News Headlines (27th December 2023)

Hong Kong financial regulators published proposals for supervising stablecoin issuers through a licensing regime and a regulatory sandbox to communicate “supervisory expectations and guidance on compliance” to prospective issuers.

The jurisdiction’s central bank, the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), and the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau (FSTB) are seeking feedback by Feb. 29. Fiat-referenced stablecoins are a type of cryptocurrency designed to maintain its value on par with sovereign currencies like the U.S. or Hong Kong dollar.

Barry Silbert resigned as chairman of the board of Grayscale Investments, the company announced Tuesday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Silbert, the CEO of Grayscale’s parent company Digital Currency Group (DCG), had not publicly commented on the resignation as of this writing. Another Grayscale board member, Mark Murphy, has also joined Silbert in stepping down from the board. Both men’s resignations are set to go into effect January 1.

The team behind decentralized finance protocol KyberSwap has “regrettably” cut its workforce by 50% to keep the firm’s business operations up and running following its $48.8 million exploit in November.

“Regrettably, we have also reduced our workforce by 50%,” said Kyber Network’s CEO Victor Tran on Dec. 24. “The decision to part ways with so many of our team members was heart-wrenching.”

The DeFi firm will, however, create a “voluntary database” to help departing employees seek new opportunities in the Web3 space, it said.

According to Blockworks, several crypto startups are working on developing the first-ever privacy-centric Ethereum Layer 2 (L2) solutions. Currently, transactions and smart contract executions on Ethereum are publicly visible, which can expose vulnerabilities to malicious actors. Privacy solutions offer decentralized application (dapp) developers the opportunity to address these issues without compromising security.

Aztec, a privacy layer of Ethereum, uses zkSNARKs and its own programming language, Noir, to offer private transfers. It combines private and public execution in a single zk rollup, with users’ devices responsible for encrypting transactions before processing. Aztec’s primary focus is to design a platform for engineers to write private smart contracts without requiring in-depth mathematical knowledge of zk proofs. The company recently revealed a new testing environment, Aztec Sandbox, and plans for a testnet launch early next year.

By Jan. 4, 2024, it’s anticipated that Bitcoin will undergo another uptick in mining difficulty. This metric, changing every 2,016 blocks or roughly two weeks, maintains the average interval between blocks at approximately 10 minutes. It does so regardless of the fluctuating mining power within the network. This mechanism stabilizes the issuance rate of new bitcoins, enhancing network security by making block discoveries more challenging as the hashrate either increases or decreases.

Throughout 2023, the network experienced a total of 27 difficulty changes, comprising 20 increases and seven decreases.

High funding rates, relatively low liquidity and reports of crypto exchange Mt.Gox starting repayments to victims of its 2014 hack spurred a market-wide decline in the past 24 hours, bringing losses to leveraged bullish traders.

In futures market, traders betting on higher prices lost over $190 million to liquidations as bitcoin (BTC) dropped as much as 4% before recovering in Wednesday morning hours. Some $45 million of those stemmed from altcoin-tracked futures in an unusual move – with bitcoin liquidations accounting for a relatively lesser $36 million in losses.

Solana, which soared past the $100 mark over the weekend, has cooled slightly.  At the time of this writing, SOL is trading for $109.20—down 11% in the past day.

But notably, SOL has remained above $100 since it edged past that milestone on Saturday. This increase is part of a broader positive trend in the crypto market, with Solana’s market capitalization ranking it as the fourth largest crypto asset. That’s spurred a lot of trading activity. In the past day, volume reached $5.6 billion, according to CoinGecko.

According to Foresight News, Anatoly Aksakov, Chairman of the Russian State Duma Financial Market Committee, has stated that cryptocurrency legislation is expected to become law in the first half of 2024. He explained that the main participants involved in cryptocurrency mining and circulation in Russia’s sizable market are seeking regulation and are prepared to pay taxes. This development indicates a growing interest in establishing a legal framework for the cryptocurrency industry in the country.

According to CryptoPotato, crypto YouTuber Lark Davis recently stated that Ethereum is likely to make many new millionaires in 2024. However, he added that those who have already purchased a significant amount of ETH at lower prices and staked it will benefit the most in the upcoming bull market. For those entering the market now, with Ethereum trading above $2,000, significant returns may be harder to achieve unless they have a large amount to invest. Davis believes that the most significant gains will come from trading Ethereum layer-2 assets.

Davis highlighted several current and upcoming layer-2 listings, including zkSync, Starknet, Linea, Scroll, Blast, Manta, and Celestia.

The introduction of BRC20 tokens, an innovative token standard on the Bitcoin blockchain, marked 2023 as a year of substantial growth in value for these assets. BRC20s leverage the Ordinals protocol to facilitate the creation and exchange of fungible tokens, akin to Ethereum’s ERC20, yet functioning under the unique conditions of Bitcoin’s Proof-of-Work (PoW) secured architecture.

BRC20 tokens harness the Ordinals protocol, embedding data into individual satoshis, Bitcoin’s smallest denomination. This encoding turns each satoshi into a distinct, fungible token within the Bitcoin network. ORDI, a leading BRC20 token, achieved an unprecedented high on Tuesday.