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Ether Price Analysis: Price Movement Shows Strong Market Value

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

Ether Price Analysis

What the heck is happening in the crypto world?  Is Ethereum finally dead?  Is ETH taking its last breaths?

Not likey. In fact, the recent pullback on the ETH-USD market is probably one of the best and healthiest things investors and traders could have asked for. Given ether’s 300% price rise in just over a month, this pullback has a left many traders and investors bullish on the ETH-USD market.

On a macro-scale, we can see ETH-USD had a very nice, textbook market correction along the 50% Fibonacci Retracement Line (shown in brown).  This test of the 50% line was immediately rejected and is illustrated by the massive spike in volume (shown in blue).  

For healthy, growing markets 50% retracements are a very common occurrence, and the market response to the retracement can be viewed as a sort of litmus test for the strength of a market (i.e. a positive rejection of the 50% line with upward price action tends to indicate the market still desires higher prices, and a negative move from the 50% line will typically indicates the market is still extended and thus overvalued).

ETHUSD Macro View.png

Figure 1:  ETHUSD, GDAX, 12HR Candles

Looking at the micro-trend, we see the strong price rejection bounced off the 50% Fibonacci Retracement Line and is currently in the process of forming what is known as an “Inverse Head and Shoulders” pattern. This pattern gets its name simply because it has the following, easily identifiable characters:

  • A well defined neckline (shown in yellow)

  • A break of the descending trend line (shown in brown)

  • A left shoulder, a head which makes the lowest peak, and a right shoulder

  • A re-test of the neckline (at the time this image was made, the market was testing the neckline)

  • Finally, to confirm the reversal pattern, volume usually needs to increase after the re-test of the neckline to gain strength in the upward movement.

ETHUSD Micro View.png

Figure 2:  ETHUSD, GDAX, 30Min Candles

This sort of pattern is often traded in FOREX and stock markets because it is seen as a reliable and predictable indication of future price movement.  Typical price projections for Inverse Head and Shoulders are easily calculated with the following formula:

Price Movement = Price of the Neck Line (~$350) - Price of the Head (~$250) = ~$100

Price Target for Trend = Price Movement + Neck Line Price = $450

Given the strength of the macro-trend’s rejection of the 50% Fibonacci Retracement Line and the current pattern forming on the 1-hour charts, we must then look to other indicators to give us further market insight. Two commonly used momentum indicators, RSI (Relative Strength Index) and the MACD (Moving Average Convergence Divergence), show us that the price increase from the initial, aforementioned 50% Fibonacci Retracement Line rejection is welcomed with a rising trend on both momentum indicators; this shows us that the price growth still has upward momentum.

Summary:
  1. Although the sudden price drop was a bit terrifying for many investors and traders, it was much needed and has now shown the strong market value of ether.  

  2. Now that we have proven the strength in the market, it is very likely we will see new price highs in our future before we see further tests of lower prices.

  3. On a macro level, ETH-USD sentiment still remains bullish; on a micro level, we are seeing strong indications of a trend reversal from the sudden bear market over the past few days.

The post Ether Price Analysis: Price Movement Shows Strong Market Value appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

BIP91: The SegWit Activation "Kludge" That Should Keep Bitcoin Whole

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

BIP91: The SegWit Activation "Kludge" That Should Keep Bitcoin Whole

Bitcoin’s long-lasting scaling debate appeared to be heading toward a climax lately, with two proposals gaining significant traction. At one end of the fence there is Bitcoin Improvement Proposal 148 (BIP148), a user activated soft fork (UASF) originally proposed by the pseudonymous developer “shaolinfry.” On the other, there’s SegWit2x, an agreement forged between a significant number of Bitcoin companies and miners.

The good news is that both of these proposals have a short-term solution in common: both plan to activate Segregated Witness (SegWit) this summer. The bad news is that the activation method of the two has differed, which could lead to a coin-split.

As of today, it seems this schism will be avoided — at least initially. The SegWit2x development team plans to implement BIP91, a proposal by Bitmain Warranty engineer James Hilliard that cleverly makes the two conflicting activation methods compatible.

Here’s how.

BIP141

The current implementation of Segregated Witness is defined by BIP141. This version is included in the latest Bitcoin Core releases, and is widely deployed on the Bitcoin network. BIP141 is activated through the activation method defined by BIP9. This means that 95 percent of all blocks within a two-week period need to include a piece of data: “bit 1.” This indicates that a miner is ready for the upgrade. As such, SegWit would be activated if the vast majority of miners are ready for it.

Or that was the intention. So far, only some 30 percent of hash power is signaling support for the upgrade. There is a lot of speculation as to why this is the case, but it almost certainly has nothing to do with (a lack of) readiness.

That’s why other activation methods are increasingly being considered.

BIP148

BIP148 is a user activated soft fork (UASF), specifically designed to trigger BIP141.

On August 1st, anyone running Bitcoin software that implemented BIP148 will start rejecting all blocks that do not include bit 1, the SegWit signalling data.

This means that if a mere majority of miners (by hash power) runs this software, they will reject all blocks from the minority of miners that does not. As a result, this majority of miners will always have the longest valid chain according to all Bitcoin nodes on the network. Consequently, all deployed BIP141 nodes will see a chain that includes over 95 percent of bit 1 blocks, meaning SegWit would be activated on the network.

However, if BIP148 is not supported by a majority of miners (by hash power), Bitcoin’s blockchain could split in two. In that case, there would effectively be two types of Bitcoin, where one activated BIP148 and the other did not. This may resolve over time — or it may not.

SegWit2x

SegWit2x (also referred to as “SegWit2MB” or “the Silbert Accord”), is the scaling agreement reached by a numer of Bitcoin companies and over 80 percent of miners (by hash power), drafted just before the Consensus 2017 conference.

