What Is Really Australia’s Quintex Capital Doing To Your Investment or Assets

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Cryptocurrencies Are Coming Back From the Brink. Here’s Why

After months languishing in the doldrums, cryptocurrencies are surging. On Monday, Bitcoin breached the $50,000 mark for the first time since May. Other coins — including Ethereum, Cardano’s ADA and Dogecoin — also edged higher.

And it was only a few weeks ago that some strategists were eyeing a possible drop to $20,000 for Bitcoin, months after it had hit an all-time high near $65,000 in April.

Instead, sentiment is rising across the board. Crypto’s latest swings are a sign that Bitcoin miners are back in business after a recent Chinese crackdown. At the same time, there is continued evidence of more mainstream acceptance. All of this is happening as the delta variant’s surge has muddied the timeline for a normalization of interest rate policy.

“There’s been an accelerating background of accumulation of crypto assets in the past couple months,” Jonathan Cheesman, head of over-the-counter and institutional sales at crypto derivatives exchange FTX, wrote in an email Monday. “Institutional flows in Bitcoin and Ether as well as a lot of retail activity in NFTs and gaming” are likely contributing, he added.

Here is a look at what is driving the increase — and what could come next:

A Shift in Sentiment

The cryptocurrency world is populated by a cast of characters whose voices can really influence prices. Lately, bullish noises have been boosting sentiment.

Take Elon Musk. Earlier this year, the billionaire caused heads to spin — and helped prices to boost and then plummet — when he said in March that Tesla Inc. would accept payment for its electric vehicles in Bitcoin but backtracked in May. He made his reversal on environmental grounds, expressing concern about the use of fossil fuels for cryptocurrency mining. Following those comments, Bitcoin lost about a quarter of its value in a week.

But here’s the latest twist: Over the past few weeks, Musk has been striking a more supportive tone. In late July he said he personally owns Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin and would like to see crypto succeed.

Superstar investment manager Cathie Wood is another influential voice in this space. A noted crypto bull, she told Bloomberg TV in May that she could see Bitcoin reaching a price of $500,000. More recently, she said she thinks corporations should consider adding Bitcoin to their balance sheets.

Hash Rate Signals

About a month ago, all the talk in the cryptocurrency world was of a Chinese crackdown. A ban on Bitcoin mining meant the abrupt shuttering of millions of computers that had been processing the transactions necessary to keep the crypto currency humming. Before the ban, around 65% of the world’s Bitcoin mining took place in China.

As computers went offline, the hash rate — a measure of the computing power used in mining and processing — halved in just two and half weeks.

As well as the practical implications, the aggressive moves by China laid bare the fact that the decentralized currency is still at the mercy of governments, which hit sentiment. Bobby Lee, one of the country’s first Bitcoin moguls, even said that China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies will probably intensify and may even lead to an outright ban on holding the tokens. And in the U.S., a recent congressional debate over crypto rules added to the uncertainty.

However, the hash rate has rebounded and is up from its July nadir, according to data from Blockchain.com.

That recovery has helped restore confidence in the market that cryptocurrencies can flourish even in the face of opposition from legislators around the world.

Keep Your Eye on Jackson Hole

Prices of cryptocurrencies, like gold, tend to suffer when there is the prospect of interest rate hikes. The emergence of Covid’s delta variant may scramble plans to remove crisis-level monetary policy.

If Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell were to strike a dovish note in his speech at the Jackson Hole conference this Friday, that could boost the currency, Oanda analyst Edward Moya said in a note.

The Kansas City Federal Reserve’s annual event, being held virtually again, is traditionally scrutinized for hints on upcoming changes in stance. Some Fed leaders have used it as a platform to explain new initiatives, as Powell did last year in unveiling a new monetary policy framework.

Even More Mainstream — and Main Street — Interest

Huge financial and consumer firms over the past year have increasingly been embracing crypto, giving the asset more legitimacy and driving up the price. Banks, brokerages and securities exchanges have been gearing up to meet demand. A watershed moment came in April with the U.S. stock market debut of Coinbase Global Inc., a crypto trading venue that’s shooting to establish a digital-money ecosystem.

This summer, there has been growing speculation that Amazon.com Inc. may become involved in the cryptocurrency sector. An Amazon job posting published online in July said the firm was seeking a “Digital Currency and Blockchain Product Lead.” After people found out about the post, Bitcoin surged to about $40,000. Amazon shares gained about 1% in New York. The company went on to say that the “speculation” about its “specific plan for cryptocurrencies is not true,” but the fact that the world’s largest retailer is exploring crypto has big implications for the shadowy and often hard-to-access market.

Walmart Inc. revealed it, too, was looking for some crypto help, with a job posting on Aug. 15 with responsibilities that would include “developing the digital currency strategy and product roadmap” and identifying “crypto-related investment and partnerships.” (As of Monday morning, visitors to the website were given a 404 error message.)

So… Where to From Here?

In these final days of summer, it’s now back in vogue to make $100,000 predictions.

As with any investment — or anything, really — it’s impossible to predict the future. But analysts do have a few estimations on how breaching $50,000 has changed Bitcoin’s prospects, at least in the short term.

Bitcoin is “getting nearer the higher end of what I expect as a new trading range in the low-$40,000s to low-$50,000s,” said Rick Bensignor, chief executive officer at Bensignor Investment Strategies.

Daniela Hathorn, an analyst at DailyFx.com, thinks that it may be a while before we see any further bullish momentum because $50,000 is a key psychological level for the currency.

