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Wall Street, Institutional Investors Prime for Next Crypto Bull Run

Wall Street, Institutional Investors Prime for Next Crypto Bull Run

Analysts are looking ahead to the potential for a sustained bull run on cryptocurrency markets in 2019, and many are expressing an expectation this will be the signal for Wall Street and institutions to up investment.

Many see large-scale investment being re-examined in 2019 after being scared off by Bitcoin’s December dip. Wall Street notably stood back prior to the end of the year with Goldman Sachs’ much-publicized plans to open a crypto trading desk called “top-of-the-market-hype thinking” by one New York executive.

Travis Scher of New York’s venture capital firm Digital Currency Group sees a change in indirection from Wall Street and large investment as imminent suggesting that Wall St has lagged behind. He has been watching the industry, choosing to remain on the fringes waiting for signs of an upturn before making a move.

Canadian entrepreneur and activist Jeff Berwick (aka Dollar Vigilante) sees 2019 as the year that cryptocurrency prices will take off once institutions finally make their move. He suggests that trillions of dollars are waiting to be invested in the cryptocurrency market.

Despite Bakkt’s delay, the recent seed funding of over USD 182 million goes on to show that a lot of institution key players are supportive of a successful launch of the platform, after particularly after the New York-based platform acquired “certain assets” and employees of Rosenthal Collins Group (RCG) to expand the company.

With Nasdaq also waiting in the wings and the potential for non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and ETFs predicted to push blockchain adoption and kickstart a crypto bull run, 2019 already offers high expectations for both analysts and investors.

 

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Report Cites Record Exchange Transaction Volumes in 2018

Report Cites Record Exchange Transaction Volumes in 2018

The latest Diar report shows that 2018 was a record year for cryptocurrency transacting volumes with huge increases across most major exchanges.

The report states that in the US markets, crypto exchanges such as Kraken and Bitfinex led the way in 2018 with increases of 192% and 50% respectively. San Francisco-based giant Coinbase also showed significant trading increases with a rise of 27% over 2017 trading. Coinbase reported a hike in trading from 82.7 million deals over the year to 94.4 million.

However, Diar predicts a drop off in 2019 spot markets to below the 2017 level despite increases of available cryptocurrencies on the market. In terms of mining activity, Bitcoin miner revenues were also on the up, according to the report, earning a huge USD 5.8 billion in 2018. This, despite monthly figures slumping by 83% over the course of the same year.

Diar commented on the changing face of cryptocurrency mining, indicating that many companies have shifted to operating large numbers of small mining pools rather than larger operations, as a protection against attack. The report stated:

“Unknown miners closed December having solved a whopping 22% of the total blocks up from 6% at the start of last year. The Bitcoin network is currently less likely to experience an attack given the fact the BTC.com controlled pools have lost dominance over the network.”

Another significant factor regarding the direction of the market is that high liquidity OTC transactions are finding greater favor among investors compared to physical BTC markets, reflected in Coinbase observing a 20% increase in BTC trade volume during OTC markets hours.

 

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UK Investor Who Lost a Million Still Has Faith in Bitcoin

UK Investor Who Lost a Million Still Has Faith in Bitcoin

It’s a familiar story, but it still hurts for those who have had the same experience as investor Peter McCormack who lost $1 million in the recent bear market. But he has faith.

McCormack claims that he got himself too “caught up in the hype’ during the buoyant and heady cryptocurrency market in 2017. The ex-London advertising agency manager decided that after losing his job in 2016 he’d try investing GBP 5000 (USD 6,400) in Bitcoin.

By the spring of 2017 his modest BTC investment with some extra purchases swelled to $300,000 and like many other investors at this time decided that he was in for the long ride. What happened next in the market is history, of course.

By the end of the year, his portfolio was worth GBP 1.2 million but crashed in January of 2018 wiping out his investments, having traveled and splurged money on dining out, travel, and extravagant family gifts, meanwhile dipping into his BTC throughout 2017.

“I wish I had taken everything out before the bubble burst, I have earned money in the past through hard work and enjoyed it more,” he reflected, adding “Much of my spending was quite frivolous.”

Today McCormack still podcasts and is surprisingly upbeat about Bitcoin, but warns others to be more careful with their money than he was. To him, cryptocurrency remains a “force for good” despite his up and down relationship with the market, particularly, in some undeveloped or war-torn countries where bitcoin and other digital currencies are empowering communities and minorities, he argues.

