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Bitcoin Price Growth, Global Adoption Depend on Japan’s Confidence in Bitcoin

Bitcoin Price Growth, Global Adoption Depend on Japan’s Confidence in Bitcoin

  

Bitcoin Price Growth, Global Adoption Depend on Japan’s Confidence in Bitcoin

As long as Japan does not fail in what seems to be an effort that is making Bitcoin bigger, the world's top digital currency would always be a success. One latest example is the adoption of the AML/KYC rules for Bitcoin exchanges in the country. Like China, Japan is now impacting meaningfully on the Bitcoin market whenever the third largest economy in the world comes out with a move that causes a change.

Bitcoin price affected

With the recent development in which Japan recognized Bitcoin as a legal method of payment starting Saturday, April 1, the Bitcoin price has seen a steady climb over the $1100 range by the start of Monday. The recovery from the dip where the Bitcoin price had been over a week ago when the deadlock over the scalability issue had heightened has been attributed to a growth in Bitcoin demand from Japanese consumers after the government passed a law which basically says officially that Bitcoin users will not be taxed directly.

Rather, it brings up the issue of AML/KYC which caused a heated debate. Some users are in favor of it preferring exchanges operating legally so that they can be law-abiding, pay taxes on behalf of users and guarantee some form of protection for users’ money.

New law

Japan’s new law has been on debate for months following the collapse of the Mt. Gox Bitcoin exchange. The law’s passing brings Bitcoin exchanges under Anti-Money Laundering/Know Your Customer rules as it is the case in China. The exercise in verification will expectedly increase trust in Bitcoin and probably forestall a recurrence of the Mt. Gox case.

Coincheck's Kagayaki Kawabata told Cointelegraph:

"While market cap and usage of cryptocurrency is scaling significantly in past few years, Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are something that can't be ignored. The Mt. Gox incident took place in Tokyo. This experience I think has made Japan decided to regulate them in order to protect the customers. I think other countries will follow Japan if this new regulation works out."

Tax issues

The AML/KYC process will also serve as a link between the government and Bitcoin which is what many people believe is still missing for the ecosystem to grow into a regulated market. For Bitsquare's Ken Shishido, the development is a result of years of industry effort in lobbying policy makers and not necessarily the government taking a proactive approach nor wanting to make Bitcoin bigger and better.

Tax implication is not finalized yet but it is a huge deal that consumption tax is now officially exempted, he adds. From China to Japan and other countries, it is now clearer that governments are on the way of recognizing Bitcoin as a financial instrument. But to make the digital currency go mainstream everyday users need to support it as a common practice.

Why Japan Matters

Japan does not seem at all worried by the general attitude of some countries to digital currencies like Bitcoin. The country’s level of confidence in Bitcoin is overwhelming despite the negative history it has had with the digital currency. Based on this level of trust and interest in the currency, the success of the ongoing experimentation will help show how possible legislations can work with Bitcoin.

It will go a very long way to draw other countries that are still skeptical about Bitcoin into the fold as well be a good form of advertisement to the wider global community – especially governments. The legality of the state is always a boost for the justification of Bitcoin. For a big economy like Japan to trust Bitcoin as a payment method speaks volumes. It is a sign that it could be a significant tool that could bring advantages over sentiments that point to negativity.

Shishido says:

“Not sure other developed countries will follow suite anytime soon but maybe countries like Singapore, Hong Kong, Estonia, Switzerland and etc. If some countries do recognize it as a legal tender, it will be a game changer. Japan’s legal status is “currency-like property with consumption tax exemption. If one country recognizes it as a legal tender, all United Nations country will need to acknowledge, too.”

