Cryptocurrency roundup: new highs for bitcoin and ether as Twitter jumps on the crypto-wagon

With many cryptocurrencies surging to new highs this week, here are the stories that have caught our eye in the last seven days.

It can’t have escaped your notice that bitcoin hit yet another new high this week, topping $68,500 (or, if you prefer, just over £50,000) on Wednesday. And we all know what new highs make, said Dominic this week – more new highs! (Though bitcoin is currently down to around $64,000.)

But bitcoin wasn’t the outstanding performer, says CNN. That crown belongs to ether – bitcoin may have risen by 135% this year, but ether is up by 560% as crypto investors bet that it “will continue to be used as the backbone for even more non-fungible tokens” (NFTs) and smart contracts. Ether’s market cap now stands at around $575bn, compared with bitcoin’s $1.3trn. 

Twitter sets up a cryptocurrency team

Social media platform Twitter, dysfunctional home of righteous angry mobs from every murky corner of the political spectrum, has formed a team to “embrace digital assets and decentralised apps and the ballooning communities around them”, says Hannah Murphy in the Financial Times. 

Twitter’s founder, Jack Dorsey, is a “renowned bitcoin enthusiast” who has “long said he wants to integrate digital assets into Twitter’s future” (though some people think  “Dorsey’s bitcoin fixation a distraction”, says Murphy). 

The new team will be led by Tess Rinearson, who said on the platform that she will be “exploring how we can support the growing interest among creators to use decentralised apps to manage virtual goods and currencies”, and in the longer term, “push the boundaries of what’s possible with identity, community, ownership and more”. 

Twitter is already working on allowing users to “tip” users for their content using bitcoin, and a feature that will allow them to verify NFTs. 

Coinbase share price slides after it misses its profit target

Coinbase, the US’s biggest cryptocurrency exchange, which listed on the Nasdaq stock exchange last spring, saw its share price fall by 8% on Tuesday – the “largest one-day drop since [it] began trading as a public security in April”, says Matt Turner on Bloomberg Quint. Third-quarter profits had been forecast to come in at around $1.57bn, but only managed to hit $1.24bn. Despite the fall, the share price remains some 35% above its $250 listing price.

Coinbase is to set up its own marketplace for NFTs where customers can trade digital art, collectables and whatever else they have digitised, and plans to open it in “the next quarter or two”, says Bloomberg’s Olga Kharif. Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong said it could overtake the companies’ cryptocurrency business; more than 2.5 million people have expressed an interest in signing up. Compare that with the current biggest NFT marketplace, says Kharif. Opensea (in which coinbase has a financial interest) had just 236,000 active users in the last 30 days.

Indonesia’s religious leaders say cryptocurrencies could contravene Shariah law

Indonesia’s council of religious leaders, the National Ulema Council, or MUI, has said that cryptocurrencies are haram (forbidden), reports Bloomberg. The problem lies in “elements of uncertainty, wagering and harm”, according to Asrorun Niam Sholeh, the council’s head of religious decrees. 

Indonesia’s government has been supportive of cryptocurrencies so far, and has been “pushing to set up a crypto-focused exchange” by the end of the year, though it does not allow cryptocurrencies to be used as actual currencies. The amount of cryptocurrency traded in Indonesia over the first five months of the year totalled 370 trillion rupiah (£19bn).

The last seven days in the crypto markets

Here’s what happened in the cryptocurrency markets in the last seven days:

  • Bitcoin is up 3.9% at $63,868. 
  • Ether is up 3.1% to $4,625.
  • Dogecoin is unchanged at $0.26.
  • Cardano is up 2% to $2.02.
  • Solana is down 4.7% to $226.66.

What you need to watch out for

Bank of England to consult on “Britcoin”

The Bank of England is to launch a consultation early next year into the pros and cons of launching its own digital currency, dubbed “Britcoin”, says Business Insider. It wants to solicit opinions on the “key merits” of a central bank digital currency and whether it should “advance to a development phase”. The Bank is in no rush, however, saying that even if it is approved, nothing would be launched until 2025 at the earliest.

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