People Will “Flock en Masse” to Bitcoin as Coronavirus Affects Gold Supply: Max Keiser

Thursday packed a punch after jobless claims soared to 6.6 million after previous week’s over 3 million Americans filed for unemployment. A total of nearly 10 million jobs have vanished in just two weeks as the coronavirus pandemic shuttering business forces vast layoffs.

The speed and scale of such losses are unprecedented, “What usually takes months or quarters to happen in a recession is happening in a matter of weeks,” said Michelle Meyer, chief U.S. economist for Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

US stocks edged higher on soaring jobless claims along with oil prices with Brent Crude up 6% after President Trump said he believes Russia and Saudi Arabia can de-escalate their oil price war.

Gold also jumped after opening lower on a firm dollar on Thursday. Spot gold was up 0.9% to $1,605.60 per ounce. Saxo Bank analyst, Ole Hansen said,

“Both bulls and bears can build a narrative in gold right now, with low inflation, weak physical demand from key buyers and the dollar’s strength for the bears and the economic shock, negative real yields and cenbank easing for bulls.”

Gold-god’s money or Bitcoin-people’s money?

According to ‘Rich Dad Poor Dad’ author Robert Kiyosaki, gold and bitcoin is the option to go for when the Fed is printing money.

However, Bitcoin proponent Max Keiser believes, people will “flock en masse” to bitcoin because there would be no gold for sale due to coronavirus. He said,

“I predict — and this is not only the ultimate use case but the ultimate irony — that once people realize that they cannot get gold, they’ll start flocking en masse into Bitcoin.”

As we reported, due to an increase in demand gold has been facing “unprecedented turmoil” as coronavirus shuts down supply sources.

In Q1 of 2020, while bitcoin was down 11.49%, gold ended the first three months with a positive 4% returns. Bitcoin is currently up 10% jumping to $6,850.

Source: Skew

The world’s leading cryptocurrency has also halvening coming in just over a month which Bitcoin proponents have taken to call “‘quantitative-hardening’ program,” unlike central banks’ unpredictable inflation and money creation. Adam Back, founder and CEO of Blockstream explained,

“Bitcoin quantitative hardening is the sound of bitcoin getting even harder. All while the world loses its fiat mind and plummets into quantitative easing infinity.”

Bitcoin used as an intermediary currency

In other news, unlike gold, Bitcoin is “primarily being used as a vehicle currency across Latin America,” stated Matt Ahlborg, a data scientist at dlab.vc.

As per his research, bitcoin is used as an intermediary currency between fiat currencies to transfer value in and out of Venezuela. The country with hyperinflation doesn’t allow for its currency to be freely exchanged with other currencies, as such,

“remitters and anyone else wishing to transfer value into or out of Venezuela are best served by using the vast network of informal money transmitters available to them.”

In 2019, LocalBitcoins facilitated the trade of $315 million dollar worth of bolivars but it was “a very small fraction of the total of Venezuela-related money transfers that ride Bitcoin rails.”

Bitcoin could actually be facilitating billions of dollars worth of censorship-resistant value transfer to and from Venezuela over the last few years and playing a part in “changing the destiny of an entire country,” said Ahlborg.

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Author: AnTy

Is Binance’s CoinMarketCap Acquisition a Conflict of Interest or a Win-Win-Win for All?

The rumor has been confirmed, Binance has acquired CoinMarketCap for an undisclosed amount.

On April 2nd, both the companies announced that the leading crypto exchange has acquired the crypto data tracking site that recently launched a new Liquidity Metric, added derivative market data and new rating analytics.

The acquisition will “enable us to build on each other’s strengths, jointly serving as infrastructure providers of crypto,” said Binance founder and CEO Chagpeng Zhao.

As part of this transition, CMC founder Brandon Chez will be stepping down as the CEO after seven years and will be replaced by the current Chief Strategy Officer, Carylyne Chan who will act as an interim CEO. Chez said,

“I believe that of all the teams in the space that could acquire CoinMarketCap, Binance is one of the very best options.”

