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Sell or Hodl? Crypto Traders Seek Direction in Fluctuating Market

With uncertainty in the cryptocurrency market and a sudden drop in Bitcoin’s value overnight, investors are again posed with the sell or hold dilemma, but many experts maintain that increased demand for a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF) augers well for the flagship digital currency in the long term.

Long-term forecasters say that Bitcoin has a strong likelihood of becoming a reliable store of value and a viable payment mechanism. Experts point to rising futures volumes and increased institutional participation in trading as positive outcomes going forward.

Historically, negative news hits the market with a crash, such as the SEC’s rejection of nine cryptocurrency ETFs in August, despite the US regulator stressing it “emphasizes that its disapproval does not rest on an evaluation of whether Bitcoin, or blockchain technology more generally, has utility or value as an innovation or an investment”.

Signs are that despite this latest drop in market prices, the cryptocurrency ecosystem is healthy with daily trading almost doubling its total just days ago. Crypto advisory firm Autonomy’s co-founder Ricky Lee suggests, “For our trading activities, the [upcoming Bitcoin Cash] hard fork recently has generated tremendous interest and trading volume, above 4 billion daily, among traders.”

With Bitcoin’s value shedding almost USD 1,000 in just a few hours late yesterday, Willy Woo, the founder of data analytics site Woobull suggests that overnight recovery is highly unlikely and the current market trend may continue well into 2019. CNN Bitcoin analysts suggest that USD 5,633 is looking to be the current interim resistance level, but a break below that support would have the effect of scaring off investors. Conversely, a break above this level would suggest a long position at USD 5,712.

Looking for factors as to why the drop happened, whether it be Bitcoin futures or the Bitcoin Cash fork, there are suggestions that the effect of the sell-offs in tech stocks led by Apple on Wednesday are making their mark on cryptocurrency prices, although most point to the current uncertainty around so-called altcoins Bitcoin Cash and Ethereum, both poised for fundamental and controversial changes in development and infrastructure.

 

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Bitcoin Mining Latest in Paraguayan Mega Dams’ Checkered History

A remote area of Paraguay close to the borders of Brazil and Argentina is developing its own crypto mining sub- culture thanks to the world’s largest dam.

Itapúa Hydroelectric Dam is the largest operational hydroelectric energy producer in the world, with an installed generation capacity of 14GW. Its guarded by armed patrols and situated on the outskirts of Ciudad del Este, a Paraguayan border town which has become a hotbed for smuggling, cartels and drugs. The town of 300,000 has gained a reputation as being part of Paraguay’s lawless wild west.

However, it has a new community and it is growing rapidly. The CPUs have come to town.

Where there’s a dam, there’s sure to be power and a growing group of crypto miners isn’t wasting the opportunity. In an industry which has virtually sprung up overnight, an estimated 20,000 units are now generating Bitcoin and Ether.

Neighboring Brazil sells its energy at five times the price of its poorer cousin, which makes Paraguay an attractive proposition for would-be miners. A fact that hasn’t been wasted on many, according to Gregorio Bareiro, who has seen his air conditioning business rocket since the CPUs came to town. “Some people have become multimillionaires,” he says.

Bariero now provides miners with cooling systems and rents out 750 computers of his own, mainly to Brazilians, Europeans and North Americans. He now hires a dozen staff and has his own plans for installing mines in portable trailers. He sees the potential in Ciudad del Este for lifting the struggling economy, if it were approached on a grand scale. “Paraguay today is the only place where there’s abundant energy,” he pointed out. “We can become the center of global Bitcoin mining.”

The newly-established entrepreneur-cum-air-conditioning-salesman feels that if Itaipú’s power were used to reduce energy prices, the Chinese owners of the 150,000 units might be lured to Paraguay. “In ten years, it would generate enough money to pay Paraguay’s external debt,” he suggested. “With our resources, we ought to have electric helicopters, drones for transporting goods…”

Cristine Folch of Duke University sees data centers powered by clean energy enticing the likes of like Google, Apple and Facebook putting “Paraguay on the edge of the technological frontier”.

The dam certainly has the potential to change lives for the better, one that has already been missed due to politics and corruption. Miguel Carter, a Paraguayan development expert explains that by negotiating a fairer price for its energy, Paraguay could fund its hospitals, schools and railways – all in dire need of upgrading.

Carter saw the potential for a better world lost when Brazil beat Paraguay to the signing of the 1973 Itaipú treaty which lost Paraguay a potential USD 57.7 billion in income. Also in October of this year, it was confirmed that Brazil’s military regime murdered its ambassador to Paraguay in 1979 to prevent the revelation of billions of dollars in kickbacks during the construction of the dam.

