This week, Orbit Bridge suffered an $82 million exploit, while Bitcoin (BTC) slumped upon escalating FUD following a retest of $45,000. Meanwhile, the approval window of a spot BTC ETF draws closer.
Orbit loses $82M in hack
- On Dec. 31, 2023, a crypto community figure called the public’s attention to a possible exploit of the bridge protocol native to the Orbit blockchain network, with multiple assets drained from the bridge’s contract.
- Shortly after this initial alarm, the Orbit chain team confirmed reports that the bridge had suffered an exploit. Data confirms that the protocol lost a whopping $81.5 million in several cryptocurrencies due to the hack.
- In its disclosure, the Orbit team emphasized that they were assessing the cause of the hack as well as engaging with law enforcement on the matter. Reports suggested that the mode of operation was similar to the trend observed with North Korean hackers.
CoinsPaid hacked, North Korea takes the spotlight
- A few days after the Orbit Bridge exploit, CoinsPaid, a crypto payment protocol based on Estonia, suffered its second hack in six months. The breach resulted in a loss of $7.5 million in several crypto assets, including BNB and Ethereum (ETH).
- Amid the growing incidence of hacks, a report from TRB Labs this week spotlighted North Korean hackers, responsible for multiple exploits recorded last year. The report noted that these hackers carted away $600 million in crypto from hacks last year, accounting for a third of all hacks in 2023.
Growing discussions surrounding spot BTC ETFs
- Amid the anticipation of the approval of a spot BTC ETF, industry commentators have continued to project an imminent price explosion for BTC. This week, an advisor to VanEck, one of the asset managers looking to launch the product, disagreed with this consensus.
- In an elaborate X disclosure on Dec. 31, Gabor Gurbacs argued that the crypto community is overestimating the potential impact of a spot BTC ETF on the price of Bitcoin, citing the gold example. According to him, the anticipated BTC price explosion might not materialize.
- Vetle Lunde, a senior analyst at K33 Research, shares similar sentiments. However, Lunde’s outlook leans into bearish territory, as the market watcher expects the approval of a BTC ETF to spark a sell-the-news frenzy, resulting in a Bitcoin price drop.
- Speculation of an approval of the ETF products emerged earlier this week, with several market watchers championing the narrative. Fox journalist Eleanor Terrett refuted these claims, noting that a decision would not be coming up this week.
- While optimism of an ETF approval remains high, this week, Dennis Kelleher, CEO at Better Markets, urged the U.S. SEC to reject the applications for spot BTC ETFs, arguing that the products could expose investors to market manipulation and fraud resident in the crypto scene.
- Former SEC executive and cybersecurity expert John Reed Stark echoed Kelleher’s statements in a lengthy, and scathing, post on social media.
Updates on spot BTC ETF filings
- The week also saw several updates to the multiple filings on spot Bitcoin ETFs. On Jan. 3, reports confirmed that Fidelity Investments, one of the asset management firms in the ETF race, filed a form 8-A with the SEC, looking to register its Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Fund as a publicly traded security.
- Shortly after, asset managers VanEck and Grayscale made similar form 8-A filings with the SEC for their respective BTC ETF products. These filings would allow the firms to register their products as securities to be traded on public exchanges when an approval is granted.
- In addition, Ark 21Shares and Valkyrie submitted their own form 8-A filings on the same day as Grayscale and VanEck. The growing list of form 8-A filings further compounded optimism of an imminent approval of the product.
- Interestingly, to show support to the Bitcoin community, VanEck announced this week plans to donate 5% of proceeds from its Bitcoin ETF to support Bitcoin core developers, particularly Bitcoin Brink, a non-profit dedicated to Bitcoin protocol development.
Bitcoin slumps following retest
- Meanwhile, as these ETF discussions and updates lingered, the market sustained the optimism surrounding Bitcoin, leading to a gradual but steady price uptick. BTC eventually rallied to a high of $45,879 on Jan. 2, retesting $45,000 for the first time since April 2022.
- However, this rally was short-lived, as the ETF discussions turned sour. Matrixport, a crypto service provider, first asserted that Bitcoin could hit $50,000 in January, solidifying the bullish outlook on the crypto premier crypto asset.
- Nonetheless, following this report, Matrixport argued in a Jan. 3 paper that the SEC would reject all the BTC ETF applications in January, with an eventual approval in Q2 2024. The Matrixport team noted that they expect BTC to drop to $36,000 – $38,000 as a result of this.
- Bitcoin collapsed on Jan. 3, dropping to a low of $40,750 before staging a comeback. The asset eventually closed Jan. 3 with a 4.68% decline, dragging down the entire crypto market with it. This led to the liquidation of nearly $700 million in the perpetual market.
- BTC recovered from this slump, currently trading for $44,349, up 5.2% this week. Amid the recovery campaign, BitMEX founder and former CEO Arthur Hayes released a report suggesting that BTC could witness a healthy correction due to certain upcoming macro events.
- BitMEX is also part of the team responsible for launching a physical Bitcoin, valued at approximately $45,000, into space aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Vulcan rocket. Liftoff is scheduled for Jan. 8, with an anticipated arrival date of Feb. 23 on the Moon.
- Meanwhile, an unknown Bitcoin whale transferred $1.19 million worth of BTC to Bitcoin founder Satoshi Nakamoto’s wallet, commonly referred to as the Genesis Wallet. The development sparked speculation among crypto proponents.
Nigeria pushes for cNGN, SEC insists BUSD is a security
- This week, a few events surrounding crypto regulations and enforcement surfaced. The apex bank of Nigeria, the most populous black nation, released a report this week providing rules for banks in the country regarding the operation of crypto accounts.
- The report came shortly after the country removed its blanket ban on cryptocurrency transactions. This week, the central bank also granted approval to the proposed cNGN project, with a launch scheduled for next month.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., the SEC has continued to push its enforcement actions. Recall that a judge agrees with its argument in the Terraform Labs case that Terra ecosystem tokens are securities. The agency has cited this ruling to argue that BUSD is also a security in the Binance case.