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Bitcoin bulls remain bullish, but macro and crypto-specific hurdles have BTC pinned below $30K

On March 23, Bitcoin (BTC) price recovered the $28,000 support after a brief correction below $27,000. The movement closely tracked the traditional financial sector, particularly the tech-heavy Nasdaq Index, which gained 2.1% as Bitcoin surpassed the $28,000 threshold.

On March 22, the Federal Reserve raised its benchmark interest rate by 0.25% but hinted that it is nearing its maximum level for 2023. In the end, however, Fed Chair Jerome Powell stated that it is too soon to determine the extent of the tighter credit conditions, so monetary policy will remain flexible.

Initially, it appears encouraging that the central bank is less inclined to increase the cost of money. However, global economies are exhibiting signs of stress. For instance, consumer confidence in the euro area decreased by 19.2% in March, reversing five consecutive months of gains and defying economists’ predictions of an improvement.

The recession is still putting pressure on companies’ profits and leading to layoffs. For example, on March 23, professional services company Accenture said it would end the contracts of 19,000 workers over the next 18 months. On March 22, the company Indeed, which helps people find jobs, let go of 2,200 workers, or 15% of its staff.

The stronger the correlation to traditional markets, the less likely a decoupling. As a result, according to futures and margin markets, the Bitcoin price increase has not instilled much confidence in professional traders.

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Improving Bitcoin NFT marketplace infrastructure sets the stage for ecosystem growth

Bitcoin NFT inscription activity has remained strong with consistency in the daily number of NFTs inscribed on Bitcoin. At the same time, the infrastructure to foster Bitcoin trading is finally coming together with the development of wallets and marketplaces supporting Ordinals.

NFT marketplaces, Gamma and Magic Eden, added support for Bitcoin NFTs this week. While the initial response of traders has been subdued, the activity is expected to pick up soon.

Improving the infrastructure around Bitcoin NFTs

Bitcoin NFTs, also-known-as Ordinals, began with much fanfare in late January as they enhanced the utility and revenue of the Bitcoin blockchain.

Dune dashboard from data analyst dgtl_assets shows that the Ordinals inscription activity remains robust, with nearly 580,000 NFTs inscribed in less than three months.

Cumulative sum and number of daily BTC NFTs inscribed. Source: Dune

While the daily inscription activity is vigorous, the trading volume of Bitcoin NFTs is still muted, which can be primarily attributed to the absence of Bitcoin wallets and supporting marketplaces.

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BTC price centers on $28K as Deutsche Bank shares follow Credit Suisse

Bitcoin (BTC) diced with $28,000 at the March 24 Wall Street open as fresh banking woes failed to provide a further boost to crypto.

BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Binance). Source: TradingView

Traders stay optimistic on BTC long-term trend

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView showed BTC/USD losing momentum to hit daily lows of $28,001 on Binance.

The pair was attempting to cement support after a classic comeback the day prior erased panic on the back of the latest United States economic policy moves.

The Federal Reserve hiked baseline interest rates by 0.25% on March 23, this along with mixed comments from Chair Jerome Powell serving to unsettle risk assets amid a lack of clear trajectory.

Related: Fed balance sheet adds $393B in two weeks — Will this send Bitcoin price to $40K?

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Fed balance sheet adds $393B in two weeks — Will this send Bitcoin price to $40K?

As of March 22, the Fed's balance sheet surged by nearly $94.5 billion — a $297 billion increase from the last week when the banking crisis started.

New QE hopes boost Bitcoin price

Overall, the U.S. central bank's liabilities increased by $393 billion in the last two weeks to $8.734 trillion. That is closer to the all-time high of $8.95 trillion a year ago when the Fed started its quantitative tightening program and reduced its assets by $600 billion.

Federal Reserve balance sheet as on March 24. Source: FRED

The Fed released the data on March 23, coinciding with Bitcoin (BTC) price rallying 5.5% toward $29,000. The rise occurred amid speculations that the Fed's expanding balance sheet results from quantitative easing (QE).

BTC/USD daily price chart. Source: TradingView

But the Fed did not use new dollar reserves to purchase long-term treasuries. Instead, the central bank dropped its U.S. Treasury holdings by $3.5 billion to $7.937 trillion, suggesting that quantitative tightening is still in place to curb inflation.