One other factor to note about Japan's impact on the Bitcoin price is that when it happens, the price increase tends to be usually real – it would correct at some point but not to its initial take-off point. Relatedly, one of the countries picking up on a similar move is Mexico which is working on the first draft of a fintech law that will make its central bank define the regulation that will apply to digital assets such as Bitcoin based on two criteria: widespread adoption of the public and the protocols, rules and mechanisms that allow their generation, identification, division and control.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Legal Status of Bitcoin in India to Be Addressed at Global Summit by Assocham

Legal Status of Bitcoin in India to Be Addressed at Global Summit by Assocham

  

Legal Status of Bitcoin in India to Be Addressed
at Global Summit by Assocham

 

After the demonetization of 85 percent of the circulating currency in India in November 2016, ASSOCHAM organized the first global summit on Blockchain technology. Now it is all set to hold the second global summit on Blockchain technology with a focus on opportunities and challenges for the Indian economy. ASSOCHAM is a ‘chamber of chambers’ in India having been in existence since 1920 and having in its fold more than 400 industry chambers. The mission of ASSOCHAM is to ‘articulate the genuine, legitimate needs and interests of its members.’ They are also thought of as promoters of new business models.

Going beyond just a nascent technology

While the Blockchain has made a major impact in the world and its potential has been realized and is being released around the globe, in India the situation is still one of considering Blockchain as a nascent technology. The Second Global Summit which will be held in Bangalore on Friday, 21st April 2017 will focus on opportunities and challenges associated with Blockchain technology and explore the future prospects in India. The key discussion areas for the summit are the impact of Blockchain technology on banks, insurance, and financial institutions, legal perspectives and regulation from Bitcoin to Blockchain, applications of Bitcoin and Blockchain and criminal activity, security and data in the Blockchain.

It is expected that a wide variety of people from different backgrounds will attend the summit including company management, telecom and IT sector workers, security and legal heads, Bitcoin exchanges, regulators, bankers, fund managers and etc. Important representatives of the Indian government are expected to be present including Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Minister for Law and Justice and Electronics and IT. PP Chaudhary, the Minister of State Law and Justice and Electronics and IT, Dr. A.S. Ramasastri, Director for Development and Research in Banking Technology and others.

Negative news can be countered by information

In recent days there has been a lot of controversy regarding the status of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in India. This is the result of misconceptions and misunderstanding of what Blockchain and Bitcoin are all about. We talked with Santosh Parashar, joint director and Head-Corporate Affairs and Capital Market Division of ASSOCHAM about the legality of Bitcoin and how this summit could help address these issues.

He says:

“I absolutely agree that in recent days there has been a lot of news about the legality of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in India. Indeed, this is happening due to the lack of related know-how at different levels in the economy. A few illegal transactions that recently came into notice cannot be ignored with reference to Bitcoin and its legality in India. In our first summit organized in March 2017, nearly all such possible negatives related to Bitcoin were addressed. They were not a fairy tale but based on worldwide experiences that may or may not happen in India. Simultaneously, the investments and transactions in Bitcoin are not altogether ceasing to an end due to any such fear of legal status in India.”

Santosh further adds about learning from other countries and the role the summit is supposed to play, “The options available for India to choose from are – learning by practice, learning by mistakes or learning through others. To what extent, the cost of particular learning is affordable should be a subject matter of utmost priority. Certain countries like the US, China, and Japan which had banned Bitcoin earlier and now following the trend of acceptability must have learned through mistakes. This has to be taken care of by the investors as well as the government and regulators in India because it is a matter of economic significance. In the absence of any such legal tender of Bitcoin in India, ultimately opportunity cost is foregone as there is a loss of taxes to the government. Therefore, this summit is expected to address the legal issues, applications, and implication of Blockchain Technology in the light of recent global developments happening.”

India can become a Fintech Hub

India has been known as an IT hub for more than a decade now. The contributions of India’s IT sector can’t be downplayed as the country is the world’s largest sourcing destination for Information technology (IT) industry and accounts for 67 percent of the $124-130 bln market according to ibef. The industry also gives employment to close to 10 mln people. India can capitalize on its IT experience and recreate a similar success story in the Financial Technology (fintech) sector as well. The need though is for a better understanding of the possibilities that reside in this area and for changing perceptions in New Delhi.

The need for a conducive environment

Demonetization was followed by a push for a Cashless India where all the transactions are done digitally. In fact, if India truly does want to go digital, it will have to rely on the emergent fintech sector and try to embrace digital currencies and Blockchain technology.

