Category Archives: Cryptocurrency
Countries including Iran (leader Hassan Rouhani left), North Korea (Kim Jong-un center) and Venezuela (Nicolas Maduro) are turning to cryptocurrencies to circumvent U.S. sanctions
America’s rivals are increasingly turning to bitcoin-style cryptocurrencies after their economies were brought to their knees thanks to crippling U.S. sanctions, experts have warned.
Iran, North Korea, Russia and Venezuela are all investing in the technology in an attempt to counter American economic might and an expert says these nations are forming alliances through the technology.
A form of digital money, cryptocurrency uses encryption to secure transactions and control the creation of new units. It uses cryptography, a form of secret coding originating from the Second World War, to process transactions securely. Its major appeal is it is untraceable.
U.S. sanctions work by placing bans on dealings and transactions with persons, nations and companies.
These prohibitions are often enforced with the help of mainstream financial institutions.
But cryptocurrencies do not operate within this established system. In fact, bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies were invented in part to sidestep the existing regulated financial system.
This means nations like Iran using or controlling such a currency would allow it to bypass certain measures, such as a ban on buying U.S. dollars or even facilitate arms deals.
In May, the United States pulled out of a deal to lift sanctions against Iran in return for curbs on its nuclear program a plan President Donald Trump has repeatedly blasted.
HACKER STEALS CRYPTOCURRENCY FROM MYETHERWALLET USERS
Soon after, Mohammad Reza Pourebrahimi, the head of the Iranian Parliamentary Commission for Economic Affairs, spoke about cryptocurrencies as a way for countries to avoid U.S. dollar transactions – as well as a possible replacement of the SWIFT international payment system.
And Alireza Daliri, a senior science and technology official of Iran’s Presidential Office, said: We are trying to prepare the grounds to use a domestic digital currency in the country.
This currency would facilitate the transfer of money (to and from) anywhere in the world.
It can help us at the time of sanctions.
Darren Parkin, editorial director of cryptocurrency news website Coin Rivet, described how the adoption of cryptocurrencies is helping to push economic alliances between these states.
He pointed to the example of Iran and Russia working together to overcome the sanctions that affect them both.
He told Fox News: The problem the U.S. has is if they are dealing with fiat currency (currency that a government has declared to be legal tender) they can monitor the effect of the sanctions.
BITCOIN IS LEADING TO A HUGE UPSWING IN MONEY LAUNDERING, NEW RESEARCH SAYS
But if countries use cryptocurrency they have fallen below the radar of what the U.S. can see.
They’re being pushed underground.
Venezuela also reportedly received help from Moscow when it was hit with sanctions, leading to food shortages, soaring prices, a healthcare collapse and a crime spree.
In February the South American nation launched a new cryptocurrency called petro that Nicolas Maduro, the socialist leader of Venezuela, described as ‘kryptonite’ against the power of the U.S. government.
An anonymous executive at a Russian state bank claims the Kremlin oversaw the creation of the petro after President Vladimir Putin signed off on it last year.
In February Venezuela launched a new cryptocurrency called petro; an anonymous executive at a Russian state bank claims the Kremlin oversaw the creation of the petro after Putin (pictured) signed off on it last year(AP)
The source told Time: People close to Putin, they told him this is how to avoid the sanctions.
This is how the whole thing started.
Last month Vladimir Gutenev, the first deputy head of the economic policy committee of the State Duma, said Russia should conduct transactions in cryptocurrencies linked to the value of gold to frustrate U.S. attempts to thwart deals on Russian weaponry and civilian goods.
“And Im sure that this will be a very interesting option for China, India, and other states as well,” he added.
Meanwhile, Priscilla Moriuchi, a former NSA cybersecurity official, told The Hill North Korea earns an estimated $15 million to $200 million by mining and selling cryptocurrencies.
Pyongyang’s army of hackers is also believed to have stolen cryptocurrency from organizations and individuals throughout the world.
As if states opposed to the U.S. exploiting cryptocurrency was not concerning enough, analysts have warned bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are already being used to secretly move cash between sympathizers and terror cells throughout the world.
Nikita Malik, the author of a recent report by the UK-based Henry Jackson Society about online extremism called Terror In The Dark, said: The authorities must move urgently to increase their knowledge of terrorists activities in cyberspace and their use of technologies such as bitcoin.
