Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t

My north star(s) for philosophy, management, and politics are Star Wars, The Sopranos, and Game of Thrones, respectively. The Iron Bank (GoT) is a metaphor for today’s financial institutions, if present-day banks didn’t need bailouts or to invent fake accounts to juice compensation. Regardless, it was well known throughout Braavos that The Iron Bank will have its due.

If you failed to repay, they’d fund your enemies. So today’s Iron Bankers are the venture capitalists funding (any) incumbents’ enemies. If this makes VCs sound interesting/cool, don’t trust your instincts.

Lately, I’ve spent a decent amount of time on the phone with my bank in an attempt to get a home equity line, as I want to load up on Dogecoin. (Note: kidding.) (Note: mostly.) If Opendoor and Zillow can use algorithms and Google Maps to get an offer on my house in 24 hours, why does it take my bank — which underwrote the original mortgage — so much longer?

How ripe a sector is for disruption is a function of several factors. One (relatively) easy proxy is the delta between price increases and inflation, and if the innovation in the sector justifies the delta. Think of the $200 cable bill, or a $5.6 million 60-second Super Bowl spot, as canaries in the ad-supported media coal mine.

Another, easier (and more fun) indicator of ripeness is the eighties test. Put yourself smack dab in the center of the store/product/service, close your eyes, spin around three times, open your eyes, and ask if you’d know within 5 seconds that you were not in 1985. Theaters, grocery stores, gas stations, dry cleaners, university classes, doctor’s offices, and banks still feel as if you could run into Ally Sheedy or The Bangles.

It’s hard to imagine an industry more ripe for disruption than the business of money.

Let’s start with this: 25% of U.S. households are either unbanked or underbanked. Half of the nation’s unbanked households say they don’t have enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements. 34% say bank fees are too high. And, if you’re trying to get a mortgage, you’d better hope the house isn’t cheap.

Inequity is a breeding ground for disruption, leaving underserved markets for insurgents to seize and launch an attack on incumbents from below. We have good reason to believe that’s happening in banking.

Insurgents

A herd of unicorns is at the stable door, looking to trample Wells Fargo and Chase. Fintech is responsible for roughly one in five (17%) of the world’s unicorns, more than any other sector. In addition, there are already several megalodons worth more than financial institutions that have spent generations building (mis)trust.

How did this happen? The fintechs are zeroing in on everything big banks aren’t.

Example #1: Innovation. Over the past five years, PayPal has issued 26x more patents than Goldman Sachs.

Example #2: Cost-cutting. “Neobanks” offer the basic services of a bank, with one less expensive and cumbersome feature: the branch. A traditional bank branch needs $50 million in deposits to generate an adequate return. Yet nearly half (48%) of branches in the U.S. are below that threshold. Neobanks don’t have that problem, and there are now at least 177 of them. Founders frame these offerings as more progressive, less corporate. Dave, a new banking app, offers a Founding Story on its website (illustrated with cartoon bears) about three friends “fed up” with their banking experience, often incurring $38 overdraft fees. Fed up no longer: Dave provides free overdraft protection and has 10 million customers.

Example #3: Less inequity. NYU Professor of Finance Sabrina Howell’s research found fintech lenders gave 18% of PPP loans to Black-owned businesses, while small to medium-sized banks provided just 2%. Among all loans to Black-owned firms, Professor Howell found 54% were from fintech startups. Racial discrimination is the most likely explanation, as lenders faced zero credit risk.

Example #4: Serving the underserved. Unequal access to banking is a global botheration. Almost a third of the world’s adults, 1.7 billion, are unbanked. In Argentina, Colombia, Nigeria, and other countries, more than 50% of adults are unbanked.

But innovation is already on the horizon: Take Argentine fintech Ualá, whose CEO Pierpaolo Barbieri I spoke with on the Pod last week. In just 4 years, more than 3 million people have opened an account with his company — about 9% of the country — and over 25% of 18 to 25-year-olds now have a tarjeta Ualá (online wallet). Ualá recently launched in Mexico, where, as of 2017, only 2.6% of the poorest 40% had a credit card. This is more than an economic issue — it’s a societal issue, as financial inclusion bolsters the middle class and forms a solid base for democracy.

Interest(ed)

Chase savings accounts are offering, no joke, 0.01% interest. Wells Fargo? The same, though if you keep your investment portfolio with Wells, they’ll double that rate to 0.02%. Meanwhile, neobanks including Ally and Chime offer 0.5% — 50 times the competition.

There is also blood in the water for fintech unicorns that have created a debit, vs. credit, generation: The buy-now-pay-later fintech Afterpay has more than 5 million U.S. customers — just two years after launching in the country. As of February, its competitor Affirm has 4.5 million customers.

Unicorns are also coming for payments. The megasaurus in this space is PayPal, which has built the first global payments platform outside the credit card model and is second only to Visa in payment volume and revenue. Square’s Cash app is capturing share, and Apple Cash is also a player, as it’s … Apple.

