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Hollywood elite will receive NFTs in recognition of upcoming awards ceremony

A project will be distributing nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, in the gift bags of 25 actors, actresses, and directors nominated for their roles in feature films. 

According to Nomine(eth), a project formed in partnership with online marketplace Rarible, Metaversal, and AdVenture Media, 25 people from the 115 nominated in this year’s Academy Awards ceremony will receive three nonfungible tokens, or NFTs, in unofficial gift bags. The project will gift the NFTs to Hollywood insiders nominated in the best actor, best actress, best supporting actor, best supporting actress, and best director categories.

All the digital pieces designed by artists Jon Noorlander, Shaylin Wallace, Rocco DiSpirito, and others will be minted with the names of those nominated in their respective categories. The winner of each category will receive an additional NFT auctioned off on Rarible. Some or all of the proceeds will reportedly go to a charity of their choice. Because NFTs do not exist in the physical world, the project will add a ticket to each bag allowing nominees to claim their gift through a Portis wallet.

NFT from artist Shaylin Wallace

“The motivation to distribute NFTs in the gift bags was to show what can be done with NFTs, raise awareness for the charitable causes that we’re supporting and pay tribute to the tremendous achievement that these nominees have achieved,” said Yossi Hasson, co-curator of the project. “[We’re] inviting them to co-own that moment with some of the most inspirational digital artists and the public that purchase their works.”

Among the NFTs is a piece created by 3D animator Andre O’Shea as a tribute to famous actor Chadwick Boseman, best known for his role as King T’Challa in the 2018 film Black Panther. Boseman passed in August from colon cancer but is still nominated this year for his part in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. The proceeds from this NFT auction will benefit the Colon Cancer Foundation.

Some experts believe the Hollywood film industry should move to the blockchain, allowing new creators to bypass the traditional “exclusive” route for projects by decentralizing power within the space. A number of film and TV projects related to the crypto industry have popped up as the space becomes more mainstream, including a 10-part crypto-comedy series expected to start filming later this year. 

Please note that the gift bags mentioned above are not directly affiliated in any way with the Oscars or the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts & Sciences.

Bitcoin dominance is about to drop below 50% for the first time in 3 years

Bitcoin (BTC) revisited recent lows near $52,000 on April 22 as sustained weakness continued for the largest cryptocurrency.

BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: Tradingview

Traders await altcoin “magic”

Cointelegraph Markets Pro and Tradingview revealed a lackluster day for BTC traders as BTC/USD briefly dipped below $53,000 before stabilizing around $1,000 higher. 

The move came as Bitcoin was about to lose its market cap dominance supremacy to altcoins in what traditionally marks the “real” start of “alt season.”

Charts from on-chain monitoring resource CoinMarketCap showed that as of Thursday, Bitcoin’s share of the overall cryptocurrency market cap stood at just 50.1%.

Having decreased sharply this year despite its own price gains, Bitcoin’s market cap share versus altcoins looked set to break through support which has held for over three years.

Looking at historical behavior, each time Bitcoin loses the 50% mark, altcoins rapidly move in to pick up the slack, often led by Ether (ETH).

The reshuffling thus sparks an altcoin run which truly fits the description of “alt season” — rapid gains to a peak, followed by a cooling-off period as Bitcoin regains some lost ground. This was the case in both mid 2017 and early 2018.

Cryptocurrency market cap share chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Should history repeat itself, it would be music to the ears of altcoin investors, many of whom have long claimed that “alt season” is already underway but has yet to show its true colors.

A race to the top this time around could surprise even them, meanwhile, as many altcoins have already put in unbelievable performances in 2021.

“BTC dominance 51.6%. The magic starts when 50% breaks,” popular Twitter account CryptoBull summarized last week.

Market breaks Dogecoin’s spell

At the time of writing, Ether in particular was showing no signs of weakness in the face of fresh wobbles for BTC/USD, gaining 6% in 24 hours to approach $2,500 once again.

Others were less optimistic, with the top 50 cryptocurrencies mostly down on the day.

Dogecoin (DOGE), previously the star of the show, continued its slip after hitting all-time highs of $0.44 on some exchanges. DOGE/USD was already down 40% versus the high on Thursday.

DOGE/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bittrex). Source: Tradingview

Bitcoin technicals sour as price dives under $54K and two critical whale clusters

Bitcoin has dropped below $54,000 on April 20 while whale clusters suggest that the key areas for BTC to reclaim in the short term are $56,274 and $55,172.

