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CRYPTO MARKET OUTLOOK – TRENDS OF EVENTS 21ST MARCH 2024

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Crypto Market Outlook

The global crypto market cap has reached $2.55 trillion, marking a 6.34% increase within the last day. In contrast, the total crypto market volume for the past 24 hours stands at $147.17 billion, indicating a 6.33% decrease.

Within this volume, DeFi contributes $12.66 billion, accounting for 8.60% of the total crypto market’s 24-hour volume. Stablecoins, on the other hand, represent $131.61 billion, making up 89.43% of the total crypto market’s 24-hour volume.

Moreover, Bitcoin’s dominance now sits at 51.97%, reflecting a slight increase of 0.08% throughout the day.

Bitcoin Market

As the cryptocurrency market approaches the highly anticipated Bitcoin halving on April 25, 2024, supply and demand dynamics are setting the stage for a significant bull run. This year’s cycle marks a departure from previous ones due to increasing institutional adoption and expanding use cases, painting a bullish outlook for Bitcoin.

The surge in institutional interest has led to over $30 billion in assets under management in just two months, with daily inflows surpassing $1 billion. This surge is poised to intensify post-halving, with ETFs holding a significant amount of BTC compared to its annualized supply.

The increasing adoption of Bitcoin ETFs could lead to a supply squeeze, as these funds already account for about 4.5% of the accessible supply. Meanwhile, long-term Bitcoin holders remain confident in the cryptocurrency’s value proposition, holding approximately 70% of the total circulating supply.

Short-term holders have also increased their holdings, further tightening available supply and suggesting a potential price surge.

Analysts believe that the upcoming Bitcoin halving, coupled with these factors, may herald a unique and potentially unprecedented bullish cycle for the cryptocurrency market. With ETFs attracting traditional investment and the confidence of both long-term and short-term holders, Bitcoin’s supply constraints are becoming more pronounced.

Despite Bitcoin’s inherent volatility, the current environment appears ripe for a significant upward trajectory as the 2024 halving approaches. This cycle could usher in a new era of institutional adoption and financial recognition for Bitcoin.

READ ALSO:THE CRYPTO MARKET OUTLOOK – TRENDS OF EVENTS 19TH MARCH 2024

Trends of Events

Layerswap Restores $100,000 Lost Funds After Recovering Hacked Domain

Layerswap, a platform connecting centralized exchanges with layer-2 blockchains for cryptocurrency transfers, experienced a domain hijack leading to a phishing scam. Approximately $100,000 worth of crypto assets was stolen from about 50 users.

Layerswap has committed to reimbursing all affected users for the stolen funds in a proactive move. Furthermore, they will provide a 10% bonus to compensate for any inconvenience caused by the attack.

Layerswap Commits to Refunding Users After Domain Hijack

On March 20 at around 7:40 UTC, a significant security breach occurred with the layerswap.io domain. Initially, malicious actors compromised Layerswap’s GoDaddy account, altering the domain’s DNS settings and redirecting traffic to a phishing site. They also changed the domain owner’s email address, gaining control over DNS and associated email services. An attempt to reset Layerswap’s X account password followed, but it was unsuccessful due to 2FA being enabled.

Despite this, approximately 50 individuals fell victim to the phishing scam, collectively losing around $100,000 worth of assets. Layerswap promptly contacted GoDaddy Support at 7:45 p.m., but encountered delays in response, with initial indications of a 12-hour wait time. This delay allowed the hacker to maintain control for an extended period.

By around 10:21 p.m., Layerswap received instructions from GoDaddy on resetting the account password. However, they found the account locked upon attempting the reset, with the attackers altering the associated email address again. Fortunately, by 11:07 p.m. UTC, Layerswap had regained access to their GoDaddy account and reversed the hacker’s modifications.

In response to affected users, Layerswap fully refunds them and offers an additional 10% compensation for the inconvenience caused by the security breach.

Napoli Hard Fork Implemented by Polygon’s PoS Sidechain Added Support for Upgrades Included in Dencun

The Polygon Proof-of-Stake (PoS) sidechain has completed the Napoli hard fork, integrating Dencun features and becoming the first network to support RIP-7212.

This upgrade brings three key enhancements from Ethereum’s recent Dencun hard fork: EIP-1153, improving block space utilization efficiency; EIP-6780, regulating the self-destruct opcode for heightened security; and EIP-5656, reducing technical overhead by optimizing memory copying processes.

Polygon Will Be Adding Support for EIP-4844

Polygon has announced plans to integrate support for EIP-4844, a crucial upgrade that reduces fees, into its upcoming Feijoa upgrade scheduled for release in May.

Additionally, the Napoli hard fork highlights the inclusion of RIP-7212, developed by RollCall, a collective of Layer 2 teams. This upgrade introduces precompile support for the widely used elliptic curve, secp256r1, enhancing interoperability with mainstream technologies. Potential applications include storing keys within iPhone secure enclaves and facilitating various verification processes.

RollCall, described by Polygon as an entity supporting EVM extension within Layer 2 solutions, adheres to Ethereum’s open standards process. Moreover, Polygon community contributors have proposed adding support for two other RIP/EIP track changes in the next PoS hard fork. These changes involve enhancing account abstraction options for developers with EIP-3074 and increasing the EIP-170 Max Code Size Limit with PIP-30.

Most Layer 2s About to Kickoff New Upgrades

RollCall’s efforts to implement RIP-7212 extend beyond just Polygon.

