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The 10 Most Famous Traders Of All Time

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The careers of the world’s most famous traders are colored by both triumph and tragedy, with some exploits achieving mythological status within the industry. The dramatic and varied stories of the most famous traders have made compelling material for books and movies.

Themes of boldness, adventurism and ambition run through the lives of the 10 most famous traders selected for this designation by Investopedia. Short selling securities is a tactic many of these individuals share.

The top 10 are listed below in chronological order of their birth dates. All but the first two are still alive. Most of the historical material is from Wikipedia.

Jesse Lauriston Livermore

Jesse Lauriston Livermore, an American who lived from 1877 to 1940, shorted the stock market crashes of both 1907 and 1929 and was worth $100 million at his peak.

He began his trading career at 14 by posting stock quotes for Paine Webber in Boston.

Livermore would write down calculations about future market prices and later check them for accuracy. He began to put money on the market by making a bet at a “bucket shop,” an establishment that took bets on stock prices but did not buy or sell the stock.

The bucket shops eventually banned him for winning too much money. He moved to New York City and began trading in legitimate markets. This led him to devise new rules to trade the market.

He created a working philosophy for trading securities that emphasizes increasing the size of one’s position as it moves in the right direction, then cutting losses quickly. He said his lack of adherence to his own rules was the reason for his losses after making his fortunes in 1907 and 1929.

In 1907, he noticed a lack of capital existed to buy stock. He predicted a sharp drop in prices with speculators forced to sell by margin calls and lack of credit. Without capital, there would be no buyers to absorb the sold stock, driving down prices. He took advantage of this situation and bought stocks at depressed values. After the crash, he was worth $3 million.

Livermore was worth $100 million in 1929 following a similar scenario to 1907.

It was never clear what happened to his fortune, but he lost it all by 1934. It is believed he turned prematurely bullish and bought stocks and commodities long before the market bottomed in the summer of 1932.

He committed suicide in 1940.

William Delbert Gann

William Delbert Gann, a finance trader who lived from 1878 to 1955, used market forecasting based on geometry, astrology and ancient mathematics. His technical tools included “Gann angles” and the “Square of 9.” He wrote a number of books.

Gann started trading when he was 24. He reportedly believed in the religious and scientific value of the Bible. He was also a Freemason, to which his knowledge of ancient mathematics is attributed. He also studied the ancient Egyptian and Greek cultures.

In his book, “The Basis Of My Forecasting Method,” published in 1935, Gann described the use of angles in the stock market.

Calculating a “Gann angle” is equivalent to determining the derivative of a certain line on a chart. Each geometric angle divides time and price proportionally.

Gann called the most important angle the 1×1 or the 45-degree angle, which represented one unit of price for one unit of time. By drawing a perfect square and then a diagonal line from one corner of the square to the other illustrates the angle, which moves up one point per day.

There is no consensus whether Gann made profits by his own speculation.

George Soros

George Soros

Born in Hungary in 1930, George Soros is the chairman of Soros Fund Management, one of the most successful hedge funds. He earned the moniker, “The Man Who Broke the Bank of England” in 1992 after short selling $10 billion worth of pounds, earning a $1 billion profit. In February 2017, his worth was estimated at $25.2 billion.

He began his career by working at merchant banks before launching his first hedge fund in 1969. He started his second hedge fund in 1970.

His studies of philosophy led him to apply Karl Popper’s General Theory of Reflexivity to capital markets. He claims this theory provides a clear view of the fundamental/market value of securities, asset bubbles and value discrepancies for use in swapping and shorting stocks.

Soros’ fund was later renamed the Quantum Fund based on Werner Heisenberg’s principle of quantum mechanics.

By 1981, the fund grew to $400 million when a 22% loss and substantial redemptions by some investors cut it in half.

In 2011, Soros said he had returned funds from outside investors’ money and invested funds from his $24.5 billion family fortune due to changes in U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission disclosure rules. The fund had at the time averaged over 20% per year compound returns.

