Crypto Markets Steady Over Christmas Despite Macro Uncertainties

Bullet Points
• Bitcoin held steady throughout the Christmas holiday weekend at about $16,900.
• Most other major cryptos were flat, with a tint of green over red.
• Investors largely ignored crypto and the macroeconomic uncertainties that have plagued the world in 2022.

It was a quiet Christmas weekend for the crypto markets, with Bitcoin holding steady at about $16,900 and most other major cryptos flat or slightly green. This lack of movement in the markets comes as investors largely ignored crypto and the macroeconomic uncertainties that have plagued the world in 2022.

First Mover Asia took a look back at CoinDesk’s best and most impactful stories from the past year and considered one of the upsides to the series of debacles that have deeply wounded the industry. Columnist David Z. Morris argued that investors’ growing uncertainties about crypto’s future will root out careless speculation and refocus attention on “good deals and ideas.”

The CoinDesk Market Index (CMI) was at 799.40, up 3.7 points, or 0.5%, while Bitcoin was at $16,872, up 50.8 points, or 0.3%, and Ethereum was at $1,224, up 6.6 points, or 0.5%. The S&P 500 closed at 3,844.82, up 22.4 points, or 0.6%, and gold was at $1,809, up 13.4 points, or 0.7%. The 10-year Treasury yield was at 3.75%, up 0.1%.

Investors were keeping a close watch on the markets, as all eyes turn to the new year and what it might bring for the crypto market. After what has been a turbulent year, many are hoping for a more stable 2021. With Bitcoin holding steady, it looks like investors may be cautiously optimistic about the future.

SEC Doubles Crypto-Asset Enforcement Team, Sets Stage for 2023 Regulation

• The SEC nearly doubled the size of its crypto-asset enforcement team in early 2022 and is likely to continue its enforcement-based regulation in 2023.
• SEC Chairman Gary Gensler believes that the “vast majority” of crypto assets are securities and that only a few may not be securities.
• The SEC classifies many crypto assets as “investment contracts” and is reportedly investigating non-fungible tokens.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has been regulating crypto assets since the introduction of Bitcoin by Satoshi more than a decade ago. After a year of significant developments in the world of crypto, many are wondering what the SEC and Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) will bring in 2023.

One notable change is the expansion of the SEC’s crypto-asset enforcement team, which has nearly doubled in size since early 2022. This suggests that the SEC will continue to regulate crypto assets by enforcement in 2023.

SEC Chairman Gary Gensler has expressed the belief that the “vast majority” of crypto assets are securities and that only a few may not be securities. To this end, the SEC classifies many crypto assets as “investment contracts”. This is in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court’s definition of an investment contract in SEC v. W.J. Howey & Co., wherein an investor invests money into a common enterprise with a reasonable expectation of profits derived from the entrepreneurial or managerial efforts of others.

In addition to this, the SEC is reportedly investigating non-fungible tokens. Gensler has commented that he may “think CryptoKitties is not a security”, and yet the SEC’s investigation into these tokens shows that it is still taking a cautious approach when it comes to crypto assets.

The SEC’s approach to crypto regulation is similar to the approach taken by Gensler when he was Chairman of the CFTC. When he was at the helm of the CFTC, Gensler disregarded industry opposition and leveraged the existing futures regulatory framework in order to implement new swap market regulations under the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2008.

It is clear that the SEC will remain a key player in the world of crypto in 2023. With its increasing enforcement team and its steady approach to crypto regulation, the SEC will likely continue to play an important role in protecting investors and maintaining the integrity of the crypto markets.

Catch the Wash Traders: Report Reveals 58% of NFT Trading Volume on Ethereum is Fake

• A recent report compiled on blockchain data site Dune Analytics has revealed that wash trading accounts for over half (58%) of the total NFT trade volumes on Ethereum in 2022.
• The researcher used four filters to weed out odd trading behavior that most likely pointed to wash trading.
• The report shows that over $30 billion of NFT trading volume from all time could be linked to wash trading, which represents about 1.5% of all trades that have taken place on Ethereum.

The non-fungible token (NFT) market has recently been plagued by wash trading – a form of market manipulation where the buyer and seller in a transaction are the same or collude together. To better understand the prevalence of this issue, a recent report was compiled on blockchain data site Dune Analytics. The analysis revealed that wash trading accounts for over half (58%) of the total NFT trade volumes on Ethereum in 2022.

