Dub 15

Hong-Kong Based Exchange OKEx Plans to Move to Malta

· April 15, 2018 · 4:00 pm

OKEx, one of the largest exchanges in the world, has announced plans to move to the European island, Malta. This announcement came quickly after a similar announcement made by Binance, one of OKEx’s main competitors.


In an attempt to gain an understanding of the political climate around cryptocurrencies in Malta, OKEx’s executives met with the Maltese government. While many EU countries are taking a standoff-ish, if not downright hostile, approach to cryptocurrency, Malta – which aims to become a ‘global pioneer’ for cryptocurrency – has proven to be extremely welcoming to crypto and blockchain businesses.

Currently, OKEx only offers crypto to crypto trading along with a futures market. OKEx is currently based in Hong Kong, which has probably made it difficult for the exchange to obtain the required licenses to allow for a fiat gateway to be opened in collaboration with banking systems.  However, some suspect that with the move to Malta, that the exchange will open fiat to crypto trading, which will become an essential part of any successful exchange in the near future. 

OKEx CEO Chris Lee stated:

We look forward to working with the Malta government as it is forward thinking and shares many of our same values: the most important of which are protection of traders and the general public, compliance with Anti Money Laundering and Know Your Customer standards, and recognition of the innovation and importance of continued development in the Blockchain ecosystem.

Malta – a Global Pioneer for All Things Crypto

Since the rise of the cryptocurrency industry, Malta has been continually open to accepting companies who are looking for a bit more wiggle room with regard to regulations. As a result of this, Malta has established itself as the crypto and blockchain ‘go to’ locale as more startups and exchanges flock to the country.

Malta - a Global Pioneer for All Things Crypto

Earlier in 2018, Malta’s government announced their plans for a new segment of the government called the Digital Innovation Authority which aims to provide full legitimacy for blockchain and cryptocurrency companies alike.

It is unlikely that Malta will be averse to any legitimate cryptocurrency or blockchain company in the future as their policy plans indicate that they are willing to keep cryptocurrency rules minimal.

OKEx Chief Risk Officer and Head of Government Relations noted:

Malta’s Virtual Financial Asset Act is a solid foundation for the industry and the government to work together in fostering the nascent blockchain/digital asset industry. More specifically, Malta’s sound risk-based approach will help cultivate a responsible, compliant, and healthy ecosystem.

Do you think that the cryptocurrency and related technology industry will flourish in Malta? If not, where else? Let us know in the comments!


Images Courtesy of  AdobeStock, iStockPhoto

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Dub 10

Bank of America: History’s Greatest Bubble Has Popped, But For Real This Time

· April 10, 2018 · 4:30 pm

Ignoring pretty much every piece of information outside of Bitcoin’s chart, Bank of America has officially announced that the greatest bubble in history is popping, but for real this time. 


The Greatest Bubble in History

For at least the 279th time, Bitcoin is dead.

As noted by Bloomberg, Bank of America’s Chief Investment Strategist Michael Harnett made the claim that the gold standard of cryptocurrency’s bubble has popped in a Sunday note. “The cryptocurrency is tracking the downfalls of the other massive asset-price bubbles in history less than one year out from its record,” claims the media company’s report.

Additional explanations from the North Carolina-based multinational financial services company, however, are not provided.

price bubbbles

Conveniently Ignoring the Facts

Bank of America’s FUD (Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt) comes at a time when Bitcoin is struggling to maintain price action above $7000. It also, conveniently, fails to take into account the dominant cryptocurrency by market capitalization’s past parabolic runs and subsequent falls, which illustrate that the current situation is — more or less — par for the course.

Bank of America also apparently glosses over the cryptocurrency’s major developments, including the exciting Lightning Network — a second layer payment protocol which enables instant transactions between participating nodes and solves the scalability problem plaguing Bitcoin’s recent history.

