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Op-Ed

Regulations and Crypto Havens: China and the Rest of the World

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China is no stranger to censorship and regulation.

Dubbed by most Western spectators as a ‘totalitarian regime’, the country’s government has been highly successful in their efforts to control the internet and digital economies – along with brick and mortar activities. This can be seen, for example, with government imposed obstructions preventing Chinese residents from accessing popular global social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook; replaced by Weibo (which, being based in China, has previously been subject to extreme government intervention).

It should come as no surprise then, that the government has decided to impose a blanket ban on the trading of cryptocurrencies by citizens and businesses within the country. This occurred last September, where government representatives additionally cited a need for the absolute centralization of all blockchain related activities.

When looking at some of the surrounding geographical areas, for example, countries within the South-East Asia region; we can see a great disparity in regulatory positions and implementations.

South Korea has been responsible for long-term FUD on the trading markets due to their inability to come to a consensus on how to regulate the crypto-economy, let alone how they would proceed in enforcing guidelines and legislation. Vietnam has, unsurprisingly, decided to go down the same road as China and has banned all cryptocurrencies as of the time of writing.

This has led many to question the hypothetical yet highly reasonable presumption that there could be a time in the future where heavy regulation and blanket crypto bans are commonplace across the globe. If this were to happen, could cryptocurrencies survive; and if so then what measures would have to be taken to ensure its survival as a legitimate, decentralized economy?

Crypto-flight and Crypto-havens

In China, the result has been a ‘crypto-flight’: where businesses and individuals who are heavily invested in the sector have relocated their businesses to Hong Kong avoid breaking the law. Examples of operational Hong Kong based crypto-companies include: OKEx, BTCC and Huobi-Pro.

Hong Kong is classed as a ‘Special Administrative Region’ which sits within the borders of the People’s Republic of China. This means that the area and its citizens enjoy special privileges such as political and economic autonomy.

One of the ways the region’s lawmakers have decided to use this power is to allow for decentralized cryptocurrency business, investment, and trading; whilst simultaneously seeking to regulate fraudulent blockchain activity / enterprise.

If there were to be a situation somehow (and it’s highly unlikely) where Hong Kong were to decide to implement similar rules to their mainland brothers, then the result would most likely be further flight away from the country by cryptos.

Singapore would be a likely candidate due to their liberal approach to cryptocurrencies, in addition to the geographical proximity to China / Hong Kong.

Furthermore, if this were to continue to spread across Asia or the West; then we would be likely to see a consolidation of the population of investors and crypto countries to a smaller number of countries which would subsequently be ‘Crypto Havens’. This could resemble the impact that extensive taxation on creating what are currently known as ‘tax havens’.

Will China Change its Tone?

No matter how frustrated the mainland Chinese Government might get from missing out on this huge economy, there is little they can do politically to pressure the Hong Kong government into implementing similar rules.

The area is simply one of the highest grossing financial areas in the entire country, and as such acts as a central trade hub for the nation. If its sovereignty were to be threatened, then many of the businesses and individuals who are contributing to this wealth are likely to leave themselves (crypto or otherwise).

Conversely, it is much more likely that China will eventually decide to repeal their overarching bans over time. Despite banning the tech, it is highly likely that the government is not ignorant to the added value it could bring to their country’s economy.

Once cryptocurrencies are better understood by governments and established general tech experts in general; don’t be surprised if you see them slowly retreat these laws in favor of regulations and taxes informed by a matured expertise.

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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Op-Ed

Disrupting the Cloud: ANKR Network

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Since the creation of bitcoin and the introduction of the “Proof of Work” (POW) algorithm, many have been concerned about the vast use of computing power and energy and their negative side effects. Currently, cloud computing is projected to be a trillion dollar market, yet it is monopolized by some of the largest tech conglomerates in the world. Only giants in the likes of Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud can afford the high human capital cost and upfront server costs to run a successful cloud operation that spans the globe. However, the aforementioned companies tend to charge the customer with a higher margin of cost.

New developments in blockchain technology aim to resolve these issues by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of cloud computing. Being an innovative solution to this computing and consumer problem, Ankr Network brings the benefits of decentralization to cloud computing and balances value between buyers and sellers via crypto economics, Oracle service and distributed computing.

Ankr Network

Ankr Network is an innovative platform, which aims to create a resource-efficient blockchain architecture for a distributed cloud computing system and an easy-to-use infrastructure for the building of business applications. Ankr is the first cloud computing solution to leverage both blockchain and trusted hardware of Intel SGXs. The SGX hardware will allow developers of applications to protect data from unauthorized access and modification and preserve the confidentiality and integrity of information.

