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I’m Upset I Can’t Buy More

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There is too much great stuff on sale. Americans will know what I am talking about. This is like going to the dollar store for gold bricks. Last night was crazy. When Ethereum is hovering at 3 figure levels, that is enough to make my eyes dilate. I hope everyone was ready for it, and you got some good bottom dollar coin. However, after digging and digging, I haven’t found a REALLY good reason why the market is down.

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It was a sell off partially based on some markets beginning to be regulated. China repeating the same things for anyone’s guess as to why. You “shut down” your markets in September. China, we get it. Factory workers and teenagers need foreign cars though, and I will not be standing for all this smoke screen news!

I believe China is calming the seas before they jump in. They want to set the rules, and be fused into its oversight. A government full of mature adults is going to have a tough time figuring out how this one is going to work from a technical perspective. People who do these things are not plentiful. Trust me, I have tried finding one.

Why I am not nervous about Chinese volume is Alibaba. After some of the strongest words we’ve seen from their government, why now would Jack Ma say he is beginning to look into blockchain for Alibaba? I haven’t known many to defy the government over there, clearly he is comfortable enough that he will use technology to better his Chinese business. I am very curious as to how. I will give my guess and a couple good prices that I saw.

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NEO 

Did you look at it when I first spoke about it? I hope you did. You will see that this platform is very very good for making businesses, and has a centralized structure that can be controlled. A company with a Chinese national used to doing government business has a centralized platform. Handful of nodes. They control who. This already looks like a fantastic auction house for someone to buy (“regulate”). It came very close on my exchanges to $200. It is now $117 as of this writing. The supply is 100,000,000 total. On par with Ethereum.

China likes the “There is only one game in town and we know them” deal. If there is even a whiff of that being the case, 100,000,000 could be eaten up very quickly. If they successfully launch coins/Dapps, their currency is very well infused to benefit. Wouldn’t any coin holder love to see a website ask for NEO as payment for their ICO/ACO? I think that some blockchains are designed to be controlled. I don’t think NEO is the one wearing a tie die shirt talking about freedom, I think this coin has a crew cut and is ready to serve his country. Just one man’s opinion.

Ripple

This one always frustrates me. How it is $1 is beyond me. I have heard so many things about how XRP isn’t really utilized by the corporate customers and I should “look into it”. No, I am not going to look into it. Here is what I do know. Brad Garlinghouse was on CNBC and works right across the street from Coinbase. A powerful top-10 American currency with bank relationships is not going to be denied it’s place on the American exchange. You saw what happened to bitcoin cash. Access means everything. This is a company that people actually trust. If you see the articles on Ripple, they aren’t negative! Bitcoin has had drug seizure arrests in the news, and we all know about Silk Road. Brad has just been coming out with more bank friends. The more they hear brand names and Ripple together, the more popcorn I buy for the Coinbase open. Once again, one mans opinion. $1.02 as of this writing.

Lumens

I can’t stop writing about this platform. It is 36 cents, with half the circulating supply as Ripple. This is literally Ripple! The guy who was behind Ripple forked it and here is Lumens. Banking the unbanked is the wrapper, NextGen brokerage house is the candy bar. Once I heard mass customization of government compliant coins, my mind hasn’t really stopped. Currently, I don’t think the developer community is at the level of a major platform, and I also don’t think we have hit a critical mass of people who can do this stuff. I think the more kids in college who look into this stuff during their engineering degree, the more people we will have to help business people. I am a businessman, and for the second time in this article I am telling you finding someone to do this is very difficult. Scarcity is very important to note when a lot of money is on the line

I dont ignore rock bottom prices. I saw $155! Litecoin is being used already, it is a functioning business with a supply on par with bitcoin. It is super fast to use as a currency and transfer vehicle. There are people accepting this as payment. Mark Cuban said he will begin accepting bitcoin and Ethereum for Dallas Mavericks basketball games. I don’t think there is a way he won’t add Litecoin too. I am not saying the Dallas Mavericks fans will begin crypto’ing up, I am saying businesses – brick and mortar and e-commerce accept Litecoin, and that number will grow. That doesn’t scream $155 to me.

 

Conclusion

This doesn’t seem like a one or two day storm to me. These are sustained low prices, and I think we saw a lot of money move out. This doesn’t mean anything. The only things you should look for are facts. Some finance ministers opinion on the way things ought to be isn’t a declaration of law. When we hear the distinct declaration from the government officials in charge, we then can quantify the issue it will cause. Emotions have no bearing on long term prices, and I think there are a whole lot of feelings in the room right now.

