We’re taking a look at the latest news in the crypto and blockchain space, including a new high for ethereum [ETH] and miner Argo Blockchain [ARB.L] continuing to produce record revenue. Coindesk also unveiled its Q1 2021 crypto report, with a new record value for bitcoin and a pickup in retail trading activity.
Looking at the wider sector, the Blockchain theme outperformed the S&P 500 index last week, rising 1.39% versus the S&P’s 1.03% gain (as of 9 April’s close), but is still lower over the month, down 2.09%, versus a gain of 2.24% in the S&P 500.
Is Ethereum’s new all-time high just the beginning?
Ethereum reached a new all-time high of $2,151.25 on 6 April, according to Coindesk, helping push the crypto market to an overall valuation of $2trn for the first time a day earlier. After dipping back below the $2,000 level on Wednesday, ETH retook $2,000 on Thursday.
Billionaire investor and NBA’s Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban reckons ethereum has more potential than bitcoin in the long term, as reported by Blockchain News: “I think the applications leveraging smart contracts and extensions on ethereum will dwarf bitcoin. Bitcoin, right now, has evolved to be primarily a store value, and it’s very difficult to use it for anything else … you really have to work a lot harder on bitcoin than you do on ethereum.”
Cuban has also bought and created non-fungible tokens (NFTs), which are bought and sold on the ethereum blockchain, and invested in the NFT platform Mintable.
“I think the applications leveraging smart contracts and extensions on ethereum will dwarf bitcoin. Bitcoin, right now, has evolved to be primarily a store value, and it’s very difficult to use it for anything else … you really have to work a lot harder on bitcoin than you do on ethereum” - Mark Cuban
Argo Blockchain posts another mining revenue record
Crypto miner Argo Blockchain reported another record month in March, as revenue reached £6.57m, a sizable jump from February’s £4.34m, reports Proactive Investors. Three successive months of record profit and revenue from its cryptocurrency mining operations also mean Argo has recorded its best quarter ever. In its March update, Argo said it mined 165 bitcoin [BTC], up from 129 BTC in February, taking the total in Q1 this year to 387 BTC, and £13.4m in revenue. Formed in early 2018 and launched on the London Stock Exchange in August the same year, Argo’s share price is up a mammoth 5,794.74% in the last 12 months, having closed last week at 224.00p.
Argo now holds 764 BTC as of the end of Q1. CEO Peter Wall said, "I'm delighted that Argo has generated record mining revenue and profits for the third month in a row, making this quarter Argo's best performing since the company's inception”.
Wall also commented on the firm’s clean energy drive: “I am also thrilled that we are working with DMG [Blockchain Solutions] to achieve something we believe will be truly transformational in the crypto space in the creation of Terra Pool, the first bitcoin mining pool that will be powered by clean energy." When the tie-up was revealed on 26 March, Wall confirmed that “addressing climate change is a priority for Argo.”
“I am also thrilled that we are working with DMG [Blockchain Solutions] to achieve something we believe will be truly transformational in the crypto space in the creation of Terra Pool, the first bitcoin mining pool that will be powered by clean energy” - Argo Blockchain CEO Peter Wall
Bitcoin passes $1trn as retail trading interest rises
Bitcoin’s market cap crossed the “strong psychological level” of $1trn in the first quarter of 2021, which, Coindesk reported in its Q1 review of crypto trends, “is significant because many institutional investors won’t consider an asset group until it’s a sufficient size.” Indeed, there’s little doubt that bitcoin’s price hike has been boosted by institutional investor activity, including Elon Musk’s Tesla [TSLA], which bought $1.5bn worth of bitcoin in February. Deutsche Bank [DBK] and BNY Mellon [BK] also announced crypto custody offerings, and business intelligence firm MicroStrategy [MSTR] continues to buy significant amounts of the crypto. MSTR purchased 253 bitcoin for $15m last week, taking its overall holding to over 90,000, at a total cost of $2.23bn, reports Coindesk.
While institutional participation helped to propel the crypto industry’s growth in Q4 2020, Coindesk reports that a number of metrics are showing interest from retail traders is picking up. Trading volumes from exchanges that institutions typically use, such as LMAX and Coinbase, tailed off in Q1. While BTC futures trading volumes were fairly flat, open interest continued to grow, indicating increasing leverage and trading activity. In January, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange reached its highest level of open interest in the crypto market, but it has since been overtaken by retail-focused exchanges, such as Binance and Bybit.