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First Mover Asia: Bitcoin Holds Above $21K in Weekend Trading, Solana Web3 Phone Faces Long Odds

·9-min read
jayk7

Don't miss CoinDesk's Consensus 2022, the must-attend crypto & blockchain festival experience of the year in Austin, TX this June 9-12.

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Bitcoin fell slightly on Sunday but held steady above $21,000; ether remains over $1,200.

Insights: Solana Web3 phone faces long odds based on the blockchain industry's track record.

Catch the latest episodes of CoinDesk TV for insightful interviews with crypto industry leaders and analysis. And sign up for First Mover, our daily newsletter putting the latest moves in crypto markets in context.

Prices

Bitcoin (BTC): $21,121 -1.5%

Ether (ETH): $1,212 -2.5%

Biggest Gainers

Asset

Ticker

Returns

DACS Sector

Terra

LUNA

+9.0%

Smart Contract Platform

Dogecoin

DOGE

+7.9%

Currency

Biggest Losers

Asset

Ticker

Returns

DACS Sector

Gala

GALA

−8.6%

Entertainment

Loopring

LRC

−7.7%

Smart Contract Platform

Decentraland

MANA

−7.4%

Entertainment

Bitcoin Holds Above $21K; Other Major Cryptos Are Mixed

Expectations for a bitcoin slide to below $20,000 over the weekend were premature.

Although it was down 1% in the last 24 hours, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was recently trading at over $21,000, still up from the panicky levels it fell to last weekend.

On Sunday, investors continued to find comfort in faint signs that the U.S. economy was cooling and that the Federal Reserve might be able to tone down its monetary hawkishness later in the year. Bitcoin has correlated increasingly to macroeconomic trends, which have become much worse over the past nine months.

Ether, the second-largest crypto by market cap, was changing hands at above $1,200, down about 2.5% during the past day. Trading for both bitcoin and ether was light as is typical on weekends. The bitcoin Fear and Greed Index measuring market sentiment remained well within extreme fear territory.

After bitcoin held steady, analysts had expected that it would dip below $20,000 during the weekend in its tango with forces pushing it above and pulling it under that threshold. Such volatility is likely to continue without a sizable upturn any time soon, said Joe DiPasquale, CEO of crypto fund manager BitBull Capital.

"We did see some volatility in BTC prices this week, which was expected; however, BTC has struggled to build on any momentum upward of $20,000, which has kept any chances of a rally at bay," DiPasquale wrote in an email to CoinDesk.

Other major altcoins were mixed over the weekend with popular meme coin DOGE rising more than 10% at one point and Monero's privacy coin XRM up nearly 6%. GALA and MANA sank over 8% and 7%. Polygon's MATIC – which rose more than 25% over a 24-hour period starting last Wednesday after the project introduced a new privacy product for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs) – fell slightly.

Cryptos' performance has tracked equity indexes, which regained some ground Friday from losses earlier in the month. The S&P 500 rose 3.1% on Friday, its best day in two years, and finished the week up more than 6%, although the index, which contains a heavy tech component, still lingers in bear market territory, meaning that it is down at least 20% from its previous high. The Nasdaq and Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 3.3% and 3%, respectively as investors savored a brief respite from this year's drumbeat of dreary economic news.

A revision in the University of Michigan’s monthly consumer sentiment index now shows expectations for inflation were lower than first reported in May. Sales of existing homes dropped in May, and mortgage applications declined for the week, two trends that underscore the impact of rising interest rates.

Investors will be studying this week's durable goods orders and consumer confidence reports for further signs of the Federal Reserve's success in taming inflation without casting the U.S. economy into a recession.

BitBull's DiPasquale sees bitcoin testing levels below $20,000 in the days ahead as investors continue their wary approach to riskier assets.

"It is a good sign that BTC is still holding the $20K level, but next week should be more decisive, and we could either see a successful test of the recent lows, which could further cement the $17K-$18K range as a strong support, or witness another breakdown in price," he wrote.

Markets

S&P 500: 3,911 +3%

DJIA: 31,500 +2.6%

Nasdaq: 11,607 +3.3%

Gold: $1,827 +0.1%

Insights

Solana Phone Faces Long Odds Based on the Blockchain Industry's Track Record

Solana Labs announced that it’s working on a smartphone. The phone will be available next year and come with “specialty crypto wallet functions and the 'Solana Mobile Stack (SMS)' software development kit for Web3 programs,” according to CoinDesk.

Blockchain phones aren’t exactly new. They have been tried before and didn’t really go anywhere.

Rewind to 2019. It’s no longer the depths of 2018's crypto winter, but a cold and protracted spring.

At the time three companies were working on blockchain phones and promised a big reveal at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January 2020.