 

None of what I have said is a recommendation to buy or sell securities. I own some, but I am a lightning god and a risky son of a B. You saw the drop. People lost rent payments. People have to pay back loans they took out. This is scary stuff. When the market is unregulated, dumb people can get very hurt within an instant at no fault of anyone else. That hurt is called selling. Please be careful, and keep your emotions in check. Best of luck.

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 17 rated postsMythological God of Lightning. Cryptocurrency/Blockchain writer, evangelist, and friend. May the odds be ever in our favor.




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Op-Ed

Decoding Ripple

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Market Update: As of this writing, bitcoin is up to almost $10,800 with ETH at $962. Great news. What we saw this week was slow, consistent gains. It looks like most coins are gaining 3-10% daily, with not too much parabolic activity that would make me more nervous. We had a ton of tailwinds, too many to count. A White House Official said cryptocurrency regulation would not be in the immediate future, Wyoming & Colorado are trying to legislate crypto-friendly offerings/enforcements, and of course “Coinbase Merchant” was launched; which is a payment platform for businesses to begin accepting cryptocurrency payments. I couldn’t think of a better way to end the Chinese New Year.

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Big players are announcing partnerships, and of course, Ripple leads the pack. A coin is only as good as their buyers, so I want to make sure that all of my readers know who those buyers could potentially be, and what they can buy. I want provide a background on Ripple & their 3 Products (Xrapid, Xcurrent, Xvia). Ripple is one of my largest holdings, so full disclosure here.

Ripple’s Market

Ripple’s products are all designed to work with businesses on sending and receiving payments instantly and securely. Their main competitor is the incumbent, the SWIFT system.

SWIFT facilitates money wire transfers, with many checks and balances along the way. Overall, it takes about 3-5 days to clear a transaction with the SWIFT system. That means if you want to send money from USA to Germany, you can either wait a long time or you can pay a high fee to get it there quicker (via Remittance company like Western Union). During your wait time, there is also security risk. Just recently, we saw hackers take SWIFT via a Russian Bank for $6M. When you don’t encrypt your transfers & information, there is always a possibility that someone is smart enough to hack in.

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The SWIFT system, regardless of Ripple’s success, will phase out of existence. Their way of transferring money in the 21st century is outdated, and people should expect more out of their financial institutions than their money going through the equivalent of snail mail to get to it’s recipient.

Blockchain is a simple solution for payment processing, which is why you are getting so many people trying to enter the space altogether. There are trillions of dollars being moved back and forth each year around the world, and there are certain niches that will require different blockchain characteristics to serve them. One of them is banks & remittance companies. They need Anti-Money Laundering/Know Your Customer procedures built in, just like the SWIFT system. Ripple (and Lumens!) designed their chains/coins specifically for this purpose.

XCurrent

The product I hate to love. This is Ripple’s solution for bank cross-border transactions. Their system not only uses blockchain, but also validates the parties in the transaction and the transaction itself BEFORE it even takes place, so there is no wait time in between.

One bank wants to send money to another bank, with a “correspondent bank” (wire facilitator) in the middle. There is a message sent from the sending bank that will outline their intended transaction. Ripple will decode the message, and put it into ledger format for all 3 banks to read, compliance screen, and validate instantly (Inter-ledger Protocol). Sender, receiver, account information, and transaction details are all used to determine the fee that each bank will tack on for their services to determine total cost to sender for approval.

The next step is cryptographic hold of funds. This puts a hold on the transaction at all 3 banks, so that they can generate a cryptographic signature that will serve as evidence that funds are available and have been pledged for dispensing. In other words, the banks send each other “I’m ready” signals. Once all parties have provided their cryptographic signatures, Ripple automatically releases the transaction, which is sent and settled within seconds.

Communication and uniformity are the solutions that Ripple brings with this system. No longer should banks have inboxes and outboxes. Blockchain ledgers automatically validate participants in the transaction, and the blockchain itself can serve as the highway to transfer the funds instantly. Overall, this is expected to yield a 30% decrease in transaction costs for customers, while also providing instant settlement. No brainer.

Raiden, why do you love to hate it? This is the main side chain product culprit. You don’t need to use XRP in these scenarios, and banks aren’t. Sure, there is some trial periods, but I haven’t heard a major bank using XCurrent with XRP. This is when I wish I was a shareholder, not a coin holder. The best we can hope for is that XRP will become a base currency for banks once society has warmed up to the thought of virtual shells that encapsulate and mimic the value of fiat currency. Until then, I am not happy when I hear the word XCurrent.

