An overview of current news in the crypto space

Bit Team
5 min readJan 15, 2024

In our digest, we took a look at some important crypto industry news over the past week:

  1. Bitcoin fell below $43,000 despite SEC approval of spot ETFs
  2. Sberbank is actively developing cryptocurrency solutions for international settlements
  3. Turkey’s central bank begins second phase of testing digital lira
  4. Expectations and implications of Bitcoin’s impending halving in 2024
  5. Digital rouble: testing continues, full implementation expected in 2025
  6. City of Prospera and Japan’s Mercari are expanding their use of bitcoin

Now for more details. Reading time: 8 minutes.

Bitcoin fell below $43,000 despite SEC approval of spot ETFs
Last week, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved spot bitcoin ETFs, but this did not contribute to the growth of cryptocurrency quotes. On the contrary, the bitcoin price went downwards, breaking through the $43,000 level. This happened despite the fact that earlier in the week bitcoin tried to overcome the $48,000 mark. Interestingly, the second most capitalised cryptocurrency, Ethereum, showed positive dynamics, testing the $2700 level for the first time since May 2022. Most digital assets from the top 10 ended the week in the green zone. However, with the emergence of spot bitcoin ETFs, expected by many as a catalyst for cryptocurrency growth, the market showed the opposite reaction. The average decline in the price of ETF units was about 11%. Note that trading in spot bitcoin ETFs began on Thursday, and a total of 11 such funds have been approved.

Sberbank is actively developing cryptocurrency solutions for international settlements
Sberbank, Russia’s largest state-owned bank, is actively developing cryptocurrency solutions and international settlements based on them. The bank recently opened a vacancy for an executive director for the development of cryptocurrency solutions. The new employee will work on the creation of solutions for international settlements based on cryptocurrencies and develop relevant products. Sberbank noted that in order to understand the current capabilities and future prospects of new payment instruments, they hire specialists who study the market, legislation and technological trends. This will allow the bank to promptly offer customers relevant and affordable services while developing breakthrough technologies. Sberbank is actively developing digital technologies and recently opened access to a digital financial assets platform for individuals. In November, the bank conducted the country’s first test lending transaction with collateral in the form of digital financial assets.

The Central Bank of Turkey has started the second phase of testing the digital lira
The Central Bank of Turkey (CBT) has started the second phase of testing the digital Turkish lira, focusing on the compatibility of the CBDC system with the existing payment infrastructure. The study plans to involve more participants, including commercial banks and payment service providers. The Turkish Central Bank noted that the second phase will include stress testing of the digital lira in real-life scenarios. This will identify potential performance issues as well as investigate the legal and economic implications of implementing a retail CBDC. The bank also intends to explore the use of the digital lira in cross-border payments, while co-operating with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS). The digital lira could be an important tool to increase financial inclusion in Turkey, as around 40 per cent of the country’s residents lack access to banking services. Despite active research, a final decision on the launch of the digital lira has not yet been made, but the central bank is expected to take a position on the issue by the end of the year.

Expectations and implications of the upcoming Bitcoin halving in 2024
Ahead of the Bitcoin halving expected in April 2024, experts and investors are discussing the implications of this significant event. Halving is a programmable mechanism in the bitcoin network that halves the reward for mining every 210,000 blocks, adding an element of scarcity and controlling inflation. On the one hand, miners face a potential reduction in profits. But on the other, it’s expected that a reduced supply of bitcoin could help boost its price, as happened after the previous halving in 2020. At that time, the reward for mining fell from 12.5 BTS to 6.25 BTS, but the value of bitcoin quadrupled. Experts and crypto-enthusiasts predict that the market will no longer see BTS at a price below $30,000, and a reduction in supply could push bitcoin to the $1 million mark by 2025. However, despite the optimism, it is important to remember that bitcoin halving could cause volatility in the market, which requires caution on the part of investors.

Digital ruble: testing continues, full-scale implementation expected in 2025
Russia is actively continuing to test and develop the digital ruble. MP Anatoly Aksakov shared the plans and prospects of this project in an interview with Rossiyskaya Gazeta. According to him, the digital ruble is undergoing the first stage of testing in 11 cities with the help of 13 banks and a limited number of clients. In 2024, it is planned to expand the list of participants and tested operations. Special attention is paid to testing the digital ruble in budget payments, including social payments, subsidies and allocations for certain services and projects. The digital currency platform will support smart contracts, which will allow for faster and coordinated fulfilment of obligations. It is expected that the full-fledged implementation of the digital ruble will take place no earlier than 2025, and as early as 2024 all Russians will have access to payments in digital rubles.

The City of Prospera and Japan’s Mercari are expanding their use of bitcoin
Progressively customisable cities and businesses around the world continue to increase their acceptance of bitcoin as a means of payment. The city of Prospera in Honduras, which is a special economic zone, has recognised bitcoin as a means of payment. This decision is due to the desire to maintain the financial and monetary freedom of its residents, as well as to promote a closed economy. Thus, the number of companies accepting bitcoin as payment continues to grow worldwide. BTC Map data shows that the number of such companies tripled in a year. Particular attention is drawn to Japan, where the largest marketplace Mercari intends to accept BTC from June this year. These moves speak to the increasing globalisation of bitcoin and its spread as the primary means of payment, reflecting the increased confidence in cryptocurrencies.

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