Steven Cohen’s Point72 Also an Owner of Bitcoin Via Spot ETFs

  • Steve Cohen’s Point72 held $77.5 million of the Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund in the first quarter.
  • Point72 joins several other hedge funds who have disclosed allocations into the spot bitcoin ETFs.

Point72, the $34 billion hedge fund of billionaire and owner of the New York Mets, Steven Cohen, held $77.5 million of the Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund (FBTC) as of the close of the first quarter, according to a filing.

This follows several other hedge funds who have disclosed that they purchased shares of the spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds, including Paul Singer’s Elliott Capital and Izzy Englander’s Millennium Management, with the latter being the biggest institutional holder of the new funds with roughly $2 billion as of March 31.

Out of the top 25 hedge funds in the U.S., 13 of them bought into the ETFs in the first quarter, according to data compiled by bitcoin brokerage firm River. Among them, in addition to the names mentioned earlier, were Fortress Investment Group and Schonfeld Strategic Advisors.

While hedge fund purchases of the spot ETFs might be a long-term bet on “number go up,” these vehicles could be bought for other reasons, market making, hedging, yield generation, or for a short-term flip, to name a few.

Edited by Stephen Alpher.

Does the SAB 121 Vote Mean Anything for Future Crypto Legislation?

The U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in voting to repeal a controversial U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) accounting rule that imposed burdensome capital requirements on crypto custodians. That’s a relatively big deal, considering the so-called Staff Accounting Bulletin, a.k.a. SAB 121, was one of the few things the crypto and banking industries have been aligned in opposing.

Note: The views expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of CoinDesk, Inc. or its owners and affiliates. This is an excerpt from The Node newsletter, a daily roundup of the most pivotal crypto news on CoinDesk and beyond. You can subscribe to get the full newsletter here.

Unfortunately however, the legislative measure is now heading to the desk of President Joseph Biden, who has vowed to veto it in a show of solidarity with the SEC. Although a number of high profile Democrats, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, voted in favor of overturning the bulletin, the Senate’s 60 to 38 vote on Thursday failed to cross the threshold to override a presidential veto.

It’s hard to read the tea leaves of the vote, which almost suggests something of a realignment among legislators willing to pass decent crypto regulations (or at least repeal the bad). Then again, there are a number of reasons why it’d make sense to ditch SAB 121, not the least of which is that the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office found the SEC forced it through without proper congressional oversight.

Of course, perennially antagonistic crypto skeptic Sen. Elizabeth Warren voted to keep the rule in place, arguing “The unique risks of crypto can create liabilities that seriously impact a company’s financial condition. SAB 121 simply clarifies how companies should account for those risks in their financial disclosures.” But still, is the bipartisan support a good sign for other legislative efforts, like the proposed stablecoin and market structure bills under consideration?

Views are split:

“Hate to be a downer here, but I don’t think D support to rescind crypto accounting rule means a veto won’t happen. I think the D ‘ayes’ on the anti-SBA 121 vote were cast because they know the White House is going to veto it. It’s the cart, not the horse,” James Wester, director of crypto and co-head of payments at Javelin, said on X. Apparently it’s easier to vote for something you know will ultimately get showdown?

Meanwhile, Columbia Business School associate professor Austin Campbell said that Thursday’s vote proves that crypto is bipartisan. “This is a American issue, not a partisan one,” he said.

Whatever the case, it is worrying how precarious crypto legislation is. A rule that two pluralities vote in favor of, that is widely criticized by industry actors and has even been called “idiotic” by knowledgeable actors like Nadine Chakar, often called one of the most important women in finance who helped found State Street Digital and is now running DTCC’s crypto unit, (and who is speaking at Consensus 2024), will likely remain in place.

This isn’t even just purely an academic issue, because the SAB 121 – though technically “nonbinding” – is already having an effect on financial institutions ability to enter into the crypto custody business, according to an open letter signed by the Bank Policy Institute (BPI), American Bankers Association (ABA), Financial Services Forum (FSF) and the Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) in February.

I mean, this is a bit of a counterfactual, but how far advanced would sectors like stablecoins and interbank blockchain rails be had clear regulations been written years ago? It seems trivially true that regulatory uncertainty (and more recently, hostility) has prevented firms from experimenting with crypto. For instance, certainly some big custodians would be interested in custodying all that ETF bitcoin, as Fortune’s Jeff John Roberts recently wrote.

