First Mover Asia: BTC Holds Near $24K; Why Do We Need EthereumPOW When We Have Ethereum Classic?

Crypto mega-entrepreneurs Vitalik Buterin and Justin Sun are clashing over Ethereum’s future.

AccessTimeIconAug 9, 2022 at 12:54 a.m. UTC
Updated Aug 9, 2022 at 2:42 p.m. UTC

James Rubin is CoinDesk's U.S. news editor based on the West Coast.

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Bitcoin continued its recent rally; ether and other major cryptos also rose.

Insights: Ethereum's Vitalik Buterin and Tron's Justin Sun are clashing over Ethereum's future.

Prices

Bitcoin (BTC): $23,843 +2.5%

Ether (ETH): $1,779 +4.1%

S&P 500 daily close: 4,140.06 −0.1%

Gold: $1,786 per troy ounce +0.8%

Ten-year Treasury yield daily close: 2.77% −0.07


Bitcoin, ether and gold prices are taken at approximately 4pm New York time. Bitcoin is the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (XBX); Ether is the CoinDesk Ether Price Index (ETX); Gold is the COMEX spot price. Information about CoinDesk Indices can be found at coindesk.com/indices.

Bitcoin Surges Early and Then Holds Near $24K; Other Cryptos Climb

By James Rubin

Bitcoin bounded out of the starting gate Monday, cracking $24,000 at one point before settling just below this threshold as investors began a two-day wait for the latest inflation numbers.

The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was recently trading at about $23,800, up more than 2% during the previous 24 hours. Bitcoin has been rallying over the past four days amid hopeful signs that inflation will soon be under control without triggering a steep recession.

"Bitcoin remains near its recent highs as crypto traders are looking to see if the crypto winter is over," Oanda Senior Market Analyst Americas Edward Moya wrote in an email.

Ether followed a similar pattern, hitting a two-month high above $1,800 earlier in the day before taking a foothold slightly below this level. The second-largest crypto by market cap was recently up more than 4% over the previous day. Other major cryptos spent much of their day firmly in the green, with GRT soaring more than 16% and DOT rising over 7% at one point.

Beleaguered crypto lending platform Celsius Network skyrocketed more than 24% to trade at a higher price than before it encountered financial difficulties and halted user withdrawals in early June. But Brett Sifling, director at Gerber Kawasaki Wealth & Investment Management, told CoinDesk that CEL may have been swept up in a surge of speculative assets and meme stocks. And other market observers attributed the rise to a short squeeze organized on Twitter under the #CELShortSqueeze banner. They did not see a bright future for the coin.

Major indexes

Major equity indexes closed nearly flat following largely disappointing second-quarter earnings by a number of large brands, including software and computer chip manufacturer Nvidia (NVSA), which missed analysts' revenue expectations. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 0.1%, but the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) rose 0.1%

Inflation holds center stage on this week's investor watch list with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releasing the July consumer price index on Wednesday. Many analysts expect an 8.7% increase, still hefty but down from the unexpectedly high 9.1% reading in June. The New York Federal Reserve offered further hope that price increases have reached a peak with the release of a survey showing rosier consumer expectations for inflation in 2023.

"It’s inflation week, and all eyes are on the U.S. CPI report," wrote Jeff Dorman, chief investment officer of the financial services firm Arca. "Markets are looking for headline inflation to (finally) slow down. Signs of peak inflation abound, with commodity prices declining precipitously from their highs – historically a strong sign of an impending inflation slowdown."

The crypto industry suffered its latest dose of bad news Monday with the announcement the U.S. Treasury Department has banned all Americans from using decentralized crypto-mixing service Tornado Cash.

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), a watchdog agency tasked with preventing sanctions violations, on Monday added Tornado Cash to its Specially Designated Nationals list, a running tally of blacklisted people, entities and cryptocurrency addresses. Tornado Cash has been a key tool for the Lazarus Group, a North Korean hacking group tied to the $625 million March hack of Axie Infinity’s Ronin Network, according to the Treasury Department.

Polygon-based Web3 game Dragoma's supporters appear to have fallen victim to a $3.5 million rug pull, according to blockchain sleuth PeckShield. Dragoma, which launched just days ago, had said it planned to become a Web3 adventure game that incorporated non-fungible tokens (NFT) and elements of social media alongside its native token, DMA.

Still, Oanda's Moya struck an upbeat note about crypto pricing. "The selling pressure has significantly eased and momentum traders could pounce on the break of the $25,000 level," he wrote.

Biggest Gainers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Polkadot DOT +6.8% Smart Contract Platform
Chainlink LINK +5.9% Computing
Cosmos ATOM +4.3% Smart Contract Platform

Biggest Losers

There are no losers in CoinDesk 20 today.

Insights

Why Do We Need Ethereum PoW When We Have Ethereum Classic?

By Sam Reynolds

A month before the much anticipated Ethereum Merge a battle is brewing between Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin and Tron’s Justin Sun.