“A pullback towards the $48,000 area would be the first sign of trouble,” she wrote in a note on Monday. “But the positive trend isn’t in any trouble as long as Bitcoin stays above its 200-day moving average at $45,750. Looking ahead, the key challenge for buyers will be to cement further gains towards $55,000 without losing momentum along the way.”

By: Emily Cadman / Charlie Wells / Joanna Ossinger

Source: https://www.bloombergquint.com/wealth/bitcoin-price-surge-reasons-why-ethereum-cryptocurrencies-are-rising
Copyright © BloombergQuint

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Bitcoin Has No Value: People Bank’s Of China Official Announces Further Crackdown

Bitcoin (CRYPTO: BTC) and other cryptocurrencies “are not legal tenders and have no actual value support,” according to Deputy Director of the Financial Consumer Rights Protection Bureau of the People’s Bank of China (PBoC) Yin Youping.

What Happened: According to a report by local news outlet People’s Daily Online, Youping said that cryptocurrencies are purely speculative assets. He also advised the public to increase its risk awareness and stay away from the crypto market to “protect their pockets.”

Read also: Crypto’s Biggest Legal Problems

The PBoC official also said in anticipation of the possible crypto market rebound and their related operations in China, the central bank will monitor overseas cryptocurrency exchanges and domestic traders in collaboration with relevant authorities.

What Else: The institution also plans to crack down on the space by blocking crypto trading websites, applications, and corporate channels.

Per the report, PBoC — being a member of the Joint Conference to Deal with Illegal Fund Raising — actively cooperates with the lead department of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission.

As a result of this collaboration, the regulator created systems aiming for the monitoring, early warning, publicity, education, and overall combating of illegal fundraising powered by cryptocurrencies and blockchains.

Read also: Why Bangladesh will jail Bitcoin traders

Youping explained that PBoC’s next step will be establishing a normalized working mechanism, continue putting high pressure on illegal cryptocurrency-related operations, and continue cracking down on crypto-related transactions.

Lastly, the report intimates that “if the general public finds clues about illegal fund-raising crimes, they must promptly report to the relevant departments.”

By:

Source: Bitcoin Has No Value: People Bank’s Of China Official Announces Further Crackdown

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China’s crackdown on cryptocurrencies will probably intensify and may even lead to an outright ban on holding the tokens, according to Bobby Lee, one of the country’s first Bitcoin moguls.

Lee knows what it’s like to be on the wrong side of Beijing: He sold BTC China, the nation’s first Bitcoin exchange and at one point the second biggest worldwide, in the aftermath of a crackdown in 2017.

China has launched a new campaign against cryptocurrencies this year, taking action against miners and imposing curbs on crypto banking services and trading. The moves have fueled Bitcoin’s drop to about half its mid-April record near $65,000.

“The next thing they could do, the final straw, would be something like banning cryptocurrency altogether,” Lee said in an interview at his office in a WeWork space in downtown Shanghai, without elaborating on how a ban might be enforced. “I put it at the odds of 50-50.”

Lee recently returned to China after spending time in the U.S. and publishing a book, “The Promise of Bitcoin.” He’s now focused on his latest venture, Ballet Global Inc., which produces a hardware wallet that stores cryptocurrencies. Lee is still a Bitcoin bull, predicting it could end this year around $250,000 and reach $1 million by 2025. He declined to disclose his Bitcoin holdings.

Next year will be a bear market cycle. So we’ll see Bitcoin fall back down 50%-80% from the all-time high. I think Bitcoin will have its bull cycle every three or four years in the coming years. I expect Bitcoin to pass a million, two million dollars easily in the next 10-15 years. In fact the next cycle I predict to be in the year 2024 or 2025, and that’s when Bitcoin will cross half a million dollars and might even touch $1 million.

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Visa’s 54 Bitcoin-Linked Cards Pave The Way For Younger Generations To Spend Growing Crypto Wealth

Visa V -0.5% is taking robust steps to connect digital currencies to its global electronic payments network in order to prepare for a financial future where digital assets comprise a meaningful amount of a saver’s wealth.

To date, 54 crypto companies have partnered with Visa to enable crypto spending. Much of this progress comes from the issuance of debit cards using Visa’s FastTrack program, which is targeted towards integrating fintech companies with the Visa network. Over the summer, the firm launched two more products, a crypto rewards credit card in partnership with BlockFi and a debit card with major crypto exchange FTX, which just raised a record $900 million at an $18 billion valuation.

Other crypto-friendly card partners include CoinZoom, Coinbase, Zap, Crypto.com, Bitpanda, Fold, Upgrade, Wirex, and ZenGo.

“We saw this opportunity as these crypto platforms grow, as consumers want to gain access to the liquidity that they have held in these assets, issuing a Visa card could become a bridge that unlocks that value and enables it to be spent at any merchant that accepts Visa,” Head of Crypto at Visa, Cuy Sheffield said.

These projects have gained traction — crypto-linked Visa debit cards facilitated over $1 billion worth of transactions across Visa’s 70 million merchants worldwide in the first half of 2021 alone. $1 billion is only a small fraction of the trillion-dollar payments industry, however retail interest in cryptocurrencies is picking up, suggesting the market has room to grow, especially with younger generations. Sheffield says that no single predominant spending category has emerged in crypto-linked card use.

