Gather ‘round and step into the festive glow as we bid adieu to 2023, a year sprinkled with its highlights and disasters. We’ve surfed the peaks and navigated the troughs of the crypto sleigh ride, staying afloat with the grace only a flying reindeer can provide.
With our True Love’s four calling birds perched on our shoulders, let’s call back to this year’s mistletoe moments, each one a spark of joy and wonder.
With Bitcoin donning its holiday attire and financial giants hanging their stockings on the crypto mantle, we look ahead to a new year unburdened by contagions and filled with hype. So, join us as we clink our glasses to the memories made and those yet to unfold in the crypto wonderland!
From Regulatory Jingle to Ripple’s Mistletoe Miracle
For most of the year, the SEC took up the mantle of a stern Santa, trying to put everyone operating in the crypto space on its naughty list. Whether the regulator was doing it for the sake of American investors or engaging in a political cleanup, the US regulator went on a festive rampage. From deeming certain cryptocurrencies as securities to bringing class-action lawsuits against major crypto exchanges, The SEC was determined to deck the halls with regulatory scrutiny.
This year alone, the SEC targeted Coinbase and Binance for selling unregistered securities. As part of its crackdown, the regulator classified several leading assets, such as Polygon, Solana, Cardano, and others, as securities.
Caught in the regulatory crossfire was also Ripple Labs and its founders, Brad Garlinghouse and Chris Larsen. Like Binance and Coinbase, the SEC accused Ripple’s top brass of engaging in illicit securities sales, casting a shadow over the crypto market and creating a winter chill lingering for at least a full quarter.
Following the SEC’s grinch-like behavior, the total crypto market capitalization lost over $70 billion on June 6. Tokens labeled securities by the SEC faced a severe downturn, with losses exceeding 50%. Solana, Cardano, XRP, and Polygon experienced significant price slashes, and these tokens struggled to find solid ground throughout Q3.
However, after months of legal battles, appeals, and the like, an early Christmas miracle unfolded at the hands of Judge Torres. In a groundbreaking decision on July 13, the New York Judge affirmed that Ripple wasn’t a security.
The judge emphasized that Ripple’s Programmatic Sales, other distributions, and the XRP sales executed by Chris Larsen and Brad Garlinghouse did not constitute investment contracts, solidifying the judge’s position.
Following Judge Torress’ decision on July 13, XRP surged a whopping 73% in a single day, sparking a mini alt-season, as major assets, including Bitcoin and Ethereum, enjoyed solid gains.
The SEC, like a reluctant Scrooge, relented and dismissed all charges against Ripple Labs‘ executives on October 19 and scurried away. This unexpected turn of events ignited merrier times for the crypto space, making it a memorable mistletoe moment to cap off the year.
The Ghost of FTX Past Haunts SBF
Amidst the snowfall of FTX’s collapse in 2022, the echoes of its downfall continued to resonate into 2023, leaving a chilling tale for the history books. The chapter unfolds with losses exceeding $8 billion for investors who, like waiting for Santa’s gifts, still anticipate their due restitution. For most of the year, the crypto market tried to recover from the fiasco that the exchange’s disgraced founder, Sam Bankman-Fried (SBF), started.
This year’s saga, however, takes a Dickensian turn as SBF faces the music in his trial and embarks on a potentially long journey behind bars. While the former crypto poster boy was confident in fighting his own legal battles, his confidence started to wane when he discovered the WiFi speed wasn’t enough to download the mountain of charges against him.
The disgraced FTX founder tried everything in his power to wriggle out of jail, employing a myriad of tactics ranging from questioning his mental well-being to bemoaning trivial details.
Despite SBF’s theatrics, the trial kicked off on October 3 without delay. Assistant United States Attorney Thane Rehn wasted no time in asserting that the FTX founder had built his crypto empire on lies, alleging that SBF had lied to customers that their deposits were safe while lavishing on these funds himself.
In just the first two weeks of the trial, the jury heard testimonies from Marc-Antoine Julliard, Paradigm co-founder Matt Huang, former FTX developer Adam Yedidia, and FTX and Alameda co-founder Gary Wang, and partner Caroline Ellison, all of whom shared intricate details of SBF’s alleged fraud, exposing practices that could make even the Grinch blush.
The crypto community watched in disbelief as the trial shed light on political lobbying, money laundering, and scams executed by the former face of the crypto industry. After a month-long trial, the 12-person jury unanimously found the former crypto kingpin guilty on seven counts that included wire fraud, securities fraud, and money laundering conspiracy.
SBF now sits in his cell, waiting for his final sentencing scheduled for March 28, 2024. Experts suggest that the disgraced CEO could face a lengthy prison sentence of up to 20 years.
