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Searching deep: The quest for Bitcoin scalability through layer two protocols

As the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, Bitcoin’s (BTC) effectiveness as a medium of exchange is still a matter for debate. Unlike fiat money that is inherently infinite in supply and must be managed by a central bank, Bitcoin is akin to gold in that it is commodity money with a finite supply of 21 million.
However, the supply cap is not the major stumbling block for BTC as a medium of exchange, but rather, the transaction throughput. While Satoshi Nakamoto envisioned Bitcoin as a peer-to-peer electronic cash system capable of facilitating online payments without a central counterparty, seven transactions per second on average is hardly the standard for scalability.
Indeed, scalability is only one of three major metrics required for any currency system to succeed as a medium of exchange along with adoption and liquidity. There is an argument to be made of Bitcoin’s growing adoption around the world across several strata of the global economy.
Price volatility that has seen Bitcoin peak at $58,000 and then briefly fall below the $30,000 mark within the first two months of 2021 likely indicates lingering issues with liquidity. However, it’s important to note that the current period is being characterized by a bullish advance that began in October 2020. Ultimately, some analysts expect Bitcoin’s volatility to level out as more institutions take up positions in the market.
What do the critics say?
Bitcoin’s scalability problem is even older than the network itself. Indeed, upon first proposing the system back in 2008, James A. Donald replied to Satoshi Nakamoto with: “The way I understand your proposal, it does not seem to scale to the required size.”
This astute observation has been at the heart of some of the more contentious and controversial debates within the Bitcoin ecosystem. Disagreements over how to solve the problem have even resulted in multiple hard forks.
These days, when Bitcoin critics cannot definitively dismiss BTC’s store of value proposition, scalability seems to be a low-hanging fruit with which to craft some anti-Bitcoin soundbite. Speaking during the 2021 Daily Journal annual shareholders meeting, Berkshire Hathaway vice-chairman Charlie Munger remarked that Bitcoin will never become a global medium of exchange due to its price volatility.
The 97-year-old billionaire investor is no stranger to espousing anti-Bitcoin sentiments. Indeed, together with Warren Buffett, the two Berkshire Hathaway chiefs have been responsible for some of the more colorful negative remarks among Bitcoin. From being “rat poison squared” to “trading turds,” Munger once slammed BTC investors for celebrating the life and work of Judas Iscariot.
Munger, like Buffett, is among a class of Wall Street Bitcoin critics who have often claimed that Bitcoin has no intrinsic value. However, with the price of BTC continuing its relentless upward advance over the past decade while attracting significant institutional interest, detractors now seem to be left with only the scalability argument.
Even among mainstream crypto adopters, Bitcoin’s inability to scale at the base protocol level also seems to be a significant issue. In an address during the Future of Money conference back in February, Mastercard executive vice chair Ann Cairns declared that BTC was not suited to its crypto payment plans.
According to Cairns: “Bitcoin does not behave like a payment instrument […] It’s too volatile and it takes too long to transact.” As previously reported by Cointelegraph, Mastercard recently announced plans to offer support for cryptocurrency payment on its network.
Lightning Network node count rises, but slowly
Together with the 10-minute block creation time, the one-megabyte block size acts as the actual transaction throughput constraint for the Bitcoin network. The block size debate of 2017 that ultimately led to the Bitcoin Cash hard fork proved the adamance of Bitcoin purists to the 1MB block size ethos.
With the “big blockers” now firmly on their own Bitcoin forks like BCH and Bitcoin SV, the question of how to get BTC to scale without changing a thing on the protocol level still lingers. From Bitcoin banks to sidechain protocols, and even deferred settlement infrastructure layers like the Lightning Network, several developmental projects are currently ongoing to make Bitcoin more suitable for microtransactions like paying for coffee.
At a high level, these scaling solutions involve the creation of trustless, centralized (pardon the oxymoron) entities or layer-two networks that maintain lightweight versions of the BTC ledger to handle the actual “coin” transfers without having to maintain the full Bitcoin ledger. These sidechain implementations then transmit the transaction data for final settlement on the actual Bitcoin network.
LN is one of the major Bitcoin scaling solutions under active development by several organizations including Blockstream and Elizabeth Stark’s Lightning Labs. The Lightning Network is perhaps the most popular of the “defer-reconcile” scaling implementations that allow users to create payment channels that offer instant coin transfers at minimal fees.
According to data from LN data aggregator 1ML, there are over 17,300 public Lightning Network nodes and more than 38,400 channels. LN capacity is currently north of 1,100 BTC.
While LN adoption is yet to attain significant heights, layer-two implementation might be about to get a boost with Zap — a Visa-backed Lightning Network payments startup. In February, the company launched Strike — a payments and remittance app that utilizes the Lightning Network for payments.
Strike has also partnered with crypto exchange platform Bittrex to deliver LN-powered payments to over 200 countries around the world. The company plans to issue Strike Visa cards to users in the United States as well as in Europe and the United Kingdom before the end of the year.
What about Statechains?
There is a school of thought that argues Bitcoin scalability is only possible via layer-two solutions. Ruben Somsen, Bitcoin developer, crypto podcaster and founder of the Seoul Bitcoin meetup, is one of the proponents of this argument.
Somsen is an advocate of Statechains, another layer-two implementation but with a twist — transaction participants send private keys instead of actual unspent transaction output, or UTXO. The process involves loading a Statechain-compatible wallet with the exact BTC sum required for the trade followed by the transfer of the private keys from the sender to the recipient.
Since transferring private keys across the blockchain is fee-less and instant, the Statechain idea seems to have gained some traction within the Bitcoin scalability discussion. However, revealing private keys comes with significant security implications.
Thus, in recent times, the Statechain concept has been modified to include a third entity that acts as an intermediary between the transacting parties. Detailing the workings of this counterparty federation within the Statechain matrix, Somsen told Cointelegraph:

“Statechains allow you to take your coins off-chain (meaning cheap transactions) in a way that puts a minimum amount of trust in others. You have to trust a federation, but the federation won’t know that they are getting partial control of your coins, and they can’t refuse peg-outs (moving back to the Bitcoin blockchain).”

