How Bitcoins Are Used to Conceal Assets and Launder Money
How Bitcoins Are Used to Conceal Assets and Launder Money
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My sister thinks she's getting married to a pro wrestler...
I apologize but this may be a bit long. Mind you, this started around November of last year. My sister is severely mentally ill. She lives with my dad (who's a single parent) and doesn't really get out much. They're a HUGE fan of WWE and looks forward to the events. Her all time favorite is TJ Perkins. She used to spend most of her time on the internet and that's when she started looking up dating sites and looking up ways to contact TJ Perkins. Eventually, after a while, she found someone who claimed to be TJ Perkins. He began to talk to her and convince her the usual song and dance about sending them money or a gift card to help with their family or some other BS. She started buying gift cards with the money she was getting and sending him the codes. She even went to Walmart to wire cash to him until she got flagged for money laundering and my dad was contacted by the cellphone company saying she racked up a bill of a wopping $700 in international calls. He was LIVID. (Luckily, the phone company was able to help him out.) They went to the police, (where the cop was HELLA fuckin rude and asked her directly if she was mentally ill in the worst kind of way.) and they basically told her she needed to stop because what she was doing was illegal. After the cellphone bill, my dad cut off her data and took her computer away so she wasn't able to contact them. My dad then had to take over her funds because she was literally draining her check to give to send to the scammer. He told her that if she needed anything to ask him and he would gladly get it for her. My dad tried to explain to her several times that she was getting scammed and that the person on the other end was not TJ Perkins and that he would never be asking for gift cards or money and that she was being used but it never stuck apparently... Today I saw she was charging her phone in the bathroom and got a few text from a contact named, "my darling husband!!!" It said, "baby, send me the codes." And "baby, go get bitcoin atm" (I have no idea what the heck that is so if anyone knows, please tell me.) and "Baby, I need Amazon gift card. Now!" All of her replies are basically long messages of her saying she can't wait to get married and that she loves him and she's sorry she can't send stuff and doesn't want him to get mad at her and yell at her. (I guess he's calling her too and yelling at her when she doesn't do what he says.) I was pissed scrolling through those messages of my sister just spilling her guts to this guy and only getting responses asking for codes. I didn't really know what to do but block the number since I had her phone in hand but I'm sure he's just going to contact her another way... My question is, is there anyway we can ask the cellphone company to block any numbers that aren't on a certain list or maybe restrict her data usage? I guess maybe like a kids mode or something? I just have no idea what to do to help her understand... UPDATE: The phone company can't really do anything about it. Blocking doesn't stop outgoing texts from the person that blocked the sender so honestly, I'm sure this guy has multiple phones and will text her with a different one. Changing her number won't help either since she would just send him messages through the new number. Update 2: Me and my dad are going to try to talk to her again...I just need this to stop. It's stressing me out because I know she's one step away from sending him too much information and the whole family will be in danger. I just hope she'll listen. Update 3: The actuall TJ Perkins reached out to help me talk to my sister! He was amazing and understanding and I feel like the message got through. Me and my dad will be getting her a replacement phone (the one she has is garbage) and changing her number tomorrow. She felt really bad and was afraid she was going to jail. I told her everything would be fine if she stopped what she was doing now and ignore any other calls or texts that come through. Thank you so much for all your help!!! You have no idea what this means to me and my family! ❤ TL:DR - My sister is getting scammed into sending gift cards to someone posing at TJ Perkins. I blocked the number but I know they will be contacting her through a different one. Can we do something to stop this?
The next XVG? Microcap 100x potential actually supported by fundamentals!
What’s up team? I have a hot one for you. XVG returned 12 million percent in 2017 and this one reminds me a lot of it. Here’s why: Mimblewimble is like Blu-Ray compared to CD-ROM in terms of its ability to compress data on a blockchain. The current BTC chain is 277gb and its capacity is limited because every time you spend a coin, each node needs to validate its history back to when it was mined (this is how double spending is prevented). Mimblewimble is different - all transactions in a block are aggregated and netted out in one giant CoinJoin, and only the current spending needs to be verified. This means that dramatically more transactions can fit into a smaller space, increasing throughput and lowering fees while still retaining the full proof of work game theory of Bitcoin. These blockchains are small enough to run a full node on a cheap smartphone, which enhances the decentralization and censorship resistance of the network. The biggest benefit, though, is that all transactions are private - the blockchain doesn’t reveal amounts or addresses except to the actual wallet owner. Unlike earlier decoy-based approaches that bloat the chain and can still be data mined (XMR), Mimblewimble leaves no trace in the blockchain, instead storing only the present state of coin ownership. The first two Mimblewimble coins, Grin and Beam, launched to great fanfare in 2019, quickly reaching over $100m in market cap (since settled down to $22m and $26m respectively). They are good projects but grin has infinite supply and huge never-decreasing emission, and Beam is a corporate moneygrab whose founding investors are counting on you buying for their ROI. ZEC is valued at $568m today, despite the facts that only 1% of transactions are actually shielded, it has a trusted setup, and generating a confidential transaction takes ~60 seconds on a powerful PC. XMR is a great project but it’s valued at $1.2b (so no 100x) and it uses CryptoNote, which is 2014 tech that relies on a decoy-based approach that could be vulnerable to more powerful computers in the future. Mimblewimble is just a better way to approach privacy because there is simply no data recorded in the blockchain for companies to surveil. Privacy is not just for darknet markets, porn, money launderers and terrorists. In many countries it’s dangerous to be wealthy, and there are all kinds of problems with having your spending data be out there publicly and permanently for all to see. Namely, companies like Amazon are patenting approaches to identify people with their crypto addresses, “for law enforcement” but also so that, just like credit cards, your spending data can be used to target ads. (A) Coinbase is selling user data to the DEA, IRS, FBI, Secret Service, and who knows who else? (B) What about insurance companies raising your premiums or canceling your policy because they see you buying (legal) cannabis? If your business operates using transparent cryptocurrency, competitors can data mine your customer and supply chain data, and employees can see how much everyone else gets paid. I could go on, but the idea of “I have nothing to hide, so what do I care about privacy?” will increasingly ring hollow as people realize that this money printing will have to be paid by massive tax increases AND that those taxes will be directly debited from their “Central Bank Digital Currency” wallets. 100% privacy for all transactions also eliminates one HUGE problem that people aren’t aware of yet, but they will be: fungibility. Fungibility means that each coin is indistinguishable from any other, just like paper cash. Why is this important? Because of the ever-expanding reach of AML/KYC/KYT (Anti-Money Laundering / Know Your Customer / Know Your Transaction) as regulators cramp down on crypto and banks take over, increasingly coins become “tainted” in various ways. For example, if you withdraw coins to a mixing service like Wasabi or Samourai, you may find your account blocked. (C) The next obvious step is that if you receive coins that these chainalysis services don’t like for whatever reason, you will be completely innocent yet forced to prove that you didn’t know that the coins you bought were up to no good in a past life. 3 days ago, $100k of USDC was frozen. (D) Even smaller coins like LTC now have this problem, because “Chinese Drug Kingpins” used them. (E) I believe that censorable money that can be blocked/frozen isn’t really “your money”. Epic Cash is a 100% volunteer community project (like XVG and XMR) that had a fair launch in September last year with no ICO and no premine. There are very few projects like this, and it’s a key ingredient in Verge’s success (still at $110m market cap today despite being down 97% since the bubble peak) and why it’s still around. It has a small but super passionate community of “Freemen” who are united by a belief in the sound money economics of Bitcoin Standard emission (21m supply limit and ever-decreasing inflation) and the importance of privacy. I am super bullish on this coin for the following reasons:
Only $400k market cap
Supply started at zero, so there are no VC’s and team to dump on you into the pumps - all coins are mined into existence, just like Bitcoin.