Surprisingly, initially cast in shadows, this chapter unfolds as a positive turn for the crypto industry, akin to the moral of a heartwarming Christmas story. As the crypto world awaits the March sentencing, the ghost of FTX’s past casts a transformative light on the industry, making this unexpected chapter an unforgettable mistletoe moment.
The Ghost of Cryptomas Future Haunts Traditional Institutions
In the spirit of this festive season, let’s reflect on a mistletoe moment that graced the crypto industry earlier this year, bringing a massive shift into the industry. The elusive dream of institutional adoption in crypto seemed distant throughout the years, with figures like Larry Fink, BlackRock CEO, dismissing the industry as a mere scam.
However, as 2023 unfolded, it appeared the Ghost of Cryptomas future visited Fink and his peers, ushering in a new and merry season for the industry. Earlier this year, the crypto market witnessed a remarkable turn of events as major asset management firms, including BlackRock, VanEck, and Fidelity, expressed interest in launching a spot Bitcoin ETF.
If approved, the spot ETF would open doors for American investors to invest in Bitcoin without direct exposure to the asset. The market responded with joy, celebrating the entry of institutions into the crypto space and anticipating increased legitimacy.
Despite regulatory challenges that cast shadows earlier in the year, the declaration of intent and subsequent SEC applications propelled the market to substantial gains. The community, accustomed to regulatory skepticism, was pleasantly surprised by the sudden embrace from traditional financial players.
While uncertainties linger around BlackRock’s newfound interest in crypto, the market remains euphoric, suggesting the onset of a potential bull run. As we exchange holiday greetings and revel in the season’s spirit, the crypto community reflects on this mistletoe moment with gratitude, marking a significant chapter in the industry’s journey.
Bitcoin’s Christmas Miracle
In the frosty memories of 2022, the crypto industry endured a harsh winter filled with wars and contagions, leaving Bitcoin and altcoins alike battered and bruised. As a result, Bitcoin closed 2022 with a 60% loss, touching the $15,000 price level after a historic bull run in 2021. The total crypto market cap plummeted from $2.1 trillion to $700 billion, marking over $1.4 trillion in losses.
Similarly, the total altcoin market cap closed the year with a 66% loss, dwindling to $400 million by year-end. The echoes of these struggles later lingered into the early days of 2023, casting a somber shadow over the market.
Hope flickered like the lights on a Christmas tree as investors cautiously navigated the uncertainties, questioning if the crypto market would ever recover. The outlook remained bleak, worsened by a global crypto crackdown from regulatory authorities like the SEC.
Throughout the year, Bitcoin struggled to move past $32,000 while altcoins dominated and slowly closed the gap on the reigning crypto king. Despite multiple retests, things looked unfortunate for Bitcoin as it touched $23,000, with many experts suggesting it was bound to test $12,000 again.
Yet, just as the holiday season began, a gift-wrapped resurgence arrived in the form of institutional investors joining the crypto journey. The final quarter witnessed a spectacular rally, with Bitcoin and its crypto companions painting the charts with vibrant green candles, bringing a festive cheer to the market.
Amid spot ETF approval anticipation and favorable macroeconomic tailwinds, December 2023 sparkled with a renewed spirit, bearing gifts at the right time. The charts resembled a forest of green trees, making this holiday season one of the merriest and undoubtedly a highlight of the year. Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Solana, among other altcoins, reached levels last seen in 2022.
In a single quarter, Bitcoin soared to $45,000, marking a 170% gain for the year. Similarly, Ethereum surged to $2400, a modest 100% gain. Despite fears of FTX selling its bag, Solana has gained almost 800% this year. The crypto market recovered a fair bit, adding almost $1 trillion to its total market cap and achieving a 117% gain for the year.
Although Bitcoin and the broader crypto market are still quite far from their all-time highs, stepping into the new year, analysts predict another joyful surge, especially around the potential spot ETF approval in early January. This mistletoe moment serves as a heartwarming chapter, marking the market’s resilient comeback against the trials of the past.
As we close the book on 2023, let’s hope for a positive 2024 filled with joy galore. The stage is aglow as we anticipate a bull run’s delightful flow. With the gift of a potential spot ETF and a scheduled Bitcoin halving set, the cheers of retail investors resonate, making the new year truly first-rate. Here’s to a season of delight and a year that sparkles.
Check out the previous entry in our 12 Days of Cryptomas series, exploring hopes for MiCA 2.0.
3 Wishes for MiCA 2.0 as EU Draws Up Second Regulatory Wave
Day 5 of 12 Days of Cryptomas looks at a stellar year of recovery for Bitcoin, but what’s next?