Survey data suggests that younger generations are increasingly diverting wealth into cryptocurrencies and digital assets. This is especially true for the most affluent members of these generations, which are especially prized by financial institutions and card networks.

A Michelmores survey of 501 ‘affluent Millennials’ in the United Kingdom found that one in five have invested in cryptocurrencies and a CNBC survey of 750 investors conducted in April and May of 2021 reports that nearly half of Millennial millionaires have at least 25% of their wealth in cryptocurrencies. Millennial interest in crypto isn’t limited to the Western world — a recent Mastercard MA -0.1% survey found that Middle Eastern and African Millennials surveyed during February and March of 2021 are especially interested in crypto with 67% agreeing they are more open to using crypto now than they were in 2020.

Meanwhile in Asia, India and China each account for 33% of the $9.4 million worth of weekly peer-to-peer payments volume in the region. In both nations, tech savvy millennials with aspirations of wealth are leading the trade. The Covid-19 pandemic only accelerated this trend by simultaneously spurring savings ambitions and interest in cryptocurrencies.

Approximately 70% of burgeoning retail brokerage platform Robinhood’s $80.9 billion assets under custody came from users aged between 18 and 40. $11.5 billion of those assets under custody are cryptocurrencies, according to the firm’s S-1 filing, and for the three months ended March 31, 2021, 17% of its total revenue was derived from transaction-based revenues earned from cryptocurrency transactions. This number is up from 4% for the last three months of 2020. All of this data suggests high interest among retail traders between 18 and 40 in crypto assets.

As retail brokerage accounts boomed, the crypto market was also hitting new heights, adding to the excitement among younger generations. Bitcoin reached its all-time-high price of $64,654 on April 14, 2021, just after the one year anniversary of the start of the pandemic. The market crashed a month later, bottoming out in July at a $1.2 trillion value for all cryptocurrency in circulation. Since then, the crypto economy has started to recover. The market broke past $2 trillion again on Wednesday, August 11, for the first time in nearly three months.

While investors are still mostly thinking long-term, a time will come when they need to generate liquidity from their holdings. Speaking to that effect, Sheffield argues that even if crypto owners intend to HODL (hold on for dear life, a crypto rallying cry), the day will come when they want to spend.

When that happens, Lisa Ellis, partner and senior equity analyst at research firm MoffettNathanson noted that they won’t want to go through the often arduous process of converting that crypto into fiat because of what Visa is doing.

“Brokerages like Fidelity figured out a long time ago that they should — and Merrill Lynch — figured out that they should issue a card against the balance in your brokerage account because that way you can keep your money in the brokerage account and you’re not constantly moving money,” Ellis said. “It’s basically the same. This is just allowing people to keep funds in what’s essentially a brokerage account and keep it in crypto. And then if they need it for spending fine and people like to do that.”

These developments are unlikely to stop with crypto-fiat payments. In pursuit of creating opportunities for seamless crypto transactions, Visa is finding new ways to appeal to crypto platforms who are looking to expand client offerings. Among these upgrades is the ability for crypto firms to settle payments using a dollar-pegged and quickly-growing stablecoin, USDC. As of writing, USDC’s market cap stands at $27.39 billion.

Typically when transactions are carried out with a crypto-linked debit card offered by a company like Crypto.com, that company converts the crypto to fiat and then sends the funds to Visa, who then sends the funds to the merchant’s bank for the appropriate amount and in the correct currency. Through a partnership with the first federally chartered digital asset bank, Anchorage, Visa will now accept USDC, instead of fiat, from card providers like Crypto.com.

“The goal is if we can make it easier for crypto platforms to issue Visa cards and interact with Visa we think many more — and we’re already seeing a ton of demand in crypto companies coming to us — will have a path to creating a Visa card,” Sheffield said. “We are committed to Visa being the preferred network for crypto wallets and so we want to meet them where they are.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Source: Visa’s 54 Bitcoin-Linked Cards Pave The Way For Younger Generations To Spend Growing Crypto Wealth

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Satoshi Nakamoto Collaborator Says His Bitcoin Fork, Zcash, Should Go Proof Of Stake And Wind Down Its Carbon Footprint

Zcash founder Zooko Wilcox might seem like an unlikely source to challenge Bitcoin’s ‘third rail’, its controversial, expensive, yet effective method of processing transactions, but in many ways he is the perfect candidate to offer an alternative.

After all, few know Bitcoin better than him.

An early and active participant on Bitcoin message boards, Wilcox frequently communicated and collaborated directly with the pseudonymous founder of Bitcoin, Satoshi Nakomoto. In fact, he authored the very first blog post on bitcoin, which Satoshi linked to on the original Bitcoin.org website. That is the ultimate seal of approval when it comes to crypto.

However, in an interview with Forbes, Wilcox made it clear that for as far as Bitcoin has come it is far from a fully-formed project in many areas.

For starters, the pseudonymous nature of the blockchain, which hackers and criminals are slowly finding out is not nearly as private as they hoped, was not the desired end state. As Wilcox tells it, “The fact is, like, to basically 100% of all the early bitcoiners, including Satoshi and Hal (Finney) and Nick (Szabo) and Adam (Back), and everyone…Privacy was like the main value proposition.”

If nothing else, it was clear that it deserved central billing alongside independence from central banks, the more common narrative of Bitcoin’s origin story.

The proposed solution back in 2010 was something called zk-snarks (Succinct Non-Interactive Argument of Knowledge). In short, zk-snarks can be used in a blockchain to hide not only the identities of the sender and receiver, but transaction amounts as well. Total privacy.

