Crypto market cap actually gained last year. Despite a dismal year for the value of any particular unit of cryptocurrency, the market as a whole expanded by $15 billion in 2018, according to analytic site Diar. One-third of that came from a new supply of ether, bitcoin and the recently forked bitcoin SV. But according to a section of Diar’s report subtitled “Bear Shmear, Let’s Tokenize Air,” the majority of the gain came from the 700 new cryptocurrencies added to exchanges, which exceeds the number of cryptocurrencies that existed at the end of 2017. That’s not all good news, though. “[New] supply that came onto the blockchains during 2018 accounted for almost the whole market valuation that stood at the start of 2017,” the report continued, “with no standout application success story as of yet apart from cryptocurrencies whose sole purpose is to transfer value.” Separately, Diar noted that on-chain ether transaction value hit $115 million in December, an all-time high if the effects of 2016’s DAO hack and the coin’s subsequent hard fork are excluded.
Nasdaq CEO touts digital assets. Barely. On her way to in Davos, Switzerland, Nasdaq president Adena Friedman published a LinkedIn article stating, “it is difficult to ignore the huge amount that investors, including some of the most sophisticated global investors, have poured into digital currencies in recent years. The invention itself is a tremendous demonstration of genius and creativity, and it deserves an opportunity to find a sustainable future in our economy.” Though she touted her company’s investment in crypto futures exchange ErisX, her view of digital assets isn’t all that rosy. “Two key ingredients to establishing a practical utility and a more stable value are governance and regulatory clarity,” she wrote, “both of which are antithetical to the original intent as a decentralized, ungovernable global currency.” Also, it’s clear that crypto wasn’t at the top of her mind as she headed to the World Economic Forum. Her article hit seven major themes. Crypto was No. 3.
ConsenSys layoff report dialed down. As reported here last month, Ethereum software developer ConsenSys announced layoffs of 13% of its 900 employees. But in a new interview with Cointelegraph, a senior executive at the Brooklyn-based firm puts the headcount reduction at 10% and said it affected mostly support staff rather than developers or other technologists.
Forget dexes, forget stablecoins. The new hot market is custodians. A recent report from BNY Mellon, the sheer number of hacks and frauds in the crypto space has opened up an opportunity for providers to offer services that mitigate operational, regulatory and reputational risk. “There is increasing demand in the market for a traditional, established custodian to provide custody of cryptocurrencies,” wrote product manager Kara Kennedy. “A number of specialist crypto firms have begun to launch services targeted to institutional clients, including safekeeping of crypto assets and trading services. For clients who may look to offer their own products into the market, for example, fund managers, it is critically important to have high levels of asset protection, which may necessitate the engagement of a well-capitalized bank. That said, there are some significant hurdles that must be overcome if traditional custody banks are to engage with this emerging asset class.” She described challenges related to operational models, technology, risk and compliance frameworks and legal and regulatory frameworks.
ICOs slow out of the gate in 2019. The first two weeks of 2019 saw the launches of 47 ICOs, but only one worth mentioning. Of the $90 million raised, according to Bitcoin.com, Canadian real estate crowdfunder Chelle Coin accounted for $80.2 million. Separately, Bitcoin.com reported that Singapore was the top nation for ICO fundraising in 2018, ponying up $1.5 billion, or 12% of the worldwide total. The United States was a close second, with the United Kingdom taking the bronze. Fourth and fifth place went to the Cayman Islands and Switzerland respectively. Altogether, these five markets accounted for almost half the world’s funding.
LOOKING FORWARD: According to Cointelegraph, many experts agree that the crypto market is oversold and due for a rebound. But what else is new? They might be bullish in the long run, but ETH and TRX are the only names they advise buying now. MIT engineering professor Silvio Micali told Bloomberg that Blockchain technology could prove to be the enabler of a borderless economy “in which anyone can participate with minimum effort, maximum confidence and transparency and trust.” On his Twitter feed, venture capitalist and crypto enthusiast Alistair Milne called bitcoin “the ‘only’ sure thing” among blockchains that will still exist a hundred years from now.