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Blockchain Asset Manager Ambisafe Talks About Institutional Guarantees, Parity Debacle

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Ethereum platform Ambisafe has quickly emerged as one of the blockchain’s most promising asset managers. Hacked recently spoke with representatives from the company on their product, institutional bottlenecks and other contemporary issues facing the cryptocurrency market.

Ambisafe Asset Platform

In the world of blockchain, Ambisafe is well established. The company has been involved in the cryptocurrency space as far back as 2010, and is today one of the blockchain’s leading asset issuance and management firms. The company provides many go-to-market offerings, including ICO services, asset issuance and custom Ethereum development solutions.

Ambisafe operates several other companies, including Orderbook, an Ethereum token exchange. Orderbook has 25,000 active users and is averaging about two ICO launches per week, according to a company spokesperson. Combined, ICOs launched via Orderbook have generated more than $35 million in funding.

Orderbook claims to provide full transparency and immutability by recording all transactions on the blockchain. In this sense, it is entirely trustless and stores all assets “on-chain.”

The companies (both Orderbook and Ambisafe) areled by Andrey Zamovskyi, who has been coding since the age of nine. He has his fingerprints all over first of their kind blockchain projects, such as wallets, merchant services, exchanges and trading platforms.

A Lack of Institutional Guarantee

Ambisafe told Hacked that one of the biggest challenges facing the crypto-sphere isn’t payment processing, but a lack of institutional guarantees. This could make it difficult to attract new investors as the market eventually stabilizes and cools from its recent streak of record-setting gains.

In explaining this issue, Ambisafe drew our attention to account guarantees in the United States. In the U.S., all savings accounts held at banks are backed by a guarantee of $250,000 from the federal government. This is essentially a guarantee that your funds will be protected for that amount if the bank fails.

Moreover, if your credit card is stolen, U.S. law limits personal liability drastically so that you are not left on the hook for a massive bill payment.

These same guarantees are not present in the cryptocurrency space. Quite the contrary, as a matter of fact.

For example, if my Trezor is stolen or Coinbase is hacked, I simply lose everything. Large-scale trusted and insured institutions need to back vaults with extensively audited multi-sig wallets before we’ll see widespread displacement of credit/checking accounts.

Parity Wallet

Ambisafe also chimed in on the recent controversy surrounding Parity Technologies, whose account holders were locked out of $190 million worth of ether tokens. When asked about how the accounts could be unlocked, Ambisafe referred to the fact that there are some Ethereum Improvement Protocols (EIPs) on how to recover the funds. However, the discussions appear to be ongoing with no immediate solution in sight.

“In our solutions, we make sure to have a test coverage,” Ambisafe said. “Also, we don’t publish our code out in the wild just for the hell of it. We share the code by request though.

Disclaimer: The author owns bitcoin, Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies. He holds investment positions in the coins, but does not engage in short-term or day-trading.

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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4.6 stars on average, based on 649 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he leads content development for one of the world's foremost cryptocurrency resources. Over the past eight years Sam has authored more than 10,000 articles and over 40 whitepapers in the fields of labor market economics, emerging technologies, cryptocurrency and traditional finance. Sam's work has been featured in and cited by some of the world's leading newscasts, including Barron's, CBOE and Forbes. Contact: sam@hacked.com Twitter: @hsbourgi




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“Mass Adoption is the Direction Things Are Taking” – Lionel Wolberger, CTO and Co-Founder of Platin

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Platin is a new blockchain token-based ecosystem which powers an infrastructure platform that incorporates a proprietary programming language (‘SolidityGEO’), all in the name of accomplishing a so-called decentralized ‘Proof of Location’ protocol.

We reached out to the team to find out more about how their solution works, the current state and future vision.

The result of this outreach was a warm reception from the company’s Chief Technical Officer (CTO) and Co-Founder Lionel Wolberger, with whom we discussed such topics as well as Platin’s: objectives, company ethos, and views on the current state of the crypto space.

