Ethereum products were hit with outflows of $12.7 million in early June, the biggest decline on record as institutional investors were working out their views on the blockchain’s digital token after serving as a pillar of support during bitcoin’s recent plunge.
The data from CoinShares, a digital currency management firm, came in an update published Monday which also said outflows from digital assets last week reached $21 million, marking a second straight week of negative net investment.
The moves in ethereum marked a shift from the prior week when inflows were $33 million, illustrating that the ether token remained the top choice in so-called altcoins among investors.
“Ethereum has been the stalwart relative to bitcoin over recent months but inflows over the course of last week were mixed, implying mixed opinions amongst investors,” said CoinShares in its update. The price of ether dropped about 12% in the week ended June 11 and fell below $2,400.
Bitcoin, the world’s most traded cryptocurrency, was rocked by a recent selloff that began in May stemming in part from threats from China about cracking down on mining and trading and cryptocurrency taxation efforts by US officials.
But bitcoin outflows of $10 million last week were sharply less than the prior week’s record decline of $141 million. Trading activity in bitcoin investment products rose by 43% compared with the previous week, said CoinShares.
Total weekly outflows in digital products have reached $267 million since mid-May, which represents 0.6% of total assets under management.
“While sentiment has weakened over the last month investors on the whole remain committed given the magnitude of inflows seen this year which represent 13% of AuM, or $5.8 billion,” a figure that nearly matches the $6.7 billion logged in 2020, the company said.
Bitcoin this week has jumped above $40,000 after Elon Musk tweeted that Tesla would accept bitcoin payments again once mining can be done using cleaner energy. Meanwhile, ether’s price advanced and flirted with $2,600.
Jensen Huang, the CEO of chip and graphics card producer Nvidia, recently spoke to a group of journalists at the IT expo Computex about his views on ethereum’s value, how Nvidia’s products fit into the crypto ecosystem and why he thinks we’re on the cusp of creating a metaverse in an interview published by VentureBeat.
Nvidia’s graphic processing units are top-level graphic cards that also have crypto mining capabilities. Huang, a big proponent of artificial intelligence, unveiled a lower resolution graphics card at the conference that has been designed specifically for crypto mining. He also addressed the global chip shortage, Nvidia’s role in it and whether he believes the Chinese government will interfere in the development of artificial intelligence.
Here are Huang’s ten best quotes from the interview, lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
“Am I excited about proof of stake? The answer’s yes….Ethereum has established itself. It has the opportunity now to implement a second generation that carries on from the platform approach and all of the services that are built on top of it. It’s legitimate. It’s established. There’s a lot of credibility. It works well. A lot of people depend on it for DeFi and other things. This is a great time for proof of stake to come.” – on the opportunities ethereum provides and the network’s value for blockchain and crypto.
“We reduced the performance of our GPU on purpose so that if you would like to buy a GPU for gaming, you can. If you’d like to buy a GPU for crypto mining, either you can buy the CMP version, or if you really would like to use the GeForce to do it, unfortunately the performance will be reduced.” – on how Nvidia is trying to decrease graphic card prices and why they developed CMP.
“We’ll just keep working with our supply chain to inform them about the changing world of IT, so that they can be better prepared for the demand that’s coming in the future. But I believe that the areas that we’re in, the markets that we’re in, because we have very specific reasons, will have rich demand for some time to come.” – on managing the ongoing global shortage of semiconductors.
“It’s now established that ethereum is going to be quite valuable. There’s a future where the processing of these transactions can be a lot faster, and because there are so many people built on top of it now, ethereum is going to be valuable. ” – on the outlook for the ethereum network based on its scalability.
“I believe we’re right on the cusp of it. […] There will be many types of metaverses, and video games are one of them, for example. […] We’ll see this overlay, a metaverse overlay if you will, into our physical world.” – on when and how a metaverse will become real.
“You need that blockchain to have some fundamental value, and that fundamental value could be mined. Cryptocurrency is going to be here to stay. Ethereum might not be as hot as it is now. In a year’s time, it may cool down some. But I think crypto mining is here to stay.” – on the future of crypto mining and blockchain networks.