Technical solutions include:

  • Consensus Algorithm Proof of Useful Work (PoUW)
  • Platform for distributed cloud computing (DCC)
  • Oracle integrated service
  • Structural support for sidechains

The consensus looks like this:

Anrk upgrades mining with its consensus “Proof of Useful Work” (PoUW), which provides a sustainable block structure. Specifically, PoUW directs power and computing capacity which was used on hashes in POW algorithms such as bitcoin for processing tasks provided by businesses and consumers on the blockchain. Therefore, one can say Ankr upgrades mining to a higher level, allowing equipment holders to receive a financial incentive for block creation and real-world tasks processing.

To explain this better, consider the following: the golden standard algorithm is one where the nodes on the blockchain require:

1) That tasks performed to solve problems is actually quantifiable work;

2) That the processing of these tasks provides some form of value to any party on the network

The Ankr Network appears capable of achieving this gold standard. Alternatively, existing POW in networks such as bitcoin and Ethereum only achieve the first point – nodes use computing power and energy to prove that work was done (but such amount of work is wasted without any utility).

Ankr solves this key technical limitation in bitcoin and Ethereum by including a second point in its consensus algorithm, thus making all the work done by nodes directed on the processing of tasks that could bring added value utility to the network participants.

Ethereum processes all smart contracts on one chain in a serial sequence, which bottlenecks throughput and dramatically reduces the usability, especially when there are large contracts with complicated data on the chain. Plasma is a protocol to solve the scalability issue by building a tree structure of blockchains, where various application chains (Child or Plasma Chains) are connected to a single root chain (Main Chain). Plasma chains can allow applications to handle their specific smart contracts transactions on side chains, thus balancing potential overload of the network.

The efficiency of the main chain can be significantly improved by offloading a number of transactions from the main chain to Plasma chains, especially if proper incentives are given to Plasma operators. Currently, Oracle solutions exist separately from the blockchain framework and are limited in compatibility. Ankr proposes a user-friendly universal AP (application programming interface) I for each child chain to connect to off-chain entities. Existing business can build decentralized autonomous applications on the child chain with powerful computing power and native data feed service provided by the main chain.

 

The Native Oracle (NOS) service provides an authenticated data feed by using both cryptographic primitives and a trusted execution environment (TEE). Thanks to a standardized API for transferring data from existing data sources like websites, NOS allows customers to simplify business in the real world. Basically, this means that blockchain can allow integrating smart contract execution with data sources through a protected gateway.

Intel SGX

Intel SGX (Software Guard Extensions) is a new set of instructions that permits execution of an application inside a hardware enclave, which protects the application’s integrity and confidentiality against certain forms of hardware and software attacks, including hostile operating systems. This lowers entry barriers for miners and provides security and privacy.

Distributed Cloud Computing (DCC) Platform

As internet technology advances, massive amounts of data including text, audio, video, etc. have been created. However, most of this data is neither organized nor relevant to each other. Processing the data in a serial sequence (traditional blockchain) becomes less and less resource efficient and can’t be tolerated by the rapid velocity of business development.

Ankr overcomes these shortcomings through its DDC platform, which enables P2P transactions. Miners will provide their computing power to support the blockchain, as well as sending surplus power for cloud computing calculations.

A P2P network allows application owners and individual users (i.e., requesters) to rent computing power from other users (suppliers). Currently, the cloud computing resources in popular blockchain networks such as bitcoin or Ethereum are exclusively controlled by the centralized cloud service providers and are subject to rigid operation models. A decentralized cloud computing platform can incorporate a blockchain-based payment system, which can allow for direct payment among operators (requesters), sellers (suppliers) and software developers.

Now, we will cover what other projects in this field are doing in comparison to Ankr as a reference project.

Golem

Users of Golem are only incentivized for cloud computing and Golem is using third party computing containers like Docker.

SONM

This project is very similar to Golem, but with a different application field. Golem is focused on rendering, but SONM is focused on the adoption of existing architectures (currently server hosting).

IExec

This project is also similar to Golem and SONM, but its application focus is decentralized cloud computing in specific research applications.

In comparison with the projects above, users of Ankr have different incentives that come from mining, transaction (or smart contract) and cloud computing. Also, Ankr does not use third party platforms for computational power; instead, it uses the computing power of miners.