Santosh points out:

“The traditional technology models used in the financial sector and sub-sectors for operations are becoming inoperative at the same cost. Hence the new cost effective and efficient technology has much scope to become handy. Fintech has gained substantial attention of traditional players in the Indian financial system. However, the participants of the fintech ecosystem require having a conducive environment of collaboration and dynamism. To build a robust fintech ecosystem, the proper mix of innovative and technical skills, CapEx, government policies and regulatory framework could drive fintech as a key enabler.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

How To Invest In The Blockchain Without Buying Bitcoin

How To Invest In The Blockchain
Without Buying Bitcoin

    

Blockchain Technology’s potential to change the Status Quo

Not a day goes by without a media mention about blockchain technology’s potential to change the status quo of how data will be recorded, stored and transferred in the future. As blockchain is booming, investors are taking note and looking at opportunities where they could benefit. Investing in bitcoin, the digital currency built on the blockchain is considered too risky by many investors and, at the same time, doesn’t actually offer exposure to developments of new blockchain applications and the growth of this technology. Fortunately for investors, however, there are ways to invest in the blockchain boom don’t involve buying bitcoin.

Blockchain Startup Stocks

Firstly, investors can purchase blockchain startup stocks. Currently, there are several publicly traded stocks in blockchain companies trading on global exchanges. The first blockchain stock that started trading in the U.S. is that of the company BTCS Inc., which provides an online bitcoin shop and a range of blockchain solutions, according to its website. Another prominent North American stock is the Vancouver-based blockchain consultancy service provider BTL Group, which has recently launched its own smart contract platform called interbit. Its stock is trading on the Toronto stock exchange.

Outside of North America, there are listed blockchain stocks in the U.K. and in Australia. In the U.K., the London-based blockchain technology investment and development company Coinsilium is listed on the ICAP Securities and Derivatives Exchange (ISDX) and was the world’s first initial public offering by a blockchain startup. On the Australian Stock Exchange, there is the blockchain startup DigitalX. DigitalX provides two blockchain-based services: a global peer-to-peer remittance service called Air Pocket and a software solution to provide bitcoin liquidity to institutional investors called DigitalX Direct.

Crowdfunding Platforms

Alternatively, investors can purchase shares in blockchain startups during early-stage funding rounds through online crowdfunding platforms. Young blockchain startups regularly choose the route of online crowdfunding to secure funds to develop their products or service. The crowdfunding platform BnkToTheFuture, for example, allows investors to place funds into a range of Bitcoin and blockchain startups. Notable blockchain startups that have raised funds through BnkToTheFuture’s platform have included the prominent African remittance startup BitPesa and the multi-currency mobile bitcoin wallet Shapeshift.

Invest in New Blockchain Projects’ Initial Coin Offerings

The third option for investors would be to invest in initial coin offerings (ICOs) of new blockchain projects. ICOs are a new, innovative way of raising capital that involves blockchain projects issuing their own digital currencies or tokens to early backers during a crowd sale. As this new form of crowdfunding is still entirely unregulated there is substantially more risk involved than investing in blockchain stocks or in traditional crowdfunding campaigns, but the returns of successful ICOs have been excellent.

When it comes to investing in ICOs, the key is to select blockchain projects that will have real-life applications and are managed by a team of experienced blockchain developers. Some projects may even have financial backing from leading Bitcoin investors. That is usually also a good sign. Unfortunately, the more the ICO market grows, the more fraudulent activity also occurs. Hence, it is vital to conduct thorough due diligence on each ICO before investing in the crowd sale to avoid falling victim to a scam.

As blockchain technology will likely become the standard to securely record, store and transfer data in many industries over the next ten years, it might be wise to start looking into the investment opportunities in this space, despite the potential risk involved in these investments.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

 

Markethive

IBM Ramps Up China Blockchain Work With Supply Chain Trial

IBM Ramps Up China Blockchain Work With Supply Chain Trial

ibm in China

IBM advanced its status as a blockchain leader Tuesday with the launch of a supply chain platform designed to streamline flows among buyers, sellers, and financiers in the pharmaceuticals space. The Yijian Blockchain Technology Application System – built in a partnership between IBM and Hejia, a Chinese supply chain management company – seeks to eliminate some of the financing problems faced by the country's pharmaceutical retailers. Specifically, it targets the country's underdeveloped credit evaluation system, which it argues can make it difficult to raise short-term working capital.