Blockchain infrastructure firm CommerceBlock is one of the companies actively developing Statechains as a viable scalability solution for Bitcoin. The firm is credited with introducing the counterparty federation or “Statechain entity” to improve the security of the system. In a conversation with Cointelegraph, CommerceBlock CEO Nicholas Gregory outlined how Statechains operate:

“At a high level, Statechains are simply a way to transfer your private key to another user. To facilitate this, you have to cooperate with a Statechain entity. However, at all times, the user has full control of their funds; at any anytime, they can withdraw their Bitcoin to their own custody. Therefore, the transfer is instant and private.”

While Statechains is a scalability solution on its own, some proponents agree that the system could integrate with the Lightning Network. With Statechains operating on the UTXO level, it is theoretically possible for another layer-two protocol such as the Lightning Network to be implemented on top of Statechains.
Such a hybrid integration could solve the limited node capacity issue of Lightning Network while ensuring the ability to facilitate multiple microtransactions via Statechains. Since the exact transaction amount is loaded into Statechain wallets, it’s impossible to split UTXOs making Statechain in its present iteration unsuitable for microtransactions.
According to Somsen, the Statechains can operate independently as well as function together with the Lightning Network: “Statechains complement the Lightning Network perfectly because opening and closing channels can happen off-chain. This removes a lot of the friction that exists in the current Lightning Network design.”
For Gregory, integrating Statechains with the Lightning Network is among the future developmental plans for CommerceBlock: “Statechains are instant and do not require liquidity lock up; however, you are sending the private key, so you can’t do small or specific denominations. This is where LN excels.”
With these developments and more, the quest for a workable Bitcoin scalability solution is still ongoing. While critics, like Munger, who have been consistently wrong about BTC, continue to drop soundbites, developers are hard at work to solve one of the longest-running operability issues concerning Bitcoin.

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Bitcoin price hits $51K as U.S. Senate passes $1.9 trillion stimulus

The price of Bitcoin (BTC) reached over $51,000 on March 7 after the U.S. Senate passed the anticipated $1.9 trillion stimulus bill, which is roughly two times larger than the market capitalization of BTC.
United States’ President Joe Biden said that the Senate’s approval shows major progress in delivering a “desperately needed” stimulus bill to Americans. He said:

“Today I can say we’ve taken one more giant step forward in delivering on that promise, that help is on the way. It wasn’t always pretty, but it was so desperately needed, urgently needed.”

BTC/USDT 4-hour price chart (Binance). Source: TradingView.com
Why is the stimulus bullish for Bitcoin price?
When a stimulus bill gets passed, it immediately relaxes the financial conditions in the U.S. The past year has shown that the effect of such measures raises investors’ appetite for risk-on assets, including stocks and cryptocurrencies.
In April 2020, when the first stimulus bill was passed, it coincided with a massive bull run in both the U.S. equities market and the cryptocurrency market.
Naturally, investors anticipate the second stimulus package to have a similar effect on the price of Bitcoin in the short term.
Peter Brandt, a long-time trader, said the devaluation of the purchasing power of the U.S. dollar has only started.
The combination of a devaluing dollar and the new stimulus package would likely cause the market sentiment around Bitcoin to improve. Brandt wrote:

“The devaluation of the purchasing power of the U.S. Dollar $DX_F has only just begun. This is why Bitcoin $BTC, real estate, U.S. equities and commodities will continue to trend higher when expressed in $USD fiat terms.”

Consumer price index for all urban consumers. Source: Peter Brandt, Fred
If the U.S. stock market begins to recover after a week-long pullback, it could further catalyze Bitcoin given that equities and cryptocurrencies fell in tandem during the recent correction.
Chinese companies following MicroStrategy’s strategy? 
Atop the improving macro environment for Bitcoin, the first Chinese listed company called Meitu has officially bought $40 million worth of Bitcoin and Ethereum. The company stated:

“The Group has purchased 15,000 units of Ether and 379.1214267 units of Bitcoin (BTC), both cryptocurrencies, in open market transactions at an aggregate consideration of approximately US$22.1 million and US$17.9 million respectively, on March 5, 2021.”

“The first Chinese listed company to buy a large amount of Bitcoin appeared,” a popular Chinese journalist by the name of Wu Blockchain commented on March 7. “Photo-retouching software company Meitu announced that it would buy Bitcoin and Ethereum for 40mln$. But its founder was criticized for issuing multiple ICOs in 2017.” He added: 

Meitu said that crypto has enough room for appreciation, it can diversify the risk of holding cash in fund management. Affected by this, there may be more Chinese companies buying Bitcoin to boost their stock prices, but they may also be banned by the Chinese government.”