Buterin is dismissive of efforts to maintain some form of proof-of-work (PoW) system for Ethereum after the blockchain goes through a transition to a less energy-intensive proof-of-stake (PoS) system.

“I'm not expecting EthereumPOW to have substantial, long-term adoption,” Buterin said at a press conference at ETH Seoul, part of the current Blockchain Megaweek in South Korea. “A couple of outsiders that have exchanges just want to make a quick buck. I just don't see this organic aspect to it.”

Unsurprisingly, when “quick buck” is mentioned, (His Excellency) Justin Sun emerges. (Sun is a Permanent Representative of Grenada to the World Trade Organization.)

Tron’s Justin Sun is a cheerleader for an Ethereum hard fork that would maintain proof-of-work. Tron’s USDD would be the first stablecoin on what he is calling the "EthereumPOW" protocol. The Sun-backed Poloniex exchange would list it.

For his part, Sun says that Poloniex, which has taken the first steps toward listing an EthereumPOW token (ETHW) won’t be taking any fees from trading ETHW. It's all for the public good, he says.

Small volume

Regardless, CoinGecko data says there’s not much comparable market interest in it, with only $3.1 million in volume changing hands on the first day.

“I don't expect Ethereum to really be significantly harmed by another fork,” Buterin said at ETHSeoul. “My impression from everyone I talked to in the Ethereum ecosystem is that they've been completely supportive of the proof of stake effort, and the ecosystem has been quite united around it.”

Anyone who wants to remain using proof-of-work and Ethereum will just stick with Ethereum Classic, Buterin believes. (Ethereum Classic is what used to be Ethereum until a 2016 hack of The DAO, a smart contract platform running on Ethereum. What remained after a fork became Ethereum Classic, which has its own currency, ETC.)

“I think Ethereum Classic already has a superior community and a superior product for people kind of with those pro-proof-of-work values and preferences,” he said.

But do the markets agree with Buterin? CoinGecko data shows that Ethereum Classic has $1.16 billion in trading volume.

But it took almost two months for Ethereum Classic to test the $3.1 million mark in volume that EthereumPOW has already gotten to in daily volume, and over a year and a half for Ethereum Classic’s volume to consistently hit that waterline.

By that metric, it might be too early to tell if the market has rejected EthereumPOW. Maybe this is more than an attempt for outsiders to make a quick buck. But at the same time, do we really need two proof-of-work versions of Ethereum?

Important events

CoinDesk TV

In case you missed it, here is the most recent episode of "First Mover" on CoinDesk TV:

Tron founder Justin Sun is vowing to back an Ethereum fork, creating concern as the Ethereum Merge approaches but Vitalik Buterin is playing it down. Sun joined "First Mover" to explain his position. Also, CrossTower's Kapil Rathi provided his crypto markets analysis and perspective on the WazirX, Binance dispute that has stirred panic among WazirX users.

Headlines

Crypto-Mixing Service Tornado Cash Blacklisted by US Treasury: The department barred its use by U.S. persons as a matter of national security because North Korean hackers allegedly use the mixer to launder stolen crypto funds.

Ether's Deepest 'Backwardation' Since 2020 Crash Shows Traders Prepping for Ethereum PoW Split: Traders have been buying ETH in the spot market and selling ether futures to withstand volatility, creating the unusual dynamic.

WazirX Co-Founder Nischal Shetty Speaks Out on Spat With Binance CEO: Shetty said his team has been in discussions with Binance for several months to work out the ownership issue.

Americans See Inflation Plunging Sharply Next Year, New York Fed Survey Finds: Respondents to the widely considered survey expect inflation to run at 6.2% in 2023, which is down 0.6% from last month’s survey.

The Ethereum Merge Is the Main Contributor to July Rebound: JPMorgan: The price of ether surged 70% in July, outpacing other major cryptos.

Longer reads

How to Get Into Seed Club, the ‘Y Combinator of Web3': The popular DAO accelerator offers a 12-week crash course for building a token project.

Said and heard

"The Federal Reserve Bank of New York's Center for Microeconomic Data today released the July 2022 Survey of Consumer Expectations, which shows substantial declines in short-, medium- and longer-term inflation expectations. Expectations about year-ahead price increases for gas and food fell sharply. Home price growth expectations and year-ahead spending growth expectations continued to pull back from recent series highs. Households' income growth expectations improved." (Federal Reserve Bank of New York) ... “Tornado Cash has been the go-to mixer for cybercriminals looking to launder the proceeds of crime, as well as helping to enable hackers, including those currently under U.S. sanctions, to launder the proceeds of their cybercrimes by covering up the origin and transfer of this illicit virtual currency. Since its creation back in 2019, Tornado Cash has reportedly laundered more than $7 billion worth of virtual currency.” (U.S. Treasury official/CoinDesk)

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James Rubin is CoinDesk's U.S. news editor based on the West Coast.

CoinDesk - Unknown

James Rubin is CoinDesk's U.S. news editor based on the West Coast.

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