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Op Ed: Could an Amazon Token Become a Viable Worldwide Cryptocurrency?

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

Op Ed: Could an Amazon Token Become a Viable Worldwide Cryptocurrency?

Combining the benefits of a utility-based cryptocurrency and a company that exhibits the characteristics of a power law network creates the perfect opportunity for a globally adopted cryptocurrency –– the Amazon Token.

Amazon’s Full-Circle Economy

In this hypothetical futuristic scenario, Amazon extends on the suite of products and services it provides customers in 2018 including: online shopping, physical grocery, web services, artificial intelligence, internet of things, video and music streaming, healthcare (in development) and banking (small business loans).

For reference, Amazon ships to 100 countries and has separate retail websites for 15 countries. In the United States alone, 55 percent of online shoppers begin their searches on Amazon and over 80 million shoppers subscribe to Amazon Prime.

In the future, the customer-obsessed, low-priced “Amazon economy” could expand into all industries and become self-sufficient. In other words, Amazon will be selling everything to everybody in the “best” and cheapest way possible.

In this hypothetical scenario, instead of 15 individual Amazon marketplaces scattered across the world operating in country-specific currencies, imagine a global Amazon e-commerce store with a single sign-on, billions of unique ASINs, and the Amazon Token as a single payment method.

In a recent study by LendEDU, 52 percent of 1,000 Amazon customers surveyed responded that they would use an Amazon-created cryptocurrency to make purchases on the Amazon website. So, what might the Amazon token look like?

Amazon’s Past Attempt at Tokenization: Amazon Coin

In 2013, Amazon released the Amazon Coin, a virtual currency designed for U.S. customers to “purchase apps, games and in-app items on Kindle Fire” on the Amazon Appstore.

Each never-expiring Amazon Coin is worth a cent, meaning that 100 Amazon Coins are worth one dollar. Users are enticed to use Amazon Coins in the Amazon Appstore because they can earn up to a 24 percent discount on their purchases. For the curious reader, Amazon Coin can be purchased here.

Ultimately, the Amazon Coin hasn't been a smashing success for a variety of reasons:

  1. Amazon Coin is exclusively useful for the niche market of the Amazon Appstore. The Amazon Coin is not an option to purchase any other goods or services offered by Amazon.
  2. There is no secondary market for users to resell unused Amazon Coins to one another.
  3. Many users feel that the Amazon Coin creates an unnecessary layer of friction in the payment process, asking questions such as, “Why would I need to convert my fiat currency into a virtual currency to purchase an item on the Amazon Appstore that can already be purchased with my fiat currency?”

Interestingly enough, Amazon is not the only company that has previously attempted (and failed) to create a long-lasting virtual currency for a niche in their ecosystem. In 2005, Microsoft created the Microsoft Points currency for content on the Xbox marketplace. In 2009, Facebook created Facebook Credits for game purchases and virtual gifts. Neither currency is widely used.

The Amazon Token (AMZN)

By focusing on their entire ecosystem instead of a niche, Amazon could create a cryptocurrency that creates a single portal for global commerce and delights customers. If implemented correctly, it’s possible to imagine that an Amazon Token (let’s call it AMZN) could become the world’s first global currency and trillion-dollar protocol.

Implementation

There are many ways that Amazon could implement the AMZN token and varying degrees by which that token could become embedded in the Amazon economy. In this example, keeping in mind that Amazon’s vision is to be accessible for everyone, let’s assume that all products and services offered by Amazon will be available to everyone in the world, but that they must be paid for in the AMZN token. In other words, the AMZN token unlocks the door to the Amazon platform.

Users will not be forced to use any of Amazon’s services, but rather, they will choose to use AMZN Tokens because Amazon offers the cheapest and “best” products and services.

For this example to work, we’ll also assume: Amazon will create a mobile application and web-version of their AMZN Token wallet, allowing users to store their AMZN token securely and send/receive it efficiently, and that Amazon will facilitate and maintain an underlying exchange so that users can purchase AMZN tokens on a secondary market.

Type of Token

Depending on Amazon’s interests (and on the way that the various regulatory issues with cryptocurrencies and utility tokens get resolved), there are various types of token that they could consider when architecting the AMZN Token.

A Utility-Based Token

The AMZN Token will serve as a medium of exchange on any Amazon platform, while also unlocking additional utility (benefits) that fiat currency cannot.

In this case, Amazon would set a date after which it would no longer accept fiat currency on any of their platforms. The company could leverage its behemoth network effect and immediately onboard their 80 million plus Prime users. Small quantities of AMZN tokens could be “air dropped” or placed in Prime users’ wallets for free, to speed up the onboarding process.

Once the change to the AMZN cryptocurrency is made, the only difference to Amazon platforms is that all transactions on all Amazon platforms are occurring in AMZN tokens, rather than in local fiat currencies. Amazon stock will continue to operate as usual.

A Hybrid Token

The AMZN Token will be a hybrid between a security and utility-based token, unlocking additional benefits that fiat currency cannot and entitling token holders to Amazon’s future cash flows, similar to a stock.

The hybrid token model requires a larger tolerance for risk but could potentially obviate the need for reliance on financial intermediaries in the future.

Using the AMZN Token to consume goods and services within the Amazon ecosystem is an audacious thought, but what about using the AMZN Token to replace the existing concept of shareholder value? If backed by Amazon’s Free Cash Flow, the Token begins to resemble the characteristics of a traditional equity security, enabling fractional ownership in the company.

Now, token holders are not just speculators, but actual consumers and owners of the Amazon ecosystem. Hoarding tokens and hoping to benefit from speculators driving up the price is no longer a viable strategy. Instead, spending the tokens actually drives tangible value to all participants — more sales should ultimately lead to more free cash flow.

Taken to its extreme, the usefulness of the traditional public market becomes questionable as Amazon has the ability to raise capital through token sales, manage the Amazon Token exchange, and directly link beneficial outcomes for both consumers and shareholders. Amazon could even pay employees –– anyone from a warehouse worker to CFO –– in their Amazon Token. Should other companies decide to follow suit, there will be major implications for financial markets.

Life With the AMZN Token in 2050

Now consider the case of Oscar, a 25-year-old Seattle resident who represents a regular first-world citizen in 2050.

His healthcare is covered by Amazon Health; he shops at Whole Foods; he streams Nicolas Cage on Amazon Video; he shops on Amazon.com; his personal savings are managed by the robo-advisors at Amazon Bank; he stores his data on Amazon Web Services; and Amazon Alexa manages his apartment while he’s at work.

Last week, Oscar travelled to Japan for work using tickets he purchased with AMZN tokens. While he was in Japan, he didn’t have to worry about any annoying foreign transaction fees or hassles with currency conversion –– his hotel, local merchants and restaurants all accepted AMZN tokens. Even the last-minute Prime delivery of snacks he ordered to his hotel were paid for in AMZN tokens.

Oscar rarely spends fiat currency –– he doesn’t have to. Even his favorite local shops and farmers’ markets accept Amazon tokens. Thankfully, the Amazon Bank program also helps him earn 3 percent interest on his savings every year by “staking” his unused tokens and paying back interest after projects are complete. For example, the robo-advisor algorithm allocated some of Oscar’s tokens to finance a 6-month process to build an Amazon warehouse in Jakarta, Indonesia. Once the warehouse was finished, Oscar’s “staked” tokens were returned to him with 3 percent interest. He is happy that his AMZN tokens helped contribute to the global marketplace and indirectly provided jobs for employees in Jakarta.

