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Bitcoin’s price bubble will burst under government pressure

Bitcoin's price bubble will burst under government pressure

Bitcoin's price bubble will burst under government pressure

Is the cryptocurrency bitcoin the biggest bubble in the world today, or a great investment bet on the cutting edge of new-age financial technology? My best guess is that in the long run, the technology will thrive, but that the price of bitcoin will collapse.

If you haven’t been following the bitcoin story, its price is up 600% over the past 12 months, and 1,600% in the past 24 months. At over $4,200 (as of 5 October), a single unit of the virtual currency is now worth more than three times an ounce of gold. Some bitcoin evangelists see it going far higher in the next few years.

What happens from here will depend a lot on how governments react. Will they tolerate anonymous payment systems that facilitate tax evasion and crime? Will they create digital currencies of their own? Another key question is how successfully bitcoin’s numerous “alt-coin” competitors can penetrate the market.
 

Warnings grow louder over cryptocurrency as valuations soar

In principle, it is supremely easy to clone or improve on bitcoin’s technology. What is not so easy is to duplicate bitcoin’s established lead in credibility and the large ecosystem of applications that have built up around it.

For now, the regulatory environment remains a free-for-all. China’s government, concerned about the use of bitcoin in capital flight and tax evasion, has recently banned bitcoin exchanges. Japan, on the other hand, has enshrined bitcoin as legal tender, in an apparent bid to become the global centre of fintech.

Bitcoin's price bubble will burst under government pressure

The United States is taking tentative steps to follow Japan in regulating fintech, though the endgame is far from clear. Importantly, bitcoin does not need to win every battle to justify a sky-high price. Japan, the world’s third largest economy, has an extraordinarily high currency-to-income ratio (roughly 20%), so bitcoin’s success there is a major triumph.

In Silicon Valley, drooling executives are both investing in bitcoin and pouring money into competitors. After bitcoin, the most important is Ethereum. The sweeping, Amazon-like ambition of Ethereum is to allow its users to employ the same general technology to negotiate and write “smart contracts” for just about anything.

As of early October, Ethereum’s market capitalisation stood at $28bn, versus $72bn for bitcoin. Ripple, a platform championed by the banking sector to slash transaction costs for interbank and overseas transfers, is a distant third at $9bn. Behind the top three are dozens of fledgling competitors.

Most experts agree that the ingenious technology behind virtual currencies may have broad applications for cybersecurity, which currently poses one of the biggest challenges to the stability of the global financial system. For many developers, the goal of achieving a cheaper, more secure payments mechanism has supplanted bitcoin’s ambition of replacing dollars.

But it is folly to think that bitcoin will ever be allowed to supplant central-bank-issued money. It is one thing for governments to allow small anonymous transactions with virtual currencies; indeed, this would be desirable. But it is an entirely different matter for governments to allow large-scale anonymous payments, which would make it extremely difficult to collect taxes or counter criminal activity. Of course, as I note in my recent book on past, present, and future currencies, governments that issue large-denomination bills also risk aiding tax evasion and crime. But cash at least has bulk, unlike virtual currency.

It will be interesting to see how the Japanese experiment evolves. The government has indicated that it will force bitcoin exchanges to be on the lookout for criminal activity and to collect information on deposit holders. Still, one can be sure that global tax evaders will seek ways to acquire bitcoin anonymously abroad and then launder their money through Japanese accounts. Carrying paper currency in and out of a country is a major cost for tax evaders and criminals; by embracing virtual currencies, Japan risks becoming a Switzerland-like tax haven – with the bank secrecy laws baked into the technology.

Were bitcoin stripped of its near-anonymity, it would be hard to justify its current price. Perhaps bitcoin speculators are betting that there will always be a consortium of rogue states allowing anonymous bitcoin usage, or even state actors such as North Korea that will exploit it.

Would the price of bitcoin drop to zero if governments could perfectly observe transactions? Perhaps not. Even though bitcoin transactions require an exorbitant amount of electricity, with some improvements, bitcoin might still beat the 2% fees the big banks charge on credit and debit cards.