For some time, the details surrounding SegWit2x were not very specific. As the name suggests, all that was really known was that SegWit was included in the agreement, and that it included a hard fork to double Bitcoin’s “base block size” to two megabytes.

And, of course, SegWit was meant to be implemented using a different activation method. Like the original BIP141 proposal, SegWit2x was to be activated by miners through hash power. But where BIP141 requires 95 percent hash power support, SegWit2x would only require 80 percent. Moreover, SegWit2x readiness would be signaled using another piece of activation data: “bit 4” instead of “bit 1.”

This makes SegWit2x largely incompatible with BIP141, and especially with BIP148: Different nodes would be looking at different activation bits, meaning they could activate SegWit under different circumstances and at different times; and that would mess up SegWit-specific block relay policy between nodes, potentially fracturing the network.

BIP91

Now, it seems BIP91 has provided the solution.

BIP91 is a proposal by Bitmain Warranty (not to be confused with Bitmain) engineer James Hilliard which was specifically designed to prevent a coin-split by making SegWit2x and BIP148 compatible.

The proposal resembles BIP148 to some extent. Upon activation of BIP91, all BIP91 nodes will reject any blocks that do not signal support for SegWit through bit 1. As such, if a majority of miners (by hash power) run BIP91, the longest valid Bitcoin chain will consist of SegWit-signaling blocks only, and all regular BIP141 SegWit nodes will activate the protocol upgrade.

Where BIP91 differs from BIP148 is that it doesn’t have a set activation date, but is instead triggered by hash power. BIP91 nodes will reject any non-SegWit signalling blocks if, and only if, 80 percent of blocks first indicate within two days that’s what they’ll do.

This indication is done with bit 4. As such, the Silbert Accord can technically be upheld — 80 percent hash power activation with bit 4 — while at the same time activating the existing SegWit proposal. And if this is done before August 1st, it’s also compatible with BIP148, since BIP148 nodes would reject non-bit 1 blocks just the same.

This proposal gives miners a little over six weeks to avoid a coin-split, under their own agreed-upon terms. With a SegWit2x launch date planned for July 21st, that should not be a problem… assuming that the miners actually follow through.

The post BIP91: The SegWit Activation "Kludge" That Should Keep Bitcoin Whole appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

The Moonbeam Scaling Network: A “Semi-Decentralized” Scaling Solution

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

Moonbeam scaling solution

Bitcoin exchange and hosted wallet provider Luno (formerly BitX) is developing a Bitcoin scaling solution called Moonbeam. Unlike the lightning network, Moonbeam does not require SegWit’s transaction malleability fix and would be able to operate on the Bitcoin network as it is today.

Moonbeam  aims to provide a way for multi-user Bitcoin platforms — such as exchanges, hosted wallets, and payment processors — to easily open standardized one-way payment channels with each other, and thereby offload the Bitcoin network from a growing number of transactions.

How Does it Work?

Moonbeam aims to take advantage of the fact that many Bitcoin transactions occur among multi-user platforms. Using Moonbeam, these platforms can open standardized one-way payment channel contracts with one another to facilitate payments. By taking these transactions off-chain, Moonbeam can reduce transaction fees for those who use it and benefit Bitcoin users generally by reducing congestion in the mempool.

These channels are simple smart contracts in which one party locks up a certain amount of bitcoins for a specified period of time (with the end point referred to as the “timeout”) for the purpose of sending payments to the other party. Before the timeout, the party that has locked up funds can send an unlimited number of off-chain transactions using those locked up bitcoins (until the channel runs out of bitcoins). Each channel involves only two on-chain transactions: one to open the channel and one to close it.

Because these intermediate transactions are off-chain, they are nearly instant. Without the need for a blockchain confirmation, the transactions only take as long as it takes to route an http request (think: loading a simple web page). These transactions would also be cheap. Only two transactions per channel require miner fees, and the rest are essentially free to the platform, though the platform could charge fees to its users.

The one-way payment channels used by Moonbeam are not a new invention. Bitcoin inventor Satoshi Nakamoto embedded preliminary code for payment channels in the very first release of Bitcoin, and more recent protocol upgrades like CheckLockTimeVerify have further enabled this usecase. Bitcoin platforms could negotiate and implement these smart contracts on the blockchain today.

What Moonbeam aims to do is facilitate the creation of these channels between major payment platforms by using the Domain Name System (DNS) to route communications related to creating and using these channels. This way, high volume platforms can easily discover one another and enter into a payment channel smart contact using the standardized Moonbeam terms. Using the Moonbeam protocol, this process can happen automatically when it is more efficient to open a channel than sending payments on-chain.

Trust

The Moonbeam project overview indicates that it is “semi-decentralized.” It is labeled as such because while the Moonbeam network does not require platforms to trust one another, it does require users to trust their platforms. A hosted wallet with a Moonbeam address is a custodial account, where the platform is managing the funds, and credits and debits user accounts accordingly as users send and receive transactions. Exchanges such as Coinbase operate in this manner; users do not directly control their private keys. Moonbeam can be a useful tool for these services, but it will likely not be a suitable scaling solution for users who prefer to manage their own private keys.

Other Downsides

The Moonbeam specification document also mentions several other potential downsides. Among them is the cost of capital. In order to open these channels, sending platforms must commit capital in the form of bitcoin for a period of time. If the receiver does not use the channel, the sending platform must wait until timeout to regain control of the funds, entailing potentially large financing costs.

Another risk involves the use of DNS. DNS hijacking is an attack that involves rerouting domain name requests to an attacker’s server. These attacks could be used to receive payments over new channels that were meant for the authentic server.

