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Key Events Could Shake Up Bitcoin and Crypto Market in July/August: SFOX

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Summary

  • The SFOX Multi-Factor Market Index has moved from uncertain to mildly bullish as of July 9th, 2019.
  • Facebook’s Project Libra took center stage, highlighting both institutional interest in crypto and the persistent use case of Bitcoin as a decentralized currency.
  • Rumors of Bitcoin’s current volatility have been exaggerated: we’re actually experiencing a downward trend in Bitcoin’s volatility peaks since 2017.
  • LedgerX and ErisX were approved by the CFTC to offer physically settled Bitcoin futures contracts, indicating crypto’s continued financial maturation.
  • Bitcoin’s performance during the Fourth of July appears to provide a further data point for SFOX’s thesis that Bitcoin appears, at least anecdotally, to have a positive relationship with holidays during bull runs.
  • Watch for Senate/Congressional hearings, new innovations in futures, and updates to major blockchain protocols to potentially impact the crypto market in the coming month.

In the June 2019 edition of our monthly volatility report, the SFOX research team has collected price, volume, and volatility data from eight major exchanges and liquidity providers to analyze the global performance of 6 leading cryptoassets  –  BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, BSV, and ETC.

Note: In order to better report and analyze the entirety of the continued crypto rally, the team at SFOX has extended the period this report covers from the beginning of June through July 9th.

Current Crypto Market Outlook: Mildly Bullish 

Based on our calculations and analyses, the SFOX Multi-Factor Market Index, which was set at uncertain at the beginning of June 2019, has been moved to mildly bullish as of July 9th, 2019.

SFOX Multi-Factor Market Index, June 2019
Mildly Bullish


Analysis of June and Early July 2019 Crypto Performance

  • Facebook announced the details of its cryptocurrency Project Libra, which signaled the interest of major companies in crypto and coincided with the beginning of the current rally (June 18th).
  • Bitcoin’s 30-day historical volatility cleared 80% for the first time since last December  –  but it’s far from being “more volatile than ever” (June 30th).
  • LedgerX and ErisX received approval from the CFTC to offer physically settled Bitcoin futures (June 25th; July 1st).
  • The Fourth of July saw a bump in Bitcoin’s price, reinforcing the view that major holidays falling on bull runs may potentially correspond to temporary boosts in Bitcoin’s price.

What to Watch in the Rest of July 2019

Look to these events as potentially moving the volatility indices of BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, BSV, and ETC in the remainder of July and early August:

  • Senate and House meetings on Facebook and Project Libra (July 16th  –  17th)
  • Bakkt initiating user acceptance testing for physically settled Bitcoin futures via ICE (July 22nd)
  • Default block size cap of Bitcoin SV increased to 2 GB (July 24th)
  • CME BTC futures last-trade date (July 26th)
  • Litecoin block reward size cut in half (August 5th)

The Details: June 2019 Crypto Price, Volatility, and Correlation Data

Price Performance: A Bitcoin-Dominated Rally

Bitcoin is the headline of the ongoing crypto rally. The largest cryptocurrency by market cap opened June 2019 at a price of $8542.45; as of July 9th, it had risen to a price of $12490.74.

As of July 9th, BTC/USD led all asset pairs tracked by our report in month-over-month growth at 57.81%. ETH/USD followed with 26.94% month-over-month growth, with gold in third place at 11.01%  – compared with 3.49% for the S&P 500. Ethereum Classic had the distinction of being the only asset tracked by our report with negative month-over-month growth as of the 9th (-5.95%).

Volatility: Riding Bitcoin’s Waves 

By looking at the 30-day historical volatilities of BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, BSV, and ETC, we see that the volatility of most major cryptoassets formed a relatively tight band that saw a sharp uptick on June 26th  –  the day BTC challenged the $13,000 price barrier. This increase in volatility may be related to the expiration of BTC futures contracts on June 28th, especially because these expirations included BitMEX’s quarterly contract.

The exception to the general volatility trend was Bitcoin SV, whose outsized volatility decreased throughout the month to more closely align with the rest of the market; this may potentially be a consequence of debate over Craig Wright being overshadowed by broader market news such as Facebook’s Project Libra and BTC’s rally.

Volatility of Leading Cryptoassets, Gold, and S&P 500, June 1st – July 9th, 2019
30-Day Historical Volatility of BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, BSV, ETC, Gold, and S&P 500

By looking at the 30-day historical volatilities of ETH, BCH, LTC, BSV, and ETC as a percentage of BTC’s 30-day historical volatility, we can see more clearly that most altcoin volatility was following BTC’s volatility, with BSV starting to follow BTC near the end of June.