If a new trend emerges where public companies in Asia begin to buy Bitcoin, it could lead to an influx of new capital into the Bitcoin exchange market.
While it is unlikely that many publicly listed companies in China would announce Bitcoin purchases due to the uncertain regulatory environment, countries like Japan and South Korea could see a similar trend occur in the next few months.

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Decentralized finance may be the future, but education is still lacking

Engaging in the traditional financial markets has become less appealing to consumers and institutional investors as of late. New opportunities are plentiful, with decentralized finance getting a lot of attention. However, that new movement is not without its risks and flaws, either.
For decades, consumers and institutional investors have explored the many different options presented to them in the financial world. This approach has worked out rather well, as one could even earn passive revenue on their savings account. Today, things look very different, as many banks charge negative interest rates and continue to exploit their customers.
Another problem compounding the lessening appeal of centralized finance is the ongoing impediments in the industry. More specifically, banks are forced to settle lawsuits regularly, mostly due to their wrongdoing. This ranges from opening accounts for clients without their knowledge, masking products under different names while providing the same service, money laundering and so forth.
Despite all of this, many people remain loyal to their banks or other financial institutions. Or that used to be the case, as decentralized finance has a lot of people interested today. Unlike traditional finance, DeFi has no exorbitant fees, unfair terms or financial exclusion. Instead, it is a movement that aims to bring financial services to everyone regardless of their current access to these products.
Making DeFi more accessible
While it may seem as if decentralized finance is destined to disrupt traditional finance, there is still a lot of work to be done. In its current state, DeFi primarily caters to users who have sufficient knowledge of the cryptocurrency market. Unfortunately, the crypto industry remains a niche market even today despite prices for Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH) moving up quickly in the past few months.
In fact, there are no viable guides on how to prepare yourself for these new financial opportunities. Every existing guide assumes the reader already knows the ins and outs of cryptocurrency, which is usually not the case.
Education is the first big step
Wading through the complex nature of DeFi requires clear and concise education. There is a rising need for educational platforms that address beginner levels of investing. Publications contributing educational content around DeFi noted significant growth throughout 2020 and early 2021. Educational initiatives have a goal to lower entry barriers to decentralized finance by educating people on cryptocurrency and the opportunities the broader industry provides. Ultimately, a good goal for DeFi would be for 100 million more people to have deposited at least $1 each into decentralized finance by 2025. It may seem like an easy goal, yet convincing millions of people to partake in this industry isn’t easy. Many people remain unconvinced by cryptocurrencies in general, and they will likely feel the same about DeFi.
We as an industry need to acknowledge that things need to improve to be taken more seriously by the masses. Making a global impact with complex structures and technologies and requiring the use of cryptocurrencies warrants clear and concise education.
A big catalyst for launching more educational initiatives now is the recent r/Wallstreetbets and GameStop saga. People worldwide suddenly found themselves in a position of power to make the financial market dance to their tunes. It depicts the need to make financial markets accessible to everyone, yet the current financial industry doesn’t always allow this to happen. This became apparent when the trading of GameStop stocks was halted by several providers to protect larger investors. It serves as an excellent example of how unfair the financial industry can be.
Creating a level playing field
At its core, the financial sector can operate without gatekeepers or centralized intermediaries. The DeFi industry has shown that this is possible, even though the industry is still in its early stages. Creating an environment where anyone can safely borrow, lend and trade directly is possible, but the educational aspect needs to come first.
As the public perception of traditional finances keeps taking blows to the chin, it is a matter of time until large groups begin exploring other horizons. Investing in cryptocurrencies has given many a taste of what financial freedom can entail. However, it is crucial to understand that this is only the first step along a long road toward achieving that freedom.
There is a lot more to DeFi than just owning Bitcoin, Ether or any other crypto assets. While that does grant one access to decentralized finance, the educational initiatives led by industry leaders will help explain how you can use these assets for more than speculative purposes. Through education, research and guidance, a new era of finance may just be around the corner.
This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.
The views, thoughts and opinions expressed here are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views and opinions of Cointelegraph.

Piers Ridyard is the CEO of Radix, the decentralized finance protocol. A Y Combinator Alumni, Piers joined Radix after exiting his previous company, which built DLT-based deal rooms for clearing syndicated insurance contracts.

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Stake.com Named by UFC® as Its First-Ever Official Betting Partner in Latin America and Asia

UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, announced a new partnership with Stake.com, the world’s largest cryptocurrency casino and sportsbook. LAS VEGAS, March 7, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — UFC®, the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization, today announced a new partnership with Stake.com, the world’s largest cryptocurrency casino and sportsbook. Under the terms of the […]

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Fetch.ai (FET) hits a 2-year high after DeFi integration and Bosch partnership

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are changing the face of commerce, computing and other technologies on a daily basis.
In its most basic form, the information gathered by artificial intelligence is really just data that can be used to make interpretations and blockchains are built for the storage and transmission of data.
Fetch.ai (FET) is a “Cambridge-based artificial intelligence lab” that has the goal of using distributed ledger technology to build a decentralized machine learning platform capable of securely transacting any form of data globally.
FET/USDT 4-hour chart. Source: TradingView
Data from Cointelegraph Markets and TradingView shows that the price of FET has surged 720% since the start of 2021 and this week the altcoin hit a new yearly high at $0.40.
Partnership announcements and DeFi integrations drive adoption
A scroll through the project’s Twitter feed shows that excitement began building at the end of January when Fetch.ai started tweeting about its Mettalex (MTLX) project, which is a decentralized exchange (DEX) for the Fetch.ai ecosystem that specializes in bringing “autonomous and intelligent oracles” to DeFi.
Given that DeFi is another rapidly emerging sector, FET’s inclusion in it was followed by a notable increase in trading volume.
As part of the Mettalex launch, FET tokenholders were given the option to stake their tokens on the platform for 3 months and earn a 10% yield which will be paid in MTLX tokens.
Momentum for the project continued to build throughout February following several high-profile partnerships, most notably a deal with Bosch Group to help the platform launch a multi-purpose blockchain project designed to enable Web 3.0.
While the blockchain project has been in a testnet since October 2020, the upcoming mid-March release appears to be on track based on the following tweet from the Fetch.ai team:

Are you ready? Mainnet 2.0 is coming..soon!#mainnet2iscoming #nextgeneration #fetch_ai pic.twitter.com/Jq2qQQ8ruW
— Fetch.ai (@Fetch_ai) March 5, 2021
The follow-up release of the project’s first native application in the App store indicates that the expansion of the Fetch.ai ecosystem is just beginning, and record transaction and trading volumes signal that there is growing interest in the AI-focused protocol.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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What Ethereum killer? On-chain data shows competitor networks are still behind

Ether (ETH) remains the second-largest cryptocurrency and it absolutely dominates the smart contract industry according to an array of network usage metrics. Even though the network has been overwhelmed by peak activity which is causing median fees to surpass $10, the network effect of its large user and developer base seems to be enough to sustain its position as the second ranked cryptocurrency by market capitalization.
Nevertheless, some key on-chain metrics are beginning to show a potential change in Etheruem’s supremacy, which raises the age old question of whether an “Ethereum killer” will be able to dethrone the top network?
Smart contracts Total Value Locked (TVL) ranking. Source: defillama.com
As shown above, the Ethereum network vastly dominates decentralized applications (dApps). Due to its high gas fees for transactions, when analyzing the number of active addresses, the Ethereum newtork appears to be at a disadvantage to its competitors.
Over the past week, FLOW blockchain’s NBA Top Shot had almost 80,000 active addresses which is five times larger than Ethereum’s Rarible NFT marketplace or even SushiSwap. Thus, the first data to analyze is the daily active addresses number across each blockchain.
Daily active addresses. Source: coinmetrics.io
The chart above shows that Tron (TRX) has recently surpassed Ethereum in daily active addresses, although this metric can be easily inflated. The Tron network has virtually zero fees for simple transactions which creates an unfair comparison.
By measuring effective transactions and transfers,it’s easier to exclude the addresses that are not contributing to the network.
Transactions and transfers, adjusted, USD. Source: coinmetrics.io
By doing this we can see that Tron doesn’t come even close to Ethereum’s numbers, although Cardano’s (ADA) recent price growth has led to a virtual tie between the two.
Oddly enough, the Tron network holds over 14.5 billion of the Tether (USDT) in circulation, which by itself should boost network usage metrics. Meanwhile, Cardano has 90% fewer daily active addresses than Ethereum, yet, both networks handle the same amount of transfers and transactions.
This is especially problematic as Ethereum handles 20 billion Tether tokens and also manages all the transactions of Chainlink (LINK), USD Coin (USDC), Wrapped ETH (WETH), and many others.
ETH, ADA, NEM, NEO, TRX market cap, USD million. Source: cointrader.pro
This data should, at least theoretically, be reflected in the market capitalization. Thus, it makes sense for Ethereum to dominate the ranking as no other network is even close to its decentralized applications.
Moreover, when analyzing the transfer and transactions’ value, Ethereum leads by 50 times if we exclude Cardano’s questionable figures discussed earlier.
For the time being, the data suggest that the four “Ethereum killers” analyzed above are unlikely to “flippen” the Ethereum network anytime soon.
The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

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Bitcoin nerves, Tesla told to dump crypto, NFT madness: Hodler’s Digest, Feb. 28–March 6

Coming every Saturday, Hodler’s Digest will help you track every single important news story that happened this week. The best (and worst) quotes, adoption and regulation highlights, leading coins, predictions and much more — a week on Cointelegraph in one link.
Top Stories This Week

Bitcoin traders worry as price remains pinned below $50,000
After reaching lows of $43,500 last Sunday, Bitcoin staged a comeback, managing to hit $52,000 on Wednesday. There was optimism that the correction was over and that BTC would now have the chance to return to all-time highs.
Alas, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry. Fast forward to this weekend, and Bitcoin is once again struggling to break above $50,000 — a psychologically important milestone. Now, the nerves are starting to set in.
A drop below recent lows of $46,000 could open the door to further downward movement, endangering a bull run that’s been in place for almost a year… at least in the short term. Pseudonymous trader Rekt Capital believes BTC could bottom between $38,000 and $45,000 if this level fails to hold.
Traders are now beginning to speculate that Bitcoin may continue to trade sideways for now. A gloomy macroeconomic picture dominated by rising bond yields and a pullback in tech stocks certainly isn’t helping matters.
Then again, there’s always a metric that shrugs off the gloom… suggesting everything is fine. Glassnode’s Reserve Risk indicator suggests that BTC’s rally is still in the early to middle stage — even after this week’s pullback. Great. Nothing to worry about, then.