It’s interesting that 12 Dems in the Senate could come together to help vote down a harmful rule, but I’m not sure the SAB 121 story is really all that encouraging.

Edited by Benjamin Schiller.

Solana’s SOL Could Hit $200 By Month End, Hedge Fund Founder Says

  • Solana’s SOL hit its highest price in a month Friday outperforming most crypto majors.
  • The token is “still the best trade this cycle,” and could reach $200 by the end of May, Syncracy Capital co-founder said.

Solana’s native token (SOL) has been leading the recent rebound in cryptocurrency prices, outperforming most digital asset majors, and could soon target new cycle highs.

SOL hit $170 on Friday, its highest price in more than a month, before slightly retreating to $166 recently. It has advanced nearly 7% over the past 24 hours and is now up more than 40% from the crypto market’s local bottom in early May, while BTC sank to $56,000.

On the weekly timeframe, solana’s 17% gain was the most among the members of the broader crypto market benchmark CoinDesk 20 Index (CD20), only behind Chainlink’s (LINK) benefitting from news of a fund tokenization pilot partnership.

“Strength on SOL has been incredible on this bounce,” Daniel Choung, co-founder of digital asset hedge fund Syncracy Capital, said in an X post. “Very clear this is still the best trade of this cycle.”

Choung said he’s increasingly “confident” that SOL could retake the $200 level by the end of the month and target new record highs “soon.”

SOL reached its $260 all-time high in November 2021 at the peak of the previous bull cycle.

Solana is benefitting from multiple catalysts, including bustling meme coin trading, strong stablecoin volumes and decentralized finance (DeFi) activity.

Choung cited incoming network upgrades are paving the way for the highly anticipated Firedancer, a secondary chain client developed by Jump Crypto that aims to improve the network’s performance.

There’s also an “increasingly growing interest in shared cryptoeconomic security” – usually referred to as restaking – arriving to the ecosystem, David Shuttleworth, research partner at Anagram, said in an X direct message.

Edited by Aoyon Ashraf.

Protocol Village: Oobit Collaboration With TON Lets Users Spend Tether Sent Over Telegram

May 17: Oobit, a mobile payment app, has “collaborated with TON Foundation to integrate its native cryptocurrency, TON (Toncoin), into its platform, advancing the usage of cryptocurrency as a means of payment,” according to the team: “Toncoin holders will be able to Tap & Pay at over 100 million retailers worldwide. The integration will further strengthen the recent announcement of the collaboration between the largest company in the digital asset industry, Tether, and the TON Foundation.” According to a separate press release on Tether’s website: Users will be able to “send USDT as a direct message on Telegram and spend the same USDT for instant crypto Tap payments on Oobit.”

Radix ‘Bottlenose’ Update Brings ‘AccountLockers’ for Routing Tokens

May 17: Radix, a platform for DeFi and Web3, has “proposed a Bottlenose protocol update to its node runner community and expects it to be enacted on or around June 3. One of the standout features of the update is the introduction of AccountLockers, a ‘locker’ where token deliveries are routed through, which can be accepted or refused. AccountLockers are intended to stop undesired deposits and make for easier dApp bookkeeping. Other Bottlenose features include API and Radix Engine enhancements, and the addition of a recovery fee vault, eliminating the need for third-party fee locking during account recovery.”

Internet Computer-Based ‘Bitfinity EVM’ Launches as Bitcoin L2, Supports Runes

May 17: Bitcoin layer 2 Bitfinity has introduced its Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) to bring smart contracts Bitcoin protocols and harness Runes to enable Bitcoin DeFi apps. Built on the Internet Computer (ICP) protocol, Bitfinity integrates with the Bitcoin network and allows asset bridging to other blockchains. Internet Computer’s tech stack will allow applications that use Ethereum’s smart contract programming language Solidity to access Bitcoin-based tokens.

Mintlayer, Salus Partner on Layer-3 ‘Thunder Network’ Connected to Bitcoin

May 17: Layer-2 scaling solution Mintlayer and Salus, a security company specializing in zero-knowledge (ZK) technology, are partnering to enhance Bitcoin via their building of the Thunder Network, a layer-3 ZK rollup-based solution, according to the team. “The Thunder Network is designed to address any potential scaling issues the Mintlayer network might encounter while enabling additional EVM functionality that may be currently absent from Mintlayer,” according to a press release.

