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

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Reasons Why Bitcoin is Outperforming Everything

Reasons Why Bitcoin is
Outperforming Everything

   Bitcoin Rocket Outperforming

Bitcoin Rocket Outperforming

Favorable trade winds from the East are propelling Bitcoin’s price to new highs as the halving looms. There are numerous factors at play, however, that could create the perfect storm to test the all-time high. Let’s take a look at four major reasons why Bitcoin is outperforming other currencies and asset classes in what could be its breakout year.

It’s More Predictable

Bitcoin was officially the top performing currency of 2015. At press time, BTC price is up over 50% against the US dollar since Jan. 1, 2016. Meanwhile, traditional investors are scratching their heads. A hawkish Fed one day, then dovish the next. Current economic data is mixed at best and headed toward another global recession at worst as all eyes are on “stock whisperer” Janet Yellen.

“Market players are pricing in just a 2% chance for a rate hike this week and 23% for July, according to CME Group’s FedWatch tool,” reports Investing.com. “September odds were at about 37%.” By contrast, one important feature of Bitcoin is its certainty. Not only is its total supply of 21 million bitcoins known and set in stone, but its block reward —the rate at which bitcoins are created — will be cut in half about 26 days from now. Presumably, pricing in odds of a Fed rate hike in a “casino gulag” economy is shaking investor confidence. Let’s also keep in mind that every fiat currency is not only uncapped but has failed throughout history.

‘Hot’ Money in China

It’s no secret economic trouble is brewing in China. Recent numbers show that a slowdown in private investment in May is overshadowing other, more upbeat economic data. This has resulted in a recent 3.2% drop in Shanghai shares. What’s worse is that European businesses are expressing “growing pessimism” about doing business In China, reports the IBTimes.

   Specifically, a recent EU chamber report found that 57% of respondents felt foreign companies were “treated unfavorably compared to their domestic counterparts,” and 56 percent said that doing business getting more difficult. At the same time, China has a lot of so-called “hot” money “that has to go somewhere,” explains Huobi CMO, Du Jin.

Moreover, the halving scenario is already being felt as we move closer to July, according to the Beijing-based exchange. “Bitcoin supply is limited, the soon to come production halve is generating reactions in the market, which is reflected in the price variation,” explains Huobi CEO, Leon Li. “[…] China’s stock market crashed in late April, the performance of futures and bonds were also not good, which pushed investors to seek for other investment products, such as bitcoin.”

It’s Gaining Legitimacy

As the regulatory landscape becomes clearer and security improves, confidence in Bitcoin exchanges is being restored in the post-Mt. Gox world. “There is a strong trust in exchanges and platforms for purchasing Bitcoin, such as Bitstamp, which recently got EU regulatory approval,” writes Civic CEO, Vinny Lingham. As a result, interest in Bitcoin seems to also be crawling out of the trough of disillusionment. Hype is jumping from buzzword to buzzword: from Bitcoin to blockchain, from permissioned distributed ledgers, but ultimately back to Bitcoin. This is because, in time, more and more people will realize the superiority of the open blockchain, much like an open internet. 

A continued increase in price also means more attention from traditional finance. Traders will not only find it increasingly hard to ignore such a performer, but also the clear frontrunner in the blockchain technology arms race. Incidentally, today’s sole Bitcoin exchange trusted fund (GBTC) is hitting new highs, boosting Bitcoin’s legitimacy in the process.

To boot, Goldman Sachs even admitted that Bitcoin is an “ideal vehicle” for public transactions while predicting that its blockchain technology could “disrupt everything.” 

It’s a New Store of Value

   Bitcoin offers unprecedented mobility and security of funds for the user. Today’s financial system makes moving money and gold around the world slow, costly and inconvenient due to friction and capital controls. Not so with Bitcoin. Whether a few pennies’ or a million dollars’ worth, transfer fees are negligible while your funds are always with you on your device. In fact, it is reportedly becoming a new favorite method for wealthy Chinese to move capital out of the country and as a store of value similar to gold.

But unlike gold and traditional money, you can easily secure your funds without a need for a vault. To wit, your gold, cash, and even your bank accounts can be stolen, hacked or even confiscated on a whim by the authorities, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. Your bitcoin funds, on the other hand, will always be under your control if your secret passcode is protected. In fact, there are numerous ways to safely store your bits.

