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Jamie Dimon Doesn’t Want to Talk About Bitcoin Anymore

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Jamie Dimon doesn’t have anything to say about bitcoin anymore. The head of J.P. Morgan Chase & Co has been heckled by the blockchain community since he declared cryptocurrency to be a “fraud,” and that he would fire any employee trading it for being “stupid.”

Bitcoin’s New Record

Dimon also doesn’t think much of bitcoin’s new record high. The virtual currency spiked more than 8% on Thursday to surpass $5,200.00 for the first time.

“I wouldn’t put this high in the category of important things in the world, but I’m not going to talk about bitcoin anymore,” Dimon said Thursday, as noted by Bloomberg.

J.P. Morgan has taken a less adversarial approach to cryptocurrency. In addition to handling bitcoin-related trades – something that came to light after Dimon’s warning – the financial giant is keeping its options open. J.P. remains “very open minded” to possible uses of cryptocurrencies “if they are properly controlled and regulated,” according to Chief Financial Officer Marine Lake.

Mainstream Appeal Growing

The growth and widespread adoption of cryptocurrency hasn’t been lost on the financial community. Earlier this month, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein tweeted that his firm is weighing the possibility of trading cryptocurrency.

Fidelity Investments is also mining cryptocurrency, and making a lot of money doing it. Fidelity says its chief motivation for mining isn’t profit, but learning about the growing cryptocurrency market.

Increased mainstream adoption of bitcoin is seen by many as a necessary precursor to a more stable currency. Countries like Japan are spearheading adoption by introducing favorable regulation of the cryptocurrency space. But regulatory approval has not been uniform.

Russia recently became the third major economy in the span of a month to put the clampdown on cryptocurrency trading. China and South Korea have also implemented new controls on the market, focusing heavily on initial coin offerings.

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 498 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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IBM Goes All In On Stablecoin Project as Mainstream Crypto Adoption Grows

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Dow blue-chip IBM (IBM) has teamed up with a financial technology startup to launch a new stablecoin that will be pegged to the U.S. dollar. The announcement is the latest in a series of positive developments linking mainstream business to the bustling world of cryptocurrency.

IBM Backs Stablecoin

IBM and fin-tech startup Stronghold are developing a new stablecoin by the name of “Stronghold USD,” which is backed by Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC)-insured U.S. dollars. Reserves will be held in Prime Trust, a blockchain-focused asset manager.

By experimenting with virtual dollars, IBM is looking to develop new ways of helping financial institutions process payments more quickly and securely. The company is leveraging its existing relationship with Stellar to launch the new stablecoin. This means Stronghold USD will be backed by the Stellar blockchain.

This isn’t the first time IBM has tapped the Stellar protocol to experiment with cryptocurrency. Earlier this year, the technology giant joined hands with environmental startup Veridium to transform carbon credits into digital tokens. As Hacked reported in May, the carbon credits will be used by businesses to offset environmental damage.

IBM’s original partnership with Stellar involved work on a global payment network powered by blockchain solutions. Through Stellar’s digital ledger, IBM is seeking to develop 12 currency corridors in the South Pacific.

Stablecoins: Opportunity and Controversy

In principle, a stablecoin removes much of the volatility from digital currency trading by ensuring that each token is tied to a government-backed currency. Conceivably, each Stronghold USD token will be pegged to the U.S. dollar.

The problem with stablecoins is confirming whether the token is actually backed by an equal quantity of government-backed currency. Much of the controversy surrounding stablecoins emanates from Tether, a highly controversial project that has repeatedly failed to provide evidence of its U.S. dollar reserves.

Tether has also been accused of inflating the price of bitcoin by flooding the market with USDT tokens. Tether is run by the same CEO as Bitfinex, a leading digital currency exchange, prompting an investigation of both companies by U.S. federal regulators. This culminated in a subpoena by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) on Dec. 6.

Nevertheless, stablecoins have surged in popularity as investors search for a reliable funding mechanism to enter trades. Tether’s USDT token accounts for nearly one-fifth of total cryptocurrency trades, according to data provider CoinMarketCap.

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 498 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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EOS Developer Secures New Funding from Bitmain, PayPal Co-Founder in Major Investment Deals

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Despite its recent struggles, the development firm behind EOS has received new backing from several big-name investors, including Bitman and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. The deals solidify EOS’ emergence as a major player in the booming market for decentralized applications.

EOS Backing

Bitmain, the world’s largest blockchain company, announced its investment stake in EOS on Monday after CEO Jihan Wu praised the protocol’s performance and scalability potential.

“The EOSIO protocol is a great example of blockchain innovation. Its performance and scalability can meet the needs of demanding consumer applications and will pave the way for mainstream blockchain adoption,” Wu said.

While the specifics of the deal were not disclosed, Bitmain’s involvement is said to align with Block.one’s vision of creating a more “connected world,” according to CEO Brendan Blumer.

Bitmain has quickly evolved into an international conglomerate with a number of key investments in recent months. The company, which was originally a bitcoin mining manufacturer, announced in May it had led a $110 million Series E round for Circle, a cryptocurrency exchange and wallet platform that is also backed by Goldman Sachs.

Earlier this month, Bitmain announced plans to purchase a roughly 43% stake in Opera Ltd., a Norwegian internet browser that has filed for an initial public offering with Nasdaq.