XRapid

Our future hero. This is XCurrent, but with XRP being added in. Cross-Border/Currency payments are completely inefficient. In order for me to send dollars and someone to receive Rupees, Currency (USD) must be sent to a correspondent bank, and exchanged in a “Nostro-Account”, which serves as a liquidity pool of the foreign currency (INR). Then it has to be sent to the receiving bank in the foreign currency, going through the wire system. Long, expensive, and complicated. It is so troublesome, that most banks and remittance companies need to set minimums on transactions because it is so economically inefficient for smaller users.

Nostro-Accounts, what Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse calls “Dormant Cash” are just pools of sitting money that have to remain there in order to convert all of these cross-currency transaction requests. XRP can serve as the unified currency for all banks to transact with, and exchange into their intended currency. Ripple takes a multi-step/multi-party process, and eliminates almost of all it.

The U.S. dollar can eventually take the form of XRP, be sent anywhere in the world, and XRP will then take form of the intended foreign currency, and settle itself within the intended bank account. As coin holders, this is what everyone should be dreaming of prior to the Beta version launch in the Spring of 2018.

During my research, Ripple’s 2016 White Paper was the only source I could find to properly explain this system, and even my explanation may be lacking. This system is expected to free up massive amounts of Emerging Market liquidity through the lessening use of the “nostro-account” system, while also cutting transaction costs by up to 60%. I am trying to get my hands on more XRapid material, but this is very very new. I am going to keep you all posted on developments, as I have set up an RSS feed to give me anything related to XRapid as it comes out in the future.

Xvia

This system for is a platform for point of sale payments. There is not one piece of information on XVia. It is actually kind of scary how little information is available on any of these products. Here is my most educated guess based on the limited information. This is Ripple’s version of Coinbase Merchant. It is software that can be imbedded in E-Commerce sites that people can use XRP to pay for goods and services. Based on the level of information, XVia is not going to be used in the near future. If it is, then their customers must have more information on it than the public does.

Conclusion

This research was tougher than I expected. Ripple has provided good information on XCurrent, but the others are severely lacking. There also isn’t much interest in the Youtube community, with rocket ship memes being more important than content. As a coin investor, I am disappointed. Their main product right now is private labeling chains, which does not benefit coin holders. I want more information on XRapid and Xvia. You can go look at my Lumens article. There is enough information from Jed, IBM, and followers to fill a textbook. If Ripple wants to have products listed on their site, there better be some information for me to look at. We may not be owners, but we are investors. I think it’s time for them to start treating us that way.

 

None of what I am saying is an offering to buy or sell coins. Full disclosure, this author owns XRP. You certainly wouldn’t think it based on this article! I wish you the best of luck on the exchange. Please do follow me @raijincrypto on Twitter. I try to send out thoughts throughout the week.

 

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 17 rated postsMythological God of Lightning. Cryptocurrency/Blockchain writer, evangelist, and friend. May the odds be ever in our favor.




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Op-Ed

Blockzero Jed McCaleb Interview: My Outlook on XLM

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In terms of price trends, we recently saw a bit of a dip, with Ethereum and bitcoin losing about 10% no reason. I am staying away from this market until it starts to act according to good news and bad news. All of this bouncing around for no reason just smells like market manipulation and/or stupidity. Two things I don’t trade into.

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As I have looked through the content YouTube “stars” and some of the more well-known cryptocurrency enthusiasts are putting out, I am noticing one shocking thing. They come up with new coins daily to invest in. They just poof one out of thin air, they say how great the idea (not the business) is, and that it could change stuff. Wow. Well, I pride my reputation on being a broken record. I only like 4-5 coins, and I only talk about those coins. I don’t invest in anything else, nor do I want to talk about anything else. Stellar Lumens is one of those coins, and a great interview just came out with CEO Jed McCaleb. Although I have followed what Jed has said throughout Stellar’s business cycle since 2014, hearing him talk about the market right now (as of Feb. 8) was something I sorely needed as an investor when XLM is trading at a mere $0.38.

Most of these coin projects have founders who shouldn’t be anywhere near a microphone, as their explanations of their businesses is actually detrimental to marketing, not helpful. Digging into deep technical jargon on a public forum when you are supposed to be marketing your coin is not helping anyone. There are so few people who understand blockchain that companies are paying high s9x figure salaries for amateurs. Marketing should be an explanation on who’s buying, why, and how much. Jed did exactly that in his interview. He talks faster than a New York City stock broker on speed, but wants to provide only information that will give investors better insight into the XLM business; not the deep tech of the coin. I will touch on some of the key points that I loved: update on corporate relationships, innovations for public use, and ICO platform.

