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Marshall Islands National Crypto Also Issued as Physical Cash

Marshall Islands National Crypto Also Issued in Physical Cash

The Marshall Islands’ national cryptocurrency, Sovereign (SOV), will reportedly also be issued in the form of physical banknotes backed by blockchain technology.

The announcement came from decentralized smart card wallet manufacturer, Tangem, with the company saying the cash will be launched in a scheme alongside the Marshall Islands government to order to provide ”fair and equal access to their digital currency, whether or not they have [an] internet connection”.

In a press release, Tangem stated it would create cards containing a blockchain-enabled microprocessor that will visually appear as unique banknotes, offering zero-fee transactions for processing the cash with ”immediate” transaction verification.

The Pacific island nation became the first jurisdiction to offer a legal cryptocurrency in February 2018, issuing SOV alongside the existing tender, USD. The new cryptocurrency ”cash” is the latest development as the Marshal Islands realizes the practicalities of having a national digital currency that is expected to be useable across the island by all residents.

While the country’s efforts set an appealing standard for the cryptocurrency community, not all reaction has been positive. In August last year, the International Monetary Fund warned that SOV put the nation’s relationships with foreign banks at risk, even requesting the country to reconsider its decision.

 

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Tether Reopens Direct USD Redemption

Tether Limited has announced that it has re-enabled direct redemption of its native token USDT for US dollars through its own wallet. It expects this to help stabilize the price of USDT after two months of volatility. This announcement is due to the new banking relationship between Tether Limited and Deltec Bank in the Bahamas.

Tether (USDT) is currently the top stablecoin with a market cap in excess of USD 1.8 billion and has the 7th highest cryptocurrency market cap overall.

Throughout most of 2018, the price of USDT was stable at parity with the USD, an optimal condition for a stablecoin. However, in early October 2018, USDT became unpegged from the USD and slid lower after severing ties with the Noble Bank of Puerto Rico. The average price of USDT across all cryptocurrency exchanges briefly dipped as low as USD 0.925 due to fears of insolvency. Since then, Tether has remained below parity with the USD and has been quite volatile. In this period, the circulating supply of USDT shrank from 2.8 billion to as low as 1.7 billion, indicating USD 1.1 billion of the tokens being redeemed.

Currently, USDT is hovering above USD 0.98 and continues to be volatile but the restoration of the direct USD redemption service should restore stability. There will be many companies and exchanges where USDT users can redeem and high volume traders could even redeem individually, which should restore the global arbitrage mechanism that previously kept USDT’s price stabilized. It will take some time for this to go into effect since users have to go through a verification process for redemption.

Soon, users will be able to acquire USDT through the Tether wallet as well for a minimum trade of USD 100,000. Withdrawal fees may cause USDT’s price to stabilize slightly below parity in the long term. That being said, Tether volatility should dissipate after this move.

 

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NZ’s “Friendliest” Exchange Launches Country’s First ICO

New Zealand is finally about to launch its first ICO with cryptocurrency exchange Coingrid planning to begin a USD 3 million fundraiser in the next two weeks.

Although New Zealand’s Minister of State for Trade and Export Damien O’Connor is positive there is a real desire in the government to be in the vanguard of promoting new technologies in the region, cryptocurrency has not had such an easy ride. SBS Bank’s group chief executive Shaun Drylie reflects the current feeling that while blockchain is here to stay, cryptocurrency still needs to convince New Zealand’s traditional financial community:

“We think, and the common consensus is, that it [blockchain] has real merit. Cryptocurrencies, we’re not too sure, and if you look at the volatility of cryptocurrencies that would suggest the market is not too sure as well.”

Despite New Zealand being one of the strictest countries in the world regarding cryptocurrency, this hasn’t stopped Coingrid forging ahead with their plans to break new ground with plans for a domestic ICO launch on 23 November.

Coingrid says that it is the country’s “friendliest cryptocurrency exchange” although it is not exactly clear what it’s based its self-description on. However, to avoid New Zealand’s still somewhat unclear regulations regarding the trading of cryptocurrencies, Coingrid have been dealing directly with regulators. ICOs are generally registered overseas to avoid government regulations, which still lack clarity.

The approach by Coingrid is an, as yet, untested approach by other cryptocurrency exchanges. By dealing directly with New Zealand’s Financial Markets Authority (FMA), the exchange is now able to launch New Zealand’s first domestic ICO.

