Bitcoin was up over 20% year to date Thursday morning.

Data suggests that the recent price rise is being driven by U.S. investors buying bitcoin on spot and derivatives exchanges. Meanwhile, there are now more “whales” swimming in this global sea than since mid-2019. And bitcoin custodial startups are reporting an uptick in users.

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It’s suspected much of this activity is driven by the impending halving event, which for some sober minds, is nothing more than an act of arithmetic. Here’s the story:

Top Shelf

American Buyers
Data indicates American buyers are fueling bitcoin’s rally. On U.S. exchanges, spot premiums are showing stronger buy-side pressure relative to other markets. Further, exchanges licensed to offer bitcoin futures to American investors are rallying while their unlicensed competitors are not. Su Zhu, CEO of Three Arrows Capital, said American investors “should give us a strong base given that U.S. tax policy means nobody sells spot for small profits.” 

Call Me Ishmael, Is That A Whale?
The number of Bitcoin addresses holding more than 10,000 coins rose to the highest level since mid-2019. These 111 so-called whales contribute to the bullish narrative surrounding the top crypto by marketcap. “Some of these addresses may belong to high-net-worth individuals or groups, who are diversifying into bitcoin amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and ahead of the mining reward halving,” said Wayne Chen, CEO of Interlapse Technologies. 

Custody During COVID
Bitcoin wallet startups are reporting an uptick in users and profits amid the market disruption caused by COVID-19. “An event like that [pandemic] makes people think about how they are storing their bitcoin,” Will Cole, Unchained’s chief product officer, said.

sprecher
ICE CEO Jeffrey Sprecher said Bakkt's pending acquisition of Bridge2 Solutions will help it offer consumers access to crypto and loyalty points through a single app.
Source: CoinDesk archives

Parental Help
Intercontinental Exchange, the parent company to Bakkt, spent close to $300 million helping the bitcoin warehouse acquire loyalty rewards provider Bridge2 Solutions. Bakkt announced it would acquire Bridge2 in February, while simultaneously raising a $300 million Series B funding round with participation from Microsoft’s M12, PayU, Boston Consulting Group, Goldfinch Partners, CMT Digital and Pantera Capital.

Mining Money
Argo Blockchain, a bitcoin mining firm listed on the London Stock Exchange, reported an 11-fold increase in revenues from the year before. The company attributed its success to cutting off its consumer-facing arm and focusing on mining some 1,330 bitcoin last year.

Validating Topaz
Top-five mining pool OKEx Pool will trial Ethereum 2.0’s new testnet. Collaborating with Prysmatic Labs, the mining pool dedicated to proof-of-work consensus models will become a validator for the experimental proof-of-stake Topaz testnet. (Decrypt)

Static Ether
Ethereans are hodling. Data firm Glassnodes has found more than 77% the outstanding ETH supply has not moved in six months. (The Block)

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OKCoin Japan's team
Source: OKCoin Japan

Open to Operate 
San Francisco-based cryptocurrency exchange OKCoin is now cleared to operate in Japan, a nation known for its tight licensing requirements. The exchange began the arduous process of applying for regulatory approval in 2017. CoinDesk’s Nathan DiCamillo breaks down why they went through the ringer.

Blockchain for UBI
A Zurich-based startup has built a “proof-of-personhood” protocol to disseminate universal basic income (UBI) to the unbanked. Encointer, backed by the Web3 Foundation, plans to distribute a cryptocurrency for use within a designated locality among willing participants. (Decrypt)

Is Bitcoin Boring?
Despite the enthusiasm leading into Bitcoin’s third halving event, expected in less than two weeks, on a technical level nothing really changes. The Block’s Mike Orcutt digs into the cultural significance of this mundane happening, when Bitcoin’s code automatically splits its mining subsidy. 

The Great Debate

  • Feeling confused about the “digital dollar” debate? Aren’t most dollars already digital? And what’s this about CBDCs? CoinDesk contributor George Calle has written a tidy guide explaining central bank digital currencies and how they operate, be they “synthetic” or “pegged.” 
  • Once you’re caught up, Nic Carter, partner at Castle Island Ventures, has written a scathing review of CBDCs for American Mind. Maintained by the government, CBDCs may lead to a monetary system where privacy perversions and debanking are the norm. The solution? An apolitical, agnostic and open protocol like Bitcoin. 

