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Bitcoin: Investment of the Decade?

The Investment of the Decade: Bitcoin vs. World's Megacorps

  • When compared to the world’s top 10 companies in terms of capital quantum, Bitcoin’s increase in value is the highest with a return of USD 9.2 million on a USD 100 investment.
  • Amazon, Apple and Visa are the only three companies with a return percentage of more than 1,000% (3,156%, 2,345% and 1,597% respectively)
  • China’s Alibaba had the worst-performing stock, with a return of only USD 208 on the initial investment.

As per an analysis from howmuch.net, Bitcoin’s value in the past 10 years has increased the most when compared to the top 10 largest firms in terms of market capitalization. As seen in the graph, an investment of a mere USD 100 just 10 years ago would now be worth approximately USD 9.2 million. In comparison, the same investment in Amazon’s stock would stand at USD 3,300 today. In spite of the recent bearish trend, Bitcoin saw a whopping 9,150,088% increase in price.

It is also important to note here that the price of Bitcoin is more volatile than the stocks of other companies. In perspective, Bitcoin’s price ranged from USD 20,000 in late 2017 to USD 3,500 in late November. In contrast, the stock prices of some of the other firms has also fluctuated significantly, however the fluctuation in amount is far less substantial than that of Bitcoin.  This relative stability in price is associated to the predictive nature of these firms’ business models and structures, something which is not possible when it comes to Bitcoin.

Bitcoin has also faced a lot of backlash and criticism in the past few years, swaying off potential investors. This flak and volatile nature coupled with Bitcoin’s surge in price have indeed made the art of investing in Bitcoin seem a highly precarious endeavor.

 

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Apple’s CryptoKit Edges Closer Towards Phone Support for Digital Currencies

Apple's CryptoKit Edges Closer Towards Phone Support for Digital Currencies

It has been announced that Apple has plans to integrate what it calls an iPhone CryptoKit into its next-generation iPhone.

Although the title sounds like a major step away from a hitherto rather tentative stance on all things crypto, enthusiasts will need to wait for a while before becoming to over-enthusiastic. This is no crypto wallet and, unlike Samsung, Apple is not ready to pander to its many iPhone-holding crypto fans just yet.

However, falling short of supplying a fully- fledged crypto wallet with the latest iOS 13 software will have some of the advantages of a wallet for some users, according to Open Money Initiative co-founder Alejandro Machado who enthused:

“For the first time, developers can leverage the secure enclave to manage a user’s keys in an iPhone, achieving a similar level of security to hardware wallets.”

The new iOS13 plans which will replace Apple’s previous framework announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference in Cupertino, California this week.

The announcement was met with somewhat muted response elsewhere, some not sharing Open Money Initiative’s obvious enthusiasm, with one developer claiming that Apple’s current CommonCrypto already provides many of the functions that CryptoKit offers.

The Ethereum community seems to stoked about a new Apple framework called CryptoKit. There are a few misconceptions I’d like to clear up. (Thread)

— Ronald Mannak (@ronaldmannak) June 4, 2019

Clearly, Apple is holding back, given that its competitor Samsung offers the Galaxy S10 which includes a cryptocurrency wallet compatible with Ether (ETH) and Ethereum-based ERC20 tokens, although it does not currently support Bitcoin, thereby immediately frustrating many users.

 

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Australian Crypto Scams in 2018 Totaled $4.3 Million

Australian Crypto Scams Reported in 2018 Totaled .3 Million

Australia has become well known for its big push towards endorsing both blockchain and cryptocurrency use, but like anywhere the country is prone to scams as recent figures just released have revealed, with over USD 4 million dollars lost to cryptocurrency scams in 2018.

However, it appears that the AUD 6.1 million lost to cryptocurrency scams last year was just the tip of the scamming iceberg according to a recent survey by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). Scams covering all sectors totaled 378,000 reported in 2018, costing victims a huge AUD 489 million (approx. USD 344 million).

The figure alarmed many of the government agencies responsible for taking in scam reports over the year due to an increase of 41.7% over the previous year 2017, although it is unlikely that the figures represent the actual extent to which Australian consumers have been duped. “These record losses are likely just the tip of the iceberg. We know that not everyone who suffers a loss to a scammer reports it to a government agency,” ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard said.

In terms of cryptocurrency scams, there were 674 reported in 2018; a 190% increase compared to the AUD 2.1 million reported to Scamwatch in 2017. The most heavily used scams were those based on cryptocurrency investments which represented over double all cryptocurrency scams combined. However, the ACCC report indicated that the rising occurrence of scams concerning crypto had risen in tandem with the rising popularity of cryptocurrency in general since 2017.