“When I saw the numbers I burst into tears,” Carter said. “I know of so many stories of Paraguayans going to hospital and losing their loved ones… there would have been lives saved, kids with a decent education. You could have had a different country.”

Similarly, another study group is calling for energy created from the dam currently sold overseas to be redirected back into the Paraguayan economy with the potential to create 2 million jobs, quadrupling GDP.

It appears that the new spate of crypto mining is the latest in Itapúa’s colorful history. It remains to be seen in whose hands this wealth of resources finally ends and if it contributes to simply creating more wealthy individuals or a wealthy national economy.

 

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Ripple Rallies 110% in 4 Days as Positive Factors Converge

Ripple (XRP) has rallied over 100% in only four days from USD 0.27 on 17 September 2018 to USD 0.57 on 21 September, reaching a high of USD 0.74 on some exchanges. The XRP market cap has increased USD 7 billion to USD 22 billion, not far behind Ethereum’s USD 23 billion market cap. This rally has caught many by surprise, and feels like a small taste of the cryptocurrency rallies during 2017 and the very beginning of 2018. It appears a convergence of positive factors caused this XRP rally.

Ripple is known for being a useful cryptocurrency for international payments and has signed numerous partnerships and done numerous pilot programs with banks around the world. With Ripple, banks can send payments across borders instantly, securely, and at practically zero cost. Any fiat currency, commodity, voucher, or security can be tokenized and sent as a cryptocurrency through the Ripple network, while XRP is the native token of the network.

The Commercial Bank of Saudi Arabia signed a partnership with Ripple and this is considered one of the positive factors that has caused this rally. However, there are dozens of banks already using the Ripple platform, so it seems unlikely this is the main reason.

An important development that might be related is Apple’s integration of Ripple into Apple Pay, which might be a big deal since Apple is the biggest company in the world with a stock market cap in excess of USD 1 trillion. However, there doesn’t seem to be any clear way how this would impact the token’s spot market, except through increased brand recognition for Ripple.

It appears the primary cause of the XRP rally is Ripple is launching XRapid in the next month or so, according to a Ripple executive. XRapid can be used to settle international payments and is especially aimed at emerging markets that lack payment infrastructure. XRapid clients, which would be institutions like banks, will be required to use XRP. This is unlike Ripple’s current most popular inter-bank payment platform XCurrent, which doesn’t require XRP. Therefore, the dozens of banks that use Ripple’s technology could soon be buying large amounts of tokens to facilitate international payments.

Past data indicates that when XRP rises this fast it usually continues rallying to prices in excess of USD 1, such as during rallies in January 2018, May 2017, December 2014, and September 2013. However, XRP has a tendency to overshoot its equilibrium and crash hard after rallies like this, and the fact that Ripple Labs and the Ripple Foundation control 60% of all XRP doesn’t help the situation since they can sell their XRP in large amounts when prices hit their peak.

The XRP rally appears to making waves in the altcoin world, with many altcoins rising by double digits like Stellar, EOS, and Cardano, and most other major altcoins rising by at least 5%. Past data suggests that major XRP rallies correlate with major crypto rallies, so this could be a very positive omen for the crypto space.

 

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Congo’s Child Cobalt Miners Can Be Saved by Blockchain Initiatives

Cobalt mining involving children in the Democratic Republic of Congo could be heavily reduced by applying blockchain solutions to the problem.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (formerly Zaire), devastated by a protracted war which has caused the death of 5.4 million people, is listed as the world’s poorest nation. A project is set to be launched this year using blockchain in order to provide manufacturers of devices, such as iPhones, genuine information that guarantees that cobalt in their lithium-ion batteries is not mined by children. The tracking of cobalt in the Congo is an enormous problem due to numerous informal mining sites and many of them being worked by children.

Congo holds half of the world’s cobalt reserves and the demand for the main mineral component of lithium-ion batteries is set to surge as electric cars proliferate. According to Reuters, in 2016, Congo mined 54% of the total 123,000 tons of cobalt produced worldwide. Also, automaker Volkswagen is trying to secure long-term cobalt supplies to sustain their own electric car production, but need verification that no child labor has been involved in the production.

The proliferation in the use of lithium-ion has led to the increased volume demands. As a part of the deal, Volkswagen has made a move to demand guarantees that no children have been involved in the production process. Meanwhile, Toyota and Honda are planning to switch to solid-state batteries for their electric cars. These factors alone may reduce the volumes required worldwide.

Blockchain will offer much-increased supply chain transparency until a solution to finding an alternative source to cobalt can be found by phone companies and car manufacturers. Amnesty International researcher Mark Dummett said, “You have to be wary of technological solutions to problems that are also political and economic, but blockchain may help. We’re not against it.”

