FTX’s Sam Bankman-Fried: Institutions are ‘desperate’ for crypto

Is SBF going to lobby the government on behalf of crypto? How badly do institutions want in on the blockchain game? When’s a moat an impediment to growth, and not a protective shield?

As FTX and Alameda Research increasingly enter the public eye, one side effect is that the decabillionaire is himself a growing public figure. Especially after a significant donation to Joe Biden’s campaign for the US presidency, some observers hoped that SBF would come to serve as a kind of professional lobbyist on behalf of the crypto ecosystem. 

While he says he’s open to discussing his views, he’s not trying to work the edges or sell anyone a used car:

So I’m super happy to serve as a resource for anyone in government or else who wants and I think happy talk about what the industry is like […] look, they have so many people who come to them with agendas right here. You know, to the extent I have an agenda, I just want it to flow from my actual thoughts and beliefs. So that’s all I have to talk about is my thoughts and beliefs rather than try and create a fact pattern that happens to fit where I want it to go or something like that.”

Another hot topic of conversation is the growing push towards institutional adoption. While Bankman-Fried says that institutions are increasingly “desperate” to get involved, they’re not always entirely sure what that looks like or what, exactly, they’re aiming to do. As a result, the process is one of feeling things out at times. 

“The first thing that we do is we just listen, right? We’re like, look, what’s what’s your goal here? What you actually want to do? And then we can say, all right, cool, here’s how the industry works right now. Ignoring what you said. Here’s this, here’s the lay of the land. […] We want to be a day away from pulling the trigger on a big deal.”

Finally, he weighed in on the layer one battles between Ethereum and Solana. While Ethereum maximalists are quick to point to the developer and ecosystem moat, SBF wonders how unassailable that moat truly is. When it comes to genuine widespread adoption, it’s important to differentiate between blockers that can be overcome, and blockers that — like scalability — are more stubborn. 

“I think that’s one of the fundamental tensions here, is that like this moat is insurmountable if crypto never grows. But if crypto gets 50 times bigger, the moat is two percent of the eventual pie. The other piece of this, right, is why is the moat valuable as a business? A moat is valuable to keep other people out. A moat doesn’t let you grow itself, right? It gets rid of a particular impediment to your growth, which is competitors, but a moat isn’t growth itself […] If your castle literally can’t get any bigger, maybe no one will ever get into it, but it has 2% of the land right now and it won’t get any more.” 

Watch the full video on Cointelegraph’s YouTube channel and don’t forget to subscribe!

Continue reading

Ethereum’s $1.5B options expiry on June 25 will be a make-or-break moment

Bulls and bears are equally nervous about the possible outcome of the June 25 $1.5 billion Ethereum options expiry.

On June 25, Ether (ETH) will face its largest options expiry in 2021 as $1.5 billion worth of open interest will be settled. This figure is 30% larger than March’s 26 expiry, which took place as Ether price plunged 17% in 5 days and bottomed near $1,550. 

However, Ether rallied 56% after March’s options expiry, reaching $2,500 within three weeks. These moves were completely uncorrelated to Bitcoin’s (BTC). Therefore, it is essential to understand if a similar market structure could be underway for June 25 futures and options expiry.

Ether price at Bitstamp in March 2021, USD. Source: TradingView

Recent history shows a mix of bullish and bearish catalysts 

On March 11, Ether miners organized a “show of force” against EIP-1559, which would significantly reduce their revenues.

The situation worsened on March 22, as CoinMetrics launched an “Ethereum Gas Report,” stating that the highly anticipated EIP-1559 network upgrade would unlikely solve the high gas problem.

Things started to change on March 29, as Visa announced plans to use the Ethereum blockchain to settle a transaction made in fiat, and on April 15, the Berlin upgrade was successfully implemented. According to Cointelegraph, after Berlin launched, “the average gas fee began to decline to more manageable levels.”

