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Goldman Sachs Finally Recognizes the Power of Blockchain Technology

Goldman Sachs Finally Recognizes the Power of Blockchain Technology

 

In the most recent initiative to promote

its acceptance of Blockchain technology, one of leading US investment banking institutions, Goldman Sachs, has set up a microsite dedicated to explaining the benefits of Blockchain technology.  It was then followed by a tweet on July 1 which clearly sends a message of the banking giant finally embracing the same technology

that powers Bitcoin. 

Trusted, secure, efficient — why #blockchain could revolutionize how we work together

The page was created for the purpose of giving people an idea of how Blockchain technology is used and how cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin run on these programs. One of their key messages include Blockchain technology’s security feature: Blockchain is designed to store information in a way that makes it virtually impossible to add, remove or change data without being detected by other users.

Goldman Sachs on Blockchain-based projects

Although the financial sector has not really been very keen on cryptocurrencies for quite a long time, Goldman Sachs has been involved in some Blockchain technology based companies like Circle and even Digital Asset Holdings. While the banking giant has been helping startups such as these, it is just now that they have formally announced their acceptance of Blockchain technology.

Blockchain's future in finance sector

Despite its price volatility, there is no doubt that Blockchain technology is making waves in various industries, including finance. In fact, a report by Accenture shows the cost data of eight of the world’s largest investment banks states that Blockchain technology could help reduce the costs of investment banks by as much as $12 bln per annum by the time 2025 comes. This is a big thing for investment banks because not only will this new technology help make the transaction of data safer and more secure, but it will also help drive the costs down.

The foray of mainstream banking, financial and technology giants into the cryptocurrency sector showcases the promising future of Blockchain technology and its applications in various industry segments. The initial wave was caused due to the increasing threat to conventional banking methods by Bitcoin, which could execute cross-border transactions much faster at a much cheaper rate while staying decentralized the whole time. Now, with the capabilities of cryptocurrency technology well-known, could its widespread implementation will be expected in the next 3-4 years?

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

Altcoin EOS Joins Top Crypto League, Surges 321 Percent After ICO Launch

Altcoin EOS Joins Top Crypto League, Surges 321 Percent After ICO Launch

    

Last week’s season of mourning saw gloomy markets

that were inspiring only fear and panic in Bitcoin and altcoin communities, in particular for those who have not been in the crypto space for long. But this week has begun on a bright note with the green days coming back as most of the tokens have recorded growth.

On top 10 cryptocurrencies, for instance, only two tokens continued to fall.

But the biggest surprise was a new entrant to the top echelons. EOS in a fairytale manner growth jumped more than 300 percent to occupy the number nine spot on CoinMarketCap early morning on Monday.

The decentralized business application Blockchain in the process pushed Monero to number 10 resulting in BitShares losing top notch status. In Cryptoland such astronomical growth has been seen so many times… Needless to say, they just pass with the wind and becomes a nine-day wonder.

Meteoric rise

This catalytic move comes at a time where EOS is ending its first 350 consecutive 23-hour  token sales in a few hours. At the time of filing this report on Monday morning, two mln tokens have already been distributed. However, the sale of the total of one bln tokens will continue on the Ethereum network for a period of 341 days. According to Block.one, the company behind EOS, the extended period of token sales is to render adequate time for the community to familiarize themselves with the project, as well as participate in the distribution. With an incredible 321.67 percent growth, EOS token was selling for $5.40. This actually brought its market valuation to more than $800 mln. The digital currency was first listed by Bitfinex in June, a few days before launching its token sale.

Hype? Don’t think so

Meanwhile, Cointelegraph reached out to some members of the crypto community on Bitcoin PowPow for their opinion on EOS's sudden magnificent growth. For Priyabrata Dash it is more of a hype. But David Mondrus of Trive has a lot of admiration for one of the founders of EOS. "I like anything Brock touches, but I know nothing about the details," David said, referring to Brock Pierce, co-founder of block.one.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

The Blockchain Fuels Startups Unlike Any You’ve Ever Seen

The Blockchain Fuels Startups
Unlike Any You've Ever Seen

    

Bitcoin was hailed as the digital currency of a utopian future,

but, at least in the US, few people use it. (At Overstock.com, the first major retailer to accept bitcoin, it accounts for less than 0.1 percent of sales.) What is taking off, however, is the tech underlying bitcoin. Called the blockchain, it’s an online ledger for a virtually endless chain of transactions, or “blocks,” stored across a worldwide network of computers. Using cryptography, a blockchain verifies, records, and protects the integrity of those transactions, without answering to a government, bank, or company. Separate from bitcoin, it’s being used to create businesses that look like nothing we’ve seen before.

