• Bitcoin has had a week typical of previous ones, with tight trading ranges above USD 9,000
  • PayPal, Venmo rumored to consider Bitcoin integration as Venezuela halts Bitcoin payments for passports
  • Deribit CEO disagrees record options contract expiry will cause price spike

It has been a tale of repeated trolling by Bitcoin markets this week, with the direction becoming no clearer than it was last week. Prices continue to trade in an ultra tight range just above USD 9,000 and below USD 9,500 as bulls seem unwilling to start their rampage to USD 10,000 just yet, and bears also are hesitant to try and break critical support lines.

Bears will see buyer exhaustion but bulls will say consolidation. As ever, we take a look back on the most significant items of news to affect trader sentiment over the past week.

The first is the rumor floating around that PayPal and Venmo are both on the verge of adding direct Bitcoin wallets to their platform, allowing their millions of users to start buying and selling crypto on the fly. The news comes from an insider in PayPal, so we wouldn’t be too quick to confirm the veracity of it, least of all because the claims say that these will happen in three months or sooner! The quotes said:

“My understanding is that they are going to allow buys and sells of crypto directly from PayPal and Venmo. They are going to have some sort of a built-in wallet functionality so you can store it there.”

Nevertheless, the fact that PayPal apparently declined to comment instead of providing outright denial suggests that something not far from the truth is on the cards? It is worth noting also that PayPal does have a close business relationship with crypto exchange Coinbase at least since 2016. Not only that, they have been recently inking new deals to allow instant fiat withdrawals to PayPal for US, European and then Canadian customers in stages from 2018. So another deal in the works integrating with Coinbase isn’t too far-fetched for now.

We should also remember that in January, PayPal began seeking people to fill positions in its new Blockchain Research Group, based in San Jose and in Singapore. They are also probably looking to heal some of the hurt from abandoning their initial cooperation with Facebook’s crypto project Libra in 2019 once US regulators began taking it apart.

Speaking of Bitcoin-enabled payments, this week Venezuela also put a stop to its Bitcoin scheme for passport applications. Its Administrative Service for Identification, Migration, and Foreigners (SAIME) had allowed citizens overseas to pay with BTC for renewal applications but this week, the website said the service was temporarily out.

There had been no official announcement of the addition of Bitcoin payments, so the lack of an announcement of its closure shouldn’t come as a surprise, but people will be wondering what led to its removal, or if it will ever return.

On the other hand, people can still pay by traditional means like Visa or Mastercard. Or, if you happen to own that dubious crypto called Petro, it’s also accepted as payment.

But perhaps we reserve the biggest news on market sentiment for last, as we are now on the day that a supposedly massive amount of Bitcoin futures will expire on derivatives exchanges. The expectation that USD 675 million worth of Bitcoin option that expired today caused a drop in Bitcoin price, as traders decided it wasn’t worth predicting the effect it might have on volatility, as more and more experts find correlation between futures expiry and Bitcoin price movements.

The 7% or so drop on Wednesday, however, correlated with mass uncertainty in stock markets in the USA, which came along with other worrying data such as increased infection rate for COVID-19 and increasing unemployment. This meant that risky assets like stocks and Bitcoin took a tumble, although that was also probably exacerbated by miners selling 1,379 more coins this week that they had mined in the previous.

Skew’s data placed most of these option expiring on Deribit, which has slowly been capturing a larger market share of options, in terms of volume as well as open interest. Currently, it accounts for 75% of all options available. CME comes in second but is far off the pace with only 17% of the market share.

Deribit CEO John Jansen disagreed that options expiry caused volatility though, as in-the-money call options were limited at above the current price range. This type of option allows a trader to buy Bitcoin cheaper than market value, meaning the prediction was that Bitcoin would go up in previous months. Thus, newly opened options contracts shouldn’t create any additional demand for buying or pressure for selling. Jansen explained:

“We will witness the biggest expiry to date and 115K contracts will expire, out of which 74K is held at Deribit. Total market open interest is just below $2 billion, another record, and confirmation of client interest in the asset class. Chances of volatility surges are small, as the number of ITM options is limited at these price levels.”

So far, he’s turning out to be right.

 

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