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Monthly Market Review - April 2024

On April 19, Bitcoin went through its fourth halving successfully and with little fanfare. As of April 19, only 3.125 (down from 6.5) BTC are mined every ten minutes. Overall, it was remarkable how little attention this generated. Four years ago, this was one of the most anticipated events reported in the wider press; however, as these events are well known, they are now priced into performance and generate little broader interest. In the last two halving events, we saw little price movement.

The more significant impact of halving events is that they reduce the sell pressure on Bitcoin. Since miners must pay their electricity bills in fiat, they sell most of their holdings as quickly as possible. Over time, this has acted as constant selling pressure on Bitcoin. This was approximately $60 million daily and has now reduced to $30 million, so each day’s new supply will have less impact on prices. Over a more extended timeframe, this could support Bitcoin finding a new equilibrium price level. However, we don’t believe it’s big enough to be a significant driver of a bull market; instead, it will act as an assistant.

Another promising event occurred in April, when Avi Eisenberg was found guilty of stealing $110 million from Mango Markets, a DeFi protocol in October 2022. At the time, he was very public about his actions. In essence, he manipulated a price feed (called oracle) that Mango Markets was using and used this manipulated price to execute profitable trades. At the time, he stated that what he was doing was legal because he viewed ‘code as law’ and exploited a quirk in the code. The jury disagreed and found him guilty of fraud and market manipulation.

It's promising to see the law protect DeFi users and enforce the spirit of fair markets. Fair markets are critical to increasing DeFi’s adoption over time. This is a tiny but significant step as it means that acting in bad faith in DeFi now has consequences.

Changpeng ‘CZ’ Zhao, the founder of Binance, was sentenced to four months in jail for the Binance’s anti-money laundering failures. The US charged Binance and CZ personally for violating the US Bank Secrecy Act, and both pleaded guilty. For comparison, in 2014, BNP Paribas was fined more than double what Binance was ($9 billion) for the same charge of compliance failures regarding sanctioned countries and organisations. For BNP Paribas, there were a decade of violations. UBS was fined about the same ($4 billion) for the same failures. Neither of their CEOs were charged, much less sentenced to prison.

This is the first time in history that an executive with the same charge (without others) as CZ’s has been sent to prison, so the jail sentence does seem harsh, even though it’s short. CZ is now the wealthiest person ever to be sent to jail in the US.


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