Augur

Prediction Markets

At Augur people bet on the outcome of events—sports, stock offerings, elections. Because it runs on a blockchain, it spans borders, roping in so many bets that its predictions could be far more accurate than any market in history.

Utopian future: We’ll gain the ability to truly see the future.

Blockchain Capital

Venture Capital

Using a blockchain called Ethereum, this VC firm issued an ICO, or initial coin offering, selling its own digital token to raise money for its latest venture fund. Anyone who owns a token owns a piece of the fund. And because digital tokens are so easily resold, it’s a particularly liquid VC investment. In the past two years, more than 75 entities have raised over $250 million through ICOs.

Utopian future:

Anyone can play the VC game.

Numerai

Hedge Funds

Inside this hedge fund, all trades are decided by AI models built by thousands of anonymous data scientists from across the internet. It gets weirder. The data wonks all get digital tokens, and if the fund is successful, the value of the token rises, a dynamic that transforms normally cutthroat traders into eager collaborators.

Utopian future:

Hedge funds go from shark tanks to kumbaya show-and-tell sessions.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

Are cryptocurrencies about to go mainstream?

Are cryptocurrencies about to go mainstream?

Experts call for caution about digital currencies, such as bitcoin and Ethereum, but financial firms are considering adopting them or even establishing their own.

   

Bitcoin is the world’s biggest cryptocurrency

but there are now close to 800 digital currencies work around $96bn total. Last Sunday a message posted on message board 4Chan started the rumor that Vitalik Buterin, the founder of cryptocurrency Ethereum, had been killed in a car crash. News of the 23-year-old, Russian-born programmer’s demise was soon proved false – but not before 20%, or roughly $4bn, had been wiped from Ethereum’s soaring market value. The hoax not only drew attention to Ethereum, the second largest digital currency after bitcoin, which had seen its value rise fiftyfold since the start of the year to $300 a coin, but also to the booming market in other so-called cryptocurrencies that could now be on the cusp of mainstream financial credibility.

Vaswani’s comments came after several central banks from across Europe and Asia said they were looking into establishing digital-only currencies in addition to traditional denominations. The People’s Bank of China has reportedly run trials, while the Danish central bank is considering a digital-only e-krone. On 19 June, the International Monetary Fund issued a staff discussion note stating that banks should consider investing in cryptocurrencies, saying: “Rapid advances in digital technology are transforming the financial services landscape, creating opportunities and challenges for consumers, service providers and regulators alike.”

At the same time, IBM announced it had made a deal with the Digital Trade Chain Consortium – a group of seven European banks that includes Deutsche Bank, HSBC, KBC, Natixis, Rabobank, Societe Generale and Unicredit – to build a digital trade platform that will run on IBM’s cloud. Andrew Levin, professor of economics at Dartmouth and co-author of a study on central bank digital currencies, told the Guardian that the concept of private institutions creating new forms of payment was not in itself new, “but the greater need is for consumers and businesses to have access to money that has a stable value and is practically costless to use. We think there’s a strong case for central banks to issue digital currencies that would be free to use.”

Crypto- or cyber-currencies are digital-only currencies in which encryption and registry techniques, often called blockchains, are used to regulate the generation of units of currency independent of a central bank. It is a booming, dizzying market. Since the start of the year, bitcoin, the world’s biggest cryptocurrency, has almost tripled in value to $2,565. By some estimates, the cryptocurrency business could be worth $5tn by 2022. There are now close to 800 cryptocurrencies worth, in total, around $96bn. One of the newest offered to market is Tazos, backed by billionaire venture capitalist and early bitcoin investor Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson. According to a prospectus, a total of US$893,200.77 worth of XTZ tokens will be issued on 1 July. “The best thing I can do is lead by example,” Draper told Reuters last month. “Over time, I actually feel that some of these tokens are going to improve the world, and I want to make sure those tokens get promoted as well. I think Tezos is one of those tokens.”

Tezos’ founders, Kathleen and Arthur Breitman, anticipate their ICO will become a “digital commonwealth” or “self-governing network”. The couple’s background in finance speaks to the seriousness of the endeavor: Arthur worked at the high-frequency trading desk at Goldman Sachs; Kathleen at Bridgewater Associates, the world’s largest hedge fund. “We think our competitive advantage is in our ability to assign governance,” Kathleen told the Observer. “The thing about blockchain is it’s very interdisciplinary. You have to have an understanding of finance and economics, but also game theory, pure science and networking theory.”

She concedes that blockchain complexity is also cause for investor skepticism. “A lot of people struggle to understand its value proposition, because it offers something different to everyone. I like the idea of putting business logic in a decentralised network, and hopefully, it will help people to conduct business more easily.” Brock Pierce, managing partner of Blockchain Capital and a relative veteran of the ICO market, recently launched a tradeable, digital securities token called BCAP that he considers “the next giant leap in the democratization of venture capital and liquidity where everybody has equal access”.

