Daily Archives: February 2, 2019

Africa, China Mobile Tech Market and Cryptocurrency Revolution

Africa, China Mobile Technology and Cryptocurrency Revolution

Africa may have contributed a great deal to Bitcoin transactions, according to peer-to-peer crypto exchange Paxful. This has been partly due to the increased inflation rate in some countries and the fact that cryptocurrencies appeal to a large number of underbanked and unbanked individuals on the continent.

The quest to venture into cryptocurrency related business relation as the opportunity in this niche currently presents, may not appeal as much to the Chinese tech investors at the moment says Stephany Zoo, head of marketing at BitPesa. She also was of the opinion that cryptocurrency activity for cross-border payments on the continent is not as pronounced as advertised, stating that if it were so, China having a large number of cryptocurrency owners would have influenced its use in Africa since it’s a major trade partner.

Over the years, the African continent has been favorable to the Chinese tech market. As reported by media outlet the Financial Times, Huawei and ZTE played an important role in building the continent’s mobile network.

The tech potential on the continent is yet to be fully optimized though, as new companies onboarding the ecosystem have also taken advantages of the latent opportunities. Last year, Quartz Africa reported on how a low profile Chinese handset maker Transsion rose to limelight due to Africa’s mobile market. However, there is fierce competition between Western and the Chinese tech companies for a larger share of the African market.

According to Zoo, Chinese tech investors are still wary about crypto investments because of the associated risks, saying that they prefer to stick to solar, ed-tech, e-commerce and IoT. The emerging market opportunity for cryptocurrency in the continent is currently not fully explored, although Zoo added that as time goes on, there’s a possibility that more Chinese investors will trust the market as they work with Africans.

Leading global smartphone vendor Samsung will reportedly include a native cryptocurrency wallet feature in its upcoming Galaxy S10, which will go a long way to facilitate adoption on the side of smartphone users. However, it would be remarkable for the brand in relation to the African market since it holds a huge stake there.

Although Samsung came in second place to Transsion in terms of smartphone shipments to Africa during Q2 2018, it remains unknown how the alleged cryptocurrency wallet feature will improve its market share, especially in South Africa which accounts for the largest share of shipments (17.4%) in the continent. Moreover, South Africa may be considering a regulatory framework for the industry, however, in December 2018, it did say it was considering crypto as part of its National Payment System (NPS).

A recent ongoing survey by the Financial Times is attempting to gauge the level of awareness and possible adoption potential of cryptocurrency and Africa happens to be one of the focal points. BitcoinNews will keep tabs on the outcome of the survey to understand what Africans with internet enable devices want from digital currencies.

 

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Is 2019 the Year of the Crypto Bull Market?

Is 2019 the Year of the Crypto Bull Market?

How Long Will the Crypto Market Bull Sleep?

Speculations about the cryptocurrency market continue to weigh heavily on the hearts of crypto enthusiasts as the market is yet to improve from the slump of 2018. The space is now left with dashed hopes, closed crypto exchanges, layoffs, hacks and a whole lot of constructive partnerships by the very few who truly understand what the blockchain is all about.

Reality has become grim for investors who hopped in at the all-time-high, especially shattering the expectations fueled by crypto influencers – the claims of Bitcoin reaching a high of USD 100,000 at the end of 2018. The ‘lambo’ songs that once reigned in many social communities have lost its savor as the lingo is being replaced with more realistic expectations such as measurable development goals and expected platform launch date.

Where are the 1000x’s promises?

Tough times greeted the new year, though still at the beginning of the year, many investors, as well as spectators, are wondering why the market still hasn’t had a bull run even though interest in blockchain has spiked. Some blame it on the delay in the entry of institutional investments.

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse provided his personal opinion in a Blockchain Summit in Europe held at Brussels, saying that he estimates a 5 to 10 years waiting time for mainstream crypto payments.

This may be heartbreaking, as 5 years is indeed a long time to wait before hitting those 1000x’s again. More so, one would wonder if Ethereum’s co-founder Vitalik Buterin was right about his earlier predictions on the end of 1000x’s in crypto space. However, in just under a decade, cryptocurrency has evolved many times over.

