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Why Bitcoin price abruptly dropped 3% in 30 minutes on OKEx freeze

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OKEx, one of the world’s biggest cryptocurrency exchanges, announced a temporary suspension of withdrawals on Oct. 16. Upon the news, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) abruptly plunged 3% in 30 minutes across major exchanges.

The nervousness in the market comes from the reason behind the withdrawal suspension and the potential implications it carries. 

The 15-minute price chart of Bitcoin. Source: TradingView.com

OKEx says a private key holder is cooperating with investigators, Bitcoin swiftly drops

The OKEx team said one of the private key holders of the exchange is cooperating with a public security bureau in investigations. The team said:

“One of our private key holders is currently cooperating with a public security bureau in investigations where required.   We have been out of touch with the concerned private key holder.  As such, the associated authorization could not be completed.  Pursuant to 8.1 Service Change and Interruption of the Terms of Service, OKEx may change the Service and/or may also interrupt, suspend or terminate the service at any time with or without prior notice.”

Immediately after the OKEx statement was released, the price of Bitcoin dropped from $11,514 to $11,190. The 3% drop occurred within a 30-minute span, causing a market-wide pullback.

Bitcoin exchanges typically implement a multi-signature system to process withdrawals from cold storage, i.e. a wallet that is not connected to the internet.

To transfer funds from the cold wallet, the exchange often distributes several private keys to the owners and executives. In a multi-signature system, all or the majority of key holders must be present to sign off transactions.

In the case of OKEx, the exchange said that one of the private key holders isn’t able to approve withdrawals. Jay Hao, the CEO of OKEx, said:

“All operations @OKEx except digital asset/cryptocurrency withdrawals remain unaffected. All your funds and assets are safe. The investigation concerns a certain private key holder’s personal issue only. Further announcements will be made.”

The price of Bitcoin fell sharply on the OKEx news for two main reasons. First, OKEx is a major exchange that processes substantial amounts of both spot and futures volume.

Second, when it concerns an exchange with ties to China, there is usually heightened market speculation. Red Li, the co-founder of 8BTC, said:

“OKEx first stated withdrawal will be suspended 15PM but quickly changed to 11AM. Rumor has it that over 800 accs in ‘certain’ exchange are involved with cross-border money laundering.”

Industry executives surprised by the news

Leo Weese, the president at The Bitcoin Association of Hong Kong, said he was surprised by the fact that one person could affect an exchange’s entire cold storage multi-sig system. He wrote:

“That one person sits in China holding the keys to an entire offshore cryptocurrency exchange is probably the most surprising thing about this industry I learned this year. That customers don’t demand transparency about key management comes in at a close second, though.”

In the case of BitMEX, as an example, when the firm’s CTO Samuel Reed was arrested earlier this month, the majority of private key holders were able to sign off on transactions.





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Athena confirms plans to bring 1500 Bitcoin ATMs to El Salvador

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U.S. company Athena intends to supply El Salvador’s new crypto-based economy with 1500 Bitcoin ATMs, a company representative has confirmed.

The rollout will start small, trialing a few dozen machines to establish a business model. The Chicago headquartered firm plans to invest more than $1 million to install cryptocurrency ATMs, targeting regions where residents receive remittances from abroad.

Along with installing the new machines it will also hire staff and open an office to carry out operations in El Salvador.

Athena currently operates just two ATMs of this type in El Salvador, one at El Zonte beach as part of an experiment called “Bitcoin Beach” aimed at making the town one of the world’s first crypto economies, and the other in El Tunco, according to CNN.

Athena’s director for Latin America, Matias Goldenhörn, told Reuters that Salvadorian President Nayib Bukele had “presented us with a tough challenge of 1,500 ATMs, we will go for that, but in phases. We are a private company and we want to ensure that our development in the country is sustainable.”

On June 17, Athena posted about its plans to expand in the country in the wake of lawmakers passing a bill to make Bitcoin legal tender. The company tagged President Bukele asking if a thousand machines would be enough. He responded he had set his target on a larger figure.

Goldenhörn stated that the business model is likely to be different from that in the U.S., which currently has a total of 19,325 BTC ATMs according to Coinatmradar.

“Initially we are going to bring dozens of machines, (we’ll) test what the business model is like in El Salvador, which will probably be different than in the United States,”

Related: Athena Bitcoin installs the first Bitcoin ATM that operates with dollars in Argentina

El Salvador’s Bitcoin adoption plan has already experienced pushback from the World Bank, which refused to assist the country in its transition, citing “the environmental and transparency shortcomings” associated with the digital asset.