Square, Apple, and a host of other companies are taking the “partnership” approach, bolting new services onto the existing transaction infrastructure. Square’s little white box is a low-upfront-cost way for a small merchant to accept credit cards. It’s particularly interesting that Apple teamed up with Goldman Sachs instead of a traditional bank. Goldman is looking to get into the consumer space (see Marcus), and Apple is looking to get into the payments space — this alliance could be the unsullied fighting with air cover from dragons. It should make Wells and BofA anxious.

The Big Four credit card system operators (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express) are still the dominant payment players, and they have deep moats. Their brands are global, their networks robust. Visa can handle 76,000 transactions per second in 160 currencies, and as of this week it had settled $1 billion in cryptocurrency transactions.

Still, even the king of payments sees dead people. In 2020, Visa tried to buy Plaid for $5.3 billion. Plaid currently helps connect existing payments providers (i.e. banks) to finance software such as Quicken and Mint. But it plans to expand from that beachhead into offering a full-fledged payments system. Visa CEO Al Kelly initially described the deal as an “insurance policy” to neutralize a “threat to our important U.S. debit business.” In an encouraging sign that American antitrust authorities are stirring, the Department of Justice filed suit to block the merger, and Visa walked.

Beyond Banking

Fintech is also coming for investing with online trading apps (Robinhood, Webull, Public, and several of the neobanks) and through the crypto side door (Coinbase, Gemini, Binance). Insurance is under threat from companies like Lemonade (home), Ladder (life), and Root (auto).

In sum, fintech is likely as underhyped as space is overhyped. Why? The ROI on your professional efforts and investing are inversely proportional to how sexy the industry/investment is, and fintech is … boring. Except for the immense opportunity and value creation — for multiple stakeholders. “Half the world is unbanked, but we need to colonize Mars,” said no rational investor ever.

Re: investing in fintech: What has, and will always be, a good rap? The guy/gal who owns the bank.

Life is so rich,

By: Scott Galloway

Source: Fintechs Are Zeroing in on Everything Big Banks Aren’t | by Scott Galloway | Jul, 2021 | Marker

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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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Haven’t Checked On That Bitcoin Account In A While? Your State Could Have It Liquidated

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If you know you have an old bitcoin or dogecoin account somewhere but haven’t gotten around the digging up your login information, you may have a nasty surprise waiting for you. With the rise of cryptocurrency, nine states have now adopted rules that include it as a form of unclaimed property and several more are requiring or recommending that companies report their unclaimed virtual currency.

That means that this fall, when banks, insurers, retailers and state government agencies are required to annually report and remit any unclaimed funds, your old cryptocurrency account could be liquidated and turned in to the state’s unclaimed property office.

There are a lot of concerns about this possibility, not the least of which is the fact that liquidating a cryptocurrency account prevents the owner from realizing any future gains. But there’s also a larger economic issue, says Kristine Butterbaugh a solution principal, at the tax firm Sovos.

“Some of our clients don’t want to liquidate these accounts because it could have an impact on the market as a whole,” she says. “We’re talking millions of accounts, potentially, across the country.”

What’s muddling things is a lack of clarity on the rules around cryptocurrency. Unclaimed property law is written for traditional property but now it’s being enforced for non-traditional property.

Here’s how unclaimed property law usually works: Every fall, businesses are required to remit any unclaimed property to the state. For accounts and other financial instruments to be considered unclaimed, they have to be dormant for three to five years, depending on the state. That means the account holder hasn’t accessed the account or responded to any communications. Once the account is deemed unclaimed, it gets transferred to the state’s general fund.

That’s all well and good when we’re talking about a traditional bank account that is sitting around earning minimal — if any — interest. But states aren’t equipped to hold cryptocurrency, so they’re telling firms to turn those accounts into cash before handing them over.

Now let’s say you watched the meteoric rise of dogecoin this past spring and decided to go hunting for those coins you invested in on a whim a few years ago. And when you finally tracked them down you discovered your account was liquidated back in November, robbing you of thousands of dollars in potential earnings? You’d probably be pretty angry.

“Companies are in a really uncomfortable position because they’re unsure whether or not they should be liquidating for fear of owner retribution down the road,” says Butterbaugh. “And then you have the state saying, ‘You have to,’ even if it’s not explicitly in the statute.”

States are also motivated to enforce unclaimed property laws because it’s a revenue gain for them. Although the state keeps track of the amount due and the rightful owner can still eventually claim the money at any time, states in the meantime can use the money for their general operations. This may seem like a gamble, but only about 2% of unclaimed property ever gets returned to the true owner, according to Accounting Today.

Delaware — home to more than a million companies — is one of the most aggressive states when it comes to auditing companies on unclaimed property law compliance and has secured hundreds of millions of dollars over the last decade in unclaimed property and fines.

So, companies are stuck between not wanting to get dinged for noncompliance and being afraid to liquidate a cryptocurrency account. They want more clarity on what to do and Butterbaugh says two places — New York and Washington, D.C. — are working on a solution.

But in the meantime, she advises companies dealing in cryptocurrency to start addressing their dormant accounts now.