Nobody is forcing Oscar to use Amazon services, he chooses to utilize Amazon for everything because he loves it –– it is the “best” and cheapest option for every product and service he needs.

FAQ & Implications

This idealized vision for the AMZN Token is great, but there are many questions the company would have to answer before the AMZN Token can become a universal cryptocurrency and medium of exchange.

  • Token Velocity: How will Amazon make sure that users are actively spending the token? Otherwise, as price of the AMZN token appreciates, users might hoard the token, which will continue driving price upwards. If customers don’t spend the AMZN token, it will become a store of value, rather than a medium of exchange. However, this problem should be alleviated if all AMZN services are priced in AMZN tokens, as it would be the only way to access the network.
  • Dynamic Pricing: How will Amazon price their services across the world? One way could be to dynamically peg the price of AMZN services to local fiat prices. For example, a baguette from a Whole Foods in the United States could be priced at $1. If one AMZN token is worth $1, then the baguette would cost 1 AMZN token. If one AMZN token is worth $10, then the baguette would cost 0.1 AMZN Token.
  • Fiduciary Duty: Is the Amazon corporation responsible for ensuring that their token holder’s AMZN tokens appreciate in value? Does Amazon properly align incentives between consumers and the corporation?
  • Outside Speculation: If the AMZN token is tradeable on secondary markets, will the price become too volatile for consumers?
  • Token Economics: How many AMZN tokens should Amazon issue? Should they issue a fixed amount of tokens? How will Amazon enact monetary policy?
  • Macroeconomic Implications: The AMZN Token could cause inflation rates in local fiat currencies to rise. U.S Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell recently shared that he believes Amazon and e-commerce have helped keep prices and inflation lower in the past decade. Should Amazon decide to take its 44 percent share of all U.S. e-commerce, the dollar’s inflation rate could be affected.
Since its inception in 1994, Amazon has pioneered e-commerce, web services, digital content and artificial intelligence. In doing so, it has created one of the world’s most valuable networks. With the recent development of cryptocurrencies, Amazon has a unique opportunity to leverage its network to create a truly globally accepted currency –– as this hypothetical AMZN Token demonstrates. Perhaps Amazon’s pre-existing network, products and services could even give the company’s token a competitive advantage over Bitcoin to become a widespread, globally-accepted medium of exchange.

This is a guest post by Erik Kuebler. The opinions expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine. The author does not have a relationship with Amazon.com.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

There’s been a big shakeup at the top of Citigroup’s stock trading business (C)

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

Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 6, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • Citi's stock trading business is undergoing a shakeup.
  • The firm's head of electronic cash trading in the US just left.
  • As part of a reorganization of the unit, its US head of equity derivatives is getting promoted to global head of electronic cash and central risk.

Citigroup’s stock trading division is undergoing a strategic reorganization, according to people familiar with the matter.

Young Kang, the head of electronic cash trading in the US, has left the firm, according to people familiar with the matter. The departure was mutually agreed upon, the people said. 

Citi confirmed that Kang has left the company.

Additionally, Peter Lambrakis, formerly the US head of equity derivatives, is taking on an expanded role in the equities division as part of a strategic review Citi is conducting. 

The reorganization is an effort to better integrate the bank's cash, electronic, and central risk strategies — an effort Lambrakis will help spearhead as global head of electronic cash and central risk, according to people familiar with the matter

The equities reshuffle has accompanied several senior management departures in recent weeks.

Last week, global head of cash trading Armando Diaz left the firm. He'd been hired in 2016 to revive Citi's moribund global cash trading business. 

Before that, Millennium Management, the $35.7 billion hedge fund giant, hired away Sebastian Ridd, head of program trading and cash trading in the US at Citigroup.

Prior to his exit, Kang had been with Citi for 11 years and previously served as global head of algorithmic products before taking on his most recent role in 2016. 

Despite the shakeup in stock trading at Citi, the business has performed well of late. Cash equities declined 3% to $9.2 billion across Wall Street last year, but industry sources say Citi's cash equities business, while smaller than competitors at the top of the league tables, actually grew by more than 7% in 2017.

CFO John Gerspach said at an investor conference this week that the overall equities business had a shot at hitting $1 billion in revenue in the first quarter, which would be its first time surpassing that threshold since 2015.

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An American Airlines flight was delayed 27 hours after its pilot reportedly attacked a gate agent (AAL)

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

American Airlines Boeing 777 300ER

  • American Airlines Flight 930 was delayed 27 hours after its pilot allegedly attacked a female gate agent.
  • The incident took place on Wednesday evening in Sao Paulo, Brazil, before the flight was set to depart for Miami, Florida.
  • The pilot was arrested and reportedly faces up to a year in prison.

An American Airlines flight was delayed for 27 hours after its pilot reportedly attacked a gate agent. The incident took place Wednesday evening in Sao Paulo, Brazil, shortly before Flight 930 was set to leave for Miami, Florida.

The male captain of Flight 930 was arrested by Brazilian police after allegedly pushing a female gate agent and grabbing her by the neck following a disagreement over the positioning of the jetway, the Daily Mail reported.

According to the publication, the physical altercation started after the American Airlines gate agent accidentally stepped on the pilot's foot. In addition, the pilot also defended his action by accusing the gate agent of throwing a punch at him. 

In a statement to Business Insider, American Airlines characterized the incident as a "disagreement" between two team members. The airline said that the altercation is under investigation and that both employees are "taking time away from work." However, the airline declined to call it a suspension. 

American Airlines declined to comment on the whereabouts of the pilot.

However, the Daily Mail reported that the pilot has since been released from custody but could face up to a year in prison. 

As a result of the incident, Flight 930 was delayed for 27 hours. According to the airline, the delay was caused by the need to bring in new crew members to operate the flight. 

In a call with American Airlines, a spokesman apologized for the incident and told Business Insider that the passengers were given hotel rooms and meal vouchers. The spokesman also said that the majority of passengers were accommodated on earlier flights and did not wait the full 27 hours. 

Here's the complete statement from American Airlines:

"Wednesday night, prior to boarding American Airlines flight 930 from Sao Paulo (GRU) to Miami (MIA), two team members became involved in a disagreement on the jetbridge. We take these kinds of matters extremely seriously. We fully cooperated with law enforcement and local authorities to look into the facts and we are currently gathering information about the incident. We have given our team members who were involved time away from their duties while we conduct a thorough review.

Flight 930 departed at its rescheduled time of 1:20 a.m. (local time) on March 9. We provided our customers with hotel accommodations and meal vouchers for the night and the vast majority were booked onto other, earlier flights. We apologize to them for this disruption."

SEE ALSO: We flew Virgin America one final time before it goes away forever — here's what it was like

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'We all better listen up': The CEO of an FX trading firm says Wall Street needs to pay attention to the breakneck growth of crypto exchanges

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

FN AA347_MERCER_M_20170421040114

  • Cryptocurrency exchanges are growing fast thanks to the booming market for digital coins. 
  • That has David Mercer, the CEO of LMAX Exchange, a foreign exchange trading firm, warning Wall Street that crypto exchanges might soon come after their respective businesses.

Some of most powerful people on Wall Street have derided cryptocurrencies as a "fraud," "bleeding edge," and as a "bubble."

But it might be cryptocurrency companies that have the last laugh, according to David Mercer, the chief executive of LMAX Exchange, a UK-based forex trading technology company. 

