Happy Monday. With the US on a Presidents Day holiday, bitcoin was recently trading at $24,226 and ether at $1,689, both in the red near 2% and 1.5% respectively over the past 24 hours as Asia begins the work week.
Over the past week, bitcoin has gained over 11% while ether has gained 9%. Layer 1s like Solana, Polkadot, and Polygon also saw double-digit gains, up 20%, 19%, and 18.5% respectively.
DOGE is up 5% on the week and SHIB is up 4%, having seen their gains from an Elon Musk tweet last week tested by the market. Floki, named after Musk’s dog, is down 7% on the day but still up 108% on the week.
Joe DiPasquale, CEO of crypto fund manager BitBull Capital, said $23,000 is Bitcoin’s new support level and next week is critical if Bitcoin is to hit $30,000.
“It was critical for Bitcoin to recoup $23,000 if we were to see more upside action,” he told CoinDesk in a note. “With February ending, another bullish monthly close might be what the market needs for Bitcoin to test $30,000.”
DiPasquale thinks we will see the market consolidate if not rise, with limited decline in the near term.
Let’s see if the crypto’s upward rally can hold.
No, Hong Kong will not allow retail merchants to access crypto on June 1
Hong Kong is gearing up for crypto and a licensing regime for Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs) – the local term for crypto exchanges – begins on June 1.
Does this mean crypto will be “fully legal” in the city for everyone, as one tweet suggests? No way.
Although the situation may change later, for now the VASP framework for license exchanges, which has just completed a multi-year consultation, allows them to provide access only to accredited professional investors. Retail investors are excluded.
The Hong Kong government has indicated that the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), its securities regulator, may consider retail access to virtual asset services in the future, after further consultations.
In January, Reuters reported that the SFC was considering what cryptocurrencies to offer retail investors if the door was finally opened to them. CEO Julia Leung reportedly said only “highly liquid” assets would make the list and the choices would be very limited at first.
City officials see June 1 as an opportunity, saying “the Hong Kong brand” is much more beloved around the world than, say, Seychelles or St. Kitts and Nevis. The regulator is increasing its staff to deal with a wave of early license applications.
“We are able to bring together investments globally,” Christopher Hui, Secretary of Financial Services and Treasury (FSTB), said in a previous interview with CoinDesk. “We can manage and also channel these investments in a well-regulated and also sustainable way.”
Hong Kong’s credibility comes from its “rule of law, regulation, business modus operandi,” Hui said, and that translates well from traditional finance to crypto.
Others in Hong Kong, however, see things differently.
“For platforms operated outside of Hong Kong, we see little incentive to integrate into Hong Kong, establish an office here, meet the strict licensing requirements, as the local market is small” , Leo Weese, co-founder of the Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong, wrote in a 2021 article. “Local institutional investors will be able to interact with foreign platforms through their foreign subsidiaries.”
Still, he’s optimistic that the new regulations “can reintroduce clarity and stability after years of uncertainty,” Weese said in an interview. “It is important that individuals have the easy access to bitcoin that they have grown accustomed to over the past 12 years.”
These people, the retail investors, are sure to be excited about the possibility of using a local Hong Kong entity to trade. After all, there is no capital gains tax in Hong Kong, and Japan shows what happens when retail investors can trade in a regulated environment. After FTX, Japanese traders seem to live in a parallel world, where their tokens were stored at a custodian and the funds were returned.
But that’s not quite the turn of retail investors in Hong Kong yet. It’s still a work in progress.
On Thursday, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) sued Terraform Labs, the company behind the failed stablecoin TerraUSD, and its co-founder Do Kwon. Coinbase Chief Policy Officer Faryar Shirzad and former CFTC Chairman Timothy Massad weighed in as the SEC alleges that Terraform and Kwon misled investors on a number of issues. Additionally, Arca’s head of research, Katie Talati, reacted to bitcoin’s (BTC) fall after hitting its highest level since August.