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SPIRIT Blockchain – Weekly Wrap-up 7/1/2022

Here’s what happened in blockchain and crypto this week.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected yet another application for a bitcoin spot-based exchange-traded fund (ETF) on Wednesday. The agency denied Grayscale’s bid to convert its Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC) into a spot ETF. The move did not come as a surprise given that the SEC rejected over a dozen spot bitcoin ETF applications in the past while it approved several bitcoin futures-based ETFs. However, Grayscale subsequently announced that it would file a lawsuit against the watchdog.

Grayscale manages about $12 billion in assets through its GBTC vehicle which holds roughly 3.3% of all bitcoin in circulation. The trust, which is supposed to track the price of bitcoin, is currently trading at a 30% discount to its net asset value (NAV). The existing discount was one of Grayscale’s primary arguments for why the transition needed to take place. 
 
Last month, the company held a private meeting with the SEC, in which it argued that converting its Bitcoin Trust to an ETF could potentially unlock $8 billion for investors by eliminating the discrepancy. In a statement following the regulator’s rejection, Grayscale’s CEO Michael Sonnenshein said: “Through the ETF application review process, we believe American investors overwhelmingly voiced a desire to see GBTC convert to a spot Bitcoin ETF, which would unlock billions of dollars of investor capital while bringing the world’s largest Bitcoin fund further into the U.S. regulatory perimeter”. 
 
The SEC’s rejections of spot bitcoin ETFs have typically focused on applicants’ lack of surveillance-sharing agreements with regulated markets relating to the spot funds’ underlying assets. Grayscale’s bid to convert GBTC into a spot ETF was also rejected based on the SEC’s conclusion that the company hadn’t shown sufficient planning to prevent fraud and manipulation. 
 
Bitcoin spot ETFs are already available to investors in several countries around the world, including Australia, Brazil, Canada and Dubai. This week, Reuters reported that Jacobi Asset Management is set to launch Europe’s first bitcoin ETF on the Euronext exchange. 
 
Market Overview

The global cryptoasset market capitalization currently amounts to $903 billion –  down from $989 billion since Friday last week, with bitcoin accounting for 40.9%. Among the Top 30 cryptoassets by market cap, OKX’s utility token OKB outperformed, gaining 5.4% over the week. During the same period, the price of bitcoin (BTC) fell by 8.3% to $19,354 while the price of ether (ETH) dropped by 7.4% to $1,060. The total value locked (TVL) in DeFi sits at $71.5 billion – down from $76 billion last week – with Ethereum accounting for about 64% of TVL.

This Week’s Headlines

  • EU reaches agreement on final landmark crypto regulation; excludes unhosted wallets
  • Goldman Sachs said to be raising investor funds to buy Celsius assets,  CoinDesk reports
  • BlockFi CEO denies FTX is set to acquire the crypto lender for $25 million
  • Toronto-based crypto lender Ledn puts in rival bid to acquire BlockFi, Bloomberg reports
  • Deribit initiates Three Arrows Capital’s liquidation application in BVI court
  • FTX walks away from a deal with Celsius after seeing state of its finances
  • CoinFLEX says Roger Ver defaulted on $47 million loan, withdrawals remain halted
  • El Salvador purchases 80 additional BTC at $19,000, president Bukele tweets
  • MicroStrategy buys an additional $10 million worth of bitcoin
  • Compass Mining CEO and CFO resign, firm denies allegations of unpaid power bills
  • Bitcoin miner Greenidge’s permit renewal denied by New York regulator
  • OpenSea warns users of email phishing attempts after data breach
  • Facebook launches NFT feature for select group of US creators

 

Notable Deals and Fundraising

 

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Manuel Trojovsky, Advisor Investment & Research