Bitcoin Price Slightly Recovers as Ripple Market Cap Drops by $13 Billion
Dec31

Bitcoin Price Slightly Recovers as Ripple Market Cap Drops by $13 Billion


The post Bitcoin Price Slightly Recovers as Ripple Market Cap Drops by $13 Billion appeared first on CCN

The bitcoin price has slightly recovered to above $13,500 as the market valuation of Ripple dropped by $20 billion overnight. Major Shift in Trend Since December 30, Ripple has regained $7 billion in market cap and is still demonstrating a valuation significantly larger than Ethereum, the third most valuable cryptocurrency in the market. Over the

The post Bitcoin Price Slightly Recovers as Ripple Market Cap Drops by $13 Billion appeared first on CCN



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Celebrate the New Year With Bitcoin
Dec31

Celebrate the New Year With Bitcoin


Bitcoin certainly has had a wild ride in 2017. Its price has risen from around $1,000 at the start of the year to over $13,000 at the time of writing. At one point, less than a month ago, you’d have to fork out almost $20,000 to buy a single Bitcoin. The market was clearly over-extended as the mania surrounding the launch of Bitcoin futures subsided, so too did the price. Recently, fear and uncertainty over legislation in South Korea has put a temporary dampener on the party but with the price still over 13 times what it was at the beginning of the year, there’s still plenty to celebrate this New Year’s Eve.

If you really want to flaunt the Bitcoin wealth you amassed this year, a club in Singapore could be the ideal venue for you to bring in the New Year. It’s called Skyline and it’s located on the 45th floor of a a luxury skyscraper which overlooks the city-state’s glamorous waterfront. It’s the first club in the nation to accept payments in cryptocurrency. The party they’re hosting this evening is called “Bianco” and has an all white dress code. The ultimate hospitality package they offer will set you back an entire Bitcoin. This includes a limousine collection, butler, champagne, oysters, and caviar.

Despite the opulent service provided, the bar manager Subaish Rajamanickam told UK newspaper the Mail that no one had taken the club up on their elite New Year package yet. However, other cryptocurrency-themed nights there have had greater interest. He told AFP news about the decision to offer payments in Bitcoin, Ethereum, and the crypto events they’d hosted:

“We had a couple of cryptocurrency after-parties here, and we have also themed a night … called Crypto Thursdays… So that basically got the ball rolling for cryptocurrency acceptance here at Skyline.”

Despite the various digital payment options presented, most transactions still happen in cash. This is likely due to the volatility associated with cryptocurrency prices, as well as recent network congestion on both the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains. Unfortunately, due to the surge in popularity of digital payment methods, neither network can handle the large numbers of transactions users are trying to make. This creates a scenario where people are forced to ramp up the fee to the network. Increased fees incentivise miners to include transactions quickly. However, they do render overburdened blockchain-based cryptos useless for making micro-payments. Paying $20 for a $13,000 hospitality package isn’t so bad. That same fee for a $35 round of drinks is ludicrous.

If you’re at a loose end in Singapore later this evening, and have a whole Bitcoin to burn on indulgence, why not hit up Bianco. Alternatively, you could just pay in inflationary fiat currency, and save your crypto for a rainier day. If the average price trend is anything to go by, you’ll thank yourself later.

 

Image: PixaBay





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Investors Still Wary of Bitcoin
Dec31

Investors Still Wary of Bitcoin


Bitcoin is established, but many investors are still wary according to industry experts.

Setting aside a massive December price correction, Bitcoin has pushed its way into the minds of ordinary people all over the world.

Google stats for 2017 have Bitcoin as the second most searched news term of the year, as everyone from plucky investors, cryptocurrency newbies and diehard technologists look for the latest news and price updates on the lucrative cryptocurrency.

With a market capitalization of over $11 bln, Bitcoin has made many a millionaire with its rapid appreciation in value this year. Investors flocked to buy Bitcoin during its most recent bull run which started in November which saw the price skyrocket to an eventual high of $20,000.

The almost inevitable correction in the lead up to Christmas sent jitters through the market and many investors will have lamented the dramatic drop in price.

It's not surprising to hear financial analysts and industry experts describe an apathy towards the market due to the volatility seen in recent weeks. Both big businesses and individual investors still seem wary of putting their money into cryptocurrencies.

Small players

Speaking to CNBC this week, American billionaire Tilman Fertitta, who made his fortune as a restauranteur, believes the average man won’t go near Bitcoin until they have some sort of insurance.

"They don't have the money. It's just paper. That's all Bitcoin is, is paper, but it's not insured by the FDIC today. And until it's insured, a lot of people are never going to buy it.”

Nevertheless, the 60-year-old isn’t opposed to the idea of Bitcoin becoming a widely accepted payment method in the future, even by some of his businesses, ranging from casinos, hotels to restaurants.