In my opinion, an additional limitation of Golem, SONM, and IExec is that they have based their development on traditional computing architectures, which are used in data centers, thus limiting their potential computing power and scope of tasks. The reason lies in the fact that data center architecture is working on one technical parameter, which is not optimal for distributed computing where the topology of each device changes frequently and will result in a costly overhead in data transfer and decrease the stability of the network. Ankr technology allows bypassing such limitations, which results in a wider applicability and scope of their network.

Overall, if the Ankr network team can create a network that uses PoUW to reach consensus by applying all the computational energy to useful use and not wasting it, then cloud computing services as Amazon Web, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure are likely to face serious competition soon.

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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4.9 stars on average, based on 8 rated postsVladislav Semjonov has a legal and financial background. He has been involved in crypto space since early 2017 in both ICO advising positions in several ICO consultancy firms, and as an ICO analyst for VC. He began contributing for Hacked.com in April 2017.




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Op-Ed

Our Review of the MJAC CryptoCompare Summit in London, UK (13 June 2018)

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Disclaimer: This was my first attendance at such an event since beginning my career as a professional and independent cryptocurrency and /or blockchain journalist.

 I am not affiliated with the event organisers nor do I know them personally, and the same goes for all organisations in attendance as of the time of writing.

[official photographs here]

Earlier this month, I attended the ‘MJAC CryptoCompare Blockchain Summit’ and concluded that the best approach would be to cover the event in a candid matter.

There weren’t any scandals or controversies to speak of. What we mean by this is that this piece intends to cover the greatest pros and cons of the event, in hindsight (which was organised and executed by CryptoCompare in collaboration with MJAC).

First off, MJAC (AKA InvestorsHub) is an organisation that you aren’t likely to have heard of. They are the events and conferences arm of ADVFN, a prominent financial services organisation. Many of the same people responsible for the successful ‘Marijuana Annual Conference’ were also behind the conference in question, hence the acronym ‘MJAC’.

Many of you should be fully aware of CryptoCompare. They are arguably one of the most utilised data resources for up-to-date and historical data on market trends, respective per-coin values, and overall trade volume.

Location and Venue

The days proceedings took place at a venue called ‘Old Billingsgate’.

It’s a listed building which features a combination of historical architecture with modern internal fittings and is located close to Monument tube station. Its name derives from the nearby historic Old Billingsgate Market area.

The choice of venue couldn’t have been much better thanks in part to the location’s iconic and unobstructed view across the Thames River: including the Tower of London in clear sight, plus The Shard being mostly-visible nearby.

Old Billingsgate benefits from being highly accessible to attendees and participants due to its central location, however this is where the positive words I have for the venue start to run dry.

The aesthetic was great, and photographs show a busy yet not overpopulated show floor. The show started with a similar number as represented for most of the day, but later in the day the floor became packed and somewhat claustrophobic.

This atmosphere wasn’t helped by the fact that the space here felt both condensed and underutilised at the same time, with all the stalls leaving small hallways to brush past other visitors.

Conversely, over half of the two stories of open areas in the venue were dedicated to two theatre spaces, one large and one small. These rooms were well arranged and hosted all the one-day summit’s speakers and panelists.

Speeches and Panels

Speakers and individual panel attendees of course were responsible for many of the day’s highlights, as well as the presence of a combination of established and up-and-coming companies/ICOs.

Vitaly Kedyk (Executive Director of CEX.IO) and Claire Wells (Director of Legal & Business Affairs for EMEA at Circle) were two of the events strongest performers, whilst other notable speakers & panellists included representatives from CoinFloor, Ripple, BlockEx, and Coinbase – to name a few.

Unfortunately, not all panellists seemed to be ideal matches for such discussions. A couple that I attended, for example, featured a combination of experts whose interactions were often close to non-existent with each other. What’s more, top participants were easily distinguished by their contribution of valuable insights and answers than their peers in some circumstances.

Organisation and execution of the event overall is something to be lauded. Every speech and panel I saw started and finished with perfect timing, suggesting a great approach to planning. There was also a great atmosphere amongst participants and all I spoke to.

Success or Failure?

The qualification and quantification of any event’s success or failure should arguably be defined in several ways. Cryptocurrency is still growing as an industry (despite what the market tracking values may indicate), which gives us less of a general standard against which to measure them.

One way we can still utilise though, is to measure its performance in hindsight and considering the organisers’ own stated ambitions / agenda.

