will not be extradited to the United States. Assange is currently in a U.K. prison but could face charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917 related to documents provided by intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning if extradited to the United States. At the time of publication, he has not been released.
The judge’s ruling seemed to agree with Assange’s legal team’s argument that the WikiLeaks founder has experienced a “deterioration in his mental health” due to the impending charges. Lawyers claimed that any extradition to the U.S. would put him at a “high risk of serious depression leading to suicide.”
In response to the ruling, President of Mexico Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has said he is willing to offer Assange asylum. According to a Reuters report, Lopez Obrador is in favor of pardoning the WikiLeaks founder, referring to him as a journalist in need of protection.
“I’m going to ask the Foreign Minister […] to ask the government of the United Kingdom about the possibility of letting Mr. Assange be freed and for Mexico to offer political asylum,” said the president.
Before the judge’s decision was made public, some high-profile crypto users had been voicing their support of Assange, even pushing Trump to grant Assange a federal pardon before he leaves office on Jan. 20. On Sunday, Blockstream CEO Adam Back implied that Assange should be released given his role as a journalist:
Julian is a journalist. Fact. Inconvenient exposure for malfeasance. It’s like countries where journalists are disappeared, but the two faced western variant, from establishment that does not represent the public will, and is a rogue self-interested tactical war machine. https://t.co/mTmZ1VakTr
Unconfirmed rumors have been floating around social media claiming Trump is considering pardoning Assange, along with Silk Road founder Ross Ulbricht and whistleblower Edward Snowden. However, with only 16 days left in the White House, the U.S. president’s window of opportunity for granting pardons or clemency is closing.
The Stellar Development Foundation has signed an agreement with the Ukrainian government to facilitate the creation of a digital asset ecosystem, including a framework for a central bank digital currency, or CBDC.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Digital Transformation announced Monday that it has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the Stellar Development Foundation. The MOU outlines Ukraine’s strategy for developing digital assets and CBDC infrastructure. This includes providing support to projects specializing in digital assets, implementing and regulating stablecoin circulation, and promoting the development of a CBDC.
A press release from the Stellar Development Foundation on Monday confirmed that the agreement was signed on Dec. 28.
Oleksandr Bornyakov, deputy minister of the Ministry of Digital Transformation, told Cointelegraph that facilitating a national cryptocurrency doesn’t mean that Stellar will develop the Ukrainian CBDC. Rather, the Stellar partnership is expected to “enable quality decision-making regarding development of the virtual assets ecosystem in Ukraine.”
When asked about Ukraine’s potential to lead cryptocurrency and blockchain development in Europe and the world, Bornyakov said his ministry is integrating best practices from Switzerland, the United Kingdom, Malta, Liechtenstein and the United States.
“Crypto companies, blockchain startups and financial institutions — all of them seek a legally protected environment for conducting business. And the Ministry of Digital Transformation of Ukraine is working on building a legal framework that will offer a transparent and stable regulatory environment for blockchain and crypto companies.”
In September, Chainanalysis gave Ukraine the top spot in its global ranking on cryptocurrency adoption. Ukraine scored especially high on measures of on-chain value received and total on-chain retail value.
Stellar’s Lumen (XLM) is currently ranked 13th in global market capitalization for all cryptocurrencies. The Stellar Foundation’s core principles include creating more equitable access to the global financial system via open-source, peer-to-peer technology.
A fledgling blockchain-based game project called Illuvium has already managed to attract support from major industry backers — a development owed in part to the fact that Illuvium co-founders Kieran and Aaron Warwick are the brothers of Kain Warwick, the co-founder of decentralized finance (DeFi) platform Synthetix.
In a tweet on Friday, Kain announced that “after two years of pressure,” his brothers were revealing to the world a blockchain-based game:
Extremely excited that after years of pressure two of my brothers are launching a crypto NFT game @illuviumio. Also as promised I just finished that $1m @chainlink market buy into Kain.eth via @1inchExchange. I’m going offline for 2 weeks now enjoy the start of 2021! https://t.co/LMb5YkJbtr
In an interview with Cointelegraph, Kieran Warwick clarified that development work has only been underway since September, and that the “two years” refers to the length of time Kain had been badgering Kieran to re-enter crypto full time.
“I left to found a startup in the food industry in 2016, [and] in hindsight maybe not the best call,” Kieran admitted.
Despite the late uptake, the few resources released to the public already promise a title with myriad influences.
“The two genres that we have drawn the most inspiration from are collectible RPGs (such as Pokemon) and Auto Battlers (like Teamfight Tactics or Dota Underlords). As far as aesthetics we are going for a stylised feel that sits somewhere between the manga style of RPG and more hyper realistic games,” said Kieran.