Relative Crypto Volatilities, June 1st – July 9th, 2019
30-Day Historical Volatilities of ETH, BCH, LTC, BSV, and ETC, Divided by the 30-Day Historical Volatility of BTC

Price Correlations: Bitcoin Positivity

BTC’s 30-day price correlations with ETH and BCH were both relatively positive as of July 9th. In contrast, BTC has an unusually negative correlation with Litecoin. This reinforces the narrative that, throughout 2019, Litecoin may be establishing itself as an asset with fundamentals independent of Bitcoin.

For a full crypto correlations matrix, see the following chart.

30-Day Correlations of BTC, ETH, BCH, LTC, the S&P 500, and Gold
July 9th, 2019

You can check out the full SFOX Crypto Market Volatility Report: June 2019 here.

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LibertyX Surpasses 1,000 Bitcoin ATMs Across the US

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LibertyX, the company that launched the first U.S. bitcoin ATM, will expand into 90 retail locations in Arizona and Nevada, according to a statement made Wednesday.

With this move LibertyX now operates more than 1,000 so-called bitcoin ATMs across the country. The latest additions are set up in AMPM, ARCO and Chevron gas stations, as well as select Family Dollar stores.

A partnership with Desert ATM, a non-bank ATM service provider, will enable street-level access bitcoin through user’s debit cards. Chris Yim, CEO of LibertyX, said the convenience and simplicity of bitcoin ATMs removes some of the hurdles to onboarding consumers to cryptocurrencies.

Related: Bitcoin Bounce Capped by $10K Price Resistance

This is not the first milestone the company has passed. In 2014, the company launched the first crypto ATM in America in Boston’s South Station. In 2016, it hired the first bitcoin cashier. In 2019, it became the first to enable debit card transactions on traditional, non-bank ATMs, without a hardware upgrade.

“It was a natural evolution of what we started almost 5 years ago,” said Yim, speaking about the most recent advancement. “Our goal is to make bitcoin available on every block in America.”

While LibertyX offered in-person cashier services in the southwest before, this move is the first time the company is integrating with Genmega machines in Arizona and Nevada.

Genmega operates “approximately half” of the non-bank retail ATMs that would be compatible with the crypto-transaction enabling software upgrade LibertyX designed. “There are over 100,000 non-bank ATMs in the US and we hope consumers can buy LibertyX bitcoin from all of them,” Yim said.

Related: Sexual Misconduct Allegations Emerge Against Bitcoin Coder Peter Todd

Transaction limits are set at $3,000 worth of bitcoin per day, for customers that pass the KYC requirements.

In the past, Desert ATM had attempted to operate their own crypto machines, but found LibertyX had the experience to roll out the feature effectively, according to the company announcement.

“We’re thrilled with the demand and enthusiasm we’ve seen from ATM operators who have been dying for a scalable, compliant, and capital-efficient bitcoin solution,” said Yim, in a statement. “There are not many crypto companies still around from 2014 and we are proud not only to have survived, but thrived over the years. We have grown from that 1 ATM in Boston’s South Station in 2014 to thousands of retail locations nationwide today.

In June, bitcoin ATM competitor DigitalMint expanded to 20 locations in Arizona and Nevada.

Bitcoin ATM photo via CoinDesk archives

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Short of Target: Bitcoin’s $1K Rally Still Leaves Bear Bias Intact

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  • Bitcoin’s short-term outlook will remain bearish as long as prices remain below $11,080 resistance. A break above that level would invalidate bearish lower-highs setup.
  • The bulls may have a tough time forcing a break above $11,080 amid news of BitMEX exchange facing a regulatory probe and talks of harsher crypto regulation.
  • Prices could drop below $10,000 in the next 24 hours with daily chart indicators continuing to report bearish bias.
  • A weekly close (Sunday, UTC) above $12,000 is needed to revive the bullish view.

Bitcoin (BTC) has rallied sharply in the last 24 hours, but the outlook remains bearish with prices holding below key resistance around $11,080.

The premier cryptocurrency jumped from $9,200 to $10,400 in just 40 minutes during the U.S. session yesterday, contradicting the case for a drop below $9,097 put forward by multiple rejections at $10,000 in the Asian trading hours.

Price rose further to $10,800 at 23:45 UTC, but closed at $10,648, leaving the crucial resistances of $10,759 (monthly opening price) and $10,850 (daily chart resistance) intact, as tweeted by popular analyst Josh Rager.

Rager wants to see BTC climb $10,850 before calling bullish revival. While that argument has merit, a much stronger confirmation of the bullish breakout would be a high volume move above $11,080.

That would invalidate the bearish lower highs pattern created during the sell-off from $13,200 to $9,049, as seen in the chart below.

Bearish lower highs

As of writing, BTC is changing hands at $10,330 on Bitstamp, having clocked highs above $10,770 at 08:00 UTC.