“The pace of development in the crypto space has rapidly picked up in the past year and it Is now more important than ever to gather the top thought leaders to showcase progress and discuss challenges. MJAC will give customers, investors, and regulators a chance to glimpse into the future direction of this exciting new industry.”Charles Hayter, CryptoCompare.

This quote was taken from the first page of a complimentary guide that was available to all attendees.

It came along with a free book (‘CryptoAssets’ by Chris Burniske and Jack Tatar), which is honestly not bad as a beginners and intermediate level guide aimed primarily at non-technical crypto enthusiasts.

For all intents and purposes, the organisation achieved their stated goal to a degree, however the sequel had better be much more impressive to excuse the lack of experience on British soil (one of the largest crypto economies in Europe, and arguably one of if not the financial capital).

A Relative Conclusion

The second and final way (that we will discuss here) you can measure such an event is through comparison to other events, which are popping up around the world as well as within London alone despite market indicators.

One of these is the similarly titled ‘Blockchain Summit London 2018’. It is set to be a much larger event: boasting approximately 2,500 attendees and over 150 speakers.

It also costs approximately £400 for the two-day event and is set in the well-known Olympia venue in Kensington, West London. Taking place just a couple of weeks after the MJAC CryptoCompare conference.

MJAC CryptoCompare Blockchain Summit was the first event held by these event organisers about cryptocurrency in London. On that end: it is not entirely fair to consider it an equal comparison with this rival, especially when tickets were the relatively low price of £100.

Despite this I can’t help but admit that I was perhaps expecting more from this ‘summit’, if not a little too much.

7/10

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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Market Overview

Comparing Nasdaq and Bitcoin: What Lessons Can We Learn?

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Bubbles

Over the past few months, lots of people have talked about the similarities between the .com bubble in the early 2000s and the bitcoin market today. It seems that the further down the bitcoin market goes; the more people are using this analogue to help them stay in the game for the long-run.

One of the influential people in the crypto space who often refers to this comparison is Teeka Tiwari at Palm Beach Research Group. While he usually compares the Nasdaq during the late 1990s with the total cryptocurrency market cap, we are here going to compare the Nasdaq during that same period with the market for bitcoin specifically.

Nasdaq vs Bitcoin

In the image above, the top chart is a weekly chart of bitcoin, while the bottom chart is a monthly chart of the Nasdaq 100 Index from 1989 to 2004.

As we all know, the crypto market tends to behave like the stock market on steroids. Moves are larger, and trends change faster in crypto compared to in stocks. It therefore makes more sense to compare these two charts using different timeframes, which is why I have chosen the monthly chart for Nasdaq while bitcoin is represented with a weekly chart.

There are a few interesting things to take note of regarding this comparison:

The Nasdaq found support following the crash in 2000 and 2001, and has later gained more than 600%. The Nasdaq has, in other words, returned more than three times as much for investors than the broader S&P500 index has done.

One explanation for why all financial bubbles have so much in common is that the one thing that causes them – human fear and greed – never changes.

What was different during the dot-com bubble back in the early 2000s was that communication was slow and ineffective compared to the high-speed Internet connections we have today on our phones and laptops. This is one of the reasons why it took the Nasdaq a few years to rise 1,700%, while bitcoin managed to achieve the same return in just a few months.

Similarly, it took the Nasdaq 30 months to fall 78%, while bitcoin lost 70% in just one and a half month.

Another thing both markets have had in common is that when they were down 70% from the top, many people completely lost faith in the future of these markets.

It has been pointed out by observers that even the arguments these people used against investing in the said markets were largely the same: No underlying value, too much volatility, too much regulations/lack of regulations/bad regulations, lack of social responsibility from the market actors, etc.

In hindsight, it has become clear that only the investors who had the mental clarity to ignore all this noise during the early 2000s were able to catch the 600% move that followed in the Nasdaq.

Diversification saved investors

When we are talking about ignoring noise and riding out the storm, let’s not forget that many of the companies that made up the Nasdaq in the early 2000s did eventually go out of business. Betting everything on a single company, in many cases, ended up being a catastrophe for the investor, despite the fact that the sector as a whole did incredibly well. This really made the benefit of diversification clear to everyone.

We can assume that the same is true for the cryptocurrencies of today. Some will emerge and become hugely successful, while others will slowly but steadily decrease in value and become irrelevant. Which ones they are is extremely difficult to tell at this early stage, but the lesson to be learned is clear: Diversification may be the only free lunch we will ever get in the world.

Featured image from Pixabay.

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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