Who is Behind Platin?

Lionel Wolberger’s experience with cryptocurrency and blockchain spans as far back as 2011, where he “spoke about it at Cisco Secure Video where our team of cryptographers included the inventor of Public Key Cryptography himself, Prof. Adi Shamir.”.

It wasn’t until two years later before Wolberger got the opportunity to professionally re-engage with crypto technology, when he participated in an experiment on behalf of the Internet Identity Workshop “and decided to study it more closely and see what it was all about.”

In 2017, Lionel Wolberger created Platin alongside co-founder Allon Mason when they “identified the potential for a secure and lightweight Proof of Location protocol on the blockchain.”. Wolberger met mason during academia at Cornell University, having

“always admired his drive and passion for the projects he has developed over the years, particularly XPLace an online marketplace with hundreds of thousands of users and multi-million dollar annual turnover.”

Wolberger also highlights the fact that the team is working alongside secure-location advisor Professor Srdjan Capkun (Director of the Zurich Information Security and Privacy Center, ZISC), which he calls a “privilege”.

“Dr. Capkun is an ideal advisor, as he sits on the major standards committees, and has an inside track to secure GPS and other important technologies associated with secure proof of location.”

What is Platin?

Whilst participating in the “’colored coin’ experiment’” for the Internet Identity Workshop, Wolberger had a fundamental epiphone with regards to his perception of blockchain and the purpose of cryptocurrency:

“it’s not about currency, but an asset tracking system of decentralized trust that could also provide the basis for so much more than just currencies.”

As such, Platin’s purpose is to provide a utility-token based platform which they (on their website) describe as a system for the “Geo-location of digital assets (cryptocurrencies, documents, images, etc.), anywhere on the map, anywhere in the world, in real time.”.

There are a wide range of uses for geo-locational software, from marketing to emergency broadcasting regarding critical events such as national disasters. Official use-cases include:

Lionel Wolberger lists, among the key values of Platin its hardware agnosticism as well as its interoperable nature.

“Interoperable refers to Platin’s protocol, that it is cleanly defined and independent, enabling it to work with many other products or systems, at present or in the future, in many possible implementations with few restrictions. This is achieved by having a clean interface (API, SDK) and is essential as Platin is needs to inter-operate with Android, Apple, many backend systems and blockchain assets.

“Hardware agnostic refers to one aspect of Platin’s Proof of Location protocol, its ability to work with any — all, i possible — geospatially relevant signal sources. This will certainly include GPS, cll towers and wifi, but will extend to BLE, LoRA, Ultrasound, indeed any signal that has relevance for a Proof of Location. This is achieved by having a clear definition of Proof of Location and how a device’s location relates to all this other data.”

Furthermore, the team is planning to implement cross-chain compatibility in the future, including Ethereum / EOS.

A Security Focus

Security is also a key concern and this is echoed in our interview as well as across the website for Platin. The company even mentions KYC / AML with its list of use-cases for the platform.

One way which the company seeks to achieve this is through the use of hardware cold-storage systems for the safe-keeping of all tokens, with their first wallet integration being TrustWallet. They also, according to Wolberger, are anticipating a future partnership with Ledger.

Lionel Wolberger claims that

“Platin has security and privacy baked-in from the start. Some features that reflect this approach include.

  • Platin’s architecture starts with individuals storing their own data, with blinded commitments shared to the network.
  • Platin’s functionality is “opt-in” based, reflecting a deep respect for our users as sovereign digital actors. You opt-in for the sharing of data, whatever you are comfortable with. The default is no sharing.
  • One of our Platin’s hires was a full-time cryptographer, and we are open sourcing our first zero knowledge cryptographic achievement: a ZK Range proof of bounded location. This shows our cryptographic and security passion.
  • Platin’s default pattern is “send the algorithm to the user,” rather than, “have the user send their data to the network.” Our Artificial Intelligence is privacy-preserving in this way.
  • Platin’s three pillars of security are orthogonal, working together to create a secure proof of location that would not be possible with any one of those pillars”

Geolocation and Geofencing

With use cases including retail shopping and other location-based rewards initiatives, Platin incorporates (and is responsible for the effective utilization of) specific technical and methodological processes pertaining to their geo-locational solution / protocol.