Corporate Relationships

CEOs are not often people who talk candidly. They are the head salespeople of the firm, and everything has to be perfect at the company. Jed is taking a humble blockchain approach. He wants to make sure that the record is straight about what partners are doing at Stellar, and how it will help/affect XLM specifically. Case in point: he said explicitly that bank relationships are far off for Stellar, and the market as a whole. He admitted the banks he works with are very early on in the sales cycle, and that 1,000+ year incumbents aren’t too used to working with new entrants. The trial runs and beta versions are all common practices in every industry. They don’t mean adoption. This was a surprise to me. I was under the assumption that these banks had a fire lit under them to catch up to blockchain. It seems they aren’t in a hurry, or just making it seem that way.

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This is where it gets good. Jed has since re-shifted focus to companies that he knows will be immediate adopters, just because of how easily it can fit into their structure. Remittance companies (Western Union, Moneygram, etc.) are the low hanging fruit in his mind. These are high volume transfers of cash, with high fees to come with it. The biggest demographic of remittances are obviously foreign workers, who also happen to be the last people who can afford to spend 5-10% of their capital on transfer fees. With an industry size of $500 billion in 2016, remittances can feed quite a few companies that have friendly corporate technology.

XLM is a shell. It can take form of fiat currency, transfer anywhere in the world, and settle in a bank account in any currency. There are 300 coins that claim they can be the new PayPal, and most them are still spouting off about decentralization. This is a company that wants control mechanisms so it can give tangible control to their corporate customers.

The way he spoke about his corporate partnerships is translucent. He doesn’t tweet (says he only watches, not talks) out random fodder that happens each day. He wants to be the business person that people can depend on. People will go back and read through the information that all of these coins put out during late 2017/early 2018. I think his spot in the annals of the crypto boom will prove to be very noble. I am happy with remittances, and I am happy he was open that banks just aren’t there yet. I haven’t heard anyone else admit it, have you?

Public Use

I was unaware of the infrastructural scope that Stellar has built since 2014. Jed created a conglomerate, not a business. He has a platform for the public to launch DAPPs/smart contracts, token offerings, and an exchange soon capable of atomic swaps (no base currency; you can trade LTC for KMD). His main goal is to create an exchange capable of housing the U.S. cryptocurrency market, while also having ICOs launching on it in tandem. The recent $30 million ICO of Mobius (I don’t invest in any ICOs) had all the looks and smells of a compliant offering. If the exchanges play well with the government, we can see some very big moves.

The next public project was partnered out. Because remittances are so large, the big companies are just necessary evils in the early adoption phase. He is working with a confidential company on creating a global Venmo-type network that can work directly with any kind of bank account. You can send USD from an American bank account, and it will deposit in yen in a Japanese bank account. All on the app in 3-5 seconds. XLM was designed specifically for this purpose, and its use cases are beginning to take up speed. XLM is the sought after technology, not private chaining. I am very excited to see what he comes up with here because this fiat currency settlement mechanism is almost monopolistic right now.

ICOs

Staying far away from ICOs right now, even Stellar’s. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t find the winning race horse before the race. Stellar’s platform works with fiat currency, and it can launch ICOs. Need I say more? I have harped on this fact many times, but this is just too good not to repeat. If central banks, corporations, institutions, and high net-worth individuals feel comfortable enough with Stellar’s way of handling their native paper currencies, we could see Regulation D token securities being offered on Stellar. Big American business is waiting for the rulebook to be written, and then they will pounce. Stellar is already working with banks in the South Pacific with America’s tech darling IBM: we are seeing the heir being groomed in my opinion. All of the information listed is leading to me to a rather large conclusion.

Conclusion

My conclusion is getting fast out of XRP, and putting it all into XLM. XRapid, Xcurrent, X-me out of this XRP business. Ripple is creating blockchain systems, and has gotten the taste of private chain revenue. Their coin does not need to be used, and each company they work with has specific press releases saying they aren’t using XRP.  On the contrary, we have the head of blockchain for IBM saying they love XLM, and are actively working together to introduce it to banks. XLM, not just Stellar. That is crucial for coin holders. I am not running over to the computer to sell right now, but I will get up to my basis, and exit. I will most likely keep some for a Coinbase push, but XLM needs more of Raiden’s money. Jed McCaleb has created 3 gigantic blockchain companies (Mt. Gox, Ripple, Stellar), and smart money doesn’t bet against him. I sure won’t be.

