Bitcoin Moves #39 — A weekly review of what’s moving Bitcoin and crypto markets.
Apart from a brief drop in price, this week has been a steady upward climb for Bitcoin. From $56K on Wednesday, Bitcoin’s price dropped suddenly on Thursday, all the way down to touch $50K, per OKCoin market data.
Since then, BTC’s price has remained on a consistently upward trajectory — jumping close to $60K on the news that PayPal plans to bring Bitcoin (and other top crypto) payments to all its merchants.
In other news this week, financial giants the likes of Fidelity have joined the race to file a Bitcoin ETF in the United States. At the same time, central banks in various parts of the world have publicly announced updates on their own digital currency plans.
- Bitcoin dipped to $50K on Thursday, but has been going up steadily since.
- BTC is currently trading just shy of $60K.
- Big banks join the race to file a Bitcoin ETF in the U.S.
- PayPal is rolling out crypto payments to its 29 million global merchants.
Key Bitcoin metrics
- Current BTC price: $59,055, up 9% compared to last week’s price of $54,000
- 7D low / high: $50,846 / $59,749
- Total market cap: $1,102,558,948,693, up 4.6% over last week
The race to file a Bitcoin ETF in the U.S. continues
Filing a Bitcoin ETF in the U.S. is something of a meme in the crypto space — or for many, just a sore subject. Since 2013, over a dozen companies have filed applications with the U.S. SEC to launch this type of investment instrument, but the SEC has rejected every application on the grounds that Bitcoin as a market is too volatile and subject to manipulation.
For some background, an ETF, or Exchange Traded Fund, is an investment fund that can be traded like a security — meaning you can trade it on a traditional stock exchange. Investing in an ETF can mean you’re investing in a variety of underlying assets, whatever the fund is designed to track — could be an index, commodity, asset, or basket of assets.
In the case of a Bitcoin ETF, it would be a way for institutional and retail investors to gain exposure to the leading cryptocurrency, but without the logistics of actually owning it.
This week, two heavy hitters from the legacy financial world made more or less active moves toward making a Bitcoin ETF a reality for U.S. investors:
- Fidelity became the latest company to file to launch its own Bitcoin ETF: Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust. The performance of the fund would be measured by Fidelity’s Bitcoin Index
- Goldman Sachs for its part proposed a note to the SEC that would give its investors exposure to the ARK Innovation ETF — an ETF capable of investing in BTC and related technologies. The note would pay proportionally to the performance of the ETF itself.
Central banks are developing their alternatives to Bitcoin
As Bitcoin takes center stage in various parts of the world, central banks are developing their own alternatives to decentralized crypto. In most cases these are Central Bank Digital Currencies, also known as CBDCs: centralized digital forms of the country’s fiat currencies. Here are some of the projects that have made the headlines recently:
- In the European Union, the President of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, announced today that the bank will decide in mid-2021 whether it will start developing a digital euro. She added the project, if given the green light, might take at least four years to complete.
- In Russia, Anatoly Aksakov, chairman of the Russian State Duma Committee on Financial Markets and a staunch critic of Bitcoin, announced a digital ruble prototype will be finalized by the end of 2021. He hailed it as “the highest form of money.”
- Mu Changchu, director of the Digital Currency Research Institute at the People’s Bank of China argued on Thursday for the need of “interoperability to be enabled between CBDC systems of different jurisdictions,” highlighting the global character of the trend.
- Despite stating last fall that it has “no plan to issue CBDC,” the Bank of Japan declared as of last week that it will start experimenting with a proof of concept in April.
- The Governor of the Reserve Bank of India, Shaktikanta Das, announced that the bank has started assessing the impact on financial stability the digital rupee they are working on might have. The bank is behind a law proposal to ban decentralized cryptocurrencies, like Bitcoin, in the country.
PayPal plans to bring Bitcoin payment to 29 million merchants
PayPal has announced the launch of Checkout with Crypto, a feature that allows its customers to pay millions of merchants globally with the Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH) or Litecoin (LTC) they hold in their PayPal wallets. The feature is currently being rolled out to PayPal customers in the U.S. and will be available to use with all 29 million of its global merchants in the coming months.
Historically, the volatility of Bitcoin’s price has been one of the reasons many have remained skeptical of its ability to become a means of exchange. PayPal addresses this potential concern for merchants by converting the necessary crypto sum for the payment into USD, which can then be converted into other local fiat currencies, depending on the merchant receiving the payment.
This means that PayPal customers are not actually paying in crypto — instead they’re selling a particular amount of crypto for fiat at the time of payment.