In January, Bitcoin witnessed a momentary surge to new 52-week highs, nearing $49,000 on the day the SEC greenlit spot bitcoin ETFs. However, the crypto’s momentum waned in the latter half of the month, concluding with an overall drop of more than 1%, settling at approximately $42,000. Ethereum (ETH) also experienced a 3% decline, finishing January around $2,245.

Tron (TRX) emerged as the best-performing among the top 10 altcoins, securing a 5% gain, while Cardano (ADA) faced challenges, marking it as the worst performer for the month. Nonetheless, ADA remains up nearly 67% over the past three months.

Bitcoin’s outstanding performance in 2023, with a 156% gain, was noteworthy, as was Ethereum’s 91% surge during the same period.

The global cryptocurrency market’s total market capitalization, which peaked at over $2.9 trillion in November 2021, experienced a setback during 2022’s “crypto winter.” As of February, it rebounded to $1.6 trillion.

Spot Bitcoin ETFs entered the scene on January 10, following SEC approval, introducing 11 new ETFs. Notable entries included ARK 21Shares Bitcoin ETF, Fidelity Wise Origin Bitcoin Trust, and Grayscale Bitcoin Trust. This marks a shift as these spot ETFs directly invest in Bitcoin itself, moving away from cryptocurrency derivative contracts.

The approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs is seen as a significant milestone, opening avenues for institutional investors to enter the crypto market. Nigel Green, CEO of deVere Group, sees this as institutional validation and a departure from Bitcoin’s earlier perception as a speculative asset.

However, the SEC reiterated warnings about the risks associated with cryptocurrency investing, emphasizing caution despite the approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs.

A notable development post-ETF approval was the relentless selling pressure on the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC). The GBTC fund, holding over 630,000 BTC at its peak, experienced over $4 billion in outflows within the first nine days post its conversion to a spot ETF.

The spotlight also turned to Ethereum, with hopes of SEC approval for spot Ethereum ETFs following the success of Bitcoin. However, on January 25, the SEC delayed rulings on proposed spot Ethereum ETFs from Grayscale and BlackRock. Analysts anticipate a cautious approach from the SEC, with potential approval not expected until late 2025.

In other headlines, the U.S. Treasury Department, along with regulators from the U.K. and Australia, imposed additional sanctions on currency exchanges linked to terrorist organization Hamas for transferring millions in cryptocurrency. Terraform Labs, behind failed stablecoins TerraUSD and Luna, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. FINRA reported potential rule violations in 70% of cryptocurrency advertisements by brokerages, including inaccurate comparisons and unclear explanations about federal protections for crypto assets.

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