Furthermore, Bank of America seems to care less about the increased interest in Bitcoin trading from ultra-rich insitutional investors like George Soros and the Rockefeller family — both of which have officially signaled their intentions to trade cryptocurrency.

The bank also fails to mention the New York Stock Exchange’s interest in listing Bitcoin futures contracts and the SEC’s potential allowance of Bitcoin ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds) — both of which signal increased legitimacy.

Bank of America

America’s second largest bank has, however, expressed its fear of Bitcoin in the past. In February, Bank of America wrote in a Securities and Exchange Commission report:

The widespread adoption of new technologies, including internet services, cryptocurrencies and payment systems, could require substantial expenditures to modify or adapt our existing products and services.

The major bank has also contributed to the alleged popping of the Bitcoin bubble, having banned credit card purchases in the beginning of February — conveniently when the cryptocurrency market had just started to really roll downhill.

How much credence do you give Bank of America’s FUD-filled statements? Do you think Bitcoin is a bubble? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bloomberg, Reuters, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Dub 05

Experts: Cryptocurrency is ‘A Multi-Decade Trend’ and ‘Proxy for True Freedom’

· April 5, 2018 · 3:00 pm

2018’s cryptocurrency charts have you feeling blue? Don’t worry. According to some experts, there are still plenty of riches to be made by investing in market leaders.


‘Still way too early’

In 2017, plenty of individuals joined the new crypto-rich crew. However, many also became crypto-poor — having been left holding the bag after buying at all-time highs. Explained Invest.com Senior Analyst Jesse Cohen to Forbes:

It’s safe to say that the price action in the crypto market over the past few months has been very ugly. All the major coins have suffered steep double-digit declines since the start of the year and are all trading below their respective 200-day moving averages, which usually signals more losses ahead.

However — though nobody can predict the future — it would be foolish to assume that “Bitcoin is dead,” “the cryptocurrency bubble has popped,” or that any other FUD-filled statement repeated time and time again has finally come to fruition. Explains Cohen:

We’ve seen Bitcoin do this before, where it plunges sharply over a prolonged period only to violently bounce back to new highs in a short time. While it isn’t looking too hot at the moment, it’s still way too early to call the end of Bitcoin, or cryptos in general.

Bitcoin

‘A Multi-Decade Trend’

“Way too early,” indeed. In many respects, cryptocurrency and its underlying blockchain technology is only really starting to gain traction now, with the majority of projects still in their developmental stages. Meanwhile, most of those that are already developed are still struggling to gain mainstream adoption — something many digital currency proponents see as an inevitability. Aaron Lasher, BRD CMO and co-founder, agrees, saying:

The game isn’t over, Digital scarcity is a major innovation in money and value, and we’re in the initial stages of a multi-decade trend towards tokenization of assets.

He also goes so far as to call cryptocurrency’s potential life-changing, asking Forbes:

If sending money globally as easily as an email doesn’t impress you, how about the ability to store your life savings in your head, then walking your family across a war-torn border to safety?

cryptocurrencies

‘True Freedom’

Those who care less about the life-changing applications of cryptocurrencies and more about the potential riches and “true freedom” to be gained by speculating in the market also have reason for optimism. Explained Lasher to Forbes:

Getting rich with cryptocurrency is a proxy for true freedom, a personal financial situation that is largely immune to the politics, flaws, and vicissitudes of an interconnected, global system — an oasis of security and a platform for individual pursuits.

Do you think the cryptocurrency bubble has burst, or do you think the market has only begun to show its true potential? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Pixabay, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Úno 09

Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec: ‘Cryptocurrency is the Future’

· February 9, 2018 · 9:30 am

Investor Robert Herjavec of Shark Tank fame is a big proponent of cryptocurrency, predicting that it will eventually replace cash.


One thing you can say about the principals on Shark Tank, it’s that they are pretty bold in going after what they want. Investor and cybersecurity expert Robert Herjavec is also not shy on where he thinks cryptocurrency will go in the future. He recently told MONEY that we’ll see cryptocurrency eventually chase away the concept of fiat.