By fundraising and making financial transactions online, terrorists and other criminals can avoid interference from financial regulators or other third parties who might otherwise take steps to prevent their operations.
Regulation in this area has to move carefully if we are to balance liberties with guarding against threats to our security but the time has come to deny extremists the space they need online to plan fresh atrocities.
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Iran, North Korea and Venezuela turning to cryptocurrency …
NEW YORK (Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said on Sunday it was immediately suspending trading in two investment products that track cryptocurrencies, citing confusion in the markets over whether the products are exchange-traded funds (ETFs).
FILE PHOTO – High-end graphic cards are installed in a cryptocurrency mining computer at a computer mall in Hong Kong, China January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip/File Photo
The SEC said in a statement that trading in Bitcoin Tracker One and Ether Tracker One would be halted in the United States until at least Sept. 20.
The products promise to track the price of the cryptocurrencies, less fees. They are both listed on a Nasdaq Inc (NDAQ.O) exchange in Stockholm, but trade over the counter in transactions that occur off exchanges within the United States.
It appears … that there is a lack of current, consistent and accurate information, the SEC said in a notice posted on its website. Application materials submitted to enable the offer and sale of these financial products in the United States, as well as certain trading websites, characterize them as Exchange Traded Funds.
The issuer of Bitcoin Tracker One and Ether Tracker One, XBT Provider AB SE0010296574.ST and its parent company, did not immediately respond to emailed requests for comment. Nasdaq declined to comment.
The SEC has taken a strict stance against letting ETFs tracking bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies come to market.
But investment firms have been pushing other types of investments that attempt to make it as easy to trade cryptocurrencies as a regular stock.
Those products are sometimes called ETFs, but that term generally refers to a different and often more stringently regulated product. Some industry experts, including the largest ETF provider BlackRock Inc (BLK.N), have called for regulators to standardize the terms used to describe ETFs and other kinds of investment products.
Virtual currency, including bitcoin and ether, can be used to move money around the world quickly and with relative anonymity, without the need for a central authority, such as a bank or government. A fund holding the currency could attract more investors and push its price higher.
Reporting by Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Peter Cooney and Will Dunham
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SEC halts trading in two cryptocurrency products, citing …
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Electric producers aren’t sure whether cryptocurrency “miners” are friend or foe.
The miners, who use powerful computers to generate bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies by solving complex computational problems, are power hogs that can bring new sources of revenue for energy producers. But that revenue generally comes at a price: millions of dollars of investment in new power stations and lines.
For their part, utilities hesitate to commit those funds for fear the bottom will fall out of the cryptocurrency market, leaving them stuck with the bill for facilities no longer in use.
“Getting power companies to take cryptocurrency mining seriously has been a struggle,” said JohnPaul Baric, chief executive of the MiningStore, which makes cryptocurrency mining technology. “Mining is still in its early days, and power companies say they aren’t sure of its longevity.”
It’s not as if the power companies don’t want the additional revenue. But in the case of Grant County in Washington State, more than 100 cryptocurrency miners are requesting power. Combined, they are asking for 1,700 megawatts of new power — that’s the equivalent of two nuclear power plants, or 1.5 times the power needs of the city of Seattle. Grant PUD’s average electric load is about 600 megawatts.
“We, like any other utility, aren’t set up to handle that kind of new demand,” said Kevin Nordt, general manager for the Grant County Public Utility District, known as Grant PUD. “Trying to get that kind of infrastructure built would take many, many years and require millions if not billions of dollars in investment. There’s a lot of risk involved because it’s an nascent industry with a lot of unknown variables.”
Cryptocurrency miners use large numbers of computer servers which use massive amounts of electricity — to solve complex mathematical puzzles needed to create virtual currencies like bitcoin and ethereum. Bitcoin miners alone use more power than the entire country of Ireland. There are more than 2,000 different types of cryptocurrencies.
Grant PUD’s popularity with cryptocurrency miners stems in part from its low price for electricity generated from power plants on the Columbia River, Baric said. Electrical expenses are often the highest costs for cryptocurrency miners.
“We are the most power-intensive business ever we use crazy amounts of power,” Baric said. “Electricity costs matter.”
The average cost of electricity in the U.S. is about 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. But Grant PUD sells its electricity for only 1 to 2 cents a kilowatt-hour, Baric said. Grant PUD is a nonprofit, community-owned hydropower utility based in Moses Lake, Washington, about three hours southwest of Seattle. Its power generation facilities cover 2,800 square miles.
