In the First Q of ‘24, the US SEC Sent to Me an ETF with Bee-Tee-Cee and 20 Crypto Jokes

This week in crypto: crypto! Bitcoin’s market cap increased by a peak of 172% in 2023, BTC struggled a bit for direction, and stablecoin dominance hit the lowest since December 2021 despite record monthly supply. Meanwhile, 73% of US voters said presidential candidates should be informed about cryptocurrency, and 99% of law enforcement globally needs more crypto-related training.

There was A LOT of ETF talk. Big money management firms expect the US SEC to greenlight spot Bitcoin ETFs by January 10, Galaxy Digital CEO Michael Novogratz predicted a significant milestone in the crypto market with the first ETF approval, Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein said an ETF could usher in $30 trillion to the market, Needham argued registered investment advisors would drive BTC ETFs, Blockstream CEO Adam Back opined that ETFs could propel the BTC price to $100,000, and Michael Saylor stated that Bitcoin ETFs would not be a threat to MicroStrategy.

In court news: Montenegro court revoked the extradition approval for Do Kwon, a British Virgin Islands court froze $1.14 billion in assets belonging to the 3AC co-founders, a US appeals court finalized the seizure of 69,370 BTC from the Silk Road, a US Judge ordered Binance and CZ to pay $2.85 billion to the CFTC, and South Korea’s Supreme Court jailed a crypto fraudster who amassed $153 million for ten years.

Then there was FTX. A US District Judge denied Sam Bankman-Fried’s request for adjournment, FTX paid hundreds of millions in legal fees in a few months sparking reactions, the exchange revealed its latest proposal aimed at returning billions of dollars to customers and creditors, and it struck a global settlement between its US and Bahamas bankruptcy proceedings in an attempt to jointly maximize creditor payouts.

Stuff was happening worldwide. The South Korean city of Busan named a preferred bidder for a blockchain-powered digital assets trading platform, China’s Ministry of Industry aimed to foster the NFT and dapp growth despite the crypto ban, the Bank of China completed the world’s first cross-border CBDC-powered precious metals deal, Dubai’s VARA execs said that the hands-on approach enabled it to set a global precedent for regulator-industry cooperation, and Vladimir Putin signed off on a law that will see the digital ruble incorporated into the nation’s tax code.

In the meantime, Fideum was the winner of the Mastercard Lighthouse Finitiv program on its path to merge crypto and traditional finance, Bitcoin Ordinals-based development platform Tap Protocol raised over $4 million in an oversubscribed round, Worldcoin discontinued its Orb-verification service in India, Brazil, and France, Phantom added support for Bitcoin, Ordinals, and BRC-20 tokens, Revolut launched cryptocurrency trading services in New Zealand, and Immutable debuted its passport with Google and Apple integration.

Security remained a key topic, as experts discussed if hackers are two steps ahead of security in a cat-and-mouse game. Meanwhile, over 385 million USDT on Ethereum was stolen via pig butchering in just two years, a hacker was attempting to sell access to Binance’s law enforcement panel for $10,000 in BTC, Ledger decided to reimburse victims for the $600,000 in assets lost due to the recent ConnectKit exploit, Atomic Wallet launched a $1-million bug bounty program aimed at identifying security flaws, CertiK urged OKX users on IOS devices to update the software after it identified a vulnerability, and a former Amazon engineer pleaded guilty to hacking two cryptocurrency exchanges.