During an interview with Business Insider, Mercer said he wouldn't be surprised if crypto companies, specifically crypto-exchanges, start snapping up traditional financial-services companies and break into new markets. 

"We all better listen up," Mercer said. 

"GDAX, Kraken, and Bitfinex, all these guys could get big enough to the point where they don't even need to stay in crypto."

Crypto exchanges, which helped shepherd the nascent digital coin market into the mainstream during 2017's crypto boom, facilitate approximately $20 billion worth of trading on a given day, according to data from CoinMarketCap.

That's tiny compared to the $5 trillion forex market, Mercer says, but it's still a 4,000% increase from where the market was in the Spring of 2017.

Exchanges have made a killing from that boom, raking in as much as $3 million from fees a day, Bloomberg estimates. Coinbase, which is valued at over $1.6 billion, crossed $1 billion in revenues in 2017. 2017 net revenues for Nasdaq, one of the largest exchange operators in the world, were $2.4 billion, by way of comparison. 

Crypto-exchanges are sitting on a lot of cash. And some appear to be flexing their muscles. Coinbase recently hired an executive from LinkedIn to lead an acquisition spree as its merger and acquisition boss. The company also snagged an executive from the New York Stock Exchange. Kraken, another exchange, is prepared to hire at least 800 people in 2018. 

"They can move into the mainstream and guess what banks and brokers, the guys that you are kind of looking at like they're fly by night, they've got 25 million of your customers," Mercer said. "How long before they start offering, equities, FX, wealth management? It's not impossible. These guys need to take note."

Richard Johnson of consultancy Greenwich Associates recently published an op-ed on Business Insider in which he made the case for why it would make sense for a crypto company to buy the Chicago Stock Exchange. Coinbase, Kraken, and Circle, which recently bought crypto exchange Poloniex for $400 million, are among the companies Johnson thinks could acquire CHX. 

"Future token issuances will need to be compliant with securities regulations, some existing tokens may be restructured for regulatory purposes, and marketplaces for these tokens may need to become compliant under the Exchange Act of '34," Johnson wrote. 

"Thus the exchange license that the CHX owns is now a potentially valuable asset for a crypto exchange."

And according to Bloomberg, crypto companies have expressed an interest in acquiring the exchange. 

Mercer said one exchange, which he declined to name, offered to buy his company after it helped the exchange with trading issues. The exchange told Mercer they were set to make $200 million for the year. 

"This is where they are going," he said. 

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'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli has been sentenced to 7 years in prison

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

Martin Shkreli

  • Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli has been sentenced to seven years in prison.
  • Best known for a 2015 price-gouging scandal involving a decades-old drug that his company acquired, Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud during his time running a hedge fund.
  • At the sentencing, Shkreli broke into tears, apologized to investors, and accepted responsibility for what he had done.

Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli has been sentenced to seven years in prison.

A federal judge in Brooklyn, New York, on Friday heard from Shkreli, his lawyer, and the prosecution before determining a sentence based on his conviction on securities fraud.

The judge, Kiyo Matsumoto, said her decision did not have to do with Shkreli's reputation, track record with drug pricing, or politics. She spent a while going through the letters she received — against and in support — of Shkreli's character.

Shkreli had been facing as long as 20 years in prison.

Shkreli is best known for a 2015 price-gouging scandal involving a decades-old drug that his company acquired. As CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, he raised the price of Daraprim, a drug used to treat a parasitic infection, by more than 5,000%, earning him the nickname "pharma bro." The incident brought a lot of attention to the high costs of prescription drugs, an issue that still plagues the prescription-drug industry.

But Shkreli's sentence isn't related to that price hike; it stemmed from events earlier in his career while he managed a hedge fund. In August 2017, he was convicted of securities fraud during his time running a hedge fund. He's been jailed since September after he offered a $5,000 bounty for some of Hillary Clinton's hair.

At Friday's hearing, Shkreli's lawyer, Ben Brafman, made his case for a lighter sentence, expressing his frustration with some of the things Shkreli had said, saying there were times he wanted to "punch him in the face."

Shkreli also got to speak at the hearing, apologizing to investors and accepting responsibility for his actions, according to CNBC reporter Meg Tirrell.

"There is so much more I want to do, and I will do it, the right way," Shkreli said, while starting to break into tears.

On Monday, the judge ordered Shkreli to forfeit $7.36 million in assets, which could include Shkreli's $5 million E-Trade account, stake in the pharmaceutical company Vyera Pharmaceuticals (formerly Turing Pharmaceuticals), the Wu-Tang Clan album Shkreli purchased in 2015, a Lil Wayne album, an enigma machine, and a Picasso painting.

SEE ALSO: Shkreli ordered to give up the Wu-Tang album he paid $2 million for

DON'T MISS: 'Pharma bro' Martin Shkreli found guilty of securities fraud

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Wall Street's gotten obsessed with how Amazon could upend everything (AMZN)

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

jeff bezos blue origin amazon founder sunglasses tough face GettyImages 813884326 2x1

  • In the past week, there has been a flurry of analysis from Wall Street on how Amazon could impact various industries, from banking to healthcare to logistics to online travel. 
  • The analysis is all at least in part based on Amazon's flywheel model, which is built around offering "Earth's biggest selection," using scale to lower the cost of goods and delivery, and providing a great customer experience.
  • Seen through this lens, there are few businesses that Amazon couldn't enter and upend

It seems Wall Street has a new obsession: What's Amazon going to Amazon next?

In the past week, there has been a flurry of analysis from Wall Street on how Amazon could impact various industries, from banking to healthcare to logistics to online travel. 

Banking

Amazon is reportedly in talks with several large US banks to launch a "checking account-like product," and it's hiring for its global Amazon Consumer Payments team to expand its payment products internationally. That has some on Wall Street fearing the impact Amazon could have on consumer banking

Bain & Co partners Gerard du Toit and Aaron Cheris said in a post:

"We could imagine Amazon’s banking services growing to more than 70 million US consumer relationships over the next five years or so—the same as Wells Fargo, the third-largest bank in the US. The estimate assumes that slightly more than half of Amazon’s estimated US customer base chooses a financial relationship with the firm—the same share of people who said in our new global survey that they expect to buy a financial product from a major technology firm over the next five years."

Investing

Amazon's potential in checking accounts, as well as the threat of platform companies to big finance more generally, has some wondering whether the tech giant could go head-to-head with Wall Street in investments. 

What would happen if Amazon decided to launch a robo-adviser, for example? Robo-advisers, a blanket term used to describe automated financial advisers, have become a red-hot market.

Logistics

UBS analysts led by Thomas Wadewitz and Eric J. Sheridan said in a March 9 note to investors that Amazon would continue to put pressure on the likes of UPS and FedEx.

First, by investing in its own logistics networks, Amazon saves around $1 billion per year, according to the note. That's money that could have gone to rival logistics providers. And the rollout of Shipping with Amazon in Los Angeles hints at longer-term competition with these providers. 

"With their 'Shipping with Amazon' offering for 3P sellers, the company appears to be planting the seed for offering logistics capabilities to unrelated third- parties (experts believed ~8-10 years out before scaled)."