 

This is not a recommendation to buy cryptocurrencies. I am not buying or selling anything right now, and I suggested you don’t either. If you do, be aware of the risks. I wish you the best of luck.

Disclaimer: The author has an investment stake in XRP.

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 17 rated postsMythological God of Lightning. Cryptocurrency/Blockchain writer, evangelist, and friend. May the odds be ever in our favor.




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Op-Ed

Who Killed The ICO?

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For all the hype and chatter we listened to going back to last year, initial coin offerings have suddenly gone dead.  The entire month of January 2018 raised only $52 million according to ICOWatchlist.com.  In the halcyon days this was the rate of  inflow every three days (it’s important to note that crowdfunding amounts vary, but there seems to be a general downtrend in the market from the data we were able to collect). What happened and what does it mean?  First, let’s take a look at some numbers that may bore you but help illustrate the point.

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Last year produced just under $4 billion in fresh capital to fund startups. According to ICOWatchList, $1.8 billion was raised in the five months ending in October.  About 78% of the ICOs used the Ethereum platform.  This explosion helps us understand some of the energy that pushed Ethereum into the forefront of the cryptocurrency sweepstakes.  Between Halloween and mid January the price of Ether quadrupled in value hitting $1338 (Coinbase).

Investors suddenly viewed Ethereum as the poster child for ICOs.  Obviously the open source nature of its blockchain platform along with its smart contracts feature offered a natural fit for startups looking to raise capital.

The reality, of course, is the use cases for Ethereum go vastly beyond facilitating ICOs but for an investing public getting started on crypto investing, it didn’t matter.  When outsized returns are being achieved, who needs to understand the details.

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ICOs Get a Bad Rap

In recent weeks a lot of bad press has been earned by certain bad actors in the ICO space.  Much has been written about the cryptocurrency startup Confido. Someone posing by the name Joost Van Doorn raises and then vanishes with about $375,000 sometime just after November 15th.   Trouble was Joost also deleted the Confido website and his presence on LinkedIn and Facebook.

Subsequently, Mr. Van Doorn resurfaced and is working to make financial amends but the media has yet to say much about this side of the story.

Some analysts of ICOs claim the incident of scamming with ICOs runs a high as 20%.  It is difficult to verify how these numbers are derived.  These and related ICO stories can not be helping instill investor confidence.  

Regulation of ICOs Would Be a Mistake

There is an argument suggesting that in order to improve the ICO marketplace, it should be regulated presumably by some authority such as the US Securities & Exchange Commission for example.

Here is why that won’t work.  The presence of ICOs have their origins in crowdfunding, that being the outgrowth of The Jobs Act passed during post financial crisis by the Obama Administration.  The whole purpose was to create pathways for unregulated capital raising by young companies.  To date ICOs have evolved into the most efficient way to accomplish the goals of The Jobs Act.  

One of the most compelling arguments in favor of ICOs is their ability to circumvent the jaws of venture capitalists.  In a typical arrangement for a young company to raise money a VC might demand a 50% equity stake and a lengthy 5-7 year lock up in exchange for providing just the first few million in capital.  By the end of the lock up, the company may have many more millions in capital but the founders are left with just a sliver of equity.

Last year three companies: Tazos, Filecoin and Finney went the ICO route raising a total of nearly $600 million without giving up equity.  This represents democracy in the capital market and that is a good thing.

Misconception About Size of Offerings

One of the biggest misconceptions about ICOs relates to the perception that they are all  tiny little startup companies that have little more than a whitepaper and a wish for fast cash. Reality is there were thousands of ICOs that were attempted last year but few went very far.

ICO Watchlist data covers about half of all capital raised last year: about $2.3 billion. The average ICO raised nearly $40 million and that is required some greater substance that a whitepaper and a wish.  Granted that the data is bias toward larger sized offerings but that does not reduce the importance that ICOs are playing in the capital formation process.   

Institutional Investment Opportunity

Rather than tighter regulation of ICO, there should be tighter research on the buy side.  For the individual investor this could present a problem.  How much research can one person do if 20 or more ICO come to market in a short period like a single month.  This is where Venture Capital and hedge funds with their well staffed analytical departments have the edge: 2018 could be the year it happens.  

Here is the key point for institutions everywhere.  Global stock markets are clearly overvalued based on interest rates.  The shaken US market is confirming this fact.  This raises the question of relative risk.  Is there greater risk in global equity markets than in cryptocurrencies?  The answer appears to be yes and that will increasingly favor cryptocurrencies.  

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 20 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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