The cryptocurrency market began to drop once again after an initial relief rally on Monday. Bitcoin dropped from $57,400 to sub-$54,000, losing the $55,172 whale cluster support level.

Bitcoin whale clusters. Source: Whalemap

In the near term, it is crucial for Bitcoin to rally above $55,172 and reclaim it as a support level. Otherwise, it is at risk of testing the $51,000 macro support area.

Why are whale cluster support areas important?

Whale clusters form when whales or high-net-worth investors purchase or sell a significant amount of Bitcoin.

Since whales tend to purchase Bitcoin at an area they previously bought at to defend their position, whale clusters are often a positive indicator of strong support areas

Analysts at Whalemap, a data analytics platform that tracks whale activity, noted that there is a lot of whale volume at $58,000.

In the short term, with $58,000 acting as an area of interest, the analysts said $56,274 and $55,172 are the key near term levels to watch.

The analysts said:

“A lot of whale wallet volume was happening at around $58k. This should be an area of struggle for Bitcoin. $56,274 and $55,172 are currently important supports that have to be respected for uptrend’s continuation.

If Bitcoin does not reclaim $56,274 and continues to decline, it would mean that whales are not adding to their existing positions.

If this is the case, the $51,000 macro support level would be at risk of being tested once again, as Cointelegraph previously reported.

The $51,000 level is critical because if that breaks, it would cause the higher low structure of Bitcoin to break down, which may put the entire Bitcoin bull market in danger.

“These are the key levels to look out for right now,” Whalemap analysts added.

There was an accumulation at the current level but if 55k does not hold we could easily go down to 47,438 where a strong support level is located.

Both whales and hodlers responsible for sell-off

On April 18, the price of Bitcoin fell sharply from the $60,000 mark to nearly $50,000 on the day’s lowest point.

According to the analysts at Whalemap, it weren’t just long-time holders that sold, but also whales and high net worth investors.

They wrote:

“Since Whalemap allows to track where the HODLer coins are coming from we can check that the coins transacted yesterday were originally purchased after the halving in 2020. Checking the whale outflow map shows that the HODLer coins moving yesterday were actually not just HODLers but also whales since the bubbles are in the same locations.”

Based on this trend, it is difficult to speculate whether Bitcoin would see a major rally in the near term and resume its uptrend once more. 

BTC/USD 1-day price chart (Bitstamp) with key levels. Source: TraderXO

Several notable traders shared a similar sentiment. Pseudonymous trader, “Trader XO,” said that while he is not bearish he does sees the potential of a deeper retracement.

He said:

“BTC Currently no position. Wouldnt say no to a deeper retracement around the 0.5 – 0.705 fib levels. Not bearish – Just wanting a better buying opportunity.”

Dogecoin at $0.44 embraces ‘literal moon’ ahead of Elon Musk SpaceX launch

Bitcoin (BTC) may be flagging, but one cryptocurrency could not be less fazed by the market downturn, hitting new all-time highs.

Dogecoin (DOGE), the altcoin based on a Shiba Inu meme, passed $0.40 for the first time on April 19, capping weekly gains of 400%.

New all-time highs keep coming for DOGE

The rags-to-riches moves by DOGE throughout 2021 have wowed pundits and left former bagholders weeping. Now, it appears that even a flash bear market cannot stop its moonshot.

Just seven days ago, DOGE/USD traded at $0.07. As Cointelegraph reported, year-to-date gains are now in excess of 7,500%, while the pair is up almost 18,000% versus the same date in 2020.

While this naturally beats the rises in Bitcoin, Ether (ETH) and others, the question now is what will happen next and whether an equally spectacular reversal is on the cards.

At the time of writing, DOGE/USD, meanwhile, traded at $0.36, already a considerable way below its all-time high of $0.445.

DOGE/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bittrex). Source: TradingView

All eyes on “Dogecoin Day”

SpaceX and its “technoking” Elon Musk may have the answer. On April 22, a flight is due to launch that Musk previously hinted would “put a literal Dogecoin on the literal moon.”

Since his April Fool’s Day tweet, Dogecoin has seen engagement like never before, dwarfing even that which accompanied Musk’s earlier endorsements. Besides the hashtag “#DogeDay” trending in the United States on Twitter, data from Google Trends shows that “Doge” is in the process of being Googled more than ever. However, other social media metrics are suggesting that the craze may already fading on social media.

