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ETC Group Crypto Minutes Week #8
Ukraine legalises Bitcoin, while US states compete to make
Bitcoin legal tender and offer hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks
for Bitcoin mining. Despite Europe facing down its worst crisis in years, and
markets stuttering, the regulatory picture looks highly positive for crypto.
Head of Research
Ukraine legalises Bitcoin
Just days ago, Ukraine made the historic
decision to legalise Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies.
On 17 February 2022 the Ukrainian Parliament passed a bill to legalise the sector, which has for many years — as in many
countries — been operating in a legal grey area, with no explicit support from
Now the sector has legal certainty and
businesses including cryptocurrency exchanges, custody providers and blockchain
infrastructure companies can grow unabated without fear of facing pushback from
either banking or governmental authorities.
Mykhailo Federov, the Minister for Digital
Transformation, made the announcement on Twitter, noting that Ukraine is already in the top five
countries for crypto adoption, adding that the bill
will legalize crypto
exchanges and cryptocurrencies, and Ukrainians [can now] protect their assets
from possible abuse or fraud.
The country was also making the required changes to tax and
civil codes for a full-fledged market of virtual assets, Federov said
in comments reported by Bloomberg.
In its 2021 Global Crypto
Adoption Index, market analysts Chainalysis
ranked Ukraine fourth globally behind Pakistan, India and Vietnam. That
research measures the volume and value of cryptocurrencies traded in various
The New York Times reported in November last year that the Eastern European country
already trades a higher volume of cryptocurrency transactions than fiat
Rather than making Bitcoin legal tender, as in El Salvador in September 2021, Ukraine has instead rolled out the red carpet
to its burgeoning tech sector.
The IT sector is blossoming in hubs like Kyiv
and the country is home to 200,000+ software
developers, up from 74,000 five years
ago, all keen to expend their talent on building the next generation of
And reports now suggest that tech companies in
Ukraine are preparing for the worst in the face of Russian aggression,
including paying their
employees in crypto in case they are not able to
access the country’s banking system. In this way, we have a live use case for
Legal tender? US states rush to attract Bitcoiners and miners with hundreds of millions in tax breaks
In late January, President Joe Biden ordered
federal agencies to look urgently into the risks and opportunities of
cryptocurrencies. The Executive Order — expected as soon as this week — will direct a range of agencies including the Departments of
State, Justice, Homeland Security and the Treasury to study cryptocurrency and
central bank digital currency (CBDC), producing a framework for US crypto
At a state level, legislators are rushing to
get ahead of any federal mandates. Earlier this month, a bipartisan group of US
House lawmakers reintroduced the Virtual Currency
Tax Fairness Act as an amendment to the IRS
tax authority’s revised tax code.
Representatives Suzan DelBene, a Washington
Democrat, David Schweikert, a Republican from Arizona, Darren Soto, a Florida
Democrat and Minnesotan Republican Tom Emmer put forward the bill, saying it
would simplify the burden on consumers by protecting them from having to report
crypto transactions of less than $200.
US states are vying to attract Bitcoin miners
and holders with swathes of tax incentives for the growing industry. Each has
received scores of crypto companies rushing to leave China since the country’s
crackdown on mining in May 2021 and its official ban making cryptocurrency
transactions illegal in September 2021.
At the time, China accounted for more than 60%
of the world’s Bitcoin mining. Today it is effectively zero, with the US by far
the largest beneficiary.
On 17 February 2022, five state lawmakers in
Georgia proposed legislation in House Bill 1342 that would exempt commercial
cryptocurrency miners from state taxes. The legislation would amend the state
code so that industrial-scale Bitcoin miners operating in colocation data
centres of at least 75,000sq ft (~7,000sq m) would not have to pay sales or use
taxes on their electricity usage.
On 16 February 2022, the Illinois Senate
Bill 3643 was introduced by Republican State
Senator Sue Rezin, formally defining cryptocurrencies and cryptocurrency
mining, and including crypto mining centres as “qualifying Illinois data
centres”. To qualify for the tax break, existing and new businesses must first
make an investment of at least $250m in the state and create no less than 20
full time jobs. Within two years, crypto mining companies must also certify
that they are carbon neutral.
Both Texas and Kentucky already offer similar tax incentives to attract Bitcoin miners.
Data revealed by the largest US Bitcoin mining
pool, Foundry USA, shows that New York boasts the highest hashrate in the US with
19.9%, followed by 18.7% in Kentucky, 17.3% in Georgia and 14% in Texas.
On 21 February 2022 State Senator Sydney
Kamlager put forward a bill to recognise Bitcoin as a payment method for state
taxes in California, while her colleagues in the House are seeking to create a bill
to make Bitcoin legal tender.
It comes just weeks after Arizona State
Senator Wendy Rogers submitted Bill
1341 to make Bitcoin legal tender in her own
state, meaning the cryptocurrency could be used as an officially recognized
payment for any medium of exchange authorized by the US Consitution or
Congress to pay taxes, public dues and other governmental charges.
Jared Polis, the Democratic Governor of
Colorado, announced on stage at an Ethereum conference in the capital Denver on
18 February that the state would accept state taxes and fees in cryptocurrency
by the summer of 2022.
We will have a layer that
accepts payment in those forms and then [convert into dollars] for budgeting
as a matter of convenience for the public,
we will be accepting [crypto] first for taxes and then for many
different fees and services.
In November 2018, Ohio became the first US state to legalise paying state taxes in Bitcoin.
Institutions pile into crypto as prices stutter
Institutional investors are making increasingly
large long bets on cryptoassets worldwide, recent data shows.
