How to Buy Bitcoin Stock - Smart Bitcoin Investments

ETHE & GBTC (Grayscale) Frequently Asked Questions

It is no doubt Grayscale’s booming popularity as a mainstream investment has caused a lot of community hullabaloo lately. As such, I felt it was worth making a FAQ regarding the topic. I’m looking to update this as needed and of course am open to suggestions / adding any questions.
The goal is simply to have a thread we can link to anyone with questions on Grayscale and its products. Instead of explaining the same thing 3 times a day, shoot those posters over to this thread. My hope is that these questions are answered in a fairly simple and easy to understand manner. I think as the sub grows it will be a nice reference point for newcomers.
Disclaimer: I do NOT work for Grayscale and as such am basing all these answers on information that can be found on their website / reports. (Grayscale’s official FAQ can be found here). I also do NOT have a finance degree, I do NOT have a Series 6 / 7 / 140-whatever, and I do NOT work with investment products for my day job. I have an accounting background and work within the finance world so I have the general ‘business’ knowledge to put it all together, but this is all info determined in my best faith effort as a layman. The point being is this --- it is possible I may explain something wrong or missed the technical terms, and if that occurs I am more than happy to update anything that can be proven incorrect
Everything below will be in reference to ETHE but will apply to GBTC as well. If those two segregate in any way, I will note that accordingly.
What is Grayscale? 
Grayscale is the company that created the ETHE product. Their website is https://grayscale.co/
What is ETHE? 
ETHE is essentially a stock that intends to loosely track the price of ETH. It does so by having each ETHE be backed by a specific amount of ETH that is held on chain. Initially, the newly minted ETHE can only be purchased by institutions and accredited investors directly from Grayscale. Once a year has passed (6 months for GBTC) it can then be listed on the OTCQX Best Market exchange for secondary trading. Once listed on OTCQX, anyone investor can purchase at this point. Additional information on ETHE can be found here.
So ETHE is an ETF? 
No. For technical reasons beyond my personal understandings it is not labeled an ETF. I know it all flows back to the “Securities Act Rule 144”, but due to my limited knowledge on SEC regulations I don’t want to misspeak past that. If anyone is more knowledgeable on the subject I am happy to input their answer here.
How long has ETHE existed? 
ETHE was formed 12/14/2017. GBTC was formed 9/25/2013.
How is ETHE created? 
The trust will issue shares to “Authorized Participants” in groups of 100 shares (called baskets). Authorized Participants are the only persons that may place orders to create these baskets and they do it on behalf of the investor.
Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 39 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Note – The way their reports word this makes it sound like there is an army of authorizers doing the dirty work, but in reality there is only one Authorized Participant. At this moment the “Genesis” company is the sole Authorized Participant. Genesis is owned by the “Digital Currency Group, Inc.” which is the parent company of Grayscale as well. (And to really go down the rabbit hole it looks like DCG is the parent company of CoinDesk and is “backing 150+ companies across 30 countries, including Coinbase, Ripple, and Chainalysis.”)
Source: Digital Currency Group, Inc. informational section on page 77 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here
Source: Barry E. Silbert informational section on page 75 of the “Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (BTC) Form 10-K (2019)” – Located Here
How does Grayscale acquire the ETH to collateralize the ETHE product? 
An Investor may acquire ETHE by paying in cash or exchanging ETH already owned.
Source: Creation and Redemption of Shares section on page 40 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Where does Grayscale store their ETH? Does it have a specific wallet address we can follow? 
ETH is stored with Coinbase Custody Trust Company, LLC. I am unaware of any specific address or set of addresses that can be used to verify the ETH is actually there.
As an aside - I would actually love to see if anyone knows more about this as it’s something that’s sort of peaked my interest after being asked about it… I find it doubtful we can find that however.
Source: Part C. Business Information, Item 8, subsection A. on page 16 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Can ETHE be redeemed for ETH? 
No, currently there is no way to give your shares of ETHE back to Grayscale to receive ETH back. The only method of getting back into ETH would be to sell your ETHE to someone else and then use those proceeds to buy ETH yourself.
Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Why are they not redeeming shares? 
I think the report summarizes it best:
Redemptions of Shares are currently not permitted and the Trust is unable to redeem Shares. Subject to receipt of regulatory approval from the SEC and approval by the Sponsor in its sole discretion, the Trust may in the future operate a redemption program. Because the Trust does not believe that the SEC would, at this time, entertain an application for the waiver of rules needed in order to operate an ongoing redemption program, the Trust currently has no intention of seeking regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program.
Source: Redemption Procedures on page 41 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the fee structure? 
ETHE has an annual fee of 2.5%. GBTC has an annual fee of 2.0%. Fees are paid by selling the underlying ETH / BTC collateralizing the asset.
Source: ETHE’s informational page on Grayscale’s website - Located Here
Source: Description of Trust on page 31 & 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
What is the ratio of ETH to ETHE? 
At the time of posting (6/19/2020) each ETHE share is backed by .09391605 ETH. Each share of GBTC is backed by .00096038 BTC.
ETHE & GBTC’s specific information page on Grayscale’s website updates the ratio daily – Located Here
For a full historical look at this ratio, it can be found on the Grayscale home page on the upper right side if you go to Tax Documents > 2019 Tax Documents > Grayscale Ethereum Trust 2019 Tax Letter.
Why is the ratio not 1:1? Why is it always decreasing? 
While I cannot say for certain why the initial distribution was not a 1:1 backing, it is more than likely to keep the price down and allow more investors a chance to purchase ETHE / GBTC.
As noted above, fees are paid by selling off the ETH collateralizing ETHE. So this number will always be trending downward as time goes on.
Source: Description of Trust on page 32 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
I keep hearing about how this is locked supply… explain? 
As noted above, there is currently no redemption program for converting your ETHE back into ETH. This means that once an ETHE is issued, it will remain in circulation until a redemption program is formed --- something that doesn’t seem to be too urgent for the SEC or Grayscale at the moment. Tiny amounts will naturally be removed due to fees, but the bulk of the asset is in there for good.
Knowing that ETHE cannot be taken back and destroyed at this time, the ETH collateralizing it will not be removed from the wallet for the foreseeable future. While it is not fully locked in the sense of say a totally lost key, it is not coming out any time soon.
Per their annual statement:
The Trust’s ETH will be transferred out of the ETH Account only in the following circumstances: (i) transferred to pay the Sponsor’s Fee or any Additional Trust Expenses, (ii) distributed in connection with the redemption of Baskets (subject to the Trust’s obtaining regulatory approval from the SEC to operate an ongoing redemption program and the consent of the Sponsor), (iii) sold on an as-needed basis to pay Additional Trust Expenses or (iv) sold on behalf of the Trust in the event the Trust terminates and liquidates its assets or as otherwise required by law or regulation.
Source: Description of Trust on page 31 of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
Grayscale now owns a huge chunk of both ETH and BTC’s supply… should we be worried about manipulation, a sell off to crash the market crash, a staking cartel? 
First, it’s important to remember Grayscale is a lot more akin to an exchange then say an investment firm. Grayscale is working on behalf of its investors to create this product for investor control. Grayscale doesn’t ‘control’ the ETH it holds any more then Coinbase ‘controls’ the ETH in its hot wallet. (Note: There are likely some varying levels of control, but specific to this topic Grayscale cannot simply sell [legally, at least] the ETH by their own decision in the same manner Coinbase wouldn't be able to either.)
That said, there shouldn’t be any worry in the short to medium time-frame. As noted above, Grayscale can’t really remove ETH other than for fees or termination of the product. At 2.5% a year, fees are noise in terms of volume. Grayscale seems to be the fastest growing product in the crypto space at the moment and termination of the product seems unlikely.
IF redemptions were to happen tomorrow, it’s extremely unlikely we would see a mass exodus out of the product to redeem for ETH. And even if there was incentive to get back to ETH, the premium makes it so that it would be much more cost effective to just sell your ETHE on the secondary market and buy ETH yourself. Remember, any redemption is up to the investors and NOT something Grayscale has direct control over.
Yes, but what about [insert criminal act here]… 
Alright, yes. Technically nothing is stopping Grayscale from selling all the ETH / BTC and running off to the Bahamas (Hawaii?). BUT there is no real reason for them to do so. Barry is an extremely public figure and it won’t be easy for him to get away with that. Grayscale’s Bitcoin Trust creates SEC reports weekly / bi-weekly and I’m sure given the sentiment towards crypto is being watched carefully. Plus, Grayscale is making tons of consistent revenue and thus has little to no incentive to give that up for a quick buck.
That’s a lot of ‘happy little feels’ Bob, is there even an independent audit or is this Tether 2.0? 
Actually yes, an independent auditor report can be found in their annual reports. It is clearly aimed more towards the financial side and I doubt the auditors are crypto savants, but it is at least one extra set of eyes. Auditors are Friedman LLP – Auditor since 2015.
Source: Independent Auditor Report starting on page 116 (of the PDF itself) of the “Grayscale Ethereum Trust Annual Report (2019)” – Located Here
As mentioned by user TheCrpytosAndBloods (In Comments Below), a fun fact:
The company’s auditors Friedman LLP were also coincidentally TetheBitfinex’s auditors until They controversially parted ways in 2018 when the Tether controversy was at its height. I am not suggesting for one moment that there is anything shady about DCG - I just find it interesting it’s the same auditor.
“Grayscale sounds kind of lame” / “Not your keys not your crypto!” / “Why is anyone buying this, it sounds like a scam?” 
Welp, for starters this honestly is not really a product aimed at the people likely to be reading this post. To each their own, but do remember just because something provides no value to you doesn’t mean it can’t provide value to someone else. That said some of the advertised benefits are as follows:
So for example, I can set up an IRA at a brokerage account that has $0 trading fees. Then I can trade GBTC and ETHE all day without having to worry about tracking my taxes. All with the relative safety something like E-Trade provides over Binance.
As for how it benefits the everyday ETH holder? I think the supply lock is a positive. I also think this product exposes the Ethereum ecosystem to people who otherwise wouldn’t know about it.
Why is there a premium? Why is ETHE’s premium so insanely high compared to GBTC’s premium? 
There are a handful of theories of why a premium exists at all, some even mentioned in the annual report. The short list is as follows:
Why is ETHE’s so much higher the GBTC’s? Again, a few thoughts:

Are there any other differences between ETHE and GBTC? 
I touched on a few of the smaller differences, but one of the more interesting changes is GBTC is now a “SEC reporting company” as of January 2020. Which again goes beyond my scope of knowledge so I won’t comment on it too much… but the net result is GBTC is now putting out weekly / bi-weekly 8-K’s and annual 10-K’s. This means you can track GBTC that much easier at the moment as well as there is an extra layer of validity to the product IMO.
I’m looking for some statistics on ETHE… such as who is buying, how much is bought, etc? 
There is a great Q1 2020 report I recommend you give a read that has a lot of cool graphs and data on the product. It’s a little GBTC centric, but there is some ETHE data as well. It can be found here hidden within the 8-K filings.Q1 2020 is the 4/16/2020 8-K filing.
For those more into a GAAP style report see the 2019 annual 10-K of the same location.
Is Grayscale only just for BTC and ETH? 
No, there are other products as well. In terms of a secondary market product, ETCG is the Ethereum Classic version of ETHE. Fun Fact – ETCG was actually put out to the secondary market first. It also has a 3% fee tied to it where 1% of it goes to some type of ETC development fund.
In terms of institutional and accredited investors, there are a few ‘fan favorites’ such as Bitcoin Cash, Litcoin, Stellar, XRP, and Zcash. Something called Horizion (Backed by ZEN I guess? Idk to be honest what that is…). And a diversified Mutual Fund type fund that has a little bit of all of those. None of these products are available on the secondary market.
Are there alternatives to Grayscale? 
I know they exist, but I don’t follow them. I’ll leave this as a “to be edited” section and will add as others comment on what they know.
Per user Over-analyser (in comments below):
Coinshares (Formerly XBT provider) are the only similar product I know of. BTC, ETH, XRP and LTC as Exchange Traded Notes (ETN).
It looks like they are fully backed with the underlying crypto (no premium).
https://coinshares.com/etps/xbt-provideinvestor-resources/daily-hedging-position
Denominated in SEK and EUR. Certainly available in some UK pensions (SIPP).
As asked by pegcity - Okay so I was under the impression you can just give them your own ETH and get ETHE, but do you get 11 ETHE per ETH or do you get the market value of ETH in USD worth of ETHE? 
I have always understood that the ETHE issued directly through Grayscale is issued without the premium. As in, if I were to trade 1 ETH for ETHE I would get 11, not say only 2 or 3 because the secondary market premium is so high. And if I were paying cash only I would be paying the price to buy 1 ETH to get my 11 ETHE. Per page 39 of their annual statement, it reads as follows:
The Trust will issue Shares to Authorized Participants from time to time, but only in one or more Baskets (with a Basket being a block of 100 Shares). The Trust will not issue fractions of a Basket. The creation (and, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redemption) of Baskets will be made only in exchange for the delivery to the Trust, or the distribution by the Trust, of the number of whole and fractional ETH represented by each Basket being created (or, should the Trust commence a redemption program, redeemed), which is determined by dividing (x) the number of ETH owned by the Trust at 4:00 p.m., New York time, on the trade date of a creation or redemption order, after deducting the number of ETH representing the U.S. dollar value of accrued but unpaid fees and expenses of the Trust (converted using the ETH Index Price at such time, and carried to the eighth decimal place), by (y) the number of Shares outstanding at such time (with the quotient so obtained calculated to one one-hundred-millionth of one ETH (i.e., carried to the eighth decimal place)), and multiplying such quotient by 100 (the “Basket ETH Amount”). All questions as to the calculation of the Basket ETH Amount will be conclusively determined by the Sponsor and will be final and binding on all persons interested in the Trust. The Basket ETH Amount multiplied by the number of Baskets being created or redeemed is the “Total Basket ETH Amount.” The number of ETH represented by a Share will gradually decrease over time as the Trust’s ETH are used to pay the Trust’s expenses. Each Share represented approximately 0.0950 ETH and 0.0974 ETH as of December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.