Three days ago, Pierce launched the crowd sale of EOS, a blockchain coin (or token) offering that’s already taken in $100m. “This is a 340-day project that’s already broken every record. It’s 100% certain we’re going to surpass Bancor, the most successful ICO to date.”

Pierce predicts that the underlying technology of blockchain – essentially a public record of actions – “is going to impact our world more than the internet has”. He added: “The implications are huge, and it’s going to have huge implications not only on venture, but private equity, real estate, digitizing currency. This is going to be the technology that democratizes the global financial system so everybody has equal access.” But such rapid increases in value is cause for concern. Five-year-old Ripple XRP, which is connected to 75 banks, including Bank of America and Royal Bank of Canada, has increased in value by 40 times this year alone. According to CNBC, 100 billion XRP are in existence, each priced 26 cents.

“A lot of lessons will be learned and a lot of money will be lost, before a lot of money can be made,” Peter Denious, head of global venture capital at Aberdeen Asset Management, told Bloomberg last week. “Prices right now aren’t being driven by network usage, they’re being driven by speculation that tokens are going to appreciate. It’s a gold-rush mentality.” But Les Borsai, an early investor in Ethereum, believes that what is under way is a re-ordering of the financial systems. At root, he argues, blockchain technology shows “we don’t need a centralized solution for anything. It’s a liberated attitude and the implications are huge”.

Since you’re here …

… we have a small favour to ask. More people are reading the Guardian than ever but advertising revenues across the media are falling fast. And unlike many news organisations, we haven’t put up a paywall – we want to keep our journalism as open as we can. So you can see why we need to ask for your help. The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce. But we do it because we believe our perspective matters – because it might well be your perspective, too. I appreciate there not being a paywall: it is more democratic for the media to be available for all and not a commodity to be purchased by a few. I’m happy to make a contribution so others with less means still have access to information.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

Prominent Venture Capitalist Shares Bitcoin, Ethereum Investment Tips

Prominent Venture Capitalist Shares Bitcoin, Ethereum Investment Tips

    

Prominent venture capitalist and investment firm

co-founder Fred Wilson shares investment tips for Bitcoin and Ethereum traders in a blog post entitled “The Selloff.” His investment firm Union Square Ventures is based in New York.

Rollercoaster

Since the beginning of January, the cryptocurrency market and leading cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum have experienced corrections. Some market corrections saw Bitcoin and Ethereum falling by as much as 30 percent, although the two cryptocurrencies recovered relatively quickly after their initial decline. In a blog post, Wilson noted that as he told his daughter who has also been an early investor in Bitcoin and Ethereum, he encourages traders and investors to consider what the price trend and value of Bitcoin and Ethereum will be in five to 10 years, not in the short-term.

Long-term

Admittedly, the majority of traders within the cryptocurrency market are looking to profit off minor corrections and rallies of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Hence, when the price of the two cryptocurrencies achieve new all-time highs or are in a position to sustain an upward momentum, traders tend to sell off and cause a price correction. However, like many early-stage investors, Wilson, who has invested in Bitcoin since 2013 and Ethereum since its launch in 2015, explained that most market corrections don’t hold much significance for his portfolio. Wilson is considering Bitcoin and Ethereum as long-term investments and is taking its long-term price trend into consideration.

Wilson writes:

“I have been buying Bitcoin since early 2013 and Ethereum since last year. I keep buying but never that much at one time. Just a little bit every week. You can build a pretty big position that way, but you have to be patient, and you have to keep at it.”

More importantly, Wilson emphasized that he doesn’t attempt to predict price corrections and market bottoms even though his predictions turned out to be accurate often. Because Wilson is maintaining a cryptocurrency portfolio as a long-term investment, he explained that he doesn’t focus on evaluating short-term price development of cryptocurrencies. 

Wilson adds:

“I don’t try to time market bottoms and market tops, even though I can sense when they are happening. I don’t try to predict where these assets are going in the near term and I just believe they will be a lot more valuable in five or ten years than they are now.

