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Updated: 1 hour 18 min ago

Give Bitcoin This Christmas, Says Teen Bitcoin Millionaire

2 hours 11 min ago

Teen millionaire Erik Finman suggests giving Bitcoin as a gift this holiday season. A strong believer in BTC, he insists it’s never too late to buy.

In the world of cryptocurrencies to date, more than a few millionaires, have been made. In the case of 18-year-old Erik Finman, a $1,000 cash gift from his grandmother turned into over a million dollars after he invested it in Bitcoin back in 2011, at $12 a coin.

His early investments in Bitcoin helped him win a bet with his parents -- if he became a millionaire before 18, he could opt out of going to college.

Among other accomplishments and ambitious plans, the young millionaire has stated that he plans to launch a satellite ‘time capsule’ with NASA to orbit the earth.

Buy Bitcoin

Finman is still actively involved in the cryptocurrency space. Talking to CNBC this week, Finman insists that he is still passionate about Bitcoin and admits it is always hard to part ways with the valuable virtual currency.

"Whenever I sell a little bit of Bitcoin or pay for something in Bitcoin, I multiply that price by ten, because that's where I think that Bitcoin's going. I think it's going to be huge, and I think it's going to be incredible, so I try not to take out any."

Following a massive bull run since October, Bitcoin hit the $20,000 mark this weekend. With such significant price growth in a relatively short amount of time, investors looking to get their hands on Bitcoin will have to fork out a lot of money to get a sizeable amount.

Nevertheless, Finman says the time is still right to buy the pre-eminent cryptocurrency, recommending giving Bitcoin as a holiday gift:

"I think it's a wonderful time to buy Bitcoin. You can actually buy a fraction of a Bitcoin. Buy $100, $50 worth of a Bitcoin. It would be a great stocking stuffer."

Finman reiterated his belief that virtual currencies are not just an easy way to get rich - they are at the forefront of a fundamental change in the way people transact and store wealth.

"Bitcoin to me, it's not just an investment. It's not just maybe a get rich quick scheme as a lot of people put it. I see it as the future of currency I see it as the future of the financial system."

US Prosecutors Rush to Sell Bitcoin Confiscated in Drug Bust

2 hours 32 min ago

US prosecutors are rushing to auction $8.5 mln worth of Bitcoin, seized in a drug ring bust in Utah.

After seizing Bitcoin from a criminal drug ring, attorneys in the state of Utah are in a rush to sell the valuable cryptocurrency, as reported by the Time Magazine.

A year ago, 27-year-old Aaron Shamo was arrested in Cottonwood Heights, Utah on multiple drug dealing charges. According to Time Magazine, he was involved in the sale of opioid-containing pills on a dark web marketplace.

The pills contained the synthetic opioid fentanyl - which is responsible for a number of drug overdose deaths worldwide. It’s so powerful that US authorities are considering it as a tool to execute death-row inmates.

At the time of his arrest, the authorities seized $500,000 worth of Bitcoin from Shamo. Due to Bitcoin’s substantial growth this year, the confiscated sum is now worth $8.5 mln.

As for why the authorities want to sell now, in court papers The US Attorney’s Office for Utah cites the cryptocurrency market’s volatility as the primary reason.

Federal Prosecution Spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch says proceeds made from the Bitcoin auction will be held until the case is over. Historically, the investigating authority usually keeps the funds raised from seized asset auctions.

Shamo has pleaded not guilty to the charges and his attorney Greg Skordas will not contest the sale of the seized Bitcoin.

Similar scenarios around the world

Earlier this week, Cointelegraph reported that Bulgarian authorities had also seized a massive amount of Bitcoin from a criminal investigation. In that case, the European country had struck ‘digital gold,’ with over 200,000 Bitcoin confiscated, equal to roughly $4 bln or one-fourth of the country’s national debt.

England Not Taking Bitcoin Seriously

2 hours 40 min ago

An English regulator believes investors will lose all their money in Bitcoin.

As Bitcoin’s bull run begins to settle above the $16,000 mark, financial institutions and regulators are still skeptical of the meteoric rise in value.

England’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Head Andrew Bailey maintains that Bitcoin is a speculative bubble and new, green investors are going to lose the money they’ve invested in the cryptocurrency.

As quoted by The Independent, Bailey hit out at the decentralized cryptocurrency:

"It's not a currency, it's actually not regulated in its Bitcoin form. It's a very volatile commodity in terms of its pricing.”

Confusion around value

The British regulator expressed misgivings about the mystery way Bitcoin is valued. Considering the cryptocurrency has seen more than a 1,000 percent rise in value in 12 months, he predicted investors would lose all their money:

"If you look at what has happened this year, I would caution people. We know relatively little about what informs the price of Bitcoin. It's an odd commodity as well, as the supply is fixed. If you want to invest in Bitcoin be prepared to lose your money – that would be my serious warning."

Bailey did concede that Bitcoin is also categorized as a commodity, given that it has a finite cap at 21 mln coins. Commodities are regulated in different ways to currencies in the UK.

The FCA head echoed the sentiments of Bank of England Deputy Governor Sir John Cunliffe, who cautioned investors in November to do their homework before investing in what he classified a commodity as well:

“This is not at a size where it’s a macroeconomic risk to the global economy, but when prices are moving like that, my view would be investors need to do their homework. This is not a currency in the accepted sense. There’s no central bank that stands behind it. For me, it’s much more like a commodity.”

In November, an analyst drew comparisons to the dot.com bubble of the 1990s, ultimately highlighting supply/demand as the driving factor of Bitcoin’s value. The amount of supply of the virtual currency could be its undoing in the future, according to that report.

Another analysis looks at multiple facets that have traditional institutional investors nervous about cryptocurrencies.

England not taking crypto seriously

Despite Bailey’s warnings to potential investors looking to enter the cryptocurrency market, the FCA granted a local company permission to launch its own digital currency. At the time, Bitcoin was hovering just above the $1,000 mark - so there was nowhere near the same hype around the value of Bitcoin.

Similarly, Coutts Bank, who is responsible for the Royal Family’s banking, refuse to invest in cryptocurrencies.

Bullish Moas - Bitcoin Destined For Another 500% Rise

3 hours 13 min ago

Ronnie Moas says Bitcoin is destined for another 500% rise.

Having successfully predicted recent Bitcoin highs, Standpoint Research Founder Ronnie Moas sees lofty highs for the preeminent cryptocurrency in the next year.

In August, the billionaire former hedge fund manager tentatively forecasted Bitcoin’s rise to the $20,000 mark in three years, but his timelines were quite off the mark. Two months later, amid the start of Bitcoin’s outrageous bull run and talk of the launch of futures trading, Moas changed that prediction to 2018.

Speaking to CNBC ahead of the launch of Bitcoin futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, Moas believes Bitcoin will see another 500 percent rise next year.

"Bitcoin is already up 500 percent since I recommended it in the beginning of July, and I'm looking for another 500 percent move from here. The end-game on Bitcoin is that it will hit $300,000 to $400,000 in my opinion, and it will be the most valuable currency in the world."

Most valuable currency in the world

It’s not hard to understand why Moas is taking a far more brazen approach to Bitcoin - given the way it has exceeded all predictions and death-sentences.

Moas says the cryptocurrency cap at 21 mln tokens is a major factor in its rapidly rising value. Again, he drew a comparison to gold but insists the cryptocurrency will be far more valuable as millions of people look to a slice of the action.

"I don't know how much gold there is in the ground, but I know how much Bitcoin there is, and in two years there will be 300 mln people in the world trying to get their hands on a few million Bitcoin."

Bitcoin’s volatility has been a hot talking point over the past few months, with enthusiasts and industry specialists taking the ‘hodl’ approach. The bullish approach has created scarcity on the market which has driven up value.

People are constantly asking if it’s ‘too late to buy Bitcoin,’ but Moas insists on buying in dips constantly.

"I look at Bitcoin the same way I look at Amazon. The way to play Amazon for the last 15 years was to buy it, hold it, and add on the dips. That's exactly the way I think people should be playing Bitcoin."

Naysayers still bleating

Axel Weber, head of Swiss bank UBS, hit out at Bitcoin in an article published on Sunday and called for strict regulation.

“We as a bank have very consciously warned against this product because we do not consider it valid and sustainable.”

He is one of a plethora of traditional banking and financial institution heads that are staying clear of cryptocurrencies.

‘Bitcoin Question’ Should Be At G20, Says France Finance Minister

3 hours 27 min ago

France’s finance minister calls for Bitcoin regulation to be a topic of debate at next year’s G20 Summit.

France’s finance minister has called for a public debate on Bitcoin at next year’s G20 Summit in Buenos Aires.

Speaking on French news channel LCI and quoted by Reuters, Le Maire said that the Bitcoin “question” should form a topic for the international government forum, specifically with regard to regulation:

“I am going to propose to the next G20 president, Argentina, that at the G20 summit in April we have a discussion all together on the question of Bitcoin. There is evidently a risk of speculation. We need to consider and examine this and see how... with all the other G20 members we can regulate Bitcoin.”

Bitcoin’s notable price rise this year has been attracting more and more attention not only in mainstream media but from governmental authorities throughout the world. However, individual governments globally are approaching cryptocurrency, and Blockchain technology more broadly, differently.

Some of the countries already regulating cryptocurrency include the US and Japan. So far, only a few countries have instituted a full crypto ban, including Morocco and Bolivia. South Korea may follow suit.

Last week, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen S. Poloz described how the “noise” around cryptocurrency “keeps him awake at night,” while a US regulator conversely said the “impact” of Bitcoin on global economic policy was barely perceptible.

Underscoring the lack of consensus globally on cryptocurrency, the Bank of France Governor, Francois Villeroy de Galhau, countered the notion that Bitcoin is even a currency, and that it should not be treated as one. At a conference in Beijing last month he reportedly told attendees:

“We need to be clear: Bitcoin is in no way a currency, or even a cryptocurrency is a speculative asset. Its value and extreme volatility have no economic basis, and they are nobody’s responsibility.”

Ukraine Security Service Allegedly Raid ForkLog, Confiscate Tech and Funds

4 hours 46 sec ago

Ukrainian Security Service raided ForkLog in Odessa on Friday, seizing equipment and attempting to steal Bitcoin from the company’s CEO.

This morning, Russian-language crypto-Blockchain news resource ForkLog reported that Ukrainian authorities raided the personal flat of its Founder and CEO, Anatoly Kaplan, and office in Odessa, seizing hardware and cryptocurrency funds.

ForkLog alleges that members of the Security Service of Ukraine (SSU) plus two witnesses arrived at Kaplan’s flat in Odessa on Friday morning with a warrant. A search ensued, and the SSU officers left taking some of Kaplan’s personal belongings including “several pieces of equipment used to store cryptocurrencies, a notebook and other items.”

The declared reason for the raid, according to the publication, was existing allegations against a group of people from the US and Ukraine involved in a scheme to steal funds from third-party payments. According to the SSU, the suspects were exchanging Bitcoin for Ukrainian Hryvnia “with the help of the internet-resource ForkLog.”

ForkLog insists that none of the entities named in authorities’ search warrant “were related to ForkLog or to its founder.” SSU’s claim also seemingly contradicts the fact that ForkLog is a media/ information resource that does not offer exchange services, and the magazine insists they in no way “helped” in such a process.

In addition to the allegedly unfounded search and seizure on Friday, the journal also reports that one security service member attempted to send Bitcoin from Kaplan’s wallet to his own. Kaplan’s lawyer then called the city police to report a theft. ForkLog reports:

“...Kaplan’s lawyer called the police to inform them of intention to steal [Bitcoin] and called for backup. Afterwards, attempts to transfer Bitcoins to their own address stopped.”

At the same time on Friday, ForkLog reports that a raid also took place in ForkLog’s Odessa office. The authorities confiscated the company’s cash, all of its hardware, and a bottle of Kraken rum.

Commenting on the larger implications of the incident, Kaplan stated:

“In my opinion, this situation directly illustrated one of the possible scenarios of the development of the interaction between the government and the cryptocurrency community, which is why we decided to make this case public. Because it is not so much about protecting my personal interests or the interests ForkLog, as much as about protecting the interests of the entire community. And this event is a warning to everyone involved with Blockchain technology, it doesn’t matter how public you are. We’re currently working with lawyers to release personal property. What is particularly strange is the practice of transferring cryptocurrencies to an address under the control of the SSU.”

The unusual episode took place at a time when cryptocurrency remains a key tool in the ongoing Ukraine-Russia conflict centered around separatists in Ukraine’s east and Russia’s takeover of Crimea in 2014. Breakaway pro-Moscow regions have openly called for cryptocurrency implementation as a solution to their financial problems.

What to Expect From Bitcoin Futures: Expert Blog

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 23:20

Expert blogger explains how regulated futures trading of Bitcoin might affect the currency in both the short- and long-term.

Expert Blog is Cointelegraph’s new series of articles by crypto industry leaders. It covers everything from Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to ICO regulation and investment analysis. If you want to become our guest author and get published on Cointelegraph, please send us an email at mike@cointelegraph.com.

Just a week ago, the Chicago Board of Exchange (CBOE) opened up its doors to trading Bitcoin Futures (XBT), and wrapped it up with a 17% gain on the January contract. Its larger, cross-town rival, the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) just launched its own Bitcoin futures trading today. This has been fairly big news in the Bitcoin community, but many are still scratching their heads trying to make sense of it all. In this Expert Blog column, I attempt to explain what the implications are of these monumental events.

First, let’s take a step back and define what a futures contract is. A futures contract is simply a contract to buy or sell a financial instrument or other underlying asset at a predetermined price in the future. They can be settled by the physical delivery of the underlying goods, or in cash.

In other words, one party is speculating on the increase of the value of the underlying asset, and the other is hedging against the potential loss of value of it. The futures contract rewards the party that makes the most accurate prediction of the future value of the underlying asset.  

Make sense?

So what does this mean for Bitcoin?

In the case of Bitcoin, a futures contract would allow two parties to speculate or hedge on the price of Bitcoin at some point in the future.

The important part of the above are the parties that would be speculating or hedging. Futures contracts are largely trade agreements for experienced traders and institutional investors. By allowing for these contracts to be traded in a regulated market, CBOE and CME have both opened up the doors for such traders to participate in the Bitcoin game and indirectly legitimize it as an asset class.  

Keep in mind that because these contracts are settled in cash, the funds are not actually used to buy the underlying asset, only to speculate on its price movement. As such, introducing Bitcoin futures trading doesn’t necessarily directly improve the capital flow of Wall St. money into Bitcoin, but it can be expected to have tangential effects. For example, a hedge fund that previously abstained from going long Bitcoin, due to the lack of hedging tools, might now consider allocating Bitcoin it to its fund, using a series of futures contracts to protect against downside risk.  

Also, Bitcoin futures contracts should, in effect, reduce the pricing volatility of Bitcoin, since the speculation allows the market to be more efficient, leading to better pricing discovery. With a reduction in the massive pricing swings, Bitcoin could become a more trusted medium of currency, as the durability of its short term pricing increases its utility value – in plain terms, allowing two parties to transact in Bitcoin without having to worry that it will be a vastly different price moments before or after the transaction.

Additionally, the public gains some additional insight into the combined market’s expectation of Bitcoin’s future performance. While futures markets are not necessarily always correct in their prediction, they do provide valuable data for traders and hodlers looking to gain some understanding of the current market sentiment. At the time of this article’s writing, it seems that the January contracts (XBT/F8) are putting a premium on the current price of Bitcoin, just one month out. In fact, just as the futures markets opened for the first time, the market price of Bitcoin on Coinbase jumped from $14,810 to $16,171 in a matter of minutes, demonstrating that, despite light volume, the futures prices may have some effect on its underlying asset.

Case for manipulation

Despite the potential for huge benefits to the Bitcoin ecosystem, there may be a few tradeoffs. The Bitcoin markets are still immature in comparison to a well-regulated, time-tested equities market like the NYSE-ARCA or NASDAQ. Despite what appears to be a healthy total circulation of coins, currently around $275 billion worth, the futures contracts are pegged off of a blended rate (CME calls this its Bitcoin Reference Rate or BRF), sourced from a handful of exchanges, or in the case of CBOE, just one exchange.  

The issue with this is that these exchanges only trade a fraction of the total circulation. Gemini’s 24 hour Bitcoin volume represented just 1.6% of the global Bitcoin trade. With such small volumes and a thin order book, Bitcoin’s price could be subject to manipulation by a series of unscrupulous traders attempting to move the market in order to obtain favorable execution on highly leveraged futures contracts. Strategies that are illegal on a regulated exchange like NASDAQ are fair game in the cryptocurrency markets. Additionally, the Bitcoin market has proved to be sensitive to media coverage; even a single CEO of a globally recognized financial services firm has been proven to move the market using just a few words.

While it is the hope that futures trading helps to set the stage for a more regulated trading environment, we must not ignore the motivation by speculators to make large sums of money. As the saying goes, “where there is a will, there is a way” and it has happened on a number of occasions on well-regulated U.S. markets.   

Final thoughts

While Bitcoin’s intent was to allow for parties to transact “without going through a financial institution,” the blessing by Wall St. and the U.S. government may be a necessary evil to allow for more widespread use, protection of the public, and eventually more confidence by a wider range of investors. Bitcoin futures represent an early case-study that if successful, may help to pave the way for approval of ETFs and other investment vehicles, further growing the ecosystem. If we’re lucky, this creates a virtuous, self-sustaining cycle of wealth creation, awareness and value.

Bio: Arthur is Co-Founder and President of ISBX, a leading software consulting firm in Los Angeles. He was a former FINRA-licensed trader at Morgan Stanley and later VP at UBS. He is a cryptocurrency trader, and an accredited angel investor. Arthur is also a contributor on Forbes.

Media Continues to Slam Bitcoin as CME Futures Market Opens, Price Slips 4%

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 22:59

The massive CME Group opened Bitcoin futures trading today and prices stumbled slightly. Media jumps on the decline.

Bitcoin futures are down as the world’s largest futures market, CME Group, opens trading. Immediately after trading began, Bitcoin futures contracts closing in January jumped to $20,800 before falling to $18,800 at press time. Contracts expiring in February, March and June are still priced at $20,000. Considering Bitcoin’s current spot price of $18,500, Wall Street still seems mildly bullish.

Mainstream media

Of course, no mainstream media report on the price of Bitcoin would be complete without the use of clickbait terms such as “bearish” or “bubble.” The Telegraph reported on the drop, using the headline “price falls after investors turn bearish.” This is despite the fact that a 4% drop is absolutely miniscule in the cryptocurrency world.

Likewise, BBC reported on the opening of CME’s market, reporting that acceptance onto the massive exchange brings Bitcoin a step closer to mainstream adoption. Of course, BBC felt it necessary to immediately follow their statement with a quote from UBS Chairman Axel Weber giving his opinion that “Bitcoin is not money.”

Contrast to CBOE

There is a significant contrast in the market’s reaction to CME’s futures and its 19% gain after the opening of CBOE futures last week. However, it’s useful to realize that Bitcoin had dropped by thousands of dollars in the days before CBOE trading opened, so a significant gain shouldn’t have been surprising. CME futures launched following most exchanges hitting an all-time high Bitcoin price yesterday, so a small drop from these new highs is hardly dramatic.

There are many theories on what comes next for Bitcoin following the opening of CME’s market. While there are reasonable arguments for the possibility of investors shorting the contracts, investors should remember “the trend is your friend.” Even Bitcoin-hater and JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon admitted that the currency could hit $100,000 before “collapsing.” Following Dimon’s assessment of Bitcoin as a “fraud” earlier this year, Swedish firm Blockswater filed a formal “market abuse report” with European regulators. The company alleges that Dimon knew his statements were inaccurate and was intentionally trying to influence the Bitcoin markets with his remarks.

Bitcoin Futures, Explained

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 17:42

The what, where and why of Bitcoin futures.

What are futures?

Futures are an agreement to buy or sell an asset on a specific future date at a specific price.

Once the futures contract has been entered, both parties have to buy and sell at the agreed-upon price, irrespective of what the actual market price is at the contract execution date.

The goal is not necessarily profit maximization. It’s a risk management tool, often used in financial markets to hedge against the risk of changing prices of assets that are bought and sold on a regular basis.

Futures are also used in portfolios to balance out price fluctuations on investments, where the underlying asset is particularly volatile.

These contracts are negotiated and traded on a futures exchange which acts as the intermediary.

How do futures contracts work?

There are two positions you can take on a futures contract: long or short.

If you take a long position, you agree to buy an asset in the future at a specific price when the contract expires. When you take a short position, you agree to sell an asset at a set price when the contract expires.

A good way to explain this is using the example of an airline who wants to hedge against the rising price of fuel by entering into a futures contract.

Say jet fuel trades at $2 per gallon. An airline expecting the price of oil to rise, buys a three-month futures contract for 1,000 gallons at current prices. The contract is, therefore, worth $2,000.

If in three months, when the contract expires, the price of one gallon of jet fuels is $3, the airline saved $1,000.

The supplier will happily enter into a futures contract in order to ensure a steady market for fuel, even when prices are high. And the same contract will also protect them if the price of fuel unexpectedly drops.

In this case, both parties are protecting themselves against the volatility of fuel prices.

There are also investors who speculate with futures contracts rather than using it as a protection mechanism.

They will deliberately go long when the price of a commodity is low. As prices rise, the contract becomes more valuable, and the investor could decide to trade the contract with another investor before it expires, at a higher price.

What are Bitcoin futures?

Futures are not just for physical assets; they can be traded on financial assets as well.

With Bitcoin futures, the contract will be based on the price of Bitcoin and speculators can place a “bet” on what they believe the price of Bitcoin will be in the future.

In addition, it enables investors to speculate on the price of Bitcoin without actually having to own Bitcoin.

It has two major consequences.

First, while Bitcoin itself remains unregulated, Bitcoin futures can be traded on regulated exchanges. This is good news for those who are concerned about the risks related to the industry’s lack of regulation.

Second, in areas where trading Bitcoin is banned, Bitcoin futures allow investors to still speculate on the price of Bitcoin.

How do they work?

A Bitcoin future will work on exactly the same principles as futures on traditional financial assets.

By anticipating whether the price of Bitcoin will go up or down, speculators will either go long or short on a Bitcoin futures contract.

For example, if an individual owns one Bitcoin priced at $18,000 (hypothetically) and foresees that the price will drop in the future, to protect themselves, they can sell a Bitcoin futures contract at the current price, which is $18,000.

Close to the settlement date the price of Bitcoin, along with the price of the Bitcoin futures contract, would have dropped. The investor now decides to buy back the Bitcoin futures.

If the contract trades for $16,000 close to the future settlement date, the investor has made $2,000 and therefore protected their investment by selling high and buying low.

This is a basic example of how Bitcoin futures work and the exact terms of each future contract may be more complex depending on the exchange, which will include minimum and maximum price limits.

What do Bitcoin futures mean for the Bitcoin price?

In the short-term, it pushes the price upwards as the overall interest in the cryptocurrency spikes.

The day after Bitcoin futures were launched on the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE), for the first time on a major regulated exchange, the price jumped by almost 10% to $16,936.

Similarly, in the run-up to the launch of Bitcoin futures on one of the world’s biggest exchanges, CME, the Bitcoin price broke through the $20,000 barrier.

The long-term price impact is harder to predict, but in all likelihood, it will continue to boost the price of Bitcoin.

Does it mean the price is most likely to go up?

There are several reasons why this is the case.

  • As Bitcoin futures can be regulated on public exchanges, it gives people who were previously skeptical as a result of the lack of regulation, the confidence to invest.
  • Institutional investors are more likely to offer Bitcoin futures to their clients as a viable investment option.
  • It brings more liquidity to the market, making it easier to buy, sell and trade the cryptocurrency, and therefore much more lucrative.
  • It opens up the Bitcoin market to a wider investor base, including countries where the trade of Bitcoin has been banned.

As futures are designed to balance out price fluctuations of underlying assets, it could also make the price of Bitcoin less volatile.

What do they mean for the whole Blockchain industry?

There are various possible outcomes.

First, Bitcoin is seen as a sort of poster-boy for cryptocurrencies. Therefore, if the price of Bitcoin sees massive increases in a short space of time, irrespective if this is due to Bitcoin futures or otherwise, more people tend to take notice.

As more people become aware of the cryptocurrency industry, the uptake of altcoins will increase and push prices upwards.

The flipside is also possible; investors might want to sell their altcoins for Bitcoins in order to take part in its bullish run. Large-scale exits could cause a drastic drop in the price of alternative cryptocurrencies.

The more likely scenario is that some of the stronger altcoins, like Ethereum, Litecoin, Ripple, etc., might follow in the footsteps of Bitcoin and become tradeable as futures as well, once interest from investors become strong enough.

Where can you trade Bitcoin futures?

There are two separate markets where Bitcoin futures can be traded.

The first option is on selected cryptocurrency exchanges, including BitMEX and OKCoin. Cryptocurrency exchanges have been offering this option for quite some time now, where the trade of Bitcoin futures remain largely unregulated.

The second option is on publicly regulated exchanges. This is a recent phenomenon and part of the reason why we’ve seen the Bitcoin price hike during December.

It started with CBOE’s Bitcoin futures launch on the 10th of December. The Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) follow with its launch Dec. 17 set to trade Dec. 18. Brokerage firms like TD Ameritrade and JP Morgan have also expressed their interest to allow access to these markets.

Skychain to Conquer High-Tech Medicine Cornerstone - Big Data

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 17:27

Skychain finds arguments against its competitors, claiming to be the only Future-Proof Blockchain Project for the Healthcare Industry through a viable data marketplace.

As you probably know, startups that combine Blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies are all the rage now. For example, the SingularityNET project, which intends to create a Blockchain ecosystem to host a lot of specialized AI systems, has raised more than $150 mln from almost 10,000 investors via an ICO. Other Blockchain projects that use artificial intelligence raise substantial funding, too.

The rising popularity of such startups is understandable: AI is the future! One of the most promising application areas for artificial intelligence is the healthcare industry, which is why more and more Blockchain-based healthcare AI projects appear. The million dollar question is, is any of them going to succeed?

When evaluating the chances of success for such projects, you need to keep in mind the core idea of artificial intelligence: any complex AI must be trained, otherwise, it’s mostly useless. In case of a healthcare AI system, you need to provide massive amounts of data (“big data”), so that it can learn. The more data you provide, the more accurate the AI becomes.

Big data issue

The problem is healthcare big data is extremely expensive. Small, independent neural network developers can only dream about having it. Even corporate giants can scarcely afford a sufficient amount of such data! For example, IBM has obtained only about one percent of the big data it needed for training its famous AI system, Watson, by acquiring a leading provider of cloud-based healthcare data and analytics for $2.6 bln.

As you can see, the development of AI for the healthcare industry is hindered by a lack of healthcare data marketplace.  But do the Blockchain-based healthcare projects address that problem? The doc.ai startup, which has recently raised about $10 mln via an ICO, intends to obtain healthcare data from the end users (patients) by providing medical advice in exchange for their medical histories. Generally speaking, only the patients who need medical advice will be interested in uploading their healthcare data to such systems. As the doc.ai NEURON brochure says, “[i]n the future [people] will even be able to monetize their health data on a monthly basis by leasing it to pharma companies.” It doesn’t look like the doc.ai project is going to create a large-scale healthcare data marketplace any time soon.

Golem and SONM are Blockchain projects that aren’t aiming at the AI market in the healthcare sector yet, but they possibly can host healthcare AIs on their decentralized platforms. However, if Golem or SONM try to do that, they are going to encounter the problem we’ve already mentioned: a lack of healthcare data marketplace. It means none of them will be able to train their neural networks.

Another potential player in that market is SingularityNET, which provides an infrastructure for AI hosting and internetworking. Unfortunately, it doesn’t address the problem of a lack of access to healthcare big data. According to its whitepaper, SingularityNET intends to become a dominant provider of AI services in different industries, including healthcare. We feel sorry for SingularityNET investors, but that risks not happening because Skychain is going to grab the dominant share of the healthcare AI market!

Skychain solution

So far, Skychain is the only project based on a clear, actually working approach to providing big data for neural network training.

Skychain will provide an infrastructure to host independent neural networks, which will be trained on massive amounts of datasets (medical histories from patient cards, medical reference data and medical research data) uploaded to the Skychain system by data providers. As a result, the neural networks hosted by Skychain will make the most accurate diagnoses and prescribe the most suitable medical treatment.

Economic incentive

You may ask, but how is Skychain going to create a healthcare data marketplace? The answer is, Skychain will offer an economic incentive. Healthcare data providers will be getting a reward for each use of any neural network trained on their datasets. As a result, the amount of big data available for neural network training will grow exponentially, and the AIs hosted by Skychain will soon become smarter and even more accurate.

Many healthcare AI projects are going to fail as they cannot motivate healthcare big data providers to share their datasets for neural network training. None of the existing Blockchain projects for the healthcare industry seems to offer a viable model for creating a healthcare data marketplace, so Skychain could be the only hope of high-tech medicine.

Token Sale

The Skychain project is going to pre-sale its tokens with a 50 percent discount from Dec. 18, 2017 to Jan. 7, 2018. Prior to the ICO, Skychain representatives will speak at eight or more major crypto conferences all over the world.

Most importantly, the Skychain project is based on existing approaches and technologies, and all the legal and regulatory issues have been worked out. So hopefully all Skychain token buyers will make a nice profit when the project is implemented.

Blockchain: Shifting From Internet of Information to Internet of Value

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 12:10

There is a growing trend of Blockchain implementation in the social media industry. This development is changing how the public approaches an ecosystem.

There is a growing trend of Blockchain implementation in the social media industry. This development is changing how the public approaches an ecosystem which has before now been at the mercy of a few individuals in terms of security, commerce, functionality and general control.

The significance of social media to everyday life keeps growing with each passing day. In the areas of education, politics, e-commerce and even relationships, the social environment built upon cyberspace is continually proving its relevance as a tool for effective communication between individuals and groups across different parts of the world.

Blockchain can overhaul social media

The emergence of Blockchain technology brings a revolution to this industry which is already visible in the areas of improved reliability and earning opportunities. Derin Cag, founder of Richtopia says:

“With the rise of Blockchain technology, socio-economic transactions are improving and becoming more democratic as we shift from the Internet of information to the Internet of value.”

According to Cag, there are numerous benefits of having Blockchain technology frameworks within social media platforms.

  • First, it could help tackle fake news through establishing a rewards-based 'credit ratings system' for journalists and bloggers, which then could get embedded to all websites.
  • Second, it could improve user data privacy by providing people an option to opt-in for sharing programmes where they automatically get paid in cryptocurrencies when their data gets sold to third parties.
  • Third, it could improve automation through the use of smart contracts where Blockchains could interact with multiple platforms simultaneously on a user’s behalf. For example Facebook could speak with Twitter, could speak with Instagram, could speak with Reddit and so forth on a much deeper level than available at the time of writing.
  • Fourth, if the social media platform itself is based across distributed ledgers, this could help improve security because for example Bitcoin is one of the only valuable things online which has never been hacked itself.

One major problem that exists within the social media ecosystem and cyberspace, in general, is the significant lack of privacy and indiscriminate sharing of personal data across major social media platforms.

Be careful what you sign

It may not be particularly accurate to assume that these platforms make use of the data of individuals without their permission because almost every single one of these platforms have a ‘Terms and Conditions’ documents which most users agree to without even reading a single line of the usually extremely long document.

Most of the time, the ambiguous statements within these documents empowers the platform owners and administrators to exercise the level of control that we see today. However, this extensive control by the centralized platform owners does not only enable the indiscriminate exposure of users, but it also shuts them out from any possible benefits that they could achieve by the use of their personal data and identity. These are some of the problems that are already being addressed by Blockchain implementation in social media.

The five-year forecast

Abhishek Bhandari, co-founder and VP of Bloomatch tells Cointelegraph that Blockchain is revolutionizing each and every industry at the moment. He notes that the major attraction of various sectors towards Blockchain is the basics of Blockchain for maintaining data on multiple and decentralized nodes.

“I assume in next five years most of the platforms in digital space would use Blockchain.”

Bhandari affirms that Social Media has become a very important and indispensable part of human existence and Blockchain technology would give a sense of protection and satisfaction to all users. He explains that current social media platforms have many drawbacks in terms of data security and cyber crimes, problems which he is certain that Blockchain technology will eventually address effectively

All about attention

Dor Konforty, CEO of Synereo elaborates that the primary purpose of the marketing, content, and features of Facebook, YouTube and most other modern media platforms is to increase the number of hours each user engages with the platform, to the point where it may disrupt their lives, so that they can capture and sell more of their attention as well as information about their behavior.

However, Konforty explains that without a centralized entity profiting from this, and with value generated flowing directly to users through intermediary-less interactions, new platforms will adapt their business models to rely on added-on services rather than on practices which have already been proven to be harmful to the health of their userbases.

Konforty also notes the complexity of monetization on social media:

“Monetization is another deep trouble; creators of original content are in a position where the method they chose for publishing their creations defines their method of monetization, if existent. While YouTube shares some of their proceeds with creators, Facebook, Twitter and the like don't do even that.”

Ultimately, without intermediaries shaping the discourse and being in full control of the available content, all geared towards their bottom lines, the space of possible social and economic interactions will expand greatly, benefiting all involved. Likewise, without huge datastores immediately available to centralized entities, dystopian scenarios such as allocating scores to citizens based on their online activity and adherence to the mandated way of living may be averted. This is the promise of the Blockchain.

Qtum Bridging Gap Between East and West With BlockShow Asia

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 12:02

Qtum is claimed to be a Blockchain project that bridges the gap between Bitcoin, Ethereum and the other parts of the whole Crypto/Blockchain field.

Cointelegraph continues updating you about the companies that made significant input to the recent BlockShow Asia conference in Singapore. This time we will discover a company called Qtum and speak with the CEO Patrick Dai.

Qtum joined BlockShow Asia because they hope that they can enlighten people with the value of their technology and they know if they want to do that they need to support the industry. Qtum is claimed to be a Blockchain project that bridges the gap between Bitcoin, Ethereum and the other parts of the whole Crypto/Blockchain field.

“Combining East and West, the advantages of several projects with our own innovations it’s what makes our team and our technology so great.”

What is Qtum?

Qtum is an open source Blockchain project that is developed by the Singapore-based Qtum Foundation. Qtum is a hybrid Blockchain application platform. Qtum’s core technology combines a fork of Bitcoin core, an Account Abstraction Layer allowing for multiple Virtual Machines including the Ethereum Virtual Machine (EVM) and Proof-of-Stake consensus aimed at tackling industry use cases.

“We believe this will allow Smart Contracts and Decentralized Applications to run on a familiar foundation while offering a robust environment for developers.”

Patrick Dai joined the Blockchain project in 2012. He was the first of 50 people in China who knew anything about Bitcoin. In 2015, he wanted to create something new to help the industry- that was the birth of Qtum. Patrick stated at BlockShow Asia:

“The whole cryptocurrency is a small circle we need to work together, we need a union so that’s the reason we built Qtum.”

From the open source software evolution he believed he should make something more edgy, reinvent the wheel. Qtum uses Bitcoin and proof of stake as a consensus. Patrick wanted Qtum to become a layered design. They have a decentralized governance protocol where everyone can make a decision if you are a coin holder. Most of Blockchain is based on the proof of work- Satoshi’s original decision - but now the idea is changing the Blockchain is becoming more centralized. He comments:

“I believe that proof of stake is the new trend, that is a part of the reason why Qtum from the very beginning is using proof of stake. Also, I think right now the usability is a disaster for a lot of people, its super hard to manage your private key, to manage your money. Right now for the smart contract we are using Solidity, but Solidity is a new development language, we do not have too many developers who are masters in Solidity.”

Part of Qtum’s appeal to IoT comes from our proof-of-stake design, Qtum’s ability to execute smart contracts from light clients, and their lightning network and x86 virtual machine which are in the works. At BlockShow Asia Patrick explained how the IoT industry’s little regulation allows it to innovate faster, especially when it comes to Blockchain technology. Devices and things can be given identities and accounts to interact machine-to-machine in ways never before possible.

Qtum at BlockShow Asia

At BlockShow Asia 2017, Qtum was not only one of the main sponsors, but also participated in the event as an exhibitor. That’s how the Qtum team explains the company’s main goal in being part of the BlockShow Asia exhibition:

“Since our industry changes so rapidly, we need to be aware of all the innovations coming onto the scene. I think engaging with the community, seeing how sentiment changes, and what technologies have made recent breakthroughs is important for Qtum to stay up-to-date”.

According to John Scianna, Marketing Director at Qtum, the audience which came to visit the company’s booth during the conference was quite diverse: “It ranged from people just hearing about Blockchain to Qtum fans.”

Moreover, Qtum CEO Patrick Dai performed as a speaker on the first day of the conference, speaking about the future of Blockchain and IoT, which he believes is one of the most promising sectors to be empowered with Blockchain technology. Patrick comments:

“We believe that Blockchain IoT applications will really take off in this coming year. Blockchain technology offers a number of advantages to this industry. Currently, there’s several competing communication technologies for IoT devices, but if we can develop a framework and some standards, we can make some advancements.”

Future plans

Qtum is building the bridge between the Blockchain and traditional worlds. For far too long, the industry has been limited by the amount of developers that could be trained to learn Solidity. They will have an x86 VM prototype running on the test network in early 2018 along with a whole range of wallets and developer tools that will increase the accessibility and utility of the network. Qtum is highly ambitious on Qtum’s x86 VM accessibility:

“With Qtum’s x86 VM we will help give access to the millions of developers that know traditional programming languages like C, C++, Rust, Haskell, etc. so that they can become dapp developers.”

In addition, Qtum just released their latest Qt wallet, which allows people to interact with smart contracts and QRC20 tokens. This is a significant milestone for the Qtum community since now they can unleash the full potential of their dapps. Stay tuned and excited about their release of an updated roadmap with even more details coming shortly!

Make sure to stay up to date with Cointelegraph! We will be making updates of interviews and influential insights learned from BlockShow Asia. You can enjoy more BlockShow-related materials at our official Social Media channels and make sure to stay tuned for some fresh announcements which are coming up soon.

Yuliya Avdyusheva, Guest Author

CME Bitcoin Futures Launch - Possible Economic Outcomes

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 11:50

CME Group’s will be launching their Bitcoin Futures on Dec. 17. Possible economic outcomes will depend on the whales’ behavior.

CME Group’s Bitcoin futures become effective on Dec. 17 for trade on Dec. 18. The launch of CME Group’s Bitcoin futures market comes just a week after the CBOE launched their Bitcoin futures market on Dec. 11.

Futures contracts give investors exposure to the underlying asset (Bitcoin) without investors actually having to own any. Instead, investors buy contracts that track the underlying assets price and they speculate on whether the contract price will increase or decrease by the contract expiration date.

The first CBOE contracts will expire on Jan. 17, 2018, and the first CME Group contracts will expire on Jan. 26, 2018. Because Bitcoin futures trading has never occurred before, this unprecedented event could have a significant impact on the Bitcoin economy.

Short theory

It is well known that a minority of Bitcoin holders--the whales-- hold a majority of the Bitcoin in circulation. It is rumored that roughly 1,000 people own 40 percent of all the Bitcoin. It is possible that the whales took a short position in their contracts, meaning they believe the price of the Bitcoin futures contract will be below the contracts purchase price at the date of expiration.

Because a whale might have unfathomable amounts of money and the belief that their contract will expire at a value less than the price they purchased the contract for, it would not be surprising if the whales pumped up Bitcoin price in the days leading up to the contract expiration date by buying more Bitcoin, and then sell off a large chunk of it on an exchange at the inflated price - hours before their contract expires.

The whale would experience a capital gain from driving the price up and selling off, and because this could cause Bitcoin price to plummet, the whales futures contract(s) are likely to expire below the contract purchase price, meaning the whales with short contracts would experience a capital gain from their futures contract in addition to that from selling off the actual asset (Bitcoin). In the days shortly after the first futures contracts expire, it would not be surprising to see the whales who took short positions use their profits from trading on exchanges and the futures market to buy back Bitcoin at the discounted price that they might have caused the market to drop down to.

Long theory

Or... it is possible for the opposite to happen. Maybe the whales and investors have taken a long position; meaning they believe the price of the first Bitcoin futures contracts will finish above the price they were purchased at. Instead of selling off a large chunk of their Bitcoin right before the contract expires, the whales would continue to pump up Bitcoin price by buying more Bitcoin leading up to the contract’s expiration to ensure that their contract will finish above its purchase price.

Although this is possible, it does not seem as plausible as the short theory. If whales went long and colluded to pump up Bitcoin price, they would not have the opportunity to buy back coins at a discounted price--this does not seem like a logical position for an experienced investor to be in nine days before CME Group’s first Bitcoin futures contracts expire… unless the whales postpone the short until CME Group’s first expiration date.

Or maybe...

Similar to futures contracts and the majority of Bitcoin price lately, this is pure speculation. Maybe nothing will happen at all and I’m over thinking how the market will react, maybe Jan.17 and 26 will not be significant dates for the Bitcoin economy. However, this is not my first rodeo. And if you’ve been a member of crypto community for quite some time now, you could see that the days leading up to a new or major event in the Bitcoin economy and the days shortly after are more than likely to see significant movements in Bitcoin price.

Bitcoin Hits $20,000 Per Coin, Capping Year of Enormous Growth

Sun, 12/17/2017 - 07:25

Bitcoin has hit $20k in record time, prices doubling in a month to produce almost 2,000% annual growth.

Bitcoin has cemented its glory year by hitting $20,000 barely a month after achieving five figures for the first time. After several weeks of considerable volatility, mixing rapid growth with sudden declines, momentum finally boosted Bitcoin to its new historic high.

Outperforming almost everyone’s expectations in 2017, Bitcoin prices received a decisive push from Wall Street regulated futures trading, as well as the imminent implementation of the Lightning Network. CBOE launched its Bitcoin futures product on Dec. 10, and CME (a much larger market) will begin trading the cryptocurrency’s futures on Monday, Dec. 18.

Markets reacted to rising prices with a snowball effect, triggering mass consumer interest in both buying and trading the virtual currency. Over the last few weeks, the Coinbase app has been at the top of Apple’s “most downloaded apps” several times.

Bitcoin has grown by 1,950 percent in 2017, having started the year at the comparatively tiny $974.

The barrier was in fact crossed considerably earlier in some markets, specifically those where demand outpaces supply and economic policy is fragile, such as Venezuela and Zimbabwe.

Having broadly failed to foresee just how quickly Bitcoin would rise, commentators are now focusing on the forthcoming year and how governments will react to the rapid growth of digital currencies. Bankers, mainstream media and pundits continue to call Bitcoin a bubble, even as the bull marches on.

Bitcoin Not a Threat to Financial Systems, Says US Chief Financial Regulator

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 23:06

The US chief financial watchdog claims that Bitcoin not a threat to global financial system.

The US chief financial watchdog, the Financial Stability Oversight Board (FSOC), claims that Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies do not pose a threat to existing financial systems around the world. In its 152-page report, the FSOC stated that virtual currencies are only utilized by a very small number of consumers and their underlying Blockchain technology offers potential in various industrial applications.

“Virtual currencies are only used by a very small number of consumers. We give a bit more credit to the potentially much broader applications of the so-called distributed ledger technology underpinning the innovations. It is noteworthy that this digital wave also presents a regulatory challenge, because the storage of data is decentralized, rather than being in one spot that governments can watch.”

Other highlights of the report

The report’s view on digital currencies is somewhat surprising due to the negative stance shown by several financial industry personalities. An example is a recent claim by JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, that Bitcoin is a ‘fraud’ and should not be taken seriously.

The report also cited various monetary threats, geopolitical risks and cybersecurity threats that confront the global financial system. Bitcoin was not cited as a threat.

Performance of the digital currency market

The virtual currency market registered considerable growth throughout 2017. However, despite its phenomenal growth, the market’s total combined value is still significantly below $1 trillion and likely too small to be a systemic threat to the global financial sector. At the same time, the potential that could be unleashed by cryptocurrencies is extreme.

Shark Tank Investor: Bitcoin an Asset But Requires Education to Avoid Disaster

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 18:34

Kevin O’Leary says Bitcoin is an asset, but not a viable currency - investors who don’t understand should stay out.

Shark Tank investor Kevin O’Leary has offered both encouragement and warning to Bitcoin investors in a recent interview on CNBC’s Make It. He offered a stiff warning for those who don’t understand Bitcoin, and an encouragement that the cryptocurrency is definitely an asset, if not a viable currency.

O’Leary was quick to point out that those wanting to invest in Bitcoin but who don’t understand it may create a ‘cocktail for disaster.’ He said:

"I'm quite sure that 99 percent of the people that own Bitcoin do not understand how it works. That always is a cocktail for disaster. You should never invest in something you don't understand.”

Not a viable currency, but successful asset

Additionally, O’Leary made it clear that, at this stage, Bitcoin is not suitable as a currency for transactions. In his own experience, he was unable to complete a $200,000 transaction because the other party was concerned over volatility.

Nevertheless, the famous investor was not completely down on Bitcoin either. He views the cryptocurrency as one of the most successful assets in the world, based on global speculation. 

In the final analysis, he concluded, Bitcoin may go up or down, and so it’s more of a gamble than an investment. He advises investors to only put in what they can afford to lose, saying:

"I don't know if it is going to $40,000 or zero, and nobody knows. So, I just think it is a wonderful entertainment, just like a slot machine is, or putting chips on a roulette wheel. Right now it is fun, exciting, entertaining. As long as you can afford to lose everything you put into it, go with it.”

Bitcoin, Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, IOTA, Litecoin, Dash: Price Analysis, December 16

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 14:51

Again Bitcoin is breaking records, Ethereum has dropped pretty low, but managed to recover. See what else.

The views and opinions expressed here are solely those of authors/contributors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Cointelegraph.com. Every investment and trading move involves risk, you should conduct your own research when making a decision.

Bitcoin futures trading volume in its first week was only a fraction of cash Bitcoin transactions. Futures volume has been abysmal at $60 mln per day, compared to the cash transactions of $8.5 bln each day.  

However, come Sunday, the CME will start Bitcoin futures trading. Additionally, large brokerage houses are likely to follow suit and allow their clients to trade in Bitcoin futures. If this happens, we are likely to see the futures volume pick up.

Will the participation of more traditional investors boost the market capitalization of Bitcoin and the cryptocurrency universe? Max Keiser who hosts the Keiser Report on RT certainly thinks so. He believes that futures trading will help the cryptocurrency market capitalization reach  $1 tln and higher.

Notwithstanding, these are predictions for the long-term. Let’s look at the charts to find out the likely movement of cryptocurrencies in the short-term.

BTC/USD

Bitcoin broke out to new lifetime highs yesterday after a three-day consolidation. This is a bullish development.

The breakout opens up a pattern target of $24,291.58 for Bitcoin. However, this target is unlikely to be achieved in a hurry. The cryptocurrency is likely to face some resistance at  $20,000.

Our bullish view will be invalidated if the bears overpower the bulls and sink the digital currency below $15,200 levels.

With the start of futures trading on CME, we can expect an increase in volatility. Therefore, traders should reduce their position size for the next few days until volatility subsides.

Intraday traders, however, will get ample opportunity to place bets on both sides of the trade.  

ETH/USD

Ethereum fell to a low of $610.03 yesterday, close to our expectation of a fall to the 50 percent Fibonacci retracement level.

The long tail yesterday shows that bulls are eager to buy the dips. However, failure to break out to new lifetime highs shows that they are booking profits at higher levels. As a result, Ethereum is likely to remain range-bound until the price breaches $610.03 on the downside or $780 on the upside.

However, if the bulls’ breakout to new highs and sustain it, the next target on the cryptocurrency is $995.99.

These targets are only assumptions based on technical analysis. Many times these targets are not met and we change our view accordingly. Therefore, traders should always trail their stops higher to safeguard their profits and not be fixated only on the target.

BCH/USD

We are in the money on our trade in Bitcoin Cash. So, does the chart pattern suggest further upside or has the rally run its course?  

The cryptocurrency broke out and closed above the range on Dec. 14. This should have ideally propelled Bitcoin Cash towards its target objective of $2,387. However, it could not cross $2,100 levels.

Subsequently, bears attempted to push the cryptocurrency back into the range. However, the bulls have managed to close above $1,758 levels for the past three days, which is a positive sign.

The next up move will start once the price breaks out of $1,950 levels. Hence, please hold the positions with the stop-loss at breakeven. The bullish view will be negated once the price sinks below $1,520 levels.

XRP/USD

In our previous analysis we had recommended traders to book partial profits because we expected a strong resistance at $0.86 levels. On Dec. 14, Ripple topped out at $0.88268 levels.

On Dec. 15 the cryptocurrency pulled back to the 38.2 percent Fibonacci retracement of the rally. Nonetheless, the lower levels continue to attract buying from the bulls. We expect the bulls to attempt to break out of the lifetime highs again. If successful, Ripple will make a dash towards $1 levels and higher.

However, if bulls fail to breakout and sustain above the lifetime highs, we are likely to witness a few days of range-bound trading between $0.61 on the lower end and $0.88268 on the upper end.  

IOTA/USD

We anticipated a fall towards the 20-day EMA and that is what happened. On Dec. 14 and 15 IOTA fell close to the 50 percent Fibonacci retracement levels of the rally.

The bulls purchased the fall to the critical support levels. However, the cryptocurrency continues to face resistance on every rise.

The chart pattern will become bullish in the short-term only on a breakout and close above the downtrend line, above which a rally to the lifetime highs is likely.

Nevertheless, if price fails to breakout of the downtrend line, it will lead to the formation of a descending triangle pattern, which is a bearish development.

The cryptocurrency will become negative on a breakdown and close below the critical support level of $3.032.

LTC/USD

We had forecast a period of correction/consolidation in our previous analysis and that is what we got.

As expected, the bulls purchased the dips to $243.86 levels, which is the 38.2 percent Fibonacci retracement of the rally. However, we believe that the levels between $300 and $342.237 will continue to act as a stiff resistance. We believe that after the sharp rally, Litecoin will be range-bound for the next few days.

Notwithstanding, if the bulls’ breakout to new lifetime highs, then the next target objective on the upside is a rally to $497.53.

DASH/USD

Though Dash has not run away to its target of $1,199.01, it’s sustaining above $815 levels, which is a positive indication. Bears attempted to push the cryptocurrency back below $815 levels on Dec. 15, however, they were unsuccessful.

This increases the possibility of an upside breakout of $979 and a rally towards the target objective. The bullish view will be invalidated if the digital currency falls and sustains below $815.

Traders who had purchased long positions on our earlier analysis should raise their stops to $780 on the remaining 50 percent positions.

The market data is provided by the HitBTC exchange.

Traditional Banks Hate Crypto: Expert Blog

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 10:57

Why banks compliances are not willing to understand cryptoworld?

Expert Blog is Cointelegraph’s new series of articles by crypto industry leaders. It covers everything from Blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies to ICO regulation and investment analysis. If you want to become our guest author and get published on Cointelegraph, please send us an email at mike@cointelegraph.com.

Digital currency’s total market capitalization is around $500 bln and the total funds raised through ICOs now exceeds $3 bln. However, the Bubble Generation isn’t accepted by traditional banks (even by neobanks). Various banks around the world are not happy about people buying Bitcoin. We have seen multiple banks close customer accounts because of this activity.

South Korea banned its traditional banks from dealing in virtual currencies. The hyper-wired country has emerged as a hotbed for cryptocurrency trading, accounting for some 20 percent of global Bitcoin transactions. That’s about 10 times its share of the world economy. Roughly one mln South Koreans are estimated to own Bitcoins. South Korea’s government also will ban minors and foreigners from trading in virtual currency or creating bank accounts for them in the country.

Banks have "little or no appetite" to get involved with Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies due to fears of a bubble and illicit activity associated with it, the chief executive of Credit Suisse said. The chief financial officer of ING also weighed in on cryptocurrency worries, saying that although digital assets are an effective means of exchange, the bank was not advising clients to in invest in them. TD Bank is actually trying to block Bitcoin purchases as well, although the company is mainly performing routine checks by the looks of things.

The PNC bank recently threatened one of their customers for purchasing Bitcoin. Barclays closed down a student’s account after his dealings in Bitcoin. British banks are shunning companies that handle cryptocurrencies, forcing many to open accounts in Gibraltar, Poland and Bulgaria. Anson Zeall, the head of Singapore’s Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Industry Association or Access, said his organization had heard from 10 companies which had encountered problems with their banking relationships in Singapore. Chia Hock Lai, president of the Singapore Fintech Association, said some of his organization’s members also experienced account closures.

A few months ago, Visa announced it would suspend all crypto debit cards outside of the European Economic Area. It now turns out Mastercard will be doing the exact same thing. Josh Brown, the chief executive officer of Ritholtz Wealth Management, bought some crypto. Still, Brown, who helps manage half a billion dollars, isn’t really a convert quite yet.

Let's call things by their own names - traditional banks hate crypto. But this hatred is stemming from the lack of understanding, fear of uncertainty and laziness rather than anger. Why are banks not willing to understand your issues? First, they already have a large and understandable business and they are not interested in a new and small one. Second, imagine a specialist in compliance. He/she is 40/50 years old, not highly paid, without any career perspectives.

Their mindset is built on the past (instead of the future) and their decisions are conditioned on avoiding bad things instead of growing new ones. They see a lot of transactions daily and finally they see some odd transaction after the conversion of crypto, and … they block it. Why? Not because they are bad people. Simply because they don’t know anything about Blockchain, cryptocurrencies and ICOs. In their world, "everything that is odd is forbidden” and if they make a mistake, they will be fired. Therefore, they send a page or two of dreary questions, and then simply block the account.

Why can’t the existing 25 crypto-friendly cards and newborn eight ICO-backed crypto-friendly neobanks can’t solve this problem? Since these are half-hearted solutions (it's like gluing more and more plasters on the arm affected by gangrene). You depend on your partner bank. And if you reach some large amounts within its cash flows (in fact the business strategy of such partner banks that agree to such an additional risk is to "drown" your transactions in their core business so that they are not noticed, and receive additional income for the risk), the risks that this bank will be approached by senior bankers (regulators and correspondent banks) and asked to stop working with you are not eliminated but simply deferred to a later date. It is the reason why I am looking for a bank in the US to buy – to be focused only on this type of startup and this type of “source of funds.”

Vladislav Solodkiy

Bio: Vladislav Solodkiy, managing partner at Life.SREDA, Singapore-based fintech-VC, author of The First Fintech Bank’s Arrival book.

Breaking: Researchers Reveal First-Ever Complete Quantum Chip Architecture

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 08:43

Researchers have revealed a new architecture that could solve the stability issues facing quantum computers.

Researchers at the University of New South Wales have revealed an architectural structure that solves some of the stability issues that are facing quantum computing scientists, according to a recent report.

The new architecture, which the report compared in significance to landing a man on the Moon, utilizes currently available processors to organize how each ‘spin qubit’ is kept stable and interacts with those around it.

By building a grid of silicon transistors to control the spin and interaction of each qubit (qubits are the building block of a quantum computer), the researchers have been able to stabilize interactions between them, the sticking point of quantum computing to date. The author, Menno Veldhorst, says:

"By selecting electrodes above a qubit, we can control a qubit's spin, which stores the quantum binary code of a 0 or 1. And by selecting electrodes between the qubits, two-qubit logic interactions, or calculations, can be performed between qubits.”

While the research moves the technology forward, the report indicates that there is still more to do to create a commercially viable technology.

Quantum Blockchain security

According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon, quantum computing could theoretically be used to break through the encryption mechanism of Blockchain technology, putting the security of the network at risk.

The risks associated with the quantum computing, however, are somewhat distant, potentially giving researchers time to build encryption ‘patches’ that will handle the quantum computing risks.

Hit On Net Neutrality Could Be Blow To Bitcoin

Sat, 12/16/2017 - 05:40

The FCC recently repeals Net Neutrality laws in the US, and there is a fear it could affect Bitcoin.

FCC head Ajit Pai has managed to deal a major blow to free and neutral Internet usage by repealing the so-called Net Neutrality laws. Effectively, this allows broadband companies the power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences.

Effectively, the likes of AT&T and Comcast now have the ability to block certain websites to their customers or even charge more for usage of them. Now, the broadband providers can influence what sites of the Internet are used.

For Bitcoin, this could have huge implications as the digital currency operates totally online and within the sights of these companies. Bitcoin and its related sectors have also been eyed suspiciously by traditional monopolies, and their stance in the eyes of these broadband providers is yet to be known.

Choosing a preferred exchange

For the everyday Bitcoin user, in the US for this instance, there is a pretty familiar pattern.

The man on the street logs on to Coinbase buys his Ethereum, Bitcoin or Litecoin and operates from there. The exchange is the on-ramp and the exchange is also an easy target without Net Neutrality laws.

Marvin Ammori, lawyer for the advocacy group Fight for the Future told Motherboard:

“The average person goes to Coinbase to buy Bitcoin, Ethereum or Litecoin—the average on-ramp is an exchange, and those are easy to block. If Comcast is the monopoly provider in an area, the provider could decide there’s a preferred Bitcoin exchange.”

Potential catastrophe

While this is still hypothetical, it essentially means a new weapon has been minted in the fight against Bitcoin. For instance, these ISPs, under the pressure of governments or other major institutions, could set in motion ways to stop access to cryptocurrency exchanges.

The likes of Coinbase and other major exchanges have worked hard to grow their reputation and assure people of a safe cryptocurrency space. But if they are shut down or hindered to a point where they are unusable, many crypto-enthusiasts will be left stranded.

However, if these ISPs do decide to let Bitcoin live on, there is every chance they will use their new-found power to squeeze the most out of them. Prefered Exchanges will be given preference - and preferred will no doubt mean centralized.

According to Cornell University computer science professor Emin Gün Sirer, even if popular sites like Coinbase can pony up and pay a service provider for faster traffic in the name of good business, individual uses of Cryptocurrencies could still suffer.

“Peer-to-peer applications may be greatly affected because they’re not in the top 100 most popular destinations on the web. Providers can make the case that supporting those non-top-100 services costs more, and users have to bear that cost.”

“My worry is it will affect the ability to run your own node.”

A ‘node’ is one of many computers that communicate with each other to run the decentralized network of a cryptocurrency. Throttling nodes would require a service provider to manage traffic at the IP level, and not simply look for a particular protocol.

Where to go?

This could put an end to many’s foray into the world of cryptocurrency, shutting down the disruptive force on many different established sectors. However, those who do stay would then be forced back down the dark path of Bitcoin’s past - onto the darknet and other illegal marketplaces.

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