Class Action
A district court judge has granted preliminary approval to a $25 class-action claim made against Tezos. Litigants are suing Tezos alleging its initial coin offering violated U.S. securities laws. (Paywalled)

On Fire
Blockchain startup Fireblocks reported $30 billion in digital asset transfers using its services. Launched less than a year ago, the company will also open new offices in Singapore and Hong Kong. (Forbes)

CoinDesk Live: Lockdown Edition

CoinDesk Live: Lockdown Edition continues its popular twice-weekly virtual chats via Zoom and Twitter, giving you a preview of what’s to come at Consensus: Distributed, our first fully virtual – and fully free – big-tent conference May 11-15. 

Register to join our sixth session Tuesday, May 5, with speaker Amy Davine Kim from the Chamber of Digital Commerce to discuss upcoming guidelines from the Financial Action Task Force, most notably the Travel Rule, hosted by Consensus organizer Aaron Stanley. Zoom participants can ask questions directly to our guests.

CoinDesk Live: Lockdown Edition continues its popular twice-weekly virtual chats via Zoom and Twitter, giving you a preview of what’s to come at Consensus: Distributed, our first fully virtual  and fully free  big-tent conference May 11-15. 

Register to join our sixth session Tuesday, May 5, with speaker Amy Davine Kim from the Chamber of Digital Commerce to discuss upcoming guidelines from the Financial Action Task Force, most notably the Travel Rule, hosted by Consensus organizer Aaron Stanley. Zoom participants can ask questions directly to our guests.

Market Intel

Beating the Big Dogs

  • Bitcoin is up again Friday while U.S. stock futures are down. Trading near $8,860, bitcoin is up 2.8 percent on the day, while futures tied to the S&P 500, Wall Street's equity index, are down over 2 percent. Following a rise of 23% over the last two days, though, Bitcoin’s rally looks overstretched and the gains may be short-lived.
  • Tezos, one of the fastest-growing “staking tokens,” jumped 83% in April, the most among cryptocurrencies with a market value of at least $1 billion, based on data from Messari. These gains outpace bitcoin’s 37% jump, as well as Tezos rival ethereum. 

CoinDesk Podcasts

Two of CoinDesk’s most popular series, NLW’s The Breakdown podcast and the Money Reimagined newsletter by chief content officer Michael Casey, come together for a special podcast microseries in the run up to  Consensus: Distributed, our first virtual big-tent event May 11-15. 

The Breakdown: Money Reimagined builds on themes Casey explores in his newsletter to tell the story of key arenas in the battle for the future of money – from the incumbent dollar to China's aspirational DCEP to the insurgent bitcoin – in the context of a post-COVID19 world. 

The four-part podcast features over a dozen voices including Consensus: Distributed speakers Caitlin Long, Matthew Graham and Kevin Kelly. New episodes air Fridays starting May 1 on the CoinDesk Podcast Network. Subscribe here.

Two of CoinDesk’s most popular series, NLW’s The Breakdown podcast and the Money Reimagined newsletter by Chief Content Officer Michael Casey, come together for a special podcast microseries in the run up to  Consensus: Distributed, our first virtual big-tent event May 11-15. 

The Breakdown: Money Reimagined builds on themes Casey explores in his newsletter to tell the story of key arenas in the battle for the future of money – from the incumbent dollar to China’s aspirational DCEP to the insurgent bitcoin – in the context of a post-COVID-19 world. 

The four-part podcast features over a dozen voices including Consensus: Distributed speakers Caitlin Long, Matthew Graham and Kevin Kelly. New episodes air Fridays starting May 1 on the CoinDesk Podcast NetworkSubscribe here.

Danielle Dimartino Booth’s Inside Perspective
An adviser to the U.S. Federal Reserve through the Great Financial Crisis to 2015 examines the largest monetary policy experiment in human history on the latest episode of The Breakdown. 

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