First Mover Asia: Bitcoin Above $23K in Weekend Trading; an Edgy Environment at Seoul's Blockchain Megaweek

·8-min read

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Bitcoin holds steady above $23K in weekend trading; most other major cryptos rise.

Insights: South Korea is the site of blockchain megaweek conferences. The atmosphere is excited but edgy because of recent events in the blockchain space.

Prices

Bitcoin (BTC): $23,235 +1.2%

Ether (ETH): $1,706 +0.7%

S&P 500 daily close: 4,145.19 −0.2%

Gold: $1,790 per troy ounce +1.0%

Ten-year Treasury yield daily close: 2.84% +0.2


Bitcoin, ether and gold prices are taken at approximately 4pm New York time. Bitcoin is the CoinDesk Bitcoin Price Index (XBX); Ether is the CoinDesk Ether Price Index (ETX); Gold is the COMEX spot price. Information about CoinDesk Indices can be found at coindesk.com/indices.

Bitcoin Holds Above $23K

By James Rubin

Bitcoin held its footing above $23,000 throughout the weekend as investors seemed mostly recovered from Friday's surprisingly strong jobs report.

The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was recently trading at about $23,300, up slightly over the last 24 hours and roughly where it started the weekend. Bitcoin fell below $23,000 early Friday following the U.S. Labor Department report – which doubled most analysts' expectations for July job growth – before regaining its previous perch above the threshold. The additional jobs countered previous indicators suggesting the economy was slowing enough to allow the U.S. central bank to soon scale back steep interest rate increases that many investors believe will cast the economy into a recession and send riskier assets spiraling.

Bitcoin has lost more than 50% of its value since the start of the year, plummeting with stocks. Investors fretted about the dual threats of inflation and economic contraction. Digital assets have rallied along with stocks over the past three weeks, however, amid hopeful signs, and held fast the past three days.

"If bitcoin can hold onto the $23,000 level, that could be very promising for the medium-term outlook," Oanda Senior Market Analyst Americas Edward Moya wrote in an email, adding optimistically. "Bitcoin has been stabilizing here and could see further bullish momentum on the break of the $25,000 level.

Ether, the second-largest crypto by market cap, was recently trading hands at approximately $1,700, up roughly a percentage point and about where it stood when the weekend began. Other major cryptos were mixed, with THETA and ATOM rising over 7% and 6%, respectively at one point, but FIL dropping more than 5%.

Cryptos tracked major equity markets on Friday, which dropped following the jobs numbers before regaining ground in the afternoon to finish flat. The tech-heavy Nasdaq fell 0.5% on Friday while the S&P 500, which has a strong technology component, was down 0.2%. Both indexes nevertheless advanced for a third consecutive week, buoyed not only by signs of slowing growth but upbeat forecasts by a number of global technology and financial services brands.

The 528,000 added jobs in July was more than double the consensus among analysts who study labor markets, and a clear sign that this one part of the economy remains strong.

"The economic stats have suddenly taken on a bit brighter hue," Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi tweeted on Sunday. "The July jobs report shows the economy’s resilience and why we are neither in recession nor is a near-term recession inevitable."

Zandi added that these trends would "become clearer" with the release of July's consumer price index data on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, crypto markets digested a mix of good and bad news. On Monday, an exploit of cross-chain messaging protocol Nomad allowed $200 million to be siphoned off the platform.

But markets were encouraged by the latest initiatives involving large institutional investors. Asset manager Brevan Howard completed the largest crypto hedge fund launch ever, with more than $1 billion in assets under management, and BlackRock (BLK) formed a partnership with crypto exchange Coinbase (COIN) to make crypto directly available to institutional investors. Coinbase's shares closed 10% higher on Thursday and jumped an additional 4.6% on Friday.

"Traditional finance firms continue their crypto push," Arcane Research noted in its Friday newsletter.

Investors will be eyeing Coinbase's second-quarter earnings report on Tuesday. Bitcoin miners Marathon Digital (MARA) and Riot Blockchain (RIOT) will also be announcing earnings early in the week.


Biggest Gainers

Asset

Ticker

Returns

DACS Sector

Loopring

LRC

+10.1%

Smart Contract Platform

Cosmos

ATOM

+6.9%

Smart Contract Platform

Chainlink

LINK

+6.3%

Computing

Biggest Losers

Asset

Ticker

Returns

DACS Sector

Terra

LUNA

−0.7%

Smart Contract Platform

Polygon

MATIC

−0.1%

Smart Contract Platform

Insights

An Edgy Blockchain Megaweek in South Korea

By Sam Reynolds

SEOUL, S. Korea — It’s blockchain megaweek in Seoul, with the BUIDL Asia, Eth Seoul and Korea Blockchain Week conferences stacked back-to-back over a 10-day period.