While Moonbeam does not offer the level of decentralization of the lightning network, the fact that it does not require any fork to the network may may make it an attractive solution to Bitcoin’s scaling troubles in the short term. It could be implemented by hosted wallet providers as soon as the project is production ready.

The current state of Moonbeam can be found on the project’s Github.

Luno was not available for comment for this article.


The post The Moonbeam Scaling Network: A “Semi-Decentralized” Scaling Solution appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get this newsletter delivered straight to your inbox. 

Wow.

Amazon is buying Whole Foods. The online giant said Friday it was buying the high-end grocer for $42 a share in an all-cash deal, valuing the company at $13.7 billion. Here's what you need to know:

In another deal, Walmart is acquiring Bonobos, the high-end men's retailer, for $310 million in cash. Here's what you need to know:

In other news, Wall Street is seeing money pour in at a near record-setting pace. Goldman Sachs raised $7 billion to buy secondhand stakes in private equity funds. And one of the hottest hedge fund launches of the year might've found itself a name.

The Fed is repeating its mistakes of the 1970s, according to Minneapolis Fed President Neel Kashkari. And the Fed's 4th rate hike could challenge a popular assumption investors make about stocks

There were two developments this week that could have huge consequences for Russia's oil.

In non-Amazon tech news:

In other news, these United emails reveal how terrified the airline has become of its customers. And a United Airlines employee brutally shoved an elderly passenger.

Lastly, the most powerful Audi R8 convertible supercar has arrived.

 

SEE ALSO: The 27 most important finance books ever written

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Here's why Amazon is buying Whole Foods (AMZN, WFM)

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

amazon fresh

Amazon swooped in to buy high-end grocer Whole Foods Friday, paying $13.7 billion — and a healthy 27% premium over the previous day's closing price.

So what's in it for Amazon? 

There are a couple strategic plays at work for the online-retailing giant. 

For starters, acquiring Whole Foods' 440 US stores — many of them in primo locations — will bolster the network for AmazonFresh, the company's online grocery delivery service.

"To ship efficiently groceries to consumers, you need physical distribution (item-picking to put parcels together, click & collect points) close to the consumer," analysts at Bernstein wrote in a research note. "Stores are ideally located for that. They won't look like stores in 5 years time, but they will be in those locations."

AmazonFresh's rollout has gone slower than expected, according to analysts at Credit Suisse.

The move also makes a lot of sense given the weapon Amazon unveiled back in March: AmazonFresh Pickup.

The service allows customers to order groceries online, then set a time for pickup as soon as 15 minutes after they place the order. There are only two locations, both in Seattle, so far, but AmazonFresh Pickup could scale up rapidly after Friday's deal. 

The move will improve the selection of grocery items for AmazonFresh users, as well as strengthen Amazon's bargaining position with suppliers, according to Credit Suisse.

Buying Whole Foods will also ramp up Amazon's private-label grocery business, an industry that is growing steadily in the the US and other developed markets, Bernstein noted. Whole Foods' 365 Everyday Value brand is already popular, and Amazon will be able to expand its footprint. 

"Developing [private label] is time consuming. This gets Amazon straight up the curve with a credible, albeit upmarket, range," Bernstein said in the research note. 

SEE ALSO: Amazon is buying Whole Foods for $13.7 billion

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South Korean Government to Auction $5.4 Million in Bitcoin

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

The South Korea government plans to auction 216 bitcoins that it confiscated during a 2016 criminal investigation, according to local reports.

Source

The most powerful Audi R8 convertible supercar has arrived

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

Audi R8 V10 Plus

The second generation Audi R8 V10 has proven over the past year that it's a more than worthy successor to its iconic predecessor. Now, Audi is adding a dose of fun in the sun to its hardcore R8 V10 Plus supercar with a drop-top Spyder variant.

On Friday, Audi unveiled the fourth and final member of its R8 supercar lineup.

"The Audi R8 Spyder V10 Plus completes the R8 model line," Audi Sport managing director, Stephan Winkelmann, said in a statement."The Spyder is now also available as a 610 hp top version in addition to the Coupé. It benefits from our many years of experience in motorsport and combines breathtaking dynamics with the emotion of an open-top sports car."

Like the hardtop R8 V10 Plus on which it is based, the Spyder gets a 610 horsepower version of Audi's breathtaking 5.2-liter V10 engine. The glorious powerplant is also shared with its corporate sibling, the Lamborghini Huracan.

Audi R8 V10 Plus SpyderMated to a water-cooled 7-speed twin-clutch transmission and Quattro all-wheel-drive, Audi claims the V10 Plus Spyder can hit 62 mph in just 3.3 seconds and a top speed of 203.8 mph.

Underneath the stylish bodywork lies a truly state-of-the-art Teutonic supercar. The R8 is built around Audi's aluminum and carbon fiber-heavy space frame designed to improve chassis rigidity and crash safety while reducing weight and vibrations. 

Inside, the Spyder is loaded with tech — including the latest version of Audi's multi-media interface and stunning virtual cockpit digital instrument display, winner of Business Insider's 2016 Infotainment System of the Year award

Audi R8 V10 Plus SpyderAs for the R8 V10 Plus Spyder 's soft top, the electro-hydraulically operated unit can open or close in just 20 seconds and can function at speeds up to 31.1 mph. 

For those looking for less intensity, a 540 horsepower version of the R8 V10 Spyder is already available.

The 2018 Audi R8 V10 Plus Spyder is currently available for orders with customer deliveries expected to commence later this summer. Official US pricing for Audi R8 V10 Plus Spyder has not yet been announced. However, we expect that figure to be a tad over $200,000. 

