Ethereum mining declining. According to analytics site Etherscan, ETH is being mined at the lowest rates since its 2015 launch. On February 11, only 13,131 new coins were created. Aside from a three-week swoon in the autumn of 2017, it has never fell to comparable levels. Over the course of the previous 12 months, 20,000 was a typical day. While the price has been steady to positive – currently around $120 – and volumes have been enough to maintain liquidity – around 3 million daily – there’s less incentive to mine because of plans to wean ETH off proof-of-work. After the Constantinople update, the coin is expected to adopt a proof-of-stake consensus algorithm.
Bitcoin fees drop, volumes rise. Analytics site Diar reports that median fees for trading BTC have dropped to 2015 levels. Meantime, the report notes that daily volumes are crossing the 9 million threshold, which is where they were right before the peak just over a year ago. That said, the dollar-denominated value per transaction is as low as it’s been since Diar started tracking in 2014.
BTC futures, though, are another story. Separately, analytics company Tradeblock discovered that futures contracts for BTC offered through both the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and the Chicago Board Options Exchange have plummeted relative to spot markets. “While December saw the spot market post a healthy retracement, trade activity in the futures markets fell by more than half to post its worst performing month since launch,” Bitcoin.com reports, “suggesting a shift away from the cryptocurrency derivatives offered by CME and CBOE in favor of the traditional cryptocurrency markets.”
First U.S. pensions invested in crypto. Institutional investors have been slow – perhaps wisely so – to invest in cryptocurrency, and pensions have understandably lagged other institutions. So it was something of an earthshaking event when two retirement plans from Virginia pooled $40 million to invest in Morgan Creek Digital, as Bloomberg reports. Morgan Creek Digital is the venture capital firm’s crypto-focused portfolio.
Voyager Digital goes public. Canadian token broker Voyager Digital listed on the Toronto Venture Exchange February 8, with the ticker symbol VYGR.V. “The idea of a young company going public may at first glance seem out of the norm. For us, the choice made perfect sense,” blogged CEO Stephen Ehrlich. “It offered Voyager the chance to bring transparency to our business, maturity to the crypto market and to provide the world with an opportunity to invest in a public crypto trading company through the traditional market.”
Chainalysis secures second round. Cryptocurrency compliance firm Chainalysis, fresh off last year’s $16 million initial funding, announced a Series B led by Accel with existing investors subscribing. The newly raised $30 million will go toward opening a London office, expanding into Asia-Pacific markets and other corporate purposes. Chainalysis markets its tools mainly to law enforcement and regulatory agencies.
LOOKING FORWARD: Patrick Byrne, the Overstock CEO who became an early and influential cryptocurrency enthusiast, told MarketWatch that blockchain technology could enable “government-as-a-service” that would be more efficient as well as resistant to bribes and corruption. “We could step into Venezuela with six laptops and create not only a functioning society but arguably one with the most advanced government systems in the world,” he said. … A stablecoin linked to the Japanese yen is in the planning stages and will be launched this year, according to Cointelegraph, which listened in on a GMO Internet earnings presentation. “Regarding the plan to launch GYEN as announced last year, we plan to issue it in overseas this year,” reporter Adrian Zmudzinski quotes a top executive as saying.