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Does ‘CryptoRuble’ Threaten the Point of Cryptocurrencies? Jean-Yves Sireau Weighs In

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Last month, Russia said it would move to regulate cryptocurrency by bringing mining and exchange under the purview of the central government. Investors rejoiced in the decision, as it signaled that another major economy would not ban cryptocurrency. However, as one prominent blockchain expert notes, the advent of a government-controlled cryptocurrency – i.e., CryptoRuble – would threaten the point of cryptocurrencies all together.

Binary.com Founder and CEO Jean-Yves Sireau (JYS) was recently in contact with Hacked.com, where he answered some of our most pressing questions. Below are excerpts from our most recent email exchange.

JYS Weighs In

According to the Binary.com founder, Russia’s plan to centralize the mining process is probably feasible, but will likely hamper the CryptoRuble’s popularity. That’s because this arrangement practically ignores one of the key selling points of cryptocurrency – that is, the potential for a universal token.

“​Indeed, the attraction of cryptocurrencies is that they are like cash: easily transferrable, essentially anonymous and open to everyone,” JYS says. “​A currency that doesn’t have these features is going to be at a competitive disadvantage. There are already hundreds of competing cryptocurrencies, hence creating one that has limitations is not likely to be a success story.”

As many of our readers know, Russia isn’t the only country looking to create a state-run cryptocurrency. Kazakhstan and Estonia are in the process of creating a state-run digital currency, with several others considering the idea. There has even been talk of China – a country that recently banned cryptocurrency trading – implementing its own state-run digital currency.

In Sireau’s view, there’s no guarantee that these currencies will be popular. As he rightly notes, “there are hundreds of cryptocurrencies with a very limited following.”

ICO Regulation

Russia has given mixed signals about how it plans to regulate ICOs. According to Sireau, this reflects broader confusion about how to secure a market that so few know about. Apparently, JYS doesn’t think too highly of ICOs, either.

“In my opinion most ICOs are worthless or scams, and investors will lose 98% of their money. Even if regulators do come up with regulations, it will be too little too late. In 1-2 years’ time there is going to be a flurry of lawsuits surrounding ICOs, especially in the US where law firms can organize class-action lawsuits. I think these lawsuits are what are going to tame the market, not regulatory action.”

On whether any jurisdiction approaching cryptocurrency regulation the right way, Sireau said flat-out no. That’s because “the core issue is that regulators are typically lawyers or compliance people who don’t understand the details of the technology. It’s like trying to create grammatical rules for Greek without having any knowledge of the language.”

The future of cryptocurrency looks promising, but will be marked by volatility and many failed projects. In Sireau’s view, this is especially the case with ICOs, which could “implode in a flurry of lawsuits, especially in the form of class-action lawsuits, in the U.S.”

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 500 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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Financial Freedom

Interview: Tax Strategies for Crypto Traders

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Crypto taxes

With cryptocurrencies going mainstream, more and more people are asking how trading and holding of it should be reported to the tax authorities in their respective countries. And not only are people wondering, even the tax authorities themselves sometimes seem to have a hard time figuring out how they should deal with it.

Although guidelines in many countries remain unclear, we do know that the authorities have stepped up their efforts in uncovering unreported crypto fortunes with new measures. One recent example is from California where a judge last year ordered Coinbase to turn over personal details on all accounts worth over $20,000 between the years 2013 and 2015, to the US Internal Revenue Service.

According to current regulations in the US, the IRS considers cryptocurrency as “property” for tax purposes, meaning each and every transaction is in fact reportable and taxable. This includes trading from fiat to crypto as well as from one crypto to another crypto.

For active traders and day traders, manually reporting this on forms to the IRS obviously involves a lot of work, something many people have complained loudly about in online discussion forums:

crypto taxes

The early days – “see no evil, hear no evil”

In the early days of bitcoin and crypto trading, the number of people involved, and the amount of money it represented, was so small that the tax authorities didn’t bother looking much after it. Although everyone was, of course, technically required to report their holdings and profits, very few did.

The tax authorities didn’t know anything about bitcoin, and the risk of getting caught was small.

This first started to change after the dark web marketplace Silk Road was shut down, most recently in 2014. That’s when the IRS in particular first started to become aware of bitcoin, and became interested in figuring out ways to trace bitcoin payments that were used for illegal activities and tax evasion.

Then came the extreme bull market of 2017, a lot more people got involved with crypto, and a lot of money was made in the market. And as always when someone is making a lot of money, the government wants its share of it.

The tax situation today

Today, taxes are again a hot topic of discussion among cryptocurrency investors, with many feeling anxious about previously unreported gains made in the crypto market.

Andrew Henderson, founder of Nomad Capitalist, told Hacked.com that there is indeed a lot of confusion among crypto traders these days, in particular with regards to the new Trump tax reform in the US.

“The number one issue people come to me with is obviously taxation. The new Trump tax reform in the US really screwed a lot of people, and now even intra-crypto trades are taxable,” Andrew explained.

“The second problem I typically hear about from people in the crypto community is that they cannot participate in ICOs because they are living in the US.”

“Many of these people say they are missing out on a lot of good investment opportunities because of that, and they want to find out what they can do to no longer be considered US Persons,” he added.

Andrew, who has been advising people on offshore tax strategies since 2013, explains that the solution for most of these people is to go out and set up a base of operations somewhere outside of their home country.

Unfortunately, he said, the old strategy of leaving one’s home country only to “become a resident of nowhere” is increasingly not working. In other words, people who want to invest in certain ICOs or lower their crypto tax bill therefore need to find a new country that is accepting of crypto and have low or zero capital gains tax.

Is not reporting an option?

