This week in crypto: Mar 9-15

Bitcoin broke $60,000, stimulus checks are en route, and a Beeple NFT sells for $69 million. All that and more in our latest report.

Published on March 15, 2021

The big picture

Bitcoin hit a new all-time high this week, breaking the $60,000 mark for the first time ever and topping out at $61,742 on March 13. 

Meanwhile, the U.S. government’s $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus package has gone into effect — although taxpayers are just beginning to receive checks. (Most will receive payments of $1,400.) So what impact is the stimulus package having on Bitcoin prices? 

  • A new survey by Japanese investment bank Mizuho reveals that two out of five Americans plan to use some of their stimulus money to purchase Bitcoin or stocks, with Bitcoin being the more popular option. 

  • Analysts say that the weekend’s historic highs were likely driven by investor expectation that stimulus money would flow into Bitcoin as it did in March 2020. 

  • Still, prices fell about 10 percent from the peak on Monday AM — with one possible cause for the volatility being news that India may be proposing a law to ban Bitcoin. (More about India below.)

Beeple NFT goes for $69 million

A new record was set for the sale of a digital artwork on March 11, when Christie’s sold a collage by a Wisconsin-based artist named Beeple for $69.3 million — instantly vaulting Beeple into the ranks of most expensive living artists alongside Jeff Koons and David Hockney. 

Wall St and beyond

JP Morgan, one of the world’s largest banks, revealed via regulatory filings that it will be offering clients exposure to crypto via a “basket” of stocks that have invested in the ecosystem including Square, Paypal, and Microstrategy.

  • Goldman Sachs’ COO says that client demand for Bitcoin is rising, noting the rise of e-commerce and the pandemic as an accelerant: “There is no question in our mind there will be more digital commerce … and (use of) digital money.” In other Goldman news, a survey of 300 clients revealed that 40% have some exposure to crypto.

  • A recent survey of international wealth managers and institutional investors (with a collective $110 billion under management) revealed that 77% believe Bitcoin’s value will grow in 2021.

  • Giant Steps Capital, Latin America’s biggest quantitative fund manager (with $1.1 billion in assets), is launching a fund to trade crypto futures. The firm also acquired a minority stake in a cryptocurrency-focused startup that, according to Bloomberg, “develops machine-learning strategies to trade futures of Bitcoin and similar assets.”

Don’t count out individual traders

While the major narrative around Bitcoin over the last year has been around increasing adoption by institutional investors — including hedge funds and corporate treasuries (including Tesla, Square, and Microstrategy), a new report from JP Morgan Chase is a good reminder that individual traders are a huge driver of the Bitcoin market. 

In fact, according to the report, in the first quarter of 2021, retail investors have overtaken the Wall Street giants, purchasing over 187,000 BTC compared to institutions’ 173,000 BTC.

India to propose crypto ban?

According to a Reuters report, a high-ranking official in the Indian government has revealed plans to ban cryptocurrencies: “If the ban becomes law, India would be the first major economy to make holding cryptocurrency illegal. Even China, which has banned mining and trading, does not penalize possession.”

  • Following the story, the country’s finance minister outlined a “calibrated” position that allows for “experiments in blockchain, bitcoin … or fintech. We are not going to shut it off all.” 

  • India’s central bank blocked financial institutions from dealing in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies in 2018 — but last year the Supreme Court struck the order down, driving a new wave of Indian crypto investment. Former Coinbase CTO Balaji Srinivasan has been a vocal proponent around India embracing crypto. “India has missed out on much of the first trillion dollars of cryptocurrency because of the 2018 ban,” he said in an interview with India Today. “But it’s not too late to change course.” 

  • As of March 14th, Bitcoin and Ethereum (the two largest cryptocurrencies) have a combined market cap of $1.2K trillion.