This scenario is made fully possible using a technology called ‘geo-fencing’ which is essentially, according to Wolberger, “An ability to restrict and define usage within the boundaries of their regulatory and legal jurisdiction.”

“imagine that a national supermarket chain airdrops coupon for 10% off certain items to celebrate the launch of their new store However, they do not want these coupons to be redeemable at other locations as they want to drive traffic to this new store.

“With a special smart contract, the coupon will only work within the geo-fenced area around the new store.”

Attempts at geo-location are most effective with both the consent and honest participation of both direct and third-party sourced users. Considering tech scandals surrounding personal and public data privacy & security, it has become increasingly difficult to encourage people to confide their personal data sincerely.

This is where rewards-based systems such as Platin come in.

Humanitarian Aid (A Use Case)

Another key use case cited, which Wolberger doubles down on in our discussion is that of charitable coin drops…

“We think it is incredibly important to focus on use cases such as humanitarian aid airdrops.

“While our technology has broad commercial uses, our team is passionate about seeing the project bring new ways to enable ordinary people use cryptocurrency, and an ideal win/win use case is the ability to transfer crypto to people who need assistance.

“Blockchain and cryptocurrency can often seem intimidating to people, but mass adoption is the direction things are taking. Platin wants to ensure that everyone can access and utilize this technology to utilize decentralized funds in a beneficial and potentially life-saving way.”

These partnerships include IsraAID (with whom theys already signed an agreement) in addition to the Swiss Red Cross (with whom they are currently in discussions), where Platin plans to further develop and test their systems and processes with regards to how they will integrate geo-location focused / geo-fenced cryptocurrency airdrops.

Another, tangentially related use-case is:

“the Tokyo Olympics airdrops… we are currently discussing the opportunity with our Tokyo-based partners.

“The Olympics has traditionally seen technological innovation, such as instant replay, virtual video graphics and most recently 5G deployments. This is the year of blockchain, and we look forward to announcing details once we are permitted.”

Final Words

All these features, aims and objectives are tied together by the fact that they are all built upon not only a proprietary – but also a home-grown programming language which third parties can leverage for their own projects when working on the Platin blockchain.

“SolidityGEO extends Ethereum’s Solidity language, GEOS extends EOS’s C++ language. These will equip our partners for fast onboarding into location proofs on the blockchain.”

SolidityGEO is what Platin calls a “location-aware language” created to help the utilisation and implementation of geographic demarcation for token distribution, rewards and airdrops. It will additionally include ZK-Snarks and Starks zero-knowledge proof mechanisms as well as general operating standards such as ISO and W3C.

Finally, with regards to the future:

“Proximity radio technology is being deployed steadily, without any loud publicity. 5G, RTT-enabled Wi-Fi, and IEEE secure proximity radio standards promise highly accurate distance readings via radio. The average person feels this progress in the slow spread of keyless entry–just having a key, fob or smartphone in your pocket to unlock a desired resource such as your car or home. Platin has partners in this space and there are sure to be exciting announcements in the next six months (though they will be quite technical, they will promise rapid progress).”

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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“The Core of Any Blockchain Project is Decentralization” – Jack Zhang, Lightning Bitcoin

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Lightning Bitcoin is a fork of the ‘first-crypto-currency’ Bitcoin about which we decided to take the opportunity recently to speak to advisor Jack Zhang (AKA DianfuDatou / 点付大头 – known best as a Founder of Chainfunder and DAF).

Discussion topics include: what makes this project unique, as well as how you shouldn’t get it confused is not to be confused with the Lightning Network upgrade which is being applied to the original ‘Bitcoin’.