In 2013, the Quantum Fund made $5.5 billion, the most successful hedge fund in history. Since its inception in 1973, the fund has generated $40 billion.

Soros built a large position in pounds sterling for months leading up to September 1992. He recognized the unfavorable position of the United Kingdom in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. On September 16, 1992, his fund sold short more than $10 billion in pounds, profiting from the government’s reluctance to raise its interest rates or float its currency.

The U.K. withdrew from the European Exchange Rate Mechanism, which devalued the pound. Soros’s profit was estimated at over $1 billion.

James Rogers, Jr.

James Rogers, Jr., born 1942, is the chairman of Rogers Holdings. He co-founded the Quantum Fund along with George Soros in the early 1970s. He is known for his correct bullish calls on commodities in the 1990s.

In 1964, Rogers joined a Wall Street firm where he learned about stocks and bonds. In 1998, he founded the Rogers International Commodity Index. In 2007, the index and three sub-indices were linked to exchange traded notes under the banner, Elements. The notes track the total return of the indices as a way to invest in the index.

In February 2011, he started a new index fund focusing on leading companies in metals, agriculture, mining, and energy sectors as well as those in the alternative energy space.

Richard J. Dennis

Richard J. Dennis, born in 1949, became successful as a Chicago-based commodities trader. He reportedly built a $200 million fortune in 10 years from his speculating. With partner William Eckhardt, he co-created the mythical Turtle Trading experiment.

He began as an order runner on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange trading floor at 17.

To circumvent a rule requiring traders to be at least 21 years of age at the MidAmerica Commodity Exchange, he worked as his own runner, hiring his father to trade in his stead in the pit.

He profited as he bought successively new weekly and monthly highs in the inflationary markets of the 1970s, a time of global crop failures.

Dennis held positions for longer periods than most traders, riding out short-term fluctuations.

When a futures trading fund he managed suffered major losses (estimated around $10 million) in the U.S. stock market crash of 1987, he quit trading for several years.

He managed funds for a period in the mid and late 1990s, but closed these operations following losses in the summer of 2000.

Paul Tudor Jones II

Paul Tudor Jones II was born in 1954 and is the founder of Tudor Investment Corporation, a leading hedge fund. He gained notoriety after making around $100 million from shorting stocks in the 1987 stock market crash.

His cousin, William Dunavant, Jr., CEO of one of the world’s largest cotton merchants, introduced him to a commodity broker who hired him and mentored him trading cotton futures.

The Tudor Group investment strategies include growth equity, discretionary global macro, quantitative global macro (managed futures), quantitative equity market neutral and discretionary equity long/short.

Predicting Black Friday 1987 allowed him to triple his money during the event due to his large short positions.

While the hedge fund industry standard is 2% per annum of assets under management and 20% of the profits, Tudor Investment Corporation charges 4% per annum of assets under management and 23% of the profits.

Forbes Magazine in 2013 listed him as one of the 40 highest-earning hedge fund managers.

John Paulson

John Paulson, born 1955, runs the hedge fund Paulson & Co. He made $4 billion in 2007 using credit default swaps to sell short the U.S. subprime mortgage lending market.

Paulson started his career at Boston Consulting Group in 1980 researching and advising companies. He worked at Odyssey Partners, Bear Stearns and eventually Gruss Partners LP, where he was a partner. He founded his own hedge fund in 1994 with $2 million and one employee. By 2003, the firm had $300 million in assets.

The firm specializes in “event-driven” investments — i.e., in mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, proxy contests, etc. Such events involve merger arbitrage, described as waiting when one company announces it’s buying another, buying the target company’s shares, shorting the acquirer’s stock, and then earning the differential between the two share prices when the merger closes.

In 2010, he set another hedge fund record making nearly $5 billion in a single year.

In 2011, he made losing investments in Bank of America, Citigroup and the China-Canada listed company, Sino-Forest Corporation.

