February 7, 2023

Dubai Week

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Is there an end in sight for this ‘crypto winter’?

It might be summer (at least in the Northern hemisphere), but the crypto world is very much stuck in winter mode. Major cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have been down for so long that graphs veering into positive territory seem to be the memory of a distant past. And other altcoins are not faring any better.

Some people have lost their life savings. Others who had decided to dip their toes in when things were going well, on the hypothesis that they would go even better in the near future, are now regretting their decision. Others still are convinced that this is just a blip, and that happier times are coming – sooner or later.

In mid-June 2022, searches on Google for ‘Bitcoin dead’ reached an all-time high.

So, what happened? Why is it taking so long? And is there a light at the end of this seemingly never-ending crypto tunnel?

What exactly is a crypto winter? 

First things first, the term ‘crypto winter’ means when prices fall and remain low for a prolonged period. This instance of a crypto winter is not the first one; it happened already, starting off when Bitcoin fell from $19,497 on 15 December 2017 to $13,831 merely six days later. It continued to plummet until, by end-2018, it was worth less than $3,300.

This time round, the major factors which have contributed to this situation included uncertainty propelled by an unstable stock market, soaring inflation, geopolitical turmoil, skyrocketing interest rates, and the very real fear of recession.

Crypto is currently in a bear market (a bear market is one that has lost more than 20% in any given year).

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The situation has been exacerbated by the collapse of Terra (LUNA) and the stablecoin TerraUSD in early May 2022, which wiped out $45 billion of market capitalisation in one week. Also in May, DeFi platform Celsius Network paused all user withdrawals, swaps, and transfers. In June, the possibility that crypto hedge fund Three Arrows Capital may be facing insolvency came to light.

Moreover, people working in crypto are being laid off. For instance, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency broker Coinbase has announced that it is letting 18% of its workforce go. Other crypto companies have followed suit.

Is there any good news? 

Well, crypto-life goes on. According to a report by Blockware Intelligence, global Bitcoin adoption will likely hit 10% by 2030. A total of 10 countries to date have launched central bank digital currencies (CBDCs), with over one hundred other countries looking into launching their own centrally governed digital currency.

According to data from analytics firm, Glassnode, more than half of Bitcoin addresses remain in profit, notwithstanding the crypto winter. And the number of Bitcoin wallets containing one BTC or more increased by 13,091 in mid-June, taking the total number of ‘wholecoiners’, as they are called, to 865,254.

And Bank of England deputy governor Jon Cunliffe said that crypto projects that survive this crypto winter could become “tomorrow’s Amazons and eBays.”

All this is, at the very least, a sign that there is still belief in the future of crypto.

What are the experts saying? 

Opinions vary, with some financial experts saying that the current crisis will be the death knell of cryptocurrencies, while others are holding out hope that the current crypto winter is just a blip.

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The CEO and founder of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory, asset management and fintech organisations has revealed that he is firmly in the ‘backing crypto’ camp.

Nigel Green of the deVere Group says he is still buying more Bitcoin, despite the huge losses across the crypto market. The that the reason is because he is confident that digital, global, borderless, decentralised money is the future.

“I’m using the volatility as a buying opportunity; I’m topping up my investment portfolio at a lower price point… my take is that Bitcoin may get a tough summer in thinner markets, but that it could stage a bull run in the fourth quarter. Time will tell. I’m still stacking Bitcoin as its unique fundamentals haven’t changed,” Nigel Green says.