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Despite Declines, Cryptos Continue to Attract Polarizing Figures

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If the cryptocurrency market has proven anything this past week, it’s that this market is not meant for the queasy. Bitcoin has wiped billions of dollars off its market cap in a few short days and the bear market could take out some altcoins along the way. Some have called into question the viability of the market. But for others, the market selloff only seems to have emboldened them, industry veterans and newcomers alike.

CoinMarketCap

Steve Bannon has had many roles, from Wall Street investment banker to media tycoon as the former executive chairman of Breitbart News. He’s perhaps best known for his brief tenure as a White House official under the current administration, but now he’s pursuing a new identity and it involves cryptocurrencies.

Bannon is a bitcoin bull, as evidenced by what The New York Times characterized as a “good stake” in the leading cryptocurrency. He told the Times of the decentralized world: “It’s disruptive populism. It takes control back from central authorities. It’s revolutionary.”

Indeed Bannon, a former member of the Tea Party, which was born out of a desire to challenge the norm, could fit right in alongside other corporate figures who have caught bitcoin fever, including the likes of John McAfee and Overstock.com’s Patrick Byrne, for instance.

His history as a former government official makes him kind of a hybrid in a decentralized market but he’s got innovative ideas, such as the development of asset-backed tokens for governments reflecting their resources, such as a marble-backed Italian coin, the Times described.

Bannon Baggage

But Bannon knows the baggage that his name carries with it, and as a result, don’t expect to see a Steve Bannon coin circulating in the market any time soon. Instead, he wants to take a more white-label approach where he’s engaged with certain blockchain projects — including both startups and international governments — but is not prominently featured as a backer or advisor.

Indeed, Bannon is a controversial figure who was ousted not only from the White House but also Breitbart News. But his desire to keep a low profile suggests he may be in it for the right reasons instead of just using cryptocurrencies as a platform, which some have accused McAfee of doing.

Bannon is also a loose cannon and could also drag politics into the cryptocurrency arena, as evidenced by his idea to create a “deplorable” token to represent the supporters of his former boss whose political opponent attempted to ostracize.

And while there may not be a Bannon coin, that doesn’t mean he won’t do an initial coin offering (ICO) to raise funds for a blockchain startup. These days Bannon is at the helm of a Connecticut-based financial planning firm that bears his name and targets wealthy investors. He’s in discussions with the institutional side of the market, including hedge funds, which suggests that he is looking to integrate cryptocurrencies into his financial planning for the mainstream, if he hasn’t already.

ICO Market on Fire

Incidentally, the ICO market is red hot in 2018 and seems to be paying no attention to the struggles of its more established peers. ICOs have raised a combined $5.4 billion year-to-date, $219 million of which was raised in June alone. And there are a couple of blockbuster deals in the works as well that could bolster the tally even further.

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 41 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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After 95% Devaluation, Venezuela’s Bolivar Gets Pegged to the ‘Petro’

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Venezuela is doubling down on its oil-backed cryptocurrency, the petro, after President Nicolas Maduro initiated sweeping economic reforms to bring the socialist state back from the brink of destruction.

Sweeping Reforms

The Central Bank of Venezuela has completed a large-scale devaluation of the Bolivar following years of hyperinflation. The currency re-basing knocks the Bolivar back 95% (roughly five zeros), leading to the creation of a new currency called the “sovereign bolivar.” The new sovereign note will be pegged to the oil-backed petro, an ERC-20 token launched earlier this year.

According to Bloomberg, Venezuela’s annualized inflation has soared to 108,000% in the wake of the oil-price collapse, which has resulted in a crippling recession, food shortages and a massive exodus of citizens fleeing the country.

As of Monday, the petro became an official accounting unit for PDVSA, the state-run oil company.

Beginning Aug. 20, “Venezuela will have a second accounting unit based on the price, the value of the petro,” Maduro said in a televised address, as quoted by CCN. “It will be a second accounting unit of the Republic and will begin operations as a mandatory accounting unit of our PDVSA oil industry.”

Petro: A Brief History

Launched in February by the Maduro government, the petro cryptocurrency was devised as a means to raise cash amid a worsening economic crisis. It was also a way to circumnavigate fresh U.S. sanctions against the socialist republic over suspicion of electoral fraud and a widening clampdown by Maduro on political opponents. The sanctions essentially clamped down on Venezuela’s ability to liquidate assets

“We call for the Maduro regime to restore democracy, hold free and fair elections, release all political prisoners immediately and unconditionally, and end the repression and economic deprivation of the Venezuelan people,” Trump said in a statement following Venezuela’s national elections in May.

Maduro claims that each petro token would be backed by a barrel of the country’s national petroleum. He also announced plans to issue about 100 million petro tokens for a total market value of $6 billion. ICO rating agencies have deemed the petro to be a scam given the controversy surrounding Maduro and the poor explanation of the technology behind the token.

Shortly after the petro was launched, Maduro claimed it had raised $735 million in an initial coin offering. He later claimed that more than $5 billion had been raised through the first leg of the petro pre-sale. Venezuela has yet to provide evidence in support of this claim.

While the petro may in fact be a scam, Venezuelans are increasingly liquidating their bolivars for bitcoin. Bolivar-to-bitcoin transactions saw record volumes in April, with daily turnover surpassing $1 million.

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 555 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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Crypto Exchanges Including Gemini, bitFlyer Launch Regulatory-Fueled Working Group

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As the saying goes, “if you build it, they will come.” Cryptocurrency exchanges from around the world are taking that approach with a new working group whose sequel could be a self-regulatory agency “to oversee virtual commodity marketplaces,” according to a press release.