Steven Cohen

Steven Cohen, born 1956, started SAC Capital Advisors, a hedge fund focused primarily on equities.

After school at Wharton, Cohen took a Wall Street job as a junior options arbitrage trader at Gruntal & Co. in 1978.

His first day on the job, he made an $8,000 profit. He would eventually make the company around $100,000 a day.

In 1992, Cohen launched SAC Capital Partners with $20 million of his own money. By 2009, the firm managed $14 billion in equity.

On November 20, 2012, Cohen was implicated in an alleged insider trading scandal involving an ex-SAC manager.

Cohen was not directly named in the 2012 indictment.

A civil case against Cohen was settled in January 2016. The agreement prohibits him from managing outside money until 2018.

The hedge fund itself pleaded guilty to similar criminal charges in a $1.8 billion November settlement that required it to stop handling investments for outsiders.

David Tepper

David Tepper, born in 1957, is the founder of the successful hedge fund Appaloosa Management. He is a specialist in distressed debt investing.

For the 2012 tax year, Institutional Investor’s Alpha ranked Tepper first, for earning $2.2 billion. In 2016, he earned $1.2 billion, making him the world’s fourth highest earning hedge fund manager.

After earning his MS in 1982, he took a position in the treasury department of Republic Steel in Ohio.

In 1984, he was recruited to Keystone Mutual Funds in Boston, and in 1985, Goldman Sachs recruited him for its high yield group. Within six months, Tepper became the head trader on the high-yield desk, focusing on bankruptcies and special situations.

He started Appaloosa Management in 1993.

In 2001, he generated a 61% return focusing on distressed bonds.

In 2005, he began focusing on Standard & Poor’s 500 stocks. He makes significant gains investing in companies such as Mirant, Conseco, Marconi and MCI.

In 2009, his hedge-fund earned about $7 billion by buying distressed financial stocks and then profiting from the recovery of those stocks.

Nicholas Leeson

Nicholas Leeson, born in 1967, is a rogue trader who caused the collapse of Barings Bank. He served four years in a Singapore jail, but later bounced back to become CEO of Galway United, a football club.

Following school, his first job was as a clerk with a private bank, Coutts. He then moved to Morgan Stanley in 1987 for two years, then to Barings.

In 1992, he became general manager of a new futures markets operation in the Singapore International Monetary Exchange.

Barings Bank allowed Leeson to remain chief trader while also being responsible for settling his trades, jobs usually done by different people. This made it easier for him to hide his losses from his superiors.

At the end of 1992, the account’s losses surpassed £2 million, which expanded to £208 million by the end of 1994.

The beginning of the end occurred on 16 January 1995, when he placed a short straddle in the Tokyo and Singapore stock exchanges, betting the Japanese stock market would not move overnight. But an earthquake hit early in the morning on January 17, sending Asian markets into a tailspin.

Leeson fled Singapore in February. Losses reached $1.4 billion, twice the bank’s available trading capital. Following a failed bailout attempt, Barings was declared insolvent in February.

Leeson was arrested in Frankfurt and extradited to Singapore.

He pleaded guilty to two counts of deceiving bank auditors and of cheating the Singapore exchange, including forging documents.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.9 stars on average, based on 8 rated postsLester Coleman is a veteran business journalist based in the United States. He has covered the payments industry for several years and is available for writing assignments.




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GDPR and Blockchain: Three Projects Seeking to Decentralize Data Protection

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Whether you’ve been keeping track of the news or are a citizen within the European Union yourself, there is a great chance that you have noticed the recent discussion regarding the newly implemented GDPR (or ‘General Data Protection Regulation’) in the bloc.

The rules came into effect this year alongside the recent vote in favor of implementing stricter copyright laws pertaining to intellectual property and ‘memes’ and has caused a fair bit of controversy, alongside the recent worldwide events including the USA, and their repeal of ‘Net Neutrality’ laws across the entire USA.

