Ethereum 2.0: Is the Interest Real or Hype About Nothing?

No sooner had the crypto world started to settle down after the third Bitcoin halving event, when another wave of hype started to build around Ethereum 2.0, which was initially projected to be released this July. Ethereum 2.0 is the next level of the Ethereum platform which will be achieved by introducing sharding, proof-of-stake and a new virtual machine. Despite some doubts regarding the prospective date, in a February AMA ETH 2.0 researcher Justin Drake expressed his 95% confidence that phase 0 of the project will be finally launched in summer 2020. As it stands now, no one knows if Ethereum will hit the target date, as, according to testnet coordinator Afri Schoedon, the full spec hasn’t been implemented in any client so far. 

Ethereum’s shift from its current proof-of-work (PoW) consensus to a proof-of-stake (PoS) algorithm has been the talk of the town over the past few weeks. It’s obvious that many average users and big investors enamored by the team’s strong commitment to better security, further decentralization, and lower reliance on miners are highly anticipating the rollout of ETH 2.0. But with all the buzz going around, it’s getting harder to sort out the wheat from the chaff and understand whether the positive public sentiment towards the future of Ethereum is fact-driven or hollow. So, let’s figure it out.

Ethereum regaining lost ground

In early 2018, when Ether holders saw it hit its record price of around $1400, the number of ETH addresses was slightly over 10 million. Today, according to data from Glassnode, there are currently 40 million active ETH addresses, with more than 15 million joining the party after Ethereum 2.0 was announced in late May 2019, which represents a good 60% growth. The overall usage of the world’s second most popular cryptocurrency has also experienced a significant increase since the beginning of 2020 and, as of mid-May, the amount of ETH daily transactions has almost doubled from 450,000 to roughly 900,000.

Source: Etherscan.io

The same upward trend can also be seen within the Ethereum network powered by the Gas token, which enables transfers of payments or smart contract information. The total consumption of Gas has recently surpassed 61 million units, hitting its all-time high and moving up by around 60% compared to what it registered in January. This is a great sign for Ethereum 2.0 developers, as the more people utilizing Gas to make the whole network operate, the more smooth the update from PoW to PoS will be.

With that said, the release of ETH 2.0 is expected to create a real demand for the in-house cryptocurrencies, Ether and Gas. While the latter will serve as a fuel for decentralized computers, the higher speed of ETH transactions and much lower fees will become more appealing for both producers and consumers, as well as for both retail and institutional investors.

The influx of larger players feeling bullish about Ether has been dramatic, since it was revealed that currently over $276.5 million are under the management of the Grayscale Ethereum Trust, whereas that figure was only $11.7 million at the same period in 2019.

Authentic hype or marketing?

But are big investors really prepping for Ethereum 2.0? Some media outlets have also tied the surge in ETH volumes to growing institutional interest. At first sight, it seems to be a logical conclusion, however, figures are stubborn things.

Ethereum 2.0 Charts

Source: Coin360

As you can see ETH daily volume hit its maximum of over $10 billion after the March crypto market breakdown on April 30. This was a remarkable performance considering its previous level of $2.92 billion in early January and the subsequent global financial turbulence. Nevertheless, if we take this value and divide it by the number of transactions that were registered on the eve of Labour Day – approximately 840,000 – we discover that the average volume of one transaction is only around $12,000. Moving further, this figure decreases to below $10,000, where it remains today. Doesn’t actually look like intense institutional involvement, does it?   

There is another explanation and it’s probably much more authentic. With Ethereum 2.0, users will have the chance to become staking agents and earn rewards over time by transferring 32 ETH to a contract. At the time of writing, 32 ETH is worth $7,776, which is almost equal to the current average Ether transaction. With that in mind, this rising demand seems indicative of average users and retail investors feeling curious about how this is going to work out and flocking to ETH markets available on the most liquid exchanges with proven security, such as HitBTC and Huobi, in order to come out winning after the much-awaited release.

The aforementioned boom in user activity inevitably led to an ETH price surge. It’s noteworthy that since Ether was worth $1400, its price has declined by 85%. At present, ETH is trading at around $243, having recovered from the repercussions of “Black Thursday” when the price fell to just $111. Nonetheless, it is still not even close to its all-time high.

But this explanation for the uptick in Ethereum activity has been largely ignored in favor of the institutional investor’s narrative.

Why? Whether it is being consciously manufactured or not, the narrative that has institutional investors flocking to DeFi, and specifically Ethereum, is more beneficial to the Ethereum ecosystem. Big names getting involved with Ethereum is more likely to lead to another bull run than average users making investments in a project they believe in. 

Artificially inflated excitement?

In the crypto space, there are few better at making waves that cross over into traditional finance than the Winklevoss twins, long-known in the community for their crypto investing experience and for holding the biggest Bitcoin fortune in the world.

In a recent interview for The Defiant, Tyler and Cameron admitted to making concerted efforts to accumulate a huge stake of Ether, which is now rumored to be “in the same galaxy” as their BTC holdings: “We’re big fans of Ether. We have a material amount.”

It comes as no surprise that the brothers have been investing in ETH, but until this May they never really spoke about the quantity of their investment. Notwithstanding the fact that the real figure remains undisclosed, Cameron has hinted at its size, saying that a few years ago they received a large amount of Ether in profit, meaning that they have been investing heavily for a while now. 

So it is more likely than not that the Winklevoss twins number among the ETH whales as well, and their public bullishness has played no small part in the public’s enthusiasm for Ethereum 2.0. But why did they decide to break their silence on the issue now? Coincidence or not, the interview was published on May 21, when the price of Ether dropped below $200 for the third time in two weeks, and, following its publication, the price did an about-face and began climbing again. The Winklevoss’ enthusiasm was disseminated by a number of leading crypto media outlets where retail traders, eager to make profits, found their next big market event. The effect on institutional investors was remarkable, too, and Ether derivatives are becoming more popular than ever before.

Killing two birds with one stone indeed. This is how it works and above all, nobody can blame Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss for their sincere belief in the Ethereum network’s significance for the development of decentralized finance.

“Sell the news” opportunity

The hype around the Ethereum 2.0 launch can also be seen as a consequence of the “buy the rumor, sell the news” maxim when traders act in anticipation of any big announcement that can potentially cause a shift in the market. “If we get the rally on Ethereum I am expecting,” tweeted popular crypto trader Ethereum Jack, who used to go by the “Bitcoin Jack” moniker, “then July seems like the perfect sell the news moment with the ETH 2.0 launch.” ETH whales, if they employ this trading strategy, will be able to take advantage of the situation, while the community is speculating on the release date and the media are adding fuel to the fire.

But in reality, the event itself is not as important as we imagine, because, at least initially, Ethereum 2.0 will mostly serve as a testnet for the updated PoS consensus system. So, it’s not completely clear whether institutions are investing in the future of the crypto-financial network or are just trying to grab as big a piece of the hype pie as they possibly can. We can only wait and watch how things unfold.

The post Ethereum 2.0: Is the Interest Real or Hype About Nothing? appeared first on CoinCentral.

Source: Coin Central

The State of the Decentralized Web (DWeb): Key Industry Insights

The decentralized or distributed web (DWeb) is widely slated as the natural evolution of the web thanks to its potential to claw back power from the centralized entities that currently dominate the internet landscape and return it to us—the users. 

A recent paradigm shift has seen users demand control of their data, while an incredible uptick in open-source developments has given rise to a medley of technologies like Tor, BitTorrent, and blockchain, which many see as the fundamental building blocks of the DWeb. 

To better understand the current state of this rapidly emerging set of technologies, we at Fluence took up the task of surveying more than 600 individuals, two-thirds of which cited a direct tech background, and 231 were actively working on DWeb projects. From these responses, we distilled some interesting and sometimes sobering insights and opinions about the current states of the DWeb. 

Editor’s note: The following article is a guest post from Mark Power of Polygrowth.io. The article frequently references a 2020 Decentralized Web Development Report by Fluence Network. 

Major Hurdles Remain

As with many potentially disruptive technologies, a great deal of work usually needs to go into building out a variety of other precursors, and synergistic technologies before the full capabilities of a newer technology are entirely made clear. 

Source: Fluence Decentralized Web Report 2020

Source: Fluence Decentralized Web Report 2020

This is undoubtedly the case with the DWeb, which will likely be formed from a wide array of accessory technologies, which might include P2P communication protocols, privacy-focused networks, and decentralized DNS, among others. However, many of these are still in an early stage of development, while some significant technical challenges for the DWeb are yet to be solved.

dweb study

More than half of survey respondents agreed that P2P file sharing, content-addressable storage, and P2P communication protocols would be necessary to achieve DWeb. Conversely, this figure drops to just 40.5% for data-ownership protocols like Solid and 35% for blockchain.

Despite this, similar to the results of our 2019 Dapp Survey, almost half (44%) of those in the DWeb sphere highlights a lack of documentation and learning resources as the most frustrating thing about DWeb tech. This was closely followed by the difficulties involved in applying (42%) and integrating (40%) the technology. Curiously, a small minority of respondents (11%) believe the technology simply doesn’t work. 

Nonetheless, some current open-source DWeb projects have managed to gain significant traction among respondents—of these, IPFS and Ethereum are used by 36% and 25% of respondents respectively, whereas Dat (14%), ActivityPub (13%), WebTorrent (12%), and Libp2p (12%) also stand out as popular platforms and protocols for DWeb development. 

Overall, like many emerging innovations, technical challenges combined with the simple fragmentation of resources and information make up the majority of the issues faced by DWeb developers. 