I am a fiscal policy expert, national journalist and public speaker who has spent more than 15 years writing about the many ways state and local governments collect and spend taxpayer money. I sift through that complicated information then break it down in quick ways that everyone can understand. I’m most known by policy wonks for my work at Governing magazine and for my fellowship at the Rockefeller Institute of Government where I write about the intersection of government and the future of work. My work is also in the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CityLab and other national publications. Frequent and enthusiastic radio and podcast guest.

Source: Haven’t Checked On That Bitcoin Account In A While? Your State Could Have It Liquidated

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Bitcoin Cryptocurrency Price Chart May Show $30,000 as Floor

Bitcoin has been grinding lower in a trading range just above $30,000, prompting cryptocurrency insiders to flag the round number as a potential floor for the virtual coin.

Crypto prognostication is fraught with risk, not least because Bitcoin’s price has roughly halved from a record high three months ago. Even so, some in the industry are coalescing around $30,000 as a support point, citing clues from options activity and recent trading habits.

In options, $30,000 is the most-sold downside strike price for July and August, signaling confidence among such traders that the level will hold, according to Delta Exchange, a crypto derivatives exchange. It “should provide a strong support to the market,” Chief Executive Officer Pankaj Balani said.

Traders are also trying to take advantage of price ranges, including buying between $30,000 and $32,000 and selling in the $34,000 to $36,000 zone, Todd Morakis, co-founder of digital-finance product and service provider JST Capital, said in emailed comments, adding that “the market at the moment seems to paying attention more to bad news than good.”

Bitcoin has been hit by many setbacks of late, including China’s regulatory crackdown — partly over concerns about high energy consumption by crypto miners — and progress in central bank digital-currency projects that could squeeze private coins. The creator of meme-token Dogecoin recently lambasted crypto as basically a sham, and the appetite for speculation is generally in retreat.

Bitcoin traded around $31,600 as of 9:26 a.m. in London and is down about 6% so far this week. It’s still up more than 200% over the past 12 months, despite a rout in calendar 2021.

Konstantin Richter, chief executive officer and founder of Blockdaemon, a blockchain infrastructure provider, holds out hope for institutional demand, arguing Bitcoin would have to drop below $20,000 before institutions start questioning “the validity of the space.”

“If it goes down fast, it can go up fast,” he said in an interview. “That’s just what crypto is.”

— With assistance by Akshay Chinchalkar

Source: Bitcoin (BTC USD) Cryptocurrency Price Chart May Show $30,000 as Floor – Bloomberg

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Critics:

The dramatic pullback in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies comes as a flurry of negative headlines and catalysts, from Tesla CEO Elon Musk to a new round of regulations by the Chinese government, have hit an asset sector that has been characterized by extreme volatility since it was created.

The flagship cryptocurrency fell to more than three-month lows on Wednesday, dropping to about $30,000 at one point for a pullback of more than 30% and continuing a week of selling in the crypto space. Ether, the main coin for the Ethereum blockchain network, was also down sharply and broke below $2,000 at one point, a more than 40% drop in less than 24 hours.

Part of the reason for bitcoin’s weakness seems to be at least a temporary reversal in the theory of broader acceptance for cryptocurrency.

Earlier this year, Musk announced he was buying more than $1 billion of it for his automaker’s balance sheet. Several payments firms announced they were upgrading their capabilities for more crypto actions, and major Wall Street banks began working on crypto trading teams for their clients. Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange company, went public through a direct listing in mid-April.

The weakness is not isolated in crypto, suggesting that the moves could be part of a larger rotation by investors away from more speculative trades.

Tech and growth stocks, many of which outperformed the broader market dramatically during the coronavirus pandemic, have also struggled in recent weeks.

Bitcoin Is Steady As It Braces For A Big Week

Led by bitcoin, most major cryptocurrencies have spent the past seven days in relative tranquility. Bitcoin and ether have been trading -0.69% and -4.46% on the week respectively, according to crypto data aggregator COIN360. The biggest movers are Binance’s BNB, which has added 6.95% over the same period, and Dogecoin, which is down by 8.28%.

As of 8.06 a.m. ET, bitcoin is still facing resistance at $33,576 though on-chain metrics are becoming more bullish. For instance, “bitcoin exchange balances have started to show signs of sustained outflows,” tweeted blockchain data and intelligence provider Glassnode. Approximately 40,000 BTC, or $1.37 billion, have been withdrawn over the last three weeks, reversing weeks of inflows that coincided with the 50% market crash. The withdrawals suggest that traders are moving their funds to outside wallets and aren’t looking to sell in the near term.

That said, there have been some standouts among altcoins. EOS, the native cryptocurrency of the EOS.IO blockchain platform, rallied nearly 11% in the last few days following the announcement that crypto startup Bullish is preparing for a public listing via a $9 billion SPAC deal. During the past year, Bullish received an initial capital injection of $100 million and digital assets, including 20 million EOS, from Block.one, the company behind EOS. Additionally, Block.one’s CEO Brendan Blumer will become the chairman of Bullish upon the transaction’s close.

