Welcome to Around the Blockchain, Huobi Learn’s daily rundown of the crypto markets.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has arrested a married couple, Heather Morgan and Ilya “Dutch Lichtenstein, in New York and seized 94,000 BTC (worth $3.6 billion) linked to the 2016 hack of crypto exchange Bitfinex. The total amount of BTC stolen, however, was around 120,000 (worth $4.5 billion). According to the DOJ, “unauthorized transactions” moved the stolen BTC to Lichtenstein’s wallet, with about 25,000 transferred out since 2016; the remaining 94,000 was eventually confiscated by federal agents in what Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco called the DOJ’s “largest financial seizure ever”.
In a new report, financial research firm FSInsight has predicted that BTC could reach $222,000 and ETH could reach $12,000 by the end of the year — an almost five-fold and four-fold price rise, respectively. The report was bullish on supply-side dynamics for BTC, describing them as “a powder keg” and saying that “the question remains who lights the match”. In ETH’s case, the report also had a bullish forecast, saying ETH was “remarkably under-valued” and factoring in The Merge, when Ethereum will transition to proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus, Layer 2 platform development, and the potential launch of Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) to support its forecast.
The US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is prioritizing the evaluation of crypto assets this year, as “rapid introduction” of crypto or digital asset products into the financial system could “pose significant safety and soundness and financial system risks”. The FDIC said federal banking agencies would need to “provide robust guidance” to the banking industry on managing prudential and consumer protection risks from crypto activities, and that it is “laying the foundation for the next chapter of banking by ensuring we have a regulatory framework that allows responsible innovation to flourish”.
LINE Corporation, owner of Japanese messaging app LINE, plans to introduce native token for payments at select online merchants by way of a limited trial. From 16 Mar to 26 Dec, users can choose to pay with native LINK token (LN) at any of LINE Pay’s online merchants; the trial is meant to test real-life use-cases for the tokens, as well as offer users more payment options. At the same time LINE Pay is considering adding other cryptocurrencies, such as BTC and ETH to its payment options in future, and reinforce partnerships with blockchain companies. Launched in Aug 2018, LN is now trading at $142.78, up 22% in the past week.
AssangeDAO, the DAO supporting Wikileaks founder Julian Assange’s legal plight, has completed its raise at 17,422 ETH (worth around $53.7 million). The DAO will use the fund to bid on a one-of-one NFT from a drop called Censored by digital artist Pak, in collaboration with Assange. The proceeds of the sale will go towards Assange’s defense fund, as well as awareness campaigns as he fights extradition to the US this month after having been imprisoned in the UK for the last three years as US prosecutors seek to try him on espionage charges. Pak and Assange’s One Thousand Thirty-Four one-of-one NFT currently has a top bid of 4,242.42 ETH (worth $13 million), with the auction set to close later today.
Show me the money
According to data from Huobi Global, BTC rose overnight from 42,600 to nearly 44,000, while ETH increased to 3,070, with daily charts showing signs of an upward trend for both. In terms of contracts, Huobi Futures data showed a slight increase in the open interest (OI) of BTC futures and stable OI for ETH futures, albeit with slightly decreased volume.
Wells Fargo has predicted that international crypto adoption could “soon hit a hyper-inflection point”, though “it is still early in the cryptocurrency investment evolution”. In a report, it likened crypto’s current status to the Internet’s “hyper-adoption phase” in the mid to late 1990s, and noted that “it took only four months to double the global cryptocurrency population from 100 million to 200 million” in June last year. Still, it warned that crypto investment options today are “still maturing” and advised patience while remaining hopeful that “greater regulatory clarity in 2022” would bring “higher quality investment options”.