On the other hand, Fed's balance sheet grew because it dispatched short-term loans to the ailing banking sector.

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zkSync Era launches with Uniswap and Sushi — First zkEVM on mainnet

A new Era has dawned with the launch of the first Ethereum Virtual Machine compatible ZK rollup, enabling projects like Uniswap and Sushi to easily port over for scaling.

Heavyweight champ Oleksandr Usyk seeks to tokenize boxers’ careers

Olympic champion boxer Oleksandr Usyk partners with a new blockchain-powered tokenized ecosystem platform aimed at supporting aspiring boxers.

Arbitrum airdrop sees 1,500 addresses consolidate $3.3M into two wallets

One wallet received $2 million in ARB while another collected around $1.38 million worth of tokens.

Arbitrum airdrop: Hacked vanity addresses used to siphon $500K

The tokens were stolen by someone who compiled vanity addresses eligible for ARB airdrops.

Justin Sun vs. SEC, Do Kwon arrested, 180M player game taps Polygon: Asia Express

Our weekly roundup of news from East Asia curates the industry’s most important developments.

Chinese crypto billionaire sued by SEC

On Mar. 22, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, or SEC, announced charges against Chinese blockchain personality and billionaire Sun Yuchen — better known as Justin Sun — and three of his wholly-owned companies Tron Foundation Limited, BitTorrent Foundation Ltd., and Rainberry Inc. (formerly known as BitTorrent).

The complaint alleges that Sun and his companies “fraudulently” manipulated the secondary market for Tron (TRX) tokens through “extensive wash trading”, citing more than 600,000 such trades, and paying celebrities to promote TRX and BitTorrent (BTT) tokens with zero disclosure.

Multiple prominent American celebrities, such as Lindsay Lohan and Jake Paul, were named as defendants in their alleged roles in promoting TRX and BTT without proper disclosure. Some have since settled with the SEC. In addition, the SEC alleges that bounty programs and airdrops used to promote TRX and BTT were unregistered investments. Gary Gensler, chairman of the SEC, commented:

“As alleged, Sun and his companies not only targeted U.S. investors in their unregistered offers and sales, generating millions in illegal proceeds at the expense of investors, but they also coordinated wash trading on an unregistered trading platform to create the misleading appearance of active trading in TRX.” 

"Thx for your support & advice on how to take #TRON to the next level!," wrote Sun on Twitter following a $4.5M dinner with American billionaire investor Warren Buffet.
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Justin Sun vs. SEC, Do Kwon arrested, 180M player game taps Polygon: Asia Express

Chinese crypto billionaire Justin Sun sued by SEC, Do Kwon busted in Casino Royale location, game with 180 million players embraces Polygon.

Arbitrum airdrop sells-off at listing, but traders remain bullish on ARB

The official Arbitrum airdrop page crashed right after the claiming process began around 9 a.m. EST. Some users still managed to claim it through alternative methods like Arbiscan. In the first two hours, the market witnessed a massive sell-off of the token as its price declined from over $10.29 to lows of $1.

At ByBit, the token started trading for $7.50, but dropped to $1.50 within minutes. At the time of writing, the token was trading at $1.33.

Only one address successfully sold the token at $10.29 through the ARB/USDC pool on Uniswap, bagging $64,340 for 6,250 tokens. A few others were able to sell for $4.50, however, the price dropped quickly below $1.50 as more sellers arrived. 

ARB/USDC trades on Uniswap. Source: GeckoTerminal

Nansen data shows that out of 6.03 million ARB claimed by “smart money” wallets, $5.01 million were moved to a centralized or a decentralized exchange, most likely to sell. The analytics firm puts “smart money” tags on addresses that trade in significant size and are usually active.

Flow of ARB token across “smart money” wallets. Source: Nansen

While some smart money accounts added 3.45 million from DEXs. Overall, the amount moved to exchanges was 150% larger than inflows to the wallets, suggesting a massive sell-off.

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Bitcoin erases Fed losses as traders eye $40K BTC price target

Bitcoin (BTC) returned to near $29,000 on March 23 as bulls ignored news of a fresh United States regulatory crackdown.

BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: TradingView

Bitcoin shrugs off Coinbase, Do Kwon arrest

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView showed BTC/USD gaining almost 8% versus its overnight lows to challenge nine-month highs on Bitstamp.

The pair kept the volatility coming as the dust settled on the prior day’s interest rate decision and associated commentary from the Federal Reserve.

Despite Fed Chair Jerome Powell giving mixed signals over how and if rate hikes would continue, crypto market commentators argued that the sudden drop that Bitcoin witnessed had been over-the-top.

“Make sure to remember the panic and calls for lower next time you get a dip during a HTF uptrend,” popular trader Crypto Chase wrote in part of Twitter analysis.

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Why is Litecoin price up today?

Litecoin (LTC) emerged as one of the best-performing cryptocurrencies on March 23, surpassing its top-ranking rivals Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). 

Litecoin attracts Bitcoin and Ethereum investors

LTC price rallied 5.5% to reach an intraday high of around $92.50. In comparison, the total crypto market capitalization (TOTAL) has risen 2.25% to $1.14 trillion, with BTC and ETH rising 1.79% and 1.42%, respectively.

The Federal Reserve's 25 basis points (bps) rate hike on March 22 appears to be the key driver behind Litecoin beating its crypto rivals over the past 24 hours.

Notably, LTC price rallied over 15% versus BTC and about 14.5% versus ETH since the Fed announcement.

LTC/ETH and LTC/BTC daily price chart. Source: TradingView

One reason could be that Litecoin has relatively underperformed the cryptocurrency market in March, dropping over 6.5% month-to-date (MTD) versus the crypto market's 9.35% gains.

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Investors have more work to do in ensuring the success of Web3: PBW2023

At Paris Blockchain Week 2023, a group of Web3 professionals discussed how this new paradigm is disrupting traditional business models and creating opportunities for startups and investors.

Ledger CEO: The collapse of banks is a ‘crash course to Bitcoin’ | PBW 2023

Ledger CEO Pascal Gauthier said that anyone trying to centralize crypto will fail, saying that centralization and crypto are "two magnets that’s just not going to stick together."

Breaking: Terraform Labs co-founder Do Kwon reportedly arrested in Montenegro

The former blockchain executive is wanted by Interpol for his role in the $40 billion collapse of the Terra Luna ecosystem during May 2022.

US enforcement agencies are turning up the heat on crypto-related crime

How governments decide to go after crimes committed with crypto could color the industry’s public perception and how the space is regulated.

US enforcement agencies are turning up the heat on crypto-related crime

On the evening of Jan. 7, Anatoly Legkodymov, founder of the cryptocurrency exchange Bitzlato, was arrested in Miami. The following day, the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) unsealed a complaint in federal court charging him with “conducting a money transmitting business that transported and transmitted illicit funds.” According to the DOJ, Bitzlato failed to meet U.S. regulatory safeguards, including Anti-Money Laundering requirements. 

Less than a month earlier, former FTX CEO Samuel Bankman-Fried was arrested in the Bahamas. In a statement, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland said, “The Justice Department has filed charges alleging that Samuel Bankman-Fried perpetrated a range of offenses in a global scheme to deceive and defraud customers and lenders of FTX and Alameda, as well as a conspiracy to defraud the United States government.”

Garland stated, “The U.S. Department of Justice will aggressively investigate and prosecute alleged criminal wrongdoing in the financial system and violations of federal elections laws.” But is it really a new day? Will U.S. law enforcement be able to go after alleged crypto criminals at home and abroad?

According to Oberheiden PC attorney Alina Veneziano, who represents executive clients under criminal investigation against U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission subpoenas and DOJ fraud allegations, the answer is yes.

“Attempts to reign in this new, unrestrained industry were inevitable,” Veneziano tells Magazine. She believes that federal government agencies are increasing their investigative efforts toward crypto crime and will utilize all the tools at their disposal — subpoenas, summons and inter-governmental sharing of information.

Crypto Enforcement Action
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How blockchain can help reimagine a new state in Africa

Eche Emole, the co-founder of Afropolitan, explains how the nation-state experiment has failed, especially in Africa, and how blockchain can be used to reimagine a new state.