ProShares to Launch First Ether ETF and Blended Crypto Funds

Bethesda, Maryland-based ProShares, a prominent player in the crypto-linked ETF market, has announced a significant expansion of its product line. On October 2, 2023, the firm will launch three new exchange-traded funds (ETFs), including the ProShares Ether Strategy ETF (EETH). This will be the first ETF specifically designed to track the performance of ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. In addition to EETH, ProShares is introducing two blended ETFs that aim to offer investors exposure to both bitcoin and ether, the dominant cryptocurrencies in the market.

ProShares has been a pioneer in the ETF industry since its inception in 2006. With over $60 billion in managed assets, the firm has been a leader in various investment strategies, including crypto, dividend growth, and geared (leveraged and inverse) ETFs.

The launch of these ETFs is a significant milestone in the maturation of the cryptocurrency market. It follows ProShares’ earlier successes, including the launch of BITO in 2021 and BITI, the first U.S. short bitcoin-linked ETF, in 2022. These new ETFs are expected to further legitimize cryptocurrency investments and could potentially attract a new wave of institutional investors.

Michael L. Sapir, CEO of ProShares, highlighted the growing demand for crypto-linked ETFs, citing the success of their bitcoin-linked ETF, BITO. Launched nearly two years ago, BITO has amassed more than $2 billion in net inflows and has become the largest crypto-linked ETF globally. “The launch of EETH is a response to substantial investor demand for a regulated financial product that targets ether,” said Sapir.

ProShares is also diversifying its offerings with the Bitcoin & Ether Equal Weight Strategy ETF (BETE) and the Bitcoin & Ether Market Cap Weight Strategy ETF (BETH). BETE will undergo monthly rebalancing to maintain a 50/50 weighting between bitcoin and ether. In contrast, BETH will adjust its holdings based on the market capitalization of the two cryptocurrencies. “These groundbreaking ETFs offer investors the opportunity to target the performance of the two leading cryptocurrencies through a single transaction and a single ticker,” Sapir elaborated.

One of the key advantages of these new ETFs is their accessibility through traditional brokerage accounts. This eliminates the need for investors to set up a separate crypto custodian, exchange account, or wallet. “Our crypto-linked ETFs are designed to attract investors who are interested in cryptocurrencies but are concerned about the risks associated with custody or the complexities of direct purchases,” Sapir noted.

Unlike many other investment vehicles, these ETFs do not invest directly in cryptocurrencies. Instead, they primarily invest in ether and bitcoin futures. According to ProShares’ research, these futures have historically shown a .99 correlation with their respective cryptocurrencies, offering a near-perfect tracking of the underlying assets.

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CME Group and CF Benchmarks to Introduce APAC Reference Rates for Bitcoin and Ether

CME Group, a leading global derivatives marketplace, in collaboration with CF Benchmarks, a prominent provider of cryptocurrency benchmark indices, has announced the launch of two new APAC-specific reference rates for Bitcoin and Ether. These rates, named the CME CF Bitcoin Reference Rate APAC (BRRAP) and CME CF Ether-Dollar Reference Rate APAC (ETHUSD_AP), are set to be introduced on September 11. They will offer a daily reference rate for the U.S. dollar value of these two digital assets, with the publication time slated for 4 p.m. Hong Kong/Singapore time.

Giovanni Vicioso, the Global Head of Cryptocurrency Products at CME Group, highlighted the significance of these new rates by stating, “Year-to-date, 37% of total crypto volume at CME Group has been traded during non-U.S. hours, with 11% of trades originating from the APAC region.” He further emphasized that these APAC reference rates would enable market participants to hedge cryptocurrency price risks more effectively, aligning closely with their portfolio timings.

These newly introduced rates will supplement the existing CME CF Bitcoin and Ether reference rates, which are published at 4 p.m. London and New York times, respectively. The primary purpose of these rates is to serve as benchmark rates for the settlement of all related CME Group futures contracts.

Sui Chung, CEO of CF Benchmarks, expressed enthusiasm about the launch, noting the ongoing rapid adoption of crypto. He mentioned, “As variants, these benchmarks will be calculated and administered to the same exacting standards enjoyed by their existing London and New York counterparts.” Chung emphasized the role of these benchmarks in bolstering investor and institutional confidence in crypto financial products.

This move by CME Group and CF Benchmarks is indicative of the growing institutional interest in cryptocurrency within the Asia Pacific region. The introduction of these reference rates is expected to cater to the needs of institutions and investors in the APAC region, providing them with accurate BTC and ETH prices during the Asia trading day.

