First Mover Americas: Bitcoin Passes $24K for First Time in August; Ethereum’s Buterin Shrugs Off Fork Talk

·6 min read
  • Price Point: Both bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) started Monday with 5% gains. However, exchange trading volume data shows levels are not matching the rally, signaling a lack of any real institution-driven volumes.

  • Market Moves: Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin played down the impact of any hard forks by third parties after the network’s Merge event in September. Speaking at the developer event ETHSeoul over the weekend, Buterin said “I don't expect Ethereum to really be significantly harmed by another fork.”

  • Chart of The Day: Ether-bitcoin implied volatility spread at its highest since June 2021.

This article originally appeared in First Mover, CoinDesk’s daily newsletter putting the latest moves in crypto markets in context. Subscribe to get it in your inbox every day.

Price point

Bitcoin (BTC) and ether (ETH) had a positive weekend of trading, with BTC breaking the $24,000 mark on Monday, up 5% on the day. Ether followed suit, trading up 5.7% over the last 24 hours, at $1,774.

The last time BTC reached above the $24,000 mark was on July 31. (TradingView)
The last time BTC reached above the $24,000 mark was on July 31. (TradingView)

The uptick in price over the last 24 hours for the world’s largest cryptocurrency by market value was not accompanied by strong volume, as has often been the case in previous rallies.

Data from data.bitcoinity.org shows that the last time BTC climbed above $24,000, volume levels were around 570 million; today, they are at 310 million.

Bitcoin price and volume (data.bitcoinity.org)
Bitcoin price and volume (data.bitcoinity.org)

“This means BTC’s price movement can be attributed mostly to the market participants or market makers who are setting most of the trading channel based on liquidation wash outs,” said Laurent Kssis, head of Europe at Hashdex.

In the short term the $22,000-$23,000 price level will be key to watch, according to Kssis. “A break above that level could see BTC moving higher though it could run out of breath and slip back.”

Altcoins also showed strength overnight, with Avalanche’s AVAX taking the lead, up 14%. Graph (GRT), token of an indexing protocol for networks like Ethereum, was up 20% overnight and now has a market cap of over $1 billion.

In the news, cryptocurrency-focused financial services firm Galaxy Digital (GLXY.TO) reported a second-quarter net loss of $554.7 million, more than triple the amount it reported for the same period last year.

On Friday, crypto-lender Voyager Digital said it plans to "restore access" to cash deposits on Aug. 11, the company's first step in returning up to $270 million in fiat currency to its customers.

Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin spoke to reporters during an exclusive event at ETHSeoul over the weekend. He played down the impact of any hard forks on Ethereum after the network’s Merge and said, “I don't expect Ethereum to really be significantly harmed by another fork.” (More on this in Market Moves below).

Finally, WazirX founder Nischal Shetty told CoinDesk that Binance has restarted off-chain transfers. The world's largest crypto exchange by volume had removed off-chain transfers to WazirX following a disagreement on social media between Shetty and Binance founder Changpeng Zhao regarding the ownership of the platform.

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Market Moves

Vitalik Buterin Plays Down Impact of Ethereum Forks After Merge

By Shaurya Malwa

SEOUL, South Korea — Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin played down the impact of any hard forks on Ethereum after the network’s Merge event in September.

Speaking at the developer event ETHSeoul over the weekend, Buterin said, “I don't expect Ethereum to really be significantly harmed by another fork.”

The blockchain plans to switch to a proof-of-stake (PoS) mechanism, through an event known as The Merge, next month in a move developers say will make it cheaper, faster and environmentally friendly.

However, the change from a proof-of-work (PoW) system will end an income stream for Ethereum miners, who are rewarded with ether tokens for their efforts. Miners produced over $620 million worth of ether in July alone, data show. Tron founder Justin Sun has emerged as one of the most prominent investors supporting a hard fork to keep the money flowing.

Buterin said supporters of the PoW consensus design shifted to Ethereum Classic when that network started in 2016 because it was known at the time that Ethereum would eventually shift to proof-of-stake while Ethereum Classic would not.

“I think Ethereum Classic already has a superior community and a superior product for people kind of with those pro-proof-of-work values and preferences,” he said. “Pretty much everyone” in the Ethereum ecosystem is supportive of the move to proof-of-stake validation and “quite united."

Prominent Chinese miners like Chandler Guo have proposed a hard fork so even as Ethereum undergoes The Merge and becomes validated by stakers, miners could continue to support a newly separated PoW version of the chain. Sun committed a part of his million ether holdings towards the development of the so-called EthereumPoW network.

Sun’s Poloniex exchange has already listed ETHW futures, a product that allows traders to bet on prices of the token issued to ether holders after the EthereumPoW network comes into existence. Futures exchange BitMex on Monday also listed ETHW futures, nearly a week after it published a report on how traders could take advantage of the market reaction after the issuance of the tokens.

“A couple of outsiders basically have exchanges and mostly just want to make a quick buck," Buterin said about those proposing changes. "So I'm not expecting [a fork] to have substantial, long-term adoption.”

"I hope that whatever happens, doesn't lead to people losing money," he said.


Chart of the Day: Ether-Bitcoin Implied Volatility Spread at Highest Since June 2021

By Omkar Godbole

(Skew)
(Skew)
  • The spread between the annualized three-month implied volatilities for ether and bitcoin has jumped to 31%, the highest percentage since June 2021.

  • The data indicates the market focus is on the supposedly bullish Ethereum Merge, likely to happen in September. That explains the crypto market's resilience to Friday's blowout U.S. jobs report.

  • The market is enthusiastically pricing more significant price turbulence in ether in the coming months. Implied volatility refers to investors' expectations for price volatility over a specific period.

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