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The NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users, Snowden Papers Reveals

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

Not to be mistaken for another Jason Bourne thriller, the Edward Snowden papers show a US government/bitcoin connection. The Intercept is reporting classified documents leaked by Snowden prove that the US National Security Agency (NSA) in fact was keeping tabs on bitcoin users globally, as evidenced by a report that’s surfaced from March 2013. The timing

The post The NSA Has Been Tracking Bitcoin Users, Snowden Papers Reveals appeared first on CCN

Unbelievably, Bitcoin is Still on Track to Hit a Million Dollars by 2021

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

The cryptocurrency's biggest fans think it still has room to grow, and is on schedule to get there despite recent setbacks.

Altcoin Markets in ‘Purgatory’, Will Turn Bullish Late Summer: Bitcoin Bull Tom Lee

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

The altcoin bloodbath may finally be nearing its culmination, but small-cap coins will likely spend the next quarter in “purgatory” as they await a late-summer bull market. That’s according to market strategist and noted Bitcoin bull Tom Lee, whose firm — Fundstrat Global Advisors — was the first Wall Street strategy firm to recommend cryptocurrencies

The post Altcoin Markets in ‘Purgatory’, Will Turn Bullish Late Summer: Bitcoin Bull Tom Lee appeared first on CCN

Altcoin Markets in ‘Purgatory’, Will Turn Bullish Late Summer: Bitcoin Bull Tom Lee

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

The altcoin bloodbath may finally be nearing its culmination, but small-cap coins will likely spend the next quarter in “purgatory” as they await a late-summer bull market. That’s according to market strategist and noted Bitcoin bull Tom Lee, whose firm — Fundstrat Global Advisors — was the first Wall Street strategy firm to recommend cryptocurrencies

The post Altcoin Markets in ‘Purgatory’, Will Turn Bullish Late Summer: Bitcoin Bull Tom Lee appeared first on CCN

Op Ed: The Many Faces of Sharding for Blockchain Scalability

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

Op Ed: The Many Faces of Sharding for Blockchain Scalability

Any programmer who has ever sat down to build a DApp at one point has had to think about the limits of current public blockchains, the most important and obvious one being their limited throughput, i.e., the number of transactions processed per second. In order to run a DApp that can handle real-world throughput requirements, blockchains must become scalable.

One answer to blockchain scaling is sharding. Sharding promises to increase the throughput by changing the way blocks get validated by the network. The key feature of sharding that makes it unique among all (on-chain) scaling solutions is horizontal scaling, i.e., the throughput increases as the mining network expands. This particular characteristic of sharding may make it the ideal fuel to spur rapid adoption of blockchain technology.

This article will briefly discuss the scaling issues with existing blockchain platforms — briefly only, because most readers must already be familiar with it. It will then discuss how sharding and its different forms can be a promising solution to the scaling problem. It will also touch upon some of the theoretical and practical challenges to implementing sharding and how some of these challenges can be overcome.

Scalability Issues With Existing Blockchains

One of the biggest problems that public blockchain platforms face today is scalability. All popular platforms are struggling to handle a larger number of transactions per second. In fact, today the public Ethereum and Bitcoin networks can handle 7-10 transactions per second on average. These figures are far inferior to those of centralized payment processors like Visa, which processes roughly 8,000 transactions per second on average.

Slow transaction processing creates a major problem because they choke up the networks, making it difficult to use the blockchain for applications such as real-time payments. The longer a payment takes to be processed, the more inconvenient it becomes for the end user; this is one of the main reasons why payment methods like PayPal and credit cards like Visa are still much more attractive. As more complex DApps start to rely on the same network, the problems caused by slower transaction speed will only compound.

From a more technical standpoint, all blockchain consensus protocols have a challenging limitation: Every fully participating node in the network must validate every transaction and must seek agreement from other nodes on it, and this is the component of blockchain technology that creates distributed ledgers and makes it secure.

In most chains like Bitcoin and Ethereum, nodes are run by the public. While the decentralized consensus mechanism provides some vital advantages such as fault tolerance, security, political neutrality and authenticity, this method to verify chains comes at the cost of scalability. It will take more and more processing power to verify these public blockchains as they get larger, and this may create bottlenecks in these networks and slow down the creation of new applications.

Sharding: Divide and Conquer

Sharding is a scaling technique that was inspired by a traditional concept of database sharding, whereby a database is partitioned into several pieces and placed on different servers. In the context of a public blockchain, the transaction load on the network would be divided into different shards comprising different nodes on the network. As a consequence, each node would process only a fraction of incoming transactions, and it would do so in parallel with other nodes on the network. Breaking the network into shards would result in more transactions being processed and verified simultaneously. As a result, it becomes possible to process more and more transactions as the network grows. This property is also referred to as horizontal scaling.

We could imagine that existing blockchains operate like a busy highway with one toll station operating on only one toll booth. The result would be a traffic jam as people wait in long lines to pass the toll station. Implementing a sharding-based blockchain is like adding 15 or 20 toll booths to the highway. It would dramatically improve the rate at which traffic can progress through the stations. Sharding would make a tremendous amount of difference and dramatically improve transaction speed.

The implementation of sharding-based blockchains could have various benefits for public blockchains. First, thousands of transactions or even more could be processed every single second, changing the way people feel about the efficiency of cryptocurrencies as payment methods. Improving transaction throughput will bring more and more users and applications to decentralized systems, and this will, in turn, advocate further adoption of blockchains, making mining more profitable and attract more nodes to public networks, creating a virtuous cycle.

Furthermore, sharding could help bring down transaction fees since less processing will be needed to validate a single transaction; nodes can charge smaller fees and still be profitable to run. Coupling low fees with high transaction processing capability, public chains will become increasingly attractive to real-world use cases. The more these positive trends continue, the more mainstream adoption we’ll see of cryptocurrencies and blockchain applications in general.

Sharding Strategies

This is the basic concept, but there are more granular ways to implement sharding strategies like network and transaction sharding, and state sharding. With network and transaction sharding, the network of blockchain nodes is split into different shards, with each shard formed to process and reach consensus on a different subset of transactions. This way, unconnected subsets of transactions can be processed in parallel, significantly boosting the transaction throughput by orders of magnitude.

On the other hand, on today’s mainstream public blockchains, the burden of storing transactions, smart contracts and various states is borne by all public nodes, which could make it prohibitively expensive in terms of required storage space to maintain ongoing operations on the blockchain.

One potential approach, called state sharding, has been proposed to resolve this issue. The crux is to divide the entire storage into pieces and let different shards store different parts; thus every node is only responsible for hosting its own shard’s data instead of the complete blockchain state.

Complexities Underlying Sharding

While all the different forms of sharding may be very intuitive, unspooling the technical details can reveal the complexity of the approaches and the underlying challenges. Some of these challenges are easy to overcome, while others not quite so. Generally speaking, network and transaction sharding are easier to accomplish while state sharding is much more complicated. Below, for the different sharding mechanisms, we categorically discuss some of these challenges and how feasible are they to be overcome.

Network Sharding

The first and foremost challenge in sharding is the creation of shards. A mechanism will need to be developed to determine which nodes reside in which shard in a secure way in order to avoid possible attacks from someone who gains a lot of control over a particular shard.

The best approach to beat an adversary (at least in most of the cases) is through randomness. By leveraging randomness, it should become possible for the network to randomly sample nodes to form a shard. Random sampling prevents malicious nodes from overpopulating a single shard.

But, where should the randomness come from? The most readily available source of public randomness is in blocks, for instance, the Merkle tree root of transactions. The randomness available in blocks is publicly verifiable and (close to) uniform random bits can be extracted from it through randomness extractors.

However, simply having a randomized mechanism to assign nodes to a shard is not sufficient. One must also ensure that the network agrees on the members in a shard. This can be achieved through a consensus protocol like proof of work, for example.

Transaction Sharding

Transaction sharding isn’t as simple as it may sound. Consider introducing transaction sharding in a Bitcoin-like system (without smart contracts), where the state of the system is defined using UTXOs. Let us suppose that the network is already composed of shards and a user sends out a transaction. The transaction has two inputs and one output. Now, how should this transaction be assigned to a shard?

The most intuitive approach would be to decide on the shard based on the last few bits of the transaction hash. For instance, if the last bit of the hash is 0, then the transaction is assigned to the first shard, else it is assigned to the second shard (assuming we have only two shards). This allows the transaction to be validated within a single shard. However, if the user is malicious, he may create another transaction with the same two inputs but a different output — yes, a double spend. The second transaction will have a different hash and, hence, the two transactions may end up in different shards. Each shard will then separately validate the received transaction while being oblivious of the double-spend transaction being validated in the other shard.

In order to prevent the double spend, the shards will have to communicate with each other while the validation is in progress. In fact, since the double-spend transaction may land in any shard, a given shard receiving a transaction will have to communicate with every other shard. The communication overhead may, in fact, defeat the entire purpose of transaction sharding.

On the other hand, the problem is much simpler to solve when we have an account-based system (without smart contracts). Each transaction then will have a sender’s address and can then be assigned to a shard based on the sender’s address. This ensures that two double-spend transactions will get validated in the same shard and hence can be easily detected without any cross-shard communication.

State Sharding

With the promises of state sharding come a new set of challenges. As a matter of fact, state sharding is the most challenging of all sharding proposals so far.

Continuing with our account-based model (let us not bring in smart contracts for the moment), in a state-sharded blockchain, a specific shard will only maintain a portion of the state. For instance, if we have two shards and only two user accounts, say for Alice and Bob, respectively, then each shard will keep the balance of one single user.

Imagine that Alice creates a transaction to pay Bob. The transaction will be handled by the first shard. Once the transaction is validated, the information about Bob’s new balance must be shared with his shard. If two popular accounts are handled by different shards, then this may entail frequent cross-shard communication and state exchange. Ensuring that cross-shard communication will not outweigh the performance gains from state sharding is still an open research problem.

One possible way to reduce the cross-shard communication overhead is to restrict users from making cross-shard transactions. With our example, this would mean that Alice would not be allowed to transact directly with Bob. If ever Alice has to transact with Bob, she will have to hold an account in that shard. While this does eliminate any cross-shard communication, it may limit the usability of the platform somewhat.

