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Blockchains And The War on Cash

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Currently, India faces devastating cash problems, unique and unprecedented especially for a country of its size. Governments of countries with highly developed financial systems too have proposed to scrape bank notes or at least decommission the highest denominations.

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In India, the government announced overnight their two largest denominations, worth roughly US$15 and 7.5 respectively, would cease to be legal tender immediately.

Citizens had about one month to convert their cash reserves into new notes, with many problems being reported around the availability of notes and long queues at the bank tellers.

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As Bloomberg points out, less than 10% of all Indians have ever used another payment method other than cash, and only two percent have ever used a mobile phone to pay for something.

Other countries too consider stepping in India’s footsteps. There is a debate in Australia over whether the AU$100 note should be withdrawn from circulation, the European Central Bank has already made the decision to phase out the EUR500 bill, and in the United States Professor Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University has made a name for himself by campaigning for the abolishing of cash altogether.

The arguments are always similar. Cash enables illicit transactions such as drug trade or illegal prostitution, its anonymous nature encourages tax evasion and bribery, and ever since we have entered the epoch of negative interest, there is concern that too much cash usage reduces the effects of central bank policy.

Blockchain as a proposed solution

Blockchain, the technology underpinning cryptographic tokens such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, has increasingly caught the eyes of central banks. China, for example, is rumoured to be building its own virtual currency on top of a blockchain-like system.

When central banks, or any banks for that matter, speak about Blockchain, they often do not refer to systems that work exactly like Bitcoin does. It is hard to imagine how a bank would favor building a system that they, in the long run, have no control over, and which they would not be able to derive profits from.

Private, permissioned blockchains are intended to keep serving the interests of the banks and governments, and will in effect function similarly to existing systems, requiring identification, being subject to seizure and monitoring.

There is natural demand for cash

Cash is not only popular because of its use as a private and discrete mechanism to transfer value. Its reach goes far beyond that of money laundering, drugs, and bribery.

Most importantly, cash can be received by anybody. An undocumented immigrant can receive cash in the same way as a small child, a machine, a felon or someone who recently declared insolvency.

Additionally, cash payments are highly reliable. While it may not be trivial to validate their authenticity, a cash payment never fails due to electricity outages, account irregularities or software glitches. Cash never gets stuck in the system, requiring “additional documentation” or repeated trips to the bank to unfreeze the payment.

Banning cash and replacing it with a private blockchain or government issued e-currency does not remove the demand for cash, nor will it be able to replace it.

Without making onboarding trivial and allowing those without legal documentation to safely and reliably bank on the new systems, the removal of cash from an economy removes certain activities in the short run, which is undesired in case these activities are legal. For many people, it is equivalent to a loss of their job.

In the long run, their prospects, and with them the prospects of the black market, depend on whether they can move their transactions into a space that functions quite like cash.

We might see the return of gold coins in commerce, or the rise of cryptocurrencies and their public, permissionless blockchains. Barter, too, can for a short time offer relief from unavailability of cash.

Conclusion

The demand for cash in an economy can be fulfilled by other mediums of exchange that a government has a hard time cracking down on. A move away from cash does not necessarily eliminate the undesired activities associated with it. Instead, gold, foreign currency and cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin are ready to fill the void.

Author: David Lang is Communications Manager at ExpressVPN, a Bitcoin accepting VPN provider. Images from 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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Analysis

Crypto Capitulation Is Upon Us

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

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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.

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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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4.3 stars on average, based on 59 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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Altcoins

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.

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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.

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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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Fidelity Investments is Mining Cryptocurrency

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Fidelity Investments is a multi-billion dollar brokerage  that just so happens to be mining cryptocurrency. In fact, it has been at it for three years, using its own computers to harvest bitcoin and Ethereum.

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Profitable Experiment

CEO Abby Johnson recently told Fortune that its U.S.-based mining operation is “making a lot of money.” This comes despite running a relatively modest operation.

Hadley Stern, Senior VP of Fidelity Labs, described his company’s venture as an “experiment.”

The real reason we began mining, and still do, is to learn how the network works, how consensus works, how difficulty levels work,” he said in reference to the mining process.

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The key to profitability has been the dramatic rise in cryptocurrency over the past year. Bitcoin and Ethereum are the world’s No. 1 and 2 cryptocurrencies by market capitalization, and no-one else comes close.

Well Ahead of the Pack

The fact that Fidelity has been at this for three years speaks volumes about the company. Other, much bigger players are still dipping their toes in the market, but are unsure about how to proceed. Goldman Sachs is reportedly on the fence about starting a cryptocurrency trading operation, while J.P. Morgan has already begun handling customer orders for bitcoin-based instruments.

Fidelity is doing a lot more than just mining tokens. Earlier this year, it reached an agreement with Coinbase to let customers view cryptocurrency prices alongside other assets on their Fidelity homepage.

Coinbase is the world’s most funded cryptocurrency exchange with more than 7.4 million users.

Cryptocurrency Prices

The cryptocurrency market ended the week on a firm note, with bitcoin (BTC/USD) reaching a session high of $4,425.00. At press time, the index was up 1.6% at $4,368.

Ether is also trading higher against the dollar, with the ETH/USD rallying more than 3% to $305.

Ripple (XRP) lost momentum on Friday, but still managed a weekly gain of 21%.

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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4.5 stars on average, based on 332 rated postsSam Bourgi is Chief Editor to Hacked.com, where he specializes in cryptocurrency, economics and the broader financial markets. Sam has nearly eight years of progressive experience as an analyst, writer and financial market commentator where he has contributed to the world's foremost newscasts.




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