By Frances Yue
Hello! Welcome back to Distributed Ledger, our weekly crypto newsletter that reaches your inbox every Thursday. I’m Frances Yue, crypto reporter at MarketWatch, and I’ll walk you through the latest in the digital asset market.
Crypto in a snap
Bitcoin /zigman2/quotes/31322028/realtime BTCUSD +2.65% lost 3.9% over the past seven days, and was trading at around $23,297 on Thursday, according to CoinDesk data. Ether /zigman2/quotes/108573964/realtime ETHUSD +1.58% declined 2.6% over the seven-day stretch to around $1,865. Meme token Dogecoin /zigman2/quotes/226077044/realtime DOGEUSD +0.98% gained 10.9% while another dog-themed token, Shiba Inu /zigman2/quotes/231473891/realtime SHIBUSD +2.18% , advanced 19.7% from seven days ago.
|Biggest Gainers||Price||%7-day return|
|Source: CoinGecko as of Aug. 18|
|Biggest Decliners||Price||%7-day return|
|Source: CoinGecko as of Aug. 18|
Crypto bulls’ comeback?
After months of muted activity in the crypto market, there have been some signs that institutional and retail interests are picking up, prompting some investors to ask if the worst is already behind. Bitcoin is up 24% from its June low, but still down 50% year to date, according to CoinDesk data.
Blackrock /zigman2/quotes/207946232/composite BLK +1.18% , the world’s largest asset manager, last week launched a spot bitcoin private trust, available to U.S. institutional investors.
“Despite the steep downturn in the digital asset market, we are still seeing substantial interest from some institutional clients in how to efficiently and cost-effectively access these assets using our technology and product capabilities,” the company said in a blog post.
Meanwhile, the lending activity in the crypto space has seen a bounce, Luke Farrell, crypto trader at GSR, said in an interview. Starting June, lending activities were almost “shut down to zero,” as the digital asset industry battled with contagion when crypto hedge fund Three Arrows and lender Celsius went into bankruptcy, according to Farrell. “Lenders across the spectrum, from DeFi pools to big lenders like Genesis really had no appetite to lend.”
“During the last two weeks, we’ve seen a pickup of that rate. They have gone up naturally because of the halt in credit but you’re seeing new money being willing to be deployed,” Farrell said. Still, the interest rates are “not that high relative to where they could be,” according to Farrell.
“To me that shows a lot of a lot of capital on the sideline wanting to deploy into yield type strategies or things that can generate a yield or income that was a little bit more market neutral bias, rather than just buying tokens,” Farrell noted.
In fact, with the Ethereum “Merge” coming up, “there’s clear institutional and whale interest and accumulation,” according to Tom Dunleavy, senior research analyst at Messari. The “Merge” is a highly-anticipated upgrade that will transition Ethereum from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, a consensus mechanism that is much more energy efficient, and will pave the way for the blockchain to be cheaper and more productive.
According to blockchain data, the number of addresses holding over 100 ether, 1000 ether and more than 10,000 ether have seen a sharp rise, Dunleavy noted.
Some traders have been borrowing ether with anticipation of a Ethereum hard fork. In late July, Ethereum miner Chandler Guo proposed to fork, or split the chain, with one that continues to be based on the proof-of-work consensus mechanism. If it happens, all ether holders will receive an equal amount of the new tokens on the forked chain.