Outperforming Paper

So why is Bitcoin outperforming everything along with its crypto counterparts such as Ether? Because they comprise a new niche that’s fostering real innovation in finance. It could soon add 4 billion unbanked individuals to the global economy as Bitcoin empowers every individual to be their own bank.

  

In the shorter term, however, the upshot of the soaring price is increased attention that will add a new wave of users and set the stage for mainstream adoption. Meanwhile, traditional investors will find it increasingly hard to ignore what Forbes calls a “new asset class,”  which is poised to outperform every fiat currency for the second year in a row.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

China to Play a ‘Leading Role’ in Bitcoin’s Future

China to Play a ‘Leading Role’
in Bitcoin’s Future

  China

An interesting report was recently written by Digital Gold author Nathaniel Popper in the New York Times about the relationship between China and the Bitcoin network. Popper states that the cryptocurrency has become a multi-billion dollar industry and that the Chinese have a significant amount of influence in this environment.

China’s Investors, Mining Farms, and Transaction Volume Shows the Country Believes in Bitcoin

  

Popper gives his readers an inside look at what is happening in China with the Bitcoin industry and how everyone in the region seems to be getting involved with its infrastructure. From the government to investors and miners, the cryptocurrency is quite popular in China. However, from companies and mining farms located in the region, Popper states, “despite the talk of a borderless currency, a handful of Chinese companies have effectively assumed majority control of the Bitcoin network.”

The Digital Gold author is not the only observer of this relationship between Bitcoin and China with firms such as Goldman Sachs reporting in 2015 that 80 percent of bitcoin volume is exchanged in and out of Chinese Yuan. The report by the multinational finance company says the U.S. dollar follows second to the Yuan and Euros, with the Japanese Yen trailing behind them.

Goldman Sachs Group explains:

“Thus far, most merchant Bitcoin activity has been concentrated among US and European-based  merchants. Despite China’s higher trading activity, restrictions enacted by the PBoC to limit Chinese Bitcoin companies’ access to traditional Chinese payment processors have  prompted many large Chinese companies to stop accepting Bitcoin. However, in light of a somewhat stabilizing Bitcoin economy in China, a few payment processors have reemerged, such as BTC China’s JustPay.”

Alongside the reports from Goldman Sachs, and the latest post from Nathaniel Popper and the New York Times, the Chinese government is also moving closer to legitimizing the cryptocurrency as a “Civil Rights Object.” The drafted law proposal was released in China’s Congress hearings in Beijing on June 27. However, a new policy created by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) the region’s central bank will impose new fees on payment providers such as Alipay, and Wechat-Pay. Whether or not this will affect Bitcoin processors is unconfirmed at the time being.

In his editorial, Popper describes the vast mining farms located within the region. Chinese mining facilities have covered the landscape in the country who have quite a bit of power within securing the network. Popper says, “big pool operators have become the kingmakers in the Bitcoin world: Running the pools confers the right to vote on changes to Bitcoin’s software, and the bigger the pool, the more voting power.”

At first, the author details how miners in China had originally stayed with the small block Bitcoin Core developers who have stalled the software upgrade. However, miners such as Bitmain’s CEO, Jihan Wu, are becoming more vocal when it comes to expanding the network and some of them are straying from the Core alliance in search of alternatives to the block size.

  

Bitcoin’s growing popularity in China comes as the currency’s 
fiat value has exploded over the past two months.

Many believe this is due to the country’s strict capital controls, the recent devaluation of the Yuan, Chinese stock market turbulence, and very high speculation concerning Bitcoin’s block reward halving coming July 10. China indeed has a strong relationship with the Bitcoin network and continues to be a formidable player in the cryptocurrency industry. Investors in the region have also injected $60 million USD into the Boston-based Circle financial proving there are a vast amount of proponents within the Chinese borders.

Jihan Wu tells Nathaniel Popper that China will play an important role within the Bitcoin landscape, stating:

“The Chinese government normally expects its businesses to obtain a leading role in emerging industries — China’s Bitcoin businesses have achieved that.”

With financial giants like China at the helm of quite a bit of the Bitcoin network’s infrastructure, it’s safe to say the cryptocurrency is here to stay for the long haul. One can also assume the Chinese bitcoin miners and investors within the region will have a significant vote towards the block size debate and the future of the network.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Reports of China Banning Bitcoin Are Greatly Exaggerated

Reports of China Banning Bitcoin Are Greatly Exaggerated

China

On November 3 the Bitcoin price took a dive from a high of US$745 to a low of $675 with news of China circling the internet. A so-called report from the publication Bloomberg had other media outlets assume that China was planning on curbing Bitcoin use in the near future. However, the reports have remained unconfirmed, and many believe the headline was fictitious.

