This week in coins. Illustration by Mitchell Preffer for Decrypt.
The third full week of 2023 was also the third consecutive week of market-wide gains for all the top cryptocurrencies.
Market leaders Bitcoin and Ethereum have kept pace with each other to once more bring crypto’s total market capitalization back above a trillion. Crypto investors may feel like we’ve gone back to the heady days of Bitcoin’s bull run—though of course we’re far from its 2021 highs.
Bitcoin (BTC) blew up 16% over the past week and trades at $22,963 at the time of writing, according to CoinGecko data. That’s still a 64% drop from Bitcoin’s all-time high above $69,000 on November 10, 2021.
Ethereum (ETH) rose 14% and currently trades at $1,654. On Tuesday, the Ethereum network hit 500,000 validators ahead of March’s scheduled Shanghai upgrade. Shanghai will allow validators, who each must stake 32 ETH (about $50k) to begin mining Ethereum using the network’s proof-of-stake consensus mechanism, to withdraw their staked ETH and any rewards that have accrued so far.
The two market leaders had briefly dipped on Wednesday in anticipation of a U.S. Department of Justice announcement concerning a “major international cryptocurrency action.” Even Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao appeared to be spooked, but it ended up being about a little-known Chinese exchange called Bitzlato, prompting many memes and much hilarity on Twitter.
For the third straight week, Solana (SOL) led the market rebound, rising more than any other top 20 coin. SOL is up 40% over the last seven days to reclaim $25.
Of all the leading cryptocurrencies, Solana was worst affected by the FTX meltdown in November last year due to the fact that FTX was one of the earliest and largest financial backers and endorsers of the cryptocurrency. Solana was trading at nearly $36 when the crisis began, ultimately bottoming out below $10, so the recovery comes as massive relief to steadfast SOL holders.
Popular memecoin Shiba Inu (SHIB) also had an explosive week and blew up nearly 28%, far outpacing the memecoin it parodies, Dogecoin (DOGE), which added 7.4% to its price.
Metaverse coins were another big small cap investment this week. Decentraland’s MANA led the charge with a mighty 79% rally to $0.73, but metaverse token rallies were generally large this week.
Other notable rallies this week include XRP, which blew up 9% to $0.41, Polygon (MATIC) rose 11% to $1.02, TRON surged 9.7% to $0.063, and Avalanche (AVAX) climbed 12.8% to $17.39.
Discussing a digital Euro
Finally, over in the political world, there weren’t many further steps taken towards regulating crypto anywhere in the world this week, but some interesting news came out of Brussels.
The European Central Bank is currently investigating the feasibility of releasing a cryptocurrency of its own—a digital Euro. The Eurogroup, which comprises finance ministers of EU member states employing the Euro (€), regularly meets to discuss the topic.
In their latest exchange, they concluded that any currency created by the digital Euro project must offer EU citizens privacy and fall in line “with other policy objectives such as preventing money laundering, illicit financing, tax evasion, and ensuring sanctions compliance.”
On Tuesday, the European Parliament once again delayed voting on the bloc’s landmark Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) bill—a unified regulatory framework that, if passed, will be applied to crypto across the Union. Voting will now happen in April.