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Facebook’s Libra Is Already Ahead Of Ethereum, Litecoin, And Ripple’s XRP–But Not Bitcoin

Image result for facebook libra

Bitcoin has been around for a little over a decade, while its biggest competitors ethereum, litecoin, and Ripple’s XRP have been knocking around for between seven and four years—but all save bitcoin are already being eclipsed by Facebook’s yet-to-launch libra cryptocurrency.

The bitcoin price has surged over recent months as interest surrounding social media giant Facebook’s planned libra project reached fever-pitch but has swung wildly as global regulators poured cold water on Facebook’s ambitions.

Now, a new survey has found there is “substantial” public interest in Facebook’s potential bitcoin rival, despite a lack of trust in the company, with people already more familiar with it than ethereum, litecoin and Ripple’s XRP.

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Facebook founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg might have his work cut out to convince U.S. and global regulators of libra’s potential, but the general public might already be on board.

Bitcoin and Facebook’s libra were given an awareness boost by U.S. president Donald Trump last week when he tweeted his opposition to both technologies but he may have inadvertently introduced the idea of bitcoin and cryptocurrencies to a whole new audience.

New research, carried out by U.S. brokerage eToro, has found that while 58% of the U.S. adults have heard of bitcoin, the first and largest cryptocurrency, Facebook’s libra is already known by 16% of people—just a month after it was unveiled.

Ethereum, the second-largest cryptocurrency, has achieved only 12% recognition since it went live in July 2015 and it can be assumed that smaller cryptocurrencies litecoin and Ripple’s XRP are still less well known.

“We believe that crypto and the blockchain technology that underpins it will be essential to tomorrow’s economy,” said Guy Hirsch, U.S. managing director of eToro. “By introducing the concept to a new audience, libra could play a vital role in the evolution of decentralized and more democratized finance.”

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The bitcoin price has been climbing so far this year, largely due to interest in cryptocurrencies from Facebook and the world’s biggest tech companies.

Meanwhile, the survey suggests that people may not be willing to trust Facebook to correctly manage payments, perhaps due to its on-going data-sharing scandal.

A little over half (54%) of respondents, out of some 600, expressed doubts over Facebook’s management of their personal data but only 17% indicated they would be willing to trust Facebook with their money the same way they trust their banks.

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Source: Facebook’s Libra Is Already Ahead Of Ethereum, Litecoin, And Ripple’s XRP–But Not Bitcoin

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US Senate Confirms New CFTC Chair to Succeed ‘Crypto Dad’ Giancarlo – CoinDesk

The CFTC tapped Heath Tarbert as incoming chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), replacing current chairman and “Crypto Dad” J. Christopher Giancarlo. The announcement was made yesterday during a Senate confirmation hearing.

The CFTC is tasked with regulating derivatives, digital assets, and over-the-counter trades. The regulatory authority has taken a light-handed approach towards the cryptocurrency industry under outgoing chair Giancarlo.

“During my time of service, it has been a priority to transform the CFTC into a 21st Century regulator for today’s digital markets. With Dr. Tarbert’s confirmation, I know the agency is in safe hands to continue this transition,” said Giancarlo in a statement regarding the succession.

Prior to this designation, Tarbert served a short stint as Acting Under Secretary for International Affairs, beginning April 16, 2019. Before that Tarbert served as Assistant Secretary for International Markets for two years, to which he was confirmed by a vote of 87-8, showing a high degree of bipartisan support.

Politico previously reported Tarbert would likely succeed Giancarlo as chief derivatives regulator.

Tarbert is a member of the Financial Stability Board, the international body established after the financial crisis to monitor global markets, and serves on its steering committee, according to his Treasury Department biography.

Giancarlo has committed to stay on as chairman until July 15, 2019, as Tarbert completes his current Treasury obligations.

J. Christopher Giancarlo image via CoinDesk archives

The leader in blockchain news, CoinDesk is a media outlet that strives for the highest journalistic standards and abides by a strict set of editorial policies. CoinDesk is an independent operating subsidiary of Digital Currency Group, which invests in cryptocurrencies and blockchain startups.

Source: US Senate Confirms New CFTC Chair to Succeed ‘Crypto Dad’ Giancarlo – CoinDesk

1,000,000,000 XRP: Ripple Unlocks $442 Million in Crypto From Escrow

Ripple has unlocked 1 billion XRP from escrow, worth about $442 million at time of publishing.