Barriers to Adoption

Although technical challenges are a significant obstacle to the development and growth of the DWeb, around 70% of respondents believe that a general lack of user understanding is another significant roadblock. Comparatively, 49% believe that tech immaturity is one of the biggest obstacles, while 42% cited the resistance from tech giants as one of the biggest obstacles moving towards the DWeb. 

decentralized web

Scaling further in, we asked projects about their challenges in achieving mass user adoption, to which 59% cited a lack of maturity, 35.5% found it challenging to onboard and educate new users, and 24% believe the low number of total DWeb users is a significant factor. One respondent puts it like this:

“The biggest barrier to adoption is making the tech easy to use. Right now, for non-techy people, it’s difficult even to understand what DWeb is, let alone use the tech.”

These challenges might explain why many DWeb products have failed to achieve significant user adoption, with only 2% of 228 respondents saying their project has between 10,000 and 100,000 monthly users. In comparison, 35% haven’t launched yet, and around 21% have under 100 monthly users.

Although growing pains are to be expected with new technologies, challenges resulting from complicated user experiences and stiff competition from more fleshed out centralized options have proven to be significant obstacles to growth. 

Blockchain Promising, But No Silver Bullet: Does Blockchain Internet Have a Shot?

While a one-size-fits-all solution to the challenges of developing the DWeb would undoubtedly be a welcome development, the issues are so multiplex that this is unlikely to be the case. 

Instead, our survey indicates that 75.5% of respondents believe data sovereignty issues with the current web implementation should be tackled first. In comparison, data privacy (59%), tech resilience and resistance to interruption (56%) and security issues (51%) were also popular picks for the first lines of development. 

These results fit firmly with the burgeoning narrative of users increasingly looking to take their privacy and security into their own hands, shunning the data mines and centralized hubs that underlie many of the biggest gripes with the current web—such as censorship, covert data monetization, and privacy abuse. 

Though blockchains represent perhaps the most versatile peer-to-peer system in current usage and are frequently touted as the solution to data privacy, interference, and centralization concerns suffered by many systems, the majority of survey respondents (58%) believe that the technology isn’t a silver bullet solution to the challenges associated with the DWeb.

decentralized web

Opinions of the blockchain from the study.

Nonetheless, we found that many respondents do believe blockchain has its uses, as 54% agreed that it’s useful for decentralized currency, 36% said it’s useful for decentralized identity applications, and 33% believe the technology has a variety of use cases related to the DWeb. 14% believed that blockchain is a “waste of time.”

This tells us that there is still a stark divide on the potential of blockchain—a technology that remains unproven in many aspects but still widely lauded as the future of many industries. Two quotes we received perfectly sum up the wildly contrasting opinions of our respondents. 

“Interesting solution, but not practical due to its massive energy needs. It also does not scale!” said one respondent. “Possibly useful for P2P systems where people can contribute resources (e.g. storage) to a pool or pay to use it,” said another. 

Business Models Need to be Clarified

We found that the business models surrounding the DWeb remain one of the major hurdles for developers, many of which have struggled to identify a viable way to monetize their projects.

decentralized web

Decentralized web report

Overall, only 15% of respondents cited their project included a paid product, whereas just 1% gets by with advertising revenue—drastically different from that seen by centralized data monetization methods. Instead, a whopping 30% do not extract money from their project at all and a further 22.5% plans to figure out monetization at a later date.

Accordingly, more than half of these Decentralized Web projects are self-funded, while almost a fifth are VC/Angel funded.

All-in-all, though it is clear that there is a great need for DWeb technologies and significant support lying in wait, a range of technical hurdles, UX challenges, and roadblocks will need to be addressed to truly compete with the simplicity and functionality offered by the centralized models in popular usage today. Nonetheless, the vision of DWeb is certainly one worth pursuing, and the foundations are slowly, but surely being laid today.

The post The State of the Decentralized Web (DWeb): Key Industry Insights appeared first on CoinCentral.

Source: Coin Central

Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe: Innovations, Companies, and Progress

Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe is history in motion.

You may be surprised by how active Eastern European countries are in the cryptocurrency space. According to Statista research, Poland, Latvia, Georgia, Estonia, and Lithuania, all ranked among the top 15 countries by the total value of alternative finance market transactions in Europe in 2018. In the same year, per capita funding for alternative online finance transactions was highest in the UK, but followed by Latvia and Estonia. 

This is not the only evidence that Eastern Europe is exploring financial paradigms outside of traditional channels like central banking. One might be surprised to learn that Georgia is the world’s second-largest mining country after China, Moldova has legalized cryptocurrency mining, and Belarus is predicted to become the European Hong Kong? 

This article is brought to you by Solomon Brown, Head of PR at Freewallet, to give you an idea of which countries favor Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, and which ones strictly forbid them. Get the full picture of the suddenly-hot crypto ecosystem of Eastern Europe.

Cryptocurrency Regulation in Eastern Europe

Most countries in Eastern Europe are split on cryptocurrency: either pro or con. Here’s a chart displaying where crypto and mining are legal (+), not legal (-) or unregulated (0). 

Country  Cryptocurrency Mining
The Republic of Belarus + +
Georgia 0 +
Czech Republic 0 0
Russia
Bulgaria 0 0
Hungary 0 0
Slovakia 0 0
Poland +
Moldova 0
Ukraine 0

+ The Republic of Belarus and Cryptocurrency

 Let’s start with the fact that Belarus has its own Silicon Valley that operates on the principle of extraterritoriality. Hi-Tech Park (HTP) is a Belarusian tax and legal zone, facilitating IT evolution, and home to 450 companies working in software development. 

In 2017, the cryptocurrency activities of the residents of the HTP received full comprehensive legislative support from the government. The administration of the HTP, together with the National Bank, the Department of Financial Monitoring of the State Control Committee, international experts, and other bodies, compiled and signed all the necessary documents. 

For instance, Decree No. 8 “on the development of the digital economy” legalized crypto exchanges and cryptocurrency exchange operators, mining, smart contracts, blockchain, tokens, etc. 

From the moment the Decree was adopted, any transactions with tokens (mining, storing crypto, purchase, exchange) became exempt from income tax and VAT until January 1, 2023. The rules regulating the operations of companies involved in the cryptosphere have been accepted by the HTP, and the full legal regulation of cryptocurrencies in Belarus has been established. It is worth noting that only entities that are registered as residents of the Hi-Tech Park are allowed to carry out activities related to cryptocurrencies.

– Georgia’s Powerful Mining Pools

In 2019 UN statistical publications, Georgia is assigned to Western Asia, not to Eastern Europe. But, geographically it belongs to Eastern Europe and is a member of the Council of Europe. We’ve decided to include it not because of favorable crypto legislation, but due to its triumphs in mining. 

A document from the Ministry of Finance notes that each unit of a crypto-asset has a market value, it can be issued, it can have an owner, its property rights can be transferred to another and divided into parts and it can be bought and sold. At the same time, the note states that, in accordance with the legislation of Georgia, a crypto asset is not a legal means of payment or electronic money.

Nevertheless, the country is experiencing a hydro-powered Bitcoin boom. According to BBC, the fact that cryptocurrency mining is “sucking its power grid dry,” doesn’t matter because of Georgia’s vast reserves of renewable hydroelectric power. Probably this reason and lack of regulations have encouraged home miners and attracted foreign businesses. According to NPR, most of the Georgian mining facilities belong to the American company Bitfury.

And although the legislation of Georgia does not regulate activities related to virtual currency, and cryptocurrency in the country does not constitute a legal means of payment, transactions of virtual money between individuals are nevertheless made. However, the government of Georgia has taken the first step towards regulating the crypto business. The multiple mining pools that will use the services of intermediary companies registered in Georgia will be subject to a value-added tax of 18%.

+ Czech Republic Pioneers Bitcoin Regulations

The Czech Republic was one of the first European countries open to operations with Bitcoin, even before the cryptocurrency market boom of 2017. In April 2015, the Czech National Bank issued a document that clarified the attitude of the state towards cryptocurrencies called, “Safety of online payments and virtual currency from the Czech National Bank point of view.” According to this document, operations with cryptocurrencies were not limited by the law of the country, only the norms of EU law applied to them.

Later on, in 2017, the Czech Republic decided to comply with the EU’s requirements for anti-money laundering and introduced the amendments to the Act on Selected Measures against Legitimization of Proceeds of Crime and Financing of Terrorism. According to the new law, all exchanges, including banks, have to verify client ID for crypto to fiat transactions amounting to €1000 and more.

– Russia and Cryptocurrency

On March 16, 2020, local news outlet Vesti.ru announced that cryptocurrency production and circulation would be banned in Russia. The issuance and circulation of cryptocurrency in Russia carries an unjustified risk, according to the bill on “Digital Financial Assets”. 

The bill levied a ban on the issuance and circulation of cryptocurrency in Russia, and established penalties for violations of the ban. Nevertheless, the authorities don’t intend to ban ownership of digital currencies. 

+ Bulgaria’s Prized Stash of Nearly $2B Bitcoin

A Bitcoin retailer spotted on the streets of Bulgaria (via Reddit)

The Bulgarian government sees cryptocurrencies as a financial asset (and owns 213,519  BTC confiscated from criminals, which is more than Bulgaria’s GDP). This state has neither recognized the legitimacy of Bitcoin nor declared it to be illegal. The main condition for the use of cryptocurrency in Bulgaria is the payment of a tax in the amount of 10% of the exchange or sale. 

