The most important industry news and detailed analysis of the cryptocurrency market in GetBlock Magazine's weekly review

PSB Bank’s test of the digital ruble and Mishustin’s call for the use of DFAs. Main events of the week

02.09.2022

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14 min

Bitcoin has fallen by 6б01% over the past seven days. The asset reached the highest values on August 26, when 1 BTC was trading at $21 886, the lowest values were recorded on August 28 — $19 520 per coin. As of September 2, 10:00 UTC, the bitcoin exchange rate is $20,138 (according to Binance).

The value of the second most capitalized cryptocurrency, Ethereum, has declined 3,97% in the past seven days to $1 594. The native token of the cryptocurrency exchange Binance (BNB) is down 5,82% and is trading at $279,1.

The total capitalization of the crypto market declined from $1,085 trillion to $0,984 trillion for the week, with bitcoin dominating 39,1%. Ethereum's share is 19,7%.

320 million cryptocurrency users

According to Triple A research, more than 320 million people worldwide own cryptocurrency, representing 4% of the world’s population. The spread of digital assets around the world has accelerated over the past few years. According to analysts, the 2021 bitcoin rally, when the price reached an all-time high (ATH) of $69 000, contributed to this, sparking an influx of retail and institutional investors.

The United States is one of the leaders in the speed of cryptocurrency adoption, with more than 46 million people owning digital assets in the country. A total of 13,74% of the country’s total population are cryptocurrency users. India is in second place with over 27,4 million cryptocurrency users, which is about 2% of India's population. Pakistan is in 3rd place with more than 26,4 million crypto users, which is 11,5% of the population. In terms of demographics, 63% of cryptocurrency owners are men and 37% are women.

News of digital ruble and DFAs

PSB Bank tested operations with the digital ruble. To participate in the testing, it was necessary to register in the bank’s mobile app and open your own digital wallet. Customers could then exchange regular rubles for digital rubles and send them to other participants in the testing, including customers of other banks, who were also connected to this program. All information about transactions came from the Central Bank’s platform and was immediately displayed in the mobile app.

Based on the results of testing, PSB said that the technology had great potential, and the digital ruble would become a new standard for settlements in the Russian economy.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin stated the need for intensive development of innovative areas, including the introduction of digital financial assets (DFAs). In his opinion, this is a safe alternative that can guarantee uninterrupted payment for the supply of goods from abroad and for export.

At the moment, Sberbank, Atomyze, and Lighthouse are the registered operators of information systems for issuing DFAs in Russia. All three firms have already issued digital financial assets.

BTC and ETH futures launch

On August 29, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) launched euro-denominated bitcoin and Ethereum futures trading. The size of the contracts at the time of the launch was 5 BTC (about €100 050 at the Binance exchange rate on September 02) and 50 ETH (about €79 600).

Representatives of the exchange said that the launch of new futures contracts was based on the growing popularity and liquidity of CME products based on BTC and ETH, denominated in dollars. The new futures will provide institutional clients in the US and beyond with more accurate and regulated tools for trading and hedging the two largest cryptocurrencies by market capitalization.

Ethereum's transition to PoS

The CEO of cryptocurrency hedge fund Pantera Capital Dan Morehead called the benefits of the Ethereum network’s transition from the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm to Proof-of-Stake (PoS). According to him, the upgrade will reduce the energy consumption of the blockchain by 99,95%, making it more resilient and having a positive impact on “an environmental, social, and governance (ESG) perspective.”

Another consequence of the blockchain’s upcoming upgrade will be the elimination of miner rewards and, consequently, a reduction in the daily issuance of new ETH from 14 600 to 1600 coins. According to Morehead, this will lead to Ethereum becoming a deflationary asset.

Crypto exchange Coinbase clarified its position regarding listing tokens for a potential Ethereum hard fork. The company noted that it will list the asset on the platform, provided it meets the requirements of the exchange and the law. Should a PoW fork emerge from the upgrade, its tokens will be reviewed “with the same rigor” as any other.

The exchange recalled that it would temporarily stop depositing and withdrawing new ETH and other ERC-20 tokens during the network’s transition to the new consensus algorithm. It is expected that this decision will not affect the trading of assets already on the exchange in any way.

