First Mover Asia: Bitcoin Market Cap Is Surging, but a Retreat From $30K Continues

PLUS: Western crypto innovators with great ideas are eyeing the East for tech-embracing governments and fresh opportunities. A West-East partnership may be crypto's model for the future, the co-founder of Taipei-based Woo Network, Jack Tan, writes.

AccessTimeIconMay 1, 2023 at 11:49 p.m. UTC
Updated May 2, 2023 at 5:36 p.m. UTC

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: As Asia's trading day begins, bitcoin drops 4% to $27,981 and ether declines 2.45% to $1,824.

Insights: The West will still lead Crypto's future, but the East is going to play a major role, argues the co-founder of Taipei-based Woo Network, Jack Tan.


−49.3 4.0%
−1446.4 4.9%
−72.3 3.8%
S&P 500
−1.6 0.0%
+0.4 0.0%
Nikkei 225
+266.7 0.9%
BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices, as of 7 a.m. ET (11 a.m. UTC)
CoinDesk Market Index (CMI)
1,197 −49.3 4.0%
Bitcoin (BTC)
$27,981 −1446.4 4.9%
Ethereum (ETH)
$1,824 −72.3 3.8%
S&P 500
4,167.87 −1.6 0.0%
$1,991 +0.4 0.0%
Nikkei 225
29,123.18 +266.7 0.9%
BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices, as of 7 a.m. ET (11 a.m. UTC)

Good Morning, Asia.

Bitcoin is opening the trading day in Asia at $27,981, down 4.9% in the last 24 hours, while ether is down 3.8% to $1,824.

Despite this slow retreat from $30,000, co-founder and CEO of research platform The Tie Joshua Frank pointed out on a recent appearance on CoinDesk TV’s "All About Bitcoin" that there are still many positive market indicators for bitcoin.

Bitcoin's market cap dominance is surging again, nearing June 2020 highs, he noted, but liquidity remains a challenge.

"I think a lot of institutions are excited about bitcoin. I think that the risk-off narrative is resonating right now. Just like it did in 2021," he said, while explaining that a shortage of liquidity remains a challenge for the market but is also leading to bitcoin’s overall outperformance.

"Bitcoin is outperforming due to several reasons, including market consolidation, low trading volume, and banking uncertainty,” he said. "In the short term, bitcoin is more correlated to gold. However, the U.S. regulatory environment is unenthusiastic and negative towards crypto, contributing to low liquidity.”

As the week continues, traders will be looking to U.S. job openings on Tuesday and news from the Federal Reserve about interest rate moves on Wednesday.

Biggest Gainers

There are no gainers in CoinDesk 20 today.

Biggest Losers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Solana SOL −5.4% Smart Contract Platform
Cosmos ATOM −5.3% Smart Contract Platform
Bitcoin BTC −4.7% Currency


By Jack Tan, co-founder of Woo Network

Crypto companies may have to move from the U.S. due to stifling regulations.

However, Western founders and teams may continue to dominate innovation by looking East, where governments are embracing new technologies.

These countries and jurisdictions have passed more crypto-friendly laws and created a welcoming business environment for firms in the digital asset space. The mix for Western companies with talent and other resources can be potentially powerful.

Regulation has become a central issue in the crypto asset space as the U.S. responds to multiple debacles that have undermined confidence in crypto. The Biden administration recently shifted its position on crypto from neutral to negative through its White House Council of Economic Advisers, which said that “crypto assets do not appear to offer investors any fundamental value to date.”

Exodus of talent, capital

Major crypto players no longer look to the U.S. for leadership, and they have been seeking other jurisdictions from which to grow. For example, Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse said the crypto industry has “already started” moving outside the U.S., while crypto exchange giant Coinbase, whose once-upbeat outlook about U.S. regulation has soured, may start an overseas trading desk. And Circle is opening a new office outside the United States.

It’s hard to imagine that they would go to the European Union because even the G-7, an intergovernmental political forum consisting almost entirely of western countries, is outlining tougher regulations for digital assets. A French bill, for example, stipulates that companies will have to meet extra rules on internal controls, cybersecurity and conflicts of interest.

Why move east?

Regulators are more supportive in Asia’s financial centers. Japan recently relaxed token listing requirements. Hong Kong announced it was open to crypto firms, Thailand said it would waive taxes for initial coin offerings (ICO), and Dubai’s regulatory framework hopes to become a global crypto hub.