Before jumping to conclusions and speculating whether these phenomena of the Ether price bottoming near the upcoming $1.5 billion options expiry are bullish or bearish, it’s best first to analyze how large traders are positioned.

Ether options open interest by expiry date. Source: Bybt

Take notice of how June’s expiry holds over 638,000 ETH options contracts, totaling 45% of the aggregate $3.4 billion open interest.

Unlike futures contracts, options are divided into two segments. Call (buy) options allow the buyer to acquire Ether at a fixed price on the expiry date. Generally speaking, these are used on neutral arbitrage trades or bullish strategies.

Meanwhile, the put (sell) options are commonly used to hedge or protect from negative price swings.

June 25 Ether options open interest by strike. Source: Bybt

For bulls, $2,200 is the line in the sand

As displayed above, there’s a disproportionate amount of call options at $2,200 and higher strikes. This means that if Ether’s price on June 25 happens to be below this level, 73% of the neutral-to-bullish options will be worthless. The 95,000 call options still in play would represent a $228 million open interest.

On the other hand, most protective put options have been opened at $2,100 or lower. Consequently, 74% of those neutral-to-bearish options will become worthless if the price stays above this level. Therefore, the remaining 73,700 put options would represent a $177 million open interest.

It seems premature to call who might be the winner of this race, but considering Ether’s current $2,400 price, it looks like both sides are reasonably comfortable.

However, traders should keep a close eye on this event, especially considering the price impact that surrounded the March expiry.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Continue reading

Bulls push Ethereum price higher ahead of Friday’s $930M options expiry

Bulls have a $115 million lead on Friday’s $930 million Ethereum options expiry, a signal that ETH could be en route to new all-time highs.

The last couple of weeks have been nothing short of a roller coaster for Ether (ETH), which oscillated between $2,000 and a record-high $2,650. The 20% crash on April 17 caused a $1 billion liquidation on long futures contracts, and it also drastically reduced investors’ appetite for risk.

Ether (ETH) USD price at Coinbase. Source: TradingView

However, as displayed above, the 28% gain over the last couple of days caused the open interest on Ether futures to reach $8.2 billion, which is just 5% below its April 15 record. A similar event took place in the options markets, which have grown by 45% since the March 25 expiry.

The recent price recovery has been attributed to Paypal’s CEO stating that demand for cryptocurrencies has been multiple-fold higher than expected. Moreover, the net value locked in Ethereum smart contracts reached a record-high $54.2 billion, led by Uniswap, Compound, and Maker.

Ethereum network Net Value Locked. Source: DeBank.com

The 154% increase in this metric happened while network fees sustained levels above $8 per transaction, therefore easing speculation of predatory competition. Meanwhile, Binance Smart Chain reached a $17 billion TVL, and the decentralized finance (DeFi) growth seems more than enough to support both.

Open interest soared, but 22% of it is about to mature

While the current $4.2 billion Ether options open interest represents an all-time high, $930 million of these are set to expire on April 30. As usual, Deribit exchange reigns supreme with a 90% market share.

It is worth noting that not every option will trade at expiry, as some of those strikes now sound unreasonable, especially considering there are less than three days left.

Options are divided into two segments, as the call (buy) options allow the buyer to acquire Ether at a fixed price on the expiry date. These are often used on either neutral arbitrage trades or bullish strategies.

Meanwhile, the put (sell) options are the preferred instrument for hedging to gain protection from negative price swings.

To understand how these competing forces are balanced, one should compare the calls and put options size at each expiry price (strike).

April 30 ETH options at Deribit. Source: Laevitas.ch

A weird pattern emerged as bears were caught by surprise, with 91% of the put options open interest at $2,400 or lower. Meanwhile, bulls were overly optimistic, with nearly half of those call options at $2,880 and above.

Bulls have a decent $115 million lead

However, any expiry above $2,240 is highly favorable for the bulls who currently lead with a $115 million open interest. This difference favoring call options would double at $2,880, although this doesn’t seem to justify a 10% hike in Ether price.

