After recently breaching the psychological price of $3,000, Ethereum (ETH) continues trading above this level based on regained momentum.
The second-largest cryptocurrency based on market capitalization was up by 3.22% in the last 24 hours to hit $3,050 during intraday trading, according to CoinMarketCap.
Ethereum has been experiencing notable accumulation, illustrating more demand. Market analyst under the pseudonym Webthreewizard explained:
“Despite volatility in ETH, the mean coin age of ETH continues to grow steadily, indicating an accumulation trend.”
Is Ethereum creating a bottom?
Open interest in the ETH ecosystem has been building up, raising the question of whether a bottom is being created. The co-founders of market insight provider Glassnode stated:
“Ethereum open interest signals a potential bottom as investors begin to position themselves for the next big move.”
Ethereum set an all-time high (ATH) of $4,850 in November last year, but it has not been able to reclaim this zone.
On the other hand, speculative demand for Ethereum calls continues to rise, illustrating a bullish sign.
Ethereum’s upward momentum recently made it beatBitcoin on the weekly chart amid increased optimism about the Merge.
The much-anticipated Merge will serve as the biggest software upgrade in the Ethereum ecosystem because it will prompt a transition from the current proof of work (PoW) to a proof of stake (PoS) framework, which is deemed more environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
It is slated for the second quarter of this year, and it is expected to accelerate Ethereum’s deflationary aspect. Crypto research firm LuckyHash had previously noted that the Merge would lead to a 1% annual deflation rate.
Figure Technologies, a USfinancial technology company that operates both in the home equity and blockchain space, announced on Wednesday that it has launched a cryptocurrency-backed mortgage trading service that enables customers to borrow against their Bitcoin or ether to fund home purchases.
While the full rollout is scheduled to take place in April, Figure has opened its waiting list for crypto-backed mortgages in the US, an effort that would let borrowers put up Bitcoin (BTC) or Ethereum (ETH) as collateral.
The loan instrument will allow payments with the crypto collateral.Borrowers will be able to take out mortgages worth up to $20 million for a 30-year loan. Beginning in April, Figure will offer 30-year mortgages of up to $20 million in exchange for putting up an equal amount of cryptocurrency in either Bitcoin or Ether, as collateral.
In a Linkedin post, Mike Cagney, the co-founder and CEO of blockchain startup Figure Technologies, disclosed that the company has opened a waiting list for its mortgage products (Crypto Mortgage and Crypto Mortgage PLUS), and those who signed up could receive them in April.
Payment on the loan over the 30-year term can be paid in cash or with the crypto collateral, and would bear an interest rate of between 3% and 5.99%, Cagney said. “The loans will also be 100% loan-to-value (LTV), so if you put up $5 million in bitcoin or ether, we give you a $5 million mortgage,” the CEO explained.
Figure follows several other firms into the crypto-backed mortgage market, a trend that shows rising interest in bringing digital assets to the housing market.
In December last year, Ledn, a crypto lending company, raised $70 million to develop its Bitcoin-backed mortgage product. While in January, Milo, a real estate fintech based in Miami, also launched a waitlist for its crypto mortgage product.
Leveraging Blockchain to Reinvent Financial Services Delivery
Figure was co-founded in 2018 by Mike Cagney, who was the co-founder and former CEO of SoFi, a San Francisco-based online personal finance company that went public in June last year through a merger with a special-purpose acquisition company run by tech investor Chamath Palihapitiya.
In 2017, Cagney stepped down as CEO of SoFi amid questions about sexual harassment at the firm. Cagney’s new startup, Figure, is already seeing its own success. In July last year, Figure raised $200 million in a Series D financing round, funding that gave the firm a valuation of $3.2 billion.
Figure is a financial services company that leverages blockchain technology. The company offers consumer financial solutions intended for retirement planning, debt consolidation, and home improvement. Its financial services include providing home equity release services like home improvement loans, home equity lines of credit, and home buy-lease back offerings, which leverage blockchain, artificial intelligence, and advanced analytics technology services to enable customers to access capital in as few as five days.
Bitcoin (BTC) miners have adopted a strategy of consistently accumulating more coins for almost one year, according to market insight provider Glassnode.
Bitcoin miners’ accumulation has been on an uptrend since April 2021, with their cumulative balance sitting slightly below 1,825K BTC.
This trend change among Bitcoin miners started in 2020 after they transformed into buyers and hodlers. This behavioural change might have been triggered by unprecedented factors like Bitcoin mining being unwelcome on Chinese soil.
For instance, more than 90% of China’s crypto mining capacity was lost after authorities disconnected BTC mining sites in Sichuan in June.
