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Morgan Stanley Reveals $269 Million Investment in Grayscale’s GBTC

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Morgan Stanley, the sixth-largest banking firm in the United States, has invested over $269 million in a spot Bitcoin ETF, as disclosed in its recently published Form 13-F.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing revealed that the investment was made in Grayscale’s GBTC during the first quarter of 2024.

Morgan Stanley Joins Banks Investing in ETFs

Morgan Stanley’s recent investment positions it as one of the largest holders of GBTC. It closely follows Susquehanna International Group’s substantial $1.0 billion investment.

The firm is among several Global Systemically Important Banks (G-SIBs) that have publicly disclosed investments in spot Bitcoin ETFs. Other banks investing in the ETFs include the Royal Bank of Canada, JP Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, BNP Paribas, and UBS.

These allocations were highlighted in the first-quarter 13F reporting deadline, the end of the initial period for investors to purchase most spot Bitcoin ETFs. According to Bitwise CIO Matt Hougan, approximately 700 professional firms have invested nearly $5 billion in spot Bitcoin ETFs by the May 15 deadline.

Hougan described this trend as representing a “historical scale of professional investor ownership.” He explained that this was similar to the launch of gold ETFs in 2004, which was reported as the most successful ETF launch.

Despite the increase in institutional capital, retail investments constitute a significant portion of the funds invested in spot Bitcoin ETFs. Notably, recent data shows that the total assets under management (AUM) are approximately $50 billion.

Growing Institutional Interest in Bitcoin ETFs

Several other firms have disclosed their investments in spot Bitcoin ETFs, highlighting the growing institutional interest in crypto assets.

On May 14, New York advisory firm Pine Ridge Advisers revealed a $205.8 million investment in spot Bitcoin ETFs. This investment comprises $83.2 million in BlackRock’s IBIT, $93.4 million in Fidelity’s FBTC, and $29.3 million in Bitwise’s BITB.

In addition, alternative asset manager Aristeia Capital LLC disclosed a substantial $163.4 million investment in IBIT on May 15. Similarly, Connecticut-based investment firm Graham Capital Management disclosed investments totaling $98.8 million in IBIT and $3.8 million in FBTC. Hedge fund manager Crcm LP also revealed a $96.6 million investment in IBIT.

New York-based hedge fund manager Boothbay Fund Management disclosed a significant $377 million exposure to spot Bitcoin ETFs. This investment includes $149.8 million in IBIT, $105.5 million in FBTC, $69.5 million in GBTC, and $52.3 million in BITB.

Furthermore, New York investment manager Fortress Investment Group LLC disclosed a $53.6 million investment in IBIT, adding to the growing list of institutional players entering the crypto space.

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$25 Million Crypto Heist in 12 Seconds: MIT Siblings Charged with Cyber Fraud

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Two siblings who attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are now facing allegations of exploiting a vulnerability in the Ethereum blockchain. The duo reportedly swindled $25 million within 12 seconds, which the prosecutors labeled as a first-of-its-kind caper.

If convicted, both of them could potentially serve sentences exceeding 20 years in prison.

  • Anton Peraire-Bueno, 24, and James Peraire-Bueno, 28, are facing federal charges in Manhattan for fraud and money laundering.
  • The accusations stem from what prosecutors describe as a meticulously planned cyber heist executed from their computers over several months.
  • They were arrested on Tuesday in Boston and New York. Commenting on the development, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco said,

“The Peraire-Bueno brothers stole $25 million in Ethereum cryptocurrency through a technologically sophisticated, cutting-edge scheme they plotted for months and executed in seconds.”

  • Both individuals attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where Anton completed his Bachelor of Science in computer science and mathematics in February, while James obtained a Master of Science in aeronautics and astronautics in 2021.
  • According to prosecutors, the brothers leveraged advanced expertise acquired at a globally renowned university to manipulate Ethereum’s transaction validation process.
  • The siblings reportedly targeted Ethereum traders by fraudulently accessing pending private transactions and subsequently modifying them to acquire their victims’ cryptocurrency.
  • Upon being confronted by an Ethereum representative, authorities allege that the brothers refused to return the funds and instead laundered the funds and concealed their ill-gotten gains.
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Bitcoin Selling Pressure Subsides as Demand Stabilizes: CryptoQuant

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The price of bitcoin (BTC) has surged past the $60,000 level to the $67,000 zone due to news of a lower-than-expected inflation rate in the United States.

According to the latest CryptoQuant weekly report, bitcoin’s latest rally has also been sustained by a recent decline in selling pressure. However, demand for the cryptocurrency has yet to pick up.

Bitcoin Selling Pressure Declines

The fall in BTC selling pressure can be seen in the on-chain activity of short-term holders and the balances on over-the-counter (OTC) desks.