The researcher used four filters to weed out odd trading behavior that most likely pointed to wash trading. First, they filtered out obvious trades of NFTs between the same wallet address. Second, they looked at back-and-forth trades of the same NFT between two different wallet addresses – one of the most common wash trading tactics. Third, if a wallet address had purchased the same NFT three or more times, it was flagged as a wash trade because of the unlikeliness of the situation. Finally, if a buyer and seller in an NFT transaction had wallets that were first funded by the same wallet, it was obvious that there was a connection between them and was therefore flagged as a wash trade.

The report found that wash trading was most prevalent in January, accounting for over 80% of the total NFT trading volume that month. In total, over $30 billion of NFT trading volume from all time could be linked to wash trading. This number is staggering, though it only represents about 1.5% of all trades that have taken place on Ethereum. This data shows that the majority of NFT trades are legitimate, but happen at a generally lower price than the wash trades.

Given the prevalence of wash trading within the NFT market, it is more important than ever to be vigilant when engaging in any NFT transactions. It is important to research the details of any potential transactions and the parties involved in order to ensure that the transaction is legitimate. Additionally, it is important to be aware of the potential risks of wash trading and to avoid engaging in any suspicious activities. With these precautions, NFT traders can protect themselves and the NFT market from market manipulation and malicious actors.

Mythical Games Sues Ex-Execs for $150M Breach of Fiduciary Duty

• Mythical Games has filed a lawsuit against three former executives, Chris Ko, Matt Nutt, and Rudy Koch, for breaching fiduciary duty while employed at the firm.
• The lawsuit claims that the executives stole the company’s plans for raising capital and funneled $150 million into their new firm, Fenix Games.
• Mythical is suing Ko, Nutt and Koch on 10 counts and is seeking the return of the stolen funds, as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Mythical Games recently filed a lawsuit against three of its former executives, Chris Ko, Matt Nutt, and Rudy Koch, for breaching fiduciary duty while employed at the firm. According to the case filed Thursday, the three executives allegedly stole the company’s plans for raising capital and funneled $150 million into their new firm, Fenix Games, while still employed by Mythical.

The lawsuit claims that the three executives, who served as Senior Vice President, Chief Operating Officer and head of games, and co-founder of Mythical Games, respectively, had been tasked with acquiring investors for Mythical’s venture capital wing, Mythical Ventures. After each separately announced their departure from the firm in November, the executives announced that Fenix Games had raised funds from Cypher Capital, a lead investor the executives had previously been working with to obtain capital for Mythical Ventures.

In response to the lawsuit, Nate Nesbitt, head of communications at Mythical Games, said, “We believe very strongly in the protection of our intellectual property and corporate assets. In this instance, it was necessary to take these steps to rectify this situation and protect the company’s corporate interest, as is our duty to our employees and investors.”

The lawsuit against Ko, Nutt, and Koch is seeking the return of the stolen funds, as well as compensatory and punitive damages. The lawsuit includes 10 counts of fraud and breach of contract and also requests that the executives refrain from using the stolen funds.

This lawsuit comes shortly after Mythical Games raised $150 million in a Series C round led by crypto VC Andreessen Horowitz (a16z). However, last month, the firm let go 10% of its staff, citing the current crypto winter as a catalyst for the layoffs. Fenix Games did not respond to CoinDesk’s request for comment by publication time.

$250 Million Bond Secured Only by $4 Million Home

• Sam Bankman-Fried was released from federal court on Thursday after posting an unprecedented $250 million bond.
• However, the bond was not secured by cash or collateral worth $250 million.
• The bond was secured only by his parents’ home in Palo Alto, California, worth $4 million.

Sam Bankman-Fried was released from federal court on Thursday after posting an unprecedented $250 million bond. This bond was so large that Assistant U.S. Attorney Nicholas Roos described it as the “largest ever” pretrial bond. However, the $250 million bond was far from as it seemed.

In most federal cases, a bail bondsman would charge a fee of 10%-15% of the amount in cash to issue a surety bond or “bail bond”. In Bankman-Fried’s case, this would have been $37.5 million. But this fee was not paid. Instead, Bankman-Fried’s parents promised to pledge their Palo Alto, California home, worth $4 million, as collateral to secure the $250 million bond. This was the only collateral that was pledged.

So, where did the figure $250 million come from? The figure was not derived from any cash or collateral that Bankman-Fried or his parents could provide. Instead, the figure was based on the seriousness of the charges against Bankman-Fried. The higher the bond amount, the more likely it is that the defendant will appear in court due to the significant consequences should the bond be forfeited.

