CRYPTO ASSET MARKET PERFORMANCES
The markets have been low for a while now, and last week seemed no different. The global cryptocurrency market capitalisation is $1.40 trillion, a 0.18% increase over the last day. Total crypto market volume in the last 24 hours is $56.36 billion, up 3.13%. The volume of all stable coins is now $41.49 billion, which is 73.61% of the total crypto market volume in the last 24 hours. Bitcoin, currently at $33,778.79, fell almost 2% last week. Ethereum fell over 8.31% to trade at almost $2,111.47.
Since falling from its all-time high, the bitcoin price has settled within a small price –range. Although there were some quick swings on both the downside and upside, BTC ended with relatively low volatility. During the week, Bitcoin reached a high of $35,894 and a weekly low just above the $32,000 mark.
On the technical front, a large number of short positions had opened up on BTC. However, there was not much fodder for the bears as the Bitcoin bulls managed to keep the market above the crucial $32,000 price point.
Bitcoin’s mining hash rate finally seems to be recovering after the Chinese mining bans. Mining seems to be slowly recovering as the overall hash rate increased from last week’s low of 84.79 TH/s to 93.24 TH/s on Sunday. It is a long way to full recovery, but it is good to see this possible end to the hash crash. Miners had shut down operations in China and started moving overseas to set up operations elsewhere. One such destination seems to be Texas, which is said to be an attractive location for mining operations due to cheap electricity and crypto-friendly government officials. Miners also seem to be accumulating slightly again, as they added 1,045 BTC to their balance sheet last week.
Beyond the technical aspects, there are some fundamentals that we cannot ignore: a significant portion of the blocked GBTC (Grayscale Bitcoin Trust) shares are expected to be released later this week. Grayscale plays an important role in the cryptocurrency market as it allows wealthy investors, who are usually regulated, to get exposure to the market without having to deal with cryptocurrency exchanges. Currently, the GBTC product holds around $19 billion worth of bitcoin. On 18 July, over 16K BTC will be released from the Grayscale Trust Fund. Once released, investors will have the option to either liquidate their shares at the current market price or keep them and sell them at a later date. If they choose to sell, this could put pressure on the price of Bitcoin and GBTC. However, as is often the case, the market may also react in the opposite direction. In any case, investors are uncertain whether and how the upcoming GBTC freeze will affect the market, and many prefer to wait on the sidelines.
Next up was the story that global payments giant Visa is set to keep supporting the development and adoption of the cryptocurrency industry as part of its business, according to its latest crypto update. In an official statement on Wednesday, Visa claimed that customers will have spent more than $1 billion with crypto-linked Visa cards in the first half of 2021, with Visa confident that the “crypto community” will see value in further integrating digital currencies into its global payments network. Visa is partnering with 50 cryptocurrency companies to allow customers to convert and spend digital currencies such as bitcoin at around 70 million merchants worldwide, even if they do not accept cryptocurrency. The announcement follows a series of moves the global payments giant has made in recent years to expand its support for cryptocurrencies. It follows companies like Mastercard and PayPal also entering the cryptocurrency ecosystem, with Visa keen to be at the centre of any trend to use digital currencies on a much larger scale.
As for the price of Ethereum, it has seen steady growth since the beginning of July 2021. After reaching an all-time high of over $4,300 on 12 May, ETH gradually fell, reaching a low of almost $1,700 on 22 June. However, the price of Ethereum has recovered significantly in recent weeks due to increasing demand from retail and institutional investors. The development regarding Ethereum’s network upgrade is one of the main reasons for ETH’s recent price jump. The ETH community is also supportive of the upcoming network upgrade. In fact, investors are still expecting a strong upward push in light of the EIP-1559 upgrade, which is expected to go live on the Ethereum blockchain in the coming weeks and aims to reduce transaction fees through a somewhat controversial method. Instead of requiring users to send a gas fee to a miner in order for the transaction to be included in a block, EIP-1559 proposes that gas fees be sent to the network.
While the above proposal may be a step in the right direction for most, not all parties are happy about it. Burning the fees would essentially create a deflationary effect on Ethereum. Although this could increase ETH’s chances of becoming a preferred store of value due to reduced supply, it would reduce miners’ profits. Mining Ethereum is indeed a lucrative business, as profits have soared to new highs over the past year. After the London hard fork, this could change, although users will be able to “tip” miners if they wish.
Many mining companies, predictably, opposed the implementation of EIP-1559. In addition, a recent report by CoinMetrics claimed that EIP-1559 may not help reduce gas fees at all. It pointed out that the high transaction costs are “fundamentally a scalability issue” and as long as dApp usage continues to rise, which is the current trend, they will remain at that level. In any case, the London hard fork is one of the most anticipated events in the cryptocurrency space this year and will most likely have a significant impact on Ethereum’s heavily used blockchain.