Gameplay will also feature some unique twists utilizing a yield farming program for the native ILV token, as well as deploying NFTs in innovative ways that may influence the strategy behind collecting game assets.
“We use a fusion mechanism where three Illuvial NFTs are burned by the user to mint a more powerful Illuvial NFT. This mechanism is common in Auto Battlers, but by employing smart contracts to control minting and burning we’ve introduced more certainty for collectors and players.”
While the ambition is sprawling, the Warwick brothers are bringing extensive ecosystem heft to bear. Despite only re-entering crypto full time recently, Kieran says he’s no stranger to concepts like liquidity pooling, as he’s currently “participating heavily in DeFi across over 50 projects.”
Moreover, some of DeFi and gaming’s biggest names are early supporters. Kieran says that “six of the top DeFi founders” have invested in Illuvium’s pre-seed round — presumably including Kain. Illuvium will also be built using a layer-2 scaling solution from Immutable, the development studio behind hit NFT card game Gods Unchained.
Kieran says he’s hoping to leverage these connections to create a gaming experience that empowers players.
“One of the most frustrating experiences as a gamer is feeling like a consumer of a game rather than a participant, and while many game studios have improved on this over the last few years by handing more control to their communities there is no way to have the level of community ownership that we are going to provide in the traditional gaming world.”
To ensure this community ownership, Kieran said that Illuvium will be governed by a DAO, enabling players to control gameplay tweaks and balancing. Additionally, a portion of funds from the outcomes of high-stakes, winner-take-all “Leviathan” arena battles will be allocated to a vault controlled by the DAO, as well as other fees.
While even a game demo is a “few months” out and the liquidity mining program is slated for March at the earliest, Illuvium’s 15-man team is resolute in delivering a product to a market they believe might eventually become the standard.
“We believe mainstream gamers will see the opportunity migrating to permissionless platforms where they can truly own the entire game.”
Catherine Coley, CEO of major crypto exchange Binance’s U.S. arm, sees the current Bitcoin bull run as a sign the crypto asset could reach a price up to $100,000.
Speaking to news outlet KLTA yesterday, Coley said the recent rally in the price of Bitcoin (BTC) — moving from $19,000 to more than $34,000 in less than a month — may be due to a surge in the number of institutional investors taking an interest in the crypto asset. She added that the crypto space could be seeing an “accelerated” rally based on what happened prior to the 2017 bull run, in which the BTC price surged more than a year after the rewards halving in July 2016.
“Where maybe we thought maybe $50,000 made sense, this number is definitely going to be a little bit higher than that in my opinion,” said Coley. “I think we’re going towards $75,000 to $100,000 for Bitcoin by the end of 2021.”
The Binance.US CEO is not alone in her bullish predictions for the coming year. Dan Held, crypto exchange Kraken’s growth lead, has been saying since last year that Bitcoin could be entering a “supercycle” in 2021 eventually driving the price to $1,000,000. In a video posted to his YouTube channel last week, Held predicted the price of Bitcoin would move much more than a “100x increase” based on increasing adoption of the crypto asset.
Galaxy Digital founder and CEO Mike Novogratz believes institutional investors are helping drive the current Bitcoin bull run.
In an interview with BBC World News today, Novogratz said governments around world printing money and “debasing fiat money” was fueling the ongoing Bitcoin (BTC) bull run, but institutional players getting into crypto may be the bigger story. The Galaxy Digital CEO said major firms had changed their tune on crypto in the last three years, potentially affecting the supply of available coins.
“Now we’re seeing places like PayPal — at 340 million customers — servicing Bitcoin and selling Bitcoin [along with] big insurance companies in the United States,” said Novogratz. “As the institutions move in, there just is not a lot of supply […] There are a lot more than 21 million millionaires out there.”
Macro investor Raoul Pal echoed Novogratz’s bullish sentiment, saying that he believes it’s possible for the price of Bitcoin to reach “between $400K and $1.2M” by the end of this year if trends were to continue. Pal revealed in November that 98% of his liquid net worth was invested in BTC and Ether (ETH), but added that he “still [doesn’t] own enough.”
Novogratz has also changed his opinion on what percentage of their portfolios investors should be allocating to Bitcoin. Before November, the Galaxy Digital CEO said Bitcoiners should have invested up to 3% into BTC and HODLed for five years. However, last month he advocated new investors put 5% into BTC because “Bitcoin’s not going back to zero.”
