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IMF Head – Cryptocurrency Could Be the Future. Really.

IMF Head - Cryptocurrency Could Be the Future. Really.

IMF Head – Cryptocurrency Could Be the Future. Really.

Christine Lagarde sees a path ahead for cryptocurrency.

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, or IMF, talked up the potential of virtual currencies to supplant traditional monies in coming decades on Friday. Cryptocurrencies, or virtual currencies, are a new class of digital assets powered by blockchains, distributed ledgers that made their name underpinning networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum.

Unlike JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon and billionaire hedge fund founder Ray Dalio, who have recently disparaged Bitcoin, the world's most well known cryptocurrency, Lagarde shared a rosier vision of the general technology's future with attendees of a Bank of England conference in London. "In many ways, virtual currencies might just give existing currencies and monetary policy a run for their money," she said.

"It may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies," Lagarde told the audience. "Instead, citizens may one day prefer virtual currencies."

Lagarde devoted a third of her talk, which envisioned how financial tech may reshape the world by the year 2040, to the subject of cryptocurrency. She noted that digital money could gain popularity as engineers work through technology issues related to processing more payments through blockchain networks in the future.

"Why might citizens hold virtual currencies rather than physical dollars, euros, or sterling? Because it may one day be easier and safer than obtaining paper bills, especially in remote regions," Lagarde said. "Virtual currencies could actually become more stable."

Lagarde couched her predictions with the pretense of sci-fi ("Are you ready to jump on my [hovering drone] pod and explore the future together?" she said), but her forecast matches the view of other big-name optimists, like Fidelity CEO Abigail Johnson. "I'm a believer," Johnson said at an industry conference earlier this year about digital currencies.

Other topics Lagarde touched on included the possible disruption of the traditional banking business model by fintech upstarts as well as the advent of artificial intelligence.

You can read Lagarde's prepared remarks in full here, or read on for the segment about cryptocurrency, below.

1. Virtual currencies

Let us start with virtual currencies. To be clear, this is not about digital payments in existing currencies—through Paypal and other “e-money” providers such as Alipay in China, or M-Pesa in Kenya.

Virtual currencies are in a different category, because they provide their own unit of account and payment systems. These systems allow for peer-to-peer transactions without central clearinghouses, without central banks.

For now, virtual currencies such as Bitcoin pose little or no challenge to the existing order of fiat currencies and central banks. Why? Because they are too volatile, too risky, too energy intensive, and because the underlying technologies are not yet scalable. Many are too opaque for regulators; and some have been hacked.

But many of these are technological challenges that could be addressed over time. Not so long ago, some experts argued that personal computers would never be adopted, and that tablets would only be used as expensive coffee trays. So I think it may not be wise to dismiss virtual currencies.

Better value for money?

For instance, think of countries with weak institutions and unstable national currencies. Instead of adopting the currency of another country—such as the U.S. dollar—some of these economies might see a growing use of virtual currencies. Call it dollarization 2.0.

IMF experience shows that there is a tipping point beyond which coordination around a new currency is exponential. In the Seychelles, for example, dollarization jumped from 20 percent in 2006 to 60 percent in 2008.

And yet, why might citizens hold virtual currencies rather than physical dollars, euros, or sterling? Because it may one day be easier and safer than obtaining paper bills, especially in remote regions. And because virtual currencies could actually become more stable.

For instance, they could be issued one-for-one for dollars, or a stable basket of currencies. Issuance could be fully transparent, governed by a credible, pre-defined rule, an algorithm that can be monitored…or even a “smart rule” that might reflect changing macroeconomic circumstances.

So in many ways, virtual currencies might just give existing currencies and monetary policy a run for their money. The best response by central bankers is to continue running effective monetary policy, while being open to fresh ideas and new demands, as economies evolve.

Better payment services?

For example, consider the growing demand for new payment services in countries where the shared, decentralized service economy is taking off.

This is an economy rooted in peer-to-peer transactions, in frequent, small-value payments, often across borders.

Four dollars for gardening tips from a lady in New Zealand, three euros for an expert translation of a Japanese poem, and 80 pence for a virtual rendering of historic Fleet Street: these payments can be made with credit cards and other forms of e-money. But the charges are relatively high for small-value transactions, especially across borders.

Instead, citizens may one day prefer virtual currencies, since they potentially offer the same cost and convenience as cash—no settlement risks, no clearing delays, no central registration, no intermediary to check accounts and identities. If privately issued virtual currencies remain risky and unstable, citizens may even call on central banks to provide digital forms of legal tender.

So, when the new service economy comes knocking on the Bank of England’s door, will you welcome it inside? Offer it tea—and financial liquidity?

Author: Robert Hackett

Posted by David Ogden Entrpreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency entreprenur

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Chinese money dominates bitcoin, now its companies are gunning for blockchain tech

Chinese money dominates bitcoin, now its companies are gunning for blockchain tech

Chinese money dominates bitcoin, now its companies are gunning for blockchain tech

Beijing, China

It’s a sweltering summer night when I’m invited to join a bitcoin miner from Shenzhen at a “bitcoin club” somewhere in downtown Beijing. I’ve just returned from visiting one of the world’s largest bitcoin mines and find myself at a gathering of cryptocurrency enthusiasts at a craft beer brewery in the Sanlitun nightlife district.

I excuse myself from the bitcoin meetup and resort to jumping in a pirate taxi because I don’t have a mobile wallet from Alibaba or Tencent—the primary way to hail and pay for taxis in the city. After paying in cash—now a rarity in China’s mobile payment saturated cities—I disembark, then get lost amid Beijing’s ancient hutongs, the narrow alleyways that link China’s traditional courtyard residences.

