First Mover Asia: Bybit CEO Ben Zhou: Regulators See Crypto as an ‘Opportunity,’ Not a Crisis

The CEO of the Dubai-based exchange sees jurisdictions competing for crypto business in a post-FTX world. PLUS: Bitcoin holds near $30,000 amid investor cautiousness.

AccessTimeIconJul 24, 2023 at 1:23 a.m. UTC
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Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Bitcoin holds near $30,000, as investors remain cautious, an analyst says.

Insights: Ben Zhou, the CEO of crypto exchange Bybit, sees different regional hubs competing for business in the future.

Prices

1,258
+10.7 0.9%
$29,951
+90.7 0.3%
$1,882
+13.1 0.7%
S&P 500
4,536.34
+1.5 0.0%
Gold
$1,964
−0.8 0.0%
Nikkei 225
32,304.25
−186.3 0.6%
BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices, as of 7 a.m. ET (11 a.m. UTC)
CoinDesk Market Index (CMI)
1,258 +10.7 0.9%
Bitcoin (BTC)
$29,951 +90.7 0.3%
Ethereum (ETH)
$1,882 +13.1 0.7%
S&P 500
4,536.34 +1.5 0.0%
Gold
$1,964 −0.8 0.0%
Nikkei 225
32,304.25 −186.3 0.6%
BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices, as of 7 a.m. ET (11 a.m. UTC)

Crypto Traders Are Cautious as BTC Maintains $30K

As Asia begins its trading week, the CoinDesk Market Index is at 1,302, up 1.27%.

Bitcoin is at $29,951, up 0.3%, while ether is up 0.7% at $1,882.

“The trading range remains relatively narrow due to investors' cautious stance, primarily influenced by ongoing developments surrounding the legal case of XRP,” Johnny Teng, Senior Researcher at LBank Labs, wrote in a note to CoinDesk. “The disappointment expressed by SEC chair Gary Gensler over the court's ruling on the securitization of XRP token has added to uncertainty, with the possibility of an appeal by the SEC further complicating the situation.”

Anticipated selling pressure from the U.S. government's sale of confiscated BTC and profit realization by short-term holders, combined with strong support from institutional players and the existence of significant liquidity around $24,300, is contributing to a state of heightened uncertainty in the bitcoin market, necessitating prudent decision-making by investors, added Teng.

BitBull Capital’s Joe DiPasquale said that the market appears to be continuing a consolidation, and the sentiment is still positive, but both bulls and bears need to be cautious.

“For now, bulls may want to be cautious since drops are not out of the question,” DiPasquale wrote in a note to CoinDesk. “Bears will need to be extra cautious, since their downside risk, at this point, is far greater than any potential gain projections.”

This week is scheduled to be a busy one, with the FOMC decision on interest-rate policy due Wednesday, alongside plenty of earnings. But its already been telegraphed that this rate hike will be the last, meaning traders might have already priced it in.

Biggest Gainers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
XRP XRP +5.3% Currency
Solana SOL +3.0% Smart Contract Platform
Ethereum ETH +1.6% Smart Contract Platform

Biggest Losers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Stellar XLM −17.8% Smart Contract Platform
Chainlink LINK −12.8% Computing
Terra LUNA −9.5% Smart Contract Platform

Insights/News

Bybit CEO Ben Zhou: Regulators See "Opportunity, Rather Than Crisis"

The tone regulators are taking with regard to crypto is remarkably different in Asia and the Middle East to North America, said the CEO of Bybit, Ben Zhou, in an interview with CoinDesk.

Crypto licensing is no longer a process governed by anxiety and fear, Zhou observed, and while different jurisdictions are taking unique approaches, there is a shared commonality in that regulators are looking to work with crypto companies and not against them.

“You start to see many regulators realizing this is actually an opportunity, rather than a crisis,” Zhou told CoinDesk. “Hong Kong, for example, is becoming extremely aggressive, trying to attract crypto companies, trying to attract talent."

While all regulators, broadly, want the same goal they aren’t at the same place in the race.

Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), in Zhou’s opinion, is right now “more advanced” than Hong Kong.

“I think Hong Kong is at the very early stage, a little bit like how Singapore was maybe three, four years ago,” he said. “They're at the grandfathering stage.”

VARA, as Zhou explains from his interactions with them in getting Bybit licensed, has sophisticated,detailed procedures exchanges need to go through in order to get licensed. These include explaining how the exchange scrutinizes transactions, addresses sanctions, Anti-Money Laundering practices, and preventing engagement with polluted addresses.

Bybit doesn’t operate in the U.S., but once welcomed customers from Canada. It exited the country in May, citing a “challenging regulatory environment.”

“The attitude towards crypto in Canada has changed dramatically after FTX," he said.

Bybit had ongoing conversations with Canadian regulators and was invited to apply for a license, but post-FTX, the company decided to leave the market due to rules prohibiting stablecoins.

It should be noted that Hong Kong also bans stablecoins – for now. It just wants specific regulations in place first before retail traders will be allowed to have access to them (and forget about algorithmic stablecoins).

Does that mean Bybit will consider re-entry into the Canadian market?

Certainly, Zhou said, if the rules change.

Important events.

8:30 p.m. HKT/SGT(12:30 p.m. UTC): Chicago Fed National Activity Index (June)

CoinDesk TV

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

Profit taking in bitcoin (BTC) contributed to a broader market drop as tokens of some of the largest blockchains, such as Solana's SOL, fell as much as 8% in the past 24 hours. WisdomTree head of digital assets Will Peck shared his crypto markets analysis. ETF Think Tank research director Cinthia Murphy discussed the spot bitcoin ETF race. Plus, artist Mario Klingemann and Sebastian Sanchez from Christie's reflected on the future of Web3 in the art world.

Other Headlines

Craig Wright Will Be Able to Fight Bitcoin Copyright Claim in UK After Winning Appeal: The self-proclaimed author of the Bitcoin white paper claims the operation of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash violate his intellectual property rights.

Arkham Intel Exchange Shows 11 Submissions Since Debut Including Finding Elon Musk’s Wallet: Some bounties that have received a submission include identifying an address owned by MicroStrategy with over 10,000 BTC volume.

'Razzlekhan,' Husband Agree to Plea Deal in Bitfinex Hack Laundering Case Worth Billions: The pair were ordered to forfeit the proceeds from nearly 120,000 bitcoins they allegedly laundered from the hacked crypto exchange.

Bitcoin, Ether Headed Toward Losing Months in Usually Upbeat July: BTC could suffer its second monthly downturn of 2023, while ether seems headed for its first losing month.

Edited by James Rubin.

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