The San Francisco startup will sell a portion of the funds to crypto exchanges and institutional participants and return the rest to escrow at the end of the month.

Source: Bithomp

Ripple, which owns more than half of the total supply of XRP, does not reveal the buyers. However, crypto whale watchers are constantly monitoring XRP movements from Ripple’s over-the-counter (OTC) wallets to unknown wallets, which indicate sales of XRP.

Ripple typically sells a fraction of the total amount unlocked each month and releases an overview of the dollar amount of XRP sold each quarter.

According to the company’s last report, Ripple sold $169.42 million worth of XRP in January, February and March.

Source: Ripple

Since 2016, Ripple has sold a total of $890 million in XRP – 34.4% to crypto exchanges and 65.6% to institutions, reports The Block.

Ripple’s sale of XRP recently triggered a lively debate on Reddit on whether it has an impact on the price of the leading digital asset.

Source: Pivot – Blockchain Community

Can Bitcoin’s Lightning Network Power Payments in a Japanese Bar?

A bar in Japan is teaming up with a locally-based lightning startup to let customers pay for sparkling wine and soft drinks using the experimental payments network.

For the month of June, the Japan-based lightning startup Nayuta will be partnering with Awabar Fukouka to trial the payment system in what they’re calling a “field test.”

The Lightning Network is seen by its supporters as the best way to scale bitcoin so that more people can use the payment system at once, but the technology is still rather experimental and even risky to use. To that end, Nayuta sees this project as an way to further analyze how the technology works in the real world and to find out what still needs to be done to make it easier to use.

Though Awabar said their role is “small,” as the bar did not design the technology (Nayuta did), they’re “delighted” to participate, offering a place for the experimental technology to be tested in a brick-and-mortar context.

The company said in a statement:

“We hope it helps familiarize the community with the lightning network payment system.”

The following video shows how the point of sale app (created by Nayuta and run on the open source payment processor BTCPay) will look for customers purchasing their drinks:

Nayuta is known for helping to draw up specifications for the lightning network and recently launched its own implementation of the budding payment layer geared specifically for connected devices or the Internet of Things (IoT).

The idea is that as the tech components grow less expensive, more devices such as refrigerators and TVs will connect to the internet for data collection.

Source: Pivot – Blockchain Community

20% of 18-34 Year Olds in America ‘Own Bitcoin,’ Recent Survey Reveals – Omar Faridi

Spencer Bogart, a general partner at Blockchain Capital, recently revealed the results of a survey which suggest that despite the extended cryptocurrency bear market, “Bitcoin awareness, familiarity, perception, conviction, propensity to purchase and ownership all increased/improved significantly.”

According to a blog post, published on April 30th, 2019, by Bogart, the survey “results highlight that Bitcoin is a demographic mega-trend led by younger age groups.” Bogart also wrote that the “only area where older demographics matched younger demographics was awareness.”

Notably, the survey was “conducted online by The Harris Poll, on behalf of Blockchain Capital, from April 23–25, 2019 among 2,029 American adults.”

Most Americans Have “Heard Of Bitcoin”

Bogart, a business economics graduate from the University of California, Santa Barbara, explained that those surveyed had a relatively high awareness about cryptocurrencies. He noted that “regardless of age, the vast majority of the American population has heard of Bitcoin.”

As mentioned in Bogart’s blog, the “percentage of [US residents] that have heard of Bitcoin rose from 77% in October 2017 to 89% in April 2019.”

18-34 Year Olds Have “Highest Rate Of Awareness”

Moreover, the survey results indicated that overall “awareness of Bitcoin is strong across all age groups — those aged 18–34 have the highest rates of awareness at 90% and those aged 65+ have the lowest at 88%.”

60% Of 18-34 Year Olds Are “Somewhat Familiar” With Bitcoin

When compared to last year, the “percentage of people that have not heard of Bitcoin fell by more than half — from 23% in October 2017 to 11% in April 2019,” the survey data revealed.

Approximately 60% of survey participants aged between 18 and 34 said that they were “at least ‘somewhat familiar’ with Bitcoin — up from 42% in October 2017.” Moreover, Americans between the ages of 18 and 34 are “3x as likely to be at least ‘somewhat familiar’ with Bitcoin as those aged 65 and over,” the survey data suggested.

