News Headlines (2nd JANUARY 2024)

Traders from the decentralized prediction platform Polymarket seem confident one or more exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that invest in bitcoin (BTC) will go live in the U.S. within two weeks.

At press time, shares of the Yes side of the contract “Bitcoin ETF approved by Jan 15” changed hands at 89 cents, representing an 89% probability of the highly-anticipated event coming to fruition by the second half of the month. The probability has increased significantly from roughly 50% a month ago.

Cross-chain bridge project Orbit Chain was hit by a “cyberattack” Monday, with over $80 million drained from its bridge.

The project stated that following an “unidentified access” on Orbit Bridge, the project had identified approximately $84.5 million held across multiple wallet addresses belonging to the attacker. The stolen funds total 26,741.6 ETH held across five addresses (worth around $64.5 million at current prices), with just under $20 million worth of the stablecoin DAI held in another three addresses.

The recent attack on Orbit Chain’s cross-chain bridge has pushed up the amount of crypto stolen in December 2023 to almost $100 million, according to blockchain security firms.

On Jan. 1, blockchain security firm PeckShield said the $81.5 million cross-chain bridge exploit on Orbit Bridge meant that December was the fifth-highest month for hacks in 2023.

The exploit was also ninth-largest hack targeting a cross-chain bridge over the past three years, it said.

Orbit Bridge is the bridging service of the cross-chain protocol Orbit Chain, launched in South Korea in 2018, which later confirmed it was hacked due to an unauthorized breach of access to its ecosystem on Dec. 31 at 8:52 pm UTC.

According to CryptoPotato, Ripple’s native token, XRP, has seen a surge in on-chain metrics, with a record number of transactions and growth in XRP wallets. This has led to speculation about a potential price breakout for the cryptocurrency. On December 31, the number of executed XRP transactions reached an all-time high of almost 7 million, with 6.9 million transactions the following day. The average number of transactions per ledger has also reached unprecedented levels, staying above the 300 mark in the past three days.

The rapid rise in the number of XRP wallets is another factor contributing to the potential breakout. The number of wallets has jumped to almost 5 million, compared to approximately 4 million at the start of last year. This growth signals a larger user base and increased adoption of XRP, which could positively affect investor sentiment.

The year 2023 saw a series of benchmarks surpassed in Bitcoin’s network and onchain activities as both the mining difficulty and hashrate soared to unprecedented levels, alongside a daily increase in transaction confirmations. On the cusp of the new year, miners cemented a record with 731,351 transactions verified on Dec. 31, 2023, largely propelled by Ordinal inscriptions.

On the same day, 314,003 inscriptions were processed, making up roughly 42.93% of the total transactions confirmed on Sunday. Meanwhile, bitcoin miners experienced a notably lucrative fee market in December. Despite breaking the daily onchain transfer record on New Year’s Eve, around 351,000 transactions remain in the backlog on Jan. 1, 2024. Over the preceding 30 days, miners authenticated a staggering 16,704,699 transactions, averaging 6.7 transactions per second.

Data tracked by Matrixport show global average perpetual funding rates rose to a record 66% annualized early Monday.

Holding long positions or leveraged bullish bets in the perpetual futures market tied to bitcoin became costlier than ever early Monday as bitcoin topped $45,000 for the first time since April 2022.

Data tracked by crypto services provider Matrixport show global average perpetual funding rates rose to a record 66% annualized during the Asian trading hours.

Orbit Chain, which reportedly suffered an $81.5 million hack on Sunday, announced today that the pilfered cryptocurrencies “remain unmoved” from the addresses where the leaked funds are stored. “Our team is constantly monitoring the stolen asset, and we promise to inform the community once the address associated with the stolen asset has taken action,” the company said in a post on X.

Following the major hack, Orbit Chain announced on Monday that it asked global crypto trading platforms to freeze stolen assets and is working with global security firms and law enforcement agencies to track the crypto.

The government of Kyrgyzstan collected 78.6 million soms (almost $883,000) in taxes from cryptocurrency miners in the first 11 months of 2023, according to local press reports citing the Finance Ministry.

Tax revenue from crypto mining was volatile in Kyrgyzstan in 2023, ranging from 738,000 soms ($8,284) in February to 11.6 million soms ($130,212) in August. In November, the last month reported, receipts were flat at 7.6 million soms ($85,767) after falling from the August high. There is only one cryptocurrency mining company now operating officially in Kyrgyzstan, although there were once many more.

Crypto mining tax revenue for the first 11 months of 2022 amounted to 11.1 million soms ($133,200). The tax rate is 10% of the cost of electricity, including value-added and sales taxes.

According to CryptoPotato, South Korea’s leading crypto venture, Hashed, has invested a significant $28.44 million in blockchain projects this year, despite the challenges of the crypto winter. The company has expanded its footprint in blockchain infrastructure and gaming projects, focusing on early-stage ventures that can attract a wider user base by improving blockchain infrastructure and incorporating content and intellectual property rights (IP).

Throughout the year, Hashed executed 29 investments, with a balanced allocation across different sectors. Blockchain infrastructure, gaming, and finance each accounted for 21% of the investments, while IP and content-related startups secured 15% of the allocations.

In one of the first hacks of 2024, Orbit Bridge, an interoperability blockchain solution, faced an attack that drained over $81.5 million in cryptocurrency assets. First detected by X user Kgjr, who alerted about a possible asset drain, the incident allowed hackers to withdraw $30 million in USDT, $10 million in USDC and DAI, in addition to almost 231 WBTC and 9,500 ETH, to five different fresh wallets.

Orbit Chain’s team has acknowledged the incident and is trying to contact the attackers, sending two messages with undisclosed intentions. In the same way, Orbit announced that it requested the help of all major exchanges to freeze these funds.