Shark Tank

Big on Blockchain

One reason why Herjavec is bullish on cryptocurrency’s future is that he’s a big believer in blockchain technology. He says that this new technology is an absolute game-changer that will revolutionize how businesses verify transactions. This viewpoint is shared by his Shark Tank compatriot, Mark Cuban.

Herjavec then goes on to add:

It’s going to have massive benefits for humanity, in all kinds of transactions.

As for virtual currencies, he says:

To me, it’s the wave of the future. Fast forward 25 years from now, there will be some form of a cryptocurrency that we will pay for electronically, and the concept of cash will go away one day.

bitcoin

Crypto Still Too Wild

While his comments above suggest that Robert Herjavec has bought his ticket for the cryptocurrency train and is picking a seat, he’s actually still not fully on board. He thinks virtual currencies are still way too volatile. He notes:

There’s no base for it. When I buy a house and it’s overpriced, I can live in it. There’s some fundamental value. The challenge with cryptocurrency is, it could go to zero. There’s no one exchange that is making them. Exchanges that sell them now can be hacked. We recently saw the largest breach ever — $500 million in 24 hours. If you had bought that exchange, it’s not that you’ve gone down 20% or 40%, you’ve actually gone to zero.

The exchange breach he references is, of course, the recent Coincheck hack. It is understandable for a businessman to be wary of any type of currency that can swing wildly in value from one day to another. Still, the ups and downs of crypto is what makes it so exciting to many people.

As for cryptocurrency replacing fiat in 25 years, that’s probably a bit of a stretch. It’s highly likely that virtual currencies will become as everyday as debit and credit cards are now, but cold, hard cash will probably be sticking around for some time.

Do you agree with Shark Tank’s Robert Herjavec that cash money will vanish in the future, to be replaced with some form of cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Flickr/@Disney | ABC Television Group and Bitcoinist archives.

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Úno 03

Man Buys Super Bowl Tickets with Bitcoin

· February 3, 2018 · 7:30 am

A fan of the New England Patriots was the first to use cryptocurrency to buy Super Bowl tickets as he spent 2.2 bitcoins for 50-yard line seats at Super Bowl LII.


The football season has finally reached its climax as the Super Bowl is set to take place tomorrow between the New England Patriots and the Philadelphia Eagles. Super Bowl LII is being held in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and it’s estimated that over a 100 million people alone in the USA will watch it. Of course, die-hard fans will watch the gridiron match from the stands of US Bank Stadium. One fan made crypto history by being the first to use bitcoins to buy tickets to Super Bowl LII.

Wilson football

Sitting on the 50-Yard Line

A fan of the New England Patriots had to be on the sidelines for the big game. However, vendors of such tickets do not currently take cryptocurrency. Luck was with him as he contacted TickPick, a secondary ticket vendor, to see if they would accept bitcoins as a payment option.

TickPick decided to take the fan (who wished to remain anonymous) up on the offer and agreed to sell him the tickets. The fan bought seats on the first row on the 50-yard line (the most coveted seats in football) for the price of 2.2 bitcoins. At the time of purchase, the value of the bitcoins came to $19,000.

That’s not a bad price for first row seats. According to TickPick, seats on the 50-yard line are going for between $8000 to $9000, but those seats are much further back. Someone currently has row 2 seats for $15,255 each, if you’re interested.

Tom Brady

TickPick Still Not Sold on Bitcoin

Overall, it took about an hour for the transaction to take place. The CEO of TickPick, Brett Goldberg, was quite happy to make the ticket exchange for bitcoins. However, don’t plan on start using your cryptocurrency to buy tickets for sporting events or concerts any time soon on the website.

Goldberg is not yet on board using crypto as an everyday means of purchase. He says:

In an hour you can see hundreds of dollars in swing. The second it hit my account it was transferred to U.S. dollars.

