Crypto in 2023 – The Top Five Stories

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  • It’s been another crazy year in the crypto space, with plenty of huge events taking place
  • From JPEGs on the Bitcoin blockchain to legal battles, 2023 has seen everything
  • What were the biggest stories of 2023?

2023 has been a year like no other, with everything from era-defining legal battles to JPEGs on Bitcoin causing a ruckus everywhere you looked. But what were the biggest of the big stories around the crypto space this year?

Join us as we count down the top five crypto news stories of 2023.

5. Bitcoin Ordinals

For many years, Bitcoin’s raison d’etre was as a store of value, but this year saw the old lady of crypto reinvent herself as a home for NFTs. The Bitcoin Ordinals craze, which used ‘inscriptions’ to add images to the blockchain, took off in May…and duly clogged up the network for months to come.

The Ordinals craze immediately stoked the fires of the use case debate within the Bitcoin space; some thought that Ordinals was a great, novel use of Bitcoin while others bemoaned the new imposter for jamming the network with JPEGs and sending fees sky high. The debate continued into December when one influential Bitcoin developer, Luke Dashjr, said that Ordinals were only possible because of a “vulnerability” in Bitcoin’s code, a vulnerability he patched, theoretically killing them off.

Whether this actually works is something we’ll only discover in 2024, when the Ordinals debate will almost certainly continue to divide the community.

4. Ripple and Grayscale Victories Over the SEC

It might not have been so bad for the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) if they hadn’t spent the past couple of years telling everyone that all cryptocurrencies are securities and suing every crypto project under the sun to try and reinforce the message. It might also not have been so bad if it hadn’t rejected every Bitcoin ETF application that had ever come its way. It did both of these things, however. Until this year.

Ripple’s victory over the SEC in July, which saw a US court affirm that XRP tokens weren’t securities as the SEC had contented in its 2021 lawsuit, was a massive shot in the arm for the crypto space and a shot to the brain for the SEC’s largely untested claims. It made the agency’s laser-focused efforts to regulate by enforcement look amateurish, but worse was to come.

When the SEC rejected Grayscale’s Bitcoin ETF application last year the company wasn’t happy with the agency’s rationale and filed a lawsuit against it. This August another US court called the SEC’s rejection criteria “arbitrary and capricious” and vacated the SEC’s decision. The result has been a flurry of Bitcoin ETF applications in the second half of the year, with one very notable one in particular…

3. BlackRock Files for a Bitcoin ETF

Just when a Bitcoin ETF was starting to seem like it would be permanently out of reach, the tide changed in an instant this June when investing giant BlackRock filed for the Bitcoin Holy Grail.

The news sent shockwaves through the crypto space and saw Bitcoin jump $5,000 in a matter of days. Out of nowhere, ETF experts were suddenly bullish on the prospects of a Bitcoin ETF finally being awarded, and the price hasn’t looked back since.

BlackRock’s application was followed by a raft of others who suddenly saw the opportunity ahead of them, leading to the matter becoming a fait accompli. There may be 13 applicants going into 2024, but BlackRock started it all, for which Bitcoin holders were eternally grateful.

1.Sam Bankman-Fried Guilty / Binance $4.3 Billion Settlement

We couldn’t separate the two biggest crypto news stories of 2023 so we’ve tied them. The biggest crypto trial of all time and the eventual guilt on all counts of Sam Bankman-Fried was destined for the top spot, but Binance’s $4.3 billion deal with US authorities, announced last month, definitely matched it.

In any other year there would have only been one winner, but, incredibly, we had two era-defining moments in the space of 20 days. Both these events, in their own way, have acted as a huge sigh of relief for the crypto space; the FTX drama and the devastating impact on the market is now firmly exorcised, while the looming threat of Binance being shuttered by US authorities is, it seems, also something we can cross off the list of perilous prospects.

It’s hard to imagine two stories bigger than this next year, but this is crypto, so…yeah.

The Year of the Purge

2023 was, in many ways, a rebirth for crypto: the bad guys had got their comeuppance, or were on the way to it; the bear market was banished; and Bitcoin breathed again to remind everyone that it is bigger than a few bad eggs.

With a Bitcoin halving and an ETF on the horizon for 2024, and more than one crypto trial on the slate, it’s unlikely that next year will be any quieter.

And don’t we love it?