My host puts me out of my misery by sharing his location on a real-time map over our WeChat direct messages. Now drenched in sweat, I meet Jack Liao, who runs a bitcoin mining firm called Lightning Asic. He leads me through a dark hutong, coming to a set of carved wooden double-doors. Pushing them open, we enter into the courtyard of a palatially renovated villa. This is my first look at the elusive “bitcoin club.”

The club is located in a 2,000-square-foot villa with a staff of 15, including cooks, cleaners, and wait people. It has two guest rooms, a dining room that hosts two dozen people, a professional Texas Hold ‘Em table emblazoned with the legend, “Faith in Bitcoin,” an automated mahjong table; shelves stacked with fine wine and liquor, a room for practicing Chinese caligraphy, and so on. The table stakes are bitcoin, AliPay credits, and sometimes even yuan, the only non-virtual currency accepted. Guests can sleep, eat, drink, and gamble for free if they’re acquainted with the miners who run the place. “People come here just to chat about projects,” Liao says.

The eye-popping villa bankrolled by bitcoin mining is a symbol of just how lucrative the cryptocurrency industry has been for some on the Chinese mainland. China is home to the world’s largest bitcoin mines, thanks to abundant and cheap electricity, and at one time the country accounted for 95% of the volume traded in global markets. Its central bank is experimenting with a blockchain-backed digital currency, and its biggest companies, from tech giants to industrial conglomerates, are racing to bake blockchain tech into major new projects.

All this points to a central question: How did stateless cryptocurrencies get so big in China, a country where the national currency—along with so much else—remains tightly controlled by the government? Why has bitcoin, along with other cryptocurrencies, flourished with so much vigor here in China? A two-week journey through bitcoin trading operations in Shanghai, mining operations in Inner Mongolia, and the club in Beijing hasn’t answered the question definitely—but it’s gotten me much closer.

Bitcoin is a political statement

Bitcoin began as an experiment in economics and politics, as a project to create electronic money that anyone could use but no one controlled, especially a sovereign authority. The code behind the new currency gave life to libertarian ideals like: money free from government controls on spending and taxation; transactions that could ignore a global, sometimes corrupt banking system; and freedom from central bank targeting of interest rates and inflation. It was also rebuke to the very notion of conventional money.

Bitcoin’s pseudonymous creator, Satoshi Nakamoto, encoded a headline from the Times of London in the first block of transactions ever created on the bitcoin blockchain. It read: “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks.”

Given bitcoin’s political bona fides, it’s a great irony that Chinese companies and individual users are so dominant in its daily activities. The world’s biggest bitcoin miner is a Beijing-based company called Bitmain, which operates two mining pools that control nearly 30% of all the processing power devoted to bitcoin mining. It might seem that Chinese bitcoiners are carrying out some kind of libertarian protest against China’s ruling communist party, subverting the status quo by processing cryptocurrency transactions towards a yet-to-be-revealed political end.

They aren’t.

“In China, bitcoin is one thing and in America and Europe it is another thing,” Liao said as we sipped tea from porcelain cups on the villa’s top floor. Our host, Wu Bi, explains there is no competition between cryptocurrencies and the government-controlled renminbi, at least as the government sees it. “In China our government says bitcoin is not a currency, it is a commodity, so there is no chance it will compete with the renminbi,” Wu told me in Chinese, with Liao translating. “Bitcoin is a great idea, but in China we care more about blockchain.”

Wu and his Chinese compatriots are focused not on the currency, but on the technology behind it. Blockchain is simply a technical way to record encrypted transactions that are distributed across a computer network; once entered they cannot be altered. Instead of using blockchain, or bitcoin, as a permissionless cryptocurrency, banks want to shoe-horn some of bitcoin’s features into current transaction systems to create a low-cost network that, crucially, would require administrators to grant users access. Those administrators, of course, would be banks, or central banks. “Different countries may have different ideas about what is government, and what is the liberty of individuals,” Wu says.

Bitcoin users I met in Beijing were similarly dismissive of bitcoin’s libertarian politics. They did not want to be named or quoted directly, but their argument was essentially this: People in China simply aren’t interested in bitcoin’s potential for political change. And besides, China’s closely controlled economy has delivered prosperity for now—what benefits does bitcoin bring besides as an investment that might appreciate?

Object of speculation

Ordinary Chinese bitcoin users I spoke to, and those who are served by the exchanges and wallet providers, are far more interested in the ability to speculate on bitcoin’s wild price swings—it’s just another way to make money as China continues to adopt characteristics of a market economy.

As it happens, bitcoin arrived just as a class of retail investors in China is growing in size, and seeking better returns than those offered by a restricted financial products market. Even the market for property in China’s top-tier coastal cities, usually reliable for spectacular returns, has been subjected to ever tightening lending restrictions by a government eager to curb speculation. “[Chinese consumers] have had such limited channels for so long, and [bitcoin] was finally one that was not tightly controlled by the government,” says Martin Chorzempa, a research fellow specializing in Chinese internet finance at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington DC.

One seasoned observer of the Chinese bitcoin scene concurs. Eric Zhao is n engineer at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Shanghai and runs the widely followed Twitter account CN Ledger. Bitcoin became popular almost by default, because of the paucity of products for the Chinese retail investor, he says. “There are not many good investment choices for common people in China. Many people worry about inflation and lots of people feel insecure about their financial status,” he says. “They buy it simply because they believe it will appreciate in value.”

Uncorrelated to major asset classes and generally disconnected from the Chinese economy, bitcoin has been hugely attractive to Chinese investors already overweight domestic stocks and property. Indeed, research from Pantera Capital, a venture fund for blockchain companies, shows that bitcoin is almost completely uncorrelated to major equity, debt, and commodity asset classes. “Because [bitcoin] is globally connected, it’s not easily affected by the Chinese economy,” says Isaac Mao, a longtime entrepreneur and investor in China’s technology scene. “It may be the only economic activity fully connected to the global economy.”

