First Mover Asia: Bitcoin holds above $21k in weekend trading; solana web3 phone faces long odds

Ether stays over $1,200; prior blockchain phones have failed because the market has realized their functionalities are already available via apps that can be loaded onto any old phone.

Good morning. Here’s what’s happening:

Prices: Bitcoin fell slightly on Sunday but held steady above $21K; ether remains over $1.2K.

Insights: Solana Web3 phone faces long odds based on the blockchain industry's track record.


Bitcoin (BTC): $21,121 -1.5%

Ether (ETH): $1,212 -2.5%

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Bitcoin Holds Above $21K; Other Major Cryptos Are Mixed

Expectations for bitcoin's collapse below $20,000 over the weekend were premature.

While down more than a percentage point over the past 24 hours, the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was trading well over $21,000, still up from the panicky levels to which it fell last weekend at one point.

On Sunday, investors continued to find comfort in faint signs that the U.S. economy was cooling and that the Federal Reserve might be able to tone down its monetary hawkishness later in the year. Bitcoin has correlated increasingly to macroeconomic trends, which have worsened considerably over the past nine months.

Ether, the second largest crypto by market cap, was changing hands above $1,200, down about 2.5% during the past day. Trading for both digital assets was light as is typical for weekends. The bitcoin Fear and Greed Index measuring market sentiment remained well within extreme fear territory.

After holding steady, analysts anticipated that bitcoin would dip below $20,000 during the weekend in its ongoing tango with forces pushing it above and pulling it under this threshold. Such volatility is likely to continue without a sizable upturn any time soon, said Joe DiPasquale, the CEO of crypto fund manager BitBull Capital.

"We did see some volatility in BTC prices this week, which was expected; however, BTC has struggled to build on any momentum upward of $20,000, which has kept any chances of a rally at bay," DiPasquale wrote in an email to CoinDesk.

Other major altcoins were mixed over the weekend with popular memecoin DOGE rising more than 10% at one point, and Monero's privacy coin XRM up nearly 6%. GALA and MANA sank over 8% and 7%. Polygon's MATIC, which rose more than 25% over a 24-hour period starting last Wednesday after launching a new privacy product for decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), fell more slightly.

Cryptos' performance has tracked equity indexes, which regained ground Friday from leaner days earlier in the month. The S&P 500 rose 3.1% on Friday, its best day in two years and finished the week up more than 6%, although the index, which contains a heavy tech component, still lingers in bear market territory, meaning that it is down at least 20% from its previous high. The tech-focused Nasdaq and Dow Jones Industrial Average climbed 3.3% and 3%, respectively as investors savored the brief respite from this year's drumbeat of dreary economic news.

A revision in the University of Michigan’s widely-regarded, monthly consumer sentiment index (CSI) now shows expectations for inflation lower than first reported in May. Preliminary data from the June Market Pricing Managers Index for manufacturing showed a weakening in consumer demand that has cut into sales and production. Meanwhile, sales of existing homes dropped in May, while mortgage applications declined for the week, both trends underscoring the impact of rising interest rates.

Investors will be studying this week's durable goods orders and consumer confidence reports for further signs of the Fed's success in taming inflation without casting the U.S. economy into a recession.

BitBull's DiPasquale sees bitcoin testing levels below $20,000 in the days ahead as investors continue their wary approach to riskier assets.

"It is a good sign that BTC is still holding the $20K level, but next week should be more decisive, and we could either see a successful test of the recent lows, which could further cement the $17K-$18K range as a strong support, or witness another breakdown in price," he wrote.


S&P 500: 3,911 +3%

DJIA: 31,500 +2.6%

Nasdaq: 11,607 +3.3%

Gold: $1,827 +0.1%


Solana Phone Faces Long Odds Based on the Blockchain Industry's Track Record

Solana Labs announced Friday that it’s working on a smartphone. Available in 2023, the phone would come with “specialty crypto wallet functions and the 'Solana Mobile Stack (SMS)' software development kit for Web3 programs,” according to prior CoinDesk coverage.

Blockchain phones aren’t exactly new. They’ve been tried before and didn’t really go anywhere.

Rewind to 2019. It’s no longer the depths of 2018's crypto winter, but a cold and protracted spring.

At the time three companies were working on blockchain phones and promised a big reveal at the Las Vegas Consumer Electronics Show in January 2020.

One of them is well-known, Taipei-based HTC – a former giant in the Android phone space that has since faded into obscurity. The other two not so much: Switzerland-based Sirin Labs, which specialized in security-first phones (as of 2022 its website is no longer updated), and crypto payment infrastructure provider Pundi X Labs.

Of the three HTC had the most practical ‘crypto’ solution. The phone contained special software that allowed the user to store their private crypto keys in a walled garden of the phone’s CPU called the Trust Zone, which can only run pre-approved and secure code. This is the same part of the processor where other encryption keys are stored, like those for playing back digital rights-managed video from Netflix, or where biometric data to allow users to open the phone via fingerprint or face ID.

Sirin Labs’ Finney Phone attempted to do the same — secure storage of private keys — but via an external dongle. In contrast, Pundi X was focused on building a universe of dApps including the ability to make phone calls via a protocol secured by its blockchain.

All failed to resonate with consumers.

HTC’s plans were disrupted by Samsung, which offered the same functionality via an app in its much more popular Galaxy line of smartphones. Sirin Labs’ Finney Phone got hit by poor reviews, and the project seems to have been abandoned as recent Amazon reviews report that the apps no longer work. Pundi X’s required network effect never took off as people didn’t seem to buy in to the benefits of blockchain.

All these prior blockchain phones failed because the market realized a specialized phone isn't needed for any of this. The functionality is available already via apps that can be loaded onto any old phone.

The Saga phone’s Web3 dapp (decentralized app) store, Solana Pay apps, and “seed vault” mobile key storage are just apps and can be installed already on an existing phone. This product might be a must-have for Solana fans and true believers, but the actual builders and power users of blockchain already do everything on their existing smartphones.

Important events

European Blockchain Conference

European Central Bank Forum on Central Banking

1 p.m. HKT/SGT(5 a.m. UTC): Japan Economic Index (April)


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