Because of the intense demand, Grant PUD temporarily stopped accepting cryptocurrency mining customers so that it could develop new policies around the industry. The PUD decided to create a new customer class called the “evolving industry” class. The class wasn’t meant only for cryptocurrency, but for any other radical, disruptive type technology that may take shape in the future, Nordt said.
The evolving industry class would price in the risk associated with creating new infrastructure for an industry without a long track record, he said.
“We needed to look at this differently,” he said. “We don’t know how regulatory and other issues are going to break for mining.”
Miners, in the meantime, are also suggesting ways they can be of benefit to utilities. One example is for miners to use a utility’s “peak load” capabilities that often sit idle. Most utilities build their facilities so they have capacity even for those very hot days in July and August, when everyone is running their air conditioners.
The miners could use that unused peak load capabilities throughout the year and stop mining when the utility needed the extra electricity on those hot summer days. Baric sells products that would automatically shut down the mining operations when the peak load was used.
“The actual physical mining units would just sit there idle and the staff would have the day off,” Baric said. “The miners would know for those four or five hours on that hot July day, they will be disconnected.”
Miners are also happy to take extra, unused electricity off the hands of producers, Baric said. Utilities inevitably create more energy than they use and generally allow that power to be burned off. Miners are instead willing to buy that access energy which is a benefit to producers, he said.
“Years ago people wondered if the internet would stay around, but suggesting that today would seems silly,” Baric said. “That’s the way it is with cryptocurrency; it’s brand knew and people don’t yet understand it yet. But it’s here to stay.”
Driving into the small town of Wenatchee, Washington, about three hours east of Seattle, a sign welcomes you to the “Apple Capital of the World.” But not far from the abundant orchards, a very different industry is taking root. As unlikely as it may seem, this rural community has become a hub for cryptocurrency mining.
“Cryptocurrency justified the expense to build something that no one would otherwise build,” said entrepreneur David Carlson, as rows upon rows of computer servers whirred away at the facility he set up here. “These things can run 24/7 making cryptocurrency.”
He has big plans for his business, even if some Wenatchee residents don’t like it.
“We want to grow ten times larger than we are now, and we can do it here, or we can do it somewhere, but we’re going to do it,” Carlson said.
Bitcoin is the best known, but it’s just one of many digital forms of currency. These cryptocurrencies are decentralized; rather than being processed through banks, transactions are verified and recorded by individual users. Encrypted technology called blockchain keeps the transactions secure.
Bitcoin hit a highof over $19,700 in December 2017, though it’s worth much less, about $6,300, today. Despite the volatility, rising values have fueled a whole new industry and legions of enthusiasts. At a recent cryptocurrency conference in Atlantic City, thousands gathered to explore new ideas and opportunities in the field.
“So I live off of bitcoin,” said Kenn Bosak, who hosts “Pure Blockchain Wealth” on YouTube. “It pays my rent. I book my flights with cheapair.com. They accept bitcoin, Dash, all kinds of cryptocurrencies. I book my rooms with BitPay with my Visa card. My Lyft drivers accepts BitPay, that’s bitcoin. So I’m all in. I use bitcoin in every aspect of my life.”
Unlike dollars or other conventional currencies, cryptocurrency like bitcoin isn’t issued by a government. It’s created through a process called mining, which is leading to a virtual gold rush around the world.
Every time someone uses cryptocurrency to pay for something, it sets off a flurry of invisible activity. Computer servers, which can be located anywhere in the world, work to verify and process the transaction, racing to authenticate the exchange of digital money through complex transactions.
For doing this work, the machines (and their owners) are rewarded with new cryptocurrency. With a sufficient number of powerful computers, it can be a lucrative business.
That’s what David Carlson’s company, Giga Watt, is busy doing at his facility in Wenatchee. He started with just a few small machines, but with the help of investors, he’s scaled up significantly. Now his rooms full of computer servers work feverishly to mine cryptocurrency around the clock.
David Carlson shows CBS News’ Errol Barnett his cryptocurrency mining operation in Wenatchee, Washington.
Each of the small machines makes roughly $1,500 worth of bitcoin every year, though the amount of profit fluctuates every day. As Carlson showed CBS News correspondent Errol Barnett around, the site hummed with the sound of giant industrial cooling fans.
