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    First Mover Asia: Bitcoin Holds Steady Above $21K; DeFi Platform Forward’s $5M Funding Round Highlights Crypto’s Growth in Thailand, but Regulation Lags

    The largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization was recently trading at approximately $21,800, up about 1% and somewhat higher than where it began the weekend. BTC spiked more than 10% at one point on Friday amid market optimism that with prices starting to fall, the U.S. central bank would be able to ratchet back its current diet of robust interest rate increases and liquidity tightening next year.

    While noting bitcoin’s encouraging rebound from $18,500 earlier in the week, Joe DiPasquale, CEO of crypto asset manager BitBull Capital also said that such resurgences have not been unusual for cryptos during down markets. “While bulls will welcome this bounce, it is important to note how continued bearish price action has intermittent relief rallies, especially as short position holders take profit,” he said.

    Ether recently sank about 1% but was still trading well above $1,700 level it regained late Thursday. Investors in the second largest crypto in market value await the Merge, the Ethereum blockchain’s change from proof-of-work to a more energy efficient proof-of-work protocol that is supposed to be completed over the next nine days. Most other major cryptos from the CoinDesk top 20 by market cap were slightly in the red with UNI recently off more than 3% and popular meme coins DOGE and SHIB down over 2%.

    The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics releases the latest Consumer Price Index (CPI) on Tuesday and economic observers widely expect another slight decline in inflation at least partly because of falling energy prices. The price of Brent crude oil, a widely watched measure of energy markets, is now hovering around $90 per barrel, down roughly 25% since topping $123 in early June. July’s 8.5% CPI fell slightly from the previous month, although it remains near a four-decade high.

    BitBull’s DiPasquale said he was “skeptical of a continued rally from here on in the absence of fundamental macroeconomic improvements,” and that the upcoming ETH Merge and meeting later this month by the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) to decide on the size of the interest rate increase “remain key events to watch.”

    Kasikornbank bank, and Bank of Ayudhya, both put in an undisclosed amount.  Udomsak Rakwongwan, Forward’s co-founder, notes that this is the first time two regulated banks have invested directly in DeFi because they want to digitize and transform banking.

    Siam Commercial Bank, another large bank in the country, has a blockchain venture fund and is “opening the gate for future regulation,” given its measured approach and positive relationship with regulators, Rakwongwan says. SCB recently dropped out of a deal to buy a majority of local exchange BitKub, on the advice of regulators.

    This content was originally published here.

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