Finally, it is hard to see what would stop central banks from creating their own digital currencies and using regulation to tilt the playing field until they win. The long history of currency tells us that what the private sector innovates, the state eventually regulates and appropriates. I have no idea where bitcoin’s price will go over the next couple years, but there is no reason to expect virtual currency to avoid a similar fate.
 

Author: Kenneth Rogoff

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin Price is Hitting Above $4,500 Again

Bitcoin Price is Hitting Above $4,500 Again

Bitcoin Price is Hitting Above $4,500 Again

Bitcoin price surpassed the $4,500 mark Sunday, reaching $4,614.91 Sunday, posting a market capitalization of $76.662 billion. Bitcoin posted close to a 5% gain in the last 24 hours, during which most cryptocurrencies posted losses.

Ripple and Litecoin were the only other two of the top 10 cryptocurrencies to gain in the period, posting 15.6% and 2.02% gains, respectively. BitConnect, the number 12 crypto with a market cap just over $1 billion, was the only other crypto with more than $1 billion in market capitalization to post a gain, grabbing 4.36%.

Bitcoin commanded more than half of all cryptocurrency market valuation, accounting for 50.03% of all market value. Ethereum accounted for 19.39%, the only other crypto to rank in double digits. Bitcoin had also surpassed the 50% mark earlier in the week.

Bitcoin Stabilizes Crypto Markets

In the past week, the bitcoin price provided the markets with a stabilizing force. Despite falling prey to the mid-week downtrend, the bitcoin price ended the week at $4,335, which then represented a week-over-week gain of about one-half of one percent.

Tuur Demeester, a prominent bitcoin investor, analyst, and editor in chief at Adamant Research, recently predicted the bitcoin price would surpass the $5,000 mark if support towards SegWit2x declines in the next few days. Uncertainty around SegWit2x has held back the momentum of bitcoin and its short-term rally. Several business have pulled out from the SegWit2x NYA agreement and the plan of the Digital Currency Group-led consortium of companies to carry out a hard fork in November.

Since early September, bitcoin’s price has struggled to recover beyond $4,500 due to uncertainty surrounding the Chinese cryptocurrency exchange market and SegWit2x. Analysts have started to demonstrate optimism towards the possibility of the Chinese government resuming cryptocurrency trading.
 

Hyperinflationary Period Over?

Chris Burniske, a partner at cryptocurrency-focused venture capital firm Placeholder and former cryptocurrency investment lead at ARK Investment, recently revealed that 80 percent of the total supply of bitcoin is now outstanding and that its hyperinflationary period is behind it.

Because there will only be 21 million bitcoins and no additional bitcoin can be created after the supply achieves its cap, only a limited number of investors would be able to hold one full bitcoin.

Bitcoin’s deflationary supply, however, is not an issue for investors and merchants that adopt bitcoin as a digital currency because it is divisible. Currently, many bitcoin wallets and merchants use “satoshi” as a unit, with one satoshi representing 0.00000001 bitcoin.

Investors Flock To Bitcoin

Currently, many investors and traders have invested in bitcoin as a safe haven asset and a long-term investment. But, as bitcoin evolves as a technology and a robust financial network, it will soon compete with reserve currencies, existing banking systems, and traditional assets such as gold.

For the long-term growth of bitcoin’s market cap and price, its deflationary nature will be a vital factor to sustain bitcoin’s upward momentum and demand for bitcoin from the global market.

Several analysts, including RT’s Max Keiser, Harvard academic Dennis Porto, and Saxo Bank senior analyst Kay Van-Petersen, have predicted bitcoin price surpassing $100,000 within the next 10 years.

 

Author: Lester Coleman on 09/10/2017

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Will the Disinflation of Bitcoin Lead to Long-Term Price Surge?

Will the Disinflation of Bitcoin Lead to Long-Term Price Surge

Will the Disinflation of Bitcoin Lead to Long-Term Price Surge?

Chris Burniske, a parter at cryptocurrency-focused venture capital firm Placeholder and former cryptocurrency investment lead at ARKInvestment, revealed that 80 percent of the total supply of bitcoin is now outstanding and that its hyperinflationary period is behind it.