DroppGroup Announces ‘DroppLink’ to Tokenize Gen AI Outputs

May 17: DroppGroup, aiming to harmonize AI and blockchain technology, has “announced the launch of droppLink, an intelligent service platform poised to transform AI development and management across multiple blockchains. DroppLink’s architecture abstracts computational requirements, facilitates micropayments and democratizes data contributions, providing users with ownership and control, all while stakeholders, known as Computational Resource Patrons (CRPs), support infrastructure costs and share in the revenue generated by the AI processes they enable.” According to the project’s website, “end user Gen AI outputs are tokenized as unique digital assets on the Solana blockchain and are stored in the Filecoin network.”

Schematic illustrating droppLink in a setup with Solana and Filecoin (droppLink)

Union, Stargaze to Enable Transfer of ‘Blue-Chip Ethereum NFTs’ to Cosmos

May 17: Union, the modular interoperability layer, is “partnering with Stargaze, a community-owned decentralized NFT marketplace, to enable the transfer of blue-chip Ethereum NFTs to the Cosmos ecosystem via its trustless, decentralized zkIBC bridge. This collaboration paves the way for achieving trustless interoperability for NFTs,” according to the team.

Oracle Project Pyth Launches $22M Ecosystem Grants Program

May 17: Pyth, a blockchain oracle project, is “launching their Ecosystem Grants Program with 50 million PYTH (worth ~$22M at today’s prices) dedicated towards this activation,” according to the team: “The program seeks projects focused on at least one of these three key areas: Community, Research, and Developer Grants.”

DTCC, Chainlink Pilot Accelerates Fund Tokenization with JPMorgan, Templeton, BNY Mellon

May 17: The Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC), the world’s largest securities settlement system, completed a pilot project with blockchain oracle Chainlink (LINK) and multiple major U.S. financial institutions, aiming to help accelerate the tokenization of funds, according to a report published by DTCC. The purpose of project called Smart NAV was to establish a standardized process to bring and disseminate net asset value (NAV) data of funds across virtually any private or public blockchains using Chainlink’s interoperability protocol CCIP. Market participants included American Century Investments, BNY Mellon, Edward Jones, Franklin Templeton, Invesco, JPMorgan, MFS Investment Management, Mid Atlantic Trust, State Street and U.S. Bank. (LINK)

Schematic illustrating the “Smart NAV” pilot (DTCC)

EasyA Consensus Hackathon – Call for Participants

This year, Consensus is hosting its first ever in-person hackathon together with the world’s number 1 Web3 learning app, EasyA. This will be a three-day, multi-chain IRL hackathon with world-class sponsors from Sui to Stellar to Polkadot and beyond, and will attract the world’s best developers to build the future of Web3 and raise funding for their projects.

Projects launched by EasyA alumni are valued at over $2.5 billion. The EasyA Consensus hackathon is going to be 2024’s most important hackathon yet.

We have a few remaining spots left for hackers, so if you’re excited about participating, make sure you sign up here!

FLock.io to Merge Decentralized AI Training With Morpheus ‘Smart Agents’

May 16: FLock.io, a platform for “AI co-creation,” and Morpheus, a network for powering smart agents, announced a strategic partnership “to advance decentralized AI capabilities in Web3,” according to the team: “By merging FLock.io’s community-driven, decentralized AI training model platform with Morpheus, which empowers Smart Agent builders to deploy their code and receive rewards, the partners aim to reduce reliance on centralized external function calls to OpenAI and integrate more Smart Agents into Web3 wallets. Ultimately, this integration will empower users to harness AI directly from their wallets for seamless, secure, and intuitive trading experiences.”

Entangle, Interoperable Data Infrastructure Layer With ‘Liquid Vaults,’ Launches Mainnet

May 16: Entangle, an interoperable data infrastructure layer powered by underlying primitive “liquid vaults,” is releasing its mainnet after two years of development and a strict testnet phase, according to the team: “The network currently holds 71 validators, including Hashkey Cloud, Rhino, Nodefi and DaiC. The mainnet also presents the Photon Messaging feature, enabling omnichain development across 16 EVM and non-EVM blockchains, including Solana.”

Alvara Protocol, Developing DeFi-Based System for Fund Management, Launches Testnet

May 16: Alvara Protocol is “launching its testnet, marking a major milestone in its development of a DeFi-based system for fund management,” according to the team: “Alvara democratizes fund management with an innovative tokenized fund factory, leveraging DeFi, ensuring transparency, liquidity, and cost-efficiency compared to traditional hedge funds and ETFs. Built on the ERC-7621 token standard, it allows anyone to become a fund manager. With the testnet live, users can explore the platform, provide feedback, and help shape Alvara’s future impact on DeFi and TradFi industries.”