“I believe that there will be a larger market, a larger industry, more designers and creators, designing digital things in virtual reality and metaverses than there will be designing things in the physical world. […] The economy in the metaverse, the economy of Omniverse, will be larger than the economy in the physical world. Digital currency, cryptocurrency, could be used in the world of metaverses.” – on his vision for the omniverse that Nvidia is developing.
“My sense is that we’re welcome in China and we’ll continue to work hard to deserve to be welcome in China, and every other country for that matter.” – on whether the Chinese government will step in and regulate Nvidia’s work on artificial intelligence.
“One of the most important technologies that we have to build, for several of them – in the case of consumers, one of the important technologies is AR, and it’s coming along.” – on the development and accessibility of augmented reality.
“This is the largest market opportunity the IT industry has ever seen. I can understand why it inspires so many competitors. We just need to continue to do our best work and run as fast as we can.” – on the future of the graphics processing unit industry and the competition within it.
On March 11, the digital artist Beeple sold a non-fungible token of his magnum opus, titled “Everydays: The First 5000 Days,” for a record $69 million at a Christie’s auction.
The sale sparked a new wave of interest in collectible digital assets that peaked on May 3, when $102 million worth of NFT sales went through in a single day.
In the seven days surrounding NFTs’ May 3 peak, the market saw $170 million in NFT transactions, according to data from Protos.
This past week, that number fell to just $19.4 million, a nearly 90% drop from May’s record high.
The number of NFT wallets showing signs of daily activity is also down 70% since early May, falling from 12,000 to 3,900.
Not only have sales and interest in NFTs declined but according to Protos, there’s been a shift in the type of NFTs buyers are demanding.
Sales of digital art have fallen dramatically since Beeple’s record sale in March, while sales of digital real estate and other collectibles in the so-called metaverse have risen.
$3.3 million worth of metaverse NFTs have sold this past week, while just $3 million worth of crypto-art sold, Protos data shows.
NFTs have seen their fair share of critics after gaining popularity this year. Ethereum co-founder Anthony Di Iorio told CoinDesk in early May that he believed the NFT market had become saturated, and there were a lot of projects that he didn’t “find very sexy at all.”
Di Iorio, who made his fortune as an early bitcoin adopter, added that NFTs are “not interesting” to him, but he thinks “over the next few years, we’ll really see how it does provide value.”
Despite some waning sales and bearish critic opinions, the NFT market still has some life left in it.
On May 24, Guggenheim cofounder Todd Morley told Bloomberg TV in New York that he is building a “blockchain tower” that will give anyone in the city access to wireless trading, provide a way to announce and showcase new technological advances, and house the world’s largest collection of NFTs.
Ethereum’s market share leaped to its highest point on record during the last week of May as investors took advantage of a price drop.
Ethereum’s market share rose to nearly 27%, becoming the top investment product among crypto assets last week, according to figures from CoinShares released Tuesday. Investors snapped up $46.8 million in ether, the token representing the world’s most utilized blockchain.
Ethereum prices and those of other cryptocurrencies were throttled lower as part of a massive selloff in the space, fronted by a plunge in bitcoin below $32,000 as the crypto market faced regulatory threats. Officials in China again said they would crack down on mining and trading of bitcoin, citing environmental and social concerns, and the US Treasury outlined plans to have cryptocurrency transfers of at least $10,000 reported to the Internal Revenue Service.
But that “digital price weakness” also propelled investors to push $74 million in the market as trading wrapped up in May, CoinShares said.
Ether’s price hit its lowest point of the month on May 23, sliding by 24% to $1,737.47 from the previous session. The cryptocurrency had already been under pressure the week before as it was knocked down from above $4,000.
“The price correction had a minor impact on investment flows the previous week, but this looks to have recovered, with all product providers seeing inflows,” said CoinShares about ethereum. Ethereum eventually trimmed May’s price decline to roughly 2%.
Outflows remained focused on bitcoin investment products last week, leaving the world’s most traded crypto to log a decline of $4 million. However, inflows into bitcoin investment products were still positive for 2021, at $4.4 billion.