submitted by Bob-Rossi to ethfinance [link] [comments]

r/Bitcoin recap - June 2019

Hi Bitcoiners!
I’m back with the 30th monthly Bitcoin news recap.
For those unfamiliar, each day I pick out the most popularelevant/interesting stories in Bitcoin and save them. At the end of the month I release them in one batch, to give you a quick (but not necessarily the best) overview of what happened in bitcoin over the past month.
You can see recaps of the previous months on Bitcoinsnippets.com
A recap of Bitcoin in May 2019
Adoption
Development
Security
Mining
Business
Research
Education
Regulation & Politics
Archeology (Financial Incumbents)
Price & Trading
Fun & Other
submitted by SamWouters to Bitcoin [link] [comments]

Consensus Network EP36: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.consensusnetwork.io/podcastepisodes/2019/10/5/ep36-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style-1
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
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Wealth Formula Episode 179: Buy, Borrow and Die: Bitcoin Style

Catch the full episode: https://www.wealthformula.com/podcast/179-buy-borrow-and-die-bitcoin-style/
Buck: Welcome back to the show everyone. Today my guest on Wealth Formula Podcast is Zack Prince. He's Founder and CEO of BlockFi. BlockFi bridges the gap between blockchain and the basic financial products that you're used to including interest-bearing accounts and loans. Zack, welcome to Wealth Formula Podcast. I think you we might have had you on before as a Consensus Network replay but first time on Wealth Formula Podcast specifically, so welcome.
Zac: Yeah, excited to be here, Buck. Thanks for having me. And it's good to chat with you again
Buck: Yeah so remind me how you got into this you know Bitcoin stuff in the first place, I mean you were as I understand you were a traditional finance guy right so where did the blockchain part come in?
Zac: Sure so I was I was working at a company in the FinTech world that provided data and technology solutions to institutional investors that wanted to participate in some of the new online lending platforms, whether they were real estate platforms or consumer lending platforms, and I kind of became the FinTech guy amongst my friend group and people would ask me you know should I invest in these real estate deals on fund rise or buy loans from Lending Club and I started writing a blog to share the information more efficiently with my friends basically and I started expanding a little bit writing about Robo advisory and some other things that were going on in the FinTech space and that's what led me to Bitcoin, and this is back in early 2015. I didn't start BlockFi until 2017 because I started following the market in the background, still working in traditional financial services in FinTech and then in early 2017 it started to feel like mainstream adoption was starting to happen in the crypto ecosystem. I'm started going to some meetups in New York City because at a certain point my wife said Zac, you're talking about crypto all the time and you're talking to me about it and I don't want to talk about it so you should find some other people to talk about this with. And the meetup composition started to change and in 2016 when I started going to these meetups it was the early crypto adopters you know libertarians, computer scientists and then in early 2017 I started to see some venture capitalists, some guys who had just left their job at Wall Street still wearing a suit, some more entrepreneurs and it was a really exciting time in the ecosystem, things like the Enterprise Ethereum Alliance were getting announced which had participation microsoft and a lot of other you know fortune 500 companies and I had started to believe in it. I was drinking the kool-aid a little bit so I decided to find a way to get involved in the space full-time and that's what led me to start BlockFi.
Buck: So I have to imagine that the response you got from the traditional finance people around that time when you started talking about the blockchain space and when you started being more and more involved with that was probably not a very positive response initially or did you did you experience some of that sort of you know rejection initially to what you were doing?
Zac: Yeah absolutely. But you know throughout my career this is now kind of the third emerging technology industry that I've worked in. I was originally an advertising technology starting like you know 15 years ago and I was in FinTech specifically the online lending side of FinTech which in its early days was called peer-to-peer lending and now in crypto. So having to do a lot of education explain it you know why something isn't crazy and it might work and here's why and here's the value proposition and here's what it is, I've gotten very used to that and comfortable with it. But yeah there were a lot of people who are like you know I've heard Bitcoin is only used by drug dealers and money launderers. I've heard that I'm supposed to care about blockchain and not Bitcoin. And you know at BlockFi we’re providing financial products into the market so it's a heavily regulated business so we also had to communicate with regulators. We had to explain to state regulators, federal regulators why what we were doing with Bitcoin and other cryptos than when you're doing these same types of things with assets that they're more familiar with.
Buck: So when you were talking to people back in, I don't know I guess 2016/17 and it's not a long time ago, it's only two years ago, but I have to imagine that the response or the you know the approach that people take to you when you speak to investors is very different. Has it become more mainstream in that regard for you know for big money investors?
Zac: It's absolutely become more mainstream you know the end of 2017 Q3/Q4. Point was going on that parabolic run it started to get covered everywhere, I mean it was on CNBC every day it was in Bloomberg New York Times Wall Street Journal. If you were paying attention to the financial industry and markets you heard about Bitcoin at that time if you hadn't heard about it before. So from a baseline of awareness perspective it got a lot better and then in 2018 you had a number of positive developments for the sector including one that I think is probably the most noteworthy which is that Bitcoin futures were listed on the CME the institutional investor perspective that's massive. You now have a well regulated well known super trustworthy venue where you can get exposure to this asset class, you also had companies like Grayscale bringing products to the market which are accessible to certain types of investors and their low bridge accounts and you started to see some adoption from companies like FinTech companies like Robin Hood and Square making Bitcoin available on their platforms. So the conversation has absolutely changed a lot and it's become less about whether or not this is something that's going to continue to exist whether or not it's something that was just a bubble and is going to die and now it's more about ok how is it going to get used how big could it get what are the interesting applications of it and what could have potentially disrupt in the traditional financial ecosystem.
Buck: So you know we had obviously following this you know pop in 2017, you know I actually like you kind of really got into this early 2017 so timing was pretty good I guess now regards. Good or bad depending how you look at it but I was there before before the parabolic move. And then we have you know then we followed this up with a crypto winter and and you know who knows if we're done with it, I guess we certainly are much better off than we were. You know a unit buddy it's funny Zac I don’t know if you remember this but I was about to, we'll talk about BlockFi specifically in a minute but, I was about to use BlockFi for borrowing because I like this idea of borrowing you know collateralized debt and collateralized debt on assets and buying something else. So I was about to do it and then Bitcoin lost a clip and I was like literally and I remember I was just emailing with somebody somebody over there and I was like sorry dude I guess I just sold it, I just sold all that Bitcoin I had and you sent one email back to me and it said “capitulation” but it you know and so now we're looking back at these we go down from 3,000 back up you know been sort of flirting around this 10,000 and it seems like we're kind of maybe that we're stuck there, maybe we're kind of out of winter, maybe we're in a holding pattern but it seems like to me that since that two years not only is the awareness increase but the development of the ecosystem itself is so much further advanced than it was in 2017. Is this an unusual case where the technology and maybe even the infrastructure is actually outpacing the price?
Zac: You know it's really hard to say. I would argue that in some ways it's typical. In other industries that showed a lot of promise where investors could you know participate maybe a little bit ahead of the adoption curve you saw crazy price run ups with the tech bubble and you know ‘99-2000 being the one that's kind of top of mind in recent memory and then on the other side of things, are we behind where the price should be now? It's really hard to say because this is kind of like a commodity type asset built on a payment network and valuing that is challenging and there's not a perfect model for for doing it today. It's not as easy as something that's cashflow producing but I'm incredibly bullish. I'm on record as saying at the beginning of this year that Bitcoin has only had one year in its 10-year existence where it had a lower low than the year before and parted this year around the low price for 2018 and I predicted that we would in the year had a higher price than where we started the year pretty soon and now we're up and you know around 300 percent from where we started the year. As that happens in investing is people frequently look at things on a year-to-year performance basis and when people are looking at Bitcoin even if all we do is stay around 10 K from here when they're looking at how Bitcoin performed rather than other relative to other assets at the end of 2019 it's probably going to look fantastic. And you also have an event coming up and in the summer of next year called The Halvening where basically the supply that's produced by miners is going to get cut in half and so if you believe in the stock the flow type models of valuation for Bitcoin that is usually a very big driver of price appreciation.
Buck: I believe May of 2020, right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: In May of 2020. Can you just talked a little bit about that just so people know because people hear about it, I've been talking about it but I don't think that it really explained it.
Zac: Yeah and you know I'm not I'm not a computer scientist so I can explain it in a you know in a very simple…
Buck: No one else here is either.
Zac: So basically the way that new Bitcoin is created is through this process called mining. And it's analogous to mining gold except instead of finding a place in the earth where gold exists and then getting your trucks and mining equipment and digging it out of the ground, the way bitcoin is mined is using this computer program and there is now specialized computer hardware that's built specifically and optimized for mining Bitcoin. And you have this network of machines around the world where the input is energy into the mining hardware and the output is new Bitcoin and those miners are what provides the power for the payment network a Bitcoin to run and when we say that there is this event called The Halvening, what that basically means is that the output that's built into the Bitcoin program that the miners are receiving as their payment for contributing energy to the network, is going to get cut in half. So the miners are going to have the same you know relative input but the amount that they're receiving is going to get cut in half for that input. This should, if the demand side for Bitcoin remains equal, it should drive up the price and historically Bitcoin has had three of these Halvening events in its lifetime so far I believe and around each Halvening you have seen you know six months before or six months after a pretty material run up in price.
Buck: Yeah so it also goes along with that sort of that the entire idea that Bitcoin unlike you know other assets including gold is it's a deflationary asset ultimately and and that's one of the things that makes that happening really significant. Apart from and I have one more question before we get to block five which is apart from the Halvening, you know thing that's happening, what is maybe the biggest development or upcoming thing that's coming up that makes you the most bullish on the future of Bitcoin or blockchain in general?
Zac: Sure so I think I wouldn't actually point to any one specific thing, I would point to two broad trends. So one is institutional adoption and participation in the asset class and the other is better ramps for retail participation into the asset class and just focusing here you know on the US market because it really is an international story but just in the US market. In September we should have Bakkt launching their futures platform. Bakkt is owned by ICE, the Intercontinental Exchange, and there's a big core difference between their futures and the current futures that are available on the CME in that futures on Bakkt platform are going to be physically settled so that means that actual Bitcoin is going to be needed to facilitate the trading on Bakkt’s platform which does not happen on CMEs exchange so that's that should be a very positive catalyst in terms of demand for physical Bitcoin that could have an impact on the price. Also on the institutional side this year I believe earlier this year, the first pension fund made an investment into an asset management vehicle that was focused on investing in Bitcoin and private equity opportunities in the Bitcoin and blockchain sector. So that will be a trend.
Buck: Which pension fund was it?
Zac: It was in North Carolina so I think it was like the North Carolina Firefighters and the group that raised the money from them was Morgan Creek Digital it’s actually invested in BlockFi by Anthony Pompliano Twitter and Mark Yusko so that's on the institutional side. And then on the retail side you've seen FinTech companies like Square and Robin Hood offer Bitcoin trading to their users. But soon you will also have companies like TD Ameritrade E-Trade and others offer Bitcoin to their users sometimes be a partnership sometimes because they've built it directly. You also at some point might see progress made in terms of an ETF getting approved that would give retail investors in the US market exposure to Bitcoin in a really easy and familiar way. All of those things are tremendously positive catalysts and the caliber of people working on them only continues to increase. Talent was attracted into the sector very, very rapidly these days.
Buck: You know one question that leads me to is that all of this is happening with Bitcoin for the most part. Are alt coins in your opinion is that market coming back or is that something that we're gonna see probably select you know group of tokens projects emerge and then the rest will kind of just get left in the dust, what do you think?