SEE ALSO: McLaren has unleashed its most affordable convertible yet

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Op Ed: Three Technical Requirements to Connect Blockchains Without a Token

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

Op Ed: Three Technical Requirements to Connect Blockchains Without a Token

In my last post, I was talking about how connecting all blockchains is the final stepping stone for mass-crypto adoption. Here I want to outline the technical building blocks with which this idea can be implemented.

Since I see a lot of downsides to having one large uber-blockchain connecting all others, I will focus on a token-LESS solution. This would have several advantages:

  • No need for an additional token.

  • Users can “remain” on their blockchain.

  • No need to trust a centralized third party.

There are a couple of downsides to such an approach however. Since there is no uber-blockchain or a centralized party ensuring the connection, there needs to be enough liquidity between two blockchains to be connected. If I want to transfer funds from the Ethereum to the Bitcoin blockchain, for example, I need someone who, at the same time, wants to go from bitcoin to ether. For these two large blockchains, you will always find someone willing to go in either direction, but what about from Ethereum to a smaller blockchain or a small blockchain to another small blockchain? While I will be laying out a way on how that could even be solved, I want to stress that liquidity is the key economic factor in such a cryptographically secure multi-asset network.

Basic Building Blocks

Let’s look at the three very basic building blocks that are needed to connect any two blockchains:

  1. Multisignature feature (Multisig);

  2. Hashing functionality; and

  3. Time-lock functionality

Let’s work through each of these three and combine them into a larger single picture.

1. Multisig is an old and well-trusted concept that can be compared to a shared checkbook with multiple required signatories. A multisig transaction allows for the enforcement of arbitrary joint signature rules. In the case of a cryptographically secure, off-chain, multi-asset, instant transaction network (COMIT) one would use 2-of-2 multisig transactions for which both signers have to sign a transaction to become valid and be accepted by the network (an example of this will follow right after). This means a multisig transaction established between two parties needs to be signed by both so that its outcome becomes valid and can be accepted by the network.

In the picture below, a transaction was created with 1 BTC as input; however, in order to get it out, both parties (Alice and Bob) have to sign the transaction:

 

2. Hash functions are standard cryptographic concepts. These are one-way functions to convert arbitrary data (in our case a secret “s”) into a unique hash “h.” This hash h can then be shared safely without anyone being able to compute the secret s used to create it. This allows us to build a hash-lock transaction which will only unlock the funds with the knowledge of the secret s. In order to route across different blockchains, we need the same cryptographic hash function available in the smart contracting language of each blockchain participating on such a route.

In the picture below, someone put 1 BTC into a contract, but Alice can only take it out once she has the secret (which she normally would get from Bob).

3. Time-lock is a simple requirement for funds to be locked up until a future date. Blockchains are found to have two different time-locks: relative and absolute. Absolute time-locks will lock a transaction output until a fixed point in time in the future, whereas relative time-locks will lock a transaction output relative to an event or a point in time. That is to say, a relative time-lock rather defines a time span than a specific point in time. Time-locks are a requirement for trustless payment channels, and relative time-locks are recommended as they allow for indefinitely open payment channels.

In the example below, someone put 1 BTC in, but in order for Alice to get it out, she has to wait a predefined time. 


Putting It Together 

If we go ahead and combine these three building blocks, we get something called HTLCs (Hashed Time-Lock Contracts) whose states can be updated on a multisig basis. HTLCs combine the concept of a time-lock for refund purposes with a hash-lock. If the recipient can provide the secret s for the hash-lock before the expiry of the time-lock, he will be able to retrieve the funds. Otherwise, the sender can safely reclaim the funds. In case one party wants to update the HTLCs state, he needs the other party’s approval (signature). This is how the multisig function comes into play.

In the example below, Alice put 1 BTC into the contract with Bob. Bob can either take the 1 BTC out if he gets the hash from Alice within a predefined time, or Alice will get the funds back automatically after that predefined time has past.

Two HTLCs can be coupled with each other resulting in something called atomic transactions. To do so, the recipient first generates a secret s and computes its hash h. Subsequently, the recipient will share this hash h with a sender who in turn creates the first conditional transaction, i.e., its output is (hash-)locked by h. This output can only be redeemed with the knowledge of the secret s.

In layman’s terms, this would mean that if Bob wants to send Alice 1 BTC and wants ETH in return, they could open two payment channels (one with BTC and the other with ETH) and couple them with a hash h. Bob sends Alice BTC as long as she sends him ETH. In case either one backs out, the original amounts would just be returned.

The Full Route 

Now we can stack an arbitrary amount of transactions onto each other as every node in this chain can safely use the same hash to create a transaction which is also conditional on knowing the secret s. This hash is initially shared with the sender, who will then subsequently send a conditional payment to the first node requiring knowledge of the secret s to redeem it. Each node in the route can then safely forward the transaction while adding the same condition to the transaction redemption. Through the use of HTLCs we can guarantee that either all of the transactions via this route get fulfilled or all payment channel transactions will be unredeemable. No trust has to be put in any of the nodes in the middle of the route. In the end, you have a chain of transactions which all depend on the same secret to be fulfilled. When the receiver takes the last transaction and uses the secret to redeem the money, every other node will see the secret that was used and can then fulfill their own incoming transaction.

After the secret s has been shared across the route, every payment channel will then settle the transaction back into the channel. This is done by updating the payment channel’s state to the final balances and then invalidating the HTLC transactions by revealing the invalidation key k to the payment channel counterparty, which will eventually make the transaction complete.

The time-lock mechanism is used as a refund mechanism in case of an intermittent routing failure. The time-locks need to be stacked from receiver to sender to make sure no one is able to cheat by having a shorter period than someone after him/her and thereby being able to pull out first.