On June 22, Cointelegraph reported that an opposing political party filed a lawsuit alleging the new Bitcoin law could be unconstitutional and harmful to the country.





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PlanB feeling ‘uneasy’ as 41% of his followers tip $100K BTC won’t happen this year

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PlanB, the brainchild behind the Bitcoin stock-to-flow model, has revealed he is feeling “uneasy” about his renowned price predictions due to the recent downtrend in markets.

The stock-to-flow (S2F) model, which has predicted BTC prices with some degree of accuracy over the past two years, has been called into question by some of his followers in a recent Twitter poll.

The anonymous analyst surveyed his followers on June 21 asking them what price they thought BTC would reach by the end of the year. He used the results to compare them to a similar survey in March when market sentiment was overwhelmingly bullish.

Of the 124,595 respondents to the latest poll, 41% thought that BTC prices would remain below $100K by the end of the year, which would invalidate the S2F model. That’s two and a half times the 16% in the previous poll who thought the lazer eyes crowd would be disappointed this year.

PlanB who originally published the price predictor in March 2019, pinned a message admitting that even he feels a little “uneasy” when BTC prices deviate from the model. However, the analyst noted that the model had managed to hold previously in March 2019, again in March 2020 when the pandemic caused a global market meltdown, and once more in September 2020.

Preston Pysh, the founder of The Investors Podcast Network, commented that it was difficult for a model to account for a blizzard of bad news that has accelerated the market downturn.

“You mean your model doesn’t account for 40%+ of mining rigs getting banned & forced to turn-off & relocate to various parts of the world…and with no forward notice to companies/entitles for the extraordinary expense to their heavily denominated BTC treasuries/retained earnings.”

The model is a calculation of a ratio based on the existing supply of Bitcoin against how much is entering circulation. The scarcer the asset becomes due to the four-year halving cycles the higher the price. PlanB’s model predicts an average price of $288K over the next three years.

Related: $288K BTC price ‘still in play’ says PlanB as Bloomberg champions Bitcoin halving

At the time of writing, Bitcoin had gained 2.9% over the past 24 hours to trade at $34,450 according to CoinGecko. The asset is currently 45% down from its all-time high of $64,800 on April 14.





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Bitcoin in uptrend but BTC may never beat gold’s $10T market cap — ex-NYSE head

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Bitcoin (BTC) is on a “lower left to upper right trend” and its volatility should not scare investors, the former head of the New York Stock Exchange says.

In an interview with CNBC on June 23, Thomas Farley revealed long-term convictions about Bitcoin and dismissed concerns over BTC price losses.

Bitcoin: Going up, but not “up only”

Coming a day after CNBC pundit Jim Cramer admitted that he sold his Bitcoin stash, suggesting that BTC/USD was going as low as $10,000, Farley provided some much-needed mainstream bullishness.

“With respect to the recent price moves, I’m kind of sanguine about them — Bitcoin’s a very volatile asset class, in part because it’s a new asset class,” he told the network.

“I have no doubt it’ll go up, it’ll go down over the long term — I still think it’s a lower left to upper right trend and I think we’re going to see that play out over five years.”

With mining upheaval coming from China still on everyone’s lips, popular mainstream criticism of Bitcoin’s energy usage was also swiftly cast aside as a temporary issue.

“I think this kerfuffle is an interesting conversation, but by and large I think it’ll be resolved because I think the blockchain at its core adds to its efficiency and in fact will add to energy efficiency over time,” he continued.

Less convinced on gold. vs. Bitcoin

When it comes to Bitcoin as “digital gold,” however, Farley was more conservative in his predictions.

Now firmly beneath a trillion-dollar market cap, Bitcoin must transform in order to take on store-of-value safe-havens.

Related: Joining the ranks: Bitcoin’s correlation with gold and stocks is growing

“I think the upper bound for now is gold, which is about a $10 trillion market cap,” he added.

“In order for Bitcoin to one day exceed gold, it’ll have to be more of an accepted form of currency — I’m not sure, frankly, if it ever gets there.”

Proponents argue that Bitcoin, by its very nature, faces just a matter of time before eclipsing gold thanks to the latter’s ultimately infinite supply and inability to beat Bitcoin in all aspects of “money.”

The precious metal saw a major sell-off last week after comments on policy from the United States Federal Reserve.

To beat gold, Bitcoin would need to trade at more than $533,000 with the current supply.