Will the Disinflation of Bitcoin Lead to Long-Term Price Surge

Dissimilar to most currencies and assets, bitcoin is a deflationary currency because of its unique monetary policy. Since its introduction in 2009, bitcoin was structured specifically to operate as a robust and secure store of value, and as an alternative to existing banking systems, financial networks, and currencies.

Two distinct characteristics of bitcoin which sets it apart from bank-issued or operated currencies are its decentralized nature and fixed supply. Bitcoin’s supply is capped at 21 million and consequently, it is not possible for more than 21 million bitcoin to exist.

Disinflation and Decreasing Supply of Bitcoin

Because there will only be 21 million bitcoins and no additional bitcoin can be created after the supply achieves its cap, only a limited number of investors would be able to hold one full bitcoin.

Chris Burniske, a parter at cryptocurrency-focused venture capital firm Placeholder and former cryptocurrency investment lead at ARKInvestment, revealed that 80 percent of the total supply of bitcoin is now outstanding and that its hyperinflationary period is behind it.

bitcoinDissimilar to most currencies and assets, bitcoin is a deflationary currency because of its unique monetary policy. Since its introduction in 2009, bitcoin was structured specifically to operate as a robust and secure store of value, and as an alternative to existing banking systems, financial networks, and currencies.

Two distinct characteristics of bitcoin which sets it apart from bank-issued or operated currencies are its decentralized nature and fixed supply. Bitcoin’s supply is capped at 21 million and consequently, it is not possible for more than 21 million bitcoin to exist.

Disinflation and Decreasing Supply of Bitcoin

Because there will only be 21 million bitcoins and no additional bitcoin can be created after the supply achieves its cap, only a limited number of investors would be able to hold one full bitcoin.

But, bitcoin’s deflationary supply is not an issue for investors and merchants that adopt bitcoin as a digital currency because it is divisible. Currently, many bitcoin wallets and merchants use “satoshi” as a unit, with one satoshi representing 0.00000001 bitcoin.

At the Texas Bitcoin Conference, economist Robert Murphy from the Austrian School of Economics, refuted the criticism of conventional economists that previously condemned the monetary supply of bitcoin. Murphy stated:

“Part of where this fear of deflation comes from is, historically, it’s associated with very bad economies. So, during the Great Depression of the 30s, there were falling prices. And there are other periods where prices fell when things were bad, but I would argue that the causality was the other way around. Partly what was going on there was people were concerned because the economy was so terrible. And, so what do you do when you’re afraid? You don’t want to invest in companies and things like that. You rush to liquidity. You rush to hard money. That’s why you often see in periods of panic people will rush to the money, so you see prices of all other things quoted in money fall. So, it’s not that the falling prices caused the bad economy. It’s the other way around.”

The deflationary monetary policy of bitcoin will only increase the demand for bitcoin in the long-term. As noted by Burniske, already 80 percent of bitcoin’s supply is outstanding and the creation of bitcoin will be limited as years pass, upon the “halving” of miner reward.
 

If Bitcoin’s Current Rate of Growth is Sustained, its Value Will Increase Drastically

Several analysts including RT’s Max Keiser, Harvard academic Dennis Porto, and Saxo Bank senior analyst Kay Van-Petersen have provided a strong case of the bitcoin price surpassing $100,000 within the next ten years. In order for bitcoin to achieve $100,000 in value, its market cap would need to increase beyond $2.1 trillion.

Currently, many investors and traders have invested in bitcoin as a safe haven asset and a long-term investment. But, as bitcoin evolves as a technology and a robust financial network, it will soon compete with reserve currencies, existing banking systems, and traditional assets such as gold.

For the long-term growth of bitcoin’s market cap and price, its deflationary nature will be a vital factor to sustain bitcoin’s upward momentum and demand for bitcoin from the global market.
 

Author: Joseph Young on 07/10/2017

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Calm Before the Fork – Segwit2x Goes Silent as Bitcoin Split Looms

Calm Before the Fork - Segwit2x Goes Silent as Bitcoin Split Looms

Calm Before the Fork – Segwit2x Goes Silent as Bitcoin Split Looms

"It's sort of like the quiet tension before a battle."