Despite the county’s crypto caution, stablecoins continue to attract attention. There are plans to peg the New Zealand Dollar (NZD) to the NZDT, a stablecoin issued by the country’s leading exchange Cryptopia which has a daily trading volume in excess of USD 2 million.

 

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Kim Dotcom Says USD in Death Spiral, Buy Crypto

Kim Dotcom, who has been under siege by the New Zealand and United States governments since the 2012 closure of Megaupload, says the USD is in an irreversible death spiral due to the United States federal debt. Therefore, according to the internet entrepreneur, now is the time to buy crypto and gold.

US Empire now pays half a trillion dollars in interest payments per year to service its debt.

US debt increases by a trillion per year. It’s a death spiral that cannot be undone.

Self destruction and USD collapse are unavoidable. Get out of USD and US stocks. Buy gold & crypto.

— Kim Dotcom (@KimDotcom) October 25, 2018

Dotcom specifically mentions the United States government debt, which has been rapidly increasing due to a worsening federal budget situation. From 1997-2001, the debt was relatively steady in the USD 5.5-5.8 trillion range. The events of 11 September 2001 initiated a global war on terror, causing US debt to rise to USD 7 trillion by early 2004. In Iraq, the conflict became a war of attrition and to fund this, debt increased to USD 9 trillion around the beginning of 2008.

Then the Great Recession of 2008 began, the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. Ultimately, trillions of US dollars were used to bail out banks and corporations, and this practice continues to this day. During early 2009, US debt exceeded USD 11 trillion. Notably, this acceleration of debt coincided with the launch of Bitcoin, and was referenced in the Bitcoin genesis block with the phrase “The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks“.

By 2012, US debt had skyrocketed to USD 15 trillion. The pace of debt increase never slowed down, breaching USD 20 trillion in late 2017, coinciding with Bitcoin’s record highs of USD 20,000. As of 25 October 2018, this debt sits at USD 21.7 trillion, up USD 1.25 trillion in a year, or an increase of roughly USD 3.45 billion per day.

The Bitcoin market cap is USD 112.5 billion as of this writing on 28 October, which pales in comparison to the United States debt. It takes only a month for it to increase by the amount of the entire Bitcoin market cap.

Buried deep down in the United States budget for 2019 are tables showing that the budget deficit will be nearly USD 1 trillion in 2019, with projections of an increase through 2028. Interest paid out for debts will be USD 364 billion according to the estimate, with a year over year growth of USD 50 billion, yielding USD 869 billion of payments for debt in 2028. These are just estimates and do not account for emergencies like major wars or serious economic collapses.

Tying this data together with Dotcom’s statements, the United States debt has increased tremendously over the past two decades. Budget projections indicate the United States can not afford to slow down the deficit, let alone start paying back the debt. This will require the country to increasingly issue bonds, where people give the United States money in exchange for some slight long-term interest.

Depending on the length of bond maturity, current United States Treasury bond rates range from 2.3% to 3.3%. Historical 10-year bond interest rate data shows that after a long period of decline, rates for 10-year bonds have climbed from 1.5% in the middle of 2016 to 3.2% as of October 2018. Therefore, the amount of money the United States has to pay for bond interest has increased by over 100% in the past two years. This is likely due to decreasing demand for United States bonds versus the number of bonds the United States is trying to sell.

As bond interest rates rise, eventually investors will get spooked, and the United States will have to print money on a mass scale to keep the country running. This will drastically devalue the USD, and perhaps this is already underway. There has been 53% USD inflation since the year 1998 according to consumer price index (CPI) data, which is roughly 2.7% USD inflation per year.

Increasing budget deficits, which leads to increasing bond rates, which ultimately leads to printing money as a last resort once bond buying demand dries up, could very well cause hyperinflation of the USD. This would be catastrophic for most of the global economy.

However, Bitcoin and gold should hold their value relative to the USD, since they cannot be printed by the United States.

 

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Gemini Dollar, TrueUSD, USDC, and PAX Surge Above Parity With USD as USDT Struggles

Tether (USDT), the #1 stablecoin with a market cap in excess of USD 2 billion, has been struggling recently due to banking problems at Bitfinex, and its price has dropped below parity with the USD. Simultaneously other stablecoins including the Gemini Dollar (USDG), True USD (TUSD), USD//Coin (USDC), and Paxos Standard Token (PAX) have surged above parity with the USD, indicating that people are exchanging their USDT for other stablecoins.