Many analysts within the cryptocurrency sector have also stated in the past that most traders will earn a profit if they only trade a monthly basis. Over the past few years, Bitcoin has consistently made gains on a monthly basis as it always bounced back from market corrections. “I am wrong a lot. But honestly, I don’t really care. I will keep buying into this correction or rally, whatever it turns out to be. Because the more important question is where these assets will be in five or ten years,” said Wilson.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

Bitcoin Scaling Project Segwit2x to Release New Code Tomorrow

    

Segwit2x is moving ahead in adherence with its previously announced timeline

Segwit2x, a controversial scaling proposal largely backed by the bitcoin network's enterprises and miners, is moving ahead in adherence with its previously announced timeline. In an email yesterday, Bloq co-founder and Segwit2x lead developer Jeff Garzik confirmed to CoinDesk that new code is set to be released on Friday, following two weeks of alpha release testing. The release is said to address issues and comments on the initial version. As such, the release is expected to mark a new phase for the proposal, which has been praised by some as a pragmatic solution to the network's perceived capacity issues and derided by others as a deal that misunderstands the nature of bitcoin development and the network's intended design.

Still, it has emerged as unique, given that it was able to bring together perhaps the largest contingent of companies and mining pools ever in support of a scaling proposal. Further, its support by a large majority of miners means, if released, the code could quickly gain the necessary backing from the network to activate the upgrade. If development continues as planned, bitcoin’s long-requested scaling optimization SegWit could be activated before August, with a hard fork to double the block size slated for three months later. This change, though, also remains a matter of controversy and critique.

Testing phase

So far, little is publicly known about the testing process.

According to those involved, the last two weeks of development have been dedicated to testing, with the firms involved using a new testnet ("testnet5") and a so-called faucet that spits out fake coins to test the system. A notable change this week was that the team tweaked the details of the hard fork portion of the agreement for the time being Companies involved in the project – including Abra, Bitfury, Blockchain, BTCC, OpenBazaar, Purse and Xapo – have been contributing to development and testing, though it’s still not public who's working on what. From the SegWit2x GitHub site, it is apparent that developers have been testing the code. Purse CTO Christopher Jeffrey, for instance, identified and fixed some bugs during this two-week stage, while others flagged and put forth other ideas.

Some companies are playing a smaller role in the effort. For example, OpenBazaar's lead backend developer, Chris Pacia, said that he is the sole developer from the firm to contribute to the project. He explained that he created a testnet5 DNS seed (which helps new nodes connect to the test network) and has offered occasional feedback. However, a few of the firms that pledged to assist in testing the code have been hesitant to reply to requests about their involvement. (Some critics have gone as far as to argue that the firms involved are "corporatizing" bitcoin, asserting that Segwit2x is a small group of companies in an invite-only Slack channel attempting to govern a decentralized online currency.)

Remaining questions

So, with the beta release almost here, what's next?

According to the schedule, mining pools are supposed to install the software on 14th June, which they can use to signal for the network to activate the upgrade from 21st July. Last week mining pools representing 80% of the bitcoin hashrate agreed to run the code that could lock in SegWit before 31st July. After that, three months later, is the hard fork to boost the block size. Of concern, is that the fork could potentially result in a split into two competing tradeable bitcoin assets if not everyone agrees to upgrade their software to the change. While this is the plan for later in the summer, bitcoin developer James Hilliard mentioned that the details of the 2MB hard fork portion are still up for debate.

"It’s unclear what the details are," he told CoinDesk.

Hilliard, who's contributed code to Segwit2x that might help to avoid a split into two assets, is skeptical of the hard fork timeline, calling it "unrealistic" – a sentiment shared by other Bitcoin Core contributors, who nearly universally reject the SegWit2x project. Developers have proposed various ways of doing the hard fork portion of the code, though Hilliard said it would be possible to wait and finish the code and logistics for increasing the block size parameter after SegWit activates. As usual, users will have to wait and see how this will unfold, and for now, speculate on the possible outcomes and their impact.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

Bitcoin Development Similar to 1800s Gold Rush

Bitcoin Development Similar to
1800s Gold Rush

    

Present day Bitcoin and altcoin development

appear to be recounting a theory that played out in the early mining industry. As was the pattern during the actual gold rush of the 1800s, while some people took the risk and spent their time looking for gold, other folks watched on non-judgmentally and lucratively supplied the "picks and shovels" that enabled the fever-pitched masses to take a shot at "striking it big." Drawing on some similarities and contrasts between the actual "gold rush" and the new "digital gold rush" provides a good framework to describe how industries today are being impacted by Bitcoin. Bitcoin evangelist and technologist Melvin Petties explains how the emergence of Bitcoin has given rise to different kinds of related endeavors, pointing out the attitude of some key players and the impact on the crypto ecosystem.

Picks And Shovels Model: Industries That Make Equipment

According to Petties, in the olden days, the absolute quantity of precious metal was not known so the risk of participation was greater. The big rewards were random yet impactful – whole towns were built from major gold strikes, which made the lure to participate even greater.  People from all walks of life, even the very poor, were compelled to participate and their chances of success were arguably relatively the same.