Hashgraph Association, Qatar Financial Centre Plan $50M ‘Digital Assets Venture Studio’

May 16: The Hashgraph Association has signed a strategic partnership with the Qatar Financial Centre to launch a $50 million Digital Assets Venture Studio, according to the team: “The platform will support local Qatari and international portfolio companies in the development of regulatory-compliant decentralized finance solutions and digital assets built on the Hedera Distributed Ledger Technology network. The studio will be part of Qatar’s Digital Assets Lab within the QFC Innovation Dome as part of Qatar’s ‘National Vision 2030’ to accelerate research and development within the digital asset space.”

KYVE Starts ‘Phase 0’ of Grants Program With Up to $50K Per Approved Grant

May 16: KYVE Network representatives announced that the KYVE Grants Program: Phase 0 is now live: “This grant phase offers up to $50,000 in funding per approved grant that utilizes KYVE’s trustless datasets and or tooling,” according to the team.

Game Developer Param Labs, Behind Kiraverse, Raises $7M, Led by Animoca

May 16: Param Labs, an independent game and infrastructure development company behind the game Kiraverse, and 3-D asset creation platform Pixel to Poly, announced a fundraise of $7 million in an investment round led by Animoca Brands. According to the team: “Delphi Ventures, Cypher Capital, Mechanism Capital and other top-tier investors have also joined the seed and private funding rounds. The company has thus incorporated 50+ IP partnerships within its ecosystem, with brands such as Pudgy Penguins, Neo Tokyo, Animoca Brands’ Mocaverse, Pixelmon, as well as retail giants such as GameStop.”

Protocol Village is a regular feature of The Protocol, our weekly newsletter exploring the tech behind crypto, one block at a time. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Wednesday. Project teams can submit updates here. For previous versions of Protocol Village, please go here. Also please check out our weekly The Protocol podcast.

Edited by Bradley Keoun.

Miners Eye Middle East as Next Region for Growth

The Biden Administration’s proposed 30% tax on electricity use for digital asset mining operations is raising concerns among crypto miners that they could be priced out of operating in the U.S. market communities.

Crypto miners in the United States represent over 29% of the total nodes on the Bitcoin network. But that percentage may fall if costs increase and other locations become more attractive.

One emerging option is the Middle East region, where taxes tend to be lower, energy is often bountiful, and environmental regulation is generally less onerous.

The Oman government has invested more than $800 million in crypto-mining operations. The UAE’s 400 megawatts of Bitcoin mining is about 4% of the global Bitcoin mining hashrate, according to data from the Hashrate Index. Migration to the energy-rich region could favor U.S miners, backers in the region claim.

“Compared to the U.S., the south of Oman has a few geopolitical advantages that are unique. It is very good for connections, as it’s next to submarine cables landing. It has, low [cost] electricity, reduced political risk, and favorable weather conditions for data centers,” said Olivier Ohnheiser, CEO of Green Data City, an Oman crypto-mining firm, told CoinDesk during Bitmain’s World Digital Mining Summit in Oman at the end of March.

Green Data City last year struck a $300 million deal with Phoenix Group – the largest digital asset mining firm in the UAE – to set up a 150-megawatt crypto farm in Salalah, southern Oman. The plant, for Bitcoin, Litecoin, and other POW crypto assets, is set to be completed later this year . Salalah reaches highs of 27 degrees centigrade (81 degrees F) in summer months, but that’s relatively cool compared to the rest of the Middle East), and the region has access to cool ocean water and is underpinned by Green Data City’s operational mining license.

Also in 2023, Digital Marathon (MARA) and the Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund-backed Zero Two signed a $406 million joint venture to build the first immersion-cooled Bitcoin mining plant in the Middle East region. While temperatures in the desert are a drawback, particularly in the summer months when highs of 50 degrees centigrade are not unusual, the cooling technology allows the mining equipment to function optimally even in challenging environments.

The United States’ continued regulatory crackdown on crypto business might also boost regional growth for the Middle East.

Kyle Shneps, Director of Public Policy at Foundry, a U.S.-based crypto mining firm, expects a drop in crypto mining in the U.S. if the electricity tax bill is passed.

