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Factors Pushing Bitcoin Prices Higher in 2017

Factors Pushing Bitcoin Prices
Higher in 2017

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

    
Legislative Changes for Cryptos

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

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

Scaling Debate Resolution

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

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

Economic and Political Uncertainty

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

Venezuela

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

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

India

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

Increased Inflow of Institutional Money

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

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

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

Mainstream Momentum

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

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

Chuck Reynolds


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

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

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

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

Cannabis has been legalized in numerous states

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

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

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

Dennis Rodman Gives PotCoin a New High

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

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

POSaBIT

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

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

SinglePoint and First Bitcoin Capital

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

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

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

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

Chuck Reynolds


Marketing Dept
Contributor

Please click either Link to Learn more about -Bitcoin.

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member

The Ultimate Marketing Machine

 

The Ultimate Marketing Machine

Tools and strategies

 In the past decade, what marketers do to engage customers has changed almost beyond recognition. With the possible exception of information technology, we can’t think of another discipline that has evolved so quickly. Tools and strategies that were cutting-edge just a few years ago are fast becoming obsolete, and new approaches are appearing every day.

Yet in most companies the organizational structure of the marketing function hasn’t changed since the practice of brand management emerged, more than 40 years ago. Hidebound hierarchies from another era are still commonplace.

Marketers understand that their organizations need an overhaul, and many chief marketing officers are tearing up their org charts. But in our research and our work with hundreds of global marketing organizations, we’ve found that those CMOs are struggling with how to draw the new chart. What does the ideal structure look like? Our answer is that this is the wrong question. A simple blueprint does not exist.

Marketing leaders instead must ask, “What values and goals guide our brand strategy, what capabilities drive marketing excellence, and what structures and ways of working will support them?” Structure must follow strategy—not the other way around.

To understand what separates the strategies and structures of superior marketing organizations from the rest, EffectiveBrands (now Millward Brown Vermeer)—in partnership with the Association of National Advertisers, the World Federation of Advertisers, Spencer Stuart, Forbes, MetrixLab, and Adobe—initiated Marketing2020, which to our knowledge is the most comprehensive marketing leadership study ever undertaken. To date, the study has included in-depth qualitative interviews with more than 350 CEOs, CMOs, and agency heads, and over a dozen CMO roundtables in cities worldwide. We also conducted online quantitative surveys of 10,000-plus marketers from 92 countries. The surveys encompassed more than 80 questions focusing on marketers’ data analytics capabilities, brand strategy, cross-functional and global interactions, and employee training.

We divided the survey respondents into two groups, overperformers, and underperformers, on the basis of their companies’ three-year revenue growth relative to their competitors’. We then compared those two groups’ strategies, structures, and capabilities. Some of what we found should come as no surprise: Companies that are sophisticated in their use of data grow faster, for instance. Nevertheless, the research shed new light on the constellation of brand attributes required for superior marketing performance and on the nature of the organizations that achieve it. It’s clear that “marketing” is no longer a discrete entity (and woe to the company whose marketing is still siloed) but now extends throughout the firm, tapping virtually every function. And while the titles, roles, and responsibilities of marketing leaders vary widely among companies and industries, the challenges they face—and what they must do to succeed—are deeply similar.

Highlights from the Survey

Winning Characteristics

The framework that follows describes the broad traits of high-performing organizations, as well as specific drivers of organizational effectiveness. Let’s look first at the shared principles of high performers’ marketing approaches.

Big data, deep insights.

Marketers today are awash in customer data, and most are finding narrow ways to use that information—to, say, improve the targeting of messages. Knowing what an individual consumer is doing where and when is now table stakes. High performers in our study are distinguished by their ability to integrate data on what consumers are doing with knowledge of why they’re doing it, which yields new insights into consumers’ needs and how to best meet them. These marketers understand consumers’ basic drives—such as the desire to achieve, to find a partner, and to nurture a child—motivations we call “universal human truths.”

The Nike+ suite of personal fitness products and services, for instance, combines a deep understanding of what makes athletes tick with troves of data. Nike+ incorporates sensor technologies embedded in running shoes and wearable devices that connect with the web, apps for tablets and smartphones, training programs, and social networks. In addition to tracking running routes and times, Nike+ provides motivational feedback and links users to communities of friends, like-minded athletes, and even coaches. Users receive personalized coaching programs that monitor their progress. An aspiring first-time half-marathon runner, say, and a seasoned runner rebounding from an injury will receive very different coaching. People are rewarded for good performance, can post their accomplishments on social media, and can compare their performance with—and learn from—others in the Nike+ community.

Purposeful positioning.

Top brands excel at delivering all three manifestations of brand purpose—functional benefits, or the job the customer buys the brand to do (think of the pick-me-up Starbucks coffee provides); emotional benefits, or how it satisfies a customer’s emotional needs (drinking coffee is a social occasion); and societal benefits, such as sustainability (when coffee is sourced through fair trade). Consider the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, which defines a set of guiding principles for sustainable growth that emphasize improving health, reducing environmental impact, and enhancing livelihoods. The plan lies at the heart of all Unilever’s brand strategies, as well as its employee and operational strategies.

In addition to engaging customers and inspiring employees, a powerful and clear brand purpose improves alignment throughout the organization and ensures consistent messaging across touchpoints. AkzoNobel’s Dulux, one of the world’s leading paint brands, offers a case in point. In 2006, AkzoNobel was operating a heavily decentralized business structured around local markets, with each local business setting its own brand and business goals and developing its own marketing mix. Not surprisingly, the outcome was inconsistent brand positioning and results; Dulux soared in some markets and floundered in others. In 2008, Dulux’s new global brand team pursued a sweeping program to understand how people perceived the brand across markets, paint’s purpose in their lives, and the human truths that inspired people to color their environments. From China, to India, to the UK, to Brazil, a consistent theme emerged: The colors around us powerfully influence how we feel. Dulux wasn’t selling cans of paint; it was selling “tins of optimism.” This new definition of Dulux’s brand purpose led to a marketing campaign, “Let’s Color.” It enlists volunteers, which now include more than 80% of AkzoNobel employees, and donates paint (more than half a million liters so far) to revitalize run-down urban neighborhoods, from the favelas of Rio to the streets of Jodhpur. In addition to aligning the once-decentralized marketing organization, Dulux’s purpose-driven approach has expanded its share in many markets.

Total experience.

Companies are increasingly enhancing the value of their products by creating customer experiences. Some deepen the customer relationship by leveraging what they know about a given customer to personalize offerings. Others focus on the breadth of the relationship by adding touchpoints. Our research shows that high-performing brands do both—providing what we call “total experience.” In fact, we believe that the most important marketing metric will soon change from “share of wallet” or “share of voice” to “share of experience.”

A spices, and flavorings firm, emphasizes both depth and breadth in delivering on its promise to “push the art, science, and passion of flavor.” It creates a consistent experience for consumers across numerous physical and digital touchpoints, such as product packaging, branded content like cookbooks, retail stores, and even an interactive service, FlavorPrint, that learns each customer’s taste preferences and makes tailored recipe recommendations. FlavorPrint does for recipes what Netflix has done for movies; its algorithm distils each recipe into a unique flavor profile, which can be matched to a consumer’s taste-preference profile. FlavorPrint can then generate customized e-mails, shopping lists, and recipes optimized for tablets and mobile devices.

Chuck Reynolds
Contributor

Alan Zibluk – Markethive Founding Member