First Mover Asia: Behind the Scenes on Indonesia's New Official Crypto Exchange

PLUS: In crypto markets, there's a mini-rally in bitcoin, a narrowing of the "Grayscale discount" and a rally in altcoins.

AccessTimeIconJan 11, 2023 at 3:38 a.m. UTC
Updated Mar 3, 2023 at 7:03 p.m. UTC

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: As bitcoin nudges above $17,400, altcoins are surging and the "Grayscale discount" is narrowing thanks to growing speculation over Digital Currency Group's finances.

Insights: Indonesia’s government is launching a crypto exchange. But it’s not completely correct to think that it’s launching a competitor to Binance.


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BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices; gold is COMEX spot price. Prices as of about 4 p.m. ET

Bitcoin crosses above $17.4K, but Check Out GALA

By Bradley Keoun

The digital-asset analysis firm Arcane Research noted that bitcoin's gains are getting eclipsed as "market participants rotate into altcoins amidst a frantic short squeeze."

Markets analyst Glenn Williams Jr. wrote Tuesday that he's suddenly seeing an uptick in activity in a technical screen he uses to identify cryptocurrencies with rising volatility. It's especially surprising given how missing volatility was for the previous few weeks, as chronicled in a weekly report Tuesday by Glassnode.

The drama surrounding Digital Currency Group (owner of CoinDesk) continues, and the speculation can be seen in the recent narrowing of the so-called GBTC discount to an eight-week low.


Indonesia’s Government-Run Crypto Exchange Isn’t What You Think it Is

By CoinDesk Indonesia's Shenna Peter and CoinDesks's Sam Reynolds

Indonesia’s government is launching a crypto exchange. But it’s not completely correct to think that it’s launching a competitor to Binance.

Within Indonesia, crypto exchanges like Binance are referred to as “Physical Traders of Crypto Assets” by the country’s Commodity Futures Trading Regulatory Agency, also known by its Indonesian acronym BAPPEBTI.

Behind the scenes there are a number of other entities that are specific to the country that are similar to the infrastructure found in traditional finance.

When authorities in Indonesia refer to "crypto exchange," it means something closer to a pricing reference index such as the Nasdaq composite.

This is one pillar in the trading infrastructure ecosystem, alongside nationally regulated custodians (remember: post-Mt. Gox national custodian rules are why FTX Japan customers are whole) and a futures clearing house.

On one hand, this is how crypto trading goes mainstream in Indonesia and becomes an institutional-grade asset. Its only with regulations and infrastructure akin to traditional finance (TradFi) that institutions can truly invest in the asset class.

But on the other hand, crypto does lose some of its appeal if it's as regulated and controlled as equities. There are possibilities that the government might implement things like trading hours (which would be tough to do for crypto) and restrictions on price movements.

BAPPEBTI has yet to release a timeline as to when it expect sthis to be completed. The regulator says it is still working on building out this infrastructure, and is targeting a launch date sometime this year.

This entire system and infrastructure will be the first of its kind in the world. And Indonesia, given its scale, is a great place to put this to the test.

Important events

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CoinDesk TV

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

Crypto exchange Coinbase has said it is planning to reduce its headcount by around 950 employees as part of a restructuring which it expects to be complete by the end of Q2 2023. Pacific Street Managing Director Gareth Rhodes weighed in on the lingering crypto winter jitters. Meanwhile, bitcoin (BTC) is holding steady above $17,000. IDX Digital Assets Chief Investment Officer Ben McMillan shared his crypto markets analysis. And, Blockchain Foundation Executive Director Cleve Mesidor discussed the future of crypto regulation.


Analysts ‘Encouraged’ by Coinbase Layoffs as They Show Company Is Being Financially Disciplined: The crypto exchange’s dwindling group of sell-side bulls said Tuesday’s announced staffing cuts are a necessary step.

Ethereum Software Firm ConsenSys to Cut Upwards of 100 Staff: CoinDesk estimates nearly 27,000 jobs have been lost across the crypto industry since April, based on media reports and press releases.

DCG's Barry Silbert Talks About Genesis in Letter to Shareholders: Crypto exchange Gemini co-founder Cameron Winklevoss earlier on Tuesday called for the DCG board to remove Silbert as CEO. Delists Tether’s USDT Stablecoin for Canadian Users: The move comes after the Canadian Securities Administrators committed to stronger oversight over crypto exchanges following the demise of FTX.

Gemini Terminates Its Crypto Yield Product, Amping Up Battle With Genesis: The move, which Gemini says requires Genesis to return all locked-up assets, sunsets the exchange's nearly two-year-old Gemini Earn program.


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CoinDesk is an award-winning media outlet that covers the cryptocurrency industry. Its journalists abide by a strict set of editorial policies. In November 2023, CoinDesk was acquired by the Bullish group, owner of Bullish, a regulated, digital assets exchange. The Bullish group is majority-owned by; both companies have interests in a variety of blockchain and digital asset businesses and significant holdings of digital assets, including bitcoin. CoinDesk operates as an independent subsidiary with an editorial committee to protect journalistic independence. CoinDesk employees, including journalists, may receive options in the Bullish group as part of their compensation.

Shenna Peter

Shenna Peter is a Senior Editor at CoinDesk Indonesia.

Bradley Keoun

Bradley Keoun is the managing editor of CoinDesk's Tech & Protocols team. He owns less than $1,000 each of several cryptocurrencies.