Google search interest for “Doge.” Source: Google Trends

Another improvised red-letter day is April 20, or “Dogecoin Day 4/20,” which according to social media is allegedly when DOGE/USD will hit $4.20 per coin.

Amid the fervor, however, stood some voices of reason. Among them was trader Scott Melker, who told U.S. traders looking to book profits to be mindful of legal implications.

“If you believe that $DOGE (or another coin) is the future of money, please remember that the government views it as property and every single time you spend it it’s a taxable sale of the coin,” he warned.

“This is important. Buy something with crypto in the US = selling crypto.”

Bitcoin, meanwhile, could only yap at Dogecoin’s heels, down 0.7% on the day to stay close to $55,000.

China ‘endorses’ BTC investment: 5 things to watch in Bitcoin this week

Bitcoin (BTC) is beginning a new week grinding back to $60,000 as the shock of a weekend price crash settles.

After dropping to as low as $52,000 in a snap sell-off event, Bitcoin has spent the past two days slowly recovering its losses. What’s next?

Cointelegraph presents five factors to consider as a new trading week gets underway and cryptocurrency holders across the board nurse their wounds.

Stocks primed for “up only” short term 

The macro picture is fairly stable in Asia and Europe, with United States markets yet to open.

A mixed picture greeted investors at the open, but volatility has been broadly absent, with only oil showing signs of more pronounced weakness.

As such, little impact on Bitcoin is to be expected from equities moves, these forecast to continue building on record highs in the coming weeks.

Russel Chesler, head of investments and capital markets at the Australian branch of crypto-friendly investment manager VanEck, captured the mood in a note quoted by Bloomberg.

“Our current view is that with short-term interest rates set to remain low for the medium term and our expectation that earnings will continue to increase, it is unlikely that the increase in long-term interest rates will trigger an equity market fall,” he wrote.

Coronavirus concerns still linger despite stocks’ relentless surge higher, with more reported official cases last week than ever before worldwide.

Economic responses continue to vary, with a patchwork of openings and closings characterizing countries’ latest attempts to control the outbreak.

Bitcoin recovers from $52,000 crash

In Bitcoin circles, the main talking point naturally remains the weekend’s events, which saw a sudden cascade of selling send BTC/USD down by $7,000 in a matter of minutes.

Bouncing at just above $52,000, the crash echoed several similar events this year, and Bitcoin managed to regain around 50% of its lost ground within hours.

BTC/USD 1-hour candle chart (Bitstamp). Source: Tradingview

Responses, however, are split between those who consider the volatility “business as usual” and more conservative voices calling time on the latest bull run.

As Cointelegraph reported, suspicions are focusing on a Chinese power blackout hitting hash rate, as well as rumored legal action by U.S. regulators against unnamed financial institutions related to money laundering.

In his own breakdown of what happened, popular statistician Willy Woo highlighted both China and skittish moves by futures investors as contributing to the losses.

“We just saw the single largest 1-day drop in mining hash rate since Nov 2017. The hash rate on the network essentially halved, causing mayhem in BTC price as it crashed,” he told Twitter followers.

In a sign that the future could see fresh sustained upside, Woo reiterated the “reset” in an on-chain metric, the spent transaction output ratio (SOPR), showing that long-term investors will likely soon stop selling altogether.

“The on-chain SOPR metric near a full reset. A classic buy the dip signal,” he added.

“In simple terms, profit taking by longer term investors is completing, very little sell power left unless investors want to sell at a loss from their entry price. Unlikely in a bull market.”

Fundamentals point higher

It’s not just SOPR — a whole range of Bitcoin network indicators and fundamentals are buoying bulls’ cause, even as BTC/USD remains below even February’s high of $58,300.

For Woo and others, particularly important are the transfer of funds to investors who have traditionally hodled, not sold — another classic trait of Bitcoin’s rise in recent months.

Bitcoin liquid supply change chart showing transfers to strong hands. Source: Willy Woo/ Twitter

“Serious strong-handed holders are buying this dip. In the last 24 hours, over 200,000 Bitcoin became illiquid, a 3-year record,” fellow analyst William Clemente added Sunday.

