Bitcoin’s best week in 18 months

Bitcoin’s best week in 18 months

Bitcoin reached its highest level in a year and a half as more promising news for a spot BTC ETF lifted the crypto market higher to start the week. [Westend61 via Getty Images]

There’s never a dull moment on the blockchain. Here’s what you need to know this week:

Bitcoin rebounded to 18-month highs above $35K. New developments in BlackRock’s BTC ETF application helped lift the crypto market.

Solana is up 200% this year. A closer look at one of 2023’s best-performing altcoins.

This week in numbers. The countries exploring central bank digital currencies, the size of Polygon’s “Protocol Council,” and more.


Bitcoin just had its best week in 18 months

This week, Bitcoin prices soared to 18-month highs north of $35,000 before cooling slightly — so what’s been getting markets so excited? One big reason is the growing anticipation over one or more of Wall Street’s many “spot” BTC exchange-traded fund (ETF) applications finally getting SEC approval in the near future. Over the last 30 days, the leading cryptocurrency by market capitalization has steadily ticked upward by 30%, prices for crypto-related stocks like mining companies have surged, and BTC futures markets show that at least some traders predict more good news to come. 

Here’s what you need to know about BTC’s latest surge.

Signs are pointing toward a potential near-term approval of a spot bitcoin ETF. 

In one potential sign that a spot ETF launch could be on the horizon, the ticker for BlackRock’s planned ETF — IBTC — was spotted on the website of clearinghouse Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) on Monday before being removed on Tuesday. (On Tuesday evening, a DTCC spokesperson told CoinDesk that the proposed ETF had actually been on their website since August.) Prices spiked when traders noticed the ticker’s addition before dropping around 3% after it was removed.

Another major indicator came in August, when a federal court mandated that the SEC reconsider its prior rejection of Grayscale’s spot BTC ETF application — leading some industry observers, including JP Morgan, to predict that the first ETF will be rolled out by mid-January. “I've been thinking we should approve one for the last five years,” crypto-forward SEC Commissioner Hester Peirce recently told CNBC. “The logic for why we haven’t has always mystified me.”

Spot BTC ETFs (which would hold BTC and sell shares to customers via conventional brokerages) are seen as a potentially powerful way to increase mainstream adoption of crypto. BlackRock, Ark Invest, and Fidelity are among the finance giants that have applied to manage a spot ETF.

As BTC rises, crypto investors’ sentiment is becoming more bullish.

For most of the year, a prolonged crypto winter has seen U.S. crypto trading volumes sink to levels not seen since before the 2021 bull run. But with BTC ticking over the $35,000 mark — and notching it’s best week since early 2022 — many analysts see a shift in sentiment. In the past five years, bitcoin has risen by an average of 10% in the month following a 10% weekly gain, according to Bloomberg. 

Bitcoin’s next halving may also be fueling gains.

Bitcoin’s rally may also be fueled by anticipation over the cryptocurrency’s next “halving,” in April. Bitcoin’s halvings are a key element of its code — designed to make BTC a scarce, inflation-resistant resource — that reduces the amount of bitcoin awarded to miners by half every four years until all 21 million bitcoin have been virtually mined (probably around the year 2140). Historically, bitcoin has set all-time highs in the 12 to 18 months following a halving cycle, and a recent report from Morgan Stanley said that the upcoming halving cycle could spell the end of this current crypto winter.

Bitcoin mining stocks are outpacing bitcoin’s gains. 

The top 11 publicly traded bitcoin mining companies in the U.S. have had a banner 2023, returning an average of 148% — led by Marathon Digital (at 120%) and Cipher Mining (356%). Miners have benefited in part from the popularity of Ordinals, which are digital files stored on the Bitcoin blockchain that have helped create an NFT market for bitcoin. 

The bottom line… 

The mainstream crypto narrative appears to be flipping fast, with a number of major catalysts on the horizon that could pour substantial institutional money into crypto markets and crypto-related investment products. Analysts note that new signs from the Federal Reserve show interest rate hikes are likely on hold for the time being. And as CoinDesk reported, open interest in BTC futures has hit a record high, as “institutional investors are chomping at the bit to buy BTC amid renewed optimism of a spot ETF being approved.”


Did Solana just have a better week than Bitcoin?

Despite serious ETF buzz, BTC isn’t the week’s biggest mover among major cryptocurrencies. The “layer 1” Ethereum alternative Solana (SOL) has had an even wilder ride: over the seven days ending on Tuesday, prices surged by nearly 30% — and are up more than 200% since the beginning of the year. 

And prices aren’t the only bullish metric. For the third quarter of 2023, crypto research firm Messari reports that the web3-focused blockchain’s market cap is up 17%, revenue is up 10%, and total value locked in Solana-powered decentralized apps (dapps) is up 32% — all of which makes SOL one of the year’s breakout cryptocurrencies. 

Here’s what you need to know.

What is Solana?

Like Ethereum, Solana (which launched publicly in 2020) is both a cryptocurrency and a highly flexible computing platform. Using smart contracts, Solana can host a wide variety of dapps, from DeFi and games to NFT collectibles. It’s also designed to process a huge number of transactions, which keeps fees low. SOL is the Solana network’s native token, which is used for fees and staking. Per Messari, “Solana transaction fees remained among the steadiest and cheapest of all networks. The average non-vote transaction fee was $0.0002 in Q3 ’23.” By comparison, Ethereum transaction fees in the same period ranged from approximately $2 to $7. 

Among Wall Street investors, Solana has outperformed other large altcoins. 

In Q3 of this year, Solana’s market cap soared 17% to more than $8.4 billion. As Messari notes, “SOL outperformed assets of a similar market cap.” And according to a new CoinShares report, $15.5 million flowed into SOL investment products this week, bringing the 2023 total to $74 million — outperforming all other major altcoins with institutional investors.

The bottom line… 

Solana’s rally continued even after FTX received permission last month to liquidate its more than $1 billion in SOL. This week, Solana markets likely got an extra boost by the FTX estate’s decision to stake around $122 million of the SOL.

The rollout of a new privacy-boosting upgrade may also be increasing support. As an analyst from crypto-investment product firm 21Shares put it: "Solana's recent surge in inflows, coupled with a consistent rise in daily active users for four consecutive weeks, underscores the enthusiasm for this overlooked upgrade."


$1 million

Amount that flowed into BTC-based social protocol New Bitcoin City in a 24-hour period ending on Tuesday. Over the same period, $2 million flowed out of the original buzz-gathering social protocol as several influencers left the platform.


Number of nations that are known to be exploring their own central bank digital currencies. CBDCs are a completely digital version of government-issued money. Unlike bitcoin and other major cryptocurrencies, CBDCs are centralized legal tender, created and controlled by a government or central bank. 


Number of people on Polygon’s proposed Protocol Council (including representatives from Coinbase and the Ethereum Foundation) that would oversee updates to “smart contracts implemented on Ethereum for existing and future Polygon protocols,” per a Polygon Press Release. Polygon, an Ethereum-scaling solution, is working toward its highly anticipated Polygon 2.0 upgrade.


What is staking?


Way to secure a crypto tent


Way to invest in NFTs with other fans


Way to earn rewards for helping to secure certain blockchains


Way that new BTC is created

Find the answer below.

Trivia Answer


Way to earn rewards for helping to secure certain blockchains