Crackdown

The wild ride on bitcoin in China, however, braked to a stop Sept. 4, when China’s central bank began to take steps to halt domestic bitcoin trading. It started with a ban on “initial coin offerings,” followed by a shutdown of local bitcoin exchanges. China’s authorities have clamped down on bitcoin trading before, most notably in 2014, when the cryptocurrency was on a historic rally driven, in part, by Chinese money.

Now rumors are swirling that a ban on bitcoin mining may be enacted. But if the government has found bitcoin to be a potentially dangerous element in the country’s socio-political mix, why didn’t it crack down before? Instead, it has been relatively tolerant of a technology that was designed to weaken the state’s grip on money.

The rare true believer in bitcoin’s libertarian properties is Bobby Lee, an American who runs the world’s oldest bitcoin exchange, BTCC, in Shanghai. His firm was forced to shut down domestic trading through its BTCChina arm, although it still runs an exchange for non-Chinese traders. When we spoke before the crackdown in August, Lee was enthusiastic about government regulation, saying it would help the market mature. But he also struck a defiant note, saying that bitcoin’s design made it impossible for China’s regulators to shut down. “There is nothing [the Chinese government] can do. That is the beauty of [bitcoin],” he said.

I pointed out that the government could seize exchanges, and even bitcoin mining facilities, and compel their owners to run certain types of code or mess with transactions, thus damaging the cryptocurrency. Lee was sanguine. “They’ll want to control it, but bitcoin was not meant to be controlled,” he said. “You can make all the rules you want, and the question is, can they be enforced? With guns you can say, let’s make guns illegal. But with bitcoin, there’s nothing physical. It’s information, and there’s plausible deniability.”

The reality may be more prosaic. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies are simply too small to bother the Chinese government much, says Isaac Mao, the investor and entrepreneur and one of China’s earliest bloggers. “The [Chinese Communist Party] doesn’t recognize it as a threat, so bitcoin actually grows very quickly in China,” he told me at a cafe in Hong Kong, where he is now based. “But it’s too small. There is no scale. The market capitalization of bitcoin is about the same as PayPal,” or about $70 billion.

I spoke to Mao in August, but the crackdown doesn’t signal any political threat, writes Chorzempa of the Peterson Institute. It’s more likely that bitcoin trading is just collateral damage from a wider set of restrictions on alternative financial products that have caused billions in consumer losses. Regulators have reigned in not just crypto trading but peer-to-peer loans, trusts, and lending to non-bank institutions this year, Chorzempa writes: “The clampdown thus fits into a broader set of efforts to lessen financial market risks perceived by Chinese policymakers.”

Everyone hates inflation

To the extent that bitcoin trading and mining is a political statement, it’s a demonstration against inflation. Prices in China grew rapidly in the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2008, hitting their highest level in decades in 2007. Inflation has moderated since then, but ordinary Chinese say they still feel the pinch.

Bitmain’s Micree Zhang, who developed its proprietary mining chips, says worry about inflation chewing up his earnings was one reason why he first became interested in bitcoin. “Before I knew about bitcoin I disliked, and was very worried about, inflation. Especially in China in the last 10 years,” he said when I visited with him at Bitmain’s main facility in Inner Mongolia. “When I discovered bitcoin, I knew it was a good idea, very quickly.”

One bitcoin user I met in Beijing told me he was attracted to the cryptocurrency because the government couldn’t devalue it by printing more money, unlike the yuan. The Chinese government controls its currency far more tightly than other major economies.

This level of control can lead to panics. In 2015, the Chinese government devalued the yuan in an attempt to boost economic growth, sending shockwaves through global markets. While today the central bank’s move is seen as astute, at the time Chinese consumers were hit hard, worrying about paying more for everything from Australian beef to New Zealand milk.

Digging for digital gold

China has been the world’s largest electricity producer since it surpassed the United States in 2011. Cheap electricity is the crucial ingredient for a profitable bitcoin mining operation—and China has it in spades. So it’s no surprise that China has become a world center for the activity.

Take Beijing-based Bitmain, for instance. It’s the world’s biggest bitcoin miner, but the company doesn’t divulge its financial data, and there’s no easy way to find out because its beneficial owner is a trust in the Cayman Islands. But one longtime commentator in the bitcoin space, Jimmy Song, has performed an analysis of the firm’s likely profitability. His estimate: $77 million in mining profits for the firm this year, of which electricity and other operational costs come up to about $23 million.

It’s estimated that two-thirds of the world’s processing power devoted to mining bitcoin resides in China. These bitcoin mines take the form of giant warehouses filled with thousands of custom-designed machines and chips, all whirring away to check bitcoin transactions and compete for a slice of the 12.5 bitcoins awarded to a miner every 10 minutes. Collectively, bitcoin miners have collected more than $2 billion in revenue over the cryptocurrency’s nine-year lifespan.

Bitmain leads the pack as both a creator of bitcoin mining rigs and chips, and an operator of vast server farms. It’s now raised $50 million from marquee Silicon Valley investors including Sequoia Capital to expand to the US—perhaps reducing its exposure to Chinese regulations—and to develop a new set of chips for artificial intelligence.
 

Sheer scale

Bitmain’s position as the world’s largest miner is only the tip of Chinese industrial interest on blockchain technology. Last May, a Chinese company called Wanxiang Group, one of the world largest automotive parts makers, sponsored a blockchain hackathon at the Deloitte offices in Rockefeller Center in New York. Wanxiang plans to embed blockchain technology into a new “smart city“—a nine square kilometer plot of land with a planned population of 90,000 people and $30 billion in investment—that it is building from scratch near Hangzhou in eastern China. It was looking for the world’s brightest blockchain developers.