Separately, Morgan Stanley analysts led by Adam Jonas noted the impact Amazon could have on Tesla's aspirations in trucking. He said in a March 9 note:

"AMZN has a vested interest in taking the marginal cost of transportation to its lowest possible level. Look no further than AMZN's 'fulfillment' and 'shipping' expense line items in its income statement. In aggregate, fulfillment and shipping was $46bn in 2017, and Morgan Stanley Internet Analyst Brian Nowak expects it to reach $64bn in 2018 and $291bn by 2027. We're in no position to say whether AMZN would be a partner or a potential competitor to Tesla in the area of transport, trucking, and logistics, but we point out the scale that large e-commerce players can bring, which could lead to surprisingly deflationary long-term trends in some of Tesla's core initiatives."

Online travel

Amazon has tried to enter the online travel market a couple of times without success. And while there's no obvious sign that Amazon's going to try again, according to Morgan Stanley analysts led by Brian Nowak, the size of the opportunity is significant. 

Nowak said: 

"The online travel industry is built on ad spend efficiency and conversion...and AMZN’s platform of 300mn+ estimated buyers and its entrenched position in consumers’ lives lay a foundation to compete in online travel. Further, AMZN's focus on selection/service, pricing, and frictionless payment that drive conversion and stronger user economics also translate directly to travel. Our rough ad efficiency analysis (ad spend/transaction) speaks to AMZN’s ability to drive repeat/direct traffic...as its estimated $0.75 ad spend/transaction is a fraction of what BKNG/EXPE spend."

Nowak and team believe an Amazon entry into online travel booking could generate $600 million in annual operating profit in a conservative scenario, and $1.5 billion in a more bullish scenario. 

"We argue that a robust hotel selection combined with AMZN's ability to use data/machine learning/personalization would change travel consumer behavior and drive adoption," the note said. "The integration of the Amazon Prime Rewards credit card and 5% cash back would likely accelerate it."

Healthcare

Amazon's ambitions in healthcare have become more apparent over the last year, leading to speculation about what the company might do if it got into the prescription drug business.

One potential victim of such a move, according to Bernstein analyst Lance Wilkes, is Express Scripts. With Express  Scripts now due to be acquired in a $67 billion deal by Cigna, there's a chance Amazon will partner with UnitedHealth Group, Wilkes said. 

Responding to the Cigna-Express Scripts deal, he said: 

"We would view this as increasing the likelihood of UNH and Amazon partnering with Amazon entering retail pharmacy. We had been increasingly focused on Amazon forcing its way in network, potentially aided by the coalition with JPM and Berkshire. While we continue to see that as a focus, consolidation activity may make UNH a more willing partner as they seek to differentiate themselves.

The home

Amazon is acquiring Ring, a startup that specializes in smart-camera-equipped doorbells. That could help give Amazon another connection to consumers' homes, with Ring meeting arrivals at the door, Prime beaming movies and shows to the TV in the living room, music in the kitchen playing through an Echo speaker, and Alexa acting as an audio assistant. It also delivers a high-tech pipeline that delivers retail goods and groceries straight to consumers.

"The trifecta of Alexa, Echo, and Prime should enable Amazon to further penetrate the consumer, expand Prime membership and retail spending patterns, while widening the company's consumer competitive moat with the Ring acquisition putting further fuel in this smart home engine for Amazon," GBH Insights analyst Daniel Ives wrote in a note to investors.

SEE ALSO: 8 'Amazon-proof' businesses that are defying the retail apocalypse

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Tesla's massive influence is the auto industry's biggest myth (TSLA)

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

electric cars

  • Auto companies and media outlets often compare new electric vehicles against Tesla's, so it's easy to get the impression that Tesla is the driving force behind the industry's surging investment in electric vehicles.
  • But that's not quite true.
  • While Tesla demonstrated the demand for EVs in the luxury market, government regulations and developments in battery technology have played a larger role in the drive toward electric vehicles.


When major auto companies unveil flashy electric cars or announce their intentions to invest billions of dollars in electric vehicles, their plans are frequently compared to Tesla's, whether by their communications teams or the media outlets covering them. So it's easy to get the impression that Tesla is the driving force behind the industry's surging investment in electric vehicles.

But that's not quite true.

While Tesla has demonstrated the demand for EVs in the luxury market and the high end of the mass market, one relatively small automaker is not enough to force larger, more established companies to shift their priorities, especially when electric vehicles account for around 1% of global vehicles sales

When it comes to electric vehicles, automakers are being driven by forces that are bigger than any single company. 

Electric vehicles have been around since the late 1800s

"Tesla has been fantastic for Tesla. I don't think that it's been fantastic for electric vehicles," Kelley Blue Book executive analyst Rebecca Lindland told Business Insider. "It's put more electric vehicles on the road, but it hasn't necessarily improved the adoption rate of the technology overall." 

Electric cars date back to the end of the 19th century, when, for a moment, they were more popular than gas-powered cars. Sales diminished over the first half of the 20th century as cars with gas-powered engines became more efficient to produce and less expensive than electric cars. But in the 1970s, concerns about air pollution and rising gas prices renewed interest in electric vehicles, though the EVs of the '70s were small and slow and didn't make a dent in the mass market.

The Toyota Prius, released in Japan in 1997 and worldwide in 2000, was one of the first mass-market hybrid-electric vehicles, and it introduced electrification on a wider scale than its predecessors. By the early 2010s, fully-electric cars like the Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S were winning awards.

Regulations made car companies get serious about EVs

But, according to Lindland, it was fuel-efficiency regulations introduced by the Obama administration in 2011 that made car companies get serious about electric vehicles. With an eye toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the regulations pushed the auto industry to achieve an average of 54.5 mpg for their vehicles by 2025, up from 27.5 mpg in 2010. In March 2017, the Trump administration said it would revisit and possibly loosen the Obama-era regulations for model years 2022-2025, but the movement toward electric vehicles had already begun.

Outside of the US, nations like China, the United Kingdom, France, and India have announced intentions to eliminate the sale of gas-powered cars that could take hold by the 2040s. If auto companies want to stay competitive on the global market, they have no choice but to embrace EVs.

Improving battery technology made those regulations possible

Gene Munster, a managing partner at the venture capital firm Loup Ventures, thinks those emissions regulations wouldn't have been possible without developments in battery technology that have made electric cars more efficient and less expensive to produce.

"The reason why some of those regulations happen is the battery technology [got] to a point where it's enabled it," he told Business Insider. "Tesla wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for the battery."

According to Munster, established auto companies have been forced to invest in EVs because they're a better product than gas-powered cars, with more efficient engines and fewer parts that need maintenance.

Even though automakers may have been hesitant to shift to electrification due to their existing production infrastructures and parts businesses, "they're faced with, essentially, this atomic bomb around the battery that will destroy them if they don't get on board with it," Munster said. "It's not that they wanted this to happen, but now they have to deal with the consequences of it."

Those consequences may not come in the near future, but when they do, they'll have an enormous impact, Munster said.

"It's going to take longer than you think, but be bigger than you think," he said.

That's good news for Tesla and for competitors who hope they'll be able to release an electric vehicle one day on their own terms.

SEE ALSO: The fascinating evolution of the electric car

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MetaMask Lets You Visit Tomorrow’s Distributed Web in Today’s Browser

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

MetaMask

One of the most promising concepts of second-generation blockchains is that of dApps (or “decentralised applications”). These are apps built on top of a blockchain. To date, few have made the headlines (with the exception, perhaps, of CryptoKitties), but there is a an increasingly large amount being pushed to the Ethereum mainnet, and even more in the works — State of the Dapps lists a range of projects in various stages of development. MetaMask will let users interact with these dApps using only their browser. 