Arbitrum, a layer-2 (L2) solution for scaling the Ethereum blockchain, went through a major upgrade called Nitro on August 31. Developers expect the upgrade to increase network throughput, reduce transaction fees and simplify cross-chain communication between Arbitrum and Ethereum.

The OpenSea NFT marketplace outlined its position on what types of non-fungible tokens will be supported after the Ethereum upgrade. The trading floor will support “solely” tokens from the upgraded PoS chain. The company clarified that forked NFTs on PoW will not be reflected or supported on the marketplace.

The co-founder of the Ethereum network Vitalik Buterin announced the release of a book called Proof of Stake. It will be released as early as September 27, 2022, and will focus on Ethereum’s development and the philosophy of blockchains. The book will cost $200. All proceeds Buterin will direct to support open-source developments through the Gitcoin grant program. Users can order a signed copy by the author before the digital and print versions are released.

From the world of mining

The capacity of Russian bitcoin mining farms running on associated petroleum gas (APG) reached 85 MW, and the average annual revenue of the industry may exceed 1 billion Russian rubles (RUB). The total power capacity of mining farms in oil fields amounted to 23% of the entire cryptocurrency mining market in the country.

Using associated gas for cryptocurrency mining allows oil companies to save money on building gas transportation infrastructure to deliver it to processing plants. In July, APG miners generated 400 million rubles in revenue at an average BTC price of $20 000, and the projected annual income by July 2023 at a similar rate of the asset could reach 4,8 billion.

Japan's largest online broker SBI Holdings Inc. ceased its mining activities in Russia and severed ties with BitRiver, a US-sanctioned data center operator. The company suspended mining in Siberia shortly after February 24. This resulted in a loss of $72 million. Previously, SBI Holdings had kept its relationship with BitRiver a secret.

The AntPool mining pool will stop supporting ETH on September 3 at 00:00 UTC Users are advised to link their ETH wallet addresses to their account before this moment to receive the coins mined. The project team noted that the network’s transition from the Proof-of-Work (PoW) consensus algorithm to Proof-of-Stake (PoS) carries the risk of censorship in various countries. For the sake of customers’ asset security, the pool will not support Ethereum on PoS.

After recalculating on August 31, the Bitcoin network’s mining difficulty increased by 9,26%, to 30,98 T. This figure shows positive dynamics for the third consecutive time. Also, according to BTC.com, the network’s average hashrate rose to 221,60 EH/s, and on August 30 the average transaction fee on the Bitcoin network was $0,92.

Cardano is the most recognizable crypto project

According to a 2022 report by marketing company MBLM, blockchain platform Cardano is the most recognizable cryptocurrency project, ranking 26th among the 600 brands surveyed from 19 areas in the global rankings. The cryptocurrency industry as a whole made it into the top 10 most recognizable areas, ranking eighth.

Also this week, it was reported that Input Output Global (IOG), the company that developed the Cardano network, funded a $4,5 million blockchain technology research hub at Stanford University. The company previously donated $500 000 to Stanford for blockchain scalability research.

Cardano founder Charles Hoskinson opposed the burning of the native ADA tokens, explaining that the coins can only be destroyed by taking them away from users because there is “no magic reserve” of coins for that purpose. He added that other projects sometimes have secret premined coins that are controlled by the founders and burned during periods of low liquidity to manipulate token prices.

Charles Hoskinson also called the estimated timing of the Vasil Hard Fork Combinator (HFC). It will take place in September if testing completes successfully and no bugs delay the upgrade. The developers and the community are actively testing the 1.35.3 node, with no problems seen with integration or infrastructure.

Stablecoin news

Algorithmic stablecoin Neutrino USD (USDN) lost parity to the US dollar again. The rate of the stablecoin fell to $0,82 in April and May and to $0,89 on June 10. On August 26, the value of the asset dropped by 9% against the fiat currency. As of 10:00 UTC on September 2, USDN is trading at $0,954 (CoinMarketCap data).

Rune Christensen, the co-founder of decentralized autonomous organization MakerDAO, suggested that the community depeg the DAI stablecoin from the dollar. He stated that harsh measures against cryptocurrencies can be enforced without prior notice and the possibility of recovery, even for innocent users who comply with the laws. Given the inability of the MakerDAO protocol to comply with regulators’ demands, Christensen believes decentralization is the only way of development.