Irresponsible

Fast forward to the present day, Petties notes that not just anybody can make a "pick and shovel" when it comes to Bitcoin mining.

Petties says:

“In fact, the technology is so coveted that for the years between 2013-2015 (Bitcoin good time days) most mining equipment providers were ultimately found to be fraudulent or irresponsible in how they pre-sold equipment but never delivered it.”

Petties explains that microchip shortages were always the common scapegoat. However, the real issue was that most people who knew how to make a real pick and shovel (ASIC chip-based mining computer) held onto the knowledge, built the product, mined with it for most of its practical lifetime (innovations were happening every month and the difficulty level was rising even more rapidly due to the rush of entrants) and then delivered it to the customer only when it was virtually worthless.  

Wild West Days

Also, most other cloud mining or new mining equipment companies were either not worth the ROI at the time (if you were thinking short-term) or an elaborate pre-order scam/trap for victims. The latter was willing to send Bitcoin to anywhere in the world to receive a miner.  Consumer protection was non-existent which made the "buyer beware" burden too heavy and often times a soul-crushing experience to be scammed. Compared to the gold rush of the 1800s, Petties notes that it was not possible to have a massive stealth mining operation. However, in the crypto age, that's exactly what a lot of companies did to cement their space and build a massive moat around themselves to eventually experiment with other value-added services to be built on top of the network that they breathed life into.

Me Too Shops

Another area of significant comparison in terms of activities surrounding the development of Bitcoin is the “value-added service industry.” Petties points out that in the 1800s during the gold rush, pop-up towns and communities were the norms. When a lucky team would strike a big vein they would ultimately reinvest the wealth back into the community, opening banks, general stores, parlors, salons and housing for the existent and soon to arrive patrons that would have certainly heard the news and set their sights to capture some of that same luck.

In the big booming Bitcoin days, this represents all of the "me too" shops that began to publicly accept Bitcoin and make a splash in the news. All the activity served to drive more and more VC money into the space as the community searched for "killer apps" that would live on top of Bitcoin and usher in Bitcoin 2.0 – streamlined payments, borderless markets, no remittances, etc. Ultimately, the most impacted industries were not retail due to the existing reluctance towards the mainstream adoption of the cryptocurrency.  

Value-Added Services

Petties sees some positivity from the circumstances. He notes that what happened through all of that is the discovery of financial services as the real added value, namely legitimate exchanges that were run by competent folks who knew how to secure digital currency and could partner with banks and insurance companies to properly protect customer accounts. Petties concludes by explaining that because Bitcoin, as money, is Blockchain's first "killer app," the obvious industries that will shine will be those that facilitate the safe transfer of crypto and investment exposure – that is financial services. “I'm encouraged by the strides that the Winklevoss brothers have taken to make that a reality,” says Petties. “True pioneers in understanding the need to make digital currency safe and broadly available in a regulatory compliant way.”

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

Bitcoin, Ethereum Lead the Way as Cryptocurrencies Retreat into the Red

Bitcoin, Ethereum Lead the Way as Cryptocurrencies Retreat into the Red

    

Cryptocurrency traders woke up to a sea of red this morning

, as 92 of the top 100 cryptocurrencies by market cap experienced a marked price decline. The bitcoin price led the retreat, falling over 6% toward $2,400. Bitcoin has declined almost $600 since it pierced the $3,000 barrier two weeks ago.

No Flippening Today

Bitcoin price declines always increase discussions about the “Flippening,” the potential future event when another cryptocurrency (presumably Ethereum) will supplant bitcoin as the largest cryptocurrency by market cap. However, Ethereum has been dealing with its own problems. On June 22, it experienced a flash crash on GDAX, although it quickly recovered. More worrisome is the fact that Ethereum is experiencing network congestion and has yet to implement a long-term solution. Consequently, the ethereum price has fared even worse than bitcoin. In the past 24 hours, the ethereum price fell 13% to $285.23. Ethereum too has been experiencing an elongated price decline, having fallen nearly $130 since it hit $410 on June 12. Significantly, ethereum’s ~$26.5 billion market cap is now only 63% of bitcoin’s ~$41.8 billion market cap.

Massacre Extends to Altcoins

The Monday Massacre did not stop with bitcoin and ethereum; altcoins are down across the board. Not even litecoin, which has experienced a price resurgence over the past several months, could swim against the current. The litecoin price fell 9.87% to $41.29. It has fallen nearly 20% since it topped out at $50 leading up to its listing on BitStamp.But the massacre did not stop there Only eight of the top 100 cryptocurrencies managed to avoid the bloodbath. Thirtieth-ranked Byteball was the largest cryptocurrency to experience a price increase, just barely moving the needle 1.84% to $781.20. Tether, MCAP, LEOCoin, OBITS, and Mooncoin each managed to tread water or increase slightly.