Me as a business, I don’t want to own bitcoin. I don’t want to be exposed to the volatility.

While lamentable, Goldberg’s attitude toward cryptocurrency is understandable. Most businesses have very tight margins that they operate on, and having a unit of currency fluctuating double digits is enough to give them ulcers.

Still, small steps matter. The first-ever use of Bitcoin to buy Super Bowl tickets is worthy of note, and hopefully, a harbinger of things to come.

Who are you rooting for in Super Bowl LII? How soon do you think it will be commonplace to buy tickets for events with cryptocurrency? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of Pexels, Wikimedia Commons, and Bitcoinist archives.

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Úno 01

No, India Won’t Ban Bitcoin and Will Embrace Blockchain Technology Too

· February 1, 2018 · 8:30 am

The Indian government talks a big talk when putting down Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but such actions has done little to curb their popularity.


Crypto-Not-Currency

In his annual budget speech today, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley once again made clear the government’s intention to halt the use of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in India, claiming the South Asian country does not recognize digital currency as legal tender. He states:

The government does not consider cryptocurrencies legal tender or coin, and will take all measures to curb the use of these crypto-assets in financing illegitimate activities or any part of payment systems.

However, Jaitley has said nothing about banning Bitcoin or cryptocurrency trading. In fact, he claims the government will instead encourage blockchain technology in traditional payment systems, illustrating that the Indian government does indeed see the value behind cryptocurrency, if not as legal tender.

A Long History of Doing Little

Bitcoin India

India is one of the largest markets for Bitcoin trading, with roughy 1 out of every 10 transactions worldwide taking place in the South Asian country.

The Indian government, however, has long been negative on cryptocurrencies—once even likening them to Ponzi schemes in a December 2017 press release that said:

Virtual Currencies (VCs) don’t have any intrinsic value and are not backed by any kind of assets. The price of Bitcoin and other VCs, therefore, is entirely a matter of mere speculation resulting in spurt and volatility in their prices. There is a real and heightened risk of investment bubble of the type seen in Ponzi schemes which can result in sudden and prolonged crash exposing investors, especially retail consumers losing their hard-earned money. Consumers need to be alert and extremely cautious as to avoid getting trapped in such Ponzi schemes.

Still, little has been done to actually curb the trading and use of cryptocurrencies in India, outside of official statements.

The Reserve Bank of India claims to have cautioned cryptocurrency investors three times since December 2013, claiming individuals are putting themselves at financial, operational, and legal risks, in addition to compromising their security. Some Indian banks have also provisionally shut down accounts for top Indian exchanges.

Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of new Indian accounts are added to exchanges every month, and there’s little reason to assume Jaitley’s statement will have a significant effect—at least for now.

What do you think about the Indian government’s tough talk on cryptocurrencies? Do you think its claim to not recognize them as legal tender will have any effect on the market? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Bitcoinist archives

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Led 16

Mark Cuban: Buy Dallas Mavericks Tickets ‘Next Season’ With Bitcoin

· January 16, 2018 · 7:30 am

Billionaire Bitcoin skeptic-turned-bull Mark Cuban has said his Dallas Mavericks basketball team will accept Bitcoin “next season.”


Cuban Turns On To Bitcoin Acceptance

In comments on Twitter following publication of team line-ups, Cuban, who as recently as June last year called Bitcoin a “bubble,” confirmed fans would be able to purchase tickets with Bitcoin later in 2018.

The move is milestone for both US basketball and Bitcoin acceptance in sport, Cuban having warmed to Bitcoin considerably over the last six months.

“It is interesting because there are a lot of assets which their value is just based on supply and demand,” he told Bloomberg in an October interview, during which he confirmed he had invested.

Most stocks, there is no intrinsic value because you have no true ownership rights and no voting rights. You just have the ability to buy and sell those stocks. Bitcoin is the same thing. Its value is based on supply demand. I have bought some through an ETN based on a Swedish exchange.