Conclusion 

These transactions can span within the same blockchain, but can also go cross-chain as long as you find someone who is willing to transact on both blockchains. This is where the concept of liquidity and routing comes in. To go back to the beginning where we thought about connecting two low-liquidity blockchains we see now, that we actually don’t necessarily transact between those two directly. By using stacked payment channels one after the other, money could flow from one low liquidity chain to a high liquidity chain and then to the final low liquidity chain. 

This concept connects payment channels to a large network that is now:

  • Cryptographically-secure (relies on cryptographic standards),

  • Off-chain (like the Lightning- or Raiden-Network) ,

  • Multi-Asset (cross-chain),

  • Instant (no need for a transaction to settle on the blockchain as updates only happen between the parties until it gets broadcasted)

  • A Transaction Network, such as COMIT.

In the next blog post, I will talk about the concept of liquidity and Liquidity Providers (LP) and also on how routing through such a network could work.


This is a guest post by Dr. Julian Hosp, the co-founder of TenX and co-author of the whitepapers of TenX and COMIT. The views expressed are his alone and do not necessarily reflect those of Bitcoin Magazine.

The post Op Ed: Three Technical Requirements to Connect Blockchains Without a Token appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

EY Report: How the Wealth Management Industry Could Benefit from the Blockchain

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

E&Y Report: How the Wealth Management Industry Could Benefit from the Blockchain

Blockchain technology has morphed from a popular buzzword to a technology that is in the process of revamping a wide range of operational and business processes within the financial service industry. A segment of the financial industry that could benefit greatly from the implementation of the distributed ledger technology is the wealth and asset management sector.

The global accountancy firm Ernst & Young published a report on the benefits of blockchain technology for the wealth and asset management industry titled ‘Blockchain Innovation in Wealth and Asset Management.’ The report states that the implementation of blockchain technology would likely result in reduced operational expenses, elimination of redundant yet time consuming functions and more opportunities to better the client experience. More specifically, using blockchain technology in important areas such as the client onboarding process, the creation of model portfolios, the settling and clearing of trades and compliance processes related to AML regulations can all be improved by implementing distributed ledger technology-based solutions in the wealth management industry.

Blockchain Use Cases in Wealth Management

In this report, Ernst & Young highlights two use cases as examples of the benefits of the blockchain.

Firstly, blockchain technology can be applied to digitize and streamline the customer onboarding and profiling process. Strict regulatory requirements require wealth managers to collect information such as proof of identification, marital status, residency, sources of wealth and political ties from new potential clients. This can be a cumbersome, long-winded and, therefore, costly process.

If, instead, high net-worth individuals’ data were to be stored on a distributed ledger to which permissioned parties could gain access with the individual’s approval, then this would greatly reduce the time and cost of onboarding a new customer. Furthermore, due to the immutability and auditability of the blockchain, an audit trail could easily be kept for each client.

Secondly, the blockchain could facilitate the creation of portfolios and the communication of portfolio changes to clients. Currently, wealth managers use a variety of different platforms to create and maintain portfolios and most of these platforms do not enable direct communication with the client.

Hence, by developing and implementing a blockchain solution that allows wealth managers to create and manage portfolios according to clients’ stored investment constraints that also allows for direct communication with regarding portfolio changes, the entire investment process would be made substantially more efficient and client relationships could be deepened due to an increase in direct communication between the wealth manager and its clients.

There Will Be Hurdles for Adoption but First-Movers Will Benefit

The report also highlights the challenges of adoption that the technology is likely to encounter. Scalability, interoperability with legacy systems, security and accordance with technology standards were the largest issues raised by the firms polled by Ernst & Young.

In addition, wealth and asset management funds do not exist in a bubble and are usually interconnected with other firms. Therefore, a wide-scale adoption would likely take a long time, considering there would have to be a consensus as to what type of blockchain solutions the whole financial industry chooses to adopt. Due to these factors, most firms are currently only willing to test blockchain technology on a small scale before considering a broader adoption of the tech.

Ernst & Young, however, believes that firms that are the first to adopt blockchain technology will reap the lion's share of its benefits. As the success of financial blockchain solutions depends on its participants, E&Y encourages firms to begin the innovation process early as first-movers are likely to benefit the most.

The post EY Report: How the Wealth Management Industry Could Benefit from the Blockchain appeared first on Bitcoin Magazine.

British supermarket shares are plummeting on news that Amazon is buying Whole Foods

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

LONDON — Shares in British supermarkets are plunging on Friday afternoon after the news that retail giant Amazon will buy US food retailer Whole Foods.

The online giant is buying the high-end grocer for $42 (£32.90) a share, valuing the company at $13.7 billion (£10.7 billion).

"Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a press release. " Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue."

Amazon had already moved into the grocery space with its Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry services — which in the UK includes a partnership with supermarket chain Morrisons — but its purchase of Whole Foods is a very obvious sign that it is taking grocery retail seriously.

Given the firm's complete dominance of the online retail space, investors in Britain's supermarkets are understandably worried about Amazon's aggressive expansion into groceries, and shares are dropping rapidly as a result.

Here is how three of the UK's biggest grocery retailers, Sainsbury's, Tesco, and Morrison's looked a little after 4.00 p.m. BST (11.00 a.m. ET) — note that Morrison's has bounced since that initial drop: 

Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 16.03.16

Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 16.02.57

Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 16.02.28

Online grocer Ocado has long been subject of speculation about a possible takeover by Amazon, although that has never turned into anything concrete. Here's how its stock has reacted:

Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 16.03.35

Moves are even more pronounced in US grocery retailers, some of which have seen falls of more than 11% since the announcement. 

