February 2023

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Tel Aviv Stock Exchange Takes Steps to Allow Crypto Trading

Israel’s public stock exchange is suggesting regulatory amendments that would permit some clients to trade crypto assets. The proposals, which have been put forward for public consultation, come at the backdrop of a growing number of regulated institutions getting involved in the digital asset market, the exchange noted.

TASE Exchange Moves to Regulate Cryptocurrency Trading for Brokers

The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) has published a draft proposing to allow clients of non-banking institutions (NBMs) among its members to buy and sell cryptocurrencies. It intends to expand the list of authorized activities for such entities in order to add crypto trading.

NBMs provide brokerage, investment and advisory services, and operate as intermediaries. While they can process various transactions such as the transfer of funds, they are not permitted by law to accept direct deposits from customers or act as custodians.

Israel’s only public exchange is now seeking feedback on its regulatory initiative. The call for comments was posted on Monday. Upon their receipt, the proposal will be submitted for approval by the Board of Directors, it said and elaborated:

This is another step in the advancement and development of the Israeli capital market that aims to encourage innovation and competition, while mitigating the risks and protecting the customers.

In a press release, TASE marked the turbulent events in the crypto space over the course of the past year while highlighting the growing demand from customers and the greater involvement of regulated institutions. It insisted that all this requires regulation that will mitigate various risks.

The new rules aim to enable customers to deposit fiat money for investment in crypto assets and withdraw funds stemming from such investments. On their behalf, NBMs will deal with two types of licensed companies: providers of trading services and providers of custodial services for cryptocurrencies.

Last week, the Bank of Israel published recommendations for regulating and supervising activities related to stablecoins in the country. In November, 2022, Israel’s Ministry of Finance issued its own guidelines for digital asset regulation. In January of this year, the Israel Securities Authority (ISA) released a draft proposal to define the legal status of cryptocurrencies.

Do you think Israel will gradually regulate all activities in the crypto market? Share your expectations in the comments section below.

Bitcoin’s Blockchain Growth Accelerates With Trend of Ordinal Inscriptions

The Bitcoin blockchain has 40.49 gigabytes (GB) to go until it reaches half a terabyte (TB), and with the recent trend of Ordinal inscriptions, it’s likely to get there faster. The average block size reached a high of 2.52 megabytes (MB) on Feb. 12, 2023, but block sizes have subsided and dropped to an average of 1.634 MB by Feb. 27. Still, the blockchain grew at a rate of 0.288 GB per day, compared to the previous rate of 0.173 GB per day recorded before the Ordinal inscription trend began.

The Impact of Ordinal Inscriptions on Bitcoin’s Network Metrics

Ordinal inscriptions started on Dec. 16, 2022, but didn’t really gain steam until Feb. 2, 2023. That was the day a 3.96 MB block was mined, and since then, 214,028 inscriptions have been added to the Bitcoin blockchain. The trend of Ordinal inscriptions between Feb. 2 and Feb. 27, or roughly 26 days, increased Bitcoin’s average network fee and average block size. Both network fee and block size metrics peaked around Feb. 12 and have subsided since then. During that span of time, data shows that the size of Bitcoin’s chain grew at a faster rate.

For instance, statistics show that the Bitcoin blockchain was 459.51 GB in size on Feb. 27, 2023. Metrics show that during the 26-day span, the blockchain grew by 7.77 GB, or roughly 0.288 GB per day. The spike can be seen visually by looking at a chart of Bitcoin’s blockchain size from Feb. 2 until today. However, before Ordinal inscriptions started trending and larger blocks were mined more regularly, the blockchain’s growth was much slower. It took 45 days, from Dec. 19, 2022, to Feb. 2, 2023, to reach 7.77 GB.

At that time, over the 45-day span, the Bitcoin blockchain grew at a rate of 0.173 GB per day. Bitcoin’s average fee on Feb. 28, 2023, is 0.000077 BTC, or $1.82, per transaction, while the median fee is 0.000033 BTC, or $0.777, per transaction. Transactions are also being confirmed at rates ranging from 2 satoshis per byte, or $0.07, to 19 satoshis per byte, or $0.62, per transaction. The revenue miners accrued per day amid the Ordinal inscription trend peaked on Feb. 16, 2023, at $28.21 million (block subsidy + fees), compared to today’s $21.36 million. Still, bitcoin (BTC) miners are earning more revenue than they were on Dec. 24, 2022.