“Every one of these things is like a thousand-watt hair dryer. So there will be a thousand of those hairdryers in this spot. So that’s quite a lot of heat. Don’t try it at home,” Carlson said.
“This entire wall is the future, according to you,” Barnett said.
“Yeah. The future of money right here,” Carlson replied.
He plans to have 22 of his pods completed by the end of the year and all that computer power sucks up a huge amount of electricity.
“Our pods use one and a half megawatts, which is typically associated with, like, 600 homes,” he said.
Powering his operation would cost a fortune most places, but Wenatchee has a competitive advantage: the Columbia River. Dams on the river generate cheap hydroelectric power, which has drawn crypto mining enthusiasts to this corner of the country.
Steve Wright, the general manager of the Chelan County public utility, says it has long been an economic engine for the region. “What we have seen more recently are industries like cryptocurrency that have come to the region for the same reasons that aluminum came here. Low-cost, reliable electricity,” he said.
Dams on the Columbia River provide cheap power to the Pacific Northwest.
But even here, there are limits.
“We have requests for service that would double the usage here in the county, and we’re trying to figure out, you know, how are we going to deal with that, and what the implications would be for the people who live here,” Wright said.
Because access to cheap power is key, crypto miners are racing to set up shop anywhere in the world they can find low rates. Cold climates are also preferred, to help reduce cooling costs.
But this tech boom is not without problems. Among the issues: the droning noise of all that equipment. The hum reverberates far beyond the walls. And some of the operations have sprung up in a decidedly makeshift fashion.
“Would you want to live next to one of these?” said Andrew Wendell, customer service director for the utility. “Not just the aesthetics, but also the noise. There’s a lot of noise. They really do belong in an industrial setting.”
He continues, “And it gives us a bit of a concern, because, quite literally, you could have a tractor trailer come in and load this thing up and move it out, literally overnight. And so it just begs the question, from a utility who is providing and building the infrastructure to support these, how long is our investment? When we build those, we are building for 40, 50, 60 years. This doesn’t look like that long term.”
Not only is he worried about miners abandoning Wenatchee and leaving behind expensive new power connections there are also safety concerns. Some mining setups push the infrastructure to the breaking point.
Industrial fans are needed to cool the rows of supercomputers that mine for cryptocurrency.
Wendell shows us an example. “What we have here is a standard residential home, but this shed, about 10 by 10 here, off to the side with the fence, that’s full of cryptocurrency mining operations.”
He holds up the remnants of a frayed and melted underground electrical cable.
“This plastic insulation breaks down because there’s so much heat?” Barnett asks.
“There’s so much heat. It can’t dissipate the heat. So the insulation breaks down, and then the cables go phase to phase. And when they go phase to phase, they combust. They arc and they can start a fire. And that’s what happened [here], is a fire started,” Wendell said. “The bottom line is, is that when you mix the cryptocurrency mining with traditional residential load, if you don’t have things built and designed appropriately, you’re going to have some problems.”
He adds, “In this part of the country, a wildfire can spread and burn literally hundreds of homes. So we take that very seriously.”
While some in Wenatchee are excited about the economic potential of cryptocurrency mining, many others are concerned about its massive power consumption and other risks.
“Nobody wants a fire, you know, like their apartment complex burning down, because someone is mining bitcoin,” one resident said.
Some admit they don’t fully understand it. “It’s just going to drain our power, and that’s really all I know,” a local woman told us.
Facing overwhelming demand for power from cryptocurrency miners and increasing concern from the community, the utility placed a moratorium on new mining requests until they could agree on a solution. Local miners were not happy.
“They went overboard with their moratorium. It was kinda crazy for ’em to say, ‘No, you can’t do that. We’re we’re shutting everything down in the in the entire county,'” said Matt McColm. He was planning to set up a mining operation in his insurance office to generate some extra money for his 12-year-old son’s college fund. He’d already ordered the equipment on Amazon. But now he’ll have to move it all to a site a few hours away in Oregon instead.
“What you’ve got is is you’ve got is several large players that kind of salted the earth for everyone else. They’re literally consuming large sections of our town and edging out the small ones,” McColm said. “It’s kinda rough, because I’d rather develop here locally… and put the money here in Wenatchee.”
Earlier this month, the utility held a public hearing for input on the moratorium and the future of cryptocurrency mining in Wenatchee.