Zac: I mean I'll tell you exactly what I'm doing with my portfolio and then I'll provide a bit more color. So my asset allocation in the crypto side of my investing is I'm like 90% Bitcoin 5% Ethereum and 5% B&B; which is the Binance right. So I'm super bullish on Bitcoin. I think that you know there's a chance that Ether makes a comeback specifically I think that a lot of the stable coins that have been launched have been built on Ethereum if you're not familiar with stable coins it's basically the concept of a dollar but on a blockchain which could be really really powerful because it creates the opportunity for the delivery of US dollar denominated financial services at a global scale not using the traditional banking rails. And then B&B; I mean Binance is the biggest and most successful exchange they have a history of innovating, creating new products, going fast and so I'm taking a bit of a flyer with them but I'm 90% Bitcoin. I don't think that I'm not bullish on any of the other all coins frankly I struggle to see you know the big upside I have heard whispers in the community that there's kind of like a new wave of altcoins 3.0 might emerge, you know could see some some good returns similar to what some of the ICOs did in 2017 but it's not an area of focus for me. So that's my view.
Buck: Yeah let's talk about BlockFi. Remind us exactly what BlockFi is.
Zac: Sure so we're a wealth management platform for crypto investors. Today we have two products that we offer. One product is analogous to a savings account from a traditional bank where you're able to earn interest on your holdings except on BlockFi, the assets instead of being dollars are bitcoin and Ether and we don't have FDIC insurance so it's not exactly the same risk profile as a savings account at a bank, but conceptually you're able to hold Bitcoin and an account with BlockFi and earn interest on it paid in Bitcoin every month. That's one product that we have. The second product that we have which you are alluding to earlier offers our clients the ability to borrow dollars secured by the value of their cryptocurrency and it's analogous to a securities backed loan or a liquidity access line in the traditional world except instead of securities we're taking Bitcoin or other digital assets as collateral and lending it rates as low as four point five lending USD that rates as low as four point five percent a year.
Buck: I wanna pick these apart a little bit if you don't mind. In terms of this savings account first of all is it just bitcoin or is it bitcoin, Ethereum?
Zac: We actually support three assets in the interest account currently Bitcoin, Ether and GUSD which is the stable coin from Gemini.
Buck: Got it. And talk about the interest because it's not one flat interest rate right it's different depending on how much cryptocurrency actually is held?
Zac: Correct so there's a tiered interest rate structure. Currently on Bitcoin for balances up to ten Bitcoin, we offer a six point two percent annual yield and for balances above ten Bitcoin it's a 2.2 percent annual yield. On Ether, for balances up to two hundred Ether it's a 3.3 percent annual yield and balances above two hundred Ether is 0.5% annual yield and for GUSD the stable coin it's an eight point six percent interest rate with no tier so yeah those are the different rates.
Buck: Why did, I mean was it just a matter of like an issue with people dumping like a thousand Bitcoin and trying to get six you know 6% of that, was it just too hard to you know make that a long-term part of the business model or why did the higher levels end up changing to a lower rate?
Zac: Sure so I wanted to function of market conditions and to it's a function of supply and demand. So we launched the interest account in March of this year. We were just starting to come out of the bear market and one of the things that happened as we switched from being in a bear market to being in a bull market is the futures switched from being in backwardation to contango which basically means that our institutional borrowers the groups that we lend to that enable us to pay the rate to depositors had less of a need they had less demand to borrow and they were willing to pay lower rates to borrow crypto than they were when we were building and planning to launch this product. The second thing that happened is we were surprised to the upside in terms of the level of interest that we received from depositors and especially depositors with very large sums of cryptocurrency. So to give you an example you know within a day or two of making the product available publicly, we had a number of groups that were depositing 5, 10, 15, 20 million dollars worth of Bitcoin and so the supply-demand that we have to manage is, the amount that we have on deposit relative to the size of this market that will borrow Bitcoin size of the market that will borrow Bitcoin is partially a function of market sentiments partially a function of number of trading venues and the liquidity profile and it's partially a function of you know BlockFi’s efforts in terms of sales and client development relationship management. So the supply side got a little bit ahead of the demand side on deposit and how much there was available to borrow so we made a few tweaks. We want to keep the 6%, 6.2% rate on Bitcoin available to as many people as possible for as long as possible so that's why we went with the tiered structure where we made it available on balances up to 10 and reduced it for balances above that.
Buck: Got it and the interest on that, when you say 6.2 percent that six point like it's all denominated in Bitcoin, you're not paying cash out right?
Zac: Correct so to use round numbers to provide an easy example you start on January first with a hundred Bitcoin in an account, by the subsequent January first you will have 106 point 2 Bitcoin in your account.
Buck: Yeah and that that's kind of neat too because then you're you know you're also getting potentially the upside of that you know I mean they made 6% but if you if you're really bullish on the market you could be potentially looking at a lot more than 6% on your money. How about in terms of the, is there like a you know do you do it sort of a month-to-month or six month or month you know year-long contracts for these things?
Zac: It's month-to-month. So the rates are subject to change on a monthly basis. We provide notifications at least a week in advance before the end of one month on what the rates will be for the subsequent month and people are able to you know withdraw any time without penalty. We reserve up to 7 days to process withdrawals but we've never taken more than one business day to process a withdrawal so they're pretty quick but not instant for security reasons and yeah it's pretty flexible.
Buck: How about the lump in the lending side how does how does that work? So now I've got like 10 Bitcoin and so I would deposit that I guess and you guys I understand that maybe that that goes into like a Gemini account or something, is that still how it works?
Zac: Correct so we have a partnership with Gemini for custody. So when you log into a BlockFi account you'll have a deposit address. When you send Bitcoin to that deposit address it actually goes directly into storage with Gemini. Gemini was the first custodian in the crypto sector to receive insurance against cyber hacks on their platform. They were also the first custodian to get to complete a SOC 2 compliance audit and they have a really long track record of custody billions of dollars worth of crypto without ever having any issues. So it goes directly to Gemini and then you're able to interact with block-wise platform to take any actions that you might deem necessary. So you can view your interest payments you can withdraw you can deposit more you can also take out a loan. So in terms of taking out a loan, if you have ten Bitcoin that's worth roughly a hundred thousand US dollars at this point in time, you can borrow up to fifty percent of that value in a US dollar loan which can be funded be a wire or stable coin and then the structure of those loans is that you make interest-only payments on the amount that you borrowed throughout the duration and you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: And what's the typical you said it was four point six.
Zac: We have interest rates as low as four point five. The interest rates on borrowing USD vary according to your initial loan to value ratio. So if you have a hundred thousand dollars worth of Bitcoin we actually have three loan-to-value ratio options. You can borrow at a 50 percent initial loan-to-value ratio which would mean you're borrowing 50k, the interest rate on that will be eleven point two five, if you borrow thirty five percent of the value so 35k the interest rate is seven point nine, and if you borrow twenty five percent of the value of the interest rate is four point five percent per year.
Buck: Got it. In terms of you know the technical, so you basically pay that on a month-to-month basis and then in terms of contracts, are those also month-to-month loans or how does that work?
Zac: Those are one-year term loans well now it's the ability to renew without repaying the principal at the end of the term at current rates and our rates for those loans have always come down so far. So it's a one-year term loan BlockFi committed for a year at that rate your payments stay the same but you can prepay at any time without penalty.
Buck: Right. When do you do when would you do an actual sort of I guess a cap will call like what loan-to-value because you can go up to say you're borrowing at you know you're borrowing at the lowest rate you know you're at 4.5% you're borrowing see you know just for round numbers 100 Bitcoin you borrowed or you said 10 Bitcoin hundred thousand dollars but you only borrowed twenty-five thousand dollars at four point five percent, what if Bitcoin you know loses 50 percent of its value then what happens?
Zac: Well you wouldn't have a margin call based on on that example. If your loan to value ratio hits 70 percent that's when we have a margin call and the way the margin call works is our clients have the option to either post more collateral, pay down the loan using USD or some of the collateral that's posted for the loan or take no action. If they take no action there's a 72-hour window where we'll wait to see if the price recovers, if it does then no action is required, if the price keeps going down further then we will initiate a partial collateral sale to rebalance that LTV to a healthy level at the end of that window.
Buck: So in terms of the clients that you see doing this kind of stuff, I mean who are you seeing borrowing because you don't have a cap I mean you can on the borrow side, I mean and the rates don't really change like if you're depositing a hundred Bitcoin you're getting the same rate differences as somebody who's depositing ten for borrowing right?
Zac: That's right.
Buck: So who are the people who are putting I mean what are these businesses that are putting are using these loans who are the typical clients?
Zac: Sure so it's a mix of retail and corporate. On the retail side we actually did a survey recently on use cases and the number one use case about a third of our borrowers expressed is that they were using the funds that they borrowed to start a business, which we were really excited about. So the other popular use cases were investing in real estate, investing in other types of traditional assets like stocks and bonds, home improvement, larger purchases, vacations were all used cases, paying down higher cost debt was another use case, and then on the corporate side the loans are used for operating capital. So we have some mining companies that borrow from BlockFi. Other types of companies who you know maybe have crypto denominated inventory like exchanges or crypto ATM businesses our frequent borrowers from BlockFi and our loan sizes rearranged from you know as low as five thousand dollars all the way up to seven figures. So it's a pretty diverse group of borrowers.
Buck: So recently it sounds like you guys partnered with another company called Casa. What is Casa and I guess how does that benefit both companies?
Zac: Sure. So Casa is a leader in fighting self sovereign storage solutions for cryptocurrency owners so if you're alone that owns Bitcoin and to use a gold analogy. If you want to own gold but you keep it in your vault or in your backyard you want to have physical possession of it yourself if you want to do that same type of custody with Bitcoin. Casa has a solution that makes that really easy. Our partnership with Casa provides mutual benefits to clients on either side. So Casa clients are able to receive some discounts in terms of accessing BlockFi products and vice-versa BlockFi clients are able to receive discounts in terms of accessing kasam products and over time we'll build some things in to the user experience specifically on Casa’s platform that will make it you know a bit more seamless to interact with BlockFi products while you're on their platform. In general that partnership strategy is something that you'll see more of we think there are in the ecosystem that are specializing in areas that BlockFi's not focused on and doing things where we can provide benefits to clients on both sides is a win-win for us then and our clients.
Buck: Last thing I want to ask you about, last time I spoke to you, you had talked about the idea of potentially Bitcoin backed credit cards meaning like you know getting Bitcoin back instead of miles or dollars back. You guys any closer to that, because I definitely want one of those cards.
Zac: I'm so glad you brought it up. We're definitely closer, but we're not you're not going to have the card until like Q3 of next year probably. It's getting worked on, these things you know for better or worse they take a long time launching a credit program is no small feat you know we're working on it. We've identified some of the key partners that we'll be working with to bring that product to market it is going to happen and I share your sentiment like I wish I had it now.
Buck: Yeah seriously that'd be great. Well listen it was great talking you. So it's BlockFi.com and it's spelled like block and then fi and tell us you know tell us the process of doing is pretty simple okay how long does it take to apply for these things…
Zac: Yeah I mean nothing takes any time really. So you could come in and start earning interest and get a loan from us all in under five minutes. And we also have a client service team that's super responsive in in terms of communication however you want to communicate with them, over email, over the phone, over text message so you know don't don't hesitate to reach out to us. We're also on twitter. My twitter handle is BlockFiZac and our company twitter handle is @therealBlockFi so we're very active on those platforms and happy to chat with you there as well.
Buck: Zac Prince, thank you very much for being on Wealth Formula Podcast today.
Zac: Thanks for having me, Buck, I appreciate it.
Buck: We’ll be right back.
submitted by Buck_Joffrey to u/Buck_Joffrey [link] [comments]

Increasingly Sophisticated Crypto Attacks Require Increasingly Sophisticated Defenses

Increasingly Sophisticated Crypto Attacks Require Increasingly Sophisticated Defenses

https://preview.redd.it/5tef4jw4dyo31.png?width=679&format=png&auto=webp&s=fa9ebddb44e9097538a3ae81a8ed577b441ad690
As the value and visibility of cryptocurrencies continue to rise, the industry is gradually being exposed to increasingly sophisticated security issues. While institutional players typically have the resources and expertise to fortify their assets under multiple layers of defense, retail investors must take it upon themselves to learn about different types of attacks and determine how to mitigate these risks. To that end, we’ve compiled some of the most common yet devastating security risks below:
  • Traditional Web Infrastructure Attacks
Digital currency exchanges, like other industries, run end-applications on web services which are oftentimes not built from the ground up with security considerations in mind. As a result, the legacy infrastructure of many popular online service providers is not sufficiently future-proofed against evolving web security risks, which can allow external parties to take remote control of a company’s server or crash the intranet. Compromised systems are susceptible to SQL injections and other similar attacks, which can modify a transaction address and reconfigure critical user authorizations, much like the ComboJack malware.
Even if a digital platform is generally well-constructed, the way it is tethered to the internet can still be exploited. Web hosts which expose network services to the Internet are relentlessly attacked, and multiple studies indicate that a publicly exposed host is typically discovered and attacked within minutes of being placed on the network. From there, malicious actors would be able to directly attack the exposed host and re-appropriate it for their ends.
  • Front-running Risks
Traditionally, front-running occurs when traders use insider knowledge or high-frequency trading algorithms to detect orders from rival traders, then rapidly inject their order in front of that trade, leading the rival to buy at a higher cost and increasing the value of the front-runner’s newly purchased asset. This is an issue in both cryptocurrency trading and stock trading, but while front-running in traditional markets is restricted by a variety of regulations, the cryptocurrency market is far less regulated and therefore more susceptible to market manipulation.
Front-running within the cryptocurrency space is particularly egregious, as there have been multiple cases where attackers use their funds to open a low position for a particular cryptocurrency while using funds stolen from a large exchange account to artificially inflate the currency price, pulling the compromised user up to the high position. As a result, the attacker’s positions are sold first, and the stolen user’s funds are then transferred to out of their account through the secondary market for a quick profit. These attacks were commonplace during the ICO craze due to the overwhelming public interest in the potential windfall ICOs insinuated, with little attention paid to the dangers imposed by such attacks. Furthermore, few cryptocurrency exchanges are willing to proactively announce these attacks due to the reputational damage it could incur.
  • Phishing Attacks
Although they are relatively low-tech, phishing attacks have grown increasingly sophisticated and are notoriously hard to prevent since they exploit social behavior to achieve their goals. BitcoinTalk’s network service provider was compromised by a successful phishing attack in 2015, and even Binance was forced to deal with the aftermath of a widespread phishing scheme last year, during which attackers used stolen funds to artificially pump and dump a variety of altcoins for their own gain.
In these cases, anonymous groups were able to identify key individuals with access credentials to multiple databases or servers, then implement a coordinated, high-precision phishing attack to acquire those credentials. As a result, the damage resulting from phishing attacks oftentimes extends beyond the initial victim, reverberating negatively throughout an entire system.
  • Collision Attacks
As more people create online crypto-related accounts and transact digital assets, the volume of inadvertent user information disclosures skyrocketed. This is mainly because most people are accustomed to using a fixed set of account passwords, which provides attackers with an opening. Sophisticated attackers can simply parse through entire libraries of leaked data, obtain potentially relevant identification credentials or partial digital signature information which they can then use to access and empty a user’s account.
Even without a full user password, more tech-savvy attackers are also able to exploit hash function collisions to bypass protocols such as MD5 and SHA-1, which are widely used to build authentication and integrity mechanisms in cryptographic protocols.
  • Temporary Network Hijacking
Temporary network hijacking utilizes military-grade tactics to replace the target network of close contact with the target network to achieve further attacks. Attacks of this nature typically involve a Trojan malware component designed to spread internally within an infected system, moving laterally from an internet-connected remote monitoring server to other devices and systems that weren’t meant to be exposed.
To date, network hijacking malware has been found in everything from government servers in North America to an operational technology network controlling water utilities across Europe. While within the context of crypto, these attacks have only involved relatively benign crypto-mining malware, coupled with more disruptive cyberterrorism tactics which are capable of shutting down large-scale national targets. The effects of a temporary network hijacking could severely compromise the entire internet architecture upon which the bourgeoning crypto ecosystem relies on.
As crypto assets take up an increasingly large portion of many investors’ portfolio, there is also an increasing need to understand the underlying principles of the blockchain and appreciate the importance of private keys. Every crypto investor needs to take digital asset protection very seriously, and at Cobo, our central motivation is to support secure and streamlined blockchain development and make it easier to own and utilize the crypto tokens of your choice. To this end, Cobo Wallet’s Hardware Security Module technology ensures that the vast majority of our user assets are stored in a fully offline, globally distributed system, and are further protected by multiple software layer protocols and a multi-signature mechanism which prevents funds from getting lost due to a single point of failure.
Cybercrime will continue to evolve in tandem with the cryptocurrency sector and industry digitization, and many online exchanges and even hardware custodial solutions are not equipped to repel the full spectrum of approaches and tools malicious actors can implement. As you take steps to safeguard your digital assets, it is imperative that you thoroughly research your crypto custodianship options, avoid making purchases from third-party distributors, and ensure that your wallet’s security mechanisms are pressure-tested against the worst possible scenarios.
submitted by Floris-Jan to Cobo [link] [comments]

What Exactly is NEM and How to Keep XEM Safe? | Best NEM Wallets

NEM (short for New Economy Movement) is a dual layer blockchain platform quite similar to Ethereum's, with the main difference being that the former is written in Java. Launched on March 31, 2015, it has a peer to peer cryptocurrency, having the ticker symbol XEM which is 'harvested' using a Proof-of-Importance (PoI) algorithm. NEM's the first cryptocurrency after Bitcoin to have built its code from scratch. Its mainnet supports multiple ledgers on its cryptocurrency layer. The powerful Smart Assets layer supports mosaics to represent any store of value.
NEM has uses in various fields like:
  1. Financial management - financial payments, equity markets, creating a very own cryptocurrency and many more.
  2. Business management - automatic accounting, KYC, loyalty reward points, shipping, inspection and supply chain management.
  3. Secure records - encrypted messaging, anti-counterfeiting, authentication, etc.
  4. Decentralised organisations - voting security and can be used for crowdfunding, stock ownership and ICOs.
Unlike BTC and many other altcoins, NEM/XEM cannot be mined, well not exactly. The process by which new XEM coins can be obtained is called 'harvesting'. The other way to have XEM coins is via exchanges and there are plenty of them like Binance, Bittrex, CoinSwitch, HitBTC, etc.
When it comes to storing the XEM coins, the wallets that are trustworthy are:
There might be many online wallets and many of them might be safe, but the safest option is always a hardware wallet, no matter what. It's important to remember this because if your coins aren't safe, then there's no point in investing and/or trading, as once your coins are gone, there's no way to retrieve them back. Ever!
submitted by moonchildJJK to coinswitch [link] [comments]

Tether FUD - Critique a different opinion - I may be wrong but find out for yourself

I know everyone here loves to hate on tether but I feel another opinion on tether should be made since a lot of people use tether. I use tether but also understand that their business model is unsustainable at first glance.
Tether is used by pretty much every exchange and has had 2.3billion dollars of transaction volume for 3 months now. Thats 90 days. Given .1% transaction fees, USDT generated a net of 207 million dollars in exchange fees for the past 3 months. These new exchanges adopting tether are most likely "buying" tether from bitfinex which allows bitfinex to create more tether since money is being added to their overall "reserve." I know there hasn't been a recent audit but, in my opinion, its because banks have been trying to stay away from people/exchanges that are generating a lot of money from cryptocurrencies so no official audit can be given. Now this isn't giving grace to bitfinex since it is sketchy they haven't atleast addressed the problem.
Given the price "surge" of bitcoin and no official BTC/USD pairs, it makes sense for exchanges to adopt USDT for the time being for people to "lock-in profits," just like a stock exchange. Given the amount of money these exchanges have made (or can make) from owning their personal exchange cryptos (ie binance coin) and other cryptos in their portfolios, enough money is surrounding the sphere of exchanges that a "temporary-fix" for locking in profits, USDT, is viable in terms of opening the crypto space to more investors.
USDT is inflating the market because of increased liquidity and more opportunity for investors to make many (so more investors come in). Now, tether still makes a lot of investors skeptical (since they do their research and find out the "FUD" behind tether), but really this is suppressing a lot investors from coming into the sphere until a "REAL" BTC/USD pair is designed (imo, this will be done by Poloniex/CircleX). What this will do to USDT however, is something that we will have to find out once it happens if more exchanges get the legitimate BTC/USD pairing by requiring a social security on registration.
Tether, being just "another altcoin," seems it will drop value once less people are interested in this "altcoin." Right now, the demand is so high for tether and the fact that bitfinex hasn't "printed more money" from the 2.2bln supply, and especially after the main dip BTC had, is somewhat of a good sign. As stated before, they probably "printed money" to give to the vast amount of exchanges for pairings.
There are multiple whales, including the team of EOS, that support the doings of Bitfinex and USDT since it improves awareness/adoption of crypto. Now, EOS/SteemIT maybe a "scam" in some people's eyes (maybe mine, not enough has happened for me to decide), but there's no way USDT/BITFINEX would do anything stupid pre-launch of EOS since they are associated with each other and have a lot to profit fromr. So until June 1st (the launch of EOS, at an earliest date), I can't see tether going anywhere. This, in my opinion, is especially a strong point since many crypto multi-millionaire/billionaire whales back EOS, SteemIT and Bitfinex.
Lastly (and in conclusion of my opinion(s)), Tether will crash (if it crashes) if the DEMAND, by the MAJOR EXCHANGES using USDT, suffers. Also, I feel that until that demand dies out, USDT should be seen as a neat trading tool for people to be open to, not a discouragement for entering the crypto space. Now, that all exchanges have adopted tether as a pair, Tether probably wont "print anymore money" until the DEMAND (or purchasing of tether by exchanges) goes up. To sum up the short-term fate of tether (pre-June 1st ATLEAST), The fact that tether claimed to have 450 million dollars as of their last audit in september, the fact that a lot of these exchanges (whom are super rich) are buying out tethers for pairing, the fact that profitable company startups such as EOS and exchanges put their "trust" and money into tether to keep their exchange/platforms in high demand, tells me that Tether FUD might be exaggerated. USDT FUD may also be generated due to swing traders wanting to make more money "off the swings," since their "strategy" wouldn't be as widely used. I have used this "strategy" and it seems to work for me as i've gained from 6k dip than if i had just held BTC. In my opinion, USDT is here to stay (at 1$) until a replacement is found and no-one cares to use USDT. And this will only crash USDT if Bitfinex/Other exchanges have not gathered up a 1:1 value (USD:USDT) for the total supply of USDT once the demand for USDT reaches its demise. Bitfinex paid back money to its traders worth 120k BTC in 2015. I think if they survived that 120k BTC “hack” (or genius plan on their part), a mere 2.2 billion payout to keep everything running smoothly isn’t too much of a problem. Thanks for reading and I'm hoping I can get some solid feedback from this.
submitted by PowerFamished to Tether [link] [comments]

Cryptocurrency: Is It Still Alive or Dying? Part 2.

Cryptocurrency: Is It Still Alive or Dying? Part 2.
Part 2. Political and Economic Trends in Favor of the Cryptocurrency Market Development

In the first part of the story we showed that the cryptocurrency market crash in 2018 and the beginning of its recovery in 2019 fit well into the general patterns of the financial bubbles’ development, and also repeat pretty well the Bitcoin dynamics of 2014-2016. But besides the analogies with other bubbles, there are a lot of other arguments in favor of the global growth of the market, among which are the political and economic trends of the recent years.

Relaxation of the Political Climate around the Cryptoassets

The entire year of 2017 has witnessed heated discussions as to the legal status of the digital assets. One of the central events of the year was their legalization in Japan in April. Precisely this legalization, according to many, spurred a dramatic growth of the cryptocurrency market in May (especially, altcoins). But the majority of other countries during this period held more skeptical positions.

The U.S. government on several occasions refused to register bitcoin-ETF - exchange-traded funds, the price of shares in which would repeat the price of BTC. The U.S. government also extremely tightened the conditions of the ICO procedure, while some countries, such as China and South Korea - have banned it completely. Certain countries, such as Indonesia and Salvador, have banned cryptocurrencies to the extent of criminal responsibility.

A number of countries, including Russia, have adopted a cautious wait-and-see attitude, regularly promising to impose restrictions of varying severity, but not hurrying to sign it into law.