Inflows across crypto assets reached $298.4 million in May, putting total assets under management at $45.1 billion, the analytics firm said.
Ethereum on-chain transaction volume and mining revenues reached record highs during the month of May, The Block data showed.
Ether mining brought in $2.35 billion in total revenue, an increase of 42.4% from the previous month. Meanwhile, Ethereum miner transaction fees increased 43.9% to reach $1.03 billion. Mining revenue consists of transaction fees, or costs associated with transacting on ethereum, and block subsidy payouts to miners.
Miners who successfully create a block are rewarded in 2 freshly minted ether and all the transaction fees within the block. A miner may also get 1.75 ether for an “uncle block,” which is a valid block created simultaneously to the successful block, by another miner.
Revenue soared amid a record run-up in the world’s second largest cryptocurrency. Ether hit an all-time high above $4,300 on May 12. The token has pulled back 41% since then and now trades around $2,500.
Chinese trading apps Futu and Tiger Brokers are working to bring cryptocurrency trading to customers in the US and Singapore, even as regulators in their home country crack down on digital assets.
The Robinhood rivals said in their most recent earnings calls that they will apply for digital currency trading licenses in both countries. Futu also applied in Hong Kong.
“What we know for sure is that we will not offer digital currency trading services to mainland China users,” said Futu Senior Vice President Robin Li Xu, according to a transcript from the Motley Fool. Tiger Brokers chief executive officer said the same, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript.
Chinese regulators and institutions have cracked down on cryptocurrencies recently. The country said it would thwart mining operations in order to reduce carbon emissions, and it even set up a reporting system for the general public to report suspected mining activity.
Robinhood, which opened up crypto trading in early 2018, had 13 million users at the end of 2020. Futu said it has tripled its number of users in a year to 789,652, and Tiger has doubled customers in the first quarter from a year ago to 376,000, CNBC reported, noting that both companies are increasingly focused on customers outside China.
Futu’s chief financial officer told CNBC previously that the company has heard interest from users worldwide around crypto and he’s listening. On the earnings call, Futu said it aimed to offer crypto trading at some point in the second half of the year.
Yao Qian, the former head of China’s digital yuan team said central bank digital currencies could use blockchain networks like ethereum in the future, Sina Finance reported on Monday.
At the International Finance Forum 2021 Spring Conference in Beijing, Yao said CBDCs would likely become more “smart” and could include functionalities and attributes that extend beyond those of physical currencies.
This could take the form of smart contracts, which are programs that document, control and execute agreements or transactions, Yao, who is currently the director of the Science and Technology Supervision Bureau of China’s Securities Regulatory Commission, said. Terms and conditions are written onto blockchain ledgers and contracts are self-executing, trackable and irreversible. They also cut out third parties and allow any two parties to enter agreements, even anonymously, which is one of the things that makes them popular in the crypto sphere.
Smart contracts require blockchain networks like ethereum, which could be used by central banks as an additional layer to their digital currencies. This would allow users to access CBDCs without having a bank account for example, Yao said. This would improve financial inclusion, which is widely regarded as one of the main goals of CBDCs.
So far, the digital yuan has been developed in collaboration with banks and other financial institutions. In the two-tiered system the e-yuan follows, the central bank disseminates the digital currency to commercial banks, which are then responsible for passing it on to consumers. This however means that users need an account, or to be registered with an existing bank or authority to gain access to the new digital currency.
Trials of the digital yuan began earlier this year across China and are set to roll out more widely in the future. By 2022, China hopes to trial its CBDC with international visitors and athletes at the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Yao however also urged caution. Smart contracts may be vulnerable to security issues and their legality is still questionable as the technology is new and has not been used by the wider public yet, he said. Under his approach, central banks would therefore start with simple contracts and make sure any kinks in the system are resolved before using blockchain technology for more complex transactions, Yao said.
Below, Insider breaks down how cryptocurrencies’ wild few weeks have affected the industry.
From miners to the DeFi companies, the crypto community has been forced, once again, to navigate price swings. Here’s a look at how they made out according to the experts.
Traders and Investors
Some short-term traders and long-term investors were greatly impacted by bitcoin’s recent price swing, but for others, it was business as usual.
