Blockchain Bites: Price Point! Bitcoin at $50K? $60K? $318K?

Traders have begun unwrapping tokenized bitcoins. The U.S. Treasury Department will keep a vigilant eye on digital innovations. And trading volumes on OKEx have plummeted.

AccessTimeIconDec 4, 2020 at 5:10 p.m. UTC
Updated Sep 14, 2021 at 10:38 a.m. UTC
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Traders have begun unwrapping tokenized bitcoins. The U.S. Treasury Department will keep a vigilant eye on digital innovations. And trading volumes on OKEx have plummeted. 

Top shelf

Forced burn
Ripple Chief Technology Officer David Schwartz tweeted the community could force the burning of billions of the protocol’s XRP native tokens held in escrow to prevent the drop in price that would likely occur should those billions in frozen tokens ever flood the market. On Dec. 2 a Twitter user asked the CTO, “If Nodes, validators and the community at large got together and we agree that it's better for the community to burn the 50 billion XRP Ripple has in escrows, would that be possible?” Responding to the tweet, David Schwartz implied that majority rule would win in such a decision.

Innovation or risk?
The U.S. Department of the Treasury wants state and federal regulators to keep a vigilant watch on digital asset innovation, which could upset the balance of the current financial system. According to a report released on Thursday by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, digital assets are a “particularly good example” of both benefits and potential risks associated with innovation. The report highlighted the ambitions by nations around the world in their experiments with central bank digital currencies (CBDC) as a way to “enhance the global standing of their own currencies and enable faster payments.” 

Unwrapped wBCT
Wrapped bitcoin, the bitcoin-backed token on Ethereum now worth over $2 billion, has seen an increase in burns (or “unwrappings”) by some of its largest users as the Ethereum-based decentralized finance sector continues to cool. BitGo clients including Three Arrows Capital and Alameda Research are exchanging an increasing amount of their tokenized bitcoins minted earlier this year for real bitcoins as the bullish cryptocurrency market continues to center on bitcoin and Ethereum’s decentralized finance takes a back seat for now. In the months following DeFi’s red-hot summer when bitcoins were wrapped faster than they were mined, the sector has cooled significantly.

Not OK
A sharp drop in OKEx’s trading volume and stablecoin reserves – tether in particular – may reveal an ongoing exodus of its users after the popular crypto derivatives exchange unexpectedly halted all crypto withdrawal activities for about five weeks. Data from analytics service CryptoQuant shows the amount of tether held in OKEx wallets has dropped to 6.69 million from 275.0 million between Nov. 25 and Dec. 1, down 97.6% in less than a week. At the same time, total daily trading volume on OKEx has declined significantly during the same time period – down approximately 67.7% from Nov. 25, according to data compiled by CoinDesk. The volume of tether traded on OKEx plunged 70%.

Mirror, mirror
The creators of stablecoin platform Terra announced the launch of the Mirror Protocol Thursday, a way to mint crypto assets that mimic the value of shares in publicly traded companies like Apple or Tesla. The new protocol will also bring a new liquidity mining opportunity to Terra’s Tendermint-based blockchain. Known as mAssets, these tokens will track the price of U.S.-based equities in the real stock market, using an oracle system that’s able to check prices every six minutes. “The retail investor is at the center of this growing demand for U.S. equities and global equity derivatives. The stock market is no longer the exclusive purview of Wall Street’s suits, whether in New York, London or Tokyo,” Arrington XRP argues in its report.

Quick bites

  • FINTECH BANKING: Stripe Partnering With Goldman, Citigroup, Others to Offer Checking Accounts, Services: Report (CoinDesk)
  • BITCOIN BUNCH: This family bet everything on bitcoin when it was $900 – and bought more when it crashed in 2018 (CNBC)
  • DEFINING DEFI: Lex Sokolin: How do you do valuations of open-source software? Recent DeFi acquisitions may shine light. (CoinDesk Opinion)
  • NOT CAPTCHA’D: Human Protocol, the backbone for anti-bot system hCaptcha, announced Thursday it will be expanding beyond Ethereum to a future Polkadot parachain, Moonbeam. (CoinDesk)
  • OMG, RALLY! Genesis Block Ventures acquired OMG Network (an off-chain Ethereum solution) triggering a double-digit rally in the network’s OMG token. (CoinDesk)
  • CENTRALIZED CBDC: Russia’s crypto community fears digital ruble might means going “back to USSR.” (CoinDesk)
  • $41 BILLION: Decentralized finance platforms were responsible for 99% of Ethereum transaction volume last month. (Decrypt)
  • $600 MILLION: One million ETH is now locked up in Ethereum 2.0. (Decrypt)

At stake

Price point!
I was reading that CNBC story on the Dutch family that bet it all on bitcoin. In 2017, a small business owner sold all his assets – company, house and accumulated detritus – and moved his family of five into a van. “We stepped into bitcoin because we wanted to change our lives,” Didi Taihuttu told CNBC

That’s wild! The media also quoted Taihuttu’s price prediction for a $200,000 bitcoin by 2022. He’s a man that acts on instinct and knows things in his gut. It’s seemingly worked out for him so far. CNBC went on to quote several price predictions from the respected and respectable folk in crypto.  

Mike Novogratz, CEO of merchant bank Galaxy Digital, reportedly said bitcoin could reach $60,000 by next year. While a Citibank report geared for institutional clients made the case that one BTC could change hands for $318,000 by December 2021. That’s really wild!

Unquoted was Bloomberg’s recent, and more modest, prediction that bitcoin could hit $50,000 sometime next year. That’s more than double the price of bitcoin’s all-time high! And infers a $1 trillion market cap!

A lot of good data gets thrown into price predictions. There’s technical analysis of candles and wedges, there are surveys of high-net individuals and comparisons to similar movements in both bitcoin’s historical charts as well as analogue assets. (Want to understand bitcoin today? Study gold in the 1970s!)

But I wouldn’t put much store in them. This time three years ago, computer whiz and self-declared madman John McAfee had such strong convictions that bitcoin would hit $500,000 within three years (this year, incidentally) he would ingest his genitals. 

After years of target prices that were well off their mark, it’s reasonable to suggest that most claims on bitcoin’s future price are more gut than calculus, more wager than assured. Sometimes it pays off. But understanding that one BTC is always one BTC, you’ll never be wrong.

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