That's how Jean-Pierre Rupp, a developer at bitcoin wallet provider Blockchain, described the current state of Segwit2x development. With the code labeled "production ready," and the work of contributors like Rupp nearly complete, the main step left is the activation of the code, scheduled for late November.

That's when the next stage of bitcoin's scaling debate, as they say, will come to a head.

First proposed at a private meeting of industry players in May, Segwit2x was intended to forge a compromise in bitcoin's long-raging scaling debate. Still, it has attracted opposition, primarily for its approach to upgrading the bitcoin software. Chief among concerns is its use of a hard fork to increase the block size, a contentious mechanism due to the fact it could result in the creation of two competing bitcoin assets, or perhaps a single one that no longer interests a certain portion of users.

While Segwit2x's proponents and detractors permeate social media channels, there's been comparatively few statements from the group working on the software.

To that point, CoinDesk has observed little activity on the Segwit2x mailing list and GitHub (the level of code changes pales in comparison to other active cryptocurrency projects, even smaller ones such as MimbleWimble or btcd).

But this is by design, according to project developers, who say if no problems are detected, the only thing left to do is wait for the big day.

Rupp told CoinDesk:

"Nothing is really being done at the moment until the fork date. As the most recent document that we published states, we are in a quiet period. We aren't discussing much about the direction of development afterwards, nor being too active on the technical front until the fork happens in November."

Small stirrings

While it's primarily a waiting game now, that's not to say some testing isn't being done to make sure everything will go smoothly.

While there's no additional feature development going on, according to Segwit2x project lead and BitGo co-founder and CEO, Mike Belshe, tests are ongoing to verify the software's compatibility with existing bitcoin libraries and applications.

Rupp provided evidence of this, saying he's reviewed the portion of the code set to activate the hard fork. In addition, he said he's been running a "faucet" – one that spills out test coins so users can see what making transactions will be like on a network upgraded to Segwit2x's rule set.

Rupp has given away more than 3,500 coins which have been used to make about 5,000 transactions on the testnet. Still, it's unclear how many and which developers are using the faucet for testing, especially since some Segwit2x developer proponents have since stepped back from the project.

OpenBazaar lead developer Chris Pacia said he's been "a little out of the loop" recently. And RSK Labs developer Sergio Demian Lerner, despite being the author of the proposal that inspired Segwit2x, simply stated in an email: "I'm not involved in Segwit2x now."

Other known participants declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment.

Partisan lines

Still, there may be good reasons for the lack of Segwit2x developer and company dialogue. In bitcoin, the proposal has become a black-or-white issue, and there may be little that can be done to change the minds of those on either side.

As the bitcoin blockchain has grown, there are some who want to keep transaction fees low to attract consumers (or businesses seeking to offer services to those consumers), and those who want to keep them high (so the costs of storing a full record of all transactions doesn't become prohibitive).

When speaking to developers, there remains staunch support along partisan lines.

John Heathco, a developer who recently contributed to Segwit2x, said he believes there's still "a lot of community support" for increasing the block size parameter as a way to improve network capacity.

"The majority of individuals just want to be able to use bitcoin without paying ridiculously high fees," he argued.

Historical data from Statoshi.info shows that fees have indeed grown over time, but only gradually over the last couple of years. (In October 2015, the average transaction fee was 55 satoshis per byte, though it has been as high as 410 satoshis per byte earlier this year, before dropping again to 120 satoshis per byte).

Others believe Segregated Witness (SegWit), a code change that went live on the network in August, will eventually reduce fees (and provide other suitable options of allowing low-cost transactions).

Already, companies such as BitGo and GreenAddress, among the earliest wallet providers to adopt SegWit transactions, report fees are now about half the cost of normal transactions.
 

Measuring sentiment

Still, users and companies, it seems, are slow to migrate.

Though 144 companies claim they will eventually update to support SegWit, at press time, the percentage of transactions using SegWit is growing slowly, and still in the single digits. Whether because they are uninterested in adoption or unwilling to, it seems, Segwit2x proponents are keen to use the statistic to argue that SegWit doesn't go far enough.