The majority of the pain dished out by falling prices in cryptocurrencies was felt by new entrants to the space looking to make a quick buck by trading but ended up sellig coins at a loss.
According to data from Glassnode, “there is no question that a large portion of the recent spending activity was driven by short-term holders, those owning coins purchased within the last 6-months.”
Insider spoke with Todd Jones, the chief investment officer of the wealth management firm Gratus Capital, to confirm Glassnode’s findings.
Jones said that none of his long-term focused clients have been selling their cryptocurrency and noted that much of the sell-off in bitcoin’s price was a result of traders’ “leverage unwinding.”
On-chain margin traders raced to exit their leveraged positions when cryptocurrencies faced their most recent bout of volatility, according to a May 19 Daily Gwei newsletter.
Ethereum gas fees (the fee required to successfully conduct a transaction on ethereum) surged to record highs as a result driving “gas wars amongst liquidators and arbitrageurs,” according to Delphi Digital.
“The price was falling so fast that people were getting scared for their on-chain leveraged positions and were willing to pay anything to get their transaction included in the next Ethereum block (presumably to close their positions),” ethereum developer Anthony Sassano speculated, per Coin Telegraph.
Bitcoin traders using up to 100-to-1 leverage also rushed to sell, furthering volatility in the asset.
This leverage unwinding added to cryptocurrencies’ woes. However, for long-term holders of ether and bitcoin, the price drop and rising gas fees weren’t relevant.
Essentially, the most recent bout of volatility hurt traders far more than long-term investors, who still believe their holdings will appreciate moving forward.
“Recent price volatility should not be very impactful to a long-term holder of BTC. It comes with the territory. Any asset that can go up 800% in a year also has the potential to collapse 90% (similar to the early days of AMZN). Price volatility goes hand in hand with speculative assets,” Todd Jones of Gratus Capital said.
In Jones’ view, now is a “good time to add” to cryptocurrency holdings as a part of a diversified portfolio.
However, like all mining operations, the value of the end product is a critical component to securing profitability.
Insider spoke with Phil McPherson, Riot Blockchain’s vice president of capital markets, to delve into how cryptocurrency price swings can affect miners.
McPherson said that when bitcoin’s price falls, miners could be forced to sell coins in order to continue their operations. The key is the mining cost per coin, which varies greatly depending on the company.
“Smaller miners with higher fixed costs and costs of goods would probably be hurt more,” McPherson said.
The VP added that his company is in a “unique position” due to its strong balance sheet. Riot ended the first quarter with $241 million of cash on hand and an average cost per coin mined of around $15,000, enabling them to keep all the bitcoin they mine and continue operations even in a down market for the digital asset.
“On a daily basis, we’re mining call it six or seven bitcoin a day, sometimes it’s higher, sometimes it’s lower, but we’re not selling that bitcoin, we’re stacking it,” McPherson said. “So the fact that we’re bullish long term, the price volatility hasn’t affected our business from a financial standpoint because we’re not selling it into this depressed market.”
McPherson noted that when bitcoin’s price falls, the global hash rate (the difficulty of mining the currency) falls as well, which is actually a benefit for miners who can remain in operation.
“From our perspective, the volatility in some ways has been good for market leaders like us,” McPherson added.
Decentralized Finance, or DeFi, is a system that allows users access to financial products on a public, decentralized blockchain network.
Most DeFi companies use the ethereum blockchain to run their operations, and the total value locked on the DeFi network is now over $62 billion, according to data from Defipulse.com.
DeFi applications include stablecoins, lending platforms, prediction markets, and much more, and the industry allows traders to profit from tactics like yield farming and liquidity mining.
Jeff Dorman, CFA, the chief investment officer of the digital asset management firm Arca, told Insider the recent volatility in cryptocurrencies was a “real stress test” for the DeFi space.
According to the CIO, DeFi companies passed this latest test without issue, but in the past, that wasn’t always the case.
Dorman pointed to differences in the DeFi system amid recent price swings compared to volatile periods from the past.
