April 26, 2024

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Stripe Reintroduces Cryptocurrency Payments, Supporting USDC on Major Blockchains

Stripe, a leading global payments provider, is reintroducing cryptocurrency payment options starting this summer, initially supporting Circle's USDC stablecoin. This move marks a significant shift since Stripe dropped Bitcoin support in 2018 due to concerns about its volatility, transaction times, and fees during the cryptocurrency's first major downturn. Stripe's renewed embrace of crypto reflects advancements in blockchain technology that enhance transaction speeds and reduce costs, making cryptocurrencies more viable for transactions. The service will be available on the Solana, Ethereum, and Polygon blockchains. This reintroduction aligns with Stripe's growing involvement in crypto, including a project started in 2022 to facilitate fiat-to-crypto conversions, signaling the fintech giant's ongoing commitment to integrating cryptocurrency within its expansive transaction network, which processed over $1 trillion in 2023.

Pantera Capital Seeks $1 Billion for New Crypto Fund, Targeting Diverse Blockchain Investments

Pantera Capital is aiming to raise $1 billion for a new cryptocurrency fund, Pantera Fund V, which will focus on startup equity, early-stage tokens, and liquid tokens, among other assets. This initiative is separate from their previous effort in September 2022 to secure $1.25 billion for a second blockchain fund. Despite these endeavors, Pantera, which currently manages $5.2 billion across three fund strategies, continues to be one of the most active investors in the crypto space with investments in over 180 startups. Their Liquid Token Fund notably achieved a 66% gain in the first quarter of 2024, showcasing the firm's successful investment strategies.

Consensys Challenges SEC in Court Over Ether's Security Classification

Consensys Software Inc., the company behind MetaMask Wallet, has filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in a Texas court challenging the SEC's assertion that Ether (ETH) is a security. This legal action follows several subpoenas issued by the SEC to entities linked with the Ethereum Foundation, amidst increasing scrutiny by the SEC, which has previously been ambiguous about Ether's status as a security. In the lawsuit, Consensys argues that Ether does not possess the characteristics of a security and disputes the SEC's jurisdiction over it, citing past indications by the SEC that Ether was not considered a security. The complaint highlights that the SEC has targeted Consensys's MetaMask, a software that operates more like a web browser facilitating interaction with the Ethereum network, rather than a platform offering or selling securities. Consensys is seeking a judicial declaration that ETH is not a security and that the SEC's actions violated procedural laws. This legal challenge comes amid ongoing SEC investigations into Consensys's operations, including MetaMask's staking products, with multiple subpoenas served to the company throughout 2022 and 2023.

Trading Desk Insights

Bitcoin has continued its downward trend, breaching a key support within a rising wedge formation on the 4-hour chart. If prices fall below $62,800, we could see further declines towards $60,000. It’s essential for traders to monitor the US dollar index and the 10-year yield for clues on Bitcoin's next direction.

In the realm of Bitcoin ETFs, the market experienced a significant outflow of $217.6 million, marking the largest withdrawal since April 8th. JPMorgan notes a weakening correlation between Bitcoin ETF prices and inflows, decreasing from a peak of 0.84 in January to 0.60 in recent evaluations.

The U.S. Treasury is set to announce its three-month borrowing needs and plans for the Treasury General Account (TGA) on May 1st. The TGA plays a critical role as it influences liquidity in the banking system, which in turn affects lending and overall market liquidity. A stable or reduced TGA balance could bolster risk assets.

Meanwhile, the European Parliament has approved new regulations aimed at tightening controls on money laundering and terrorist financing, targeting crypto firms and other entities. This has sparked debate among EU crypto policy observers, who argue that the new rules may disproportionately affect the digital asset sector.

On the equities front, futures pointed upwards after a rally in shares of tech giants Alphabet and Microsoft, driven by robust earnings reports. This momentum might help the major indices recover from Thursday's losses, which were fueled by disappointing U.S. economic data highlighting a slowdown and persistent inflation.

Despite recent volatility, major stock indices like the S&P 500 and Nasdaq are poised to end the week on a positive note, with the former set to snap a three-week losing streak and the latter aiming for its first gain in five weeks. Currently, nearly 80% of the S&P 500 companies that have reported earnings this quarter have surpassed expectations.

There’s buzz around a Wall Street Journal report suggesting that advisors to Donald Trump are considering a significant overhaul of the Federal Reserve. This proposal includes potentially controversial changes such as consulting the president on interest rate decisions and aligning Fed policies more closely with presidential objectives.

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This research is for informational use only. This is not investment advice. Other than disclosures relating to Secure Digital Markets this research is based on current public information that we consider reliable, but we do not represent it is accurate or complete, and it should not be relied on as such. The information, opinions, estimates, and forecasts contained herein are as of the date hereof and are subject to change without prior notification. We seek to update our research as appropriate.

Any forecasts contained herein are for illustrative purposes only and are not to be relied upon as advice or interpreted as a recommendation. The price of crypto assets may rise or fall because of changes in the broad market or changes in a company's financial condition, sometimes rapidly or unpredictably. Past performance is not a guide to future performance, future returns are not guaranteed, and a loss of original capital may occur. Fluctuations in exchange rates could have adverse effects on the value or price of, or income derived from, certain investments. We and our affiliates, officers, directors, and employees, excluding equity and credit analysts, will from time to time have long or short positions in, act as principal in, and buy or sell, the securities or derivatives, if any, referred to in this research.

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Crypto and/or digital currencies involve substantial risk, are speculative in nature and may not perform as expected. Many digital currency platforms are not subject to regulatory supervision, unlike regulated exchanges. Some platforms may commingle customer assets in shared accounts and provide inadequate custody, which may affect whether or how investors can withdraw their currency and/or subject them to money laundering. Digital currencies may be vulnerable to hacks and cyber fraud as well as significant volatility and price swings.

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