Some locals stood up to voice complaints about what the industry is doing to their town. “I read a lot about what bitcoin operators want, and what bitcoin is doing for them. I’m not hearing that it’s doing anything much for us. This is a take, take, take, not a give,” one woman said.
Others made the case to encourage business development, like the man who said, “I’d ask you guys to consider the very small operations that are existing right here in town. A large rate increase would drastically affect our business, putting some of us out.”
Much of the concern about cryptocurrency mining is its volatility. With prices soaring one day and crashing the next, many worry the entire market could collapse. But advocates say they are missing the big picture a growing industry that’s about more than just mining.
Malachi Salcido, another large-scale miner, says the rise of supercomputing, using specialized hardware and cheap power, can also enable things like artificial intelligence.
“And so it helps you to understand why in the world would you build a 30, 40-year asset for something that’s only nine years old? I didn’t. I built it for a new technology that will have many current and future iterations that we don’t yet fully understand,” he said.
He believes his investment will pay off, even if cryptocurrency fizzles.
“The demand internationally for power and networking for computing space is rising so rapidly that I’m very comfortable there will be demand for our location, even if crypto doesn’t become the market it could.”
Salcido, a Wenatchee native, wants to see his hometown benefit from the new industry. But for now, he must expand elsewhere.
“Our strategic goal is 500 megawatts within the next 5 years, and 5 to 10 percent of the global network. We are currently negotiating developments in northern Idaho, northern Oregon, and northern central California. Our choice is whether or not they happen here,” he said.
A moratorium may stem the flood of miners arriving in Wenatchee, but it won’t stop them from seeking out cheap power wherever they can find it.
In June, a cryptocurrency mining company called Coinmint took over a massive former Alcoa aluminum plant near the small town of Massena, in upstate New York. Coinmint is investing $700 million to turn it into a bitcoin mining behemoth. Once complete, it could be the largest in the world.
Aerial view of a former Alcoa aluminum plant near Massena, in update New York, which is being turned into a massive bitcoin mining facility.
Back in Wenatchee, the only question for Dave Carlson is not whether to grow, but where.
“Cryptocurrency justified the expense to build something that no one would otherwise build,” he said. “Supercomputing, A.I. can be the new export.”
“So you’re confident that you will grow, you’re just concerned that it will be elsewhere because Wenatchee blinked at a critical moment?” Barnett asked.
Carlson agreed. “That’s exactly right.”
PornHub now accepts an open source blockchain-based payment solution called PumaPay.
Developed by Cyprus-based blockchain company Decentralized Vision, PumaPay offers a “PullPayment protocol,” which it says allows for transactions that have never been possible on the blockchain until now. That includes recurring payments and pay-per-use transactions.
“PumaPay’s technological solution, the PullPayment protocol, reverses the mechanics of a transaction, enabling merchants to ‘pull’ crypto funds from their customers’ account,” PumaPay CEO Yoav Dror explained in a statement. “With PumaPay, merchants avoid the drawbacks of the current banking systems, such as high transaction costs, the insecurity of chargebacks (reverse transactions) and associated fines, and the lack of customer anonymity.”
In other words, with PumaPay, you can set up a recurring Pornhub Premium payment to ensure you’ll never lose access to the HD, on-demand porn streaming service.
Besides PumaPay, Pornhub’s list of accepted cryptocurrencies also includes Verge, Tron, and ZenCash.
“As one of the most viewed websites in the world with over 90 million daily visitors, it is our duty to stay at the forefront of innovation and ensure the privacy of our users,” Pornhub VP Corey Price said in a statement. “As decentralized payment systems continue to grow in popularity, cryptocurrencies are especially viable in the adult entertainment industry because they incorporate more anonymity tools than traditional tender.”
Meanwhile, Pornhub recently started offering a free VPN service so you can keep your porn-browsing activities private. The service, VPNhub, is available on iOS and Android. Last year, Pornhub officially switched to HTTPS, so you can access the site over an encrypted channel.
The first malware for Mac systems developed by infamous North Korean hacking group Lazarus has been discovered.
Researchers have fingered the Lazarus group for the destructive attack on Sony Pictures in 2014, as well as more recent financially-motivatedattacks on South Korean cryptocurrency exchanges, a spate of targeted ransomware attacks on corporations in the US and Europe, and multiple raids on banks through the industrys SWIFT system.
All of those attacks have targeted Windows systems, however researchers at Kaspersky Lab have found the groups first known malware targeting Apple macOS computers in the form of a hidden software updater for a seemingly bonafide app aimed at cryptocurrency traders called Celas Trade Pro.
