Weekly Recap: Crypto Winter Continues as NEM Foundation Crumbles, Bitcoin Falls 7.6% in January

Crypto winter shows no signs of abating anytime soon. In the past week, bitcoin rounded out its sixth consecutive month in the red while the NEM Foundation suspended all projects and partnerships due to the sinking XEM price.

The news wasn’t all bad, however. XRP received a major boost on Wednesday after Swift, the international payments network, announced it had partnered with a crypto startup to test new GPI payments. This was a significant development for the so-called ‘banker’s cryptocurrency,’ which seeks to disrupt the Swift network’s grip on $200 billion in daily transactions.

Bitcoin Continues to Sink

The end of January marked bitcoin’s sixth consecutive month in the red, highlighting the severity of the bear market. Over that stretch, the leading digital currency has tumbled 55%. Bitcoin fell another 7.6% in January, with the bulk of the declines concentrated in the early part of this week.

On Monday, bitcoin fell by as much as 4% to reach fresh six-week lows. The pullback dragged BTC below a vital long-term support that will likely pave the way for further downward pressure in the near term. Read: Bitcoin Risks Bigger Pullback as Prices Fall to Six-Week Low.

The sudden selloff weighed heavily on the broader cryptocurrency market. The combined value of all cryptocurrencies reached a low of $111 billion. Bitcoin cash, Ethereum, Stellar and bitcoin SV were among the hardest hit.

CBOE Resubmits Bitcoin ETF Application

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) has resubmitted a joint application with VanEck and SolidX to list a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), reigniting a long-standing debate over crypto securitization and its impact on the market. The submittal was confirmed on Thursday by Gabor Gurbacs, VanEck’s chief digital asset strategist.

Just a week earlier, Gurbacs and his partners said they had pulled their application for the VanEck-SolidX Bitcoin Trust. At the time, the proponents felt their application risked immediate dismissal due to the prolonged government shutdown. By re-starting the process from scratch, VanEck and its partners are buying themselves a lot more time to convince the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to approve their fund.

NEM Foundation Crumbles

The NEM Foundation announced earlier this week that it was edging closer to bankruptcy in the wake of a devastating bear market that first began in early 2018. Despite organizational restructuring and a prior agreement to cut spending by 60%, the nonprofit foundation said it wouldn’t’ survive more than a month without support from the NEM community.

The foundation has appealed to its community for 160 million XEM tokens to help cover operational expenses. At current values, that’s equivalent to $6.57 million. The NEM community will vote on the matter later this month. Layoffs are expected to be announced later this month unless the full funding request is approved, according to Alex Tinsman, the foundation’s newly-appointed president.

Read more: Crypto Winter’s First Victim; NEM Foundation Crumbles as XEM Coin Price Sinks.

XEM is currently valued at $0.0411 for a total market cap of $370.6 million. It ranks 18th among active cryptocurrency projects.

Wall Street Receives an Earnings Boost

U.S. stocks extended their relief rally this week, with the S&P 500 Index clinching its best January returns since 1987. The large-cap index rallied almost 8% during the month, extending its post-Christmas recovery to almost 15%.

Positive earnings surprises from Facebook Inc. (FB), Apple Inc. (FB) and others have underscored the month-long recovery. As of Jan. 25, the fourth-quarter earnings growth rate for S&P 500 companies was 10.9%, according to FactSet. More than two-thirds of companies have reported positive earnings surprises and more than half said their revenues were higher than expected.

The Week Ahead

With a bitcoin ETF application back on the table, the debate over crypto securitization will likely intensify in the coming weeks and months. However, this debate could be put to rest again if Democrats and Republicans don’t agree to a permanent funding solution. The stopgap spending bill announced last Friday covers the affected government agencies for up to three weeks. President Trump has warned that he will declare a national emergency if Democrats don’t approve his proposed border-security funding.

The fallout from the NEM Foundation’s monumental restructuring will also be on investors’ radar next week. As large-cap coins continue to crumble, the long-term sustainability of the market as a whole will come into question. As we’ve speculated before, the long-awaited altcoin extinction event is growing nearer the longer the bear market persists.

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 Hacked.com and Contributor to CCN.com, 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