More Americans Now Believe Bitcoin Is “A Positive Innovation”

Other notable survey results indicate that the “percentage of [Americans] who ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree that ‘Bitcoin is a positive innovation in financial technology’ rose 9 percentage points — from 34% in October 2017 to 43% in April 2019.”

Meanwhile, the “younger demographics were most inclined to have a positive view of Bitcoin,” the survey results suggested. In fact, around “59% of those aged 18–34 ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree that” the Bitcoin protocol will have a positive impact on the world’s existing financial system. Notably, the overall positive attitude towards Bitcoin (BTC) among younger US residents increased by as much as 11% “from October 2017.”

Many Americans Think “Most People Will Be Using Bitcoin” In The Next Decade

Interestingly, more Americans now believe that “most people will be using Bitcoin in the next 10 years.” According to survey data, the percentage of US citizens who think Bitcoin will play a significant role in the future economy increased “ from 28% in October 2017 to 33% in April 2019.”

Survey results also indicate that “48% of those aged 18–34 ‘strongly’ or ‘somewhat’ agree that ‘it’s likely most people will be using Bitcoin in the next 10 years’ — up 6 percentage points from October 2017.”

Significantly More Americans Are Now Planning To Buy Bitcoin

According to recent survey data, 27% of Americans said “they are ‘very’ or ‘somewhat’ likely to buy Bitcoin in the next 5 years” – up “from 19% in October 2017.”

Other key findings from the survey are as follows:

  • “21% of [US residents] said they would prefer Bitcoin to government bonds — up from 18% in October 2017,”
  • “17% of [US residents] said they would prefer Bitcoin to stocks — up from 14% in October 2017,”
  • “14% of [US residents] said they would prefer Bitcoin to real estate — up from 12% in October 2017,”
  • “12% of [US residents] said they would prefer Bitcoin to gold — up from 8% in October 2017,”
  • “11% of the [American] population owns Bitcoin — including 20% of those aged 18–34 and 15% of those aged 35–44.”

Source: CryptoGlobe

Bank of England: Cryptoassets Still ‘Too Volatile,’ Not a Good Store of Value By Omar Faridi

David Ramsden, the Deputy Governor of Markets and Banking at the Bank of England (BoE), has argued that cryptocurrencies are “too volatile” to be considered a reliable store-of-value (SoV).

In a brief interview with CNBC on April 30th, 2019, Ramsden said that BoE’s officials have been keeping track of the “emerging developments and then thinking about what they mean” or how they’re relevant to our current economic system.

The Deputy Governor noted that “just over a year ago, the financial policy committee looked at cryptoassets in some detail” – as “supported by” and within the context of the latest developments in FinTech and modern banking services. He confirmed that England’s central bank still believes blockchain-based digital assets are highly volatile, based on their recent price movements.

Cryptoassets Not An Effective SoV Or MoE

Cryptoassets are also not a reliable medium-of-exchange (MoE) because the “cost of transactions” remains quite high, Ramsden claims. Because of these issues, the BoE’s management thinks cryptocurrencies don’t satisfy the basic “principles of being a currency.”

Ramsden also pointed out that “this is why” the BoE considers them to be cryptoassets, and not cryptocurrencies. Ramsden further noted that cryptoassets “did not pose a risk” to the overall stability of the much larger traditional financial system. This, as the current market capitalization of the crypto market, which presently stands at over $174 billion, is relatively small compared to the multi-trillion dollar global financial market.

BoE Continues To Monitor Crypto Markets

Despite not being able to negatively affect the traditional financial system, Ramsden said that the BoE continues to monitor cryptoassets. He revealed that the UK’s Treasury Department, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and the Cryptoassets Task Force carefully examined the crypto industry.

According to the regulators, cryptoassets that “fall within” the current regulatory framework must comply with the European nation’s existing financial policies. However, Ramsden said that UK’s financial regulators “also had to be very mindful of [digital] assets and exchanges that [may be operating] in or outside” the UK’s regulatory guidelines.

“Very Positive” About DLT

Ramsden added that the BoE and other regulatory bodies in the UK “remained very vigilant about cryptoassets.” He continued to note that the BoE is “very positive” about the distributed ledger technology (DLT) that “underlies” cryptoassets. He also noted that part of his role “in embracing FinTech across the BoE” involves looking closely at the potential benefits of blockchain tech.

