Litecoin, Binance Coin Ascend; Venezuela Becomes Crypto Nation

Amid a lackluster week for most cryptocurrencies, Litecoin (LTC) and Binance Coin (BNB) emerged as major contenders in the race for altcoin dominance. Litecoin has virtually doubled since the beginning of the year, while Binance Coin has almost tripled in value. Both assets have had a cascading effect on the broader market, helping to shore up bitcoin (BTC) and other leading digital assets.

Meanwhile, Venezuela’s socialist nightmare has prompted the government of Nicolas Maduro to adopt new sanctions-avoiding mechanisms in an effort stave off perpetual economic ruin and runaway hyperinflation. Earlier this week, the country launched a cryptocurrency remittance service that may propel bitcoin and Litecoin even higher in the short term.

Litecoin, Binance Coin Ascend

Whereas most cryptocurrencies experienced a slight pullback this week, Litecoin and Binance Coin maintained their relentless growth pace.

Over the past seven days, Litecoin has gained nearly 19%, bringing its price closer to $60 and its market capitalization above $3.4 billion. In doing so, Litecoin surpassed EOS as the fourth-largest cryptocurrency by market cap.

Binance Coin spiked another 30% this week to overtake Tether (USDT) as the seventh largest cryptoasset. The ascendancy of BNB shows no signs of slowing down as the Binance exchange continues to expand and diversify. As Hacked reported earlier this week, Binance Launchpad recently facilitated its second highly successful security token sale. Fetch.AI, the digital economics company, raised $6 million in just ten seconds.

The cryptocurrency market as a whole stabilized around $133.9 billion on Friday, having gained $2 billion over the previous week. Bitcoin posted a weekly gain of 1.4% as it approached the psychologically significant $4,000 level.

Venezuela Goes Crypto

Venezuela’s crypto regulator announced this week that it has launched a new remittance program to help citizens send and receive digital currencies, a move that could help the cash-strapped nation achieve greater financial inclusion. The Superintendency of Cryptoassets and Related Activities says only bitcoin and Litecoin will be supported at this stage.

The crypto regulator has set a monthly limit and will receive commission for each transaction. Once each transaction is confirmed, the funds will be available in sovereign bolivars. The so-called “sovereign bolivar” reflects Venezuela’s attempt to link its currency to the petro, a cryptoasset that is supposedly backed by the country’s vast oil reserves. Last year, Venezuela’s central bank completed a massive devaluation of the Bolivar, knocking it back 95% and pegging it to the petro. Read more: After 95% Devaluation, Venezuela’s Bolivar Gets Pegged to the ‘Petro’.

Venezuela has seen a major uptake in digital currency trading. Services such as LocalBitcoins have become extremely popular as citizens look to circumnavigate U.S.-led sanctions. According to CoinDance data, more than 25 billion bolivars were traded on LocalBitcoins in the latest week.

Also read: Bitcoin and the Venezuela Factor.

Race for Stablecoin Dominance Heats Up

Tether’s leadership pace of the stablecoin market could soon be contested by several alternatives looking to bring transparency and predictability to a part of the crypto ecosystem that has lacked both.

Earlier this week, TrueUSD (TUSD) commemorated its first anniversary by announcing instant fiat redemptions, a program that allows users to transfer at least 1,000 TUSD to their bank account instantly. Users of the stablecoin will receive cash in their bank account as soon as they issue a withdrawal request.

TrueUSD also announced a partnership with one of America’s largest independent accounting firms to provide real-time audits of the amount of TUSDT in circulation. This feature is expected to go live in April.

TrueUSD is currently ranked 30th by market cap with a total value of $205 million.

The Week Ahead

While it’s still too early to declare the arrival of ‘crypto spring,’ recent activity suggests that the bottoming-out process has been completed. Positive fundamental news tied to bitcoin adoption, combined with the resurgence of Litecoin and Binance Coin, suggest the market will resume its upward traction.

Bitcoin must clear $4,000 and eventually $4,200 to keep the momentum going. The leading digital currency crossed $4,000 Friday on at least one exchange, raising optimism that the bulls were eyeing a big re-test of the psychological level.

Disclaimer: The author owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Chief Editor to and Contributor to, Sam Bourgi has spent the past nine years focused on economics, markets and cryptocurrencies. His work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Avid crypto watchers and those with a libertarian persuasion can follow him on twitter at @hsbourgi