Many major institutions joined the crypto space for the first time in 2020. Business intelligence firm MicroStrategy announced that it had purchased $425 million in BTC — an investment now worth more than $1.2 billion — and later bought the dip to add $650 million BTC to its holdings. In December, Massachusetts-based insurance firm MassMutual purchased $100 million in BTC for its general investment account.
At the time of publication, the price of Bitcoin is $33,727, having risen 6% in the last 24 hours. This puts the crypto asset within reach of a new all-time high since passing $34,700 earlier today.
Bitcoin (BTC) has consistently been hitting new all-time highs over the weekend, but the latest surge has also created a new high against gold, according to MarketWatch data. This suggests that Bitcoin has been gaining acceptance as the new store of value and that may attract more customers away from gold into Bitcoin.
Analysts suggest that the latest rally above $30,000 could have been triggered by aggressive buying from institutional investors on Coinbase, as suggested by the large premium of about $350 compared to the price in Binance.
With the latest rally, Bitcoin hit a market capitalization of over $640 billion today, just shy of Alibaba, the ninth-largest company in terms of market cap, at $649.31 billion. Meanwhile, breaking $30,000 could be creating FOMO among institutional investors who have missed buying Bitcoin at lower levels.
However, this buying will need to sustain to keep the uptrend intact because if the rally stalls, some institutional investors and momentum traders who have purchased at lower levels may be tempted to book profits.
If that happens, it could pull the price down quickly and turn the recent purchases by investors into a loss, resulting in a rush to the exit. Therefore, traders must be cautious and employ proper risk management strategies to protect their paper profits.
Meanwhile, let’s look at the charts of top-five cryptocurrencies that could extend their up-move if the sentiment remains bullish
While a parabolic rally provides outsized returns within a short time, it also increases the possibility of a sharp reversal that may catch many traders off guard because after such a strong up-move, the price could retrace anywhere between 62% to 79% of the entire rally.
If that happens, the BTC/USD pair could drop to the $20,000 mark, or a drop of over 30%, which at the moment looks unimaginable.
In a melt-up, it is difficult to predict the level where the rally may end because traders continue to chase prices higher due to FOMO. The next technical level which may act as a resistance is $37,000.
Shorting a rally because it is overbought on all time frames could be a losing proposition because, during a blowoff top, the price could continue to remain overbought for much longer than most traders expect.
But traders who own long positions should use proper risk management principles to protect their paper profits and not get carried away by greed.
The 4-hour chart shows that the bulls are buying on dips to the 20-exponential moving average. The bears have not been able to break the 50-simple moving average support since the price broke above $20,000.
Thus, the first sign of weakness will be a break below the 20-EMA. Such a move will suggest that traders may be booking profits after the sharp rally. A deeper correction below the 50-SMA may signal a possible change in trend.
There is a major resistance at $37,000 but if that is crossed, the rally could reach $40,000, which could again act as a stiff resistance.
Ether (ETH) resumed its uptrend after a two-day minor correction on Jan. 2 and has followed it up with another strong up-move today. The upsloping moving averages and the RSI in the overbought territory suggest that the bulls are in command.
The bulls easily propelled the price above the $840.93 to $900 resistance today. The next resistance on the upside is $1,000. If the price turns down from this level, the bulls will try to defend the $840.93 breakout level.
If that happens and the ETH/USD pair rebounds off this support, the bulls will once again try to resume the up-move. On the other hand, if the bears sink the price back below $840.93, a drop to the 20-day EMA ($700) is possible.
A break below this level may be an indication that the pair may have topped out in the short-term.
The 4-hour chart shows that the momentum picked up after the bulls pushed the price above the $840.93 resistance. The latest leg of the rally has pushed the RSI deep into the overbought zone, suggesting that a minor correction or consolidation could be around the corner.
The wick on the latest candlestick suggests profit-booking by traders near $975, but if the bulls do not give up much ground and the pair rebounds off $900, it will increase the possibility of a break above $1,000.
This bullish view will be invalidated if the pair turns down and breaks below the $840.93 support and the 50-SMA.
Polkadot (DOT) is currently consolidating in a strong uptrend. The bears are attempting to defend the $9.50 overhead resistance while the bulls are buying on dips to the $7.89 support.
The DOT/USD pair closed in the red on Jan. 1 but the bulls made a strong comeback on Jan. 2. This shows that the traders are not waiting for a deeper correction to buy as they expect the prices to rally further.
If the bulls can propel the price above the $9.50 to $9.89 overhead resistance zone, the uptrend could resume with the next likely target at $12.29.