Who is Jack Zhang

Jack Zhang (AKA DianfuDatou / 点付大头) is a Chinese investor, business leader, and entrepreneur whose “portfolio includes XRP, XEM, IOTA, NEO, EOS, TEZOS, VEN”.

Zhang proudly describes himself as “one of the leading advocators of Ripple in China” having “translated Ripple into Chinese as ‘ruibobi’” – as well as the co-founder of NEO. Please note that most sources ascribe this latter achievement regarding NEO to an ‘Erik Zhang’ and so this claim requires further confirmation – however this writer sees no reason for him to lie in this respect.

He claims that his first experience with cryptocurrency was in 2011, when he entered the industry himself having previously worked as an investment banker at companies such as Zhejiang investment bank.

“I bought more than 10 thousand bitcoins at the price of 5 dollars and sold all of them out at the price of 7 dollars. At that time, I remember how I was reading posts on Bitcointalk about blockchain for several months and got fascinated by the genius design of the technology.”

Zhang says that the Lightning Bitcoin team members “come from a diverse cultural background, including China, the United States, Canada, the UK, Russia, Germany, and India.” And that:

“Currently Lightning Bitcoin has four core developers (listed on the website) with a team of 6 specialists. Eason Zhao is a CTO and H.H.Wang is a leading developer.

“Lightning Bitcoin also has an operational team of 8 outstanding and hardworking people managed by Wasley together with a community manager James Vuitton… We have independent leaders for each directions of the business;”

What is Lightning Bitcoin?

According to Zhang, Lightning Bitcoin is “a coin that takes the best from existing blockchain titans and adds advanced consensus mechanism.”

“Lightning Bitcoin forked from Bitcoin blockchain at block height 499,999… Lightning Bitcoin (LBTC) is a fully decentralized Internet-of-value protocol for global payments.

“The specific applications include peer-to-peer transactions and exchange platforms. Any users that operate on the LBTC protocol can enjoy instant, secure and nearly free global financial transactions of any size.”

Lightning Bitcoin is far from the first (nor will it be the last) fork from Bitcoin. A number of observers have claimed that the correlation between new forks and over inflation of Bitcoin. Jack Zhang however sees it as follows…

“Back in 2017, Bitcoin blockchain started to face network congestions, and a lot of other problems, that is one of the reasons why there were so many hard forks popping up. However, all of them changed either size or difficulty adjustment, what in my opinion did not improve the situation. That is a consensus that makes the difference. Pow and PoS are easily centralized, while DPoS represents true decentralization. Moreover, DPoS has the benefit of high efficiency, with little resource consumption.”

This mechanism utilises the relatively young Distributed Proof of Stake (DPoS) protocol which this writer has written about in a recent article, despite its basis upon the Proof of Work (PoW)-based ‘Bitcoin’.

Zhang states that Distributed Proof of Stake “allows separation of the voting power and block production, with no risks of a hard fork.” In fact, the aftermath of the announcement of DPoS adoption coincided with the company taking on another of its advisors “Stan Larimer a founding partner of Bitshares… we found mutual interests, as a result Stan joined Lightning Bitcoin advisory board.”

“Lightning Bitcoin uses DPoS, with the forging interval of 3 seconds, and the block size of 2M. We have achieved the TPS of thousands of transactions.

“Anyone can use LBTC, without censorship. The transaction fees are charged only for preventing network security issues, like DDoS attacks. It is not an off-chain solution on top of the Bitcoin blockchain as Lightning Network. I personally believe that Lightning Network will face the problem of centralization eventually.”

Furthermore,

“Lightning Bitcoin’s on-chain governance system enables LBTC holders to vote for the blockchain improvement proposals and the delegates who maintain the network as Lightning Nodes. It solves the problems of centralization of bitcoin by incorporating all participants in the Lightning Bitcoin ecosystem into the decision-making process.”

Lightning Bitcoin vs Lightning Network

Due to the similarities in naming, it seems natural that there may be a little confusion on behalf of the public and crypto-investment community with regards to the differences between ‘Lightning Bitcoin’ and ‘Lightning Network’.

