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Bitcoin Has ‘No Intrinsic Value,’ As U.K. ‘Moves Towards’ Crypto Ban

Bitcoin and cryptocurrency regulation has been pushed into the limelight over recent weeks, thanks to social media giant Facebook’s high profile plans to launch its own potential rival to bitcoin sometime next year.

The bitcoin price, which had been climbing on rumors that big technology companies were taking an interest in bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, has plateaued at around $10,000 per bitcoin after a number of countries rebuffed Facebook’s plans, unveiled in June.

Now, the U.K.’s financial services watchdog has warned potential investors that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies have “no intrinsic value,” with some taking the caution as a signal the country could be moving towards a bitcoin ban.

“This is a small, complex and evolving market covering a broad range of activities,” said Christopher Woolard, executive director of strategy and competition at the U.K. Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which oversees London’s huge banking industry.

“Today’s guidance will help clarify which crypto-asset activities fall inside our regulatory perimeter,” Woolard added, with the FCA warning: “Consumers should be cautious when investing in such crypto-assets and should ensure they understand and can bear the risks involved with assets that have no intrinsic value.”

The FCA branding bitcoin and cryptocurrencies as without “intrinsic value” is likely to rile many bitcoin believers who have long argued blockchain technology, which underpins bitcoin and most other cryptocurrencies, gives the digital tokens value.

“It is technically true that cryptocurrencies have no ‘intrinsic value’ when compared to share ownership in actual companies, however there are many examples where a marketplace bestows value on an intangible asset,” Jon Ostler, of comparison site Finder.com, told the U.K.’s Telegraph newspaper. “For example, the brand of ‘bitcoin’ itself has value and although its future place in society is still unclear, it is one of the most likely coins to stay the course.”

The warning from the U.K. comes shortly after U.S. president Donald Trump unleashed a scathing attack on bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, comments that were then echoed by other senior officials in his administration, including Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin who branded bitcoin and cryptocurrencies a “national security issue.”

It’s thought that Trump’s attacks on bitcoin and crypto were in direct response to Facebook’s libra cryptocurrency project, which, if successful, could undermine the international dominance of the U.S. dollar.

“Although not a ban, [the U.K.’s FCA warning is] a move in that direction,” said Herbert Sim, head of business development from Broctagon Fintech Group. “This lack of enthusiasm is shared by several countries; the U.S. with its scrutiny of libra, and India, who are looking to implement a similar ban on cryptocurrencies which are not state regulated. These movements could end up coming back to bite. The international competition on cryptocurrencies is heating up and there are huge risks in being left behind.”

Meanwhile, the watchdog warned investing in what it called “unregulated crypto-assets” will not be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme, which pays out if the investment collapses.

“It remains possible in the future that if an unregulated token is subject to common acceptance and usage in the U.K. then either the FCA or the Bank of England will reconsider this position in order to ensure that adequate consumer protection exists,” said Tim Dolan, partner at law firm Reed Smith.

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I am a journalist with significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business around the world. As the founding editor of Verdict.co.uk

 

Source: Bitcoin Has ‘No Intrinsic Value,’ As U.K. ‘Moves Towards’ Crypto Ban

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Bitcoin Plunged Below $8,000–Did This Cause The Sudden Price Drop?

bitcoin, bitcoin price, image

Bitcoin, which has been swinging wildly over recent weeks, has crashed under $8,000—suddenly losing almost $1,000 per bitcoin in a matter of minutes last night.

The bitcoin price, down around 8% over the last 24 hour trading period, is still up around double where it began this year after a terrible 2018 that saw many of the world’s biggest cryptocurrencies including bitcoin lose around 80% of their value.

It’s been suggested the latest sudden bitcoin sell-off, which sent the wider cryptocurrency market sharply lower, was caused by a so-called bitcoin whale selling a large amount of bitcoin then buying it back after the market has dropped due to the influx of supply—potentially earning millions of dollars in the process.