The platform is designed to bring greater transparency into supply chain networks by tracking the flow of drugs, encrypting trading records and offering an easier means of authenticating transactions. The end goal is to reduce the time small retailers must wait to be paid after delivering medicine to hospitals – which currently can be as high as 60 to 90 days. Overall, Ramesh Gopinath, vice president of Blockchain Solutions at IBM, said that the use case offers an ideal example of how the company's enterprise blockchain platform can smooth multi-party transaction processes.

He told CoinDesk:

"Blockchain is perfect for the kind of flow that happens between three parties. It's not a random thing, we see a pattern of this appearing again and again."

Initially, the Yijian system will be implemented on a test basis by one pharmaceutical retailer, one hospital, and one bank, but plans are in place to expand in July to create a farther-reaching network. Leng Tianhui, board chairman of Hejia, emphasized in statements that he expects the platform to be adopted far beyond just the pharmaceuticals sector in China.

Eyes on China

Yet, the Yijian platform's launch also strengthens IBM's positioning in China – it has now rolled out five different solutions in the world's second-largest economy in the last 12 months. In March, the technology giant announced the creation of a green asset management platform designed to help companies develop, manage and trade carbon assets more efficiently under China’s carbon emissions quota scheme. Further, in January, it teamed up with the Postal Savings Bank of China to launch a blockchain asset custody system.

As far back as 2016, this strategy could already be observed, as IBM partnered with UnionPay – China's largest payment credit card processor – to roll out a blockchain platform facilitating the exchange of user loyalty points in September. It also launched a pilot in conjunction Walmart to move China’s pork industry supply chain on to a blockchain in October. Still, Gopinath said that IBM's focus on China is a function of the availability of pertinent use cases and local partners.

"I wouldn’t calculate this as 'OK, we have a concerted effort to do something in China'," he said, adding:

"It's more like there are all these classic, what I would call, great uses cases starting up in different places."

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

IT leader’s guide to the blockchain

IT leader’s guide to the blockchain

  

The blockchain may hold significant opportunities for the enterprise

from financial services to IP protection to job documentation. This ebook looks at what the blockchain is and how it could affect your business. The blockchain is a record of every Bitcoin transaction. The name comes from the method by which Bitcoin is unlocked and available to be mined by the public. The code releases nodes in 1 MB chunks, or “blocks,” approximately every 10 minutes. Every coin, and every transaction related to it, is logged. Because the blockchain is available to anyone and contains metadata similar to a bank statement, the code is often referred to as a “public ledger.”

The database is cryptographically secure, and the chain is reliable and can be used to develop applications and protocols that require transparency and complete security. The primary advantage of money—like dollars, euros, and Bitcoin—is that the currency is understood by everyone, yet can be controlled by individuals or institutions. The blockchain, and Bitcoin, offers the additional benefit of transparency. Code, rather than a government, dictates the supply of Bitcoin.

Corporations, small businesses, and individuals all need to be aware of the blockchain. Because the blockchain allows financial transactions to occur anonymously, the technology has empowered the growth of questionable, sometimes illegal, behavior. In recent years ransomware has become a popular method of extorting consumers. Black markets have exploded in popularity. These markets exist on the Dark Web and allow hackers to buy and sell stolen data, zero-day exploits, drugs, weapons, and humans. The United Nations, the FBI, and other law enforcement agencies attempt to track illicit Dark Web transactions, but Bitcoin-based markets continue to flourish.