A turning point on the way to the global recognition of the cryptocurrency was the beginning of trading the Bitcoin futures at the Chicago exchanges (CME) (the world’s largest stock exchange in terms of turnover) and CBOE in December of 2017. That is when the American government admitted openly that cryptocurrencies are now to be reckoned with. With the beginning of this trade, the powerful financial circles of the USA, whose opinion cannot be ignored by the political leadership, became interested in the development of the cryptocurrency market.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CME – the world leader in terms of trade volume

In 2018, the following paradox became obvious: even if over the longer term cryptocurrencies are dangerous for the modern political system (tied up in the central banks and the currency exchange regulation), the countries that will be the first to prohibit them will be most affected along with those countries that will simply overdo stirring up negative attitude. Those countries that will settle on legalization will benefit. The drain of brains and capitals will be directed to these countries from the more repressive or unpredictable countries. A typical example of that - Crypto Project GRAM of the Russian businessman Pavel Durov, whose ICO in 2018 reached a record amount, but it was carried out in USA, and not in the legislatively uncertain Russian Federation.

The experience of the countries that have legalized the cryptocurrencies, proved successful both from the financial standpoint, and from the perspective of the international prestige. They proved themselves to be open to the progress and new freedoms. In addition to Japan, Switzerland is especially noteworthy here, because it legalized cryptocurrencies as early as in 2016, but the most brilliantly announced about itself in 2018, when its banks began to introduce cryptocurrency services one after another. Among the innovator banks there was even a Swiss subsidiary of the Russian Savings Bank (Sberbank). The very expression “Swiss bank” became a synonym of not only high reliability, but also innovation.
A milestone event of 2018 was legalization of cryptocurrencies in Germany – the leading economy of the European Union. Rather liberal measures relative to the cryptocurrencies are being applied today in Czechia, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Estonia, Norway, Finland, and a number of other countries.

“Legalization parade” has shown: the politicians with repressive attitudes cannot count on the global ban of the cryptocurrencies (which seemed theoretically possible in 2016-2017). Economically developed countries made an obvious choice: “if you cannot stop the process – become its leader”. And precisely in these countries the maximum capitals are being circulated, and the market situation depends precisely on their business activity.

Explosive Growth of the Retail Use of Cryptocurrencies
Despite obvious popularization of cryptocurrencies, there is still a myth that they are purely investment and speculative instrument, which, even if used as a payment method – only in the dark net, and as a means of payment for illegal commodities. But this is not the case today. As far back as 2013-2015, legal services accepting bitcoin emerged, and in 2016-2018 their market has undergone explosive growth.

The pioneers of the cryptocurrency market of goods and services in 2013, were, for example, Virgin Galactic – space tourism company, Victoria’s Secret lingerie company, Shopify - a supplier of software for the online stores. In 2014, the cryptocurrency was adopted by the Overstock online store, Expedia tourism service, Zynga – operator of the online games, the software monster Microsoft and many others. Some of these companies considerably went up due to the innovations: for example, the shares of Shopify and Overstock have increased in price several-fold since then.

As of today, the cryptocurrency is accepted by hundreds of large companies and thousands of small ones, while the range of their products is approaching the one in a traditional economy. The most popular categories of the goods for the cryptocurrency in the large famous companies are tourism and air tickets (Expedia), software and games (Microsoft, Shopify, Zynga, Steam), clothing and other consumer goods (Victoria’s Secret, Overstock.com, Rakuten), as well as food products (Subway, KFC, Burger King – in Russia). As an example, Playboy erotic products, premium accounts of the 4chan.org and reddit.com forums, Bloomberg.com business news, automobiles in the Czech show room Alza and many other goods can be also purchased for cryptocurrency.

A number of well-known companies, although they prefer traditional payments, nevertheless allow crypto payments through the intermediary services, such as gyft.com (trading with the card Gyft for BTC). For example, Ebay online store, Wallmart supermarket chain, Starbucks restaurants, Uber taxi service, etc. The turnover of gyft.com is evaluated in the amount of 25 million dollars with only 38 employees.
Small start-up companies often use ready-made multicurrency gateways such as coinpayments.net. It supports dozens of currencies, and hosts about 400 companies. In addition to mainstream, it contains a lot of specialized commodities. For example, crypto-armory.com sells cartridges, francvila.com – Swiss watches, directvoltage.com - 3D-printers, electric motors, CNC machines, etc. Some new stores not only accept cryptocurrencies, but also purposely give up fiat currency. For example, crypto-armory.com, explaining their refusal from fiat currency, state both ideological, and narrow pragmatic reasons. In the opinion of the owners of the store, it is easier to accept cryptocurrency payments both technically and legally.

Cartridges from the cryptocurrency store crypto-armory.com
An important trend of 2017-2018, in addition to the general growth of the commodity market - re-orientation of the stores to the multi-currency payments. Whereas previously most of them accepted only BTC, now a sign of good manners is to accept also LTC, ETH, XMR and at least several more currencies.

Thus, while the politicians were solving the problem in the manner “not possible to allow - disallow”, a vast market of commodities for cryptocurrency spontaneously emerged on the Internet. Some of its participants have multibillion capitalizations. This market is very international. The majority of commodities and services can be bought even from Russia and other countries, where cryptocurrency is not legal as an internal payment instrument, but is not prohibited as such. Today, it is hard to imagine a consumer good, which cannot be bought for cryptocurrency.

The Latest Trend – Support of Cryptocurrencies by Smartphones

The first smartphone with a cryptocurrency wallet was HYPERLINK "https://bitcryptonews.ru/blogs/sravnenie-blokchejn-smartfonov-exodus-1-i-finney"HTC Exodus 1, released in the autumn of 2018. Then, a crypto smartphone HYPERLINK emerged "https://bitcryptonews.ru/blogs/obzor-kriptosmartfona-finney"Finney. And in March of 2019, the baton was unexpectedly picked up by the smartphone from the major South Korean company, Samsung - Galaxy S10. And although Samsung refrained from the direct embedding of the cryptocurrency wallet into the standard supply set, a brand wallet of Samsung can be installed from the Galaxy Store.

Galaxy S10 – the first smartphone from Samsung with cryptocurrency support

On the part of crypto enthusiasts, there are a number of claims to Samsung initiative, among which – the lack of bitcoin support (BTC). At the moment, Samsung Blockchain Wallet supports only Ethereum (ETH) and ERC-20 standard currencies and tokens created on its basis:
Basic Attention Token (BAT), Chainlink (LINK), BinanceCoin (BNB), True USD (TUSD), USD Coin (USDC), Paxos Standard (PAX) and others.

Anyway, from a political and PR perspective, the emergence of Galaxy S10 is a great event.

First of all, smartphone can attract to the cryptocurrency market new people who have greater confidence in the famous brand, than in the traditional bulky cryptocurrency wallets. Now, many people are frightened away from the cryptocurrencies only by technical difficulties, whereas smartphones on many occasions have proved their ability to promote to the masses those things, which previously seemed to be very complex.
Secondly, this step of Samsung is a clear signal both to the domestic and foreign governments: big business is on the side of the new technologies. South Korea has a reputation of a country not very friendly to cryptocurrencies, however, its business giant publicly demonstrated another attitude.
Thirdly, the initiative of Samsung with a high degree of probability will be emulated by other leading producers of communication devices. Thus, shortly after the release of Galaxy S10, there appeared a news that a cryptocurrency wallet will soon be available in iOS Opera Touch, which means that cryptocurrencies can be also stored in iPhone of Apple.
All this creates excellent prerequisites both for the world legalization of the cryptocurrencies, and for the growth of the market due to the increase of the number of users.

Conclusion
Thus, despite the “roller coaster” of the cryptocurrency exchange rates, some fundamental processes have developed steadily in the same direction in the recent years: expansion of the commodity market for cryptocurrency, increase in the number of countries with a liberal attitude to cryptocurrencies, adoption of cryptocurrencies as a strategic technology by more and more industrial giants. The total number of individuals who tried to work with the cryptocurrencies grows steadily, while the new technological trends (in particular, crypto smartphones), can additionally accelerate this growth.

The only thing that can seriously damage a cryptocurrency market is its global ban, but it seems to be unlikely. Right now there are about 40 million bitcoin wallets on earth. It is believed that on average their number is doubled annually, which means that within 5 years it can reach a billion. And if now a global ban on cryptocurrencies is unrealistic due to their profitability for the developed countries, by that time their prohibition will become impossible almost physically.

In the first part of the story we had put forward the arguments as to why the investors need not fear the bubble of 2017-2018: in the end, the bubble showed not so much the riskiness of the crypto investments, but rather their long-term prospects. Today we described political and economic events, which have occurred in parallel “behind the scenes”, and in which there were no “drops” – only progressive development toward the construction of the crypto economy. And in the next, third part, we will try to describe in detail specific financial reasons of the collapse and recovery of the market in 2018-2019.

Analytical department, Trident company, Victor Argonov, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
Source:http://trident-germes.com/
https://www.facebook.com/Germes.mining.robot/
submitted by TridentGermes to u/TridentGermes [link] [comments]

Cryptocurrency: Is It Still Alive or Dying? Part 2

Cryptocurrency: Is It Still Alive or Dying? Part 2
Cryptocurrency: Is It Still Alive or Dying?
Part 2. Political and Economic Trends in Favor of the Cryptocurrency Market Development

In the first part of the story we showed that the cryptocurrency market crash in 2018 and the beginning of its recovery in 2019 fit well into the general patterns of the financial bubbles’ development, and also repeat pretty well the Bitcoin dynamics of 2014-2016. But besides the analogies with other bubbles, there are a lot of other arguments in favor of the global growth of the market, among which are the political and economic trends of the recent years.

Relaxation of the Political Climate around the Cryptoassets

The entire year of 2017 has witnessed heated discussions as to the legal status of the digital assets. One of the central events of the year was their legalization in Japan in April. Precisely this legalization, according to many, spurred a dramatic growth of the cryptocurrency market in May (especially, altcoins). But the majority of other countries during this period held more skeptical positions.

The U.S. government on several occasions refused to register bitcoin-ETF - exchange-traded funds, the price of shares in which would repeat the price of BTC. The U.S. government also extremely tightened the conditions of the ICO procedure, while some countries, such as China and South Korea - have banned it completely. Certain countries, such as Indonesia and Salvador, have banned cryptocurrencies to the extent of criminal responsibility.

A number of countries, including Russia, have adopted a cautious wait-and-see attitude, regularly promising to impose restrictions of varying severity, but not hurrying to sign it into law.

A turning point on the way to the global recognition of the cryptocurrency was the beginning of trading the Bitcoin futures at the Chicago exchanges (CME) (the world’s largest stock exchange in terms of turnover) and CBOE in December of 2017. That is when the American government admitted openly that cryptocurrencies are now to be reckoned with. With the beginning of this trade, the powerful financial circles of the USA, whose opinion cannot be ignored by the political leadership, became interested in the development of the cryptocurrency market.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange, CME – the world leader in terms of trade volume

In 2018, the following paradox became obvious: even if over the longer term cryptocurrencies are dangerous for the modern political system (tied up in the central banks and the currency exchange regulation), the countries that will be the first to prohibit them will be most affected along with those countries that will simply overdo stirring up negative attitude. Those countries that will settle on legalization will benefit. The drain of brains and capitals will be directed to these countries from the more repressive or unpredictable countries. A typical example of that - Crypto Project GRAM of the Russian businessman Pavel Durov, whose ICO in 2018 reached a record amount, but it was carried out in USA, and not in the legislatively uncertain Russian Federation.

The experience of the countries that have legalized the cryptocurrencies, proved successful both from the financial standpoint, and from the perspective of the international prestige. They proved themselves to be open to the progress and new freedoms. In addition to Japan, Switzerland is especially noteworthy here, because it legalized cryptocurrencies as early as in 2016, but the most brilliantly announced about itself in 2018, when its banks began to introduce cryptocurrency services one after another. Among the innovator banks there was even a Swiss subsidiary of the Russian Savings Bank (Sberbank). The very expression “Swiss bank” became a synonym of not only high reliability, but also innovation.

A milestone event of 2018 was legalization of cryptocurrencies in Germany – the leading economy of the European Union. Rather liberal measures relative to the cryptocurrencies are being applied today in Czechia, Sweden, Canada, Denmark, Australia, Estonia, Norway, Finland, and a number of other countries.

“Legalization parade” has shown: the politicians with repressive attitudes cannot count on the global ban of the cryptocurrencies (which seemed theoretically possible in 2016-2017). Economically developed countries made an obvious choice: “if you cannot stop the process – become its leader”. And precisely in these countries the maximum capitals are being circulated, and the market situation depends precisely on their business activity.

