PLUS: Buy bitcoin right from your bank

It was a frothy week in crypto as Dogecoin made it two-thirds of the way to a dollar, and Ethereum Classic raced past $100 per coin in a 280% gain in just seven days, perhaps riding the momentum of ether, which also hit an ATH at $3,500+. 

The market was not all froth. Underneath the head-shaking token gains, there was also hard news across the industry:

  • Soon, for the first time, US customers at hundreds of banks will be able to purchase BTC directly from their bank account.
  • Bitcoin’s Taproot Update looks like it could be approved over the next few months. 
  • Uniswap v3 went live on Wednesday. 
  • Galaxy Digital made the first $1 billion acquisition in the crypto industry.

In other news, PayPal might be looking into launching a stablecoin. Berkshire Hathaway’s Charlie Munger is NOT a fan of Bitcoin. EBay’s CEO made some exciting comments regarding NFTs in a recent interview. And, lastly, maybe working in crypto is not as glamorous as it is made out to be. 

On the pods, I finally got to cover a story I’ve heard women in crypto chat about privately for years but were usually not willing to discuss publicly — the gender disparity in crypto — during a panel I moderated for the Amber Group. On Unconfirmed, Democratic candidate for New York City comptroller Reshma Patel describes why she believes blockchain technology could “future-proof” the city and its pension fund.

Listen to the Latest Episode of Unchained

Crypto’s Gender Disparity: What Can Be Done About It? 4 Women Weigh In

Crypto sits at the intersection of two male-dominated industries: tech and finance. I was asked to moderate a panel for the Amber Group with four leading women in crypto to discuss the role of gender in the crypto industry and what can be done to bring more women into the space. Panelists include Mia Deng, partner at Dragonfly Capital; Amy Zhang, vice president of sales at Fireblocks; Alexis Gauba, cofounder at Opyn; and Annabelle Huang, partner at Amber Group.

Listen to the Latest Episode of Unconfirmed

Reshma Patel, a Democratic candidate for New York City’s Comptroller position, talks about her “future proof” plan for the city, which centers on investing in cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.

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This Week’s Crypto News…

Bitcoin in Your Bank Account?

Fintech firm FIS is partnering with digital asset manager NYDIG to bring about an industry first: customers at hundreds of US banks will be able to purchase, HODL, or sell Bitcoin directly within their bank account — without having to go through an exchange, like Coinbase, or a payment application, such as PayPal. NYDIG will handle custody and security. The program has already enrolled hundreds of smaller institutions. As reported by CNBC, NYDIG is in discussions with several of the larger banks in the US about bringing them into the program.

Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs have already announced that they will offer bitcoin funds to their high net worth clients, with JPMorgan reportedly mulling a similar product. Maybe the decision of smaller banks to try and front-run Bitcoin adoption for the everyday customer will pressure the larger institutions to follow suit for their retail customers.

With such a plethora of ways to gain exposure to BTC, it is no wonder that Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust seems to be struggling. Grayscale’s parent company, Digital Currency Group, authorized the purchase of up to $750 million in GBTC shares this week, upping its authorization by $500 million. GBTC has been trading at a discount for three months, meaning the market price of its shares is trading under its net asset value.

In an Effort to Bring More Privacy to Bitcoin, Its Taproot Activation Period Begins

Regarding Bitcoin, the asset all this fuss is about, Bitcoin’s Taproot update has begun its three-month activation period. @bitcoin_DLC put it rather succinctly on Twitter:

Miners who wish to adopt the update can signal support by adding a “signal bit” in blocks they mine. Bitcoin Magazine reports that nearly half of the network hash rate is currently supporting the update. If 90% of blocks mined during the next three months include the signal bit, the upgrade will be confirmed for November 2021.

If all that made your eyes glaze over, just hold on to this nugget: a benefit of Taproot is that mixing coins and disguising transactions would be easier, potentially making the life of the blockchain analytics companies, who specialize in tracing fraudulent transactions, much, much harder.

Ether Streaks Past $3k

Ether hit another all-time high on Wednesday. The token reached $3,550 in the late afternoon, extending a rally in price that is over 350% in gains — just this year. Decrypt reports that Vitalik Buterin, the 27-year old co-founder of Ethereum, owns an ETH wallet worth more than $1 billion. Buterin initially disclosed his personal ETH address in 2018 on Twitter, and the address has been watched closely ever since. The wallet currently contains a whopping 333,521 ether, cementing Vitalik’s place as a HODLer.

Perhaps lifted by Ethereum exuberance, Ethereum Classic’s native token, ETC, has skyrocketed in price as well, hitting a record high of around $150 on Wednesday. ETC is a child of the 2016 DAO fork and has been hacked three times since then, most likely due to the lower computational power backing the network compared to stalwarts like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

DeFi’s Unicorn Is Live

In a blog post Wednesday morning, Uniswap, the largest decentralized exchange by trading volume, officially announced the launch of its version 3. Unveiled in March, v3 is expected to give users more control over the liquidity they provide, along with better execution for traders.