“This illiquid supply increase is not only just dip buyers with no history of selling, but partially accumulation from 5-6 months ago of which those wallets have just crossed the ‘illiquid’ threshold for this metric.”

Lastly, around 13.5% of the total available Bitcoin supply has been active above $53,000, something which Woo says is confirming its status as a trillion-dollar asset. At around $53,800, Bitcoin’s market cap becomes a solid $1 trillion.

“This dip happened while unprecedented numbers of new users are arriving onto the network per day. There’s been a retail influx in the last 2-3 weeks,” Woo additionally noted, with total wallet numbers nearing 10 million.

Difficulty takes care of miner woes

A closer look at hash rate, which at one point dipped by almost half, shows that a recovery in line with price is underway.

According to rough estimates from on-chain monitoring resource Blockchain, Bitcoin network hash rate is already back above 150 exahashes per second (EH/s), having broken through the 200 EH/s barrier for the first time in history last week.

Bitcoin hash rate chart. Source: Blockchain

Miners leaving the network due to power problems leads to Bitcoin’s network difficulty decreasing to incentivize more to come online.

Further confirmation that the weekend’s issue was firmly temporary comes from difficulty forecasts — in two weeks’ time, when it next adjusts, difficulty will only drop by around 4%, a modest move which could yet be cancelled out altogether as miners return.

This balance between hash rate and difficulty is arguably the most important aspect of Bitcoin, one which allows it to govern itself and preserve security and functionality regardless of sudden events impacting network participants.

Chinese central bank praises Bitcoin and stablecoins

In another unanticipated event which is arguably yet to be fully appreciated by the market, China has given an unprecedented stamp of approval to cryptocurrency as an “investment alternative.”

Speaking at a conference organized by CNBC, Li Bo, deputy governor of China’s central bank, the People’s Bank of China (PBoC), broke ranks to validate both Bitcoin and stablecoins.

“We regard Bitcoin and stablecoin as crypto assets… These are investment alternatives,” he said.

The comments are surprising as despite being a center for Bitcoin mining activity, China has had a blanket ban in place on trading and transacting in cryptocurrencies since September 2017.

“Every country that bans Bitcoin eventually reverses that ban. You simply cannot be competitive in the 21st century economy without it,” Charles Edwards, founder of investment firm Capriole, responded.

“China is playing 4D chess. The last 3 days have made very clear they still dominate global mining. Slowly, slowly then all at once.”

The market barely reacted to this high-level affirmation of Bitcoin’s long-term potential. At the time of writing, Bitcoin is still hovering at $57,000, as yet failing to see an attack of familiar resistance levels.

VORTECS Report: Markets Pro sounds the alert as RUNE, DOGE and XRP skyrocket

It’s been a spectacular week for the Cointelegraph Markets Pro VORTECS™ Score, which alerted subscribers to several of the top crypto asset price movers hours before the price began to climb.

DOGE analysis

Dogecoin (DOGE) has been the standout performer of the week, confounding analysts who look for fundamental strengths in an asset — the meme coin may not have much of a team, or a genuine use-case, but it has Elon Musk, Mark Cuban… and the support of their millions of fans.

Dogecoin crossed the 80 VORTECS™ line on the morning of April 13, when the price curve was still flat at around $0.073 (first red circle). Apparently, the model has recognized a familiar confluence of celebrity tweets and rising trading volume. Closer to the early hours of April 14, the price line followed suit, pumping all the way to $0.141 (first two red boxes in the graph).

And just as expected, after a rapid climb VORTECS™ anticipated a price decline (second red circle), as has happened many times in the recent past with Dogecoin. Although it was not particularly dramatic, a correction to $0.110 followed in several hours (third red box).

While the 7-day graph above, captured on April 15, demonstrates the VORTECS™ Score operating exactly as hoped, a later capture on April 17 (below) illustrates the limitations of any dynamic modeling algorithm entering unfamiliar territory.

The VORTECS™ Score includes sentiment analysis, tweet and trading volume, and price action as components of the algorithm — which are then weighted according to a proprietary formula based on how similar these are to historical conditions. If there is a similarity in these factors, the score will be higher when historical precedents have most consistently led to higher prices.

But with DOGE this week, there are almost no parallels in history — after breaking all-time highs, the coin just kept climbing. Since VORTECS™ was unable to see historic similarities to this rapid ascent, it stayed fairly neutral after the initial wave of buying (orange box).

