Coinbase creates ‘crypto native think tank’

In a bid to be on the inside track when it comes to shaping polices for digital assets, Coinbase, a leading cryptocurrency exchange, has created a “crypto native think tank “to help shape the global conversation around policies for digital assets,” Cointelegraph reports. The new think tank will also publish research on Web 3.0, in addition to crypto.

The policy research department is to be headed by Hermine Wong, its current Director of Policy. She previously served in the Division of Economic and Risk Analysis at the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and before that worked at the Department of State.

At the same time Coinbase has formed a Coinbase Institute Advisory Board with academics across law and finance from top universities such as Harvard, MIT, Duke and John Hopkins. It also has an academic partnership with the University of Michigan, which will partner with Coinbase on an annual U.S. based survey measuring the adoption of cryptocurrencies, as well as sentiment towards them. Its first publication, a “Crypto and the Climate” report is published today, 19th May.  It looks into the energy use of proof-of-work blockchains like Bitcoin.

It has also released today its first monthly insight report into crypto markets, comparing market movements in crypto and traditional finance. The formation of the institute is another example of Coinbase aiming to influence the conversation around cryptocurrencies, something it has done in the past with the launch last May of a fact checking blog “to combat misinformation and mischaracterizations about Coinbase or crypto being shared in the world.”

Coinbase also spent over $1.3bn lobbying in 2021, and created a political action committee in February 2022, ahead of the November midterm elections in the USA.

Microstrategy’s rescue plan for BTC

When the Federal reserve is about to make a statement, especially about interest rate rises, the Bitcoin community shudders. We have just seen this on 4th May. Yet, today, 5th May brings us a market that is green from end-to-end, with some altcoins making double digit gains (Tron surged by 14%).

Data shows that on 3rd May BTC/USD bounced between support and resistance after hitting $37,600, but a bounceback above $39,000 came fast enough. Still, something special needs to happen to lift Bitcoin above $40,000 and get over the hurdle of resistance at $43,000.

For the moment it is staying rangebound as the markets prepare themselves for Fed-induced volatility. Bulls looked to history for comfort, pointing out that the start of the Fed’s previous cycle of key interest-rate hikes in 2015 proved a turning point for BTC price strength, culminating in the December 2017 all-time-high.

Popular trader and analyst, Rekt Capital, said, “BTC is now testing a multi-week resistance.” Rekt also said that if Bitcoin could break out from the daily chart following the uptick above $39,000 then the multi-week downtrend is over and BTC/USD will see an upside.

The Microstrategy strategy

Other voices have been predicting that BTC will fall into the $20,000-$30,000 zone. But one company has a plan to avert that disaster and is being quite vocal about its contingency plan should it look like this might happen. The company is Microstrategy, which has the world’s largest Bitcoin corporate treasury. It says it will simply buy more Bitcoin to prevent that from happening.

Phong Le, the firm’s president and chief financial officer, revealed the conditions under which it would receive a margin call on its Bitcoin-collateralized loan: “As far as where Bitcoin needs to fall, we took out the loan at a 25% LTV, the margin call occurs 50% LTV. So essentially, Bitcoin needs to cut in half or around $21,000 before we’d have a margin call.” He added, “That said, before it gets to 50%, we could contribute more Bitcoin to the collateral package, so it never gets there.” He also stated that the firm had no intention of selling any of its considerable BTC holdings, and it appears to be prepared to support the crypto asset should there be any dramatic market capitulation.

Big banks in the crypto space

It was inevitable that banks would be unable to resist entering the cryptocurrency space, and more of the biggest US banks are in it than you might think. So, who exactly is taking such a ‘risk’, as the US banking regulator put it?

It seems that Bank of New York Mellon was the first to enter the fray in February 2021 with its offer of holding, transferring and issuing Bitcoin for asset management clients. The clients will be able to store BTC and ETH in BNY Mellon wallets, which have been created in partnership with Fireblocks. The service hasn’t launched yet, but is expected this year.

Bancorp’s Bitcoin custody service went live in October 2021, with NYDIG, a Bitcoin company, acting as sub-custodian for the bank. And State Street Corp said in March this year that it intends to offer crypto custody services in partnership with infrastructure platform Copper.co. This, according to the bank, is subject to regulatory approval.

Deutsche Bank is planning to develop a service to hold and trade crypto for institutional investors, and has already completed a proof of concept, although it is keeping this move very quiet indeed. Similarly, BNP Paribas has also completed a proof of concept with wallet provider Curv. The plan is to develop a secure method to transfer tokenised securities.

Wealth Management Clients

Banks have been rushing to offer their wealth management clients exposure to crypto, starting back in 2021. Morgan Stanley is the pack leader, according to CNBC. It reported in March this year that Morgan Stanley is enabling access to three Bitcoin funds for clients with at least $2 million in assets held at the bank.

JPMorgan Chase is allowing its financial advisers to accept buy/sell orders for five crypto products from its wealth management clients, and Wells Fargo has been offering something similar since 2021. Indeed, both JPMorgan and Wells Fargo have registered private Bitcoin funds with NYDIG.

Citigroup now has a digital assets group, and Goldman Sachs is offering wealthy clients access to an Ethereum fund via Galaxy Digital.

Trading and Research

You will find the same names in trading. Goldman rebooted its crypto trading desk in March 2021, and in March this year became the first US bank to carry out an over-the-counter crypto trade in partnership with Galaxy Digital.

The big banks are also putting a lot of money into research, particularly Bank of America, Citicorp and Morgan Stanley, with all of them creating new departments and opening up new job roles.

And there you have it – big banks aren’t really as crypto-averse as you might have thought.

Bitcoin rises again

It’s a good week for Bitcoin and altcoins. Finally, there has been a reversal of fortunes and the bears have retreated, at least for the moment. What sparked the about turn of the bearish trend that has dominated the market since the beginning of the year?

The world’s largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization is up 15% over the past week, although it has been outshone a little by Ethereum (up 16%) and Solana (up 25%) over the same period of time. This is not bad news for Bitcoin, as the rise in the altcoin sector shows that an appetite for risk has returned.

According to Coindesk, “the recent rally in bitcoin can be explained by new token accumulation, which is unique to the crypto market.” This refers to the purchase of more than 27,000 BTC worth roughly $1.3 billion by the Luna Foundation Guard (LFG). It promised that it would add BTC as an additional layer of security for UST, which is Terra’s decentralized dollar-pegged stablecoin.

Lucas Otumuro, head of research at IntoTheBlock, a crypto data company, told Coindesk that he believes there “appears to be a synergy between Bitcoin and the Terra ecosystem.” He went on to say, “UST benefits from having additional backing and bitcoin benefits not just from the buying pressure, but also from having a stable medium of exchange backed by BTC.”

But there is more to Bitcoin’s rebound than the purchase by LFG. The recent price bounce appears to be driven by demand in the spot market, which typically occurs around market turning points. There has been a rise in spot BTC volume versus futures volume, and an uptick in bitcoin trading volume across major exchanges. What we need to watch out for is a sudden capitulation to a sell-off. At this moment, an increase in buy volume versus sell volume could determine if the price rally has staying power. Thankfully, according to data from CryptoQuant there is a slight increase in the buy/sell volume ratio over the past week, which indicates bullish sentiment among Bitcoin traders.

We may see some corrections as the week progresses and Bitcoin aims to get past $48,000, but for now we are happy enough to enjoy Bitcoin’s fightback.