The first hack of the year has already been seen in the crypto world. The spot Bitcoin ETF will be launched in the US in a week. Celestia is a new modular blockchain. Is the Solana boom over? The second SBF trial was canceled.
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The cross-chain bridge Orbit was hacked
Not even one full day had passed in 2024, and we have already seen the first hack on a crypto app. This time, the victim was a cross-chain bridge called Orbit. It reportedly suffered over $80 million in losses on New Year’s Eve.
Orbit is a protocol founded in 2018 in South Korea. It focuses on building bridges between blockchains. Such cross-chain bridges have been favorite targets of hackers in recent years.
A cross-chain bridge works so that tokens are locked on both ends of it with the help of smart contracts. A hacker can attack the smart contract and steal the locked tokens if a vulnerability is found on the bridge. After this, tokens transferred via the bridge can no longer be repatriated and become worthless.
The hacker drained nearly $82 million worth of Tether, USD Coin, Ethereum, DAI, and Wrapped Bitcoin from the Orbit bridge. Here’s a post from Orbit’s official X account on the subject.
Dear Orbit Bridge Users,
An unidentified access to Orbit Bridge, a decentralized Cross-chain protocol, was confirmed on Dec-31-2023 08:52:47 PM +UTC.
Further information regarding the issue will be updated.
— Orbit Chain (@Orbit_Chain) January 1, 2024
The year 2023 saw many hacks in the crypto world, with losses reaching up to 1.7 billion dollars. The number was still not as shocking as in 2022 when more than four billion dollars were lost on hacks.
The top hacks of 2023 in dollar terms were:
- Mixin (cross-chain): $200 million.
- Euler Finance (DeFi): $197 million.
- Poloniex (exchange): $126 million.
- Atomic Wallet (wallet app): $100 million.
- Curve (DeFi): $60 million
The Orbit hack would be number five on this list, so it’s a blow of significant magnitude.
Spot Bitcoin ETF launches in the US
The year 2024 starts with some big news. The SEC, which oversees the securities market, is set to approve the first spot Bitcoin ETF in the United States after a wait of over 10 years.
The spot Bitcoin ETF has been the biggest topic of conversation since the summer of 2023. Everyone who follows the crypto industry remembers the spot ETF application made by Blackrock during Midsummer week. It turned the whole market up in the summer after a long downtrend. Most likely, the rally at the end of the year is a result of the ETF too.
If you still don’t know what a spot Bitcoin ETF is, read more in this article: what is a Bitcoin ETF?
In recent months, there have been several small news related to the topic. The institutions that submitted the ETF applications have sent the necessary documents to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). All indications are that the spot Bitcoin ETF will be accepted without delay. The market has also considered approval practically certain for several months.
According to Reuters, the SEC may inform approved service providers in the next few days. It wouldn’t be surprising if this information were leaked to the press. An official announcement is expected on Monday of next week (January 8).
NEW: Asset managers that submitted timely filings could launch spot #Bitcoin ETFs as early as January 10, the 🇺🇸 SEC's decision date for Ark/21Shares ETF.
SEC could notify issuers by Tuesday or Wednesday for approval, per Reuters pic.twitter.com/ggTCPeJ3Bs
— Bitcoin News (@BitcoinNewsCom) January 1, 2024
It seems that the first spot ETFs can be launched on the market within a couple of weeks. The biggest speculation at the moment is whether the ETF is priced in or not. Is the spot ETF a “buy the rumor, sell the news” event, or will the price of Bitcoin continue to rise?
If history repeats itself, investors are overestimating the short-term effects. Too many believe that launching a spot ETF will shoot the price of Bitcoin straight to the moon, as thousands of institutions rush to make purchases.
Spot ETF is undeniably a big deal, but its impact will probably remain moderate in the short term. The real effects start to show over a longer period.
— Cointelegraph (@Cointelegraph) January 1, 2024
The spot ETF will likely be the big narrative in 2024-2025, along with the Bitcoin halving. Bitcoin halving takes place in four months. Major narratives can be built around these events, which will attract millions of new Bitcoin investors.
Above all, the spot ETF in the US brings legitimacy to Bitcoin. Especially when its number one applicant is the world’s largest investment company. Blackrock controls more than 10 trillion dollars in assets and is the most influential player in the investment world.
In the next news review, we will report how the launch of the spot ETF affected the market.
Celestia is a new modular blockchain
The end of 2023 saw an interesting launch in the world of blockchains. We are now talking about Celestia, whose MainNet started on October 31, 2023. Celestia’s native token, TIA, has been in the headlines in November and December, rising almost 500 percent.