New phase of growth

Last year, CMC came under the scrutiny for reporting “false” trading volume, concerns that the company conceded to be valid. CMC addressed the problem by adding a column for “adjusted volume” which has about the same numbers as “reported volume.”

The data tracking site might be “working hard to build constructive solutions” but according to Nic Carter of Coin Metrics, it was like pouring a small cup on a blazing house fire.

Now, Binance has purchased the company and Chan is optimistic about this “new phase of growth.” She said,

“We have been public about our commitment to remaining neutral by avoiding censorship and judgement of projects or exchanges that we list, preferring to let users make their own decisions based on the data. We are delighted that the Binance team has been unequivocal in ensuring that we can continue to adhere to our methodology without prejudice.”

CMC will remain independent

However, the vast majority of the community is not feeling good about this acquisition is a “conflict of interest” and would see “more fraud, abuse, rigged rankings & project extortion to get ‘listed.’”

But CMC maintains that it will be run as an “independent business entity” and that “Binance cannot make any changes in our business model unilaterally.”

Source: CMC

CMC Killer: A “win-win-win for all of crypto”

While the market is criticizing this move, CMC’s competitor Messari Crypto’s founder Ryan Selkis believes this is a “massive win-win-win for all of crypto.”

Selkis has previously taken shot at the company for their “data quality” but he clarified that he’s “supposed to” because “they’re the 800 lb gorilla in crypto data, and we compete for share.”

According to him, CME has the first-mover advantage, retail market, and ingrained habit to enter CMC in browsers to search prices which they realized early on in the game when their investors wanted them to build a “CMC killer.”

While Messari is a professional crypto data service with robust tools, CMC is a retail-focused company and Binance will add muscle to its data quality and help set exchange standards. Selkis said,

“I don’t buy the narrative that Binance will “ruin” CMC’s independence because CMC never had a pristine, high-quality brand to begin with! It was a great shitcoin business, but investors shat on them mercilessly. If anything brand value will rise.”

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Author: AnTy

Recent Market Crash Has Traders Jumping to Stablecoins Like Tether (USDT) To Reduce Losses

The financial crisis in the traditional market was looming large even before Coronavirus pandemic came into the picture. The virus outbreak across the globe sent the market on a free fall and even Bitcoin experienced a scare with a massive fall of almost 50% within 24-hours. Bitcoin was supposed to outshine the traditional market at such times which it is as it has not been on free fall like other markets. However, one crypto token almost seemed to have gained and added $2 billion worth of market cap during these troubled times.

While Bitcoin’s market cap has decreased by 37% since mid-February, Tether has seen an increase of 38% in its market cap. Tether, a stablecoin pegged against the US-Dollar has seen many takers in the times of this financial crisis. Many market pundits and analysts believe that in these times of financial uncertainty and high volatility in the crypto market, stablecoins have gained a lot of traction.

Nic Carter, co-founder of crypto market tracker Coin Metrics believe that investors have been attracted towards the US Dollar and stablecoins like Tether’s USDT has become a prominent source for investors to get their hands on the digital equivalent to the US Dollar. However, Tether has also been at the center of many controversies especially over the issuance of the USDT, which they claim is based on consumer’s demand, but many believe it’s not transparent enough and the firm has been involved in many lawsuits because of that.

Earlier Tether has claimed that each USDT token is backed by the one US Dollar, however, it has refused to get audited by a third-party and during the BitFinex lawsuit, it accepted that only about 70% of its issuance is backed by the US dollar and also removed the claim from its website.

Tracking Tether is Getting Harder

Over the past couple of years, Tether has started issuing its stablecoin on a variety of ledgers which has made tracking of its stablecoin even harder than it has been in the past. Carter said,

“Anecdotally, some non-U.S. traders have told me that they actually prefer the more lightly surveilled Tether because they feel that it’s less likely that their coins get arbitrarily frozen for violating the terms of service.”