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Web3 Startups Witness 76% Plunge in Venture Funding in Q2 2023

Data from Crunchbase shows that venture funding for Web3 startups, which includes cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses, has significantly decreased in the second quarter of 2023. Just over $1.8 billion was raised overall over 322 agreements, a 76% decrease in fundraising from the same time previous year. This reflects a 51% decrease in transaction flow and a more than three-quarter dip from Q2 2022, when entrepreneurs in the industry raised over $7.5 billion.

The first half of 2023 has been particularly challenging for Web3 startups. In H1 2023, these startups raised only $3.6 billion, marking a massive 78% drop from nearly $16 billion raised during the same period in 2022. This is the slowest pace of deal flow since the final quarter of 2020, when only 291 deals were announced for a total of $1.1 billion.

Large funding rounds played a significant role in the dramatic year-to-year drop in Web3 funding. In Q2 2022, startups raised 15 rounds of more than $100 million each. In contrast, the second quarter of 2023 saw only three such rounds:

Islamic Coin, a Switzerland-based Shariah-compliant crypto asset, raised $200 million from ABO Digital.

LayerZero Labs, a Vancouver-based messaging protocol, closed a $120 million Series B funding round from 33 investors, including a16z crypto and Sequoia Capital, valuing the company at $3 billion.

Worldcoin developer Tools For Humanity, co-founded by OpenAI’s Sam Altman, raised a $115 million Series C led by Blockchain Capital, with participation from a16z crypto, Bain Capital Crypto, and Distributed Global.

Intriguingly, despite a downturn in venture capital investment, the cryptocurrency prices have surged.

Bitcoin, the most prominent cryptocurrency, has seen an increase of over 80% this year, while Ethereum has risen by more than 50%. Both experienced substantial growth last month when Fidelity Investments and BlackRock applied to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to launch the first U.S. exchange-traded fund that make possible directly invests in Bitcoin.

Even in this downturn, investors continue to put small sums of money into firms like Auradine in Santa Clara, California, and Axoni in New York to advance Web3. However, the recent failures of major crypto exchanges and regulatory interventions in the U.S. have likely discouraged some investors from venturing into the digital asset sector.

The future trajectory of Web3 funding is still unclear, as current trends do not suggest a positive turnaround. Nevertheless, the consistent funding from quarter to quarter in 2023, with Q1 startups raising just under $1.8 billion, could imply that the investor interest in Web3 has reached its lowest point and may stabilize or rebound from here.

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Coinbase executive discovers ChatGPT jailbreak

An Executive from Coinbase Has Discovered a “Jailbreak” for the ChatGPT AI Tool, Which Predicts Bizarre Cryptocurrency Price Scenarios

Coinbase’s chief of business operations, Conor Grogan, recently made a statement in which he claimed to have found a “jailbreak” for the artificial intelligence application ChatGPT. Grogan published a snapshot of the findings from ChatGPT in a tweet on the 30th of April. The results revealed that the tool had given a 15% likelihood that Bitcoin will “fade to irrelevancy” by the year 2035, with values plummeting over 99.99%. Grogan’s tweet was sent on April 30. Additionally, ChatGPT predicted that there is a 20% chance that Ether will become irrelevant and approach price levels close to zero by the year 2035. Even less self-assured was the tool about Litecoin and Dogecoin, assigning odds of 35% and 45%, respectively, for each currency to fall to a value close to zero.

The artificial intelligence tool known as ChatGPT generates replies to prompts by using natural language processing. Grogan used the program to assign probability to a variety of political forecasts and other situations, including as the influence of AI on humans, the presence of aliens, and religion. A crazy forecast was made on ChatGPT that “aliens have visited Earth and are being covered up by the government.” This prediction was given a chance of 10%.

Grogan is a dedicated user of ChatGPT, and he provided others with a script that replicates the prompt that he used to build the tables. He came to the conclusion that the tool is “generally” a “big fan” of Bitcoin but is “more skeptical” when it comes to other cryptocurrencies.

As a tool for anticipating price movements and other trends in the cryptocurrency field, ChatGPT has gained a significant amount of popularity in recent months. The forecasts that it makes, however, should be taken with a grain of salt since they are based on probabilities and are not a guarantee of the future performance of the asset. Grogan’s discovery of a “jailbreak” also raises the possibility of a security breach since it enables the tool to make more accurate and possibly sensitive predictions.