Yet another fault line is just whose opinion matters in the debate, with developers often echoing the idea that "users" and the "community" have already rejected the proposal.

"Most people, as far as I know, don’t intend to follow it," said developer James Hilliard, a notable critic of the Segwit2x agreement.

However, the comments mostly point to the lack of resources that can measure the issue, with informal Twitter polls often serving as "evidence" of broader sentiment.

As for the actual parties to the agreement, while a few signatories have backed out, most major miners and 56 companies claim to support the proposal. Still, there is disagreement over whether the opinion of miners and startups should dictate course.

Though less public now about their plans, it seems the companies and developers behind the effort aren't inclined to weigh in either. Most, it seems, are content to use the silence to their advantage as a way to avoid further backlash, or at least enjoy a moment of calm ahead of what could be a fierce debate ahead.

Oct 6, 2017 at 08:01 UTC by Alyssa Hertig

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein Latest Exec to Flirt with Bitcoin

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein Latest Exec to Flirt with Bitcoin

Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein Latest Exec to Flirt with Bitcoin

Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, cozies up to bitcoin, albeit hesitantly. He’s following a global corporate trend. As its price rises, and bitcoin’s resiliency to regulation rumors and clampdown steady, it’s not hard to imagine more converts on the way.

 

Consigliere to the Elite

The man’s words literally move markets. In a single Tweet, he can set the financial world aflutter. To wit:

Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, consigliere to presidents, prime ministers, central bankers, understands the power of his unique platform, voice.

As head of a century-and-a-half old financial institution, Mr. Blankfein has the ear of everyone who matters. Even the United States Treasury consults him prior to finalizing policy.

Mr. Blankfein joined Twitter only this year, and has kept Tweeting to about two dozen posts in less than six months. This one, however, received serious media attention, especially coming as it has after conjecture swirled Goldman Sachs would consider its own bitcoin play within the mainstream market structure.

Its second line grabs at bitcoin enthusiasts.

The move to paper money, cash, was indeed a radical solution to a very common daily economic problem. Gold was an ideal form of currency, but its limitation in large amounts included lugging it around.

Issuing redeemable notes, though they came with their own set of problems, easily stored and folded, allowed for smoother public and private transactions.

Depending on your favorite anthropologist, paper money has been around for something on the order of 1,400 years.

Mr. Blankfein knows all this.

What seems like a passing, throw-away line in a Tweet is, some have speculated, a sly acknowledgment bitcoin might replace altogether fiat paper, or at least compete, over the next millennia and a half.

 

Bizarre Presage

Momentous as Mr. Blankfein’s Tweet seems, it wouldn’t be particularly newsworthy by itself.

Just days ago, International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, spoke to the Bank of England (BOE).

“For now,” Director Lagarde warned, “virtual currencies such as Bitcoin pose little or no challenge to the existing order of fiat currencies and central banks” [emphasis Ms. Lagarde’s].

Import rests in her phrase, “for now,” as the remainder of her speech to gathered European financial professionals suggests.

Ms. Lagarde echoed consistent BOE working papers and pronouncements on cryptocurrencies, commonly lumped-together in European parlance as ‘virtual currencies.’

As far back as the third quarter of 2014, Robleh Ali of BOE’s Financial Market Infrastructure Directorate, produced an official assessment of virtual currencies such as bitcoin.

“Virtual currencies are in a different category,” Ms. Lagarde said, “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.”

BOE concluded, “while they are interesting, they do not currently pose a material risk to monetary or financial stability in the United Kingdom. We continue to monitor developments in this area.”

That BOE statement remains fully intact as of this writing.

But then, during her talk, Ms. Lagarde bizarrely presaged Mr. Blankfein’s Tweet. She seemed to be moving away from both BOE’s and her earlier caveat.

Ms. Lagarde, former French Prime Minister François Fillon’s Minister of Finance, was lucid enough to distinguish virtual currencies from what most of the world already experiences.

“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,” she clarified.

IMF is the United Nation’s chartered legacy of economists, such as John Maynard Keynes, to provide a global Special Drawing Rights (SDR) fund for fiscal emergencies. The SDR hovers around 700 billion USD. Nearly 200 countries participate.