The flagship cryptocurrency Bitcoin started its dramatic steep decline in the wake of 2018 and dragged the whole market with it after grazing an all-time-high of USD 20,000 the previous year. The cryptocurrency market with a cap of over USD 813 billion in November 2017 has now dropped to USD 114 billion according to data from CoinMarketCap as at press time. Surely, this drop in market value is enough to make investors wary.

The previous 3 years had seen a steady rise of activity in ICO markets, with 2016 recording an approximate fund collection of USD 93,922,741; USD 6,576,372,746 in 2017;  a reportedly recorded USD 21,576,147,596 in 2018 and now, in 2019 ICOs have raised over USD  126 million and still counting, according to data from CoinSchedule. With these humongous figures, it behooves one to wonder what happened to post-ICOs and why the current conditions appear rather stale.

What’s wrong with Crypto?

Brad has said that the biggest risk in the market is regulatory uncertainty. With the Securities Commission of different jurisdictions like the US SEC breathing down the necks of ICOs for securities compliance and making scapegoats out of defaulters, startups are exercising more caution. Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao had opined that 2018 was a year of correction and expressed his confidence for the future of crypto, however, he also pointed out that lack of clarity from regulators was a major drawback.

An analyst from JPMorgan expressed his skepticism about cryptocurrencies saying that real use for cryptocurrencies will only be in a dystopia – [one that has been duly noted in some hyper-inflated economies] – and that despite the correlation, the crypto market has with traditional assets, it’s of little value because of the prolonged bear market.

Legislation has indeed pegged the growth of the industry to a certain degree – at least from the cryptocurrency market perspective. However, some jurisdictions are opening up to the Idea of regulating the space in a way that innovation isn’t stifled. What’s left is for blockchain projects to live up to the hype that once ruled the space by developing more proof of concepts that are usable beyond the cryptomarket, as the market has so far proved to be a poor benchmark for the healthy state of blockchain enterprise.

For a while, the promise of institutional grade crypto services by elite financial systems such as Fidelity, and Intercontinental Exchange’s Bakkt has held many ‘hodlers’ ransom. Fortunately, as the space continues to mature, it becomes less reliant on external influences and survives on its initial narrative – decentralization.

Amid the market downturn, regulatory uncertainties, organizational restructuring, high expectations of institutional players; immense developments and innovation are driving adoption such as the rise in the numbers of Bitcoin ATM kiosks, use of crypto in charity, banks collaborating for cross-border payments, legacy systems shifting towards blockchain to tackle logistics problems. Perhaps, the market is just one trigger away to the next bull-run.

 

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Crypto Debt On Credit Cards, The Next ‘Rekt’ Cycle Looms

Crypto Debt On Credit Cards, The Next 'Rekt' Cycle Looms

Recently, leading cryptocurrency exchange Binance announced that it now allows its users to buy Bitcoin with a credit card. With the rise in debt structures across different economic sectors and also in credit card facilities, it may be a tough call to decide whether or not to purchase Bitcoin or any other cryptocurrency using a credit card; considering that cryptocurrencies are still an emerging asset class and are currently classified as unregulated and highly volatile, buying cryptocurrencies using a credit card can be a double-edged sword.

Case in point, Bitcoin had a bull-run towards the end of 2017 with price peaking to as high as USD 20,000 in December, and fell 3% in 24hrs and has since then had a retrogressed market, with many failed attempts to hold pretentious support levels. As at the time of writing, Bitcoin trades at under USD 3500 — an over 82% drop since its all-time high. This would have been a deceptive allure, had any investor been taken by the excitement of the bull run.

On the other hand, earlier that year, Bitcoin traded at average highs of USD 800 to USD 1000. Investors who got in on the action here would have made an exceeding 1900% profit at the dawn of the year’s all-time high in December. The unpredictable, speculative and highly volatile nature of the cryptocurrency market may be its special allure, however, it has in many ways proven to be its undoing as well. Given the current market trend, many players in the industry have become wary of the high-risk levels.