Hodling and accumulation have emerged as favoured strategies in the crypto space. Data analytic firm IntoTheBlock recently noted:
“As BTC soars to $42,000, more than 15,000 BTC in outflows from exchanges were spotted on March 21st, the largest since Jan 29th. The last time BTC experienced a large outflow, it was followed by a significant rise in price.”
Cryptocurrencies leaving exchanges signifies a hodling culture because coins are transferred to digital wallets and cold storage for future purposes rather than speculation. Furthermore, it illustrates a bullish sign based on reduced selling pressure.
With Bitcoin’s price being below the 200-day moving average(MA) longer than the big correction witnessed in 2021, it remains to be seen how the leading cryptocurrency plays out in the short term.
The notable correction in 2021 was prompted by the massive exit of crypto miners from China based on an intensified crackdown. As a result, Bitcoin nosedived from highs of $64,800 to lows of $30,000 in May 2021.
On the other hand, the 200-day MA depicts a market trend because it shows an average of approximately 40 weeks of trading.
US investment bank Cowen announced on Wednesday that it has launched a digital assets division, called Cowen Digital, that will provide full-service trade execution and custody solutions to institutional clients.
The digital asset division will offer cryptocurrency trading and custody solutions for institutional investors via Cowen’s partnership with PolySign’s Standard Custody and Trust Company. Cowen Digital will also offer financing solutions, derivatives and futures, and institutional DeFi and NFT access.
The firm has been building up its digital infrastructure for the previous few months ahead of the launch. In May last year, Cowen partnered with Standard Custody & Trust, a unit of digital asset infrastructure firm PolySign, to provide its customers with easier access to cryptocurrency.
In a statement, Dan Charney, co-president of the bank, said that Cowen Digital has been trading cryptocurrency on behalf of its customers for several months. The division is currently trading 16 cryptocurrencies including Bitcoin, Ether, Solana, USD coin (USDC), Chainlink, Uniswap, Polygon, and Decentraland, and has a client list in the hundreds.
Drew Forman, the Managing Director at Cowen, will lead the new digital unit. “Cowen Digital’s team has had calls with hundreds of potential clients including crypto-native firms, asset allocators, and multi-strategy hedge funds looking to participate in the space. Cowan has quite a large custody and clearing business, so that means they have hundreds if not thousands of institutional clients that trade through them. It’s a captive audience and it’s very early. Zero banks offer this,” Forman elaborated.
Delivering Value to Customers
Founded in 1918, Cowen Inc. is a US multinational investment bank headquartered in New York and with offices worldwide.
In January 2020, Cowen started trading as a member firm of the London Stock Exchange. The move demonstrated Cowen’s strong commitment to serving its customers and offering access to capital markets in the UK and Europe.
Cowen, a diversified financial services firm with over 100 years of history, has strategically built and grown a comprehensive, cross-border financial services platform to include prime brokerage, credit, equities, research, and sector-focused investment banking across Europe and the U.S over the last decade.
Recently, Cowen added seven new senior hires to its international sales and trading team as part of its efforts to deliver value-added capabilities to its clients in order to help them outperform.
GameStop’s NFT marketplace is out in beta and integrated with the Ethereum Layer 2 zkRollup protocol, Loopring (LRC).
The partnership will provide players with faster, cheaper, and more secure access to digital property rights.
Since Loopring zkRollup is based on Ethereum’s self-hosted security while abstracting away expensive gas fees, it lowers customers’ costs.
Adam Browman, Head of Growth at Loopring explained that Users can directly mint NFTs on Loopring L2 while inheriting the security of Ethereum L1 at a fraction of the cost of L1 minting (less than $1).
In January, the major US video game and electronics retailer disclosed that it was getting into the NFTs marketplace and entering into crypto collaborations. GameStop hired 20 new employees for its cryptocurrency division to develop a digital marketplace for people to purchase, sell, and trade NFTs linked to digital assets for use in various games.
Last month, GameStop partnered with Immutable X, a blockchain firm, to build a marketplace for NFTs, which they expected to roll out later this year.
As reported by blockchain.News on March 18, in its fiscal fourth-quarter earnings report, GameStop announced that it plans to launch a non-fungible token (NFT) marketplace by the end of the second quarter (the end of July this year).
India’s proposed crypto tax rules may into law tomorrow through parliament.
According to a report by CNBC on February 3, Ashish Singhal, CEO of cryptocurrency exchange CoinSwitch, said that India’s decision to regulate cryptocurrencies by introducing a high crypto tax rate of up to 30% on all transactions involving digital assets is an indication that the government recognizes cryptocurrency transactions as valid.
The draft proposal will become more binding when passed into law after parliamentary deliberations but the statement released by the finance ministry has it that 1% of the tax amount will be deducted at source in a bid to capture the details of the transaction.
