Despite some bullish market momentum in Q1 2023, various peculiar developments still affect the cryptocurrency industry. Ranging from CBDC trials to bank collapses and governments stacking BTC, there is never a dull week. Let's dive into some of the big headlines happening throughout March 2023.
Australia Wants A CBDC
Opinions on central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) remain divided. Some see it as an attack on financial freedom and privacy. Others deem it a necessity as most transactions are digital already. The Australian central bank is the latest entity to throw its weight onto the scale. A live pilot of its CBDC will start in a few days and focuses on offline payments and Web3 commerce. Like other sandboxed ventures, there is a limited set of eligible participants to gather more data.
Most details regarding the CBDC remain shrouded in mystery. That isn't uncommon where such trials are considered. However, it is good to see participation by blockchain and crypto players, including CANVAS. The trial isn't final on whether Australia will receive a CBDC and who will issue it. Instead, it is a "step along the way" to ensure Australia remains financially competitive.
Nuclear Bitcoin Mining Has Arrived
People familiar with cryptocurrencies will have seen reports about the wasteful nature of mining cryptocurrency. Bitcoin is the largest network to mine, making it a core target for theorists and analysts, even though they often use skewed data sets. Thankfully, initiatives within the Bitcoin mining community pave the way for a sustainable future. Using nuclear energy is the next logical frontier.
The first nuclear-powered Bitcoin mining venture in the US will go live later in 2023. The effort, spearheaded by Cumulus Data and TeraWulf, will ensure all local mining efforts emit virtually no carbon. Although renewable energy would be cheaper - and accounts for over 50% of all BTC mining efforts today - nuclear energy addresses those alarming emissions. Many people will watch this new development like a hawk, as it could create an intriguing precedent.
US Government Hoards Bitcoin
It is painfully apparent that governments don't take kindly to Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, the US government has slowly stockpiled BTC reserves and continues to do so today. With over $5.5 billion in Bitcoin holdings, the US government holds over 1% of the BTC supply. It also makes them one of the more outspoken whales. Most of the funds come from seized BTC through criminal investigations, but other factors may be at play.
However, it is essential to note the total holdings are a mere estimate. For obvious reasons, the US government isn't too forthcoming with public data regarding its Bitcoin stash. As such, its holdings may be much higher than what can be identified today. Regardless of the amount, it is an intriguing development and a bullish signal for BTC.
Binance Gets Flagged By The CFTC
Being the world's leading cryptocurrency exchange is exciting, but it also puts a target on the Binance ecosystem. Shots were fired by the CFTC in late March, as the institution alleged a violation of compliance rules. Curiously, this does not entail only the exchange but also its founder and CEO, Changpeng Zhao, and former CCO Samuel Lim.
In its filing, the CFTC argues there is evidence of an ineffective compliance program, insider trading, and other shortcomings. Moreover, the CFTC aims to have Binance face trading and registration bans, at least for its US customers. It remains to be seen if anything comes of the complaint, yet it doesn't appear to hinder the platform's day-to-day operations too much.
SVB Bailout Sparks Crypto Rebound
Most people are drawn to cryptocurrency because they are tired of the banking system. When a bank collapses, they will often rejoice at the news and interpret it as a bullish crypto market signal. Silicon Valley Bank recently met its demise, prompting the US government to bail out the bank and its customers. That sparked a new, albeit brief, crypto rally.
Most of that momentum dissipated just a few days later. However, the SVB incident confirms the Federal Reserve will keep printing endless money to sustain the illusion of a safe banking environment. That bubble will pop eventually and may trigger a bigger calamity than in 2008. Even so, Bitcoin and other assets saw a brief surge before ultimately losing market value following the CFTC-Binance news.
Fear & Greed Index
With so many developments in March, traders must keep an eye on the Fear & Greed Index for Bitcoin and Ethereum. These indices gauge overall investor sentiment. For Bitcoin, it looks decent, scoring 59/100 to remain in the "Greed" stage. It signals BTC remains a strong buy despite any recent dips. That said, caution remains advised for those with a low-risk appetite.
The Fear & Greed Index for Ethereum looks very similar. It, too, is in the "Greed" segment, although it scares slightly lower at 55/100. It signals to buy Ether, and the upcoming Shanghai upgrade should soon hit the mainnet. That doesn't necessarily warrant a price increase, although there may be some market excitement over the coming weeks.