Crypto Spotlight - BTC and Ethereum prices soar, expert analyst predicts bull-run, USDT gains amidst BUSD turmoil

What a week of up and downs for the cryptocurrency market. Despite increased regulatory scrutiny from the U.S. government, crypto has rallied in a huge way today. As of writing, Bitcoin surged 11% to $24,628 while Ether was up almost 9% in the past 24 hours, according to CoinGecko. The gains of industry-leading coins reflect the entire market which is up nearly $85 billion in the same period. 

While there was concern earlier in the week after increased regulatory scrutiny on stablecoins this week, and with staking last week, analysts suggest that these events may be contributing to money moving to Bitcoin. This makes sense considering Bitcoin has nothing to do with staking or stablecoins and therefore is not under any immediate regulatory threat.

Rising interest rates and bullish sentiment in risk assets may also be contributing to the surge in cryptocurrency prices. Whatever the reasons may be, the surge marks a much-needed lift for crypto after a volatile week. Here are all the day's biggest news stories.

1 - Bitcoin's recent rise of almost 50% to $24,900, has a chart analyst predicting that it could double in value to $56,000 in the coming months. William Noble, director of research at Emerging Assets Group and former analyst at Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, correctly predicted Bitcoin’s late 2020 surge from $20,000 to $40,000. Noble believes that Bitcoin's current momentum will continue, with the potential for it to move from consolidation to another parabolic move. 

                                                                        Bitcoin 90-day Price movement (Source: CoinGecko)

In addition, Nasdaq has broken out of a bull flag, indicating a possible resumption of a broader uptrend. Noble suggests that there could be a bull market coming in stocks, with 2023 being a surprisingly good year for both crypto and equities. Ethereum's expanding triangle is also potentially bullish, according to Noble.

                                                         (Source: William Noble/ Trading View)

2 - Interactive Brokers and OSL Digital Securities have partnered to offer cryptocurrency trading to eligible professional investors in Hong Kong. This will include individuals with over HKD 8 million (USD 1 million) in investable assets and institutions with over HKD 40 million (USD 5 million). This move aims to allow clients to invest in bitcoin and ether via a single platform alongside other traditional investment options. 

Despite mixed signals from the regulatory environment in Hong Kong, Interactive Brokers and OSL Digital Securities have cited the city's high concentration of institutional and professional investors as the reason for introducing crypto trading in Hong Kong.

3 - The market capitalization of Tether's stablecoin USDT has risen to nearly $70 billion post SEC's crackdown on BUSD. The SEC has ordered blockchain-focused Paxos to stop issuing and listing its Binance USD stablecoin, causing its market cap to drop by around $2 billion. The SEC claims that BUSD is a security, which has violated investor protection laws. The market cap of USD Coin, the second-largest stablecoin, has also experienced a downtrend due to the BUSD news.

                                                           (Source: CoinGecko)

On the other hand, Tether's market cap has risen to over $69 billion, indicating that investors sought safety in Tether USDT. This is despite the ongoing investigation to prove that its circulating USDT supply is fully backed by the US dollar. Tether has repeatedly denied the accusations and provides regular assurance opinions signed by third-party accounting companies every quarter.

4 - Norwegian authorities seized $5.9 million stolen from the crypto game Axie Infinity in March 2022. The seizure is the biggest crypto seizure made by Norwegian police. Hackers linked to North Korea stole over $600 million from Axie Infinity in March 2022, laundering much of the proceeds through Tornado Cash, which was sanctioned last year by the US Treasury Department. 

5 - Binance is looking to settle ongoing regulatory investigations in the US. Binance's Chief Strategy Officer Patrick Hillmann admitted to compliance gaps in the firm's operations due to the unfamiliarity of its software engineers with anti-bribery, anti-corruption, and anti-money laundering laws. The industry’s leading exchange is now seeking to work with regulators to determine remedial actions, which will likely result in fines.