Cryptocurrency markets were sharply lower on Tuesday as fading excitement about imminent approval of a spot bitcoin ETF was replaced with the reality of the continued regulatory crackdown in the U.S.
The DOJ announced “significant cryptocurrency enforcement actions,” to be unveiled later this afternoon, sending bitcoin (BTC) lower by more than 2% to $36,400 and ether down more than 3%. The broader CoinDesk Market Index (CMI) also fell more than 3%.
Things have bounced since on a report that the DOJ’s action will be a settlement with Binance. The news jibes with yesterday’s leak that Binance was nearing a $4 billion deal with U.S. authorities. While that’s a large number and questions remain about possible criminal charges for Binance founder and CEO Changpeng Zhao, markets were relieved that the report didn’t seem to indicate that the world’s largest crypto exchange was in danger of being shut down.
At press time, bitcoin is lower more than 1% to $37,000 and the CoinDesk Market Index (CMI) has trimmed its loss to below 3%. Binance exchange token BNB is higher by 6%.
Nevertheless, crypto markets for the time being will continue to have to deal with a hostile regulatory environment in the U.S. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) late last week delayed any decisions on three more spot bitcoin ETF applications, likely making any resolution on these vehicles a 2024 event. Last night, the agency launched a lawsuit against crypto exchange Kraken for operating an unregistered platform.