Last night a large bitcoin holder moved some 25,000 bitcoin, worth more than $200 million, from an off-exchange wallet to the San Francisco-based Coinbase bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange, as reported by a bitcoin and cryptocurrency whale tracking Twitter bot.

Shortly after that, 14,000 bitcoin, worth $112 million, was moved from Coinbase to another wallet, then a further 11,000 bitcoin, worth $88 million.

“If you do a little math and follow the timeline, it’s not hard to see that someone dumped 25,000 bitcoin for $215 million and bought it back shortly after for $200 million,” wrote Reddit user u/makoveli in a post to popular cryptocurrency forum r/cryptocurrency. “In doing so, they pocketed $15 million and walked away with the same amount of bitcoin as they started with.”

Bitcoin, despite being the most widely traded cryptocurrency with trading volume into the billions of dollars every day, still struggles with wild price swings due to large holders moving significant volumes of bitcoin.

bitcoin, bitcoin price, chart

The bitcoin price has risen and fallen sharply multiple times over recent weeks.

Following the sharp bitcoin price plunge, other major cryptocurrencies including ethereum, Ripple’s XRP, litecoin, EOS, and bitcoin cash all fell with EOS leading the field lower, down over 10% on yesterday’s price, according to CoinMarketCap data.

Bitcoin SV, a variant of bitcoin cash, itself a fork of bitcoin, was the only top 10 cryptocurrency largely unaffected by the sudden sell-off—something that will likely further speculation the controversial token suffers from low liquidity and high price manipulation.

You can follow me on Twitter @billybambrough and read my other Forbes posts here

Disclosure: I occasionally hold some small amount of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies

I am a journalist with significant experience covering technology, finance, economics, and business around the world.

Source: Bitcoin Plunged Below $8,000–Did This Cause The Sudden Price Drop?

Warren Buffett: ‘Gambling Device Bitcoin Hasn’t Produced Anything’

Turns out 88-year-old Warren Buffett isn’t warming up to crypto after all. Speaking at what’s been dubbed the “Woodstock of Capitalism”, the billionaire investor told shareholders in Berkshire Hathaway how he really feels about bitcoin. His company’s annual shareholder event is being held in Omaha today, and he just couldn’t resist lamenting the digital currency that he just doesn’t understand. Buffett reportedly stated:

“It’s a gambling device… there’s been a lot of frauds connected with it. There’s been disappearances, so there’s a lot lost on it. Bitcoin hasn’t produced anything.”

At least Buffett didn’t call it “rat poison squared” like he did last year. His partner in crime, Charlie Munger, reportedly once compared crypto trading to “dementia.” Buffett’s shareholders probably come to Omaha just to hear what he’ll say next about the crypto revolution taking the economy by storm.

bitcoin

The bitcoin price is barreling for $5,700. | Source: CoinMarketCap

BITCOIN ‘ISN’T AN INVESTMENT’

Buffett didn’t stop there. He went on to insult investors who not only have benefitted from the peer-to-peer nature of bitcoin but he also suggested that it’s not an investment at all. Tell that to the 100-million strong crypto community, many of whom have seen their portfolios balloon since the bitcoin price hit a new 2019 high this week. Buffett is digging his own grave, so to speak, saying:

“It doesn’t do anything. It just sits there. It’s like a seashell or something, and that is not an investment to me.”

Bitcoin’s market cap is now $101 billion; it’s increased from $89 billion in the past two weeks or so. If that’s a seashell, then take us to the beach so we can start collecting them.

berkshire hathaway

Berkshire Hathaway shares are underperforming the S&P 500 year-to-date. | Source: Yahoo Finance

WARREN BUFFETT’S BUTTON ICO

He went on to seemingly poke fun at ICOs next because he couldn’t possibly mean bitcoin when he says:

“I’ll tear off a button here. What I’ll have here is a little token…I’ll offer it to you for $1000, and I’ll see if I can get the price up to $2000 by the end of the day… But the button has one use and it’s a very limited use.”