Through early October 2018, USDT maintained parity with the USD, and there were roughly 2.8 billion USDT in circulation. Then the USDT gradually declined to about USD 0.99, before 320 million USDT were redeemed and taken out of circulation. This perhaps caused a run on Tether Limited, possibly making redemption temporarily impossible and removing the backing of USD cash reserves, which is the primary mechanism that keeps USDT at parity with the USD.

The price of USDT crashed on 15 October 2018 to USD 0.925, and temporarily went as low as USD 0.87 on at least one exchange. The drastic price movement serves as strong evidence that there was no USD backing USDT at that time due to banking troubles. In general, people should be able to redeem USDT at parity for USD through Tether Limited, and would not sell USDT for less than 1 USD unless Tether Limited’s redemption process stopped working. The price of USDT recovered to USD 0.98 within a day of this crash, but then another 250 million USDT were redeemed and taken out of circulation, and now as of this writing on 17 October USDT’s price is slowly declining and approaching USD 0.97. Since the Tether crisis began, the USDT market cap has declined USD 600 million from USD 2.8 billion to USD 2.2 billion.

Traders and investors have clearly been shifting their holdings from USDT to several other major stablecoins that are available. The USDG which is run by the Gemini exchange briefly surged to a high of USD 1.19 on 16 October, TUSD spiked to USD 1.08, USDC run by Circle hit USD 1.11, and PAX reached USD 1.08. Since then these stablecoins have declined to a consensus of USD 1.02 to USD 1.03 as of 17 October. It is interesting to note that as of this writing these stablecoins are 2-3 cents above parity with the USD, while Tether is 2-3 cents below parity with the USD.

While people who were holding TUSD, USDC, PAX, and USDG before the stablecoin rally began might have made some profits, it is probably not a good thing that these stablecoins are not at parity with the USD, and is just as bad as USDT being below parity with the USD but for different reasons. First off, stablecoins are backed by cash reserves stored with the company that runs them, so any excess above parity with USD is not redeemable for cash. Therefore, if someone buys a stablecoin that is above parity with the USD, long term they will lose that excess above parity as the stablecoin heads back to parity. For this reason, traders and investors would be cautious to invest in a stablecoin for any price above USD 1, since they know they would end up losing some money long term once the stablecoin market stabilizes.

For the time being, as USDT continues to struggle and decline further from parity, traders and investors will be shifting money from USDT to other stablecoins in rapid fashion, lifting those stablecoins above parity with USD. Traders are probably directly trading their USDT for other stablecoins, and there is far more USDT in circulation than the supply of all the other stablecoins combined. Long-term, stablecoins will go back to being at parity with the USD, whether that comes from Tether regaining its footing and going back to parity or completely unwinding to zero remains to be seen.

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Popular Wallet Says Goodbye to Fiat Currencies in Landmark Gesture

The popular Bitcoin platform Samourai has announced that it is removing all fiat currency conversion facilities from its wallet in order to promote the flagship currency.

The move is revolutionary in the sense that Samourai is clearly making a move that many exchanges would like to, but so far have resisted. Samourai appears to be positioning themselves for a future where Bitcoin’s value isn’t measured in fiat terms but as a stand-alone currency. This intent is clarified in the company’s latest statement:

“All fiat currency conversions have been removed from Samourai Wallet. We understand this may inconvenience some, it may even be enough to cause us to lose some users, but we believe it is fundamental that our existing and future users understand that when they transact within the Bitcoin network, when they participate in the Bitcoin economy, they are transacting with the token native to the Bitcoin network, BTC, and nothing else.”

The announcement also reminded its clients of its accessibility to a number of alternative language users, with Chinese and French added to its new release. Some 12 languages are now available to cover a range of nationalities around the globe. The wallet is also available in some less commonly spoken languages such as Brazilian Portuguese, Bulgarian and Turkish.

The news that Samourai was completely dumping its fiat currencies reverberated quickly around crypto space with some concern,  but the company has made it clear that it’s time for its users to give up thinking about cryptocurrency in fiat terms, which is fast becoming the norm although early adopters may have needed the reassurance of making fiat conversions. Samourai argues:

“In 2015 when we first launched Samourai Wallet… we reasoned that a fiat based conversion rate would be a convenient feature for users who wished to have a rough idea of what their BTC stash was worth in fiat currency at any given time.”