“Virtual currencies are in a different category,” Ms. Lagarde said, “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.”

Another way to put that is, bitcoin is cash for the digital age

.

Even Haters are Coming Around

While CEOs are typically non-committal in their remarks, leaving analysts to comb through for morsels of news, Fidelity Investments CEO Abigail Johnson announced, at the Consensus Conference over the summer, she is “a believer” in bitcoin.

Corporate executives in 2017 are indeed beginning to sound a little like religious converts.

“I’m one of the few standing before you,” Ms. Johnson witnessed to congregants, “from a large financial services company that has not given up on digital currencies. We set up a small Bitcoin and Ethereum mining operation … that miraculously now is actually making a lot of money.”

Ms. Johnson is admittedly rare in this regard.

This year’s bitcoin three hundred percent price increase has changed a growing number of CEOs’ hearts. They’re finding religion, as it were.

James Gorman, CEO of Morgan Stanley, once sounded befuddled by bitcoin.

“I’m not sure I understand it,” Mr. Gorman told Fox Business, “I mean, it is totally surreal. I mean, who’s the founder, this guy in LA? What’s going on with Mt. Gox?”

That was, of course, back in 2014 when an equally mystified Asian American man was mistakenly pinned for Satoshi Nakamoto, and Mt. Gox was insolvent.

Smash-cut to present day.

In an interview with The Wall Street Journal’s financial editor Dennis Berman, Mr. Gorman said three years-on he still doesn’t own any bitcoin.

However, he’s “talked to a lot of people who have. It’s obviously highly speculative, but it’s not something that’s inherently bad.”

Mr. Gorman continued, bitcoin is “certainly more than just a fad.”

 

Shadow Bank Throws Shade

If Mr. Blankfein, the IMF, Fidelity Investments, and Morgan Stanley have inched toward bitcoin and, in come cases, fully lauded its potential, at least one holdout, thought never to so much as mention cryptocurrencies, might be softening.

Sort of. Maybe.

The globe’s shadow bank, BlackRock, Inc., manages well-over five trillion USD, yes, trillion, in assets.

CEO Larry Fink gave a luke-warm or cold embrace of cryptocurrencies generally, depending on how a person hears his answers, to Bloomberg Markets.

“I am a big believer in the potential of what a, … a cryptocurrency can do,” Mr. Fink said as he struggled to find the correct phrasing. “You see huge opportunities in it.”

Bloomberg‘s running ticker screamed Mr. Fink’s endorsement.

And then …

“What I think about most of these cryptocurrencies, it just identifies how much money laundering there is being done in the world, how much people are trying to move currencies from one place to another,” Mr. Fink stressed worriedly.

“I actually believe you’re seeing a demand for [bitcoin],” he continued, but a created world digital currency might pose innumerable security risks, Mr. Fink surmised.

When asked if his clients are asking for a bitcoin/cryptocurrency asset class or product, Mr. Fink answered demonstrably, “No.” Beyond venture capital and speculation, BlackRock wasn’t hearing much from their customers on bitcoin.

“I hate the word ‘crypto,'” he said, preferring the phrase “digitized currency.”
 

Images courtesy of Huffington Post, Charlie Rose, Twitter, Wall Street Journal, YouTube. Sterlin Luxan contributed to this piece.

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Analysis of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin

Analysis of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin

Analysis of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin

* All the market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

 

The cryptocurrency universe is showing nervousness at the current levels, having recovered anywhere between 50% to 78% of the fall. After having sucked in the eager bulls at lower levels, is a retest of the lows on the cards?

What should be the future plan of action? To hold out or sell now? Let’s uncover the possibilities

Bitcoin

In our previous analysis, we had recommended booking partial profits at about $4459 levels. We are not yet bearish on bitcoin, but we believe that the pullback has reached a significant resistance zone of $4546 to $4680.

So, how far can the digital currency fall?

Bitcoin has significant support from the 20-day exponential moving average (EMA), the 50-day simple moving average (SMA) and the trendline in the zone of $4121 to $4200.

Therefore, a bounce from these levels is likely.