However, if the price turns down from the overhead resistance, the pair could remain range-bound for a few more days. The pair may lose its bullish momentum if the price slides and sustains below the $7.89 support.
The 4-hour chart shows that the bulls are buying on dips to the 20-EMA. This suggests that the sentiment remains positive. The upsloping moving averages and the RSI in the positive zone suggest that bulls have the upper hand.
If the bulls can push and sustain the price above $9.50 for four hours, the next leg of the uptrend could begin.
However, if the price again turns down from the overhead resistance, the bears will try to sink the price below the 20-EMA. If they succeed, the momentum may weaken and the pair may remain range-bound between $7.89 to $9.50 for a few days.
Binance Coin (BNB) resumed its uptrend today when the bulls pushed the price to a new all-time high at $41.5372. The upsloping moving averages and the RSI in the overbought zone suggest that bulls are in control.
The next target on the upside is $46 and then $50. This zone is likely to act as a stiff resistance.
However, the current breakout is facing profit booking above $40. If the bulls fail to sustain the price above $40, the BNB/USD pair may remain range-bound between $36 and $40 for a few more days.
A break below the 20-day EMA ($34.99) will suggest that the bullish sentiment has weakened and traders have started booking profits.
The 4-hour chart shows that the bears are selling aggressively above the $41 levels, as seen from the long wicks on the latest two candlesticks.
If the price dips back below $40, it could find support at the 20-day EMA. A strong rebound off this level will suggest demand at lower levels and the bulls may again try to resume the uptrend.
Conversely, if the bears sink the price below the moving averages, it will suggest a possible change in the short-term trend.
Uniswap (UNI) broke out of the $2.90 to $4 tight consolidation on Dec. 30 and surged to $5.29 on Dec. 31. The bears are currently attempting to stall the up-move at the $5.60 resistance but the positive sign is that the bulls have not given up much ground.
The upsloping 20-day EMA ($4.06) and the RSI above 67 suggest that the path of least resistance is to the upside. If the bulls can drive the price above $5.60, the UNI/USD pair could extend the uptrend and rally to $7.50 and then to $8.60.
Contrary to this assumption, if the price again turns down from $5.60, the pair may remain range-bound between $4.50 and $5.60 for a few days. The positive view will be refuted if the bears sink the price below the $4 support.
The 4-hour chart shows that the price has broken out of the symmetrical triangle. If the bulls can sustain the breakout, the pair could start its journey to the pattern target at $6.
On the contrary, if the price slips back into the triangle, it could drop to the 20-EMA. A strong rebound off this support will indicate accumulation at lower levels and the bulls will once again try to resume the up-move.
This positive view will be invalidated if the pair turns down from the current levels and breaks below the triangle.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.
After staying weak throughout December, Ether has rebounded in the first few days of 2021, and Sunday’s performance could be the start of something much bigger.
As Cointelegraph Markets analyst Michaël van de Poppe noted last week, 0.026 BTC is a significant breakout point, and flipping it to support indicates “strength and continuation” of a bullish resurgence.
“It’s time for #Ethereum, #Polkadot, #Cardano, #Chainlink and more to break all-time highs,” he told Twitter followers on Sunday.
“I do believe that we’re seeing money shift from BTC towards altcoins and that Ether has bottomed out on the BTC pair,” explained Van de Poppe. “So probably continuation of altseason in this quarter with the topping out of Bitcoin dominance.” He added:
“But hey, a Bitcoin correction would be appreciated too.”
At press time, ETH/USD was approaching landmark price levels of its own, taking aim at $1,000 on the back of 21% daily gains. The last time that the pair traded at four figures was in January 2018.
“$ETH was the best performing asset (up 450%) of 2020 hands down and still below its all-time high,” Cameron Winklevoss, entrepreneur and co-founder of exchange Gemini, added on Twitter.
“Today it’s the equivalent of 15K #Bitcoin I would take that bet all day long.”
Altseason is here at least?
With the prospect of “altseason” now firmly back on the menu, top ten market cap altcoins are showing signs of life against Bitcoin.
Litecoin (LTC) is up 18% against the largest cryptocurrency, while Bitcoin Cash (BCH) is 13.3% higher and Cardano (ADA) 9.7%.
Even XRP, still struggling on the back of legal action against Ripple, is finding its feet again with 3.5% daily progress in BTC terms. Bitcoin’s overall market cap dominance remains above 70%.
As Cointelegraph reported, meanwhile, a longer-term commitment to altcoins may also prove lucrative this year. Mining Ether, for example, could net over $120,000 per annum.