Previously, in an apparent publicity stunt, the billionaire had purchased $20 worth of BTC in order to demonstrate its price would soon correct from highs of the time of around $2800.

Following In Footsteps Of Denmark’s Bitcoin Hockey Team

Outside the US, Denmark made an even more conspicuous gesture last month when an ownership change of a major league hockey club resulted in Bitcoin all but taking over.

Bitcoin Suisse’s three-year tenure means that Rungsted Seier Capital’s home stadium will now go by the name Bitcoin Arena, while the team’s top player will receive his salary in BTC, official announcements stated at the time.

The move “(paves) the way for others in- and outside of the world of professional sports to do the same,” an release added.

Cuban meanwhile remains tight-lipped on what motivated him to launch Bitcoin ticket sales in the short-term.

What do you think about Mark Cuban’s decision to accept Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Thrillbender.com, Twitter

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Led 13

Hodl the Chicken as KFC Introduces the Bitcoin Bucket

· January 13, 2018 · 5:00 am

Crypto comes to the fast food world as KFC Canada introduces the Bitcoin Bucket, a meal for $20 worth of the digital currency.


There are some brands that have become incredibly iconic over the years. One such brand is Kentucky Fried Chicken, or KFC for short. KFC has spread from a regional chain to franchises spanning the globe. Their “finger lickin’ good” food has been devoured by millions of loyal customers. Now their famous fried chicken is getting a crypto boost as KFC Canada has rolled out the Bitcoin Bucket.

walrus KFC Bitcoin Bucket

Crypto Gets You Tasty Fried Chicken

In a really awesome marketing ploy, the Canadian branch of the fast food company is jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon in a clever way. The Bitcoin Bucket rolls off the tongue and is very catchy.

People can pick up the new bucket by spending the equivalent of $20 in the virtual currency. The meal comes with 10 original recipe chicken tenders, waffle fries, a medium side, gravy, and 2 dipping sauces.

This is a pretty tasty meal, even though I would be bummed as it doesn’t come with biscuits. I am jealous that it does feature waffle fries, a menu item that has long been vacant where I live.

Amazing Tweets

While the Bitcoin Bucket in itself is interesting, it’s the tweets put out by KFC Canada that are really the icing on the cake. The various tweets are really funny and show that whoever is behind the campaign knows how to keep people engaged.

Here is a sampling of some of the tweets:

Sure, we don’t know exactly what Bitcoins are, or how they work, but that shouldn’t come between you and some finger lickin’ good chicken.

That’s 0.000662 herbs and spices in Bitcoin.

Avoid bucket FOMO. Invest now!

#BitcoinBucket is currently sold out. There will be a restock tonight. We’re mining for more as fast as we can.

The latest, and likely first, venture into the crypto-chicken space.

According to the website, the Bitcoin Bucket is currently sold out. However, a recent tweet says that more buckets are on the way, which means that the promotion was very successful.

This marks the first time that a parent restaurant company is accepting cryptocurrency. There have been specific franchises in the past that have done so, such as Burger King Arnhem. A recent trend is food companies creating their own coins to expand loyalty programs and take advantage of the blockchain system. Companies that have done this include Burger King Russia and Hooters.

What do you think about the KFC Bitcoin Bucket promotion? Are you now hungry? Let us know in the comments below.


Images courtesy of KFC Canada and Twitter/@kfc_canada.

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Led 07

Bitcoin to the Rescue in Economically Unstable Countries

· January 7, 2018 · 5:00 am

Bitcoin seems to be the knight in shining armor for countries suffering distress due to corrupt governments and volatile economic climates.


Bitcoin’s race to the top of the crypto charts has been filled with record-breaking prices, mainstream integration into the financial industry, and overall sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat excitement.