Lest one attribute the altcoin price decline to the fact that most altcoins rely on bitcoin as their major trading pair, the price charts look nearly as bad when you switch from USD to BTC. Nearly every altcoin declined against bitcoin. The lone standout in the top 100 was 54th-ranked CloakCoin, whose price rose 41% to $10.09 (.0037 BTC). This is a new all-time high for CloakCoin, who previously rose to a high of .0033 BTC in late July 2014 before crashing in August and September.

A Bump in the Road or Cause for Concern?

Mainstream economists and news outlets rush to pronounce bitcoin’s impending doom every time it experiences a price decline, so don’t be surprised if you see some trigger-happy “Is This the End for Bitcoin?” headlines pop up in your newsfeed if the downward trend continues. Nevertheless, it is far more likely this market downturn is just a bump in the road for cryptocurrency prices. That said, both Bitcoin and Ethereum are facing scaling difficulties and will need to implement long-term solutions. Bitcoin’s test will come with the upcoming Segwit2x activation. All signs indicate Bitcoin will avoid a network fork on August 1, but any unexpected developments could lead to price volatility.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

Factors Pushing Bitcoin Prices Higher in 2017

Factors Pushing Bitcoin Prices
Higher in 2017

For newcomers to the market looking to make a quick win, the rollercoaster of a year has probably been a time of scratching heads and possibly a few tears shed. For the long-term investor, however, these periods are part of the journey and opportune times to snap up some more coins when the price takes a dip. Despite the precautionary cries of ‘bursting bubbles’, these market corrections are an anticipated occurrence.

    
Legislative Changes for Cryptos

Earlier this year, Japan announced that as of 1 April 2017, the country would recognise bitcoin as legal tender and make the provisions for administrative and accounting systems to be enhanced for cryptocurrency transactions to take place seamlessly. This was undoubtedly the major contributing factor to an initial surge in the price as Japanese individuals and corporations alike scrambled on exchanges to secure bitcoin for future purchases. Hundreds of thousands of retailers in the area are said to be equipping themselves to accept bitcoin payments, with a low cost airline, Peach, becoming the first commercial carrier to directly offer consumers tickets paid in bitcoin.

Australia quickly followed suit, announcing accelerated amendments to legislation that eliminated the incumbent double taxation on digital currency transactions. As it stands, Australians using bitcoin for transactions are liable for the 10% goods and services tax (GST) plus a further 10% tax for using ‘intangible property’ as a payment medium. Come 1 July 2017, these transactions will only attract GST, and be exempt from further taxation, no doubt fuelling a greater adoption of digital currency transactions. The proactive progression by these countries certainly paves the way for others to learn from their integration and regulatory practices, empowering mainstream bitcoin adoption, which naturally pushes the price higher as demand increases.

Scaling Debate Resolution

The scaling debate has been a long-standing hurdle for Bitcoin growth. The decentralised nature of bitcoin, which naturally is one of its most appealing qualities, presents some challenges when it comes to governance of remedial action. In an ecosystem where no single entity can dictate changes to the framework, a majority consensus must be reached. The fact remains that Bitcoin needs to scale from its current transactional capacity in order to meet the demands placed on the network in terms of the growing number of transactions, as the current block size is impeding quick and cost-effective transactions.

Whilst several proposals have been put forward, the Bitcoin community have yet to come to agreement on a viable solution that satisfies the majority, while at the same time doing what is best for the wider user base. In May 2017, at the annual Consensus conference, held in New York, an agreement has been signed by a ‘critical mass of the bitcoin ecosystem’ that set out a plan for the adoption of SegWit with a planned hard fork to a 2MB blocksize within six months. While further clarity is needed, it would appear that we may finally come to a point of breaking the stalemate, which will contributing factor in Bitcoin being able to advance and reach its full potential.

Economic and Political Uncertainty

One of Bitcoin’s undeniable drivers of growth are citizens who have lost confidence in their country’s ability to maintain sound economic and political policies, and desperately seek to establish their own sense of financial freedom outside the manipulation of governments.

Venezuela

Take Venezuela for example. An overly aggressive expansionary monetary policy has resulted in hyperinflation, which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects to reach an explosive 1,660% this year. This has led to an unparalleled economic and social crisis. The removal of the 100 Bolivar note (the largest denomination and still worth only a few US cents) from circulation in December 2016 alongside the lack of availability of the planned 500 to 20,000 Bolivar notes, led to widespread chaos and violent protests amongst Venezuelans, who for the most part were heavily reliant on cash but were effectively left without money for weeks on end.