Hmm, let’s see. Bitcoin is a store of value that rivals gold. It is a peer-to-peer digital currency that gives migrants a way to send money to their families faster and cheaper than any money-transfer service without the blockchain can do. And it’s decentralized, so it’s not subject to the whims of any central bank or government that turns on the printing press and causes inflation.

IMF to crypto: “please be gentle with our house of cards” https://www.cnbc.com/2019/04/11/cryptocurrencies-fintech-clearly-shaking-the-system-imfs-lagarde.html 

Cryptocurrencies are ‘clearly shaking the system,’ IMF’s Lagarde says

IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said Wednesday that new technologies like digital assets and cryptocurrencies are having a clear impact on the banking sector.

cnbc.com

Whether he realizes it or not, Buffett is spreading FUD about bitcoin and the blockchain, saying:

“Blockchain…is very big, but it didn’t need bitcoin. J.P. Morgan, of course, came out with their own cryptocurrency.”

Blockchain pioneer Wences Casares once said that people who fail to recognize the value of bitcoin but believe in blockchain tech demonstrate an “ignorance for how the system works.” We’ll leave Warren with Wences’ words of wisdom:

“Blockchain doesn’t exist without bitcoin…If you were to remove the bitcoin, miners would disappear and so would the blockchain.”

Source: Warren Buffett: ‘Gambling Device Bitcoin Hasn’t Produced Anything’

You Can Now Buy Crypto With Visa and Mastercard via Binance App for Android – Siamak Masnavi

On Thursday (April 25), Binance announced that its mobile app for Android now lets you buy with Mastercard or Visa some of the most popular cryptocurrencies that are listed on Binance.com.

According to Binance, this support for cryptocurrency purchases via debit/credit cards, which is possible as a result of the partnership with Fintech startup Simplex that was announced on January 31, is available in version 1.5.8.0 or higher of the “Binance – Cryptocurrency Exchange” app for Android.

Since January 31, it is has been possible to buy on the main Binance website (Binance.com) Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCHABC), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC), and XRP using debit/credit cards (Mastercard and Visa). Then, on March 12, it became possible to do the same on Trust Wallet (Binance’s official non-custodial wallet app). And now, the Binance app for Android joins the party by offering the same feature.

Here is what you need to do to buy crypto via debit/credit cards on the Binance app for Android:

  • Tap on the “Credit Card” button, which is the last button on the toolbar you see in the middle of the “Home” screen. This takes you to the “Buy Bitcoin” screen.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 1 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

  • On the “Buy Bitcoin” screen, you can choose from a dropdown list the cryptocurrency you want to buy (BTC, XRP, ETH, LTC, or BCHABC), specify the quantity of a particular cryptocurrency that you want to buy, and choose the fiat currency (USD or EUR) you want to pay with.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 2 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

  • You will then be shown the total amount (including the fee) that you will get charged if you go ahead with the purchase.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 3 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

  • Once you tap on the “Buy Now” button on this screen, you will be shown a “Confirm Your Order” screen.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 5 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

  • If you then tap on the “Accept, go to payment” button on the confirmation screen, you will be taken to the checkout screen on Simplex.com, where you will be asked to enter into a form your personal details (email, phone number, date of birth) and your card details.

Binance App for Android - Screenshot 6 - 25 Apr 2019.jpg

Source: CryptoGlobe

Germany Is The European Leader Of Bitcoin & Ethereum Nodes

 

In what is emerging to be an interesting trend on the bitcoin network, Germany is fast growing as a hub for bitcoin nodes, as it is now responsible for 20% of all public nodes, inching closer to the United States, which accounts for 25% of bitcoin nodes.

Rounding off the top 5 for bitcoin nodes is France, Netherlands, and Canada. China may be experiencing a drop in mining after China’s strict approach to the cryptocurrency industry in recent times, and it is possible that miners may configured nodes to be publicly unreachable.

Similarly, it is also growing in terms of the number of Ethereum nodes, coming second again to United States, with 13% as opposed to the latter’s 28%. Data on the number of Ethereum nodes is conflicting, depending on the source. Here, China, France and Singapore complete the top 5.