As for the bears, this game seems utterly lost as only a miracle 17% drop below $2,240 would be enough to eliminate the call options advantage.

At the moment, there is little reason to believe that the April 30 options expiry will bring any surprise for Ether price. Both Deribit and OKEx settle at 8:00 AM UTC, and the focus of traders is likely to just move on to June options.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Continue reading

Price analysis 4/16: BTC, ETH, BNB, XRP, DOGE, ADA, DOT, LTC, UNI, LINK

Bitcoin’s weakness and Dogecoin’s epic pump are signals that the market could be overheating and in need of a short-term correction.

Dogecoin’s (DOGE) massive rally to $0.45 propelled it to a market capitalization of over $54 billion to make it the fifth most valuable cryptocurrency by market cap.

This lofty market cap comes as a surprise to many since the project has no active developers and is only a meme coin, thus the current rally brings back memories of the excesses seen during the ICO boom in 2017.

Rallies like the one seen in Dogecoin indicate that several traders have entered the fray and are looking to get rich overnight. The only positive sign is that the mania has not spread to other coins. If it does, then the crypto markets are likely to witness a sharp correction in order to shake out the weak hands.

CNBC host Jim Cramer has become one of the first well-known people to reveal that he closed half of his Bitcoin (BTC) position. While Cramer’s selling is an isolated event, it does warn that not all professional investors who have recently turned Bitcoin believers are going to be long-term HODLers.

Daily cryptocurrency market performance. Source: Coin360

If the institutional investors rush to the exit, it could cause a huge correction in several cryptocurrencies. Traders should be mindful of irrational exuberance and avoid being sucked into FOMO-driven trades as it’s better to stick to a trading plan and think long-term rather than dream of overnight riches.

Let’s study the charts of the top-10 cryptocurrencies to identify the critical support levels and outline various bullish and bearish scenarios.

BTC/USDT

The bulls could not capitalize and build upon the breakout of the overhead resistance zone at $60,000 to $61,825.84 on April 13. Bitcoin price turned down on April 14 after hitting an all-time high at $64,849.27 and the bulls are currently attempting to flip the $60,000 level to support.

BTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

If they manage to do that, the BTC/USDT pair may make one more attempt to resume the uptrend. A breakout of $64,849.27, could start the next leg of the uptrend that could reach $69,540 and then $79,566.

However, the negative divergence on the relative strength index (RSI) is warning of a possible correction. Interestingly, the price reversed direction when the RSI had reached close to the downtrend line.

If the price dips below the 20-day exponential moving average ($59,427), it will be the first sign that buyers may be losing their grip. The break below the 50-day simple moving average ($55,814) will further cement the view that a deeper correction is likely.

The bulls may attempt to arrest the decline near $50,460.02 but if this level cracks, the pair could drop to the critical support at $43,006.77.

ETH/USDT

Ether (ETH) extended its uptrend and hit an all-time high at $2,545.80 today. Profit-booking by traders pulled the price down to $2,300 but the long tail on the day’s candlestick suggests that bulls continue to buy on dips.

ETH/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

If the price recovers and the bulls push the price above $2,545.8, the ETH/USDT pair could start the next leg of the uptrend. The next target objective on the upside is $2,745 and then the psychological level at $3,000.

The upsloping 20-day EMA ($2,131) and the RSI near the overbought territory suggest the path of least resistance is to the upside. This bullish view will be invalidated if the price turns down and breaks below the 20-day EMA. Such a move could pull the price down to $1,925.10.

BNB/USDT

Binance Coin (BNB) formed a Doji candlestick pattern on April 14 and that was followed by an inside day candlestick pattern on April 15. Both these setups indicate indecision among the bulls and the bears. This uncertainty resolved to the downside today.

BNB/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

However, a minor positive is that the bulls are defending the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement level at $483.95, as seen from the long tail on the day’s candlestick. The bulls will now try to push the BNB/USDT pair above the all-time high at $638.56 and resume the uptrend.

