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Acquiring Bitcoin: Alternatives to LocalBitcoins.com

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LocalBitcoins may be a solid, widely used choice for peer-to-peer Bitcoin trading, but it is not the only choice.

Paxful

A site which grew in popularity during the initial government attacks on the classified advertising site Backpage is Paxful.

This writer has had limited experience, but no successful trades with Paxful. Buyers on LocalBitcoins seemed to be asleep, so he checked out Paxful. There were some favorable advertised prices. However, some of these favorable prices seemed a bit too good to be true. Finally, when this writer found a buyer who had significant good feedback on the site, he opened a trade only to have it canceled. Then the user requested he open an another, and canceled again later on with no explanation. These are exactly the sorts of things advised against in one of our previous Acquiring Bitcoin articles.

Also read: Acquiring Bitcoin: How to Avoid Centralized Exchanges

Paxful does have a nicer user interface, and seemingly better support staff. As stated above, one of its major rises to prominence was in attracting advertisers on Backpage.com, who were left with only the payment choice of Bitcoin, to easily purchase bitcoins in order to place their ads. Their goal was to make it as easy as possible. Presumably in the intervening months since this writer’s last use of the site, support staff have actively weeded out scammers and the community’s size has further grown.

An added benefit is that many of the same people who trade on LocalBitcoins also trade on Paxful. The confirmation time issue that has affected the Bitcoin network as of late makes moving in between sites, for the seller, a bit more difficulty (and potentially costlier). In this regard it is advisable to be open to using an alternative site for escrow if the seller insists. However, do not send payment without funds held in escrow somewhere, because that is not called trading, it’s called making a donation to a scammer – especially if these funds are sent via Western Union or MoneyGram.

All of the same rules that apply to LocalBitcoins apply to Paxful, which may encourage a dedicated buyer to pick a site and stick with it, in order to consolidate feedback rating. One could still post a listing on one or the other and then privately encourage the user to go to the one where they have more feedback, or simply link to that feedback in some verifiable way in order that the seller knows better who they are dealing with. Insofar as the terms of service allow you to, being clear about your history as a Bitcoin trader is comforting to sellers.

Bitcoin OTC (Over-the-Counter)

Bitcoin-OTC is one of the oldest ways to trade bitcoins peer-to-peer. In execution, it relies even more on feedback and verification of users, but it also offers a live interaction and the ability of people to compete for sales/buys.

Bitcoin-OTC uses IRC as its primary mode of trade. IRC may be new to many coming from the financial world, but it is basically a very stable, universally-usable chat protocol. Bitcoin-OTC allows the users the most freedom, and requires the least amount of hassle in getting started. No identification is required, and one is answerable only to the community there. Every buyer and seller can put in place whatever process they want.

Also read: Acquiring Bitcoin: Making A Peer-to-Peer Trade Step-By-Step 

If you like IRC, or live interaction, Bitcoin-OTC may be for you. It is like more like an active marketplace than a static website could be. Real-time feedback on past behavior of users can be brought to light, as the one thing that can be said about the Bitcoin community is that we are quick to spot scams and, in general, the average user tries to help others avoid them.

There have been other efforts at peer-to-peer trading, but many have stalled in development or in operation. Bitcointalk.com qualifies as peer-to-peer trading as well, but it’s hard to see what advantages it offers over the other methods listed, or LocalBitcoins.

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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5 stars on average, based on 2 rated postsP. H. Madore has covered the cryptocurrency beat over the course of hundreds of articles for Hacked's sister site, CryptoCoinsNews, as well as some of her competitors. He is a major contributing developer to the Woodcoin project, and has made technical contributions on a number of other cryptocurrency projects. In spare time, he recently began a more personalized, weekly newsletter at http://ico.phm.link




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Trans-Fee Mining: Investigating FCOIN and The Future

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Trans-fee mining’ is a concept utilised by a growing number of projects and exchanges which has not received much in the way of critical attention recently from either mainstream financial or specialist cryptocurrency publications.

The Fall of F-Coin?

Thanks to a company called FCOIN, most of the news which has appeared has been negative. Statistical information regarding the exchange can be found at popular aggregate ranking website CoinMarketCap.