"I mean, I remember somebody walking into my office and saying, 'The world's going to change. There's this thing called the Internet.' And that wasn't that long ago. So we have to remember this. It's just something new and everything moves at a quicker pace today."

Big players

Larger financial institutions have already entered the cryptocurrency fray after the launch of Bitcoin futures contracts on CBOE and CME trading exchanges. The NASDAQ and Goldman Sachs are also set to jump onboard in 2018 – paving the way for wider mainstream adoption.

Nevertheless there still seems to be a reluctance for bigger corporate players to invest some serious capital into the market.

In an interview with CNBC this week, head of currency and forex technology company FiREapps Wolfgang Koester said big companies want a less speculative environment,

FiREapps provide insights into the likes of Google and Ericsson, but Koester says big companies will not invest in current cryptocurrencies and are waiting for state-issued digital currencies, backed by regulation.

"They are saying we can't get involved with Bitcoin, but we like the idea of Bitcoin and others. We like speedy transactions at a lower cost. They are waiting for governments to issue those digital currencies so that they can take advantage.”



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The Year Cryptocurrencies Seized the Mainstream Spotlight
Dec31

The Year Cryptocurrencies Seized the Mainstream Spotlight



Get Trading Recommendations and Read Analysis on Hacked.com for just $39 per month.

Two Thousand Seventeen will go down in the history books as a year cryptocurrency made tangible inroads in mainstream finance and commerce, driven by the 1400% rise in bitcoin’s price over the year. Regulatory measures, worrisome network forks and warnings from naysayers could not stop the crypto momentum as consumers and businesses by the millions became first-time cryptocurrency users.

Source: CCN

As bitcoin’s price rose steadily throughout the year, the upward pace gained momentum in the fourth quarter, with the price nearly reaching $20,000 in mid-December.

During the month of November, which saw triple-digit gains in a matter of a few days at a time, bitcoin skeptics with impressive financial credentials joined the “bitcoin’s a bubble” chorus.

As bitcoin use rises, the media pays more attention to it, making more people aware of its use as both an investment and a currency. The convenience of making transactions across borders with minimal transaction fees provides significant benefits to both businesses and individuals.

In 2017, more retailers, both physical and online, accepted bitcoin as a form of payment, including Virgin Galactic, Overstock, TigerDirect, Dish Network, Expedia, Newegg, Microsoft, eGifter, Gyft, Zynga, Starbucks, Subway and Autopartsway.

2017 Began Strong

Bitcoin began the year on a positive note with the U.S. election of Donald Trump last November, who many viewed as pro-bitcoin.

The fall of the Chinese yuan in January drove many investors to seek better opportunities, including cryptocurrencies.

Concern about the bitcoin hard fork – a protocol designed to address slow transaction times as currency use increases – carried over from 2016 into 2017, a concern that gave many observers uncertainty about bitcoin’s future. These concerns were largely put to rest as a series of forks took effect throughout the year.

Source: CCN

Bitcoin continued to surge in August after the execution of the Bitcoin Cash (BCH) hard fork. Bitcoin Cash blocks can hold up to 8 MB worth of transactions, whereas the original bitcoin is capped at 1 MB.

Investors quickly realized that the hard fork had little to no impact on the bitcoin network and that the activation of the Bitcoin Core development team’s transaction malleability fix and scaling solution Segregated Witness (SegWit) meant that for the first time in the history of bitcoin, the activation of a major scaling solution was locked in and insight.

The bitcoin market used the hard fork as a trigger to establish momentum and continue to increase in value.

As a result, some of the largest bitcoin exchange markets, including the U.S., South Korea, China and Japan, experienced drastic increases in bitcoin demand, as the digital currency hit an all-time global high at the time of $3,470.

The Japanese bitcoin industry, in particular, demonstrated an exponential growth rate in terms of merchant adoption and daily trading volumes of local exchanges. Apart from the Philippines and China, Japan is one of the few markets that has been considering bitcoin as a digital currency rather than as digital gold and a long-term investment.

Bitcoin Cash, for its part, made its mark, eventually challenging Ethereum for the number two cryptocurrency.

The Bitcoin Gold fork launched in October with the goal of making bitcoin more decentralized by blocking the use of ASIC miners. Bitcoin Gold, an altcoin that — like Bitcoin Cash — has a shared blockchain history with bitcoin, delivered a minor temporary setback to bitcoin’s price, which dropped below $5,700 on Oct. 24, as traders rebalanced their portfolios to stake larger positions in altcoins following the Bitcoin Gold hard fork. Ethereum jumped 8%, while two of the top 10 cryptocurrencies — Dash and NEO — posted double-digit increases.

