Feb 132018

The Governor of the Bank of Japan, Haruhiko Kuroda, said in front of the parliament members last Tuesday that cryptocurrencies are not a threat to the Yen and won’t pose a danger to existing standard payments in the near future.

Haruhiko Kuroda

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda (pic: wikimedia commons)

“For the time being, the digital coins are generally used for speculative trading rather than making payments”, said the governor adding that the Bank of Japan keeps an eye on the cryptocurrency market to ensure they do not “erode public trust” on existing settlement systems the bank currently oversees.

“Cryptocurrencies aren’t legal tenders and don’t have assets to back up their value… Some people say they should be described as crypto-assets, not cryptocurrencies,” said Kuroda.

A survey conducted by John McAfee revealed that 58% of over 45,000 poll participants see cryptocurrencies more as an investment than a means of payment. However, this figure is expected to change once the virtualcoin market has matured and then increasingly more financial transactions will be done in Bitcoin, Ethereum and their alternatives.

So far, Japan is known to be one of the most crypto friendly nations in the world as cryptocurrencies have been regulated by the government and increasing number of shops and businesses in the country accept Bitcoin and other altcoins as a means of payment.

Feb 112018

Harunustaspor, a sports club competing in the regional amateur football league Sakarya First Division Group B in Turkey, acquired a player using cryptocurrency Bitcoin, a football’s first.

football bitcoin payment

Celebration after football’s first official bitcoin payment (pic: cnnturk.com)

According to local media outlets, 22-year-old Omer Faruk Kiroglu has accepted an offer of 0.0524 Bitcoin (about 431 euros) and 2,500 Turkish Lira (534 euros).

“We did so to be known to the world. This transfer has become the first of this kind in Turkey and even in the whole world. If such a trade was made by professionals, it would have been widely advertised on television. However, as amateurs, we were the first to do it and we are proud of that,” said club’s president, Haldun Sehit.

Omar Faruk Kiroglu was delighted with this experience. “I’m a man open to new things. For me it is a historic moment, as it is for the whole soccer world,” he added.

Feb 112018

Central banks need to be prepared to intervene and counteract the risks created by digital currencies, such as bitcoin, which have become a “combination of speculative bubble, pyramid scheme and ecological disaster,” said Agustin Carstens, general manager of the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), according to The Wall Street Journal.

Agustin Carstens

Agustin Carstens (public domain photo)

“There are strong arguments for an intervention by the authorities. These assets can give rise to concerns about the protection of consumers and investors. Relevant authorities have a duty to educate and protect investors and consumers and must be prepared to act,” Agustin Carstens said at an event held at the Goethe University in Frankfurt. “Private digital symbols claiming to be coins should not undermine confidence in central banks,” added Carstens without telling which concrete measures should be taken.

Agustin Carstens, a former governor of the Central Bank of Mexico, is the latest in a series of decision-makers who have ruled against digital currencies after Bitcoin, the best known cryptocoin, has seen a spectacular rise of over 1,000% in 2017.

Feb 112018

The crypto market will grow stronger only when all alternative coins having “no substance” and now competing with Bitcoin, will fail. This is the opinion of Charles Hoskinson, the co-founder of one of the most successful virtual coins, Ethereum.

Charles Hoskinson

Charles Hoskinson (pic: iohk.io)

In a recent interview with CNBC, Hoskinson said that, from his point of view, a “consolidation” of the cryptocurrency would be triggered by a “crash” of the altcoin market segment.

Charles Hoskinson now runs blockchain research firm IOHK, but was previously in charge of Ethereum, which develops the underlying technology for the cryptocurrency ether (also known as ethereum).

“What’s going to occur is a lot of these ventures that don’t have strong fundamentals, don’t have good tech, or just unrealistic projects, they will eventually run into some major wall they can’t quite overcome. They will fracture up and you will see a lot of them are certain to fail,” Ethereum co-founder explained.

After hitting an unprecedented $20,000 threshold last December, Bitcoin started to decline slowly, negatively influencing other virtual currencies such as ether (Ethereum) and Litecoin, because of investors’ fears that regulators will tighten the market control.

Regulatory authorities in China, South Korea and India strengthen the oversight of bitcoin and mining transactions, while the US Stock Exchange and Securities Commission began controlling its tradings as of the end of last year.

