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Some very important points that most people do not understand about Bitcoin
Point 1) Most people do not understand that you can't send money over internet, but only information. Bitcoin is the first digital settlement layer. When I send a picture to someone on Facebook messenger, I don't actually send a picture. I send information about the pictures structure, and the picture gets restructured on the client side (the cellphone) of the user I send it to. Copy of the information is being sent, not the picture itself. So you can't send money over internet, it is not possible, only information. If I have a bank account at some bank, and I send $50 dollars to another person in the same bank by using the banks website, then a transaction happens between two people within the same infrastructure, which is the banks back-end system and database. So the banks system just subtracts $50 dollars from one person and adds $50 dollars to another person. But no money has moved, only information has been edited. But if I send money to someone that uses another Bank, then this bank has its own infrastructure which is independent of the first. So Bank1 tells Bank2 that they have a user that wants to send money to a user of the other bank. So Bank1 subtracts $50 from User1, and Bank2 adds $50 to User2, but now Bank1 owes Bank2 $50, why? Because you can't send money over internet. So they have to settle the difference between them with some kind of a settlement system, (cash, gold or a third party like a central bank). This difference can be the result of many transactions between many users and can be millions of dollars of worth, the settlement can be done periodically for example every 6 months. With Bitcoin, because of how the system works, it is almost as if you can send value over internet for the first time, even though you don't really send value, you still send information, but since the infrastructure is global, it is like the first example, it is as if the world has (one large bank infrastructure), that is fully automated and which no one controls. This alone makes Bitcoin extremely valuable, because it is a trust less digital settlement layer which is extremely secure and not dependent on one particular nation or organisation. Point 2) There can never be more than 21 million Bitcoin. This is very hard for people to grasp. Because what do you mean there can never be more than 21 million bitcoin? It sounds like a game, such a scam... People do not understand that Bitcoin is not normal software. In normal software the developers can change the code as they want and publish the code when they want. They do not understand that Bitcoin is a software that is not like a normal software. You can't actually change the number even if the number is programmed in. Which of-course most people will deny, because it makes no sense for most people. They do not understand that even though it is theoretically possible to change it, it is practically almost impossible. It is theoretically possible for me to convince half of Sweden to burn half of their money, but practically impossible. Just because something is theoretically possible, doesn't mean that it will happen within a time frame, or even in your lifetime. In order for the 21 million supply to change, most people in the Bitcoin community needs to agree on it, which is practically impossible. Miners have to change to the new protocol and so on. Not going to happen. When gold treasures were lost in the past, someone else could find them. Gold practically never completely disappears, it is a chemical element. With Bitcoin, once it is lost it is practically lost forever (put aside quantum computing for now and other theoretical unforeseeable events). 21 million is only the upper theoretical limit. Bitcoin will be more and more scarce as time goes by. Gold is not like this. Gold has an inflation rate of 1,5% every year. The reason it is constant is because even if the stock gets bigger, the flow into the stock also gets bigger because of better mining capabilities, so you can look at it as constant inflation of 1.5% every year. With Bitcoin, not only do the stock to flow ratio go up every halvening, and the flow into bitcoin not only decreases with time, but almost goes into negative because of lost coins every year. This is completely insane and people do not understand this. If you combine this almost deflationary nature of Bitcoin with extreme bullish market sentiment then you will realize that no one knows what is going to happen in the future because wrapping your head around all this and to come to a conclusion about the Bitcoin price will make you sound absolutely delusional to most people. Point 3) People think that $100,000 bitcoin is wishful thinking and that there is not enough money in the world for Bitcoin to be worth millions of dollars. Which I can assure you is false. Bitcoin can even be worth $50 million dollars per coin, which would make 2 satoshi 1 dollar. Even if one Bitcoin transaction would cost 10 000 Satoshi. You might say, that's not possible, whats the point if one transaction is so expensive. Again, you don't need to actually do a transfer of money, as in the first example of point 1, virtual transactions on bank level can happen, or on Coinbase. You can send 100 satoshi to someone and pay 1 satoshi in fee "on the bank level", not on chain, banks or exchanges then will settle the difference as they want. At least with Bitcoin you have the option to be you own bank, even if that will cost you more, you still have the option. This is already happening in front of your eyes. Banks like Dutch ING, Deutsche bank, are already working on custody services for cryptocurrencies. And even exchanges want to operate as banks and exchanges like Coinbase are working to get license for this. This is already happening and it is the correct move forwards, a mix between the legacy banking system and cryptocurrencies. You can already spend your Bitcoin with Coinbase Visa Card or similar services. Most people are too lazy and stupid to operate like us with their own wallets, it is a fact well known. In terms of the price, money inflow is not the same as market cap. Take for instance the following simple scenario. I own 100% of the shares of my own company and I decide to sell 10% of the company for 1 million USD, which will value my whole company at 10 million USD, so 1 million flow into my company leads to 10x market cap of 10 million USD. For Bitcoin to have 21 trillion market cap, Bitcoin does not need 21 trillion of money inflow. Bitcoin price is dependent on market sentiment, if the market sentiment is such that very few people want to sell their coins because the price keeps going up then you might have 100x market cap of the money inflow. So 1 billion USD in money inflow translates to 100 billion USD in market cap. The multiplier can be 10x, 2x or 50x, all depends on market sentiment and time period. So an inflow of 10 trillion USD in 10 years might lead to 100 trillion USD market cap of BTC and 5 million USD per Bitcoin. Bitcoin value have no roof, the price might actually just keep going up and up and up and up and up. We have never had something that is absolutely scarce, and global, and seen as an alternative form of money, when the rest of the world keeps bubbling up. There is no limit on the BTC price because the whole world works with a bubbly system, and the way Bitcoin is price discovered, is a guaranteed insane BTC price in the future. Even $100 million USD per Bitcoin in 50 years before I am dead is possible. Point 4) Fiat does not need to die, and Bitcoin does not need to take over in order for Bitcoin to have "ridiculous price". No financial crisis is needed. Actually what you want is things to just continue as they have done in the last 10 years. No too extreme events. Just "small events" here and there. You can't change human nature, it is inevitable. Bitcoin is so ingrained into our world that there is no way back. There will be people with whole Bitcoin, and people without. Just like people with gold and stock investments and real estate, and people without those things. No insane events, this is all normal. Point 5) Bitcoin has won as the financial cryptocurrency. No flippening will happen. The only flippening will be with gold and fiat currencies. If I wanted to, I could have developed a system like PayPal in 1 month time, and it would be able to do 5000 transactions per second because I would use MySQL and SSD, but no one would use my service because they would not trust me because they have no idea who I am and what my service is, and there is no one to send money too, so the network is not there. Bitcoin has won because security and network effect is way more important than transactions per second. Transactions per second will be dealt with on bank level, exchange level, or layer 2 solutions. This is already clear to me. Bitcoin has won. Point 6) In order to understand Bitcoin and what will happen in the future, you have to be able to see things that are not in front of you. You can't compare Bitcoin to Tulip mania, or even Gold. Because something like Bitcoin has never existed before and you have to think about it's properties and try to understand it with human nature and with how the world works and how everything keeps increasing, and Bitcoin is the thing that does not increase in supply. You will eventually accept the unnatural thought of Bitcoin never stopping going up in value, which is something that is hard to come to terms with, because it feels unnatural, "and it could not possibly be so". Point 7) The Gini coefficient of Bitcoin is not a big deal. I used to think that it was unfair that some people had 1,000 BTC, 10,000 BTC, or even 50,000 BTC. And I was afraid that they might dump their coins into the market and crash it. I have now realised that these people are smart people and they think like me, and they won't just dump their whole BTC holding on the market as that might be a very bad move for them. It is like when a majority holder of a company, like Jeff Bezos and Amazon, understands that he can't sell all of his shares in one go as that would effect Amazon stock value too much and would not be smart. It is best to sell when the price goes up, but then when they sell the BTC will just be eaten up by other people, and they will be at a loss in the longer term. And the other thing is that perhaps there is no other smart place to put that fiat money, Bitcoin might just be the best place to keep those amounts of money. Someone with a very large holding has two options. He can either sell his BTC, in which case the price would go down but the Bitcoin would be spread out between potentially thousands of new users, or he might decide to never sell. If he decides to never sell, it is as if those Bitcoins are lost forever and that is good for the Bitcoin price and Bitcoin in general. If he decides to sell then Bitcoin will be divided more equally among many users which is also a good thing for Bitcoin because that increases the network effect, and after he sells he no longer has the power to drive the price down, but now he sits on a very large fiat holding, he might even buy back at a higher price and drive the price higher. I know that if I had 10,000 BTC, I would sell 1,000 BTC and buy a house and a car and whatever I wanted, and sell another 1,000 BTC to diversify into some other assets. And keep 8,000 BTC because I don't know of anywhere else to put that kind of money into good work. I believe in Bitcoin so as an investor it makes sense to keep it here. I probably would never sell because I would never need anything else after the initial 1,000 BTC sell. Bitcoin is like a black hole that sucks in the Earths monetary resources over time. Most people that bought really early and were smart enough to hold all the way to these prices will only sell what they need to sell and keep the rest in BTC. Some of them might want to speculate and try to time the ATH, only to buy back in with most of the fiat they sold. Which means that even if money goes out of the market, it only goes out of the market temporarily, only to get back in at hopefully lower prices. And so the market grows, and grows and grows over time. Point 8) Bitcoin has intrinsic value. When people like Peter Schiff say that gold has intrinsic value because gold can be used in electronics and aviation and therefore gold has value but Bitcoin has no value because it has no intrinsic value, you have to take a pause and do some critical thinking. Can you imagine 16th century pirates looking to find a gold treasure worth an insane amount because they knew gold had value because of electronics and aviation? This is clearly absurd. Gold has been used as money for thousands of years and electronics and aviation was not even a thing 150 years ago. Gold has value because it is globally scarce. Bitcoin is absolutely verifiable scarce. Bitcoin has intrinsic value because of it's monetary policy and because you can carry millions of dollars of value by remembering only 24 words in your head, and carry that value wherever you want and no one can stop you, that is intrinsic value. People had a hard time understanding that a website like Facebook could be worth billions of dollars, because it was not physical, it was "just a website". Even a website like Google search is not physical and still it has immense value. It is valuable information and it provides a good service, and that has value, it does not have to be physical and tangible.
Hi Bitcoiners! I’m back with the 31st monthly Bitcoin news recap. For those unfamiliar, each day I pick out the most popularelevant/interesting stories in Bitcoin and save them. At the end of the month I release them in one batch, to give you a quick (but not necessarily the best) overview of what happened in bitcoin over the past month. You can see recaps of the previous months on Bitcoinsnippets.com A recap of Bitcoin in July 2019 Adoption
In the past weeks I heard a lot pros and cons about IOTA, many of them I believe were not true (I'll explain better). I would like to start a serious discussion about IOTA and help people to get into it. Before that I'll contribute with what I know, most things that I will say will have a source link providing some base content.
The pros and cons that I heard a lot is listed below, I'll discuss the items marked with *. Pros
Many users claim that the network infinitely scales, that with more transactions on the network the faster it gets. This is not entirely true, that's why we are seeing the network getting congested (pending transactions) at the moment (12/2017). The network is composed by full-nodes (stores all transactions), each full-node is capable of sending transactions direct to the tangle. An arbitrary user can set a light-node (do not store all transactions, therefore a reduced size), but as it does not stores all transactions and can't decide if there are conflicting transactions (and other stuff) it needs to connect to a full-node (bitifinex node for example) and then request for the full-node to send a transaction to the tangle. The full-node acts like a bridge for a light-node user, the quantity of transactions at the same time that a full-node can push to the tangle is limited by its brandwidth. What happens at the moment is that there are few full-nodes, but more important than that is: the majority of users are connected to the same full-node basically. The full-node which is being used can't handle all the requested transactions by the light-nodes because of its brandwidth. If you are a light-node user and is experiencing slow transactions you need to manually select other node to get a better performance. Also, you need to verify that the minimum weight magnitude (difficulty of the Hashcash Proof of Work) is set to 14 at least. The network seems to be fine and it scales, but the steps an user has to make/know are not friendly-user at all. It's necessary to understand that the technology envolved is relative new and still in early development. Do not buy iota if you haven't read about the technology, there is a high chance of you losing your tokens because of various reasons and it will be your own fault. You can learn more about how IOTA works here. There are some upcoming solutions that will bring the user-experience to a new level, The UCL Wallet (expected to be released at this month, will talk about that soon and how it will help the network) and the Nelson CarrIOTA (this week) besides the official implementations to come in december.