According to a poll by LendEDU in 2017, about 22% of investors who bought crypto using their credit cards opted to pay later, even though some of them weren’t comfortable with the decision. Although, about a year ago, banks in the US, UK, Australia, Canada, and Europe were reportedly banning the use of credit cards to purchase crypto under the guise of protecting investors. However, some banks may still allow access.

While using credit cards promotes crypto adoption on one hand as it adds to the increasing number of avenues available to acquire cryptocurrencies, the nature of associated risks far outweighs the perceived good.

According to a report, the average American credit card debt has reached new highs of 3% from the previous year, having an average of USD 6,375 per user. Further, credit card debts have reportedly amounted to over USD 1 trillion in 2017 hitting new highs ever. To be one of the 3% and add cryptocurrency debts onto the plastic card can make life unbearable if poor decisions are made.

Investors should, however, be prudent with their decisions to invest in crypto through credit cards, understanding the added risks it poses to their personal economics coupled with the already existing debt system and inherent consumer behaviors, all in the vein to avoid being rekt (wrecked).

Numerous ways to obtain cryptocurrencies continue to expand the opportunities to hold these new class of assets. BitcoinNews reported in December on how Bitcoin ATM kiosks have increased in the recent months. CoinATMRadar lists 143,399 service points accessible in over 76 countries. Each with different pros and cons, however, nothing gets closer to the US residents as the opportunity the credit card option provides. ‘Buy on credit and pay later’ would seem like a more attractive way to own these assets than having to invest hard earned money into cryptocurrency.

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UK OTC Firm Gets Derivatives Go Ahead from Regulator

UK OTC Firm Gets Derivatives Go Ahead from Regulator, CFDs

The UK watchdog, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has granted permission for London based firm B2C2 OTC Ltd to deal in cryptocurrency CFDs.

“Contracts for Difference” (CFDs) are designed for traders to predict crypto price fluctuations allowing them to profit from rising or fallings markets. The FCA’s acceptance of the B2C2 OTC Ltd application is seen as unexpected given the stance of the UK regulator last year when it said that it was unlikely to give any credence to CFDs. At the time it stated:

“Firms conducting regulated activities in cryptocurrency derivatives must, therefore, comply with all applicable rules in the FCA’s Handbook and any relevant provisions in directly applicable European Union regulations.”

B2C2 OTC’s CFD product now offers exposure to Bitcoin (BTC), Bitcoin Cash (BCH), Ether (ETH), Litecoin (LTC) and Ripple (XRP), which the company’s founder Max Boonen suggests gives traders opportunities to become involved in the markets without the “risks associated with crypto custody.”

While the FCA has reportedly been considering a more direct role in managing cryptocurrencies and tokens, a new consultation paper released last week has been seen as an attempt to make things clearer for investors and the cryptocurrency community for future regulatory purposes. A statement from the FCA indicated a need to clarify current guidelines and changes in how cryptocurrencies are regulated, suggesting that the paper “will alert market participants to pertinent issues and should help them better understand whether they need to be authorized and what rules or regulations apply to their business.”

 

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Blockchain Defender Reports Distrust In Crypto Industry Is Still An Issue

Blockchain Defender Reports Distrust In Crypto Industry Is Still An Issue

A recent Blockchain Defender report claims that despite cryptocurrencies increasing market capitalization there is still a prevailing lack of public trust in the industry as a whole.

Despite the market cap hitting nearly $800 billion in January 2018, the report cited negative sentiments in many areas. The report essentially focused on market sentiments, trends, capitalization and comparisons with traditional exchanges in order to get an overall picture of how the industry is perceived.

To analyze market sentiment the report called upon search results in each country’s native language, finding that the most negative search results were found in the United States, followed by Germany, the United Arab Emirates and Japan. The actual sources of negative content were found to include social media platforms, blogs, crypto industry news websites, discussion forums, crypto review websites, and crypto company directories and websites.