The second challenge with state sharding is data availability. Consider a scenario where, for some reason, a given shard is attacked and goes offline. Since the state of the system is not replicated across all shards, the network can no longer validate transactions that have dependency on the offline shard. As a result, the blockchain may become largely unusable. A solution to this problem is to maintain archival or backup nodes that can help the network troubleshoot and recover from data unavailability. However, those nodes will then have to store the entire state of the system and hence may introduce centralization risks.

Another point to consider in any sharding mechanism (certainly not specific to state sharding) is to ensure that shards are not static for resilience against attacks and failures; the network must accept new nodes and assign them in a random manner to different shards. In other words, the network must get reshuffled once in a while.

However, reshuffling in the case of state sharding is tricky. Since each shard only maintains a portion of the state, reshuffling the network in one go may render the entire system unavailable until some synchronization is completed. To prevent outage, the network must be reshuffled gradually to ensure that every shard has enough old nodes before a node is evicted.

Similarly, once a new node joins a shard, one has to ensure that the node is given ample time to sync with the state of the shard; otherwise the incoming node will reject outright every single transaction.

Conclusion

In conclusion, sharding is definitely an exciting and promising direction for blockchains to pursue in order to solve scalability problems without compromising decentralization and transparency. However, there is no doubt that sharding, particularly state sharding, is notoriously difficult to do right both at the design level and at the implementation level.

Sharding should be handled with care. Also, more research needs to be done to establish the viability of state sharding as it may not be the silver bullet to storage problems. Researchers and developers are actively seeking alternate solutions at this moment. And perhaps, the answer is just right around the corner.

This is a guest post by Dr. Yaoqi Jia, head of technology at Zilliqa. Views expressed are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of BTC Media or Bitcoin Magazine.




This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

A bubble you didn't even know existed could be bursting (FB)

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

Mark Zuckerberg sad serious

  • "The bubble you didn't know about could be bursting without you knowing," according to Nomura. 
  • It's not the whole of the tech sector, but data and platform companies that provide free services in exchange for user data that's sold to advertisers. 
  • Such companies have been under fire this week following news that Cambridge Analytica used Facebook users' personal information, without permission, to target them with political ads.

Social media companies are under fire as regulators and users across the Atlantic raise new questions over their troves of personal data.

Reports over the weekend revealed that data from over 50 million Facebook users was used to target voters in the 2016 US election with political advertisements.

This kind of scrutiny is part of a broader trend pushing the needle closer to bursting the "data/platform bubble," according to Bilal Hafeez, Nomura's global head of G10 FX strategy.

"The bottom line is that trade wars, populism, income inequality can be looked at in isolation, but together they all point to a reaction against the growth of fluid intangible-intensive industries such as the data/platform companies," Hafeez said.

"This means that these markets will come under increasing pressure on how they value data/platforms as the year unfolds."

The core reason Hafeez thinks the data/platform bubble is set to burst is a political sea change against the sector. 

Dating back to the campaign trail, President Donald Trump focused on improving goods-producing sectors like manufacturing. Meanwhile, the services sector continues to create the lion share of US jobs and is a bigger contributor to the economy. 

Trump's approach also represented a departure from former President Barack Obama, who embraced Silicon Valley and was the first to create executive positions for a chief technology officer and chief data scientist. 

It also doesn't help that data companies have helped to widen income inequality by creating "winner-takes-all" dynamics, Hafeez said. 

Secondly, Hafeez highlights "the cab driver," representing people who aren't specialists but have become some of the biggest advocates of some technologies.

"A classic sign of the late stages of a boom is when non-specialists start to become the most vocal advocates for the boom," he wrote. Bitcoin's explosion and subsequent rollover — which hurt many platforms created to profit from it — is probably the best recent example of a bandwagon non-specialists jumped on.

Thirdly, Hafeez said fake news could also be the end of the platform bubble, according to Hafeez. 

"Today thanks to the increasing concerns that platforms and data-holders have been 'gamed' by corporations and foreign governments to manipulate consumers and voters, there is a growing backlash from individuals and governments on how these platforms can operate," he wrote. "For individuals, this could be resulting in a shift from 'crowd-sourced' information to 'reputation-based' information and opinion."

And the end result for governments could be even more regulation.

That's the final trigger, as companies move away from adhering to global standards to new, regional rules.

"The EU is increasingly flexing its muscles on the rights of the consumer in relation to data/platform owners," Hafeez said. 

"That leaves the pioneering US companies with the most to lose as they have to retrench from these markets."

And if you're looking for a trade recommendation that could profit from this, Hafeez, an FX strategist, advises that the Japanese yen "typically performs well in a volatile world."

SEE ALSO: GOLDMAN SACHS: 'Machines have replaced humans' — and their impact on the next financial crisis could be devastating

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: These bionic arms make kids feel like superheroes

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin is gunning for $9,000

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

j9OQJimDkoo6AAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==

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.

Cryptocurrency markets continued to push higher following reports from a G20 summit in Argentina that financial leaders from the 20 largest economies showed no sign that they would make moves to clamp down on the nascent market. 

The price of bitcoin, the largest crytocurrency by market capitalization, jumped during Tuesday's trade from around $8,500 to over $8,800 a coin, according to Markets Insider data. That's its highest point since last Wednesday. 

Here are the current crypto prices:

screenshot markets.businessinsider.com 2018.03.20 13 45 54

SEE ALSO: Google is banning all bitcoin, ICO, and cryptocurrency ads starting in June

Join the conversation about this story »

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

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin is gunning for $9,000

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

j9OQJimDkoo6AAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==

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.

Cryptocurrency markets continued to push higher following reports from a G20 summit in Argentina that financial leaders from the 20 largest economies showed no sign that they would make moves to clamp down on the nascent market. 

The price of bitcoin, the largest crytocurrency by market capitalization, jumped during Tuesday's trade from around $8,500 to over $8,800 a coin, according to Markets Insider data. That's its highest point since last Wednesday. 

Here are the current crypto prices:

screenshot markets.businessinsider.com 2018.03.20 13 45 54

SEE ALSO: Google is banning all bitcoin, ICO, and cryptocurrency ads starting in June

Join the conversation about this story »

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

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin is gunning for $9,000

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

j9OQJimDkoo6AAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==

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.

Cryptocurrency markets continued to push higher following reports from a G20 summit in Argentina that financial leaders from the 20 largest economies showed no sign that they would make moves to clamp down on the nascent market. 

The price of bitcoin, the largest crytocurrency by market capitalization, jumped during Tuesday's trade from around $8,500 to over $8,800 a coin, according to Markets Insider data. That's its highest point since last Wednesday. 

Here are the current crypto prices:

screenshot markets.businessinsider.com 2018.03.20 13 45 54

SEE ALSO: Google is banning all bitcoin, ICO, and cryptocurrency ads starting in June

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The rise and fall of Hooters Air — the airline that lost the 'breastaurant' $40 million

CRYPTO INSIDER: Bitcoin is gunning for $9,000

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

j9OQJimDkoo6AAAAABJRU5ErkJggg==

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.

Cryptocurrency markets continued to push higher following reports from a G20 summit in Argentina that financial leaders from the 20 largest economies showed no sign that they would make moves to clamp down on the nascent market. 

The price of bitcoin, the largest crytocurrency by market capitalization, jumped during Tuesday's trade from around $8,500 to over $8,800 a coin, according to Markets Insider data. That's its highest point since last Wednesday. 

Here are the current crypto prices:

screenshot markets.businessinsider.com 2018.03.20 13 45 54

SEE ALSO: Google is banning all bitcoin, ICO, and cryptocurrency ads starting in June

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: The rise and fall of Hooters Air — the airline that lost the 'breastaurant' $40 million

Toyota halts autonomous car testing on public roads

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

Uber's fatal pedestrian collision is producing a ripple effect in the self-driving car industry. Toyota has temporarily halted public tests of its Chauffeur autonomous system due to the potential "emotional effect" on its human drivers. It's not ce...

Bitcoin’s ‘Explosive Growth’ Sees UK Government Launch Crypto Study

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

Britain’s junior finance minister John Glen has confirmed an upcoming government research effort in seeking to better understand and look into potential risks of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin. Speaking at a financial conference on Monday, Glen cited concerns with crypto-related risks, particularly after the “explosion of growth” of prominent currencies like bitcoin in the mainstream. As … Continued

The post Bitcoin’s ‘Explosive Growth’ Sees UK Government Launch Crypto Study appeared first on CCN

What you need to know on Wall Street today

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

Mark Zuckerberg social web networkWelcome 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.

Over the past few years we've seen Mark Zuckerberg everywhere. We saw him jogging in Beijing. We saw him visit a dairy farm in Wisconsin. And we've heard his thoughts on immigration and education.

But as revelations surface about how the personal information of 50 million Facebook users was stolen and exploited during America's 2016 presidential election, the 33-year-old founder and CEO of the social network has been mum. Ditto for Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, the company's second in command.

Where in the world is Mark Zuckerberg, asks Business Insider's Alexei Oreskovic. 

Elsewhere in Facebook news: 

Elsewhere in tech news, DocuSign has reportedly filed confidentially for an IPO. And shares of MuleSoft, were briefly halted on Tuesday after Reuters reported that the company is in advanced talks to sell itself to Salesforce.

Join the conversation about this story »

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

A forgotten financial metric is closing in on crisis-era levels — and it could set everything 'in reverse'

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

lehman brothers

  • A forgotten financial metric showing the spread between the dollar London Interbank Offered Rate and the overnight index swap rate has widened to levels exceeded only in 2007 to 2009.
  • "The good news is that the widening so far has been relatively technical and driven more by financing shifts following US tax reform than by genuine banking stresses," said Citigroup strategists led by Matt King.
  • "The bad news is that we think it has further to go in coming months, and expect the effects to become more far-reaching," they added.

Remember Libor?

The scandal-plagued measure of financing costs once called the world's most important number is once again a hot topic, thanks to a sharp widening in $Libor-OIS, otherwise known as the spread between the dollar London Interbank Offered Rate and the overnight index swap rate. It's seen as a measure of how expensive it is for banks to borrow versus the so-called risk-free rate.