The East is also l playing a bigger role in cultivating crypto innovation by spurring higher crypto adoption rates. The East dominates analytics firm Chainalysis’ top 20 global crypto adoption index, including Vietnam, the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Indonesia and China.

Additionally, money is flowing into the region. China's third-largest state-owned insurance institution – Pacific Insurance Investment Management Hong Kong Branch – and Waterdrop Capital unveiled compliant blockchain venture capital and POS token income enhancement funds, respectively. Dubai-based Cypher Capital is looking to raise over $100 million for a new venture capital fund to target "Asian technology tycoons." HashKey Capital, which is instrumental in moving crypto forward in Hong Kong, has closed its third blockchain funding at $500 million with a focus on growth opportunities in emerging markets.

How could the West still dominate?

A more open regulatory environment, faster crypto adoption and flow of funds to the region do not necessarily translate to the East having dominant market players in the crypto space. And western countries still have relatively stronger economies and cultivate exceptionally brilliant talents through an ingrained culture of innovation, and the strongest financial markets.

Westerners have founded the most innovative firms in the crypto space. For example, Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin and Binance founder Changpeng Zhao were raised and educated in Canada. The founders at Coinbase, Grayscale, OpenSea, Gemini, Kraken, Uniswap, and Chainalysis are mostly from the U.S. and educated in the U.S. (Grayscale is a CoinDesk sister company.)

The West dominates the top 10 rankings of the most innovative economies as measured by the Global Innovation Index, including Switzerland, the United States, Sweden, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Germany, Finland and Denmark. We would expect that innovative crypto projects would continue to originate from these locations.

The crypto space needs the support of the financial and fintech centers, and the majority of the top-ranking ones are still from the West. In the Global Financial Centres Index released last month, 14 of the top 20 financial centers are from the West, including New York, San Francisco, London, Los Angeles, Boston and Washington, D.C.

The importance of a robust, risk-reward framework

Having worked in the finance industry all my professional life, I have witnessed how innovations are borne from crises and deeply stressful situations. Innovation is often messy.

Companies and governments forget this, and often it’s the leaders that enact policies that lean too heavily toward protecting the status quo by limiting risk. We’ve seen once-innovative companies such as Kodak and IBM lose their edge as they focus more on stability and the bottom line for shareholders. Meanwhile, scrappy startups with vision, talent and nothing to lose sometimes succeed wildly – provided they can operate in nurturing environments.

An East-West partnership may be crypto’s model for the future.

Important events

CoinDesk TV

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

Another major bank has been taken over by federal regulators, resulting in the second-largest bank failure in U.S. history. Jason Brett, Key Bridge Advisors managing director and former U.S. regulator at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp., along with tastycrypto head of digital assets Ryan Grace, joined "First Mover" to discuss how the crypto markets are reacting after most of First Republic Bank's assets and deposits will now be acquired by JPMorgan Chase. Plus, CoinDesk's Nikhilesh De, managing editor for global policy and regulation, shared a recap of CoinDesk’s yearly Consensus conference.


Bitcoin Set New Record of Daily Transactions the Same Day the U.S. Government Quietly Engineered a Bank Buyout: The events are unconnected, but crypto has a role to play in the wider political realignment questioning the sanctity of central banks and established powers.

Sotheby's Launches On-Chain Secondary NFT Marketplace: Sotheby’s Metaverse will now offer a curated, peer-to-peer marketplace via the Ethereum and Polygon networks.

'Shark Tank' but Make It Crypto: CoinMarketCap Launching Competition TV Show: "Killer Whale" will allow entrepreneurs to pitch ideas for new Web3 products and projects to a panel of judges.

Justin Sun to Reverse $56M Binance Transfer After CEO Zhao Warns Against Potential SUI Token Grab: "Binance Launchpool are meant as air drops for our retail users, not just for a few whales," Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao tweeted after Sun transferred $56 million in TUSD to Binance.

NFT Marketplace Blur Launches Blend, a Peer-to-Peer Lending Platform: Short for Blur Lending, Blend will allow collectors to buy blue-chip non-fungible tokens with a smaller upfront payment, similar to a down payment on a house.

Edited by James Rubin.


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James Rubin

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