So far, the market seems to be giving the new update two thumbs up: in the first 24 hours since v3 went live, Uniswap accounted for 43% of all decentralized exchange volume on Ethereum. Uniswap v2 will remain functional as long as Ethereum exists. However, the Uniswap team expects much of the trading to migrate to v3 at some point.

Who Let the Doge Out?

Dogecoin hit 69 cents on Tuesday. Yes, that really happened. The meme-coin is, apparently, here to stay. Both eToro and Gemini announced the launch of DOGE trading on their platforms. Galaxy Digital released a 22-page report on the token titled “Dogecoin: The World’s Most Honest Sh*tcoin” that cites a genuine origin story, longevity, and a growing community as strong fundamentals supporting its rise. Dogecoin’s market cap is currently the fourth-largest in crypto, sitting at around $80 billion.

That being said, Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer of the Human Rights Foundation, made a few salient points on Dogecoin that I found particularly noteworthy for investors:

Bitso, Coin Metrics, and Showtime Announce Funding Rounds

Three fundraises caught my eye this week:

  • The Mexico-based crypto exchange Bitso wrapped up a $250 million funding round valuing the company at $2.2 billion — making it the first crypto unicorn in Latin America to date. Tiger Global and Coatue led the round.

  • Coin Metrics, a cryptocurrency analytics firm (and home to some of my favorite content), has raised $15 million, led by Goldman Sachs.

  • NFT social network, Showtime, raised $7.6 million in funding from crypto investment firm Paradigm and DJ 3LAU. Showtime is headed by Alex Masmej, who previously tokenized himself last April, allowing $ALEX token holders to dictate his exercise and diet schedule.

Crypto’s First Billion-Dollar Deal

Mike Novogratz’s Galaxy Digital is set to acquire BitGo, a digital asset infrastructure provider, for $1.2 billion in cash and stock. The acquisition, announced Wednesday, will be the crypto industry’s first $1 billion deal.

The BitGo purchase could put Galaxy Digital in a strong position to serve institutions seeking access to crypto. BitGo has a strong resume itself: the company currently has $40 billion in assets under custody, serves over 150 exchanges and over 400 institutional customers, and processes 30 billion transactions monthly.

Quick Bits:

  1. PayPal is exploring the launch of a stablecoin. The Block reports the payment giant has spoken to at least one stablecoin protocol development firm, Ava Labs.

  2. In an interview on CNBC’s Squawk Box, EBay CEO Jamie Iannone hinted that the digital marketplace might accept crypto as payment in the future. He also teased the addition of an NFT platform.

  3. Charlie Munger, the 97-year-old vice chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, made clear his distaste for Bitcoin during Berkshire’s annual meeting, saying, “I think the whole damn development is disgusting and contrary to the interests of civilization.”

  4. It was a big week for crypto funds:

    1. A16z is looking to build out a $1 billion crypto fund, its third — which could ultimately be double its last fund at $515 million.

    2. Multicoin Capital is launching a $100 million fund to invest in DeFi, NFTs, and Web3 applications, focusing on the Solana blockchain.

  5. A federal court in California is authorizing the IRS to obtain the identities of any user who has traded $20,000+ on cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, which, disclosure, is a former sponsor of my show. The DOJ is not alleging Kraken has engaged in any illegal activity; instead, the IRS is focused on finding would-be tax dodgers.

  6. Coinbase’s stock price dropped considerably on Thursday, hitting $251 around midday. COIN is down 12% this week, possibly struggling because of BTC, the crypto bellwether,  which has stagnated in the mid-$50k range, while the rest of the market has thrived.

Doge-sitting Pays

If you had invested all three of your stimulus checks into DOGE over the past year, you would now be sitting on top of $425,000 in fake internet dog money.

With $425,000 in DOGE, you could trade that in for:

For context on how well DOGE has performed, Bitcoin is up 93% YTD while ETH is up 350%… Dogecoin’s return is above 13,000% this year alone.

Oh, and by the way, Elon Musk, “The Dogefather,” will be hosting Saturday Night Live this week, meaning that Dogecoin will most likely find a place in next week’s recap as well.

Maybe Crypto Isn’t So Fun

On this week’s Unchained, the pod ended with Annabelle Huang, partner at Amber Group, giving advice for women thinking about going into crypto, saying, “For the women out there who are thinking about this… it’s not as crazy as you think it is!”

That’s why I had to laugh at a recent thread posted by Jon Syu, marketing director at Brightloom, that certainly pumped the brakes on romanticizing the crypto lifestyle and gives some insight on what *actually* goes on behind the scenes. I recommend the whole thread, but I’ll end the show with my favorite lamentation regarding poor sleep cycles for crypto founders. Jon writes:

It’s possible that going all-in on crypto might be as crazy as Jon depicts, but, as I can attest, leaping into crypto is totally worth it 🙂