"Just when we all thought Libor was about to be consigned to the same financial cemetery as other relics like ABCP and CPDOs, suddenly it's back on everyone's lips," Citigroup strategists led by Matt King said in a recent note. "The relentless widening in $Libor-OIS to levels not seen since the depths of the European sovereign debt crisis — and exceeded only in 2007-9 — has inevitably sparked a multitude of questions."

Screen Shot 2018 03 20 at 11.37.46 AM

What's happening

The "unprecedented widening" has left analysts "scrambling for explanations," according to Citi, which said the movement was most likely technical in nature, driven by shifts brought about by the new tax law. And the freeing up of offshore cash has meant companies are "anxious to reduce the duration of their holdings."

Specifically, the availability of offshore cash has meant companies are keen to maintain flexibility, lest they want to embark on share buybacks or acquisitions. Cash often invested in short-term investments like commercial and bank paper is now being held back from those, so yields are going up.

"So far, this all sounds a bit like a storm in a teacup," Citi said. "Yes, a few issuers may find they need to pay up to borrow rather more in short maturities now that corporate treasurers' cash piles are not at their beck and call, and yes, this may well be a structural rather than a temporary shift."

Why it matters

Normally, when one funding market shows sign of stress, it rolls over into other funding markets. But that hasn't happened with $Libor-OIS, which should be comforting.

But the reason that stress hasn't traveled yet is that banks' excess reserves are ample, according to Citi — something that could be about to change.

  • "The most obvious — and gradual — is the Fed's balance sheet reduction," Citi said. "Just as QE led to a $2tn expansion in excess reserves, so as the Fed's securities holdings are allowed to roll off and its balance sheet contracts, so banks' excess reserves are contracting in direct proportion."
  • The second reason is that the level of the Treasury General Account at the Fed could be about to surge, driven by a recent surge in Treasury bill issuance. If history is a guide, the higher the account, the lower the bank reserves.

Citi said:

"If the prevailing relationship between TGA and reserves continues to hold, and coupled with the acceleration in Fed balance sheet reduction, this implies that by June, banks' reserves could have fallen by around $300bn. If realized, this would warrant renewed widening in the cross-currency basis, and would almost certainly stoke the general degree of anxiety about a sharp tightening of $ liquidity."

What happens next

So far, so wonky.

What happens next? Citigroup has a few ideas:

  • First, the US corporate bond market will be affected, because current Libor rates and the prospect of Federal Reserve interest-rate hikes are likely to drive hedging costs for US dollar corporate bonds for foreign investors so high that it will make more sense for those investors to put money in euro corporate bonds.
  • "Second, the rise in $ money market rates would represent a tightening of financial conditions beyond that intended by the Fed," Citi said. "Libor is still the reference point for the majority of leveraged loans, interest-rate swaps and some mortgages."
  • The higher money-market rates, coupled with the implied effect on leveraged loans and other high-yield investments, could contribute toward outflows from mutual funds, according to Citi. "If those in turn created a further sell-off in markets, the negative impact on the economy through wealth effects could be greater even than the direct effect from interest rates," it said.
  • There's also the potential for an effect on the dollar. The weak dollar has been a key contributor to the "risk on" environment in recent months. But tightening US liquidity has the potential to send the US dollar higher. Citi says $Libor-OIS "has in recent years proved quite a good leading indicator for DXY, with higher spreads leading to a stronger dollar with a 3-month lag."
  • "As a house, we are still forecasting $ weakness on fundamental grounds — together with almost everyone else," Citi said. "But if $ liquidity tightening does lead to a stronger $, all of these processes have the ability in principle to run in reverse."

Join the conversation about this story »

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

Meet the 'Flash Boys' of cryptocurrency looking to shakeup bitcoin futures trading

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

The Flash

  • EverMarkets is gunning for the bitcoin derivatives business of CME and Cboe Global Markets.
  • The company, which announced Tuesday it is coming out of stealth mode, draws some inspiration from IEX and offers an alternative model to current futures markets. 

Michael Lewis' hit 2014 book, "Flash Boys," chronicled the journey of Brad Katsuyama and his scrappy group of former traders who set out to prove that Wall Street's speed-traders were rigging the markets.

Four years after the book's debut, a group of former Wall Streeters are setting out to do something similar in the nascent market for digital currencies.

Meet EverMarkets: A crypto-company building a trading platform to one day rival the bitcoin futures markets on CME Group and Cboe Global Markets. The point of the upstart, similarly to Katsuyama's IEX, is to de-emphasize speed in trading, but in cryptocurrency futures, not stocks.

EverMarkets plans to shake up the market for crypto futures, which is dominated by Wall Street's high-speed traders, by moving it onto the blockchain and changing the method by which contracts are traded. Instead of the continuous model, in which securities are executed as soon as an order is placed, EverMarkets will run off an auction model. In such a model, trades are all collected and then matched at a specific point in time.

"We aren't looking to stop the 24/7 trading cycle," said Mark Pimentel, a former vice president at Knight Capital Group and the brains behind the company's market structure blueprint. "We can do this every 15 minutes. As such, the individual transactions have more meaning, more purpose. If we do it correctly, it will be a much better market."

That's because the company says the model will give people more time to respond to big price moves, which are par for the course in crypto markets. It also makes speed, which Pimentel says big Wall Street firms leverage to dominate crypto futures markets today, less important in the market.

"I have spoken to macro traders, with longer-term holding periods, who want to trade on a platform where they aren't going to be taken advantage of," chief executive Jim Bai, a former trader at Citigroup, said.

IEX served as one of the firm's inspirations, according to Bai.

"We are trying to shake up the existing market, but taking a different market structure approach."

IEX notably implemented a speed-bump, which slows down the time it can take for high-speed traders to send and receive information from its exchange. The auction model, according to Pimental, is another way to do this. 

It's something folks are calling for elsewhere on Wall Street. CODA Markets, for instance, runs a dark pool that conducts trading via the auction model. In stocks, CEO Don Ross says the model addresses "opportunity costs that noticeably harm investment returns."

Bai, Pimental, and their other cofounder Craig Austin, formerly of AQR, came up with the idea for EverMarkets a year ago, and put out a white-paper outlining their plans in May. The next step is to get a beta version up and running with selected participants next quarter.

It's unclear at this point when the platform will be open to US investors, but Bai told Business Insider he expects international traders will be able to make trades by the end of the year. The company is currently in talks with the Commodities Futures and Trading Commission to obtain the necessary licenses to offer its services to US-based traders. It would join BitMEX, another derivatives trading platform, which offers trading in crypto futures to non-US customers. 

To be sure, it's no easy feat to break into the exchange business. IEX, which fought tooth and nail to get its exchange licence, only commands 2% of the business for stock trading in the US.

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

United is making a big change to its pet policy after a puppy tragically died in an overhead bin during a flight (UAL)

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

dog on plane

  • On Tuesday, United Airlines announced that it would temporarily stop transporting pets in the cargo holds of its aircraft as it reviews its PetSafe program.
  • United expects to finish the review by May 1, though it did not indicate if it will reinstate PetSafe as soon as the review is complete.
  • The suspension will not affect pets that travel in an aircraft's cabin.


Last week, United had three, separate, dog-related mishaps that resulted in one dead dog and two that were placed on incorrect flights. On Tuesday, the airline announced that it would temporarily stop transporting pets in the cargo holds of its aircraft.

"We are deeply committed to the safety and comfort of the animals and pets in our care. We are conducting a thorough and systematic review of our program for pets that travel in the cargo compartment to make improvements that will ensure the best possible experience for our customers and their pets," the airline wrote in a press release.

The airline said that it has stopped accepting reservations for its PetSafe program, which allows pets to travel in the cargo hold, while it completes the review, though any PetSafe reservations confirmed as of Tuesday will be honored. United expects to finish the review by May 1, though it did not indicate if it will reinstate PetSafe as soon as the review is complete.

The suspension will not affect pets that travel in an aircraft's cabin, which include service and emotional support animals.

The latter has become a point of controversy for United and other airlines since emotional support animals don't require special training, just a note from a licensed medical professional stating that the animal is necessary to the passenger's mental and emotional health. This year, United and Delta Air Lines have added requirements that passengers traveling with emotional support animals sign paperwork asserting that the animal can behave on a flight.

United has also announced that pets traveling in an aircraft's cabin will be marked with brightly colored bag tags to ensure they are not mistakenly placed in the overhead bin.

More on pets and air travel:

 

SEE ALSO: Here's how airlines decide if a pet qualifies as an emotional support animal

Join the conversation about this story »

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

Mark Carney: Cryptocurrencies Do Not Pose Serious Risks

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

Mark Carney: Cryptocurrencies Do Not Pose Serious Risks

When it comes to bitcoin and cryptocurrencies, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England and chairman of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), is known for being a harsh critic. Though Carney has praised the technology behind cryptocurrency in the past, he has often referred to digital money as a “bubble,” claiming it has failed users and is “no substitute for cash” or credit cards.

“The time has come to hold the crypto-asset ecosystem to the same standards as the rest of the financial system,” Carney told CNBC in early March 2018, further stating that the “average volatility of the top ten cryptocurrencies by market capitalization was more than 25 times that of the U.S. equities market in 2017.”

Just days ago, Carney proclaimed that illicit activities surrounding cryptocurrencies were causes for major concern, citing everything from personal wallet thefts to terrorist funding, only now, it appears his sentiment has suddenly changed.

Less than 24 hours before he was scheduled to speak at this year’s G20 meeting, Carney seemingly reversed his stance on digital currencies, saying that they did not pose serious risks to financial stability. Carney and the Board published an official letter on March 18, the eve of the summit, stating:

“The FSB’s initial assessment is that crypto-assets do not pose risks to global financial stability at this time … Their small size, and the fact that they are not substitutes for currency and with very limited use for real economy and financial transactions, has meant the linkages to the rest of the financial system are limited.”

Carney, whose term with the Bank of England ends in 2019, also insinuated that whoever succeeds him in the position is likely to run a more “open” operation, concentrating more on reviewing current rules and regulations, rather than implementing more strenuous standards.