It will be interesting to see how another month of Ordinal inscriptions affects metrics such as average block sizes, median and average fees, and the overall growth of the Bitcoin blockchain. Though the hype around Ordinal inscriptions has subsided, these metrics remain elevated compared to before Feb. 2 and the subsequent influx of inscriptions. Average and median fees are still higher than before the Ordinal trend, and average block sizes remain above the 1.60 MB threshold after remaining below it for months.

What are your thoughts on the impact of Ordinal inscriptions on the growth of the Bitcoin blockchain? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Report Claims Visa and Mastercard Plan to Pause New Partnerships, Visa’s Head of Crypto Insists ‘Story Is Inaccurate’

According to a recent report from sources familiar with the matter, Mastercard and Visa, the credit card and payment services giants, are halting new partnerships with cryptocurrency firms. This news comes after the collapse of several cryptocurrency ventures that offered crypto debit cards and failed due to financial difficulties last year. After the report published, Visa’s head of crypto, Cuy Sheffield, criticized the story as “inaccurate as it pertains to Visa.”

Visa and Mastercard Clarify Their Stance on Cryptocurrency Despite Alleged Partnership Halt

A report published by Reuters on Tuesday states that Visa and Mastercard, two payments firms, are suspending their involvement in cryptocurrency ventures, according to unnamed sources. The sources cited “high-profile collapses” as the reason for the companies’ decision, and noted that discussions about the subject had taken place.

Manya Saini, a Reuters reporter, spoke with a spokesperson for both Visa and Mastercard, and each provided a comment to the journalist. “Recent high-profile failures in the crypto sector are an important reminder that we have a long way to go before crypto becomes a part of mainstream payments and financial services,” explained a spokesperson for Visa to Saini.

According to the Visa spokesperson, the failures do not alter the payment processor’s cryptocurrency and blockchain strategy. The representative for Mastercard stated: “Our efforts continue to focus on the underlying blockchain technology and how that can be applied to help address current pain points and build more efficient systems.”

The cryptocurrency industry has experienced a series of notable collapses and bankruptcies, including several businesses such as FTX, Celsius, and Blockfi, that had issued debit cards. After the collapse of these crypto companies, their debit cards became unusable and were terminated. However, in mid-February 2023, Wirex announced a partnership with Visa, a move the Reuters report appears to contradict. Before the collapse of FTX in late October 2022, Blockchain.com and Visa had partnered to release a crypto debit card.

The Reuters report also included a statement from American Express, which partnered with Abra in June 2022. An American Express spokesperson stated that although the company is interested in utilizing cryptocurrency for reward point redemption, it is not a near-term strategic priority. This position is one that the company has held for some time. “In the near-term, we don’t see crypto replacing our core payment and lending services,” said the American Express representative in an email.

Visa’s Head of Crypto Says Reuters ‘Story Is Innaccurate’

Following the Reuters report, Cuy Sheffield, head of crypto at Visa, tweeted that the “story is inaccurate as it pertains to Visa.” Sheffield stated that Visa continues “to partner with crypto companies to improve fiat on and off ramps as well as progress on our product roadmap to build new products that can facilitate stablecoin payments in a secure, compliant, and convenient way.” The Visa executive added:

Despite the challenges and uncertainty in the crypto ecosystem, our view has not changed that fiat-backed digital currencies running on public blockchains have the potential to play an important role in the payments ecosystem.

Sheffield further added that anyone “building at the intersection of crypto and payments” for them to reach out. “We’d love to work with you,” the Visa executive added.

What do you think about the Reuters report that claims Visa and Mastercard are pausing new crypto partnerships right now? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.