Rumors of China Curbing Bitcoin Use Goes Viral

The stories that surround China and Bitcoin are quite vast. From “secret” mining operations to “free” electricity, to a large portion of Bitcoin transactions being traded for yuan the list goes on forever. The fact is news from China plays a significant role in a lot of people’s speculation. The November 3rd fiasco is no different as the news spread through the market and the community went wild.

Early in the morning the publication ZeroHedge published the article “China Prepares To Impose Curbs, “Capital Controls” On Bitcoin.” The news outlet is well known for writing stories regarding the global economy and subjects like gold and Bitcoin. At times the publication writes editorials predicting the cryptocurrency’s value will pump. Many of these articles are very popular throughout the Bitcoin community.

The November 3rd article was also quite popular, and some believe it made a difference in the market. The anonymous reporter Tyler Durden states within the article, “According to Bloomberg sources, Chinese officials are considering policies including restricting domestic bitcoin exchanges from moving the cryptocurrency to platforms outside the nation and imposing quotas on the amount of bitcoins that can be sent abroad.” However, the Bloomberg report cannot be confirmed as legitimate, and the article in question does not appear on their website.

Reports Are Unconfirmed and Remain Rumors

What’s interesting is that many people within the Bitcoin industry have claimed the reports are false. For instance, the CEO of Vaultoro explains that the recent Chinese headline may be false. The Vaultoro founder says while speaking with a friend who works for the Chinese Bitcoin company BitBank he was told the reports are misleading.

The BitBank representative says that if anyone wants to know how Chinese authorities feel about Bitcoin to read this editorial. The article written by Bitcoin.com’s Jon Southurst detailed a blockchain conference hosted by the Chinese government. Within the editorial, it explains that Chinese officials had no problem discussing Bitcoin. In fact, Ji Xiaonan, of China’s State-Owned Asset Supervision and Administration Commission said some positive words towards Bitcoin stating it was “the only mature blockchain technology today.”

Questionable Sources Push Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt

Another interesting aspect of the story is the controversial Bloomberg article has similarities to another published piece this past May. The headline for November 3rds article read “China Said to Mull Curbing Outflows Via Bitcoin on Yuan Drop.” This title and the paragraphs that follow it are very much the same as this article published in May by the Bloomberg news outlet. The story called “China to Mull Curbs on Domestic Backdoor Listing Valuations” has almost identical wording as the alleged Bitcoin article with certain words replaced throughout.

Furthermore historically when the price of Bitcoin rises stories of China and other countries banning Bitcoin have appeared in  great number. When Bitcoin was on a tear in 2013 reaching close to $1150 per BTC, these stories came out often. Publications like Bloomberg reported on China cracking down on Bitcoin as well as Forbes, the New York Times, and many others. Typically when these reports published, the price took a dive, but government officials banning Bitcoin never materialized.

The price of Bitcoin has managed to regain its upward push slightly below the $700 range. Reports of China curbing Bitcoin outflows seems to be just another rumor that shook up the market. Many wonder if these headlines will affect the value of BTC again in the future. Moreover, the question is how much does China’s stake in Bitcoin really matter when it comes to this industry?

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Trump’s Trade War With China Could Boost Chinese Bitcoin Demand

Trump’s Trade War With China Could Boost Chinese Bitcoin Demand

  

U.S. President Donald Trump pledged to declare China a currency manipulator on day one of his presidency. During his campaign, he also repeatedly pledged to impose a 45% tariff on Chinese goods. His promises risk creating a trade war between the U.S. and China which could weaken the yuan and accelerate Chinese capital outflows. When the yuan falls, investors often turn to bitcoin.

Trump Has Authority to Act, but Will He?

According to former U.S. Trade Representative attorney, Michael Gadbaw, under the Foreign Trade Act of 1974, Trump could use his authority to impose tariffs on China. Many people, however, doubt that Trump will actually impose a 45% tariff on the United States’ biggest trade partner. Alibaba founder and CEO Jack Ma is confident that Trump will not make good on his threats against China. He told CNNMoney that Trump will have to work with China or risk a “disaster”. A Nomura investor survey revealed that 75 percent of respondents expect Trump to impose tariffs on exports from China, South Korea, and Japan. Meanwhile, 77 percent of those polled expect him to brand China a currency manipulator.