In general, hacking scams featured high on the list of consumers losses with a 49% increase in reports, and shopping scams appeared to be becoming more popular with scammers, targeting consumers with shoes, Apple and Samsung phones, puppies, and cars as a means to duping them and relieving them of their money.

 

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What Traditional Investors Think About Bitcoin

What Traditional Investors Think About Bitcoin

Earlier this week, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak reiterated his bullish sentiments towards the flagship cryptocurrency Bitcoin, touting it to have had “massive value creation” against the odds in the face of the current bear market.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Wozniak explained how he owned some Bitcoins as an experiment to determine its barter value around the world and not as an investor, but had to sell most of his holdings during the all-time high of December 2017, in order to reduce his worries about the market’s volatility. He said:

“I don’t want to be one of those people watching the price of Bitcoin, so I sold out.”

However, he still dabbles in Bitcoin-related devices, probably because of the fact that the coins he sold earlier are now worth more than the value he sold for. His overall take on the market dynamics of crypto as he compared it to the stocks market was that of a psychology factor relative to fear as seen in the fear of missing out (FOMO) when prices go up and that of the fear, uncertainty, and doubts (FUD) which triggers massive selling when prices begin a downtrend.

Recently, billionaire Elon Musk praised Bitcoin as having a brilliant structure, and was completely bullish on the cryptocurrency industry, suggesting that it provides a far better method to transfer value than “pieces of paper”, only that he worried that Bitcoin’s computational requirement was energy intensive.

Billionaire Bill Gates had opined back in 2017 that “Bitcoin is better than [fiat] currency” in that it’s more convenient when it comes to large transactions and considerably cheaper. However, in 2018 he told the media that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are “kind of a pure ‘greater fool theory’ type of investment” and that he would short Bitcoin if he could.

Billionaire and business tycoon Warren Buffett has always had a hostile opinion towards bitcoin and recently called it a delusion even though he thought the blockchain is ingenious. Still, it’s an upgrade from his usual accusations of it being “rat poison”.

Tech mogul John McAfee has always been one with probably the most extreme bullish expectations for the crypto industry and recently took to Twitter, setting a hard date on his USD 1 million per Bitcoin prediction.

People are waking up to the fact that Bitcoin will be $1,000 000. But when? “Someday”. “Maybe 5 years”. “WIthin a decade”. I’m the only one giving you a hard date: Dec 31st, 2020.https://t.co/rst3BcypFz“will-be-1-million-someday-says-jesse-lund-vp-of-blokchain-at-ibm.html

— John McAfee (@officialmcafee) February 22, 2019

Mainstream investors and top of the global rich list have taken sides on the future of the cryptocurrency industry, and perhaps, the rationale behind their stance stems from the level of understanding of what the blockchain, and cryptocurrency are all about.

As the industry continues to mature, one possible outcome may include a partial win-over of some of the nay-sayers as has been the case with CEO of JPMorgan Chase Jamie Dimon, who was also one of those who called Bitcoin a fraud. Not exactly a ‘win-over’, as he seems to still maintain his stance, however, the irony of the recent launch of its JPM Coin, possibly inspired by the technology underlying Bitcoin still is puzzling. If Bitcoin is a fraud, the technology behind it should be considered one too.

 

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Apple Loses Near Equivalent of Bitcoin’s Entire Market Cap in One Day

Apple Loses Near Equivalent of Bitcoin's Entire Market Cap in One Day

Apple’s recent hit in valuation due to the recent slowdown in China’s juggernaut economy illustrated to Bitcoin and cryptocurrency followers just how far the industry needs to develop to become a household name itself.

Falling revenues at the company are unprecedented in recent times with shares trading at their lowest since July 2017, and the hit it took last week was one of the worst since January 2013.

Given that Apple is just one company, albeit, one with total global recognition, it was nonetheless able to wipe $65 billion of its evaluation last week, roughly Bitcoin’s total market cap, and continue in business. At the time of writing Bitcoin’s market cap stands at $66,903,300,377 with its value at USD3,830.48 according to CoinMarketCap.

The cryptocurrency environment is still attempting to recover from its hammering of December 2017, with 2018 showing a $700 billion loss from its market cap and cryptocurrencies shedding 85% of their worth. However, tech giants appear to be having their own unique problems too as the world’s 5 household names in tech, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google, may have lost over $1 trillion from their all-time high.

Market Analyst, eToro guru Mati Greenspan comments that this slump could well be in Bitcoin’s favor suggesting that “A correlation of <0.1 is considered weak. If the stocks keep sliding and bitcoin rising, that grey line could plummet. Then Bitcoin might be seen as a safe haven.”

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook suggested that China, Hong Kong and Taiwan account for almost 20 percent of the company’s revenue, so that any slump in those regions is sure to impact company profits as a whole, adding, “While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China.”

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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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