Conversely, a break below $483.95 could pull the price down to the 20-day EMA ($437). A break below this support will suggest that the traders are rushing to the exit and that could result in a drop to the breakout level at $348.69.

XRP/USDT

XRP is currently correcting the sharp rally. The bulls are attempting to defend the first support at the 38.2% Fibonacci retracement level at $1.48, as seen from the long tail on the day’s candlestick.

XRP/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

The XRP/USDT pair may now consolidate between $1.48 and $1.96 for a few days before starting the next trending move.

A break above $1.96 could start the next leg of the uptrend that could reach $2.54. The rising moving averages and the RSI in the overbought zone suggest the bulls have the upper hand.

Contrary to this positive assumption, if the bears sink the price below the $1.48 support, the pair could drop to the 20-day EMA ($1.18). Such a move will suggest the bullish momentum has weakened and that could delay the next leg of the uptrend.

DOGE/USDT

Dogecoin’s momentum has been picking up since the past three days and that has resulted in the massive pump today. This shows that more and more traders are getting sucked into the trade due to FOMO.

DOGE/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

Usually, such buying frenzies end in a major top formation. After the last bull has purchased, the price reverses direction and the waterfall decline starts. It is difficult to predict a top during such a frenzy but the psychological $0.50 level may act as a hurdle.

The decline after the DOGE/USDT pair tops out is likely to be vicious. The usual 38.2% Fibonacci retracement level may not hold and the pair is likely to drop to the 61.8% Fibonacci retracement level at $0.20.

Traders should control the urge to get into such trades even at the risk of missing out on some profits.

ADA/USDT

Cardano (ADA) has been facing a tough battle between the bull and the bears near $1.48 for the past two days. Although the bulls managed to push the price above $1.48 today, the bears have been quick to pull the price back below the level.

ADA/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

After the third unsuccessful attempt to sustain the price above $1.48, the bulls seem to have dumped their positions today, resulting in the formation of an outside day candlestick pattern.

However, the long tail on today’s candlestick suggests the bulls bought the dips to the 20-day EMA ($1.28) aggressively. The bulls may now make one more attempt to drive the price above the $1.48 to $1.55 resistance zone.

If they manage to do that, the ADA/USDT pair could resume the uptrend and start the journey toward $2. Conversely, a break below the moving averages could offer the bears an opportunity to sink the price to $1.03.

DOT/USDT

The bulls pushed Polkadot (DOT) above the $42.28 level on April 13 but could not challenge the all-time high at $46.80. This shows a lack of demand at higher levels. The altcoin has dropped below $42.28 today and the bears will now try to sink the price below the 20-day EMA ($40).

DOT/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

If they succeed, the selling could pick up further as the bulls may rush to cover their positions. Such a move could sink the DOT/USDT pair to $32.50 and then to the critical support at $26.50.

Contrary to this assumption, if the price again rebounds off the 20-day EMA, it will suggest that bulls have not given up. They will make one more attempt to thrust the price above the $46.80 resistance and resume the uptrend.

LTC/USDT

Litecoin (LTC) is in a strong uptrend. The bears had tried to start a correction today but the bulls purchased the dips aggressively as seen from the long tail on the day’s candlestick. The reversal may have caught several aggressive bears on the wrong foot, which could be the reason for the pick-up in momentum.

LTC/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

The LTC/USDT pair has broken out of the target objective at $307.42, clearing the path for a rally to $374. However, the RSI above 76 signals caution because, in the past, the pair has repeatedly entered a correction when the RSI level reaches close to 80.

The critical support to watch on the downside is the 20-day EMA ($241). A break below this support will be the first sign that the bulls are tiring and a deeper correction is likely.

UNI/USDT

Uniswap (UNI) broke out to a new all-time high on April 15 but the bulls are struggling to sustain the higher levels. When the price fails to follow up higher after breaking out of a significant resistance, it indicates exhaustion.