This being the first set of conferences in Asia post-coronavirus, there should be a certain energy in the air. There’s an excitement about the return of in-person conferences to the continent – masks and all – but the ghost of the Terra blockchain’s spectacular crash still looms large.

Prosecutors are on a warpath in Korea, raiding exchanges and the home of Terra’s founder while banning some current and former staff from leaving the country.

On stage at BUIDL Asia, the T word was not quite verboten but almost: CoinDesk heard that speakers were told not to mention Terra on stage. Of course, the Streisand effect was in full force and the word was used again and again to drive home a point.

But that’s not the first time there was a certain nervousness around the word.

Months ago, when LUNA was smoldering, CoinDesk reported that Korean VC Fund Hashed had taken a $3.5 billion hit on Terra’s LUNA token.

Almost immediately after the article was published, a public relations representative for Terraform Labs got in touch with CoinDesk – not to dispute the veracity of the story – the Hashed founder later confirmed the amount in an early August interview with Bloomberg – but rather to ask that language be toned down regarding Hashed’s participation in Terra’s funding rounds. Law enforcement was looking at anyone that touched the fundraise with the country’s largest magnifying glass.

Of course the question on everyone’s mind is, will someone get served a subpoena during Korea Blockchain week? So far there have been no reports of process servers gracing BUIDL Asia and Eth Seoul with their presence, but these were small events for what’s to come.

It was just last year when Terraform Labs CEO Do Kwon confirmed he was served with a subpoena at Messari’s Mainnet crypto conference by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Stay tuned.

Important events

Korea Blockchain Week

ETHToronto

Marathon Digital Earnings

CoinDesk TV

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

BlackRock and Coinbase Partner to Give Institutional Investors Greater Access to Crypto; Bank of England Rate Hike

"First Mover" examined the latest news affecting crypto markets. The Bank of England has raised interest rates by 50 basis points, its largest hike since 1995. In a bright spot amid challenging times for Coinbase, BlackRock plans to offer crypto to institutional investors through Coinbase Prime. Charles Allen, BTCS CEO, joined markets discussion. Also, Alex Zinder had a business update from Ledger Enterprises and Frances Coppola broke down proposals from the Bank of International Settlements.

Headlines

North Korea's Lazarus Hackers Blamed in deBridge Finance Cyberattack: Company co-founder Alex Smirnov warns all Web3 teams that the campaign is likely widespread.

Data Provider DeFiLlama De-emphasizes Double-Counted Crypto Deposits After Saber Revelation: The website “toggled off” double-counting after CoinDesk uncovered one Solana developer’s effort to fool the all-important metric for popularity in decentralized finance.

What the Merge Means for Ethereum Miners: There is speculation about ether miners moving to Ethereum Classic once proof-of-work is gone from the main chain, but mining pools remain split on where they will turn in a post-Merge world.

DeFi Protocol Voltz Could Bring 150% Interest Rate on Ether Deposits: As the Ethereum blockchain's Merge approaches, traders and venues are seeing the event as an opportunity to pocket fat yields – possibly signaling a renewed appetite for risk in crypto just months after its big market crash.

Longer reads

Master of Anons: How a Crypto Developer Faked a DeFi Ecosystem: The Macalinao brothers used a web of bogus identities to create the illusion of a dev community, juicing value on the Saber protocol and Solana blockchain. Now they're moving to Aptos.

Other voices: There’s always another nightmarish crypto hack around the corner (TechCrunch)

Said and heard

"The staggering case highlights at least two serious specific vulnerabilities in the DeFi and crypto ecosystems, and some much larger thorny questions. First, it reignites the perpetual issue of anonymous developers in the crypto space. Bitcoin founding developer Satoshi Nakamoto remains pseudonymous, and there are many good reasons blockchain devs may wish to protect their real names." (CoinDesk columnist David Z. Morris) ... "While the Russian invasion and [COVID-19] pandemic could take a dark turn, pushing inflation higher again, more likely is the worst of these supply shocks are behind us. Inflation will recede." (Moody's Analytics Chief Economist Mark Zandi)