“As its work to fix the fault lines that caused the financial crisis closes, the FSB is increasingly pivoting away from design of new policy initiatives toward dynamic implementation and rigorous evaluation of the effects of the agreed G20 reforms,” he said.

The G20 summit began on March 19, 2018, and will last through March 21. Several economic leaders are gathering in Buenos Aires to discuss cryptocurrencies and the future of the planet’s financial infrastructure.

Despite Carney’s newfound attitude toward digital assets, not every nation agrees that cryptocurrencies aren’t hazardous. Some countries, like France, Germany and Japan, are calling for further regulation, with the Central Bank of Germany stating that bitcoin should be regulated on a “global scale.” France and Germany are allegedly creating a joint proposal for cryptocurrency regulation that representatives will present at this year’s summit.

Carney, himself, explained that while he is pursuing a more “balanced approach” toward cryptocurrencies, the financial system will likely mold and change as more is understood about them:

“The market continues to evolve rapidly, and this initial assessment could change if crypto-assets were to become significantly more widely used or interconnected with the core of the regulated financial system.”

Still, it seems most virtual currency advocates have something to celebrate since, aside from his more lenient stance on coins themselves, Carney feels that the technology behind cryptocurrency has the potential to enhance and assist the economy as needed.


This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Get ready for the end of the 'alt-coin' bear market in cryptocurrency

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

A grizzly bear stands up at St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo in St-Felicien, Quebec September 24, 2008.  REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

  • The crypto market has been on the decline since the beginning of 2018, but Fundstrat expects a rally in "alt-coins" is on the horizon. 
  • "We believe the alt-coin bear market is largely over," the firm said in a note out to clients Tuesday. 

Good news for investors in the market for digital currencies. The bear market for alt-coins, or alternative currencies, is "largely over."

That's according to a group of analysts at Fundstrat, the Wall Street research firm led by noted bitcoin bull Tom Lee. 

For the most part, smaller cryptocurrencies have been stuck in a rout since the beginning of 2018. In total, the market for digital coins has shed over $500 billion of its value from an all-time high above $800 billion at the beginning of the year.

Since then, Fundstrat has advised clients to stick with large-cap coins such as bitcoin and ether to weather the storm. Recently, Lee said bitcoin would retest its highs close to $20,000 set in December by July of 2018

Now, it's telling clients to get ready for an alt-coin rally. Here's Fundstrat in a note out to clients on Tuesday:

"After a 75% decline in Alt-coins since 1/13/18, our alt-coin indicator ("% of alt-coins rising >200% in past 90D, or 3X) now sits at 3%, suggesting the bulk of the alt-coin retracement is done-in other words, we believe the alt-coin bear market is largely over."

Hold on, that doesn't mean the firm is advising crypto-lovers to dive head first into their favorite alts just yet. 

"While the bulk of the decline is behind us, a bull market for alt-coins, however, is not necessarily underway," Fundstrat said. 

According to the firm, alt-coins have historically gone through "purgatory periods" following a bear market, which have lasted as long as 231 days. 

"Given this expected purgatory, we advise sticking with large-caps," the firm said. 

The firm's top bets include bitcoin cash, bitcoin, and litecoin

Join the conversation about this story »

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

Get ready for the end of the 'alt-coin' bear market in cryptocurrency

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

A grizzly bear stands up at St-Felicien Wildlife Zoo in St-Felicien, Quebec September 24, 2008.  REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

  • The crypto market has been on the decline since the beginning of 2018, but Fundstrat expects a rally in "alt-coins" is on the horizon. 
  • "We believe the alt-coin bear market is largely over," the firm said in a note out to clients Tuesday. 

Good news for investors in the market for digital currencies. The bear market for alt-coins, or alternative currencies, is "largely over."

That's according to a group of analysts at Fundstrat, the Wall Street research firm led by noted bitcoin bull Tom Lee. 

For the most part, smaller cryptocurrencies have been stuck in a rout since the beginning of 2018. In total, the market for digital coins has shed over $500 billion of its value from an all-time high above $800 billion at the beginning of the year.

Since then, Fundstrat has advised clients to stick with large-cap coins such as bitcoin and ether to weather the storm. Recently, Lee said bitcoin would retest its highs close to $20,000 set in December by July of 2018

Now, it's telling clients to get ready for an alt-coin rally. Here's Fundstrat in a note out to clients on Tuesday:

"After a 75% decline in Alt-coins since 1/13/18, our alt-coin indicator ("% of alt-coins rising >200% in past 90D, or 3X) now sits at 3%, suggesting the bulk of the alt-coin retracement is done-in other words, we believe the alt-coin bear market is largely over."

Hold on, that doesn't mean the firm is advising crypto-lovers to dive head first into their favorite alts just yet. 

"While the bulk of the decline is behind us, a bull market for alt-coins, however, is not necessarily underway," Fundstrat said. 

According to the firm, alt-coins have historically gone through "purgatory periods" following a bear market, which have lasted as long as 231 days. 

"Given this expected purgatory, we advise sticking with large-caps," the firm said. 

The firm's top bets include bitcoin cash, bitcoin, and litecoin

Join the conversation about this story »

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

This Tiny Altcoin Proves There’s Light in the Crypto Tunnel!

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

This is a paid-for submitted press release. CCN does not endorse, nor is responsible for any material included below and isn’t responsible for any damages or losses connected with any products or services mentioned in the press release. CCN urges readers to conduct their own research with due diligence into the company, product or service mentioned

The post This Tiny Altcoin Proves There’s Light in the Crypto Tunnel! appeared first on CCN

Second Life Creator: High Fidelity’s HFC Is a Social Cryptocurrency for VR

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

Second Life Creator: High Fidelity’s HFC Is a Social Cryptocurrency for VR

In December 2017, High Fidelity announced the launch of Avatar Island, a Virtual Reality (VR) space where High Fidelity users can purchase items for their avatars, all contributed by digital artists from around the world, and pay with High Fidelity’s own blockchain-based cryptocurrency, the High Fidelity Coin(HFC).

High Fidelity is a next-generation platform for Virtual Reality (VR) worlds developed by Philip Rosedale, the creator of the once very popular Second Life. Despite a very promising start, Rosedale’s previous creation never achieved mass popularity. But perhaps Second Life was just too advanced. “[The] most surprising thing about Second Life is not that it's still a thing, but that 13 years after its inception, it is still way ahead of its time,” noted a 2016 Motherboard story.

High Fidelity supports next-generation VR interfaces that could give it a critical boost in usability and appeal. Perhaps the release of “Ready Player One,” Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s cult book, scheduled to be released in the U.S. on March 29, 2018, will give VR and High Fidelity a boost toward critical mass.

In September 2017, High Fidelity announced that it was developing a blockchain for intellectual property protection and an in-game cryptocurrency. In February 2018, the company introduced a key feature in the HFC ecosystem: the ability for users to pay other users directly, with HFC. HFC person-to-person payments can be either given “in-hand” to another user that is nearby in the virtual world or sent to a connection in the user’s friends list.

“We believe that a strong gig economy will emerge in virtual worlds, in High Fidelity and beyond, where people from all over the world can offer each other services and find a new place to work,” said Rosedale. “A frictionless cryptocurrency that can be exchanged directly between avatars, in addition to the blockchain ownership systems for digital assets that we deployed last December are the key enablers of this trend.”

In an interview with New World Notes, a blog focused on VR and virtual worlds, Rosedale argues that blockchain technology is well suited to social VR payment systems. Replying to a VentureBeat post, in which fellow VR developer Adam Frisby criticized blockchain technology saying that it isn’t ready for prime time, Rosedale defended High Fidelity’s choice.

Frisby’s point is that current blockchain-based transactions can’t be fast, low-cost and decentralized at the same time. In the real world, cryptocurrency systems are still far from the efficiency and throughput (transactions per second) of the major credit card networks. Similarly, in game worlds, “some of the largest online game economies manage more than a million user-to-user transactions per day, instantaneously, with no fees,” says Frisby. “And yet, I can name half a dozen startups trying to inject an expensive and slow blockchain into this very problem.” Frisby is also unhappy with the fact that lost cryptographic keys can’t be recovered.

Rosedale’s answer to the last point is that the keys are entirely in the hands of the user, which is a good thing. Rosedale also pointed out that the High Fidelity permissioned blockchain is up and running and has 2-second settlement times.

High Fidelity opted for a new, public but “permissioned” blockchain, because the Bitcoin and Ethereum blockchains have limited throughput and high transaction fees, which makes them unsuitable for HFC. The High Fidelity blockchain is based on the Elements codebase from Blockstream.

Rosedale argues that social payment systems for global VR worlds should be open to people without credit cards, and should support direct user-to-user payments with seamless cross-border transactions. For example, content creators need the ability to sell their creations to customers that may be located anywhere.

The market for virtual goods can be significant. At the apex of Second Life’s popularity in the late 2000s, thousands of developers were able to earn a full living by selling virtual creations. If, as Rosedale and his team hope, High Fidelity will achieve and exceed Second Life’s past popularity, the High Fidelity marketplace could play an important role in the gig economy.

According to Rosedale, the only viable solution for social payment systems in global VR worlds is to use either a cryptocurrency or a custom-built solution. Since a full, global custom-payment system is expensive to develop and maintain, blockchain technology is the best option.

“The cryptocurrency approach shares the work with other companies because the actual exchange of local currency into or out of the cryptocurrency can be done by an exchange,” says Rosedale.

In a conversation on the High Fidelity forum, Rosedale said that HFC will be traded on external cryptocurrency exchanges soon. “We will probably start by establishing simple ways to exchange HFC for the larger cryptocurrencies like ETH or BTC so that people can start making money from their content creations,” he said.

At this moment, High Fidelity is giving initial HFC grants to users, but the only way for users to obtain HFC is to “physically” (that is, virtually) go to the “Bank of High Fidelity” and meet with High Fidelity staff.