Image source: Forbes.com

Advertising, Big Data and You

For a wide range of reasons, digital advertising is a huge industry – being near-perfect solutions for digital, web-based organisations which are seeking to maximise their revenue / profits, whilst minimising expenses.

A common phenomenon affecting advertising is ‘Big Data’, where user information is collected and processed through complex artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms.

Your usage of internet technology more likely than not creates an endless trail of digital footprints, which are gathered and interpreted by companies and their systems to provide and interpret detailed insights on user habits.

Data Protection Rights

GDPR is meant to result in transparent and honest interactions between consumers, big data companies, and even social media companies such as Facebook now face the challenge of how to market or rebuild trust with consumers. Though there is still a myriad of concerns amongst consumers regarding how companies will approach this.

Implementation of GDPR has caused quite a shakeup for the AdTech industry, with users are being given total control over how much data websites and applications can collect about them.

Now users can consent to which cookies web operators have access to, but there are still several ways for big data to continue to profit from your data without cookies. Methods such as incoming IP tracking scripts, Browser Fingerprinting and malware-infected websites are commonplace and could prove more malicious than previous methods.

Can Blockchain Further Increase Data Privacy?

Technology has already empowered websites visitors with the ability to overcome issues such regarding data privacy and invasive advertising tactics.

‘Adblocker’ for example is a web-browser extension which automatically removes almost all adverts from a website, and just like ‘NoScript’ (removing potentially malicious scripts from pages) has been utilised by software such as Tor Browser to achieve thorough user safety and anonymity.

Through these kinds of solutions, blockchain or not, website operators are going to be encouraged to increase the quality and value of content on their pages.

Considering such software and the exponential growth of blockchain as an industry, it is of little surprise that we have seen an influx of services, products and ICOs which seek to combine the benefits of these technologies with those of blockchain / cryptocurrency.

Here are a few of what we consider to be the most interesting in the present crypto space…

1. Online.io

Image source: Online.io

The Online.io project financially rewards website operators in a ‘proof of online’ system which essentially quantifies the time spent on each website and rewards website operators appropriately. It is also the only project in this article which we haven’t reviewed on this site so far (although I wouldn’t count it out for the near future, so watch this space!)

Their proprietary crypto-coin (OIO) will be used to distribute rewards to all parties based on visitor time-spent, bounce-rate and other established metrics. This presents a fascinating opportunity for website owners to still effectively monetize their website in compliance with GDPR and without the need to utilize other means of data collection.

Online.io could somewhat be considered a democratized system, as users rank each website based on their experience. The highest rated websites will be rated higher in ‘Trust’ through an algorithmic formula, which acts as an indicator of website quality for future visitors.

It’s likely to continue delivering a highly positive boost to the whole ecosystem as consumers now (especially millennials) would rather get rid of traditional advertising methods: hence ad-skipping buttons on YouTube as well as Ad-blockers and anti-tracker software.

2. Peer Mountain

A blockchain based project which seeks to connect so called “self-sovereign ID holders with businesses, enabling commerce at scale” by utilising technological solutions like smart contracts.

Peer Mountain is unique for providing customers (a private individual / citizen) with a greater level of confidence when looking to access a product or service – no matter where they are, or what their country of origin may be.

To the organisations taking part, budding entrepreneurs worldwide, a whole new market audience is available. A mutual benefit which is equally enjoyed by the ‘self-sovereign ID holder’ too – incentivised by not having to register their private information on a host of centralized servers.

The security is achieved through use of innovative code: which makes use of a combination of user-experience solutions, with the innate security benefits of distributed ledger technology and cryptocurrency.

3. DOVU

This team has put all its efforts into creating a ‘mobility’-focused solution which incorporates “a unified token, wallet and marketplace for earning and spending mobility related rewards”. By mobility, what they are referring to is of course transportation related activities: such as ride-sharing and courier services.

In this instance however, it also applies to mobility information – and how it is bought and sold in the data economy.