The cryptocurrency has come under pressure in the last hour or so amid news that the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is probing BitMEX, which offers trading of cryptocurrencies with up to 100-times leverage and products such as futures and swaps, over whether it allowed Americans to use its platform.

The latest CFTC probe could heighten regulation fears that have gripped markets over the last few days, making it difficult for BTC bulls to force a break above $11,070.

Technical charts are also calling a break below $10,000.

4-hour and daily charts

BTC is feeling the pull of gravity, having faced multiple rejections at the 50-candle MA on the 4-hour chart (above left) in the last 18 hours.

With bitcoin’s fall back to $10,300, the bearish crossover of the 50- and 200-candle MAs has gained credence.

Further, the relative strength index (RSI) on the daily chart continues to report bearish conditions with a below-50 print.

The Chaikin money flow index, which takes into account both prices and trading volumes, fell to 0.07 yesterday from 0.08, even though prices rose above $10,000. That divergence (marked by arrow) indicates the buying pressure weakened with the price rise and puts a question mark on the sustainability of the gains seen in the last 24 hours.

3-day chart

The 5- and 10-candle MAs have produced a bearish crossover and prices faced rejection at the descending 5-candle MA earlier today.

Further, the moving average convergence divergence (MACD) has turned bearish for the first time since December 2018, as discussed earlier this week.

All-in-all, BTC risks falling below $10,000 in the next 24 hours. On the downside, strong support is located at $9,097 (May 30 high). A violation there would expose the 100-day MA lined up near $8,100.

On the higher side, a high-volume break above $11,080 would invalidate the bearish setup.

That said, a weekly close (Sunday, UTC) above $12,000 is needed to confirm bull revival due to the fact that BTC has failed to close above that psychological level for three weeks in a row – a sign of buyer exhaustion noted earlier this week.

Disclosure: The author holds no cryptocurrency assets at the time of writing.

Bitcoin image via Shutterstock; charts by Trading View

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What the CFTC investigating BitMEX could mean for bitcoin and crypto market

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The Commodities and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has started an investigation into BitMEX, the largest margin trading platform in the crypto market, according to a Bloomberg report.

BitMEX, along with other major margin trading platforms, have not allowed U.S. customers to trade derivatives on the platform to avoid scrutiny from U.S. regulators.

The unexpected move of the CFTC comes after the remarks of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and his warning against increased efforts to tighten policies around the crypto sector.

Going after the biggest fish in the pond

Last month, BitMEX achieved $16 billion in daily volume across its derivatives products including the widely utilized bitcoin contract when the price of bitcoin peaked at $14,000.

BitMEX reaches $16 billion daily volume in June as bitcoin price achieved yearly high
BitMEX reaches $16 billion daily volume in June as bitcoin price achieved yearly high (source: coinmarketcap.com)

Primarily due to the popularity of its bitcoin contracts, BitMEX has secured its dominance over the crypto market throughout the past several years.

However, the CFTC is said to be exploring whether BitMEX has facilitated trades for U.S. customers over the years and whether U.S. customers have been able to bypass restrictions set by the exchange by using virtual private networks or VPN.

A BitMEX spokeswoman told Bloomberg that the company cannot comment on investigations by government agencies. The spokeswoman said:

“HDR Global Trading Limited, owner of BitMEX, as a matter of company policy, does not comment on any media reports about inquiries or investigations by government agencies or regulators and we have no comment on this report.”

Why is CFTC going after the biggest bitcoin margin trading platform?

Earlier this week, during an official White House briefing, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin stated that with the establishment of the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s Working Group on Digital Assets, various financial agencies including the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), CFTC, and FinCEN will vamp up efforts to tighten their oversight on the market.

Secretary Mnuchin said at the time:

“The United States has been at the forefront of regulating entities that provide cryptocurrency. We will not allow digital asset service providers to operate in the shadows and will not tolerate the use of the cryptocurrencies in support of illicit activities. Treasury has been very clear to Facebook, to bitcoin users and other providers of digital financial services that they must implement the same anti-money laundering and countering financing of terrorism, known AMLCFT safeguards as traditional financial institutions.”

Secretary Mnuchin added that crypto money transmitters will be subject to the same standards and regulations as every other U.S. bank, indicating that FinCEN is likely to enforce existing regulations on crypto-related entities at full capacity.

The CFTC’s investigation into BitMEX, the decision of Binance to replace crypto-to-crypto trading in the U.S. with a fully regulated exchange called Binance US, and the geopolitical ban on certain cryptocurrencies by Poloniex and Bittrex indicate that companies are increasingly expecting stricter oversight in the near term.

In the short term, the BitMEX investigation could pose a negative effect on the crypto market especially due to the timing, which comes immediately after the release of the remarks of Treasury Secretary Mnuchin.

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