Whatever the exact figure, it is clear that Germany is emerging as a hub for crypto activity. The nation’s authorities themselves are looking into the matter of crypto regulation.

Abhimanyu Krishnan
About Abhimanyu Krishnan

Abhimanyu is an engineer on paper but a writer by living. To him, the most celebratory aspect of blockchain technology is its democratic nature. While he’s hodling, he can be found reading a good book or making the local dogs howl with the sound of his guitar playing.

Source: Germany Is The European Leader Of Bitcoin & Ethereum Nodes

This Awful Bitcoin Stat Guarantees It’s Not Crypto’s Future: Mathematician

With all the hype about blockchains and their many uses, we shouldn’t forget the original purpose for the Bitcoin blockchain and Nakamoto’s great leap forward.

Blockchains and cryptocurrencies were created to be decentralized currencies, replacing or complementing fiat currencies. For the most avid crypto fans, crypto is the future of currency and will eventually handle full-scale economies. We dream of the day that we laugh and tell our kids and grandkids that we had physical wallets, paper currencies, and things called “credit cards” (“Grandpa, seriously, you are so old!”).

Preparing the Crypto Economy for Mass Adoption

So what has to happen in order for us to run economies on the blockchain?

There are several hurdles we still need to clear, like getting the value of these currencies to be stable, handling privacy in a sensible way, and getting confirmation speeds fast enough for point-of-sale transactions.

By far the most glaring hurdle, however, is throughput. We need to be able to handle many, many more transactions per second than any current blockchain is capable of. At 13 transactions per second (a high estimate), Bitcoin can handle just over a million transactions per day. For niche, small economies, this might do the trick. But it certainly won’t do it for, say, the US economy.

Let’s put this into perspective. In 2017, the US gross domestic product (GDP) was almost $20 trillion. GDP isn’t a great measure of how much money changes hands during the year, but for our purposes, it’s close enough. If about $20 trillion changed hands in the US in 2017, then about $54 billion changed hands every day (20 trillion divided by 365). Ignoring how slowly Bitcoin processes transactions, if it were to handle $54 billion in transactions in one day, transactions would have to be on average about $54,000 (54 billion divided by 1 million).

What? Your everyday transactions aren’t $54,000 on average? Of course not. Between 2012 and 2017, US consumers spent roughly $80 per transaction online.

bitcoin is bad for payments

Bitcoin doesn’t look like a candidate to replace credit cards in the online payments realm. | Source: Statista

In 2016, transactions on Amex credit cards averaged about $141, and those on Visa averaged about $80. While it is true that corporations tend to transact in higher dollar amounts, it’s still likely that the crypto community is still a few orders of magnitude away from being able to handle all the transactions in an economy on a single blockchain.

If, based on the statistics I just gave, we assume that transactions are about $100 on average, then $54 billion would change hands every day in roughly 540 million transactions (54 billion divided by 100). That boils down to about 6,000 transactions per second on average. If we take into account the fact that most people transact during the day, a quick recalculation yields about 10,000 transactions in an average daytime second (instead of dividing by 24 hours of the day, divide by 16 to account for about 8 hours of sleep).

This estimate is probably about right. There are roughly 324 million people in the United States, and about 5 million businesses. If we assume that people and businesses, on average, transact 1.5 times per day, then we have about 500 million transactions per day (329 million entities multiplied by 1.5). This is close to our estimate of 540 million daily transactions from before, which gives about 10,000 transactions per daytime second in the United States.

Bitcoin Would Need to Increase Transaction Capacity By Four Orders of Magnitude to Replace Visa

Mastercard, Visa, Bitcoin

With Bitcoin’s staggeringly-limited transaction capacity, it’s unrealistic to believe it can rival Visa or Mastercard – much less both. | Source: Shutterstock

Getting back to the original question, how many transactions per second does a blockchain have to be able to handle in order to support the United States economy? Our rough calculation of 10,000 transactions per second is almost certainly not enough, but it does give a base from which we can work. To give perspective, Visa processes about 1,700 transactions per second on average but at peak times it can handle up to about 24,000 transactions per second. Their max limit is just over an order of magnitude higher than the average, in order to handle high-volume days like Black Friday or the post-Christmas wave of returns.