Back when Satoshi was actively developing bitcoin he had hoped to integrate zk-snarks into the network. However, by the time he stepped away in 2011 the technology was not advanced enough to install without slowing Bitcoin down (it is already slow even by crypto standards) or burdening it with too much data.

Wilcox was part of a team of scientists in 2012 who presented a proposal to integrate zk-snarks on top of Bitcoin at a conference in San Jose, but the core developers told them that the technology had to be proven on another blockchain before receiving serious consideration.

So that is exactly what Wilcox did – and a couple of years later Zcash was born.

It is also clear in his writings that Satoshi knew that bitcoin, if successful, would have a very large carbon footprint, something that my colleague Chris Helman pointed out in a recent article for Forbes, “It’s the same situation as gold and gold mining. The marginal cost of gold mining tends to stay near the price of gold. Gold mining is a waste, but that waste is far less than the utility of having gold available as a medium of exchange. I think the case will be the same for bitcoin. The utility of the exchanges made possible by bitcoin will far exceed the cost of electricity used.”

It is on this point that Wilcox wants to use Zcash to move crypto forward, starting today. In a forthcoming blog post shared exclusively with Forbes, he is advocating for Zcash to move away from the same energy-intensive ‘proof-of-work’ consensus mechanism as Bitcoin to a more eco-friendly ‘proof-of stake’ approach.

The implications of such a transition could be huge. Zcash is a close cousin of Bitcoin, its code is actually based on Bitcoin, and if successful it could open the door to Bitcoin possibly eschewing mining as well.

So what exactly is ‘proof-of-stake’? Rather than operating millions of dollars worth of energy-consuming computing hardware racing to solve complicated math problems in exchange for freshly-minted bitcoin, nodes on the network post holdings as collateral at risk of forfeiture should they act dishonorably. Proof-of-stake is lighter, faster, and in the words of Wilcox even more secure than proof-of-work.

“I think proof-of-work has some security flaws, as has been demonstrated by the 51% attacks that have occurred (when a miner controls a majority of computing power on the network and can steal tokens). And I think proof-of-stake can provide a much more powerful kind of security and at lower cost.”

He also pointed out that under proof-of-work setups users have little recourse if the network gets attacked. However, on a proof-of-stake network the bad actors can be identified and have their tokens revoked so that the rest of the network can go on operating as usual. In fact, this is similar to an argument offered by Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin, which is also going through an arduous transition from proof-of-work to proof-of-stake, to justify the switch.

When asked why he is advocating for the transition now, Wilcox points to a few key reasons, most notably that the proof-of-stake is ‘proven’ and no longer experimental. As evidence he points to the successful launch of networks such as Algorand, Cardano, Cosmos, and Tezos.

In fact, environmental concerns do not seem to be a leading justification for the shift, but rather his belief that proof-of-stake is the better all-around approach moving forward. He also recognizes that right or wrong, people are increasingly worried about crypto’s carbon footprint. Switching to proof-of-stake in his mind is then a win for everyone.

That said, while Zcash is based on Bitcoin and shares many of the same characteristics, down to its hard limit of 21 million units, the two networks are in different universes from adoption and scale points of view. ZEC (Zcash’s native token) is currently priced at $111.55, while bitcoin is nearly 350x bigger at $38,709. Bitcoin processes around 250,000 transactions per day, while Zcash hovers around 4,000. Additionally, the bitcoin network’s hashrate of 102,631,000,000,000,000,000 hashes per second is orders of magnitude bigger than Zcash’s 4,992,000,000.

That said, Zcash has tripled Bitcoin’s returns to investors year to date.

So even if Zcash makes a successful transition, that does not mean that bitcoin could simply follow the same path. Plus, bitcoin’s community has historically been resistant to major change, understandable given its focus on security, and the necessity of proof-of-work has become a hardened part of its ideology.

A final reason why things are moving forward now is because as Wilcox tells it, we are entering an inflection point when it comes to protecting our privacy from governments and corporations alike, “We’re both simultaneously seeing mega corporations and governments seizing more and more control over everyone, both in the east and the west…And we’re simultaneously seeing people worldwide becoming more aware and valuing their privacy more, their autonomy, their human relationships.”

He also believes that the stakes are being raised when it comes to central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and fears of surveillance capitalism. That said, Wilcox would not be opposed to collaborating with banks around the world if they wanted to integrate Zcash and  zk-snarks, saying “We definitely could help them come up with improved or variants, zero knowledge proof that would serve their purposes. But we would do so only if that one they would feed back into ZEC, which is the engine of our mission, our mission is to empower and free everyone in the world.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website. Send me a secure tip.