The CIO gave an example of MakerDao, a popular DeFi lending and borrowing platform, that “basically broke” in March of last year when the crypto market saw a steep drop in pricing and was forced to take $4.5 million in socialized losses from the event.
“There was price feed issues with regard to their API connectivity, and as a result, borrowers were being liquidated even though they shouldn’t have been because of a price issue. MakerDao had to socialize those losses and raise new money and pay back all the victims over time,” Dorman said.
This time was very different, however, according to the CIO.
“This time around, it was the exact opposite. I can’t give you an example because nothing happened. Every price oracle worked, every decentralized exchange worked, every decentralized lending and borrowing platform worked, every decentralized insurance company worked. I mean, it was unbelievable to see,” Dorman said.
The CIO pointed out that centralized entities in the crypto world like Coinbase and Binance “were all having problems” with price volatility this time around. DeFi companies, on the other hand, were able to navigate the price swings without issue.
DeFi liquidations did rise 14-fold during the broad crypto sell-off, Debank data shows, as traders in the space looked to protect themselves from losses.
However, at the end of the day, the crypto community was able to whether recent price drops and volatility fairly impressively.
Some traders, especially those using excessive leverage, were hurt, but overall, the industry kept on trucking in what will likely be thought of as a positive sign for the future of the space.
Vitalik Buterin was inspired by a medieval scientific theory when he came up with the name for the ethereum network, according to Camilla Russo, former Bloomberg journalist and founder of DeFi news platform, The Defiant.
In her 2020 book The Infinite Machine, Russo said that Buterin looked to science fiction terms for inspiration when he wrote the ethereum white paper in 2013.
Buterin was scrolling through Wikipedia when he came across the word “ether,” and remembered this term from a science book he had read as a child.
Ether is the now disproved concept that there’s a subtle material that fills space and carries all light waves. In the 19th century, scientists assumed ether was weightless, transparent, frictionless, undetectable chemically or physically, and permeated all matter and space, according to Britannica. “Vitalik wanted his platform to be the underlying and imperceptible medium for every application, just what medieval scientists thought ether was,” Russo said. “Plus, it sounded nice.”
He landed on the word “ethereum,” to describe the decentralized protocol.
“Ether” refers to the cryptocurrency of the ethereum blockchain, a fuel that can be used for payments or to power decentralized apps built on the platform.
The theory of ether was abandoned by scientists after Albert Einstein formed the special theory of relativity in 1905, per Britannica. But the use cases for the ethereum protocol are just getting started, crypto experts say.
Bitcoin dropped by more than 8% to trade under $36,000 during Friday’s session, slumping alongside other cryptocurrencies as the market starts wrapping up a month rocked by regulatory threats and Tesla’s about-face on accepting bitcoin as payment.
The world’s largest cryptocurrency lost as much as 8.5% at $35,178 but trimmed the loss to 7.5%. It again lost grip of the $40,000 level it had reached on Thursday. Meanwhile, ether, the token of the Ethereum blockchain, fell nearly 7%, Binance Coin lost 8%, as did Cardano-ADA, and Dogecoin moved 6% lower.
Volatility in the crypto market was showing signs of a pickup on Friday. The Crypto Volatility Index climbed above 133 after falling to roughly 127. The CVI has soared from the 80 level at the start of May, but is off its recent high close to 183.
Downbeat crypto news flowed through the market Friday, led by South Korea moving ahead with its plan to impose a 20% levy on cryptocurrency transactions beginning in 2022, Yonhap News Agency reported. Gains from virtual assets will need to be reported when filing for general income taxes in May 2023, the report said.
Meanwhile, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda criticized bitcoin during an interview with Bloomberg. “Most of the trading is speculative and volatility is extraordinarily high,” he said. “It’s barely used as a means of settlement.”
But bitcoin’s price is poised to regain upward momentum, said Peter Jensen, CEO of RocketFuel Blockchain, in a note.
“BTC always recovers from past dips and surpasses the previous upper boundary/ceiling price,” he wrote. “We could see a similar upward trend in the coming months due to the Robinhood IPO and release of Central Bank Digital Currencies from various countries, which is expected to cement crypto as the future medium for trade and settlement.”