Current State of The Crypto Market (October 7th, 2019)

Hackers:  The hacker who stole 17 Ethereum domain names during the Ethereum Name Service’s auction decided to return them all.  On Oct. 4, digital-collectibles marketplace OpenSea said that all of the stolen ENS names were returned successfully and that bidding on domain names will restart again in the coming weeks.   In the beginning of September, the ENS bidding process was exploited by a hacker who managed to steal 17 domain names for lower bids than other users placed. OpenSea, who ran the auction, explained that a bug distributed ENS domains to participants who did not hold the highest bid.  The stolen domain names, which included apple.eth, defi.eth, wallet.eth, and pay.eth were all blacklisted and the hacker was promised an attractive offer for returning the domain names.

Key Players:  An initiative led by crypto exchanges to categorize digital assets has drawn mixed reactions from leading legal experts and industry players.  Coinbase, Kraken, Bittrex and a number of other exchanges announced Monday that they were forming the Crypto Rating Council (CRC) to clarify whether cryptocurrencies are securities. The CRC uses a 1-5 rating scale, with 1 being a clear non-security (bitcoin, litecoin, dai), and 5 being clear securities (none of which were disclosed publicly) – at least in the eyes of the consortium.  A number of assets fell somewhere between 1 and 5, including XRP, maker, EOS, augur and ethereum.  Reactions to the plan have ranged from welcoming to derisive. While some have expressed optimism about the CRC as a concept, others have criticized how the rollout has been handled and whether the body will really serve to sway the minds of regulators.  “I think this is a great idea,” said Gary Goldsholle, a partner at law firm Steptoe and Johnson, who previously served as the Deputy Director of the Division of Trading and Markets at the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). He told CoinDesk that the council’s framework could benefit smaller issuers and platforms that don’t have sufficient resources to conduct the scale of analysis that the SEC requires.

Banks & Institutions:  To some, Malta-native Paula Pandolfino may seem like a walking contradiction: bitcoiner and banker.  After personally investing in bitcoin in 2016, she’s now co-founder of the upcoming Founders Bank in Malta, scheduled to open in 2020.  “Crypto will take over the world, and we need full banking services,” Paula said in a statement. “We want to be that pillar of banking for the ecosystem to support how it gets done. If anything, we’re learning how to wean off traditional banking and getting crypto to be that platform.”  Pandolfino said the bank raised $10 million so far and is looking to raise $30 million more in the near future. The bank’s leading investors include the crypto exchange Binance, the hedge fund Polychain Capital and the Czech firm Carduus Asset Management.  Polychain president Joe Eagan told sources the investment was inspired by personal experience since his fund struggled to find banking partners in 2016. Today more institutions – from Silvergate Bank in California to Metropolitan Bank in New York to WEG Bank AG in Germany – serve the crypto industry. But Eagan said there’s still a dearth of providers open to crypto projects.

Adoption: Bitcoin has scored a below average level of adoption in the annual 2019 Global NGO Technology Report.  The Global NGO Technology report evaluates the use of technology by non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide, exploring how NGOs utilize various technologies to communicate, raise funds, and process information.  According to the report, most NGOs have seen significantly more transactions processed through conventional means of payments such as credit cards and mobile money across most regions.  In key areas like fundraising, NGOs globally on average have seen less than 2% of payments come from bitcoin, falling below expectations.  The usage of bitcoin and cryptocurrency in general by NGOs has been expected due to the overall increase in the daily transaction volume and value of bitcoin.  Based on data from Blockchain.com, a major bitcoin wallet service and blockchain analytics provider, the value the Bitcoin blockchain network processes on a daily basis hovers in the range of $600 million to $3 billion.