Tether has also been accused of manipulating and pumping Bitcoin prices on many occasions as many have pointed out that every time Bitcoin price has fallen significantly Tether releases a new batch of stablecoins which has often led to a rise in Bitcoin price. Tether has denied such claims while analysts haven’t been able to gather enough information to back those claims.

Whatever may be the case with its issuance, nobody can deny its dominance in the crypto market as USDT alone has captured over 95% of the stablecoin market over the years and no one has ever come close to dethrone it despite the slew of accusations around it.

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Author: James W

Azimo Teams Up With Thailand’s Largest Bank To Use RippleNet For Instant Payments

London-based money remittances fintech, Azimo has announced that it is partnering with Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), Thailand’s biggest commercial bank, to enhance instant money remittances to Thailand for European-based customers.

The new deal comes just days after the fintech firm inked a deal with Ripple for the use of RippleNet services which allows customers to easily track the movement of their funds until delivery.

Thailand is one of the top destinations for remittances globally and it is the reason why Ripple decided to introduce a gateway in efforts to enable easy cross-border payments. However, it is also very difficult and complex to execute international payments in Thailand. As Azimo has been venturing into new markets in Asia, the high tariff issue may soon be solved.

Talking to Techcrunch, Michael Kent, Azimo co-founder stated that there are many countries which are introducing prompt payment systems and Thailand does not want to be left behind. He explained that the current deal with SCB will tremendously help in reduction of settlement time. Kent explained:

“This partnership with the largest bank in the country allows us to get the time to settle payments down from around 24 hours to an average of 22 seconds. [It’s] faster to send money to Thailand than to someone else in the UK.”

The new deal will not only make it easier to send money from Europe to Thailand but also give the users a platform to track whether the recipient received the money on time through RippleNet.

SCB has been keen to venture into the European market and the new deal gives the bank a leeway to reach the millions of Thais in Europe. SCB’s Arthit Sriumporn praised the partnership with Azimo as it will allow it to serve Thais in Europe efficiently.

Sriumporn stated that Azimo customers will now be able to instantly send money to recipients in Thailand faster, cheaper and in a more secure manner. He added that the service will no doubt enhance people’s lives which is one of SCB’s goals.

“In a little over a month since Azimo’s launch on RippleNet with On-Demand Liquidity (ODL) into the Philippines, this new service with SCB demonstrates the power, ease and flexibility of Ripple’s integration to speed up market entries,” said Asheesh Birla, Ripple’s SVP of Product and Corporate Development.

“It’s exciting to see a long time customer like SCB and a new customer Azimo realizing the benefits of RippleNet to continue to expand their businesses, to enable instant, reliable, low-cost faster, lower-cost payments around the world.”

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Blockstack Gets Patent Approval for Single Sign-on For Decentralized Applications (DApp)

Blockstack, the decentralized web development platform has been granted a patent for its method of cryptographically signature which makes it possible to sign on any of their Dapss with a single digital signature without the need for any third-party authentication.

Blockstack got the nod from USPTO on March 24, merely 8 months after it applied for the patent. The 8-month waiting period is quite low when we compare it to the average time period taken by USPTO has been around 32-months. Blockstack first released the developer version of Auth in 2017.

The patent document suggests that Blockstack’s Auth aims to become the one cryptographic password to rule them all in the next generation of internet also known as Web 3.0. The patent document also revealed that the functionality of Auth would be quite similar to current generation social media platforms like Google and Facebook’s one-click sign-in for multiple platforms. However, the execution would be quite different from the current ones.

In the current scenario, a third-party is responsible for authentication who take over the control from the user and manages to scan any possible data from centralized servers without the user’s consent or we can say the policies have been as such that a user has to grant authority to use the service. However, Auth won’t be relying on servers for authentication and instead, it would make use of the cryptographic public key.