The report also found that cryptocurrency exchanges had far less control over online sentiment than traditional exchanges. This was due to the level of ownership of the content with traditional exchanges own 34.38% of content compared to only 17.75% by cryptocurrency exchanges.

Blockchain Defender examined the data for a cryptocurrency which had been hacked last year with an examination of its popularity both before and after the hack and surmised that globally, the digital currency experienced an increase in negative content as a result of the hack and a drop in positive sentiments.

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Hamas Calls for Bitcoin to Combat Israeli Freeze of Millions of Dollars in Qatari Aid

gaza, hamas

The militant arm of Hamas in Gaza has made an appeal for Bitcoin funds after a decision by Israel to temporarily freeze millions of dollars in Qatari aid to Palestine.

Hamas, the de-facto ruling authority of the Gaza Strip in Palestine is regarded by several countries, including the US and the EU, as a terrorist organization. Russia, Turkey, and China are among those major world powers who do not subscribe to the definition.

The official Telegram channel of Abu Obeida, a spokesman for Hamas’ Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, made the appeal for Bitcoin asking all lovers of the resistance and the supporters of our righteous cause to support the resistance financially using Bitcoin.

Hamas has been the voice of Gaza since taking power from the Palestinian Nationalist political party Fatah in 2007 after a military conflict, although the Gaza Strip is now blockaded by both Israel and Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decision to freeze millions of dollars in Qatari aid – including USD 15 million a month to pay the salaries of Hamas civil servants – has heightened the current tension between Gaza and Israel. Abu Obeida’s latest message hinted at the request for funds:

“The Zionist enemy is fighting the resistance by trying to cut its support by all means, but the resistance lovers in all the world are fighting these Zionist attempts and are seeking to find all possible support for the resistance.”

A recent congressional hearing in the US confirmed that in general, fiat currencies are the preferred choice of funding for terrorist activities or arms and that the success of fundraising for such groups through cryptocurrencies has been limited.

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Humanitarian Support Grows With More Charities Accepting Crypto Other Than Bitcoin

charities, cryptocurrency

It’s generally a little-known fact to those outside of the virtual currency arena that Bitcoin is not all about making large profits, but that the hallmark cryptocurrency, along with many others, is frequently used to forward humanitarian ideals through a wide range of charities around the globe.

BitcoinNews has followed many of these charities over the past year. Whether it be the WFP, distributing cryptocurrency-based food vouchers to more than 100,000 Syrian refugees living in Jordan, or the donation of funds through UNICEF in Bangladesh for the Rohingya crisis to provide humanitarian relief for both children and mothers, wherever you look around the world, cryptocurrency is increasingly being sought out by charitable agencies and NGOs as a way of getting funds to where they should go.

The speed of delivery of Bitcoin and Ethereum has offered a real plus when it comes to donations, and particularly the transparency of the blockchain which has managed to cut through many a donor’s predispositions not give to charity due to past criminal activity or out and out fraud.

One particular charity, little publicized, is the Water Project which now accepts a variety of cryptocurrencies apart from Bitcoin to support its projects and now accepts Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, or Litecoin. The project’s simple aim is to ensure the inhabitants of sub-Saharan Africa have access to clean, disease-free water.

Recently, there’s been a significant increase in charity events related to crypto. Some of these have joined a growing establishment of charities accepting Bitcoin donations such as Electronic Frontier Foundation, Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, WikiLeaks, Antiwar.com, Code to Inspire, Bitgive and Epic Change.

Another very worthwhile project is the health project Watsi which uses cryptocurrency and blockchain tech for community healthcare crowdfunding. This unique project allows donors to choose recipients and meet them online and discuss their needs.

Even cryptocurrency exchanges and ICOs are involved; beyond Coinbase’s much-publicized Xmas giveaway and its “Give Crypto” project last year, blockchain-based UTRUST payment platform and AidCoin also combined forces last year to enable charitable donations across the world in 23 different cryptocurrencies.

Charitable donations through a range of different cryptocurrencies have never been so prevalent with even the big names realizing that the future of donations is rapidly going digital. With the Red Cross and UNICEF now firmly on board, its no longer just Bitcoin showing the way.

 

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