It just had its first halving, reducing emission from 16 to 8 per block. Between now and 2028 there are FOUR (!) more halvings, from 4 to 2 to 1 and then finally 0.15 (I guess that would be an 85%-ing :p) and at this point the supply is the same as BTC and stays in sync forever until the last coin is mined in 2140. This simple supply curve is already accepted by the market as a winner, so why mess with success? (I)
Meets Andreas Antonopolous’ 5 pillars of open blockchains test: Public, Open, Borderless, Neutral, and Censorship Resistant. (How many coins can say this?)
Unlike Bitcoin, Epic created a multi-algorithm approach that enables people to mine on ordinary computers - 60% for CPU on RandomX, 38% for GPU on ProgPow, and 2% for ASIC’s on Cuckoo31+. The algorithms don’t compete with one another. This is essential for leveling the playing field and preventing massive farms from dominating. These percentages can change over time and new algorithms can be easily dropped in. You can mine today using an old laptop and in 5 years you will still be able to. Incidentally, there is nothing standing in the way of adding mobile phone-based mining, which ETN showed there’s a huge demand for.
Based off the excellent Grin codebase, which means they continue to pull in ongoing core code enhancements and focus on ease of use and market penetration instead. (Smart!)
Litecoin’s Charlie Lee is out there daily talking about their move to Mimblewimble, which provides free publicity. What people don’t realize is that you can’t just bolt on Mimblewimble to a legacy blockchain, that’s like putting a Ferrari engine into a school bus - it’s still a school bus, not a race car! LTC is doing it as an optional soft fork via “extension blocks” which will not be supported by all wallets and exchanges. Also, anyone using “optional” privacy features is declaring themselves to be suspicious, which kind of defeats the point for people who care about privacy.
The community is friendly and welcoming to new people coming in, with lots of helpful (independently created) tutorials and guides. (F)
It’s already a global phenomenon, with the whitepaper in 20+ languages (G) and (not bot-infested) active local-language communities on not only Telegram but also Wechat, LINE, QQ and other messenger platforms.
It’s only on two random little exchanges currently, Citex and Vitex. Vitex is actually a pretty good DEX with no KYC and a great mobile wallet.
They are very creative - since centralized exchanges want huge money to list, they created a non-inflationary ERC20 tracker token that’s exchangeable 1:1 for coins so that Uniswap trading is possible (H)
Because it doesn’t have a huge marketing budget in a sea of VC-funded shitcoins, it is as-yet undiscovered, which is why it’s so cheap. There are only 4 Mimblewimble-based currencies on the market: MWC at $162m, BEAM at $26m, GRIN at $22m, and EPIC at $0.4m. This is not financial advice and as always, do your own research, but I’ve been buying this gem for months and will continue to. This one ticks all the boxes for me, the only real problem is that it’s hard to buy much without causing a huge green candle. Alt season is coming, and coins like this are how your neighbor Chad got his Lambo back in 2017. For 2021, McLaren is a better choice and be sure to pay cash so that it doesn’t get repossessed like Chad!
Blockchain in Insurance: Use Cases and Implementations
This article was first posted on Medium:https://medium.com/swlh/blockchain-in-insurance-use-cases-and-implementations-a42a00ebcd91 Almost all major insurers are planning to integrate blockchain by 2021, according to PwC. At first glance, such a high level of commitment to new tech may seem surprising in an old and traditional industry such as insurance. However, enterprise blockchain adoption is poised to help insurers significantly cut costs, become more responsive to customers, and write more business. Two recurring themes throughout this post are that:
Blockchain can lower costs for insurers and lower insurance premiums for customers.
Blockchain can help insurers understand & price risks better by allowing customer, risk and policy information to be shared more quickly and securely across parties the insurance ecosystem. This will increase revenue and growth prospects by allowing insurers to price insurance products more accurately.
Costs are becoming an issue for insurers. Life insurers in Asia and the US have seen cost ratios climb above 30% and 20% respectively over the past few years. This figure should ideally be below 20%. Part of this is due to increased compliance costs such as Know Your Customer (KYC) and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) laws. A bigger reason is that selling and servicing insurance policies is still a complex and labor intensive process. Insurance Growth Rates (CAGR) 2012–17. Source: EY A recent EY insurance market report showed low growth rates for Life insurance and Non-Life insurance outside Asia Pacific. Digging deeper, Life insurance premiums in the US declined by 0.4% from 2012–17. Insurers find themselves needing to reduce operating costs and write business more effectively. While blockchain is not a magic elixir, proper adoption will help address these needs.
What is Blockchain?
In their book “Blockchain Revolution,” authors Don and Alex Tapscott describe blockchain as “an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.” Organizations need secure ways to record transactions and manage information flows, making blockchain’s appeal easy to see. Blockchains ensures that:
All participants have a copy of the digital ledger and that each copy is updated in real-time when transactions occur;
There is no centralized server, making hacking next to impossible;
A recorded transaction theoretically cannot be reversed, which makes the ledger an immutable source of truth no matter how many participants hold copies;
Transaction data, records, and participant identities can be authenticated while remaining private.
Enterprise blockchains used by companies are different from public blockchains such as Bitcoin and Ethereum. Public blockchains are too clunky and slow for enterprise purposes. Enterprises require scale and speed — the ability to process hundreds of thousands of transactions very quickly. Public blockchains suffer from very low transaction speeds. Their verification process is cumbersome because participants are unknown and untrusted. Private enterprise blockchains don’t suffer from this limitation since all participants are known and trusted. Enterprise blockchains have the following characteristics:
Participation requires invitation: all participants in the blockchain network are trusted
Data is private and secure: you don’t have access to transactions that you are not a party to, even though you’re on the same blockchain network
Enterprise blockchains are fast and light: the network can handle thousands of transactions per second and numerous participants working in tandem
‘Smart contracts’ automate processes: transaction rules and process flows can be programmed to execute automatically, allowing payments and transfers to execute without human intervention, for example
The insurance industry will benefit from blockchain because most underwriting and claims activity requires cooperation among multiple parties. Some of these parties are from outside the firm, making data security important. Reconciling data from multiple sources during claims investigation, for example, is time and resource intensive and prone to manual error. Putting this data on a blockchain would streamline operations.
Blockchain Use Cases in Insurance
Industries have always adopted technology that has made it easier, faster and cheaper to conduct business. Blockchain tech promises to deliver on all three fronts, especially in the insurance industry, which is seen as slow and complex. Let’s face it, insurance customers don’t enjoy interacting with insurance companies. Customers often deal with time-consuming paper forms when applying for a policy or submitting a claim. They may have to speak with people at insurance companies and hospitals, for example, to get medical insurance claims reimbursed. On the flip side, insurance companies have to deal with the high costs of managing and servicing policies. Many of these costs are administrative — claims administration, verification and reconciliation of information, and paperwork. Insurance also requires coordination among many parties — consumers, brokers, insurers and reinsurers. This introduces overhead costs that translate to higher premiums paid by customers. Blockchain can help make selling and servicing insurance better, faster and cheaper by improving fraud prevention,claims management, health insurance, and reinsurance. The end result could be lower prices and better experiences for customers.