Bitcoin Magazine spoke with James Moreau from the MetaMask team to get a grasp of how their platform grants access to the growing ecosystem of games and applications on the Ethereum blockchain.

“MetaMask reduces one of the major headaches of using dApps,” Moreau said. “That is, running a full Ethereum node. Before MetaMask’s arrival on the scene in 2016, users would need to use a client such as Mist to interface with the blockchain. Now, with a few clicks, anyone using Firefox, Brave, Opera or Chrome can install MetaMask and interact directly with the blockchain from inside their browser, by injecting the web3 API, the JavaScript framework for Ethereum which allows dApps to scan the network.”

On top of facilitating access to decentralized applications, MetaMask also functions as an encrypted storage vault for Ethereum addresses. Users are able to generate multiple accounts, in which they can store Ether and ERC20-compliant tokens. It further supports various testnets (Ropsten, Kovan and Rinkeby), for experimentation with projects in beta. If users are already running a full node, they can tether the software to it.

The protocol has been praised for the simplicity in which it grants access to the infrastructure built atop the Ethereum blockchain. Evidently, it has been a popular extension, having reached its millionth download in early February 2018. It has clearly appealed to users who may have otherwise been dissuaded by the prospect of setting up a full node and dedicating disk space to storing the blockchain in full. Its integration with both Truffle and Ganache has further cemented MetaMask’s place in dApp development toolkits.

The devs seek to facilitate cohesion with projects in the crypto space and recognize the integral role MetaMask plays across the board: DEXs (or decentralised exchanges) are of critical importance in the shift to a fully-decentralised iteration of the web, and applications such as MetaMask are invaluable to safeguarding private keys when interacting with potentially vulnerable sites — take the recent EtherDelta hijacking where, despite the compromise of the site itself, data stored in MetaMask was kept safe (operating much like a hardware wallet).

In terms of competition, there are very few with similar offerings, said Moreau:

“When it comes to lightweight clients, the only other platform that springs to mind is Cipher, a mobile dApp browser working on iOS and Android. To call it competition, though, would be somewhat misleading — the two projects are complementary, with Cipher focusing on catering to the mobile market while MetaMask seeks to optimize the desktop side of things.”

At present, the MetaMask team hasn’t made it a priority to port the project to a mobile medium — the developers’ short-term focus is to improve the overall user experience (offering more versatility when it comes to transferring tokens) and to revamp the current UI.

“Security is one of the team’s primary concerns. In and of itself, the extension has no known attack vectors — user data is stored locally and vaults encrypted with passwords. The biggest outside threats are those rampant across the crypto space — phishing and malware. MetaMask has a built-in detection system for filtering phishing attempts and will warn users of potentially risky transactions before executing them,” Moreau explained.

So far, there have been issues with security breaches pertaining to MetaMask’s support (it should be noted that it is a third-party provider, the extension was unaffected), and a recent bug resulted in users being locked out of their accounts. Being an open-source project, though, anyone is free to vet the code and take on bounties set by the team.

MetaMask received capital from Ethereum’s DEVgrants and Consensys Labs, which backs a diverse range of projects including the aforementioned Truffle, Pangea and Infura.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

CRYPTO INSIDER: Coinbase snags another finance veteran

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

FILE PHOTO - Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, (NYSE) in New York, U.S., February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

Welcome to Crypto Insider, Business Insider’s roundup of all the bitcoin and cryptocurrency news you need to know today. Sign up here to get this email delivered direct to your inbox.

Crypto exchange and app Coinbase has been hiring like crazy. Yesterday the company added another finance veteran from the NYSE to its ranks. Here's what you need to know>>

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SEE ALSO: Coinbase just poached a LinkedIn exec to lead an acquisition spree as the firm's first M&A boss

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What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

Goldman Sachs Chairman and CEO Lloyd Blankfein speaks at the Bloomberg Global Business Forum in New York, U.S., September 20, 2017. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid Welcome to Finance Insider, Business Insider's summary of the top stories of the past 24 hours. Sign up here to get the best of Business Insider delivered direct to your inbox.

The time has finally come.

After more than 12 years at the top of Goldman Sachs, CEO Lloyd Blankfein is set to step down as soon as the end of the year, according to Liz Hoffman and Joann S. Lublin at the Wall Street Journal.

His departure would likely lead to a quick appointment for either David Solomon, a former dealmaker, or Harvey Schwartz, the ex-CFO who worked with Blankfein in the early days of his career at Goldman Sachs in commodities trading.

Here's what you need to know about the two men vying to replace Blankfein at the top of Goldman Sachs.

Investors were on edge heading into Friday's US jobs report, bracing for the worst as fears swirled around speculation of inflationary pressures. Of particular concern was wage growth, which had accelerated in recent months, leading to worries over the prospect of quicker monetary tightening from the Federal Reserve.

Those fears were put to rest Friday — at least momentarily — as the Bureau of Labor Statistics said average hourly earnings increased just 2.6% from a year earlier, with the previous month's estimate revised slightly lower to 2.8%.

Still, companies across America say they're under intense pressure to pay workers more.

In deal news, the lines around healthcare are being redrawn — and all eyes are on pharmacy giant Walgreens to make the next move.

Lastly, in tech news: 

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Claire's is reportedly planning to file for bankruptcy as dying American malls claim another victim

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

Claire's

  • Claire's is making plans to file for bankruptcy, according to a new Bloomberg report.
  • The teen retailer is currently saddled with $2 billion of debt.
  • The chain has a big presence in malls and has been impacted by declining traffic there. 

Teen retailer Claire's is planning to file for bankruptcy in the next few weeks, Bloomberg reported. 

The fashion accessories chain known for its iconic ear-piercing service is planning to transfer ownership from Apollo Global Management LLC to a group of lenders. The company is currently being crippled by $2 billion of debt. 

Claire's has been hit hard by declining traffic to malls, where many of its stores are located. It joins a long list of retailers that have faced these industry issues and have filed for bankruptcy in the past year.

In 2017, a total of 50 US retailers filed for bankruptcy — the highest rate since the recession. More than 6,400 stores closed in 2017, and another 3,600 are expected to shutter in 2018. According to a report by Credit Suisse, this will result in 20% to 25% of malls closing in the next five years.

But it's not all doom and gloom. By filing for bankruptcy, Claire's would be able to keep its creditors at bay while it launches a turnaround effort, according to Bloomberg. 

So far, no store closures have been announced.

Claire's did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.

SEE ALSO: These 15 retailers could be the next to declare bankruptcy

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Russian IT Giant Mail.Ru Enables Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash Payments

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

RussiaPay

One of the biggest Russian IT holdings, Mail.Ru Group, is allowing advertisers and the owners of advertising sites to pay and be paid with cryptocurrencies on the advertisement platform myTarget.

Mail.Ru Group is the worldwide technology company which unites three big social networks Vkontakte, Odnoklassniki and My World; ICQ messenger; mobile ads service Youla; popular online games Warface, Allods Online, Armored Warfare and Skyforge; food delivery platform Delivery Club; and ridesharing service Beepcar.

The myTarget platform helps advertising parties purchase and place ads on Mail.Ru properties. It also allows owners of sites to earn money by having ads displayed on their pages.

Using BitPay, bitcoin and bitcoin cash can be used to pay on Mail.Ru as well as on social networks Odnoklassniki and Vkontakte. Odnoklassniki is one of the oldest social networks in Eastern Europe with more than 45 million users. It is especially popular among 30 to 55 year olds. Vkontakte, “The Russian Facebook,” is the most popular social network in Europe with more than 80 million active users and about 460 million registered users. It’s translated into 90 languages but is most popular among Russian-speaking users.