Well-funded startups also use the blockchain. It's data-rich, secure, and offers unprecedented transparency, so the code can be used as the building block (pun intended) for numerous modern, and future, technologies and startup companies. Etherium, for example, is a blockchain startup that helps enterprise companies develop private chains and private currencies. Mycelium builds physical point-of-sale systems and debit cards for cryptocurrency.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Litecoin Is Far More Popular Among CNY Traders Than Ethereum

Litecoin Is Far More Popular Among CNY Traders Than Ethereum

Bitcoin is the top cryptocurrency

Cryptocurrency trading is booming in China, and the rest of the world is following suit. Bitcoin is the top cryptocurrency in just about every country. But the competition between Litecoin and Ethereum is still in full effect for CNY traders,  whereas things look very different in the USD market.

CNY Traders Prefer Litecoin

                                                     

TheMerkle_Litecoin CNY Ether

It comes as quite a surprise to find out exchanges dealing with CNY are seeing more trading volume in Litecoin than Ethereum as of late. Given the global appeal Ethereum seems to have, and the growing interest from all over the world, the trading volume in CNY markets does not seem to reflect that by any means.

Looking at the previous 24-hour volume, for example, shows that nearly three billion CNY has been changing hands to buy and sell Litecoin. Ethereum, on the other hand, has only seen 1.8 million CNY change hands, which is only a blip on the radar in comparison. In fact, only 20,804 Ether has been traded across exchanges supporting the yuan, which is quite a surprise.

Comparing this to the USD markets, Bitcoin and Ethereum are the clear leaders, with Litecoin still in the third spot. But Ethereum seems to be losing a lot of momentum in this market as well, with slightly over US$1m traded in volume over the past 24 hours. This is a lot less than most people would expect, albeit the majority of Ethereum volume is coming from the BTC market.

It is quite interesting to see Litecoin holding on to the second spot as far as CNY trading is concerned, though. Given the fact LTC was the second “major” cryptocurrency for a long time, that only seems normal. But at the same time, the cryptocurrency has seen no real innovation or adoption spike over the past few years.

The big question is what CNY traders are doing with Litecoin, other than speculating about the price. So far, it does not appear as if investors are using LTC to buy goods or services, but only as a way to speculate on the value of the cryptocurrency. Either way, it is rather interesting to note, and a sign that Litecoin is far from dead.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

From groceries to fine art, blockchain finds widening appeal

From groceries to fine art,
blockchain finds widening appeal

  

 

Chronicled CEO Ryan Orr attends a daily briefing with employees at their office in San Francisco, Calif. on Thursday, April 6, 2017. Chronicled has developed blockchain authentication and chain-of-custody technology using small chips embedded into products, pharmaceuticals, and artwork.

Walmart is on a mission to forever change what people know about their groceries. The retail giant began in October to collaborate with IBM and Tsinghua University in Beijing to trace an array of food products moving through its vast global supply chain with an emerging technology known as blockchain.

The experiment, which will wrap up next month, will help Walmart understand how to make use of blockchain — a secure system of recording data that, many believe, could have a transformative effect on the world’s economy. The technology is already creeping into everything from supply chain management to banking to health care. “I’ve yet to come across an industry where it won’t have an impact,” said David Treat, a managing director at Accenture who leads the consulting firm’s financial services and blockchain practice group.

At its core, blockchain refers to an accounting system known as a distributed ledger. That ledger lives on a network of synchronized computers that communally capture and verify when a transaction takes place. Any time something of value gets exchanged, the data surrounding that exchange are recorded, encrypted and placed into a “block” visible by anyone granted access to the network.

Those blocks are then “chained” together chronologically, creating a timeline that can be traced to an initial transaction. That chronology is key to blockchain’s security since no individual block of data could be successfully altered without affecting all the other blocks in the chain. The technology would replace methods of accounting and tracking transactions.

“Whether you’re talking about a commodity or anything else, it’s a secure road map of where it’s been and who’s held it,” said Grant Fondo, an attorney, and co-chairman of the digital currency and blockchain practice at the law firm Goodwin Procter in San Francisco.

Blockchain technology emerged in the shadow of bitcoin. From the outset, a big appeal of the trendy digital currency was its ability to let users transfer funds without the need for a designated third party — like a bank, credit card company or other payment network operator — to verify the details of the transaction. But in recent years, even as the hype surrounding bitcoin has fizzled, blockchain’s secure ledger system is expected to endure by virtue of its versatility.