– Hungary and Cryptocurrency Taxes

Cryptocurrencies are not considered a legal means of payment in the country. According to the local news outlet Portfolio (restricted access), the government has created a special group of Hungary’s central bank, the Finance Ministry, and the tax authority that is studying the industry to develop a legal framework. All cryptocurrency transactions are filed under “other income” and taxed under Hungarian capital gains tax code, which contains 15% capital gains tax and 19.5% health contribution which is called as (EHO).

+ Slovakia Monitors Cryptocurrency Transactions

Slovakia is on the list of countries that have officially recognized Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. However, in 2018, the authorities tightened their stance on digital business. Following the initiative of a national regulator — the Slovak National Bank — all banks began to close the accounts of firms associated with cryptocurrencies. A similar hostile reaction from the existing financial system to digital currencies was observed in the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.

In spite of the restrictive measures, non-fiat currencies are not regulated in Slovak law in any way, and their exchange, mining, and other operations are not outside the legal framework. Like the rest of the European Union, Slovakia recognizes that cryptocurrency transactions should be monitored and taxed.

+ Poland Forward Thinking Finance

The Republic of Poland ranks 36th in the world in terms of population. It stands to reason that such a large European country is forward-thinking when it comes to finance. The attitude of local financial regulators towards investing in cryptocurrencies is quite positive. The country’s Central Statistical Office (GUS) has recognized the trading and mining of virtual currencies as an official economic activity. In a statement from 2016, the ministry stated that despite virtual currencies not being subject to any separate regulations under Polish legislation, they are fully legal and subject to income tax. 

Along with that, the government supports blockchain startups. For example, in January 2019, the financial and budgetary supervision service of Poland (KNF) granted state licenses to blockchain startups Coinquista and Bitclude.

+ Ukraine’s Approach to Digital Money

The Verkhovna Rada has registered a bill proposing to legalize cryptocurrency. Plans for this were announced back in 2017, but then authorities did not dare to take such a step. And now “digital money” can be recognized as legal assets. The document titled “On Amending the Tax Code and other laws of Ukraine regarding the taxation of operations with crypto assets” was developed by representatives of the blockchain community, inter-faction elected representatives, the Office of Effective Regulation of BRDO and the Ministry of Digital Transformation.

Along with that, recent introductions to the legislative structure haven’t been that positive. The law “On Amending Certain Legislative Acts of Ukraine on Ensuring the Effectiveness of the Institutional Mechanism for the Prevention of Corruption” No. 140-IX, which entered into force on October 18, 2019, made amendments to the law “On Prevention of Corruption” and establishes the need to declare cryptocurrency as an intangible asset.

– Moldova’s Legal Mining

Cryptocurrency transactions are not legalized in the country, however, according to local media reports, digital money is popular in Moldova. In the center of Chisinau, there are several points that accept digital money as a means of payment. 

In May 2018, the Association of Digital and Distributed Technologies of the country introduced its own cryptocurrency exchange that accepts fiat like Moldovan Leu, the Russian ruble, the US dollar, and the Euro, as well as all top ten cryptocurrencies. Even though the National Bank of Moldova hasn’t officially permitted making transactions with crypto, it sent a letter to Drachmae Market, the first local crypto exchange in Moldova, which indirectly allows it to do banking. 

Moreover, in 2018, this small country hosted its first conference on blockchain and cryptocurrencies called the World Blockchain and Cryptocurrency Summit Chisinau – WBCSummit. Reporting on the conference, Crуptovest noted that “the central bank recognized the potential of blockchain for the financial system and revealed that it was assessing the implementation of technology via local banks.” Cryptocurrency legislation might be on the horizon in Moldova, as mining is already legal here.

Cryptocurrency Mining in Eastern Europe

The Transdniestrian Moldavian Republic (DMR) adopted a law on the development of information blockchain technologies, which technically makes cryptocurrency mining legal. According to the president of DMR, the law will contribute to the development of the information technology industry and attract investment from entities operating in the field of blockchain technologies. DMR may become a paradise for miners. 

The law provides for the creation of a targeted free-trade zone, where foreign companies and individuals can become legal entities without additional bureaucratic procedures. Thus, the country is becoming a relatively attractive region for investment. Local authorities have guaranteed the duty-free import and export of mining equipment for residents and special electricity tariffs for miners. The president promised that the energy supply to mining farms will be provided by the Dubossary hydroelectric station and three thermal power plants.

Who would have thought that such a small country like Georgia could become a world leader in the field of cryptocurrency mining? A study by the Cambridge Alternative Finance Center (CCAF), which was published in 2018, indicated that Georgia ranks second in the world in terms of mining volume after China. At least 60 MW of electricity was officially spent on the mining of virtual currency in the country.

The first, and perhaps most important, thing that attracts mining lovers to Georgia is cheap electricity. And there is plenty of it since, after the collapse of the USSR, small Georgia inherited 20 hydroelectric power stations from the defunct Soviet state. The country was meant to become a kind of energy hub in the Caucasus. Obviously, such a large amount of electricity for a country with a population of 3.7 million people is a lot. As a result, the cost of electricity in Georgia is among the lowest in the world. 

So, as of May 2019, the price of 1 kW in Tbilisi was approximately 6 cents. But, there are still mountainous areas where electricity is cheaper or even free of charge (due to state subsidies), and free industrial zones (where the cost of electricity is 18% lower due to the absence of VAT). 

Belarus is another strong Eastern-European player in the field of mining. As you already know, a crypto-friendly economic policy and the creation of its own Silicon Valley is a part of the country’s strategy of becoming a global IT center. Though mining has lost ground after Bitcoin halving, Belarus is ready to invest its fairly cheap energy to gain profit from BTC mining. 

In 2019, during a meeting with representatives of the IT sector in Hi-Tech Park, Alexander Lukashenko said that he was going to employ a new Belarusian nuclear power plant, to mine Bitcoins. The president explained he wanted to use the surpluses of electric power to ensure the operation of mining farms. “I even especially left a place there! Let’s build farms and mine this Bitcoin (…) If there is Bitcoin, you can always sell it” – Lukashenko commented.

Cryptocurrencies in Eastern Europe: Where to Buy and How to Spend

To buy cryptocurrencies, a lot of countries in the so-called “second world” use one of the largest crypto exchanges, Exmo. This trading platform supports 183 trading pairs with many leading cryptocurrencies and local fiat currencies like the euro, Russian ruble, Ukrainian hryvnia, Polish zloty. The website is available in Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian, and other languages. Users can buy crypto with a credit card, SEPA transfer, Yandex Money, Qiwi, and Payeer.

Non-EU former Soviet countries, like Russia and Ukraine, use Bestchange.ru. The service provides structured information about automatic and manual exchangers of crypto and electronic currencies, and also supports the ruble and hryvnia.

Eastern European countries are home to many of Freewallet’s regular customers with Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Belarus, and Moldova making up about 10% of our user base. From our family of simple and secure wallets, these countries most often go for Freewallet: Crypto Wallet, which supports BTC, ETH and 100+ other cryptocurrencies, and our Bitcoin Wallet. Freewallet apps are highly rated for their built-in exchange and fee-free transactions within the ecosystem.

In Georgia, the first ATM that allows you to exchange fiat money for cryptocurrency appeared in March 2018 at the New York Burger diner. A few months later, a second one was installed in Tbilisi. As of November 2019, there are 14 cryptomats operating in the country.

Poland is one of the largest countries in Europe that welcomes the development of blockchain technology. In 2018, the first Bitcoin ATMs with BTC, LTC, and ETH appeared in Gdansk and Bialystok. 

The largest Polish food delivery service Pyszne.pl began to accept cryptocurrencies in 2017. This innovation took place after the purchase of the service by Dutch investors. Currently, Pyszne.pl serves more than 8 thousand catering establishments. The average number of customers is 955 thousand and 7% of users pay in crypto.

The Czech Republic might be small, nevertheless, it ranks sixth in the world in the number of crypto ATM machines. Globally, there are almost five thousand ATMs, and in the Czech Republic, there are about 70. Most of them are set in Prague. Bitcoin ATMs can be found not only in large shopping centers and electronics stores but also in kiosks at metro stations, along with printed materials, cigarettes, and tickets.

The number of Czech companies and organizations that accept Bitcoins as payment is increasing, and not all of them are related to the IT field. On the list, you can find the largest electronics store Alza.cz, a coffee shop in Paralelni Polis (in addition to BTC, they also accept Litecoin, Dash and Monero) and the Paper Hub coworking agency related to the same project. 

A real estate agency Home Hunters has been in the public eye since it closed on a 35-Bitcoin-deal, which at that time exceeded 5 million korunas. Also, there are places like Krypto, a local gas station, FairPlayAuto, a second-hand car marketplace, and a number of hotels and restaurants.

There is a large list of exciting blockchain and crypto projects out of Eastern Europe. We will start with the fintech startup with Russian roots Zerion. The company deals with investing and managing decentralized assets. It was founded in 2016 by graduates of the Higher School of Economics and has 15 thousand users. At the end of 2019, the startup raised $2 million during the seeding round with the American venture fund Placeholder, with Blockchain Ventures among the investors. Recently Zerion acquired the crypto platform MyDeFi that facilitates viewing crypto portfolios.

No wonder Belarus is on the list of the top 10 European countries for launching a blockchain startup. One of the local projects you might have heard of is Rocket DAO, a decentralized crowdfunding platform with independent expert evaluations of startups. These venture capitalist market analysts work with Hi-Tech Park, Angels Band, Volat Capital, Belagroprombank, friendly accelerators and foreign funds to allow startup founders to quickly and safely attract financing. The company provides startup audits, mentoring programs, and unique assessments. Their Startup Training Camp graduates get a free Startup Pack that usually costs over $7,000.

