Category Archives: LocalBitcoins

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Hong Kong Bitcoin Trade Volume Rising Amid Protests

Hong Kong has been in a state of civil unrest since an extradition bill was proposed in February, and protests have intensified in recent weeks.

Essentially, if the extradition bill were passed then Hong Kong natives could be deported to mainland China for any crime. Hong Kong and mainland China have different laws, but this extradition bill would basically nullify Hong Kong laws since people would have to go to court in China instead of Hong Kong.

The fear over the extradition bill has caused capital flight, meaning Hong Kong citizens are trying to move their money offshore to protect it, just in case the extradition bill becomes law.

The bill was withdrawn early last month, but protests have since adopted broader pro-democracy lines and become more sporadic, with yesterday being the most widespread in four months.

Bitcoin is perhaps one of the best ways to move money offshore, since it is instant, secure, and pseudo-anonymous. Indeed, in recent weeks Bitcoin trading volume in Hong Kong on the popular peer to peer exchange Localbitcoins has been rising, with 172.8 Bitcoins worth USD 1.42 million traded in the last week, as opposed to typical volumes before the protests of USD 0.2-0.5 million per week.

 

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Why Crypto is Booming in the Philippines

Why Crypto is Booming in the Philippines

The Philippines is having a moment with cryptocurrency, which largely can be attributed to the country’s own political leadership.

A combination of the Filipino government and the central bank, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), have a lot to do with the growing pro-Bitcoin sentiment in the Asian country. Indeed, for the nation’s authorities, cryptocurrency may well prove to be a way to modernize digital payment systems, fitting in well with the schemes already established.

Bitcoin trading volumes have increased

Data shows that Bitcoin’s trading volume on LocalBitcoins has increased significantly, with the predominant turning point back in December 2017 in the heat of the bull run. Trading volumes have continued to rise since then, showing a weak but definite correlation with the cryptocurrency’s price.

The week claiming the highest trading volume commenced 15 September 2018 when Bitcoin benefited from a two-day market surge, reaching USD 6,400.

While transactions in the last few months have slowed down on LocalBitcoins, this is most likely because there are now more authorized cryptocurrency exchanges for Filipino’s to use.

Crypto fits in with the government’s fintech scheme

Providing a solid regulatory framework for cryptocurrency seems to be key for the Filipino government as part of its larger plan to modernize the nation’s digital payment systems. Governor of BSP, Benjamin Dioknoof, recently noted that the 2016 National Payment Systems Act “bolsters the central bank’s capacity to foster the efficiency of payment systems as pipelines of funds in the financial market.”

Vice president and senior credit officer with Moody’s Sovereign Risk Group in Singapore, Christian de Guzman, commented on the Filipino government’s approach towards cryptocurrency, saying that regulation efforts are part of a wider attempt to facilitate electronic payments. ”I think that’s a key point,” he added.

The number of regulated exchanges is growing

Last week the tenth cryptocurrency exchange in the Philippines was granted approval to operate by BSP. The most recent group of approved exchanges include Bexpress Inc., Coinvillel Phils Inc., and Aba Global Philippines Inc.

But cryptocurrency exchanges can operate legally in the Philippines without the green light from the central bank by obtaining an offshore license from the government-owned Cagayan Economic Zone Authority (Ceza). With Ceza-approved exchanges counted, this brings the total up to 29 legally operational cryptocurrency exchanges in the country.

The itch to join in with the cryptocurrency action has been felt by the mainstream banking sector; one of the largest banks in the country, Union Bank of the Philippines (UBP), has even installed a Bitcoin ATM machine at one of its main branches, receiving permission from BSP to do so. All you need to use the machine is a UBP account and a Bitcoin wallet.

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LocalBitcoins to be Supervised by Finland’s Financial Supervisory Authority

LocalBitcoins to be Supervised by Finland's Financial Supervisory Authority

Popular decentralized cryptocurrency exchange LocalBitcoins has announced it will soon operate under the supervision of the Financial Supervisory Authority of Finland.