“A 30% tax on the electricity used by bitcoin miners would assuredly kill the industry in the United States. It would be unprecedented to have such attacks on the electricity used, and I think. It sets a really dangerous precedent,” he said.

In a similar vein, Darin Feinstein, founder of mining firm Core Scientific, believes that the bill could hurt the U.S. economy.

“This is a tax question I believe. I do not believe this has any likelihood of passing, but if it did it would simply weaken the American footprint on the most important asset in our lifetime. Investment and technology would simply leave our shores for more hospitable environments,” he said.

With the looming taxation bump and reduced block rewards due to the recent Bitcoin halving in April, miners are grappling with changed economics. Seyed Mohammad Alizadehfard (Bijan), Co-Founder and Group CEO at the Phoenix Group, cites this as another factor that could influence the choices of U.S.-based miners.

“At any given point of price, when you carve supply in half, the price needs to appreciate or it will be very hard for Bitcoin miners with high electricity prices or older generation machines. If this [U.S.] bill passes, some mining firms could migrate to places like the Middle East where such laws don’t exist yet,” he said.

But Skybridge Capital’s Anthony Scaramucci, a former White House comms director, believes the United States remains a hotbed for digital assets, including mining.

“Despite regulatory uncertainty, the U.S. offers an ecosystem that is ripe for innovation and growth, with many of the leading crypto firms and projects already here,” he told CoinDesk.

If the new electricity tax bill for digital asset mining passes, U.S.-based miners have two options, cling to the U.S. market and make the numbers work, or find a new home.

Edited by Benjamin Schiller.

Bitcoin Rises Above $67K, but Lags Broader Crypto Market as ETH, SOL, LINK Post Big Gains

The price of bitcoin (BTC) has nudged above the $67,000 level for the first time in nearly one month as animal spirits in cryptocurrencies return following eight weeks of sideways-to-lower action.

At press time, bitcoin was trading at $67,250, up 2.8% over the past 24 hours and about 10% from its lowest levels on Monday. That lagged the broader CoinDesk 20 Index, which was ahead 4.4% over the past 24 hours and about 12% from the Monday low.

Among the larger movers in the index were Chainlink (LINK), now higher by 18% since the Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation (DTCC) yesterday announced completion of a pilot project with Chainlink and multiple major U.S. financial institutions, aiming to help accelerate the tokenization of funds. Other outperformers today include ether (ETH) with a 5.3% advance and solana (SOL) gaining 7.7%.

The quick turnaround in sentiment in crypto comes after economic data this week showed a softening in U.S. inflation and regulatory filings showed an extraordinary amount of interest in the still newish spot bitcoin ETFs. Izzy Englander’s $64 billion AUM Millennium Management disclosed a $2 billion position in BlackRock’s iShares Bitcoin Trust (IBIT) as of the end of the first quarter and Paul Singer’s $70 billion AUM Elliott Management also disclosed sizable bitcoin ETF holdings, though far smaller than Millennium’s position. Perhaps most interestingly, the State of Wisconsin Investment Board – which manage’s that state’s retirement assets – showed about a $100 million stake in BlackRock’s IBIT.

NEAR Token’s 10% Gain Tops CoinDesk 20 Last Week: CoinDesk Indices Market Update

CoinDesk Indices (CDI) presents its bi-weekly market update, highlighting the performance of leaders and laggards in the benchmark CoinDesk 20 Index (CD20) and the broad CoinDesk Market Index (CMI).

All but two members of the CoinDesk 20 closed Thursday at levels higher than last Friday, including Bitcoin (BTC), which advanced 7.6%, and Ether (ETH), which added 1.6%.

Smart contract platform Near Protocol’s (NEAR) token advanced 10% this week, the highest among index members. NEAR has now appreciated more than 50% month-on-month, far outpacing the next best performer, Solana (SOL), which added 20%.

The two assets that ticked lower this week were Layer 0 platform Cosmos’ (ATOM) and Layer 1 Aptos’s (APT), which fell 3% and 1.4%, respectively.

cd20 laggards

CoinDesk 20 tracks top digital assets and is investible on multiple platforms. The broader CMI comprises approximately 180 tokens and seven crypto sectors: currency, smart contract platforms, DeFi, culture & entertainment, computing, and digitization.

Edited by Stephen Alpher.