Explosive Growth of the Retail Use of Cryptocurrencies

Despite obvious popularization of cryptocurrencies, there is still a myth that they are purely investment and speculative instrument, which, even if used as a payment method – only in the dark net, and as a means of payment for illegal commodities. But this is not the case today. As far back as 2013-2015, legal services accepting bitcoin emerged, and in 2016-2018 their market has undergone explosive growth.

The pioneers of the cryptocurrency market of goods and services in 2013, were, for example, Virgin Galactic – space tourism company, Victoria’s Secret lingerie company, Shopify - a supplier of software for the online stores. In 2014, the cryptocurrency was adopted by the Overstock online store, Expedia tourism service, Zynga – operator of the online games, the software monster Microsoft and many others. Some of these companies considerably went up due to the innovations: for example, the shares of Shopify and Overstock have increased in price several-fold since then.

As of today, the cryptocurrency is accepted by hundreds of large companies and thousands of small ones, while the range of their products is approaching the one in a traditional economy. The most popular categories of the goods for the cryptocurrency in the large famous companies are tourism and air tickets (Expedia), software and games (Microsoft, Shopify, Zynga, Steam), clothing and other consumer goods (Victoria’s Secret, Overstock.com, Rakuten), as well as food products (Subway, KFC, Burger King – in Russia). As an example, Playboy erotic products, premium accounts of the 4chan.org and reddit.com forums, Bloomberg.com business news, automobiles in the Czech show room Alza and many other goods can be also purchased for cryptocurrency.

A number of well-known companies, although they prefer traditional payments, nevertheless allow crypto payments through the intermediary services, such as gyft.com (trading with the card Gyft for BTC). For example, Ebay online store, Wallmart supermarket chain, Starbucks restaurants, Uber taxi service, etc. The turnover of gyft.com is evaluated in the amount of 25 million dollars with only 38 employees.
Small start-up companies often use ready-made multicurrency gateways such as coinpayments.net. It supports dozens of currencies, and hosts about 400 companies. In addition to mainstream, it contains a lot of specialized commodities. For example, crypto-armory.com sells cartridges, francvila.com – Swiss watches, directvoltage.com - 3D-printers, electric motors, CNC machines, etc. Some new stores not only accept cryptocurrencies, but also purposely give up fiat currency. For example, crypto-armory.com, explaining their refusal from fiat currency, state both ideological, and narrow pragmatic reasons. In the opinion of the owners of the store, it is easier to accept cryptocurrency payments both technically and legally.

Cartridges from the cryptocurrency store crypto-armory.com
An important trend of 2017-2018, in addition to the general growth of the commodity market - re-orientation of the stores to the multi-currency payments. Whereas previously most of them accepted only BTC, now a sign of good manners is to accept also LTC, ETH, XMR and at least several more currencies.

Thus, while the politicians were solving the problem in the manner “not possible to allow - disallow”, a vast market of commodities for cryptocurrency spontaneously emerged on the Internet. Some of its participants have multibillion capitalizations. This market is very international. The majority of commodities and services can be bought even from Russia and other countries, where cryptocurrency is not legal as an internal payment instrument, but is not prohibited as such. Today, it is hard to imagine a consumer good, which cannot be bought for cryptocurrency.

The Latest Trend – Support of Cryptocurrencies by Smartphones

The first smartphone with a cryptocurrency wallet was HYPERLINK "https://bitcryptonews.ru/blogs/sravnenie-blokchejn-smartfonov-exodus-1-i-finney"HTC Exodus 1, released in the autumn of 2018. Then, a crypto smartphone HYPERLINK emerged "https://bitcryptonews.ru/blogs/obzor-kriptosmartfona-finney"Finney. And in March of 2019, the baton was unexpectedly picked up by the smartphone from the major South Korean company, Samsung - Galaxy S10. And although Samsung refrained from the direct embedding of the cryptocurrency wallet into the standard supply set, a brand wallet of Samsung can be installed from the Galaxy Store.

https://preview.redd.it/p8zc6dat0ay21.jpg?width=1280&format=pjpg&auto=webp&s=d7f173f7470107c2f4cc5868ed882089499b2a09
Galaxy S10 – the first smartphone from Samsung with cryptocurrency support
On the part of crypto enthusiasts, there are a number of claims to Samsung initiative, among which – the lack of bitcoin support (BTC). At the moment, Samsung Blockchain Wallet supports only Ethereum (ETH) and ERC-20 standard currencies and tokens created on its basis:
Basic Attention Token (BAT), Chainlink (LINK), BinanceCoin (BNB), True USD (TUSD), USD Coin (USDC), Paxos Standard (PAX) and others.

Anyway, from a political and PR perspective, the emergence of Galaxy S10 is a great event.

First of all, smartphone can attract to the cryptocurrency market new people who have greater confidence in the famous brand, than in the traditional bulky cryptocurrency wallets. Now, many people are frightened away from the cryptocurrencies only by technical difficulties, whereas smartphones on many occasions have proved their ability to promote to the masses those things, which previously seemed to be very complex.

Secondly, this step of Samsung is a clear signal both to the domestic and foreign governments: big business is on the side of the new technologies. South Korea has a reputation of a country not very friendly to cryptocurrencies, however, its business giant publicly demonstrated another attitude.

Thirdly, the initiative of Samsung with a high degree of probability will be emulated by other leading producers of communication devices. Thus, shortly after the release of Galaxy S10, there appeared a news that a cryptocurrency wallet will soon be available in iOS Opera Touch, which means that cryptocurrencies can be also stored in iPhone of Apple.

All this creates excellent prerequisites both for the world legalization of the cryptocurrencies, and for the growth of the market due to the increase of the number of users.

Conclusion

Thus, despite the “roller coaster” of the cryptocurrency exchange rates, some fundamental processes have developed steadily in the same direction in the recent years: expansion of the commodity market for cryptocurrency, increase in the number of countries with a liberal attitude to cryptocurrencies, adoption of cryptocurrencies as a strategic technology by more and more industrial giants. The total number of individuals who tried to work with the cryptocurrencies grows steadily, while the new technological trends (in particular, crypto smartphones), can additionally accelerate this growth.

The only thing that can seriously damage a cryptocurrency market is its global ban, but it seems to be unlikely. Right now there are about 40 million bitcoin wallets on earth. It is believed that on average their number is doubled annually, which means that within 5 years it can reach a billion. And if now a global ban on cryptocurrencies is unrealistic due to their profitability for the developed countries, by that time their prohibition will become impossible almost physically.

In the first part of the story we had put forward the arguments as to why the investors need not fear the bubble of 2017-2018: in the end, the bubble showed not so much the riskiness of the crypto investments, but rather their long-term prospects. Today we described political and economic events, which have occurred in parallel “behind the scenes”, and in which there were no “drops” – only progressive development toward the construction of the crypto economy. And in the next, third part, we will try to describe in detail specific financial reasons of the collapse and recovery of the market in 2018-2019.

Analytical department, Trident company, Victor Argonov, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences.
Source:http://trident-germes.com/
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What is AhrvoDEEX?

Ahrvo is a $0 commission social trading platform that provides daily rankings for over 8000 stocks and ETFs. Ahrvo’s proprietary ranking system exploits and capitalizes on patterns found in the historical and projected stock market and company-specific data in order to consistency find the best stocks. Ahrvo’s patent-protected software integrates quantitative and social investing. Fostering an environment where users can make profitable trades and engage other participants within the Ahrvo community to discuss trading strategies. Ahrvo Fantasy Investing League (AFIL) awards cash prizes monthly to the top finisher in its investing competition. Participants can create public or private investing leagues to compete against family and friends. Features include real-time prices and stock alerts, Wall Street consensus data, quantitative company profiles, proprietary buy and sell signals, 300 ranked investment themes, among others. The platform is currently available on iOS and Android.
About AhrvoDEEX Company Overview Ahrvo is a financial technology company created in March 2017. Ahrvo’s proprietary multi-factor ranking system and resulting AhrvoScoresTM help investors and traders of all backgrounds discover stock market winners and make timely and profitable investment decisions among more than 8000 stocks and ETFs. Ahrvo’s proprietary equity scoring model uses predictive analytics and data mining techniques to uncover and exploit patterns found in historical and projected stock market data in order to find the best stocks. AhrvoScores are derived using the four main drivers of stock price performance -- Quality, Value, Growth, and Momentum. Each factor adjusts to stock market conditions creating consistently robust AhrvoScores. It is simple: stocks with high AhrvoScores consistently outperform the market; stocks with low scores underperform. This streamlines the stock discovery process as a group of top rated investment ideas is curated for users daily.
Problem Clearinghouses and other intermediaries cost the brokerage industry billions of dollars a year, creating bottlenecks that limit order-matching transparency and settlement speed. Wall Street lacks objectivity and often produces inaccurate equity ratings and price targets. For example, in 2017 only 5% of the 500 S&P companies were rated ‘sell’. This leaves investors and traders without a roadmap to find stocks that are suitable for investment. A study conducted in 2016 found that from 1981 to 2016 the top 10 percent of stocks analysts were most bullish (optimistic) about generally performed worse than the 10 percent of stocks analyst were bearish (pessimistic) about. In fact, an investor who bought stocks analysts were bearish on over that time period would have gained 15% in excess return over the following year relative to the stocks analysts were bullish on.
Solution AhrvoDEEX is a peer-to-peer decentralized equity exchange that enables profitable trading by using multifactor ranking systems and deep learning algorithms to create smart equity scores and price targets that streamline the decision-making process. AhrvoDEEX transaction speed is comparable to centralized exchanges and much faster than Bitcoin and Ethereum. Centralized exchanges settle in 1 to 3 seconds. Ethereum DEX transactions take ~3 minutes. Bitcoin transactions take 10 minutes to settle but can often take longer. Transactions on AhrvoDEEX settle in ~3 to 5 seconds. Ahrvo’s proprietary equity scoring model looks at over 4 dozen subfactors that are highly correlated with price performance, subsequently grouping them into four main factors. For the past ten years, our system has consistently outperformed the stock market (benchmark Russell 3000 w/dividends). The model's performance results were created by a 3rd party firm, EQM Capital LLC.
Competitive Advantage
Patent Protection Ahrvo is building the first blockchain-based decentralized equity exchanged powered by artificial intelligence. Over the past two years, Ahrvo’s management team has garnered the necessary protection for its growing suite of investing and trading solutions. Ahrvo has filed two provisional patents (March 2017/November 2018) and one utility patent (March 2018). Pending patents cover existing and upcoming products and features that are under-development or slated for release. In addition, native aspects of the network's protocol and integration of multifactor ranking systems and neural networks into a peer-to-peer equity exchange are covered.
Traditional Broker Experience An advantage of being a traditional broker instead of a tokenized exchange is the ability to custody and onboard traditional equities. Tokenized platforms frequently state, “we are only a software firm and do not participate in regulated activities such as custodial or clearing services, order execution, investment advice, asset management, and other such financial services.” We believe this is to their detriment. Ahrvo’s custodian platform will offer front and back office services for firms. By focusing on a larger market (equities vs. cryptocurrency), AhrvoDEEX growth should exceed tokenized competitors.
Competent Blockchain Developers Ahrvo is working with a seasoned team of blockchain developers. The development firm is CMMI Level 3 and ISO 9001: 2015 certified. In total, we have access to a team of 35 blockchain developers but will be working with a team of 4-5 developers initially. Their experience includes: launching public and private blockchain by forking, creating native coins, changing specifications like reward logic, inflation rate, etc., and configuring mining tools.
Infrastructure Current market participants (mainly Ravencoin and Equibit) are forks of Bitcoin. We view this as a structural impediment given the nature of the industry (high transaction volume). The consensus protocol of their blockchains is Proof of Work (POW). In POW, miners require a lot of energy to validate transactions. The implicit and explicit cost associated with bitcoin-based platforms has become apparent when transaction volumes rise with the price of the underlying cryptocurrency. Ahrvo’s blockchain will be forked from Stellar, and use Proof of Stake (POS)- a more cost-efficient and environmentally friendly consensus protocol.
EXCHANGE LIST
Binance
Kucoin
Bibox
Huobi
SECURE WALLET
Ledgerwallet
Trezor
Ellipal
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Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs)