Altogether, the cryptocurrency market cap added about $700 million on Oct. 24, even as bitcoin temporarily dropped more than 3%.

Bitcoin Gold, for its part, fell to $136 in two days — even amid buying pressure from margin traders who wanted to purchase it to pay back lenders. The price has stabilized since that time, standing at $218.41 on Dec. 30., according to ccn.com.

The impact of the SegWit2x (B2X) hard fork on Dec. 29 was uncertain at this time, but forks, to date, have not delivered negative lasting impact on bitcoin demand. (The SegWit2X should not be confused with a fork led by Jeff Garzik that failed to launch in November. The B2X increases the block size to 4 MB, twice the amount as the earlier SegWit2x proposal.)

What also remains unknown at the present time is whether SegWit2x delivered the solution to slow transaction times.

Most observers voiced no problem with hard forks as a tool for competition and experimentation, even though some see forks as compromising the perception of bitcoin’s limited supply, which they view as critical to its underlying value.

Altcoins Also Fork

Several altcoins also forked in 2017.

Ethereum’s Byzantium hard fork took effect Oct. 16, considered to be the first half of Metropolis, a protocol upgrade that has been planned since 2015. It introduced nine protocols to enhance the network’s privacy, scalability and security. The second phase — Constantinople — does not yet have an official release date but is tentatively scheduled for 2018.

Source: CCN

This marked the fifth time the Ethereum network has undergone a hard fork. The ETH price has appreciated more than 3,000% since its last hard fork in November 2016.

ZenCash, which provides a privacy networking platform, partnered in June with IOHK, a blockchain research and development company, to upgrade to a transaction replay resistant system via a soft fork. The ZenCash platform’s design allows users to conduct shielded transactions that hide information about sender and receiver, as well as the transaction amount. Users can also perform transparent transactions. Communications are encrypted among nodes, delivering certificate-based encryption connections for ZenCash wallet applications.

Monero successfully hardforked in January to add higher levels of privacy and anonymity.

Source: CCN

Political And Economic Factors

Political and economic news tended to enhance cryptocurrency’s standing among investors in 2017.

The war of words between the U.S. and North Korea in August raised the demand for cryptocurrencies at the expense of traditional “safe” havens such as U.S. Treasuries and gold.

In inflation-ravaged Venezuela, bitcoin overtook the bolivar as the main currency, despite attempts by the government to crack down on bitcoin mining.

Other governments continued to seek to regulate cryptocurrencies out of concerns about money laundering and other fraudulent activities.

European regulators are considering joint bitcoin regulation due to concerns about money laundering, drug trafficking and terrorist financing. The governments of India, Singapore and the Philippines have issued warnings about bitcoin. China, meanwhile, banned ICOs and cryptocurrency trading.

Investor Acceptance Grows

Bitcoin also made progress in gaining acceptance among mainstream investors in 2017, as two Chicago trading firms – Cboe and CME – issued bitcoin futures.

In July, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission granted LedgerX LLC registration as a derivatives clearing organization under the Commodities Exchange Act. The company was granted temporary approval to operate as such in 2015.

New York’s department of financial services in January approved Coinbase’s application for a virtual currency and money transmitters license, making it one of the largest bitcoin companies to gain the department’s approval and one of five virtual currency firms granted approval to operate in New York State.

One of the biggest challenges still to be met on the investment front is gaining the government’s approval for a bitcoin exchange-traded fund (ETF), which many observers believe will unleash a floodgate of investment capital. In March, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rejected the first bitcoin ETF, causing the price to fall from a high of $1,350 at the time to below. $1,000.

Also read: Ripple briefly achieves $100 billion market cap, can it be justified?

Market Correction Strikes

Bitcoin’s fourth-quarter surge corrected itself on Dec. 10, as its price shed 25% of its valuation, taking most altcoins down with it, including Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Litecoin, Cardano, IOTA, NEM, and Monero. The price stabilized around $14,000 in the final days of the year.

The end-of-the-year price correction is not viewed as a sign of a bubble as much as imposition of new regulations on domestic bitcoin exchanges in South Korea, a bitcoin trading hub. Analysts have also attributed the correction to the sudden increase in the value of cryptocurrencies over the past few months. The 25% correction cannot be viewed with alarm against the full year’s gains.

The South Korean regulations, for their part, are seen by some as a sign of official recognition that will benefit the markets over the long-term and help bitcoin mature into a mainstream asset, even as market traders exhibit uncertainty about how these regulations will affect the markets in the short-term.

Leading altcoins, with the exception of Bitcoin Cash, recovered faster than bitcoin from the recent correction. Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, Cardano, IOTA, Dash, NEM and EOS all recorded gains of over 10 percent in the days following the Dec. 10 fallout.

Source: CCN

Ripple’s price surged by 38 percent on Dec. 29, enabling XRP to unseat Ethereum as the second-most valuable cryptocurrency. Ripple managed to tread water during the market downturns, and it has surged during the calm periods in between. In the last week of December, its price leaped by more than 80 percent, bringing it to a present value of $1.63 on cryptocurrency exchange Bitfinex.

Some analysts claimed that the entrance of institutional money and hedge funds in the cryptocurrency market initially by bitcoin futures has led investors to explore other cryptocurrencies.

Others have attributed the success of altcoins to the scalability issues of bitcoin and the lack of SegWit integration to date.

Nevertheless, the cryptocurrency market as a whole, buoyed by Ripple’s recent rally, grew to $584.8 billion Friday, Dec. 29, a single-day increase of approximately 5% from Thursday, when it was valued at $554.5 billion.

The fourth quarter price surge attracted media attention to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, causing some reputable financial experts to join the naysayers. Such experts include Ken Griffin, the billionaire founder and CEO of the Citadel hedge fund management firm; Jim Cramer, former hedge fund manager, best-selling author, and host of Mad Money; Nouriel Roubini, an economics professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business; Katsunori Sago, the chief investment officer at Japan Post Bank; Societe Generale Deputy CEO Severin Cabannes; and Credit Suisse CEO Tidjane Thiam.

Meanwhile, bitcoin continues to gain acceptance by businesses and consumers.

Featured image from Shutterstock.

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Kidnapping of Bitcoin Exchange Executive Showed Importance of Financial Privacy
Dec31

Kidnapping of Bitcoin Exchange Executive Showed Importance of Financial Privacy


UK-based Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Exmo Operator Pavel Lerner, who was kidnapped outside of his office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Dec. 28, has paid $1 mln in ransom to be set free.

The recent abduction of UK-based Bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange Exmo Operator Pavel Lerner has demonstrated the importance of financial privacy for cryptocurrency users.

Earlier this week, BBC initially reported that Lerner kidnapped outside of his office in Kiev, Ukraine, on Dec. 28, by a group of individuals who dragged him at knife point to a black Mercedes and drove off the scene. At the time, Anatoliy Larin, the spokesperson of the exchange, stated:

"Despite the situation, the exchange is working as usual. We also want to stress that nature of Pavel's job at Exmo doesn't assume access either to storages or any personal data of users. All users' funds are absolutely safe."

Within two days after the disappearance of Lerner, Financial Times revealed that Lerner has paid more than $1 mln to an armed gang as a price for his freedom. The advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister Anton Gerashchenko told FT:

“He was kidnapped by an armed gang for the purpose of extorting Bitcoins. We have operative information that he paid more than $1 mln worth of Bitcoins. [After one and a half days, he was] then released in a state of shock. … He got very lucky that he remained alive.”

The Ukrainian National Police has officially opened a criminal case to investigate into the abduction of Lerner and to disclose the identities behind the attack.

While Exmo is a small Bitcoin exchange with only 94,000 active investors and a $125 mln daily trading volume, less than one percent of leading exchanges like Bithumb, Coinbase’s GDAX and Bitfinex, both the company and Ukrainian authorities believe that Lerner became a target of the armed gang because of his involvement in a Bitcoin venture.

Over the past 12 months, the price of Bitcoin has surged from $900 to $14,000, by nearly 14,000 percent. Thus, an increasing number of hackers and criminals have started to target large-scale cryptocurrency businesses and executives of Bitcoin companies.

Importance of financial privacy

During a presentation given at the Coinbase headquarters, Monero Lead Developer Riccardo Spagni, better known to the cryptocurrency community as FluffyPony, emphasized the importance of financial privacy for users and investors of all types.

He noted financial privacy on public Blockchain networks and cryptocurrencies is crucial in preventing sensitive information of users from being used for criminal activities, such as direct attacks, blackmailing, targeted advertising, and unwanted disclosure of assets, wealth and holdings.

In January 2017, when he gave the talk to Coinbase employees, FluffyPony jokingly stated that investors could become kidnapped for purchasing large amounts of Bitcoin at a local exchange.

“If we don’t have financial privacy, there are bad things that can happen. We might end up with targeted advertising based on spending habits. [Another example is] targeted crime against the wealthy. You go to a local Bitcoin exchange and next minute you’re held up at knife point. Even worse, you go and pay with Bitcoin for an item and now, the owner knows your bank balance,” said FluffyPony.

Dumbfoundingly, FluffyPony’s statement became a reality in Kiev, Ukraine, as Lerner became a direct target of an armed gang with a pre-established plan of extorting ransom in Bitcoin from the exchange operator.

However, the lack of privacy measures in Bitcoin also means that the criminals that have abducted Lerner cannot easily spend the money or sell it for cash because the transaction can be traced using the public Bitcoin Blockchain.



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