As Hacked reported earlier this month, Bitmain has emerged as the world’s largest blockchain company with a total value of about $12 billion.

EOS in the Spotlight

In addition to Bitmain, the development arm behind EOS has announced that Peter Thiel and hedge fund billionaires Louis Bacon and Alan Howard have also invested in the company. While their monetary contributions have not been publicized, their backing is considered a silver lining for EOS, which has struggled in the wake of a botched mainnet launch that has revealed more weakness than strength.

False starts, account suspensions and, more recently, RAM hoarding have all tainted EOS’ mainnet campaign. The project’s arbitration mechanism has also come under attack, which has compelled founder Dan Larimer to propose a new constitution entirely.

“I am merely saying that the current constitution is not wise,” Larimer said last month. “I have learned a lot about human nature by watching the disputes, the witch hunts, the ‘bring everything before ECAF’ mindset.”

Since peaking in late April, EOS has lost more than two-thirds of its value. The cryptocurrency is back below $8.00 a unit on Tuesday after reaching a high of $8.11 earlier in the week.

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 498 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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What is UTRUST?

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There are now so many alt-coins out there that it’s almost impossible to keep track of which projects are legitimate and which are garbage.

This article is the third entry in a series I will write for Hacked which will give summaries and context around a specific crypto project.

The topic of today’s summary is Utrust.

So what is Utrust?

Utrust is basically trying to be the Paypal of the post-blockchain world.

They see two problems with the status quo of escrow solutions.

We can break these into two separate categories.

1. Centralized escrow solutions (Paypal, Venmo etc.)
2. Decentralized escrow solutions (Smart contracts, etc.)

The decentralized and somewhat nature of cryptocurrencies makes them a prime target for scammers who often can simply take funds and then disappear without delivering the promised good or service. More elaborate schemes like the so-called “Man-in-the-Middle” attack one are also a concern.

Another major security risk can also occur when a supposedly trustworthy third-party arbiter simply steals the funds they are ostensibly safeguarding and disappears. Many fake ICO’s did this exact thing. This fraudulent behavior is commonly referred to as an “exit scam.”

While there are escrow services one can use, these are often unreliable and expensive, complicating what should otherwise be a simple transaction process.

The lack of reliable and streamlined solutions to this problem has become a huge issue for the overall mass adoption of cryptocurrency to overcome. If this is then combined with the fact that cryptocurrencies already have a low entry barrier (where anyone can buy small or large amounts), then the overall crypto market transforms into a highly speculative space, with more investors than actual users of the platforms that tokens are supposed to be used on.

Utrust attempts to solve this by leveraging key points from traditional payment processors as well as the advances of blockchain technology.

Utrust works by allowing the user to purchase goods or services with their cryptocurrency or token of choice. The merchant on the other hand automatically receives their payment in fiat currency.

This, in theory, creates an ecosystem where users are not forced to exchange their coins and sellers are not forced to deal with the inherent volatility of cryptocurrency.

Essentially, Utrust is trying to force adoption of cryptocurrency as quickly as possible. Besides the simple interoperability of cryptocurrencies and their consumer-protection system, Utrust also differentiates itself by offering a competitive fee model.

In this model, a 1% fee is charged on purchases, which outcompetes PayPal’s 2.9% + $0.30 USD flat fee. This also has the benefit of allowing smaller transactions to take place in the platform.

One particular focus of Utrust that distinguishes them from their competitors is its consumer protection program.

Utrust employs a (controversially) centralized escrow system to ensure that the funds are kept safe until the buyer receives his/her product or service. Once the transaction is complete, the funds will be sent.

In the event of a dispute, the Utrust dispute resolution team mediates between the two parties to solve the dispute. This automated system allows users to enjoy the benefits of crypto without worrying about additional escrows or multi-sigs.

While this is arguably far more convenient for both buyers and sellers then escrow solutions with more steps to traverse, it should be noted that the very parts of security that are “annoying” are what make it secure in the first place.

The Utrust platform also features its own ERC20 token. It is reasonable to question why this platform needs a token at all, given that the model above even seems complete without it. This is a good question to ask, but Utrust thankfully provides a reasonable answer.

According to the official whitepaper:

“We decided to go a step beyond, and wanted to offer the chance for anyone in the world to become a backer, leveraging the power of an Initial Coin Offering (ICO)….In essence, the UTRUST token will act as an investment stake from our backers, as a transactional token, that buyers can use in the UTRUST Platform itself alongside other major coins, and as a financial mechanism linking the Utrust token value to the Utrust Platform value – our strategic value-coupling mechanism.”

According to the project, the advantages of holding the UTK token are simple:

1. No fees charged when using the UTK token.
2. Part of the profits generated by the 1% fee will be used to buy-back and burn the UTK token, reducing its total supply over time. With a finite and ever-shrinking supply, the token should appreciate in value if the platform is successful.
3. The token can be bought/sold from many exchanges at its market price.

To summarize, In the view of this analyst, Utrust solves the issue of convenience when it comes to the everyday use of cryptocurrency. That is a major accomplishment and should be lauded. But this convenience comes at a price.

I have yet to see a method of security that is both the safest and the most convenient. Until one arrives, Utrust seems to offer a viable solution for the present and the future.

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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