The group, which is dubbed the Virtual Commodity Association (VCA), is comprised of Bitstamp, bitFlyer USA, Bittrex and Winklevoss-run Gemini exchange. Usually, these exchanges are competing for trading volume, but when it comes to an issue as important as regulation, they are able to come together for the greater good of the industry.

“We believe in the value of self-regulation, which we pursued in Europe almost from our inception, and look forward to following a similar path in the U.S. Those that can’t or won’t comply with regulations put consumers – and their own operations – at risk,” according to Bitstamp chief Nejc Kodrič in the press release.

Perhaps more notable than who is in the group is who is not, such as leading U.S. cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase, which seems to have an amicable relationship with regulators. Gemini, meanwhile, was shunned by U.S. regulators more than once in an attempt to deliver a bitcoin ETF to the market.

Institutional Invitation

The exchanges in the VCA are seemingly taking regulation into their own hands, perhaps in an attempt to appease sidelined institutional investors who are awaiting greater regulatory clarity to jump into the market. In addition to regulatory clarity, the market has been missing continuity in cryptocurrency market data, something that industry participants say could be on the agenda of the new working group.

“Institutions are genuinely skeptical today over the fairness and data quality in the crypto market. At CoinRoutes, even though we help our clients consolidate the data, there is a lot of concern over the quality of the exchange data we aggregate as well as underlying manipulation. An industry SRO is a great start towards ameliorating those concerns,” according to Dave Weisberger, CoinRoutes Founder and CEO, quoted in Business Insider.

Last year, Gemini, one of the exchanges in the group, inked a partnership with the CBOE for the futures exchange to use “Gemini’s bitcoin market data for bitcoin derivatives and indices.”

Meanwhile, stock exchanges have what’s known as the Consolidated Audit Trail, or CAT, which monitors orders and the broker-dealers facilitating them. VCA could develop something similar so that there’s greater transparency surrounding bitcoin and Tether prices, for instance.

Other areas of focus in addition to establishing industry guidelines could surround key issues like bolstering liquidity, eliminating fraud and keeping the lines of communication with regulatory officials open. Trading Technologies Product Marketing Manager suggested to Business Insider that the VCA could serve as a bridge between U.S. regulators and cryptocurrency traders.    

The working group’s first order of business is in September when the inaugural meeting will take place to address issues such as staffing and possibly naming an executive director.

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 41 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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UK-Based Blockchain “Minnows” Face Rip Current

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The bitcoin price has turned positive, taking many correlated altcoins higher with it after being punished for much of the weekend amid BTC’s modest declines. The recovery in the broader crypto market, meanwhile, appears to also be lifting the boats of a handful of UK-based blockchain startups, which the Financial Times refers to as “minnows”, or companies that were launched during the hype but have since had to face a strong current of selling pressure. Among these “minnows” are Argo Blockchain and On-Line Blockchain, both of which have decided to dive into crypto’s high tide.

Argo Blockchain

London-based Argo Blockchain, whose crypto mining operation is based in Quebec, just listed its shares on the London Stock Exchange (LSE). Argo operates a cryptocurrency mining pool, giving users the ability to “share computing power” to mine Bitcoin Gold, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic and Zcash via a smartphone, for instance.

Argo attracted $32 million to its coffers, attaching a $61 million valuation to the company and the status as the maiden crypto mining company to go public on the LSE. But with the stature comes the whims of cryptocurrency prices, which has seemingly made Argo’s stock a target in the equity market, as evidenced by the stock’s near 30% decline since its IPO earlier this month from 13.05p to 9.25p. It’s not the response any listed company is looking for and could explain why crypto mining giant Bitmain is reportedly waiting until after the summer for its expected Hong Kong IPO filing, which is when some market veterans are predicting the bull run to begin.

Source: Yahoo Finance

Argo isn’t the only mining-fueled startup facing the undertow. As Hacked.com previously reported, Genesis Mining recently referenced the challenging environment for cryptocurrency miners, revising its contract terms amid “reduced mining outputs.” Argo Blockchain’s (ARB.L) stock added 1% on Friday when the bitcoin price was on the rise.

On-Line Blockchain

UK-based blockchain R&D firm On-Line Blockchain took a page out the book of Long Island Blockchain when it pursued a makeover in an attempt to capitalize on bitcoin fever. The company shifted its focus from backing “internet and information businesses” to incubating crypto startups. On-Line had a good run from year-end 2017 to the new year, but once the downtrend in cryptocurrency prices hit, it spilled over into the performance of this company.

On-Line Blockchain’s soared nearly 400% last October on the heels of the name change, but year-to-date the stock has been slashed from $87 to $39.50. Investors have had little to cheer about the company, which has announced a few blockchain-fueled developments since the restructuring, including a crypto-mining pool and a new digital currency dubbed PlusOneCoin, but neither appear to have taken off. Most recently On-Line backed crypto-gaming company Encryptid Gaming with a $100,000 investment, the FT reported. Meanwhile, On-Line Blockchain (OBC.L) gained 5% on Friday alongside the gains in the bitcoin price.

The recovery in crypto prices has been comprised of fits and starts, one that most recently is showing a lot of green. Bitcoin, with more than 51% dominance, is calling the shots as correlated altcoins — similar to the UK’s “minnows” — wait on its every whim.

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 41 rated postsGerelyn has been covering ICOs and the cryptocurrency market since mid-2017. She's also reported on fintech more broadly in addition to asset management, having previously specialized in institutional investing. She owns some BTC and ETH.




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