The bill has been submitted to India’s upper house for consideration, however, as a currency bill, the amendment will go to the lower house, which will then vote on each amendment.
The bill is expected to be passed by the House of Commons by the end of the day.
Subhash Garg, former secretary in the Finance Ministry’s Department of Economic Affairs said that:
“I don’t expect the government to make any changes to the proposals on 30% capital gains tax, the 1% TDS or on other aspects of the tax proposals that needed clarity such as the offsetting of losses,”
Blockchain.News also reported that India’s Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman came out guns blazing to clarify that cryptocurrency taxation is a “sovereign right” and “corrective action”.
Tekin Salimi, a former general partner of crypto venture giant Polychain Capital, announced on Wednesday that he has launched a $125 million fund called dao5 to help provide blockchain startups with early-stage funding.
The fund will invest in seed and pre-seed stage firms and projects across various verticals in the crypto industry, including the so-called “Layer 1” blockchain infrastructure, which supports networks like Ethereum and Solana, privacy tech, decentralized finance, DAOs themselves, NFTs and gaming. The average investment will range between $500,000 and $2 million.
Salimi disclosed that he later intends to convert the fund into a founder-owned decentralized autonomous organization (DAO). He expects that by 2025, the investment fund will eventually be transformed into a DAO to provide a new way to reward company owners for their contributions.
Salimi stated that by 2025, dao5 will become a fully founder-owned DAO, as he believes that it will take three years to fully invest the $125 million fund, about $40 million invested annually.
The fund will be dissolved once the entire $125 million is invested – dao5 will return the limited partnership capital to investors and convert the fund into a DAO, an online community that uses Web3 tools, cryptocurrency, and smart contracts to organize, incentivize participation, and share control among group members.
Salimi, who will manage the fund, revealed that investors are eager to participate and that the fund has already raised the $125 million funding in place.
According to the report, Ivan Soto-Wright, founder of Moonpay, Ben Fisch – a professor of computer science at Yale University, Do Kwon – founder of the Luna protocol, Emin Gün Sirer – founder of the Avalanche protocol, will all serve on dao5’s advisory board.
Unlike traditional venture capital funds, where company owners simply get direct funding from venture capitalists, dao5 will provide grants to recipients in the form of governance tokens that will make up the fund’s future DAO, Salimi said.
“It starts with this centralized venture investing model. But the end state of it is basically a collective of crypto founders that control a new treasury of assets.” Salimi elaborated further.
DAOs Giving New Taste to Crypto Venture Capital
In 2021, investment in blockchain and crypto startups rose significantly and changed how venture capital funding is obtained in Web3 projects.
The emergence of Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAOs) is giving competition to traditional ventral capital firms. As a result, traditional VCs have to rethink how they help firms raise funds.
Following the surging interest in decentralized finance (DeFi) and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the popularity of DAOs has significantly increased. In November last year as reported by Blockchain.News, ConstitutionDAO made a remarkable attempt to buy the U.S. Constitution.
Of late, DAOs are organizing to invest funds into crypto startup companies. The trend could potentially disrupt the traditional venture capital funding model that has financed a series of new technologies for generations.
Crypto investment-focused DAOs have become the new arena for meeting company founders, sourcing deals, and cutting checks. All these functions were normally done by traditional venture capitalists.
Crypto communities are emerging as DAOs – pooling their funds in DAO treasuries and enabling members to vote and decide how projects should be managed.
Abra, a rapidly rising crypto wealth management platform based in San Francisco, announced on Wednesdaythe appointment of Justin McMahan as the company’s first-everChief Financial Officer, effective immediately.
McMahan’s appointment comes during a period of rapid growth for Abra. In the new role, McMahan will be tasked with optimizing the company’s financial performance, ensuring compliance with global accounting standards and helping direct Abra’s growth strategy in the forthcoming years.
McMahan joins Abra from Tower Research Capital, a high-frequency trading company, where he served as Managing Director and Global Treasurer.
McMahan is a veteran finance executive with more than 20 years of experience in trading, fintech, capital markets, wealth management, and asset management. Most recently, he served senior roles at Tower Research Capital.
Before working at Tower Research, McMahan was a Managing Director and Head of Operations of Treasury & Client Services at Serengeti Asset Management, an investment management company. Prior to joining Serengeti, he worked at Morgan Stanley for 13 years, where he held several roles, including Executive Director of Prime Brokerage Capital Introductions & Risk.
Bill Barhydt, the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Abra, talked about the development and said: “Justin is an exceptional addition to the firm as we continue to build out and differentiate our team with accomplished professionals across digital assets, traditional finance, and wealth management. Justin’s proven track record in executing transformational financial services solutions and leading businesses through dynamic stages of their evolution will be instrumental as we expand our platform and democratize access to the crypto economy.”