After Bitcoin made all time high prices at
$69,000 in November, market prices have been trending downwards and
institutions pulled profits out of cryptocurrencies into December and early
January. But along with the retrace and stabilisation in the mid-$30,000
region, there have now been five straight weeks of positive net inflows into
institutional cryptoasset products, like ETC Group’s suite of physically-backed
The turnaround started when Bitcoin made a
recent bottom at $33,600 in the week ending 21 January.
Investors turned net positive, pumping $14m
into institutional products one week, and $19m the next. That cautious movement
has now become a flood, with $75m of net inflows into cryptoasset products in
the week ending 11 February. The most recent data via CoinShares shows that
asset managers added more than $109m of net inflows in the week ending 18
Bitcoin saw the largest inflows with $89m,
taking the total net inflows into exchange traded products tracking the
original cryptocurrency to $178m this month alone.
Investors often want to follow the smart money
and those with the deepest pockets.
And much as they may want to, some
institutional investors are still barred from investing in single or
mulit-asset crypto ETPs, let alone the underlying assets like Bitcoin or
Ethereum. So it is no surprise to see ever more capital flowing into pure-play
blockchain equities products, including ETC Group’s Digital Assets and
Blockchain Equity UCITS ETF.
This low-cost index product tracks the prices
of the leading cryptocurrency and blockchain businesses worldwide, including Coinbase
(NASDAQ:COIN), Japan’s mega-conglomerate SBI Holdings Inc (TYO:8473) and
Jack Dorsey’s blockchain-focused Block (NYSE:SQ), alongside leading US
Bitcoin miners Riot Blockchain (NASDAQ:RIOT) and Marathon Digital
As CoinShares reports, in the last week:
equities saw inflows totalling US$26m, with inflows across a broad selection of
Bitcoin had a tumultuous time in the two-week
trading session, after making a recent high of $45,812, slid a total of 14%
across the fortnight. Those making long bets found some solace in the fact that
BTC bounced strongly above a recent low set on 4 February at $36,300, some
$3,000 above the cycle bottom set on 24 January.
Ethereum started the week in largely positive territory
above $3,000, some 45% higher than its recent low set in late January at
$2,150. The programmable money blockchain managed to hang on at this psychologically-important
level for stretches of two or three days at a time, giving heart to bullish
traders, before slipping towards the end of the fortnight. Still, ETH as a
whole saw much less price volatility than the rest of the market, and those investing
in the tech with a longer time horizon than a couple of weeks will recall its
price only crossed the $3,000 mark for the first time in history in May 2021.
Litecoin largely tracked the Bitcoin market across the
trading fortnight, seeing a price bump into the $130 region and above, some 30%
higher than its recent low of just under $100 in the late part of January. More
bearish price action took hold in the latter part of the session as markets
digested the longer-term impact of the MWEB extension block update which
improves LTC’s privacy and fungibility, and traders should be watching closely
to how many new tens of thousands of new users Litecoin has attracted in the
weeks since. $100 appears to be the absolute lower limit that markets will
allow from here.
Bitcoin Cash started the fortnight in healthy territory in
the $330 range, with $320 proving to act as support for traders in the early
part of the session. Certainly the bounce from $275 as the fortnight ended
represents a higher low than on 3 February, and some 6% above the $260
year-to-date bottom formed on 24 January. More
technological development into Bitcoin Cash is proceeding apace to situate it
as a major player in booming DeFi and NFT markets, and traders should be
watching these fundamentals as they decide where to position themselves in
perhaps undervalued cryptos.
Development has been the watchword of the fortnight for
Cardano, with much talk of the launch of its first decentralised apps since the
highly-rated smart contract blockchain launched 2017. Bulls were disappointed
to see ADA fall to its lowest point at $0.82 since the cryptoasset started
trading on major exchanges in May 2021, but took a little heart from a 6% rise
to end the fortnight. User growth appears strong along with soaring daily
transaction volume on the blockchain and yet traders took this little into
account, suggesting Charles Hoskinson’s platform could be undervalued in the
The $16 to $24 region has been Polkadot’s trading range for
the last few weeks, with little attention focused on the next-generation
blockchain after its highly successful parachain auctions raised more than
$2.5bn at the back end of 2021. More blockchains continue to be added to its stable
with projects raising hundreds of millions in DOT to pay for the privilege of
joining the Polkadot platform, but traders have been ignoring the asset itself.
After climbing more than 43% from its recent lows at $16 to make waves in the
$23 area, DOT gave up those gains to retrace back into the late teens,
suggesting a strong disconnect between usage and current market value.
Solana advocates were left a little disheartened to see the
superfast smart contract blockchain trading back in the $80 region after taking
off from that level at the recent market bottom of 24 January and regaining
40%+ to climb into the $120 area. A slide across the fortnight back to recent
lows tracked the wider market, suggesting some opportunity for growth when more
positive macro conditions return.
Pioneering Proof of Stake blockchain Tezos continues to add
high-profile partnerships with fashion multinationals like Gap for its digital
asset NFTs, and became Manchester United’s sponsor this month as well as adding
institutional staking as a service provider Skillz to its corporate roster of supporters.
So bullish traders would be rightly annoyed to see prices climb to a recent
high of $4.60, 13% above its $4.06 starting point, looking ready to make a
fresh assault on $5, before slipping back towards $3. A low of $2.81 is at
least some way above the recent $2.55 bottom on 24 January, providing fresh
hope of a climb north from here.
Stellar’s currency blockchain continues to provide a global
and efficient system for digital asset issuance, but its market prices are not
reflecting that status. Across the trading fortnight, the price of its native
asset XLM peaked at $0.262 before retracing its recent steps back towards
$0.20. A bounce of 8% from the low of $0.171 into the $0.185 area – again like
much of the market stepping back into positive territory – to make a higher low
above that market bottom of 24 January suggests traders believe there is upside
potential from here.