15 Crypto Stories You Need to Know from Last Week
There's never a dull week in the crypto.
Whether its Bitcoin (BTC, Tech/Adoption Grade "A-"), Ethereum (ETH, Tech/Adoption Grade "A"), altcoins, blockchain, mining, private funding, decentralize finance, non-fungible tokens, the metaverse, regulatory talk or something else, there's an endless slew of breaking news.
It's why for the past two years, I've been putting together a weekly digital asset and blockchain report for a top crypto fund I consult for. It averages around 25 pages and a word count of nearly 5,500.
While it's a beast to put together, it's my favorite thing to do each work week.
In terms of adoption, fundraising, new projects, deals and other industry advances, this space is constantly innovating. There's no other investment space in the world like it.
Now, I'm sharing highlights from that report with you. I've narrowed down the top takeaways that you as an investor in the crypto space should be aware of.
Here are 15 interesting nuggets from this past week:
1. Michael Saylor will step down from his longtime role as MicroStrategy's (MSTR) CEO.
Phong Le, president of MicroStrategy since July 2020, became the new Chief Executive Officer on Aug. 8, 2022, with the previous CEO, Saylor, becoming the company's executive chairman, a move that will allow him to focus more on the firm's Bitcoin acquisition strategy.
Saylor said the CEO succession has been "carefully considered and planned for at the board level for many years." He added: "I believe that splitting the roles of chairman and CEO will enable us to better pursue our two corporate strategies of acquiring and holding Bitcoin and growing our enterprise analytics software business."
Le called the reshuffling a "business-as-usual transition," noting that he doesn't plan to make any major changes.
2. Brazilian crypto exchange set to enter Mexican market.
As regulatory talks enter their final stages, SoftBank-backed Brazilian crypto exchange Mercado Bitcoin is set to enter the Mexican market by the end of the year, as part of a plan to expand in Latin America.
3. BlackRock, Coinbase (COIN) team up.
BlackRock, the world's largest asset manager, partnered with Coinbase to give institutional investors access to crypto trading, custody, prime brokerage and reporting capabilities (initially Bitcoin) through its Aladdin portfolio management platform.
Aladdin has 200+ institutional users, including insurers, pensions, corporations, asset managers, banks, etc. Its global head of strategic ecosystem partnerships, Joseph Chalom, said the firm's clients are increasingly interested in getting exposure to digital asset markets. He added: "This connectivity with Aladdin will allow clients to manage their Bitcoin exposures directly in their existing portfolio management and trading workflows for a whole portfolio view of risk across asset classes."
4. The euro will be introduced to BTC, ETH futures market.
Derivatives marketplace CME Group is set to offer its first euro-denominated Bitcoin and Ether futures this month, after its crypto derivatives posted record open-interest volumes during Q2.
5. A new crypto credit card options comes to the table.
Crypto exchange Binance and credit card giant Mastercard (MA) will offer a new prepaid crypto card in Argentina with the aim of making crypto payments more accessible in the region. The card allows Binance users with a valid identification card to use some cryptos, including Bitcoin and Binance's BNB token, for daily transactions and earn up to 8% crypto cashback on eligible purchases.
6. Crypto lobbyist up efforts.
Despite market chaos and broad layoffs, the crypto industry has continued pouring money into lobbying programs. According to The Block, cumulative lobbying expenditures by crypto firms in the Q2 2022 reached $6.75 million. In contrast, the previous quarter saw $5.77 million.
7. New crypto hedge fund launches.
Brevan Howard Asset Management pulled off the largest crypto hedge fund launch yet. The firm's flagship digital assets-focused vehicle raised more than $1 billion from institutional investors, with most of the lofty haul timed with the fund's launch earlier this year.
The commingled vehicle, Brevan Howard Digital Asset Multi-Strategy Fund, lost only 4%-5% from inception through the end of June — resulting in solid relative returns.
8. Sports star's hedge fund dips toes into crypto.
Ex-NBA Star Metta World Peace, formerly "Ron Artest," is planning a new investment fund for his Artest Management Group. The fund is reportedly targeting $1 billion. The fund would invest in sports, real estate, healthcare and web3 — across the U.S. and Asia.
9. Pension fund pivots to yield farming strategy.
Fairfax County's $6.8 billion pension fund received approval to invest $70 million across two crypto yield farming funds. The Virginia pension fund has a series of crypto investments dating back to 2019.
10. TD Bank beefs up its exposure.
TD Bank (TD) is set to acquire investment bank Cowen for $1.3 billion in a bid that will add to TD's crypto prowess. Cowen's inaugural crypto division, Cowen Digital, launched in March 2022. Cowen offers crypto trading for institutional investors, as well as custody solutions. The deal is expected to close in Q1 2023.
11. Pumpkin-spiced NFTs
Starbucks will unveil its web3 initiative, which includes coffee-themed NFTs, at next month's Investor Day event.
12. These NFTs are set in Tiffany blue.
Jewelry brand Tiffany unveiled a new line of 250 customized, diamond CryptoPunk-branded necklaces that will cost 30 ETH (~$50,000). The necklaces are only being sold to CryptoPunk holders who will have the option to buy a NFT redeemable for a physical piece of jewelry. Tiffany will net over $12 million from the sale if they sell out, standing to make more profits from resale royalties.
13. Instagram expansion includes blockchain tech.
Meta is expanding its Instagram digital asset integration to 100+ countries. The regions include the Americas, Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Meta also adopted the Flow blockchain, to allow individuals to post assets minted on the Flow blockchain on Instagram.
14. What's in a title?
A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators — Pat Toomey (R-PA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Cynthia Lummis (R-WY), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Rob Portman (R-OH) — want to ensure the crypto "broker" definition is not too broad for tax reporting purposes.
Their bill would exclude miners, other node operators and wallet manufacturers from the definition of a "broker" in a 2021 infrastructure law that imposed new tax reporting requirements on those facilitating crypto transactions.
The bill is identical to a proposed amendment the group submitted last year, when the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act was being considered by the Senate.
15. U.S. regulation talks continue.
The Senate Agriculture Committee, which oversees the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, introduced a bipartisan bill that would grant the CFTC "exclusive jurisdiction" over crypto trades that meet commodities law.
The Digital Commodities Consumer Protection Act of 2022, sponsored by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), John Boozman (R-AR), Cory Booker (D-NJ) and John Thune (R-SD), would create a definition of "digital commodity" that would include cryptos like BTC and ETH but not anything that may be a security token.
It would give the CFTC the ability to oversee both digital commodity transactions and force registration of digital commodity platforms.
Whether you're a crypto newbie or longtime crypto junkie, there's something to learn for all.
Make sure to check out my weekly recap next week.