It is reported that the minimum wage is around 200,000 Bolivars, yet a single basket of groceries costs in the region of 770,000 Bolivars, nearly 4 times the minimum monthly wage. Whilst the government provide some subsidised basic goods, the ‘outlets’ have become hotspots for vicious crime and citizens have to weigh up the risks of cheaper food against the dangers that face them in the queues. This is what happens when people reach such levels of despair to survive. The alarming surge in crimes such as kidnapping and murder leave most Venezuelans living in fear for their lives on a daily basis, with little in the way of respite.

India

India is another prime example, where the most recent, and possibly most extreme case of a modern-day war on cash occurred in December 2016. Under the pretence of curbing criminal action and tax evasion, Prime Minister Narendra Modi effectively wiped out 86% of notes in circulation overnight, when he announced the demonetisation of 500 and 1,000 Rupee notes with immediate effect. Exchange was possible, but within a limited time frame and only up to a certain amount, the rest having to be processed via a bank account. This, in a country where almost half its population has no access to formal banking, let alone a bank account. This is just one of the reasons bitcoin holds such appeal in tempestuous economic climates. With Bitcoin, you are assured a level of financial security your money is removed from the coercion of the centralised system, therefore protecting your wealth from political agendas, damaging inflation and capital controls.

Increased Inflow of Institutional Money

Financial institutions, who are historically wary about Bitcoin are increasingly showing signs of interest in the digital asset. When compared to the performance of stock markets and fiat currencies, combined with more and more regulatory structure coming into place, it is unsurprising that institutional money has started flow into the crypto-economy. Regulation is arguably one of the largest barriers to cryptocurrency investment for institutions. Two nations, in particular, have been influential in this regard; Sweden and Japan. Sweden was one of the first movers in terms of a regulated Bitcoin investment. Back in May 2015, the KnC Group launched the world’s first ‘Bitcoin Tracker’ known as an exchange-traded note (ETN), which is publicly traded on a regulated exchange. This represented massive progress for Bitcoin at the time and essentially opened the market for institutions and private individuals to gain a regulated exposure to Bitcoin.

The ETN is designed to mirror the price movements of the underlying asset being USD/BTC. The company offering the ETN, XBT Provider, is required to hold the equivalent number of bitcoins as the number of ETN’s issued. In other words, when a financial institution or private investor purchases, XBT Provider has to purchase the same amount of bitcoins to back up the note. Earlier this month, Hargreaves Lansdown, the UK’s largest brokerage, announced that their clients would be able to access the ETN via their SIPP and brokerage accounts. This has opened the doors for retail and institutional investors to gain a regulated Bitcoin exposure in the UK.

As mentioned earlier, Japan has played a crucial role in moving bitcoin into the mainstream. This move has provided institutional players with the much-needed vote of confidence required before they got on board. Russia and India are looking likely to be the next countries to announce positive legislation after an increase in interest within the regions. This will further stimulate institutional investment into Bitcoin, leading to a stronger and more prosperous market for all.

Mainstream Momentum

Perhaps this can be linked back to the fact that with growing interest, and impressive growth, the media have been covering Bitcoin more and more frequently, exposing it to a wider audience. Personally, I have had more and more dinner table discussions about Bitcoin with friends, family, ex-colleagues and acquaintances, outside of the ‘cryptocurrency world’, all now showing interest in Bitcoin.

It was this month that the Wall Street Journal mentioned Bitcoin on its front page, highlighting that Bitcoin has had a strong 2017. This mainstream recognition for Bitcoin’s performance has been long awaited and will be a stimulus for continual momentum. It was only 2 years ago that most of the mainstream news stations were reporting Bitcoin’s demise. What a turn of events it has been. The factors I have outlined above are merely a few of the positive fundamentals Bitcoin has going for it. Driving demand, expanding its utility and subsequently, increasing its value and price. So yes, I am confident when I say that Bitcoin will continue to break through all time highs and find favour above the $3,000 mark before the bells ring in 2018.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor
Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

The Cannabis Industry, the Blockchain, and Dennis Rodman Gives PotCoin a New High

The Cannabis Industry, the Blockchain, and Dennis Rodman Gives PotCoin
a New High

Cannabis has been legalized in numerous states

across the United States. However, the cannabis industry is still plagued with limited access to banking services as traditional banks want to avoid dealing with businesses that engage in business activities that are still largely illegal under federal law. That is where cryptocurrencies could offer a solution.

Due to the loosening of anti-cannabis laws across America, the legal weed retail industry has grown quickly over the years and is expected to keep growing rapidly as more states debate and decide on its legality. Both the medicinal and recreational use of cannabis has been legalized in Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Nevada, Massachusetts, Maine, and the District of Columbia, while the medical use of cannabis has also been legalized in an additional 20 states across the US. In late 2016, leading investment bank Cowen and Company published a report on the Cannabis industry titled, “The Cannabis Compendium: Cross-Sector Views on a Budding Industry” which postulates that the industry would grow to $50 billion by the year 2026.