According to the FBI, non-health insurance fraud in the US is estimated to be over $40 billion per year, which can cost families between $400–700 per year in extra premiums. Common types of insurance fraud can be eliminated by moving insurance claims onto a blockchain-based ledger that is shared among insurance companies and cannot be modified. It can prevent criminals from collecting money from different insurers for the same claim, for example. Blockchain will make coordination easier among insurers. If all insurers access a shared blockchain ledger, they would know if a claim has already been paid. Since all insurers use the same historical claims information, it would also be easier to identify suspicious behavior. Insurers currently try to detect fraud by using publicly available data as well as data acquired from private companies. The problem is that these data sets are incomplete due to legal constraints around sharing personally identifiable information of individuals. Blockchain, by cryptographically securing data, would allow claims information to be shared across insurers without divulging personally identifiable information.
Putting insurance policies on a blockchain as smart contracts can radically improve the efficiency of Property & Casualty (P&C) insurance, saving insurers more than $200B a year in operating costs according to BCG. Let’s use car insurance to illustrate this. If you get into a car accident and it was the other driver’s fault, you must submit a claim to your insurance company to recover your loss. Your insurance company investigates your claim and tries to recover money from the other driver’s insurance company. The other insurance company has its own claims processes, which leads to duplicated work, delays, and possible human error. The end result is that you get paid much later than you’d like, and insurers spend time and money on unprofitable activities. Putting insurance policies and claims data on a blockchain that different insurers, reinsurers, brokers, and other parties can access reduces duplicate manual work by different parties. Insurance policies as smart contracts on a blockchain automatically execute programmed claims processing actions, automating information transfers between insurers and other parties, and releasing payments to policyholders. Additional info such as claims forms and supporting evidence supplied by policyholders can later be added to the blockchain so that all parties have the same information, making disputes unlikely.
Blockchain enables fast, accurate, and secure sharing of medical data among healthcare providers and insurers. This will translate into faster health insurance claims processing and lower health insurance costs for customers. Privacy laws around sharing patient data among hospitals and health insurance providers makes it time-consuming and expensive to process health insurance claims. Lack of data can even lead to insurance claim denials. Patients deal with numerous doctors, hospitals and insurers over time and across borders. A patient’s medical history exists in fragments across healthcare providers and insurers. Worse, the way in which insurers and healthcare providers cooperate, share patient data, and process claims involves complex manual work & reconciliation. Even the technical infrastructure for medical records is outdated. Putting encrypted patient records on a blockchain allows healthcare providers and insurers to access a patient’s medical data without sacrificing patient confidentiality. An industry-wide synchronized database of patient data can save the industry billions annually. Patient privacy is ensured because the blockchain stores cryptographic signatures for each medical record, which verifies the authenticity of the record without having to actually store any sensitive info on the blockchain. Changes to a patient’s medical records are also stored on the blockchain, which creates an audit trail.
Data sharing among insurers and reinsurance companies is complex, time consuming, and requires inefficient manual work. Blockchain can streamline information flows between insurers and reinsurers. Reinsurers provide insurance to insurance companies. That way, insurance companies won’t get wiped out when many claims occur at once, such as during a hurricane or earthquake. The problem is that reinsurance processes are lengthy, inefficient, manual and are based on one-off contracts. Insurance companies generally engage multiple reinsurers for the same risk, which means that data has to be shared among many companies to settle claims. When reinsurers and insurers share a blockchain ledger, data related to policies, premiums and losses can exist on insurers’ and reinsurers’ systems simultaneously. This takes away the need for reconciliation, which saves everyone time and money. Reinsurers can also automate claims processing and settlement. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that blockchain can save the reinsurance industry up to $10 billion, which can then lead to lower insurance premiums for customers.
Blockchain Implementation in Insurance
Saving the best for last, here are just some examples of how the insurance industry is using blockchain. Keep in mind that at this point, there are more prototypes and POCs than full-scale implementations.
R3 is an enterprise blockchain company. It maintains an ecosystem of over 300 firms across industries that build blockchain software apps on top of its Corda platform. These apps can be used across industries from insurance to banking to healthcare. R3 maintains 2 versions of Corda; an open source platform and an enterprise-specific version called Corda Enterprise. Both versions of Corda are compatible with each other. Insurance-specific applications on Corda are designed to help insurers automate back office activities, streamline operational flows, and generally spend less time on things like claims admin and data processing. There are also apps being development to speed up underwriting and enable faster data sharing among insurers and reinsurers. Basically, Corda wants to host a common set of insurance apps that the entire industry can use to cut costs and boost revenue. Corda currently boasts over 15 insurance-specific apps, with a few of these deployed into production such as:
Blocksure OS: solves problems related to legacy systems, slow manual processes and high rates of error by automating policy admin and claims activities. Policyholders can access all policy and claims info in one app.
MIDAS: is a motor insurance authentication platform designed to serve 80 motor insurance companies in Hong Kong. It provides real-time authentication of motor insurance policies, verification, and audit trails. This can help with fraud detection and reduce time required for certain verification activities when it comes to policy and claims management.
B3i was a blockchain consortium, now an independent software company, supported by leading insurers and reinsurers including Swiss Re, AXA, Zurich, Munich Re, and Allianz. They develop blockchain-based applications for insurers and reinsurers and aim to create industry-wide standards. B3i aims to use blockchain tech to streamline back office processes and claims management — basically lower costs and do things faster. In 2018, B3i switched from IBM’s Hyperledger Fabric to R3’s Corda platform. In July 2019, they launched a Catastrophe Excess of Loss product on Corda. The product is designed for brokers, insurers and reinsurers to negotiate and place risks more efficiently by reducing manual activities related to placing, renewing and managing treaties.
In 2017, AXA launched Fizzy, a blockchain platform for flight delay insurance. Customers purchase flight delay insurance, which is recorded in a smart contract. The platform is connected to global air traffic databases and receives flight statuses. If a customer’s flight is delayed for more than two hours, the smart contract automatically triggers payment to the customer. Customers don’t have to fill out claims forms or speak to service reps. The claim is deposited directly to their bank account. Customer satisfaction: maximized. AXA does not have to spend time processing claims, verifying flight data, or enduring paperwork for payment authorizations. They save on time & cost and can deploy these resources to more profitable activities. Update: Fizzy has since been discontinued after 2 years, possibly due to lack of appetite from the travel/airline industry. Regardless, Fizzy was a pioneer of sorts and has laid the groundwork for future blockchain insurance platforms.
Hong Kong insurer Blue Cross is using blockchain since April 2019 to speed up medical insurance claims processing and prevent fraud. Blue Cross’ blockchain platform validates claims data in real-time, which greatly reduces fraud potential from duplicate claims filing, for example. Claims are also processed faster for their 200,000+ customers. The platform also removes the need to reconcile claims data across parties such as insurers and medical service providers. Medical practitioners such as doctors and chiropractors who don’t employ many admin support staff could save time and money by partnering with Blue Cross. Blue Cross’ blockchain platform is built on Hyperledger. Blue Cross is owned by Bank of East Asia.
Insurwave is a blockchain-based marine hull insurance platform launched in 2018. The platform was a collaboration among Ernst & Young, Guardtime, Maersk, Microsoft, and ACORD. It was built on R3’s Corda platform. Insurwave provides real-time information on ships’ location, condition, and safety factors that both insurers and customers can access. If ships enter high-risk areas, Insurwave automatically factors this into underwriting and pricing calculations. Premium calculations for this type of insurance are very complex. Having an immutable audit trail for ship-specific information substantially eases this calculation, enables accurate pricing, and speeds up underwriting. Insurers are also able to better account for ship-specific risks.