One of them was Taiwan-based HTC – a former giant in the Android phone market that has since faded into obscurity. The other two not so much: Switzerland-based Sirin Labs, which specialized in security-first phones (as of 2022 its website is no longer updated), and crypto payment infrastructure provider Pundi X Labs.

Of the three, HTC had the most practical "crypto" product. The phone contained special software that allowed users to store their private crypto keys in a walled garden of the phone’s computer processing unit called the Trust Zone, which can run only preapproved and secure code. This is the same part of the processor where other encryption keys are stored, like those for playing back digital rights-managed video from Netflix, or where biometric data to allow users to open the phone via fingerprint or face ID.

Sirin Labs’ Finney Phone attempted to do the same – secure storage of private keys – but via an external dongle. In contrast, Pundi X was focused on building a universe of decentralized applications (dapps) that gave users the ability to make phone calls via a protocol secured by its blockchain.

All failed to resonate with consumers.

HTC’s plans were disrupted by Samsung, which offered the same functionality on an app in its much more popular Galaxy line of smartphones. Sirin Labs’ Finney Phone got hit by poor reviews, and the project seems to have been abandoned as recent Amazon reviews report that the apps no longer work. Pundi X’s required network effect never took off as people didn’t seem to buy in to the benefits of blockchain.

All these prior blockchain phones failed because the market realized a specialized phone isn't needed for any of this. The functionality is available already on apps that can be loaded onto any old phone.

The Saga phone’s Web3 dapp store, Solana Pay apps, and “seed vault” mobile key storage are just apps and can be installed already on an existing phone. This product might be a must-have for Solana fans and true believers, but the actual builders and power users of blockchain already do everything on their existing smartphones.

Important events

European Blockchain Conference

European Central Bank Forum on Central Banking

1 p.m. HKT/SGT(5 a.m. UTC): Japan Economic Index (April)

CoinDesk TV

In case you missed it, here is the most recent episode of "First Mover" on CoinDesk TV:

Bitcoin Rises Above $21K, Solana Unveils First Web3 Mobile Phone

Bitcoin was rising above the $21,000 level, adding to a steady recovery since last weekend’s plunge to under $18,000. Raghu Yarlagadda, co-founder and CEO of crypto trading platform FalconX, joined "First Mover" to provide his crypto markets analysis. Solana-based NFT marketplace Magic Eden raised $130 million at a $1.6 billion valuation. Co-founders Jack Lu and Sidney Zhang shared future plans. Plus, how is traditional media adapting to a Web3 future? Scott Greenberg, CEO of Fox Entertainment's Blockchain Creative Labs, provided his insights.

Headlines

Morgan Creek Is Trying to Counter FTX’s BlockFi Bailout, Leaked Call Shows: FTX’s $250 million credit facility offer – if inked as initially proposed – stood to effectively wipe out all BlockFi shareholders, including Morgan Creek Digital, the firm told its investors.

Goldman Sachs Leading Investor Group to Buy Celsius Assets: Sources: The Wall Street firm is seeking $2 billion in commitments from investors to buy distressed assets at steep discounts if the crypto lender goes bankrupt.

BlockFi Raises Deposit Rates, Eliminates Free Withdrawals: The rate increases across BTC, ETH, USDT and other crypto deposits come after layoffs at the company and a $250 million emergency line of credit from FTX.

Axie Infinity Developer Sky Mavis to Reimburse Victims of Ronin Bridge Hack: A total of $216.5 million in USDC and ethereum at today's prices will be returned to users.

With Bitwise and Grayscale Decisions Looming, Spot Bitcoin ETF Approval Hopes Are Running Low: Final deadlines for approval by the SEC for the two investment firms' applications are fast approaching.

Longer reads

What if the Federal Reserve Has Inflation All Wrong?: The dominant U.S. inflation narrative has blamed pandemic stimulus for rising prices. But what if the money supply isn’t the real problem anymore?

Other voices: Crypto Meltdown Forces a Rebranding (Kara Swisher/The New York Times)

Said and heard

"We unfortunately needed to announce that we’re letting part of the team go during a call earlier today. We made this incredibly difficult decision to ensure that we stay true to Bitpanda’s mission and keep building the leading investment platform in Europe and beyond. While this is a tough decision to make, it was nonetheless necessary to make sure we’re robustly well-capitalized to navigate the storm and get out of it financially healthy..." (Bitpanda blog) ... "During a lull in the lunch rush one recent afternoon, as a cashier stamped paper bags with the fast-food spot’s logo, twin menus hanging over his head – listing Bored & Hungry’s meat-based and vegan options, respectively – showed prices only in old-fashioned U.S. dollars. A smashburger: $9.25. Pepper-seasoned fries: $3.50. An ape-themed cup of soda: $3.50. Missing: any mention of ethereum or ApeCoin, the two currencies the popup boasted it would make history by accepting as payment." (Inside the crypto restaurant after the crypto crash/Los Angeles Times)

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