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Ethereum coin in flames on a red trading chart
August 9, 2021

Ethereum Upgrade Launches Crypto Markets into Meteoric Rise

August 9, 2021

The start of August marked a decisive week for Ethereum, as the London Hard Fork upgrade was launched onto the mainnet. The subsequent enthusiasm for Ether trickled over to the rest of the cryptocurrency markets that, as a whole, experienced one of the most bullish weeks since April 2021. 

  • Ethereum upgrade burning 2 ETH every minute 
  • Bitcoin breaks $40,000 barrier as illiquid supply at record high
  • Shopify to develop crypto to fiat bridge
  • Square Inc acquires fintech company Afterpay for $29 billion
  • Ukraine adopts virtual assets law
  • Big-ticket reports to watch out for this week

Ethereum upgrade burning 2 ETH every minute 

After months of testing, the highly anticipated London Hard Fork upgrade, or Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1559, was launched onto Ethereum’s mainnet last week. 

While Ethereum experiences upgrades all of the time, this latest improvement has been touted as a ‘game changer’ for the popular blockchain. Implemented on Wednesday, the blockchain will now burn all fees paid for each transaction that takes place.

Ethereum is the leading development blockchain for decentralized applications. As a result of its market-leading position, the network has experienced significant congestion at times. Before the upgrade, those utilizing Ethereum via applications had to pay a transaction fee – otherwise known as a gas fee. This was paid in the blockchain’s native cryptocurrency Ether (ETH). 

Gas fees were paid on an auction-style system that allowed users to bid higher prices so that their transactions would be placed in the next block of the blockchain. At times of congestion, this resulted in users outbidding one another and driving prices higher. The new upgrade has now removed the auction-style system.   

After the integration on Thursday, a flat base fee is now paid for all transactions within the same block. The base fee will continue to fluctuate depending on demand, but the new system removes the need to compete with other users. In addition, the base fee is also burned (destroyed), instead of being passed on to miners. Based on the previous testing, analysts had speculated this new system would cause deflationary effects to ETH. 

Alongside the new base fee, Ethereum block sizes will also become dynamic. Making the block sizes dynamic should allow the network to accommodate fluctuations in demand and, therefore, keep the base fee stable.

Although stabilizing gas fees, Ethereum users can still ‘tip’ miners to get their transactions processed first.  

With the upgrade now fully operational on the Ethereum mainnet, according to Etherchain.org, between 2.7 ETH is now being burned every minute. At the time of writing, this is equivalent to $8,878. Developers wanted to incorporate the destruction of ETH coins to counterbalance the inflationary characteristics the coin used to possess. 

A graph showing Ethereum Improvement Proposal 1559 now means approximately 2.7 ETH are burned every minute.  
Ethereum Improvement Proposal 1559 now means approximately 2.7 ETH are burned every minute.  


While the burning of base fees is a big step in the deflationary direction, it will only encourage prices if the burning rate outpaces the rate at which new ETH is minted. While the longer-term effects remain to be seen, early reactions from the market were positive. The excitement around the blockchain pushed ETH through the $3,000 mark, which the coin has not experienced since May 2021.

EIP 1559 is part of the much larger Ethereum 2.0 upgrade, which is due to take the blockchain from a Proof-of-Work mining system, which relies on miners contributing computer power, to a far greener Proof-of-Stake system

Bitcoin breaks $40,000 barrier as illiquid supply at record high

The momentum offered by the Ethereum upgrade may have trickled over to the remainder of the cryptocurrency markets last week, with Bitcoin also continuing to climb higher. After three months of consistent downward movement, the largest cryptocurrency experienced a 20% increase as it soared past the psychological level of $40,000.

Data released by Glassnode highlighted that the amount of illiquid bitcoin had decoupled from bitcoin prices in May. Usually, the two are aligned, with prices climbing as the amount of illiquid coins increases. However, illiquidity has recently increased to record highs, while prices remain offset. A similar decoupling was seen just before bitcoin prices began to climb from $10,000 in October 2020.