He also mentioned:

We are looking at the potential of DLT … for example, in the payments space, we’re making sure that our real-time gross settlement system can interface and be interoperable with blockchain/DLT technology.

Source: CryptoGlobe

Crypto Markets See Green, US Stock Futures Solid Ahead of Goldman, Citi Earnings

Monday, April 15 — after yesterday’s mixed movements, all of the top twenty cryptocurrencies are seeing solid green on the day to press time, seeing growth of between one and 10%, as Coin350 data shows.

Market visualization courtesy of Coin360

Bitcoin (BTC) is up around 1.5% on the day and is trading just under $5,200 by press time, according to CoinMarketCap. After hitting a multi-month price high of over $5,420 on April 10, the price of Bitcoin has subsequently corrected downwards — briefly dipping back below the $5,000 mark on April 12.

The top coin has since seen mild renewed growth in recent days, mostly trading sideways since mid-week. Today’s price point has brought Bitcoin’s weekly losses to a little over 1%.

Bitcoin 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

The largest altcoin by market cap, Ethereum (ETH), is also up about 1.5% on the day to trade near $167. The alt saw a peak on its weekly chart on April 8, breaking through $180, before faltering downward to as low as $161 on April 11-12.

Despite today’s mild growth, on the week Ethereum remains down by 6.75%.

Ethereum 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Ripple (XRP) has reported mild growth of less than one percent on the day, and is currently trading at around $0.327. Correlating with Ethereum’s price movements, the altcoin saw bullish price points April 8-11, before seeing a subsequent correction. On its weekly chart, XRP is now down over 8%.

Ripple 7-day price chart. Source: CoinMarketCap

Among the uniformly green top 10 cryptocurrencies, XRP’s growth is the mildest, with Bitcoin Cash (BCH) seeing the largest uptick, rising about 7% on the day to trade at $298 by press time. Litecoin (LTC) and Binance Coin (BNB) are both reporting the second highest gains among the top 10, both up around 3.5% by press time.

Widening out to the top twenty, the highest gainer is Tezos (XTZ), which has surged close to 10% to hit $1.13 by press time. Aside from Maker (MKR) — ranked 20th and up a strong 5.2% — most other top 20 coins are seeing gentle gains between one and two percent.

The total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies is currently around to $175.3 billion, down over 1.6% on the week.

Total market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies. Source: CoinMarketCap

In crypto and blockchain news, the parent company of major South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb has today revealed $200 million in funding from Japan’s ST Blockchain Fund. The funding will reportedly be used to expand Bithumb’s international outreach.

Also today, Cointelegraph reported that Japanese financial services giant SBI Holdings has become a shareholder in crypto startup FXCoin, which hopes to become a licensed local cryptocurrency exchange.

In traditional markets, United States stock index futures opened slightly higher, ahead of anticipated earnings reports today from Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, CNBC reports. Dow futures have this morning indicated a positive open, while futures for the S&P and Nasdaq were mixed.

Source: Crypto Markets See Green, US Stock Futures Solid Ahead of Goldman, Citi Earnings

Pay with Crypto, Payment Card to Be Launched by Banking Platform

A banking startup is about to launch a debit card which crypto enthusiasts will be able to use to pay for goods with crypto. the banking startup 2gether promises that its new prepaid Visa card will allow the firm’s customers to use either fiat currency or seven crypto coins to pay for things: BTC, XRP, EOS, XLM and a few others. The card helps people by changing digital assets into fiat (EUR) and will be accepted in almost 20 EU countries. Businesses can take advantage of the service to pay employee salaries and income taxes. Other commercial or corporate expenses can be covered as well with digital coins converted and sent to fiat-based accounts. Aave Pay has been announced as both a web-based and a mobile application. While the online platform is live at the moment, there is little information on how to download, install and use the mobile app and its features…….