“There is some confusion, you are correct.

When Lightning Bitcoin forked in December 2017, for Lightning Network it was still unclear when it is going to be launched, since it was still at the internal testing stage; only after four months later, in March 2018 when Lightning Network released its beta, both projects started to be confused by users in some countries.”

This, according to Zhang, is actually a problem more specific / limited to region,

“In other countries, like China, lightning network is not that well-known, as well as it has different Chinese name, that gives us more room for the development in Asia.”

Present and Future of LBTC

“Currently, Lightning Bitcoin network is stable, we constantly improving its functions and adding more products.

“The next big step for LBTC that we are working on right now is the development of on-chain governance, that will allow the network to self-improve and self-upgrade.

“In the future, stable upgrades of Lightning Bitcoin network in combination with chain governance, and decentralized transactions will allow cross-chain flashovers and smart contracts… the exploration of the on-chain governance model will become one of the most important tasks in the current stage of LBTC.”

Zhang continues to discuss the future for the coin in-detail as well, including that:

“In short, after complete integration of on-chain governance, next milestone is the development of new decentralized exchange. It will be an important component of the LBTC payment function.

“This exchange will have both basic functionality such as flashovers function of the gateway, as well as a system to guarantee the ease of cross-chain operations. Additionally, it will have the function of early crowdfunding of project under the necessary supervision.”

Finally,

“After implementing and perfecting the decentralized exchange, the development of intelligent contracts based on the UTXO model will be carried out, and a high-concurrence-based public chain ecosystem will be established to guide the flow of DAPP traffic.”

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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Agate Interview with CEO and Co-Founder Hamed Taghvaei

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Hacked writer Joshua Larson delivered a positive review of blockchain based payments platform ‘Agate’ in one of our frequent ‘ICO Analysis’ features just two months ago. Beyond this, the company hasn’t been all that prominent in the news.

At the same time as this lack of coverage: Agate is hosting its public ICO event, in addition to having already released public source code for various aspects of its proprietary blockchain. It’s called ‘Agatechain’.

We decided to reach out to CEO and Co-Founder Hamed Taghvaei to find out more about the company directly, in addition to his thoughts on matters such as mainstream cryptocurrency adoption, Proof of Stake and top tips for future ICO creators.

What is Agate and How did it Start?

Agate is responsible for creating a handful of product solutions for the retail and e-commerce markets, in addition to user-to-user and user-to-merchant payments. In fact, on its website (near the top) the team makes it very apparent that it is proud to bear the label of being the ‘PayPal of Cryptocurrency’.

The company was founded by industry veterans including our subject Hamed Taghvaei who has “spent the past 17 years in the IT industry” where he took “the opportunity to meet [some] great people”.

“These include Hamed Ostad, who is one of the other Co-Founders of Agate. He has an impressive career in banking and payment industry for last 18 years including BPAY which is a very successful payment solution in Australia.

“I also met Ali Dorri who is among the first PhD candidates from UNSW University (Australia) who specifically focuses on blockchain technology.

“Agate advisors who I have met previously include Brenton Smith (former GM and VP of Dell Australia and Symantec respectively) who was working as Country Manager at the time, Dr Nikzad Rizvandi, and Dr Samaneh Movassaghi.”

Dr Movassaghi works for leading IT companies like Google and Philips, whilst Dr Rizvandi is “deeply involved with the Agate AI Engine”.

Agatechain

All of the solutions in Agate’s portfolio share a common foundation upon ‘Agatechain’, the company’s independent, open-source decentralised blockchain.

Agatechain was created as an alternative to pre-existing blockchains with the intention of tackling issues such as “transaction speeds, transaction costs and fees, and volatility” as well as making a solution which is “as simple as possible for mass adoption by merchants and users.

“For example, creating a token can be done in 3 second without any technical knowledge in our GUI wallet or by using Agate open payment gateway API.”.