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We are more than proud that we not only promote but also share our knowledge with the students of the UBAI. Here you can learn how to do security token offering and initial coin offering!
Now I want to share some cool info on the purpose and role of tokens within the Blockchain ecosystem at the ICO stage.
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) History
Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) are a means of fundraising for the initial capital needed to get new projects off the ground within the cryptocurrency ecosystem. More often than not, Bitcoin and Ethereum, are used to buy a quantity of project tokens. However, new projects are also being launched on alternative Blockchain platforms such as NEO or WANchain, wherein the “parent” chain’s tokens will be used to fund these ICOs. Pre-launch, ICO tokens are endorsed as functional currency in the project ecosystem. After a project’s ICO, it is available on exchanges, and then the market determines the value of those tokens. The main benefit of using the ICO funding system is that it avoids the prohibitive amount of time and expense incurred by launching a startup in the conventional method, by way of Initial Public Offering (IPO). The lengthy and costly process of ensuring regulatory compliance in different jurisdictions often makes the IPO format unfeasible for small companies. Thus, the ICO method of fundraising is far more attractive as a means of crowd funding for the project. But at the same time, an ICO is certainly riskier for the investor.
It is important to note the different stages of the token sale. Token prices generally escalate the closer the token gets to its listing date. Projects often seek funding from angel investors even before the date of the private pre-sale is set, though some ICOs do go straight to pre-sale. After potential initial investment has been sought from angel investors, pre-sale begins. Usually there will be a 15–30% discount from the public sale price. The main-sale begins after the pre-sale has concluded. At that time, normal everyday crypto enthusiasts, with no connections to the team, may buy into the project at pretty close to the ground floor price. Angel investors and pre-sale investors sometimes receive quite large discounts from main sale prices, but their tokens are locked up for varying amounts of time, to prevent dumping, or selling all their tokens for a quick profit at the time of listing. Today the vast majority of ICOs make use of the Ethereum blockchain and the ERC-20 token. The very first token sale was arranged by Mastercoin, a Bitcoin fork, in July 2013. Ethereum soon followed in early 2014, raising 3700 BTC in only 12 hours (equivalent to $2.3 million at that time, and just under $35 million today). Before late 2015 there were sporadic ICOs, with Augur, NXT and Factom all successfully raising funds. 2016 was the year that the ICO format grew to truly disrupt the Venture Capital industry. There were 64 ICOs in 2016 which cumulatively raised $103 million USD.
Tremendous Success & Why Real World Case Study
The ICON (ICX) Initial coin offering is an example of a project that reaped the rewards of a token sale done with precision of execution and clarity of vision. The project promised to build a world-wide decentralized network that would allow Blockchains of different governances to transact with one another without a centralized authority, and with as few barriers as possible. ICX offered fair and clear tokenomics, with 1 Ether buying 2500 ICX, and with 1 ETH costing approximately 250 dollars when the ICO began on September 18th. 50% of the total amount of tokens were put up for public sale, 400,230,000 out of a total of 800,460,000, equating to a fundraising goal of 150,000 Ether. One of the core reasons for the project’s spectacular success was the incredibly distinguished background of those involved, and the foundation the project had in many years of stellar achievement. ICON was originally a project developed by “The Loop”, a joint venture between DAYLI financial group and three Korean Universities. They lead the Korea Financial Investment Blockchain Consortium, one of the largest organizations of its kind in the world, boasting members including Samsung Securities. The Loop had already implemented Blockchain solutions for high profile clients well before ICX was born, including completing a KYC/AML authentication smart contract platform for Korea Financial Investment Consortium.
Real World Example of Failure & Why Case Study
The risk involved in starting your own company is huge. Over 75% of startups eventually fail, according to the Harvard Business School study by Shikhar Ghosh. The study’s findings show the rate of failure for new companies is roughly 50% after 5 years, and over 75% after 10. Shikhar Ghosh identifies the following issues as the most common factors in start-up failure: -Insufficient Market Demand -Insolvency -Wrong Team -Got beat by competition -Pricing/Cost issues -Poor Product -Need for or Lack of business model -Ineffective Marketing -Disregarding Customer desires The statistics concerning rate of failure for conventional business startups pale in comparison to the number of crypto startups that fail according to Tokendata. They are one of the most rigorous ICO trackers, recording 46% of the 902 ICO crowdsale projects initiated in 2017 as failing by the time of writing. Of these 46%, 142 collapsed before the end of the funding stage, and a further 276 had either “exit scammed” (took the money and ran) or slowly faded into eventual obscurity. With no shortage of failed and abortive projects to look into, we thought it would be more helpful to look into an ICO that was mismanaged and unsuccessful in terms of its execution, rather than being fraudulent, or terminally mismanaged.
Real World Example of Failure & Why §3
Tezos was designed as a “new decentralized Blockchain that governs itself by establishing a true digital commonwealth”. The project was a partnership between the husband and wife team of Kathleen and Arthur Breitman, and a Swiss foundation run by Johann Gevers. They had a novel idea of “formal verification”, a technique that mathematically proves the veracity of code governing transactions and heightens security of smart contracts. That idea was wholeheartedly endorsed by investors, resulting in $232 million USD raised in the 2017 crowdsale. Trouble arose after the Breitmans asked the head of the Swiss foundation they were in partnership with to step down. In Gever’s words, the Breitman’s were attempting “to bypass Swiss legal structure and take over control of the foundation”. The resulting 6 class action lawsuits that were spawned from the wreckage of one of the most successful ICOs of all time have yet to be fully resolved at the time of writing, though Gevers has stepped down and a new leadership team is in place. The Tezos Network has a prospective launch date of somewhere around Q3 2018. The debacle, though not terminal to the prospects of the Tezos network, provides a cautionary tale about the need for a clearly defined leadership structure and plan for the allocation of funds after an ICO. It is entirely possible that the Tezos project could have ridden the late 2017 market euphoria to sit near the top of the cryptocurrency hierarchy if boardroom strife could have been avoided.
Real World Example of Failure & Why §4
Projects often also “pivot” from one focus or project to another. More often than not, teams change the project name entirely, even while retaining the same core team, to try for a successful venture one more time. One such project is Chain Trade Token (CTT) which, while technically speaking, not yet a “deadcoin”, shows all the signs of shutting down operations within a few months, and “pivoting” into a new project. The CTT project aimed to be the “first blockchain-based platform for the trading of futures and options on food and raw materials (aka commodity derivatives)”. But through a combination of a non-existent social media presence, and a distinct lack of urgency in securing listings beyond decentralized exchanges, the lofty ambitions of the top-level team were left unrealized. The team has supposedly split their operations from solely Chain Trade, to a former business endeavors, and the Nebula Decentralized Exchange. The project leaders then offered a 1-for-1 token swap which has been accepted by the vast majority of CTT holders.
The ICO Process
Before even researching the particular strengths and weaknesses of any specific project in which you may want to invest, it is important to know the overall processes of the ICO crowdfunding method. This will allow you to avoid any potential pitfalls if you do decide to move forward and invest money into a particular idea or project. How does an ICO happen? Stage One: Token sale details are set: This takes place usually after release of the whitepaper, and the presentation of a project to prospective investors in forums and on social media. Stage Two: Whitelisting for private sale begins: The vast majority of all ICOs have instituted KYC checks for investors which usually involve uploading a photograph of your passport or driving license along with a selfie holding the ID. Did you know? Participation in ICOs has proven to be a regulatory nightmare in some localities. Most token sales restrict contributions from investors in China and the USA entirely, though accredited investors may participate in the USA in some cases.
Stage Three: Private/Pre-sale states: Typically, 10% of tokens will be offered to early investors at a 10–30% discount. These select few investors will likely have a close association with the team. But not all projects have a pre-sale round, some go straight to public sale. Stage Four: Whitelisting for Public/Main sale starts: The same format used for pre-sale investors is used for public sale investors, though it is a regular occurrence to see main sale KYC checks closed early due to overwhelming demand. An investor must then register a contribution wallet address. That is the address used to send cryptocurrency from, to buy the ICO tokens, and then also into which you will receive your purchased tokens. This wallet address must be a non-exchange wallet, like Blockchain.info bitcoin wallet, or MyEtherWallet for ERC-20. You already understand from the prior lesson that making a mistake with your wallet address may mean you lose the tokens forever as well as the BTC or ETH you used to purchase them. Copying and pasting your cryptocurrency public key into the whitelist wallet form is the next task to complete. And then, as the investor, you wait for confirmation of successful ICO registration from the team.
Stage Five: Public sale starts: Commonly on a specific date, though sometimes for a specific period of time. If you are interested in participating in an ICO, it is important to make your contribution as quickly as possible, or you risk sending your ETH or BTC after the hard cap has been reached, resulting in your funds being sent back. This refund can sometimes take many days, or even weeks in times of high market activity. Did you know? In 2017 it was not unheard of to find ICOs that had originally scheduled their ICO period for many weeks, but then they met with such high demand that they could close their crowdsale in a matter of hours or even in just a few minutes!
Stage Six: Tokens are allocated to successful participant investor wallets, and trading can begin on some decentralized exchanges like IDEX, or EtherDelta in the case of Ethereum based tokens. Tokens will be sent to and received by the wallet addresses from which the investor contributions were made. Stage Seven: Tokens are listed on mainstream exchanges: The tokens will then be listed on the exchanges with which the teams have negotiated listing, prior to or during the sale. It can cost huge amounts of money to list on large exchanges like Bitfinex Bittrex, Huobi or Binance, so usually smaller projects will not be listed on top 10 exchanges so quickly. As tokens are listed on more and more exchanges, their price usually rises because more and more investors are exposed to opportunities to buy that particular token.
Evaluating a Blockchain Use Case
Evaluating a particular use case for Blockchain technology, and thus how successful an ICO project’s ambitions might be in a particular market, is not a simple endeavor. As demonstrated in the graphic below, Blockchain technology has nearly limitless potential to be applied to a great variety of business areas, but as an ICO investor, you are looking for projects that have the potential to deliver significant long-term success. In the currently saturated ICO environment, some use cases have more potential than others. Ascertaining which use case is likely to have long term success is a key distinction. Also, we must recognize that businesses and corporate entities may be overeager to experiment with this new Blockchain technology, whether or not usage of the technology is actually advisable or profitable for their particular purpose. The main questions to ask when analyzing specific solutions proposed by the project are: What are the problems posed and the solutions offered? Does this particular area of business need a Blockchain solution? That is, is a Blockchain solution in fact superior to the current way this particular business operates? Is the use of Blockchain in this specific instance feasible and applicable? What are competitors doing about Blockchain projects in this same area?
A Blockchain network provides a shared, replicated, secured, immutable and verifiable data ledger. The implication for use case analysis: Shared and replicated: participants have a copy of the ledger and many people can view it or work on it Secured: Secured through cryptography Verifiable: Business rules are associated with all interactions that occur on the network Immutable: Transactions (records) cannot be modified or deleted, therefore a verifiable audit trail is maintained by the network So, with all this considered, what should we look for with regard to a possible business use case that would be best solved using Blockchain technology? 1. Data exchange that has trust issues i.e. businesses transacting with one another. Trust must be established through a multitude of verification processes with regards to employees and products. These processes increase operational cost. Example: Digital voting. 2. Any potential business process involving data storage, or compliance and risk data that get audited. Blockchain solutions would provide the regulators a real-time view of information. Example: Supply chain solutions like VeChain or WaltonChain. The possibility of close to zero operational loss would of course be attractive to any business. 3. All kinds of asset transactions. A Blockchain network, with its tamper-proof ledger, validating traceable and trackable transactions, could save many different industries untold amounts of money. Example: Tokenization of assets e.g. Jibrel Network or Polymath
Purpose of Tokens
Within the cryptocurrency ecosystem, the definition and role of a token iswidely understood. They represent programmable units of currency that sit atop a particular Blockchain, and they are part of a smart contract “logic” specific to a certain application. In the business sphere, a token can be defined as a unit of value that a project or business venture creates to enable it to self-govern. And the business venture also allows token users to connect and collaborate with its business products, while facilitating the sharing of rewards to all of its stakeholders. A token can also be described in a more general sense as a type of privately issued currency. In the past it was solely within the purview of governments to issue currency and set the terms of its governance. With the advent of Blockchain technology we now have businesses and organizations offering forms of digital money over which they, not the government or central bank, have control of the terms of operations and issuance. Wide scale adoption of these mechanisms could fundamentally alter the global economy. This is like the creation of self-sustaining, mini-economies in any sector of business or life, via a specific token or currency.
Fun Fact: Tokens of the particular Blockchain upon which the project is launched will usually have to be bought in order to be exchanged for ICO tokens, hence it is important for traders and investors to be aware of the schedule for upcoming ICOs. ETH is usually the token used for exchange because the majority of ICOs launch on the Ethereum Blockchain. But this is not always the case. During January 2018, two NEO token ICOs, both the Key TKY and Ontology ICOs, were being carried out, and this caused the NEO cryptocurrency to spike to its all-time high in excess of $160 USD. Since the product or project is more often than not in its embryonic stage at the time of the ICO crowdfunding process, the ICO token’s true function and purpose is in most cases yet to be realized. At the ICO stage the tokens can usually be grouped together into one of three categories. Knowing how to distinguish these categories involves determining the specific nature and function of the token around which the project is centered. The main and crucial distinction, is whether or not a token is a security, and therefore subject to securities registration requirements.