Another big altcoin winner of the week is Terra (LUNA), a native token of the namesake protocol for issuing fiat-pegged stablecoins,  – up by 30.86%. The token seems to have found its footing after the volatility it saw in May. On July 7, Terraform Labs, the project’s creator, committed approximately $70 million to boost the reserves of its savings protocol Anchor. LUNA’s market capitalization has leaped from $300 million to $3.4 billion since January.

But all eyes will be on one of the largest releases of locked shares (16,240) in the Grayscale Bitcoin Trust (GBTC), bound to take place on July 17. In total, 40,000 shares will become unlocked in the coming weeks.

The trust, set up as a private placement where qualified investors can buy shares directly from Grayscale, requires investors to hold their shares for six months before selling them on the secondary market. GBTC saw massive interest in late 2020 and early 2021 among institutions looking for a simple way to get exposure to bitcoin.

Opinions on the impact of the event on the market differ. JPMorgan strategists think the selling will add pressure on the cryptocurrency. “Selling of GBTC shares exiting the six-month lockup period during June and July has emerged as an additional headwind for bitcoin,” wrote the bank’s analysts in a note issued earlier in June. “Despite some improvement, our signals remain overall bearish.”

Analysts at cryptocurrency exchange Kraken, however, seem to disagree: “market structure suggests that the unlock will not weigh materially on BTC spot markets anytime soon, if at all, like some have claimed.” Whether or not the unlock creates a catalyst for price action, it remains one of the most anticipated events of the week.

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.

Source: Bitcoin Is Steady As It Braces For A Big Week

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Critics:

Bitcoin was holding steady after surging to $40,000 following another weekend of price swings following tweets from Tesla boss Elon Musk, who fended off criticism over his market influence and said Tesla sold bitcoin but may resume transactions using it.

In other news, some 81% of fund managers believe Bitcoin is in a bubble, even after May’s 35% price crash, according to the latest Bank of America Global Fund Manager survey and reported by Coindesk.

genesis

The results for the period June 4-10 are up six percentage points from last month’s data, indicating sentiment on Wall Street has turned more bearish. 

The survey showed 72% of the fund managers surveyed think the recent uptick in inflation is transitory. Bitcoin is often seen as a hedge against inflation, and many crypto analysts attribute the cryptocurrency’s gains over the past year to concern about increasing inflation.

Last week, El Salvador became the world’s first country to recognize bitcoin as legal tender.

References

Google Advertising Policy Opens Doors To Wider Bitcoin Community

The Google logo seen at the entrance to Google Cloud campus...

Google GOOG +1.5% is revising its advertising policy to let cryptocurrency wallets advertise with them, along with exchanges, starting August 3rd provided that they are either registered with the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) or a federal or state chartered bank entity. The new policy will apply globally to Google search and its third-party sites, including YouTube, Gmail, or Blogger..

The expanded policy comes three years after Google banned all crypto-related advertising in March 2018. However, Google walked-back the policy five months later, allowing regulated cryptocurrency exchanges such as Coinbase to advertise in the United States and Japan in September 2018. While expanded to allow cryptocurrency exchanges and wallets to advertise, ads for initial coin offerings (ICOs), decentralized finance (DeFi) trading protocols, or promotions of specific cryptocurrencies are not permitted under the new policy.

It remains to be seen how this reversal in the policy will lead to a further loosening on other major advertising platforms that have placed restrictions on crypto firms. In 2018, Facebook banned all ads promoting cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin and initial coin offerings.

A few months later, Facebook edited the policy to introduce an eligibility review process for those looking to advertise certain cryptocurrency products or services; applicants should submit any licenses, listings on public stock exchanges, or other relevant public background.

Twitter, similarly to Facebook and Google, prohibits the advertisement of initial coin offerings or crypto token sales but allows exchanges or wallet services provided by a publicly traded crypto company to advertise with them provided as long as they comply with local laws.

BY: Emily Mason

Source: Google Advertising Policy Opens Doors To Wider Bitcoin Community

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Alphabet Inc.’s Google, the world’s largest digital advertising seller, will let companies offering cryptocurrency wallets run ads beginning in August.

In 2018, Google barred ads for cryptocurrencies and related products, following a similar move from Facebook Inc. But Google soon peeled back that restriction for digital currency exchanges. Starting in August, Google will let wallets run ads on search, YouTube and other properties as long as they go through the company’s certification process.

Google is making the change “in order to better match existing FinCEN regulations and requirements,” a spokesperson said Wednesday in a statement.

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Is Apple About To Accept Cryptocurrency? Job Ad Suggests It Might

NerdWallet-Millennial Money-Contactless Payment

An Apple job ad has raised the intriguing prospect that the company may soon support cryptocurrency payments. Apple has posted a vacancy for a “Business Development Manager – Alternative Payments”, which stipulates that candidates should have experience with handling cryptocurrency. The recruit would be joining the team that’s responsible for Apple Pay and the iPhone Wallet app.

The “key qualifications” for the role, first spotted by Coindesk, include “5+ years experience working in or with alternative payment providers, such as digital wallets, BNPL, Fast Payments, cryptocurrency and etc.”