Analyst tells Tesla to dump Bitcoin for buybacks as shares plunge
Tesla is now coming under pressure to sell off the $1.5 billion it holds in Bitcoin. Since the electric vehicle maker announced its crypto buy-in, TSLA shares have fallen by a stomach-churning 30.8%.
Gary Black, the former CEO of Aegon Asset Management, tweeted that Tesla would generate “positive momentum” if it bows out of crypto, adding: “Highly unlikely, but shareholders would be very supportive.”
Bitcoin’s price correction has also been hurting MicroStrategy — the business intelligence firm that owns more than 91,000 BTC. MSTR’s share price has tumbled by 52.8% in less than a month.
The company doesn’t seem too worried, though. MicroStrategy bought another 205 BTC this week in a $10-million spending spree that coincided with the latest dip.
While the software company began putting its existing assets into BTC in 2020, back when Bitcoin traded at about $10,000, its latest purchases have yet to break even.

Kings of Leon is releasing an album as an NFT
Buckle yourselves in… we’ve got so much NFT news to get through. One of the more attention-grabbing headlines this week came when Kings of Leon announced it is releasing its eighth album in the form of a nonfungible token.
Three types of NFTs are on offer, with the rarest offering front-row seats to Kings of Leon concerts for life, a personal driver and the chance to hang out with the band before shows.
Frenzied activity in the NFT sector doesn’t end here. The rarest Pepe of them all — “Homer Pepe” — went under the hammer for 205 ETH this week… that’s worth $323,000 at the time of writing. Meanwhile, an NFT made up of 100 individual pieces from 100 different artists sold out within minutes on Rarible.
Aavegotchis — NFTs inspired by the Tamagotchi devices that were oh so trendy in the late 1990s and early 2000s — were snapped up in under a minute. And as sales on NBA Top Shot continue to go through the roof, the executive chairman of the sports merchandise company Fanatics, Michael Rubin, said: “It’s almost a frenzy happening right now.”
If all of this wasn’t crazy enough, an original artwork by Banksy has been burned and turned into an NFT. Ironically, the piece is called “Morons” and depicts buyers at an art auction bidding on a piece emblazoned with the words “I can’t believe you morons actually buy this shit.”

Tether hit with 500 BTC ransom demand, but says it won’t pay
Still dusting itself off after a showdown with the New York Attorney General, Tether is really struggling to catch a break right now.
This week, hackers threatened to release sensitive company documents that supposedly belonged to Tether… unless they were paid a 500-BTC ransom — a staggering sum worth $23.8 million at the time.
Tether announced what was happening on Twitter and declared: “We are not paying.”
The deadline has now passed, but what remains unclear is whether the extortionists are attempting a simple cash grab, or whether it’s all part of a greater effort to undermine Tether and the rest of the Bitcoin ecosystem.
“Either way, those seeking to harm Tether are getting increasingly desperate,” the company added.

No crypto ban in India: Finance minister predicts “very calibrated” stance
There’s been another dramatic twist in the “will they, won’t they” saga of India’s planned crypto ban.
On Saturday, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said reports that the government is pursuing a blanket ban on cryptocurrencies are overstated. She stressed that regulations won’t be as “severe” as previously reported and that the authorities were determined to take a “very calibrated” stance.
The comments will no doubt come as a relief for crypto businesses and investors in the world’s second-most populous country following years of uncertainty.
At one point, India was considering introducing jail terms of up to 10 years for anyone caught dealing in cryptocurrencies — along with a hefty fine. The country’s central bank also introduced a ban that stopped banks from offering services to crypto businesses, causing several to collapse. Those restrictions were sensationally overturned by the Supreme Court last year.
Sitharaman’s latest remarks are at odds with a Bloomberg report last month that claimed crypto assets would soon be completely banned in India.

Winners and Losers

At the end of the week, Bitcoin is at $48,445.86, Ether at $1,607.45 and XRP at $0.46. The total market cap is at $1,484,740,419,357.
Among the biggest 100 cryptocurrencies, the top three altcoin gainers of the week are Chiliz, Enjin Coin and Flow. The top three altcoin losers of the week are Cardano, 1inch and Stellar.
For more info on crypto prices, make sure to read Cointelegraph’s market analysis. 

Most Memorable Quotations

“You should look for relative strength when others are weak. Global macro sold off yesterday and BTC did not give a donkey.”

Kyle Davies, Three Arrows Capital co-founder

“Bitcoin is holding up against the macro spectacularly well.”

Lex Moskovski, Moskovski Capital CEO 

“The fact that Bitcoin continues to show strength even with GBTC acting like a resistance band holding it back is very encouraging and shows to me that the overall story, that of accelerating adoption, is still intact.”

Chad Steinglass, CrossTower head of trading

“I think there’s going to be tremendous value created, but also there’s so many people getting into it, I don’t think everyone’s going to be successful.”

Michael Rubin, Fanatics executive chairman

“It’s early stages, but in the future, I think this will be how people release their tracks: When they sell a 100,000 at a dollar each, then they just made $100,000.”

Josh Katz, Yellowheart CEO

“I think Reed Hastings is a very innovative guy and has a lot of creative thinking, and I think he still controls the reins at Netflix, and so I think that might be the next big one to fall.”

Tim Draper, serial investor

“What we are seeing built with crypto today is just proof of concept. As tech continues to get better/cheaper/faster there will be new applications and maybe even something that supersedes what we know as crypto today.”

Mark Cuban, billionaire

“I see HOMERPEPE as the most important NFT in art history because its headline-making sale in 2018 influenced so many of the original crypto artists to believe we could put our art to work building both a market and belief around this new technology.”