Speculators shouldn’t, however, rush to High Fidelity and buy HFC hoping for a spectacular rise of the value of High Fidelity’s cryptocurrency. Rosedale explained that HFC is designed to have a stable value for trade, so it is different from other cryptocurrencies. “[It] doesn’t make sense to hold it for the expectation of future gains,” he said. “We are working on an algorithmic strategy to increase the money supply automatically as usage of HFC increases, probably using an oracle monitoring the exchange rate. Again, the goal is price stability, not speculation.”

In the future, the HFC could be linked to an ERC20 token on the Ethereum blockchain, which could enable smart contracts in the High Fidelity economy.

“Where it is useful, we will build bridges between our HFC blockchain and other blockchains,” said Rosedale. “Probably the most obvious example would be bridges to the Ethereum blockchain, so that people could choose to move currency or asset information there for trade. We are also excited about other upcoming blockchains, such as EOS, that may offer the high transaction rates and low fees that caused us to ‘roll our own’ with HFC for now.”

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Ripple Chief Brad Garlinghouse is Keeping It Real on ICOs

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

Ripple’s chief executive has some words of advice for issuers behind ICOs: don’t spend all of your funds in one place. Brad Garlinghouse, who is at the helm of the blockchain startup that’s behind the XRP token, admonished ICO companies to “save some of the proceeds” in the event they find themselves the target in

The post Ripple Chief Brad Garlinghouse is Keeping It Real on ICOs appeared first on CCN

Delta put an 8-week-old puppy on multiple wrong flights while its owner was ignored by customer service (DAL)

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

delta

  • Delta Air Lines sent an eight-week-old puppy on multiple incorrect flights Saturday.
  • The dog was returned to its owner, Josh Schlaich, on Sunday evening. 
  • Schlaich described a frustrating experience with Delta's customer service representatives on Facebook.


Delta Air Lines sent an eight-week-old puppy, Ren, on multiple incorrect flights Saturday, leaving its owner, Josh Schlaich, in the dark for much of the day.

Schlaich had bought the dog from a breeder in Virginia, who put it on a Delta flight to Boise with a stopover in Minneapolis. Ren was supposed to arrive Saturday night, but didn't reach Boise until Sunday evening after Delta mistakenly sent him to Detroit, Las Vegas, and Salt Lake City. Schlaich was led to believe Ren would arrive on Sunday afternoon, but when he went to pick up Ren, he was given the wrong puppy.

On Facebook, Schlaich reportedly described a frustrating and confusing experience with the airline's customer service representatives. According to CNN, Schlaich said someone from the Delta terminal in Detroit called him with instructions to call another number.

"Was then given the number of the boarding facility — a disconnected line," Schlaich reportedly wrote. "Was not given a call back number by Detroit person, and the customer service would not give me their direct line. Tried calling Delta Cargo customer service, only to be yelled at by the rep and hung up on. No idea where my dog is, or what conditions he'll be placed under for the next 24 or more hours. Don't know when he will come into Boise tomorrow. No idea who to call. Absolutely ridiculous customer service."

Delta eventually responded to Schlaich's post, and, in later posts, he said that "local Delta reps (in Boise) did their best and were very helpful," after he received his dog, according to The Points Guy.

"We know pets are important members of the family and apologize for the delayed shipment of a dog, which is in the hands of its owner, after it was routed through incorrect connecting points on its way to Boise," Delta said in a statement to Business Insider. "We have fully refunded the shipping costs and have initiated an immediate review procedure to understand what happened."

This latest incident follows United Airlines' three, dog-related mishaps last week in which one dog died in an overhead bin and two were flown to incorrect destinations.

 

SEE ALSO: Inside the intensive, two-month training all Delta flight attendants must attend that's harder to get into than Harvard

Join the conversation about this story »

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

What Big Tech’s Ban Might Mean for Cryptocurrency Advertising

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

What Big Tech’s Ban Means for Cryptocurrency Advertising

Following Facebook’s lead, Google has announced it will ban all cryptocurrency advertising on its platforms by June 2018. This restriction applies to all Google-owned platforms including YouTube and any websites where Google sells digital ad space. On Sunday, March 18, 2018, Sky News reported Twitter will ban a range of cryptocurrency advertising by April 2018, including advertising for initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency wallets and some cryptocurrency exchanges. Twitter has not publicly communicated the ban nor has it denied the report.

As Matthew Frankel with the Motley Fool suggests, the main purpose of Google’s ban could be to protect investors without harming those already currently involved in the industry for the sake of positive development of the blockchain technology business ecosystem as a whole. Still, the reasoning and repercussions of this ban are worth investigating further.

While straightforward in delivery, the announcement itself has far-reaching implications for advertisers in the cryptocurrency space. The instance also leaves others with one more example to gauge Google’s position of power, responsibility and liability over online communication.

The news came as part of Google Adwords’ annual “trust and safety” report in the form of a new policy “to restrict the advertisement of Contracts of Difference, rolling spot forex and financial spread betting” — all speculative high-risk methods for generating greater amounts of profit in the short term with a low barrier of entry.

Because cryptocurrency has always been associated with financial volatility and has more recently become a hot-button topic in finance and technology in general, understanding why Google has banned these other financial products might indicate a more rational consideration for the ban.

Specifically, the update stated that advertisements for “cryptocurrencies and related content (including but not limited to initial coin offerings, cryptocurrency exchanges, wallets and cryptocurrency trading advice) will no longer be served.” While the statement goes on to say that certain Contracts of Difference, rolling spot forex and financial spread betting can be authorized to advertise through Adwords in certain countries based on Google’s certification, there is no mention of cryptocurrencies. Finally, “Advertisers can request certification with Google starting March 2018 when the application form is published.”

Blanket Approach

Bitcoin Magazine spoke with Rick Hanna, a digital strategist with BTC Inc, to better understand the situation. According to Hanna, setting the update (bans are not typical) ahead of time, for June 2018, is typical of Google Adwords updates and changes. “It gives their developers and end users time to implement and adjust for the changes. And a lot of cryptocurrency advertisers will be using Google and Facebook for the time being until it closes.”

For Hanna, based on past behavior, the most atypical thing about Facebook and Google’s announcements is the “blanket approach” which bans all cryptocurrency advertising:

“Blanket approach raises eyebrows because you recognize how much they act as gatekeepers. A blanket ban seems a bit heavy-handed to squash a few bad eggs.”

Hanna recognized that other social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Medium and Reddit will be used more often unless they follow suit.

Reasons and Repercussions  

Tatiana Moroz is the founder of Crypto Media Hub, a consultancy specializing in advertising, PR, marketing and events for the cryptocurrency space since 2015, with clients like Vaultoro, Blockfinity and Zencash. While her company targets mainly publisher advertising, whether that be through website banner ads and original content or on events, rather than on Google or Facebook, Moroz helped to articulate big tech’s thinking for the ban as well as potential repercussions for companies who rely on various advertising platforms to get their message across.

“This is not intended to sound conspiratorial in any way, but I think that Facebook and Google are very large corporations embedded in the establishment system,” Moroz told Bitcoin Magazine. “They get a lot of benefit from that system. That has been proven with the way they censor their users and the way they exploit their users by incorrectly selling their information. When I look at their policy on cryptocurrency, I think that it’s a disruptive technology that could potentially eat their lunch.”

On the other hand, Moroz also admitted that these same corporations have valid concern with regard to liability: “The SEC regulation around cryptocurrency has been somewhat unclear in an ever-evolving landscape, so, by allowing cryptocurrency advertisements, they might be opening themselves up to legal liability without necessarily knowing it.”

Separating the Wheat From the Chaff

Even for media and marketing companies that specialize in cryptocurrency, filtering potential clients through a vetting process that weeds out scams or potential pump-and-dump projects can be a difficult process that must constantly be redefined. From this perspective, the prospect of laying down a blanket approach to banning all cryptocurrency advertisements may be the easiest way to save time, while eliminating liability and mitigating the responsibility of imposing an evaluation framework that could stunt the industry or appear in any way, shape or form as collusion.

However, the reality of the power which both Facebook and Google hold over the digital world means that even if they are attempting to mitigate their responsibility for something as new and unpredictable as cryptocurrency, banning cryptocurrency advertising is still a method by which they are able to choose the players who can (or cannot) grow their businesses through digital advertising. According to an eMarketer article from last year, together, Google and Facebook were expected to control 63.1 percent of U.S. digital ad investment by the end of 2017.

Art, Not Science

“As a marketing company, it’s very difficult to choose which projects to work on,” admitted Moroz. “It can be an intimidating process for everyone, but I do believe that there needs to be some way to figure out whether a company is real. On the other hand, I am not a venture capitalist or lawyer so I can’t necessarily gauge each [project’s] ability to be successful.”

“We try to be selective with who we work with, but knowing about legitimacy is an ongoing problem within this space. I don’t think Google is in any position to be able to gauge that better, so, on a case-by-case basis, that may be difficult for people at this time.”

It should be noted that when considering how to separate legitimate cryptocurrency companies from scams, it is not often so black and white — most companies fall somewhere in the middle. As a result, it may not always be easy to distinguish illegal activity from mere mediocrity or incompetence.

Cryptocurrency Advertising in a Post-Google and Facebook World

Assuming that Google, Twitter and Facebook’s cryptocurrency advertising ban is here to stay, cryptocurrency and, to an extent, blockchain technology companies in general will be facing new challenges when it comes to promoting their brands and getting customers without the help of three of the internet’s largest corporations.

“I definitely expect to see some blowback from the crypto-community since social media has become the primary channel for communications in this very new market,” said Swan Burrus, a strategist with OgilvyOne Worldwide. Burrus also speculated as to whether further restrictions on these same platforms could be placed on bounty programs which incentivize support and promotion for specific cryptocurrencies.

Moroz, on the other hand, believes filling the space left by the absence of advertising on search engine and social media platforms will result in higher quality interactions through community involvement and relationship building.

I think it is going to become even more focused on relationships and finding trusted partners who can help them navigate the space. If you can’t necessarily afford an agency to do that, it would be worthwhile to at least do research or talk to people who have gone through that process. Projects can always go to different communities or cryptocurrency publishers that they trust for advertising.

Though going through the internet’s biggest online players will likely present advertisers the largest opportunity to receive the most impressions per ad, other organizations who work for cryptocurrency companies have found that it is not always best.

