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In today’s look at crypto markets, we’re seeing some old familiars: market volatility and institutional support from one angle set against regulatory-headache inducing moves from another.

Cryptocurrency update

Bitcoin stages comeback after massive losses

What a week it’s been for Bitcoin. The bellwether crypto dropped considerably from record highs last week, falling to $47,655.

At the time of writing, however, BTC was staging a bit of a comeback. Starting on Sunday evening, Bitcoin has started changing hands for above $53,200, driven by Asian bulls.

Speculators are trading BTC with hopes of a decent correction. Last week’s price crumble was precipitated by a couple of big issues. One was Joe Biden flirting with the idea of raising US capital gains tax. Regulatory reform and straight up bans in some countries also caused a wobble, alongside frothy market conditions caused by the Coinbase IPO.

However, when prices dropped, investors may have seen that as a green light to buy. Many saw value in purchasing BTC at the $47-48,000 level. The fact buyers have apparently been quick to snap up tokens during the price lull may have helped cause the upswing we’re seeing today.

Global cryptocurrency markets are up 8% overall. Bitcoin’s rally has caused a jump in other tokens. ETH is up 10% and knocking on the door of all-time highs. Ripple is surging too, rising 11%. However, Dogecoin continues to slide. Dogecoin is basically run on the power of memes and internet culture, but it looks like even that power source is running out of steam. Dogecoin has dropped 5.7%.

One thing is clear: volatility looks like it’s here to stay in the Bitcoin and the wider cryptocurrency market.

PayPal CEO heralds massive crypto demand

Dan Schulman, PayPal CEO, has said demand for crypto tokens has far outstripped the payment platform’s expectations.

Speaking in an interview with TIME Magazine, Schulman suggested cash may be on the way out, with digital currencies ready to overtake traditional currency soon.

“Demand on the crypto side has been multiple-fold to what we initially expected,” Schulaman told TIME. “There’s a lot of excitement. We’ve been looking at digital forms of currency and DLT for six years or so. But I thought it was early, and I thought the cryptocurrency assets at the time were much more assets than they were currency.”

PayPal added a “Checkout with Crypto” service to its platform in March 2021. US-based consumers can now pay merchants via digital tokens using PayPal. It’s reckoned PayPal will begin rolling this service out to global audiences across 2021. Its subsidiary Venmo also started accepting crypto assets like BTC and ETH last week.

Schulman’s comments come in a year when institutional acceptance of cryptocurrencies is reaching new levels. Tesla snapped up billions of BTC; banks like Deutsche Bank and Goldman Sachs have stepped up their crypto offers; Visa allows settlement in digital currencies. This is a very small chunk of the institutions upping their crypto game.

But while demand is high, it’s worth reiterating that regulatory issues remain. As mentioned above, crypto trading is banned in some countries and others are clamping down too, or reshuffling regulations to be more restrictive. UK bank Natwest has also said it will not engage with customers who accept Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies as payment, as part of its commitments against money laundering.

But the fact remains that interest in crypto trading is still exceptionally high worldwide, despite consternation from some angles.

Binance adds Microsoft, MicroStrategy & Apple stocks to exchange

China’s largest cryptocurrency exchange Binance has added more tokenised stocks to its exchange.

Users will be able to get exposure to Microsoft (MSFT), MicroStrategy (MSTR) and Apple (AAPL) tokens, paired against Binance’s own token Binance Coin.

Each of these tokens allows its owner to hold or trade fractionalized shares of the stocks they are associated with. The minimum trading amount is set at 100th of a token, equating to 100th of a stock. These are backed by a depository portfolio of underlying securities held by CM-Equity AG, Germany, according to Binance.

Coinbase and Tesla were the first two stock tokens available on Binance.

It’s an interesting move, but one that is open to regulatory scrutiny. Does Binance have the relevant license to start dealing equities to customers?  According to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission (SFC), no.

Binance said it is “monitoring demand” and may add further tokens in the future.

Could this be the future of stock trading? Maybe. It will depend on how Binance’s stock offer performs.

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