Czech Republic takes 27th place in the Global Innovation Index. The country is the cradle of innovative projects like Apiary whose parent organization is Oracle Corporation. Founded in 2014, it specializes in providing frameworks and tools for creating application programming interfaces (APIs), including the Blockchain APIs that allow you to send and receive Bitcoin, as well as convenient ways to design modern cloud applications. The startup attracted $6.8 million in investments in a Series A in San Francisco in 2015.

Have you ever thought of farm-to-table food traceability? TE-Food, a Hungarian food supply chain solution, offers this service on a blockchain. With food industry experts and Animal Welfare and Husbandry advisors in their management and FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organization) and Deloitte among their partners, the company takes care of the logistics and makes livestock and fresh food supply information transparent.

Sofia, Bulgaria hosts the headquarters of Open Source University that is trying to change the world of education through distributed technologies. The project connects educational institutions, students and businesses directly by eliminating the middlemen. It helps organizations get insights on candidates’ personalities. Learners can enroll in, and track the completion of tailored educational and professional development experiences. The company behind Rechained Ltd. decided to solve the problem of trust beyond institutional and national borders in the authenticity of formal diplomas and certificates after writing a book called Blockchain in Education.

The Prospects of Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe

Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe is set to become a facet of everyday life. As people that have experienced financial instability and changing political regimes (often swings from Communism to Democracy), the residents of Eastern Europe are mentally more prepared for cryptocurrencies than Westerners. 

The West is characterized by a higher standard of living and better banking services, as well as a higher average age of the population. Eastern Europe, on the other hand, is full of active young entrepreneurs who are engaged in small business and therefore are especially interested in lightning-fast financial transactions of better quality and without intermediaries. 

Many governments want to tap into the benefits of blockchain. Georgia and Belarus, for instance, are taking full advantage of the economic perks of mining. Hopefully, that new laws and amendments will not impede the development of the crypto industry in Eastern Europe, but rather will lead to this region becoming a world blockchain hub. 

The post Cryptocurrency in Eastern Europe: Innovations, Companies, and Progress appeared first on CoinCentral.

Source: Coin Central

Bityard Review: Is Cryptocurrency Options Exchange Bityard Legit?

Bityard is a Singapore-based cryptocurrency derivatives trading platform on a mission to simplify leveraged contract trading, with a “Complex Contracts, Simple Trade” approach. 

The platform is relatively new and is likely to attract attention from many cryptocurrency traders considering options trading, but haven’t yet made the leap to an options-oriented platform (such as BitMEX). 

Bityard's cryptocurrency option contract trading interface

Bityard’s cryptocurrency option contract trading interface

Bityard currently offers trading for 8 different cryptocurrencies with a leverage of up to 100x. Readers should note that this article isn’t investment advice. Margin trading can be very risky, do your research and consult with a licensed financial advisor as necessary. 

What is Bityard?

Bityard is a privately held cryptocurrency contracts exchange that seeks to differentiate itself by providing easy, fast, and safe cryptocurrency asset contract trading. 

Launched in November 2019, the holding company is based in Singapore and has its primary office listed at Paya Lebar Square. Bityard doesn’t use order books– the exchange matches user trades itself. This helps to avoid slippage in the trades.

To understand Bityard better, let’s go over cryptocurrency options trading in general. 

What is Cryptocurrency Option Trading?

Readers should note that Bityard differs from a traditional cryptocurrency exchange in that its primary value is providing cryptocurrency option contract trading– and not actual cryptocurrency-to-cryptocurrency exchanges. 

When using BitYard, you are not “buying” Bitcoin or Ethereum, but rather buying an options contract.

Contracts are trading instruments that enable investors to trade on the price movements of an asset without actually holding the asset.  For example, these contracts can be held on physical commodities like rice, crude oil, or chickens, or financial instruments like bonds, stocks, and digital assets. 

Buyers and sellers usually use contract trading as a way to hedge and minimize risks, protect against volatile future price swings, and speculate on the assets. Contracts involve buyers, sellers, and an agreed price. 

For example, let’s take a look at Bitcoin options trading on Bityard. Users are able to purchase a USDT-BTC option contract with up to 100x leverage and not actually hold the BTC asset.

Bityard offers cryptocurrency margin trading, meaning that a trader would only need to put down a fraction of the full trade amount in a leveraged position. Cryptocurrency margin trading on Bityard is a relatively simple process.

Placing an cryptocurrency contracts order with USDT on Bityard.

Placing a cryptocurrency contracts order with USDT on Bityard.

For 1000 USDT and 100x leverage, we would reach an initial margin of 10.6806 BTC (1000 USDT x 100 equals about 10.68 BTC at the current prices). We would also pay about 100 USDT in fees to purchase the contract with 100x leverage. 

If the BTC price were to drop to 9278.46 (the  SL “stop loss”) the contract would close and we would lose 900 USDT– yikes. 

If the BTC price were to hit 9643.61 (the TP “take profit”) we would profit 3000 USDT, which is 3x our starting investment– not too shabby for a relatively marginal price increase. 

The upside is theoretically infinite (unless the contract is set to auto-execute at a certain price), but the downside can be brutal. 

Comparatively, if you were to purchase BTC the asset for 1000 USDT, the BTC price would need to hit about 30k per BTC to make a similar profit. It would also need to shrink to a tenth of its value ($960) for you to experience a similar loss. 

Cryptocurrency options and margin trading can be very risky. While Bityard does seem to make margin trading very user-friendly, we implore our readers to do their due diligence on how margin trading works. 

Skilled traders are able to utilize cryptocurrency derivatives to hedge trading risks, but this takes plenty of research and testing to get the hang. If you approach margin trading after thoroughly researching it, even with caution, you can still get burnt. 

Here are a few notable benefits of cryptocurrency derivatives contracts:

  1. Hedging Risks

Investors can mitigate the risk of a falling price by simultaneously taking a “short” position on the digital asset in question. So,  if the price falls, the “short” position will mitigate losses by providing additional revenue. Contract traders can avoid the risk of holding the volatile asset while still maintaining some upside to profit from its price movements. 

 

  1. Speculating on Market Direction

Cryptocurrency contract trading makes market speculation much more aggressive as traders don’t need to hold the asset to influence the price. For example, if someone thinks BTC’s price will moon, they can go long on Bitcoin futures. If they think ETH’s price will crash, they can short ETH. 

  1. Stabilizing Price Fluctuations

Speculation tends to have a negative reputation, but it can help mature markets and stabilize them in the long run. In the past, cryptocurrency options trading has also increased the volatility of asset prices and has been linked to Bitcoin price swings

Bityard Competition

Bityard does a fairly good job of differentiating itself in the cryptocurrency options trading space with low entry levels, unique complex contract offerings, and a simple user-friendly interface. 

Bityard’s competitors include BitMEX and Prime XBT. 

While cryptocurrency margin trading and cryptocurrency options trading can be viewed as incredibly complicated by beginners, Bityard is trying to make the process much easier to understand for new users. In a brief BitMEX vs Bityard comparison, Bityard is much simpler and cleaner in its interface, which is likely to not terrify new users as much. 

BitMEX vs. Bityard, two platforms that specialize in cryptocurrency contract trading with leverage.

This isn’t to knock BitMEX as a platform, as it seems both platforms are able to function properly and keep their users happy. It seems that Bityard is primarily better suited for newer traders, whereas BitMEX is going after the more advanced crowd. 

Bityard also has a brand ambassador, Buakaw Banchamek, a world-famous Muay Thai champion. What do leveraged cryptocurrency option trading and lethal head kicks have in common? We’re not sure. However, it does show an incentive on Bityard’s part to embrace a user base that is not traditionally well-versed in the cryptocurrency option trading.

Cryptocurrency option exchange Bityard's home page, feature Buakaw

Cryptocurrency option exchange Bityard’s home page, feature Buakaw

Bityard has a maximum 100,000 USDT withdrawal limit. 

Bityard Fees

Bityard currently offers a .05% transaction fee, which is lower than the industry standard of .075% (BitMEX, Bybit, Deribit). 

A detailed explanation of Bityard's trading fees.

A detailed explanation of Bityard’s trading fees.

The Court of Public Opinion: Is Bityard Good?

Since Bityard is still relatively new, there hasn’t been much discussion about the platform online. However, it does boast an active Telegram community and social channels. 

Bityard Customer support is available via email, Telegram, and online. Bityard also has plenty of specific answers in their beginner guides

Many of Bityard’s users seem to enjoy the platform’s simple and intuitive user interface

Is Bityard Safe?

 Bityard is one of the few cryptocurrency leveraged trading exchanges with regulatory licenses in Singapore, Estonia, Australia, and the USA. Since its launch in 2019, Bityard has expanded its offering to over 150 countries and has translated its website into eight languages: English, Russian, Simplified Chinese, Traditional Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, and Indonesian (and Portuguese soon).  

Regulation: Bityard is regulated and licensed under Singapore’s ACRA, USA’s MSB from Financial Crimes Enforcement Network which belongs to the United States Department of the Treasury, Estonia’s MTR, and Australia’s AUSTRAC.

Bityard's licenses. Sources: Bityard.com

Bityard’s licenses. Sources: Bityard.com

Fund security: Bityard uses multiple offline cold wallets to protect user funds from hackers, with a smaller portion in “hot wallets” online to be used to pay withdrawals and take deposits. Bityard also has a user security menu to help users optimize the security of their accounts with features such as 2FA.  