ZkSync, Ethereum Layer-2 Network, Hints at Airdrop By End of June

  • ZkSync has said that the upcoming v24 upgrade will be the last before handing over network governance to the community.
  • The layer-2 blockchain has $141 million in total value locked (TVL).
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Zero-knowledge (ZK) rollup zkSync has suggested that a governance token airdrop will take place at the end of June.

There have been murmurs of an airdrop since March last year when investors bridged over $8 million worth of tokens to zkSync in order to be eligible. Total value locked (TVL) since then has risen to $141 million, according to DefiLlama.

“The upcoming release of v24 is the final planned protocol upgrade needed before handing over network governance to the community. The remaining missing pieces are expected to be in place by the end of June,” zkSync wrote on X.

ZkSync is a layer-2 network designed to scale Ethereum, providing cheaper transactions by performing computation and storing data off-chain; taxonomically speaking, it’s classified as a sub-type of layer-2 known as a ZK rollup, which relies on zero-knowledge cryptography, seen as one of the most promising new technologies in blockchain.

Transaction fees became significantly cheaper in following Ethereum’s Dencun upgrade in March, which allowed layer-2 networks like zkSync to compress transactions before sending them in batches to the Ethereum mainnet.

The planned issuance of a governance token comes after a series of airdrops over the past year with the likes of EigenLayer, Renzo, Ethena and Wormhole opting to rewards early adopters as opposed to traditional token sales.

Matter Labs, the developers of zkSync, have raised a total of $458 million across several funding rounds from the likes of Blockchain Capital and Dragonfly Capital.

Morgan Stanley Latest Bank to Disclose Spot Bitcoin ETF Holdings for Clients

  • Morgan Stanley held nearly $270 million of GBTC as of March 31.
  • The investments were likely made on behalf of clients and not a bet on bitcoin by the bank itself.
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Morgan Stanley was the owner of $269.9 million of Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) as of March 31, a 13F filing showed.

Other banking giants, among them JPMorgan, Wells Fargo, and UBS, also disclosed holdings in the spot bitcoin exchange-traded funds during the first quarter.

It is important to note that these purchases don’t necessarily represent the banks’ views on the direction of bitcoin’s price, but instead were likely either made on behalf of the banks’ wealth management clients or necessary for market making and/or ETF authorized participant duties.

Morgan Stanley opened up spot bitcoin ETF allocations to its clients shortly after their approval in January, though only on an unsolicited basis, meaning that the client had to propose the investment to the broker.

Edited by Stephen Alpher.

Crypto Industry Rallies Behind House Bill As it Heads Toward Final Vote

  • A wide swath of the crypto industry signed a letter to the top lawmakers in the U.S. House of Represenatives, explaining why they should get behind the Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act.
  • As House lawmakers are poised for a floor vote next week on the bill, the letter says passage would help the U.S. keep up with global competitors.

The U.S. House of Representatives is on the verge of a vote that will represent the closest the cryptocurrency industry has ever been toward finally winning regulation in the U.S., and the sector’s associations and top businesses are encouraging House leaders to support the effort.

Through the Crypto Council for Innovation, a coalition of digital assets organizations and companies, including Coinbase, Kraken, Andreessen Horowitz, the Digital Currency Group and about 50 others, wrote a letter to Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R-La.) and Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), advocating for passage of the bill. The Financial Innovation and Technology for the 21st Century Act (FIT21) has been authorized for floor time next week, where observers are hoping to see a mid-week vote.

The bill would set the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) as a leading regulator of digital assets, and it sets out clear divisions for what the CFTC will handle and what would fall under the reach of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). It would establish consumer protections – including rules around custody of customers’ assets and their treatment in bankruptcy – and set up further guardrails against risky behavior.

“By passing this legislation, we can accelerate the growth of blockchain technology and digital assets, fostering financial inclusion and protecting national security,” according to the letter. “It is crucial for the U.S. to maintain its leadership in financial innovation.”

The crypto industry is on a high in Washington at the moment, having watched both the House and Senate easily pass a resolution overturning a crypto accounting policy from the SEC, though President Joe Biden vowed to veto the effort. That move to erase the SEC’s Staff Accounting Bulletin 121 (SAB 121) represented a fight that went decidedly in the industry’s favor, drawing many supporters from the Democratic Party that’s been more reticent than Republicans in backing crypto.

For that accounting tussle, more than one in five Senate Democrats voted on the industry’s side, including Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), and it was about one in 10 Democrats in the House.