Amnesty International is currently exploring the possibility of implementing blockchain technology to address the problem of child labor by enabling consumers to choose a mine to make their purchase. Illegal mines would have no registration and thereby easily identifiable through blockchain.

German carmaker Daimler (DAIGn.DE) has recently joined the Responsible Cobalt Initiative, a programme established under a Chinese industry body to tackle risks in the cobalt supply chain arising from artisanal mining. The initiative, set up in 2016 includes Apple, Sony, and Volvo and was established by the China Chamber of Commerce of Metals, Minerals and Chemicals Importers and Exporters.

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Coinbase Maintains Optimism Despite Recent Popularity Slide

Crypto exchange giant Coinbase is reported to have recorded a decline in popularity over the past month, according to Ethereum World News.

The downturn in business correlates to a decline in app downloads since the recent fall in the global cryptocurrency market, where prices have suffered a 70% drop over the past six months.

The result is that short-term speculators are looking elsewhere for business and app downloaders have bypassed the Coinbase app, which at its peak was a go-to item in Apple and Google Play apps stores. According to Quartz, Coinbase app downloads have reached their lowest level in the US since last April when Bitcoin was selling at USD 1,250. At one point last year, Coinbase was one of Apple’s most downloaded apps.

Other statistics indicate that the Coinbase online platform has experienced a similar downturn with monthly visits to the site dropping from 126 million in January to 28 million in June with its other platform GDAX losing a further 5% than the parent company.

Despite Coinbase’s recent declining fortunes, the company is continuing its expansion, bringing new products to the market and recently opening an office in Portland, Oregon which has plans to hire over 100 employees.

Coinbase is an “open financial system that is not controlled by a central power”, maintains Coinbase CEO Brian Armstrong who clearly remains upbeat and optimistic. His recent Tweet explained that he sees such slides as simply part of the overall crypto landscape:

“The crypto industry is like no other I’ve seen – lots of up and down cycles (reaching a new plateau each time). There have been 3 or 4 of these now. It can be scary the first time you see it, but to us who have been in the industry for many years, it feels like old news.”

However, another exchange giant, Binance, has seen its fortunes turn out to be quite a different story, with its user base going from strength to strength, experiencing a massive five times expansion since the beginning of the year, and is predicted to bring in USD 1 billion by December.

 

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Union Square Ventures to Tap Into Potential Trillion-Dollar Crypto Future

The New York-based venture capital firm, Union Square Ventures has announced new investments, including US exchange Coinbase, writes CNBC.

In a week when a competing venture capital firm, Andreessen Horowitz, announced its first-ever fund dedicated to crypto companies, Managing Partner at Union Square Ventures, Albert Wenger has said his company won’t take the same route, stating, “We see a lot of upside to keeping it under the same roof.”

Although the company has no plans to create a separate fund as some of its VC competitors have, it sees big profits in the future:

“Investors are rationally pouring a lot of money into this sector because I think people are seeing the winning blockchain here might be worth a trillion, or a couple of trillion dollars,” Wenger said. “It’s not at all crazy to think that.”

Wenger says that he sees the real profits being generated from putting resources into supporting applications rather than the apps themselves, agreeing with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak that early investors in similar ventures may beat the risk of another bubble burst, this time blockchain style. Wenger admits that many projects are doomed to failure but the odd one if it is successful, can be huge.

Wenger referred to scams and failed ICOs, which have amounted to over 1,000 this year does the industry little good:

“You’ve had a series of ICOs where investors have purchased at steep discounts — the second it starts trading those investors cash out, they make a handsome return, and someone else is left to hold the bag,” he said adding that interesting projects are succeeding on far fewer funds.

Wenger admits to personally holding Bitcoin and his company has invested over the year watching its value drop by 60%. As for the future of the market, he feels investing in only one currency would be a mistake:

“The stuff that actually works will float to the top,” he said. “It might take a while, but time will tell.”

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Blockchain Startups Refusing to Fail in the First Few Years Will Make History

Many CEOs and cryptocurrency experts are suggesting that many startups will fail but those remaining have the potential to be huge successes thanks to the blockchain, writes Business Insider.

References to the dotcom bubble have been made too many times for it to be an original view but pundits from within the industry continue to predict that cryptocurrencies have the potential to change/rewrite the rules of financial markets.

eToro CEO,Yoni Assia’s view that 95% of startups are going to end up badly is shared by many in the industry, suggesting that ‘Selling crypto now is like selling Apple in 2001’ he goes on to suggest that it’s the survivors who will reap the benefits and changed the face of the market, in the same way as the internet transformed people’s lives by becoming a feature of everyone’s lives.