In general, the use of artificial intelligence technologies inside the cryptocurrency market, such as ChatGPT, sheds insight on the expanding function of technology within the sector. As more traders and investors look to these tools for insights and forecasts, it will be crucial to keep in mind the limits of these tools as well as the possible hazards that they pose.


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US House Committee Chair Criticizes SEC on Digital Assets

Patrick McHenry, the Chair of the United States House Financial Services Committee, has criticized the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) over its approach to digital assets. During an oversight hearing on April 18, McHenry used his opening statement to accuse the SEC of “punishing” digital asset firms through regulation by enforcement without a clear path to compliance. McHenry reiterated his calls for clear legislation on crypto and pressed SEC Chair Gary Gensler for a definitive answer on whether Ether (ETH) qualified as a security or a commodity.

McHenry expressed his concerns over the SEC’s actions, citing the lack of clarity and consistency in the regulatory landscape for digital assets. He accused the SEC of “chasing headlines” and penalizing companies without providing clear guidance on how to comply with regulations. McHenry also called on US lawmakers to create “clear rules of the road” for crypto through legislation.

During the hearing, McHenry pressed Gensler to give a definitive answer on whether Ether was a security or a commodity. He repeatedly interrupted Gensler’s responses that lacked specifics, citing the SEC chair’s previous labeling of Bitcoin (BTC) as a commodity and hinting at private discussions on Ether prior to the hearing.

“Clearly an asset cannot be both a commodity and a security,” said McHenry. “I’m asking you, sitting in your chair now, to make an assessment under the laws as exist, is Ether a commodity or a security?”

The question of whether Ether is a security has been a contentious issue for the crypto industry. In 2018, William Hinman, former SEC Director of Corporate Finance, stated that he did not believe Ether was a security. However, in December 2020, the SEC filed a lawsuit against Ripple Labs, claiming that the firm had sold unregistered securities in the form of its XRP tokens. The lawsuit sparked concerns among crypto enthusiasts that the SEC may also take action against Ether and other digital assets.

McHenry’s criticism of the SEC’s approach to digital assets reflects broader concerns over the lack of clarity and consistency in the regulatory landscape for crypto. The industry has faced regulatory challenges in several jurisdictions, with some countries, such as China and India, imposing outright bans on crypto trading and mining. However, other countries, including the US, are still grappling with how to regulate digital assets in a way that balances innovation and investor protection.

In conclusion, McHenry’s criticism of the SEC’s regulatory approach to digital assets highlights the need for clear and consistent regulations on crypto. While the industry continues to evolve rapidly, it is crucial that regulators provide clear guidance and support for companies to comply with regulations while fostering innovation in the sector.


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ETH Price Surpasses $2,000 Despite New Supply After Shapella Update

The much anticipated Shapella update for Ethereum (ETH) has finally arrived, allowing staked ETH withdrawals for users who previously had no way to take back their funds after staking. While there were concerns of a potential dump due to a new supply of Ether hitting the markets, the price of ETH still managed to hit $2,000 and currently maintains the level at the time of writing.

According to crypto analytics firm Glassnode, only around 1% of staked ETH may hit the market after Shapella goes live. The firm expressed confidence that the newest update on the network will not have a “dramatic” effect on the price of Ether. Glassnode reported that only 253 depositors have signed up to withdraw their staked ETH positions.

After the hard fork was seamlessly executed on the Ethereum mainnet, a total of 12,859 ETH, worth almost $26 million at the time of writing, were unlocked in 4,333 withdrawals just within the first hour after withdrawals were enabled. This suggests that there is still a significant amount of staked ETH that is being held.

The community celebrated the new milestone with various sentiments. Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin said in a live stream that Ethereum is currently in a “really good place.” Buterin highlighted that there is a lot more to be done but those can be done at a slower pace.

Crypto exchanges have also expressed their support for ETH unstaking. Coinbase and BitGo have already enabled withdrawals on their exchange. Binance said that it will support withdrawals on April 19. Meanwhile, Kraken started withdrawing validators for United States users on April 11 and started processing as soon as the Shapella upgrade was implemented.

It is worth noting that the Shapella update is just one part of the larger Ethereum 2.0 upgrade, which aims to move the network from a proof-of-work to a proof-of-stake consensus mechanism. The upgrade is expected to bring significant improvements to the scalability, security, and energy efficiency of the network.

The successful execution of the Shapella update and the support from crypto exchanges suggest a positive outlook for the future of Ethereum. While the new supply of Ether hitting the markets may have initially caused concerns, the market seems to have absorbed it without a significant impact on the price of ETH. As the Ethereum 2.0 upgrade continues to roll out, it will be interesting to see how it affects the overall performance of the network and the price of ETH in the long term.