We all know that currently (2017) IOTA depends on the coordinator because the network is still in its infancy and because of that it is considered centralized by the majority of users. The coordinator are several full-nodes scattered across the world run by the IOTA foundation. It creates periodic Milestones (zero value transactions which reference valid transactions) which are validated by the entire network. The coordinator sets the general direction for the tangle growth. Every node verifies that the coordinator is not breaking consensus rules by creating iotas out of thin air or approving double-spendings, nodes only tells other nodes about transactions that are valid, if the Coordinator starts issuing bad Milestones, nodes will reject them. The coordinator is optional since summer 2017, you can choose not implement it in your full-node, any talented programmer could replace Coo logic in IRI with Random Walk Monte Carlo logic and go without its milestones right now. A new kind of distributed coordinator is about to come and then, for the last, its completely removal. You can read more about the coordinator here and here.
These are blockchain-based cryptocurrencies (Bitcoin) that has miners to guarantee its security. Satoshi Nakamoto states several times in the Bitcoin whitepaper that "The system is secure as long as honest nodes collectively control more CPU power than any cooperating group of attacker nodes". We can see in Blockchain.info that nowadays half of the total hashpower in Bitcoin is controlled by 3 companies (maybe only 1 in the future?). Users must trust that these companies will behave honestly and will not use its 50%> hashpower to attack the network eventually. With all that said it's reasonable to consider the IOTA network more decentralized (even with the coordinator) than any mining-blockchain-based cryptocurrency You can see a comparison between DAG cryptocurrencies here
Some partnerships of IOTA foundation with big companies were well known even when they were not officialy published. Some few examples of confirmed partnerships are listed below, others cofirmed partnerships can be seem in the link Partnerships with big companies at the pros section.
So what's up with all alarming in social media about IOTA Foundation faking partnerships with big companies like Microsoft and Cisco? At Nov. 28th IOTA Foundation announced the Data Marketplace with 30+ companies participating. Basically it's a place for any entity sell data (huge applications, therefore many companies interested), at time of writing (11/12/2017) there is no API for common users, only companies in touch with IOTA Foundation can test it. A quote from Omkar Naik (Microsoft worker) depicted on the Data Marketplace blog post gave an idea that Microsoft was in a direct partnership with IOTA. Several news websites started writing headlines "Microsoft and IOTA launches" (The same news site claimed latter that IOTA lied about partnership with Microsoft) when instead Microsoft was just one of the many participants of the Data Marketplace. Even though it's not a direct partnership, IOTA and Microsoft are in close touch as seen in IOTA Microsoft and Bosch meetup december 12th, Microsoft IOTA meetup in Paris 14th and Microsoft Azure adds 5 new Blockchain partners (may 2016). If you join the IOTA Slack channel you'll find out that there are many others big companies in close touch with IOTA like BMW, Tesla and other companies. This means that right now there are devs of IOTA working directly with scientists of these companies to help them integrate IOTA on their developments even though there is no direct partnership published, I'll talk more about the use cases soon.
We are excited to partner with IOTA foundation and proud to be associated with its new data marketplace initiative... - Omkar Naik
IOTA's use cases
Every cryptocurrency is capable of being a way to exchange goods, you pay for something using the coin token and receive the product. Some of them are more popular or have faster transactions or anonymity while others offers better scalablity or user-friendness. But none of them (except IOTA) are capable of transactioning information with no costs (fee-less transactions), in an securely form (MAM) and being sure that the network will not be harmed when it gets more adopted (scales). These characteristics open the gates for several real world applications, you probably might have heard of Big Data and how data is so important nowadays.
Data sets grow rapidly - in part because they are increasingly gathered by cheap and numerous information-sensing Internet of things devices such as mobile devices, aerial (remote sensing), software logs, cameras, microphones, radio-frequency identification (RFID) readers and wireless sensor networks.
It’s just the beginning of the data period. Data is going to be so important for human life in the future. So we are now just starting. We are a big data company, but compared to tomorrow, we are nothing. - Jack Ma (Alibaba)
There are enormous quantities of wasted data, often over 99% is lost to the void, that could potentially contain extremely valuable information if allowed to flow freely in data streams that create an open and decentralized data lake that is accessible to any compensating party. Some of the biggest corporations of the world are purely digital like Google, Facebook and Amazon. Data/information market will be huge in the future and that's why there so many companies interested in what IOTA can offer. There are several real world use cases being developed at the moment, many of them if successful will revolutionize the world. You can check below a list of some of them.
Not having your wallet set up properly (min weight 14, etc.)
Problems that could be easily avoided with a better understand of the network/wallet or with a better wallet that could handle these issues. As I explained before, some problems during the "congestion" of the network could be simply resolved if stuff were more user-friendly, this causes many users storing their iotas on exchanges which is not safe either. The upcoming (dec 2017) UCL Wallet will solve most of these problems. It will switch between nodes automatically and auto-reattach transactions for example (besides other things). You can have full a overview of it here and here. Also, the upcoming Nelson CarrIOTA will help on automatic peer discovery for users setup their nodes more easily.
IOTA Vulnerability issue
On sept 7th 2017 a team from MIT reported a cryptographic issue on the hash function Curl. You can see the full response of IOTA members below.
Funds were never in danger as such scenarios depicted on the Neha's blogpost were not pratically possible and the arguments used on the blogpost had'nt fundamentals, all the history you can check by yourself on the responses. Later it was discovered that the whole Neha Narula's team were envolved in other concurrent cryptocurrency projects Currently IOTA uses the relatively hardware intensive NIST standard SHA-3/Keccak for crucial operations for maximal security. Curl is continuously being audited by more cryptographers and security experts. Recenlty IOTA Foundation hired Cybercrypt, the world leading lightweight cryptography and security company from Denmark to take the Curl cryptography to its next maturation phase.
It took me a couple of days to gather the informations presented, I wanted it to make easier for people who want to get into it. It might probably have some mistakes so please correct me if I said something wrong. Here are some useful links for the community.
This is my IOTA donation address, in case someone wants to donate I will be very thankful. I truly believe in this project's potential. I9YGQVMWDYZBLHGKMTLBTAFBIQHGLYGSAGLJEZIV9OKWZSHIYRDSDPQQLTIEQEUSYZWUGGFHGQJLVYKOBWAYPTTGCX
This is a donation address, if you want to do the same you might pay attention to some important details:
Create a seed for only donation purposes.
Generate a address and publish it for everyone.
If you spend any iota you must attach a new address to the tangle and refresh your donation address published before to everyone.
If someone sends iota to your previous donation address after you have spent from it you will probably lose the funds that were sent to that specific address.
You can visualize how addresses work in IOTA here and here.
This happens because IOTA uses Winternitz one-time signature to become quantum resistent. Every time you spend iota from a address, part of the private key of that specific address is revealed. This makes easier for attackers to steal that address balance. Attackers can search if an address has been reused on the tangle explorer and try to brute force the private key since they already know part of it.
Hi Bitcoiners! I’m back with the 23rd monthly Bitcoin news recap. For those unfamiliar, each day I pick out the most popularelevant/interesting stories in Bitcoin and save them. At the end of the month I release them in one batch, to give you a quick (but not necessarily the best) overview of what happened in bitcoin over the past month. You can see recaps of the previous months on Bitcoinsnippets.com A recap of Bitcoin in November 2018 Adoption
At the start of this month I made a post about the first week in bitcoin. People seemed to like it, so I figured I'd do it for the whole month. I stop by here daily anyways. For each day I basically picked out what seemed to be the most interesting news. Let me know if you think I missed something. If people liked it, I can do it again next month. A recap of January 2017 in bitcoin
29: A hotel got hacked for the 4th time and the hackers wanted some bitcoin for it this time.
30: bitcoin.com mining pool mines a block over 1MB because of a bug in another client, leading to problems, a fix and valuable lessons.
31: Bitcoin back on the rise after 2 quiet weeks 🚀
Note: Scalability was discussed on literally every day, hence why it wasn't included in the list. Thank you to everyone who is contributing to this exciting space! Friendly reminder for February: Regardless of what size someone prefers their blocks or whether they like their cutlery hard or soft, don't be hostile to them. Insulting people is a bad way to convince them you're right. Let's focus on constructive, civilized discussion. Edit: After a lot of positive feedback, I will definitely continue to do this. I'll add an archive on my site so nothing gets lost and I can add more links so the post doesn't get auto-moderated out each time. Additionally, some people have asked to tip me. Whatever you were planning to send me, please donate it to Wikipedia instead!
In case you missed it: Major Crypto and Blockchain News from the week ending 12/14/2018
Developments in Financial Services
A cryptocurrency exchange-traded product (ETP) that trades on Switzerland’s Six Exchange saw record trading volumes on Thursday and Friday last week, suggesting that institutional investors may be buying the dip in cryptocurrencies. Four major cryptocurrencies underlie the HODL ETP, including Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple (XRP), Ethereum (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH). While HODL ETP’s one-month average daily trading is 20,000 shares, on Thursday, December 6th, and Friday, December 7th, 53,233 shares and 62.986 shares were traded, respectively.
A report published last week by global anti-money laundering policymaker, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), indicates that cryptocurrency exchanges in the United Kingdom pose a, “low risk,” for money laundering and terrorist financing activities. The report, however, does highlight that such activities on UK cryptocurrency exchanges are an, “emerging risk,” although there is not yet enough evidence to suggest that these activities are occurring through cryptocurrency exchanges. In its report, the FATF urged UK regulators to, “Continue to develop an understanding of emerging risks (such as virtual currencies) and intelligence gaps, and take appropriate action.”
Andreas Utermann, CEO and CIO of Allianz Global Investors, called on global financial regulators to ban cryptocurrencies while speaking at a panel discussion in London. According to a report by Reuters, Utermann said, “You should outlaw it,” while participating in a panel alongside Andrew Bailey, the head of Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority. Bailey responded by saying that Utermann’s comments were, “quite strong,” before adding that cryptocurrencies have, “no intrinsic value.”
Basis, a major US-based stablecoin project, is shutting down its operations and returning most of its funds to investors, according to a report by crypto news outlet The Block. The report by The Block cited, “multiple people with direct knowledge of the situation,” in claiming that the algorithmic stablecoin project, which generated UDS$133mm of funding through private investments in April, will return funds to investors. According to the Co-Founder and CEO of competing stablecoin project Nevin Freeman, Basis’ shutdown is due to regulatory concerns around one of its token types. Freeman explained, highlighting that algorithmic stablecoins implement a “secondary token”, known as a “bond token”, to help maintain the primary token’s peg. In many cases, regulators like the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) consider these secondary tokens to be securities.
Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume, announced that it has added Circle’s US dollar-pegged stablecoin, USD Coin (USDC), to its combined Stablecoin Market. Circle, a company backed by Goldman Sachs, first released its stablecoin in September of this year. Binance’s combined Stablecoin Market features other notable stablecoins, like Tether (USDT), that trade against cryptocurrencies as interchangeable base pairs.
Coinone, a South Korea-based cryptocurrency exchange, has officially launched Cross, a cross-border payments application that leverages Ripple’s xCurrent product to increase efficiencies. The application, released by Coinone’s payments subsidiary, Coinone Transfer, targets unbanked or underbanked South Koreans by enabling the transfer of funds to Thailand or the Philippines at a low cost.
Gemini, a cryptocurrency exchange heralded by the Winklevoss twins, released an official company blog post this weekend announcing that the firm will support Bitcoin Cash (BCH) custody and trading. The exchange will support only the Bitcoin Cash ABC network at this time, adding that they, “are continuing to evaluate Bitcoin SV over the coming weeks or months, and we may or may not choose to support withdrawals and/or trading of Bitcoin SV in the future.” Additionally, the company detailed that its listing of BCH is pending regulatory approval by the New York State Department of Financial Services.
Gemini, the cryptocurrency trading platform founded by the Winklevoss twins, announced the launch of a mobile crypto trading application in an official blog post today. Accompanying the launch of the crypto trading app is a new investment vehicle, dubbed, “The Cryptoverse,” that is comprised of a basket of cryptocurrencies weighted by market capitalization. While speaking to Bloomberg today, Cameron Winklevoss said that, “A lot of our decisions have perhaps given off a perception that we’re more institutional-based. The reality of the situation is that we have a diverse customer base. And the retail story is just beginning.” The Winklevoss twins went on to detail of a goal to expand reach to Asian markets by 2019’s end.
Good Money, a US neo-banking platform, has closed its Series A investment round that generated USD$30mm led by cryptocurrency-focused merchant bank Galaxy Digital and the founder of EOS (EOS) Block.one. Good Money aims to provide a variety of banking service and certain financial instruments to US account holders while exploring innovative changes to traditional banking practices. “Modern banking is a primary driver of so many issues we as a society face – from economic inequality, institutional racism, environmental destruction to political corruption,” said Good Money founder Gunnar Lovelace. Specifically, Good Money eliminates ATM fees while offering each bank user equity in the company.
