Crypto Roundup: A Dam Good Idea, Bitcoin Is Back, And This Altcoin Is Doing Even Better…

The crypto market is buzzing with a level of excitement that we haven’t seen in a while.

And I’m not just talking about the Sam Bankman Fried (SBF) trial.

The scandalous saga continues, with the trial in its last week of testimony. SBF and his team seem to be throwing a Hail Mary by putting him on the stand. As I’m following the live coverage today, it seems like a lot of his answers begin with “on the advice of counsel” or “I don’t recall”.

We’ll see how that works out for him. And while the trial has understandably dominated headlines, there’s a lot more going on in the crypto world that we need to cover.

For example, did you know that Bitcoin mining stocks are having a field day in 2023? The average return for the publicly traded miners is 148% in 2023 so far. And Bitcoin itself has more than doubled.

Let’s dive into this week’s Crypto Roundup.

A Dam Good Idea…🌊💡

Say hello to the Itaipu Dam, located on the border of Paraguay and Brazil. This isn’t just any dam — it’s the second-largest hydroelectric dam in the world.

Fun fact: According to the Guinness World Records, the Itaipu Dam boasts the title of the most expensive object on earth. It cost $27 billion to build in 1984 (that’s a hefty $35 billion today, adjusted for inflation).

In 1994, the American Society of Civil Engineers named it one of its seven wonders of the modern world.

But the reason I bring this up isn’t just to tell you about a dam in South America. You see, due to some unique hydropower dynamics, Paraguay was in a bind. It found itself in a situation where it was selling around 5 Gigawatts of power to Brazil at a loss.

That’s where a Bitcoin mining outfit called SAZ Mining comes into the picture.

They recently established Bitcoin mining operations that tap into the dam’s surplus energy, harnessing clean, renewable energy. By doing so, they’re reducing their carbon footprint and slashing operational costs. It’s a win-win-win… for Paraguay, for the environment, and for SAZ’s bottom line.

While Texas is often hailed as a Bitcoin mining juggernaut, SAZ Mining sees potential in Paraguay, dubbing it “the new Texas” for Bitcoin mining. They might be on to something… The company disclosed its mining expenses are a dirt-cheap $0.047 per kilowatt hour. To put that in perspective, Bitcoin miners in the U.S. average about $0.17 per kilowatt hour, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Bottom line? As the crypto world continues to grow, so does its energy consumption. But with companies shifting towards novel and sustainable solutions like this, the future looks both green and bright. 😎

Bitcoin Is Back, Baby… 🪙

Don’t look now, but things are looking up for Bitcoin. Prices rallied in a major way, reaching a feverish peak north of $35,000, marking its best performance in 18 months.

Why? Three simple letters: ETF.

Optimism around the potential approval of a “spot” Bitcoin ETF by the Securities and Exchange Commission is increasing. Over the past month, Bitcoin’s price has swelled by 30%, and the ripples of this upswing have been felt across the crypto realm.

In an interesting twist, the ticker symbol for BlackRock’s planned ETF (IBTC) made a brief appearance on the Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation’s (DTCC) website. For context, before an ETF can be launched, it needs to have arrangements for clearing and settlement of trades. That’s where the DTCC comes in. So, a mention of the ticker was perceived as a hint that a Bitcoin ETF might be nearing approval.

This sent traders into a frenzy before it disappeared the next day, causing a minor price dip. But the real catalyst came in August when a federal court nudged the SEC to give Grayscale’s spot Bitcoin ETF application another look. Increasingly, the sentiment is that the SEC may be running out of cards to play. This has led giants like JP Morgan to speculate that we could see a ETF rollout by mid-January.

Bottom line, all this hoopla is happening for a good reason. As we’ve discussed before, a Bitcoin ETF is seen by many as a golden ticket to propel Bitcoin into mainstream finance. That’s because it would provide a safe and familiar haven for traditional investors to dip their toes in the crypto waters.

Either way you look at it, it seems like Bitcoin is shrugging off its prolonged crypto winter blues. Trading volumes in the U.S. are bouncing back to pre-2021 bull run levels. And we are still a few months away from Bitcoin’s upcoming “halving,” which I’ve discussed before. The event, slated for April, will slash the rewards for Bitcoin miners by half and is historically a harbinger of fresh all-time highs in the ensuing 12-18 months.

Shhh… 🤫 This Crypto Is Outperforming Bitcoin 🪙

The crypto drama isn’t just about Bitcoin this week. While BTC was basking in its ETF limelight, Solana (SOL) was quietly throwing a party of its own.

SOL has also rallied nearly 30% in the past week. And if we rewind to the start of the year, it’s climbed a wild 200% ride uphill.

But it’s not just about the price; other metrics are singing bullish tunes, too. According to Messari’s report card for Q3 2023, Solana’s market cap buffed up by 17%, revenues hiked by 10%, and the total value locked in its decentralized apps (dapps) swelled by a hearty 32%. These figures are making SOL look like the cool new kid on the crypto block for 2023.

What Is Solana?

If you’re unfamiliar with Solana, here’s a brief rundown…

Much like Ethereum, Solana is not just a cryptocurrency but also a robust computing platform. Developers love using it as a playground, which is why it hosts a wide array of dapps, courtesy of its smart contracts feature. The Solana narrative is about high volume, low fees, and an open invitation to dapps from DeFi, gaming, and NFT collectibles.

Here’s a fun fact: while Ethereum’s transaction fees have long plagued users (between $2 and $7 in Q3 ’23), Solana’s average transaction fee was a mere $0.0002.

On the Wall Street front, Solana is not just walking; it’s strutting. It’s becoming the darling of institutional investors among large “altcoins” (i.e. not Bitcoin). As an analyst from 21Shares quipped, the consistent rise in daily active users and the fresh inflow of investments are a testament to the market’s growing enthusiasm for this blockchain, especially with the recent privacy upgrade that seems to have caught the market’s fancy.

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