The Future of Blockchain in Insurance
These are still early days. Most of the work around blockchain in insurance is in the Proof of Concept stage and regulation is slowly catching up. However, we have already seen some applications that have gone live. The ‘quickest win’ for blockchain in insurance is in the area of cost control. Rising costs are hitting insurers across most markets. Blockchain platforms and Dapps that allow firms to free up resources by automating claims management, fraud detection and data reconciliation, for example, will be heartily endorsed by executives. The real win will be when blockchain platforms enable insurers to create better products and onboard customers faster — things that bring in revenue. For this to happen, we need a more robust ecosystem of insurers, reinsurers, tech companies and service providers working together on industry-standard blockchain platforms. This has already started with software companies like R3 launching enterprise-grade blockchain platforms such as Corda Enterprise. We also have leading insurers involved in B3i that share common goals related to blockchain development. It remains to be seen if these natural competitors share enough long-term interests to sustain the initiative. If not, industry-wide blockchain adoption may take longer and become more fragmented. However, the benefits are too obvious to ignore. We will probably see a few committed companies invest early in blockchain and enjoy a short period of above-normal performance, with early adoption coming from mature markets burdened with high costs as well as some parts of Southeast Asia (e.g. China, which proactively adopts tech). The rest of the industry will follow.
I've heard that founder of MakerDAO is not strictly against KYC. I have a message to whole community and specifically to a founder of MakerDAO Rune Christensen. I will explain using concrete examples why having KYC in MakerDAO is a grave mistake and it will lead to MakerDAO fork. Many people in the first world never actually understand why financial privacy and financial inclusion is important. Even people (in the first world) who seemingly supportive of such ideas are not able to provide any concrete examples of why it's actually important. Unfortunately, I was born in a "wrong" country (Uzbekistan) and I experienced first hand what financial exclusion actually means. I know first hand that annoying feeling when you read polite, boilerplate rejection letter from financial institution based in first world. So I had to become practical libertarian. I'm going to give you concrete examples of financial discrimination against me. Then I'm going to explain fundamental reasons why it happens. And finally, I'm going to explain my vision for DAI. Back in 2005, I lived in Uzbekistan. I had an idea to invest in US stocks. I was very naive and I didn't know anything about investing, compliance, bank transfers, KYC etc. All I knew is nice long term charts of US stocks and what P/E means. I didn't contact any US brokerage but I checked information about account opening and how to transfer money there. I approached local bank in Uzbekistan and asked how to transfer money to Bank of New York. Banker's face was like - WOW, WTF?!?! They asked me to go to private room to talk with senior manager. Senior manager of local bank in Uzbekistan asked me why I wanted to transfer money to US. They told me that it's absolutely impossible to transfer money to US/EU and pretty much anywhere. I approached nearly every local bank in the town and they told me the same. In 2012, I already lived in Moscow and acquired Russian citizenship. I got back to my old idea - investing in US stocks. I called to many US brokerages and all of them politely rejected me. Usually when I called I asked them if I can open an account with them. They told me to hold on line. After long pause, I was able to speak with "senior" support who politely explain me that Russia in their list of restricted countries and they can't open an account for me. Finally, I was able to open an account with OptionsXpress. Next challenge was to convince local Russian bank to transfer money to US. Back then in 2012, I was able to get permission to do so. So you might say - is this happy end? Fast forwarding US brokerage story to 2017, OptionsXpress was acquired by Charles Schwab. I was notified that my OptionsXpress account will be migrated to Charles Schwab platform. In 2017, I already lived in the Netherlands (but still having Russian citizenship). I wasn't happy with my stupid job in the Netherlands. I called Charles Schwab and asked if I quit my job in the Netherlands and have to return to Russia, what will happen with my account. Schwab told me that they will restrict my account, so I can't do anything except closing my account. So even if I was long term customer of OptionsXpress, Charles Schwab is not fully okay with me. Going back to 2013, I still lived in Russia. I had another idea. What if I quit my job and build some SAAS platform (or whatever) and sell my stuff to US customers. So I need some website which accept US credit cards. I contacted my Russian bank (who previously allowed me to transfer money to OptionsXpress) about steps to make in order to accept US credit cards in Russia. I've been told explicitly in email that they won't allow me to accept US credit cards under any circumstances. Back then I still believed in "the free west". So I thought - no problem, I will just open bank account abroad and do all operations from my foreign account. I planned vacation in Hong Kong. And Hong Kong is freest economy in the world. Looks like it's right place to open bank account. I contacted HSBC Hong Kong via email. Their general support assured me that I can open bank account with them if I'm foreigner. I flew to Hong Kong for vacation and visited HSBC branch. Of course, they rejected me. But they recommended me to visit last floor in their HQ building, they told me that another HSBC branch specializes on opening bank accounts for foreigners. I went there and they said minimum amount to open bank account is 10 mil HKD (1.27 mil USD). Later I learned that it's called private banking. When I relocated to the Netherlands, I asked ABN Amro staff - what's happen with my bank account if I quit/lose my job in the Netherlands and have to return back to Russia. I've been told that I can't have my dutch bank account if I go back to Russia even if I already used their bank for 2+ years. I still had idea that I would like to quit my job and do something for myself. The problem is that I'm Russian citizen and I don't have any residency which is independent from my employment. So if I quit my job in the Netherlands, I have to return back to Russia. I wanted to see how I would get payments from US/EU customers. I found Stripe Atlas, it's so exciting, they help you to incorporate in US, and even help with banking, all process of receiving credit card payments is very smooth. But as usual in my case, there is a catch - Russia in their list of restricted countries. Speaking of centralized compliance-friendly (e.g. KYC) crypto exchanges. This year I live and work in Hong Kong. Earlier this year, I thought it would be nice to have an account at local crypto exchange in Hong Kong so I can quickly transfer money from my bank account in Hong Kong to crypto exchange using FPS (local payment system for fast bank transfers). What could go wrong? After all Hong Kong is freest economy in the world, right? I submitted KYC documents to crypto exchange called Weever including copy of my Hong Kong ID as they requested. They very quickly responded that they need copy of my passport as well. I submitted copy of my Russian passport. This time they got silent. After a few days, they sent me email saying that Russia is on the US Office of Foreign Assets Control sanction list, so they just require me to fill a form about source of the funds. I told them that the source of my funds is salary, my Hong Kong bank can confirm that along with my employment contract. They got very silent after I sent them a filled form. After a week of silence I asked them - when my account get approved? They said that their compliance office will review my application soon. And they got very silent again. I waited for two or three weeks. Then I asked them again. And I immediately got email with title - Rejection for Weever Account Opening. And text of email was:
We are sorry to inform you that Weever may not be able to accept your account opening application at this stage.