Kraken, a notable cryptocurrency exchange, is seeking to raise funding with a USD$4bn valuation for the company and a USD$100,000 investment minimum, according to CoinDesk. In an email to investors, Kraken CEO Jesse Powell wrote, “There is presently a limited time opportunity available to a very small select number of clients to purchase shares.” The email goes on to detail that the exchange will close its offer on December 16th.
OKEx, the second-largest cryptocurrency exchange by daily trading volume, will begin listing Bitcoin Cash ABC under the original Bitcoin Cash ticker (BCH), as per an official announcement Tuesday. Additionally, OKEx will change the Bitcoin Cash SV ticker from BCHSV to BSV. The announcement by OKEx comes after other notable cryptocurrency exchanges have made the same switch, including Coinbase and Gemini.
PayPal, an online payments portal, has launched its own internal private blockchain platform that will allow staff to trade and exchange tokens while generating ideas and participating in programs to foster innovation, as per a report by news outlet Cheddar. The private blockchain network, which was built by 25 PayPal employees in just 6 months, will allow employees to earn more for enrolling in learning and development programs. The PayPal tokens are not tradeable, or worth anything for that matter, outside PayPal’s blockchain.
PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), a big four consulting firm, is partnering with Bitfury Group, a large blockchain software and mining firm, to develop a blockchain accelerator specific to Russian businesses. As per an official press release by PwC, the partnership will leverage Exonum, Bitfury’s open source framework to build blockchain applications, for educational courses and seminars. The partnership aims to meet the, “current needs,” of PwC’s enterprise clients in Russia.
Revolut, a digital banking alternative with an in-application cryptocurrency exchange, announced that it has been awarded a European banking license. Seeking to become the, “Amazon of banking,” the license will allow Revolut to offer traditional banking services alongside its current cryptocurrency offerings to European customers. Nikolay Storonsky, Founder and CEO of Revolut, said in regards to the newly acquired license that, “With the banking license now secured, commission-free stock trading progressing well, and five new international markets at final stages of launch, we are living up to our reputation as the ‘Amazon of Banking’. Our vision is simple: one ap with tens of millions of users, where you can manage every aspect of your financial life with the best value and technology.”
Shinhan Bank, the second-largest commercial bank in South Korea, is launching a new project to implement blockchain technology in its internal processes with a goal of eliminating human error. According to a report by news outlet The Korea Times, Shinhan also recently completed a training program for its staff to increase their knowledge of blockchain technology across various applications. After Shinhan implemented blockchain technology for interest rate swap transactions on November 30th, South Korea’s second-largest bank is now aiming to apply the technology in its record-keeping process to enhance overall efficiencies.
SolarisBank, Germany’s second-largest and Europe’s ninth-largest stock exchange, is partnering with Stuttgart Exchange Group, a German fintech company, to jointly develop a cryptocurrency exchange. As per a report by Cointelegraph Germany, the joint cryptocurrency exchange venture, “is scheduled to launch in the first half of 2019.” This news comes after SolarisBank announced plans to launch a zero-fee cryptocurrency trading application this past May.
The Canadian city of Calgary is becoming the first city in Canada to launch a digital version of its local currency, according to a report by the Global News. Dubbed as the Calgary Digital Dollar, the digital currency will be exclusive to Calgary and operate alongside the country’s Canadian Dollar. Calgary-based businesses will now be required by law to accept at least 10% of a payment in digital currency, although they are allowed to accept up to 100%.
The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) is launching a pilot of its Global Payment Initiative (GPI) to combat growing blockchain and fintech solutions, according to an official announcement last week. Currently, the SWIFT Network is used by global financial institutions to conduct global financial payments and cross-border transfers of fiat currency. Although the project is still in its early stages, the GPI pilot hopes to, “build the foundation of a new integrated and interactive service that will significantly improve efficiencies in the payments process and which will ultimately be made available to all 10,000 banks across the SWIFT network.”
The United Arab Emirates’(UAE) central bank is partnering with the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) to develop a cryptocurrency to facilitate cross border transactions between the two countries, according to a report by news outlet GulfNews. In a meeting pertaining to global banking standards and regulation in the Arab region, Mubarak Rashed Al Mansouri, the governor of the UAE’s central bank, said, “This is probably the first time ever that witnesses the cooperation of monetary authorities from different countries on this topic and we hope that this achievement will foster similar collaboration in our region.” The prospective digital currency will be used by both central banks and financial institutions in the countries.
TokenSoft, a security token offering (STO) startup, has acquired a 20% stake in regulated broker-dealer Marpine Securities LLC in order to launch its own regulated broker-dealer. After acquiring the 20% stake, TokenSoft will launch its new regulated broker-dealer entity, called TokenSoft Global Markets, that will be registered through the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). The new regulated broker-dealer entity will allow TokenSoft to advise token issuers through every step of the Initial Coin Offering (ICO) process. Additionally, TokenSoft will now be able to legally operate in services related to insurance and management.
Tom Lee, co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors and a notable cryptocurrency pundit, believes that the current fair value of Bitcoin (BTC) is between USD$13,800 and USD$14,800, according to a note published on Thursday. Lee arrived at this valuation by taking into account the number of active wallet addresses, usage per account, and other supply and demand metrics. Additionally, Lee forecasted that the fair value of BTC will reach USD$150,000/coin once BTC wallets account for 7% of Visa’s 4.5bn account holders.
UAE Exchange, an exchange based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is partnering with Ripple to launch a blockchain-based cross-border remittances platform by 1Q2019, as per a Reuters report on Thursday. The report details further that Finablr, a payments and foreign exchange company that owns UAE Exchange, observes a high level of remittance inflows from expatriate workers in the Middle East region. “We expect to go live with Rippel by Q1, 2019 with two other Asian banks,” said Finablr CEO Promoth Manghat, adding, “This is for remittances to start with, from across the globe into Asia.”
De Nederlandsche Bank, the Netherlands’ central bank, will soon require domestic cryptocurrency providers to obtain a license from the regulator to operate, as per a report by Dutch news outlet DeTelegraaf. The Netherlands' central bank is taking these measures in the hope that it will, “prevent such cryptocurrencies from being used to launder money obtained through crime or to fund terrorism.” In order to receive a license, cryptocurrency firms must maintain Know-Your-Customer procedures and report any suspicious activity to the Dutch central bank.
Eddie Hughes, a conservative member of the United Kingdom’s Parliament, suggested that Bitcoin (BTC) should be accepted as legal tender for tax and utility payments, according to news outlet Express.co.uk. The article discusses that Hughes, who is a self-described, “crypto enthusiast with amateur knowledge,” recently met with the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, which accepts cryptocurrency donations. This news comes after the US state of Ohio announced that it would begin accepting BTC as legal tender for tax payments.
Following a case in Canadian courts that resulted in a ruling ordering mistakenly sent crypto funds to be returned to their owner, a blog post from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law is noting that there could be repercussions with the case potentially setting a precedent for lost or stolen cryptocurrency claims. The Canadian court case’s ruling will require defendant Brian Wall to return USD$370,482 worth of Ethereum (ETH) tokens to the plaintiff, Copytrack. The blog post from the University of Oxford Faculty of Law reads, ‘This precedent may have major repercussions for the enforcement of claims regarding lost or stolen cryptocurrencies,” adding that the ruling allows the plaintiff to recover tokens, “in whatsoever hands those Ether Tokens may currently be held.”
Japan’s government is considering plans to ease cryptocurrency taxes in an effort to revitalize the domestic cryptocurrency and blockchain industry. This week, Japanese Congressman Takeshi Fujimaki proposed four significant changes to taxation requirements pertaining to digital assets, which include: a reduction on the cryptocurrency gains tax from 55% to 20%; elimination of taxes on crypto-to-crypto payments; elimination of taxes on miniscule cryptocurrency payments; and an adjustment that would allow cryptocurrency investors to carry forward losses across quarters and years, effectively until cryptocurrencies are ‘cashed’ out.
Jay Clayton, Chairman for the United States Securities and Exchange Commission (US SEC), said during a speech that Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), “can be effective,” for fundraising, but that, “securities laws must be followed.” Clayton went on in his speech to comment on the US SEC’s work regarding distributed ledger technology (DLT), digital assets, and ICOs, saying that it is an, “area where the Commission and staff have spent a significant amount of time,” and, “that this trend will continue in 2019.”
Jay Clayton, the Chairman of the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), expressed his optimism for distributed ledger technology’s potential impact on traditional financial markets in a testimony before the US Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs yesterday. According to a transcript published on the SEC’s website, Clayton said, “I am optimistic that developments in distributed ledger technology can help facilitate capital formation, providing promising investment opportunities for both institutional and Main Street Investors.” Additionally, Clayton highlighted that the SEC is, “Focusing a significant amount of attention and resources on digital assets and initial coin offerings (ICOs).”
Maxim Akimov, the Deputy Prime Minister of Russia, announced that no significant changes will be made to the draft of a bill concerning cryptocurrency regulation in the country, as per news outlet Finmarket. The bill was already approved by Russia’s parliament, the State Duma, in May 2018, although the bill has generated substantial discussion since. Since approval of the bill, all cryptocurrency and token-related terminology have been removed and replaced with the term “digital rights”. At the beginning of December, Pavel Krasheninnikov, Chairman of Russia’s State Duma, said that the bill needed to be, “significantly,” changed.
Pan Gongsheng, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, highlighted that Security Token Offerings (STOs) in China are illegal while speaking at a summit in Beijing. As per a report by news outlet the South China Morning Post, Gongsheng told the summit that, “illegal financing activities through STOs and ICOs were still rampant in the mainland despite a nationwide clean-up of the cryptocurrency market last year.” In citing reasoning for the continued ban on STOs, Gongsheng explained that, “Virtual money has become an accomplice to all kinds of illegal and criminal activities.”
Pantera Capital, a blockchain and cryptocurrency-focused investment firm and hedge fund, is warning investors that as much as a quarter of their ICO project could potentially be violating US securities laws, according to a Bloomberg report. In a newsletter to clients, Pantera Capital warned, “While we believe the vast majority of the projects in our portfolio should not be affected, approximately 25% of our fund’s capital is invested in other projects with liquid tokens that sold to US investors without using Regulation D or Regulation S”
Russia has no intention of implementing Venezuela’s state-backed digital currency, the Petro, into commercial operations, according to a report by news outlet RIA Novosti. While speaking to reporters this week, Russian Deputy Finance Minister Sergey Storchak said, “Representatives from our tax service and central bank... got acquainted with the cryptocurrency Venezuela is introducing,” adding, “But no more than that. As for payments, they’re not happening yet.”
South Korea’s representative body, the National Assembly, held its first official meeting with seven of the country’s largest cryptocurrency exchanges on Monday. The purpose of the meeting was to debate cryptocurrency regulation between stakeholders of South Korea’s cryptocurrency industry. Cryptocurrency exchanges Bithumb, CobitCoin, Coinone, Upbit, Gopax, Coinplug, and Hanbitco were among the attendees of the debate, which reportedly focused on Anti-Money Laundering (AML) customer protections and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures.
The United Kingdom’s Financial Action Task Force (FATF), an intergovernmental financial security body, is calling on the country’s government to increase monitoring of cryptocurrency markets. According to an official report last week, the UK must overhaul its Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and combat terrorist financing (CFT) efforts in order to prevent illicit activities with cryptocurrencies. “Virtual currency exchange providers are not yet covered by AML/CFT requirements,” the report details, adding, “this is an emerging risk and there is not yet evidence to suggest that broad scale ML/TF is occurring in the UK through this relatively small sector.”
The United States Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) is interested in learning more about the Ethereum (ETH) network, its technology, and the markets build around it. On Tuesday, the CFTC published a Request for Input (RFI) that requests the public’s feedback on different questions concerning Ethereum. The RFI explains that its goal is to inform the CFTC about Ethereum and similar emerging technology, saying, “The input from this request will advance the CFTC’s mission of ensuring the integrity of the derivatives market as well as monitoring and reducing the systematic risk by enhancing legal certainty in the markets. The RFI seeks to understand the similarities and distinctions between certain virtual currencies, including here ether and bitcoin, as well as ether-specific opportunities, challenges, and risks.”
The United States Securities and Exchange Commission (US SEC) is ordering that cryptocurrency asset manager CoinAlpha Advisors LLC pay a USD$50,000 fine, alleging that the firm conducted an unregistered securities sale. After forming in October 2017, CoinAlpha raised more than USD$600,000 from investors to invest in digital assets. In an official release, the US SEC said that CoinAlpha did not file a Notice of Exempt Offering of Securities, meaning that the firm breached securities laws by soliciting securities investors. Additionally, the firm allegedly did not adhere to proper know-your-customer procedures to verify that investors were accredited.
Venezuela is reportedly beginning to convert its citizens’ monthly pension payments into Petros, Venezuela’s controversial state and oil-backed cryptocurrency, according to a report by local economics blog the Caracas Chronicles. The conversion of Venezuelan pensioners’ payments into Petros came after the country already sent pensioners their monthly payment in the form of a check for Venezuelan Bolivars -- normally, upon receiving their check, pensioners would deposit their funds into a bank account where they could then withdraw fiat from local branches. The Venezuelan government, however, converted pensioners’ fiat payments into the Petro upon their deposit into a bank. In the first few weeks of the Petro’s existence, its value has risen from 9,000 to more than 15,000.
Warren Davidson, an Ohio Congressman and notable advocate of blockchain and digital assets, is floating blockchain technology as a solution to fund US President Donald Trump’s prospective US-Mexico border wall. While interviewing with NPR, Congressman Davidson suggested, “the American people, or whomever should choose to donate,” could pay for the border wall, adding, “you could do it with sort of like a crowdfunding site or you could do a blockchain and you could have WallCoins.”
“The long-term value of Bitcoin (BTC) is more likely to be USD$100 than USD$100,000,” says Kenneth Rogoff, a former Chief Economist for the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the current Harvard University Professor of Economics and Public Policy. While writing an article for major UK news outlet The Guardian, Rogoff highlighted that, because BTC’s use is limited to transactions, it makes the digital asset more vulnerable to a bubble-like collapse. Rogoff also cited that BTC’s energy-intensive verification processes is, “vastly less efficient,” than systems that leverage, “a trusted central authority like a central bank.”
A new report by PeckShield, a blockchain security company that monitors various cryptocurrency ecosystems, details that decentralized applications (DApps) on the EOS (EOS) blockchain have lost as much as USD$1mm in hacks since July 2018. The report details further that DApps on the EOS network have sustained 27 breaches since July, which are responsible for the up to 400,000 EOS that have been compromised from hacks. Guo Yonggang, a blockchain security expert cited in a report on the matter by crypto media firm Blockchain Truth, believes that the hacks can be attributed to security problems with the DApps themselves, rather than with the EOS network.
A new study published by the Cambridge Centre for Alternative Finance on Wednesday finds that the number of unique ID-verified cryptocurrency users nearly doubled in in the first 3 quarters of 2018. The study details that total ID-verified users increased to 35mm in the first three quarters of 2018 from 18mm at the end of 2017, representing an increase of 94%. As per an analysis of the study by Bloomberg, the growth of crypto’s userbase despite the market decline, “could signal that an eventual recovery could be coming.”
Amid the continued cryptocurrency sell-off, only two cryptocurrency mining machines remain profitable, according to real-time data from ASICMinerValue.com. ASICMInerValue.com, which calculates the profitability of Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) miners, indicates that only indicates that only the Ebank Ebit E11++ and ASICminer 8 Nano 44Th mining models are profitable for mining cryptocurrencies based on the SHA-256 hash function -- notable cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (BTC) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) use this has function.
Bitmain, a large Chinese cryptocurrency mining firm, announced that it is closing its development center in Israel, citing current cryptocurrency market conditions. In closing Bitmaintech Israel, the crypto mining giant was forced to fire all 23 employees. Among the employees let go is Gadi Glikberg, head of Bitmain’s Israeli branch and Vice President of International Sales, who said on the recent market turmoil, “The crypto market has undergone a shake-up in the past few months, which has forced Bitmain to examine its various activities around the globe and to refocus its business in accordance with the current situation.”
Busan, a major South Korean city, will be the beneficiary of the South Korean government’s plan to spend 4bn Korean won (USD$3.5mm) to establish a blockchain-enabled virtual power plant (VPP). As per a report by South Korean news outlet Yonhap News Agency, the project will be angled as a national competition in 2019, hosted by South Korea’s largest electric utility, Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO). The VPP will integrate the idle capacities of multiple energy resources through a cloud-based distributed ledger in order to optimize power generation and decrease costs.
Church’s Chicken, a large international fast food franchise, is partnering with Dash Venezuela to accept cryptocurrencies in its Venezuelan locations. According to an official press release, 13 Church’s Chicken establishments will begin accepting Dash (DASH) as payment following, “extensive and rigorous days of training,” staff to understand cryptocurrencies. With the addition of Church’s Chicken, more than 2,200 establishments in Venezuela accept DASH as payment.
Crypto.com, a Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency payments platform, announced the appointment of former PayPal executive Tyson Hackwood to serve as the firm’s Vice President and Head of Global Merchant Acquisition in an official press release today. Crypto.com aims to increase cryptocurrency adoption by both merchants and consumers through their point-of-sale (PoS) transaction terminals. Crypto.com CEO Kris Marszalek believes that Hackwood will be integral in furthering this goal, saying, “As we develop the Crypto.com Chain to fulfill the current industry need to pay and be paid in crypto, Tyson will play an important role in expanding the number and quality of merchants that are part of our network.”
Hyperledger, a notable blockchain consortium, is continuing its robust expansion after announcing the addition of 16 new members at the Hyperledger Global Forum in Basel, Switzerland. Among the notables to join the consortium are, Alibaba Cloud, Citigroup’s Citi Ventures arm, and Deutsche Telekom. The latest addition of 16 members brings the total membership of Hyperledger to more than 260 different companies. In a public statement, Hyperledger Executive Director Brian Behlendorf said that, “The growing Hyperledger community reflects the increasing importance of open source efforts to build enterprise blockchain technologies across industries and markets. The latest members showcase the widening interest in and impact of DLT and Hyperledger."
Jeremy Henrickson, the former Chief Product Officer at Coinbase, has departed the US-based cryptocurrency exchange after serving since July 2016. “Jeremy’s contributions to Coinbase over the past two years were invaluable,” said a Coinbase spokesperson, adding that, “he helped to build our scrappy startup team into a high-functioning product and engineering organization -- overseeing a 5x+ growth of the team.” Henrickson’s departure comes after long-term Coinbase executives Adam White and Hunter Merghart left the US-based cryptocurrency exchange in recent months.
LinkedIn’s, “2018 U.S. Emerging Jobs,” report released on Thursday ranks the role of blockchain developer as the fastest growing job in the United States. The report by LinkedIn indicates that blockchain developer jobs have increased 33-fold in the past 12 months alone. San Francisco, New York City, and Atlanta are among the cities with the highest demand for blockchain developer jobs.
Orbs, a unique hybrid blockchain platform, raised more than USD$15mm in cryptocurrencies to fund its development of a public blockchain, according to a company blog post. South Korean application provider Kakao lead the fundraising efforts with a representative telling CoinDesk that the company, “always seeks to invest and support innovative startups, and Orbs is a good example.” In total, Orbs raised 139,000 Ether (ETH) and 892 Bitcoin (BTC), amounting to roughly USD$15.4mm. Orbs aims to build a public blockchain with this funding that is, “universal,” and, “scalable,” for decentralized applications (DApps) with the, “liquidity of a base layer.”
Samsung has reportedly filed patent applications for three different blockchain-related trademark requests that all pertain directly to smartphones, according to news outlet Galaxy Club. Specifically, the patents named “Blockchain KeyStore”, “Blockchain Key Box”, and “Blockchain Core” all pertain to cryptocurrency custody capabilities on smartphones. This news comes amid the release of HTC’s Exodus 1 and Sirin Labs’ FINNEY, both of which are being marketed as blockchain smartphones with cryptocurrency custody capabilities.
Agustín Carstens, General Manager of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS, the central bank of central banks) on Cryptocurrencies today
I'd like to hear your thoughts on his lecture held today at the Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Read the full transcript here or via pdf link. https://www.bis.org/speeches/sp180206.pdf 1/10 Money in the digital age: what role for central banks? Lecture by Agustín Carstens General Manager, Bank for International Settlements House of Finance, Goethe University Frankfurt, 6 February 2018 Introduction Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for that kind introduction, Jens. I am very happy to be here at this prestigious university and to be part of this impressive lecture series sponsored by Sustainable Architecture for Finance in Europe (SAFE), the Center for Financial Studies (CFS) and the Deutsche Bundesbank. I would also like to thank Professor Brigitte Haar for being such a generous host today. It is an honour to discuss money at an event organised by the Bundesbank, which has been a beacon of stability since its foundation some 60 years ago. As Jens can attest, being a central banker is a fascinating job. In fact, it is a privilege. During the last decade it has been anything but quiet in the central banking world. We have been confronted with extraordinary circumstances that have required extraordinary policy responses. In such an environment, it has been of the utmost importance to share experiences and lessons learnt among central banks, creating a body of knowledge that will be there for the future. One of the reasons that central bank Governors from all over the world gather in Basel every two months is precisely to discuss issues at the front and centre of the policy debate. Following the Great Financial Crisis, many hours have been spent discussing the design and implications of, for example, unconventional monetary policies such as quantitative easing and negative interest rates. Lately, we have seen a bit of a shift, to issues at the very heart of central banking. This shift is driven by developments at the cutting edge of technology. While it has been bubbling under the surface for years, the meteoric rise of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies has led us to revisit some fundamental questions that touch on the origin and raison d’être for central banks: • What is money? • What constitutes good money, and where do cryptocurrencies fit in? • And, finally, what role should central banks play? The thrust of my lecture will be that, at the end of the day, money is an indispensable social convention backed by an accountable institution within the State that enjoys public trust. Many things have served as money, but experience suggests that something widely accepted, reliably provided and stable in its command over goods and services works best. Experience has also shown that to be credible, money requires institutional backup, which is best provided by a central bank. While central banks’ actions and services will evolve with technological developments, the rise of cryptocurrencies only highlights the important role central banks have played, and continue to play, as stewards of public trust. Private digital tokens posing as currencies, such as bitcoin and other crypto-assets that have mushroomed of late, must not endanger this trust in the fundamental value and nature of money. What is money? “What is money?” is obviously a key question for any central banker, and one on which economists have spent much ink. The answer depends on how deep and philosophical one wants to be. Being at a university, especially one named after Goethe, I think I can err on the side of being philosophical. Conventional wisdom tells you that “money is what money does”.1 That is, money is a unit of account, a means of payment and a store of value. But telling you what something does does not really tell you what it is. And it certainly does not tell you why we need or have money, how it comes about and what the preconditions are for it to exist. In terms of the “need” for money, you may learn that money is a way to get around the general lack of double coincidence of wants. That is, it is rare that I have what you want and you have what I want at the same time. As barter is definitely not an efficient way of organising an economy, money is demanded as a tool to facilitate exchange. What about the other side of the coin, so to speak? How does money come about? Again, conventional wisdom may tell you that central banks provide money, ie cash (coins and notes), and commercial banks supply deposits. But this answer is often not fully satisfactory, as it does not tell why and how banks should be the one to “create” money. If you venture into more substantive analyses on monetary economics, things get more complex. One theory, which proposes that “money is memory”, amounts to arguing that a “superledger” can facilitate exchange just like money. This argument says a ledger is a way of keeping track of not only who has what but also who owes, and is owed, what. I will come back to this later. Moving beyond this line of thought, other scholarly and historical analyses provide answers that are more philosophical. These often amount to “money is a convention” – one party accepts it as payment in the expectation that others will also do so.2 Money is an IOU, but a special one because everyone in the economy trusts that it will be accepted by others in exchange for goods and services. One might say money is a “we all owe you”. Many things have served as money in this way. Figure 1 gives some examples: Yap stones, gold coins, cigarettes in war times, $100,000 bills, wissel (Wechsel), ie bills of exchange or bearer notes, such as those issued by the Bank of Amsterdam in the first half of the 17th century. It includes an example from my own country, Aztec hoe (or axe) money, a form of (unstamped) money made of copper used in central Mexico and parts of Central America. 1 See J Hicks, Critical essays in monetary theory, 1979. 2 See D Lewis, Convention: a philosophical study, 1969. Common to most of these examples is that the nominal value of the items that have served at one time as money is unrelated to their intrinsic value. Indeed, as we know very well in the case of fiat money, the intrinsic value of most of its representations is zero. History shows that money as a convention needs to have a basis of trust, supported by some form of institutional arrangement.3 As Curzio Giannini puts it: “The evolution of monetary institutions appears to be above all the fruit of a continuous dialogue between economic and political spheres, with each taking turns to create monetary innovations … and to safeguard the common interest against abuse stemming from partisan interests.”4 Money can come in different institutional forms and colours. How to organise them? The paper by Bech and Garratt in last September’s BIS Quarterly Review presented the money flower as a way of organising monies in today’s environment.5 It acknowledges that money can take on rather different forms and be supplied in various ways. The money flower Allow me to explain, noting that we do not sell seeds to this money flower! 3 Fiat means “by law“. So, in principle, it should be said that money exists by convention or by law. But if trust in money does not prevail, the legal mandate that conveys value to money becomes meaningless. 4 C Giannini, The age of central banks, 2011. 