Bitcoin Breaks $50K mark; Are We Out of the Bear đŸ» ❄?

In this report, 21Shares walk you through Bitcoin’s journey toward the $50K mark, Ethereum’s upgrade updates, and how a new experimental token standard has led to a surge in on-chain activity. Last but not least, we’ll give you the key takeaways from Solana’s post-mortem report explaining the cause of its five-hour outage.

Bitcoin Breaks the $50K Mark

Last week Bitcoin saw accumulation levels reminiscent of crypto’s bull run in 2021. However, this time around, the accumulation comes with higher accountability and much less noise, thanks to the abscence of bad actors, such as FTX’s former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, along with growing institutional appetite. Bitcoin miners have also become reserved sellers, cutting their daily sales by about 62.5% from November and December, according to CryptoQuant, despite the drop in fees. This could mean that Bitcoin miners are positioning themselves ahead of the Bitcoin halving scheduled in 62 days.

As shown in Figure 1, selling pressure on GBTC has diminished over the past week, leading spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds to step up as the world’s biggest BTC holder with $34.6 billion in assets under management. However, Bitcoin’s path forward is not without challenges. As covered previously, bankrupt FTX and Genesis are anticipated to liquidate their recovered assets to compensate their customers. Aside from the GBTC it sold in January, FTX has $7B in assets ($560M in BTC, as of December 2023) while Genesis is waiting for the court to greenlight its $1.6B in GBTC to liquidate. We may see some selling pressure, potentially impacting medium-term price movements, unless the accumulation of BTC continues.

Figure 1: Spot Bitcoin ETF Flows (YTD)

Source: Bloomberg

Ethereum Nears Final Stage of Dencun Upgrade as New Token Standard Sparks On-Chain Activity Surge

After the third successful rehearsal on testnet on February 7, Ethereum is set to implement the Dencun upgrade on Mainnet on March 17. This upgrade aims to significantly reduce settlement costs for scaling solutions like Arbitrum and Optimism by introducing a new data container, ”Blobs,” which stores data more efficiently while simplifying transaction verification. Anticipated to cut costs for Layer 2 solutions by around 90%, this milestone aligns with Ethereum’s long-term roadmap to enhance transaction throughput and lower gas expenses for users.

That said, the upgrade wasn’t the only source of enthusiasm for Ethereum as a new token standard has surfaced. Dubbed ERC404, the experimental standard integrates attributes from ERC-20 (fungible), like transferability and divisibility for its fractionalized tokens, and ERC-721 (non-fungible) standard for its unique identifier feature to track the underlying NFT. ERC404 has the potential for native fractionalizing of digital assets like collectibles and tokenized real-world assets such as funds and real estate without needing third-party solutions.

However, its use of a minting and burning mechanism has drawn criticism. Buying the tokens involves minting the NFT, while selling them involves selling the NFT to fractionalize the asset’s ownership into smaller transferable units. This process can incur significant costs, unlike a traditional token swap, due to Ethereum’s high fees. This is clear from the rising fees, which have more than doubled on the network in the past two weeks, as depicted in Figure 2 below. Finally, considering ERC404 stands as an unofficial token standard advocated by independent initiatives, lacking endorsement from the foundation—though this could potentially shift in the future—it has not been subjected to comprehensive auditing, thus posing potential vulnerabilities for projects built upon it. Nevertheless, the new trend shows the willingness to continue pushing innovation on top of the largest smart-contract platform, Ethereum, while increasing its revenue.

Figure 2: Ethereum Transaction Fees

Source: The Block

Solana’s Post Mortem

On February 6, Solana experienced a block production halt lasting approximately five hours due to an identified issue termed an ”infinite recompile loop.” The Solana Foundation has since published a post-mortem outlining what went wrong. This bug, previously encountered in a testnet environment nearly 18 months ago, impacted 95% of validators and halted the finalization of transactions. In essence, The glitch was related to how the blockchain remembers and uses certain pieces of code, causing it to get stuck in a loop and stop processing transactions. Solana developers worked quickly to fix the problem by updating the system and restarting it from a safe point.

They solved the immediate issue by making sure the glitch couldn’t happen again, with plans to make more improvements later. Finally, while Solana experienced outages in the past, its historical price performance indicates that its investors are becoming increasingly immune to such technical issues over time, as shown below in Figure 3. The network’s AuM also surged to an 18-month high, increasing by 11% week-over-week since the incident to reach $1.86B, exemplifying the users’ unfazed confidence in the network.

Figure 3: Solana’s historical performance following five of its previous outages

Source: Blockworks

This Week’s Calendar

Source: 21Shares, Forex Factory

Research Newsletter

Each week the 21Shares Research team will publish our data-driven insights into the crypto asset world through this newsletter. Please direct any comments, questions, and words of feedback to research@21shares.com

Disclaimer

The information provided does not constitute a prospectus or other offering material and does not contain or constitute an offer to sell or a solicitation of any offer to buy securities in any jurisdiction. Some of the information published herein may contain forward-looking statements. Readers are cautioned that any such forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance and involve risks and uncertainties and that actual results may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. The information contained herein may not be considered as economic, legal, tax or other advice and users are cautioned to base investment decisions or other decisions solely on the content hereof.

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