Bitcoin Slumps To Lowest Level Since End Of 2020

Bitcoin (BITCOMP) has slumped to its lowest level since the end of 2020, thanks to fears over accelerating inflation in the US. 


While cryptoassets have in the past not moved in step with traditional assets such as equities, in recent times the link between the two has grown ever closer. Now the clearest signal yet that cryptoassets such as bitcoin and ether are moving in lockstep with equities has flashed, as inflation worries have sent stocks and crypto tumbling.

The reasons for this are varied, but much of it comes down to institutional holders which calibrate their risk assets in similar ways, be they tech stocks or bitcoin. US monthly inflation dropped in April from 8.5% to 8.3% suggesting price rises had found a ‘top’ - but fresh highs of 8.6% last Friday have rattled equity and crypto markets alike. 

Bitcoin began the week strongly, raising above the $31,000 level, but traded mostly around $30,000 later in the week. But over the weekend it has slumped to below $25,000 on the eToro platform, thanks to inflation fears. 

Ether (ETH-X) likewise traded up to around $1,900 before oscillating around $1,800 later in the week. Over the weekend however the price has fallen significantly and is now trading around $1,300. 

The Merge on track as developers announce ‘difficulty bomb’

The Ethereum blockchain’s upcoming ‘merge’ is on track as it completed the Ropsten network test. On Friday, developers involved in the blockchain’s transition announced that they would implement a ‘difficulty bomb’ on the old proof-of-work network in order to encourage adoption on the new system.

The Merge will essentially move the Ethereum blockchain from a proof-of-work (PoW) to a proof-of-stake (PoS) model. This will encourage holders of the crypto to participate in the network, and is seeking to transition away from PoW as it is a highly energy-intensive process.

While miners will continue to be able to operate PoW, the difficulty bomb will be introduced after launch to make the process of mining much more difficult in order to dissuade them from doing so. The implication for this is that much fewer ether tokens will be minted in future, and it is suggested that in time it will become a deflationary cryptoasset thanks to the PoS model - where essentially holders are encouraged to behave like savers. 

There have been reservations raised by developers, however, with some suggesting the difficulty bomb could slow down the process for The Merge. Founder Vitalik Buterin has predicted it would take place in August, or by October at the latest. 

Mastercard to launch NFT payments

Global payment networks firm Mastercard (MA) is set to launch direct support for NFT and Web3 platforms on its cards. The firm says it is working to enable customers to access the market and lower barriers to products with its payment solutions.

With the NFT and Web3 space growing quickly, the addition of a major infrastructure element such as Mastercard cannot be underestimated. Access is perhaps one of the key issues when it comes to emergent financial technologies such as NFTs, and removing barriers to entry is a boon for the space. 

A rich and diverse sector has grown out of the emergent NFT market, and despite price weakness in recent months, the projects, ideas and innovations are still there working away. When huge institutional financial players such as Mastercard enter the sphere, it is a big moment. Mastercard already has options when it comes to other cryptoassets but NFT and Web3 are still nascent in this regard. 

The firm is working with some notable players including The Sandbox, which is available on the eToro platform under the token SAND, to allow customers to use Mastercard cards on a variety of platforms to pay for digital goods. Mastercard says its partner firms generated some $25 billion in sales in 2021. 

Salesforce launches its own NFT platform

Cloud software firm Salesforce (CRM) is launching its own NFT platform, named NFT Cloud. The firm is a global leader in business cloud software and has gone from strength to strength in the past few years as a leader in cloud computing, making an NFT platform a natural fit. 

The platform will allow business customers of the firm to mint and manage their own NFTs and help them to create brand engagement strategies and access. It is a classic play from the firm to offer tools to other businesses that open up new technologies. 

While there is already a strong market for NFT platforms and a panoply of ways to create them, the importance of firms such as Salesforce offering these kinds of tools is that it opens the marketplace up to companies that may not have sufficient internal tech savviness to create their own product from scratch. 

There is a clear appetite from consumers for NFTs that help them engage with the brands they love. The Salesforce offering is quite a compelling idea for their business customers to take on.

Disclaimer: This article should not be taken as investment advice, personal recommendation, or an offer of, or solicitation to buy or sell, any financial instruments. This material has been ...

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