5 M Bech and R Garratt, “Central bank cryptocurrencies”, BIS Quarterly Review, September 2017, pp 55–70. The money flower highlights four key properties on the supply side of money: the issuer, the form, the degree of accessibility and the transfer mechanism. • The issuer can be either the central bank or “other”. “Other” includes nobody, that is, a particular type of money that is not the liability of anyone. • In terms of the form it takes, money is either electronic or physical. • Accessibility refers to how widely the type of money is available. It can either be wide or limited. • Transfer mechanism can either be a central intermediary or peer-to-peer, meaning transactions occur directly between the payer and the payee without the need for a central intermediary. Let us look at where some common types of money fit into the flower, starting with cash (or bank notes) as we know it today. Cash is issued by the central bank, is not electronic, is available to everyone and is peer-to-peer. I do not need a trusted third party such as Jens to help me pay each of you 10 euros. Let us try another one: bank deposits. They are not the liability of the central bank, mostly electronic, and in most countries available to most people, but clearly not peer-to-peer. Transferring resources from a bank deposit requires the involvement of at least your own bank, perhaps the central bank and the recipient’s bank. Think here not only of commercial bank deposits but also bills, eg non-interest bearing (bearer) certificates, issued privately, as in the case of the Bank of Amsterdam mentioned earlier. Local or regional currencies are the ones that can be spent in a particular geographical location at participating organisations. They tend to be physical. The túmin, for example, was a local currency circulating (illegally) for some time around 2010 exclusively in the Mexican municipality of Espinal. What does digitalisation mean for the flower? Digitalisation is nothing new: financial services and most forms of money have been largely digital for many years. Much of the ongoing transformation is just adding a mobile version for many services, which means that the device becomes a virtual extension of the institution. As such, there is not a new model. The money flower then also easily accommodates these forms. That is also the case for the digital, account-based forms of money that central banks traditionally have made available to commercial banks and, in some instances, to certain other financial or public institutions (ie bank reserves). It would also be the case if the central bank were to issue digital money to the wider public for general purposes. Each central bank will have to make its own decision on whether issuing digital money is desirable, after considering factors such as the structure of the financial system and underlying preferences for privacy. The central bank community is actively analysing this issue. A potentially important and leapfrogging digital-related development, however, is distributed ledger technology (DLT), the basis for Bitcoin. Many think DLT could transform financial service provision, maybe first wholesale, then possibly retail. For example, it could enhance settlement efficiency involving securities and derivatives transactions. A few central banks have conducted experiments in this area, for example the Bank of Canada, the Bundesbank, the Monetary Authority of Singapore and the Bank of England.6 Yet doubts remain regarding the maturity of DLT and the size of associated efficiency gains relative to existing technologies. Moreover, their robustness, including to cyber-risk, is still to be fully understood and ascertained. Still, there are potential benefits, and I expect that central banks will remain engaged on this topic.7 For now, DLT is largely used to “create” bitcoin and other digital currencies. Such cryptocurrencies can be placed easily in the money flower. Nobody issues them, they are not physical and they are peer-to-peer. But beyond that, how should one think about them? What constitutes good money? Just because we are able to find a place for bitcoin in our money flower does not mean we should consider it as “good” money. As I mentioned before, trust is the fundamental tenet that underpins credible currencies, and this trust has to be earned and supported. There are many lessons from history and institutional economics on the earning of trust that we can use as we move further into digitalisation.8 Over the ages, many forms of private money have come and gone. It is fair to say that the same has happened with various experiments with public money (that is, money issued by a public entity that is not the central bank). While some lasted longer than others, most have invariably given way to some form of central bank money. The main reason for their disappearance is that the “incentives to cheat” are simply too high. Let me give three historical examples: one in Germany, another in the United States and the last one in Mexico. In Germany, the Thirty Years War (1618–48), involving small German states of the Holy Roman Empire and neighbouring regional powers, was associated with one of the most severe economic crises ever recorded, with rampant hyperinflation – just as happened three centuries later during the Weimar Republic – and the breakdown of trade and economic activity. The crisis became known as the Kipper- und Wipperzeit (the clipping and culling times), after the practice of clipping coins (shaving metal from their circumference) and sorting good coins from bad. This morning, we are launching a BIS Working Paper, by Professor Isabel Schnabel and BIS Economic Adviser Hyun Song Shin, which further details and explains this experience, as background to my speech. 6 See Bech and Garratt, op cit. 7 See Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures, Distributed ledger technology in payment, clearing and settlement: an analytical framework, February 2017. 8 See D North, Institutions, institutional change and economic performance, 1990. While episodes of currency debasement have occurred throughout history, this one stands out for two reasons. First is the severity of the crisis and its rapid regional spread. Debasement proceeded at such a pace that public authorities quickly lost control of the downward spiral. Second is how the debasement was brought under control. This occurred through standardisation of wholesale payments by public deposit banks, for example the Bank of Hamburg and the Bank of Amsterdam. These were in many ways examples of the precursors of modern central banks. As the working paper argues, monetary order could be brought to an otherwise chaotic situation by providing reliable payment means through precursors to central bank money, which at the end means the use of a credible institutional arrangement. In the period in the United States known as the Free Banking Era, from 1837 to 1863, many banks sprang up that issued currency with no oversight of any kind by the federal government.10 These so-called free bank notes did not work very well as a medium of exchange. Given that there were so many banks of varying reputations issuing notes, they sold at different prices in different places, making transactions quite complicated. And as supervision was largely absent, banks had limited restraint in issuing notes and did not back them up sufficiently with specie (gold or silver), thereby debasing their values. This era of “wildcat banking” ended up being a long and costly period of banking instability in the history of the US, with banking panics and major disruptions to economic activity. It was, after some further hiccups, followed by the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. Let me present a final example, from Mexican monetary history. A little known fact is that Mexico had the first series of hyperinflations at the beginning of the 20th century. My country had a revolution from 1910 to 1921, in which no central government existed in an effective way, with many factions fighting and disputing different territories. A winning faction would arrive in a territory, print its own money and make void previously issued cash. So different bills issued by different factions coexisted, leading to chaos and hyperinflation. To give you an idea of the disorder, in 2015 four trunks full of bills were returned to Mexico after having been appropriated by the US Navy in 1914, when the US occupied the port city of Veracruz. In the trunks, the Bank of Mexico discovered dozens of types of bills that the central bank had not even known existed.11 At the end of the conflict, a new constitution was drafted, having as a central article one which gave the Bank of Mexico the appropriate institutional framework, designating it the exclusive issuer of currency in the country. Once this was in place, hyperinflation ceased, illustrating the importance of controlling fiscal dominance (which tends to be the result of the abuse of publicly issued money). Based on these experiences, most observers, and I suspect all of you here, would agree that laissez-faire is not a good approach in banking or in the issuance of money. Indeed, the paradigm of strict bank regulation and supervision and central banks overseeing the financial and monetary system that has emerged over the last century or so has proven to be the most effective way to avoid the instability and high economic costs associated with the proliferation of private and public monies. 9 I Schnabel and H S Shin, “Money and trust: lessons from the 1620s for money in the digital age”, BIS Working Papers, no 698, February 2018. 10 See G Dwyer, “Wildcat banking, banking panics, and free banking in the United States”, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta Economic Review, vol 81, nos 3–6, 1996; A Rolnick and W Weber, “New evidence of the free banking era”, The American Economic Review, vol 73, no 5, December 1983, pp 1080–91; and C Calomiris, “Banking crises yesterday and today”, Financial History Review, vol 17, no 1, 2010, pp 3–12. 11 See Bank of Mexico, “La SRE entregó al Banco de México un acervo de billetes de la época del porfiriato”, press release, 1 June 2015, www.banxico.org.mx/informacion-para-la-prensa/comunicados/billetes-y-monedas/billetes/%7B3A41E6F8-FBD8-2FA7-DA0B-66FCCE46430A%7D.pdf. The unhappy experience with private forms of money raises deep questions about whether the proliferation of cryptocurrencies is desirable or sustainable. Even if the supply of one type of cryptocurrency is limited, the mushrooming of so many of them means that the total supply of all forms of cryptocurrency is unlimited. Added to this is the practice of “forking”, where an offshoot of an existing cryptocurrency can be conjured up from thin air. Given the experience with currency debasement that has peppered history, the proliferation of such private monies should give everyone pause for thought. I will return to this shortly. We have learned over the centuries that money as a social institution requires a solution to the problem of a lack of trust.12 The central banks that often emerged in the wake of the private and public money collapses may not have looked like the ones we have today, but they all had some institutional backing. The forms of this backing for their issuance of money have differed over time and by country.13 Commodity money has often been the start. History shows that gold and other precious metals stored in the vault with governance (and physical) safeguards can provide some assurance. Commodity money is not the only or necessarily sufficient mechanism. Often it also required a city-, state- or nation-provided charter, as with the emergence of giro banks in many European countries. Later, the willingness of central banks to convert money for gold at a fixed price (the gold standard) was the mechanism. Currency boards, where local money is issued one-to-one with changes in foreign currency holdings, can also work to provide credibility. The tried, trusted and resilient modern way to provide confidence in public money is the independent central bank. This means legal safeguards and agreed goals, ie clear monetary policy objectives, operational, instrument and administrative independence, together with democratic accountability to ensure broad-based political support and legitimacy. While not fully immune from the temptation to cheat, central banks as an institution are hard to beat in terms of safeguarding society’s economic and political interest in a stable currency. Where do cryptocurrencies fit in? One could argue that bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies’ attractiveness lies in an intelligent application of DLT. DLT provides a method to broadcast transactions publicly and pseudonymously in a way that achieves in principle ledger immutability.14 Who would have thought that having people guessing solutions to what was described to me by a techie as the mathematical equivalent of mega-sudokus would be a way to generate consensus among strangers around the world through a proof of work? Does it thus provide a novel solution to the problem of how to generate trust among people who do not know each other? If DLT provides the potential for a superledger, could bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies then substitute for some forms of money?15 We do not have the full answers, but at this time the answer, also in the light of historical experiences, is probably a sound no, for many reasons. In fact, we are seeing the type of cracks and cheating that brought down other private currencies starting to appear in the House of Bitcoin. As an institution, Bitcoin has some obvious flaws. 12 See M King, “The institutions of monetary policy”, speech at the American Economic Association Annual Meeting, San Diego, 4 January 2004. 13 See Giannini, op cit. 14 See Committee on Payments and Market Infrastructures, op cit. 15 See N Kocherlakota, “Money is memory”, Journal of Economic Theory, vol 81, pp 232–51, 1998. In fact, he shows in a very stark setting that having a costless means to record the memory of all economic actors, both present and past, can do as much as money, and sometimes more. Conversely, money effectively functions as memory by providing an observable record of past transactions – that is, agents can tell whether a potential trader is running a current deficit or surplus with society by looking at the money balances that trader is carrying. The finding, however, is theoretical and not robust to slight changes in assumptions, including the risk of loss of data. Debasement. As I mentioned, we may be seeing the modern-day equivalent of clipping and culling. In Bitcoin, these take the form of forks, a type of spin-off in which developers clone Bitcoin’s software, release it with a new name and a new coin, after possibly adding a few new features or tinkering with the algorithms’ parameters. Often, the objective is to capitalise on the public’s familiarity with Bitcoin to make some serious money, at least virtually. Last year alone, 19 Bitcoin forks came out, including Bitcoin Cash, Bitcoin Gold and Bitcoin Diamond. Forks can fork again, and many more could happen. After all, it just takes a bunch of smart programmers and a catchy name. As in the past, these modern-day clippings dilute the value of existing ones, to the extent such cryptocurrencies have any economic value at all. Trust. As the saying goes, trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair. Historical experiences suggest that these “assets” are probably not sustainable as money. Cryptocurrencies are not the liability of any individual or institution, or backed by any authority. Governance weaknesses, such as the concentration of their ownership, could make them even less trustworthy. Indeed, to use them often means resorting to an intermediary (for example, the bitcoin exchanges) to which one has to trust one’s money. More generally, they piggyback on the same institutional infrastructure that serves the overall financial system and on the trust that it provides. This reflects their challenge to establish their own trust in the face of cyber-attacks, loss of customers’ funds, limits on transferring funds and inadequate market integrity. Inefficiency. Novel technology is not the same as better technology or better economics. That is clearly the case with Bitcoin: while perhaps intended as an alternative payment system with no government involvement, it has become a combination of a bubble, a Ponzi scheme and an environmental disaster. The volatility of bitcoin renders it a poor means of payment and a crazy way to store value. Very few people use it for payments or as a unit of account. In fact, at a major cryptocurrency conference the registration fee could not be paid with bitcoins because it was too costly and slow: only conventional money was accepted. To the extent they are used, bitcoins and their cousins seem more attractive to those who want to make transactions in the black or illegal economy, rather than everyday transactions. In a way, this should not be surprising, since individuals who massively evade taxes or launder money are the ones who are willing to live with cryptocurrencies’ extreme price volatility. In practice, central bank experiments show that DLT-based systems are very expensive to run and slower and much less efficient to operate than conventional payment and settlement systems. The electricity used in the process of mining bitcoins is staggering, estimated to be equal to the amount Singapore uses every day in electricity,16 making them socially wasteful and environmentally bad. Therefore, the current fascination with these cryptocurrencies seems to have more to do with a speculative mania than any use as a form of electronic payment, except for illegal activities. Accordingly, authorities are edging closer and closer to clamping down to contain the risks related to cryptocurrencies. There is a strong case for policy intervention. As now noted by many securities markets and regulatory and supervisory agencies, these assets can raise concerns related to consumer and investor protection. Appropriate authorities have a duty to educate and protect investors and consumers, and need to be prepared to act. Moreover, there are concerns related to tax evasion, money laundering and criminal finance. Authorities should welcome innovation. But they have a duty to make sure technological advances are not used to legitimise profits from illegal activities. 