Wanxiang was offering $15,000 to teams who came up with an enticing blockchain project for the smart city, with an additional $1 million in funding. As Wanxiang executive Peter Liang clicked through his slides detailing how blockchains would power everything from the city’s electricity grid to its traffic control system and be embedded in Wanxiang’s factories, the handful of programmers in the room grew both skeptical and awed. “It’s so huge, it’s hard to even believe,” one developer told him.

Wanxiang isn’t the only Chinese conglomerate with blockchain dreams. Beyond cryptocurrencies like bitcoin, some of China’s biggest firms are betting on the technical ideas behind it to revolutionize their businesses. They’re placing much bigger bets than their counterparts elsewhere in the world, who are mired in small-scale trials, proofs of concepts, or slow moving consortia. Chinese companies “are not only moving faster, but the scale of their blockchain ambitions dwarf what we’re seeing elsewhere,” says Garrick Hileman, of the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance.

The Chinese e-commerce giant JD has already launched a food supply tracking system using a blockchain in Beijing supermarkets and online stores. The tech giant Tencent has partnered with Intel to develop a blockchain architecture. And the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, has said it’s researching blockchain technology as a way to potentially digitize the yuan.

Blockchains for industry

Unlike firms elsewhere in the world, Chinese companies sense an opportunity to unify the fragmented data flows flowing through their stupendously large and complicated factory floors and supply chains by marrying a blockchain data layer with Internet of Things devices. Conveniently, these applications are also free of the regulation and scrutiny that can slow down financial applications. “I personally believe that non-financial [applications] will go commercial sooner,” says Vincent Wang, Wanxiang’s chief innovation officer.

Foxconn, one of the world’s largest contract manufacturers of electronics and best known for manufacturing Apple’s iPhone, sees blockchain as way for its suppliers to get easy financing. “In China, 85% of SMEs can’t get financing,” Foxconn executive Jack Lee told a conference in New York in May. “They have to go to shadow banking … so it’s very inefficient and costly.” If Foxconn can leverage its current data on small businesses through blockchain, it could create a highly efficient supply chain that could also track delivered goods.

Just as mobile phones allowed China and emerging economies to leapfrog the rich world’s telephone landlines, blockchain technologies could help its industries skip the development of antiquated financial services models. After all, Chinese tech firms Alibaba and Tencent are already processing trillions of dollars through their mobile payments businesses. “We are more interested in getting to a next-generation financial services business,” Foxconn’s Lee says. “That’s the key. As a side benefit for Foxconn, it will streamline the supply chain.”

Those kinds of observations make less worrisome the recent drop in China’s share of bitcoin trading volume as well as rumors on Telegram chat groups about an imminent crackdown on even China’s powerful bitcoin miners. Because Chinese money’s waning influence over the bitcoin markets may be replaced by control over an even greater prize.

As it continues to move from a rural to an industrial economy, China needs to leapfrog the incumbents and assert itself as a technology leader. Bitcoin and the ideas behind its blockchain may be one way to do that—and it may be why China has been a leader of a stateless cryptocurrency for so long.

 

Author: Joon Ian Wong

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
david ogden cryptocurrency entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Will bitcoin ever be a safe investment or always a gamble

Will bitcoin ever be a safe investment or always a gamble

Will bitcoin ever be a safe investment or always a gamble?

The boss of JP Morgan was unequivocal about bitcoin at a recent conference in New York: the digital currency was only fit for drug dealers and would eventually blow up. “[It] isn’t going to work,” said Jamie Dimon. “You can’t have a business where people can invent a currency out of thin air and think that the people who are buying it are really smart.”

A few days after Dimon’s comments, the value of bitcoin plunged when the Chinese authorities announced a crackdown on it. It has been an eventful month, even in the context of a currency that is less than a decade old. Since the start of the year the value of a single bitcoin has gone from $1,000 (£750) to almost $5,000.

The spiralling price of the cryptocurrency, along with the controversy it has attracted in the past few weeks, has meant that interest from buyers has peaked and more consumers are considering whether to invest – or gamble, as some commentators say – in it.

“We continue to see a rise in demand for bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies,” says Obi Nwosu of Coinfloor, an exchange where people can buy and trade bitcoin. “When senior leaders in the financial community, regulators and government bodies share their views about bitcoin, it further raises interest and awareness in the market.”

So amid the warnings, should investors see the spiralling price as reason enough to buy?

How it began

Established in 2009 after the financial crash, bitcoin is a digital currency that has no central bank or regulatory authority backing it up. The coins don’t exist in a tangible form but are made by computers and stored in a digital wallet or on the cloud. They can then be exchanged and used in transactions.

There is a finite number of bitcoin that can be supplied – 21m – and there are currently 15m in circulation. Its price has fluctuated wildly since it was launched. Seven years ago, two pizzas were bought for 10,000 bitcoin. At its peak at the beginning of September this year each bitcoin was worth almost $5,000. As it can be used as an anonymous way to carry out cross-border money transfers, it has been linked to drug dealing and money laundering.

There are bitcoin ATMs that allow the cryptocurrency to be exchanged for cash, and an increasing number of businesses accept it. Lady Mone, co-founder of underwear brand Ultimo, launched a property development in Dubai with prices in bitcoin, while a London property developer is to allow its tenants to pay their deposits using it.

Growing interest

The renewed attention on bitcoin has led to a spike in interest from people wanting to invest. “BTC [bitcoin] and crypto[currency] more broadly have hit the mainstream consciousness,” says Lex Deak, chief executive of alternative investment aggregator Off3r. “I am getting an increasing number of enquiries from late adopters who want to learn more about accessing investment opportunities in the space. It has matured rapidly since the beginning of the year, courtesy of the jump from $1,000 to over $4,000, with a feeling that there is now a little less volatility.”

