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Crypto Long & Short: Commerce, Dollarization or Speculation?

Crypto Long & Short: Commerce, Dollarization or Speculation?

 Crypto Long & Short: Commerce, Dollarization or Speculation?


It’s been a complicated week for bitcoin‘s adoption story. In particular, Michael Saylor and Elon Musk gave more momentum to the idea that bitcoin can be used in commerce: Musk signaled potential for Tesla’s return to accepting bitcoin payments, and Saylor called the Bitcoin network a rail system for the global dollar. The best bellwether for bitcoin’s use in commerce is the Lightning Network. Briefly, Lightning is a commerce-friendly service that sits on top of Bitcoin. It allows parties to transact quickly and cheaply, verifying their transactions periodically in batches via the more trust-minimized Bitcoin network. As we noted in last week’s Chain Links, Lightning has been surging this year. As of this Tuesday, the number of bitcoin available for use on its network had increased by 44% since Dec. 31.


That’s something for bitcoin’s potential use in commerce. But we’d be remiss not to consider it next to Bitcoin’s use on another network that is more associated with finance than with commerce – Ethereum. Wrapped Bitcoin (WBTC) is an Ethereum-compliant (ERC-20) token that is pegged to the value of bitcoin. The peg is maintained by the custodian BitGo. The number of bitcoin wrapped on Ethereum has grown faster (67%) over the same period, and it’s a couple orders of magnitude greater than the number of bitcoin committed to the Lightning Network: As of this Tuesday, the supply of WBTC was 188,961. Lightning Network’s bitcoin capacity was 1,523. Related: 4 Common Misperceptions About Ethereum’s EIP 1559 Upgrade In theory, it’s possible that WBTC could be used on commercial applications that accept ERC-20 tokens. In reality, it’s used for decentralized finance (DeFi).


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