Taking Visa’s data as an example, since 10,000 transactions per second is our rough estimate for the average, we’d probably need to be able to handle around 100,000 transactions per second to really kill it (one order of magnitude higher than the average, similar to Visa). That’s a lot. More precisely, that’s about 10,000 times faster than Bitcoin—a whopping difference of four orders of magnitude.

To me, this says that our methods of finding consensus on a blockchain are simply not fast or powerful enough to actually use crypto as a viable currency. We need innovations in infrastructure, hardware, and consensus algorithms in order to even hope to reach this threshold.

Bitcoin Is Not the Future of Crypto

bitcoin

Derek Sorensen believes Bitcoin is definitely not the future of crypto. | Source: Shutterstock

That is to say that, barring some major changes and improvements, Bitcoin is almost certainly not the future of crypto.

Technologies like the Lightning Network attempt to solve the scalability problem, but do so awkwardly and ineffectively. Opening channels to transact off-chain ties up money in extremely inconvenient ways. In practice it incentivizes users to open a single channel with a centralized liquidity provider on the blockchain, rather than opening many channels. This effectively creates unregulated, centralized banks, and in my view goes against the core principles of blockchain technology. Even worse, because transactions are done off-chain and channel data can’t be deterministically rebuilt, if a Lightning node crashes, both parties can easily lose funds. It may genuinely be one of the worst ideas in cryptocurrency.

Notwithstanding, the blockchains of the future may not be so far off. New research in math shows promising results in the mathematical foundations of consensus that could produce blockchains with 50,000 transactions per second or more without compromising safety or decentralization. Every day, a new paper comes out or a crypto startup launches a new product.

There are plenty of bright minds working on securing the crypto dream. I guess in twenty years if you’re paying for your groceries with crypto you’ll know that we succeeded.

About the Author: Derek Sorensen, Pyrofex Research Mathematician, has an MSc in Mathematics and Computer Science from the University of Oxford and is set to start his PhD this fall at the University of Cambridge, where he will study logic and topology. His work at Pyrofex is in formal verification, which includes research on the theory of consensus and setting up mathematical frameworks to prove theorems about code.

Source: This Awful Bitcoin Stat Guarantees It’s Not Crypto’s Future: Mathematician

NYSE-Linked Bitcoin Exchange Bakkt Just Unveiled a Major Acquisition

Bakkt – the cryptocurrency startup launched by New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) owner Intercontinental Exchange – just yanked the lid off the full range of its blockchain ambitions.

The firm announced today that it has acquired Digital Asset Custody Company (DACC) as part of its efforts to gain regulatory approval for its crypto products.

Reportedly, Bakkt is less concerned with merely building a Bitcoin exchange than they are with offering institutional custody and payment platform services, all of which still requires regulatory approval.

Bakkt Acquires Crypto Custodian DACC

bakkt bitcoin futures

Bitcoin startup Bakkt acquired a crypto custodian to help bring its regulated platform to market. | Source: Shutterstock

The company recently announced its application for a BitLicense, and it is also pushing to become a trust company in New York. The company’s efforts have been repeatedly stalled by regulatory delays, despite positive news around its partnerships with Starbucks, Microsoft, and others.

Coinbase previously acquired a trust charter with the New York Department of Financial Services. Becoming a trust can be a faster process than becoming a BitLicense recipient, which can take several years. Bakkt says in a new blog post that it’s applied for a charter, and recently we reported that they’re also seeking a BitLicense.

Bakkt wants to offer Bitcoin futures contracts that pay out in cryptocurrency, which would set them apart from other Bitcoin futures offerings. Bakkt has several other ambitious projects in mind, but it must get through several layers of red tape before it finally launches.

