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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The public markets' cryptocurrency hype is no more and it's losing votes of confidence from Wall Street.

Driving the news: The Chicago Board Options Exchange (Cboe) will no longer support bitcoin futures trading after June, despite being the first exchange to pioneer the bitcoin-futures market in late 2017.

Details: Citi nixed its plan to launch "Citicoin," a bank-backed cryptocurrency, CoinDesk reported on Monday: "Citi concluded that, while the [Citicoin] technology has the potential to live up to its promises, there were other more effective and efficient ways of making improvements in payments."

The big picture: News that Wall Street and traditional banks were buying into the digital currency phenomenon was seen as validation and drove crypto prices higher. However, things look to have turned.

  • Prices barely budged when J.P. Morgan said it was creating its own dollar-backed digital currency, "JPM Coin." (Perhaps because only institutional clients will be able to use it.)
  • But when Goldman Sachs said late last year it was scrapping its plan for a dedicated crypto trading desk, prices of bitcoin and other alt-coins plunged.

Our thought bubble, per Axios' Dion Rabouin: Crypto began as something of a counter-cultural current and Wall Street jumped on the bandwagon when it rose to a pop culture phenomenon, pushing prices higher. Those days are over now.

Crypto will live or die based on whether or not a sustainable use case can be found for it. There are a number of ongoing experiments:

  • Facebook is holding conversations with cryptocurrency exchanges about selling the "Facebook coin" to consumers — as the New York Times reported last month — and the company looks to be setting up a WeChat-like payment system where users can pay one another (or any of Facebook's 2.3 billion users) with the coin.
  • Crypto is also just now starting to make significant inroads in the porn (link suitable for work) and cannabis communities, underground industries with large user bases that have trouble accessing traditional banking services.
  • Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro even tried to make a cryptocurrency the country's official payment system.

Yes, but: Financial analyst Wolf Richter points out that even without the Cboe, bitcoin futures trading isn't dead yet.

Expand chart
Reproduced from Wolf Street using CoinDesk; Chart: Axios Visuals
  • Bitcoin has managed to hold near the important $4,000 per coin level and CME Group, which still offers bitcoin trading, has seen higher trading volumes than Cboe. CME reps told CoinDesk that it has "no changes to announce re our bitcoin futures contract."

The bottom line: If nothing catches on in a big way soon, crypto may be out of lifelines.

Go deeper: Why Bitcoin's fall gives the planet a breather

Go deeper

Moderna says vaccine appears to protect against new COVID-19 variants

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Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine is effective against new variants of the virus that first appeared in the U.K. and in South Africa, the company announced on Monday.

Yes, but: The vaccine was as effective against the strain from U.K., but saw a six-fold reduction in antibodies against the South Africa variant. Even still, the neutralizing antibodies generated by the vaccine "remain above levels that are expected to be protective," according to the company.

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Why it matters: Xi didn't refer directly to U.S.-China tensions, but the subtext was clear. These were his first remarks to an international audience since the inauguration of President Biden, whose administration has already concurred with Donald Trump's determination that China is committing "genocide" against Uyghur Muslims, and issued a warning about China's aggression toward Taiwan.

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Dominion files $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani

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Dominion Voting Systems filed a defamation lawsuit against Rudy Giuliani on Monday seeking $1.3 billion in damages for his "demonstrably false” allegations about the company's voting machines.

Why it matters: Giuliani led former President Trump's efforts to overturn the results of the election and spread the baseless conspiracy theory that Dominion's voting machines flipped votes from Trump to Joe Biden.

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