From the Senate’s infrastructure bill to Ethereum’s major upgrade: 5 key things that happened in crypto this past week

As the Senate continues to debate crypto tax provisions within the $1 trillion infrastructure bill, bitcoin and ether are surging.

The price of bitcoin, the largest cryptocurrency by market value, surpassed $46,000 on Monday morning, while the price of ether jumped over $3,000. As of 2:00 p.m. EST, bitcoin is trading at around $45,950 and ether is trading at around $3,150.

In addition to the infrastructure bill proposal, here are five things that happened in crypto this past week.

1. The NFT market continues to boom
Over the past week, the market for NFTs, or nonfungible tokens, surged.

OpenSea, one of the largest marketplaces for NFTs, surpassed $428 million in trading volume in the last seven days alone, according to DappRadar.

Within that period, CryptoPunk and Axie Infinity collectibles made up a significant volume of trading, accounting for over $134 million and over $220 million, respectively.

2. The new SEC chair says the crypto industry needs more investor protection
The new U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) chair Gary Gensler made headlines last week after sharing his stance on crypto regulation.

“While I’m neutral on the technology, even intrigued … I’m not neutral about investor protection,” Gensler told Bloomberg on Tuesday. “If somebody wants to speculate, that’s their choice, but we have a role as a nation to protect those investors against fraud.”

Gensler also alluded to plans to regulate crypto exchanges and decentralized finance, or DeFi, platforms during his speech at the Aspen Security Forum on Tuesday.

“I’m pro innovation, but we also need rules of the road,” Gensler told CNBC on Wednesday.

3. Ethereum’s major London upgrade went live
A major upgrade to Ethereum, the blockchain that runs ether, activated on Thursday.

The upgrade, called London, includes Ethereum Improvement Proposal (EIP) 1559, which aims to change the way transaction fees, or “gas fees,” are estimated.

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Currently, users must bid for how much they’re willing to pay to have their ether transaction picked up by a miner, which can be extremely costly. Under EIP-1559, this process will be handled by an automated bidding system with a set fee amount that fluctuates based on how congested the network is.

Another major change under EIP-1559 is that part of every transaction fee will be burned, or removed from circulation, which will begin to reduce the supply of ether and potentially boost its price.

EIP-1559 won’t lower gas fee prices or the cost of transactions on the network, which can be very high. But the upgrade is important since it has the potential to improve Ethereum’s user experience, will reduce the supply of ether and may boost its price.

4. Binance.US CEO resigns
On Friday, Brian Brooks resigned as CEO of Binance.US, the U.S. affiliate of crypto exchange Binance, after three months in the role.

“Greetings #crypto community. Letting you all know that I have resigned as CEO of ⁦⁦⁦@BinanceUS. Despite differences over strategic direction, I wish my former colleagues much success,” Brooks, a former top U.S. banking regulator, tweeted.

Recently, Binance has been at the center of compliance setbacks and regulatory scrutiny within the U.S. and around the globe, but it is not clear whether this impacted Brooks’ decision to step down.