Guy Halford-Thompson, the founder of brokerage Quickbitcoin, says he would not be surprised if mainstream brokers and investors started to invest heavily in the near future. At the same time, the financial regulator has warned against a speculative frenzy over initial coin offerings (ICOs) – a digital way of raising funds from the public using cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin – because of their unregulated nature and lack of investor protection.

While some investors may be attracted by the massive rises this year, others will be wary of the volatility. In mid-January one bitcoin was valued at $800. By June this had gone to $3,000. One month later, it was at less than $2,000 and then almost $5,000 by the start of September. Two weeks later, it was at $3,200.

“Whether it is suitable or not is down to individual circumstances,” says Deak. “If you are an experienced investor with a balanced portfolio and relatively small exposure, then BTC is an exciting and potentially lucrative investment. It needs to come with a clear warning that there is potential for significant losses and investors need to carefully consider the method of investing.”

Tread carefully

Electronic payments expert Dave Birch has said in the past that “one doesn’t invest in bitcoin, one gambles on bitcoin”. Those working in the area advise anyone planning on buying the currency to only invest as much as they are prepared to lose.

“The general sensible view is that the more volatile the investment, the smaller proportion of your wealth you should consider storing in it,” says Marc Warne, founder of bitcoin exchange Bittylicious. “I have heard of people moving their life investments into bitcoin and this is a bad idea.

“The flipside is simple – why not give it a try? If you have £20 to spare, for instance, buy a tiny amount and track its price. If something goes hideously wrong the £20 can be written off and it can be considered a learning experience. If you can, spend it somewhere like at a few pubs that accept it.”

Because the typical protections surrounding investment are not present with bitcoin, prospective investors should ask for help from those who have traded in them already, says Halford-Thompson. “My advice to anyone thinking about investing in bitcoin is to do their own research, but also to speak to people who have already gone through the experience of investing in it,” he says.

“Most of the dangers are because the protection that investors would normally enjoy on a stock market are not present. If you own bitcoin, you need to make sure you know how to buy, sell and store it properly or you risk losing your entire investment.”

Is it secure?

Concerns about the security of the cryptocurrency have continued to shadow it. Last year, almost 120,000 bitcoin worth around $78m (£58m)were stolen from Hong Kong-based Bitfinex, one of the most popular cryptocurrency exchanges, which resulted in a 20% drop in the value of the currency at the time.

“Similar to online banking, people need to take care with their bitcoin account credentials,” says Nwosu. “Whether you secure your bitcoin yourself or with a third party like Coinfloor, we recommend the safest way to go is to keep your security credentials offline.”

Daniel Scott of Coincorner says the currency itself is secure, but the problem surrounds businesses in the industry and the wallets where the bitcoin are stored. “Unfortunately, IT security is a real-world issue, not just for bitcoin but within any industry that uses technology. You only have to do a quick Google search for recent hackings of large global companies to see that any company is open to security issues regardless of size or industry.”
 

AS RISKY AS TULIPS

When Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan, dismissed bitcoin as a currency for drug dealers and murders that would end up imploding, he compared its rise to an infamous bubble from the 1600s. “It is worse than tulip bulbs,” he said.

Dimon was referring to one of the most notorious periods of speculation in history when the value of tulip bulbs rocketed amid a mania for the flowers. The popularity of the bulbs hit its peak in the 1630s.

They were traded “frantically”, according to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, and some people even put their homes down as collateral. However, the market crashed in February 1637, leaving many investors penniless.

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Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

First Cash, Now Gold? Another Bitcoin Hard Fork Is on the Way

first cash now gold

First Cash, Now Gold? Another Bitcoin Hard Fork Is on the Way

Bitcoin, bitcoin cash, bitcoin gold?

There could be as many as four cryptocurrencies bearing the bitcoin name if a small group of miners and developers carry out a planned fork of the blockchain this month.

Styled as a rebellion of sorts, bitcoin gold aims to follow a similar launch plan as bitcoin cash – the blockchain that split from bitcoin this summer by way of a "hard fork." The idea of the project is to release an improved protocol, one that will challenge bitcoin cash in particular, and details are now starting to come come into focus.

Led by Jack Liao, CEO of Hong Kong mining firm LightningASIC, bitcoin gold is slated to launch on October 25, with its cryptocurrency being opened to exchanges on November 1.

Still, while whispers of the event are just beginning to spread, the importance of the project appears up for debate. Given that bitcoin cash produced an ultimately smaller bitcoin network, not to mention a cryptocurrency that's worth about 12 percent as much as bitcoin at press time, most seem to view the plan as another distraction in an already divided community.

For one, bitcoin gold looks like it could be even smaller that bitcoin cash, at least in that not as many miners seem to support it.

In remarks, BTC.Top founder Jiang Zhuoer and ViaBTC CEO Haipo Yang – two early champions of bitcoin cash – went so far as to downplay bitcoin gold as insignificant.
 

'Decentralized again'

But while those in the know might be skeptical of bitcoin gold, it does have a goal that many in the community may find attractive: creating a truly decentralized bitcoin.

Most notably, the developers behind the network hope to open up mining to more participants by replacing bitcoin's mining algorithm with one that will enable it to be mined with graphics cards. The idea is to make big miners – sometimes controversial figures on the network – less relevant.

"Bitcoin gold will implement a proof-of-work change from bitcoin's SHA256 to Equihash, a memory-hard algorithm that is ASIC-resistant and optimized for GPU mining," explained pseudonymous bitcoin gold developer "The Sorrow."

That the plan is being hatched in China, long the hotbed of bitcoin mining, only adds another layer to the story. Liao, whose mining hardware largely focuses on the litecoin network, is seen as one of the few voices domestically that can challenge the established order.

Yet, Liao was quick to name one mining firm in particular, Bitmain, as the reason that more bitcoin users should support the idea. A mining company that has been at the center of bitcoin drama over the last year, critics have long argued that the firm has too much of an influence over the network.