XRP analysis

Ripple’s XRP cryptocurrency continued its glorious comeback this week after a series of mild setbacks for the Securities and Exchange Commission in their case against the company, making it to the Top Performers section of the second consecutive VORTECS™ report. On April 12, it entered a streak of dark green VORTECS™ scores at around $1.37. Some 12 hours later, it took off to eventually reach $1.93 (first and second red boxes).

RUNE analysis

THORChain recorded a series of high VORTECS™ values during downward price movement toward a low point of $10.67. Roughly 26 hours later, the price began climbing toward the subsequent high point of $16.46, a 54% improvement compared to the moment when the first dark green score was detected.

The IOST NewsQuake™

The April 13 announcement of a Binance staking promo featuring IOStoken carried the asset to a 53% price increase over 24 hours. Note how there are actually two NewsQuake™ symbols on the token’s VORTECS™ graph sitting close to each other. This is not a glitch: Although the substance of the news is nearly identical, one represents a Medium post by IOS Foundation, while the other marks a tweet from Binance’s official account.

In a game where minutes can make a difference, Markets Pro strives to deliver actionable news as soon as it becomes available. NewsQuakes™ are sourced from a real-time aggregation engine, collated from over a thousand primary sources every minute and analyzed by an AI algorithm to determine the historical significance of the news. NewsQuakes™ are trained on staking announcements, exchange listings and key partnerships, and because they are delivered without human intervention, they can often be the fastest way for market participants to learn about major events in the cryptocurrency space.

VORTECS™ Score testing results

Cointelegraph Markets Pro continues to track 42 separate live-tested strategies, using a simple method described here.

These strategies are based on time-based or score-based exits. For example, the current top-performing strategy since testing began is the Buy 90 / Exit after 168 hour strategy, which measures the price of an asset the moment its VORTECS™ Score crosses the 90 threshold, and then again exactly 168 hours from that initial measurement. The difference is the return on investment (ROI) that is recorded.

That strategy has delivered a ROI of 1,837% since January 5, which compares favorably to holding Bitcoin (87% ROI) or holding an equally-weighted basket of altcoins (470% ROI) over the same time period.

However, all strategies have blips — this week, strategies based on entrance points of 90 underperformed those with entry points of 80, illustrating that even the most advanced algorithms can pick a few duds from time to time.

Time-based strategies: All-time ROI

Score-based strategies: All-time ROI

Time-based strategies: Weekly ROI

Score-based strategies: Weekly ROI

Cointelegraph Markets Pro is available exclusively to subscribers on a monthly basis at $99 per month, or annually with two free months included. It carries a 14-day money-back policy, to ensure that it fits the crypto trading and investing research needs of subscribers, and members can cancel anytime.

Important Disclaimer

Cointelegraph is a publisher of financial information, not an investment adviser. We do not provide personalized or individualized investment advice. Cryptocurrencies are volatile investments and carry significant risk including the risk of permanent and total loss. Past performance is not indicative of future results. Figures and charts are correct at the time of writing or as otherwise specified. Live-tested strategies are not recommendations. Consult your financial advisor before making financial decisions. Full terms and conditions.

Trading apps usurp TikTok in popularity

Two trading apps have risen to the top of Apple’s App Store in recent days. Robinhood holds the number one position, with Coinbase in second, at the time of publication on Friday. In third: popular social media platform TikTok. YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat hold the fourth, fifth and sixth positions, respectively.

One possible conclusion is that folks are now more interested in swapping crypto and financial assets than they are in interacting on various social media platforms — a conclusion noted by CNBC in an article on Friday.

Robinhood saw significant coverage in January when the company halted purchases of GameStop stock. The decision came after the asset’s price spiked in tandem with activity from a Reddit subreddit known as r/Wallstreetbets.

Second-place app Coinbase has also hit many headlines this year, especially in recent weeks in anticipation of its direct stock listing. Chatter rose as the stock, under the ticker COIN, was listed on Nasdaq on Wednesday.

Crypto and stocks largely entered the retail spotlight after they both crashed in March 2020. Emerging from the event, both markets posted recoveries, with the crypto markets going on to reach new all-time highs. Bitcoin’s price has since more than tripled its record high from 2017.

Turkey to ban cryptocurrency payments

A new ban in Turkey will prohibit crypto holders from using their digital assets for payments in addition to preventing payments providers from providing fiat onramps for crypto exchanges.