Exactly the same situation I had with one crypto exchange in Europe back in 2017. Luckily I have accounts at other crypto exchanges including Gemini, one of most compliance obsessed exchange in the world. Although I don't keep my money there because I can't trust them, who knows what might come into head of their compliance officer one sunny day. By the way, I'm living and working outside of Russia for quite a few years. The situation with crypto exchanges is much worse for those who still living in Russia. I give you a few other examples of financial discrimination is not related to troubles with my Russian citizenship. Back in 2018, I still lived in the Netherlands. I logged in into my brokerage account just to buy US ETFs as I always do - SPY and QQQ. I placed my order and it failed to fill. I thought it's just a technical problem with my brokerage account. After a few failed attempts to send buy orders for SPY and QQQ, I contacted their support. What they told me was shocking and completely unexpected. They said I'm not permitted to buy US ETFs anymore as EU resident because EU passed a law to protect retail investors. So as a EU resident I'm allowed to be exposed to more risk by buying individual US stocks but I'm not allowed to reduce my risk by buying SPY because ... EU wants to protect me. I felt final result of new law. By the way, on paper their law looks fine. And the final example. It's a known fact that US public market become less attractive in recent decades. Due to heavy regulatory burden companies prefer to go public very late. So if successful unicorn startup grows from its inception/genesis to late adoption, company's valuation would be 3-5 orders of orders of magnitude. For example, if valuation of successful company at inception is 1 Mil USD, then at its very latest stage it's valuation would be 10 Bil USD. So we have 10'000 times of growth. In the best case scenario, company would go public at 1 Bil USD 5-10 years before reaching its peak 10 Bil USD. So investors in private equity could enjoy 1000 fold growth and just leave for public only last 10 fold growth stretched in time. In the worst case scenario, company would go public at 10 Bil USD, i.e. at its historical peak. But there are well known platforms to buy shares of private companies, one of such platforms is Forge Global. You can buy shares of almost all blue chip startups. You can even invest in SpaceX! But as always, there is a catch - US government wants to protect not just US citizens but all people in the world (sounds ridiculous, right?). US law requires you to have 1 Mil USD net worth or 200'000 USD annual income if you want to buy shares of non-public company. So if you are high-net worth individual you can be called "accredited investor". Funny thing is that the law intends to protect US citizens but even if you are not US citizen and never even lived in US, this law is still applies to you in practice. So if you are "poor loser", platforms like Forge Global will reject you. So high-net worth individuals have access and opportunity to Bitcoin-style multi-magnitude growth every 5-10 years. Contrary to private equity markets, US public markets is low risk/low return type of market. If you have small amount of capital, it's just glorified way to protect yourself from inflation plus some little return on top. It's not bad, US public market is a still great way to store your wealth. But I'm deeply convinced that for small capital you must seek fundamentally different type of market - high risk/high return. It's just historical luck that Bitcoin/Ethereum/etc were available for general public from day one. But in reality, viral/exponential growth is happening quite often. It's just you don't have access to such type of markets due to regulatory reasons. I intentionally described these examples of financial discrimination in full details as I experienced them because I do feel that vast majority of people in the first world honestly think that current financial system works just fine and only criminals and terrorists are banned. In reality that's not true at all. 99.999% of innocent people are completely cut off from modern financial system in the name of fighting against money laundering. Here is a big picture why it's happening. There are rich countries (so called western world) and poor countries (so called third world). Financial wall is carefully built by two sides. Authoritarian leaders of poor countries almost always want full control over their population, they don't like market economy, and since market forces don't value their crappy legal system (because it works only for close friends of authoritarian leader) they must implement strict capital control. Otherwise, all capital will run away from their country because nobody really respects their crappy legal system. It only has value under heavy gun of government. Only friends of authoritarian leader can move their money out of country but not you. Leaders of rich countries want to protect their economy from "dirty money" coming from third world. Since citizens of poor countries never vote for leaders of rich countries nobody really cares if rich country just ban everyone from poor country. It's the most lazy way to fight against money laundering - simply ban everyone from certain country. Actually if you look deeper you will see that rich countries very rarely directly ban ordinary people from third world. Usually, there is no such law which doesn't allow me to open bank account somewhere in Europe as non-EU resident. What's really happens is that US/EU government implement very harsh penalties for financial institutions if anything ever goes wrong. So what's actually happens is that financial institutions (banks, brokerages etc) do de-risking. This is the most important word you must know about traditional financial system! So if you have wrong passport, financial institution (for example) bank from rich country just doesn't want to take any risks dealing with you even if you are willing to provide full documentation about your finances. It's well known fact that banks in Hong Kong, Europe, US like to unexpectedly shutdown accounts of thousands innocent businesses due to de-risking. So it's actually de-risking is the real reason why I was rejected so many times by financial institutions in the first world!!! It's de-risking actually responsible for banning 99.999% of innocent people. So governments of rich democratic countries formally have clean hands because they are not banning ordinary people from third world directly. All dirty job is done by financial institutions but governments are well aware of that, it's just more convenient way to discriminate. And nobody actually cares! Ordinary citizens in rich countries are never exposed to such problems and they really don't care about people in third world, after all they are not citizens of US/EU/UK/CH/CA/HK/SG/JP/AU/NZ. And now are you ready for the most hilarious part? If you are big corrupt bureaucrat from Russia you are actually welcome by the first world financial institutions! All Russian's junta keep their stolen money all across Europe and even in US. You might wonder how this is possible if the western financial system is so aggressive in de-risking. Here is a simple equation which financial institution should solve when they decide whether to open an account for you or not: Y - R = net profit Where: Y - how much profit they can make with you; R - how much regulatory risk they take while working with you; That's it! It's very simple equation. So if you are really big junta member from Russia you are actually welcome according to this equation. Banks have special name for serving (ultra) high-net worth individuals, it's called private banking. It's has nothing to do with the fact that bank is private. It's just fancy name for banking for rich. So what's usually happen in real world. Some Estonian or Danish bank got caught with large scale money laundering from Russia. European leaders are ashamed in front of their voters. They implement new super harsh law against money laundering to keep their voters happy. Voters are ordinary people, they don't care about details of new regulations. So banks get scared and abruptly shutdown ALL accounts of Russian customers. And European voters are happy. Modern money laundering laws are like shooting mouse in your house using bazooka! It's very efficient to kill mouse, right? Now imagine world without financial borders. It's hard to do so because we are all get so used to current status quo of traditional financial system. But with additional effort you can start asking questions - if Internet economy is so global and it doesn't really matter where HQ of startup is located, why they are all concentrated in just a few tiny places like Silicon Valley and ... well, that's mostly it if you count the biggest unicorns! Another question would be - why so many talented russian, indian, chinese programmers just go to the same places like San Francisco, London and make super rich companies like Amazon, Google, Facebook, Apple to get even richer? If all you need is laptop and access to internet, why you don't see any trade happening between first and third world? Well actually there is a trade between first and third world but it's not exactly what I want to see. Usually third world countries sell their natural resources through giant corporations to the first world. So it's possible to get access to the first world market from third world but this access usually granted only to big and established companies (and usually it means not innovative). Unicorns are created through massive parallel experiment. Every week bunch of new startups are created in Silicon Valley. Thousands and thousands startups are created in Silicon Valley with almost instant access to global market. Just by law of large numbers you have a very few of them who later become unicorns and dominate the world. But if you have wrong passport and you are located in "wrong" country where every attempt to access global market is very costly, then you most likely not to start innovative startup in the first place. In the best case scenario, you just create either local business or just local copy-paste startup (copied from the west) oriented on (relatively small) domestic market. Obviously in such setup it's predictable that places like Silicon Valley will have giant advantage and as a result all unicorns get concentrated in just a few tiny places. In the world without financial barriers there will be much smaller gap between rich and poor countries. With low barrier of entry, it won't be a game when winner takes all. Whole architecture of decentralized cryptocurrencies is intended to remove middle man and make transactions permissionless. Governments are inherently opposite to that, they are centralized and permissioned. Therefore, decentralized cryptocurrencies are fundamentally incompatible with traditional financial system which is full of middle mans and regulations (i.e. permissions). Real value of crypto are coming from third world, not the first world. People are buying crypto in rich countries just want to invest. Their financial system and their fiat money are more or less already working for them. So there is no immediate urgency to get rid of fiat money in the first world. So the first world citizens buying crypto on centralized KYCd exchanges are essentially making side bet on the success of crypto in third world. Real and natural environment of cryptocurrencies is actually dark OTC market in places like Venezuela and China. But cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum have a big limitation to wide adoption in third world - high volatility. So the real target audience is oppressed (both by their own government and by first world governments) ordinary citizens of third world countries yet they are least who can afford to take burden of high volatility. Right now, Tether is a big thing for dark markets across the world (by the way, dark market doesn't automatically imply bad!). But Tether soon or later be smashed by US/EU regulators. The only real and working permissionless stable cryptocurrency (avoiding hyped word - stablecoin) is DAI. DAI is the currency for post-Tether world to lead dark OTC market around the world and subvert fiat currencies of oppressive third world governments. Once DAI become de-facto widespread currency in shadow economy in all of third world, then it will be accepted (after many huge push backs from governments) as a new reality. I'm talking about 10-20+ years time horizon. But if MakerDAO chooses the route of being compliance friendly then DAI will lose its real target audience (i.e. third world). I can not imagine US/EU calmly tolerate someone buying US stocks and using as a collateral to issue another security (i.e. DAI) which is going to be traded somewhere in Venezuela! You can not be compliance friendly and serve people in Venezuela. Facebook's Libra was stupidest thing I've seen. It's extremely stupid to ask permission from the first world regulators to serve third world and create borderless economy. Another stupid thing is to please third world governments as well. For example, Libra (if ever run) will not serve Indian, Chinese, Venezuelan people. Who is then going to use stupid Libra? Hipsters in Silicon Valley? Why? US dollars are good enough already.
How did someone who would NEVER donate to ANY political campaign end up donating to Yang?
How to replicate this transformation in other voters in my demographic using social proof and the spirit of our times.
From Trump Train to Next Stop: #YangGang My vote for Trump in 2016 was more of a vote against Hillary. I won't get into my reasonings, as this is outside the scope of this post. But I'm sure a sizeable percentage of Trump voters voted for him not because they worshipped "The God Emperor", but because they thought a political outsider would actually come in and "drain the swamp" to end corruption and pay-to-play politics in Washington. Has that happened in Trump's first term? Some would argue yes, others would argue no, but the important point to note here is that still most folks don't really care, because like what Whoopi was arguing is how is any of it going to positively effect my living situation and my community? The Hook: Some Asian Guy Running For President Is Literally Going To Give You $1,000 a Month In terms of marketing, this has everything. It's what got Yang on my radar in the first place. This message is a great hook to grab the attention of new potential voters. Some Asian Guy Running For President... This has tremendous novelty and speaks to the multicultural nature of America these days, and especially those feel strongly about "identity politics". There hasn't been a viable Asian candidate for president before, so this in itself is compelling. ...Is Literally Going To Give You $1,000 a Month Here's where the hook sinks in deep, because if this turns out to be true and not a scam (and people do their research when money and potential windfall is involved) people will passionately fight to make this a reality. Why? Because there is literally no other candidate running who could more directly impact the lives of Americans than one who will actually put $1,000 a month directly into your bank account. That's a powerful hook, and the YangGang is right to use it as the flagship policy. The Turning Point: "It's not immigrants, it's the robots." Andrew Yang talks about the lightbulb moment when he drops this line on folks in person and on stage. Once someone says it to you, and you understand it, it becomes so blatantly, obviously true that you cannot go back to your previous method of thinking. You then realise how stupid building a wall with Mexico is. You then realise that Amazon is the model for future entrepreneurs. You then realise that the income base that the country depends on comes from jobs that will be automated away. You then start wondering what that will do to your community, and the economy as a whole. Then the Freedom Dividend really starts to look even more appealing! Truck drivers are not going to #LearnToCode. Pregnant mothers are not going to work while pregnant (nor should they be compelled to). But the bills still have to be paid. How is that going to happen if there are fewer and fewer jobs left for humans? Seriously now, what are the alternatives? You've seen Trump. You know what you are going to get for the next 4 years if he wins in 2020. The rest of the Democratic field is so weak, so weak it is really really sad. Who would go see Joe Biden speak in public? Who would carry water for Buttigieg? Who would not cringe a single time while enduring a speech by Cory "Phony Douche" Booker? Who would not wonder what presidential power would do to a person like Kamala Harris, who knowingly withheld information that would have set an innocent man free on death row? Sealing the Deal: Now 100% #YangGang What sealed the deal for me was Trump's now infamous and awfully misinformed anti-Bitcoin and anti-Cryptocurrency tweet, where he says:
I am not a fan of Bitcoin and other Cryptocurrencies, which are not money, and whose value is highly volatile and based on thin air. Unregulated Crypto Assets can facilitate unlawful behavior, including drug trade and other illegal activity...
This statement is so dumb, but so freaking dumb, that it is mind-boggling to ANYONE who understands the value proposition of cryptocurrency and blockchain based products and services. Fiat currencies (USD, EUR, RMB) are based on thin air. They are literally printed on huge machines out of thin air. USD is the #1 currency BY FAR that facilitates illicit activities worldwide, from money laundering to terrorism financing, to trafficking and other horrible things. Because cash is not easily traceable. By contrast, blockchain based cryptos have this thing called a "blockchain" (lol really?) in which EACH transaction in HISTORY is tracked publicly FOREVER. Not so good for illegal activity, is it? Bitcoin and Ethereum are backed by real monetary and computational networks as open, public and distributed systems. They represent a global public good, and so far only Andrew Yang has spoken intelligently about their potential in blockchain based voting. So, when Trump came out with this tweet, I personally saw droves of Trump supporters ditching him like a bad habit on Sunday. It was shocking. To see diehard Trumpers just get off the Trump Train like that, over one anti-crypto Tweet, was amazing to see. Thinking about it, many of Trump supporters are anarcho-capitalist-libertarians, who believe wholeheartedly in the promise of blockchain. When faced with the decision of crypto or Trump, the decision was easy. Crypto has a chance of directly positively impacting the lives of these voters. Trump, not so much. So that brings me to my point: #YangGang should reach out to the cryptocurrency community to gain traction and voters. (More on this further down) OK, I Want My Grand A Month Now. (How a die-hard non-campaign contributor just threw 10 bucks to Yang, because the investment is ROI positive. It's the MATH!) If you are an entrepreneur like me, you pay a lot of attention to incentives and game theory. People lie, numbers don't. The reason I say that is because you can gain truer insight into someone's motivations (and future action) by looking at: How they spend their money; How they act in order to gain money; and what they do in order to avoid losing money. Most people don't donate to a politician's campaign because they cannot see a clear Return on Investment (ROI) from doing so. Even if that politician does get elected, if you aren't one of these mega-doners that got face-time with the candidate to push your pet project pay-to-play scheme, you won't see ROI. That changes with Yang's Freedom Dividend (and Democracy Dollars). If Yang wins, I get my $1,000 a month. My $10 investment gets 100X return in just the first month of the dividend. That's what motivated me to donate to Yang's campaign. How to convert Trump Train Riders - who are sick of the view and the smell - To Join #YangGang
Hit 'em with the Hook. It's what got me. Tell them about the Freedom Dividend. Pure self-interest and novelty will drive them to do more research. This is the flagship issue, I would say even Yang's "Brand" and it is working so far, so keep at it.
Try to reach Trump voters directly with the hook, and talk about Trump's position on crypto vs. Yang's. An estimated 10-15% of Americans have invested in crypto. This group is very passionate, and they will for sure vote for a candidate that is knowledgeable about blockchain and has a positive attitude about it.
Add more clarity to Yang's policy on crypto assets. Namely: How will Crypto be taxed in the USA? Do you support the Token Taxonomy Act? Will Crypto-Crypto trades be taxed? Is there going to be a de minimus exception? How will Crypto-Fiat trades be taxed? How will purchasing goods and services with crypto be taxed? What about Initial Coin Offerings? Security Token Offerings? Blockchain Based National IDs? Blockchain Voter Registration and Voting? Tokenization of bonds, commodities, and other assets? Crypto Derivatives? I guarantee if Yang clarifies these points he will gain huge traction with the crypto communities, and might just get that diehard 10-15% to vote for him - which would tip the election in his favor.
Start a Telegram Channel
Social Proof Social Proof Social Proof : Elon's Tweet was amazing. If Yang can collect more influencers he can collect more voters
Keep up the ground game: Phonebanking and in-person promotion of Yang's candidacy in key swing states is obviously needed, and it's being done by you fine folks from his campaign. Thanks!
Always be the Adult in the room. Use reason, logic, and facts to defeat opponent's empty attacks. Point out how much of a farce politics are, the that the only candidate who isn't just spouting useless talking points is Yang.
Hi Bitcoiners! I’m back with the 29th monthly Bitcoin news recap. (sorry a bit late this month) 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 May 2019 Adoption
What is Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain? Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are a type of digital currency that is “mined” using computers. These computers use time and energy to decipher algorithms which lead to coins circulating into the currency. Some types of coins, like Bitcoin have a fixed number of coins that can ever be mined while others are limitless. As more coins are mined, the next coin becomes harder to mine, and it will take more computer power to find. Blockchain is a new technology that has come from Bitcoin and it is essentially a record of transactions of every bitcoin. This list of transactions is an evolving record and is added to simultaneously with any transaction. This means that anyone can see any transaction. The value of this technology is that it is decentralized, and no one really controls it. There is nobody to profit on the movement of value and it should create a more efficient market. However, central banks and financial institutions around the globe are beginning to develop their own technology. It will help these institutions become more efficient, and they hope to better serve their clients. Why I am not investing Bitcoin and other forms of cryptocurrencies are a bubble. Because of this, I will not invest in them. The long-term outlook of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies does not seem great to me, and I will explain why. The Anatomy of a Bubble According to James Montier, in his article Behavioral Investing: A Practioner’s Guide to Applying Behavioral Finance, there are five stages of a bubble, and I believe we are currently in the third stage. The five stages are: displacement, credit creation, euphoria, financial distress, and revulsion. Displacement Displacement is a market reaction that creates profitability in one area, while shutting down profitability in other areas. Now, this does not have to actually occur to begin a bubble. The perceived idea that it will occur in the future is what starts the bubble. The Dot Com bubble started because the internet was going to revolutionize the way that people do business. The same can be said for Bitcoin. It may one day revolutionize the way people exchange money, but how? Like the Dot Com bubble, investors are throwing money into cryptocurrencies without really knowing the magnitude of change it will create. Along the lines of not knowing the magnitude of change is the fact that these currencies are unregulated. At any time one government or another can setup laws that either hurt the viability of the currency, or outright ban it. A popular conception of cryptocurrencies is that they are used to exchange money without any government intervention or insight. They are used to launder money or exchange illegal goods on a black market behind the backs of regulators and law enforcement. All it will take is enough bad press of the currency for law makers to act on it. When ransomware thieves around the globe are asking to be paid in Bitcoin, politicians will eventually denounce the currency to win more votes. Credit Creation This stage of the bubble is formed when there is monetary expansion and/or credit creation. This fuels the fire, and causes the bubble to inflate. As more money is thrown into the asset, prices go up. As prices go up, it fuels even more expansion because people are seeing great returns and want to get in on the action. It is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Currently, United States investment assets are inflated, especially in the bond market (read “Unintended Consequences of Easy Monetary Policy“). Highly liquid markets fuel asset bubbles, and in this case, they are also fueling Bitcoin. As investors have more money to invest, they need to figure out where to put it. If they cannot find an asset that looks great because valuations are so high, they turn and look at Bitcoin and think “Wow it has returned 2, 3, 400%, I want in!” This in turn raises Bitcoin prices and makes another investor put their money in too. This is the self-fulfilling prophecy. Investors perceive the asset as being a good investment when really it just the demand for the asset pushing prices up, not value. Euphoria Euphoria is the third stage of the bubble, and I believe Bitcoin is in this stage. This stage is when the returns of the asset are so great that people invest because of the fear of missing out. Their friends tell them that they made all of this money in Bitcoin, they see charts popping up on their newsfeeds that say “If you invested $10k 7 years ago, you would have over $700 million…” This inflates the bubble. People see these images and get upset that they have not already invested. $10k into $700 Million? Who doesn’t want a piece of that action? Another euphoric characteristic of cryptocurrencies is that every company seems to want their own. Companies are having ICOs, or initial coin offerings, where they start their own cryptocurrency and raise money through the offerings. Burger King released a version of cryptocurrency called the WhopperCoin. This is just like the Dot Com bubble. “Companies” opened a website and went public. Investors threw cash at them simply because they had a website. The same is happening with these ICOs. Investors are throwing cash everywhere with the hope that one of them will be the next Bitcoin and turn their $10k into $700 million. Financial Distress and Revulsion These are the last two stages of a bubble. Financial Distress is characterized as insiders see the end is near, and they start to get out. They sell their shares because they know they are not sustainable, and that share prices are going to fall. I am not aware of insiders of Bitcoin, but eventually people are going to cash out, and it is going to cause enough damage to scare everyone out of it. This will cause a spillover into the other types of cryptocurrency, and only the very strong will be able to survive. Revulsion is when people are hurt by the bubble popping. They are hurt so badly that they refuse to go back into the investment, even if it becomes a good value. This is the final stage of a bubble. Some readers may be thinking that the I am wrong and that this will change the future. Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies will change the way people pay for groceries, pay for movie tickets, and pay for their Amazon orders. They may not see or they simply ignore the similarities of Bitcoin to the Dot Com bubble. Well here is my rationale on why a global currency, without the rule of government, will not occur. Future Global Currency? If you were to ask me while I was taking my college economics classes “What is the quickest way to make markets more efficient?” I would have told you a global currency. A global currency would get rid of exchange rates, it would make transactions a lot easier, and it would make investing easier as well. It makes markets more efficient because there is no reason to worry about exchange rates. You would be able to go to any country and spend the same currency as your home country. It is like having a Euro in the Euro Zone, but for the entire world. The problem with the Euro however, is that some countries want a strong Euro while others want a weak Euro at the same time. If the Euro was not competing against other currencies, none of that would matter though. You would also be able to order anything online from anywhere, and not have to worry about exchange rates. Have you tried to order something you had to pay for in a different currency? It is intimidating and it will usually cost you extra money in fees. It would make investing easier as well. A global currency means that you do no need to worry about exchange rates and revenue return. Suppose a company is in a US Dollar strengthening environment. As the dollar strengthens their goods become more expensive. The exchange rate works negatively in their favor, and it reduces their returns. the company either leaves prices the same, and sell less, or they lower their prices and their margins take a hit. Either way, the company loses revenue and their balance sheets weaken. The current monetary structure requires analysts to determine the future strength or weakness of the currency, and how that will affect revenue streams. A global currency can eliminate this. So with all the good a global currency can achieve, why won’t we have one in the near future? If there is anything the recent Brexit vote and election of President Trump have taught us is that people do not trust immigrants, foreigners, and globalization. Books can be written, and many have been, on why these are all important and good factors to a capitalist economy. However, not enough people understand, or want to understand how these help. Because of this, a global currency cannot be achieved. A global currency would have to be run by someone. It would require a panel of people from around the world to make monetary and policy decisions. There is enough people that feel the United Nations, NATO, and International Monetary Fund do more harm to their country then good. They have elected a president that threatens to restructure, leave, or pull funding from these organizations. They see globalization as a bad thing, so how could they ever go for a global currency? Simply put, there will be foreign people making decisions, and because of this they will never trust it. The Future of Bitcoin Left unregulated Bitcoin may stay around, but only to fill a niche market of money laundering and black market deals. Once it is regulated, it is hard to see what it becomes. It may become an internet currency, where users can only purchase these coins to do a transaction, but most of their funds remain in a normal currency. Blockchain, on the other hand, will stick around. The technology is already being invested in by most big banks, and even the Federal Reserve. This tool will make financial institutions much more efficient. If it can be properly implemented, bank processes will be cut down. This will save time, and hopefully keep extra dollars in their consumers accounts. Thanks for reading and happy trading! Go to www.brtechnicals.com/blog to read more articles like this one!
Just wanted to share my experiences with Purse.io so others might get an idea of what it's like to use. This is all from about 4 months ago and I haven't used it since. Maybe things have changed a bit but I doubt it. So I heard about using Purse to save up to 50% on Amazon orders from a friend and I was sold immediately. Made an account, transferred some bitcoins and tried to place an order for a CPU cooler (~$30) with a 15% discount (which is the maximum you can get for your first order). My order was picked up the next day and I was pretty impressed. Saved a couple bucks with almost no hassle. Then I looked at the purchaser's profile and his name consisted of some jumbled letters (think something like "jejuljfn") and he had 0 transactions and no feedback. I wasn't too worried as my funds were held by Purse in escrow and I, too, was a new user with no transactions or feedback. The purchaser provided an order number that looked legitimate and a expected delivery date which was 2-3 days later. A week later and no package had arrived. I contacted the purchaser via Purse and asked for some kind of tracking information and he responded with something like "Do not worry Amazon on the way, brother". A bit worried, I opened up my Amazon wishlist again and saw that the item was gone completely from it. Not marked as purchased or anything, just removed completely. I later learned that this meant someone had purchased my item initially but then immediately canceled the order afterwards. I contact Amazon customer support and ask about my wishlist and they told me that no item on my wishlist was purchased or being sent to me. I contact Purse support, and they tell the purchaser to provide proof of purchase, either Amazon receipt or tracking number or something. The purchaser just copy and pastes the order number again and says the expected delivery date is in another two days. Yeah, right. He then sends an obviously fake Amazon receipt where the order number and date don't even match with what he said. Like the order date literally said it was purchased a month ago. I tell the purse moderator to cancel the order immediately as he is likely a scammer. They cancel the order and relisted it but not before telling me off for accusing this honest person of trying to scam people. I believe the response was something like "Just because the purchaser didn't fulfill your order doesn't mean he's a scammer, he could just have not wanted to do business with you." Yeah, he purchased my item, cancelled it immediately, then gave me the order number anyways with a bullshit delivery date, kept me on the hook for a week, and produced a bullshit receipt because he was an honest guy right? I decided to give it another try since I had already deposited $200 into my Purse account and I was REALLY hopeful of saving money on future Amazon purchases. Same item, same discount, order was fulfilled in 3 days this time. Again, gibberish username, fresh account, no transactions or feedback. Again, fake order number, except this time they didn't even bother trying to purchase the item and cancelling it. They straight up never purchased it all. Waited 2 days for Amazon to confirm it was never purchased and for Purse to cancel the order. Third try was the charm I guess since I finally got my order ACTUALLY fulfilled, but I literally had to wait 2 weeks in total because of the scammers and I only saved $3 on my order. Worth it? Hell no, but at least now I unlocked higher discounts on the site. I went on to purchase about $300 worth of computer parts with fewer hitches, but I decided to stop using the site. The risk/reward and hassle just wasn't worth it for me. Saved about $40 in total out of $300 which is pretty good, but orders would sometimes take weeks longer than if I had just bought it with my Amazon Prime and I just didn't want any risk of a fraud related incident being related to me and my account. Tl;DR: There are definitely scammers and shady people on that website and you will inevitably run into them if you use the service. It's no secret that the site can easily be used for money laundering and fraud. Yes, it's possible to save a few bucks here and there but be prepared to have your time wasted by scammers or waiting several days for your orders to be fulfilled. In the end, if you're only buying small items (<$50) you likely won't be saving that much, around $3-5 after purse takes their cut so is it really worth the extra risk and time? Maybe for you it is, but not in my opinion. You'll save a lot more on larger items like TV's or electronics but they will also take a lot longer to fulfill and are at a much higher risk of fraud. Even if you get off without any hitches, was the $100 you saved on your monitor worth the very likely possibility that you're helping criminals launder money and commit fraud? Just ask yourself why someone would overpay by 30-50% for bitcoins? Even if they had an Amazon Gift Card there is absolutely no reason they couldn't find a better deal somewhere else.
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.
First responders and organizations that deliver humanitarian aid realize that urgent action saves lives and for this reason they are always searching for ways to streamline their processes. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) had announced the launch of a cryptocurrency-backed fund aimed at supporting the development of open-source technology that benefits young people around the world. According to UNICEF the Cryptocurrency Fund will “hold and make transactions in cryptocurrency,” specifically Bitcoin (BTC) and Ether (ETH). "We are exploring how blockchain can disrupt and improve systems that deliver programs for children. Blockchain may allow us to make payments in a new way and improve how cash transfers are made. "
Google and Amazon smart speakers can be leveraged to record user conversation or to phish for passwords through malicious voice apps, security researchers warn. Unless the two companies take measures to improve the review process and the restrictions for apps integrating with their smart devices, malicious developers could exploit the weakness to capture audio from users. The German researchers recommend that unpronounceable characters be removed and allowing sensitive output that could be used to extract secret information should be considered more carefully.
Banks may be bound to stop working with social media giant Facebook if the firm launches its Libra stablecoin, according to ING CEO Ralph Hamers. Financial news outlet Financial Times reported on Hamers’ remarks on Oct. 22. Per the report, he explained that institutions like ING have to guard the financial system to prevent criminal activity. Because of this, concerns over Libra’s potential for illegal use may result in a response from the banks. The money laundering concerns are spurred by the fear that Libra may allow criminals to quickly move funds across national borders without any oversight.
Telegram will have to wait to make its case to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that its “gram” token is not a security. According to the latest court filing, the hearing on the case has been postponed until Feb. 18–19, 2020, pushed forward from an Oct. 24. slot. The judge hearing the case, P. Kevin Castel, ruled that Telegram should not distribute its tokens before that date, and not until the court makes its decision on the case. Earlier this week, Telegram committed to delaying the launch of the TON blockchain project and gram issuance to the project’s investors until April 30, 2020, so it had time to deal with the SEC’s concerns.
Facebook is reportedly open to the idea of using national currency-pegged stablecoins for its forthcoming Libra project. According to Reuters on Oct. 20, David Marcus, the head of the Libra project for Facebook and CEO of Facebook’s wallet service Calibra, said that Libra could use various fiat-based stablecoins, instead of the initially proposed token. Speaking at a banking seminar on Sunday, Marcus reportedly stated that the main goal of the project was to create a more efficient payment system and that it was not opposed to looking at alternative approaches.
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