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  • 🔥 Crypto volume hits $1 TRILLION first time since 2022

🔥 Crypto volume hits $1 TRILLION first time since 2022

In other news, early Mickey Mouse version becomes top trending NFT

GM and Happy New Year, frens! We’re thrilled to share the first of many Ambire weekly newsletters for 2024.

Looks like we’re starting the year strong with some interesting developments:

  • 🔥 Crypto volume hit 1 trillion USD for the first time since 2022

  • 🔥 BTC ETF could become the rug pull of the decade

  • 🔥 Steamboat Willie - an early Mickey Mouse version, becomes a top trending NFT

  • 🔥 South Korea tightens restrictions on credit cards for crypto purchases

  • 🔥 Crypto takes over Formula 1

Let’s get down to it then!

Crypto exchange volume hits $1T for first time since 2022

The monthly trading volume for crypto exchanges surpassed $1 trillion in December 2023, marking a significant milestone for the industry.

This threshold had not been reached in over a year, the last time being in September 2022 when trading volume totaled $1.03 trillion.

This pump in trading activity can be attributed to the increased optimism surrounding the potential approval of spot ETFs. Many in the industry believe that the approval will be followed by a new bull market, with trading volumes increasing even further.

According to data on The Block's Data Dashboard, Binance led the way among rival exchanges in December with 39.3% of the month's overall volume, followed by Upbit and OKX with 8.3% and 8% respectively.

So, how did this pump in trading volume impact the crypto market as a whole?

More volume means more liquidity, leading to a more stable market. It also indicates growing interest from the investors, as the ETF approval seems to be on the horizon.

This increased trading activity also suggests that more investors are considering diversifying their portfolios with cryptocurrencies.

Could this also be a potential "shift" in the crypto market? Would individual investors be completely replaced by more institutional investors?

This is a growing concern among some crypto enthusiasts, as they fear that the market may lose its decentralized nature. It's a case of choosing between…

…Stability vs. Decentralization?

On the one hand, having more institutional investors would bring way more capital - and pump your bags because prices are unlikely to change much without an additional influx of capital.

On the other hand, more institutional investors could lead to a decrease in decentralization, which is one of the core values of crypto.

It's up to us, as the crypto community, to balance these two factors. Encouraging institutional investors while maintaining decentralization is a challenge we should be prepared to solve.

👉 One potential solution to this issue is promoting the healthy growth of decentralized exchanges (DEXes). DEXes offer a platform for increased trading activity while maintaining the market's decentralized nature.

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How BTC ETF could become the rug pull of the decade

BTC and most big crypto assets saw a price decline on Wednesday, following speculation that the U.S. SEC may reject all BTC ETF proposals this month.

The news has sent shockwaves throughout the market, liquidating some $500 million in positions across all major exchanges, the largest amount since December 11.

Fox Business recently reported that BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager and one of the contenders for a Bitcoin ETF, is still waiting to receive communication from the SEC. This suggested that substantial work must be done before any decisions are made.

BlackRock's silence has raised concerns about potential delays due to the New Year holidays and time off for U.S. SEC officials, with the deadline set for January 10.

The decision on Bitcoin ETF approvals is highly anticipated as it could have far-reaching implications. Over ten applications have been submitted, including those from industry giants like Fidelity and Invesco.

So, the SEC's decision will impact individual investors and set a precedent for future crypto-related financial products. But how about the…

…implications of the approval 😬

The approval of a Bitcoin ETF by the SEC would be a significant step towards wider adoption of Bitcoin and other crypto tokens in mainstream financial markets.

This move could also open up opportunities for institutional investors to enter the market, potentially driving further growth.

Despite high expectations for approvals, Bloomberg’s analysts believe that there is still a 10% chance of rejection. This possibility is mainly due to the SEC needing more time to review all the changes made to the S-1s (registration statements) filed by ETF issuers.

What if the SEC doesn’t deliver a decision on time

So, what could happen if SEC (on purpose or not) fails to deliver the decision by the deadline?

The market may see a considerable price drop in BTC, possibly leading to heavy losses for investors who have taken positions based on expectations of approval.

The crypto community saw plenty of death spiral events, where a sudden decline in market price leads to further selling, causing prices to plummet even further.

This fear of a potential "rug pull" has been echoed by many, with some urging caution and diversification of portfolios. But whether or not the SEC approves a Bitcoin ETF, one thing is certain:

The growing interest and attention towards crypto assets from mainstream financial institutions will continue to shape the future of this industry.

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Early Mickey Mouse version becomes top trending NFT after copyright expires

An earlier version of Walt Disney Company's iconic mascot, Mickey Mouse, has taken the NFT market by storm. On January 1, 2024, a version of Mickey featured in the 1928 short film "Steamboat Willie" entered the public domain after its copyright expired.

Steamboat Willie was the first animated film to feature Mickey Mouse, and after 95 years, it is back in the public domain because of U.S. copyright law.

This event has caused quite a stir in the NFT community, with three NFT collections related to the old mascot taking the top three spots on OpenSea's 24-hour trending list.

