First Mover Asia: Bitcoin Regains Momentum as Investors Shrug Off Banking, Fed Concerns

ALSO: CoinDesk market analyst Glenn Williams writes that a decrease in the number of bitcoin addresses with a balance of more than 1,000 bitcoins suggests that large, institutional investors are reluctant to add to their coffers.

AccessTimeIconMar 23, 2023 at 11:52 p.m. UTC
Updated Apr 14, 2024 at 10:27 p.m. UTC

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Bitcoin rebounded past $28K a day after an unwelcome – in some corners – U.S. central bank interest rate hike sent the price spinning downward. Will the momentum last?

Insights: Bitcoin addresses with a balance of 1,000 bitcoins are declining. What does it mean?


+43.7 3.7%
+1054.0 3.9%
+81.8 4.7%
S&P 500
+11.8 0.3%
+47.7 2.5%
Nikkei 225
−47.0 0.2%
BTC/ETH prices per CoinDesk Indices, as of 7 a.m. ET (11 a.m. UTC)

Bitcoin Shows Its Resilience, Rebounds Past $28K

So much for fears about federal monetary policy, increased regulatory activity and banking unrest.

A day after bitcoin plunged following a disappointing – to some observers – U.S. Federal Reserve interest rate hike, investors sent the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization floating above $28,000 again, about where it stood earlier in the week when hopes were high for a cessation of central bank hawkishness.

BTC was recently trading at about $28,393, up 3.8% over the past 24 hours. Even that level represented a retreat from loftier air nearer to $29,000 earlier in the day. Bitcoin has risen about 22% this month and more than 65% since January 1.

"The crypto ecosystem is under attack. You're seeing all of those regulation by enforcement attempts, but also the banking crisis that has spread to banks (that) serve the crypto community," Benoit Bosc, global head of product at crypto trading firm GSR Markets, told CoinDesk TV. "As a result, you have this flight to quality to the majors. Bitcoin has benefited the most, and it's rallied significantly ever since those events have started. This been the case with the action of the Fed yesterday in their refusal to really consider any cuts but even refusal to pause in the cycle of hikes."

Bosc said that markets recoiled from comments on Wednesday by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen who reiterated their concerns about inflation. Powell fell short of guaranteeing that the bank wouldn't raise interest rates again, which some Fed critics have blamed for recent banking calamities, and Yellen would not promise to protect all bank deposits in the event of a more widely spread sector collapse without congressional approval. In the aftermath, risk assets of nearly all stripes plunged, sweeping up cryptos.

"The first reaction is one that's correlated to all risk assets; it's a little leg down," Bosc said. "But then after that, you do become, you know, you have that store of value, digital gold feature of bitcoin, which is that, you still have inflation. They're fighting it, but it still exists.

He added: "Bitcoin has a limited supply, and so that's a better alternative. You also have issues with stable coins. So bitcoin suddenly seems more stable and safe than those at the moment."

Ether, the second-largest crypto in market value, was recently changing hands at $1,810, up 4.6% from Wednesday, same time. Other major cryptos were largely in the green, regaining ground lost the previous day. Stablecoin XRP and TRX, the token of blockchain-based platform Tron Network, recently rose 5.7% and 9.4%, respectively. TRX dropped the previous day after the U.S. Securities and Exchange (SEC) charged its founder with selling and airdropping unregistered securities, fraud and market manipulation. Litecoin (LTC) continued its recent momentum, rising 7.8%. The CoinDesk Market Index, a measure of overall market performance, was up 4.2%.

Misdeeds continued to buffet the industry as New York federal prosecutors charged Terraform Labs founder Do Kwon with fraud hours after he was arrested by police in Montenegro. On Wednesday, the SEC warned Coinbase that the agency was pursuing an enforcement action against the exchange.

In an email to CoinDesk, Ilya Volkov, CEO of YouHodler, a Swiss-based international fintech platform providing Web3 crypto and fiat service, noted bitcoin's resilience following the Fed decision. "Crypto is an integral part of the global financial markets," Volkov said.

GSR's Bosc was upbeat about crypto's future. "You have just this morning Do Kwon, and this market, just shrugged it off and continued to rise and stabilize at a level that seemed very elevated," he said. "A couple of months ago, it was no one thought we would be there. Those events a couple of years ago would have decimated the market. It's very interesting to see how strong the market is."

He added: "I don't see it as a risk on rally. But it does give me a lot of confidence in this ecosystem, this community and in the chance for adoption a lot faster than people anticipated."

Biggest Gainers

Asset Ticker Returns DACS Sector
Loopring LRC +10.4% Smart Contract Platform
Chainlink LINK +6.5% Computing
Decentraland MANA +6.2% Entertainment

Biggest Losers

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


Institutional Investors Are Holding Back

The number of bitcoin addresses with a balance in excess of 1,000 BTC has been in prolonged, steady decline since March 2022, decreasing 12%.


The metric, which offers insight into institutional investors’ appetite, suggests a reluctance among this important group to add BTC to their coffers at the moment.

Larger ether investors have shown slightly different behavior. Despite the price movements for BTC and ETH having a traditionally tight relationship, their trajectories specific to the number of whales have gone in opposite directions. The number of ETH whales has increased 5% over the identical time period.


Important events

5:00 p.m. HKT/SGT(9:00 UTC) Eurozone S&P Global Composite PMI (March)

8:30 p.m. HKT/SGT(12:30 UTC) Canada Retail Sales (MoM/Jan)

CoinDesk TV

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

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a Wells Notice to crypto exchange Coinbase, which may lead to the SEC suing Coinbase or taking other enforcement actions against it. This came as the SEC sued TRON founder Justin Sun on allegations his projects sold and airdropped unregistered securities and committed fraud and market manipulation. Crypto Council for Innovation head of government affairs Brett Quick and Storm Partners managing partner Sheraz Ahmed joined "First Mover."


Stablecoin Issuer MakerDAO Votes to Retain USDC as Primary Reserve Even After Depeg: The decision follows a turbulent period during which USDC temporarily lost its dollar peg after key banking partner SVB collapsed.

Arbitrum Daily Transaction Count Hits Record High Ahead of Token Airdrop: Arbitrum is decentralizing by launching its governance token ARB.

Do Kwon Arrested in Montenegro, Interior Minister: The suspect was detained at the Podgorica airport with falsified documents, said Filip Adzic.

GoldenTree Moves $5M of SUSHI, Sparking Fear It’s Exiting: Much of the asset manager’s sushi trove was deposited at Binance in the last 24 hours.

Metaverse NFT Trading Volume Hit New All-Time High, DappRadar Says: Virtual land trading spiked this past quarter with 147,000 trades generating $311 million in trading volume, according to a new report.


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James Rubin

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