Former FTX Director Pleads Guilty to Charges of Fraud, Money Laundering, and US Campaign Finance Violations

Roughly 11 days ago, it was reported that Nishad Singh, the former director of engineering at FTX, was working with federal prosecutors to arrange a plea deal. On Tuesday, Singh pleaded guilty to criminal charges and stated, “I am unbelievably sorry for my role in all of this.”

Singh Cooperating With Authorities in FTX Investigation; Bankman-Fried Declines to Comment on Singh’s Guilty Plea

Former FTX director of engineering Nishad Singh pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud, conspiracy to commit fraud, money laundering, and violating campaign finance laws in the United States, according to reports.

“I am unbelievably sorry for my role in all of this,” Singh said in a New York court on Tuesday. During the hearing, Singh’s prosecutor, Danielle Sassoon, explained that Singh flew back from the Bahamas to assist with the U.S. investigation after FTX collapsed.

Singh stated that he knew around mid-2022 that Alameda Research was using customer funds, and he also pledged to forfeit the proceeds he obtained from the scheme. Reuters first reported the news, and following Singh’s plea, the publication contacted Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF) for comment.

According to the report, a spokesman for Bankman-Fried declined to comment. Singh’s plea comes after ex-Alameda CEO Caroline Ellison and FTX co-founder Gary Wang pleaded guilty. Ellison provided a detailed account that also acknowledged the use of customer funds in the FTX/Alameda scheme. Bankman-Fried faces 12 charges, including bank fraud, after four new charges were added to his initial indictment.

What do you think this guilty plea means for the ongoing investigation into FTX and Alameda Research? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Biggest Movers: AVAX Hits 2-Week Low as DOT Extends Recent Losses

Avalanche fell to a two-week low on Tuesday, as the token broke out of a key support point. Prices fell below a floor at $17.50, which comes as the global cryptocurrency market cap is down by 1.01% as of writing. Polkadot also extended its recent losses, falling by nearly 3% on Feb. 28.

Avalanche (AVAX)

Avalanche (AVAX) slipped to a multi-week low on Tuesday, as prices moved below a key support point.

Following a high of $18.62 to start the week, AVAX/USD dropped to a bottom of $17.39 earlier in today’s session.

This move saw avalanche hit its weakest level since February 13, which is the last time prices were under $17.00.

From the chart, it appears that one of the catalysts for the drop was a breakout on the relative strength index (RSI).

Price strength dropped below a floor at 43.00, and as of writing, the RSI is tracking at the 42.28 level.

The next visible point of support seems to be near the 40.00 mark, and should this be hit, there is a strong chance that AVAX will move below $17.00.

Polkadot (DOT)

In addition to AVAX, polkadot (DOT) also extended recent losses, falling for a second straight session.

DOT/USD moved to a low of $6.43 on Tuesday, after starting the week trading at a high of $6.78.

As a result of today’s drop, DOT has now fallen for seven of the last eight sessions, dropping by over 11% in that time.

Like with AVAX, today’s sell-off came as the RSI broke out of a floor — in this instance the 48.00 zone.

As of writing, the index is hovering closer to 47.00, with bears seemingly targeting a support point at $6.30.

The 10-day (red) moving average is now firmly downward facing, which sums up the current momentum in the market.

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Could polkadot hit $6.30 in the coming days? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Solana Faces Renewed Criticism After 10th Downtime and Bumpy Restart, but Developers Remain Optimistic

Following the initial incident on Feb. 25, Solana resolved the blockchain’s performance degradation after validators decided to restart the network. According to an outage report following more than 24 hours of downtime, Solana developers detailed that the “root cause is still unknown and under active investigation.”

Social Media Mocks Solana’s 10th Downtime, Supporters Defend Project

Solana has faced renewed criticism after the blockchain network experienced its tenth downtime on Feb. 25 and into the following day. The network was widely mocked on social media and forums, including r/cryptocurrency. In one forum thread, a user wrote, “Giving a second chance is one thing I can get behind. An 11th chance, on the other hand, is beyond delusional.” Additionally, people made jokes about the bumpy restart of Solana, and in the Discord server, validators discussed adding their phone numbers to receive text messages about future restarts.