Video: CryptoMarket to crash and then consolidate, Ethereum creator says

Feb 102018

The Senate of the US state of Arizona passed a bill a few days ago which aims at enabling people to pay their taxes using cryptocoins.

arizona cryptocurrency

Arizona to ease legislation for cryptocoins use (pic: wikimedia commons)

The bill, which was approved by a 16-13 margin, could allow taxpayers to make use of their digital coins such as ethereum, bitcoin or ripple, to pay “tax and any interest and penalties” to the state’s Department of Revenue.

The Senate’s decision has been meanwhile delivered to the state’s House of Representatives for further analysis.

Arizona State lawmakers claim that the tax measure is intended at making the state an accommodating place for users of the technology.

Practically, the crytocurrency focus sends out a signal to the entire US and throughout the world, that Arizona is very likely to become an attractive spot for blockchain and digital currency technology in the near future.

Feb 102018

European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) summarized its primary areas of interest for the coming year in a work agenda revealed on February 7.

europe cryptocurrency

EU financial security agency to monitor cryptocurrencies in 2018 (pic: wikimedia)

One of the 2018 missions is to watchdog the evolution of financial innovations, which includes among others also the trendy cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

ESMA stated:
“Monitoring developments in financial innovation, in particular through the analysis of emerging and existing instruments, platforms and technology (new): ESMA expects the rapid pace of financial innovation developments across the EU securities markets to continue in 2018. These developments
influence the way in which securities are developed, traded and supervised. In turn, ESMA is undertaking material analysis on the emergence of such instruments as virtual currencies, such platforms as ICOs and such tools as the distributed ledger technology. Additionally, ESMA will analyse how market participants are embracing regulatory technology to comply with recently implemented regulation, and how supervisors are deploying supervisory technology to undertake what has become a data driven supervisory process. The remit of this analysis will include increased uses of cloud computing to efficiently employ such technologies and the potential cyber risk vulnerabilities
as firms and supervisors implement such methods.”

It appears to be for the first time when a EU agency included cryptocurrency in its supervisory convergence priorities, thus confirming the growing interest of the EU regulators into the fast development of cryptocurrency and ledger technology inside the European Union.
Photo credit: By Sébastien Bertrand [CC BY 2.0 or CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Feb 102018

Facebook has announced its decision to ban all adverts that refer to bitcoin, cryptocurrency and initial coin offering (ICO), thus trying to combat scams and fraud, informs Techcrunch.

facebook bans cryptocoin

Bitcoins (public domain image)

The social network claims that such cryptocoin ads promote deceptive commercial practices including as examples: “Start binary options trading now and receive a 10-risk free trades bonus“, “Click here to learn more about our no-risk cryptocurrency that enables instant payments to anyone in the world“, “New ICO! Buy tokens at a 15% discount now” or “Use your retirement funds to buy bitcoin”.

“We want people to continue to discover and learn about new products and services through Facebook ads without fear of scams or deception,” said Rob Leathern, a product management director at the social network, in a blog post. “That said, there are many companies who are advertising binary options, ICOs and cryptocurrencies that are not currently operating in good faith.”

Initial public offering of currencies (ICO) are unregulated operations, similar to the public offerings of shares on stock exchanges, whereby cryptocoin operators raise funds in exchange for their electronic assets. Recently, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the institution overseeing the US capital market, announced that it had identified a crypto transaction that fraudulently raised $600 million.

Rob Leathern did not rule out the possibility for legitimate cryptocoin businesses to appear in the near future in commercials ads on the social media platform.

Feb 092018

The past few days were brutal for the cryptocurrency world. The lowest point was reached on Tuesday when a value of some $550 billion was wiped off the market and Bitcoin was as low as $6000 per coin for the first time since November. The research firm of Goldman Sachs does not seem surprised of this situation. Steve Strongin, head of global investment research, even indicates that most cryptocurrencies will fail and crash to a value of zero.

Cryptocoins crash

Cryptocurrency bag (public domain)

Cryptocurrency market is internet bubble
That’s Strongin’s opinion after Bitcoin’s disastrous decline down to the 6000 dollar. He compares the current cryptocurrency market with the so-called internet bubble at the end of the nineties. At that time there were quite some search engines on the market, most of which have disappeared mercilessly from the face of the earth.

A few cryptocoins can still rise
We now know that Google was the big winner. The company survived but became much more valuable than the rest by adopting a completely different form. The question is which cryptocurrencies will become a Google and which will disappear. Strongin goes on to explain that although we are dealing with a speculative bubble, it does not immediately mean that the value of a handful of survivors can not still rise. However, that also means that most cryptocoins will never climb back to their recent highlights.