When asked if crypto traders should even bother reporting all of their transactions and profits to the tax authorities, Andrew is pretty clear that at least people from Western countries, and the US in particular, should respect the taxman.

He explains that the IRS in the US is “really aggressive,” and that there is a real risk they will bust anyone who tries to evade taxes. In addition, Andrew said, “you’re probably going to want to spend the money some day. If your crypto holdings by this time has grown into a lot of dollars, you’ll have a problem explaining where all that money came from if the tax man asks.”

Going offshore

Given the fact that US citizens are liable to pay taxes on their worldwide income, Andrew’s advise to big crypto traders is clear:

“I think if you’re a US citizen, you might just want to consider not being one anymore.”

Although this measure may sound extreme to a lot of people, the suggestion appears to be backed up by statistics. Each quarter, the IRS publishes a list of Americans who have renounced their citizenship in the quarter. According to the statistic, there has been a steady increase in the number of people who have renounced over the past decade, with 2017 being the first year to show a slight decline from the previous year since 2013.

The United States is one of very few countries in the world that taxes its non-resident citizens on their global income.

Unfortunately for many of the readers, non-US citizens will therefore have an easier time implementing some of the strategies for lowering their crypto tax bill.

Residents of other high-tax countries such as the EU countries or Australia can in most cases simply declare themselves a tax non-resident in their home country by moving overseas and making sure they spend no more than a specified number of days each year in their home country.

While some countries require their citizens to continue to file and pay taxes for a number of years after they moved out, other countries will consider those who have moved a non-resident for tax purposes right away.

Because of all this, it’s important to distinguish between US citizens and citizens of other high-tax countries when it comes to regulations and taxes related to crypto.

If you’re a US citizen, what it all comes down to is basically how big of a problem it is for you not to be able to participate in a lot of the ICOs that are coming out. If this means a significant monetary loss to you, it may well be worth it exploring options for relocating yourself. For citizens of other countries, moving abroad for a period of time can be an effective way to slash your crypto tax bill without having to completely cut ties with your home country and give up your passport.

Featured image from VCG.com.

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 37 rated postsFredrik Vold is an entrepreneur, financial writer, and technical analysis enthusiast. He has been working and traveling in Asia for several years, and is currently based out of Beijing, China. He closely follows stocks, forex and cryptocurrencies, and is always looking for the next great alternative investment opportunity.




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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 500 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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Minerva’s OWL Token Fights Inflation and Offers Merchants Unique Revenue Stream

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Luxembourg-based Ethereum startup Minerva has developed a platform that will reward merchants for using its tokens. Through a system of “reverse transaction fees,” Minerva will supply merchants with its newly minted OWL tokens when they agree to offer discounts on goods and services that can be paid for in the cryptocurrency.

In other words, merchants who accept the OWL as a form of payment will receive more tokens simply by propagating its use.

The Decentralized Central Reserve

Observers and participants of the cryptocurrency market are no doubt aware of the volatile nature of this new asset class. Just last week, the global crypto market shed $65 billion – some 40% of its value – after China launched an attack on the blockchain community by banning ICOs and bitcoin exchanges.

Minerva’s platform aims to do much more than just incentivize the use of digital tokens; it seeks to tame volatility once and for all. This can be accomplished through the Minerva Volatility Protocol (MVP), which in some way functions like a “decentralized central reserve.”

MVP works by smoothing out price movements in the OWL token. When the price of OWL increases, Minerva’s algorithm mints new coins for approved merchants during transaction. This is the “reverse transaction fee” everyone is talking about. When OWL’s price drops, the platform incentivizes users to temporarily take coins out of circulation with smart contracts that resemble bonds.

Targeting Inflation

OWL is essentially modelled from basic economic theory, which states that a currency – be it crypto- or fiat-based – is determined by the law of supply and demand. The price of a currency rises when its demand outstrips supply, and falls when its supply exceeds its perceived utility.

The smart contracts implementing OWL work to ensure that the basic law of supply/demand is maintained by targeting currency fluctuation. The algorithm does this by targeting the supply of OWL under present conditions to achieve zero or near-zero inflation.

When the inflation rate is smaller than targeted, additional OWL tokens are created; these OWL tokens are delivered to approved merchants, with a portion “taxed” and placed into a reserve vault. When the inflation rate exceeds the target, additional MVP contracts are made available for purchase at a calculated incentive rate, which is paid at a future time from the reserve vault. No MVP contract is offered for sale unless there is sufficient OWL reserved to pay the incentives.

Key Challenges Facing Adoption

OWL’s impeccable delivery method isn’t without its challenges. While cryptocurrency is the biggest thing since sliced bread, the market is still in its formative stage. This means ease-of-use and broader mainstream appeal remain limited for now.

“Our biggest hurdle is what we look forward to solving the most: achieving the mainstream adoption of cryptocurrency through ease-of-use and utility incentivization” Minerva co-founder Kevin McSheehan told Hacked.com.

Although many in the industry have told McSheehan that integration with merchant processing ISOs is a non-starter, Minerva appears to be ahead of the curve. The company has a long and established working relationship with some of the world’s biggest merchant processors. We’ll just have to wait a little while longer to find out who they are.

Regulatory uncertainty and volatility surrounding the crypto-sphere more generally are also key challenges companies like Minerva are facing. These issues have spawned another community pushing SAFTs as the next major breakthrough in the debate over regulation.

To combat these and other challenges, Minerva has put together an impressive team of advisers, tech gurus and legal counsel. There’s even an economist on board. The ensemble of powerful minds clearly shows there’s still a lot to think through in this uncharted industry.

Minerva is planning to launch its ICO in the near future. According to the website, 60% will be allocated to presale and final public ICO.

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 500 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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