However, because cannabis is still illegal under federal law, most legal dispensaries are having to conduct purely cash-based business, given most banks and other financial institutions will not allow them access to financial services as a result of regulatory constrictions. This leaves weed retailers vulnerable to theft, which criminals have exploited, as evidenced by statistics on dispensary robberies. The blockchain industry is looking to remedy this. Due to the decentralized nature and inherent security of the blockchain, it offers a unique selling proposition as a payments solution for the cannabis industry.

Dennis Rodman Gives PotCoin a New High

PotCoin was created in 2014 to cater to the needs of the unbanked cannabis industry. The coin works on a proof of stake system with an Annual Percentage Interest (APR) of five percent. The coin also boasts fast processing time with relatively low fees. Though the coin has exhibited steady growth in its three years of existence, there has been a substantial spike in its price this week due to its sponsorship of retired Basketball star and Hall-of-Famer Dennis Rodman’s trip to North Korea.

According to PotCoin spokesperson Shawn Perez, the main reason for the sponsorship of Rodman’s trip was to support “Dennis Rodman's mission to bring peace to the world." Though the visit does not seem to have any visible ties to the cannabis industry, PotCoin has benefitted from the media attention that has surrounded Rodman’s journey to North Korea. According to Coin Market Cap, the coin has shown over 70 percent growth, from just below $0.10 to $0.17 since the sponsorship was announced.

POSaBIT

Washington-based bitcoin startup POSaBIT has created a financial platform that allows customers at weed retailers to make purchases using their regular credit cards. The platform uses bitcoin as an intermediate payment system. Jon Baugher, co-founder of POSaBIT explained: “There’s no industry – whether it’s the production and sale of cannabis or the production and sale of a cup of coffee – that can operate safely, transparently or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions and traditional services. That’s where we thought we could leverage the use of digital currency.” The technology facilitates customers’ quick and easy access to bitcoin at the point of sale who can then use the digital currency anywhere that it is accepted. The platform is already in use by 30 dispensaries in the state of Washington.

The platform is attractive to cash-only merchants who want to accept another form of payment, retailers that want to be seen as more technologically savvy so as to differentiate themselves from the competition, and for small businesses that want to maximize profits by capitalizing on digital currencies’ low transaction fees. The technology is compliant with Know Your Customer (KYC), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), and Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) regulations while complying with laws regulating the cannabis trade. Since the platform reduces the reliance on cash as a medium of exchange, it is making dispensaries safer working environments for employees as there is less of an incentive for theft.

SinglePoint and First Bitcoin Capital

Holding company SinglePoint and blockchain technology provider First Bitcoin Capital announced a partnership on June 6. The joint venture agreement aims to create an efficient and workable payments solution for cannabis retailers using blockchain technology. Greg Lambrecht, SinglePoint CEO, explained: "In January 2014 SinglePoint announced and started working on a bitcoin payment solution, shortly after we recognized the issue of minimal user adoption of digital currency. The payments industry has rapidly changed since that time. There is now tremendous momentum and demand for bitcoin acceptance as an alternative form of payment.

This Joint Venture with First Bitcoin Capital is perfect timing. Bitcoin payments are catching on, and cannabis dispensaries need a solution fast." SinglePoint has previously worked with leading companies such as AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon on technology integration systems that have allowed for a more robust use of communication technology as a payment solution. The company now hopes to use this experience to create a workable solution for weed retailers.

Greg Rubin of First Bitcoin Capital stated: "We are optimistic that our partnership with SinglePoint will produce positive cash flow to our bottom line. Between the two of our companies, we will have the ability to develop a best in class solution, and SinglePoint will be able to help in distribution. We look forward to providing cutting-edge products and services to all states through the establishment of this new venture." “As with the massive and widespread adoption of Bitcoin worldwide, the two companies will pursue opportunities to leverage their payment technology background and develop a proprietary solution specifically for high-risk payment verticals including the cannabis industry.” the press release adds.

The two companies believe they have found a way for a smooth customer experience at the point of sale at weed dispensaries. Using SinglePoints’ technology integration experience and First Bitcoin Capital’s tech background, the company will create an “all-encompassing payment solution” for the retail cannabis industry. The platform will be easy to integrate into the existing point of sale machinery through a simple download. With the retail cannabis industry set to grow quickly in the coming years and the continuing lack of regulatory support at the federal level, it seems like the industry will have to rely on blockchain technology and digital currencies to facilitate easy trade and to securely store its profits.

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.