 

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Canada Debates Crypto Campaign Donations as Elections Loom

Canada Debates Crypto Campaign Donations as Elections Loom

With the Canadian General Election scheduled for later this year, Elections Canada, the body responsible for overseeing federal political fundraising, is polling the relevant parties on the question of whether campaign contributions could be allowed in Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

Elections Canada have posted online that “with interest in cryptocurrency on the rise, political entities have requested guidance on accepting contributions and conducting other transactions in Bitcoin or altcoins”. This indicates that a change in the way donations are normally conducted may well be on the agenda, given the rise in Bitcoin’s popularity in the country.

With the relevant political parties being asked to forward their view before 21 January, there is time left. Elections Canada terms cryptocurrency donations as non-monetary, in-kind contributions, claiming:

“Like money, they can be used to make purchases from businesses that choose to accept them. But unlike money, they cannot be placed directly into a bank account. Instead, cryptocurrencies can be sold for traditional currencies that can be placed into a bank account.”

This, according to Elections Canada, puts cryptocurrencies more on a par with stocks and bonds which the body regards as “a form of property”, thereby making them a non-monetary contribution.

For its part, the draft note provided by the body takes the position that cryptocurrency donations are non-monetary, in-kind contributions. It points out this correlation to other authorities such as Elections BC (British Columbia) and the US Federal Election Commission, as well as the Canada Revenue Agency.

This would mean that such offerings would be acceptable providing that cryptocurrency donations follow the same guidelines as set for other non-monetary contributions, exempting them from tax receipts.

Currently, none of Canada‘s major political parties currently offers the option for crypto donations and to date, no party has responded to the Elections Canada request.

 

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90-Year-Old Hong Kong Billionaire “Superman” Backs Bakkt

90-Year-Old Hong Kong Billionaire

The owner of venture capital firm Horizon Ventures, Li Ka-shing, has become the latest proponent of cryptocurrency platform Bakkt investing heavily in Bitcoin. Bitcoin backers abound around the world but experience wise with his 90 years, Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, known affectionally as Superman, is way up there.

The Bakkt project has delayed its launch twice in a row with a timeline now set for early 2019, in line with CFTC’s process and timeline.

Bakkt has already announced its successful first seed funding round of USD 182 million with 14 investors and partners listed to have participated. Intercontinental Exchange, Goldfinch Partners, Boston Consulting Group, Microsoft’s Venture Capital arm and Pantera Capital were among participants.

Li, who is said to be worth about USD 34.9 billion, has made some major forays into the cryptocurrency space late in his business career, including Bitpay in 2013 and Blockstream in 2016, through his company Horizon Ventures. Bitpay also attracted another “Superman”, British Virgin entrepreneur Sir Richard Branston, who also put about USD 30 million of his money into the Bitcoin payment service provider headquartered in Atlanta.

The Bakkt Bitcoin platform, which is being developed with New York Stock Exchange owner Intercontinental Exchange, Starbucks, and Microsoft, will offer Bitcoin futures trading once the launch date has been announced, opening up the opportunity for users to buy, sell, store and spend cryptocurrencies through MS Cloud. Global coffee chain Starbucks will allow customers to convert Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to US dollars to make purchases in their stores.

 

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VeriBlock Fingered for Taking Free Rides on Bitcoin

VeriBlock Fingered for Taking Free Rides on Bitcoin

Bitcoin developers have been scratching their heads recently, noticing a large number of OP_RETURN transactions on the blockchain over the past few days. OP_RETURN is a type of Bitcoin transaction that is used for embedding data into the blockchain.

The culprit, according to analysts, has been a new blockchain project called VeriBlock, one that piggybacks on the Bitcoin blockchain in an effort to better secure alternative crypto asset networks.

Source of the now-highest volume of OP_RETURN outputs has been identified as @VeriBlock “proof of proof” miners. They are creating around 20% of all BTC transactions now. Seems inefficient to me; will be interesting to see if the incentives work long term. https://t.co/LpjyhGKg2b

— Jameson Lopp (@lopp) January 5, 2019

The new project is versatile, enabling the issue of new assets such as Tether or simply proving the existence of data such as “proof-of-existence”. More significantly in terms of its effect on the blockchain is that VeriBlock is now generating roughly 20% of daily Bitcoin transactions.

Embedding alternative data into the Bitcoin blockchain is not a new development, and there has been plenty of discussion in the past between developers whether these sorts of transactions should be encouraged at all. That debate led to the introduction of the OP_RETURN operator in Bitcoin Core 0.9.

