This is what the turn of the year brought us.
Executive markets summary (December 1 — January 8):
- The overall market cap has remained low — around $130 billion ($136,8 billion at the time of publishing), far from its January peak of $831 billion and hits the 2018 bottom of $101 billion on December 14.
- BTC/USD started last month of the year at just over $4,000, tested its 2018 low of just below $3,200 on December 15. Then it recovered to $3,850 and climbed over $4000 again at writing time.
- ETH/USD started at $113, touched its yearly low of $85 on December 7. Then corrected at $150 and moved to $151,99 at writing time.
Unclear messages from USA
Despite the hints of progress, USA seems unfamiliar to crypto adoption. They confirmed it at the end of the year as two congressmen introduced a bill to the House of Representatives which wants to disregard digital assets as being defined as securities.
We will see if anything will change after naming Mick Mulvaney, a well-known bitcoin supporter as the new White House Chief of Staff.
For now, the feelings are mixed
As we have become accustomed to, SEC postponed the decision on VanEck-SolidX Bitcoin ETF again and sets 27 February 2019 as news „final deadline“. Since the SEC had 45 days from the date of publication in the Federal Register to make a decision, it could have waited a few months to make an announcement.
However, there is not much to be enthusiastic, as our CEO described in the interview for U.Today. Maybe there is less fogging around Nasdaq Bitcoin Futures as the second-largest exchange in the world (by market cap) confirmed it will definitely be launching a Bitcoin futures product in the first half of 2019:
“Bitcoin Futures will be listed and it should launch in the first half of next year – we’re just waiting for the go ahead from the CFTC but there’s been enough work put into this to make that academic.“
– Joseph Christinat, Nasdaq VP for Daily Express
Maybe there is less fogging around Nasdaq Bitcoin Futures as the second-largest exchange in the world (by market cap) confirmed it will definitely be launching a Bitcoin futures product in the first half of 2019. “Bitcoin Futures will be listed and it should launch in the first half of next year — we’re just waiting for the go ahead from the CFTC but there’s been enough work put into this to make that academic,“ Nasdaq VP, Joseph Christinat said for UK newspaper Daily Express.
Again, we are not too enthusiastic about Bitcoin futures: enjoy the article „Nasdaq Bitcoin futures: don’t get your hopes up“.
Bakkt: Second Delay
Although Bakkt, bitcoin futures and custody platform created by Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), has completed its first funding round and raising $182.5 million from 12 investors, it will most likely not meet their planned launch date on January 24. Instead, it looks like they will see yet another delay. At this point, ICE hasn’t seen the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) give them the approvals required to launch, and their slow pace suggests that they won’t be giving them any time soon. Insiders believe that this delay will only be a matter of a few days, rather than months on end.
The platform previously revealed it would launch physically-settled bitcoin futures, meaning clients would receive bitcoin upon the expiration of their contracts, rather than the token’s cash equivalent.
Crypto Securities – They got it!
On the other hand, some good news has come from a small Baltic country as Estonian Dx.exchange claims it is launching a new cryptocurrency platform that tokenizes the stock market. If it works out, it will be the first time publicly listed companies like Google, Facebook, Intel, and Apple can be purchased directly with popular cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. According to their last tweet, they are already in life. Congratulations!
There were also some announcements of interesting blockchain projects.
National Bank of Kuwait, one of the largest privately-held financial institutions in the country, has announced they have launched the platform for cross-border live payments using Ripple. South Korea has launched a pilot project that will test how blockchain can be used to make the countries shipping industry more efficient.
Malta, dubbed “Blockchain Island”, may soon have a blockchain bank courtesy of OK Blockchain Capital Limited. The blockchain firm has stated that it’s the anchor investor in RnF Finance, which has applied authorization to operate a credit institution from the Malta Financial Services Authority.
Also, other statements in the plane of promises have resonated.
Facebook is reportedly working on the cryptocurrency for users of the messaging service WhatsApp. The token will purportedly be used for money transfers made within the app and will focus on the remittances market in India.
Only a smoke screen? We’ll see!
Fake volume and Hacker Attacks? Never Mind!
As we have become accustomed to major crypto exchanges are faking their volume figures. According to a new report by the Blockchain Transparency Institute as much as 80% of the volume on the top 25 bitcoin pairs are subject to wash trading and manipulative bot trading.
To make it even more interesting, there were about 13 million cryptojacking incidents last year, Kaspersky Lab reported. The cybersecurity firm also found that most attacks were carried out in the Middle East region, Africa, and Turkey.
However, the number of crypto users doubles according to a new study by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance. There are now 35 million ID verified cryptocurrency users in the world. The study also found that there are over 139 million cryptocurrency accounts.
Tighter Regulation and more Taxes to Pay
The turn of the year was also connected with announcements of the regulation tightening in several countries.
Expert opinions indicate new rules may adversely affect the markets Hong Kong, Cryptocurrencies has no place in India and the Central Bank of Netherlands will soon require crypto service providers in the country to obtain a license for their operations.
The vast majority of bitcoin mining (77.6%) is probably conducted using renewable energy sources, CoinShares have calculated in a scathing rebuke to critics who have alleged that bitcoin mining operations are environmentally wasteful.
Richard Branson´s SpaceShipTwo is the first crewed vehicle built for commercial service to reach space. A Virgin Galactic spacecraft flew above the Mojave Desert in California, climbing into the edge of space for about a minute, a crucial milestone in the race to make big-business space tourism a reality. Branson, who revealed himself as a Bitcoin believer and investor in 2013 announced the project would accept Bitcoin for flights, calling the cryptocurrency a “brilliantly conceived idea.”