I am director of research for digital assets at Forbes. I was recently the Social Media/Copy Lead at Kraken, a cryptocurrency exchange based in the United States. Before joining Kraken I served as Chief Operating Officer at the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance, a non-profit trade association dedicated to the comprehensive adoption of cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies across global markets. Before joining the WSBA, I was the Lead Associate within the Emerging Technologies practice at Spitzberg Partners, a boutique corporate advisory firm that advises leading firms across industries on blockchain technology. Previously I was Vice President/Lead Strategy Analyst at Citi FinTech, where I drove strategic and new business development initiatives for Citigroup’s Global Retail and Consumer Bank business across 20 countries. I also served five years as a Senior Intelligence Analyst at Booz Allen Hamilton supporting the U.S. Department of Defense. I have a B.S. in Business Administration from the Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University and a M.A. in International Affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. Additionally, I am a Certified Information Privacy Professional (United States, Canada, and the European Union) and a Certified Information Privacy Technologist at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

Source: Satoshi Nakamoto Collaborator Says His Bitcoin Fork, Zcash, Should Go Proof Of Stake And Wind Down Its Carbon Footprint

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It’s become a parlor game in Washington, on Wall Street, and in Silicon Valley to figure out where U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Gary Gensler stands on cryptocurrencies. Industry lobbyists tune in when he testifies before Congress. Lawyers parse his speeches. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. wealth advisers recently boasted in a research report about looking for clues in 29 hours of the Blockchain and Money course he developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

That’s an arduous but perhaps not novel undertaking, since videos of the classes have garnered millions of views online, something that amazes even Gensler. In his first extensive interview about the digital money craze, Gensler signaled that his deep interest in the subject doesn’t mean he’s simpatico with the hands-off oversight approach that many enthusiasts would like to see.

Policymakers have struggled with how to respond to the mostly unregulated $1.6 trillion market, which has seen explosive growth and wild price swings. Gensler is contemplating a robust oversight regime, centered on establishing safeguards for the millions of investors who’ve been stocking their portfolios with tokens. “While I’m neutral on the technology, even intrigued—I spent three years teaching it, leaning into it—I’m not neutral about investor protection,” says Gensler, who on Tuesday will give a speech about crypto at the Aspen Security Forum.

“If somebody wants to speculate, that’s their choice, but we have a role as a nation to protect those investors against fraud.” Gensler has asked Congress to pass a law that could give the agency the legal authority to monitor crypto exchanges, but he says the SEC’s powers are already broad. There’s been much discussion over the years about which kinds of digital assets fall under the SEC’s purview.

Some such as Bitcoin that act like currencies are considered commodities, not securities. But there are thousands of other coins, and Gensler believes most are unregistered securities that must comply with SEC rules. Broadly he noted that technology has sparked economic progress throughout human history, and he sees a similar boost from digital assets. That may only come, however, with strong and thoughtful regulation.

As an analogy, he says the automobile industry didn’t fully take off until governments laid out driving rules. Speed limits and traffic lights provided public safety but also helped cars become mainstream. “It’s only with bringing things inside—and sort of clearly within our public policy goals—that a technology has a chance of broader adoption,” he says.

Hester Peirce, a Republican commissioner on the SEC known for her advocacy of light-touch regulation of digital assets, says she’s eager to work with Gensler. “A lot people just want more clarity,” she says. “I come from a perspective that people should have the maximum freedom to engage in transactions they want to engage in voluntarily. Society needs to have that discussion about what is the right regulatory framework.”

Gensler didn’t give a timeline for any SEC action. He has a to-do list that includes 49 non-crypto policy reviews that could slow progress on cryptocurrencies. Many are high-profile and time-consuming efforts, like responding to the GameStop Corp. trading frenzy and the blow-up of the Archegos family office. The SEC is also working to impose new rules that would require companies to disclose carbon emissions and other environmental risks, a Biden administration priority.

Nor would Gensler comment on the potential for approving a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund, a decision that many in the crypto world are eagerly awaiting, because it would provide an easy on-ramp for investors. A Bitcoin ETF would invest in the cryptocurrency and then trade its shares on the stock market. So far the SEC has balked at permitting such funds, citing concerns about the risk of fraud and manipulation in the Bitcoin market.

Gensler has spoken positively about the ETFs during his days at MIT, giving advocates hope that he’s a supporter. Peirce says it’s “high time” the SEC approved a crypto ETF. Behind the scenes, Gensler has pushed the agency’s staff members to take a look at an array of potential policy changes. He says there are at least seven SEC initiatives looking at different crypto issues: initial coin offerings, trading venues, lending platforms, decentralized finance, stable value coins, custody, and ETFs and other coin funds. “I’ve asked the staff to use all of our authorities anywhere we can,” he says.

Gensler says he thinks regulating crypto exchanges is perhaps the easiest way for the government to get a quick handle on digital token trading. But he’s also concerned about new ways people are getting into crypto, such as peer-to-peer lending on so-called decentralized finance, or DeFi, platforms. If firms are advertising a specific interest-rate return on a crypto asset, Gensler says, that could bring the loans under SEC oversight. Platforms that pool digital assets could be seen as akin to mutual funds, potentially allowing the SEC to regulate them.

Gensler was chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) during the Obama administration, where he was responsible for bringing federal oversight to the huge market for derivatives known as swaps after the financial crisis. Patrick McCarty, who teaches a class on cryptocurrencies at Georgetown University’s law school, says Gensler’s understanding of digital assets means he will give the industry a “fair hearing,” though he will likely disappoint many proponents.

“When the crypto people say they want legal certainty, they don’t mean that—they want to be unregulated,” McCarty says. “That’s never been Gary’s point of view.” Christine Trent Parker, who focuses on crypto assets as a law partner at Reed Smith in New York, says that although new SEC rules would bring more certainty to the industry, they also could divide the policing of the market more starkly—with the CFTC focused on markets linked to virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and the SEC handling much of the rest.

“Right now the lines are fuzzy because we have speeches and enforcement and court orders,” instead of bright-line regulation, she says. “If the SEC has sort of a broad framework that pulls in all of the other digital assets, then you have this bifurcated marketplace.” Others have argued that new token developers need some regulatory flexibility to encourage innovation.

