Crypto Spotlight - BCB Group looks to fill Silvegate gap, Bybit suspends USD deposits, Iran advances digital currency plans

Both the price of Bitcoin and Ether remained relatively flat over the weekend with Bitcoin hovering around $22,400 and Ether at $1,560 as of writing. According to Coinshare’s weekly report, digital asset investment products experienced minor outflows of US$17m, marking the 4th consecutive week of negative sentiment. 

(Source: Coinshares)

Bitcoin outflows for the 4th consecutive week were US$20m. The ongoing regulatory uncertainty for digital assets is believed to be the cause of investor concerns and poor sentiment.

However, there are a number of factors at play. The market appears to be at a precipice as it balances the effects of Silvergate's crypto failure and positive economic data from China. 

Observers believe that the drop associated with the Silvergate issue has not fully played out and that Bitcoin could potentially retrace back down to $20,000. However, economic data from a reopened Hong Kong could lead to an increase in appetite for assets like crypto, counterbalancing fears in the US equity markets, and rising interest rates. With two opposing forces pushing on the market, here is all the news from the crypto sphere today.

1 - BCB Group, a payments processor for crypto companies, is expediting plans to add U.S. dollar capabilities to its platform in order to fill the gap left by the recently closed Silvergate Exchange Network (SEN). BCB currently provides fiat-to-crypto exchange for several currencies in Europe and hopes to have dollar fiat-to-crypto exchange in place early in the second quarter.

The company's decentralized model, BLINC, was built as a multicurrency payment platform, not tied to a single credit institution like Silvergate or Signature Bank. This allows more versatility and will be a positive development for the market.

2 - Crypto exchange Bybit has suspended USD deposits via wire transfer due to service outages from its processing partner. Withdrawals will be halted from March 10. However, users can still deposit and withdraw crypto to and from wallet addresses and fund purchases through credit cards and other payment methods. The exchange's move comes after Binance halted dollar transfers last month and amid a crisis at California-based lender Silver age.


3 - The Central Bank of Iran has completed a pre-pilot phase in the development of its central bank digital currency (CBDC). According to an official statement by the Monetary and Banking Research Institute. Mohammad Reza Mani Yekta, head of the CBI office for supervising payment systems, announced that Iran's central bank plans to increase the scope of the CBDC pilot but does not want to rush its implementation.

A digital rial would be distributed among individuals and banks, with the CBDC infrastructure recreating some blockchain features. The news comes ahead of a meeting between the Bank of Russia's governor and Iranian authorities, who have reportedly been working together to create a gold-backed stablecoin that would serve as a payment method in foreign trade.

4 - According to internal documents obtained by The Australian Financial Review, the Australian government could delay crypto legislation past 2024 as it aims to get a full understanding of the industry. Consultation papers on crypto licensing and custody are expected to be released in Q2 2023, with stakeholder roundtables planned for Q3.

Final submissions to the cabinet are not expected until late in the year, which could prolong the decision-making process. The Treasury has acknowledged that some stakeholders may be frustrated with the perceived delay. The government has also created a dedicated crypto policy unit within the Treasury department.