According to a Friday announcement by the Central Bank of the Republic of Turkey, the ban will come into effect on April 30, rendering any crypto payments solutions and partnerships illegal.

The bank stated that “any direct or indirect usage of crypto assets in payment services and electronic money issuance” will be forbidden.

While banks are excluded from the regulation, which means users can still deposit Turkish lira on crypto exchanges using wire transfers from their bank accounts, payment providers will be unable to provide deposit or withdrawal services for crypto exchanges.

Payments providers and digital wallets are widely used in Turkey to transfer fiat funds to crypto exchanges and vice versa. Major global exchange Binance partnered with local payment provider Papara when it had first entered the Turkish market to provide a lira onramp for several different cryptocurrencies. 

This new regulation means that users have two weeks to clear their balances if they exclusively use payment providers as fiat-to-crypto gateways. 

Historically, the Turkish government has always had a tight grip on the payments ecosystem. In 2016, Turkey banned major global payment provider PayPal in the country.

Crypto regulation has been a hot topic for Turkey in recent months. Last month, the Turkish Ministry of Treasury and Finance announced that it was going to monitor the crypto ecosystem and work with the Central Bank, Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency, and Capital Markets Board to regulate crypto.

Additional reporting by Cointelegraph Turkey’s Emre Günen.

Jim Cramer cashes out half his ‘phoney money’ Bitcoin to pay off mortgage

Business TV personality and converted Bitcoin proponent Jim Cramer has sold half of what he calls his “phoney money” Bitcoin portfolio to pay off his mortgage.

During Thursday’s broadcast of “Squawk on the Street,” co-anchor Jim Cramer revealed that he’s “decided to become an apostate,” by selling off half of his Bitcoin holdings to pay off his home. 

Cramer, who also hosts Mad Money, said that he bought a lot of Bitcoin at $12,000 because he thought it was a currency, and finally decided to take profits.

“I know people are going to be angry with me, but I paid off a mortgage yesterday with it.”

“It was like, kind of, phoney money paying for real money,” Cramer laughed. “I now own a house — lock, stock, and barrel — because I bought this currency. I think I won!”

Twitter user “SZ BeatzCoin” likened Cramer selling to the infamous pizza purchase for 10,000 BTC.

Once a Bitcoin critic, Cramer told his CTO to put $500,000 into Bitcoin after speaking to Morgan Creek Digital co-founder Anthony Pompliano in September last year. He even considered putting 1% of his $150 million net worth into the digital asset.

At the time, BTC was hovering between $10,000 and $12,000 but is now sitting at $63,000, up 425% in only six months.

Famous NFL player Russell Okung, called to Pompliano to pull Cramer back onto the straight and narrow:

In December, Cramer said he bought more around the $17,000 price range, although he didn’t reveal how much.

The TV personality returned to Pompliano’s podcast on March 22 to thank-him for the encouragement, explaining that he has since pulled out his initial investment and is now playing “with the house’s money,” and that he’s “never going to touch it.” That obviously hasn’t lasted.

Although he didn’t reveal how much his Bitcoin portfolio was worth, according to the cryptocurrency’s performance, it could have been around $2.4 million.

During the brief discussion on “Squawk on the Street” Cramer also reaffirmed his opinions regarding Coinbase’s listing yesterday, stating that a $600 price target for Coinbase’s COIN stock is still right.

“This is all a scarcity, we don’t have any other way for mutual funds to be involved with crypto.”

By investing in Coinbase stock, he added, you not only get crypto but also “honest management.”

Client malfunction brings down Ethereum’s most popular block explorer

The OpenEthereum client for Ethereum, formerly known as the Parity client, is reportedly malfunctioning for a number of users on Thursday afternoon UTC, including the popular block explorer Etherscan.

According to multiple user reports on GitHub, the OpenEthereum client has been stuck on block 12,244,294, or just 294 blocks after the Berlin hard fork was executed. The error message seems to indicate that the client is rejecting the new blocks, thinking that its state Merkle root is invalid.

The issue seems to be only affecting OpenEthereum nodes, with the more popular Geth functioning as normal. Issues with the OpenEthereum client resulted in an outage on Etherscan, the popular block explorer. Its homepage shows block 12,244,294 as the last block to be mined, even though other explorers are updating correctly.

