As we flip the proverbial page into August, cryptocurrency markets have broadly begun to rebound from a downward trend, with bitcoin surpassing the significant $10,000 mark following the first Fed rate cuts since 2008. Moreover, bitcoin (BTC) has outperformed the entire market, appreciating 7% over this week. Meanwhile, in the altcoin space, litecoin (LTC) is up 3% this week while Ethereum (ETH) has stagnated overall. Other notable altcoins such as ripple (XRP), stellar (XLM), and TRON (TRX) have taken a bearish turn this week, with losses ranging from 3 to 5%. Cryptocurrencies continue to dominate the national conversation amongst regulators and lawmakers, with the United States Congress grappling with the future of blockchain-powered currency at a hearing on July 30th. A group of investors including business mogul Richard Branson and other Wall Street executives announced plans for a “lightning-fast” exchange alternative to Coinbase.
We get into it all, the good and the bad, in this edition of Around the Block.
Major News of the Week
Head of SEC Cyber Unit Chief and Altcoin Prosecutor to Resign
The head of the Crypto Unit of the Security and Exchange Commission has stepped down from his post, effective August. Robert A. Cohen, who is known for the prosecution and takedown of a multitude of speculative ICO’s, has been the lead enforcer for the SEC’s crypto division since its inception in 2017. This crypto unit has been responsible for enforcing regulation in cryptocurrency-related crime; including issues with disclosures, data breaches, and other securities violations related to digital currencies.
US Senate Crypto Hearing Takeaways
The July 30th congress hearing on cryptocurrencies featured testimonies from academics, think tank experts, and the CEO and founder of Circle, a cryptocurrency payments company. The testimonies presented featured statements both in favor of and against cryptocurrencies, but general takeaways of lawmakers include that cryptocurrencies are inevitable. Additionally, a regulatory framework would be beneficial to lawmakers and users, and lawmakers are still skeptical of Facebook’s Libra.
SEC to Explore Public Blockchain Data
The US Securities and Exchange Commission is seeking a 1-year contractor to provide blockchain data from Bitcoin and Etherium to better inform digital asset regulations. Information about the derivative coins from these blockchains are not desired. The data would be provided from the vendor’s nodes.
Richard Branson Announces Crypto Exchange to Rival Coinbase
A new Coinbase challenger has emerged through investment from a coalition including mogul Richard Branson and former Wall Street executives. The new cryptocurrency exchange, known as “The PIT”, will be built on “blockchain.com” and emphasizes trade speeds of “utmost importance in volatile markets”. Peter Smith, CEO of Blockchain.com claims the PIT’s proprietary matching algorithm known as “Mercury” will process trades in 40–50 microeconds. It remains to be seen how the entry of a new major exchange will affect liquidity and volume for the cryptocurrency market on the whole.
Overstock To Pay Out “Digital Dividend”
Overstock.com — a predominant and dominating online retailer — has announced that they will pay their dividend in digital assets. The announcement has prompted people to question the legitimacy of the move while raising discussion about the legal gray areas surrounding a digital asset dividend payment.
Square’s Crypto Revenue Hits $175 million
Square — a payments company — reported a record of $175 million in Q2 bitcoin sales for its Cash App. The aforementioned number represents nearly a 100% increase in bitcoin sales and profit for the app. Square also continues to maintain a cryptocurrency research arm that contributes to developing the Bitcoin protocol.
SPECIAL FINANCE EVENT
We kickoff the #FinTwit happy hour in San Diego, today, August 2nd at 5:30. Event details are listed here: RSVP HERE. We extend this invitation to all financial professionals to come out and connect with others in the industry. L’Auberge in Del Mar, California will be hosting our group. See you there!
Can’t wait ’til next week?
Feel free to reach out to us. We are always here to help you learn about, and navigate, the exciting cryptocurrency landscape. If you haven’t already, check out our most recent Crypto Market Commentary, and how to pick the best Crypto Exchange based on an Exchange Ranking Formula.
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