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The CEO of Whole Foods called activist investors 'greedy bastards,' and then struck a deal that will lead to a huge payday for one (WFM, AMZN)

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

John Mackey Whole Foods

Days after it came to light that he had lambasted activist investors as "greedy bastards," Whole Foods CEO John Mackey has struck a deal that will net one such investor a massive payday. 

Amazon on Friday agreed to buy Whole Foods in a megadeal valued at $13.7 billion, or $42 a share. 

Jana Partners, an activist hedge fund that has been a thorn in Mackey's side, is the third-largest shareholder with a stake of just over 8%.

Its share of the company is worth $1.1 billion at the deal price, about $230 million more than a day ago. 

Jana Partners, which manages more than $5 billion in capital, upped its stake in Whole Foods in April and pushed the company to look into strategic options, including a sale. Mackey reshuffled the company's board in May. 

Earlier this week, Mackey called Jana Partners "greedy bastards" in an series of interviews with Texas Monthly. He also referred to them as "Ringwraiths," which are villainous characters from the "Lord of the Rings" series.

"[T]hese guys just want to sell us, because they think they can make forty or fifty percent in a short period of time," Mackey told Texas Monthly's Tom Foster. "They're greedy bastards, and they're putting a bunch of propaganda out there, trying to destroy my reputation and the reputation of Whole Foods, because it's in their self-interest to do so." 

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First Look: Bitcoin Scaling Proposal Segwit2x Gets Alpha Release

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

The first code for bitcoin scaling proposal SegWit2x has been released for testing. Notably, it might be compatible with another proposal, BIP 148.

Source

Bitcoin storms back

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

Bitcoin has come all the way back from Thursday's steep slide. The cryptocurrency tumbled as much as 18.5% to $2,076 a coin after the scaing debate came back into focus and riskier assets fell following the Fed rate hike. On Friday, its trading up 3.5% at $2,520.

The selling began when bitcoin-mining firm Bitmain outlined its "contingency plan." Coindesk explained it best: "Most notably, the proposal would dedicate mining resources to hard forking the network to a rule set with a larger block size — an upgrade that would likely result in two bitcoin networks and two tradable bitcoin assets."

Riskier assets were already feeling some heat after the Federal Reserve raised its benchamrk interest rate 25 basis points to a range of 1% to 1.25% on Wednesday. 

The writing had been on the wall. Bitcoin gained about 180% from the beginning of April through the middle of June. That run prompted tech billionaire Mark Cuban to call bitcoin a "bubble."

Additionally, Goldman Sachs head of technical strategy Sheba Jafari also sounded the alarm on bitcoin in a note to clients sent earlier this week, saying that "the balance of signals are looking broadly heavy."

At least for now, it appears that Jafari nailed her call. "Consider re-establishing bullish exposure between 2,330 and no lower than 1,915," she concluded in this week's note. 

Bitcoin

SEE ALSO: Here's how easy it is to buy your first one

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Exchange-Traded Bitcoin Vehicle Announces Cold Storage Deal

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

XBT Provider, a Swedish bitcoin investment company, has announced a new partnership with cryptocurrency storage startup Xapo.

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10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, GS)

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

Horse cart

Here is what you need to know. 

The US economy looks a lot like the period before the tech bubbleConsumer confidence, business confidence, the yield curve, and the employment picture are all looking eerily similar to 1999. 

The Bank of Japan keeps policy on holdJapan's central bank voted 7 to 2 in favor of keeping its quantitative and qualitative monetary easing in place while holding its key rate unchanged at -0.1% and pledging to buy Japanese government bonds (JGB) so that 10-year JGB yield will remain near zero. 

Bitcoin is making a comebackThe cryptocurrency tumbled as much as 18.5% to a low of $2,076 a coin on Thursday amid new concerns over scaling, but has won back virtually all of those losses. Currently, it's trading up more than 6% at $2,510.

The Fed's 4th rate hike could challenge a popular assumption about stocksTypically the fourth rate hike is bad for stocks, but Nautilus Research says the "bullish factors currently outweigh bearish indications."

Snap sinks to its IPO priceSnap shares settled at $17 on Thursday, matching the price of its March 1 initial public offering. Shares are now down 37% from their March 3 high. 

Sweden's biggest pension fund dumps shares of firms it says breach the Paris climate deal. AP7 has sold its investments in ExxonMobil, Gazprom, TransCanada Corp, Westar, Entergy and Southern Corp because they don't comply with the Paris climate deal, Reuters says. 

Goldman Sachs is buying secondhand stakes in private equityThe investment bank's Vintage VII fund has raised more than $7 billion to buy secondhand stakes in private equity, Reuters says, citing two people familiar with the matter. 

BHP Billiton has a new chairmanKen MacKenzie will replaces Jac Nasser, who is leaving the company at the end of August after seven years in the role.

Stock markets around the world are higherJapan's Nikkei (+0.6%) led the charge in Asia and Britain's FTSE (+0.7%) is out front in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open higher by 0.2% near 2,438.

US economic data is moderate. Housing starts and building permits will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET while University of Michigan consumer confidence crosses the wires at 10 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 1 basis point at 2.17%. 

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10 things you need to know before the opening bell (SPY, SPX, QQQ, DIA, GS)

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

Horse cart

Here is what you need to know. 

The US economy looks a lot like the period before the tech bubbleConsumer confidence, business confidence, the yield curve, and the employment picture are all looking eerily similar to 1999. 

The Bank of Japan keeps policy on holdJapan's central bank voted 7 to 2 in favor of keeping its quantitative and qualitative monetary easing in place while holding its key rate unchanged at -0.1% and pledging to buy Japanese government bonds (JGB) so that 10-year JGB yield will remain near zero. 