Gensler also sits on the Treasury-led Financial Stability Oversight Council and the President’s Working Group on Financial Markets, which recently held a meeting on the impact of stablecoins. These are crypto tokens that are supposed to be backed by traditional currencies such as the U.S. dollar, and they’ve become a huge part of the crypto trading system. Regulators worry about what could happen if some stablecoin didn’t turn out to be worth what it was supposed to be—prompting an exodus akin to a run on a bank or a money-market fund.

Gensler’s views on the panels carry weight, people who follow the issue note, because unlike, say, the Treasury secretary or Federal Reserve chairman, he has real crypto cred. His understanding of blockchain and digital assets comes largely from the several years he spent at MIT. Along with creating the cryptocurrency course, he’s been a frequent guest at industry conferences—sometimes speaking 30 to 50 times a year—mixing with deep thinkers and entrepreneurs.

He quotes writings of Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of Bitcoin, from memory and knew some of the core developers of the digital currency. The 63-year-old former Goldman Sachs partner traveled an unlikely path to becoming one of the government’s foremost cryptocurrency experts. It started in 2017, when as chief financial officer of Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential campaign he had the lonely job of closing up shop, paying off the final bills, and deciding what to do with the abandoned computers and office supplies.

Like many of his shell-shocked former colleagues, Gensler was looking for something to do—and somewhere to sit out Donald Trump’s presidency. The answer came from economist Simon Johnson, an MIT professor who encouraged Gensler to come to Cambridge, Mass., and teach. Looking to nurture a long-held interest in the intersection of technology and finance, Gensler jumped at the opportunity.

Although he didn’t know much about digital tokens, he connected with people who were part of the university’s burgeoning Digital Currency Initiative and even audited a course in crypto programming. When he suggested MIT teach more about finance and digital money, he was given the job. Little did he know that in a few years he’d have a chance to put his academic studies to real-world use. “Life sometimes is a bit of serendipity,’’ he says.

By: Robert Schmidt

Source: Will Government Regulate Crypto? SEC Chair Gary Gensler on Bitcoin and Oversight – Bloomberg

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Crypto Investors Get Ready for More Taxes But Clearer Rules

Sure, you might have to actually pay U.S. taxes on those crypto trades. But at least it will be easier to figure out how much you owe.

A new push by Congress to require crypto brokers to report transactions to the Internal Revenue Service could create some unwelcome tax bills but could clarify rules for traders and users of Bitcoin and other digital tokens, potentially strengthening the system in the long run, people in the industry say.

The new rules — a last-minute addition to the $550 billion bipartisan infrastructure package now being considered by the U.S. Senate — would also force businesses to disclose trades of digital assets of more than $10,000. The provisions are designed to raise $28 billion.

The measures add to increased scrutiny the IRS has recently applied to traders of Bitcoin, Ethereum and other digital assets. The agency has promised it will issue new rules that clarify how those virtual currencies should be taxed.

People who trade digital currencies must pay income taxes on any gains, even if some crypto investors have been ignoring their tax obligations. But even for those who want to follow the law, it can be difficult to keep track of what’s owed.

Filing taxes on crypto trades can create huge headaches, especially for those who conduct multiple transactions each year. While traditional stock brokerages are already required to send detailed tax forms to clients, crypto exchanges aren’t. Even if firms wanted to help their clients file taxes, it’s not always clear how to do that under the current regulations.

In addition, tax obligations can pop up in surprising places. People who use digital currencies to pay for things — like, say, a Tesla, or a pizza — are supposed to pay taxes on any increase in value of the crypto they spend. It’s a key difference between using digital “currencies” and actual, fiat currencies such as the U.S. dollar to conduct commerce.

Andrew Johnson, a project manager at a large national bank, has invested tens of thousands in crypto and uses a dedicated service to figure out what he owes in taxes. He’s been using CoinTracker, which he learned about though a YouTube channel that he trusts.

“Most would benefit from a tracking service to help with taxes,” he said. “For me, I decided it was worth the cost to not have to manually track all the trades I did — which could take hours or days.”

Read more from Bloomberg Opinion: How Can I Lower My Taxes on Bitcoin?

Cryptocurrency exchanges and others in the industry have raised concerns that the U.S. Senate is rushing the rules into effect without consulting them first.

Some wondered whether the new rules and regulatory attention would encourage mainstream investors to join the space — or hurt the appeal of cryptocurrencies by killing its anything-goes ethos.

“Some portion of crypto investors may start to have second thoughts about the tax consequences,” said Michael Bailey, director of research at FBB Capital Partners. “It’s almost like crypto is a really fun party, but it’s getting late and a few people are starting to look at their watches as they think about the next morning.”

For years, the IRS has been warning taxpayers to report cryptocurrency transactions on their tax returns. More recently, the agency has made clear that fighting tax evasion through digital currencies is a top priority.

The IRS has started collecting vast amounts of data on blockchain transactions, has subpoenaed crypto exchanges and worked on coordinating enforcement with foreign governments. Last year, the IRS added a yes-or-no question to the front page of the 1040 income tax form asking whether filers had sold or exchanged virtual currencies.

The jurisdiction of U.S. law enforcement only reaches so far, and crypto traders who prize secrecy could flee to offshore exchanges, or take other measures to avoid being spotted by the IRS. However, the U.S. has already shown it can crack down on foreign tax evasion by, for example, forcing banks in Switzerland and elsewhere to divulge details on American clients.

