This week in coins. Illustration by Mitchell Preffer for Decrypt.
After briefly dipping last week, Bitcoin and Ethereum continued their steady 2023 growth with modest gains this week. All the while, however, several other leading cryptocurrencies posted sizable rallies.
Bitcoin (BTC) added just over 1% to its value over the last seven days, currently trading just above $23,400. Bitcoin mining difficulty hit a new all-time high this week as miners continue to deploy more hardware to mine the largest cryptocurrency by market cap, despite the sector being hit by mounting energy prices and a recent spate of bankruptcies.
The price of stock for Bitcoin-exposed cloud software company MicroStrategy has risen nearly 100% since the start of 2023 and rallied 12% over five days this week. MicroStrategy chairman Michael Saylor is a huge Bitcoin bull and has filled the company war chest with 132,500 BTC—worth over $3.1 billion today.
Ethereum (ETH) rose 5% and currently trades at about $1,680, according to data from CoinGecko. The network on Wednesday tested the withdrawals feature of its much-anticipated upcoming Shanghai upgrade, which will finally enable validators to withdraw their earnings. Validators currently have to stake 32 ETH (almost $54,000 worth) to validate transactions and earn rewards.
Both market leaders briefly dipped on Monday in anticipation of another round of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve. Last year, the U.S. central bank hiked interest rates by 75 basis points—the steepest hikes since 1994—four times in total, before rounding off the year with another hike of 50 basis points. Crypto prices swiftly rebounded on news of the latest hike, announced on Wednesday, which was only 25 basis points.
The MATIC token of Ethereum scaling network Polygon rose almost 10% over the week to trade at $1.27 at the time of writing. More individual NFTs were sold on Polygon than Ethereum via leading marketplace OpenSea for the second consecutive month in January, according to analytics by Dune, amid a growing push for brands and Web3 gaming on the platform.
Other notable rallies among the top 30 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization include Ethereum Classic (ETC), which blew up 9% to about $24, Cosmos (ATOM) also rallied 9% to just under $15, Litecoin (LTC) rose 12% to about $99, and popular Ethereum-based meme token Shiba Inu (SHIB) surged 29% to $0.00001513 as of this writing.
Render (RNDR), the token behind the blockchain-based distributed rendering solution Render Network, skyrocketed an eye-watering 95% this week after a new foundation was formed and DAO voters passed a new tokenomics model.
Meanwhile, LEO Token (LEO) holders took heavy losses of over 11% this week. The official utility token of crypto exchange Bitfinex currently trades at $3.41.
Finally, on the political side of things, the UK Treasury on Wednesday outlined a regulatory regime for crypto businesses in Britain. The proposal says that companies wishing to set up shop in the UK will need to obtain authorization from regulators. The Treasury also acknowledged a need to accommodate crypto’s “unique features.”
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