Crypto Scoop: BTC Hits $19,000 Amid Positive Market Sentiment

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Top cryptocurrencies BTC, SOL, and ADA record price gains as more countries introduce crypto adoption and regulation policies.

The crypto community celebrates as top cryptocurrencies record price gains and countries pursue crypto initiatives. In this edition of the crypto scoop, we review: 

  • Price gains of BTC, SOL, ADA
  • Crypto adoption in Nigeria, Brazil, Russia and the United Kingdom
  • Crypto regulation policies in Argentina, El Salvador and France
  • Miss Universe’s bitcoin inspired costume
  • Samsung’s new bitcoin initiative
Bitcoin's price chart

Bitcoin's price chart (Source: Coinmarketcap)

Prices of BTC, ETH, SOL, and ADA skyrocket

This week, former CEO of FTX, Sam Bankman-Fried, released a lengthy substack letter explaining customer funds were not stolen, and FTX may recover. While the crypto community was largely unenthusiastic about his letter, there were celebrations as top cryptocurrencies recorded price gains. 

For the first time since October, Bitcoin climbed back to $19,000, breaking through the low trading range set up in the wake of FTX's fall from grace. ETH wasn't left behind and soared to $1,400. On Monday, Solana rose to 22% as bullish sentiment returned to the cryptocurrency markets. With this move, the token reached its highest level since November, when it was affected by the collapse of FTX. Cardano also increased, rising by almost 13%.

Also, on January 6, 2023, at block height 770,709, Bitcoin's hash rate hit an all-time high (ATH) during the first week of the year, according to data from The network hit a milestone of 361.20 exahashes per second (EH/s), breaking the previous record of 347.16 EH/s set on November 12, 2022, by more than 4%.

Nigeria Announces Road Map For Payments That Includes Stablecoins

The Central Bank of Nigeria has identified key focus areas for its national payments system in a policy document,  Nigeria Payments System Vision 2025.  Over the next two years, the Central Bank of Nigeria will investigate the potential of stablecoins, the adoption of blockchain technology to power a central bank digital currency (CBDC), and regulatory issues surrounding initial coin offerings (ICOs).

The document explores the implications of blockchain-based CBDCs. It outlines 11 potential benefits of such an offering, such as cash cost management,  preventing currency fraud, clear audibility, and improving payment effectiveness.

Crypto Adoption Initiatives in Brazil, Russia, United Kingdom

According to recent reports, stablecoin use in Brazil is on the rise as more investors and businesses seek safety in the U.S. dollar to protect themselves from the market's volatility. This occurred soon after Luis Inacio "Lula" Da Silva's new administration was sworn in. One of the assets that saw a notable increase in trading volume was USDT. The number of orders that were carried out increased from 877.5 million in October to 2.381 billion in December, nearly tripling.

The Bank of Russia is working to proffer solutions for processing cross-border CBDC payments. The Central Bank of Russia has described two ways to integrate the digital ruble and other state-backed coins in international transactions. The monetary authority also intends to test consumer-to-business (C2B) operations in 2023’s first quarter.

In a meeting with Parliament on Tuesday, Andrew Griffith, the economic secretary, stated that the British government is "fully behind" a stablecoin for wholesale bank settlements. Griffith informed the Treasury Committee that the government wouldn’t issue the stablecoin but would consult with a third-party provider to issue the asset.

 El Salvador 's Contestant Miss Universe Costume

Alejandra Guajardo's Costume (Source: Instagram)

Miss Universe contestant represents El Salvador with a Bitcoin-inspired costume.

“You don’t need a sash to walk around dressed as cash,” said the Miss Universe 2023 announcer as El Salvador contestant Alejandra Guajardo showed off her currency-themed costume. 

Guajardo portrays herself strolling gracefully while carrying a massive colón, a legal tender in the nation until 2001, strapped to her back and embellished with cocoa beans. The beauty pageant contestant held a staff with a large Bitcoin on top in her right hand.

“This look represents El Salvador’s history of currency,” said the Miss Universe announcer. “For a long time, cocoa was used, and then the colón, until it was replaced by the U.S. dollar. In 2021, El Salvador became the first country in the world to use Bitcoin as a legal tender. 

Crypto Regulation in El Salvador, Argentina, France

El Salvador has passed legislation that creates a legal framework for all cryptocurrencies. El Salvador will create a regulatory body called the National Digital Assets Commission, which will provide consumers with unprecedented protection from bad actors in the "crypto" space while firmly establishing that it is open for businesses to build a future with Bitcoin. The law will also open the door for volcano bonds, El Salvador's plans to issue US$1 billion worth of Bitcoin-backed bonds.

A bill to encourage Argentines to declare their cryptocurrency holdings has been drafted by the Ministry of Economy to prevent money laundering by offering reduced tax rates as an incentive. Within 90 days of the law's implementation, those who voluntarily declare their holdings would only be subject to a 2.5% tax on the capital gains from their cryptocurrency investments. Every 90 days, this tax rate would rise slightly until it reaches the standard capital gains tax rate of 15% for the nation.

Francois Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the Banque de France, has called for stricter regulatory requirements on the cryptocurrency industry. In response to the recent volatility in the sector, he insisted that licencing must be implemented in place of the current registration system.

NFTs Sales Soar in the First Week of January

Non-fungible token (NFT) sales increased in the first week of 2023, with a seven-day volume increase of 26.01% from the prior week and a total of about $208.99 million in NFT sales.

NFT sales statistics show a 26.01% increase in the first week of the new year compared to the final week of 2022. According to metrics, 400,748 NFT buyers participated in 1.2 million NFT transactions. 19 blockchain networks saw NFT sales totalling $208.99 million, with Ethereum taking home $164.35 million.

Samsung launches Bitcoin Futures Active ETF.

On January 13, Samsung Asset Management Hong Kong (SAMHK), a division of Samsung Asset Management's investment arm, plans to list the "Samsung Bitcoin Futures Active ETF" on the Hong Kong stock exchange.

Hong Kong is the only market in Asia where Bitcoin futures ETFs can be traded. Thanks to this ETF listing, retail and institutional investors will have a new way to access Bitcoin, which could help draw more mainstream investors into the cryptocurrency space.