How Auth Would Ensure Privacy for the Users

The process of authentication would be carried out by exchanging JSON web tokens between the Dapps and Blockstack browser. At the time of sign-in an “ephemeral transit key” is generated by the Dapp whose public portion is sent to the browser using “authRequest” token. The browser then encrypts the public portion and send back the encrypted public information to Dapp in the form of “authResponse” token.

Although this would be Blockstack’s first patent for its universal login Auth protocol, it has also led to questioning whether patenting was the right way for open source Blockstack Auth and decentralization in general. Muneeb Ali, CEO of Blockstack addressed the issue on a forum after 2 days of patent confirmation. Ali claimed that the main reason for them to patent their system was so that no other big firms file the patent for any similar protocol, which would have negated their work.

Ali also cited that many big firms like IBM, Microsoft and Amazon have been interested in making it big in the blockchain space and have filed numerous patents for the same. Ali also noted that their only intention is to patent core team effort and called it purely for the defensive purpose.

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Author: James W

Darknet Markets Took a Hit After Bitcoin Price Crash “Like Never Before”

The recent sell-off was “no ordinary” Bitcoin price drop, suggests the drastic changes in the usage patterns of different types of cryptocurrency businesses.

During the week of March 19, as COVID-19 pandmeic intensified, crypto exchanges saw the largest ever bitcoin inflow which was 9x the daily BTC average amount.

Professional traders and investors were responsible for the majority of the 37% drop in bitcoin price. However, the majority of available bitcoin wasn’t cashed out as hodlers held onto their confidence in the crypto asset.

However, some ripples were seen in the services that use bitcoin. The amount of bitcoin sent to merchant services, gambling services, and darknet markets dropped significantly, reported Chainalysis.

Darknet market activity takes a hit

Darknet markets are reacting to BTC prices like never before. Historically, darknet market activity were much less affected by the ebbs and flows of the market but this time the correlational relationship has reversed.

In mid-March when the Bitcoin price dropped from $10,500 in mid-February to $3,850, so did the value of Bitcoins sent to the darknet market, which went from $4.1 million to $3.2 million.

This drop in darknet activity came after rising to more than $5 million in the final quarter of 2019. At that time, the price of the digital asset fell 13% to $6,400.

Chainalysis says given the public health crisis, people might not be buying as many drugs, also vendors might have slowed down their sales due to price drop out of fear that BTC would be worthless one day. Disruptions to the global supply chain could also be hampering these vendors’ ability to do business.

But as China recovers from the COVID-19 outbreak, the darknet purchasing appears to be picking up as well.

Merchant and Gambling services affected too

During this time, merchant services remained “surprisingly resilient.” These services allow conventional businesses to accept BTC from customers to make purchases which is typically highly correlated with price.

While merchant services purchasing dropped, it wasn’t as much as expected. This could be because crypto users are buying essentials that they can’t get elsewhere with fiat currency. Also, local business closures due to coronavirus could have augmented the need for these services.

As for crypto-based gambling services, they recorded a dip in activity but it was unrelated to the price drop. Bitcoin flows to gambling services have been dropping since the week of March 9 but not until sometime after the price drop. They continued to fall even when the BTC price started to recover.

This could very well be a non-crypto event as gambling activity changes during the recession due to large variance in consumer behavior.

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Author: AnTy

Augur (REP) Delays v2 Prediction Market Launch To June; v1 Cutoff Date Extended

Augur announced its long-awaited version 2 (Augur V2) will be delayed to give the community time to switch from the older V1 versions to the new updates. The team announced most of the work on the new platform is done with a little polishing up and bounty finding hanging in the way.

Augur dev team delays V2 till June

After months of work on the new Augur V2, the dev team announced the new update will launch in the ‘first weeks of June.’ The decentralized betting platform will launch on the Ethereum blockchain bringing fresh aspects in addition to a DAI-denominated coin, a switch from the ERC-20 standard token to the lucky token contract, the ERC-777 and a new tool to focus on the exposure of fake markets.