Matt Kane, artist

“Is Bitcoin a currency? Property? An asset? Maybe all of the above, I’m going in with a 3% portfolio allocation.”

Kevin O’Leary, Shark Tank investor

“Bitcoin has returned almost 200% (so nearly tripled your money), every single year for 10 years, *compounded*.”

CaseBitcoin

“We’re sending a clear message to the entire industry that you either play by the rules or we will shut you down.”

Letitia James, New York Attorney General

“Those seeking to harm Tether are getting increasingly desperate.”

Tether

“There are a host of risks and obstacles that stand in the way of Bitcoin progress. But weighing these potential hurdles against the opportunities leads to the conclusion that Bitcoin is at a tipping point.”

Citi

Prediction of the Week

Bitcoin price is going to “infinity” — Kraken CEO
Hodler’s Digest has been home to some pretty sky-high Bitcoin price predictions over the years — $500,000 here, $1 million there. Determined not to be outdone, Kraken’s CEO has gone nuclear… predicting that BTC will be worth “infinity.”
Jesse Powell believes that, one day, humanity will simply give up pricing Bitcoin in U.S. dollars — telling Bloomberg that a $1-million price tag in 10 years’ time is reasonable.
Research from the company he runs is perhaps a little more realistic. Kraken’s latest analysis suggests Bitcoin could next top out somewhere between $75,000 and $306,000.

FUD of the Week 

BitMEX’s Arthur Hayes and Ben Delo negotiate surrender to U.S. authorities
The former CEO of the crypto derivatives exchange BitMEX is in negotiations to surrender to U.S. authorities next month.
Arthur Hayes and fellow executives are accused of violating the Bank Secrecy Act by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Transcripts from a virtual court hearing suggest he’s going to surrender to the U.S. in Hawaii on April 6 — six months after he went on the run.

McAfee faces crypto-related fraud charges from NY court
Criminal charges are piling up for John McAfee. The crypto advocate and internet security pioneer has now been accused of fraud and money laundering conspiracy crimes. Allegations relate two schemes where cryptocurrencies were “fraudulently promoted” to investors.
Prior to today’s news, McAfee already faced charges from U.S. governing bodies for tax evasion and initial coin offerings that he allegedly advertised for compensation without properly informing the public. 
After going on the run from the U.S. government in 2019, McAfee was arrested in Spain in October 2020.

Dev says $31 million Meerkat Finance exploit was a “test” and funds will be returned
Alarm bells rang this week when Meerkat Finance, a decentralized finance protocol based on Binance Smart Chain, lost BNB worth $31 million — hours after it had launched.
The team initially claimed it had been the victim of an exploit but then deleted all its social media channels. Due to the nature of the breach, some believe that a “rugpull” scam had taken place.
But there might be some good news on the horizon for the victims of the exploit, which is one of the largest in DeFi’s short history. A Meerkat Finance developer posted in a newly created Telegram channel and revealed the exploit was a “trial” testing users’ greed and “subjectivity” — adding that the team was preparing to refund all victims.

Best Cointelegraph Features

DeFi who? NFTs are the new hot stars on the crypto block
NFTs are taking over from where DeFi left off, and data suggests asset tokenization will dominate 2021.

Crypto Pepes: What does the frog meme?
Cointelegraph Magazine talks to BarnBridge founder Tyler Ward, who has inadvertently created a Pepe the Frog NFT meme craze.

Pricing the hype: Crypto companies valued at billions as market booms
Crunching the numbers: Analysts and industry experts weigh in on crypto firms like Coinbase and Kraken being valued in the billions.

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Don Agro publica un aumento del 66,5 % en las utilidades netas, lo que representa una cifra de SGD 8,7 millones para el ejercicio fiscal 2020

Impulsada por un aumento en las ganancias derivado del cambio en el valor equitativo de los activos biológicos y los productos agrícolas, debido principalmente al aumento de los precios globales de los productos agrícolas, las utilidades brutas aumentaron un 70,3 % interanual, lo que representa una cifra de SGD 14,6 millones. Declara un dividendo final de 1,157 centavos de […]

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Darling Ingredients Inc. publie les résultats financiers du quatrième trimestre et de l'exercice financier 2020

IRVING, Texas, 6 mars 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Darling Ingredients Inc. (NYSE : DAR, « Darling ») — Quatrième trimestre 2020 Un revenu net de 44,7 millions de dollars, soit 0,27 dollar par action diluée GAAP (Principes comptables généralement admis) Un bénéfice net ajusté de 75,3 millions de dollars, soit 0,45 dollar par action diluée, en excluant les 30,6 millions de dollars après impôts de frais […]

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Darling Ingredients Inc. maakt financiële resultaten vierde kwartaal en boekjaar 2020 bekend

IRVING, Texas, 6 maart 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Darling Ingredients Inc. (NYSE: DAR, “Darling”) — Vierde kwartaal 2020 Nettowinst van $ 44,7 miljoen, of $ 0,27 per verwaterd aandeel volgens GAAP Aangepaste nettowinst van $ 75,3 miljoen, of $ 0,45 per verwaterd aandeel, exclusief de $ 30,6 miljoen na belasting aan herstructureringskosten en kosten voor bijzondere waardevermindering […]

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Basketball billionaires form NBA blockchain use case committee