UNI/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

However, the long tail on the day’s candlestick suggests the bulls continue to buy on dips. If the buyers can propel the price above the all-time high at $39.60, the UNI/USDT pair could rally to $43.43 and then $50.

On the other hand, if the price again turns down and breaks below the 20-day EMA ($32), several aggressive bulls who had purchased the breakout of $35.20 may bail out of their positions. The long liquidation could pull the price down to $27.97.

LINK/USDT

Chainlink (LINK) surged above the $36.93 overhead resistance on April 14, signaling the resumption of the uptrend. The altcoin hit an all-time high at $44.33 where profit-booking set in.

LINK/USDT daily chart. Source: TradingView

However, the long tail on the day’s candlestick suggests that the bulls aggressively purchased the dip to $38.52 today. This indicates that the sentiment remains positive and the bulls are buying at lower levels.

The buyers will now try to resume the uptrend by pushing the price above $44.33. If they succeed, the LINK/USDT pair could rally to $50.

Contrary to this assumption, if the price again turns down and breaks below the $36.93 support, the pair could drop to the 20-day EMA ($34). If this support cracks, the decline could extend to the 50-day SMA ($30).

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Market data is provided by HitBTC exchange.

Continue reading

$161M Ethereum options expiry tilts toward bulls as ETH flips $2K to support

Ethereum price recently made a strong move above $2,000 and derivatives data suggests bulls are preparing to push ETH price higher.

With no short-term solution in sight for the surging network fees, some investors are afraid that Ether (ETH) price could face a correction. The EIP-1559 proposal is set to be bundled with the impending London upgrade, and this will change the gas fee structure, but traders are left to deal with high fees until then.

The flexible block size proposal aims for a more predictable fee pricing model, but this upgrade is scheduled for July, meaning, in the short term, Ether could be subject to price pressure. Adding to this, miners have been expressing concerns as the new proposal aims to burn part of the fees to create scarcity, reducing their income by up to 50%.

To prepare for downside events, professional traders usually buy protective put options without reducing their positions, especially those farming and staking with high yields. Although these are generally costly for longer-term periods, the trades are also offered weekly or bi-weekly at some exchanges.

The put-to-call ratio favors bears, but there’s more to it

Unlike futures contracts, options are divided into two segments. Call (buy) options allow the buyer to acquire Ether at a fixed price on the expiry date. Generally speaking, these are used on either neutral arbitrage trades or bullish strategies.

Meanwhile, the put (sell) options are commonly used as a protection from negative price swings.

To understand how these competing forces are balanced, one should compare the calls and put options size at each expiry price (strike).

For those unfamiliar with options strategies, Cointelegraph recently explained how to minimize losses despite keeping a bullish position.

Aggregate Ether April 9 expiry open interest. Source: Bybt

The above data shows that Ether’s April 9 expiry holds 77,800 Ether contracts, worth $161 million at the current $2,070 level. Meanwhile, the call-put ratio favors the more bearish put options by 11%, dominating the strikes below $1,850. Meanwhile, bullish call options have crowded the scene above $1,900.

Despite the imbalance, the net impact leans bullish

Options markets are an all-or-nothing game, meaning they either have value or become worthless if trading above the call strike price, or the opposite for put option holders.

Therefore, by excluding the neutral-to-bearish put options 25% below the current $2,070 price and the call options above $2,480, it is easier to estimate the potential impact of next Friday’s expiry. Incentives to pump or dump the price by more than 25% become less likely as the potential gains will seldom surpass the cost.

This selection entices to 33,000 call options from $1,200 to $2,480 strikes, currently worth $68 million. Meanwhile, the more bearish put options down to $1,580, amount to 18,100 Ether contracts worth $37 million. Therefore, buyers have a slight advantage for April 9 expiry.

The balance between call and put options initially showed a call-to-put ratio favoring the more bearish put options. Nevertheless, by excluding the put options 25% below the current price, the net result clearly favors bulls. This reinforces the view that the April 9 expiry should not be deemed bearish.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph. Every investment and trading move involves risk. You should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Continue reading