According to the blog post every REP, the blockchain’s native token, users will need to migrate to the new version before the cut-off date to avoid being left out. The team will offer more information on how to migrate tokens to the new update.

The cut-off time is delayed to the 15th of May (12:00pm UTC), giving users ample time to switch to the new version as soon as it’s launched. Users can continue creating the betting markets at the moment, as the report reads,

“At this time, we’ve decided to extend the v1 cutoff date until May 15th (12:00pm UTC). This allows users to continue to create markets through the UI while also budgeting a good deal of time between then and the anticipated deployment (to ensure resolution).”

Few steps to go

The team is just a few steps from launching the V2 main net as the community works on a few bugs, polishing the Augur user interface and the integration with DeFi product Uniswap V2. The announcement reads,

“The bulk of the remaining engineering work for the initial v2 launch involves polishing the Augur UI, preparing for integration with the launch of Uniswap v2, and performance and end to end testing of the contracts on Mainnet.”

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Author: Lujan Odera

FATF Rates US As ‘Largely Compliant’ In Crypto AML/CTF Report, But Still Has Work To Do

In its recent revaluation on whether the United States is compliant with the set worldwide regulations on counter-terrorist financing (CFT) as well as anti-money laundering (AML), the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), has rated the US as ‘largely compliant’.

According to a FATF report that was released on March 31, the US was evaluated on its laws and regulations dealing with virtual assets and cryptocurrencies and was rated as largely compliant. The evaluation exercise mostly focused on recommendation 15 which deals specifically with crypto.

The ranking means that the US’s compliance with the recommendations has not changed since the last assessment that was conducted in 2016. However, FATF has updated its guidelines severally since then with the recent one being in October last year on FATF travel rules. Therefore, the latest assessment involved deeper scrutiny than the previous one.

The report noted some notable awareness about the risks posed by digital currencies as depicted by different regulators. The report singles out the different task forces as well as reports that have been looking at money laundering and crime financing through cryptocurrencies.

The FATF also notes that the current US regulations are working well in dealing with various Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASP) as per the FATF guidelines as they cover crypto exchanges and custodians. Nevertheless, the FATF is concerned that the regulations do not adequately deal with a VASP which is incorporated within the US but does not operate in the country, Cointelegraph reports.

Firms dealing with cryptocurrencies are categorized as Money Services Businesses (MSB) and are subjected to a higher compliance standard. Majority of MSBs have to come up with their own AML as well as CTF standards and, according to the FATF they are generally sufficient.

The report concludes that the US regulators have been lax in pointing out crypto service providers when they are enforcing regulation. However, the issues identified by the body seems to be minor making the US to be awarded a ‘B’ as per the FATF grading system.

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Author: Joseph Kibe

Anchorage Adds Institutional Custody Support For Ripple’s XRP With The Help of Xpring

The digital custody provider Anchorage announced they have added support for XRP.

By market capitalization, XRP occupies the third place in the top of the largest cryptocurrencies. It’s used by Ripple for all international payments. Before Thursday, it was the only cryptocurrency in the top 3 that Anchorage didn’t support. From now on, it has become available with the custodian, but only for institutional investors.

Anchorage Supports Other 18 Digital Assets

Anchorage’s support for XRP started formally on the Anchorage website on Wednesday. Here’s what the president of the company, Diogo Monica, had to say about the news:

“As the third-largest digital asset by market cap, XRP appeals to a number of our institutional clients, which include VC funds, family offices, hedge funds, and other large-scale crypto investors.”

A press release from Anchorage mentions that a large number of institutions already happen to hold XRP. There are 18 other digital assets that the custodian supports, and Monica said the custodian wants to add support for many other more of them that meet the bar.