Unlike the other solutions listed, DOVU aims to resolve the contentious issue of data privacy by allowing service providing companies make direct offers to users of its ecosystem in return for a quantity of the platform’s proprietary token.

Key use cases and clients pegged to take advantage of this platform include automotive manufacturers and marketing organisations for use in big-data research and algorithmic insight / report generation.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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Crypto Capitulation Is Upon Us

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Capitulation: kuh-pich-uh-LEY-shuhn (noun) the action of surrendering or ceasing to resist.

From their December peak, cryptocurrency assets have given back over $400 billion. This amounts to more than the GDP of many countries.  If this were values lost in the stock market whose worth is in the trillions, it would be called a minor correction. In crypto terms there is only one word to describe the carnage: capitulation.

As painful as it is, the point to be made here is the capitulation is a good thing.  Read on and I will share some thoughts for you to consider.

Mass Media Mania

First let’s take a look at some of the news that is causing such despair. Most recently the selling mania has been in response first to Facebook and more recently to Google.  Both of these mass social media giants have ban cryptocurrency advertising. Read closely and you won’t be shocked to realize that the target of their ire are the many ICOs.

The problem is not that Facebook and Google are the only advertising platforms.  The problem is that they are considered mainstream media and without these two, the trend of cryptocurrencies gaining legitimacy is delayed.  That is right, I said delayed not blocked or prevented.

The World Has Changed

Five years ago, when bitcoin was unknown to most people, this might have been a fatal move. Today is a different story. I recently traveled to a remote mountain town in the interior of Mexico.  Everyone I met had heard about Bitcoin and eyes lit up with excitement when I ask if I could pay for lunch with bitcoin.  

Today are dozens of websites dedicated to cryptocurrencies, either holding them, exchanging them or just writing about them.  Probably the most effective advertising remains on Google, it is called Google Search and it is free.

If someone wants to learn about owning bitcoin or any other currency, there is a ton of educational information.

Of course it would be far better all around if Mark Zuckerberg and Eric Schmidt had taken a different approach such as banning only advertisements for ICOs, but that didn’t happen so supporters of crypto aren’t comforted in their beliefs that bitcoin is going mainstream in 2018.

The Flipside Is Being Ignored

Every argument has a flip side.  If the removal of ads contributes to cleaning up ICO scams, that is a good thing.  We can all agree on that point. And let’s be honest there is more than one problem the crypto community needs to clean up.

This adds to the ongoing regulatory news including March 7th ruling in US Federal District Court that cryptocurrencies are commodities.  As such they can be regulated by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC).

On the same day the Securities & Exchange Commission issued the following order:

“If a platform offers trading of digital assets that are securities and operates as an ‘exchange,’ as defined by the federal securities laws, then the platform must register with the SEC as a national securities exchange or be exempt from registration,” the commission said in its “Statement on Potentially Unlawful Online Platforms for Trading Digital Assets.”

Not All Regulation Is Inherently Bad

The mere hint of added government regulation typically sends stock market investors heading for the exits and the same holds for investors in crypto.  But this raises the question, is some regulation of crypto a good thing?

If we examine the full spectrum of regulation to this point on a global scale there is one common target most everywhere.  That is the practice of exchanges. So far there has been little or not regulation, threatened or enacted, to protect investors from loss of funds due to security breaches.  

The question that needs to be ask is this.  Will SEC regulation result in better pricing and lower trading costs; if So, then this would provide a desirable outcome.  It is understandable if you laugh at the prospect of any government regulation having a beneficial outcome, but if you look at past SEC practices, you would come away with different conclusion.

So when the next regulation catches the headlines will it be to ban the existence of bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin and others or to protect the investor from scams and excess costs?

Capitulation Is A Good Sign

Over the course of a pretty long investment experience, I have witnessed true misery on more than one occasion.  The pain is unbelievable, there is no perspective on the future and all you want is to take action to end the misery.  That is when you know the worst is happening and nothing is ever going to make it better. That is when major stock market bottoms are formed. It surely is painful these days for crypto investors. This is a good sign.