According to Shane Jordan, vice president of strategic insights at Spark Public Relations, Google and Facebook play a much more peripheral role than one would first think:

In our experience and data results, the Google and Facebook ad networks have not proved to be a significant driver of conversion and, thus, in past campaigns we have only included Google and FB ads as a very small percentage of the advertising media mix.

With the understanding that advertisers who use data will build ad campaigns around those places on the internet where performance measures highest, Jordan said his team works more often with publishers. “We've found that the best performing channels have been direct display advertising on targeted websites where we know crypto-investors get their news and market insights — and this is where we will continue to focus our efforts."

At the industry’s early stage, there is still clear disconnect or misconception between where advertising should place ads and where their customers want to see them.

Joking on the complicated yet fascinating dynamic of the cryptocurrency and blockchain technology space on an episode of his podcast, Cointalk, writer Jay Kang aptly summarizes an ideal future for cryptocurrency that many will continue to work toward:

What we really want is an atmosphere where you can make a good faith investment in a project because you think that the project has merit and potential for whatever reason. And that it is not going to be overrun by scammers, that theses shady things will not happen to them, that the exchange where they keep their money will not get hacked. And we’ll eventually get there.

This article originally appeared on Bitcoin Magazine.

Bitcoin Price Holds Above $8,500 as Market Fights to Cement Recovery

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

The Bitcoin price held above $8,500 on Tuesday as the market fought to cement yesterday’s widespread recovery. On Monday, the cryptocurrency market cap swelled by $45 billion, with virtually every top-tier cryptocurrency experiencing a double-digit percentage advance against the US dollar. The market ebbed from its intraday high leading into Tuesday morning, but it is … Continued

The post Bitcoin Price Holds Above $8,500 as Market Fights to Cement Recovery appeared first on CCN

NYC Subway worker dies after falling 20 feet while picking up trash on tracks

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

mta subway train conductor

  • A New York City MTA worker died Tuesday morning after falling 20 feet while on the job. 
  • The incident is impacting train service on the 4,5, and 6 lines. 
  • An investigation is ongoing. 

A New York City MTA worker died Thursday morning after falling 20 feet while picking up debris at the 125th St. station. 

"Unfortunately, even though the emergency services worked really hard, they tried CPR, they really did try valiantly to save him, he unfortunately passed about an hour after that," Transit Authority President Andy Byford told New York City's ABC 7. "So obviously our first thoughts are with him."

Tony Utano, the president of  TWU Local 100, said in a statement on the union's website that an investigation is ongoing. 

"A full investigation has begun to determine exactly how this happened. TWU Local 100 extends our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and we will help them any way we can," Utano said. 

The man's identity has not been revealed. 

The incident caused train delays on the 4, 5, and 6 lines. There is no service on the 4 and 5 lines between 86 St and 149 St-Grand Concourse in both directions. 

SEE ALSO: These images of a ridiculous bus line caused by NYC subway delays show just miserable the state of public transit has become

Join the conversation about this story »

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

Ripple's XRP Just Might Be the Next Big Crypto Futures Market

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

A little-known British crypto company has already turned XRP futures into a budding business worth over $30 million a month.

$9K Ahead? Bitcoin Looks North After Bull Breakout

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

Bitcoin is eyeing a move towards $9,000, courtesy of a bullish breakout on the 4-hour chart and a bullish hammer reversal on the daily chart.

Indian Woman Shares Credentials with Scammers, Loses $55,000 in Bitcoin

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

Indian police in the country’s capital city of Delhi are reportedly investigating a bitcoin theft wherein a woman’s wallet was allegedly ‘hacked’ by scammers to siphon away 6.5 bitcoins, approx. $54,000 in current prices. According to a local report, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – India’s primary law enforcement and intelligence agency – has

The post Indian Woman Shares Credentials with Scammers, Loses $55,000 in Bitcoin appeared first on CCN

Bitcoin's rough patch reminds Morgan Stanley of the Nasdaq during the tech bubble — except it's moving 15 times faster

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

bitcoin casino

  • Bitcoin fell as much as 70% from its mid-December high through its recent early-February low.
  • The cryptocurrency's price chart mirrors that of the Nasdaq Composite Index during the dotcom bubble era, but there's a catch.
  • Historical fluctuations in the Nasdaq should provide a template for how bitcoin will trade going forward, especially considering their similar patterns.

Recent declines in bitcoin may be foreign to traders accustomed to record-breaking returns, but the cryptocurrency's price chart looks awfully familiar to strategists at Morgan Stanley.

It reminds the firm of how the Nasdaq traded in 2000, during the tech bubble's heyday. And based on the chart below — which overlays bitcoin's one-year performance over a 15-year Nasdaq line — they have some serious similarities. 

The only catch is that bitcoin is moving 15 times faster than the Nasdaq did.

Screen Shot 2018 03 19 at 2.48.48 PM

Morgan Stanley highlights bitcoin's recent descent into a bear market, which has seen the cryptocurrency fall 70% from its mid-December peak to its most recent low in early February. The firm argues this is a totally normal turn of events for bitcoin, once again highlighting its similarities to the dotcom-bubble Nasdaq.

Perhaps most intriguing to bitcoin enthusiasts will be Morgan Stanley's finding that these types of weak spots have historically preceded rallies in the underlying asset.

During recent selloffs, the price of bitcoin has fallen an average of 47%, then rallied an average of 43%. Back in the span from March 2000 through October 2002, the Nasdaq fell an average of 44%, only to rebound roughly 40%, Morgan Stanley data show. Those are some eerily similar fluctuations.

So what's the big deal? Is there any insight to be gleaned from this intertwined relationship, marked by investor overexuberance? Given the similarities seen, investors should be able to use the historical Nasdaq chart to forecast moves in bitcoin — so long as they apply Morgan Stanley's 15-to-1 ratio.

Comparing the two is also a worthwhile exercise in staying calm amid panic-inducing conditions. As the chart below shows, even the worst selloffs in the dotcom-era Nasdaq were softened somewhat by the roaring rallies that followed.

Given where bitcoin is in its current cycle, bulls should find comfort in knowing a rebound may soon be afoot — that is, until the next inevitable reckoning.

Screen Shot 2018 03 19 at 3.43.19 PM

SEE ALSO: JPMorgan has calculated when the next recession will hit — and has some ideas how you can prepare for it

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NOW WATCH: Harvard professor Steven Pinker explains the disturbing truth behind Trump's 2 favorite phrases

UK inflation falls to 2.7% as the Brexit price squeeze starts to slow

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

FILE PHOTO: Shoppers are reflected in a window as they carry bags along Oxford street during the final weekend of shopping before Christmas in London December 20, 2014.  REUTERS/Luke MacGregor/File Photo

  • UK consumer price inflation (CPI) rate falls to 2.7% in February, down from the 3% level seen in January, according to the Office for National Statistics.
  • CPI measures the weighted average of prices of a basket of goods and services, such as food, transportation, and medical care.
  • The Brexit-driven fall in the pound pushed up inflation over the last 18 months, but those effects are now slowing, and prices are rising more slowly.
  • "A small fall in petrol prices alongside food prices rising more slowly than last year helped pull down inflation," Phil Gooding, the ONS' head of consumer price inflation said.

LONDON — The level of inflation fell in February, with the worst of the Brexit driven prices increases seen in the UK in the last 18 months now appearing to be over.

The Office for National Statistics said on Tuesday that the UK's Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation rate — the key measure of inflation — was 2.7% in February, down from January's 3% level, and lower than economists' forecasts of 2.8%.

CPI measures the weighted average of prices of a basket of goods and services, such as food, transportation, and medical care.

CPIH, a measure which includes costs associated with maintaining a home — and which the ONS cites as a more useful indicator of living costs than CPI — was 2.5% in the month, in line with expectations, and down from 2.7% in the last month.

"A small fall in petrol prices alongside food prices rising more slowly than last year helped pull down inflation, as many of the early 2017 price increases due to the previous depreciation of the pound have started to work through the system," Phil Gooding, the ONS' head of consumer price inflation said in a statement.

"There were some signs of slowing price rises in the cost of products leaving factories, with food and petroleum products prices falling," he added.

"Inflation of raw materials is also slowing down following high annual inflation in 2017, with prices of crude oil lower than in January." 

Here's the ONS' chart of longer term inflation:

Screen Shot 2018 03 20 at 09.41.01

The sharp fall in the value of the pound following the UK's vote to leave the EU in the summer of 2016 has raised the cost of imports and pushed up the rate of inflation.

Most major forecasters believed that inflation would peak in late 2017, and start to fall as 2018 progresses, thanks in part to sterling's recent recovery to more than $1.40. Those forecasts now appear to be materialising, with inflation dropping 0.3 percentage points in the month, a significant fall. 

Inflation's consistent overshooting of the Bank of England's government mandated 2% target over the past year or so is one of the main drivers for the bank's recent assertions that it will likely raise interest rates faster, and to a greater extent than previously expected during 2018.

However, Tuesday's number — which the Bank of England was given special early access to — suggests that inflation is set to fall sharply as the year progresses, potentially slowing the pace of any BoE rate hikes in 2018.

Last week, the ONS made changes to the so-called "basket of goods" used to calculate inflation, adding quiche, women's exercise leggings, and GoPro action cameras to the basket, while removing pork pies, edam cheese,  lager bought in nightclubs, and peaches.

The range of goods is meant to broadly reflect changing shopping habits and typify the average Brits' spending. 

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

India’s Bitcoin Trading Volume Plummets amid Banks’ Blockade of Exchanges

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

Regulatory and bank challenges are pressuring cryptocurrency exchanges in the country, as evidenced by a 90% decline in volume on bitcoin trading platforms. The Reserve Bank of India, its central bank, has not put the hammer down on trader accounts, but Indian banks have taken a two-pronged approach that’s denting trading activity, including closing bitcoin

The post India’s Bitcoin Trading Volume Plummets amid Banks’ Blockade of Exchanges appeared first on CCN

Everything you need to know about the complex relationship between Ripple Labs and cryptocurrency XRP

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

The logo of blockchain company Ripple is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

  • Cryptocurrency XRP, also known as Ripple, is often confused with the company that created it, Ripple Labs.
  • Ripple Labs owns 60% of all XRP in circulation but insists the currency is independent.
  • Ripple uses XRP in one of its products but says investors shouldn't use the cryptocurrency as a proxy for the entire business.
  • Here's everything you need to know about how Ripple and XRP are linked.