Meanwhile, McMahan also commented about his appointment: “Abra has cemented itself as a dominant player in this disruptive space, and I am humbled to join this extremely talented team that provides customers with truly unique access to cryptocurrency markets.”
Enabling Customers’ Access to Digital Assets
Abra was founded in 2015, by Bill Barhydt, a former fixed-income analyst for investment bank Goldman Sachs and former director of Netscape Communications Corporation.
Abra operates a crypto wallet with a built-in crypto swap service, a cryptocurrency lending service, and a crypto staking and high yield savings service. The firm claims to serve more than 1 million users with over $1.5 billion in assets under management.
In March 2018, Abra added support for 20 new cryptocurrencies including Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash, and Stellar into its platform.
In September last year, as reported by Blockchain.News, Abra raised $55 million in a Series C funding led by the Stellar Development Foundation, including other investors such as GNIA, Blockchain Capital, Kingsway Capital, Tiga Investment, among others.
Abra used the funds to expand its new offerings (which include wealth management, trading, and payments) with Stellar as a blockchain back-end and democratize access to them for new customers in developing nations.
Since 2020, Abra has witnessed “tremendous” growth. The firm recorded a ten-fold increase in revenues.
Parachain auction winner Acala Network has launched a $250 million fund to fuel the adoption of Acala USD (aUSD) as the dominant stablecoin for the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystem respectively.
As unveiled by the blockchain protocol, the funding round came as a result of the collaboration between the top 9 known parachain protocols as well as prominent names in the digital currency ecosystem.
The $250 million commitment was pulled by notable investors in the crypto industry including Alameda Research, Arrington Capital, Digital Currency Group, IOSG, Jump Crypto, Kraken Ventures, and Pantera Capital, among others. The fund will be used in supporting protocols that are built on either Polkadot or Kusama, but which has the right use cases on how stablecoins and most importantly, the aUSD can be integrated across the board.
“Building the native, decentralized stablecoin of Polkadot and Kusama has been at the heart of Acala’s work for over three years,” said Acala co-founder Bette Chen. “It is fantastic to see this group of parachains and funds coming together to grow the cross-chain ecosystem with aUSD as a foundational building block.”
Acala Network, tasked with the creation of a native stablecoin for the Polkadot ecosystem, came off as the first protocol to win the Polkadot auction slot as announced back in November last year. The aUSD Ecosystem fund has a number of primary goals including to help “grow the Polkadot and Kusama ecosystem through increased cross-chain activity and growth of Polkadot’s native stablecoin, aUSD.”
Just as the name implies, the only listed qualifying projects include early-stage startups building on Polkadot and Kusama, but with a strong focus on driving the growth and utility of aUSD. Acala Network named Astar Network, Centrifuge, Efinity, HydraDX, Manta, Moonbeam, OriginTrail, Parallel, and Zeitgeist as the parachain protocols that supported the emergence of the ecosystem fund.
Beyond Acala which is streamlined to Polkadot, a number of venture capital firms have been floating funds to back innovative projects in the broader digital currency ecosystem, a trend that is likely to pick up massive momentum in the near future.
Japanese social media and messaging platform LINE has launched its Non-Fungible Token (NFT) marketplace dubbed LINE NFT which is set to officially go live on April 13.
The launch of the LINE NFT platform is in line with the company’s long-standing quest to be a major player in the blockchain industry, and with the marketplace, it will be able to provide a better alternative to all of its 90 million monthly users to participate in the growing NFT ecosystem.
Through LINE NFT, users can purchase digital art and trade them at will. Per the launch schedule revealed, the marketplace will feature a total of 100 collectables at launch encompassing 7 genres and curated from a total of 17 content creators. These content platforms include but are not limited to the popular Yoshimoto Kogyo.
LINE has an active blockchain research lab which it floated back in 2018 and has done impressive research to encompass the key emerging offshoots of blockchain technology. As a part of its strides, the social media giant launched the “NFT Market β” where NFTs based on LINE Blockchain can be traded.
The advent of the Beta market exposed and prepared the company for the launching of the LINE NFT. While the total number of collections seem limited at first, the social media platform affirmed plans to increase the collection library through an active partnership with key players with vested interests in the space including SoftBank Corp. and Z Holdings Corp.
The NFTs secured through the LINE NFT platform will be compatible for storage on its digital wallet dubbed the LINE BITMAX WALLET.
Based on its popularity amongst the Japanese population as well as its regulatory standing in the Asian nation, the LINE NFT marketplace is poised to serve the citizens better than other traditional digital collectable trading platforms such as OpenSea, Rarible, and LooksRare.