Bityard utilizes real-time risk auditing and risk management tools to monitor market exposure and positions for each user partaking in cryptocurrency options trading and cryptocurrency margin trading.  

With 24/7 online support and the above certifications, Bityard seems safe, but we remind our users to be cautious of the risk that comes from using any platform online. Be sure to store your digital assets like Bitcoin in a safe cold wallet.

How to Get Started on Bityard

As a user in the United States, our set-up was extremely frictionless– all it took was an email address, a password, and a Captcha to get started on Bityard. There wasn’t any KYC or identity verification required. 

Early user incentives for Bityard's cryptocurrency options platform

Early user incentives.

The exchange has a few “beginner rewards” to add more details to your account and familiarize yourself with the platform. These rewards are added as coupon credits for the fees. 

Bityard also has a “demo trade” feature, in which the interface changes into demo mode and traders can do “demo” cryptocurrency options trading using real price charts and volumes without having to commit real assets. Users can start leveraged contract trades to get a feel for the functionality of the platform. 

Bityard enables users to place leveraged cryptocurrency options contract trades on demo mode without using funds.

Bityard enables users to place leveraged cryptocurrency options contract trades on demo mode without using funds.

However, be vigilant when using this feature, as the trading view is identical except for the “mode” options in the bottom left. Make sure it says Demo if you want to demo trade (and vice versa!) 

Bityard offers fiat deposit and supports multiple mainstream digital currencies such as BTC, ETH, XRP, USDT, TRX, HT, LINK. Fiat support is offered for RMB (China), Vietnamese Dong, Indonesian Rupiah.

The platform also offers OTC services for buying USDT. 

*Fiat deposit gateways might not be available in the United States, as they weren’t for us when we made our account. 

Meet Bityard’s Platform Coin – BYD

Bityard also plans to roll out its own platform coin, BYD, an asset similar to Binance’s BNB that is expected to be used to reduce trading fees and facilitate other ecosystem incentives.

Bityard's "mining" feature.

Bityard’s “mining” feature.

 Users are able to “mine” BYD and other digital assets on the Bityard site by clicking on the icons as they’re ready once per day. 

*BYD is currently not tradeable or exchangeable.

Final Thoughts: Is Bityard Legit?

Cryptocurrency contract trading platforms have come a long way, and Bityard seems to be leading the pack in terms of simplicity and user-interface. The fact that Bityard has a well-functioning mobile app is impressive since mobile derivatives in general are still relatively new.

Bityard is relatively new and there isn’t much to detract from the exchange’s legitimacy. It seems like a straightforward user-friendly platform for cryptocurrency contracts trading. However, the biggest risk with any cryptocurrency exchange or contract trading platform is usually the human propensity for error (losing funds due to poor account security or sending them to invalid addresses) or excessive risk. 

The post Bityard Review: Is Cryptocurrency Options Exchange Bityard Legit? appeared first on CoinCentral.

Source: Coin Central

Top Cryptocurrency Exchanges in 2020

2018’s Top Cryptocurrency Exchanges for U.S. Investors

Things move quickly in the world of crypto. Just as a coin can climb the charts in a matter of hours or days, so too can exchanges. Take Binance, for example. It has quickly become the most widely used exchange in the world over the course of less than a year. With all the changes and confusion, it can be tough to keep track of the best cryptocurrency exchanges. For those new to the space, finding an exchange you like and trust can also be a challenge with all the options. This guide lays out the key features of the top cryptocurrency exchanges in 2018.

We have to set constraints on this guide somehow, otherwise it would be too long to be useful. That said, for this guide we’ll be focusing on the top cryptocurrency exchanges that serve U.S. citizens.

Without further ado, let’s dive in.

Fiat Exchanges (USD)

The first thing you’ll need to do if you’re new to investing or looking to invest more money in crypto is convert your fiat currency to crypto. For U.S. investors, that means depositing USD with an exchange in order to get BTC or ETH.

We call the exchanges that accept fiat currencies “fiat gateways.” Since they deal in USD, they’re subject to a lot of regulations and they have to meet reporting requirements from state and federal agencies. This makes fiat exchanges more difficult to set up than crypto-to-crypto exchanges.

It also means that fiat exchanges usually have limited trading pairs, since those trading pairs are regulated. As such, if you want to buy a niche altcoin, you’ll usually have to purchase ETH or BTC at a fiat exchange and then transfer those funds to a crypto-to-crypto exchange in order to buy the token you want.

The top cryptocurrency exchanges for USD deposits are below.

Coinbase

One of the most popular and well-known options for USD transactions. Coinbase is headquartered in San Francisco and has been in operation since 2011. They’re generally considered secure and boast over 13 million users. However, they’re known for having some of the highest fees of any fiat gateway.

CoinMama

Since its founding in 2013, CoinMama led the way as the site where you could purchase crypto with a credit or debit card. This makes it super easy to use. Unlike other exchanges, CoinMama is a buy-only marketplace that allows you to immediately transfer funds to other wallets upon purchase. They also have relatively high fees, but the simple experience makes it easy to use.

GDAX

GDAX is Coinbase’s older brother, run by the same company. We say older brother because GDAX’s interface and functionality attract more advanced investors than Coinbase’s beginner-friendly interface. Many U.S.-based traders who are serious investors gravitate toward GDAX.

Kraken

Kraken came on the scene around the same time as Coinbase in 2011. It’s also based in San Francisco, so they’re rivals. Users seem highly divided on Kraken with some praising the smooth experience on the platform while many others decry its customer service and buggy features.

CEX.io

CEX.io is a London-based exchange that’s been in operation since 2013. They’ve received a fairly good reputation over the years for being user-friendly and well-designed. Recently, however, there have been customer service issues, so proceed with caution.

LocalBitcoins

LocalBitcoins isn’t an exchange so much as it’s a matching site for people who want to buy and sell crypto in the real world. You can then meet up in person or trade online via a myriad of payment methods. As long as you do your due diligence on the person you’re trading with, LocalBitcoins is a great way to get into crypto.

BitStamp

BitStamp is one of the most reliable exchanges with some of the lowest transaction fees. Based out of Luxembourg, it has been around since 2011.

Gemini

Gemini distinguished itself with its customer support that’s well above industry average. It’s a New York-based exchange, founded in 2015 by the Winklevoss twins. They don’t offer many cryptocurrencies and deposits are limited to bank transfers, but Gemini is one of the best exchanges out there for beginners.

BitFlyer

BitFlyer is new to the U.S. but not new to the world of cryptocurrency trading. It’s one of the largest Bitcoin exchanges in the world. They’re not yet licensed in all 50 states, but they are operating in a majority of them.

BitQuick

BitQuick is different from most exchanges in that you can physically deposit cash to a bank account in order to fund your orders. This non-traditional structure makes it a little riskier to do business with (since there are no chargeback options), but BitQuick generally has a good reputation in the community.

Paxful

Paxful works in a similar way to LocalBitcoins, creating a marketplace where buyers and sellers can meet up and agree on terms. The exchange launched in 2015 and is based in Delaware. The fees for transactions, however, can be high.

Crypto-to-Crypto Exchanges

Once you’ve traded your crypto for fiat, you’ll want to move your newly acquired funds to an exchange with more options. Fiat exchanges don’t usually carry niche currencies, so in order to get those, you’ll use a crypto-to-crypto exchange. Here are the best ones:

Binance

The speed at which Binance has become the top crypto exchange in the world is staggering. In a few short months, it has dominated the market. For good reason, too. It offers a lot of features, trading pairs, security, and liquidity along with low fees. Its Binance Coin also incentivizes trading and lowers fees.

Bittrex

Bittrex is based in Seattle and they’ve gained a reputation for wanting to strictly follow U.S. regulations. They’re a safe, well-established option for trading with good customer support.

Cryptopia

Cryptopia is known as an exchange for trading niche or less popular altcoins. They have low fees and good customer support. However, they don’t accept Ethereum and the small nature of the exchange means low volume for trading.

KuCoin

KuCoin is a Hong Kong based crypto exchange. The unique part of their approach is they redistribute the profits from the operation of the exchange through their native currency, KuCoin Shares.

Poloniex

Poloniex was among the top cryptocurrency exchanges in the world. However, its popularity has waned in the face of new competitors, customer support issues, and problems with withdrawals.

Conclusion

Those are the top cryptocurrency exchanges for U.S. investors in 2018. If you find one that strikes your fancy, click the link to learn more in our comprehensive exchange reviews. Then, signing up at each exchange’s website is usually straightforward. If you’re new to crypto investing, be sure to read up on best practices for keeping your crypto secure like using two-factor authentication and moving your coins to a private wallet once you’ve purchased them.

The post Top Cryptocurrency Exchanges in 2020 appeared first on CoinCentral.

Source: Coin Central

Why the United States Needs Blockchain for Relief Packages

It seems like only yesterday people were tepidly excited about receiving a $1,200 check from the U.S. government to lessen the hardships of stay-at-home orders and pandemic-induced loss of jobs. However, rent is due today. Grocery bills for June have yet to rack up. That $1,200, regardless of how one tried to stretch it, is either running dangerously low if it hasn’t completely evaporated already.

Talks of another (few) rounds of stimulus checks have already been circling political circles, but who’s to say that future economic stimulus packages are going to find their way to the hands of those most in need? 

Over 60 million Americans haven’t seen a dime of CARES money, and nearly 40 million Americans are unemployed. Some economic models forecast American unemployment to be around 15 percent in 2021, and this figure only counts individuals that have actively filed for unemployment.