Dmitry Sergeev, the first deputy chief director of Mail.Ru Group said in a statement: “We tend to give our clients maximum opportunities for their business development. The myTarget platform will become a starting point for the ecosystem, which will develop in the future and include other products of Mail.Ru Group, including gaming projects.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Opinion: Bitcoin is Doomed for Success

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

Each passing day, it is harder to stay neutral to the overwhelming popularity of crypto world. Governments are taking stances, new converts are boosting market capitalization, ICOs get issued, and new exchange and mining companies appear on the radar. Still being in a middleware phase, cryptocurrency is adopted and pushed into the day-to-day activity with

The post Opinion: Bitcoin is Doomed for Success appeared first on CCN

The world's biggest drugmaker pulled back the curtain on drug pricing

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

Alex Gorsky

  • Johnson & Johnson just gave an update to how drug price hikes impact its business.
  • In 2017, the list prices for J&J's medications increased by 8.1%, but the net price of those medications — the amount J&J receives after factoring in discounts and rebates — actually fell by 4.6%. 
  • The report is part of an effort to diffuse criticism faced by the drug industry that drug prices are out of control. It's led to the conversation expanding beyond drug companies to other players in the healthcare system that get a piece of the drug's price.

The world's largest drugmaker just gave us a better idea of how drug price hikes impact its business.

Johnson & Johnson published an annual report on Thursday detailing its average list price compared to its average net price after rebates and discounts. The companies' drugs had an average list price increase of 8.1% in 2017 while its net price fell by 4.6%. To recap, the list price is the amount a drugmaker sets, and it's often the most publicly available number, while a net price is the amount it actually receives in return for the drug after factoring in any rebates or discounts.

Essentially, even though the prices J&J set for its drugs may have increased, the amount of money J&J got in return actually decreased. It's the first time in at least the last five years that J&J's net price has decreased instead of increasing between 2.5% and 5.2%

"We hope that by providing even more transparency into how we operate, we can continue to make progress toward a more results-based health care system that meets the needs of patients today and patients tomorrow," J&J executives wrote in a letter.

In February, pharmaceutical giant Merck published a similar report, an update from last year's, that outlined the company's average list and net price increases for its products. Merck's average net prices also decreased in 2017, by 1.9% as list prices increased 6.6%.

The reports are part of an effort to diffuse criticism faced by the drug industry that drug prices are out of control. There are a number of people with insurance plans that leave them on the hook for paying near-list prices for medications, and that number continues to rise.

It's led to the conversation expanding expanding beyond drug companies to other players in the healthcare system that get a piece of the drug's price. In a speech Wednesday, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb in a speech to health insurers pointed out how "everybody wins" in the healthcare system, except patients. 

"We're living in a world where financial toxicity is a real concern for patients. And every member of the drug supply chain needs to take responsibility for addressing it," he said. 

But there's a lack of transparency about the portions each player gets. That's why reports like Merck's and J&J's are based on the average list and net price, rather than individual drugs. 

And the conversation around where those rebates that contribute to a decreasing net price are going has led to some changes in how they're distributed.

On Tuesday, the biggest health insurer in the US, UnitedHealthcare, said that starting in 2019, some of its members on high deductible plans would be eligible to get rebates for their medications. So, for example, if a patient went to the pharmacy for a medication that under their high deductible cost $600, that might get lowered to $300 after factoring in the rebate the insurer receives. Gottlieb on Wednesday called the move a "potentially disruptive step."

SEE ALSO: The lines around healthcare are being redrawn — and all eyes are on pharmacy giant Walgreens to make the next move

DON'T MISS: A hot startup could be the perfect model for the JPMorgan-Amazon-Berkshire Hathaway healthcare initiative

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NOW WATCH: Goldman Sachs investment chief: Bitcoin is definitely a bubble, Ethereum even more so

A Tesla owner got pulled over for sticking his feet out the window while the car was on Autopilot (TSLA)

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

Tesla autopilot

  • A Tesla owner was pulled over for using his phone and sticking his feet out of the window while driving his Model S with Autopilot activated, but he didn't get a ticket, according to Jalopnik.
  • A spokesperson for the Los Angeles court system told Jalopnik that the ticket was dismissed because the police office who issued it didn't attend the hearing.
  • High-profile accidents involving Autopilot have revealed the difficulties that automakers face as they introduce semi-autonomous technologies into their cars.


A Tesla owner was pulled over for using his phone and sticking his feet out of the window while driving his Model S with Autopilot activated, but he didn't get a ticket, according to Jalopnik.

The driver, Joseph Salim Mourad (who makes music under the name Klypso), had turned on the vehicle's Autopilot feature while driving in Los Angeles and, at one point, was filming himself with his feet out of the window and his hands off the steering wheel. Mourad was later pulled over and given a ticket for driving too fast and using his cell phone while driving, but the ticket was later dismissed after Mourad contested it in court.

Mourad told The Blast that he avoided paying the ticket because he presented evidence that the Autopilot feature can drive a Tesla vehicle autonomously, but a spokesperson for the Los Angeles court system told Jalopnik that the ticket was dismissed because the police officer who issued it didn't attend the hearing.

High-profile accidents involving Autopilot have revealed the difficulties automakers face as they introduce semi-autonomous technologies that can assume control in limited contexts, but are not yet capable of fully autonomous driving. While Tesla and other car companies insist that drivers should be alert and ready to take control at a moment's notice, some drivers don't follow that advice. 

In January, a Model S that was possibly using the Autopilot feature crashed into a fire truck in California. And in May 2016, a Model S driver was killed when the car crashed into a truck while Autopilot was activated.

SEE ALSO: Donald Trump and Elon Musk are slamming Obama's trade deficit

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NOW WATCH: Overstock CEO and bitcoin pioneer explains his long-standing crypto play and his philosophy on life

Square Cash is adding ACH deposits (SQ)

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

Square Subs

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence "Payments Briefing" subscribers hours before appearing on Business Insider. To be the first to know, please click here.

Square Cash (Cash App), Square’s proprietary digital peer-to-peer (P2P) payments offering, has started supporting ACH-based direct deposits, according to a series of company tweets.

Interested customers can accept a disclosure, and then receive an account and routing number provided by Lincoln Savings Bank, which they can give to their employer and proceed as if the process was a regular bank-based direct deposit, according to TechCrunch.

Consumers are notified when the check is deposited into their Cash App balance, and then they can begin using it for any of the normal functions the app supports, including P2P transfer, spending via the firm’s debit Cash Card product, ATM withdrawals, cashout into bank, Bitcoin purchases, and more.

Adding such a common and popular functionality could appeal to a broad audience. In 2016, 82% of US workers were paid via ACH direct deposit, according to NACHA. That could give the Cash App’s new feature a broad addressable audience, especially among the 27% of US adults who are un- and underbanked, and therefore don’t have the option of ACH-based direct deposit, or among younger users just starting out in the workforce, according to Engadget.

That, in turn, could help Square Cash.