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Ether Surges to Over $1,900 Ahead of Staking Withdrawals

Ether, the second-largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, has surged to over $1,900 for the first time in over seven months, according to CoinMarketCap data. This price increase comes ahead of the Ethereum Shanghai hard fork, scheduled for April 12, which will implement Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP)-4895, allowing validators and stakers to withdraw staked ETH from the Beacon Chain. The upgrade is also expected to help increase transaction speeds while reducing transaction costs through other EIPs.

The last time Ether was above $1,900 was on August 16, 2022, during a broader crypto sell-off when the United States Federal Reserve was hiking the federal funds rate at a record pace to combat inflation. The recent price increase could be driven by expectations that the Fed may ease up on its quantitative tightening efforts, causing cracks in the global banking industry, or by increased demand for Ether given that staking is slated to be more flexible.

Bitcoin has also recorded gains recently, but the trading pair ETH/BTC has increased by nearly 3% in the last week, suggesting that both factors may be contributing to Ether’s price jump. It is worth noting that the price of Ether dropped sharply following the execution of the Merge on September 15, 2022, where it lost just under a quarter of its value in one week.

The Ethereum Shanghai hard fork is named after the fork on the execution layer client side, while Capella is the upgrade name on the consensus layer client side that is set to be executed shortly after Shanghai on April 12. The execution layer is where all the smart contracts and protocol rules are, while the consensus layer ensures that all network validators follow these rules.

Despite some analysts and traders suggesting that unlocking staked Ether will create sell pressure, what will occur following the Shanghai and Capella updates is speculation. The recent price surge may be an indication that investors are optimistic about the future of Ether and the potential for the upcoming upgrades to increase its value.

In conclusion, Ether’s recent surge to over $1,900, a level not seen since August 2022, is likely due to several factors, including the upcoming Ethereum Shanghai hard fork that will enable stakers to withdraw their ETH and the potential easing of the Federal Reserve’s quantitative tightening efforts. While some investors may be concerned about sell pressure following the upgrade, others remain optimistic about the future of Ether and its potential for growth. The upcoming upgrades are set to increase transaction speeds while reducing transaction costs, and it remains to be seen how they will affect Ether’s value in the long term.


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Swiss Retail Bank to Offer Cryptocurrency Services

PostFinance, a retail bank owned by the Swiss government, has announced plans to offer its customers cryptocurrency trading and storage services. The bank has partnered with local cryptocurrency bank Sygnum to provide regulated digital asset banking services. Customers will be able to buy, store, and sell major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ether.

The partnership with Sygnum enables PostFinance to offer these services through Sygnum’s institutional business-to-business platform. This platform provides banks with market entry to regulated and compliant digital products, including a range of cryptocurrencies. The B2B network includes more than 15 partner banks and supports revenue-generating services like staking.

PostFinance’s move into the cryptocurrency market comes amid growing interest and adoption of digital assets worldwide. With the rise of blockchain technology and the decentralization of finance, many traditional financial institutions are exploring ways to integrate cryptocurrencies into their offerings. PostFinance’s partnership with Sygnum positions the bank to provide its customers with access to the growing cryptocurrency market.

As a fully government-owned bank, PostFinance is subject to strict regulatory requirements. The partnership with Sygnum ensures that the bank’s cryptocurrency services are fully compliant with local regulations, providing customers with a secure and regulated platform for trading and storing digital assets.

The collaboration with Sygnum also provides PostFinance with access to the expertise and technology of a leading player in the cryptocurrency space. Sygnum is a licensed Swiss bank that offers a range of institutional-grade cryptocurrency services, including custody, trading, and tokenization. With its deep experience in the cryptocurrency market, Sygnum is well-positioned to provide PostFinance with the tools and support needed to offer its customers cutting-edge digital asset services.

In summary, PostFinance’s partnership with Sygnum represents a significant step forward for the bank as it seeks to enter the cryptocurrency market. With the ability to offer customers regulated cryptocurrency trading and storage services, PostFinance is well-positioned to capture a share of the growing digital asset market. By leveraging the expertise and technology of Sygnum, PostFinance can provide its customers with a secure and compliant platform for buying, selling, and storing digital assets, including Bitcoin and Ether.


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Playboy loses $4.9 million on NFT holdings

Playboy, one of the most recognizable names in the adult entertainment industry, has disclosed a significant loss of $4.9 million on its Ether (ETH) holdings, which it earned from a non-fungible token (NFT) collection launched in late 2021. The disclosure came in a filing by the company’s parent, PLBY Group, on March 18, 2023.