Celestia has attracted a lot of discussion in recent weeks due to its extraordinary approach. Unlike traditional blockchains, Celestia is a Data Availability Network. Its structure is modular, meaning Celestia focuses only on certain modules, giving application developers a free hand to implement other modules.
The founders of Celestia were guests of the Bankless channel in December. Check out the interview in the video below.
Data Availability Network means Celestia focuses on implementing a fast and scalable database. Celestia focuses on providing this database, or blockchain, and is also responsible for the consensus, which includes the TIA token.
Celestia has also developed data availability sampling technology. Thanks to it, a network node can validate Celestia’s data by extracting a small piece of the data. Even a mobile phone can function as a node without major technical requirements.
Each project can implement a calculation and processing layer on top of Celestia using rollup technology. A platform built on Celestia can utilize Ethereum’s EVM virtual machine or Solana’s equivalent. Modularity emerges in the fact that the options are not limited.
Celestia is an interesting solution and the first modular blockchain. Celestia also has a close relationship with the Cosmos project, leveraging the Cosmos SDK and the Cosmos-developed IBC protocol.
Is the Solana boom over?
The previous months have been a continuous party for Solana investors. The project, already declared dead in 2022, made a massive rise back to the limelight. We started reporting on Solana’s potential months ago, so none of our followers missed the rally at the end of the year.
Solana’s price rise has even caused outrage on social media. Numerous traders went bust trying to short the SOL token in November and December. The biggest increase was seen during Christmas week when SOL rose from a little over 70 dollars to 125 dollars. Solana’s price was still at 22–23 dollars in mid-October.
The SOL token rally caused also other Solana coins to catch investor’s attention. Solana’s own Dogecoin, BONK, almost increased tenfold in November-December. Even wilder rises were made by the new dog-themed meme coin Dogwifhat (Dog with a hat), whose price rose by more than 220,000 percent in a month.
— Decrypt (@decryptmedia) December 24, 2023
The Solana boom also boosted the Solana Saga. It is Solana’s smartphone, which was already launched in 2022.
Like the entire Solana project, Saga was condemned as a big flop in the aftermath of the FTX’s collapse. In recent weeks, however, the demand for the phone has exploded. The reason is that Saga contains two airdrops: 30 million Bonk tokens and 100,000 ACS tokens. The total value of these has been almost two thousand dollars at best.
At the time of writing, it seems that the Solana bubble has burst, at least for now. The price of Solana has fallen from its highs, and the demand for meme coins has also collapsed. It will be interesting to see what 2024 will be like for Solana.
Read more about Solana in this article: What is Solana (SOL)? A video of Solana has also recently been published on the Bitcoin Center’s YouTube channel.
Sam Bankman-Fried’s second trial was canceled
Many active crypto followers must have written “SBF” in the 2024 calendar for March. At that time, the second trial of Sam Bankman-Fried was scheduled to take place.
The first SBF trial was held in New York in November 2023. The founder of the infamous FTX exchange was found guilty of all seven charges. At the beginning of March, another trial on the new charges was to be held.
However, the US Attorney’s Office dropped a news bombshell on the penultimate day of 2023. According to the prosecutor, it has decided to abandon the second trial. The news caused quite a stir on social media, and many were rightfully irritated by the decision.
The reason for the uproar was clear: the second trial would have dealt with Bankman-Fried’s donations to both left- and right-wing politicians.
Sam Bankman-Fried donated $100 million in stolen customer funds to US politicians.
Today, the US Government announced they're dropping six charges against SBF and will not prosecute him for a political campaign finance violation. pic.twitter.com/7lOJb8F62i
— Watcher.Guru (@WatcherGuru) December 30, 2023
In effect, SBF donated $100 million of stolen client funds to politicians. The prosecutor’s decision to give up handling the subject has caused many people to be upset. It shouldn’t be a big surprise that the politicians criticizing the crypto industry and SBF have been silent about the decision.
The prosecutor’s office justifies the decision by saying that many of the topics were already discussed in the first trial, and it would be in everyone’s interest to complete the process without delays. The explanation certainly sounds lame.
One way or another, many interesting things are now being left out in public. Perhaps we will return to these in more detail through book publications. The SBF will receive its final verdict on March 28. The most likely scenario is a 20-year sentence.
You should also check our previous news roundup from late December. Many interesting topics were covered in that article, such as Bitcoin transaction fees, Richard Heart, and a Ledger software vulnerability!