Graph showing Bitcoin posts the highest weekly gain for 3 months as illiquid supply outpaces prices
Bitcoin posts the highest weekly gain for 3 months as illiquid supply outpaces prices


The data suggests that more investors are ‘hodling’, and removing supply from the market. However, prices are not yet responding as expected indicating now could be a good time to pick up Bitcoin at discounted prices.

The amount of bitcoin currently minted is 18.7 million out of a maximum of 21 million. According to many analysts, the liquid amount available for trading is actually much lower. Many investors are continuing to hoard bitcoin which may eventually lead to a bottle-neck in supply. A Q4 blow-off top is now back on the cards for the leading cryptocurrency.  

Shopify to add bitcoin payment option with new integration 

Shopify, the global e-commerce platform, announced during a press release on Wednesday that it would be working towards a payment bridge from cryptocurrencies to fiat

The new payment option will be facilitated by a partnership between Binance Pay and Alchemy Pay, the world’s first hybrid fiat and crypto payment gateway. 

Binance Pay represents a new venture from Binance. The platform focuses on merchants, and provides a service for users to accept and receive cryptocurrency payments. Likewise, Alchemy Pay is a crypto-fiat payment platform, with the intention that the integration will be a bridge for cryptocurrency payments via the Binance Pay wallet.

The development from Shopify will allow all merchants and users to accept over 40 different cryptocurrencies for a special crypto handling fee.

Shopify logo on a building
Shopify announces partnership with Binance Pay and Alchemy Pay



Square Inc acquires Australian FinTech Afterpay for $29B

Jack Dorsey’s Square Inc, the digital payments platform confirmed this week that the company would be acquiring the fintech company Afterpay. The deal is expected to be worth $29 billion and will close in Q1 of 2022. 

The move from Square is intended to boost competition against other global payment providers. The facilities from Afterpay will be integrated into the Seller and Cash App business to provide a buy now pay later (BNPL) service. The BNPL service will allow users to pay a bill in small amounts over a set period of time, which has been pioneered by other payment providers such as PayPal, Mastercard, and Citi. 

Merchants that use Square’s app will be able to offer the new BNPL service to customers. The move allows Square to meet the demand for a move away from traditional credit options. 

Within the same week, Square released the company’s second-quarter earnings, which highlighted a 200% growth of bitcoin holdings. Square’s bitcoin services also generated $55 million in gross profit, which is a 223% increase from last year.  

square logo on a smart phone with a trading chart in the background
Square Inc acquires fintech Afterpay company



Ukraine adopts virtual assets law

In a statement released last week, Ukraine is now developing new regulations that will bolster the use of cryptocurrencies in the country. Although currently not prohibited, the new bill will allow Ukrainian citizens to ‘declare and exchange’ cryptocurrency assets and offers guarantees for those looking to buy. 

Ukraine’s Deputy Minister of Digital Transformation, Oleksandr Bornyakov spoke last month on Ukraine’s current legal framework for cryptocurrencies. “It’s not prohibited, but at the same time, it’s not allowed. This actually was the major task for us because of this reason. It means we should step in and create a legal framework for that reason, so banks and other government institutions would recognize [crypto] as a part of civil rights [and] of economic value.”

Continuing last week, Bornyakov remarked that the new legislation will make virtual assets “a completely legal and common phenomenon for the government and society.” The Deputy Minister is expecting a boom in cryptocurrency services as the need for storing and purchasing cryptocurrencies increases. 

After being voted through the Ukrainian parliament in December, the draft legislation was revised once again in June before a three-year integration plan was unveiled in July. 

Cryptocurrency coins with Ukrainian flag in the background
Ukraine to implement new cryptocurrency regulation



Big-ticket reports to watch out for this week:

Monday – China CPI (YoY)

Tuesday – Japan Current Account n.s.a

Wednesday – US CPI excluding Food & Energy (MoM & YoY) 

Thursday –  UK GDP (QoQ), US Initial Jobless Claims

Friday – US Michigan Consumer Sentiment Index 

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