The "Steamboat Willie Public Domain 2024" collection claimed the number one spot after generating around $1.2 million in trading volume. Two other collections, "Steamboat Willie" and "Ss Riverboat," took the second and third highest rankings, respectively.

Furthermore, the Steamboat Willie Public Domain 2024 collection reached the number six spot on OpenSea's top charts for the preceding 24 hours. It surpassed popular collections like Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC) and Pudgy Penguins. And on the same list, the Steamboat Willie collection also ranked eighth.

Is Mickey Mouse now a free-for-all?

Despite the buzz around the earlier Mickey Mouse's copyright expiration, Disney has reassured fans that their modern versions of the iconic character are still covered by copyright. In a statement to CNN, a Disney spokesperson stated that they will continue to protect their rights.

💁‍♀️This means that other NFT collections featuring modern versions of Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters will still be subject to copyright protection.

So why the sudden interest in Steamboat Willie? The main reason could be its historical significance. As the first cartoon with synchronized sound and music, it marked a significant milestone in animation history when it was released in 1928.

And with its copyright expired, it presents a unique opportunity for NFT collectors to own a piece of this groundbreaking and beloved cartoon. Additionally, it showcases the potential of NFTs as a tool for preserving and immortalizing cultural artifacts.

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Crypto takes over Formula 1

Crypto betting and casino platform Stake has recently secured naming rights to Sauber team’s F1 car, making it a prominent sponsor in the sport for the next two years.

This was after Alfa Romeo decided not to extend its sponsorship with Sauber F1 beyond 2023. With Audi set to become the team's factory sponsor in 2026, Stake has a two-year window to showcase its brand on one of the most popular racing circuits in the world.

🏎 Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber

Stake is not new to the world of F1. The company first appeared as a sponsor for Sauber's vehicle in 2023 through initial sponsorship deals with its live-streaming platform, Kick.com.

Now, the team will be officially known as Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber and will launch its 2024 season at an event in London in February 2024.

The rebranding of Sauber's car was unveiled on New Year's Day by none other than rapper and Stake brand ambassador Drake. It is expected that Drake will make appearances at select races during the 2024 season.

But Stake's involvement in Formula 1 goes beyond just sponsorship. According to Motorsport.com, the company will also have naming rights to the chassis of Sauber's car, called the Kick Sauber C44.

This means that Stake has now become an F1 vehicle manufacturer, as teams are responsible for building and maintaining their own cars.

Formula 1 has seen a surge in interest from crypto companies in recent years:

  • OKX became a primary partner of McLaren's F1 team in 2022, with its branding featured prominently on the MCL60 racing car in 2023.

  • Crypto.com has been a major sponsor of Formula 1 since 2021, with its branding displayed at Grand Prix circuits worldwide. The crypto wallet and exchange operator also sponsors the Aston Martin Aramco Cognizant F1 team.

Clearly, crypto companies see Formula 1 as a valuable platform to reach a global audience.

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South Korea tightens restrictions on credit cards for crypto purchases

South Korea's Financial Services Commission (FSC) has proposed to crack down on the use of domestic credit cards for purchasing crypto on foreign exchanges.

With this, FSC wants to address concerns about capital flight, money laundering, and potential threats to the financial system.

In recent years, South Korea has seen a surge in crypto popularity, with an estimated 2 million individuals, or 3.9% of the population, owning digital tokens. The country is home to some big crypto exchanges such as Upbit, BitHumb, Korbit, Gopax and others.

However, in a bid to regulate the growing market, the FSC has proposed an amendment that would bar credit card users from purchasing crypto on foreign exchanges.

Under existing law in South Korea, users can only conduct transactions on domestic exchanges, where their identities can be verified. This is opposed to foreign exchanges, where KYC requirements can be circumvented more easily.

In addition, local trading platforms must go through rigorous regulatory requirements, including by partnering with local banks.

What about financial freedom?

This has raised questions about the potential impact on individual financial freedom and the broader adoption of digital assets within the country.

While some in Korea argue that tighter regulations are necessary to protect against illegal activities, others are concerned about restricting financial freedom.

The FSC has cited concerns about the alleged illegal outflow of domestic funds overseas, money laundering, and speculation as reasons for the proposed amendment. Instead, it aims to strengthen existing regulatory measures and promote cooperation with tradfi giants like Mastercard and Visa.

Despite these tightening measures though, it is still legal to own, trade, and purchase crypto assets on South Korean exchanges. However, with tighter restrictions on domestic credit cards for purchasing crypto, how this will affect the country's crypto market and its future adoption of digital assets remains to be seen.

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Other worthy reads

Airdrop meta thread by Miles Deutscher:

Predictions thread by ChainlinkGod:

Weekly crypto watchlist by Defi Investor:

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The fun page

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That's all for now, frens.

We'll see you next week. And remember, the market conditions are temporary, but our commitment to building a better DeFi is here to stay. Thanks for joining us, and we look forward to seeing you back next week. Cheers!

Yours, The 🔥 Team

Brought to you by Ambire: The Only Web3 Wallet That You’ll Need!