But software was fake and the company behind it appears to have been bogus too, according to Kaspersky researchers.
The macOS malware was discovered while the company was investigating a breach at an unnamed Asian cryptocurrency exchange that its researchers believe was compromised by one of Lazarus malware tools called Fallchill, a remote access tool that US-CERT has filed under its investigation into North Koreas Hidden Cobra hacking activity.
Using a trojanized software updater for an application relevant to cryptocurrency trading was a notable difference to fake Flash Player updates spread through malicious ads aimed at the masses.
In this case, the hackers appear to have only wanted to snag people keen on installing cryptocurrency trading software, in this case Celas Trade Pro from a company claiming to be Celas LLC.
Including malicious code into distributed software and putting that on a website would be too obvious. Instead, the attackers went for a more elaborate scheme: the trojan code was pushed out in the form of an update for a trading application, Kaspersky Lab researchers note.
Celas Trade Pro didnt display malicious behavior and looked like a genuine cryptocurrency trading program developed by Celas, and was seemingly verified with a legitimate-looking digital certificate.
However the researchers found that the macOS installer includes a module that persists after a reboot and contacts a remote server to install more malware.
The malicious Celas Mac software was offered alongside a Windows executable that displayed the same behavior as the Mac malware. The site also flagged a Linux update was coming soon.
The fact that [the attackers] developed malware to infect macOS users in addition to Windows users and most likely even created an entirely fake software company and software product in order to be able to deliver this malware undetected by security solutions, means that they see potentially big profits in the whole operation, and we should definitely expect more such cases in the near future, Vitaly Kamluk of Kaspersky Lab said in a statement.
For macOS users this case is a wakeup call, especially if they use their Macs to perform operations with cryptocurrencies.
Read more: Olympic Destroyer destructive malware targets EU bio-weapons research groups
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Vela, the global leader in providing trading technology and market access technology software has partnered with worlds leading and trusted brand in the cryptocurrency space, CoinMarketCap. The partnership agreement with CoinMarketCap will allow Vela to add coverage of cryptocurrencies for its Market Data Feed service, SuperFeed.
The partnership will provide Velas institutional client base with a more widespread coverage of more than 1800 cryptocurrency coins and tokens that are supported by coinmarketcap. The CoinMarketcaps professional API will be integrated into Velas streaming market data feed, SupeFeed. It will enable broker-dealers, banks and other retail firms access to real-time and accurate cryptocurrency data alongside more traditional market data sources.
CoinMarketCap offers a wide range of specialised data on their website, delivering real-time and accurate coverage for both individuals and retailers. Now with this partnership, it can tap more individual data sources for most accurate data that are essential for backtesting cryptocurrency portfolio strategies.
Velas SuperFeed offers unmatched performances and users can rely on this board for all its trading purposes. It offers users with low-latency, normalized data without the need for any client infrastructure, optimized performances, and reliable market data feed. In addition to cryptocurrencies, it also covers more than 100 market data sources already available on SuperFeed including all major US and European markets and a growing range of Asian markets.
Jennifer Nayar, Chief Executive Officer at Vela
Jen Nayar, CEO at Vela commented:
We are very excited to be partnering with CoinMarketCap to provide our institutional clients with enterprise-grade access to the leading, independent source of cryptocurrency data. With crypto being one of the biggest disruptors in our space today, this agreement fortifies Velas entry into this innovative digital currency sector. We look forward to working with CoinMarketCap to deliver their world-leading cryptocurrency data to our institutional audience.
Brandon Chez, founder of CoinMarketCap said:
With our goal to remain the most trusted and accurate source of data for the cryptocurrency community, we are pleased to be partnering with Vela, a well-respected and independent technology leader in trading and market access. Adding, Together, we are able to extend our reach to major banks, broker-dealers, and institutional firms so that they can access our information directly.
“What the average Joe hears is how friends lost fortunes,” said Alex Kruger, a former banker who has been trading in the cryptocurrency markets for some time. “Irrational exuberance leads to financial overhang and slows progress.”
It is hard to know how many cryptocurrency investors are now in the red, with holdings worth less than the money they put in. Many who have lost money in recent months had gotten into the markets before the big run-up last year and their holdings are still worth more than their initial investments.