Blockchain tech may soon become an integral part of the world’s largest basketball league. 
According to a report from Sportico yesterday, a group of some of the wealthiest and most powerful National Basketball Association team owners are forming a committee to investigate blockchain use cases for the NBA.
Called the Blockchain Advisory Subcommittee, members include Mark Cuban, Joe Tsai, Ted Leonsis, Steve Pagliuca, Vivek Ranadive and Ryan Sweeney. According to Sportico, the goal of the subcommittee is to “explore ways to integrate blockchain across the league’s business.”
Two obvious possible use cases include ticketing and collectibles. Blockchain-based ticketing has made significant strides and now has an active userbase, and Mark cuban in particular has been vocal about his support for using blockchain to enable his team to reap profits from secondhand sales and scalping.
Likewise, blockchain-based collectibles have found an unusually snug product-market fit with the NBA’s highlights and stat-obsessed fans. Flow blockchain’s NBA Topshot tradable highlight project has raked in over a quarter billion in sales. Additionally, the company counts multiple NBA players as investors.
However, Cuban said in a statement to Sportico that the committee was not founded as a response to the exploding popularity of NBA Topshot, and is instead focused on broader applications of blockchain technology.
Cuban is by now a familiar name to members of the crypto community. Despite a past history of disparaging digital currencies, he’s now embraced them — especially Ethereum-native protocols and tools like NFTs. After a halfhearted NFT release, on-chain sleuths found his address and discovered the billionaire owns a number of DeFi protocol tokens.
Additionally, according to a recent Tweet his decision to accept Dogecoin for Mavericks tickets and merch appears to have been a success:

The @dallasmavs have done more than 20,000 #Dogecoin in transactions, making us the LARGEST #DOGECOIN MERCHANT IN THE WORLD ! We thank all of you and can only say that if we sell another 6,556,000,000 #DOGECOIN worth of Mavs merch, #dogecoin will DEFINITELY HIT $1 !!!
— Mark Cuban (@mcuban) March 6, 2021
Fans might also recognize Vivek Ranadive, the owner of the Sacramento Kings. After buying the team in 2013, he advanced a number of tech-centric and radical ideas, including playing 4-on-5 defense and setting up an app to let fans vote on the next play. When it comes to blockchain, he was also one of the first to accept crypto for tickets, and set up a mining facility in a Kings arena.

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Con optimismo en el mercado norteamericano, Hisense anunció oficialmente su inversión de USD 260 millones en la construcción de un parque industrial de electrodomésticos en México

El embajador Zhu dijo que desde el brote de la COVID-19, China y México trabajaron juntos en contra de la pandemia. La cooperación económica y comercial mutuamente beneficiosa entre ambos países logró un sólido crecimiento y avances notables, lo que demuestra la gran resiliencia y el alto potencial de la cooperación entre China y México. […]

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Bitcoin traders worry as BTC price remains pinned below $50K

The price of Bitcoin (BTC) has failed to break above the psychological $50,000 resistance going into the weekend and has dropped below the $48,000 level on March 6. 
BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: Tradingview
Now traders are watching whether BTC/USD can break above the $50,000 level to resume the bull cycle. Conversely, a drop below the recent lows below $46,000 will likely open the door to new lower lows, which may then pose a threat to the bull run that has been in place for almost a year, at least in the short to medium term. 
Pseudonymous trader Rekt Capital pointed out similar price levels to watch. If BTC fails to hold the current levels above $46,000, the trader expects Bitcoin to bottom somewhere in the area between $38,000 and $45,000 despite Bitcoin posting higher lows in recent days. 
“BTC higher lows hold until they don’t,” he wrote. “Each subsequent reaction from the January HL was lesser and lesser. Could be the same now. Better to be safe than sorry by preparing for a potential breakdown from this HL.”

#BTC Higher Lows holdUntil they don’tEach subsequent reaction from the January HL was lesser & lesserCould be the same nowBetter to be safe than sorry by preparing for a potential breakdown from this HLAnd should this breakdown occur – $BTC will bottom on this retrace pic.twitter.com/VUzgXbVkCX
— Rekt Capital (@rektcapital) March 6, 2021
One major factor that’s likely causing the current downward pressure on price is an uptick in whales’ activity. Data from CryptoQuant shows an increase in large transactions to exchanges on March 6, though miners’ activity remains relatively low. 
As shown in the chart below, previous upticks in whales moving funds to exchange coincided with drops in Bitcoin price on March 3-4.  
Whales (blue) vs. Miners (orange) vs. BTC price (red). Source: CryptoQuant
Macroeconomic headwinds for Bitcoin
As Cointelegraph reported, Bitcoin is also facing downward pressure from macroeconomic headwinds. A sharp spike in 10-year U.S. Treasury yields and a pullback in tech stocks, in particular, are weighing on cryptocurrency prices as investors flee risk-on assets.
Meanwhile, the Dollar currency index, or DXY, has broken through technical resistance, hitting the highest levels since November 2020. 
BTC (blue) vs. DXY (orange). Source: Tradingview
Cointelegraph Markets analyst Michael van de Poppe points out that Bitcoin’s downtrend remains intact after the latest attempt to break $50,000 failed. 
“This means that the trend is still down and overall weakness on the markets in the short term,” he explained. “$50,000 is so far a no-go for Bitcoin.”
However, Bitcoin, as well as gold, may see some respite soon as the DXY and Treasury yields are nearing their own technical resistance levels.  
“I believe that the yields are getting topped out relatively soon including the DXY,” explained van de Poppe. “Both are in resistance areas, which means that we should be close to a top formation on these two, but also on a bottom formation for Bitcoin and gold relatively soon.”
He added: 

March is often a bad month for markets and history repeats itself. So macro-wise, we’re still bullish on the cycle and heating up for continuation, despite the recent interest in yields.”

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Thailand's crypto market seeks clearer regulations as industry interest peaks

Thailand currently lays claim to one of the more regulated crypto trading markets in the world, with exchanges having to adhere to strict regulatory standards. For example, at the start of the year, Bitkub, the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchange, was shut down by regulators after the trading platform faced a series of lengthy service outages. 
Despite these seemingly stringent conditions, the country’s crypto market has continued to thrive. That being said, a tipping point came recently when Thailand’s Securities and Exchange Commission released a statement that it plans to enact a 1 million baht (about $33,000) minimum annual income requirement for crypto investment in the country.
The decision was met with immediate backlash from the local investor community — as it would potentially exclude low and middle-income earners from the cryptocurrency market — so much so that the regulatory body had to clarify its above-stated stance within days of making the announcement.
In this regard, the SEC noted that the previous draft document was just a means of gauging investor sentiment, with Ruenvadee Suwanmongkol, secretary-general of the Thai SEC, claiming: “I proposed the criteria that many considered too tough to prompt people to express their opinions on the matter and did not intend to say these are the exact qualifications that will be implemented.”
Providing his thoughts on the matter, Mr.Pinpraaj Chakkaphak, CEO of local cryptocurrency exchange ERX, told Cointelegraph that the original intention of the SEC was not malicious but one that sought to create a mechanism that could help protect investors from any unwarranted market risks, adding:

“We understand the good intentions of the SEC. However, many stakeholders in the digital assets market and the majority of the public disagree with the plan. From ERX’s point of view, this protection mechanism should not focus on minimum income, instead, it should come in the form of improved information disclosure by operators and investor education.”

Regulations should not impede market growth
To gain a better overview of the situation, Cointelegraph spoke with Konstantin Anissimov, executive director at CEX.IO, one of the most widely used crypto exchanges in Thailand. In his opinion, by taking a stance that potentially hampers lower-income families from gaining access to a potentially lucrative investment class, the SEC was going against the very fundamentals of a free-market economy and freedom of choice.
However, on the other hand, he did concede that if a majority of the lower-income population did not have any basic financial education and understanding of the risks of such investments, the SEC’s approach may have been the only way to protect the public’s best interests. Anissimov added:

“Multiple approaches can be taken and minimum income is just one of them. I am sure that Thai SEC will take on the feedback received from the investment community and act in the interest of its population.”

Additionally, in a statement shared with Cointelegraph, Dr. Akalarp Yimwilai, CEO of a local crypto trading platform Zipmex, pointed out that he sincerely believes that the proposed draft law comes from a place of good intent and that it serves to protect investors by minimizing unnecessary risks.
He highlighted that the Thai crypto market is still in its infancy and that regulations around the space have only come into being around three years ago. As a result, the SEC is still looking to craft a legal framework for this asset class that can protect investors from future risks. However, Yimwilai did go on to say:

“The proposed draft aims to protect but it is important to also see that in doing so, a higher wall is being proposed which limits the opportunity of access to digital assets for many in this country. The key here I believe is to work hand in hand with the SEC to ensure the sustainability and height of that wall.”

Lastly, he believes that if the current draft was to get implemented, it could potentially lead to a substantial rise in the number of scams, potentially driving investors into an unregulated market where they could run into uncharted territory. Not only that, it could also lead to a lot of much-needed capital flowing out of Thailand, resulting in the long-term detriment to the country’s development and finances.
The Thai crypto market has been booming
The Thai digital assets industry has grown significantly during recent months. According to the country’s SEC, the number of cryptocurrency trading accounts within the county has risen from 160,000 at the end of 2020 to 470,000 on Feb 1. Not only that, approximately 50% of these accounts are owned by investors younger than 30 years of age.
Furthermore, Chakkaphak pointed out that crypto trading volumes in November 2020 lay at 18.44 Billion THB, compared to 100.90 Billion in February 2021, thus showcasing a staggering increase of 447.18% within a matter of just three months. He went on to add:

“Investors wanting to invest in the traditional stock market or in digital assets should educate themselves and do in-depth research. Our priority is to enable and educate investors to learn and build knowledge about investing in digital assets, as it is a new opportunity for all investors.”

Also, according to Yimwilai, Zipmex traded $1 Billion in 2020 in Thailand, with the figure expected to grow exponentially in 2021. Not only that, the cryptocurrency exchange was also able to raise $6 million in fresh funding from U.S.-based VC from Jump Capital.
He further highlighted that the assets under the company’s management are currently valued at around $100 Million, which seems to back up the notion that the Thai masses are ready to dive head into the burgeoning crypto sector.
Do things look promising?
Though for now, the SEC seems to be backtracking on its initial outline for market entry requirements, according to the Suwanmongkol, people who are putting their hard-earned money into cryptocurrencies are mostly new investors who may not be fully aware of the risks that come with investing in high-risk, highly volatile assets. “If the SEC just stands by and does nothing, it would be totally our responsibility if investors lose on cryptocurrency”, she added.
Lastly, the SEC reportedly had a dinner talk with representatives from local digital exchanges recently, suggesting that the government agency may still be looking to consult prominent members from within the space. The final hearing, regarding the matter, will take place on March 24 before the survey finally closes on March 27.

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