The Helsinki-based exchange detailed the upcoming changes in a blog post today, determining the reasons why as down to changing policy from the Finnish government. Cryptocurrency will be given legal status in Finland following the passing of legislation on 13 March and a further proposal has been passed for a new Act on Virtual Currency Service Providers.

Due to an amendment of the country’s anti-money laundering (AML) and terrorist financing acts, cryptocurrency wallet providers and exchanges will be required to comply with the applicable regulations other financial service providers are expected to adhere to.

LocalBitcoins provided a positive spin to the news, saying the changes showcase Bitcoin as a legitimate financial network while bringing the cryptocurrency more widely into the public eye.

The peer-to-peer exchange also informed clients of new features to expect on the platform, including ”a more efficient and reliable identity verification process” that would increase mutual trust in trading partners and add ”distinction to the user profile”.

 

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Venezuelan Turmoil Sees $10 Million Spurt on LocalBitcoins

Venezuelan Turmoil Sees  Million Spurt on LocalBitcoins

With the country in turmoil and Venezuela‘s future more uncertain than at any point since 1999 when Hugo Chavez first became president, the trade in Bitcoin has peaked, recording USD 10 million in trading on P2P platform LocalBitcoins in just seven days.

In the past week, the country was thrown into turmoil when Juan Guaido proclaimed himself unofficially as the country’s new president. With Nicolas Maduro still incumbent, Bitcoin P2P trades hit their second-highest weekly total ever. The cryptocurrency, albeit driven underground by the Maduro regime, has been supporting many of those nationals choosing to remain in the country rather than fleeing to neighboring Columbia in order to escape poverty.

As the situation becomes more explosive by the day, and with both Iran and Russia warning the US, who have backed the Maduro presidency, to stay out of Venezuela, nationals are again putting their faith in Bitcoin. In the last week, more Bolivars for Bitcoins were traded than ever before, despite the weakness of the national currency.

It can’t be confirmed if perhaps some of this activity may be due to Guaido’s liberal stance on cryptocurrency and the possibility of a new regime, but the rush on Bitcoin, coinciding with a dump of the bolivar, is unprecedented.

Maduro’s attempts to withdraw the country’s gold supplies this week, having already expelled US diplomats, was thwarted by the Bank of England who currently holds Venezuela’s USD 1.2 billion reserves. As Harvard economist explained, having communicated with Guaido:

“The first rule of business as we speak is to stop the Maduro government from liquidating international assets of the country and steal them.”

 

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LocalBitcoins Averts Phishing Scam, Resumes Regular Activity

LocalBitcoins Avert Phishing Scam, Resume Regular Activity

Outgoing transactions on peer-to-peer Bitcoin exchange LocalBitcoins resumed on 27 January following the shutdown of a phishing scam that exploited a weakness on the platform’s official forum.

A community manager from the exchange first warned of the phishing site on Reddit on 26 January, notifying users to be aware when visiting the forum if their computers requested them to log in to the website as if they had logged out. The post read: ”This is a PHISHING SITE and 2FA codes are being used to empty customer accounts.”

Further, the post claims the vulnerability had been identified and contained in third-party software. Six cases of users being affected had been reported at the time of the Reddit post.

Before the scam could be suspended, the hackers emptied BTC 7.95205862 (approximately USD 28,100) from five separate transactions. The address of the alleged hackers has been reported as 13WaahhsiGph4ysmQtjVhVTdgQUSL62KJr. LocalBitcoins is now fighting to have the address blacklisted from exchanges. However, the funds have already been emptied out to other addresses, and appear to have continued to be shifted.

While outgoing transactions from the platform have resumed, the official forum remains disabled until further notice. Comments on the Reddit thread from the LocalBitcoins community manager affirm that no know-your-customer data was compromised during the event.

 

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LocalBitcoins Takes off in Argentina and Venezuela as Inflation Rockets

October 2018 has seen record Bitcoin trading volumes on peer-to-peer platform LocalBitcoins in Argentina and Venezuela.

Given the economic crisis in both of these South American countries, BTC has fast become a financial refuge for many nationals, with the governments of both Mauricio Macri and Nicolás Maduro struggling to save their economies from going under from highly unsustainable inflationary situations.