Still, creating a network that grows so popular as to remove miners is easier said than done, and some are skeptical that this would lead to the end goal that bitcoin gold advocates desire.

"GPU mining can't prevent centralization. GPU [markets] are controlled by Nvidia and AMD," Zhao Dong, a cryptocurrency trader and investor, argued in response to the plan.

Liao, however, argued the accessibility of the companies' products means the distribution of hashing power might evolve differently.

 

Bitcoin gold's unknowns

Again, though, even project leaders admit many of the details around the hard fork are fuzzy.

Bitcoin gold's pseudonymous lead developer "h4x" said that the project is "still evolving" and details such as exact block height of the hard fork are still up for discussion.

According to the original website text, bitcoin gold was even planning an initial coin offering (ICO) by which 1 percent of the bitcoin gold coins would go to the developer team, but these details have since been removed.

One thing is clear though about the funding: because of the nature of the split, every bitcoin user at the time will have an equal amount of bitcoin gold associated with their private key.

"It is a minimalist fork of the Bitcoin Core codebase in the spirit of litecoin – only a few conservative modifications," said h4x.

H4x went on to describe bitcoin gold in more abstract biological terms, arguing that it tests how well hard forks work and if they benefit the ecosystem.

He said:

"Organisms derive benefits from creating offspring. With bitcoin gold we are conducting an experiment to see if that principle holds true in the world of blockchains."

And this sentiment is largely in line with developers who have predicted that more bitcoin forks similar to bitcoin cash will come forth in the future.

After bitcoin cash forked earlier this summer, for example, Lightning Network developer Tadge Dryja argued that more forks would spring up, but for another reason: money.

With bitcoin gold in the works and another hard fork slated for November, it seems that prediction is slowly becoming reality.

 

Sep 27, 2017 at 08:00 UTC by Alyssa Hertig

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Early bitcoin investor Palihapitiya declares ‘nobody can stop it’

Early bitcoin investor Palihapitiya declares 'nobody can stop it'

Early bitcoin investor Palihapitiya declares 'nobody can stop it'

  • Social Capital's Chamath Palihapitiya was early in both Facebook and bitcoin and continues to back both.
  • "The idea that the government can put curbs on this is actually pretty specious," he said in response to JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon's criticism of bitcoin.

Investors who followed Social Capital's Chamath Palihapitiya into the early stages of two investments he advocated would have made an awful lot of money.

Palihapitiya was early in both Facebook, the ubiquitous social network, and bitcoin, the disruptive crypotcurrency that has sharply divided investors who continue to argue over its legitimacy.

Even with the major gains both have made, Palihapitiya remains hot on tech stocks in general, and bitcoin in particular. The digital currency, despite some volatile times, has soared nearly 300 percent this year.

That has come even though JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon has called it a fraud that is doomed to fail.

"Nobody can stop it because nobody can control it," Palihapitiya said in an exclusive CNBC PRO interview at the Delivering Alpha conference on Sept. 12. "The idea that the government can put curbs on this is actually pretty specious."

Rather than debate its status as a currency or its use for nefarious purposes, he said there should be a broader discussion about how to put it to better use.

"As far as I'm concerned, the genie is out of the bottle," he said. "Now the real question is how can we productively use it to solve some of society's issues around the financial services infrastructure."

 

Jeff Cox | @JeffCoxCNBCcom

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency  entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin’s price is spiking by 7 percent as traders shake off China fears

Bitcoin's price is spiking by 7 percent as traders shake off China fears

Bitcoin's price is spiking by 7 percent as traders shake off China fears

The price of bitcoin is up nearly 300 percent year to date.

Bitcoin is still under the $4,000 level, which it broke through after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said on Sept. 12 that the cryptocurrency is a "fraud" that will eventually blow up.

 

The price of bitcoin rose sharply on Monday with its price spiking up 7 percent midday, according to CoinDesk market data.

The price of the cryptocurrency is up nearly 300 percent year to date.

Bitcoin's price is spiking by 7 percent as traders shake off China fears

Bitcoin is still under the $4,000 level, which it broke through after JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon said on Sept. 12 that the cryptocurrency is a "fraud" that will eventually blow up.

In addition, recent reports said regulators in China have ordered bitcoin exchanges to close hurt the digital currency's price.

"In my opinion, the markets overreacted to the China news. In the short term, it was bad news, but long term the fundamentals are unchanged," William Mougayar, author of "The Business Blockchain," wrote in an email.

-CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this report

Author: Tae Kim |

 

Posted By David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Price Rises by 5% to $3,740 as the Cryptocurrency Market Gradually Recovers

Bitcoin Price Rises by 5% to $3,740 as the Cryptocurrency Market Gradually Recovers

Bitcoin Price Rises by 5% to $3,740 as the Cryptocurrency Market Gradually Recovers

Today, on September 23, the bitcoin price increased from $3,600 to $3,738, recording a daily increase of 4.88 percent. At today’s peak, the bitcoin price surpassed the $3,800 mark, showing signs of recovery from the largest price correction.

Bitcoin Price Rises by 5% to $3,740 as the Cryptocurrency Market Gradually Recovers

On September 20, less than three days ago, the price of bitcoin and most of the cryptocurrencies in the global market declined significantly. The bitcoin price plunged from $4,020 to $3,530, by $490, and the price of other leading cryptocurrency such as Ethereum also dropped by over 10 percent.
 

Bitcoin Remains Stable in $3,800 Region, Optimistic Indicators

In 2013, when the Chinese government banned bitcoin and trading activities around the cryptocurrency, the bitcoin price fell by over 40 percent and it failed to recover for more than eight months thereafter. The bitcoin price surpassed the $1,000 mark for the first time in December of 2016. However, when the Chinese government issued a nationwide ban on bitcoin, the bitcoin price was not able to surpass the $1,000 mark again until January of 2017.