But by many metrics, more people put money into virtual currencies last fall and winter than in all of the preceding nine or so years. Coinbase, the largest cryptocurrency brokerage in the United States, doubled its number of customers between October and March. The startup Square began allowing the users of its mobile app, Square Cash, to buy bitcoin last November.
Almost all of the new customers on Coinbase and Square would be in the red if they bought cryptocurrencies at almost any point over the last nine months and held on to them.
The damage is likely to be particularly bad in places like South Korea and Japan, where there was minimal cryptocurrency activity before last year, and where ordinary investors with little expertise jumped in with abandon.
In South Korea, the biggest exchanges opened storefronts to make investment easier for people who did not feel comfortable doing it online. The offices of one big exchange, Coinone, had just one customer walk in during a two-hour period in the middle of the day last week. An employee, Yu Ji-Hoon, said, “The prices of the digital tokens have fallen so much that people seem to feel upset.”
Kim Hyon-jeong, a 45-year-old teacher and mother of one who lives on the outskirts of Seoul, said she put about 100 million won, or $US90,000, into cryptocurrencies last fall. She drew on savings, an insurance policy and a $US25,000 loan. Her investments are now down about 90 per cent.
“I thought that cryptocurrencies would be the one and only breakthrough for ordinary hardworking people like us,” she said. “I thought my family and I could escape hardship and live more comfortably but it turned out to be the other way around.”
Bitcoin has dropped more than 50 per cent since the start of 2018.
In the United States, Charles Herman, a 29-year-old small business owner in Charleston, South Carolina, became obsessed with virtual currencies in September. He said he now felt that he had wasted 10 months of his life trying to play the markets.
While he is essentially back to the $US4000 he put in, he has soured on the revolutionary promises that virtual currency fanatics made for the technology last year and has resumed investing his money in real estate.
“I guess I thought we were ‘sticking it to the man’ when I got on board,” Herman said. “But I think ‘the man’ had already caught on and had an exit strategy.”
Much of the anger that investors feel is toward the smaller virtual currencies, or alt coins, that entrepreneurs sold in so-called initial coin offerings. These coins were supposed to serve as payment mechanisms for new software the entrepreneurs were building.
But almost none of these companies have delivered the software they promised, leaving the tokens useless, except as speculative assets. Several coins have been exposed as outright scams.
“I think I’d like to see most alts go to zero before I feel like the whole space isn’t overpriced,” Herman said.
Bitcoin has generally held on better with investors. It is down about 70 per cent from all-time highs, rather than the 90 per cent losses that lesser-known digital tokens have suffered. But it, too, has struggled to win much use beyond speculative investments.
“We also saw that bitcoin isn’t ready for mass adoption and day-to-day use,” Herman said.
Despite this pessimism, the social networks where cryptocurrency fanatics gather to trade information are full of people talking about their intention to hold on to their coins in the hope that they will recover once the technology has time to catch up with the hype.
Tony Yoo, 26, a financial analyst in Los Angeles, invested more than $US100,000 of his savings last fall. At their lowest point, his holdings dropped almost 70 per cent in value.
But Yoo is still a big believer in the idea that these tokens can provide a new way to transact online, without the big corporate middlemen we rely on today. Many of the groups that raised money last year are still working on the products they promised, with lots of serious engineers drawn to the projects.
“There’s just so much more behind this new wave of technology and innovation that I’m sure will take over our society in due time,” Yoo said.
With prices down so much, he said he was actually looking to put more money into the markets.
That thinking has been encouraged by the people who invested in bitcoin in 2013, when it first topped $US1,000. That bull market was followed by a crash in which the price of bitcoin dropped more than 80 per cent. But after a long fallow period, the price recovered. Even with recent losses, the value of one bitcoin is hovering around $US6500 up more than 500 per cent from the peak of 2013.
“Five years ago, I was broke, unemployed, and ashamed to use my real name,” Ryan Selkis, a popular virtual currency personality, wrote on Twitter last week.
“For the new fanatics, stick around for your own 14 month, 85% downdraft and you’ll not regret it.”
Twitter is also filled with complaints, like the one from a user named @Notsofrugaljoey, who wrote: “It’s really hard to stomach losing all my hard earned money. Just broke down and cried.”
On Reddit, a user in the United Arab Emirates posted a picture of the $US100,000 loan he had taken out in December to buy cryptocurrencies and that he will now be paying back out of his salary for the next three years.