Such is Bitcoin’s current impact on both of these nations at present, blockchain voting project Democracy Earth developer Santiago Siri, has suggested that the Argentinian Central Bank should place up to one percent of its national reserves in Bitcoin.  BTC has become a veritable safe haven with ATMs now becoming widespread to cater for demand, and significantly more merchants across the country accepting Bitcoin as payment

Argentina, which is now on the IMF help list of struggling economies needing financial aid, has seen LocalBitcoins recently post a record trading volume of almost $9 million BTC on its platform as the peso continues its nosedive against the US dollar.  Since April, the number of bitcoins transacted using LocalBitcoins increased from 13 to 33, 153% in just a few months.

The inflation rate in Venezuela under Maduro is almost impossible to keep up with, such is its persistent decline. The Petro, brought in as a panacea to trade embargoes and sanctions and a plummeting bolivar, is still heralded by Maduro’s government, but referred to by many others as simply non-existent, despite shop fronts sporting “we accept Petro” signs.

The IMF is now predicting an inflation rate of 10 million percent by 2019, which would put the country in the same league as Germany in 1923 before the rise of Nation Socialism and Hitler’s rise to power in the 1930s. Germans at this time shopped with wheelbarrows filled with Deutschmarks. Maduro’s citizens have been making their own shopping bags out of bolivars in order to transport larger denominations of the same currency.

In this climate, Bitcoin has become the only safe currency, albeit secured largely underground with overseas dollars, and has seen accelerated activity in past weeks due to the government’s switch from the Bolivar Fuerte (VEF) to the Sovereign Bolivar (VES). P2P trading on LocalBitcoins has skyrocketed as a result, with total BTC trading volume for October 2018 standing at almost 900 million bolivars (approximately $14.4 million).

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Venezuelan Bitcoin Volume Rallies With Bolivar Redenomination

Venezuela’s peer-to-peer (P2P) Bitcoin trading volume has rallied to record highs on Localbitcoins, the most popular P2P Bitcoin trading site in the world. This massive surge of Bitcoin trading in Venezuela likely has to do with the turbulent switch from the Bolivar Fuerte (VEF) to Sovereign Bolivar (VES).

In the past week, there has been VES 506.3 million of trading volume, shattering the old record of VES 175.8 million set the week before.

Due to hyperinflation of Venezuela’s fiat currency, at the rate of 100,000% per year and increasing towards 1,000,000% per year, Venezuela’s government was forced to redenominate the VEF by chopping off five zeros and launching the VES. This means each VES is worth 100,000 VEF. This was because buying groceries with the old fuerte had become an intensely arduous task and was rapidly getting worse; people had to take multiple bags loaded with cash to the store just to buy common food items. A cup of coffee worth less than USD 0.50 cost VEF 2.5 million.

The switch to the Sovereign Bolivar officially occurred during August 2018, and a currency switch like this causes widespread panic and fear. Venezuelans are choosing to offload their Bolivars for Bitcoin, since Bitcoin is far more stable and a much better currency. Venezuelans are forced to buy goods after work, whatever they can find, and trade them later for the goods they really want, since the Bolivar loses value so rapidly.

The trading on Localbitcoins, amounting to BTC 1,143 worth roughly USD 8 million, is probably just a small fraction of total Bitcoin volume in Venezuela. These volume numbers are just for Bitcoin traded via Localbitcoins escrow, many Localbitcoins deals occur outside of escrow, while lots of deals occur through Bitcoin dealers as well as other P2P trading platforms.

What can certainly be discerned from this data is that Venezuelans are buying Bitcoin faster than ever before, likely due to a lack of confidence in the newly released Sovereign Bolivar. Just because the Venezuelan government redenominated their currency doesn’t mean the situation is any better. The inflation rate will continue to accelerate as before and if projections come to fruition, the Sovereign Bolivar could be utterly worthless in less than a year.

 

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P2P Becoming the Indian Way to Trade Crypto Following the Banking Ban

Peer to Peer (P2P) trading is on the march in India due to the country’s banks shutting down crypto services this year.