In consideration of the impact the Chinese government and its ban on bitcoin had on the price of bitcoin in 2013, China’s nationwide ban on local bitcoin exchanges had significantly less impact on both the price of bitcoin and the state of the global bitcoin exchange market.

When the Chinese government requested major bitcoin exchanges and trading platforms including BTCC, OKCoin and Huobi to shut down, analysts expected the price of bitcoin to remain below the $3,000 mark for awhile, since the Chinese bitcoin exchange market was still a large market for bitcoin. But, as an increasing number of traders and investors began to realize that the Chinese market was only accountable for around 10 to 13 percent of global bitcoin traders, the international bitcoin exchange market started to demonstrate increasing demand from investors.

It is important to acknowledge that stability is most likely a far-fetched term to depict the recent performance of the bitcoin price. But, relative to previous events such as the 2013 ban on bitcoin by the Chinese government, bitcoin has done surprising well, showing resilience towards FUD and regulatory uncertainty in China.
 

Can Bitcoin Price Recover Beyond $4,000 In Upcoming Weeks?

Financial and bitcoin analysts including Max Keiser and Ben Verret reaffirmed that the bitcoin price is likely to increase in the upcoming days and weeks, considering that the weak hands have left the market. Earlier today, Keiser also emphasized his short-term price target of $6,000, given that the bitcoin price has been able to hold up and sustain momentum despite the uncertainty in regards to the Chinese bitcoin market and also, the country’s local bitcoin mining industry.

Since 2016, an increasing number of investors and traders have begun to seek bitcoin as a safe haven asset to avoid global markets volatility and weakening of reserve currencies. As the conflict between North Korea and the US continues to intensify, it is likely that more investors will seek out for bitcoin in the upcoming weeks.

More to that, as JP Vergne, a professor at Ivey Business School explained, developer activity around cryptocurrencies is the best indicator for price. Bitcoin development is booming with the emergence of Lightning-based applications and Segregated Witness (SegWit)-supporting wallet platforms.
 

Joseph Young on 23/09/2017
 

Posted by David Ogden
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Wall Street Journal Argues Bitcoin Is “Probably worth Zero”, Joins Obituary List

Wall Street Journal Argues Bitcoin Is “Probably worth Zero”, Joins Obituary List

Wall Street Journal Argues Bitcoin Is “Probably worth Zero”, Joins Obituary List

One of the Wall Street Journal’s most read articles of the day implies that bitcoin’s volatility reveals that the cryptocurrency is “probably worth zero.” The author of the piece starts by stating that a borderless digital currency out of the government’s reach that allows for semi-anonymous transactions sounds good, but that he’s not really a bitcoin fan because of the small number of transactions it can handle, and the amount of power necessary to maintain the network.

Bitcoin is scalable and can eventually reach and surpass VISA’s volume of, on average, about 2,000 transactions per second (tps). As CCN previously reported, SegWit’s activation on both the litecoin and bitcoin networks enables cross-network transaction swaps between the two cryptocurrencies, facilitating a host of other innovations, making it clear that, in the future, the problems that currently haunt the cryptocurrency won’t be there anymore.

The author then uses Gresham’s law, the principle that “bad money drives out good money” to argue against bitcoin. The article reads:

“Given the choice of spending inflationary government-issued money or something which holds its value, everyone would spend the bad paper stuff and hoard the bitcoin.”

In his argument, he says that no one wants to be the person that once bought two pizzas for 10,000 bitcoins, when the cryptocurrency was nearly worthless. The point being that if no one spends the currency while waiting for it to gain value, it will never really get established as a currency. Then again, no one in Venezuela wanted to see their currency’s value decrease, but the people didn’t have much of a say in that and, as such, were forced to use bitcoin to survive.

Then, unpacking the idea of bitcoin being based on illegal transactions, the author uses math done by Dan Davies, a bank analyst at Frontline Analysts in London, to assume that all drug dealing moves online, so as to get to $571 per bitcoin. The argument adds that drug dealers might put up with bitcoin’s current problems – which I addressed above – as laundering dollars is harder and more expensive than transacting in bitcoin.

Given that various studies already clarified that criminals aren’t using bitcoin that much, the value would be much lower, according to WSJ’s article. As such, the author concludes that bitcoin’s current price, of nearly $4,000, is mostly speculation and that JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon was right to compare it to the 17th-century Dutch tulip bubble.

Basing the cryptocurrency on illegal activity neglects that hundreds, if not thousands, of legitimate businesses already accept bitcoin, so much so that it’s possible to live on bitcoin. Plus, the cryptocurrency is mostly used for legitimate purposes by those who simply want to be in charge of their own money, not those who have something to hide.

 

Bitcoin as Digital Gold

WSJ’s article goes on to imply that bitcoin’s true believers cling to the idea of it being digital gold that will maintain its value if a government currency collapses, and that this idea is supported by history’s examples of it happening.

The article points out that gold has had thousands of years and a history of being used to back fiat money to support its current position. Bitcoin has had less than a decade to prove its worth and most people just only heard of it. A recent study by YouGov revealed that 34% of Americans never even heard of bitcoin, and that 29% thought the cryptocurrency was just used to purchase illegal goods or services.

Still, bitcoin’s potential to replace gold led to a $5,500 price per coin, switching Thomson Reuters GFMS’ estimate of 2,155 metric tons of gold held in exchange-traded funds to the cryptocurrency. If bitcoin was to completely replace gold coins and bars, given GFMS’ supply estimate of 24,000 metric tons bought for investment in the past half-century, we would get $61,000 per coin.