Featured image courtesy of Shutterstock. 

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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4.4 stars on average, based on 97 rated postsJames Waggoner is a veteran Wall Street analyst and hedge fund manager who has spent the past few years researching the fintech possibilities of cryptocurrencies. He has a special passion for writing about the future of crypto.




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What’s Behind Cardano’s Rising Popularity in South Korea?

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Cardano, better known as ADA in South Korea, pronounced as “aeda” in the local market, is growing at an exponential rate due to UpBit.

UpBit, South Korea’s second largest cryptocurrency exchange behind Bithumb, is operated by Dunamu, a subsidiary company of Kakao, the operating company of KakaoTalk and KakaoPay. The two mobile applications, KakaoTalk and KakaoPay, have a market penetration rate of over 90 percent in their respective markets–financial technology (fintech) and messaging.

Although UpBit remains as the only cryptocurrency exchange that has integrated Cardano within the local South Korean cryptocurrency exchange market as of date, the popularity of Cardano on UpBit is increasing rapidly. According to CoinMarketCap, 75 percent of Cardano’s daily trading volume is processed in South Korea, by UpBit.

Within its debut month, more than 3 million South Korean users signed up to use KakaoPay, the country’s most widely utilized fintech app. KakaoPay operates as a mobile bank, allowing users to send and receive money, obtain loans, and conduct financial activities. KakaoPay supports UpBit because a subsidiary company of Kakao in Dunamu operates UpBit.

Given that Cardano is one of the most popular cryptocurrencies on UpBit in terms of daily trading volume, naturally, as general consumers in the traditional finance market using KakaoTalk and KakaoPay move to the cryptocurrency market, the first few cryptocurrencies they are introduced to are bitcoin, Ethereum, and Cardano.

Cardano is also receiving significantly more mainstream and local media coverage than other alternative cryptocurrencies, specifically because the South Korean media has portrayed Cardano as a direct competition to Ethereum. Because Cardano is a smart contracts protocol, it is structurally similar to Ethereum.

The two key differences between Cardano and Ethereum are that Cardano uses a proof-of-stake (PoS) consensus algorithm and it also has two layers that are used for smart contracts processing and payment settlement.

In South Korea, cryptocurrency mania has swept across most major industries. 5 out of 10 people on the streets, in subways, buses, and cafes talk about bitcoin, cryptocurrency, and blockchain technology on a regular basis. As such, the majority of investors are more technical than other regions.

Most investors of Ethereum in South Korea understand that the Ethereum Foundation and its open-source development team has been planning a PoS update via Casper. When Cardano debuted with a PoS protocol, it led South Korean investors to believe Cardano is a more innovative platform and has a technical edge over Ethereum.

January 31

For cryptocurrencies with strong followers in the South Korean market, January 31 is an important date to keep track. On January 31, local cryptocurrency exchanges are expected to open account registrations to new users and six major local banks are set to provide banking services to cryptocurrency exchanges.

Consequently, on January 31, it is likely that a massive amount of Korean won will flow into the local cryptocurrency exchange market. The recent cryptocurrency exchange ban fiasco, which turned out to be false, further increased the presence and popularity of cryptocurrencies in South Korea.

Cryptocurrencies like Cardano, EOS, Qtum, and Ethereum that have strong bases in South Korea will likely increase in value throughout late January and early February.

Important: Never invest (trade with) money you can't afford to comfortably lose. Always do your own research and due diligence before placing a trade. Read our Terms & Conditions here. Trade recommendations and analysis are written by our analysts which might have different opinions. Read my 6 Golden Steps to Financial Freedom here. Best regards, Jonas Borchgrevink.

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3.4 stars on average, based on 3 rated postsJoseph Young is a finance and tech journalist based in Hong Kong. He has worked with leading media and news agencies in the technology and finance industries, offering exclusive content, interviews, insights and analysis of cryptocurrencies, innovative and futuristic technologies.




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