Ethereum creator Vitalik Buterin claimed he avoided piggybacking on Bitcoin feeling that Bitcoin developers might limit the extent to which data can be embedded in the Bitcoin blockchain. There is a current debate on this current version and whether those like it should even be defined as spam, however, the nature of Bitcoin means that those happy to pay can get their transactions on the blockchain.

VeriBlock itself is currently making it more expensive to make actual money transfers on the Bitcoin network due to the limited availability of block space, but those willing to pay Bitcoin transaction fees are propping up the project.

 

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Anti-Crypto Investment Guru Jeffrey Gundlach Admits Bitcoin Might Rise 25%

Jeffrey Gundlach

Jeffrey Gundlach, a big investment banker some call The Bond King has said that Bitcoin may rise 25% in the near future. He made these comments during a recent interview with CNBC’s business TV.

The comments are interesting because Gundlach has been a vocal critic of cryptocurrencies and even called them “the poster child for social mood and market mood“. While his stance on cryptocurrencies is still not changed because of his tendency to trust the current monetary system with which he has helped manage over USD 200 billion in investment money, Gundlach still admitted that Bitcoin could go 25% up or reach USD 5,000 in the near future.

Gundlach said, “I don’t recommend anything with Bitcoin, really… but if you really want to speculate, I think it could make it to USD 5,000. Talk about an easy 25%.”

But at the same time, he also advised to “get the hell out of Bitcoin”While only Gundlach may know the reason why he said all this, the statement itself is a proof that even though he doesn’t believe in the Bitcoin network, he still understands that its market potential is only expected to rise in the near future. Investors are more and more interested in Bitcoin and the short-term statistics are solid even with the massive price tank experienced in 2018 that saw more than 80% of Bitcoin’s value wiped from its peak position.

Some of Gundlach’s contemporary predictions have come true including one made in the past year involving US stock market’s massive sell-off in December. He was one of the first people to call it. Crypto traders may hope that his prediction regarding Bitcoin in the short term will also come true after an encouraging rally late last month.

 

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UNICEF Continues Crypto Advocacy, Now Accepts DAI

UNICEF Continues Crypto Advocacy, Now Accepts DAI

The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) France has announced that it is now accepting donations in the DAI cryptocurrency. This makes it the 10th cryptocurrency it now accepts for charitable donations.

The organization seems to think that “open source explorations of blockchain” can be funded using the DAI. The latest cryptocurrency is MakerDAO’s stablecoin pegged to the USD. The funds to be collected through this channel is to be used to support open source projects through “bounties” and “funding research” for blockchain-related projects which ultimately aims at helping the “world’s most vulnerable people”.

UNICEF’s Ventures Fund invests in “frontier technologies” and how they could be used to solve “humanity’s greatest challenges” It currently considers the emergence of blockchain technology as “new systems of trust and exchange on which users can send value directly from one party to another without the need for intermediaries”.

Etherscan.io reveals that the DAI wallet address is about 12 days old and a few contributions totaling DAI 116.2 (about USD 116.7) at press time have been made with the latest contribution being two days old.

The UNICEF organization in France began accepting cryptocurrency donations in 2018 to facilitate the link between emerging technology and charitable causes.

The adoption pattern for cryptocurrencies as both a store and exchange of value may not happen as sporadically as most people expect. However, with reputable industries considering blockchain as alternate means to crowdfund leveraging on the perks of decentralization and trustlessness, the current pace is a steady and evolving transition.

With the likes of UNICEF, blockchain has once again been taken outside the confines of the fintech niche and brought into the regular day-to-day affairs of those who would one day be adopters of this looming technological revolution.

Trusting a developing multi-billion-dollar market, UNICEF sure sees the new technology as an opportunity do much more than virtual trading and speculative analysis. Director of UNICEF France Sébastien Lyon stated in the past: “Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology used for charitable purposes offers a new opportunity to appeal to the generosity of the public and continue to develop our operations with children in the countries of intervention.”

Prior to this news, other developments made by UNICEF around the blockchain industry included the addition of nine popular digital currencies to its website donation portal and a USD 100,000 funding across six blockchain startups.

Other companies are contributing their quota to extend charity through blockchain initiatives. Binance Charity Foundation (BFS) is another active portal that seeks the furtherance of UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

 

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Etisalat Contracts Tech Firms to Develop Blockchain, AI Solutions

Etisalat Contracts Tech Firms to Develop Blockchain and AI Solutions

In a press release yesterday, Middle East telecom carrier giant Etisalat, through its innovation program Future Now, has signed agreements with four tech companies to develop solutions using blockchain and Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies.