But the comprehensive legislation now approaching a House vote is of a much higher magnitude, and key Senate Democrats have so far seemed unprepared to match the House’s effort. To date, the Senate has only shown a potential willingness to fit a different crypto bill – one regulating stablecoin issuers – into a package deal with other financial legislation.

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), the chairman of the House Financial Services Committee where the bill was launched, said the level of Democratic support for FIT21 in the House could be a major factor in whether the Senate is moved to action. When the measure cleared his committee, it did so with a handful of Democrats on board, despite opposition from their senior member, Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.)

On its way toward the floor, the FIT21 effort drew a range of amendments called for by the House Rules Committee to meet a May 16 deadline.

Edited by Nikhilesh De.

Coinbase Upgraded to Neutral From Underperform at Bank of America on Positive Crypto Market Dynamics

  • Bank of America raised Coinbase to neutral from underperform and boosted its price target to $217 from $110.
  • The current macro backdrop has been positive for crypto market cap growth and trading volumes, the report said.
  • The bank said risks include the exchange’s continued dependence on transaction revenue and the company’s ongoing lawsuit with the SEC.
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Coinbase (COIN) shares rose 2.5% in pre-market trading on Friday after Wall Street giant Bank of America (BAC) upgraded the shares to neutral from underperform.

The investment bank raised its Coinbase price target to $217 from $110. The stock was trading around $204 at publication time.

Bank of America said it was upgrading the stock for a number of reasons, including the positive macro backdrop that has helped the cryptocurrency markets and trading volumes, analysts led by Mark McLaughlin wrote. The note also said the exchange’s expense discipline and increased diversification should also help its earnings.

However, the analysts noted that there are potential risks that could limit the the stock’s upside, including the exchange’s continued dependence on transaction revenue for profitability and the regulatory overhang linked to the ongoing lawsuit with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The shares fell over 9% yesterday following a report that the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) might soon offer spot bitcoin trading, which could become a potential competitor to exchanges such as Coinbase.

Edited by Kevin Reynolds.

Internet Computer-Based ‘Bitfinity EVM’ Launches as Bitcoin L2, Supports Runes

  • Internet Computer-based Bitfinity integrates with the Bitcoin network and allows asset bridging to other blockchains.
  • ICP’s tech stack will allow applications that use Ethereum’s smart contract programming language Solidity to access Bitcoin-based tokens.

Bitcoin layer 2 Bitfinity has introduced its Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) to bring smart contracts Bitcoin protocols and harness Runes to enable Bitcoin DeFi apps.

Built on the Internet Computer (ICP) protocol, Bitfinity integrates with the Bitcoin network and allows asset bridging to other blockchains. Internet Computer’s tech stack will allow applications that use Ethereum’s smart contract programming language Solidity to access Bitcoin-based tokens.

The Bitfinity EVM is designed to allow developers to deploy Bitcoin-based Solidity smart contracts, allowing them to transfer BTC, Ordinals and Runes, according to an emailed announcement on Friday.

An EVM is a smart contract-executing software that powers the Ethereum protocol, similar to an operating system on a computer.

Bitfinity is attempting to capture the interest in new Bitcoin protocol Runes, which launched around a month ago coinciding with the halving event, through introducing smart contract capability in order to use them as a platform to create Bitcoin DeFi apps.

Runes, which allows fungible tokens to be minted on the Bitcoin blockchain, immediately sent network fees soaring following a flurry of activity following its launch. Activity has subsequently died down somewhat however.

Edited by Bradley Keoun.

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Ethereum (ETH) $ 3,112.87
bnb
BNB (BNB) $ 580.46
xrp
XRP (XRP) $ 0.52391
cardano
Cardano (ADA) $ 0.48202
solana
Solana (SOL) $ 172.89
polkadot
Polkadot (DOT) $ 7.22
matic-network
Polygon (MATIC) $ 0.721093
fantom
Fantom (FTM) $ 0.865245
dogecoin
Dogecoin (DOGE) $ 0.155309
shiba-inu
Shiba Inu (SHIB) $ 0.000025
avalanche-2
Avalanche (AVAX) $ 37.38
tron
TRON (TRX) $ 0.124371
crypto-com-chain
Cronos (CRO) $ 0.125605
litecoin
Litecoin (LTC) $ 84.60
vechain
VeChain (VET) $ 0.035881
safemoon-2
SafeMoon (SFM) $ 0.00005
baby-doge-coin
Baby Doge Coin (BABYDOGE) $ 0.00000000174447