Despite positive coverage earlier this year from the likes of Forbes’ Andrew Rossow, David Hundeyin of our sister site CCN.com wrote more recently that the exchange had been “Accused of Crippling Ethereum Network for Cheap Publicity” with a supposed aim of gaining publicity.

These pundits are joined by community members such as Reddit poster u/ltcisking (along with a large amount of other concurring, Google-topping results), who recently wrote a post aimed at proving such allegations, entitled ‘One of the biggest scams to ever hit Crypto’.

Twitter has also seen its fair share of investor complaints as well, including the following…

As well as the replies to this post,

What is Trans-Fee Mining?

Due to the unusual circumstances in which the ‘trans-fee mining’ sits (being supported by a number of independent projects despite the reputation of FCOIN): it is a difficult methodology to describe.

It builds upon the concept of the ‘exchange token’: which is most often associated with coins such as BNB (Binance Coin), which can be used for staking towards a particular crypto in the exchanges ‘community coin of the month’ program.

The original FCOIN implementation appeared to build upon this vision at first. The token’s value is derived from the fact that it has a stable value, and that it can be used on-platform (like BNB) as a means of purchasing other tokens whilst offering regular returns on investment for long-term holders of the token.

What is FCOIN Doing Now?

FCOIN has issued various statements which appear to support the sentiment behind the claims which they have faced. These include a recent August 14th post, with the telling title ‘FCoin community referendum end and recent plan publicity’.

Highlights of the piece include new objectives such as

“1.Complete and publicize the destruction of the remaining unissued FT.
“2. Complete the delivery of all FT warrants and withdraw the FT warrants from the market…
“4. As of the end of the referendum, the previous trans-fee refund will remain unchanged (based on the price of the FT related trading pairs before the suspension), and then, all the trans-fee refund will be stopped (including all return plans based on FT issuance).
“5. We plan to establish an FCoin mechanism and an announcement cleanup team. The team untied and improved the current FCoin mechanisms and standardized the release of various mechanisms in the future, and made a unified interpretation.”

At best, this may be an admission of fault, and at worst: an ambiguous and uninformative piece of messaging which fails to outline the situation with a strong brand or executive voice.

This comes in addition to a couple of announcements regarding ‘compensation planning’ with regards to investors who had “participated” in the fundraising of the ‘GU’ and ‘QOS’ tokens through their service.

The latter included the assurance that this process “compensation plan is an initiative taken by the platform to protect the interests of community user” concluded with the damning statement that:

“The FCoin platform has informed the QOS project parties and urged them to conduct self-examination of market price fluctuations and recent media reports as soon as possible. It is not excluded to take delisting and other related measures. The specific plan will be subject to the subsequent announcement. During this period, QOS will be temporarily suspended.”

Torch-bearers of Trans-Fee Mining?

Various claims of discrepancy against FCOIN’s actions as a company however, have not discouraged many projects which are attempting to build their own version of trans-fee mining. Whether or not they have been inspired by the short-lived success of FCOIN’s implementation is yet to be confirmed!

One of the most recent organisations which has decided to foray into this difficult and all-but-controversial territory is BitMart, an exchange founded by current CEO Sheldon Xia. Their approach is branded ‘Mission X’, and utilises their proprietary ‘BMX’ token.

“All transaction fees from the BMX market will go directly to the users who supported the project. In addition, successful projects will enter BitMart’s main trading markets.

“This program gives users the ability to decide which projects they want to be listed on the exchange, creating a self-regulated market.”

The platform piqued this writer’s attention upon noticing a disparity between public consensus and professional news coverage. Whilst the latter has published next to nothing with regards to the platform, a quick search of social media and communities such as forums seem to illustrate a positive and transparent image.

CoinEx was recently reported to have achieved unprecedented growth following the release of their token – however, like FCOIN have been called out for discrepancies. This time regarding the faking of volume metrics.

Final Thoughts

It appears that trans-fee mining as a concept is a long-way from earning this writer’s confidence, however it must be noted that there are many promising aspects. Time will tell whether talent will shine through or if trans-fee mining will fade out at the hands of opportunists.

