Weekly Cryptocurrency News. Feb. 2

Here comes Friday, February 2nd. As the ongoing week elapses, we can focus on the industry highlights over the past few days.

Visa rolls out crypto-to-cash withdrawals in 145 countries

The renowned payment system has partnered with Web3 infrastructure services provider Transak to enable the conversion of cryptocurrencies into fiat on bank cards.

The integration empowers users to withdraw their digital assets straight from wallets such as MetaMask or Coinbase and use them to pay for goods and services via Visa Direct. Moreover, such a solution allows merchants to connect to the Visa network and receive payments on their debit cards.

“By enabling real-time card withdrawals through Visa Direct, Transak is delivering a faster, simpler and more connected experience for its users — making it easier to convert crypto balances into fiat, which can be spent at the more than 130M merchant locations where Visa is accepted,” Yanilsa Gonzalez-Ore, a Transak spokesperson, explained.

According to Transak themselves, the brand new service is now available in over 145 states. Visa Direct supports the exchange of more than 40 different digital assets, performs customer identification procedures (KYC), monitors potential risks and meets regulatory requirements all in the interests of its users.

Solana surmounts $100 mark amid soaring on-chain activity

So far this year, the acclaimed blockchain platform has successfully processed $951.9 billion worth of SOL transactions. We can also observe a considerable increase in on-chain trading activity, leading to the token price hitting $104, equal to levels seen by the fall of 2022, according to CoinGecko data.

When compared to December, the total transaction value skyrocketed by 30% to $735.8b, up from $40b since September 2023.

As for January 2024 stats, not only do they include SOL transactions (topping $474 billion) and Solana-based SPL tokens, but they also take into account USDC stablecoin transactions ($403 billion).

A surge in value is due to frenzy trading activity, especially when paired with WEN meme token and stablecoins.

Speaking of WEN, these are distributed among traders on the non-custodial exchange dubbed Jupiter, as well as between users of the Saga mobile app and holders of certain NFTs.

As of now, Solana ranks fifth on CoinMarketCap by market cap, totaling $45.2 billion.

Previously, CoinGecko analysts hailed Solana’s recovery from the so-called “chain reaction” due to the notorious FTX collapse.

Elon Musk’s Neuralink implants first brain chip in human

The Musk-led startup has completed the implantation of a brain chip in its first-ever volunteer, as revealed by the multibillionaire in an interview with X. Musk highlights “promising” neural detected post-procedure, and the patient is “recovering well.”

The project strives to combine the human brain capabilities with that of computers to help people with overcoming complex neurological conditions. For example, such a technological leap could allow paralyzed patients to interact with digital devices using nothing but thought.

To perform the surgeries, Neuralink implements an ultra-precise robotic surgeon who injects 64 special threads as thin as a human hair (even smaller) into the brain. This feat of technology transmits neuron signals, turning them into specific actions, such as limb movements.

Numerous tokens related to the buzz surrounding Neuralink have emerged since the early announcements regarding the victorious implantation. One such asset, NLINK, rallied 600% over the past 24 hours, as per CoinMarketCap. Notably, Musk had earlier stated that none of his companies intended to issue their own cryptocurrency.

Back in May 2023, Neuralink was granted approval for human clinical trials by the U.S. FDA (Food and Drug Administration), and the first patients were selected later in September.

That same year, in August, the project saw the successful closing of a $280m funding round, where Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund, which once backed major organizations such as SpaceX, Stripe and Paxos, was the lead investor.

Bitcoin annual volatility almost flatlined

The 12-month annualized volatility of Bitcoin has reached its record low in 12 years, as noted by Charlie Bilello, Chief Market Strategist at Creative Planning.

The indicator wobbled significantly over the years, but in general showed a clear downward trend over this period. From 179% in January 2012, it dropped to 45% at the beginning of this year.

A higher indicator level implies dramatic price volatility and a greater market unpredictability. However, low metric values signal much more stable trading conditions.

In mid-January, in Peter McCormack’s “What Bitcoin Did” podcast, Galaxy Digital head of research Alex Thorne and Bloomberg stock analyst James Seyffart suggested that the launch of spot bitcoin ETFs in the US would further smooth out price swings.

Still, some experts point out the risks related to BTC-based exchange-traded products. The possibility of using a wide array of strategies by institutional investors at the junction of the crypto market and TradFi amid Bitcoin-ETFs was emphasized by ex-CEO of BitMEX Arthur Hayes.

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