Statistics show that more than 1,000 cryptocurrency startups worldwide have raised over $10 billion over the last two years to build significant market changing software projects. Over $9 billion has been raised through ICOs since the start of the year, according to consultancy Autonomous NEXT.

These views were shared by Ethereum co-founder Joe Lubin recently, suggesting the current situation is similar to the nineties’ dot-com bubble, which ended badly for many companies, but left the survivors thriving. Assia argues:

“If you’re into this technology, you’re like, why hasn’t everybody moved on to this technology? It’s an endless opportunity to move things on to the blockchain. You have an insane amount of very smart people who are envisioning this future and trying to build products for it.”

IOTA creator Dominik Schiener also shares the view suggesting that out of 1400 recent projects he expects less than 10 to make it. With former JPMorgan trader Danny Masters, it could be an even smaller figure: suggesting that no more than 5% percent of ICOs are worth backing.

Many pundits and crypto experts see digital currency’s underlying technology blockchain as the factor that will be the most transformational aspect of the predicted crypto boom, some going as far as to suggest it will “remake society.” A recent Forbes article suggested that in a study of 4,800 professionals from around the world, 66% of people believe that innovation will be the biggest factor influencing economic growth over the next 30 years, and one of the most promising of these developments was blockchain.

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Apple Bows to Public Pressure over Crypto-Unfriendly Apps

Apple has made a number of store revisions in order to loosen its guidelines for crypto apps, reports Investing.com. A group known as the Developers Union had recently made requests to Apple to allow every app on the platform to free trials before July 2019, among suggestions for other improvements.

The union is an unofficial body which says that its aim is to “bring developers and supporters together for better App Stores for all”. It currently only has 400 members but hopes to stretch its membership to 20,000 this month according to The Register.

It appears that the IT multinational has been listening given its recent announcements, also noting how its apps are currently:

“Changing the world, enriching people’s lives, and enabling developers to innovate like never before. As a result, the App Store has grown into an ecosystem for millions of developers and more than a billion users.”

Telegram backer and self-proclaimed “global entrepreneur” Pavel Durov has blamed a lack of updates to his app on Apple “not siding with us” in the ongoing furore in Russia over the crypto-chat platform. He was forced to apologize to his customers due to features of the latest iOS 11.4 not working, alleging that Apple had prevented updates to Telegram. He has also blamed Apple for Telegram being unable to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation due to the alleged block on updates.

Apple’s latest announcement regarding cryptocurrency states: “Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered by the exchange itself. Cryptocurrency Apps may not offer currency for completing tasks, such as downloading other Apps, encouraging other users to download, posting to social networks, etc.”

This is a significant move from Apple’s position five years ago when the IT giant reportedly asked companies to remove cryptos from their apps. Regarding ICOs, Apple says that apps must facilitate transactions from established banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants and other approved financial institutions.

Apple specifies that apps can’t mine for cryptos “unless the processing is performed off device (e.g. cloud-based mining)”.

 

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Apple Co-Founder Steve Wozniak Prefers Bitcoin Over All Other Currencies

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, is exuberant about Bitcoin and hopes that it will become the single global currency. He states that Bitcoin goes along with his personal ideology of mathematics, purity, and science. He likes how Bitcoin is not controlled by any individual or organization, instead it is decentralized and controlled by mathematics. He sees Bitcoin as a naturally evolving force of nature.

He said all this during an interview by CNBC on 4 June 2018 at the Money 20/20 conference in Amsterdam, an event where the financial tech, payments, and financial services industry experts came together to discuss the future of money.

He expects the price of Bitcoin to continue going up since Bitcoin has a limited supply according to a mathematical formula, unlike fiat currency like the USD which can be printed at will, and also since demand for Bitcoins will be going up long term. Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey said Bitcoin would become the single global currency, and while Steve Wozniak doesn’t agree with that, he hopes it will come true.

Wozniak is a technology pioneer, having designed and developed the Apple I in 1976 as well as the Apple II in 1977, which are the first widely used personal computers in history. Without him, Apple computers would have never existed, so some feel it is perhaps appropriate to consider him the true founder of Apple.

Wozniak purchased Bitcoin for experimentation purposes when its price was USD 700 and watched as it went all the way up to USD 20,000. He never wanted to be a Bitcoin investor, so he sold all but one Bitcoin, and is keeping it so he can keep experimenting. He also has 2 Ether, and says he sees lots of potential for Ethereum since it is a platform and platforms tend to grow since there are lots of people developing applications on it.

He believes only Bitcoin is pure digital gold since it is fully decentralized and mathematically correct, and that other cryptocurrencies stray from this purity in their attempts to have a business model.

 

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