In waiting for the currency to reach the next price milestone, it may be easy to forget what it’s actually there for. Even though it may have a somewhat infamous reputation as being the preferred medium of exchange for shady deals, Bitcoin’s goal is to completely revolutionize and disrupt the global economic industry.

Paying Salaries in Bitcoin is Becoming Trendy

Bitcoin Offers a Welcome Respite From Corrupt Institutions

This is especially true in emerging markets, or in countries where the political and socio-economic sectors are fraught with corruption and an iron-grip control on finances. In addition, it could be the potential answer to the huge problem facing the unbanked population.

According to the Wall Street Journal, crypto users in Sudan, Kenya, and South Africa are fast latching on to Bitcoin as a lifeboat while navigating the choppy waters of economic uncertainty in their respective countries.

Circumventing Sanctions in Sudan

Mohammed Mahgoub, who is a Sudanese web developer and early Bitcoin fan, had this to say:

The main attraction in Bitcoin is the ability to transfer money without any restrictions or going through a bank, this was very important as there were US sanctions imposed on Sudan.

The country has been subjected to financial sanctions for nearly 30 years, negatively impacting cash outflow and making the purchasing of international imports extremely difficult. In addition, because it is seen as a sponsor of terrorist activities, the country is still on the blacklists of most Western banks.

A Facebook group called Bitcoin Meetup Sudan consists of a range of members hoping to learn more about the cryptocurrency. One member wants to raise funds for her NPO by using Bitcoin, while another wants her dowry to be paid in bitcoins.

On the flip side of the bitcoin, financial institutions in developed countries have cautioned people on the risks of using digital currencies as they are not backed or supported by a bank or by the government. However, this is the exact reason that cryptocurrencies have become so popular in emerging markets as it cannot be controlled by untrustworthy authorities.

Arnaud Masset, an analyst at Swissquote, which is a brokerage offering Bitcoin trading to retail clients, further explained:

Buying cryptocurrencies is seen as a protection by people who have been constantly disappointed by central banks and politics.

Masset went on to add:

When conventional money fails, Bitcoin wins.

Masset also touched on using virtual currencies as a way to alleviate sanction stress:

It’s a convenient and fast way to skirt sanctions.

The supply-and-demand principle is clearly evident with the super crypto. Because its demand is so high in developing countries, its price is well above the global average. On some exchanges in Zimbabwe, like Golix, one Bitcoin traded at $22k, compared to the $15k it was trading at on CoinDesk.

Bitcoin Finds South African, Brazilian, and Kenyan Fanbases

eToro reported that phenomenal increases in Bitcoin usage were seen in South Africa and Brazil in 2017, with trading in the former increasing by 671% over less than a year. This massive growth was likely as a result of the country’s president axing the well-respected former Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan. The South African rand was also downgraded to junk status by S&P Global Ratings in November last year.

Mati Greenspan, an analyst for eToro, stated that Bitcoin usage grew in Brazil as a result of ongoing corruption involving both the country’s former and current presidents.

Kenya is another country experiencing massive Bitcoin growth, 1,400% in 2017 alone. They use the currency to place bets, and people even use it to pay for and gain access to services not available to Kenya, such as Spotify AB.

Smartphone Growth Is a Silver Lining Despite the Dark Cloud of Volatility

However, the currency’s volatility is a real problem in these developing countries. Being in a somewhat precarious position financially can be even more frightening when your Bitcoin investment is losing value every hour, as was the case with the currency’s price correction last month.

Digital currencies may be increasing in popularity in these countries, but they still have a long way to go before being adopted as a common medium of exchange. However, the growing smartphone market in Sub-Saharan Africa is a positive factor in a faster integration. According to GSMA Intelligence, this growth is predicted to happen at a rate of 50% faster than the global average over the following five years.

Do you think emerging markets will continue to increase their usage and adoption of digital currencies? Would this result in more aggressive regulation efforts by the governments in these countries? Let us know in the comments below!


Images courtesy of Pixabay, Pxhere, and Bitcoinist archives.

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