Even if parts of the crypto universe remain hidden, it may be difficult to move those assets onshore and turn them into legitimate wealth.

“If a U.S. taxpayer is into crypto for the ability to underreport income from sales or transfers, chances are someone in a chain somewhere may have to disclose it,” said Julio Jimenez, an attorney who is principal in the tax services group at Marks Paneth LLP.

All this isn’t necessarily a bad thing for law-abiding investors in digital assets if they end up with clearer rules and easier-to-understand annual statements from crypto firms.

“I think it will have a positive effect on the industry,” said Brett Cotler, an attorney at Seward and Kissel LLP in New York who specializes in blockchain and cryptocurrency. While exchanges and fintech firms that deal in digital currencies may have to spend money upgrading reporting and compliance systems, it will improve customer service, he said.

Johnson, the crypto trader, said he thinks the new rules will help legitimize the crypto ecosystem and foster international growth.

“While at its heart, crypto assets have been a means of moving value outside of government-controlled rails, I still understand the need for regulation in the crypto space in order for wider adoption to take place,” he said.

— With assistance by Natasha Abellard, and Laura Davison

By ,  , and

Source: Bitcoin (BTC): What Is Impact of Government Plan to Tax Crypto Trades? – Bloomberg

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Amazon Bitcoin Rumors Send The Cryptocurrency Surging Towards $40,000

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The crypto market seems to be finally getting out of the mid-summer doldrums. Bitcoin is 14% up from its Friday close, trading at $38,474 as of 6:48 a.m. ET, a price level not seen since mid-June. All major assets are also bouncing up. Ethereum is back above $2,000, trading at $2,354. Cardano and Dogecoin are the biggest movers in the top 10, up by 10.5% and 15% respectively. The broader market is returning 9.85% over the past 24 hours.

The surge began amid the swirling rumors that Amazon AMZN +1.2% is starting to move into crypto. On June 22, the company published a job posting for a ‘digital currency and blockchain lead’ and this weekend London-based business publication CityAM published an unconfirmed report (based on an anonymous ‘insider’), saying that Amazon could start accepting bitcoin payments “by the end of the year” and is investigating its own token for 2022. It also noted that the company was getting ready to accept payments in bitcoin, ether, cardano, and bitcoin cash.

Blockchain is no stranger to the retail and cloud computing giant – it was a member of the Forbes Blockchain 50 list in 2020 and 2019, offering services such as a toolkit on top of Amazon Web Services for clients to build permissioned blockchains, and is, in fact, the primary host for Infura, a middleware solution for nodes to access the Ethereum blockchain. However, the company has largely kept a firewall between itself and virtual currencies.

The rally gained further steam early Monday due to short squeezes among bitcoin bears. Thousands of traders liquidated $883 million in short positions overnight, according to data from Bybt, a cryptocurrency derivatives trading and information platform. Shorts on bitcoin accounted for $720 million, or 81% of those liquidations.

Bendik Norheim Schei, head of research at Norwegian crypto analytics firm Arcane Research, noted in a message to Forbes that  “this was the largest short liquidation (short squeeze) we have recorded to date.” He also speculated that Amazon rumors could have been a major catalyst behind the surge.

It remains unclear whether the rally could be sustained but analysts offer positive outlooks. “As simple as it might be to say, the bottom is in,” writes Maxwell Koopsen, senior copy editor at crypto exchange OKEx. “Now that resistance has formed at $40,000, it may either take substantiation to the claims of Amazon’s intentions or a strong show by the buyers at $34,000–$36,000.”

Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn.

I report on cryptocurrencies and emerging use cases of blockchain. Born and raised in Russia, I graduated from NYU Abu Dhabi with a degree in economics and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where I focused on data and business reporting.

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What started out as a market for professionals is now attracting traders from all over the world, and of all experience levels and all because of online trading and investment. They are also to providing a  comprehensive resource for clients new to the market or with limited experience trading Cryptocurrency investment, or interested in Forex, gold trade or stock market.

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Through their unique combination of expertise, research and global reach, we work tirelessly to anticipate and advance what’s next—applying collective insights to help keep our clients at the forefront of change. They bring together a wide range of insights, expertise and innovations to advance the interests of our clients around the world.

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Why Wall Street Is Afraid of Government-Backed Digital Dollar

Imagine Imagine logging on to your own account with the U.S. Federal Reserve. With your laptop or phone, you could zap cash anywhere instantly. There’d be no middlemen, no fees, no waiting for deposits or payments to clear.

That vision sums up the appeal of the digital dollar, the dream of futurists and the bane of bankers. It’s not the Bitcoin bros and other cryptocurrency fans pushing the disruptive idea but America’s financial and political elite. Fed Chair Jerome Powell promises fresh research and a set of policy questions for Congress to ponder this summer. J. Christopher Giancarlo, a former chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, is rallying support through the nonprofit Digital Dollar Project, a partnership with consulting giant Accenture Plc. To perpetuate American values such as free enterprise and the rule of law, “we should modernize the dollar,” he recently told a U.S. Senate banking subcommittee.

For now the dollar remains the premier global reserve currency and preferred legal tender for international trade and financial transactions. But a new flavor of cryptocurrency could pose a threat to that dominance, which is part of the reason the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston has been working with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology on developing prototypes for a digital-dollar platform.