The company asserts that that “crutch” is still a factor, so action was needed in order to educate the crypto community to a new way of thinking about the cryptocurrency’s worth:

“Many news outlets, data providers, prominent persons, and innocent users started to refer to bitcoin transactions in USD terms instead of BTC terms […] We reasoned that ‘Users aren’t ready’ to give up thinking in fiat terms, and with education, they would eventually change.”

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Binance CEO Predicts 1,000 Times Swell in Crypto Market

As the crypto community discussed the future of the market this week, Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao has disagreed with recent remarks by Vitalik Buterin, suggesting that the Ethereum founder’s comments about a squeeze on cryptocurrency growth are completely wrong.

Buterin has denied that he made exactly those comments, Tweeting, “I never said that there is no room for growth in the crypto ecosystem. I said there is no room for 1000x price increases.” Buterin has claimed that the crypto market has practically reached its ceiling.

Further explaining that a thousand-fold growth would equal to 70% of the world’s entire wealth seems to have done little to halt Zhao’s charge that cryptocurrencies will go mainstream over time, and thereby reach exactly that level of growth and possibly more.

Zhao maintains that Buterin’s mistake is to view such a huge level of growth in terms of the traditional financial market, in which such a market expansion would be totally unrealistic. He feels that cryptocurrency is capable of making such an impact once it becomes fully operational with an accompanying derivatives market in full sway. He argues:

“I will say ‘crypto will absolutely grow 1000x and more’! Just reaching USD market cap will give it close to 1000x, (that’s just one currency with severely restricted use case), and the derivatives market is so much bigger.”

It is the case now that more central banks are on board with, or if not, certainly examining, cryptocurrencies with more than just a passing glance, and as such, the industry is gaining respect. Blockchain technology is now becoming influential in banking and business at the highest level, having gained respect from some of the world’s major players such as IBM and Microsoft. As central banks begin to delve deeper into the space, it is highly likely that smaller banks will also begin to take an active interest.

The more positive the impact that cryptocurrency makes on the financial system, the more that regulation is likely become not only clearer but more accommodating as crypto becomes the normal way to conduct business.

This is more likely to be the scenario that Binance’s head envisages in making such predictions; thinking of the big picture rather than the status quo. A USD 200 trillion market would make cryptocurrency the main source of payment and would certainly make stock markets around the world look very different. Clearly, a scenario that Zhao sees as achievable.

 

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IMF Puts Pressure on Marshall Islands Plan for National Crypto

The Marshall Islands plans for a national cryptocurrency has encountered a setback after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned against the idea.

In a 58-page report, the IMF suggests that banks will refuse to work with the island’s businesses should the government go ahead with its plans for adopting the Sovereign (SOV).

Politically, the Marshall Islands is a presidential republic in free association with the United States, with the US providing defense, subsidies, and access to US-based agencies such as the Federal Communications Commission and the United States Postal Service.

Although the new cryptocurrency, the Sovereign (SOV), was set to displace the US dollar as the official currency, it was likely that the country’s 53,066 population would continue to use the dollar until banks and credit companies put in place a framework for the currency’s use. The new report by the IMF could put the future plan in jeopardy; the IMF has used provocative language urging the island republic to cease its activities, with this warning:

“The potential benefits from [digital currency] revenue gains appear considerably smaller than the potential costs arising from economic, reputational, AML/CFT, and governance risks. In the absence of adequate measures to mitigate them, the authorities should seriously reconsider the issuance of the digital currency as legal tender.”

There is a critical view held by economists in some countries whose governments may be considering similar moves to adopt a national cryptocurrency, that a mass decentralization of financial power may result in the diminishing of IMF’s authority. A warning by IMF’s deputy director Dong He earlier this year clearly suggests that the organization may be secretly worried at the movement towards global digital currency adoption.

He argued that “crypto assets may one day reduce demand for central bank money”, suggesting central banks should “forestall the competitive pressure crypto assets may exert on fiat currencies”.

David Gerard, author of ‘Attack of the 50-foot Blockchain’, asserts that the IMF is not so heavy-handed as they might appear, suggesting that, “The IMF is not strong-arming the Marshalls, what they’re doing is describing what will obviously happen if they proceed.”

As yet there has been no comment from the Marshall Islands authorities over the IMF suggestion they should “seriously consider” their great crypto-leap forward. Other countries considering similar plans to integrate cryptocurrency into their banking systems at this level will be interested to see how this situation develops in the weeks to come.