The NFT collection, called Rabbitars, was launched in October 2021, just before the crypto market reached its peak. Ether’s price has since dropped around 60% in line with the broader market decline, and as of December 31, 2022, the value of Playboy’s crypto holdings stands at $327,000.

According to the filing, PLBY Group took an impairment loss of $4.9 million in 2022 as a result of the crypto prices downturn. Impairment losses are counted as unrecoverable, even if the fair value of digital asset holdings rises after recording the losses. The market price of Ether ranged from $964 to $3,813 during 2022. Still, the carrying value of each Ether that PLBY held at the end of the reporting period reflects the lowest price of one Ether quoted on the active exchange at any time since its receipt.

The company’s statement further explained that positive swings in the market price of Ether are not reflected in the carrying value of its digital assets and impact earnings only when the Ethereum is sold at a gain. PLBY’s NFT collection, Rabbitars, featured a variety of different types of NFTs, including an original art series, limited edition collectibles, and one-of-a-kind digital assets.

The Playboy brand is one of the most recognizable in the world, and its Rabbitars collection was highly anticipated by NFT collectors and Playboy enthusiasts alike. The collection was designed to be a unique and exciting way for fans to interact with Playboy’s iconic brand and its rich history.

The loss incurred by PLBY Group highlights the risks associated with investing in NFTs, which remain highly speculative despite their growing popularity. The NFT market is still in its early stages, and the future of the industry remains uncertain. However, it is clear that companies and investors alike need to be prepared for the potential risks associated with investing in NFTs.

Despite the loss, Playboy remains committed to the NFT market and is likely to continue to explore opportunities in the space. The NFT market has shown significant growth potential, and as the industry continues to mature, Playboy may find new ways to leverage its iconic brand to drive value and create unique experiences for its fans.


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Bitcoin Prices Hold Tight above $20K Level, But Downsides Still Imminent

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have consolidated gains from a recent rally that catapulted most digital assets a notch higher than a month.

Over the last 24 hours, Bitcoin price has little changed, still moving at around $20,290, according to TradingView. Apart from the largest cryptocurrency, Ether rose 1% to $1,519.19, while altcoins such as Solana and Cardano were both just above flat. Meanwhile, meme coins are more buoyant, with Dogecoin jumping 13% and Shiba Inu 4% higher.

Although the short-term picture looks relatively solid, cryptos generally remain vulnerable to another swing lower.

Bitcoin reclaimed its key price point on Tuesday afternoon, which is $20,000, triggered by weaker US dollars and accelerated by a wave of short-sellers—traders who bet against the cryptocurrency—being forced to cover their losses and purchase the token.

Source: TradingView

The crypto has appeared to stay in the $19,000 range but occasionally moved above that threshold in recent weeks. Whether the token’s value will continue to increase is a matter of people’s guesses.

While most crypto users are optimistic that Bitcoin has established its bottom after this year’s brutal market downturn, digital assets are still vulnerable because of the Fed’s monetary policy decision and negative sentiment in broader markets.

A looming catalyst for markets is the Fed’s tightening of financial conditions, including what is expected to be the fourth largest interest-rate hike, next week. Analysts anticipate that the Fed’s announcement next week could send Bitcoin trade below the $18,000 level.

Bitcoin’s vulnerability comes from a series of bad economic news, such as inflation data, among others, which have been turning market sentiment to the downside over several months in the recent past.  Despite Bitcoin having clawed back its price since May this year, in recent the crypto has faired better than other assets, including stocks, gold, the European Euro, the Japanese Yen, the Chinese Yuan, and the British pound.

Over the previous month, Bitcoin’s recent resilience, compared to other assets, could be due to the crypto becoming a great conduit for U.S. dollars in nations that are struggling with their own currencies. Or Bitcoin’s resiliency could be anchored on long-term crypto investors who have remained unfazed amid recent plunges in the U.S. economy.

Bitcoin is holding steady, but it is not out of the woods yet. The end of the year is packed with macro events that could shift the tides downwards, including the midterm election, inflation reports, Federal Reserve meetings, the effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and a potential peak in U.S. dollar strength.

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Bitcoin (BTC) $ 28,076.52 3.45%
Ethereum (ETH) $ 1,723.86 2.62%
Litecoin (LTC) $ 67.63 2.09%
Bitcoin Cash (BCH) $ 242.82 1.44%