Since the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) decision earlier this year, Indian traders are adapting as only Indians can do, and are doing it with great success too, with homemade P2P platforms and exchange adaptations using P2P trading.

Peer-to-Peer trading cuts out the banks completely. Out of this move, a new service KoinLoop has launched such a service, born out of two collaborating exchanges; KoinEX and WazirX. The latter’s CEO argues that his company also has the cheapest BTC price in India, adding:

“If banking is something the exchanges are not allowed to do, then the solution is something that direct banking doesn’t come in.”

As Bitcoin News reported recently Dabba is also taking off as a way of avoiding the RBI ban. Best described as a way of trading through something called a “hawala” network rather any system connected with an exchange, Dabba is becoming increasingly popular. The trading only takes place through an overseas bank account mainly based in the UK, with Dubai another favorite.

Mainly using the messaging app Telegram its use best explained simply thus:

“The broker accepts money in cash, buys Bitcoins using an overseas trading account and sells them when the bet placed in India is settled. The difference is paid in cash to the customer.”

The KoinEX system offers a P2P trading solution called Loop which offers clients access to the trading of BTC, ETH, and XRP. CEO Rahul Raj explains:

“…buyers and sellers on Loop can create their own listings (like a marketplace) or explore existing listings to choose their best trades,” adding, “…while it’s still early days, Loop has been very well received by the Indian trading community and we are seeing increasing traction every day.”

LocalBitcoins have also seen a local boost to trading since the ban with the Indian rupee (INR) volume increasing 25% from around 68 million rupees to 85 million rupees to August. BTC saw a similar hike in trading volumes with a hike of 23% over the same period.

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Bitcoin Is Better Than Gold

With the increasingly frequent comparisons of Bitcoin to gold, both as a store of value and a means of transferring value as a form of payment, traditional investors are now weighing in on the advantages of the world’s most popular cryptocurrency.

Is Bitcoin superior to gold for use as a currency?

The standard

Gold is perhaps the first decentralized currency, defined as a thing that has value but not under the centralized control of any governing body. It has been a sign of wealth and one of the most popular currencies for thousands of years. Physical gold holds its value since it can only be slowly mined over time, rather than printed rapidly like fiat.

Scarcity

Both assets are similar in that they are mined. However, Bitcoin has a limit on how much it can be mined – there will only be a maximum supply of 21 million Bitcoins. While gold has been determined to be finite, its total supply is unknown and only estimated. Should new, large deposits be suddenly discovered one day, its price would be significantly affected. Even a large unknown deposit on Earth can cause a big price crash.

Ease of transfer and security

Although physical gold is globally recognized as a currency, it is arduous to use for international commerce and finance. The metal is highly valued by the ounce, currently USD 1,200, but when dealing with large amounts of money, it can be very heavy. To send USD 1 billion to another country would require 52,000 pounds (approximately 0.25 tons) of gold. This would require a tremendous amount of effort and costs for customs, shipping and security. Additionally, it would take many days for gold to cross international borders, with multiple points of risk at en route.

Compare this to Bitcoin, where USD 1 billion can be digitally transferred anywhere in the world instantaneously, at a fee of only a few cents, with no additional costs. This digital transaction isn’t exposed to compliance with any jurisdiction’s regulations wither and cannot be intercepted nor hijacked once broadcast to the network.

Additionally, Bitcoin is cryptographically secure and has yet to be hacked despite years of attempts. Gold can be physically secured, but at great cost. Bitcoin’s cryptographic security can’t be compromised by even the most powerful supercomputer. Bitcoin transactions can be done instantly and leave no trace besides a note in the blockchain ledger that they occurred, while a gold transaction is very visible since it has to be moved physically, and a tremendous amount of traceable activity occurs when being moved.

Liquidity

Finally, gold has a huge paper market on COMEX, where its paper issuances can supposedly be redeemed for physical equivalents in a vault. However, COMEX’s vault contains less than 1% of the amount needed for all the paper gold issued. More is being printed too, saturating the market and keeping the price of the precious metal far lower than it should be. There is no equivalent situation for Bitcoin, since Bitcoins are highly liquid and there is no need for paper Bitcoin. The only reason paper gold exists is because its physical counterpart is difficult to transact.