Adam White wrote in Bakkt’s blog today:

“To provide regulated custody, we have filed with the New York Department of Financial Services for approval to become a trust company and in this capacity serve as a Qualified Custodian for digital assets. […] It is with that same commitment to setting a new standard for securely storing digital assets that we’re excited to announce that we have acquired Digital Asset Custody Company (DACC). DACC shares our security-first mindset and brings extensive experience offering secure, scalable custody solutions to institutional clients. The team’s experience integrating multiple blockchains and operating cutting-edge consensus mechanisms is a valuable addition to our team and future product line.”

Bakkt CEO Kelly Loeffler told Fortune:

“From the ground up what ICE has been building for two years is the safest version of a custody solution for digital assets.”

Custody: The Key to Mass Bitcoin Adoption?

bitcoin wallet crypto

A lack of regulated custodians has kept many crypto-curious institutions out of the burgeoning asset class. | Source: Shutterstock

Bakkt and Coinbase have both claimed that offering secure, modern custodial solutions for cryptocurrency will encourage institutional investors to expand their portfolios to include the speculative asset class. Thus far, Coinbase and Circle’s offerings have yet to make a significant dent in the overall market.

Fidelity, a traditional assets management company, also nears completion of its custodial solution. A range of options doesn’t necessarily equate to investor interest, but their availability may play a vital role during any future bull run. Institutional investors will, at a minimum, have several popular options to choose from if they consider getting into the market, opportunities that didn’t exist in previous times.

Bakkt’s current push is three-pronged:

  • They’ve acquired a company already engaged in playing custodian to digital assets.
  • They’ve applied for a BitLicense.
  • They’re working to become a registered trust.

There are other avenues they might still pursue, such as operating without New York as an available market at first. What is clear is that the company is anxious to get into the game, and the recent bull market activity is probably not far from their mind.

Source: NYSE-Linked Bitcoin Exchange Bakkt Just Unveiled a Major Acquisition

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European Central Bank Just Showed Why Bitcoin is Better

The European Central Bank (ECB), the central bank for the Eurozone, is unwittingly boosting the case for cryptocurrency adoption, the community believes – and that’s exactly the last thing they want to be doing. This comes after they said they could always create money, and the crypto community was quick to reply with accusations of scamming.

The bank had started a Twitter thread under the hashtag #AskECB, and Twitter user @Gianluca844 took the chance to ask, “Where did you get the money for the [quantitative easing]?” The bank replied:

Quantitative easing (QE), also known as large-scale asset purchases, is an expansionary monetary policy whereby a central bank, which is the ECB in this case, buys predetermined amounts of government bonds or other financial assets in order to stimulate the economy and increase liquidity.

This operation started in 2015 and was finished by the end of 2018, during which the ECB has spent EUR 2.6 trillion (USD 3 trillion), buying up mostly government but also corporate debt, asset-backed securities and covered bonds, at a pace of EUR 1.3 million a minute, according to Reuters. That equates to roughly 7,600 euros (BTC 2.23) for every person in the currency bloc.

The cryptocurrency community took issue with the reply, with many tweeting gifs of the Bitconnect Ponzi scheme, which has since its downfall become synonymous with shady doings.

“Central banks are marketing bitcoin better than we can,” replied Twitter user @zackvoell, while user @wiz has more to say: “The world is now opening their eyes to your scam of robbing people of their purchasing power by endlessly printing bank notes on worthless paper. The global economy will implement a new Bitcoin standard to opt-out of your scam and prevent further theft by central banks.”

Source: European Central Bank Just Showed Why Bitcoin is Better

Bitcoin Trading Volume in Venezuela Explodes to All-time High

In the last week, the amount of Bitcoin traded by Venezuelans via the LocalBitcoins peer-to-peer platform exploded by 30%, to reach an all-time high. The trading by residents of the financially troubled country, whose native Bolivar has been devalued by long-term hyper-inflation, amounted to the equivalent of $8.9m over the seven days up to February 8th. The news comes in the wake of the weekend announcement of new restrictions on the trading of cryptocurrencies for residents of Venezuela by its government, with the South American country’s authorities………….

Source: CryptoGlobe

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