Source: Pay with Crypto, Payment Card to Be Launched by Banking Platform

Cryptocurrencies in the Spring: good times, bad times

In the world of cryptocurrencies, the Spring of 2019 is starting to resemble the best of times and the worst of times. Should holders of cyber-money such as Bitcoin or Ethereum be cheered by the modest price rally that came in with the New Year, by the announcement in early March that Samsung is to launch a cryptocurrency wallet and by the news that a gold-backed cryptocurrency will be unveiled shortly? Or should they focus on the negative publicity arising from a cyber-money fraud in Sweden and on the news that Mexico’s central bank has imposed an effective ban on financial institutions in that country offering cryptocurrency services? How can a trader put together a reliable cryptocurrencies forecast? What is the outlook for cryptocurrencies 2019…..

Source: Cryptocurrencies in the Spring: good times, bad times

MercadoLibre Dumps Crypto Days after PayPal’s $750 Million Investment

MercadoLibre, a Latin American e-commerce giant with a presence in nearly 20 countries, recently started warning users that cryptocurrency-related listings will be banned from its platform. The company made the announcement just days after receiving a $750 million investment from PayPal.

$22 Billion Latin American E-Commerce Giant Bans Crypto Listings

The e-commerce retailer’s move comes as it also cracks down on pre-paid cards and digital currencies used in games. The measure will take effect from March 19 onward, according to an email the company has been sending its vendors.


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MercadoLibre's email to its vendors

MercadoLibre will bar users from selling cryptocurrency on its platform. | Source: MercadoLibre/Criptomoedas Facil

In the email, MercadoLibre notes that the vendor has listings related to cryptocurrencies or pre-paid cards for games and asks them to finalize them as soon as possible, as they’ll be automatically dropped on March 19.

Local news outlet Criptomoedas Fácil reports that in Brazil alone – one of the 18 countries MercadoLibre serves – there are over 5,630 bitcoin-related ads and over 9,320 cryptocurrency-related listings. Ripple (XRP), reportedly the most popular cryptocurrency on the Latin American platform, appears in more than 11,100 ads.

Last year, a bitcoin wallet and merchant processing service called Ripio entered a partnership with MercadoLibre, so the platform could allow its users to withdraw received funds directly in bitcoin. Both MercadoLibre and Ripio are Argentine firms.

Why the e-commerce retailer is dropping cryptocurrency-related listings is currently unclear. Platforms that have banned ads and products related to the crypto space in the past pointed to various reasons revolving around fraud, potential illicit activities, and user security.

MeradoLibre Raised $1.85 Billion – with PayPal’s Help

mercado libre stock

MercadoLibre stock has rapidly appreciated over the past several months, with the latest jump coming after PayPal dumped $750 million into MELI shares. | Source: Yahoo Finance

Notably, the e-commerce giant has recently raised $1.85 billion to boost its investment in logistics and invest in fintech and payment solutions. The company’s main market, Brazil, has been under pressure thanks to Amazon‘s presence in the region.

According to Bloomberg, MercadoLibre raised that massive amount of capital through a public share offering and through direct investments from companies that included PayPal Holdings.

The e-commerce firm reportedly made a $1 billion offering of common stock, priced at $480 a share, making it one of the largest equity sales an Argentine firm has made in the past ten years. At the time, bids for the sale surpassed $6 billion, helping its stock rise nearly 5% to trade at over $500. Since then, it has dropped to $488.

The sale saw PayPal agree to make a $750 million strategic investment in the company, while an affiliate of Dragoneer Investment Group was set to purchase $100 million of perpetual convertible preferred stock.

Sean Summers, MarcadoLibre’s chief marketing officer, claimed at the time that the firm’s investors have a “sense that Latin America is at a tipping point in terms of e-commerce growth.” The funds the company raised are to be used on its largest markets – Brazil, Mexico, and Argentina – and will be split evenly among e-commerce and fintech.

While PayPal itself won’t participate on the Argentine giant’s board or take an active role in its day-to-day operations, it started having meetings with it to “work together on best practices in financial technology.”

Summers stated:

“This deal opens the door to communication channels between our operations teams. We’re going to identify collaboration areas, to understand how PayPal’s global know-how best complements MercadoLibre’s regional know-how.”

Before the funding round, MercadoLibre had already started increasing the use of online payments through QR codes and mobile devices. While it isn’t clear whether PayPal was directly involved in the Argentine firm’s move to bar crypto sales, analysts have in the past claimed bitcoin is “potentially disruptive” to its business model.

Source: MercadoLibre Dumps Crypto Days after PayPal’s $750 Million Investment

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