Bitcoin is making a comebackThe cryptocurrency tumbled as much as 18.5% to a low of $2,076 a coin on Thursday amid new concerns over scaling, but has won back virtually all of those losses. Currently, it's trading up more than 6% at $2,510.

The Fed's 4th rate hike could challenge a popular assumption about stocksTypically the fourth rate hike is bad for stocks, but Nautilus Research says the "bullish factors currently outweigh bearish indications."

Snap sinks to its IPO priceSnap shares settled at $17 on Thursday, matching the price of its March 1 initial public offering. Shares are now down 37% from their March 3 high. 

Sweden's biggest pension fund dumps shares of firms it says breach the Paris climate deal. AP7 has sold its investments in ExxonMobil, Gazprom, TransCanada Corp, Westar, Entergy and Southern Corp because they don't comply with the Paris climate deal, Reuters says. 

Goldman Sachs is buying secondhand stakes in private equityThe investment bank's Vintage VII fund has raised more than $7 billion to buy secondhand stakes in private equity, Reuters says, citing two people familiar with the matter. 

BHP Billiton has a new chairmanKen MacKenzie will replaces Jac Nasser, who is leaving the company at the end of August after seven years in the role.

Stock markets around the world are higherJapan's Nikkei (+0.6%) led the charge in Asia and Britain's FTSE (+0.7%) is out front in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open higher by 0.2% near 2,438.

US economic data is moderate. Housing starts and building permits will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET while University of Michigan consumer confidence crosses the wires at 10 a.m. ET. The US 10-year yield is up 1 basis point at 2.17%. 

Join the conversation about this story »

The Bank of England is moving closer to killing the most boring chart in UK finance right now

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

Bank of England exterior

LONDON — On Thursday afternoon the Bank of England left interest rates unchanged for another month, surprising no one at all.

However what did surprise some was how the UK's central bank voted for that hold.

The bank's eight member Monetary Policy Committee (it is usually made up of nine people, but has stood at eight since the resignation of Charlotte Hogg in March) voted 5-3 in favour of holding rates, with three MPC members backing a hike in the bank's base rate.

That was the highest number of members to back a hike for some time and was just one member away from a split vote, a situation that hasn't occurred since 1998. In that circumstance, Governor Mark Carney would have held the casting vote.

Those members who did back a hike cited concerns about inflation overshooting its government mandated target of 2% substantially in recent months as their reason for backing a hike.

Falling sterling has pushed up the price of importing goods, passing through to everyday items that regular Brits buy.

This is now showing up in official inflation data, which at the latest reading sat at 2.9%.

Thursday's minutes — which explain what the MPC discussed and the reasons for their decisions — indicate that it may not take much more inflation overshoot to push them to vote to raise rates.

A rate hike may not exactly be likely in the near future given the expected weakness in the economy triggered by Brexit related uncertainties, but it is now certainly possible. That could mean a little excitement being added to what is one of the most boring charts in the entire world of economics right now — the chart of the bank's base interest rates.

The BoE aggressively cut interest rates during the 2007-2009 period in order to cope with the shock brought to the British economy by the global financial crisis, but remained on hold for more than seven years after that. Between 2009 and August 2016 the base rate stayed at 0.5%.

It then dropped to 0.25% after the bank's emergency cut in August, which intended to soothe the economy in the immediate aftermath of June's Brexit vote.

This lack of policy action makes for some pretty dull reading in terms of graphics, as you can see below:

Bank of England interest rate

s

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European markets up following Greek debt deal

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

European markets were up at market open on Friday morning, following the news that Greece yesterday reached a deal with international creditors, ending a period of uncertainty over whether it would default on its €7 billion debt.

The UK's benchmark share index the FTSE 100 was up 0.36% at 7,446 points as of 08:32 a.m. BST (03:32 EST), after dropping to a low of 7,378.50 yesterday. Tesco is the day's top gainer, up 1.36%, after the news that inflation has helped boost its sales, and reporting an increase in like-for-like UK sales this quarter of 2.3%, compared to the same quarter in 2016.

Global engineering group GKN were up 0.88%, while the morning's biggest losers were equipment rental company Ashtead Group, down 1.25%, and BT Group, down 1.16%.

Here is the chart of the FTSE's performance:Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 08.31.34

"A positive opening call comes as Asian bourses shrug off a negative close on Wall St where Tech had another bad session. Markets are welcoming positivity on the Greek debt front, offsetting that more hawkish Fed stance from mid-week, and deal well with ever present global geopolitical uncertainty," said Mike van Dulken, head of research at Accendo Markets, in a statement.

The good news for Tesco has been driven by an increase in food sales, up 2.7%.

"Recovery is continuing at Tesco, despite the squeeze on consumer incomes from weak wage growth and rising inflation. The going is still tough though, as the sector is highly competitive and a rising pound will put pressure on supermarket margins, so it remains to be seen just how much those higher sales will feed through into profits," said Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

"Tesco is also facing the prospect of a rise in pension contributions because its scheme valuation is rather inconveniently taking place now, when interest rates are low and inflation is rising, both of which will serve to magnify the deficit. The supermarket is also in the process of compensating shareholders for the 2014 accounting scandal."

The European markets experienced similar gains, with the DAX up 0.37% and the CAC 40 up 0.81%.

Here is the scoreboard:Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 08.30.05

 

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The pound is little moved early on Friday morning

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

LONDON — The pound is a little higher on Friday morning as investors continue to digest a hawkish interest rate hold from the Bank of England, which as expected, left monetary policy unchanged on Thursday.