Chronicled, a San Francisco startup (unrelated to The Chronicle), is using blockchain technology to tackle counterfeiting. By placing microchips onto or inside of virtually any physical object, Chronicled can register critical identifying data about that object onto the blockchain, authenticating it as the original and tracking each step in its purchasing history.

“We don’t realize how bad the problem of copies and counterfeiting and clones really is,” said Chronicled CEO Ryan Orr. “But fake license plates, fake bottles of Champagne and spirits, fake Louis Vuitton handbags — we’re talking about a $2 trillion counterfeit market today.”

Chronicled’s anticounterfeiting technology has a particular appeal with the art world. In January, Chronicled teamed up with 111 Minna Gallery, a San Francisco art gallery and event space, for an event that was equal to parts art exhibition and tech expo. Each piece of art was assigned a chip that registered it on a blockchain. Equipped with a special app on their phones, gallery-goers could access a wealth of information about the works, and even purchase them, if they chose to do so.

“This is a secure system of identification and identity verification that’s never existed before,” Orr said. “So we can potentially solve this problem, and we can do a lot more on top of that once we can synchronize the physical and digital world identities, which was never possible before.” Walmart’s blockchain pilot program is limited to China, but Frank Yiannas, vice president of food safety, said that the company is considering expanding it.

So far, Walmart is offering scant details about precisely what types of foods are being tracked on its blockchain system, but Yiannas said the goal is to bring transparency into the food supply chain and to get the myriad players in that chain to harmonize the ways they keep track of products moving through it. The tracking device can be on a small sticker.

“Imagine if you could capture data at the farm level on a digital system, how something was produced, where it came from — any relevant information to a consumer,” he said. “What that allows for is a new insight that could provide a new era of transparency and insight we just don’t have today.”

Yiannas said the level of detail he hopes to capture with blockchain gets down to “an individual apple. You pick up an apple and you know where that apple came from,” he said. “Imagine the consumer, who is mostly removed from food production, being able to scan a food product and know the things they want to know about it,” he added.

Capturing data on a blockchain about a particular product as it moves “from farm to fork,” Yiannas said, will also allow Walmart to better respond to food safety recalls. Currently, it can take weeks to trace a tainted product back to its source — a process that, with a blockchain, could take seconds, since growers, packing houses and distributors would all be placing their data in the same place, where all parties can see it. Beyond supply chains, blockchain technology has also made significant inroads in the banking industry, one that has a constant need to quickly authenticate and record transactions.

Ripple, a blockchain developer in San Francisco, specializes in systems that allow banks to send payments to one another. Banks can save money by transacting directly with one another, rather than relying on a clearinghouse or other third party to verify and process payments. This month, a consortium of 47 banks in Japan announced they would be implementing Ripple’s technology after a successful pilot program.

Blockchains are also beginning to reach into health care. In January, IBM, a major vendor of blockchain software, announced that it is working with the Food and Drug Administration to research how blockchains could be used to securely and efficiently transfer large amounts of patient data pulled from electronic medical records, clinical trials, and even wearable devices.

And officials in Cook County, Illinois, said last year that they intended to start a blockchain experiment for tracking the transfer of land titles. “Distributed ledgers are a paradigm shift in how we process transactions,” said Jesse Lund, the head of IBM’s blockchain market development. “It saves businesses money and it empowers consumers. I definitely think that it’s a shift with global implications, from a human perspective.”

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Is Still Underrated

Reasons Why Social Media Marketing Is Still Underrated    

So what’s the deal?

The numbers on social media marketing are impressive. More than half of small businesses in the United States are planning to increase their social media marketing budgets in 2017, and the number of businesses using social media marketing has increased, year over year, for more than a decade.

Still, social media marketing remains underrated. Business owners and marketers frequently treat it as a second thought—something for an intern to handle, rather than a strategically deep mode of building your reputation and attracting new traffic. Some have even abandoned the idea altogether, refusing to spend any time or money on a strategy that nets a positive ROI for up to 92 percent of businesses that use it.

Why isn’t everyone on board with the strategy?

The "fad" angle.

Believe it or not, some people still believe that social media—or its use as a marketing strategy—is still a fad just waiting to fizzle out. This is an argument I could have understood back in 2007 when social media platforms were only in use by a small percentage of the population. But now that Facebook has reached more than 1.2 billion users and is still growing, with a corporate foundation that rivals those of Apple or Google, it’s a hard argument to defend. Users have gotten used to the idea of socially interacting online, and platforms keep evolving in new ways to maintain their interest.

You get what you pay for.

Psychologically, people tend to place more value on things that cost more money. For example, in a blind taste test of identical wines whose only difference is price, people claim that the more expensive (yet compositionally identical) wine tastes better. Take this principle to social media marketing; it’s free to claim and build a business profile and to post regularly (as long as you aren’t leveraging paid advertising). Because of that, people don’t value it as much as they do paid advertising. They’re also less likely to pay a professional to work on a social media campaign, knowing that—technically—anyone could do it for free (even if they never actually do it).

Unmeasurable effects.

The return on investment (ROI) of social media is hard to measure, and I’ll be the first to admit it. One of your biggest goals is attracting a large following of people who are enthusiastic about your brand and improving both your brand’s reputation and brand awareness. These aren’t as objectively measurable as on-site conversions, but they can and do lead to greater consumer interest, which manifests as sales eventually. Trying to pin down an exact value for all these benefits is next to impossible, even for the pros, so the value of a social media campaign is almost always underreported.

Anecdotes.

People also use anecdotal evidence as a basis for their opinions about the strategy. For example, they may know of another business who used social media and didn’t see any results, so they stay away from it in the present. However, these anecdotal examples often don’t examine the types of tactics these businesses used, and they certainly don’t represent the average across multiple businesses.

Apples and oranges.

Ironically, these same business owners often cite the fact that anecdotal evidence can’t prove a strategy’s effectiveness for everybody. They point to major influencers or big businesses in the social media world, and explain that social media works for them because it fits naturally with their industry, or because they have the resources to invest in a heavy campaign. It’s true that some industries may be naturally inclined to perform better on social media than others; tech companies and consumer-facing businesses are two good examples. However, social media marketing can be used by practically any company—it may just require an adjustment to your approach.

Poor targeting.

Some businesses look at their own results and use those results as a gauge of the long-term potential of their campaign. But they may not realize that their strategic targeting is interfering with their results. For example, if you buy 1,000 followers using some super cheap follower-adding service, but only 4 or 5 of them ever interact with your posts or visit your site, it could be that the remaining 995 don’t belong to demographics relevant for your business, or that you haven’t been using the right engagement strategies to cultivate interest. Don’t underestimate the potential of a well-researched, strategically focused campaign.

Lack of investment.

Effective social media marketing can’t be done on a whim. It needs to be planned, researched, and strategically executed. That means you’ll need to spend a significant amount of time or a significant amount of money to see results; and since many business owners aren’t willing to make that investment, they never see a fraction of their potential results. By that point, they’ve seen what a small investment does, and they’re unwilling to make the jump to a larger investment.

Social media marketing isn’t an “underground” strategy; it’s talked about heavily (and I should know), and there’s no shortage of content covering its feasibility and best tactics. But the perceptions of marketers and business owners are still lagging behind the evidence, and they’re only hurting themselves in the process. The more you learn about the effective implementation of social media marketing, the more plainly beneficial it seems—but you have to treat it as a legitimate marketing strategy if you want to research it appropriately.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

Bitcoin’s value is set to soar – three predictions for the future of the cryptocurrency

Bitcoin's value is set to soar – 
three predictions for the future
of the cryptocurrency

  

Utah Software Engineer Mints Physical Bitcoins

Bitcoin and digital currency more broadly is one of the most divisive concepts of our time. The idea of a currency which is not controlled by a state or a corporation and which maintains such a high level of privacy for its users is a much-needed relief for some and a threat to the whole economic and political system to others. One thing is certain: its value has soared over the past 12 months from just over $400 per bitcoin a year ago to over $1,350 in recent weeks.

Here are three predictions for the future of bitcoin…

Bitcoin will be closer to £3,000 by the end of the year

As bitcoin is primarily used for trading or transferring value, the value of bitcoin is controlled by the total value of goods in transit tied to bitcoin as the payment medium. As more and more trade is taken up using bitcoin as the transaction medium, the value of bitcoin will rise to equal that trade.

With non-digital currencies, this valuation fluctuation can be controlled by the government or state monetary authority controlling supply (through variation in the amount of currency created) and controlling demand (through setting interest rates). However, governments cannot control the supply of bitcoin so as the currency becomes more widely used, a continuous increase in the value of bitcoin is predicted. This theory is born out of research undertaken by the World Economic Forum.

Money laundering poses a big threat

While many will associate the use of bitcoin with the purchasing of illicit materials from sites such as the now defunct Silk Road, there are now potentially much more lucrative opportunities for criminals. The dark or shadow economy is estimated to take up somewhere in the region of 17 percent of the world's total GDP. Due to the level of anonymity bitcoin provides, there is a huge opportunity for its use to avoid anti-money laundering legislation. Any increase in use here would result in a reflected uplift in the value.

Governments will try to control bitcoin (and fail)

As bitcoin becomes more pervasive, we predict governments will try to control it, try to understand more detail about how it is being used and try to monitor its use in the dark economy. However, because of the structure of bitcoin, and the encryption and anonymity which is baked into blockchain there is very little opportunity to control this. The only clear way for nation states to control the distribution of the currency would be for them to buy up the supply and stockpile bitcoin, as many have done with gold.

Regardless of what bitcoin is being used for, the key takeaway is that it is being used more and more widely and that this expanding use is resulting in a corresponding uplift in value which shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Markethive

White House: Fintech ‘Changing Relations’ to Finance

White House:
Fintech ‘Changing Relations’ to Finance

  

US government interest in fintech continues to trend as the White House hosts a dedicated event – and says fintech is leading reforms for consumers and institutions alike.

White House Acknowledging Fintech

  

The remarks were made by Adrienne Harris, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy following the FinTech Summit event Friday, which she led. “Technology is changing the way consumers relate to their finances, and the way institutions function in our financial system,” Harris’ blog post summarizes.

The event played host to a range of financial industry figures – “stakeholders from across the financial technology (fintech) ecosystem, including traditional financial services institutions, fintech start-ups, investors, thought leaders, and policy makers” – and discussed everything “from big data to blockchain,” she writes.

Government representatives were also present, including Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, who moderated a panel on how to ensure fintech startups and big business have the resources and support to innovate for the benefit of the US economy. Also discussed Friday were allusions to the problem of financial data handling in the US and its potential risk to consumer integrity, following a report the government published in May.

“[F]inancial data can help prevent fraud, assist consumers with managing their financial lives, and prompt access to credit for underserved populations,” Harris reports. “But these opportunities also come with risks for consumers, including risks to privacy and civil rights.” A recent Bitcoin.com piece on the problems of legacy finance for US consumers demonstrates the growing awareness of the need for change from businesses, and policy makers would appear to be making similar – if more understated – acknowledgments.

Also acknowledged were the empowering of developing-world communities to increase “resilience” through fintech, specifically mobile-based payment networks such as those active in Kenya and India.

Too Little Too Late?

More broadly, however, Harris’ comments point to a hypothetical reality which for cryptocurrency users is already the here and now. She writes:

Imagine a world in which your phone can help you make financial decisions […] Imagine a time when, as a small business owner, you can accept payments online from all over the world in minutes. Or when you can send money to relatives back home instantly and automatically.

For those with an awareness of the Bitcoin industry’s many financial service providers – from remittance to merchant solutions and beyond – calls to “imagine” such a world may well sound behind the times. While the White House may consider fintech to be “increasingly changing” consumer and business habits, the increasingly common perception is that cryptocurrency-based alternatives have already done so for an increasing section of the world’s population.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

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