What is important to note is that it is not the technology or idea, but the hands that are operating the machine incorporating it.

This writer cannot directly recommend the concept in its current state, but believes that the original idea is solid and if implemented in a viable way: would thoroughly warrant the full attention of any potential investor.

Until then, watch the community and keep an eye on the media – as well as word-of-mouth as this flawed-yet-promising idea is if nothing else, highly interesting!

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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What You Should Know About IPOs

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By Dmitriy Gurkovskiy, Chief Analyst at RoboMarkets

 

IPO means initial public offering. Any company that wants to grow its business must decide on its financing method, sooner or later. There are a few options to do that. The first one is taking a loan in a bank. The second one is finding an investor that would give some funds upon their own conditions. Finally, another method is finding multiple investors that would finance the company, which in exchange would require making the business and financial information of the company public. This is exactly what is called an IPO.

In fact, the company sells a part of it as shares in a stock exchange, and the more investors buy shares, the more funds can be raised. The shareholders will then be able to get dividends, i.e. a fraction of the company’s profit. Not all companies are, however, ready for this: for example, Facebook does not pay dividends, the only source of income for investors being rising share prices. Some companies cannot afford not paying dividends, as it may become less attractive for investment. Apple, on the contrary, pays the highest dividends in the world: in the first half of 2018 shareholders got $13.22 billionin dividends. Facebook will start making dividend payments, too, but obviously when the price is going down and there are no other ways to support it.

Thus, investors have two options to earn money here: with the price going up (to capitalize on this, the company in question must be fast-growing and have very good potential) and with dividends. Ideally, an investor should leverage both options whenever possible.

In order to run an IPO, the company must find an expert who will be able to raise as much funds as possible. Of course, it may act on its own, but in this case chances are that the funds raised will not be even enough to cover the IPO running costs. The professionals that run IPOs are called underwriters, and are usually banks and/or insurance companies.

How Do Underwriters Earn?

Underwriters finance IPOs and get shares at a price that is considerably lower than IPO. This is how they earn. To make more money, underwriters will make every effort for the IPO to be successful and attract as many investors as possible. Many of them run road shows, i.e. ad campaigns for attracting investors.

Road shows include meetings with potential investors and analysts in countries with key financial centers, such as the UK, Germany, the US, or China. Before that, a presentation on the company’s business, financial background, and outlook is created. The company’s management then comes to visit potential investors where they show this presentation. Media and press coverage of the upcoming IPO is also very important, as it helps drive more attention to the company once it get listed on an exchange.

During road shows, large-scale investors can buy shares even before the IPO. Underwriters accept such bids, but often with a high entry only, like a few millions of dollars. If you have just a few dozens of thousands, you are unlikely to be able to buy shares directly from the underwriter. However, there are tricks that may allow you to take part in the IPO even before the latter actually occurs.

As mentioned above, road shows are often covered in media in order to increasedemand. During such campaigns, some intermediary companies form a pool consisting of may lesser bids and send the overall bid to the underwriter. In theory, this works fine, but in practice underwriters seldom answer such bids.

The first thing you need to pay attention to before the company’s IPO is the underwriter: the more famous and trusted it is, the more likely the IPO will be successful.

If the company itself is a promising one, underwriters will be competing for the right to run its IPO, and the company will have a chance to choose from a list of very reputable underwriters, such as Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, or Goldman Sachs. Choosing two or more underwriters at a time is also possible.

The results of the road show determine the share price, and it is quite important not to make this price too high at the start. This very thing happened to Facebook, whose underwriter was Morgan Stanley. Interest in Facebook’s IPO was extremely high, and while the starting price was first set at $17, Morgan Stanley decided to make it higher a few weeks before the event, as well as to increase the number of shares issued (out of mere greed), which then led to the share price falling on IPO day. Overall, Facebooklost 21% during the first week.

After the company finds its underwriter, it also has to determine which exchange to use for the IPO. Again, if its a promising company, the exchanges will be competing for it, too, as more successful public companies mean more liquidity, volume, and commission earnings.