Brad Robertson, the Founder and CEO of Polyient Labs, a blockchain incubator and Polyient Games, a blockchain gaming ecosystem, argues that blockchain needs to be used to guarantee the delivery of future stimulus cash.

We got the chance to connect with Brad to discuss blockchain for relief packages.


What needs to happen at an institutional level to implement blockchain-based solutions?

There was a massive amount of hype surrounding blockchain in its infancy. The hype-honeymoon is over. Blockchain-solutions must prove themselves. To gain traction at the institutional level, blockchain solutions have to be adaptable, scalable, and interoperable.  

Corporate executives don’t have the time to discuss “which chain is right for our business and our customers.” They are only interested in efficiency and cost-savings.

So, in order to win over institutions, cross-chain functionality will be a requirement.

We’re already seeing this in blockchain gaming: Those games and gaming ecosystems that are gaining momentum are the ones that offer cross-chain functionality. That will be true for institutional implementation as well.

What are the potential downsides of using blockchain to distribute relief money?

The biggest potential downside of using blockchain to distribute COVID-related relief money is the likelihood that the Treasury Department will screw it up.

I’m not being flippant. Traditionally, government agencies have a poor track record when it comes to adopting new technology. We all remember the early days of ObamaCare. More recently, look at the IRS. It set up a website to help people track their CARES relief checks and the site has crashed at least twice.

This doesn’t mean the Treasury Department shouldn’t deploy blockchain to speed up relief payments – it absolutely should. Millions of Americans are waiting for checks that were supposed to be delivered in March. Just know, there will be bumps in the road – just as there are with every new government initiative.  

Why now is the time to deploy blockchain to ensure relief money is delivered more quickly?

The time to deploy blockchain to improve the distribution of relief money was in February– if not before. Before CARES was signed into law.

Some 60 million Americans still haven’t seen a dime of CARES money. Nearly 40 million Americans are unemployed. Lawmakers were proactive in increasing unemployment payments for millions of Americans, but they did nothing to ensure state employment agencies could process the wave of new applications. Most of those agencies still rely on centralized 1980s technology. 

Why is the US so far behind in the adoption of this technology? What is the hesitation, especially when it could ensure people get their relief money more quickly?

The U.S. is behind Canada, China, Switzerland, Malta, etc. because our laws and regulations marginalize blockchain and cryptocurrencies, making it difficult for the technology to gain real traction in the U.S.

Our current regulations reflect a lingering mindset among some lawmakers and policymakers who associate blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies with crime.

It’s not entirely their fault; there’s a lot of misinformation out there, but the research doesn’t support that viewpoint. Criminals are 800 times more likely to use traditional fiat currencies over digital ones when breaking the law.

The good news is that an outdated mindset is slowly crumbling. In 2019, Reps. Warren Davidson (R- OH) and Darren Soto (D-FL) introduced the Token Taxonomy Act and the Digital Taxonomy Acts.

Last February, Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) proposed using digital dollars to distribute COVID relief, and more recently, a bipartisan group of a dozen members of Congress sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Mnuchin asking him to consider blockchain to distribute relief money.

In each case, lawmakers are trying to drag Capitol Hill into the 21st century. My companies, Polyient Labs and Polyient Games, are both headquartered in Arizona and we see Rep David Schweikert (R-AZ) doing it here: helping create a business landscape that welcomes blockchain.

Schweikert, Brown, Davidson, and Soto all have a responsibility to bring jobs back to their districts. They recognize blockchain is a job creator.  

Will the COVID crisis force the US to get up-to-speed when it comes to blockchain and digital currency?

Yes. We’re already seeing signs: Sen. Brown’s call for a digital dollar, the Congressional letter to Mnuchin asking that his department use blockchain for COVID payments.

Lawmakers know traditional payment methods don’t cut it any longer. I mean, the IRS has resorted to sending physical relief checks to citizens – and millions of those checks are lost. The COVID crisis is forcing lawmakers to admit the old methods are broken.

Similarly, industries now have to admit global supply chains are broken. We saw it firsthand in the last few months: critical shortages of medical supplies, food, toilet paper. You name it.

I guarantee you: conversations are taking place in C-suites across the country right now. Executives are saying “we need a decentralized, reliable and transparent method of tracking, tracing and auditing inventory.” That sounds like a recipe for blockchain.  

Thanks, Brad!

The post Why the United States Needs Blockchain for Relief Packages appeared first on CoinCentral.

Source: Coin Central

Goldman Sachs: Cryptocurrencies ‘Are Not an Asset Class’

Goldman Sachs held an investor call Wednesday to discuss current policies for bitcoin, gold and inflation in the context of the COVID-19 crisis. The big takeaway? The stalwart investment bank is still no fan of bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies.

slideshow released before the call cited hacks and other losses related to cryptocurrencies as well as their use to “abet illicit activities” as some potential liabilities.

Seven of Goldman’s 35 slides mention bitcoin, but the people on the call only discussed bitcoin for roughly five minutes at the end, with no questions taken after.

In the call materials, Goldman notes that while cryptocurrencies like bitcoin “have received enormous attention,” they “are not an asset class.”

Why? The reasons include bitcoin’s inherent lack of cash flow, unlike bonds, and its inability to generate earnings through exposure to global economic growth, according to the presentation. Goldman also notes bitcoin’s volatility, citing the recent drop to 12-month lows in early March. The price spiked nearly 5% to $9,200 a few hours before the call.

Some professional cryptocurrency analysts were less than impressed by Goldman’s analysis. “The criticisms were very cookie cutter, the type you’d expect if someone just read mainstream headlines,” said Ryan Watkins, bitcoin analyst at Messari and former investment banking analyst at Moelis & Company. “It’s like they didn’t fully diligence the asset.”

Goldman’s cash flow argument was particularly odd to Tom Masojada, co-founder of OVEX Digital Asset Exchange.

“Many investments that Goldman labels as ‘suitable for clients’ do not generate cash flows and are primarily dependent on whether someone is willing to pay a higher price at a later date,” he said on Twitter.

“One could argue bitcoin isn’t backed by anything, but to liken it to a game of hot potato ignores the subjective value such a novel asset provides,” said Kevin Kelly, former equity analyst at Bloomberg and co-founder of Delphi Digital, a cryptocurrency research firm that recently published a comprehensive report on bitcoin.

Bitcoin’s current value, according to Kelly, is backed by “the demand for an apolitical speculative asset that may or may not turn out to be one of the world’s most valuable safe havens.”

The two Goldman speakers on the call, its head of research and a Harvard economics professor, said several bitcoin forks, which they refer to as “nearly identical clones,” occupy three of the six largest cryptocurrencies by market value. With this, Goldman inferred that cryptocurrencies as a whole “are not a scarce resource,” according to the presentation.

This critique is “particularly eye roll worthy,” Watkins told CoinDesk. “Forks are their own assets and have nothing to do with bitcoin.”

In its conclusion, Goldman does…

Continue reading at COINDESK.com

 

 

Crypto Interest Account Pioneer Alex Mashinsky and Takes on Big Finance

Countless fintech entrepreneurs have aimed their scopes at the marble columns on high finance and fired out thousands of business ideas to disrupt it, but none have yet to make a dent. Alex Mashinsky and Celsius may actually do it with cryptocurrency interest accounts.  

“Celsius is going after all the money in the world,” says Alex Mashinsky, the Founder of Celsius, who plans to make more than just a dent.

Investment banks are thriving despite bustling fintech startup activity and looming economic threats–JP Morgan celebrated its most profitable year ever in 2019 with a record $36.4 billion in net income, a bulk of which came from a very important strategy called Security (Sec) Lending– we’ll get into that soon enough.

Alex knows a thing or two about building strategically valuable companies. He’s also made around 120 VC investments, holds 34 patents, raised over a billion dollars, and has achieved over $3 billion in exits. 

Alex is on his eighth startup company as a founder, and two of his companies, Arbinet and Transit Wireless are two of New York’s biggest venture-backed exits ever, with exits of $750M and $1.2B respectively.  The core similarity between these exits is that the companies built a monopolistic hold in their industries and utilized groundbreaking technology to pioneer business models assumed to be impossible. 

For example, by inventing VoIP (voice of IP) in the early 2000s, Alex has helped over one billion people bypass telecommunications monopolies by using voice over the Internet for free. 

Comparatively, Celsius aims to bring 7.5 billion people from the traditional world of interest-bearing accounts into cryptocurrency, currently with one Celsius app user at a time. With crypto interest account in their nascent stages, Celsius has demonstrated potential. 

At face value, the concept is easy to understand: Users deposit any amount of a variety of digital assets and earn an annual interest rate upwards of 11%– a stark comparison to traditional bank savings accounts, which offer anywhere between .01% to 2%. 

How Celsius is able to accomplish this in crypto interest accounts, however, requires peeling back the layers of the onion of finance, which Alex has helped masterfully do so in this article. 

What most people are missing is what the banks are telling their investors how they earn 15-18% on their depositors’ money every quarter,” Alex starts. “If they cared about their customers, the banks could also be paying 9% as we do. They’re focused on returning profits to shareholders, not interest to depositors, the two directly conflict. 

CoinCentral’s Steven Buchko first interviewed Alex back in 2018, when Celsius was in the middle of launching its app. Fast-forward to today, Celsius is celebrating a few more material milestones– a 53.5k BTC (about $513,600,000) deposit milestone, over 100,000 users, close to $1B worth of deposits. 