16 See Digiconomist, “Bitcoin energy consumption index”, digiconomist.net/bitcoin-energy-consumption. What role for the central bank? Central banks, acting by themselves and/or in coordination with other financial authorities like bank regulators and supervisors, ministries of finance, tax agencies and financial intelligence units, may also need to act, given their roles in providing money services and safeguarding money’s real value. Working with commercial banks, authorities have a part to play in policing the digital frontier. Commercial banks are on the front line since they are the ones settling trades, providing real liquidity, keeping exchanges going and interacting with customers. It is alarming that some banks have advertised “bitcoin ATMs” where you can buy and sell bitcoins. Authorities need to ensure commercial banks do not facilitate unscrupulous behaviours. Central banks need to safeguard payment systems. To date, Bitcoin is not functional as a means of payment, but it relies on the oxygen provided by the connection to standard means of payments and trading apps that link users to conventional bank accounts. If the only “business case” is use for illicit or illegal transactions, central banks cannot allow such tokens to rely on much of the same institutional infrastructure that serves the overall financial system and freeload on the trust that it provides. Authorities should apply the principle that the Basel Process has adhered to for years: to provide a level playing field to all participants in financial markets (banks and non-banks alike), while at the same time fostering innovative, secure and competitive markets. In this context, this means, among other things, ensuring that the same high standards that money transfer and payment service providers have to meet are also met by Bitcoin-type exchanges. It also means ensuring that legitimate banking and payment services are only offered to those exchanges and products that meet these high standards. Financial authorities may also have a case to intervene to ensure financial stability. To date, many judge that, given cryptocurrencies’ small size and limited interconnectedness, concerns about them do not rise to a systemic level. But if authorities do not act pre-emptively, cryptocurrencies could become more interconnected with the main financial system and become a threat to financial stability. Most importantly, the meteoric rise of cryptocurrencies should not make us forget the important role central banks play as stewards of public trust. Private digital tokens masquerading as currencies must not subvert this trust. As history has shown, there simply is no substitute. Still, central banks are embracing new technologies as appropriate. Many new developments can help. For example, fintech and “techfin” – which refers to established technology platforms venturing into financial services. These are changing financial service provision in many countries, most clearly in payments, and especially in some emerging market economies (for example, China and Kenya). While they introduce the possibility of non-bank financial institutions introducing money-type instruments, which raises a familiar set of regulatory questions, they do present scope for many gains. Conclusion In conclusion, while cryptocurrencies may pretend to be currencies, they fail the basic textbook definitions. Most would agree that they do not function as a unit of account. Their volatile valuations make them unsafe to rely on as a common means of payment and a stable store of value. They also defy lessons from theory and experiences. Most importantly, given their many fragilities, cryptocurrencies are unlikely to satisfy the requirement of trust to make them sustainable forms of money. While new technologies have the potential to improve our lives, this is not invariably the case. Thus, central banks must be prepared to intervene if needed. After all, cryptocurrencies piggyback on the institutional infrastructure that serves the wider financial system, gaining a semblance of legitimacy from their links to it. This clearly falls under central banks’ area of responsibility. The buck stops here. But the buck also starts here. Credible money will continue to arise from central bank decisions, taken in the light of day and in the public interest. In particular, central banks and financial authorities should pay special attention to two aspects. First, to the ties linking cryptocurrencies to real currencies, to ensure that the relationship is not parasitic. And second, to the level playing field principle. This means “same risk, same regulation”. And no exceptions allowed.
CheapAir.com appears to have chosen self-hosted payment processor BTCPay for its Bitcoin payments, removing BitPay. The firm stats that
Coinbase is sun-setting their merchant platform next week which has led to a need for an alternative processor. Coinbase mentioned that it would be retiring its merchant processing function in April which the cryptocurrency industry condemned.
Caspian Partners, a cryptocurrency portfolio and risk management platform announced a partnership with Bitmex. Caspian customers will now have a unified trading module with more liquidity. The firm provides order and execution management system (OEMS), risk management system (RMS), and a portfolio management system (PMS).
US transportation company Norfolk Southern Corp (NSC) revealed it is joining the Blockchain in Transport Alliance (BITA) in a company announcement yesterday. The BITA association formed in 2017 and aims to develop blockchain applications to the transport and logistics industries. BITA also includes organizations like FedEx (FDX), Uber, UPS (UPS) and GE Transportation.
Thailand’s largest bank has joined a trade finance program utilizing R3’s Corda distributed ledger technology (DLT). R3 is a consortium of over 200 companies that uses technology on blockchain to allow businesses to develop applications on top of its Corda platform.
The Bank of China will use blockchain technology to alleviate poverty in the Tibet Autonomous Region, a province with a poverty rate of 12.4%. The Bank of China has developed a cloud-based system to manage a local poverty reduction fund in the past. The bank has decided to upgrade the existing system with blockchain technology and set up a multi-node blockchain network to connect with their partners like the Agricultural Bank of China
A Czech Republic utility company will begin accepting payments in cryptocurrencies. Pražská Plynárenská is one of the major suppliers of natural gas in the Czech Republic. In June it will establish a payment payment gateway which will transfer bitcoin payments into fiat currency.
A recent study by the Warwick Business School claims that investor sentiment is driving cryptocurrency prices. The study analyzed the top 14 cryptocurrencies based on market capitalization. The primary conclusion was that hype and emotions played the most significant role in determining whether the price of a cryptocurrency rises or falls.
Bitcoin Gold (BTG) has suffered from a 51% attack resulting in a loss USD$17.5mm. The 51% attack permitted double spending to occur. According to the Bitcoin Gold (BTG) team, exchanges have been targeted rather than individual users.
South Africa’s Reserve Bank has chose to call cryptocurrencies “cyber-tokens” because they don’t meet the requirements of money.
In Colombia, two Bitcoin Cash (BCH) proponents have developed a payment processor called Bitek.co. The company offers merchants processing with payable invoices and accounting services as the Bitek platform provides merchants with the ability to accept BCH and covert all or a percentage of the funds into Colombian pesos.
Employees in Ukraine were recently caught using the police department’s resources for four months to mine Bitcoin. In April, mining equipment was found in the office of the Communications Deparment which include eight graphics cards, six power units, two hard drives, a motherboard and a complete system.
VeChain (VEN), a Shanghai-based blockchain startup is testing a blockchain application which verifies a wine supply chain and fights counterfeits. The Chinese wine industry is worth USD$2.8bn and reportedly the Chinese consume wine that is not authentic which as weakened public trust in the quality of the product.
Ireland has clarified taxation on the cryptocurrency space. In terms of direct taxes: corporation tax, income tax and capital gains tax are all applicable, but each case should be reviewed separately.
Barcelona will create a blockchain center in the city’s tech hub. The location will be next to Barcelona Tech City which opened in the Summer of 2016 and will most likely be occupied by Spanish blockchain network Alastria.
Bitfury-backed Hut 8 Mining Group mined more than 800 bitcoins in the first quarter of 2018. The company raised CAD$70mm to continue investing in hardware and generated nearly CAD$11mm in revenue.
Commerzbank and multinational conglomerate Thyssenkrupp have successfully conducted an FX transaction on a blockchain platform. Thyssenkrupp transferred 500,000 euros in an exchange rate between the euro and the Polish zloty at some point in future.
Surkus has raised USD$10mm in Series B funding led by EOS global, a USD$200mm venture fund formed earlier this year. The venture fund is making its first investment and it aims to leverage the EOSIO blockchain to catalyze the transformation of the digital assets space.
CoTrader is introducing a decentralized fund management platform that includes cryptocurrency. CoTrader is a blockchain trading platform and it plans to disrupt investment funds to become the world’s largest outlet for all assets.
The Deutsche Boerse, owner of the Frankfurt Stock Exchange is considering offering cryptocurrency products according to a report. A move into the crypto space may not be immediate as Jeffrey Tessler, the firm’s head of clients, said the firm must “make sure we understand the underlying transaction which isn’t the easiest thing to do”.
Two Russian financial institutions are set to test a regulatory platform that aims to make domestic initial coin offerings (ICOs) more transparent and secure for traditional investors. The Russian National Settlement Depository (NSD) announced on Thursday that it is working with Sberbank CIB, to test an ICO issuance platform launched by the Bank of Russia.
The US Department of Justice has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into cryptocurrency traders who may have manipulated the market with old-school illicit tactics, such as spoofing. The investigation is also being conducted with the Commodity and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC).
American Express is exploring using blockchain technology to increase security for both users and merchants. The firm is exploring an identity wallet and whether blockchain can be used.
Russian State Duma has approved its first reading of a legislation package that regulates crypto-related matters and activities. The legal texts will open the way for legalization of cryptocurrencies in the Russian Federation, including their exchange and circulation under certain conditions.
Revolut, a British based company that created the first app to allow customers to invest in Bitcoin, has announced it will be adding Ripple (XRP) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) to its platform. Revolut began as an app allowing users to transfer fiat currencies, but now has four cryptocurrencies on its platform.
Banks are losing international payments business. Banks have lost 40% of market share for consumer-to-consumer (C2C) cross border payments to non-banks over the last year. Banks have also lost 30% of the consumer-to-business (C2B) and 5% of the business-to-business (B2B) payments market over the last year.
Japanese IT giant, GMO Internet is set to roll out the world’s first bitcoin mining device based on 7nm chips within the year. The firm is launching a new B2 miner on June 6 with mass production to follow and shipment starting by the end of October.
Coinbase has acquired a service called Paradex, a cryptocurrency trading service that lets users trade many digital tokens on a decentralized exchange. The exchange relies on smart contracts to allow users to trade tokens without a centralized authority to record the transactions on a blockchain.
Money Forward, Japan’s most popular personal budgeting app, is launching a crypto asset exchange this year. The firm plans to launch a crypto media platform by Summer followed by an exchange and the construction of a digital asset remittance and settlement system.
The Marshal Islands have replaced the USD$ with its own cryptocurrency. The bill was signed March first but the news is catching attention this week. US Dollars will still be accepted, yet the nation’s cryptocurrency, the “sovereign” will need to be integrated into the country’s financial system. An initial coin offering will take place and the supply will be capped at 24mm tokens
Bank of America has been awarded a patent to let users access a certain blockchain network known as a distributed validating network. Certain users will be granted permission and data will be stored in blocks in which a system can automate this process.
Singaporean-based virtual social trading platform, TrakInvest is looking to become one of the first Asian-based projects to use Hedera Hashgraph’s distributed ledger technology.
Norway’s central bank is preparing for a future in which it might issue a digital currency due to a drop in usage of cash in the country. The Norges Bank released a report titled “Central Bank Digital Currencies” which highlighted that the bank must consider several new attributes that are important for ensuring an efficient robust payment system
Overstock.com’s Tzero is planning to launch a regulated exchange for security tokens in collaboration with Box Digital Markets. The companies will seek approval from the SEC.
A Spanish Central Bank Governor believes that cryptocurrencies will bring more risk than benefits. Luis Maria Linde said that blockchain offers interesting possibilities but that is not quite mature.
Rural banks in the Philippines are looking to adopt blockchain technology in a bid to improve inclusion for residents. The initiative is led by the Union bank of the Philippines, one of the country’s largest banking institutions.
India is considering taxing cryptocurrency at 18% as ‘intangible property’ according to a report issued today. The report detailed that purchases or sales of cryptocurrencies are considered supply of goods and those facilitating transactions should be treated as services.
Every Capital is launching Australia’s first retail crypto hedge fund with the goal of making crypto assets accessible to every Australian investor. Investors will be able to sign up in a fund that covers a range of cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings (ICOs).
The Pentagon and Defense department are weighing on whether owning cryptocurrency is problematic for those who already have security clearances and for those individuals requesting government security clearances.