It is still unclear what caused the issue, with the team currently working on diagnosing and fixing the problem. Until that happens, Etherscan will remain unusable.

As the issue only affects OpenEthereum, the Ethereum blockchain itself and many service providers, such as Infura, continue to be working correctly. Unlike the previous consensus bug, there is no alternative chain with its own transactions this time. Given the timing with the Berlin hard fork, it appears likely that some of its changes were implemented incorrectly.

The story is developing.

Grayscale tops $50 billion: ‘Will soon pass world’s largest commodity ETF’

Major U.S. asset manager Grayscale has just surpassed $50 billion in cryptocurrency assets under management for the first time. Grayscale’s AUM is creeping ever closer to the $57 billion holdings of the largest commodity ETF.

The company has plans to convert into an ETF when regulations allow. 

If the ETF had been approved already, Grayscale would be the second-largest commodity ETF behind SPDR Gold Shares. GLD is a physically-backed gold exchange-traded fund (ETF) with listings on stock exchanges in the U.S., Mexico, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Grayscale CEO Michael Sonnenshein tweeted that he believes the Grayscale Bitcoin Fund, or GBTC, is likely to surpass the GLD fund by market cap in a few months.

Grayscale provides cryptocurrency exposure to institutional investors and holds approximately 660,000 BTC in total representing 3.5% of Bitcoin’s 18.68 million circulating supply. Almost 655,000 of these are held in Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust.

Grayscale doesn’t just deal in Bitcoin, with almost 20% of the company’s AUM spread across a dozen other cryptocurrencies including Ethereum ($7.4b), Litecoin ($405m), Ethereum Classic ($267m), and Bitcoin Cash ($234m). In the last month, five more trusts were created — Decentraland’s MANA ($18.6m), Livepeer ($13m), Filecoin ($7.7m), Basic Attention Token ($4.8m) and Chainlink ($4.5m).

The firm is already the largest U.S. digital asset manager by a large margin, with Pantera, the second-largest manager, holding only $4.3 billion, less than one-tenth of the $50 billion held by Grayscale.

Yesterday the asset manager announced a partnership with Time Magazine to produce an educational crypto videos series. The magazine also agreed to receive payment in Bitcoin and hold the digital asset on its balance sheet.

Bitcoin futures open interest soars to new heights ahead of Coinbase listing

Open interest in Bitcoin futures has surged to new record highs ahead of Coinbase’s April 14 direct listing on the Nasdaq.

Crypto market data aggregator Glassode states that Bitcoin open interest has exceeded $27 billion for the first time as Bitcoin pushed into new record highs above $63,000. The milestone suggests traders may be speculating on higher prices, although some may also be hedging against incoming volatility.

The lion’s share of trading activity is on Binance, where the $5.2 billion in positions accounts for almost 20% of all outstanding positions being held on the exchange. It’s followed by Bybit with $4.66 billion, OKEX with $3.75 billion, and then Huobi, FTX, and CME with roughly $3 billion each.

Despite the record open interest, Bitcoin futures volumes appear to have been declining over the past month, sagging from $117 billion as of March 15 to range between $50 billion and $75 billion during April, according to crypto derivatives data aggregator, Skew.

The waning volume may suggest traders have become increasingly cautious about opening new positions as the date for Coinbase’s listing has approached, with a significant share of open interest likely representing positions that have been opened during previous weeks and months.

Of the $75 billion worth of BTC futures that changed hands over the past 24 hours, Binance makes up more than one-third of the volume with $26.9 billion, followed by Huobi with $14.5 billion, OKEx with $12.7 billion, and Bybit with $10.6 billion.

By contrast, open interest in Bitcoin options has declined since a record $6 billion worth of contracts expired at the end of March. Options volumes have increased during April, with the data suggesting many traders have been hedging their positions as billions were mobilized to protect against a crash down to $40,000 last week.

Bitcoin is not the only market that derivatives traders are speculating on, with open interest in Ethereum futures also spiking to record highs above $8 billion as volumes increased over recent weeks.

Ethereum’s options markets have also seen an increase in activity, with open interest pushing into 30-day highs near $3.2 billion. Ether options volumes jumped 90% overnight, surging from $200 million to $380 million.

However, many Ethereum traders appear to be looking beyond Coinbase’s listing this week, with analyst Cantering Clark noting significant volume targeting prices above $3,200 for the end of June earlier this month.