  • It could boost engagement with the wallet. Targeting a new audience could expand Square Cash’s overall user base, which could scale quickly as those users drive their peers to the platform. But it could also boost user engagement across the board — by allowing customers to directly deposit more funds, it could grow average balance size, which might increase the likelihood that customers will do something with their balance, whether that be spending it via Cash Card, going to an ATM, or paying a fee to cash out.
  • That could bolster the app’s recent growth tear. Square Cash counted 7 millionactives in December 2017, and the Cash Card alone hit $90 million in spend during that time. Although this is a small total when compared with giants like Venmo, which saw $10.4 billion in Q4 2017 alone, it's a solid figure that could point to impressive growth. Adding features that encourage engagement could also push more users to make monetized transactions, like spending via Cash Card or buying Bitcoin, which in turn could help Square Cash grow in a way that’s more lucrative to the company.

And it also marks another step in Square’s banking push. Right now, Square isn’t a bank, though it’s trying to become one — last year, it applied for an Industrial Loan Charter (ILC), the type of banking license most commonly sought by nonbanks, to bolster Square Capital, its lending service.

But as it currently stands, Square Cash, in many ways, functions almost identically to a lot of basic checking accounts, and could ultimately replace that service for certain sets of users, like un- and underbanked customers or younger, digitally savvy groups — something that prepaid cards are already doing. And so the move continues to blur the line between P2P, prepaid cards, and checking accounts, and, in turn, might help perpetuate an industry shift that’s worth keeping an eye on.

In the US, the in-store mobile wallet space is becoming increasingly crowded. Most customers have an option provided by their smartphone vendor, like Apple, Android, or Samsung Pay. But those are often supplemented by a myriad of options from other players, ranging from tech firms like PayPal, to banks and card issuers, to major retailers and restaurants.

With that proliferation of options, one would expect to see a surge in adoption. But that’s not the case — though BI Intelligence projects that US in-store mobile payments volume will quintuple in the next five years, usage is consistently lagging below expectations, with estimates for 2019 falling far below what we expected just two years ago. 

As such, despite promising factors driving gains, including the normalization of NFC technology and improved incentive programs to encourage adoption and engagement, it’s important for wallet providers and groups trying to break into the space to address the problems still holding mobile wallets back. These issues include customer satisfaction with current payment methods, limited repeat purchasing, and consumer confusion stemming from fragmentation. But several wallets, like Apple Pay, Starbucks’ app, and Samsung Pay, are outperforming their peers, and by delving into why, firms can begin to develop best practices and see better results.

Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has written a detailed report on mobile payments that:

  • Sizes the US in-store mobile payments market and examines growth drivers.
  • Analyzes headwinds that have suppressed adoption.
  • Identifies three strategic changes providers can make to improve their results.
  • Evaluates pockets of success in the market.
  • Provides actionable insights that providers can implement to improve results.

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Bitcoin, Ethereum Prices May More Than Triple in 2018, Survey Finds

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

According to a survey conducted by popular comparison website Finder and published in the South China Morning Post (SCMP), various blockchain industry participants expect the price of the top two cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and Ethereum, to more than triple by the end of the year. In the survey, nine blockchain industry participants were asked about the

The post Bitcoin, Ethereum Prices May More Than Triple in 2018, Survey Finds appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin Drops 20% But Wasn't Week's Big Crypto Price Loser

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

How bad were the crypto markets this week? Bitcoin lost nearly one-quarter of its value and it still wasn't the week's big loser.

Cash for HODL? NY Wealth Manager to Issue Loans Against Bitcoin

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

New York family office Dominion Capital is launching a product for a new breed of consumer that's "crypto rich" but low on cash.

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

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

Pit stop

Here is what you need to know.

Donald Trump agrees to meet Kim Jong Un by May. "The leadership of President Trump, who gladly accepted Chairman Kim's invitation, will receive praise not only from people in the South and the North, but also from people around the world," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.

Trump rolls out his tariffs. The tariffs, a 25% tax on imported steel and 10% tax on imported aluminum, will begin in 15 days and has exemptions for Canada and Mexico and for other countries on a case-by-case basis.

Chinese steel and iron ore futures tumble to multimonth lows. Shanghai rebar and Dalian iron-ore futures both fell more than 4% Friday to their lowest level since November 21.

The jobs report is coming. The US economy is expected to have added 205,000 nonfarm jobs in February as the unemployment rate slipped to 4%, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Average hourly earnings are expected to have increased 2.8% versus a year ago.

Goldman Sachs says a new 'scenario worth worrying about' could cause the next avalanche of selling in the stock market. This flash crash and others during the recovery have occurred against the backdrop of a relatively good economy — and that's the worrying scenario, according to Charles Himmelberg, Goldman Sachs' cohead of global markets research.

Bitcoin is back below $9,000. The cryptocurrency trades down 6.2% at $8,741 a coin.

Toys R Us is reportedly about to liquidate its US assets. The retailer has been unable to reach an agreement with lenders, and a liquidation is the most likely outcome, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous sources.

Obama is reportedly in advanced negotiations to produce shows for Netflix. Former President Barack Obama is in talks to provide shows that would bring exclusive content from him and the former first lady Michelle Obama to Netflix's 118 million subscribers, The New York Times says.

Stock markets around the world trade mixed. South Korea's Kospi (+1.08%) saw solid gains in Asia, and Germany's DAX (-0.36%) trails in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open little changed near 2,741.

Earnings reports trickle out. Big lots reports ahead of the opening bell.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Forget 'Make America Great Again' — Wharton professor says Trump has been terrible for America's brand

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

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

Pit stop

Here is what you need to know. 

Donald Trump will meet Kim Jong Un by May"The leadership of President Trump, who gladly accepted Chairman Kim's invitation, will receive praise not only from people in the South and the North, but also from people around the world," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said.

Trump rolls out his tariffs. The tariffs, a 25% tax on imported steel and 10% tax on imported aluminum, will begin in 15 days and exempt Canada, Mexico, and other countries on a case-by-case basis. 

Chinese steel and iron ore futures tumble to multi-month lowsShanghai Rebar and Dalian iron ore futures both fell more than 4% Friday to their lowest level since November 21.

The jobs report is comingThe US economy is expected to have added 205,000 nonfarm jobs in February as the unemployment rate slipped to 4%, according to economists surveyed by Bloomberg. Average hourly earnings are expected to have increased 2.8% versus a year ago.

Goldman Sachs says there's new 'scenario worth worrying about' that could cause the next avalanche of selling in the stock marketThis flash crash and others during the recovery have occurred against the backdrop of a relatively good economy — and that's the worrying scenario, according to Charles Himmelberg, Goldman Sachs' cohead of global markets research.

Bitcoin is back below $9,000The cryptocurrency trades down 6.2% at $8,741 a coin.

Toys R Us is reportedly about to liquidate its US assets.The retailer has been unable to reach an agreement with lenders and a liquidation is the most likely outcome, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous sources.

Obama is reportedly in advanced negotiations to produce shows for NetflixFormer President Barack Obama is in talks to provide shows that would bring exclusive content from him and former first lady Michelle Obama to Netflix's 118 million subscribers, the New York Times says.

Stock markets around the world trade mixedSouth Korea's Kospi (+1.08%) saw solid gains in Asia and Germany's DAX (-0.36%) trails in Europe. The S&P 500 is set to open little changed near 2,741. 

Earnings reports trickle outBig lots reports ahead of the opening bell. 

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The surprising reason why NASA hasn't sent humans to Mars yet

Bitcoin Mining Giant Bitmain Sets Up Secret US Subsidiary

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

New reports indicate that crypto mining firm Bitmain is quietly preparing to open new facilities in Washington state.