Steemit, the platform of cryptocurrency of Steem (STEEM) has announced they have over 1,000,000 users. The blockchain processes over one million transactions daily. The Steemit.com website receives over 250,000 unique visitors every day
CheapAir.com adds Litecoin (LTC) Dash (DASH) and Bitcoin Cash (BCH) to its payment options for travelers. The firm first begin accepting cryptocurrency by agreeing to receive payments in Bitcoin (BTC) back in 2013.
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), is proposing changes to existing regulations that would ease market entry for blockchain-based and decentralized exchanges. According to a paper published yesterday, the MAS states that the single tier “recognized market operators” regulatory framework cannot meet the demand for new business models based on such emerging technologies.
Chilean President, Mario Marcel has recently made comments in favor of developing a regulatory apparatus for virtual currencies. This openness contrasts the country’s recent banking embargo targeting cryptocurrencies in Chile.
MIT is demoing a use case for bitcoin’s lightning network – how the cryptocurrency can be combined with smart contracts to not only handle millions of transactions, but also with more complexity. Verge (XVG) has experienced its second hack in less than two months.
Executives are citing a DDoS attack which is giving its blockchain a serious delay. The attack has lasted more than a few hours and has resulted in over 35mm XVG tokens being stolen. CoinGate, a payment gateway for cryptocurrencies, is planning to launch
Bitcoin Lightning Network payments on its platform. The company serves over 4,000 merchants globally and will allow companies to accept bitcoin and altcoin payments which can be transferred in BTC, EUR€ or USD$ as payouts.
The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) is cracking down on unlicensed companies involved in the cryptocurrency space. Companies that the Commission is targeting include investment and trading companies.
A bank in Argentina could soon become the first in the world to begin using Bitcoin for customers’ international remittances. Banco Mansventas (BMV) partnered with local blockchain financial services firm Bitex and are looking to move away from the SWIFT clearing network which has seen multiple failures and security problems in recent years.
Payments startup, Circle has launched the full version of its crypto investment app. After a soft launch, the company has rolled out an investment focused app and one of the features is a “Buy the Market” tool for new cryptocurrency investors.
China Central Television (CCTV) has said that domestic initial coin offerings (ICOs) are still rampant despite a 2017 ban. The network went on to discuss that “air coins”, or token projects that are not backed by legally registered business entities have increased by 30x since the ICO crackdown.
A new crypto teller machine is now operational in Johannesburg, South Africa. The ATM supports several digital coins and joins a growing number of terminals offering automated crypto-fiat exchange services in the country and across the continent.
Japan’s largest bank, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (MUFG) is partnering with Akamai to handle up to 1mm transactions per second using blockchain technology. The platform will confirm transactions within 2 seconds or less and batches of transactions will adhere to the same schedule.
Lawmakers in Taiwan are forming a new parliamentary group aimed to foster the growth of the nation’s emerging blockchain sector. The group will be called the Taiwan Parliamentary Coalition for Blockchain (TPCB).
The Bitcoin community is celebrating the 8th anniversary of the “Bitcoin Pizza Day” which is a celebratory day of a Pizza purchased with Bitcoin. On today’s date 8 years ago, Bitcoin was trading at $.0004 and Laszio Hanyecz purchased two pizzas from Papa John’s for USD$41 using 10,000 BTC
Ohio may become the latest US state to legally recognize smart contracts and records stored on a blockchain. The Senate Bill 300, amends sections of the Uniform Electronic Transactions act and will include blockchain records and smart contracts as electronic records.
Virtuse, a Singaporean cryptocurrency exchange, is connecting crypto markets with global financial assets, commodities, government emission allowances and stock indices to eliminate the middlemen and provide transparency to the financial sector.
The US Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) has issued an advisory statement for listing virtual currency derivative products. The director of the Division of Market Oversight (DMO) has said that the CFTC staff will seek to provide additional guidance to help market participants keep pace with innovation while complying with CFTC regulations.
American aviation company TapJets is considering adding Ripple (XRP) and Litecoin (LTC) to its fleet of payment options. The company inquired about which cryptocurrencies to add via a Twitter poll, and 57,000 users voted.
Spain’s financial regulator has clarified its position on regulated investment funds investing directly in cryptocurrencies. The regulatory body stated that an investment fund registered with the countries National Securities Market Commission can make investments in cryptocurrencies.
Blockchain startup ShareRing is developing a mobile application to consolidate sharing services worldwide. The sharing economy is currently valued at over USD$100bn according to Brookings.
Polish Finance Ministry is rolling back a cryptocurrency tax and is making promises to provide smarter regulation. The ministry will be conducting an “in-depth analysis” of the crypto space to create better regulation and taxation policies going forward.
Walmart has submitted a patent application to track items the store sells to customers. The proposed system would allow a customer to register the item after it is purchased.
TradingView, a software website that many cryptocurrency traders use just raised USD$37mm in funding which was led by Insight Venture Partners. Currently the company receives 75% of its revenues from monthly subscription plans that offer more charts, data and real-time server-side alerts
A “cryptosweep” was launched today in the US and Canada by a group of securities regulators. Nearly 70 inquiries and investigations, and 45 pending or completed enforcement actions will be taken, although it is unclear when the related enforcement actions will be publicly announced
The team behind Parity Technologies have announced they are shutting down PICOPS, a service used by ICO campaigns to comply with regulations by validating that the owner of an Ethereum wallet has already passed an ID background check.
The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has shown in a report that crypto related fraud made up a tiny percent of scam activity in 2017. Of the 200,000 scams reporting, only 0.61% of the financial claims made were crypto related – USD$2.1mm
LMAX Exchange Group is setting up the first cryptocurrency exchange for institutional clients. The group will focus on liquid established cryptocurrencies which include: Bitcoin (BTC), Ripple (XRP), Litecoin (LTC), and Bitcoin Cash (BCH).
Former OKEx cryptocurrency exchange CEO, Chris Lee, is now joining rival cryptocurrency exchange Huobi. In a public note, Lee suggested that OKCoin has experienced notable turnover in senior executives over the past few years which may have affected his decision.
Nearly 40% of all Chinese blockchain startups emerged in 2017, according to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The report highlighted that China currently has 456 startups focused on blockchain technology development as part of their core business.
Japan Cryptocurrency exchange Coincheck will delist Monero and three other privacy coins from Coincheck, one of the country’s most popular exchanges. Japan’s Financial Services Agency (FSA) believes that users have too much anonymity with these cryptocurrencies.
Bankex Smart Justice is bringing arbitration to blockchain technology. If users are in disagreement, Bankex claims the firms technology can help users settle
Thomas Lee owns up to his failed prediction of Bitcoin (BTC) rising ahead of Blockchain week. In a note to clients before Consensus 2018, Lee predicted that Bitcoin (BTC) would surge anywhere from 10-70% yet during the week, the price of Bitcoin (BTC) fell
Questions about technical / political / economic / "game theory" aspects of BU & ViaBTC. (1) With BU, can non-mining (full) nodes influence blocksize? (2) Should ViaBTC open-source their private relay network software? (3) Which is more anti-fragile: a ViaBTC/BU future, or a Core/SegWit future?
What do you think of the influence of non-mining node operators under Bitcoin Unlimited's model for voting on maximum block size? Do you think that non-mining nodes signaling for a certain size would truly motivate miners to not exceed that size?
[Have you] Thought about having that incorporated into BU (even giving access to BU miners)? I ask because looking at some of your pool's first-job times, it looks your system is quite impressive and it'd be a massive slap in the face for core's RN et al
~ u/yeh-nah-yeh Should we be concerned that ViaBTC will have a lot of hashing power - and they will be using a private, close-source relay network? There is probably a lot of discussion we could have on this topic. I like ViaBTC - but it seems strange that he did not address this point very much in his AMA. Are we going to have to "trust ViaBTC" now and "trust" their closed-source private relay network software? This seems like this would be a point of centralization / vulnerability in the network - where ViaBTC could abuse his power, or other players could attack ViaBTC, and harm Bitcoin itself. How does BU "signaling" work - in a non-mining (fully-validating) node, vs a mining node. One question quoted above from the AMA was:
I understand there are multiple parameters involved in "signaling":
EB = excessive blocksize
AD = acceptance depth
(Are there other parameters too? I can't remember.) Here is a Medium post by ViaBTC where he proposes some strategies for setting these parameters, in order to safely hard fork to bigger blocks with BU: Miner Guide: How to Safely Hard Fork to Bitcoin Unlimited https://medium.com/@ViaBTC/miner-guide-how-to-safely-hard-fork-to-bitcoin-unlimited-8ac1570dc1a8#.akijaiba7 Could we have some more discussion on how "signaling for" blocksizes works - under various possible future scenarios (optimistic / pessimistic... likely / unlikely / black-swan)? There are various future scenarios (after the network has eventually / presumably forked from Core to BU) where people could use BU's parameters to realize certain results on the network. (1) What are some of those future scenarios?
economic / political / technical events which could abruptly affect Bitcoin network traffic
already: Chinese currency (Yuan) dropping against US currency (dollar)
already: India demonetizing Rs 500 and Rs 1000 notes
likely: major ETF getting approved in the US (Winklevoss or other)
possible: additional spam attacks on the Bitcoin network
...from white hats (testing the system; pointing out vulnerabilities; making a statement)
...from black hats (another coin; a bot-net; pro-Core and/or anti-BU users; state / corporate actors; Mircea Popescu?)
black swan: some government does something weird & unexpected impacting financial markets and/or Bitcoin
... Trump administration : some high-level person (who's actually just an alt-right blogger that Trump hired to run some major governnent department) makes some crazy pronouncement / ruling about the internet / about the markets (FCC eliminates network neutrality? T-Bill sale fails?)
... Fed : rate hike? more helicopter money?
... Europe : Deutsche Bank collapses? Merkel / ECB decides to rescue / not rescue them? bail-ins?
... China : China bans Bitcoin again? releases their own crypto? imposes new capital controls? Bitcoin price goes moon and CNY crashes so Chinese govt imposes emergency ban on all traffic across Great Firewall - cutting off 80% of mining from the West?
... Russian hackers? some 400 pound guy on his bed? 4chan? whoever took down a big chunk of the DNS a few weeks ago?
(2) What are some possible (typical, atypical... benevolent, malicious... altruistic, selfish... defensive, proactive... pessimistic, optimistic ) BU parameter-setting strategies which people might adopt in those scenarios?
Which software is more safe / more dangerous... more anti-fragile / more fragile in the above scenarios?
users "signaling for" blocksize on the network using parameters in Bitcoin Unlimited?
(3) Can we start putting together a comprehensive strategic "threat (and opportunity) assessment" on those various possible future scenarios / strategies - ranking various threats (and opportunities) in terms of impact as well as probability?
How would the network react to threats/opportunities using BU (with most mining still concentrated in China, and maybe also concetrated on ViaBTC's private closed-source relay network)?
How would the network react to threats/opportunities using Core/SegWit?
(4) A lot of the discussion about BU is among miners - mostly in China - and maybe later many miners will be using the ViaBTC pool - which is also offering a cloud mining option... so perhaps it is normal & expected that most of the discussion about BU parameters revolves around miners.
What about non-mining (fully-validating) nodes in a BU world?
What about SPV clients and servers in a BU world?
Do non-mining (fully-validating) nodesalso have some role to play in helping to set the blocksize, and helping to secure and grow the network, based on setting BU parameters? Or with BU, only the miners decide?
Can non-mining (fully-validating) nodes prevent blocks from getting too big?
How would SPV clients and servers work in a BU world? Can they actively participate in helping to decide blocksize?
(5) Does BU give miners "all the power" - and so blocksize goes to 2 MB, 4 MB, 8 MB - and then some users from low-bandwidth geographic regions can no longer run full nodes at home? (6) If we have a period of 1-2 weeks where "bigger blocks" get mined (eg, 2 MB, or 4 MB), and then we decide we don't like it, can everyone "signal for" smaller blocks after a couple of weeks of bigger blocks? Can the chain reverts to a smaller blocksize, after a brief, one-week "bulge" of bigger blocks? (7) If we have an isolated incident where a single very-big block gets appended to the chain & accepted to a sufficient depth (say, an 8 MB block or a 32 MB, that some miner somehow managed get accepted on the chain)
Can the chain revert to smaller blocks after an isolated incident of one very-big block?
Or are we "stuck" with that bigger blocksize forever, simply because one got mined in the past?
(8) Remember BitPay Adaptive Blocksize? One of the nice things about it was that its consensus-forming mechanism was based on taking a median of what people were signalling - and the median is a more robust statistic (harder to fake/sybil?). Can any ideas from BitPay Adaptive Blocksize (eg, using the median) be incorporated into Bitcoin Unlimited? These are just some initial questions. Other people probably have many more. Hopefully we can have some good discussion and analysis, so we can keep the network safe & growing.
