Crypto

3 crypto storylines to follow

Every news cycle—no matter how crazy—comes to an end as readers grow exhausted and reporters start to chase other shiny things. And that appears to be the case with the FTX story, which dominated the front pages of the business press for three weeks but now appears to be receding as the media shifts its attention to holiday shopping, protests in China, and the World Cup. The battered crypto world, meanwhile, is still far from normal (is it ever?) but is coming to terms with a post-FTX landscape. But what will that future look like? For now, there are three broad storylines to watch.

The first is the crypto markets. While the events of November delivered another brutal new blow to asset prices already in the toilet, Bitcoin appears to have bottomed out around $16,000 while Ethereum continues to skitter around $1,100. That’s a rough comedown from the giddy highs of 2021 for crypto’s two bluechip currencies, but still a far cry from the post-2017 doldrums when Bitcoin traded below $4,000 and Ethereum could be had for $89. If prices can hold steady until 2023, or even eke out a few gains, the worst could—just maybe—be over, provided there are no more massive shocks to the ecosystem.

That raises the second thing to watch in coming weeks, namely that while the news is starting to move on from FTX, the ruin and contamination the company unleashed is far from over. We are still learning the full extent of Sam Bankman-Fried’s sinister business dealings, and just who else is caught up in his web of fraud. While it’s becoming pretty clear who in the crypto industry is in serious trouble post-FTX, other names still could emerge—and if included among them are any big names, then look out: The horror movie could continue.

The final storyline to watch revolves around Washington, D.C., where the FTX mop up is just getting underway. In the coming months, expect a parade of hearings, subpoenas, and performance stunts as politicians try to atone for getting snookered by Bankman-Fried by proposing major overhauls of how the crypto industry operates. Depending on how it plays out, all of this may not be a bad thing. The industry could finally get the regulatory clarity it has been seeking for years, along with measures to spur innovation such as stablecoin legislation and a law to make small crypto transactions tax exempt.

Meanwhile, here at Fortune Crypto, you can expect our coverage to slowly return to happier stuff. Stories about startups using blockchain to upend traditional finance, big companies like PayPal and Mastercard leaning into crypto, and digital tokens changing everything from payments to stock exchanges. And, as always, we’re keen to hear your thoughts.

Jeff John Roberts
jeff.roberts@fortune.com
@jeffjohnroberts

DECENTRALIZED NEWS

FTX assets include a stake in a Washington state bank with three employees, raising questions about how regulators allowed “an offshore hedge fund” to gain control of a U.S. bank. (NYT)

Binance published a proof-of-reserves system for its Bitcoin holdings that suggest—though not definitively—that customer balances are backed at 101%. (TechCrunch)

Ethereum software giant ConsenSys revealed it collects user IP addresses and other records for its popular MetaMask wallet, angering some in the privacy-conscious crypto world. (CoinDesk)

Sam Bankman-Fried‘s Washington, D.C., activities show how floods of cash mean “even a 30-year-old in cargo shorts can win a seat at the table for critical policy debates.” (WSJ)

The number of U.S. Bitcoin ATMs peaked at around 34,000 in August, while in September the number of machines retired exceeded those installed for the first time. (Bloomberg)

MEME O THE MOMENT

Gadfly VCs on to the next thing:

 

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