The signing of the contract happened after the success of Dubai’s Future Accelerator’s Program, which led to the launch of the Future Now project. The four beneficiaries of the contract include Yitu Technology (China), Com IoT Technologies (UAE), 300cubits (Hong Kong), and Tradefin (USA).

As per the press release, the condition for selecting these companies was based on their “capability to build and launch their core technology and be able to demonstrate traction and substantial use cases”.

On the Etisalat part of the agreement, expectations include granting the selected firms “access to Etisalat Digital resources and experts, office space, and support needed to deliver joint projects to Etisalat’s client base”.

Two challenges were created last year by Etisalat Digital – a part of the fifth group of Dubai Future Accelerators – towards the United Arab Emirates (UAE) 2021 economic vision.

One part of the problem dealt with the application of AI behavioral analysis that could stem the tide of crime-related patterns. The companies Yitu Technology (China), and Com IoT Technologies, UAE were given this responsibility as well as to develop a framework solution for road traffic that utilizes CCTVs to automate traffic processes and prevent congestion and accidents.

The other part of the challenge involved a sub-category two-part solution using the blockchain technology. The first part was assigned to 300cubits (Hong Kong) to explore possible solutions “to reduce the transactional costs and complexity in business processes for banks, governments, and private organizations”, by a benchmark of 40% in the course of five years.

The second part of the sub-category solution was tasked to Tradefin (USA) and it involved a focus on “the adoption of blockchain to enable exchange across various loyalty currencies and to transform a loyalty currency into a cryptocurrency that can be used to perform online and physical transactions”.

The overall outlook of this partnership seeks to establish collaborative efforts towards an expedited “adoption of cutting edge technologies”.

Legacy organizations continue to seek mainstream use cases for emerging technologies such as the blockchain. While different organizations deploy their research and development protocols into studying the relative use of this technology, one very obvious remark is that “blockchain forges a bridge between systems, and eliminates the need for siloed inventions”.

The Middle East continues to pride itself as a pro-blockchain zone with numerous innovations surrounding the tech. Not long ago, the UAE partnered with Saudi Arabia to develop a product to facilitate cross border payments. Meanwhile, Kuwait Central Bank shook hands with Ripple to enact cross-border payments.

 

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Overstock’s tZERO Wins Patent for Crypto Integration Platform

overstock tzero patent crypto integration bitcoinnews

Overstock’s security token trading subsidiary tZERO has won the patent for a “crypto integration platform” designed to integrate the cryptocurrency market with legacy trading systems.

The design draws a premise from the fact that “recent increasing adoption of cryptocurrencies (e.g., Bitcoin) worldwide creates challenges for existing trading systems”. The integration involves a complex but precise process of communication between blockchain technology and the existing traditional market infrastructures involving the exchange of market information from different sources.

The document states: “The Crypto Integration Platform aggregates market information from the crypto exchanges and serves as a router to locate the best price in the crypto market for the digital asset or liability involved in the transaction.”

Transactions involve a wide variety of asset class making the platform a bridge between traditionally-traded asset class and digital currencies. The document further explains the composite asset structures:

“The Crypto Integration Platform receives orders to trade digital transactional items such as digital assets, liabilities, commodities, and/or currencies (e.g., digital securities, digital interests in securities, cryptocurrencies) for other digital transactional times such as digital representations of funds (e.g., tokens, cash, cash equivalents such as cryptocurrencies) on a cryptographic (“crypto”) exchange (i.e., an exchange that trades digital transactional items) from broker-dealers and translates the orders into crypto orders.”

One of the express quality of the system is the cryptographic signature of transactions before and after executing those orders. This “ensures authentication, authorization, and provenance”, according to the document.

More so, the cross-linking of legacy trading systems and cryptocurrency exchanges allows a wide pool of participating companies to access capital, while investors and traders can also access shares from the former.

The tZERO patent describes the benefit of the system as one that accords “guaranteed settlement, transparency of ownership and easy money movement, and secure settlements”.

The Alternate Trading System (ATS) for securities by tZERO has gained momentum since its debut, and it has pooled interest from high-profile investment firms, raising what may seem to be largest recorded investment for blockchain startup so far. On the mothership, Overstock announced that it is first to pay tax in Ohio using Bitcoin.

Efforts from this company continue to close the gap between virtual cryptocurrencies and mass mainstream adoption. Other agents driving similar objectives include derivative markets to be launched by Bakkt, ErisX, and other proposed products from the Japanese jurisdiction.

 

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