Welcome to Around the Blockchain, Huobi Learn’s daily rundown of the crypto markets.
The US Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) has sanctioned Russia-based Hydra Market, labelling it the world’s biggest, most prominent darknet market, while Germany has announced the shutdown of Hydra and seizure of 543 BTC (worth around $25 million). At the same time, the US Treasury said it was identifying over 100 Hydra-linked virtual currency addresses used to conduct illicit transactions. OFAC has also flagged around $8 million in ransomware proceeds moving through Hydra’s virtual currency accounts, saying that approximately 86% of illicit BTC accepted directly by Russian virtual currency exchanges in 2019 had come from Hydra.
Nasdaq-listed Microstrategy has bought an additional 4,167 BTC for $190.5 million through its subsidiary, Macrostrategy, raising its crypto holdings to 129,218 BTC (acquired for a total of $3.97 billion). This comes after Macrostrategy purchased 660 BTC in Feb, and received a $205 million BTC-backed loan from Silvergate Bank in Mar in order to buy more BTC. BTC is currently trading at $46,819, and Microstrategy CEO Michael Saylor remains bullish on the cryptocurrency, having said during his company’s Q1 earnings call that he saw “evidence of a lot more institutional adoption” as people became “more educated and more aware…of digital property”.
Bitcoin miner Riot Blockchain (RIOT) produced 511 BTC in last month, bringing its balance sheet to 6,062 BTC and marking a 176% year-on-year increase from the 185 BTC mined last Mar. In Mar 2022, Riot also sold 200 BTC at an average price of $47,090 each (earning around $9.4 million in total), received an additional 1,080 Bitmain S19j Pros and deployed 4,440 S19j Pros. It currently has another 5,030 units ready for deployment and expects to receive a further 5,430 units this month, shipped by Bitmain. Once all these units have been deployed, the company will have 53,397 miners working at a hash rate of 5.4 EH/s, which it intends to increase to 12.9 EH/s by Jan next year — presumably with 120,150 Antminer ASICs fully deployed.
The Hyundai Motor Group (HMG) has invested $82 million in Metaverse Entertainment, a subsidiary of South Korean game company Netmarble. The investment was made through HMG’s ZER01NE funding program, an open innovation platform that facilitates collaboration between start-ups and HMG’s 2 major vehicle producers, Hyundai Motor Company and Kia Corporation. HMG and Metaverse Entertainment will henceforth cooperate on the development of digital humans, drawing on the latter’s experience in creating virtual influencer Lina. Metaverse Entertainment also plans to introduce a virtual K-pop girl group later this year.
Despite having called BTC “worthless” and a “fraud”, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has said he sees value in the technology behind it. In his annual shareholder letter, he wrote that DeFi and blockchain were “real, new technologies” that could be deployed in “both public and private fashion, permissioned or not”. He went on to claim that JPMorgan Chase was “at the forefront of this innovation”, citing its JPM Coin and blockchain network Liink, adding that there were “many uses where a blockchain can replace or improve contracts, data ownership and other enhancements”. However, he also said the technology was currently “too expensive or too slow to be deployed”.
Show me the money
A week after reaching a 3-month high of $48,000, BTC fell to its support level of $45,000 this morning, even as on-chain data showed overall positive buying activity. This dip also led to a wider decline in the crypto market, with ETH, SOL and XRP all falling by 5% and AVAX and DOT falling by over 6% in the last 24 hours. DOGE was the only major cryptocurrency to see a rise, possibly due to optimism around SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s appointment to the board of Twitter — a move that could bode well for the memecoin.
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