 

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Luxury Crypto Auctions Getting Cleaner as Bitcoin Footprint Improves

A luxury goods entrepreneur is now taking her company, which specializes in selling luxury vehicles, into the crypto space with good honest Bitcoin.

Bonham Auctions owned by Elizabeth White has to date sold over 30 Lamborghinis, a Ferrari which went under the hammer for a staggering USD 4 million and even sold a car to a 16-year-old waiting for his driving license after making his fortune Bitcoin mining.

In the past, such luxury items auctions have received some bad press, with suggestions that most of the proceeds feeding into such auctions are simply money laundering opportunities.

White disagrees, refuting that Bitcoin is the choice of disreputable clients and arguing that the nature of blockchain allows her to keep a close tab on clients:

“Every transaction is recorded on the Blockchain, which is publicly accessible, so it is actually much more transparent… We know who our clients are.”

A recent report by cybersecurity firm Recorded Future has indicated that Bitcoin is no longer the choice of criminals while coins such as Dash and Litecoin are increasingly being used for more nefarious purposes with 30% of dark web vendors accepting Litecoin and 20% accepting Dash.

White gains from the fact that buyers would need a prolonged period of withdrawals from exchanges in order to buy some of her auction items due to limits of USD 10,000 a week whereas they can transfer much larger sums to her in an instant. There is a strategy involved in terms of whether she holds or sells her Bitcoin due to current market volatility.

White has recently launched her own stable coin (WSD) tied to the USD to try and get around these issues, enabling customers to use her wallet facility to trade Bitcoin for WSD.

There is also an increasing number of platforms being launched to help wealthy consumers part with their cryptocurrency, usually on luxury items. Such entrepreneurs have created a business seemingly out of very little but nonetheless, they are serving a specific crypto elite and creating a thriving retailer-consumer database.

One such London gallery in Mayfair simply advises their clients on how to spend their cryptocurrency on luxury items and guides them through the process, working as a middleman between wealthy consumers and an established list of retailers.

 

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Bitcoin Comes with Advantages Says Brazilian Presidential Candidate

Brazilian presidential candidate for the upcoming October elections in that country João Amoêdo has recently expressed pro Bitcoin views.

Amoêdo’s Brazil New Party aims for the privatization of public enterprises like Petrobras, Central Bank of Brazil and Banco do Brasil. Although the party supports welfare programs like Bolsa Família, it aims to privatize the public health system and public education. The state would give vouchers for health and education to people who couldn’t afford it, according to Wikipedia.

In terms of the country’s financial system, the party opposes extensive regulation in many aspects of Brazilian society. They believe the central bank should be independent of the state. When asked about cryptocurrency, Amoêdo said that Bitcoin comes with “advantages.” On the development of blockchain in Brazil, he was particularly upbeat about its place in the country’s economy.

“I see the blockchain as a protocol that increases the reliability and integrity of the data. There are obvious applications, such as for interbank transfers or to register as a notary. Another, not so commented, is to use the blockchain to follow the productive chain of products…. We could follow every step of the production chain of a product, ensuring less bureaucracy and more intelligence.”

When quizzed whether he thought that Cryptocurrency’s had a role in a new Brazil and whether it might be used as legal tender, he responded:

“As a means of payment, I see no doubts that bitcoin can be understood as a legal payment method. If both parties want to exchange a product via bitcoin… I do not see any legal barriers to doing so” adding:

“I do not think they are a threat to the traditional banking system. I see advantages in providing another means of payment for consumers,”

With a population of nearly 200 million and the largest economy in Latin America, Brazil is a significant economic force, and an increase in the adoption of cryptocurrency use would certainly have an impact under a liberal government, which on the whole tend to be more favorable towards crypto. It’s hard to say what stance Amoêdo would take regarding the sector if he becomes the new Brazilian president in October.  Like any other politician, he would want to be seen as a staunch supporter of the country’s national currency, the real, which is tightly pegged to the US dollar. On this he commented:

“But it must be clear that the country has only one national currency, one that has a legal course, that is, the one that people are obliged to accept, the real. No other currency, including the dollar, has this characteristic. Only the real. In addition, there are restrictions on the use of the dollar for payments and as a currency of account, which are the same for any other foreign currency, including crypto-coins.”

He suggests that governments must be made aware of the public’s assets held on-line as the internet shouldn’t become a “tax haven.”

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