Futures Falls On Chip Carnage As World Await Brexit Verdict
Stocks in Europe faded early gains and S&P futures fell after a mixed session in Asia as chip stocks were taken to the woodshed on poor guidance from Nvidia and Applied Materials sparked fears that the chip bull run is over, while investors wondered whether China and America can de-escalate their trade war after mixed signals by US officials just days before the G-20 summit. The euro failed to rebound while the sterling halted its biggest drop in 2 years after some of the most dramatic 24 hours yet in the Brexit process and another turbulent week for world markets. With reports of a UK leadership coup still rife and fear that the country could crash out of the EU without an agreement, cable struggled to rise above $1.28. Meanwhile traders around the world were waiting for an outcome from the ongoing Brexit saga: “If and when a vote on the withdrawal agreement occurs is uncertain. Whether the withdrawal bill is passed by both houses of Parliament is uncertain,” Joseph Capurso, a senior currency strategist at CBA, said in a note. “Whether the Prime Minister resigns or is challenged for the leadership is uncertain. And, whether there is a second referendum and/or an election is uncertain.” Fears over political turmoil in the UK and Italy dragged Europe's Stoxx 600 back into the red, set for its first weekly drop in three, trimming Friday’s gain as AstraZeneca's drop weighed on the gauge after a cancer-drug setback while telecom names were outperforming. Utilities started the session lower in the wake of yesterday’s ECJ decision which deemed the UK’s scheme for ensuring power supplies during the winter months as a violation of state aid rules. Other individual movers include Vivendi (+4.2%) sit at the top of the Stoxx 600 after posting impressive Q3 sales metrics and announcing a potential sale of part of their Universal Music Group division. Elsewhere, AstraZeneca (-2.3%) and Shire (-1.3%) have been seen lower throughout the session after both posting disappointing drug updates. Not helping sentiment, ECB head Mario Draghi said the bank still plans to dial back its stimulus at the end of the year, but acknowledged the economy had hit a soft patch and inflation may rise more slowly than expected. “If firms start to become more uncertain about the growth and inflation outlook, the squeeze on margins could prove more persistent,” Draghi told a conference. Earlier in the day, Asian shares ended the session in the red (MSCI Asia -0.2% to 151.52), led lower by declines in Japan, even as China and Hong Kong rose after initial reports the United States might pause further China tariffs were denied by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross who damped hopes of any imminent trade deal with China. The Nikkei fell 0.6% pressured by a drop in the USDJPY after China Mofcom began an investigation into alleged dumping of machine tools by Japanese firms. The Hang Seng (+0.3%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) swung between gains and losses after continued liquidity inaction by the PBoC which skipped Reverse Repos for a 16th consecutive occasion. S&P futures were hit on fresh slowdown concerns, this time out of the semiconductochip space, after Nvidia gave a dire sales forecast, projecting a 20% drop in revenue while a disappointing outlook from Applied Materials indicated the chip industry is holding off on expansion plans in the face of a murky outlook for electronics demand. The chipmaking sector saw another bout of selling in Asia, wiping at least $11.2 billion in market value amid signals that demand for servers, personal computers and mobile is falling. Also falling after hours were shares of AMD and Intel, dragging Nasdaq futures lower. "It started with Apple, then Nvidia ... Since performances of these companies set the tone for the global tech and chip industries, related Japanese stocks will likely be sluggish for a while,” said Takatoshi Itoshima, a strategist at Pictet Asset Management. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was little changed after Fed Chairman Powell flagged his concern over potential headwinds for the U.S. economy, while the pound staged a modest rebound on reports that some pro-Brexit ministers decided to stay in their governmental posts. The pound gained as U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May defied demands to quit and amid reports her environment secretary wouldn’t resign, following the resignation of several ministers Thursday. The yen rallied as trade stress simmered, with investors trying to gauge whether China and the U.S. can de-escalate their dispute. Also under water was the cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which hit a one-year trough overnight. It had tumbled 10 percent early in the week when support at $6,000 gave way. It was last changing hands at $5,500 on the Bitstamp platform. Treasuries were steady while 10-year yields on German bonds were set for their biggest weekly fall in three weeks, in a sign that the Brexit uncertainty and worries about Italy’s finances, continued to support demand. Italian bonds edged higher even as European Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said in an interview with Il Sole 24 Ore that the country’s government was openly defying EU budget rules. Emerging-market currencies consolidated recent gains while oil prices extended their rebound. Oil prices rose, helped by a decline in U.S. fuel stockpiles and the possibility of a cut in OPEC output. Brent (+1.3%) and WTI (+1.1%) are both in the green and continuing their rebound seen yesterday with WTI hovering around USD 57.00bbl. Energy newsflow remains light, post-yesterday's DoE report, however, Iraq’s North Oil Co. have announced that they have resumed Kiruk oil exports heading towards the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Looking ahead, the main highlight on the calendar will be the Baker Hughes rig count. Elsewhere, natural gas futures are relatively steady after their 19% decline yesterday which came in the wake of a 20% increase the day before. In geopolitical news, US Republican and Democrat Senators filed a bipartisan bill seeking to suspend arms sales to Saudi Arabia in response to war in Yemen and killing of journalist. North Korean Leader Kim inspected test of new high-tech tactical weapons, according to Yonhap citing North Korean state media Today's data include October industrial production and capacity utilization. Viacom is among companies reporting earnings Market Snapshot
S&P500 futures down 0.3% to 2,725.25
STOXX Europe 600 down 0.01% to 358.38
MXAP down 0.2% to 151.52
MXAPJ up 0.2% to 486.84
Nikkei down 0.6% to 21,680.34
Topix down 0.6% to 1,629.30
Hang Seng Index up 0.3% to 26,183.53
Shanghai Composite up 0.4% to 2,679.11
Sensex up 0.5% to 35,446.11
Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.1% to 5,730.55
Kospi up 0.2% to 2,092.40
Brent futures up 1.2% to $67.41/bbl
Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,216.36
U.S. Dollar Index little changed at 96.93
German 10Y yield rose 0.8 bps to 0.368%
Euro up 0.2% to $1.1346
Italian 10Y yield rose 0.3 bps to 3.12%
Spanish 10Y yield fell 1.4 bps to 1.617%
Top Overnight News
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell has laid out a scenario for a pause in the central bank’s interest-rate hiking campaign sometime next year by highlighting potential headwinds to the U.S. economy.
British Prime Minister Theresa May is defying demands to quit as she battles to keep control of her fractious government long enough to deliver a Brexit deal that’s drawn ire from across the political spectrum.
Pro-Brexit ministers Michael Gove, Liam Fox, Chris Grayling, Penny Mordaunt and Andrea Leadsom have decided together not to quit the government, Times reporter Tim Shipman said on Twitter.
ECB’s Draghi sees no reason for expansion to come to abrupt end, he said at an event in Frankfurt, Germany.
PG&ECorp. rallied as much as 49 percent in extended trading Thursday after the head of the California Public Utilities Commission said he can’t imagine allowing the state’s largest utility to go into bankruptcy as it faces billions of dollars in potential liability from deadly wildfires
Deutsche Bank AG and Bank of America Corp. have been contacted by U.S. criminal investigators for information about transactions they handled for a small bank branch in Estonia that’s at the center of one of the biggest money-laundering investigations in history, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Asia-Pac stocks traded indecisively as the region lacked fresh catalysts and as uncertainty regarding Brexit and US-China trade played on investor’s minds. ASX 200 (-0.1%) and Nikkei 225 (-0.6%) were choppy with outperformance of tech and mining names in Australia overshadowed by a lacklustre broader market, while the Japanese benchmark was subdued by mild flows into the JPY and after China Mofcom began an investigation into alleged dumping of machine tools by Japanese firms. Elsewhere, Hang Seng (+0.3%) and Shanghai Comp. (+0.4%) swung between gains and losses after continued liquidity inaction by the PBoC which skipped OMOs for a 16th consecutive occasion, while participants were also tentative amid ongoing trade uncertainty after conflicting reports regarding the next round of China tariffs being placed on hold which USTR Lighthizer later denied. Finally, 10yr JGBs were mildly higher with prices underpinned amid an indecisive tone seen in stocks and with the BoJ also present in the market for JPY 680bln of JGBs in the belly to super-long end. Top Asian News - China’s Kindergarten Crackdown Is the Latest Disaster for Stocks - Modi Is Said to Enlist Tata for Jet Airways Rescue Ahead of Vote - Philippines Shuts 3 Miners, Suspends 9 Others After Review - Indian Central Bank Board to Discuss Surplus Funds Transfer European equities trade relatively flat (Eurostoxx 50 +0.2%) in the wake of mixed trade headlines overnight for the US and China. Performance across European indices is relatively equal whilst focus once again falls on the FTSE 100 (U/C) which remains at the whim of Brexit-inspired fluctuations in the GBP. Once again, potential upside for the index is being capped by losses in domestically focused banking names (RBS -3.0%, Lloyds -2.1%) as Brexit uncertainty continues to dampen investor sentiment. In terms of sector specifics, most sectors are trading higher with mild outperformance seen in telecom names. Utilities started the session lower in the wake of yesterday’s ECJ decision which deemed the UK’s scheme for ensuring power supplies during the winter months as a violation of state aid rules. Other individual movers include Vivendi (+4.2%) sit at the top of the Stoxx 600 after posting impressive Q3 sales metrics and announcing a potential sale of part of their Universal Music Group division. Elsewhere, AstraZeneca (-2.3%) and Shire (-1.3%) have been seen lower throughout the session after both posting disappointing drug updates. Top European News
Finnish Software Company Basware Is Said to Explore Sale
Vauxhall Owner Said to Weigh Closing a Factory Post-Brexit
Amid Brexit Gloom, Deutsche Bank Sees Frankfurt as Next London
Nyrstar Surges on Hopes Over Trafigura Refinancing Talks
GBP- The Pound is not the biggest net mover for a change, but still one of the most volatile and vulnerable as Cable pivots 1.2800 and EuGbp trades between 0.8850-80. The fall-out from Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting continues as UK PM May strives to sell the Brexit draft, but facing a rising rebellion within the Conservative Party that appears to have reached the critical mass required to trigger a no confidence vote. However, some positive news with a key Minister deciding not to follow others out of the Government, as Gove opts to stay rather than go. In terms of technical impulses, Cable is holding above yesterday’s 1.2725 low, ahead of chart support around 1.2710-00 that protects mtd and ytd troughs at 1.2696 and 1.2662 respectively, while near term resistance is seen around 1.2836 before 1.2850, but 1 bn option expiries at 1.2800 could well exert more influence into the NY cut. For EuGbp, several MAs form support blow 0.8850 and the 100 DMA at 0.8910 may hamper further gains if0.8900 is breached.
JPY- Maintaining a firm underlying safe-haven bid as broad risk sentiment remains fragile and China is reportedly investigating machine dumping by Japan – Usd/Jpy near the bottom of a 113.20-65 range.
EUCAD/CHF- All narrowly mixed vs the Greenback, with the single currency keeping afloat of 1.1300 and eyeing a Fib at 1.1358, while the Loonie is holding recent recovery gains through 1.3200 as oil prices continue their rebound and the Franc meanders between 1.0075-50 vs 1.1000+ earlier this week when the broad Dollar and DXY were in the ascendency (index well above 97.000 vs just below the figure presently).
EM- The Lira is off best levels, but still relatively bid after reports that the US could Turkish cleric Gulen in an attempt to assuage President Erdogan to adopt a less aggressive stance against Saudi Arabia over the Khashoggi killing. Usd/Try now near the middle of a 5.3240-3940 band.
In commodities, gold (+0.2%) is trading relatively flat after hitting new weekly highs of USD 1218.39/oz earlier in the session; following uneventful overnight trade. Elsewhere, Shanghai Zinc prices have risen due to London Metal Exchange stockpiles falling to decade-low levels. Brent (+1.3%) and WTI (+1.1%) are both in the green and continuing their rebound seen yesterday with WTI hovering around USD 57.00bbl. Energy newsflow remains light, post-yesterday's DoE report, however, Iraq’s North Oil Co. have announced that they have resumed Kiruk oil exports heading towards the Turkish port of Ceyhan. Looking ahead, the main highlight on the calendar will be the Baker Hughes rig count. Elsewhere, natural gas futures are relatively steady after their 19% decline yesterday which came in the wake of a 20% increase the day before. US Event Calendar
9:15am: Industrial Production MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.3%; Manufacturing (SIC) Production, est. 0.2%, prior 0.2%
11am: Kansas City Fed Manf. Activity, est. 11, prior 8
4pm: Total Net TIC Flows, prior $108.2b, Net Long-term TIC Flows, prior $131.8b
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