Therefore, the high bond amount of $250 million was set for Bankman-Fried in order to ensure his attendance in court. However, the only collateral that was secured to guarantee the bond was the $4 million Palo Alto home.

Twitter’s Changing Course: 30 Million Users Flee, Impact on Crypto Unknown

• Insider Intelligence predicts that Twitter will lose 30 million users over the next two years.
• Crypto Twitter, the argumentative community of crypto enthusiasts, critics, meme propagators and related trolls, will also see exits.
• The kinds of people considering leaving Twitter are likely to be politically and ideologically different from those adamant on staying.

Many people have been speculating about the future of Twitter with the recent changes brought by Elon Musk’s controversial leadership. His decisions have caused many to worry that the platform is headed for a slow death spiral, and this week Insider Intelligence has predicted that Twitter will lose 30 million users over the next two years. This means that about 10% of the active user base will be gone, and the impact on real human engagement could be significant.

On top of this, Crypto Twitter—the argumentative community of crypto enthusiasts, critics, meme propagators, NFT creators, coin-pumpers and related trolls—will also see exits. Those who are considering leaving Twitter are likely to be politically and ideologically different from those adamant on staying, making it difficult for the community to remain as diverse as it once was in terms of ideas. This could have a detrimental effect on the future of crypto, as Twitter has been an important forum for industry stakeholders to discuss issues and hash out differences.

Given the potential consequences of this situation, it is important to take stock of the changes that have been made to the platform and the effects they may have. The first major change was a move away from traditional moderation techniques, which caused many to worry about a rise in anti-semitic and racist slurs. This shift has been a cause for concern among many users, as it has led to a decrease in civility and respect for other users.

In addition, there has been a noticeable increase in the amount of misinformation and conspiracy theories being spread on the platform. This has been especially troubling for those who rely on Twitter for news and accurate information. Furthermore, many users have expressed frustration with the changes to the algorithms, which have created an environment where it is more difficult for certain voices to be heard.

Overall, these changes have caused many to question the future of Twitter, and it remains to be seen how the platform will evolve over the coming years. It is clear, however, that the effects of Elon Musk’s leadership may have far-reaching consequences, not just for the platform itself, but for the future of Crypto Twitter and the industry as a whole.

Craig Wright Appeals Norwegian Court Ruling in Bitcoin Case

• A Norwegian court ruling has been appealed by Craig Wright, who claims to be the founder of Bitcoin.
• His right to protest the ruling has been upheld by the Norwegian Court of Appeal, lawyers involved in the case have told CoinDesk.
• The case involves issues such as defamation, protection of the personal sphere and harassment.

A new twist has been added to the already complicated legal cases surrounding Craig Wright, the man who claims to be the founder of Bitcoin. Wright has been given the go-ahead to appeal a Norwegian court ruling, CoinDesk has been told.

The ruling was issued in October by Judge Helen Engebrigtsen of the Oslo District Court, stating that Magnus Granath (aka Hodlonaut) was within his rights to post tweets in 2019 calling Wright a “fraud” and a “scammer” for claiming to be the true founder of Bitcoin.

Wright’s appeal has now been approved by the Norwegian Court of Appeal, with lawyers from both sides confirming the news to CoinDesk. Wright’s attorney, Halvor Manshaus, a partner at Oslo practice Schjødt, said in a statement that the decision means that the Court of Appeals will hear his case and render its own independent decision. Manshaus mentioned that the case involves other non-economic interests, such as defamation, protection of the personal sphere and harassment, aside from the monetary claims.

On the other hand, Ørjan Salvesen Haukaas, a partner at the law firm DLA Piper, representing Granath, attempted to downplay the significance of the decision. He said in an email that there is nothing dramatic or unusual about the decision by the appeals court.

Manshaus had indicated back in October that Wright intends to appeal, pointing out how anonymous online bullying could have a chilling effect on public discourse. Granath had hoped that the Norwegian case would be able to prevent an unfavorable ruling in the UK, where defamation laws are much stricter.

Wright scored a partial legal victory in the UK on Wednesday, where he is suing the estate of the late computer scientist David Kleiman for $10 billion. The court ruled that Wright is not entitled to a portion of Kleiman’s Bitcoin holdings, but Wright is still able to pursue the claim for the alleged theft of intellectual property.

The Norwegian Court of Appeal will now decide if Wright’s right to protest the ruling by Judge Engebrigtsen should be upheld. If it is, it will be a significant decision that could have far-reaching implications in other cases involving defamation and online harassment.