Bitcoin.com News reported on the initial downtime after the Solana Status webpage disclosed there was a problem with ‘cluster instability.’ The incident wasn’t resolved until Feb. 26, 2023, at 2:09 UTC. Some critics called the problem and previous downtime issues a “design flaw,” while others favored shorting solana (SOL). Despite the significant downtime, Solana Labs co-founder Anatoly Yakovenko defended the project, stressing that “Solana wants to be fast and super secure.” Brandon Tucker, the growth lead at Marinade Finance, a Solana-based liquid staking project, said an upcoming upgrade should significantly reduce these outages in the future.

“Chain restarts are never welcome, but it’s not a major setback,” Tucker said in a message sent to Bitcoin.com News. “Indeed, despite the furor, it’s a similar outage to the five others we’ve seen over the last 12-18 months. Ultimately, it’s good to see the validator community rally together on their own accord to initiate the updates and restart the chain in real-time. Solana is attempting to do something that no other chain has done with regard to throughput and decentralization and the path to get there is not straight – especially when it’s already being used by more people than just about any other chain,” the Marinade Finance executive added.

What do you think about the future of Solana and its ability to address these downtime issues? Despite these setbacks, do you think it has the potential to become the most widely used blockchain network? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Bitcoin-Based NFTs Cross 200,000 Ordinal Inscriptions, Yuga Labs Launches Twelvefold Collection

On Monday, Feb. 27, 2023, the number of Ordinal inscriptions on the Bitcoin blockchain crossed 200,000 at 1:02 p.m. Eastern Time. In addition to the 200,000 inscriptions, Yuga Labs, creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) non-fungible tokens (NFTs), revealed that the team had created a collection of 300 generative ordinal NFTs called Twelvefold.

Bitcoin Clocks Over 200,000 Ordinal Inscriptions to Date; Yuga Labs Enters Bitcoin-Based Digital Collectibles Market

Ordinal inscriptions continue to be minted on the Bitcoin blockchain and on Monday afternoon at 1:02 p.m. (ET), the number of Ordinals surpassed the 200,000 mark. It took approximately 72 days to reach the 200,000 range, as the first Ordinal inscription was minted on Dec. 16, 2022, at block height #767,753. The second Ordinal inscription, #2, was embedded into the chain three days later on Dec. 19 at block height #768,094. It took 45 days to reach the 1,000th inscription, which was minted on Feb. 2, 2023. Since then, the rate of Ordinal inscription growth has increased by 19,900% up until Feb. 27.

At the time of writing, there are approximately 212,793 Ordinal inscriptions on the chain. Essentially, an Ordinal inscription is a non-fungible asset (NFT) produced by inscribing data on the smallest denomination of bitcoin (satoshis). So far, people have inscribed images, videos, text, and software applications to the blockchain. Images are by far the most common, but text inscriptions are also well-liked, and applications are becoming popular as well. Similar to the well-established blue-chip NFT collections on the Ethereum blockchain, Bitcoin-based NFT collections are attempting to become fashionable.

In fact, there is a significant number of collections within the first 6,900 Ordinal inscriptions. Now, Yuga Labs, creators of the Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) NFTs, are entering the world of Bitcoin-based digital collectibles with a new compilation of NFTs called Twelvefold. The collection consists of 300 generative creations inscribed by the Yuga Labs team. “The Twelvefold auction will launch later this week. There will be a 24-hour notice with auction details and exact timing,” Yuga Labs explained on Twitter.

In a blog post about the collection, Yuga Labs said, “Twelvefold is a base 12 art system localized around a 12×12 grid, a visual allegory for the cartography of data on the Bitcoin blockchain. The collection includes highly rendered 3D elements, as well as hand-drawn features, which serve as an homage to the Ordinal inscriptions currently done by hand.” In addition to Bitcoin, people have also been minting ordinal inscriptions on the Litecoin (LTC) blockchain. To date, more than 56,000 LTC-based inscriptions have been minted on litoshis.

What are your thoughts on the increasing popularity of Bitcoin-based NFT collections? Let us know what you think about this subject in the comments section below.