Strong correlation between cryptocurrencies – reason for worries
What crypto analysts finds particularly worrying is the connection between various digital currencies. Contrary to what you would normally expect from such a market, new cryptocurrencies do not cause the value of old cryptocurrencies to drop. All cryptocurrencies seem to move together as a single entity. That would mean that if something goes wrong, then it goes wrong for everyone. Incidentally, no timeframe is given for when we could expect the drastic crash.

Blockchain technology will play an important role
Although Strongin does not have much trust in most cryptocurrencies, he is pleased with the development of the underlying blockchain. He indicates that this technology clearly has a role to play in improving the world of financial transactions. The expert adds that the current technology is not advanced enough to support the required speed of the market transactions.

It does not look too rosy for most digital currencies. Most will die quickly, while a handful will dominate. The key question is what crypto coin will prove to be the new Google in the field. If you bet well, you could add yourself to the list of 19 richest people in cryptocurrency.

Feb 092018

Binance, one of world’s most popular cryptocoin exchanges, has finalized the system upgrade and informed its customers about the resumption of all trading processes, including deposits and withdrawals, as of Friday at 10:00 a.m. GMT.

Binance upgrade

Binance back online after 36 hour outage

The platform announced in a Twitter post that will lower trading fee by 70 percent until February 24 at midnight to express its “gratitude” for users’ understanding and support through the process.

The unexpected suspension emerged on Thursday at 01.00 a.m. GMT and Binance first explained the situation by quoting server issues. The exchange later announced that the upgrade will be longer than initially thought. In the end, the services resumed after a nearly 36-hour disruption and two postponements. The functionalities were sucessfully brought online step by step to the relief of the panicked clients.

Binance crash sent out waves of worries with traders fearing that the exchange may have been hacked, considering similarities with the initial statement from Japan’s exchange Coincheck amid its recent theft of 500 million NEM tokens.

Rumors of a possible hack were first revealed by John McAfee, the creator of the famed McAfee antivirus software, who wrote in a Twitter post: “Binance has suspended trading. The company claims that they are doing a system upgrade and will resume at 2:00 AM GMT Friday. While I have no hard evidence, rumours are flying among top crypto influencers that they may have been hacked. Will keep you informed.”

Binance official channel rejected the hack rumours by replying: “Binance has not been hacked. Please do not spread false information. If you want to keep updated on the status of our system upgrade you’re welcome to follow”.

McAfee tweeted later: “Not trying to spread FUD, but I have received dozens of reports like this one. I’m just trying to understand. As a security researcher, I know that potential hacks are far more easy to solve if investigated immediately. Days later magnifies the task by orders of manitude.” In response, Changpeng Zhao founder and CEO of Binance, wrote: “But you are spreading FUD. We will prove you wrong.”

In addition to denying the hacking allegations, Changpeng Zhao insisted there was just server issue and assured all coins are safe: “We will maintain communication at difficult times. Those are hot wallets, only a tiny % there. But it should be clear your coins are safe. We wish disks moved faster. We will engineer around them in the future. Your encouraging words is all we work for.”

However, some users may still be confronted with some issues, despite resumption of services. Zhao added in a tweet that: “System will be coming online soon. If you have issues access http://www.binance.com , please try https://us.binance.com/ or https://kr.binance.com/. There was a DDoS attack on our cloud provider, resolved, but still some lingering effects.”

Jan 282018

Ingvar Kampard, the founder of IKEA, died at his home in Sweden on Saturday, his family said in a public statement.

Ingvar Kamprad

Ingvar Kamprad (pic: wikimedia commons)

He was one of the greatest entrepreneurs of the last century, entering business when he was only 17-year-old.

Despite his considerable fortune, Ingvar Kamprad was recognized for his modest lifestyle and his discretion.

Ikea is currently the world’s largest chain of furniture stores. The Swedish company has nearly two hundred thousand employees around the world and a turnover of 38 billion euros.

IKEA founder resigned from company’s leadership in 2013, when he appointed one of his sons to replace him as CEO.

The name IKEA contains the initials of the founder, Ingvar Kamprad, combined with the initials of the farm where he had worked, Elmtaryd, and of the town where he grew up, Agunnaryd.
Photo credit: By Ministry of Enterprise, Energy and Communications of Sweden/Sandra Baqirjazid [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons