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Mt Gox Fallout: Lawsuit Against Mizuho Bank Approved by US Judge

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A federal judge in Chicago has ruled that a U.S. lawsuit claiming that Japan’s Mizuho Bank inflated customers’ losses directly by limiting withdrawals from their Mt Gox accounts, as the now-defunct exchange’s banking partner, can move forward. Furthermore, the Judge also rejected the bank’s argument that the case should be moved to Japan from the […]

The post Mt Gox Fallout: Lawsuit Against Mizuho Bank Approved by US Judge appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Money talks: Bitcoin lessons

The Economist, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

THE DIGITAL CURRENCY was created to challenge existing financial institutions, but may end up helping bankers 20160315 19:59:15 Comment Expiry Date:  Wed, 2016-03-30

The Block Size Debate From A Miner’s Perspective

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

In a clearly stated analysis and opinion blog post about the costs and benefits of doing either a hard fork to a 2 MB block size limit versus going with the “Hong Kong Compromise” Segregated Witness (Segwit) upgrade, Sam Cole offers the perspective from that of a Bitcoin miner in what options lie ahead. From a […]

The post The Block Size Debate From A Miner’s Perspective appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Bitcoin 3.0 Tech BitShares Surges As OpenLedger Launches World’s First Decentralized Conglomerate

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin Press Releases: Based on BitShares Bitcoin 3.0 technology, OpenLedger is pleased to announce the world’s first Decentralized Conglomerate: a platform which allows organizations to invest in each other and share profits in a fully decentralized manner. Most recently launched BTSR and OBITS tokens are defining their place as emerging ecosystems on the OpenLedger platform. […]

The post Bitcoin 3.0 Tech BitShares Surges As OpenLedger Launches World’s First Decentralized Conglomerate appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

This startup that finances student loans just raised $171 million

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Student loan debt

While student loans are common in the U.S., our European counterparts have rarely had to deal with them because university-level education is either completely or almost completely subsidized by the government.

But that has started to change, so more youths and their families have started to pay out of pocket for college education.

That has created an opportunity for Irish startup Future Finance, which uses big-data algorithms to assess students' financial status and then provides loans based on that.

The company has announced a new £119 million ($171 million) in funding, including £19 million in equity and £100 million for future loans made through the platform, according to TechCrunch.

The Dublin-based Future Finance has gone live in the U.K. and Germany and has plans to expand into more European nations, according to co-founder and CEO Brian Norton.

This latest investment round brings in some noteworthy investors, including QED Investors, which has significant interest in U.S. fintech. Future Finance also said that Goldman Sachs has been supportive by providing funds for the £25 million in loans that Future Finance has paid out thus far.

Future Finance also said it has received 37,000 applications and has seen year-over-year loan growth of 900%.

The Irish company has an opportunity to capitalize on a growing market in the U.K., which is the hallmark of any great fintech company that wants to thrive in this new era, the most profound period of change for financial services companies since the 1970s brought us index mutual funds, discount brokers and ATMs.

No firm is immune from the coming disruption and every company must have a strategy to harness the powerful advantages of the new fintech revolution.

The battle already underway will create surprising winners and stunned losers among some of the most powerful names in the financial world: The most contentious conflicts (and partnerships) will be between startups that are completely reengineering decades-old practices, traditional power players who are furiously trying to adapt with their own innovations, and total disruption of established technology & processes:

  • Traditional Retail Banks vs. Online-Only Banks: Traditional retail banks provide a valuable service, but online-only banks can offer many of the same services with higher rates and lower fees

  • Traditional Lenders vs. Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces: P2P lending marketplaces are growing much faster than traditional lenders—only time will tell if the banks strategy of creating their own small loan networks will be successful

  • Traditional Asset Managers vs. Robo-Advisors: Robo-advisors like Betterment offer lower fees, lower minimums and solid returns to investors, but the much larger traditional asset managers are creating their own robo-products while providing the kind of handholding that high net worth clients are willing to pay handsomely for.

As you can see, this very fluid environment is creating winners and losers before your eyes…and it’s also creating the potential for new cost savings or growth opportunities for both you and your company.

After months of researching and reporting this important trend, Evan Bakker, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has put together an essential report on the fintech ecosystem that explains the new landscape, identifies the ripest areas for disruption, and highlights the some of the most exciting new companies. These new players have the potential to become the next Visa, Paypal or Charles Schwab because they have the potential to transform important areas of the financial services industry like:

  • Retail banking

  • Lending and Financing

  • Payments and Transfers
  • 
Wealth and Asset Management

  • Markets and Exchanges

  • Insurance

  • Blockchain Transactions


If you work in any of these sectors, it’s important for you to understand how the fintech revolution will change your business and possibly even your career. And if you’re employed in any part of the digital economy, you’ll want to know how you can exploit these new technologies to make your employer more efficient, flexible and profitable.       

Fintech Ecosystem Cover

Among the big picture insights you'll get from The Fintech Ecosystem Report: Measuring the effects of technology on the entire financial services industry:

  • Why financial technology is so disruptive to financial services—it will soon change the nature of almost every financial activity, from banking to payments to wealth management.
  • The basic conflict will be between old firms and new—startups are re-imagining financial services processes from top to bottom, while incumbent financial services firms are trying to keep up with new products of their own.
  • Both sides face serious obstacles—traditional banks and financial services firms are investing heavily in innovation, but leveraging their investments is difficult with so much invested in legacy systems and profit centers.
  • Meanwhile, startups are struggling to navigate a rapidly-changing regulatory landscape and must scale up quickly with limited resources.
  • The blockchain is a wild card that could completely overhaul financial services. Both major banks and startups around the world are exploring the technology behind the blockchain, which stores and records Bitcoin transactions. This technology could lower the cost of many financial activities to near-zero and could wipe away many traditional banking activities completely.

This exclusive report also:

  • Explains the main growth drivers of the exploding fintech ecosystem.
  • Frames the challenges and opportunities faced by incumbents and startups.
  • Breaks down global and regional fintech investments, including which regions are the most significant and which are poised for the highest growth.
  • Reveals which two financial services are garnering the most investment, and are therefore likely to be transformed first and fastest by fintech
  • Explains why blockchain technology is critically important to banks and startups, and assesses which players stand to gain the most from it.
  • Explores the financial sectors facing disruption and breaks them down in terms of investments, vulnerabilities and growth opportunities.
  • And much more.

The Fintech Ecosystem Report: Measuring the effects of technology on the entire financial services industry is how you get the full story on the fintech revolution.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide to the fintech revolution, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the fast-moving world of financial technology.

Join the conversation about this story »

This is Square's plan to maintain its growth after a successful first quarter (SQ)

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Square Usage

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Payments Industry Insider" subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

Fresh off its immensely successful first quarter as a public company, Square is looking to expand beyond its core business.

Mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) has been Square's bread and butter, but the company announced in its first earnings call that it plans to create a strong software and client services division to complement its main business.

Square is putting a lot of effort into Square Capital, which generated more than $400 million in loans through more than 70,000 advances in 2015. It's noteworthy that 38% of those came in the fourth quarter.

Merchant borrowers are using this capital for long-term investments such as equipment, which indicates that Square could benefit if it were to attract and renew clients to solidify this revenue stream, notes Jaime Toplin, research associate for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service.

Square is also growing Square Instant Deposit, which allows merchants to transfer funds from sales immediately into their bank accounts for a 1% fee. This program has attracted more than 58,000 users since it debuted in August and has processed more than 600,000 deposits. The draw here is in the speed, as these types of transactions typically take three to five business days.

Square Invoices, the company's digital invoicing platform, has collected 100,000 active sellers in approximately 18 months. Software like this could keep Square competitive as invoicing firms such as FreshBooks push into the mPOS market.

The expansion of its software and services business could diversify Square's business enough to help it maintain its growth. The company said in an S-1 filing ahead of its IPO in November that it was not yet profitable, but that could be attributed to the company's youth. But the software and services businesses could help generate revenue for the company and foster loyalty with merchants.

Square's growth will be a topic to watch in the coming months, as the company is one piece of the way consumers' payment habits are changing. Mobile payments are becoming more common thanks to companies like Square, but that's just the beginning.

Evan Bakker and John Heggestuen, analysts at BI Intelligence, have compiled a detailed report on the payments ecosystem that drills into the industry to explain how a broad range of transactions are processed, including prepaid and store cards, as well as revealing which types of companies are in the best and worst position to capitalize on the latest industry trends.

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Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • 2016 will be a watershed year for the payments industry. Payments companies are improving security, expanding their mobile offerings, and building commerce capabilities that will give consumers a more compelling reason to make purchases using digital devices.
  • Payments is an extremely complex industry. To understand the next big digital opportunity lies, it's critical to understand how the traditional credit- and debit-processing chain works and what roles acquirers, processors, issuing banks, card networks, independent sales organizations, gateways, and software and hardware providers play.
  • Alternative technologies could disrupt the processing ecosystem. Devices ranging from refrigerators to smartwatches now feature payment capabilities, which will spur changes in consumer payment behaviors. Likewise, blockchain technology, the protocol that underlies Bitcoin, could one day change how consumer card payments are verified.

In full, the report:

  • Uncovers the key themes and trends affecting the payments industry in 2016 and beyond.
  • Gives a detailed description of the stakeholders involved in a payment transaction, along with hardware and software providers.
  • Offers diagrams and infographics explaining how card transactions are processed and which players are involved in each step.
  • Provides charts on our latest forecasts, key company growth, survey results, and more.
  • Analyzes the alternative technologies, including blockchain, which could further disrupt the ecosystem.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose one of these options:

  1. Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP
  2. Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the payments ecosystem.

 

Join the conversation about this story »

Ether Cloud Mining Profitably Headed to the Moon

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin Press Releases: Those who’ve purchased Ether Cloud mining contracts have experiencing rapid ROI, said Genesis Mining, the world’s leading Cloud Mining provider with over 130,000 active customers. The return came as the Ether price rose significantly over the last 6 months where the price began at $0.89,  ending today at $12, representing a 1350% […]

The post Ether Cloud Mining Profitably Headed to the Moon appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

BTCC's Sampson Mow on Block Size: The Bitcoin Community Must See Through Manipulation, Keep Calm and Write Code

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Samson Mow is the Chief Operating Officer of Chinese Bitcoin exchange, wallet service and mining pool BTCC. A successful executive in the...

The post BTCC's Sampson Mow on Block Size: The Bitcoin Community Must See Through Manipulation, Keep Calm and Write Code appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Ohlala CEO Pia Poppenreiter on what 'paid dating' really means

Engadget, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Ohlala, an app that facilitates "paid dates," caused a ripple of raised eyebrows when it launched in New York last month. Despite Ohlala's insistence that it is not about paying for sex, people had a hard time figuring out what it really was for. The...

Mizuho to face U.S. lawsuit over Mt Gox bitcoin losses: ruling

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A man walks past a signboard of Mizuho Bank ATM outside its headquarters in Tokyo, Japan, November 12, 2015. REUTERS/Yuya Shino

By Dena Aubin

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A U.S. lawsuit accusing Japan's Mizuho Bank of concealing problems at the now-bankrupt Tokyo-based Mt Gox bitcoin exchange can move forward, a federal judge in Chicago has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Gary Feinerman rejected on Monday the bank's argument that the case belongs in Japan, finding that the hardship to the bank from trying the case in the United States would be no more than that "routinely tolerated by courts."

Mizuho provided banking services for the exchange and handled all deposits for U.S. customers. It is part of Mizuho Financial Group Inc <8411.T>, one of Japan's largest banks by assets.

The proposed class action on behalf of the exchange's U.S. customers was filed in February 2014, the same month Mt Gox filed for bankruptcy after losing an estimated half a billion dollars worth of customers' bitcoin digital currency. Once the world's largest exchange for bitcoins, Mt Gox blamed hackers for stealing the vanished currency.

Customers agreed to settle their claims against Mt Gox in April 2014, reaching a deal with outside investors and creditors to receive a share of recovered assets.

The lawsuit claims Mizuho inflated customers' losses by limiting withdrawals from their Mt Gox accounts in mid-2013, following reports of a U.S. government investigation into the exchange. At the same time, Mizuho continued to accept deposits from Mt Gox users, the lawsuit said.

Customers who complained about withdrawal delays were told by the exchange that they were due to technical problems, the lawsuit said. Although Mizuho knew these statements were false, it "stood silent while allowing the public to continue being duped," the lawsuit said.

Jay Edelson, a lawyer for the Mt Gox customers, said he was pleased with Monday's decision. "The court rightfully held that these victims are entitled to have their day in a U.S. court," he said in an emailed message on Tuesday.

Lawyers and a U.S. spokesman for Mizuho Bank did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In court filings, lawyers for the bank said it had nothing to do with Mt Gox's collapse or its customers' losses. They also said the Chicago court did not have jurisdiction over the case because the disputed activities took place in Japan.

But Feinerman rejected that argument, noting that the bank knowingly accepted deposits from U.S. residents.

The case is Greene v Mt Gox, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois, No 14-cv-1437

(Reporting By Dena Aubin; Editing by Anthony Lin and Alan Crosby)

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OB1 CEO Brian Hoffman Explains Levels of Anonymity in OpenBazaar

Bitcoin Magazine, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Many people in the Bitcoin community see OpenBazaar as the next iteration of darknet marketplaces, but the first version of this network...

The post OB1 CEO Brian Hoffman Explains Levels of Anonymity in OpenBazaar appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

Arcade City Uses Blockchain Tech to Take on Uber

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Driver-owned ridesharing startup Arcade City, the developer of an open marketplace where riders connect directly with drivers by leveraging blockchain technology has now launched its mobile application for Apple iOS and Google Android devices. Ridesharing startup Arcade City has launched its mobile application that will be available at Apple and Android app stores. The platform […]

The post Arcade City Uses Blockchain Tech to Take on Uber appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Bitcoin Price Meets A Watershed

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Bitcoin price is drawing sideways above $410. With plenty of volume – both on the buy and the sell side – we can expect that the market will soon choose a direction. Clear support and resistance close to the area of price will give an early indication of trend. This analysis is provided by xbt.social […]

The post Bitcoin Price Meets A Watershed appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

USAA Integrates Bitcoin Access to All Member Accounts

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Following an initial pilot run which saw select USAA employees and members view their Coinbase accounts via the website and the mobile application, the USAA is now expanding bitcoin integration via Coinbase for all member accounts. In a post yesterday, USAA announced that all account holders will be able to view their Coinbase accounts in […]

The post USAA Integrates Bitcoin Access to All Member Accounts appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Uphold has a $17 million stake in the speculative, non-tradable cryptocurrency it said it was 'not actively trading'

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

Halsey Minor

It turns out that the relationship between fintech startup Uphold and the speculative, non-tradable cryptocurrency "Voxel" it's holding in its coffers is more complex than we first thought.

Business Insider reported last month that Uphold was holding $116 million (£81.9 million) in Voxels, a new digital currency issued by a separate company called Voxelus. (The value of the holding has since shifted to $115.95 million.)

Uphold is a "cloud money" platform — it lets you hold, move, and convert money cheaply on its online platform. It caters for 25 currencies, including bitcoin, and 4 precious metals.

Voxelus, meanwhile, is a virtual reality company aiming to build a marketplace for virtual reality goods and objects. The Voxel was created as the "coin of the realm" for this new virtual reality marketplace, yet to be launched.

Voxelus's co-founder and chairman, Halsey Minor, is also the co-founder and chair of Uphold. Voxelus is issuing the new cryptocurrency while Uphold is offering to hold it and build a market infrastructure.

When BI first reported on the deal, Uphold's CEO Anthony Watson told BI there was no conflict of interest in the contract despite Minor's role at both companies. He also insisted that the company had no financial interest in the Voxel's success and said that the Voxels it was holding were held on behalf of clients.

He told BI: "Let's say Voxel goes to zero tomorrow — no one's interested in it, no one wants to buy it. That makes zero difference to us. We're simply holding it in wallets. We're not actively trading it and we're not actively backing the asset either."

"The reason why we have a large amount of Voxel on our platform is because we are the only company, so far, that allows you to hold Voxel in your digital wallet."

But the reality is a little more complex. Subsequent digging around shows that Uphold disclosed in a letter to investors sent out in January that: "In exchange for distribution and support of VOX, the first virtual currency with a clearly defined use case, Uphold owns 15% of the float."

Uphold's 15% stake in all the Voxels issued works out at around $17.4 million (£12.3 million), according to the price currently marked on Uphold's exchange. Currently, the currency is completely untradeable. Seven exchanges will begin trading the currency in early April, according to Uphold and Voxelus, but until then there's no easy way to work out its value.

Minor, chair of both companies, told BI that Uphold is currently marking the stake as zero on its balance sheet. He told us: "We factored zero revenue in. It doesn’t mean we won’t generate revenue from Voxels but for purposes of projecting for our shareholders the answer is no [we're not forecasting revenue]."

Anthony Watson Bitreserve Uphold CEOSo it's technically true that it will make no difference to Uphold if Voxel goes to zero or thereabouts once it starts publically trading. But it will make a difference if the price holds up or rises — something that wasn't immediately clear from our last conversation with the company.

It would make a significant difference in fact. The company didn't disclose revenue for 2015 in its investor letter but says it is forecasting revenue of $15.3 million (£10.8 million) in 2016. Remember, Voxel is currently marked as zero for projections so if it holds up, Uphold's revenues would more than double overnight.

Minor told BI that the cost to Uphold of doing this project has been pretty significant. Uphold is building the payments system for Voxelus that will allow people to buy and sell Voxels and is also building other market infrastructure.

Minor says: "More than half of our engineering team has been working on this almost non-stop for three months. There’s not only a real cost but there’s also a replacement cost from all the other things that we have not been doing. It’s a significant effort to support this. It’s like supporting bitcoin again."

There's also financial risk for Uphold. Minor says: "The 15% was provided [to Uphold] for providing all of the services and taking the financial risk of holding the Voxels, which has been proven by other exchanges like Mt Gox and more recently Cryptsy, as a significant risk. But there’s no better security team on the internet period, probably including all banks, than our security team."

There was no tender process run for the Voxel's support contract but Minor says: "There is no other company [besides Uphold] that can actually do it. If you think about it, the only people that can accept bitcoin, they don’t do what we do. I know the market well enough to know that there isn’t anybody that can do this.

"I’m the majority shareholder and chairman of Voxelus so even if we did [run a tender process] I would be making the decision. Between myself and the employees [of Voxelus] we decided we’d do this."

Despite the costs and risks Uphold faces, Minor says the project is a net benefit to Uphold even if the monetary component of the deal falls through. "While it’s taken time and money, it is a calling card for going out and doing this for other games, for airline miles. So even though it’s a cost, it ultimately creates a very effective use case that Uphold will market."

"What we’re trying to do is innovate. Because I invented both these companies, I can see their intersections and that shows a killer opportunity for both. I guarantee you, you watch how many other companies do what we do after we launch."VoxelMinor is also bullish on the prospects of Voxels once they begin publically trading towards the end of the month and especially when Voxelus' virtual reality marketplace launches (scheduled for October). While it could go to zero, he doesn't think it will.

Minor says: "My opinion has been that bitcoin is not the one currency that’s going to take over the world, it’s really the progenitor, the prototype of what lots of currencies are going to look like. Rather than be geographic, currencies can be industry specific. Currencies are what you believe in."

"The key difference between the Voxel and all these other alternative currencies is the Voxel is the only way you can buy content in the game. If the game ends up having $3 billion a year revenue, that means $3 billion of transactions have to be executed with the Voxel. If it ends up having 300 million who use it then the Voxel currency will have basically the same reach as the dollar has. This currency is going to be needed by everyone who wants to transact."

Uphold's investor letter discloses that the company has so far raised $20 million (£14.1 million) at a valuation of $124.9 million (£88.2 million). Uphold currently has $5.6 million (£3.9 million) of investor funds on its platform, not including the Voxel holding.

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US Congress and Senate Need An Education On Blockchain

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

It’s no secret that lobbyists and special interests groups can move mountains in the U.S. government, or any government for that matter. No interest group seems to be better banked than that of the financial institutions and U.S. Rep. David Schweikert, R.-Arizona has requested that experts and enthusiasts alike contact and educate their elected representatives […]

The post US Congress and Senate Need An Education On Blockchain appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

Man Charged With Unlicensed Money Laundering In Bitcoin-Related Case

CryptoCoins News, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A federal grand jury has charged one man with operating an unlicensed money transmitting business and two others with money laundering and related charges in the first bitcoin-related case before the Western District of New York, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Western District of New York. The grand jury has charged Richard […]

The post Man Charged With Unlicensed Money Laundering In Bitcoin-Related Case appeared first on CCN: Financial Bitcoin & Cryptocurrency News.

21 Inc Launches First Proof-of-Concept for Bitcoin Computer Network

CoinDesk, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

With its signature hardware product now shipping, 21 is seeking to roll out its next stage in development, a decentralized, bitcoin-incentivized grid.

Distressed asset buyers see silver lining as miners languish

Business Insider, 1/1/0001 12:00 AM PST

A trackhoe digs in the South Limb pit at Atlas Iron's Pardoo mine, near Port Hedland, about 1,600 km (960 miles) north of Perth, in this June 23, 2010 file photo.  REUTERS/Tim Wimborne/Files

By Melanie Burton and Swati Pandey

MELBOURNE/SYDNEY (Reuters) - After years on the sidelines, funds specializing in troubled assets are set to take center stage in the mining industry, driving deals in a sector where the top players alone plan to raise more than $30 billion through sales to cut debt.

Overall deal volume in mining and metals last year sank to its lowest level globally since 2003, according to Thomson Reuters data, as the industry's sellers, crippled by more than $1 trillion in debt, crowded a market with very few buyers.

Bankers, funds and investors, however, say that could change in 2016, as specialist buyers rethink a market where prices are languishing, mines are losing money and the traditional competition is weak.

Funds sidelined and waiting for the right deals could amount to as much as $3 billion, according to a ballpark figure from corporate finance and restructuring firm FTI Consulting.

"The longer this commodity rout continues, the greater number of restructures," David McCarthy, national leader for restructuring at Deloitte in Sydney, told Reuters.

"Some of those will be by existing financiers and existing equity holders. For others, the risk will be too great - and that's where distressed opportunities will (be)."

Oaktree Capital, the world's largest investor in distressed debt, opened an office in Sydney this month, in part at least because of the strain in mining, it said, particularly iron ore, where it sees potential for deals.

Others are targeting existing mines where the geology has already been proven - and not development projects - for gold, copper, zinc and rare minerals, all exposed to the later stages of the economic cycle and renewable energy.

"I think it will be a busy year for everyone in the industry," said Michael Ryan, a senior managing director of FTI Consulting in Perth.

"I expect to see a lot of restructuring and cost cutting work, debt for equity transactions, restructuring balance sheet type transactions, sales of assets, divestiture of non-key assets to further shore up (distressed miners') balance sheets."

In Australia's struggling iron ore sector for example, existing lenders to Atlas Iron agreed to take a haircut on repayments in return for a larger equity stake.

But steel and iron ore group Arrium , with nearly $2 billion of debt, had to look outside for help, turning to GSO Capital Partners, the global credit and alternative investment arm of PE behemoth Blackstone Group .

Earlier this month, it secured $927 million in funding to help Arrium retire debt and overhaul its business.

Media reports have said Cerberus Capital Management, another major U.S. investor in distressed assets, also considered a move on Arrium and remains on the sidelines. Cerberus did not respond to an emailed request for comment.

In November, global PE group Denham Capital backed Perth-based Auctus Minerals and its management team of mining restructure specialists with $130 million, as it bought battered Atherton Resources , which holds zinc and gold-copper resources in Queensland.

"If you invest equity into what makes money at current price levels, you also have the unlimited upside if, during the holding period, the market recovers," Denham Capital Managing Director Bert Koth told Reuters.

But the key question is how long these new financial investors can hold on to mining assets, given futures prices that suggest metals prices could languish for as long as another decade - the very cycles that have long kept private equity out of mining.

"People are saying we're probably at the bottom but what they don't know is how long we're going to stay at the bottom," FTI's Ryan said.

(Reporting by Melanie Burton in MELBOURNE and Swati Pandey in SYDNEY; Editing by Richard Pullin)

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