Roberts, the British investor who has seen most of his $US23,000 vanish, is holding onto his coins in case they turn around. But for now he has stopped trading and is looking for another job.
“I’m living off the little savings I have left still in my bank account,” Roberts said. “I’ve made a mistake and now I’m going to have to unfortunately pay the cost for the next few years.”
The New York Times
One of the biggest debates in trading is whether or not cryptocurrencies are in a bubble.
A look at history provides guidance in the current debate.
In the late 1990s, when a similar debate was raging over the potential bubble of internet stocks, a business article quoted an elderly couple whod quit their jobs to day trade.
P/Es [price to earnings ratios] dont matter, the wife was quoted as saying. And she was not alone in her view of the market.
During the late 1990s, EBAY traded at P/E ratios of several thousand; AOL traded at the relatively modest P/Es of a few hundred.
Those were the exceptions since most internet stocks were losing money and had no P/E.
P/E ratios measure currentshareprice relative to per-share earnings.
The current P/E ratio of the S&P 500 is approximately 25.
Back in the 90s, when Warren Buffett refused to invest in internet stocks because of the difficulty in valuing them, he was accused of being a dinosaur.
During the dotcom bubble, even the now venerable Amazon was mocked by traders saying, They lose $5 per book but theyll make it up in volume.
While Amazon turned the corner and then some thousands of companies used the same model to extinction.
Bill Gates started Microsoft in 1973; the company went public in 1986, and this was after nearly a decade of increasing profits. At the time, such a trajectory was required before approval to go public was granted.
In the late 1990s, all you needed to go public was a dot com at the end of your name. Barely established companies many less than three years old with little or no revenue, routinely went public.
In 20/20 hindsight its blindingly obvious, but at the time, when traders believe P/Es no longer matter, when companies go public on the strength of their dot coms, and when the advice of a legendary investor is ignored because it challenged the status quo, youre in a bubble.
All of this, mind you, was a matter of public record: P/Es are found right next to the stock price; all public companies provide extensive financial records; and Buffets comments were broadcast widely (but simply ignored by most traders).
The internet was in a bubble; all it took was for someone to be honest with themselves to recognize it.
Starting in 2003, and continuing for the next half decade, property values in most major American urban areas routinely increased 10-20% every six months. This often happened without any new construction in the area. The same property with the same properties around it would increase in value fueled by nothing more than perception.
The more real estate prices increased; the more desperate people became to buy real estate new buyers and those who already owned property.
The whole thing was fueled by irresponsible loans. Business reporters were well aware of liar loans.
Liar loans is a slang term for stated income loans. These were loans granted on the strength of a borrowers stated income without the necessary documents to prove it.
Theres only one reason why someone would state an income without verifying it: it is not their real income.
If nothing more than perception is increasing real estate values by unsustainable amounts, and this is all fueled by fraudulent loans, youre in a bubble.
In the late 1990s, you could hardly go to a party without someone regaling you with tales of the killings theyd made on the latest hot internet stock. In 2003 and beyond, the same could be said of the latest real estate deal. Though I wasnt around at the time, society parties in the roaring 1920s were likely filled with stories of the latest score on the stock market.
In all three cases, internet stocks, real estate, and stocks became a fad or an intense and widely shared enthusiasm for something, especially one that is short-lived and without basis in the objects qualities.
The best example of this comes from the so-called tulip mania, one of the first recorded speculative bubbles in history. Tulip mania was repeatedly referred to by Gordon Gekko in the 2010 movie Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.
Suddenly, and without any good reason, in 1636 tulip prices in Europe increased exponentially before crashing spectacularly in 1637.
In the late 1990s, the answer to most concerns about internet stocks was that the internet was so powerful it would change the paradigm. Companies could justify exorbitant P/Es because the internet was going to allow them to grow at multiples wed never seen before; at least thats what the bubble participants kept repeating.
At one time, approximately one hundred automobile makers manufactured cars, most setting up shop in Detroit.
Today, three Chrysler, General Motors and Ford have survived. A few of the others were swallowed up by one of these three, but most faded into the dustbin of history as failed enterprises.
No one would disagree that automobiles and the internet have changed the world in profound ways, but this does not mean that each industry was not susceptible to a bubble.
While the jury is still out on cryptocurrency, it too may very well change the course of human history, but its still susceptible to a bubble.
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cryptocurrency Archives – Page 6 of 6 – The Industry Spread