The ad also suggests the company is looking for someone who is not wedded to mainstream payment solutions. “We are looking for a candidate who is comfortable with ambiguity, enjoys thinking about edge cases and asking ‘what is an alternative way of doing this’,” the ad on the Apple website reads.

As spotted by the FT, it seems Apple is gently warming to the idea of supporting cryptocurrencies, even before this hire. The App Store listing for the cryptocurrency trading service, Coinbase, shows that it’s now supported in Apple Wallet, although it seems the functionality hasn’t been fully switched on yet.

Big-brand backing

If Apple were to fully embrace cryptocurrencies, it would give the market its strongest endorsement yet.

Tesla’s Elon Musk has been arguably the biggest backer of cryptocurrencies to date, although his erratic support wavered again last month when he announced that the car company would no longer accept bitcoin for vehicle purchases, citing fears over the environmental damage caused by bitcoin mining.

There is speculation that Musk is simply trading his chips from one cryptocurrency to another, however, having made several strong public statements in support of dogecoin.

Support from Apple would surely drive demand for cryptocurrencies, although that is already causing problems in some parts of the world. Iran this week declared a four-month ban on cryptocurrency mining over fears that it was causing surges in demand for electricity. Unlicensed miners in the country are taking advantage of the country’s relatively cheap electricity to run enormous cryptocurrency-mining rigs.

I have been a technology writer and editor for more than 20 years. I was assistant editor of The Sunday Times’ technology section, editor of PC Pro magazine and have written for more than a dozen different publications and websites over the years. I’ve also appeared as a tech pundit on television and radio, including BBC Newsnight, the Chris Evans Show and ITN News at Ten.

Hit me up if you’ve got a tech story that needs breaking at barry@mediabc.co.uk.

Source: Is Apple About To Accept Cryptocurrency? Job Ad Suggests It Might

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“The Apple Wallets, Payments, and Commerce (WPC) team is seeking an experienced Business Development Manager to lead Alternative Payments Partnerships,” the company wrote.

Apple has long maintained an ironclad grip over payments, especially in its App Store, which has never accepted customers’ crypto and forces all catalog apps to use Apple’s commerce rails and play by Apple’s rules. 

That tightly-controlled ecosystem is the focus of a blockbuster court fight launched by Fortnite developer Epic Games. Epic alleges Apple’s rules violate antitrust laws and stifle payments innovation. App developers could accept “bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies” if not for Apple’s restrictions, Epic claimed in the suit.

Apple has made no public statements about its plans for the crypto space. The company did not immediately return CoinDesk’s calls. Even so, pockets of the crypto space seem to be preparing for Apple. Coinbase included Apple Pay graphics in a recent app update, according to MacRumors.

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References

Destefanis, Giuseppe; Marchesi, M.; Ortu, Marco; Tonelli, R.; Bracciali, A.; Hierons, R. (2018). “Smart contracts vulnerabilities: a call for blockchain software engineering?”. 2018 International Workshop on Blockchain Oriented Software Engineering (IWBOSE). doi:10.1109/IWBOSE.2018.8327567. hdl:1893/27135.

Phemex Is Empowering Everyone To Trade Simply and Manage Risk Efficiently

Led by 8 former Morgan Stanley Executives, Phemex’s goal is to build the worlds most trustworthy cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform. Its leverage a “User-Oriented” approach to develop far more powerful features than any existing exchange.

Above all, they place customers first. All of the features and tools are designed with this philosophy in mind. This is why their development team is directly available and constantly gathering feedback, comments, and requests from our community on social media.

Back in 2017, as experienced professional Wall Street traders and investors, Jack Tao and other founding members of Phemex identified a lack of professionalism, trustworthiness, and customer support within the crypto industry. In the following two years, the number of users engaging in cryptocurrency trading increased significantly.

Nevertheless, existing exchanges showed little to no improvement. Realizing the seriousness of the problem, the team left Wall Street and founded Phemex in the summer of 2019. They then dedicated themselves to building a simple, efficient, but most importantly, a trusted cryptocurrency trading platform. Then, on November 25th, 2019, the Phemex platform officially went live.

Pheme (Fama) is the personification of fame and of the public’s voice in Greek mythology. While MEX stands for mercantile exchange. This name was chosen to highlight our vision and their dedication to stand as the most trustworthy trading platform.

From day one, their mission was and will always continue to be the empowerment of individuals. They want everyone in this world to have access to the right set of tools that will allow them to manage risk efficiently and trade simply. They sincerely believe this to be a fundamental right that all traders should enjoy.

For its crypto derivatives products, Phemex allows you to trade with leverage. This means that you can receive a higher exposure towards a certain crypto’s price increase or decrease, without actually holding the necessary amount of assets. You do this by “leveraging” your trade. In simple terms, this means that you borrow from the exchange to bet more. You can get as much as 100x leverage on this platform.

Leveraged trades are risky though. For instance, let’s say that you have 100 USD in your trading account and you bet this amount on BTC going long (i.e., going up in value). If BTC then increases in value with 10%, you would have earned 10 USD. If you had used 100x leverage, your initial 100 USD position becomes a 10,000 USD position so you instead earn an extra 1,000 USD (990 USD more than if you had not leveraged your deal).

As we mentioned above, in terms of Spot Trading, Phemex has adopted a zero trading fee model. Instead they just charge for monthly Premium Memberships (prices are $9.99 for 30 Days, $19.99 for 90 Days and $69.99 USDT for 365 Days). Becoming a premium member will also allow you to set conditional spot orders, you will enjoy hourly withdrawals with no limits, and will be able to gift trial premium memberships to friends.

With respect to contract trading, Phemex separates between “takers” and “makers”. Let’s describe these terms real quick. Every trade occurs between two parties: the maker, whose order exists on the order book prior to the trade, and the taker, who places the order that matches (or “takes”) the maker’s order. We call makers for “makers” as their orders make the liquidity in a market. Takers are the ones who “take” this liquidity by matching makers’ orders with their own..

Phemex previously didn’t accept any other deposit method than cryptos, so new investors were restricted from trading here. Starting 18 June 2020, however, they partnered with a company called Banxa which is a payment gateway that accepts credit and debit card purchases of crypto.

Since then, Phemex has also partnered with Koinal, Coinify, MoonPay, and Mercuryo. You have a variety of payment options (ranging from bank transfers to Apple Pay) and rates to fit your needs.

To our understanding, Phemex does not charge any fees of their own when you withdraw crypto from your account at the platform. Accordingly, the only fee you have to think about when withdrawing are the network fees. The network fees are fees paid to the miners of the relevant crypto/blockchain, and not fees paid to the exchange itself. Network fees vary from day to day depending on the network pressure.

Generally speaking, to only have to pay the network fees should be considered as below global industry average when it comes to fee levels for crypto withdrawals.

Source: https://phemex.com

Crypto’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week

It started even before Elon Musk took the stage on Saturday Night Live. The May 8-14 issue of The Economist arrived in the mailbox, delivering a quiet, existential blow to cryptocurrency as we’ve known it for the last decade or so. The publication’s cover package offered a vision of “govcoins,” digital currencies backed by central banks:

Government e-currencies would score highly, since they are state-guaranteed and use a cheap, central payments hub. As a result, govcoins could cut the operating expenses of the global financial industry, which amount to over $350 a year for every person on Earth.

Although the motivation for these “govcoins” is not to push existing cryptocurrencies to the margins, that would be the likely effect. Then, as Musk appeared on SNL, the price of Dogecoin plummeted. Although news stories attributed Dogecoin’s tumble to a Weekend Update skit that labeled the joke-coin a “hustle,” the selloff started at least half an hour before that. It felt more like a classic “buy the rumor, sell the news” dynamic.

But Musk reserved his true market-moving power for midweek, when he tweeted that Tesla will stop accepting Bitcoin as payment for cars. The reason, Musk said, was “rapidly increasing use of fossil fuels for Bitcoin mining and transactions, especially coal, which has the worst emissions of any fuel.” In a later tweet, Musk called the amount of electricity used to produce Bitcoin recently “insane.” Critics pointed out that Musk and Tesla could easily have known about Bitcoin’s energy suck when they embraced the currency months ago; nonetheless, the price of Bitcoin sank by as much as 15% that day.

Musk’s pronouncements put the spotlight on cryptocurrencies that claim to require less electricity to produce. All of a sudden, everyone is touting cryptocurrencies that operate on a more efficient standard than Bitcoin’s “proof of work” standard. The flurry recalls the hype around sustainable aviation fuel or ‘70s-oil-crisis car advertising, in which the sole marketing criterion was which vehicle got the most miles per gallon.

The recently launched Chia Network, for example, plays up its “proof of space and time” standard as more energy efficient. Other cryptocurrencies, like Nano and Cardano, took to Twitter to boast about their supposed energy efficiency. On The Defiant podcast, crypto coder Preston Van Loon insisted that Ethereum—a versatile cryptocurrency that’s still valued about 400% higher than on January 1—is “about six months from proof-of-stake.”

Of course, the dramatic dropoff in Bitcoin and Dogecoin prices is both predictable and relative; the idea that Dogecoin is still trading at over 50 cents a coin is ludicrously mind-blowing. Nonetheless, the Musk-Tesla decision around Bitcoin feels like a watershed moment. Cryptocurrency mining’s energy use has gone from a fringe concern to front and center in a matter of weeks. As FIN noted last week, some state legislatures are beginning to discuss limits on crypto mining. It’s going to get harder for crypto enthusiasts to avoid this issue.

Don’t Miss Out on Future FIN

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Fintech Meets Healthcare

One of the most powerful fintech applications imaginable is in American healthcare space. The United States spends trillions of dollars a year on health care, and yet the outcomes are consistently below those of other developed countries. There are dozens of reasons for that, but one that seems ripe for solving is how payments work.

The system of private health insurance is tremendously inefficient, to the point where it actively interferes with patient care. Americans almost never know what a given procedure is going to cost, how much their insurance will or won’t cover, or even when they will be billed. Surveys indicate that more Americans stress out over medical bills more than over their actual care. This chart shows why half of all Americans have been late to pay a medical bill:

For their part, doctors and other medical providers feel swamped with paperwork and antiquated billing systems. One company that’s trying to fix this broken mess is Waystar, a Chicago-based healthcare technologies that offers a cloud-based billing system to help rationalize payments. Waystar claims to currently handle about one out of every four healthcare transactions in the US.

In an interview with FIN, Waystar CEO Matthew Hawkins acknowledged that while the American health care system has for decades been slow to digitize, recent legislative changes—such as 2009’s “meaningful use” law—have spurred positive changes. Moreover, the shift to telehealth services brought on by the COVID pandemic should make the system more efficient. Hawkins said his company’s ultimate goal is “paving the way toward price transparency.”

He laments that “we’ve all gotten comfortable behaviorally with going to a provider, receiving health services, and then not really knowing the cost of those services.” Imagine an app that would tell you in advance what a surgical procedure was going to cost you, and even gave you the option to set up a payment program before you see the doctor!

Robinhood’s Customer Service Glitches Explained

Sheelah Kolhatkar is one of the most talented business writers in the world. And given the connection that former officials of S.A.C. have to the Robinhood story (Kolhatkar wrote the book on S.A.C.), she’s by far the best person to write about Robinhood for The New Yorker. Unfortunately for her and the publication, Robinhood has been so heavily covered since January that a lot of her current piece feel overly familiar.

But the one thing she really nails is Robinhood’s terrible customer service. According to her story, Robinhood outsourced its customer service in 2016 to a company called Voxpro, located in Ireland. Voxpro’s poorly paid employees didn’t have the licensing or certification to deal with investors’ problems. In 2017, Robinhood made the conscious decision to eliminate the option for its users to call and speak to anyone. The company later restored an option for an investor to get a callback, but these years of customer-service neglect explain a lot.

FINvestments

🦈Number of the Week: In the April 11 issue, FIN predicted that Better.com would go public this year. Sure enough, that is happening, via SPAC. The company, which made its fortune selling mortgages but clearly plans to expand into a broader range of financial services, will be valued at $7.7 billion.

🦈PayPal’s march to become an overall e-commerce hub continues; this week it bought Happy Returns, a Santa Monica-based company that makes it easy for people to return in person items that they’ve bought online.

By: James Ledbetter

Source: Crypto’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Week – James Ledbetter’s FIN

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Bitcoin Price Prediction 2021: Where Is The Top?

JP Morgan is my friend, not the bank, but the Victorian banker. He said, “I’ve made a fortune selling too early” and as a bitcoin seller at $32,000 I invoke him as justification. Having said that, and I have stated this tactic in previous columns, I have done at least as well with about half the VAR (value at risk) by playing with the fire that is DeFi.

If you are using decentralized exchanges or keeping  tokens or passing them through your wallet, it is often hard to keep track of it all. It is even easy to forget what you have and where. However, there is a great app to keep tags on your ethereum and DeFi positions and it’s called Zerion. It is a tremendous tool for keeping a tally of what you have in the wild game of token trading and it’s free and you can log in using your wallet so there is no painful registration process. I am finding it indispensable.

Meanwhile I am now back in the same position as I was before I sold the bitcoin, of hanging onto my positions by my cuticles with a wildly undiversified and unbalanced portfolio that morphs by the day into a gloriously profitable but unmanageable series of extremely volatile positions. Leaving good investing and/or trading practice at the door is an extremely hazardous approach but it seems unavoidable to capture this rapture.

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In a matter of days I’ve gone from “buying all the things” to wanting to flee but that is purely because pretty much all DeFi, credible or otherwise, has gone on a massive vertical that dwarfs the performance of bitcoin and ethereum.

Here is one of my favorites that I hold and you can see why an old school equity guy, a value investor to boot, gets a nose bleed from this kind of price ascent:

One of my favorite DeFi tokesns, Matic, has gone vwertical
One of my favorite DeFi tokesns, matic, has gone vwertical Credit: ADVFN

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Matic, previously called polygon, is not a one-off, it is just a good example. The “why” of it is simple: Matic is a solution to many of the difficulties facing ethereum and its congestion: it is a seasoned project, it is linked to a lot of major players in Silicon Valley by investment, and it has a market cap of about $1 billion, 10% of a Bumble. In the current hepped up investment environment this is chump change and the winners in DeFi will go on to be worth $10-$100 billion, even without the printing press shifting the decimal point with inflation. Chainlink, the leader of the gang, is already nearing a $10 billion valuation. So this is not a ridiculous valuation if you grok that DeFi really is a revolutionary tech that will change everything, it’s just the price performance that makes an old investor’s nerve endings start shorting out.

All that aside, the key question once again is, is the market going up or down? Bitcoin down, all crypto down; bitcoin up, all crypto up. To me, I believe these price levels are the upper faces of this mountainous cycle, but many still consider them the foothills.

So what can help us know where we are? The all-seeing eye of Google can help. Here is a chart from Google Trends:

Google Trends shows interest in bitcoin, ethereum, DeFi and stocks
Google Trends shows interest in bitcoin, ethereum, DeFi and stocks Credit: Google

You can see how diagnostic Google trends is when you see the progress in search of the crypto hero of the day, doge, and can judge the rise and fall of the stock hoard of Reddit’s WallStreetBets.

Google Trends highlights the spike in interest in dogecoin when wallstreetbets got involved
Google Trends highlights the spike in interest in dogecoin when wallstreetbets got involved Credit: Google

Bitcoin is the leader and definer of this cycle and its performance will direct the performance of all the other cryptos. Musk’s bitcoin tweets are in the data for all to see.

Whether you are a BTC $1 million by Christmas prophet or a doubter expecting an imminent correction, this is a chart to watch because the price of bitcoin and ethereum is FOMO-driven and when that impulse passes, that will be the top for this cycle. FOMO, and we are now seeing corporate FOMO, is a powerful force but it is a acute one not a chronic one, so crypto will not ride the FOMO wave indefinitely.

There are a lot of extremely strong technical charts out there, so for now I’m hanging tough, but as we have seen before, as bitcoin gyrated between $30,000 and $40,000, these markets are fragile.

Volatility is liable to shake me out soon, but it could be days or weeks, perhaps even months before it does – but a week is now a long time in crypto and that in itself is a signal which one can choose to pay attention to.

The final indicator is transaction fees. These are now exorbitant. When they start to fall it will be a signal that the FOMO is falling and for now the only way transaction fees are going is skywards.

While I have to rise at 6:00 a.m. to get reasonable transaction fees before the rest of the world wakes up, I’m going to be holding on.

Good luck everyone. Enjoy the vertical.

—-

Clem Chambers is the CEO of private investors website ADVFN.com and author of 101 Ways to Pick Stock Market Winners and Trading Cryptocurrencies: A Beginner’s Guide.

Chambers won Journalist of the Year in the Business Market Commentary category in the State Street U.K. Institutional Press Awards in 2018. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website.

Clem Chambers

 Clem Chambers

I am the CEO of stocks and investment website ADVFN . As well as running Europe and South America’s leading financial market website I am a prolific financial writer. I wrote a stock column for WIRED – which described me as a ‘Market Maven’ – and am a regular columnist for numerous financial publications around the world. I have written for titles including: Working Money, Active Trader, SFO and Technical Analysis of Stocks & Commodities in the US and have written for pretty much every UK national newspaper. In the last few years I have become a financial thriller writer and have just had my first non-fiction title published: 101 ways to pick stock market winners. Find me here on US Amazon. You’ll also see me regularly on CNBC, CNN, SKY, Business News Network and the BBC giving my take on the markets.

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BitBoy Crypto

The Winklevoss Twins have doubled down on their $500,000 dollar Bitcoin prediction. Banking giant, Citi, has said they believe the Bitcoin price is heading toward $318,000 by the end of this year. JP Morgan says $650k is possible. The stock to flow chart for Bitcoin shows a $290,000 dollar Bitcoin. There are a ton of predictions out there and it’s hard to make sense of these numbers. It’s hard to know who is talking about the price a year from now and who is talking about a price 10 years from now.

But one thing is almost guaranteed. We are very far away from the peak of this bull run. In today’s video, I’m going to give you my new Bitcoin prediction and why I’ve had to upgrade this Bitcoin rally from bullish to ULTRA bullish. After HOURS of examining charts and cycles, I’ve come up with this brand new prediction. I’ll go over my original Bitcoin prediction and evaluate how it worked out.

At the end of this video, I’ll tell you EXACTLY where I think the Bitcoin price will settle. 0:00​- Intro 1:52​- Original Prediction 3:51​- 2017 vs Now 8:36​- Stock to Flow 8:49​- My New Prediction Trade with ByBit ➡️ https://ByBit.BitBoy.Live​ Connect with Me & the BitSquad! Join the BitSquad ➡️ http://t.me/BitSquad​ Join the BitBoy Lab ➡️ http://discord.BitBoy.Live​ Join BitSquad Traders ➡️ http://t.me/BitSquadTraders​ Join Me on Twitter ➡️ https://twitter.com/Bitboy_Crypto​ Join Me on Instagram ➡️ https://www.instagram.com/bitboy_crypto​ Join Me on TikTok ➡️ https://www.tiktok.com/@factsceo​ ●▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬● Best Crypto Products Buy My BitBoy Collectibles ➡️ https://app.rarible.com/bitboy​ Get $25 for Free with a CRO Card ➡️ http://CROcard.BitBoy.Live​ Best Hardware Wallet ➡️ http://Ledger.BitBoy.Live​ Deep Coin Research ➡️ TM.BitBoy.Live ●▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬● All of our videos are strictly personal opinions. Please make sure to do your own research. Never take one person’s opinion for financial guidance. There are multiple strategies and not all strategies fit all people. Our videos ARE NOT financial advice.

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