Bears in Control, But Bitcoin Eyes $8K Defense

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

Bitcoin's 28 percent drop this week has turned the tide in favor of the bears, but a sustained break below $8,000 looks unlikely in the short-run.

Bitcoin is slumping and analysts say there are 3 big reasons for the 'fear and panic'

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

Graffiti on the outskirts of the city center reads: 'If money can't buy your love, maybe Bitcoin will do?' in an interpretation of a famous line from The Beatles on February 17, 2018 in Vilnius, Lithuania. The recent dramatic rise in value of Bitcoin virtual currency is fueling speculative investor interest in cryptocurrencies. (Photo by )

  • Bitcoin down 5% on Friday to a one month low.
  • Analysts say the dip is caused by fears of regulation, rumours of an exchange hack, and news of a big seller in the market.


LONDON — Bitcoin is slumping on Friday, down by 5% in early morning trade to trade at a one month low.

Analysts say that the slump is being caused by a string of bad headlines for the sector this week that have dented investor sentiment.

"Our take on this is that the new investors in the space don't have enough time to analyse what's happening," analysts for the London Block Exchange write in its daily market report on Friday.

"The amount of fake or misleading information reported over the past few days, as discussed in yesterday's report, made the 'regulation meets Mt. Gox dump and Binance pump' narrative far too scary. So much so, in fact, that even the more dedicated (but less sophisticated) traders believe it."

Regulators around the world have been ramping up supervision of the cryptocurrency space this week, with Japanese regulators suspending two cryptocurrency exchanges and the US Securities and Exchange Commission telling crypto exchanges they must register with it. The SEC earlier this month issued a wave of subpoenas to crypto companies.

Jameel Ahmad, Global Head of Currency and Market Research at FXTM, told BI: "It appears that authorities are continuing to closely monitor Bitcoin, and signs of further concerns over regulation do have the potential to keep sending the value of Bitcoin lower."

At the same time, market confidence has been shaken by news that the trustees of bankrupt former exchange Mt Gox are liquidating its bitcoin holdings. $400 million-worth has been sold since last September and some market participants have blamed the sales for causing a price crash at the start of the year.

And to add to problems, Hong Kong exchange Binance was hit by rumours of a major hack earlier this week. It's CEO publically denied the reports on Twitter, saying user withdrawals were paused only for upgrade work.

Charles Hayter, the CEO of CryptoCompare, told BI: "It’s the usual — fears on regulation in the US after ICO subpoenas and exchanges coming under fire, as well as the Binance issues. These are purely behavioural markets and there are huge switches between strong bullish sentiment and fear and panic."

But London Block Exchange's analysts add: "On the other hand, more people may just be losing trust - or finally realising their losses for cash - as the good old 'hodl' becomes less appealing for professional investors."

HODL stands for "hold on for dear life" and has become a mantra to many longterm bitcoin investors who believe they should hold the cryptocurrency and ride out any price dips.

Cryptocurrency markets have increasingly been attracting more traditional investors, lured by the volatility and potential returns in the sector. These investors are likely to have more active trading strategies that are less likely to simply provide price support.

You can monitor the live bitcoin price here.

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Jim Chanos explains the most important asset class in the world

Bitcoin Drops to $8,300 as Mt. Gox Trustee Sell Off Continues, Market Drops

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

Yesterday, on March 9, CCN reported that the sell off of hundreds of millions of dollars, and the plan of the trustee to dump the remaining $1.7 billion worth of bitcoin into the market have caused the price of bitcoin to drop substantially in a short period of time. Bitcoin Drops Since March 7, within … Continued

The post Bitcoin Drops to $8,300 as Mt. Gox Trustee Sell Off Continues, Market Drops appeared first on CCN

10 things you need to know in markets today

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

President of the European Council Donald Tusk waiting outside Government buildings in Dublin, Ireland March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne

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

1. Brexit negotiations risk stalling if Britain does not present a realistic solution for the future of the Irish border after London rejected an EU proposal last week, European Council President Donald Tusk said. "While we must respect this position, we also expect the UK to provide a specific and realistic solution to avoid a hard border. As long as the UK doesn't present such a solution, it is very difficult to imagine substantial progress in Brexit negotiations," Tusk said. 

2. Dutch lender ING outraged politicians and unions with a proposal to increase the pay of Chief Executive Ralph Hamers by 50%. Finance minister Wopke Hoekstra said the rise was "excessive," while members of parliament called for a public hearing to hold ING Chairman Jeroen van der Veer to account.

3. Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman met the head of the Anglican church in London. He promised to promote interfaith dialogue as part of his domestic reforms.

4. Italy's inconclusive parliamentary election leaves open a wide range of possible alliances, putting the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement in the driver's seat as the largest party. The election is a political sea change for Italy, with voters shunning the parties that have governed the country in recent years, including the center-left Democratic Party and Silvio Berlusconi's center-right Forza Italia.

5. Japan's SoftBank Group is considering raising around $5 billion of loans though its UK-based tech firm ARM Holdings. SoftBank acquired ARM, Britain's most valuable technology company, for $32 billion in 2016 in an all-equity deal and is now looking to optimize the investment and take some cash out.

6. Drivers for Uber in the Czech Republic will need to get business certificates and be licensed, the country's prime minister said. Taxi drivers in the capital Prague have staged large protests against the company, which has also faced opposition to its low-cost service in other cities across the world.

7. Mexico's Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo said he would not allow the United States to use planned tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to pressure the country in ongoing NAFTA talks. US President Donald Trump plans to offer Canada and Mexico a 30-day exemption from the planned tariffs.

8. French President Emmanuel Macron said he wanted France to supplant Britain as New Delhi's partner of choice in Europe, as he embarked on a four-day tour of India. Macron, a pro-business centrist who swept to power last year, has been beating the drum for France as a new, modernized "startup nation" on the world stage, while he pushes ahead with a wide-ranging program of reforms at home.

9. Global fisheries output will slump by 20% by 2300 and by 60% in the worst-hit North Atlantic region if governments fail to slow long-term global warming. Most studies of climate risks extend to 2100 and overlook extra "catastrophic effects" such as the projected slump in ocean life that would only emerge in coming centuries, they said.

10. Walt Disney said its shareholders, in a non-binding vote, rejected the executive compensation plan for Chief Executive Bob Iger and other executives. Fifty-two percent of the shareholders voted against Disney's compensation plan, according to preliminary results announced at the company's annual shareholder meeting. 

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In my previous article “CBOE Completes Upgrade, Other Crypto Futures Coming?“, I speculated that now that the CBOE had finished it’s latency reduction upgrades it would begin to introduce more currencies. This prediction seems to have at least partially shown some validity with statements coming out of the CBOE Risk Management Conference on Friday which featured a … Continued

The post Winklevoss Twins Hint at Gemini Support for Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash; Big Implications for CBOE Futures? appeared first on CCN

Winklevoss Twins Hint at Gemini Support for Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash; Big Implications for CBOE Futures?

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

In my previous article “CBOE Completes Upgrade, Other Crypto Futures Coming?“, I speculated that now that the CBOE had finished it’s latency reduction upgrades it would begin to introduce more currencies. This prediction seems to have at least partially shown some validity with statements coming out of the CBOE Risk Management Conference on Friday which featured a … Continued

The post Winklevoss Twins Hint at Gemini Support for Litecoin, Bitcoin Cash; Big Implications for CBOE Futures? appeared first on CCN

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