For this interview, we pair Alex on Alex: CoinCentral’s Moskov and Celsius’s Mashinsky. 

P.S. be sure to check out our guide on the Celsius Platform for a deeper dive.


Challenging the Status Queue with Blockchain: Investment Bank Edition

Rarely does one visit appealing financial opportunities without a healthy dose of incredulity or skepticism. The expression If it’s too good to be true, it probably is… is built on multi-generation experiences of disappointments, trickery, and usually a guy with a bleached smile, an expensive suit, and $100 haircut.

However, too good to be true may carry less weight in a paradigm that is already significantly skewed against your best interests. At least, that’s what the Celsius ethos argues. 

“Back when I made VoIP in the ‘90s, we were able to offer the service for a fifth of the price,” says Mashinsky. “People said it was impossible to offer cheaper services than AT&T. Today, people assume that just because a bank pays them 1% in interest, no one can beat the bank.” 

“But, Mr. Mashinsky, how does the bank even pay people 1%?” a curious reader may ask.

When we think of big banks, we usually think of gigantic buildings sitting on the most expensive streets of downtown and highly paid executives. Banks just know how to make money, even in their darker days. In the 2008 aftermath, $1.6 billion of the federal bank bailout money went to executives. Lloyd Blankfein, the then-president and chief executive officer of Goldman Sachs, left with $54 million in compensation that year, and the top five executives received $242 million. The house never loses.  

To understand how banks make their money, Mashinsky implores us to study up on something few Americans outside of the finance world are aware of called securities lending

Securities lending, or sec lending, is the practice of “loaning” a stock, security, or derivative to an investor or firm. It’s generally done between brokers and dealers and not individual investors. As a critical component of creating market liquidity (specifically for re-hypothecation, or basically the process to facilitate shorts and other options trading), sec lending can be incredibly lucrative. 

Mashinsky walks us through a simple example.

“Let’s say you buy a TSLA stock from Charles Schwab. You take on the risk of TSLA going up or down, but on the back-end, Charles Schwab is loaning your TSLA to other brokers and dealers and making something between 12% to 17% per year.” 

How much do you, the investor, and owner of TSLA make on Schwab’s interest revenue? A big fat zero. 

Similarly, most bank savings accounts have historically offered depositors a sliver of a percentage (now upwards of 2%) on their assets, but are loaning depositor out to receive hearty returns. JP Morgan, a financial behemoth entrenched in American history, banks for over 100 million Americans who have Chase cards, bank accounts, and other accounts.  

“JP Morgan’s cost of capital is less than 1%,” says Mashinsky. “Their return is close to 17%. That’s how they make $36B a year, which they mostly use to buy back their stocks, pay dividends to shareholders, and compensate executives. How is that a good deal for the depositor? What does the depositor get out of this? They take the money you give them for free and lend it back to you and charge you 24% on your credit card.” 

Mashinsky brings us to the punchline, of which he has many. 

“If a bank has 10:1 leverage on your money, if you withdraw your money, they lose 10x. The only one who has the power to let the bank do what it does is you. You just don’t know you don’t have the power.”

Celsius is looking to flip the script.

Celsius crypto interest account interest rates

Celsius crypto interest account interest rates on stablecoin deposits.

“Show me a fintech company that put a scratch on any bank,” says Mashinsky. “JP Morgan just had their best year. No fintech company has been able to unseat or dethrone these institutions. They just get stronger and institute it. Institutions can’t win in my game. We took the juiciest part of Wall Street and brought it to the crypto community. People hate me for spilling the beans. Give the bulk of the fees to the depositors. We give 80% of revenue to the depositors.” 

Celsius: Blockchain Verified Interest and Cryptocurrency Interest Accounts

Historically, monopolies build a fortress around their business interests by the high barriers to entry created by existing infrastructure they’ve built or purchased. However, advances in technology can often antiquate the existing infrastructure, as we’ve seen the impact of automobiles and planes on the railroad industry.

Mashinsky wants to use blockchain as the impetus to topple Wall Street’s dominance and bring financial empowerment to the people. 

“Let’s start with the bank,” leads Mashinsky. “Imagine a public audit function. You make a deposit in a bank and ask where your money is going, where it’s stored, who they’re lending it to, how much the bank is charging them, how much of that money is coming back to you, and how they plan on distributing it back to you.” 

“If you’re not a high net worth individual, any bank would kick you out and shut down your account for having the audacity to ask these questions,” Mashinsky half-jokes. “They assume the marble pillars outside every bank speak for themselves: they know how to make money. They don’t have to prove anything.”

“Not only that, but the accumulating re-flating activities the government is doing is also going to get us in trouble. We have over $100T in deficits and $120T in liabilities. If banks fail and get bought out or bailed out, it’s only prolonging it. You can rearrange the seats in the titanic at any time, but the ship is still sinking. This ship is going down no matter what, the question is how much water is it taking on.” 

Celsius cuts out banks and governments by using blockchain to give all parties visibility into its business workings. It had to start with re-inventing the interest-bearing account from scratch.

“The reason Celsius focuses on transparency and using the ledger is its amazing mechanism to deliver the interest. I cant use a credit card to deliver the fees to you because their fees are too high. Bitfnix recently moved almost $1B for $6 using blockchain. That’s not possible with any other infrastructure”

“We use blockchain as an interest-delivering vehicle on the front-end, and we’re using transparency and open ledgers on the back-end. Celsians.com, for example, is a third-party site that uses blockchain data to audit Celsius. They take all of the wallets we publish since transactions are public, you can verify everything we’re saying. Who they’re giving these loans to. Payments coming in. we can see the interest, who’s paying the interest, and who is Celsius paying this interest to. We publish all wallets on the website, you don’t have to be a member of celsius, you can verify it just by knowing the blockchain works.”

An example of crypto interest account rates on Celsius.

Celsisu’s crypto interest account rates, courtesy of Celsians.com

Mashinsky sees Celsius as the future of the financial institutions, even if only as a foundation. 

“We hope we set the skeleton of the foundation of the future institution. This isn’t about Celsius, it’s about creating a whole new infrastructure to replace Wall Street.”

“Celsius has shared how much we charge customers, how much we earn, how much we payout for the past 114 weeks since our launch,” Mashinsky says proudly. “ We are probably the most transparent company in cryptocurrency. Our community routinely runs audits on our numbers via the blockchain as well.”

Leading the Crypto Interest Account Market 

With more earnings in BTC and ETH than all of its competition within the cryptocurrency space combined, Celsius has earned a significant stride. 

Mashinsky credits Celsius’s market leadership with community effort and operational execution. Mashinsky, who served in the Israeli military for three years, isn’t one to shy away from going for the jugular. 

An example of crypto interest account rates on Celsius.

An example of crypto interest account rates on Celsius.

“Celsius did more than anyone else because our competitors just don’t pay users enough. Celsius distributes 80% of its revenues to its community, whereas our competitors just published 30% of NET profits which is much less.”

“None of these companies will show you how they earn the interest or share any details about their business,” says Mashinsky. “Many of them won’t even give you a physical address of where their offices are. I would not trust such companies.” 

crypto interest account rates

A comparison of crypto interest account rates and fiat interest rates (Source: Celsius)

“Many of them are simply just trying to compete with us directly. They aren’t earning the rate, they’re subsidizing payouts with VC money they raised from Wall-street type guys,” Mashinsky points to competitors BlockFi and Cred. Celsius is a community effort looking to provide as much effort to the community as possible.” 

If you’re planning to beat Celsius, Mashinsky claims, you’d better be prepared to cut your profit margins.

If you want to offer higher rates than Celsius, you’d better give more than 80% of what you make to the community. We want to set the bar really high.”

2020, Growth, and Onwards

The interest-bearing cryptocurrency account niche is a comparative gnat when standing next to the traditional interest-bearing market. To Mashinsky, this only means room for growth. 

“Celsius is going after all the money in the world. 7.5B people want to earn more interest, yet banks and governments keep lowering rates and are giving all the money to the corporations and to the “the too big to fail” banks,” Mashinsky says, preparing a heated tangent to the current economic situation. 

“All the money we’re printing now should be going to the infrastructure of this country,” Mashinsky begins. “Getting everything done locally requires tens of trillions of dollars. Instead of spending it on infrastructure, we’re giving it to airlines, hotels, cruise companies. We’re Reflating everybody, zombie companies, the fed will bail out anybody, exactly what japan did for the last 30 years. That’s what my beef is. Taking precious dollars from the future– borrowing it from our kids, making them pay taxes on it in the future, and spending it to maintain our lifestyles today.”

“If you deliver reliable interest income, seven billion people will want to use your service,” Mashinsky recenters. “That has been our plan from the beginning– delivering interest income to as many people as possible, and in the process, creating mass adoption for all the coins we support.”

One of the tokens Celsius will inevitably bring attention to is its own. CEL can be used to effectively increase interest rates on savings accounts and decrease interest rates on loans. 

“CEL’s main function is to offer up to 30% more interest and provide 5% income if you HODL it,” but we have other utilities.”

However,  cryptocurrency deposits aren’t FDIC insured, a bane in the user acquisition aspect for many cryptocurrency interest-bearing companies. How does a company like Celsius mitigate the risk of users losing their assets in a doomsday or hack scenario?

We only lend coins against collateral, so all loans are asset-backed,” says Mashinsky. “Most banks are leveraged 10x via fractional reserves and lend to consumers with no collateral via credit cards, so I think we are actually safer than most banks. We had zero defaults since launch, while all major banks just took over $30B in loss reserves just in the past 60 days.”