LONDON — XRP, often known as Ripple, is the world's third-biggest cryptocurrency and worth over $30 billion.

XRP shares a logo, and the name Ripple, with Ripple Labs, a payments company using blockchain technology for cross-border transfers. 

Both the currency and the company were founded by the same people and the company owns more than half of the currency.

But Ripple (the company) tries to stress that the two are not one and the same, an important distinction given that investors could fall into the trap of seeing XRP as a proxy for Ripple's performance.

Here's what you need to know:

What is XRP?

XRP is payment protocol and cryptocurrency that is "fine-tuned for transactions," according to Marcus Treacher, Ripple's Global Head of Strategic Accounts.

An early version of XRP dates back to 2004 when it was first created by web developer Ryan Fugger. The protocol in its current cryptocurrency form really began in 2012.

XRP allows people to send money digitally and is meant to be an upgrade on first generation cryptocurrency bitcoin, which suffers from high transaction cost volatility and slow settlement times. XRP promises to settle transactions in as little as four seconds and claims it can handle up 1,500 transactions per second, far more than the bitcoin network.

XRP averaged 37,935 transactions per hour as of Wednesday, according to BitInfoCharts.com. That compares to 28,437 for ethereum and 8,240 for bitcoin.

What is Ripple Labs?

Ripple Labs is a company founded in 2012 that helped develop XRP and the current Ripple protocol.  Chris Larsen, the cofounder of E-loans and Prosper, set up a company called OpenCoin to develop the Fugger's Ripple network concept. 100 billion XRP tokens were issued to run on the protocol and power it.

chris larsen

OpenCoin changed its name to Ripple Labs in 2015 and made the Ripple network code open source, meaning anyone could work on it. Ripple Labs remained the major contributor to the code.

While the people behind both XRP and Ripple are the same, the company insists that the open source nature of the network and the fact that XRP can be publicly bought and sold means that Ripple is not "behind" XRP — merely tangentially linked to it.

"It’s one of our creations that we’re proud of but it’s separate from the company," Treacher told BI. "We are trying to reinforce the fact that there’s Ripple the company and there’s XRP the currency."

BI pointed out that it's confusing to have both the company and the asset have the same name, logo, and creators. Treacher said he doesn't accept that and said Ripple isn't considering changing its name to differentiate the company.

Who owns XRP? 

Ripple owns 61 billion of the 100 billion outstanding XRP in circulation. The company's holding is valued at just under $50 billion. The rest of the currency is traded freely on the open market.

Ripple's domination of XRP has drawn criticism from some in the cryptocurrency community as many are attracted by crypto's promise of decentralization and the lack of a central authority controlling a currency. 

In response, Ripple has placed 55 billion of its XRP holdings into escrow. Tom Channick, Head of Corporate Communications at Ripple, told BI: "1 billion XRP is released to Ripple each month to use at its discretion. Last month was the first contract expiration. Ripple spent less than $100 million worth of XRP last month, which means the remaining $900 million+ was placed back in a new escrow contract for month 56."

Mati Greenspan, an analyst with trading platform eToro, said of the 1 billion a month supply: "Still, that's a lot of supply coming in that they could potentially throw out at any given time."

What does Ripple use XRP for?

Ripple initially wanted businesses to use XRP on the Ripple network to send and receive global payments. But Treacher told Business Insider that the sheer size of the global payments industry and issues around data protection meant that XRP on its own wasn't appropriate.

"We then kind of rethought things about two years ago and decided what we’ll do is we’ll create an interconnection solution using the cryptography of blockchain," Treacher said.

Marcus Treacher RippleThat solution is xCurrent. It is built on another open source platform developed by Ripple called Interledger. It allows different payment networks can plug into each other to allow people to send money all over the world quickly and securely.

xCurrent is "fine-tuned for an internet model, where banks can pay each other with adequate secrecy and not copy and paste it all over the world," Treacher said.

"We’re creating a natural model that’s worked before over the internet, overlaying with cryptography. The big difference is we can shift value over that internet model, which is impossible today."

xCurrent is one of three products offered by Ripple. The other two are xRapid, a liquidity solution, and xVia, which allows people to send payments with data like invoices attached. 

xRapid uses XRP "as a method to make that liquidity much more efficient by placing liquidity in the target accounts just in time for the payments to be able to happen over the Interledger model," Treacher said.

"For example, if you’re making a payment from the US to Argentina, with Ripple, with Interledger, payments will happen to your bank and the third party bank in Argentina in seconds.

"The account in Argentinian pesos, you really want that to be topped up when required very efficiently and not have a lot of money just sitting there in the account to cover the local payments as they are being made. XRP is used as a method of topping those accounts up."

Which businesses use XRP?

Five companies are currently piloting the xRapid technology, including Western Union and MoneyGram.

xCurrent is in production, according to Treacher, with millions of dollars moving across the network each day. But xRapid is currently at the pilot stage. Volumes are much smaller and firms are experimenting with it. 

Treacher says the feedback from the pilots so far has been "very, very good so far." The idea is that once xRapid fully launches, Ripple will try to convince companies that are using xCurrent to use xRapid as their liquidity solution too — a classic cross-sell.

One potential hurdle for widespread adoption of XRP as a liquidity solution is the volatility of its price. XRP has fallen by 25% against the dollar over the last month, for example. Ripple argues that the fast settlement times over the XRP protocol mean companies will have minimal exposure on a per transaction basis.rippleeToro's Greenspan said: "The minimum transaction fee for Ripple is o.oo01 XRP. It's fractions of a penny. It could go up by a hundred times. I don't think that the volatility of XRP is going to prevent any banks from necessarily using it."

Will Ripple always use XRP?

Given that Ripple and XRP are separate and trials involving XRP are still just at an early stage, it's not clear that Ripple will always offer a product that involves XRP. What if those trialing it decide not to take it up?

Treacher was circumspect when I asked whether Ripple will always use XRP in one form or another.

"It’s very important to keep your true north," he said. "There will be communities that value different parts [of what Ripple does] and we get that. Clearly, our vision is the whole things coming together as a whole but if we find that certain groups or organisations are much more focused on the liquidity angle that XRP offers or focused on the Interledger, that’s absolutely fine.

"The Interledger protocol that we use connects perfectly well to any blockchain and any asset, it doesn’t only work with XRP, it’s very open. If you’re trying to create a solution for the global payment problem, you can’t be closed."

He added: "We care about this currency, we care about the digital asset, it’s part of our vision, we want it to do well. In doing so, we’re careful to make sure it’s freely accessible, it is community controlled."

Does Ripple influence XRP's price?

Treacher insists that Ripple's escrow arrangement means Ripple can't influence XRP's price directly.

However, Ripple's activities appear to indirectly affect the price of XRP as many investors view the cryptocurrency as a proxy for the company.

Greenspan said: "I've been doing battle with that perception for the better part of the last few months. A lot of newcomers are of the understanding that holding on to XRP tokens is somewhat similar to holding shares in Ripple Labs, which is completely false.

Brad Garlinghouse, RippleXRP rallied on news that Ripple had struck a deal with international money transfer business UAE Exchange, for example, despite the fact that the deal was for xCurrent rather than xRapid.

"A lot of the deals that they do and the payment channels that they set up, at the end of the day, are not going to use XRP tokens," Greenspan said.

Treacher said: "As we’re successful, clearly a lot of people follow Ripple and I think we’re doing some interesting, groundbreaking stuff. As that’s happening, people are clearly watching what we’re doing and then making decisions about how the world is playing out. We can’t stop that. We want to be agnostic here. We don’t want to be encouraging or discouraging, we just want to do our job and build out that network."

He added: "I can understand why people look at what we’re doing, look at the currency, and make that connection. But we do try and make it very clear that there’s Ripple the company and XRP the currency."

So how should I think about Ripple's relationship to XRP?

XRP is "bigger than Ripple," Treacher says. He argues that the cryptocurrency is a "transformational technology" that has "a range of uses."

One way to think of XRP is a little like a digital railway network. Ripple has laid down the gauges but now it has sold off most of them to anyone who wants them. Now, Ripple is focusing on making the best damn trains it can so it can make money from the network it has created.

"We’re trying to build something that’s very, very open and we succeed because we’re very, very good at delivering into that open world that we have created," Treacher said.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Tether, the cryptocurrency that people worry could crash bitcoin

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Jim Chanos is worried about the economy, but not because of inflation

Everything you need to know about the complex relationship between Ripple Labs and cryptocurrency XRP

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

The logo of blockchain company Ripple is seen at the SIBOS banking and financial conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada October 19, 2017. REUTERS/Chris Helgren

  • Cryptocurrency XRP, also known as Ripple, is often confused with the company that created it, Ripple Labs.
  • Ripple Labs owns 60% of all XRP in circulation but insists the currency is independent.
  • Ripple uses XRP in one of its products but says investors shouldn't use the cryptocurrency as a proxy for the entire business.
  • Here's everything you need to know about how Ripple and XRP are linked.


LONDON — XRP, often known as Ripple, is the world's third-biggest cryptocurrency and worth over $30 billion.

XRP shares a logo, and the name Ripple, with Ripple Labs, a payments company using blockchain technology for cross-border transfers. 

Both the currency and the company were founded by the same people and the company owns more than half of the currency.

But Ripple (the company) tries to stress that the two are not one and the same, an important distinction given that investors could fall into the trap of seeing XRP as a proxy for Ripple's performance.

Here's what you need to know:

What is XRP?

XRP is payment protocol and cryptocurrency that is "fine-tuned for transactions," according to Marcus Treacher, Ripple's Global Head of Strategic Accounts.

An early version of XRP dates back to 2004 when it was first created by web developer Ryan Fugger. The protocol in its current cryptocurrency form really began in 2012.