When the exchange is found, too, the very trading process finally starts. On the first trading day, increased volatility is a common thing. In order to maintain high interest towards the IPO, underwriters tend to a bit underrate the shares, so that the price may go up at the moment of the IPO.

During the IPO,  insiders, i.e. those early buyers who got shares before they went to the public, may not sell any shares; you can’t earn anything by going short, too, as during the IPO short positions without coverage are forbidden. This way, the traders may either buy shares or do nothing.

The period during which insiders are not allowed to sell shares is called lockup and lasts from 90 to 180 days. The exact time line is determined by the company, and the terms are negotiable. This is all very important for the company, as shortly after the IPO a very low fraction of shares is sold out, while the major stake is held by those who but them before the IPO; if they sell at once, the supply may increase a few times, which could lead to a sharp price decrease and panic among investors.

The lockup is lifted gradually, where the shareholders may start selling their shares in order to stimulate volumes, which leads to temporary falls by 1% or 2%. Lockup dates and time lines are detailed in the S1 online form which is sent to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) every day.

Those who want to capitalize on the IPO on the same day have to pay attention to some factors that will show whether such IPO will be successful. Remember: no short positions during the IPO, so if you want to trade, you will have to buy.

The first thing you must pay attention to, whether you are investing in the short term or in the long term, is the underwriter: the more famous and popular it is, the more likely that shares will go up after the IPO.

The second thing is the percentage of shares offered during the IPO. If it is too large, this may influence the share prices negatively, especially considering that those who bought shares before the IPO will be also selling them at some point. Conversely, small percentage usually makes the price go up, although you should pay attention to a number of factors, not just this one.

Third, there is a price range defined before the IPO: the wider it is, the more in-demand will be the shares once trading starts. Then, you should watch the open price: if it is near the high of the range or goes even beyond, this will show the demand is quite high, and may lead to the price rise both intraday and in the midterm, when the lockup period is over.

However, there are volatility risks, too: when the price opens higher than the pre-defined range, the price rise may last for a very short time, after which the price will return within the range again. After this happens, a good support level may form, which may later be used as an entry point. Conversely, if the price opens lower than the range, this means the demand is low, and the shares may lose even more going forward.

The number of employees is quite important, too. Some IPOs are run with three employees in the company; of course, this is dangerous: they just want to raise funds, and don’t care about what will happen next. This has happened in cryptocurrencies lately, where each one with appropriate skills and equity was able to create their own crypto and start trading it.

IPO Explained: Opera Limited

Opera Limited, the owner of the famous Opera web browser, ran its IPO on June 27, 2018.

  • 6M of shares were offered after the IPO, while 60M went to some retail investors before; thus, over 15% of shares went to the market.
  • The number of employees in the company exceeds 800 people.
  • There were two underwriters: Citigroup and China International Capital Corporation Limited, one of the leading investment firms in China.
  • The range was between $10 and $12.

Upon the market opening, the price exceeded the range by nearly 15%, making it $14.33, while at some point it even went to $15.50 and above. This shows investors are highly interested in the company, which is a good signal for long term investmemt. With high volatility pressure, the price went below $12.00, but then got support and went up again.

Currently, Opera shares are trading withing the range set up before the IPO. Once the lockup is over and $12 gets broken out, the price may start uptrending steadily.

opera IPO

In the midterm, there is only one risk for Opera shares: the trade war between the US and China, which may lead to a massive fall in the stock market, and in Opera Limited shares in particular. Many analysts say trade war issue may get escalated this fall, so such risks should be taken into account at once.

Disclaimer

Any predictions contained herein are based on the authors’ particular opinion. This analysis shall not be treated as trading advice. RoboMarkets shall not be held liable for the results of the trades arising from relying upon trading recommendations and reviews contained herein.

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 7 rated postsHaving majored in both Social Psychology and Economics, I went on to continue my education in post graduate. Later I worked as a team lead of a tech and fundamental analysis lab in the Applied System Analysis Research Institute. This helped me to acquire all necessary skills and experience to become a successful trader and analyst, as well as a portfolio manager in an investment company. I'm a pro in the financial field and the author of articles for various international media. I also hold the position of Chief Analyst at RoboMarkets.




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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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