The BTC balance on OTC desks has stabilized since late April, indicating less bitcoin supply from market participants. The balance on OTC desks began to rise by 60,000 BTC on March 10 when the asset hit an all-time high of $73,000; however, it has been flat since late last month.

Similarly, the profit margins of short-term BTC holders are currently at low or negative levels following high margins that triggered high selling pressure in early March. Since they have depleted all profits accumulated in 2024, traders are now faced with unrealized losses on the positions. Historically, this has coincided with a local bottom in prices.

The possibility that the market has bottomed is substantiated by miners’ low profitability. CryptoQuant analysts said Bitcoin miners are extremely underpaid at the moment, and their profitability has plummeted to levels last seen since March 2020, a few days after the COVID market crash. Historically, extremely low miner profitability has been associated with price bottoms.

Demand is Yet to Pick Up

On the other hand, Bitcoin demand growth appears to be stabilizing following a month of deceleration. The rise in the BTC balances of permanent holders and large investors indicates higher demand from these market participants.

Nonetheless, BTC demand would need to surge further to enable the market to sustain the latest price rally. The demand could come from the spot Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) market and other Bitcoin investment funds.

Per CryptoQuant analysts, the crypto market needs a new wave of spot Bitcoin ETF purchases to refresh demand growth. Demand for these products appears to be picking up already, with the funds seeing total inflows of more than $560 million in the last two trading days.

Additionally, stablecoin liquidity growth is surging, signaling potential movement to the upside for BTC.

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Polkadot (DOT) Ecosystem Recap: The Most Recent Advancements

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TL;DR

  • Polkadot partnered with Founder Institute to launch a Web3 cohort and introduced Asynchronous Backing to enhance scalability.
  • Some of its parachains, such as Acala Network and Moonbeam Network, have also made notable advancements in security, governance, and community engagement initiatives.

Summary of the Latest Developments

Polkadot’s ecosystem continues to advance due to frequent improvements in its operations and vital partnerships. Most recently, the blockchain protocol shook hands with Founder Institute (a leading business incubator that turns ideas into fundable startups). 

The latter described the collaboration as “groundbreaking,” adding that it marks the start of “an exciting chapter” related to the launch of the first Web3 cohort in its Core Program. “Our cooperation is set to revolutionize the landscape of startup acceleration and Web3 technology education,” the team stated

Founder Institute explained that the program’s launch is set for May 28, and it will be guided by top experts from the Polkadot community. 

Earlier this month, the blockchain protocol enabled Asynchronous Backing on the network. It is a mechanism designed to improve the scalability and efficiency of the entire ecosystem. The Asynchronous Backing also represents “an optimized approach for how parachain blocks are validated” by the central chain – Relay Chain.

Polkadot’s team revealed that blocks are produced twice as fast, whereas available blockspace was boosted by 6-10 times following that upgrade.

“Async Backing boosts throughput by 8x, without sacrificing security, paving the way for supporting Web3 applications across verticals such as gaming and DeFi. It brings Web2 scale into the reach of Web3, which is crucial for large-scale platforms like Mythical Games,” they added.

Another major development that took place as of late is the release of the Join-Accumulate Machine (JAM) Gray Paper. It is a technical upgrade that outlines an innovative approach for improving the performance and scalability of blockchain networks, particularly in the context of Polkadot’s ecosystem. It combines elements of Polkadot and Ethereum and “provides a global singleton permissionless object environment.

The blockchain protocol is also looking for external partnerships such as a potential deal with the American soccer club Inter Miami. Last month, Nico Zini – the team’s commercial manager and in charge of TV rights – revealed that both sides may join forces on an $8.8 million sponsorship partnership. 

For the uninitiated, Inter Miami’s co-founder is David Beckham, while its biggest stars on the pitch include the Argentine legend Lionel Messi and the Uruguayan Luis Suarez.

Zini previously served as FC Barcelona’s Business Development Manager in North America. The Catalan club was contemplating striking a deal with Polkadot in 2022 but eventually chose Spotify.

How About the Parachains?

Some of Polkadot’s parachains – individual blockchains that run in parallel with the Polkadot ecosystem – have also advanced lately. One of the most popular – Acala Network – completed the Sinai Upgrade at the beginning of May. 

It aims to strengthen security measures, empower the community to participate in governance decisions, improve Acala’s capabilities to interact seamlessly across different blockchains, and simplify the user experience. 

Moonbeam Network introduced “the Moonbeam Odyssey Program Trials,” which emphasizes community involvement with various events and educational initiatives.

“Anyone can join! Test your skills, strengths, and abilities to emerge victorious from the Trials and become an Odyssey Trailblazer,” the team stated.

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