First Mover Asia: Crypto Flat as Markets Await Tech Earnings

ALSO: Although Do Kwon is in a lot of trouble, his lawyers have raised a legitimate issue about crypto regulation in the U.S, and the SEC’s quest for unlimited jurisdiction over the asset class.

AccessTimeIconApr 25, 2023 at 1:18 a.m. UTC
Updated Apr 14, 2024 at 10:24 p.m. UTC
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Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Crypto markets are playing the waiting game as tech's expected mixed bag of earnings may push things down as the week progresses.

Insights: Do Kwon is in a Montenegro jail on charges he sold unregistered securities, but his attorneys raised a reasonable point about the SEC quest for unlimited jurisdiction over the asset class.

Prices

1,192
−11.8 1.0%
$27,514
−335.0 1.2%
$1,845
−37.6 2.0%
S&P 500
4,137.04
+3.5 0.1%
Gold
$2,007
+27.5 1.4%
Nikkei 225
28,593.52
+29.2 0.1%
BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices, as of 7 a.m. ET (11 a.m. UTC)

Good morning, Asia.

Markets in the region are opening flat, with both crypto and traditional finance (TradFi) markets not doing much.

Bitcoin is currently at $27,514, down 1.2%, while ether is down 2% to $1,845.

Ether's relatively stagnant position comes as the protocol's Shanghai upgrade brings record-breaking inflows into the ecosystem as stakers reinvest their rewards.

Data from Coinglass shows that while the market is still relatively flat, the majority of liquidations are coming from short positions, suggesting the market has legs.

Around Asia, the Nikkei 225 opened slightly in the green at 28,714 while Korea's KOPSI is flat at 2,521.

In the U.S., Wall Street is awaiting earnings from Microsoft and Alphabet, which are scheduled for April 25.

Crypto remains tightly correlated with the Nasdaq, as CoinDesk reported earlier this month, which reiterates the narrative that it's another risk asset rather than a safe haven from economic malaise, thus making tech earnings as important as ever.

Biggest Gainers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Terra LUNA +0.9% Smart Contract Platform

Biggest Losers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
XRP XRP −3.7% Currency
Gala GALA −3.3% Entertainment
Cardano ADA −3.2% Smart Contract Platform


Insights

Do Kwon Has a Point

Do Kwon is back in court in the U.S. – via his lawyers because he’s in jail in Montenegro – asking for the Security and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) case against him alleging he sold unregistered securities to be dismissed. UST, the algorithmic stablecoin of Kwon's Terra ecosystem, is currency, not a security, is the argument being presented.

The SEC lacks a “clear congressional authorization” to regulate digital assets, the docket reads, pointing out that the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) chairman has changed his mind “about whether cryptocurrencies are securities, and currently asserts that stablecoins (like UST) are not.”

Kwon isn’t the only target here. The SEC is continuing its campaign of regulation by enforcement: attempting to get insider trading charges added to a case of a fired Coinbase product manager, thus having a wide net to call everything a security; or sneaking in allegations that all exchange tokens are securities in a complaint against former Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison, which went uncontested as she submitted a plea deal to prosecutors.

“Backdoor rulemaking” is one way to describe it.

In contrast, many jurisdictions in Asia are moving in the opposite direction: creating legal frameworks to properly define crypto – not apply frameworks from the mid-twentieth century – and regulate it as the unique asset class it is. The Monetary Authority of Singapore has this already set up, Hong Kong is working on its own framework, and even Taiwan is rolling out a rulebook.

Kwon is no saint, and is in a lot of trouble after being caught in Montenegro with a fake passport. But his counsel is putting forward a good argument about crypto regulation in the U.S., and the SEC’s quest for unlimited jurisdiction over the asset class.

Perhaps in his fall, he’ll create an important precedent for the future of crypto regulation in the U.S., and in the end, we’ll thank him for accelerating a push for regulatory clarity.

Important events

Consensus 2023 (April 26-28)

9:00 p.m. HKT/SGT(13:00 UTC) United States Housing Price Index (MoM/Feb)

10:00 p.m. HKT/SGT(14:00 UTC) United States New Home Sales (MoM/March)

CoinDesk TV

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

Rep. Warren Davidson (R-Ohio) joined "First Mover" to discuss the future of U.S. crypto regulation and explained why he wants to restructure the Securities and Exchange Commission and called for the removal of SEC Chair Gary Gensler. This came as bitcoin (BTC) is falling for the third straight day and touched a 24-hour low of $27,844.46. PV01 CEO Max Boonen and Crypto is Macro Now economist Noelle Acheson also joined the conversation. Acheson is also the former head of research at CoinDesk and Genesis Trading, both units of Digital Currency Group.

Headlines

What to Expect at Consensus 2023: From Solana phones to the future of U.S. crypto policy, here’s what to look out for at crypto’s Big Tent event – Consensus.

Zimbabwe to Introduce Gold-Backed Digital Currency, Report: The country's central bank wants people to be able to exchange Zimbabwe dollars for the gold-backed token so that they can hedge against the currency's volatility.

Wrapped Bitcoin Token Goes Live on Cardano Testnet: The anetaBTC project aims to attract bitcoin liquidity to the Cardano ecosystem.

Terra's Do Kwon Wants SEC Charges Dismissed, Court Filings Show: The SEC cannot regulate digital assets involved in the case because the UST stablecoin is a currency, not a security, lawyers for Kwon have said.

Bitcoin Price May Hit $100K by Year End, Standard Chartered Bank Says: A report from the firm noted that the crypto winter is finally over and bitcoin halving is set to be a positive catalyst for the price.

CORRECTION (April 25, 2023 14:50 UTC): Caroline Ellison was the former CEO of Alameda Research, not its chief operating officer.

Edited by James Rubin.

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