Finally, the author states that bitcoin’s volatility can somewhat be explained by it either succeeding or failing in completely displacing gold, implying that the cryptocurrency is either extremely precious, or worthless. The article reads:

“Based on the simple choice between total success and failure, we can very roughly say that bitcoin at 70% of the gold ETF-derived price suggests a 70% of displacing so-called paper gold as society’s chosen emergency store of value, and a 6% chance of displacing physical gold. Even digital dreams should accept that is far too high.”

At the end of the day, bitcoin’s value, just like the value of other cryptocurrencies, depends on its users as it is the first free market backed currency, and its growth is consistent with its userbase increase. A quick look at Google Trends shows us that interested in the cryptocurrency is still surging.

At the end of the day WSJ’s article is just one more to add to the bitcoin obituary list.

 

Author: Francisco Memoria on 20/09/2017

Posted By David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Mining Could be China’s Next Target – Why It Does Not Matter

Bitcoin Mining Could be China's Next Target - Why It Does Not Matter

Bitcoin Mining Could be China’s Next Target – Why It Does Not Matter

 

Several sources including the Wall Street Journal have reported that the Chinese government and its regulators may target bitcoin mining operators in the region following the imposition of a nationwide ban on cryptocurrency and bitcoin exchanges.

Experts in the cryptocurrency sector and mining industry including John McAfee strongly believe that the Chinese government will not order a crackdown on bitcoin mining centers and operators. As Cryptocoinsnews previously reported, McAfee revealed that Jihan Wu, the co-founder of Bitmain, the world’s largest bitcoin mining equipment manufacturer that is reportedly valued at billions of dollars, told McAfee in a meeting with Roger Ver that the Chinese government is not planning a ban on mining centers.

But, in a statement, ViaBTC CEO Haipo Yang explained that if the Chinese government decides to ban bitcoin mining centers and operators, it will be the end of the Chinese bitcoin mining industry. Yang wrote:

“Technically, China can’t ban bitcoin traffic, we have our own sync network. But if the Chinese government says mining is illegal, we are fucked.”

As Yang noted, it is possible for the Chinese government to target bitcoin mining operators in many methods. For instance, the Chinese government could decide to nationalize bitcoin mining centers and announce them as the property of the Chinese government.

For the Chinese mining industry, the crackdown on bitcoin mining by the government will lead to financial turmoil. More specifically, companies like Bitmain that recently secured multi-million dollar funding rounds will not be able to serve their biggest markets, which are domestic miners and mining centers.

Earlier today, through its a PBoC-owned financial news publication, PBoC researcher and Central University of Finance and Economics professor Huang Zhen explained that the central bank of China perceives bitcoin as a threat. More importantly, Zhen emphasized that the government plans to release a government-issued national digital currency in the future, as a rival currency to bitcoin.

If the intention of the government is to eliminate bitcoin in the Chinese market in order to promote and issue its own digital currency, the Chinese government will likely ban aspect of bitcoin. But, in contrary, if the Chinese government is not ready to release a digital currency of its own, it will re-instate bitcoin trading platforms and prevent from issuing any further restrictions and regulations on bitcoin miners.

“The central bank has set up a research group and a digital money research institute to explore the digitization of sovereign money. After this round of virtual money markets supervision, we expect under the auspices of the Chinese central bank to launch our own sovereign digital currency as soon as possible to help maintain China’s leadership in the development of global digital finance,” Zhen wrote.

Ultimately, even if the Chinese government does ban bitcoin mining centers and operations in China, in the mid-term, it will not pose a major threat to the global bitcoin mining industry primarily due to the emergence of multi-billion dollar Japanese conglomerates that are developing their own ASIC miners and manufacturing independent bitcoin mining equipment to mine the digital currency.

 

Author: Joseph Young on 19/09/2017

 

Posted By David Ogden Entrepreneur.
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Price Technical Analysis for 19th September – Can Bulls Keep It Up

Bitcoin Price Technical Analysis for 09/19/2017 – Can Bulls Keep It Up

Bitcoin Price Technical Analysis for 09/19/2017 – Can Bulls Keep It Up

Bitcoin price seems to have completed a large correction and is ready to resume its long-term uptrend.

 

Bitcoin Price Key Highlights

  • Bitcoin price has bounced off a long-term area of interest after its recent sharp drop, signaling that the uptrend could still resume.
  • Applying the Fib extension tool on this major correction could indicate how high bulls could take bitcoin from here.
  • Technical indicators on the daily time frame also suggest that the long-term climb could carry on.

Bitcoin price seems to have completed a large correction and is ready to resume its long-term uptrend.

 

Technical Indicators Signals

The 100 SMA is above the longer-term 200 SMA on the daily chart, signaling that the path of least resistance is to the upside. The gap is also gradually widening to reflect strengthening bullish momentum. Also, the 100 SMA has recently held as dynamic support as it lined up with the rising trend line connecting the lows since April.

Stochastic has pulled up from the oversold region to show that buyers are regaining control of bitcoin price action. RSI is also turning higher and appears to be heading north so bitcoin could follow suit.

The next potential resistance is at the 38.2% extension just past the $4000 major psychological barrier. The 50% extension is at $4637, the 61.8% extension at the $5000 handle close to the record highs, and the 76.4% extension at $5464. The full extension is around the $6200 level.

Bitcoin 19th September

Market Factors

Chinese regulators have confirmed that they are stepping up their efforts to crack down on the cryptocurrency, following rumors that authorities are already shutting down exchanges in the country. However, investors seem to have moved on from this news as other markets like Japan and South Korea are taking majority of the market share and activity.

Meanwhile, the US dollar is giving up some ground to bitcoin price ahead of the FOMC decision, during which the central bank would likely keep rates on hold and downgrade growth forecasts on account of the recent hurricanes. A press conference will also follow and Yellen’s responses will be scrutinized as traders hunt for clues on December tightening.

Author Sarah Jenn on 4:23 am September 19, 2017

Time to ride the tiger

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk Markethive Founding Member