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Holiday price action: Signs of the next crypto bull run?

A closer look at the similarities between today’s thriving crypto market and the 2020–2021 bull run.

As 2023 drew to a close and with the start of 2024, the crypto market is once again experiencing a resurgence, one that is reminiscent of the bull run witnessed back in December 2020. 

The ongoing revival has brought with it a renewed sense of optimism and potential, with investors hoping for a major turnaround.

To this point, since the start of 2023, the market capitalization of the digital asset sector has boomed from $831 billion to over $1.8 trillion, thereby showcasing a growth of nearly 100%.

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Cathie Wood’s ARK dumps 800K Grayscale Bitcoin Trust shares

The Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, one of ARK’s top three holdings, could lose its third-place ranking as ARK sheds its shares while increasing its holdings of Jack Dorsey’s Block.

ARK Invest, one of the applicants for a spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the United States, has continued to dump its holdings of Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) stock with the sale of yet another significant batch of shares.

On Dec. 18, ARK sold 809,441 GBTC from its ARK Next Generation Internet ETF (ARKW), according to a trade notification seen by Cointelegraph. Based on the closing share price of $34.5, the sale is worth $27.9 million, according to data from TradingView.

This latest divestment further reduces ARK’s exposure to the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust, with GBTC inching closer to dropping out of the list of ARKW’s top three holdings.

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Blockchain adoption ‘accelerating very quickly’ in big finance — Franklin Templeton exec

Franklin Templeton executive Sandy Kaul said in a report that a pathway to reengineering the global financial markets can be seen for the first time.

Major financial firms like JPMorgan and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) have ramped up their blockchain-related activities heading into 2024, accelerating the adoption of distributed ledger technology (DLT) within traditional finance. 

On Nov. 3, JPMorgan executed its first decentralized finance (DeFi) trade on a public blockchain. The company rolled out programmable payments for its institutional blockchain platform, JPM Coin, on Nov. 10. Executives from JPMorgan and Apollo also unveiled plans for a tokenized enterprise mainnet on Nov. 28. 

Apart from JPMorgan, HSBC has also been on the move. On Nov. 1, HSBC and financial services provider Ant Group tested tokenized deposits under a sandbox arranged by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority. Meanwhile, HSBC partnered with Metaco, a Ripple-owned tech firm, on Nov. 8 to hold tokenized securities on its new custody platform. 

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BlackRock, ARK revise Bitcoin ETF plans along SEC’s cash-only model

BlackRock, Cathie Wood’s ARK and WisdomTree are the latest spot Bitcoin ETF applicants to revise their filings with the U.S. SEC.

Major applicants for a spot Bitcoin (BTC) exchange-traded fund (ETF) in the United States are amending their filings to comply with the cash redemption model demanded by securities regulators. 

Investment manager BlackRock and Cathie Wood’s ARK Invest have updated their S-1 registration statements for a spot Bitcoin ETF with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Filed on Dec. 18, the S-1 amendments relate to the cash creation and redemption model for proposed spot Bitcoin ETFs, with BlackRock and ARK accepting the cash redemption system rather than in-kind redemptions, which imply non-monetary payments like BTC.

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OpenAI launches ‘Preparedness team’ for AI safety, gives board final say

OpenAI said its new “Preparedness Framework” aims to help protect against “catastrophic risks” when developing high-level AI systems.

The artificial intelligence (AI) developer OpenAI has announced it will implement its “Preparedness Framework,” which includes creating a special team to evaluate and predict risks. 

On Dec. 18, the company released a blog post saying that its new “Preparedness team” will be the bridge that connects safety and policy teams working across OpenAI.

It said these teams providing almost a checks-and-balances-type system will help protect against “catastrophic risks” that could be posed by increasingly powerful models. OpenAI said it would only deploy its technology if it’s deemed safe.

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BTC price bounces 5% as investor says Bitcoin ETF ‘99.9% done deal’

New updates to BlackRock's Bitcoin spot ETF filing come as BTC price strength narrowly retains $40,000 as support.

Bitcoin (BTC) returned above $43,000 into Dec. 19 amid fresh news over the United States’ would-be first spot price exchange-traded fund (ETF).

Data from Cointelegraph Markets Pro and TradingView showed a BTC price recovery taking the market to local highs of $43,456 after the daily close.

After starting the week on an uncertain footing, BTC/USD swiftly gathered strength, with the Dec. 18 candle closing over 5% above the day’s low.

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Why a gold rush for inscriptions has broken half a dozen blockchains

Some suggest EVM inscriptions are the latest way for retail to access low-cap coins, while others argue it’s an over-hyped fad. Whatever it is, it’s clogging up the blockchain.

The latest degen “gold rush" to inscribe everything from profile pictures to memecoins has led to at least half a dozen blockchain networks cracking under pressure over the past week.

The last few days have seen Arbirtrum, Avalanche, Cronos, zkSync, and TON all suffering partial or full outages recently due to inscriptions, with modular data availability network Celestia the latest to succumb, according to industry researchers who posted a screenshot of its block explorer on Dec. 18.

Videos have also been posted of mass minting on the Celestia network.

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‘Concerning precedent’ — bloXroute Labs’ MEV relays to reject OFAC blocks

A decision by bloXroute Labs to start censoring OFAC-sanctioned blocks has been seen as a loss for Ethereum censorship resistance.

One of the largest producers of censorship-resistant blocks on Ethereum has made a complete u-turn, announcing it will start censoring OFAC-sanctioned blocks across all of its MEV relays in compliance with local laws.

The firm, bloXroute Labs — which has produced at least 400,000 Ethereum blocks from its two leading Maximal Extraction Value (MEV) relays — made the announcement of its policy change on Dec. 18 in a post on X (formerly Twitter), noting: 

An "OFAC transaction," as described by bloXroute Labs, is any that interacts with a wallet that has been sanctioned by the United States Office of Foreign Asset Control, or OFAC. 

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SEC delays several Ethereum ETFs, pushing final decision to May

The SEC has pushed back its decision on a roster of Ethereum ETFs, with the final date for a potential approval arriving in late May.

The United States Securities and Exchange Commission is pushing back its decision on several Ether (ETH) exchange-traded funds (ETFs) to May 2024.

In several Dec. 18 regulatory filings, the agency delayed its decision on the Hashdex Nasdaq Ethereum ETF and the Grayscale Ethereum Futures ETF.

The Hashdex Ether ETF aims to hold both spot Ether and futures contracts, while Grayscale’s Ethereum Futures ETF is seen as a “trojan horse” that would corner the SEC into allowing Grayscale to convert its Ethereum Trust to a spot Ethereum ETF.

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Zcash founder Zooko Wilcox steps down from Electric Coin, naming new CEO

The new CEO, Josh Swihart, has been the vice president at Electric Coin for nearly five years but recently took a four month stint away from the firm.

Zooko Wilcox is stepping down as the CEO of Electric Coin Company, the team behind privacy-focused cryptocurrency Zcash (ZEC).

ECC announced a change in leadership on Monday, with Josh Swihart promoted to replace Wilcox.

Swihart previously worked at ECC as one of the firm’s vice presidents of growth from October 2018 to August 2023 but took four months off working as a part-time investor at investment services firm Denver Angels in Colorado, according to LinkedIn.

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