We may see an intraday dip below the trendline, but the closing is likely to be above it. Aggressive traders can initiate long trades close to $4150, if there are clear signs of support kicking in. Please watch for an hour to establish a strong support and then buy. If the cryptocurrency continues to fall, no trade should be taken.

This is a risky trade, therefore, we recommend a smaller position size.

In order to protect our investment, a stop loss of about $3950 can be kept. The target objective of this trade is $4480 and higher.

Ether

While bitcoin is yet to breakdown of the trendline, its junior partner, ethereum has already done so, albeit on an intraday basis. Until the digital currency breaks and closes below the trendline, we will not consider it a valid breakdown.

Ethereum has significant support at the $280 levels, where we expect some buying to emerge.

Nevertheless, we believe that the digital currency is stuck in a tight range of $280 to $310. This range is unlikely to hold out for long. Soon, price will either breakout or breakdown of it. Therefore, we recommend waiting until the digital currency reaches $317, which is a clear indication of demand because if the cryptocurrency breaks down of $280, it can plunge to $240 levels.

We are not recommending a trade within the range, as price is below both the moving averages, which is a bearish sign.

litecoin

Litecoin has formed a clear range of $44 on the lower end and $57.7 on the upper end. The best way to trade within a range is to buy at the bottom and sell at the top.

Currently, the cryptocurrency is trying to hold the psychological level of $50. If this level beaks, a fall to $44 is likely, where the traders can initiate long positions with a SL at $40. However, please don’t buy in a falling market. Wait for prices to bounce off the lows before buying around $44 to $46 levels.

On the other hand, if litecoin finds support at $50 and rallies above $58, we recommend a long position with the stop loss just below $50. A breakout of the range has a minimum target objective of $71.

Guest Writer on 05/10/2017

 

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

 

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

Bitcoin: $6,000 and Beyond?

Bitcoin: $6,000 and Beyond?

Bitcoin: $6,000 and Beyond?

Bitcoin will quickly rise to $6,000 and you’re all foolish for thinking otherwise. At least, that’s what industry experts are saying. Of course, they added one important caveat: expect volatility to continue.

Bullish on Bitcoin

The cryptocurrency community has fallen on hard times as of late, but that hasn’t stopped the industry’s brightest minds from maintaining their bullish bets on BTC. The next major target that experts are eyeing is $6,000, which is a nearly 40% increase from current levels. According to analysts quoted by CNBC, $6,000 could become reality by year’s end.

The BTC/USD exchange rate peaked above $5,000 earlier this summer before a series of market events triggered a sharp correction. Chief among them was China’s decision to ban initial coin offerings (ICOs) and close down bitcoin exchanges.

Bitcoin was trading around $4,300 early Wednesday, according to Bitstamp. A price action analysis of the BTC/USD reveals that the digital currency is poised for a bullish breakout following a solid weekend of trading.

At present values, the BTC market is worth roughly $71.6 billion, easily tops among global cryptocurrencies. Ethereum is a distant second at $299.00 a pop and $28.4 billion in capitalization.

Bitcoin Cash (BCH), which “forked” from the original BTC in August, is trading at $403.00. That’s enough for fourth place on the global cryptocurrency value chart. With a cap of around $6.7 billion, BCH is ten times smaller than bitcoin.

BlackRock Sees Potential in Cryptocurrency

The CEO of the world’s biggest hedge fund sees “huge opportunities” for cryptocurrency. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, BlackRock head Larry Fink said he is a “big believer” in the crypto asset class.

At the same time, Fink said cryptocurrency is still the center of a global money laundering scheme. He also expressed concerns over the explosion of speculative trading in Asia, a region that has mixed feelings about cryptocurrency.

Following Japan’s landmark decision to recognize bitcoin as a legitimate currency, China and South Korea have launched regulatory campaigns against cryptos. The resulting selloff in the market was short-lived, as investors quickly returned.

Analysts now say the center of power in the cryptocurrency market is shifting to Japan. Just last week, the country’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) officially recognized 11 cryptocurrency exchange operators.

 

Author: Sam Bourgi

Posted by David Ogden Entrepreneur
David Ogden Cryptocurrency Entrepreneur

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

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