Taghvaei continues:

“Our main focus with the Agate ecosystem is to resolve these issues.

“By using our iFiat ecosystem, we eliminate volatility that merchants and customers don’t need to worry about crypto currency fiat value at all.

“Running transactions through the agate blockchain with instant settlement with lowest fee will boost confidence of merchants towards accepting cryptocurrency in their physical or online shops.”

Furthermore, he claims to be proud of highlighting “Agate as a comprehensive ecosystem containing Fat Protocols and Fat Application in its different parts. In fact, that’s why we believe it can resolve fundamental obstacles to crypto adoption.”

Key Features

The ‘iFiat ecosystem’ utilises a stable-coin called ‘iFiat’ which operates alongside (and independent to) the team’s utility token, the AGT token. It helps to allow instant cross-token and token-to-fiat payments for business and private users.

Additional products and features as noted on their website and in their whitepaper include a Physical POS Terminal, a GUI wallet and Token Generator Engine (for creating coins and ICOs). Standard integrated functions include smart contracts, scalability and a block explorer.

Hamed Taghvaei in particular highlights the project’s AI engine, which was designed

“to help those who want to spend their crypto in the highest value. When users want to spend their crypto within the ecosystem or transfer it to their debit card, they can use our AI capability.

“Agate’s AI engine uses Andrej Karpathy, Tal Perry and Christopher Olah’s methodology and we have made a version of an RNN called a Long Short-Term Memory (LSTM).”

Taghvaei on the Industry

Whilst speaking to Taghvaei, we decided to take the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions that were not directly related to his project. In return, he gave us some observations and advice on the industry.

1. On Regulations

“It’s obvious that for any new technology and innovation there are lot of barriers, including regulations in financial market. There are not as many strong and clear regulations about cryptocurrencies or the idiosyncrasies of trading, exchange, mining, ICO, etc.

“We can see lot of positive initiatives from governments across the globe which will help this industry to shape up and grow.

“In Australia, there are certain rules for trading cryptocurrency and exchanges and the Australian government is working on ICOs specifically as well. I believe this will give more confident to companies, investors and consumers to use this technology.

“It is worth highlighting that putting too much red tape for entrepreneurs will slow down the adoption process, but it is clear that cryptocurrency is here to stay.”

2. Advice for other ICOs

“As an advisor for start-ups for few years I would say while there are many factors to make a business or ICO successful or failure but if I want to highlight top five elements for an ICO.

“I believe them to be as follows:

1. Make sure there is a real use-case for your blockchain project.
2. Investors invest on good teams including advisors, so make sure you gather the best ones available in the market. You must also ensure that they are relevant to your ICO.
3. The best idea without a product won’t sell, so make sure to create your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) before pubic pitch.
4. Community is your main asset when it comes to crowdfunding so please build and handle your community with care.
5. Never forget that an ICO is simply a crowdfunding method and that you are starting a long-term venture, so make sure you design a sustainable business for future growth and support.”

Partnerships & Final Words

Hamed Taghvaei ties in parting advice with information regarding the status and nature of one of their key partnerships:

“In order to deliver a successful blockchain project you need more than just a good idea, product and committed team. You should consider it as a business.

“We consider ourselves lucky that we partnered with Engenesis as a venture builder at an early stage of Agate project. This partnership has given Agate an unmatched advantage in the market in terms of solution development capabilities.”

Other notable partnerships include the ACDA (Australian Digital Commerce Association) and FinTech Australia, of which Agate is a member.

Future features as visible on the company’s roadmap include the launch of the Agate Blockchain Main-net in Q1 2019. This is in addition to smart contracts and plugins / apps for WooCommerce (in Q2 2019), Multi-currency and multi-language support (Q3 2019), and the acquisition of a banking license (in Q4 2019).

The public ICO event is now on, with 65% of total supply (490,000,000 AGT) allocated for sale overall. The soft cap of $2,000,000 has already been surpassed, and the team is aiming for a hard cap achievement of $24,206,000.

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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