Other governments, notably China’s, are ahead in digitizing their currencies. In these nations, regulators worry that the possibilities for fraud are multiplying as more individuals embrace cryptocurrency. Steven Mnuchin, former President Donald Trump’s treasury secretary, said he saw no immediate need for a digital dollar. His successor, Janet Yellen, has expressed interest in studying it. Support for a virtual greenback cuts across party lines in Congress, which will have a say on whether it becomes reality.

At a hearing in June, Senators Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat, and John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, signaled openness to the idea. Warren and other Democrats stressed the potential of the digital dollar to offer free services to low-income families who now pay high banking fees or are shut out of the system altogether.

Kennedy and fellow Republicans see a financial equivalent of the space race that pitted the U.S. against the Soviet Union—a battle for prestige, power, and first-mover advantage. This time the adversary is China, which announced this month that more than 10 million citizens are now eligible to participate in ongoing trials.

The strongest opposition to a virtual dollar will come from U.S. banks. They rely on $17 trillion in deposits to fund much of their core business, profiting from the difference between what they pay in interest to account holders and what they charge for loans. Banks also earn billions of dollars annually from overdraft, ATM, and account maintenance fees. By creating a digital currency, the Federal Reserve would in effect be competing with banks for customers.

In a recent blog post, Greg Baer, president of the Bank Policy Institute, which represents the industry, warned that homebuyers, businesses, and other customers would find it harder and more expensive to borrow money if the Fed were to infringe on the private sector’s historical central role in finance. “The Federal Reserve would gain extraordinary power,” wrote Baer, a former assistant treasury secretary in the Clinton administration.

Some economists warn that a digital dollar could destabilize the banking system. The federal government offers bank depositors $250,0000 in insurance, a program that’s successfully prevented bank runs since the Great Depression. But in a 2008-style financial panic, depositors might with a single click pull all their savings out of banks and convert them into direct obligations of the U.S. government.

“In a crisis, this may actually make matters worse,” says Eswar Prasad, a professor at Cornell University and the author of a book on digital currencies that will be published in September. Whether a virtual dollar is even necessary remains up for debate. For large companies, cross-border interbank payments are already fast, limiting the appeal of digital currencies. Early adopters of Bitcoin may have won an investment windfall as its value soared, but its volatility makes it a poor substitute for a reliable government-backed currency such as the dollar.

Yet there’s a new kind of crypto, called stablecoin, that could pose a threat to the dollar’s dominance. Similar to the other digital currencies, it’s essentially a string of code tracked and authenticated via an online ledger. But it has a crucial difference from Bitcoin and its ilk: Its value is pegged to a sovereign currency like the dollar, so it offers stability as well as privacy.

In June 2019, Facebook Inc. announced it was developing a stablecoin called Libra ( since renamed Diem). The social media giant’s 2.85 billion active users worldwide represent a huge test market. “That was a game changer,” Prasad says. “That served as a catalyst for a lot of central banks.”

Regulators also have concerns about consumer protection. Stablecoin is only as stable as the network of private participants who manage it on the web. Should something go wrong, holders could find themselves empty-handed. That prospect places pressure on governments to come up with their own alternatives.

Although the Fed has been studying the idea of a digital dollar since at least 2017, crucial details, including what role private institutions will play, remain unresolved. In the Bahamas, the only country with a central bank digital currency, authorized financial institutions are allowed to offer e-wallets for handling sand dollars, the virtual counterpart to the Bahamian dollar.

If depositors flocked to the virtual dollar, banks would need to find another way to fund their loans. Advocates of a digital dollar float the possibility of the Fed lending to banks so they could write loans. To help banks preserve deposits, the government could also set a ceiling on how much digital currency citizens can hold. In the Bahamas the amount is capped at $8,000.

Lev Menand, an Obama administration treasury adviser, cautions against such compromises, saying the priority should be offering unfettered access to a central bank digital currency, or CBDC. Menand, who now lectures at Columbia Law School, says that because this idea would likely require the passage of legislation, Congress faces a big decision: to create “a robust CBDC or a skim milk sort of product that has been watered down as a favor to big banks.”

By: Christopher Condon

Source: Cryptocurrency: Why Wall Street Is Afraid of Government-Backed Digital Dollar – Bloomberg

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Critics:

Wall Street is warming up to the idea that the next big disruptive force on the horizon is central bank digital currencies, even though the Federal Reserve likely remains a few years away from developing its own.

Led by countries as large as China and as small as the Bahamas, digital money is drawing stronger interest as the future of an increasingly cashless society. A digital dollar would resemble cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin or ethereum in some limited respects, but differ in important ways.

Rather than be a tradable asset with wildly fluctuating prices and limited use, the central bank digital currency would function more like dollars and have widespread acceptance. It also would be fully regulated and under a central authority.

Myriad questions remain before an institution as large as the Fed will wade in. But the momentum is building around the world. As the Fed and other central banks work through those logistical issues, Wall Street is growing in anticipation over what the future will hold.

“The race towards Digital Money 2.0 is on,” Citigroup said in a report. “Some have framed it as a new Space Race or Digital Currency Cold War. In our view, it doesn’t have to be a zero sum game — there’s a lot of room for the overall digital pie to grow.”

There, however, has been at least the semblance of a race, and China is perceived as taking the early lead. With the launch of a digital yuan last year, some fear that the edge China has ultimately could undermine the dollar’s status as the world’s reserve currency. Though China said that is not its objective, a Bank of America report notes that issuing digital dollars would let the U.S. currency “remain highly competitive … relative to other currencies.”

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