The balance sheet of Tether Limited, the issuer of the USDT stablecoin, is in such condition that even a 0,3% drop in the value of its reserve assets could make the company “technically insolvent,” The Wall Street Journal journalists claim. If Tether’s liabilities outweigh its assets, it could wreak mayhem on the market, reducing investor confidence and increasing redemptions. The publication noted that the difference between the figures does not exceed $200 million.

NFT and metaverse news

Meta added a feature by which users who own NFTs will be able to publish them on the social networks Facebook and Instagram. To do this, it is necessary to connect a cryptocurrency wallet to the account in one of the social networks, after which the post will be available in both. The post itself will look like an ordinary picture, but it will be marked “Digital collectible.” The post will also tag the owner of the token and its creator.

Event organizers who sell tickets to events on the Ticketmaster platform can now issue NFTs. The feature was launched in collaboration with Dapper Labs' Flow blockchain. The ticket distribution platform has already issued more than 5 million NFTs on Flow to its event-hosting clients, including Apollo Theater, actor Sebastian Maniscalco, rock band The Black Crowes, and singer Gavin DeGraw.

On August 31, the first stage of the closed testing of the urban Metaverse Seoul was launched. The project recreated the Seoul city hall and the Seoul Plaza shopping center, where users participated in interactive activities and games. The opening event of the project was attended by 3200 students from Seoul Learn, the city’s online platform, and experts from Seoul IT Tech Governance Group.

The official launch of Metaverse Seoul is scheduled for late November 2022. The full version will feature digital services, through which citizens will be able to exchange documents with various city agencies, as well as contact the metaverse support service. Seoul plans to recreate the entire city inside the digital world. The project will be implemented over five years in three stages.

M.Video was the first Russian retailer to launch a store in the Roblox metaverse. The project is a virtual showroom of digital innovations and technologies, combined with the gaming space. The launch was timed to coincide with the beginning of the academic year.

The showroom is modeled on the existing retail outlets of the chain and painted in the brand colors, it combines several locations. For example, in the virtual store users can take part in the game “M.Racing.” Its aim is to bring the goods to the cash desk within 60 seconds. You can take part in the game an unlimited number of times. The winner can get bonus points and spend them in the real world.

Predictions on the rate of cryptocurrencies

Robert Kiyosaki, an American entrepreneur and author of the bestseller “Rich Dad, Poor Dad,” stated that the big crisis has already hit and now is the time to get rich by buying assets at reduced prices. In 2013, Kiyosaki published “Rich Dad's Prophecy,” where he predicted an even bigger crash, which he said was already coming.

Former stockbroker Jordan Belfort, known as the “Wolf of Wall Street,” compared ultra low cap cryptocurrencies to the penny stocks he himself used to trade. In his opinion, while some may make a lot of money investing in this type of asset, most of the buyers of these tokens will lose their funds. According to him, only someone who is willing to allocate some amount from their portfolio to gamble can buy ultra low cap tokens.

Umar Farooq, the CEO of Onyx, a cryptocurrency division of JPMorgan, a financial holding company, said that most of the cryptocurrencies now on the market are “still junk” with the “exception of a few dozen tokens.” In his opinion, while there are private payment options that will always exist in the crypto sector, users prefer to turn to regulated financial institutions when it comes to “serious transactions.” However, Farooq noted that the development of rules to regulate the crypto sector has been slow because of the disagreements within the government that have arisen.

Mikhail Dorofeev, associate professor of the Public Finance Department at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation, said the value of bitcoin could drop to $10 000-$13 000, and investor interest in cryptocurrencies will return in the second half of 2023.

According to Dorofeev, during the contraction of the dollar money supply and the rise in the value of the dollar all asset classes whose value is formed in the free market (bitcoin, gold, stocks, bonds) begin to fall. In this, the expert expects the main wave of decline in the prices of digital assets to pass at the end of 2022 because of the likely completion of the phase of tightening the monetary policy by the Fed.

David Kelly, the chief global strategist at JPMorgan, a financial holding company, said that there is a high risk of a recession in the United States and increased volatility in markets, including cryptocurrency markets. He recommended “steering clear” of bitcoin and large-cap tech stocks. Kelly also advised starting to sell cryptocurrency. However, the analyst noted that by the end of 2023, the economy “will feel more normal.”

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