If Trump does impose trade barriers on China, Beijing can either accept weaker exports or respond in kind, said economists at Goldman Sachs. They wrote:

“One possible measure would be to allow a somewhat faster weakening of the yuan, although from China’s perspective this or other trade measures could carry the risk of escalation.”

Weaker Yuan Accelerates Capital Outflows

However, a weaker yuan could trigger an acceleration in capital outflows, as it has done in the past. The yuan fell to a six-year low on Wednesday. An economist at DBS Group Holdings Ltd. in Hong Kong, Nathan Chow, said “The yuan may be pressured by Trump’s win,” citing Trump’s trade barrier threats against China.

According to Goldman Sachs, as much as $78 billion may have left China in September. October outflows are also expected to be large. Analysts and investors say that one reason for an acceleration of capital outflows is because the yuan is weakening faster again against the dollar. This reignites “concern among Chinese individuals and businesses anxious to preserve the value of their domestic savings and assets,” the WSJ reported.

Bitcoin Helps Diversification

In the past, whenever there was a flood of capital outflows from China, a certain amount went into bitcoin. Other safe-haven asset classes also benefited, such as gold and foreign property. The WSJ wrote:

“Chinese investors looking for a refuge from the weakening yuan are turning to bitcoin.”

Delta Asia Securities’ chief operating officer, Victor Au, told South China Morning Post that when the yuan depreciates, Chinese investors seek to diversify their assets. His company is a subsidiary of Delta Asia Group (Holdings) Limited and provides investment banking services, including securities brokerage, underwriting, and trading services.

The currency’s weakness and expectation that it will fall further have significantly increased demand for asset diversification, Au explained, adding that bitcoin is one of the assets that have seen increasing demand. “Limited investment channels for Chinese investors drive them to seek all possible investment tools to preserve their asset value,” he said.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Poloniex-Traders-Panic-and-Suffer-Losses-Due-to-System-issues

Poloniex-Traders-Panic-and-Suffer-Losses-Due-to-System-issues

Poloniex – Traders Panic and Suffer Losses Due to System issues

Plenty of cryptocurrency traders are not too amused with Poloniex right now. The popular altcoin exchange suffered from several brief outages yesterday. During the panic, the Ripple price crashed hard and Ethereum lost US$1bn in market cap. It is unclear what occurred exactly, but we do know traders lost a lot of money in the process. It is unclear what will happen to the people who lost money, though.

Trading cryptocurrencies is always a risky business. Money can be earned and lost in a matter of mere seconds. However, if a popular exchange goes down and traders can’t execute orders, something is definitely amiss. Poloniex had a lot of issues last night after Ripple reached a new all-time high. Shortly after this happened, the platform became unresponsive.

Poloniex Suffers From Brief Outages Once Again

It was not just the web frontend suffering from these problems. The Poloniex API, used in tools such as TabTrader, became unresponsive as well. The company acknowledged the outage and trading resumed back to normal relatively quickly. However, a lot of users have suffered from spotty accessibility for several hours. During that time, trading just continued as normal, allowing some people to take advantage of the situation.

To be more specific, Ethereum lost close to US$1bn of its market cap during the trading frenzy. Events like these should not occur in the first place. Moreover, some people feel Poloniex should have halted all trading until the platform was operational again. This goes to show the platform cannot handle increased trading volume for an extended period of time. That is quite disconcerting, to say the least, given Poloniex’s position in the market.

One thing is certain: a lot of people have lost faith in Poloniex for the time being. One Reddit user even calls it an ‘organized scam crime website”, although that may be a too strong sentiment. It is true this is not the first time the exchange suffers from such outages, though. If these problems continue, Poloniex will quickly lose its market position. After all, the company has to provide exchange services around the clock, yet appears incapable of doing so.

It is unclear how much money people lost due to these issues, though. Ethereum’s market crashing and the unexpected Ripple dump raise a lot more questions than answers right now. Poloniex has some explaining to do, albeit it is safe to assume no one will be reimbursed for their losses. Centralized exchanges continue to pose a problem for traders. No exchange is always reliable or accessible, that much is certain.

Many years ago I suffered a significant loss when fiat currency trading, when I loss Internet access to my trading site at a crucial time. These outages underline the importance of setting stop losses.

David Ogden
Entrepeneur

 

Author JP Buntinx

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member