Anchorage Is Committed to Security

Anchorage seems to be very committed to provide security for the custody product that it has to offer, which is definitely world-class. The XRP community thinks the new Anchorage support is a great addition for XRP holders. The addition makes total sense, seeing that Ripple, the company behind XRP, is continuing to close partnerships with big names in the cross-border payments world, such as Philippines-based Azimo, the US-Mexico corridor’s MoneyGram and Intermex. According to Brad Garlinghouse, Ripple’s CEO, XRP valued at $54 million were sent between the US and Mexico only one week in February.

Anchorage Collaborated with Xpring

In order to integrate XRP, Anchorage collaborated with Ripple’s developer platform Xpring. It also said that it may add new advanced XRP functions such as payment channels in order to allow users to send payments that aren’t synchronous and that get settled at a later date. When the custodian’s future plans regarding Facebook’s Libra were mentioned, Monica said that the company is working with blockchain developers.

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Author: Oana Ularu

Current Market Environment A Big Test For Bitcoin.Bitcoin Achieves A Big Win Over The Stock Market In The First Quarter of 2020

Bitcoin was trading around $6,200 on April Fool’s Day, then the digital asset took a hike of over $500. Currently, we are trading over $6,750, up about 8.23% in the past 24 hours.

While the price of bitcoin jumped yesterday, US stocks closed in the red on Wednesday. The second quarter is not looking off to a great start, with the Dow, S&P 500, and Nasdaq Composite all finishing 4.4% lower.

Could this be the start of the decoupling? It’s to be seen as experts are still calling out the equities to find its bottom and if bitcoin manages to hold the fort then, it would be a good sign for the digital asset.

For now, major global markets are mixed on Thursday, with Futures markets pointing to a positive opening for Wall Street ahead of weekly jobless claims data expected later today in the United States.

Meanwhile, the longer-term Treasury bonds rose suggesting investors continue to see them as a safe haven asset. Gold prices also rose along with oil.

A Quarterly Win

Not just yesterday, Bitcoin has also decreased to less than the leading US equity indices in the 1st quarter.

In the 1st quarter of this year, the world’s leading cryptocurrency fell over 10% and in comparison, in the same quarter the Dow performance was it’s worst ever, with a loss of 23% of its value. S&P 500 also had its worst first quarter ever by recording 20% losses, the biggest quarterly loss since 2008.

Meanwhile, gold prices rose by 4% in the first quarter.

This volatility in three months had been the result of the coronavirus outbreak that turned into a pandemic, with an unimaginable amount of people infected around the globe leading to the shut of business and lockdowns.

The economic impact from the novel coronavirus is predicted to be drastic which contributed to an enormous sell-off in the markets even with central banks putting forth stimulus policies.

A big test for Bitcoin

Despite Bitcoin crashing 48% and still being under pressure, a shift might be taking place. Vijay Ayyar, from crypto exchange Luno said,

“Bitcoin is still a relatively smaller asset class that is increasingly uncorrelated to traditional asset classes and this is in the process of being established as we speak.”

“This is why I believe the current market environment is a big test for Bitcoin and given how young the asset class is, it has actually held up quite well.”

He pointed out how gold is an already established safe haven asset and bitcoin is “arguably a second choice at this point” given its small but growing user base. Ayyar said,

“Hence, we’re seeing bitcoin lag gold a bit in terms of performance, but one can argue that as we move along in the next few months and years, bitcoin starts to take larger share away from gold and we will see an eventual ‘flippening’ happen, where bitcoin is at, or larger than, the market cap of gold and market movements in bitcoin start to reflect the overall market more accurately”

Interestingly, the market has already started to see action as Coinbase reported a 5x increase in deposits, twice the new user signups, and three times more trading users in the 48 hours of the crash.

Another US-based crypto exchange recorded an 83% rise in its signups and a 300% increase in verification, that is the KYC process to deposit fiat money instantly. Kraken is also on a hiring spree.

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Author: AnTy