ICO Stage Token Categories
Howey Test: This is the test created by the US Supreme Court to ascertain whether certain transactions qualify as “investment contracts”. If they are found to fall within this classification, then under the Securities Act of 1933 and the Exchange Act of 1934, those transactions are considered “securities” and participants must adhere to registration and disclosure requirements. One of the most important and amazing considerations of the effect of Blockchain technology is that normal people with a computer science background are now empowered to make decisions and offer products and services that previously only licensed financial institutions were able to do. This is a very complex and complicated situation with serious ramifications for anyone involved. One thing to note well is that ordinary participants and actors in this arena can easily commit white-collar crime, violating serious securities laws, without even realizing it. If a token falls within the US legal definition of “Investment Contract” then you must adhere to US regulations. For that reason, many ICOs simply do not want to sell to US based investors, perhaps until all the rules and regulations are clarified.
Security Tokens
The broad and varying definition of the term “security” is a regulatory minefield. This has always been true for traditional financial products, and now it is especially true for the as yet unregulated cryptocurrency market. In the case of SEC V. Howey, parameters were established to determine whether or not a particular financial arrangement could be classified as a security and thus be subject to securities regulations. Cooley LLP Fintech Team Leader Marco Santori has said, an arrangement is a security if it involves “an investment of money, and a common enterprise, with the expectation of profit, primarily from the efforts of others.” Investors have the option of accessing a huge range of security tokens through ICOs. Prime examples are the gold backed DigixDao (DGD) and CProp (still in crowd funding stage). A security token is fundamentally different from the currently available ICO project tokens in that it provides a legal and enforceable ownership of a company’s profits and voice in its governance much like common stock traded on any exchange. If security tokens are the next step in the evolution of crypto-finance, real estate, stocks, venture capital, and commodities can all be tokenized. The traditional markets could be fully connected to the Blockchain. Financial assets would available to anyone in the world, not just licensed or accredited investors. That is one aspect of Fintech, the financial revolution taking place today, as Blockchain technology clashes with traditional finance.
Equity Tokens
One exciting application of smart contracts on the Ethereum Network is the potential for startups to distribute equity tokens through initial coin offerings. That would reduce the hurdles that an average person has to face in order to take part in the early stages of a company’s development. And, democratic governance of a project could be conducted in a transparent manner through voting on the Blockchain. As of yet, few startups have attempted to conduct equity token sales for fear of falling afoul of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in the US. But many Venture Capital insiders are bullish on the prospect of equity tokens taking a central role in the crypto finance industry, when and as the legal issues are resolved. For example, the Delaware State legislature recently passed a bill enabling companies to maintain shareholder lists on the Blockchain. That is one major step to enable Blockchain based stock trading. Lawyers also generally believe it is only a matter of time before the regulations are clarified. Did you know? Important consideration: The Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 made it unfeasibly expensive for smaller companies to be listed on exchanges, causing a halving in the number of IPOs between 1996 and 2016 (7322 to 3671). In 2017 there was an almost 5-fold increase in the number of ICOs, from 43 to 210, with the 2017 volume already being eclipsed in the first 5 months of 2018.
Utility Tokens
However, given that this area is still a regulatory nightmare for people planning to issue security and equity tokens, many projects attempt to ensure that the tokens within their specific model fall under the definition of Utility Tokens rather than securities, so as to avoid the SEC regulations altogether. If a token is imbued with a certain functionality and use within the Blockchain infrastructure of that particular project, the token can avoid being labelled as a security, and thus render SEC regulations inapplicable. Just this week in fact, the SEC made the long-awaited and momentous decision that Ether was not a security. In the words of William Hinman, director of the Securities and Exchange Commission division of corporate finance, “Putting aside the fundraising that accompanied the creation of Ether, based on my understanding of the present state of Ether, the Ethereum network and its decentralized structure, current offers and sales of Ether are not securities transactions.” This means that Ethereum, in fact, fails the Howey test, which is exactly the decision the crypto world wanted. Hinman said, “When the efforts of the third party are no longer a key factor for determining the enterprise’s success, material information asymmetries recede,” Hinman said. “The ability to identify an issuer or promoter to make the requisite disclosures becomes difficult, and less meaningful.” We will now cover various use cases that projects have been adopting up to now in order to get their tokens classified as utility tokens rather than securities.
Voting Rights
Some coins portray themselves as a company with tokens being held in a way that is analogous to voting shares of a stock. One coin held is equal to one vote. This form of token utility has a major flaw in that so-called whales (people with huge amounts of a particular cryptocurrency) can manipulate any poll conducted. The cryptocurrencies Aragon and Lykke are examples of projects that have written voting rights into the structure of their code. In-App Reward: Another common tactic to evade the security label has been the addition of in-app rewards to the functionality of a particular token. The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is the unit of currency for use with the project browser named “Brave”. The BAT is a unit of account for the advertisers, publishers and users of the platform. Filecoin, the cloud storage project that raised a record $257 million through their ICO, pays other people or companies for use of their spare storage space. Some of the many rights afforded to token holders in various Blockchain projects are described by the graphic below.
Token Roles Function
The token can be used as a mechanism through which user experience is enhanced, enabling such actions as connection with users, or joining a broader network. It may also be used as an incentive for beginning usage or for on-boarding. Examples include Dfinity and Steemit. Value Exchange: In its most basic usage, a token is a unit of value exchange within a specific app or market. This usually is made up of features that allow users to earn tokens through real work or passive work (sharing data, allowing use of storage space) and to spend them on services or internal functions within the specific market ecosystem created by that organization. Augur and KIK, amongst countless others, are projects that have implemented this functionality into their tokenomics. Toll: The token can also be used for getting onto the Blockchain infrastructure, or for powering decentralized applications run on that particular Blockchain. This ensures that users have “skin in the game”. Tolls can be derived from running smart contracts, paying a security deposit, or just usage fees. Examples include Bitcoin and Ethereum. Currency: Seeing as the particular platform or app is designed with a view towards functioning in synergy with a particular token, the token is an extremely efficient means of payment and transaction engine, resulting in frictionless transactions. This means that companies can become their own payment processors and no longer have to rely on the often unwieldy stages of conventional financial settlement involving trusted third parties in the form of banks and credit card companies.
Rights: Owning a token bequests certain rights upon the holder, such as product usage, voting, access to restricted markets, and dividends (e.g.: GAS for holding NEO). Though most businesses are trying to avoid fitting the definition of a security laid out in the Howey Test, the right to real ownership of a particular asset is sometimes granted as a result of holding a token, for example DigixDAO or Tezos.
Comparison to Traditional IPO and Equity Capital Raisings
Despite the similarity of the acronyms and the derivation of one from the other, Initial Coin Offerings and Initial Public Offerings are very different methods of fundraising. The distinction is not limited simply to the fact that IPOs are used in conventional business, and ICOs are associated with cryptocurrency. Through ICO’s, companies in their early stages issue digital tokens on a Blockchain and those tokens act as units of value for use within the ecosystem created by the project. They have many other uses, but it is also fair to say they are analogous to shares offered in an Initial Public offering.
In an IPO, shareholdings are distributed to investors through underwriters, usually investment banks. But in the case of ICO token sales, companies often do not even have an actual product to show. Often, all that there is a whitepaper, evidence of the partnerships involved and the particular social-media infrastructure they have established. IPO’s take place when a more well-established company floats shares on a stock exchange. The company would have a well-established history of success and significant reasons to expect a bright future. In the vast majority of cases, an ICO is used for a new company with no such history, just trying to get off the ground.
Another important difference is the expected return in exchange for the investment. Companies engaging in IPOs may offer participants dividend paying stocks which result in various levels of return depending on the success of the company after the shares are issued. An ICO however can offer no such guaranteed return. When buying tokens in an ICO, you do so with no promise of return. An investor who holds the tokens of a particular project does so with the promise, rather than an assurance, of future success. The main benefit to investors taking part in Initial Coin Offerings, compared to Initial Public Offerings, is the need for only basic Know Your Customer checks in the case of the ICO, compared to the costly, complex and time-consuming regulatory obstacles that must be traversed in an IPO. In the case of Initial Public Offerings, a business must obtain authorization from a number of entities before the act of “going public”. Prior to an IPO, companies are not obliged to disclose so much of their internal records or accounting. It is not so complicated to make a private company in the United States. But in the run up to going public, the company must form a board of directors, make their records auditable to the relevant authorities in one or more jurisdictions, and prepare to make quarterly reports to the SEC (or equivalent).
Relevant Factors to Consider in ICO process
When analyzing the chances of success for a specific project, and the likelihood of a favorable return on investment in the long term, it is essential to break down the project into its constituent parts, and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each part individually. An effective investigation and analysis would start with the team and white paper. Consider the stage the project is at,and VC investments in the project. That would lead to a good initial idea of the actual progress thus far. Next, evaluate the social media presence and the credentials of the community that has formed around the core team. If a compelling case is made by the team, (e.g.: via an in-depth dive into the use case), and the tokenomics, distribution schedule, potential competitors, as well as the team’s awareness of any future business or regulatory concerns all check out; then the ICO might present a good opportunity for investment. In the following slides we tackle each of these considerations in order so you will be able to evaluate an ICO’s worth and assign a grade for the success of each project.
Relevant Factors to Consider in ICO process
The Team First and most important, we need evaluate the background and experience of the team, the people involved in the project. Well-established developers, for example, will likely have LinkedIn profiles demonstrating their previous endeavors and occupations, from which we can judge their suitability to the project and the likelihood of the team’s success. The LinkedIn profile is a point of reference for professional accomplishments and official positions. But we can also learn more about a person from their personal accounts on Twitter, Facebook, and Medium etc. That is also a good way to follow along with the progress of the project. By investigating team members through as many means as possible, you will know how long they have been involved in cryptocurrency. If they have been around and active for a long time, they are that much more likely to be knowledgeable and capable of making better quality decisions in this business. It goes without saying that it is a huge red flag if it is too difficult to find information about the team members online, and worse still if the team members are anonymous.
Relevant Factors to Consider in ICO process
A good Whitepaper gives a detailed description of the project, the problems the team is going to solve, the timeframe projected, and methods to be used in the implementation of their ideas. If, in answering the question about what the project actually does, it seems the team is presenting ideas that are too complicated or advanced to understand, then you simply should not invest until you are satisfied you have been given the requisite level of insight to understand the concepts described. It is always possible that the whitepaper is nothing more than a salad of buzzwords and technical language intended to give the impression of competence while really doing nothing but obfuscate the truth. The whitepaper should clearly and concisely present the problems and the solutions needed. The whitepaper must give a solid and coherent answer as to who needs this project and why. Also, if the team have put no effort into explaining why a Blockchain solution is needed for this particular problem, or why such a solution is superior to its “real-world” equivalent, it is likely they are only in it for the money. We have more to say about red-flags later.
While 2016 raised a comparatively small amount in comparison to the proceeding years, there were a few specific projects that raised significant amounts of capital. These are respectable amounts of money, even by today’s standards, and especially impressive when contrasted with the immaturity of the ICO market at the time, and relative to amounts raised in traditional IPOs. Waves ($16.4mill), Iconomi ($10.6mill) and Golem ($8.6mill) were the three largest fundraisings of the year. 2017 was the year of the ICO whales. Hdac ($258mill), Filecoin ($257mill), EOS Stage 1 ($185mill) and Paragon ($183.16mill) were the largest that year. To be able to raise so much money, so quickly, in such a new market, using such a new mechanism is truly incredible. 2017 was the year that proved ICOs are for serious individuals and institutional investors as well. We have also had some phenomenal amounts raised so far in 2018. Telegram ($1.7bill), Dragon ($320mill), Huobi ($300mill) and Bankera ($150mill). Telegram might be the first mainstream example of an ICO, not only by raising close to $2billion, which would be beyond incredible and impressive even by traditional IPO standards; but also, because it is one of the first ICO companies to tangibly put a product in the hands of hundreds of millions of users, and successfully compete against traditional companies such as Facebook (MessengeWhatsApp), Microsoft (Skype) and Tencent (WeChat).
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