That means interest rates stayed at a record low of 0.25%, and the bank's QE programmes remain capped at £435 billion, despite the surge in the rate of inflation to the highest level since mid-2013.

Rates were left unchanged, but surprisingly the bank's Monetary Policy Committee voted 5-3 in favour of holding rates at their current levels. That signalled a possible shift in stance from the bank, with the horizons of an interest rate coming closer.

Sterling jumped on that initial announcement before falling away as the afternoon progressed. However, on Friday the currency has bounced back a little, climbing around 0.15% against the dollar, as the chart below illustrates:

Screen Shot 2017 06 16 at 08.06.29

 

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Brexit might be big trouble for the UK's business schools

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

Cass Business School

The UK's vote to leave the European Union is already causing problems for the country's most prestigious business schools - and that's before talks have even started.

New research by the Chartered Association of Business Schools (CABS) shows 7% of its 120 members have already lost EU staff members since the referendum. A further 27% predicted that a loss is likely, and one in eight institutions reported they had already had difficulty recruiting EU staff members. Another prominent concern was the loss of planned research funding.

"Generating an average income of £33 million each year, business schools are in effect multi-million pound businesses with tremendous export value and inward investment capabilities yet the Government is choosing to turn away our customers in pursuit of immigration targets which are flawed," said Professor Simon Collinson, from Birmingham Business School and Chair of the Chartered Association of Business Schools.

"But this isn’t just about finances — students from both the EU and beyond positively influence the cultural diversity of our campuses and, once graduated, they help the UK to build soft power around the world," he said.

Eight of the world's 50 top business schools are in the UK, according to the Financial Times' 2017 rankings, including Cambridge University's Judge Business School, the current number five, and London Business School, the current number six.

But academics are worried that Brexit — with the uncertainty about the living and working rights of EU nationals it has caused, and the anti-immigration sentiment it has prompted — could be a brain drain on both staff and students, as well as jeopardise funding and research. 

Business and administrative subjects have consistently been the most popular university courses at UK universities since 2007, with 67,655 students accepted on such courses in 2016 alone — about 12% of all acceptances — according to data from the Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS).

But UCAS also said that applicants for UK higher education courses fell by 5% among UK students and 7% among EU students this year. This could cause serious problems for the UK's business schools: on average, a third of their income is generated by international students (both EU and non-EU), and another 47% from home students. As a result, a dip in student numbers could have serious consequences for their finances. 

In comparison with business schools' reliance on fees for almost 80% of their income, fees account for roughly half an institution's income across UK universities in general. Meanwhile, about 15% of UK universities' research funding comes from EU sources.

In 2015/16, the number of higher education staff members originating from EU countries (excluding the UK) was second only to the number of UK staff members, according to figures released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

There were more staff members from the EU than from the rest of the world combined (again excluding the UK). But there are signs that this is already beginning to change, and that working in higher education in the UK is becoming unattractive for foreign citizens.

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10 things you need to know before European markets open

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

Tim Farron

Good morning! Here's what you need to know. 

1. Sterling surged to its highest in a week against the euro on Thursday after three members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee surprised financial markets by voting for a rise in interest rates. The pound also leapt a full cent to $1.2795 after it emerged that Ian McCafferty and Michael Saunders had voted with existing policy hawk Kristin Forbes for higher rates.

2. A technological failure which stranded tens of thousands of British Airways passengers in May will cost the company around £80 million ($102.19 million), Willie Walsh, the company's chief executive, said. The figure was an initial estimate, Walsh told at the company's annual shareholders meeting in Madrid.

3. Anglo American's diamond unit De Beers launched the world's largest diamond exploration vessel off the coast of Namibia as it looks to maintain high production levels until 2035. The 12,000-tonne, 113-metre-long SS Nujoma was built at a cost of $157 million and is named after Sam Nujoma, Namibia's founding president.

4. A few large Asian, European and US banks are providing funds to help to keep Qatari banks running smoothly after a diplomatic rift has strangled financing from the Gulf states, Reuters reported. The foreign banks' support is critical for Qatari banks, whose reliance on international funding has grown sharply over the years to about $50 billion as of April.

5. Britain and the European Union will get Brexit negotiations underway on Monday as initially planned, the government has confirmed. The UK government's Brexit Secretary David Davis and the EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, agreed on Thursday that official divorce talks will begin Monday, June 19.

6. The UK will stop providing politicians and officials early access to its data releases after fears arose that sensitive information is being leaked to the market ahead of its official publication. Previously, the ONS gave out data on inflation, unemployment, wages, and retail sales to a handful of Britain's most important decision makers 21 hours before the data's official release.

7. Majestic Wine said on its underlying full-year revenue rose 11.4% as sales expanded by more than a quarter at its US-focused Naked Wines unit. Full-year sales at Naked Wines, which was acquired in April 2015, surged 26.3% to 142.2 million pounds ($181.25 million). 

8. The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits fell more than expected last week, pointing to shrinking labor market slack that could allow the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates again this year. Initial claims for state unemployment benefits dropped 8,000 to a seasonally adjusted 237,000 for the week ended June 10, the Labor Department said.

9. Goldman Sachs has collected more than $7 billion for a fund which purchases secondhand stakes in private equity funds, far exceeding its initial target, Reuters reported. The fund, called Vintage VII, is run out of the bank's asset management division and had initially sought to raise $5 billion in capital.

10. Sweden's largest national pension fund, AP7, has sold its investments in six companies it accuses of breaching the Paris climate agreement, in a decision environmentalists believe is the first of its kind. AP7, which provides pensions to 3.5 million Swedes, said it had sold out of ExxonMobil, Gazprom, TransCanada Corp, Westar, Entergy and Southern Corp.

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