Bitcoin can also be easily converted to local currency via peer-to-peer exchanges. Localbitcoins, for example, lists traders willing to buy or sell Bitcoin online at any one time in over 248 countries. It would be significantly more difficult to liquidate gold as it is likelier to find a buyer for Bitcoin than it is for the precious metal.

Ultimately, if fiat currency collapses it is clear that Bitcoin is in a much better position to become the top global currency, due to Bitcoin’s advantageous characteristics. This makes Bitcoin much more ideal for international commerce and finance than gold.

 

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Nigeria Can Be Empowered By Bitcoin Says Foundation CEO

Lady Victoria Walker, CEO of the United Digital Currency Reserve Foundation, has recently stressed that the understanding and deployment of bitcoin can kickstart the financial growth in Nigeria and Africa as a whole, reports Niger247News

In a recent presentation Lady Walker, who is also a blockchain and cryptocurrency speaker, as well as Principal Consultant at Cryptoria Investment Research, maintains that for Nigerian banks to deal with blockchain technologies, it first needs to understand cryptocurrencies:

“Many banks and regulators are confused and do not fully understand how Bitcoin and blockchain technology work, but I think once the Central Bank of Nigeria and other key figures get to understand the true nature of blockchain technology and what it can bring economically, I believe they may embrace the technology with open arms.”

The UK based fintech entrepreneur feels that new technologies such as blockchain and cryptocurrency are essential factors in empowering African leaders to inject growth and financial inclusivity into their economies, she argues:

“Britain imposes a ‘super tax’ on remittances sent to African countries, causing a loss of £1.8bn a year from money sent home by workers. Think about it, £1.8bn is taken away from the people sending money to support their families in Nigeria.  Imagine what £1.8bn a year could do in the pockets of families depending on money sent to them from abroad? This is where blockchain technology comes in. It solves a problem like this by making it easier and cheaper to transfer and remit payments internationally.”

Nigeria has had a difficult cryptocurrency history. Early last year it was reported that the Central Bank of Nigeria was considering implementing its own cryptocurrency, but later the same year, it was advising banks to distance themselves from virtual currency, warning them, “not to use, hold or transact in any way with the technology.”

The remarks came at a time when Nigeria’s interest in cryptocurrencies was flourishing. According to data from Coindance, weekly trading volume on Localbitcoins in Nigeria surged 500 percent in 2017.  Nigeria then, was among top countries using Google to search for ‘bitcoin’, alongside South Africa, Slovenia, Holland, and Austria. Although, it was reported at this time that a Ponzi scheme may have been partly responsible for the clicking figures. The scheme reportedly cost investors UD$50 million in early March of that year.

In a press release issued in March of this year, the CBN is now reiterating its warnings of last year, suggesting that due to crypto investments being unprotected, investors will be at risk. Lady Walker maintains that it is lack of knowledge which holds back the tide of progress in the African crypto space, which in turn creates institutional and public skepticism such as the CBN’s.

“People are skeptical because that is human nature. We are natural cynics and skeptics and rarely trust what we don’t understand. This is why I urge people to truly understand the nature of the industry, asset and also yourself”

Lady Walker believes that there will come a time when all Nigerian banks will have to adopt cryptocurrencies of their own, but due to the current volatility of the crypto market, it remains a future goal of those who see cryptocurrency as the financial future. She maintains:

“Bitcoin is a reality. We have all major world governments scrambling to make sense of it and world leaders sharing their views on the currency. For the past 700 years, our world has relied on the European legacy banking system for means of payments and transactions. Bitcoin is definitely challenging the traditional way when it comes to transfer of value. Just like the internet changed how we shop, bank, date and find information.”

About 40% of Nigeria’s population is unbanked, which blocks nearly half of the population from the financial economy. To this, the fintech CEO argues “All you require is a smartphone and internet to start sending and receiving payments. No I.D required, filling out paperwork, etc… Do you know how much this could change things for the people of Nigeria?”

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