XRP allows people to send money digitally and is meant to be an upgrade on first generation cryptocurrency bitcoin, which suffers from high transaction cost volatility and slow settlement times. XRP promises to settle transactions in as little as four seconds and claims it can handle up 1,500 transactions per second, far more than the bitcoin network.

XRP averaged 37,935 transactions per hour as of Wednesday, according to BitInfoCharts.com. That compares to 28,437 for ethereum and 8,240 for bitcoin.

What is Ripple Labs?

Ripple Labs is a company founded in 2012 that helped develop XRP and the current Ripple protocol.  Chris Larsen, the cofounder of E-loans and Prosper, set up a company called OpenCoin to develop the Fugger's Ripple network concept. 100 billion XRP tokens were issued to run on the protocol and power it.

chris larsen

OpenCoin changed its name to Ripple Labs in 2015 and made the Ripple network code open source, meaning anyone could work on it. Ripple Labs remained the major contributor to the code.

While the people behind both XRP and Ripple are the same, the company insists that the open source nature of the network and the fact that XRP can be publicly bought and sold means that Ripple is not "behind" XRP — merely tangentially linked to it.

"It’s one of our creations that we’re proud of but it’s separate from the company," Treacher told BI. "We are trying to reinforce the fact that there’s Ripple the company and there’s XRP the currency."

BI pointed out that it's confusing to have both the company and the asset have the same name, logo, and creators. Treacher said he doesn't accept that and said Ripple isn't considering changing its name to differentiate the company.

Who owns XRP? 

Ripple owns 61 billion of the 100 billion outstanding XRP in circulation. The company's holding is valued at just under $50 billion. The rest of the currency is traded freely on the open market.

Ripple's domination of XRP has drawn criticism from some in the cryptocurrency community as many are attracted by crypto's promise of decentralization and the lack of a central authority controlling a currency. 

In response, Ripple has placed 55 billion of its XRP holdings into escrow. Tom Channick, Head of Corporate Communications at Ripple, told BI: "1 billion XRP is released to Ripple each month to use at its discretion. Last month was the first contract expiration. Ripple spent less than $100 million worth of XRP last month, which means the remaining $900 million+ was placed back in a new escrow contract for month 56."

Mati Greenspan, an analyst with trading platform eToro, said of the 1 billion a month supply: "Still, that's a lot of supply coming in that they could potentially throw out at any given time."

What does Ripple use XRP for?

Ripple initially wanted businesses to use XRP on the Ripple network to send and receive global payments. But Treacher told Business Insider that the sheer size of the global payments industry and issues around data protection meant that XRP on its own wasn't appropriate.

"We then kind of rethought things about two years ago and decided what we’ll do is we’ll create an interconnection solution using the cryptography of blockchain," Treacher said.

Marcus Treacher RippleThat solution is xCurrent. It is built on another open source platform developed by Ripple called Interledger. It allows different payment networks can plug into each other to allow people to send money all over the world quickly and securely.

xCurrent is "fine-tuned for an internet model, where banks can pay each other with adequate secrecy and not copy and paste it all over the world," Treacher said.

"We’re creating a natural model that’s worked before over the internet, overlaying with cryptography. The big difference is we can shift value over that internet model, which is impossible today."

xCurrent is one of three products offered by Ripple. The other two are xRapid, a liquidity solution, and xVia, which allows people to send payments with data like invoices attached. 

xRapid uses XRP "as a method to make that liquidity much more efficient by placing liquidity in the target accounts just in time for the payments to be able to happen over the Interledger model," Treacher said.

"For example, if you’re making a payment from the US to Argentina, with Ripple, with Interledger, payments will happen to your bank and the third party bank in Argentina in seconds.

"The account in Argentinian pesos, you really want that to be topped up when required very efficiently and not have a lot of money just sitting there in the account to cover the local payments as they are being made. XRP is used as a method of topping those accounts up."

Which businesses use XRP?

Five companies are currently piloting the xRapid technology, including Western Union and MoneyGram.

xCurrent is in production, according to Treacher, with millions of dollars moving across the network each day. But xRapid is currently at the pilot stage. Volumes are much smaller and firms are experimenting with it. 

Treacher says the feedback from the pilots so far has been "very, very good so far." The idea is that once xRapid fully launches, Ripple will try to convince companies that are using xCurrent to use xRapid as their liquidity solution too — a classic cross-sell.

One potential hurdle for widespread adoption of XRP as a liquidity solution is the volatility of its price. XRP has fallen by 25% against the dollar over the last month, for example. Ripple argues that the fast settlement times over the XRP protocol mean companies will have minimal exposure on a per transaction basis.rippleeToro's Greenspan said: "The minimum transaction fee for Ripple is o.oo01 XRP. It's fractions of a penny. It could go up by a hundred times. I don't think that the volatility of XRP is going to prevent any banks from necessarily using it."

Will Ripple always use XRP?

Given that Ripple and XRP are separate and trials involving XRP are still just at an early stage, it's not clear that Ripple will always offer a product that involves XRP. What if those trialing it decide not to take it up?

Treacher was circumspect when I asked whether Ripple will always use XRP in one form or another.

"It’s very important to keep your true north," he said. "There will be communities that value different parts [of what Ripple does] and we get that. Clearly, our vision is the whole things coming together as a whole but if we find that certain groups or organisations are much more focused on the liquidity angle that XRP offers or focused on the Interledger, that’s absolutely fine.

"The Interledger protocol that we use connects perfectly well to any blockchain and any asset, it doesn’t only work with XRP, it’s very open. If you’re trying to create a solution for the global payment problem, you can’t be closed."

He added: "We care about this currency, we care about the digital asset, it’s part of our vision, we want it to do well. In doing so, we’re careful to make sure it’s freely accessible, it is community controlled."

Does Ripple influence XRP's price?

Treacher insists that Ripple's escrow arrangement means Ripple can't influence XRP's price directly.

However, Ripple's activities appear to indirectly affect the price of XRP as many investors view the cryptocurrency as a proxy for the company.

Greenspan said: "I've been doing battle with that perception for the better part of the last few months. A lot of newcomers are of the understanding that holding on to XRP tokens is somewhat similar to holding shares in Ripple Labs, which is completely false.

Brad Garlinghouse, RippleXRP rallied on news that Ripple had struck a deal with international money transfer business UAE Exchange, for example, despite the fact that the deal was for xCurrent rather than xRapid.

"A lot of the deals that they do and the payment channels that they set up, at the end of the day, are not going to use XRP tokens," Greenspan said.

Treacher said: "As we’re successful, clearly a lot of people follow Ripple and I think we’re doing some interesting, groundbreaking stuff. As that’s happening, people are clearly watching what we’re doing and then making decisions about how the world is playing out. We can’t stop that. We want to be agnostic here. We don’t want to be encouraging or discouraging, we just want to do our job and build out that network."

He added: "I can understand why people look at what we’re doing, look at the currency, and make that connection. But we do try and make it very clear that there’s Ripple the company and XRP the currency."

So how should I think about Ripple's relationship to XRP?

XRP is "bigger than Ripple," Treacher says. He argues that the cryptocurrency is a "transformational technology" that has "a range of uses."

One way to think of XRP is a little like a digital railway network. Ripple has laid down the gauges but now it has sold off most of them to anyone who wants them. Now, Ripple is focusing on making the best damn trains it can so it can make money from the network it has created.

"We’re trying to build something that’s very, very open and we succeed because we’re very, very good at delivering into that open world that we have created," Treacher said.

SEE ALSO: Everything you need to know about Tether, the cryptocurrency that people worry could crash bitcoin

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Jim Chanos is worried about the economy, but not because of inflation

IHS Markit CEO on London: 'Regardless of Brexit, we’ll be here running our company'

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

Markit CEO Lance Uggla celebrates at the NASDAQ MarketSite in Times Square during the launch of the initial public offering (IPO) for Markit on June 19, 2014 in New York City. Markit, (Nasdaq:MRKT), is a financial information company which competes with Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters Corp. Markit said it priced its initial public offering at $24 per share and it's IPO has raised about $1.28 billion. (Photo by )

  • IHS Markit CEO Lance Uggla told BI his company remains committed to the UK.
  • He thinks the country remains a great place for startups despite Brexit.
  • His main concern is access to talent after the UK leave the EU.


LONDON — The CEO of market data company IHS Markit says his business remains committed to the UK despite Brexit, and that he believes the country remains a good location for startups.

Lance Uggla told Business Insider: "IHS Markit, we’re a UK-headquartered, tax headquartered company here. We have offices throughout Europe and, regardless of Brexit, we’ll be here running our company. I don’t see any barriers to us offering our services globally."

Speaking to BI at a conference in London, he added: "If I was going to re-start Markit, I would start it here."

Uggla, who is Canadian, started Markit in 2003 from a barn in St Albans, near London. He led the business to a $4.3 billion listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange in 2014 and a merger with data provider IHS in 2016. The combined group is worth close to $20 billion.

Uggla was speaking to Business Insider at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, a two-day fintech conference showcasing the UK as a location for innovative businesses.

Uggla said: "London’s a great place to do this because you’re surrounded by financial market participants — they’re all here. It’s so global."

He said the UK's timezone, language, its legal system, and access to European talent all add to the country's appeal.

Access to skilled European workers is in doubt after Britain's exit from the European Union but Uggla said he believes businesses will still be able to hire good staff.

"I don’t know what it will look like post-Brexit," he said. "But I still think that if you’re a great company, you can attract top talent because they want to work for the company. I think London’s a great place to live – good schools, good environment, good health system, good education system.

"This is an attractive place to be headquartered and I don’t think that’s changing."

Uggla said it is "business as usual" at IHS Markit, but added: "Of course we have to look at Brexit strategically and make sure from a corporate perspective that we don’t have any single points of failure because of Brexit, but the only one we have to take into consideration I think is: does it impact any of our employees, existing, and will it impact the ability to attract and recruit new employees in the future?"

He added: "Personally, I don’t see that as a barrier for us because if we want to hire someone from Canada today, or someone from Japan or Australia in London, you go through your normal procedures and you hire them. They can’t just walk across the street with a passport."

SEE ALSO: London needs to embrace blockchain post-Brexit for the next 'Big Bang moment'

Join the conversation about this story »

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

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