Other Layer 2 solutions, such as ZkSync Era and Optimism, are also working on integrating support for this upgrade soon.

This collaborative approach among Layer 2 projects demonstrates a shift towards collective development and solidifies Layer 2 solutions as Ethereum’s primary scaling mechanism.

David Silverman, VP of Product at Polygon Labs, emphasized RollCall’s importance in establishing Layer 2 solutions as integral to Ethereum’s scaling strategy.

He highlighted that RollCall offers a platform for effective self-governance within the Ethereum ecosystem.

Silverman stated, “Despite occasional disagreements on social media, we come together in a committee to discuss proposed EVM changes—changes that won’t reach Ethereum itself but will enhance user experience on rollups.”

According to UN: North Korea’s Crypto Theft and Cyber Activities Fuel Half of Foreign Currency Revenue

In recent news, the UN has revealed that North Korea is heavily engaged in harmful cyber activities and cryptocurrency theft, which account for almost half of its foreign currency earnings. These illicit activities are believed to finance its weapons programs.

According to a recent UN report, Pyongyang relies on cyber operations to generate around 50% of its foreign currency revenue, as disclosed by one member state.

 

Furthermore, the report highlights that approximately 40% of North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs are funded through illicit cyber activities, as reported by Yonhap.

The United Nations Has Begun Investigations into Cyber Attacks and Crypto Theft Dating Back to 2017

The panel has identified 17 cryptocurrency heists in 2023 alone, potentially linked to North Korea, totalling over $750 million in stolen funds. Additionally, the report underscores the panel’s examination of 58 suspected cyberattacks on crypto-related firms from 2017 to 2023, illustrating the significant impact of North Korea’s cyber theft operations. As a result, one cybersecurity company has labelled North Korea as the world’s most prolific cyber thief.

Despite UN Security Council resolutions, North Korea has persisted in its illicit cyber activities while simultaneously ramping up its nuclear and missile programs. The panel’s report notes the country’s ongoing development of nuclear weapons and production of nuclear fissile materials, despite its last known nuclear test in 2017.

Of particular concern are observations by the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, regarding the potential production of more fissile materials for nuclear bombs. Grossi’s remarks highlight troubling activities related to the commissioning of a “light water reactor” that could further fuel North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

North Korea Goes On with Ballistic Missile Capabilities

The panel highlighted North Korea’s persistent violations of UN resolutions, alongside its nuclear pursuits. The country has conducted missile launches, tested satellite launchers, and is believed to have commissioned a ballistic missile submarine.

Assessments indicate progress in various aspects of its missile program, such as reliability, manoeuvrability, and precision. Moreover, it’s reported that in 2022, cybercriminals stole a record $3.8 billion in cryptocurrency, with North Korean government hackers, the Lazarus Group, responsible for $1.7 billion.

These activities are aimed at funding the country’s nuclear weapons program, contravening international sanctions. This follows a previous year where hackers seized $3.3 billion in digital assets.

With New Fund On the Ethereum Network, Blackrock Enters Asset Tokenization Race

BlackRock, a leading asset management company, has launched its tokenized asset fund on the Ethereum network. The fund, known as the BlackRock USD Institutional Digital Liquidity Fund, is represented by the BUIDL token on the blockchain.

It is backed by cash, U.S. Treasury bills, and repurchase agreements, offering daily yield payouts to token holders through blockchain channels. Securitize serves as the transfer agent and tokenization platform, while BNY Mellon acts as the custodian for the fund’s assets. Anchorage Digital Bank NA, BitGo, Coinbase, and Fireblocks are also involved in the fund’s ecosystem.

Additionally, BlackRock has made a strategic investment in Securitize, although specific terms of the deal were not disclosed.

According to Robert Mitchnick, BlackRock’s Head of Digital Assets, this move represents the company’s ongoing digital assets strategy aimed at addressing clients’ needs effectively.

The announcement follows a regulatory filing indicating BlackRock’s collaboration with Securitize, sparking speculation about a tokenized fund. This trend aligns with the broader adoption of blockchain technology in traditional finance, with companies like Citi, Franklin Templeton, and JPMorgan also exploring tokenization.

This process involves converting real-world assets, such as bonds and funds, into blockchain-based tokens. The tokenization of assets has seen significant growth, as demonstrated by the increase in tokenized U.S. Treasuries from $100 million to $730 million within a year. This trend reflects the growing integration between digital assets and traditional finance, offering new opportunities for investors seeking steady yields.

OKX Set to Leave India, Warns Users to Withdraw Funds

OKX, a cryptocurrency exchange, has informed its clients in India that they must close their positions by the end of April due to regulatory changes in the country.

According to a notice obtained by CoinDesk, customers are required to close all margin positions, perpetuals, futures, and options, and withdraw their funds by April 30. After this deadline, account activities will be restricted to withdrawals only, as stated in the emailed notice.

In March 2023, India included digital asset service providers in its anti-money laundering framework. For exchanges to operate in India, they must register with the Financial Intelligence Unit India (FIU IND) and adhere to regulations. As of the end of 2023, OKX had not complied with these requirements, unlike 28 other companies.

Furthermore, India has intensified its efforts against illegally operating exchanges. In December, the FIU IND identified nine exchanges, including Binance, Kraken, and MEXC Global, operating unlawfully. Notably, OKX was not among the listed exchanges.

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