Bulls are back. We hesitate to make such market pronouncements in this space, but at this point it’s a fairly solid thesis to state that cryptocurrencies have bounced off their lows and are inching their way back into speculators’ good graces. At the time of this writing, midday Tuesday in New York, the benchmark BTC has risen from around $3,600 to around $4,000 in less three days, with a proportional rise in trading volume, according to CoinMarketCap. ETH tracked that pace, rising from approx $125 to $145, reclaiming the No. 2 market cap spot. Its rival XRP, meanwhile, lagged a bit but still rose from roughly $0.30 to $0.33. Bitcoin.com reports that BTC has gained more than 16% in two weeks, and has signalled in incipient bull market by breaching its 100-day moving average for the first time in nine months.
P2P volumes surge in Lat Am, Pac Rim. Localbitcoins correspondents have been struggling to keep up with a sudden surge in volume across a broad swath of the globe. Bitcoin.com reports that average daily BTC volumes against the Indonesian rupiah increased by a factor of 10 between February 2 and February 9. Less dramatically, BTC volumes denominated in South Korean won rose 125%, and record or near-record volumes were seen in Peru, Colombia, Argentina and – no surprise – Venezuela.
Jamie Dimon self-owns on crypto. JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, who famously called bitcoin a “fraud”, cooked and ate some crow this past week when his bank announced that it would be offering its own digital token. Hugh Son at CNBC broke the news. JPM Coin will be a dollar-pegged stablecoin operating on a private blockchain accessible only to wholesale institutions that have passed all scrutiny required by regulators. This has led to some Dimon apologists to parse semantics and declare JPM Coin “not a cryptocurrency” but, you know, close enough. We could engage in schadenfreude that a bulge-bracket bank chief had to backtrack on his crypto-skepticism, but maybe we should take it easy on him. Dimon is, after all, the guy who waited for $30/share Bear Stearns drop to $2 before agreeing to buy it – with U.S. government money. The man has proved he knows a bargain when he sees one, and his stepping in at this moment just underscores the return of confidence to crypto markets.
End of Shift. While the value of your digital assets has been gaining, your ability to spend it on coffee or shoes or groceries was dealt a blow last week when Shift announced, “We, unfortunately, will be retiring the service” in an email to cardholders. Shift is a Visa debit card linked directly to U.S. consumers’ Coinbase accounts and, after three-and-a-half years, is expected to shut down April 11. The email hinted of a potential “relaunch” but, until and unless that day comes, the only widely accepted option the States will be Bitpay, although other crypto debit cards are available worldwide.
Isn’t it good / Norwegian ‘hood? Liberstad, a settlement located between Kristiansand, Norway, and a herd of reindeer somewhere, announced that CITY will be its local currency. This proof-of-stake token is affiliated with City Chain, “a smart city platform that enables the design, implementation and use of next-generation services for smart cities and their inhabitants,” according to Liberstad’s release which goes on to say that this platform gives cities “the opportunity to build and offer services conducted on a private, internal and voluntary basis.” The release states that CITY will be “the only medium of exchange within Liberstad,” which is bound to be an unwelcome surprise to the executive council of the krone-printing Norges Bank. This reporter has documented elsewhere that local currency supplanting national currency has been a positive force in world history, even digging the Weimar Republic out of its hyperinflationary spiral and perhaps even delaying the rise of Nazism. But it’s hard to see what the adoption of CITY does for two-year-old, 100-resident Liberstad, aside from burnishing its anarcho-capitalistic reputation and status as a self-styled “private city”.
LOOKING FORWARD: Starting February 25, Nasdaq, through its data dissemination relationship with Brave New Coin, will send real-time BTC and ETH index level information on the Nasdaq Global Index Data Service, according to a press release from the exchange. Keep an eye out for the Bitcoin Liquidity Index and the Ethereum Liquidity Index. Crypto enthusiast and professional luck-presser Tim Draper told Fox Business that “in five years, we will try to go in and buy coffee for fiat money and the barista will laugh” although “criminals will still want to operate in cash.” So if you think you might want to grab a latte in 2024, you should probably give Draper all your cash in exchange for bitcoin right now at whatever exchange rate he offers. (Regulators: The preceding sentence was intended with sarcasm.)