Celsius, Opportunities, and Onward

Mashinsky brings decades of experience as an entrepreneur into cryptocurrency, a vertical he’s been following since 2013. Opportunity, according to Mashinsky, requires using blockchain for innovative business models, not just traditional replicas on a blockchain. 

“The best opportunity is for startups to invent a new business model that can only be done on the blockchain as Celsius did with interest income in crypto interest accounts. Many companies in crypto just copy Wall Street business models and call themselves revolutionary. I invented VOIP in 1994, and we are now building MOIP (Money over IP) to deliver a new decentralized blockchain-based financial system to the masses.”

Mashinsky also points to the entrepreneurs’ responsibility to help cryptocurrency become commonplace.

“We’ve been waiting for years for mass adoption. While Bitcoin has done well compared to other asset classes, it gets maybe a C- grade for inclusion, scale, adoption. There are maybe 30-35 million active unique wallets worldwide for all the coins. From an adoption standpoint, we’re very early days. Celsius partially came about by asking myself how we can get to mass adoption.” 

“We have almost 100,000 users who did KYC: that’s a huge number for cryptocurrency but still a small number for fintech. I think it is hard for people to believe we can pay 9% on something based on USD (stablecoins) when the bank tells them they can not even pay them 1%.”

Mashinsky advises people to get educated but to be wary. 

“Trust, but verify,” Mashinsky says of blockchain echoing Reagan’s approach towards the Russians in the Cold War. His approach to news is similar. Where does an entrepreneur like Mashinsky get his day to day information? 

I watch a lot of news via Youtube and read WSJ and other financial news sources. Also, specific pubs like Coincentral :),” Mashinsky notes flatteringly. 

In closing, Mashinsky pushes people to take action to change things themselves by taking action. 

“If you don’t like the game, invent a new one. The choice is on most of us.”

The post Crypto Interest Account Pioneer Alex Mashinsky and Takes on Big Finance appeared first on CoinCentral.

Source: Coin Central

Coinbase Review: Is Coinbase a Safe Exchange to Buy Cryptocurrency?

Coinbase Review: Is Coinbase a Safe Way to Buy Cryptocurrency?

coinbase review

Is Coinbase Safe?

If you’re reading this Coinbase review, chances are this is the main question you’re asking. The short answer is yes, but we’ll take a closer look at this in three parts below.

Company Legitimacy

As a company operating in the United States, Coinbase is required to comply with U.S. laws and regulations, at both a federal and state level. Here are some of the laws, regulations, and regulatory bodies that Coinbase complies with:

  • Registered as a Money Services Business with FinCEN.
  • Complies with the Bank Secrecy Act.
  • Complies with the USA Patriot Act.
  • Complies with state money transmission laws and regulations.

These regulations and laws force accountability onto Coinbase, something that may be lacking from some of their offshore competitors in other countries with less strict regulations.

It’s also worth noting, Coinbase has many trustworthy investors backing the company. These investors include Alexis Ohanian (Reddit Co-Founder), Bank Of Tokyo, Blockchain Capital, and Digital Currency Group.

Safe Keeping of Funds

Coinbase segregates customer funds from company operational funds. These customer funds are held in custodial bank accounts. This means they will not use funds of yours to operate their business. They also claim, “Even if Coinbase were to fail as a business, the funds held in the custodial bank accounts could not be claimed by Coinbase or its creditors. The funds held in those accounts would be returnable to Coinbase’s customers.”

98 percent of customers’ cryptocurrency funds are stored in secure offline cold storage. These cryptocurrencies are held on multiple hardware wallets and paper wallets. The physical cryptocurrency wallets are then stored in vaults and safety deposit boxes around the world. These measures protect customers’ funds from being lost or stolen by hackers.

The remaining portion of cryptocurrency that’s stored online is fully insured by a syndicate of Lloyd’s of London.

United States residents who use Coinbase’s USD wallet are covered by FDIC insurance, up to a maximum of $250,000.

It’s important to note that, despite all of this, customers are still liable if their personal accounts are compromised. This is why it’s typically recommended to store your cryptocurrencies in an offline cold storage wallet that you control. You can view our recommended wallets here.

Personal Account Security

Coinbase offers its you a variety of features to secure your personal accounts.  ou should also use a strong, unique password.

Multiple 2-factor authentication (2FA) methods are available to help secure your account. The most basic 2FA option is through SMS texts, but we recommend setting up a third party 2FA app. Options for this include Google Authenticator and Authy.

You can also track the activity of your account and get notified if a new device or IP address attempts to access your account.

Customer Support

Coinbase offers customer support through email or phone. Email responses from support typically arrive within 24-72 hours. For general questions, they also have an extensive FAQ section on their site.

Supported Countries

Coinbase serves customers in the following countries:

Andorra, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Gibraltar, Greece, Guernsey, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jersey, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, San Marino, Slovakia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States

Buy and Sell Limits

Buy and sell limits can vary by user location, payment method, and verification status. You can view your limits at any time, by viewing your account’s limits page. As a verified U.S. customer, you likely will be able to get these weekly limits fairly easily:

  • $5,000 Buy through Bank Account.
  • $50 Buy through Credit/Debit Card
  • $50,000 Sell

You can apply for higher limits if these limits don’t meet your needs. Your limits for instant purchases may not be able to be increased.

Coinbase Info

Key Information

coinbase wallet review logo

Site Type Easy Buy Methods
Beginner Friendly
Mobile App
Company Location San Francisco, CA, USA
Company Launch 2012
Buy Methods Debit Card, Bank Transfers
Sell Methods Bank Transfers, PayPal
Available Cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, +many more
Community Trust Great
Security Great
Fees Average
Customer Support Good
Site Visit Coinbase

Sending Cryptocurrency From Your Coinbase Wallet

send bitcoin from your coinbase walletThe wallet on Coinbase allows you to easily store, send, and receive cryptocurrency.  Sending BAT, Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, Zcash, and ZRX from your wallet can be completed in just a few steps:

Note: Coinbase is constantly adding support for new cryptocurrency, so this list of coins will most likely grow.

  1. Navigate to the Send tab of your account.
  2. Choose the wallet you want to send from, effectively choosing what cryptocurrency you’re sending.
  3. Enter the amount you’d like to send.
  4. Enter the address you wish to send funds to.
  5. Send funds.

 

 

coinbase wallet accountsReceiving Cryptocurrency to Your Coinbase Wallet

Receiving cryptocurrency is also easy using Coinbase.

Navigate to your Accounts tab. Then, find the wallet where you want funds to go and click the Receive button.

You will then be provided with your account’s wallet address.  Use this address in the send field of a transaction to receive cryptocurrency.

coinbase wallet address

Be Careful Where You Send Funds From Coinbase

Coinbase has been known to track where their users send their cryptocurrency and ban users for certain transfers. Coinbase has shut down accounts for the following activities:

  • Sending cryptocurrency to gambling sites.
  • Sending cryptocurrency to LocalBitcoins.
  • Sending cryptocurrency for darknet purchases.

In situations where Coinbase has closed accounts, users are almost always paid back to their bank accounts.

While we’re not condoning using cryptocurrency for illegal activity, we don’t think a business should decide how you can spend your cryptocurrency. This is another reason the community recommends storing your cryptocurrency in a wallet you control.

Coinbase Review Summary

To summarize this Coinbase review, we think Coinbase is a great place for newcomers to buy cryptocurrency. Newcomers will find Coinbase easier to use than an exchange while being able to use more payment methods. However, we do recommend storing your cryptocurrency on a wallet you control if holding large amounts.

Pros

  • Easier to use than an exchange
  • Buy cryptocurrency faster than most exchanges
  • Buy cryptocurrency with debit cards (in addition to bank transfers)
  • Lower fees than “easy buy” competitors
  • Trustworthy and regulated company
  • Safely stores customer funds

Cons

  • Monitors how you spend your cryptocurrency
  • Wallets are less secure than a wallet you control yourself
  • Slightly higher fees than most exchanges
Coinbase Rating









  • Beginner Friendliness










  • Customer Support










  • Community Sentiment










  • Fees










  • Payment Methods










  • Available Cryptocurrencies

4.4









Summary

Coinbase is a great beginner friendly option for buying many of the most popular cryptocurrencies.

Get $10 When You Open A New Coinbase Account

When you click the link below and open a new Coinbase account, you will receive $10 immediately funded into your account.

Don’t miss free cash – even $10… click the link below today to get started.

 

How to Use Coinbase to Buy Cryptocurrency in 5 Simple Steps (just follow the bouncing ball)

In this step by step guide, I’ll show exactly how to buy cryptocurrency through Coinbase.

 

1) Signup and Verify Your Email Address

The first step is to create an account.  Initially you will only be asked for your name, email, password, and state.

coinbase sign up

 

2) Choose Your Account Type

After you confirm your email address, you will be taken through a 4 part process to buy.

Choose whether you want to create an individual or business account.

coinbase individual and business sign up

3) Verify Your Phone Number

You will then need to verify your phone number.  This is used as a form of 2-Factor Authentication, helping to secure your account.

coinbase verification

4) Set Up Payment Method

The next step is to set up a payment method.

coinbase deposit

Coinbase accepts payment through bank transfer and credit card.  Both payment methods may require verification.

When setting up your bank account with Coinbase, they may first initiate two small transactions, then require you to verify the amounts.

When setting up a credit card, you’ll likely need to upload pictures of your credit card.

Both methods may require you to verify your identity.  This is required by almost all cryptocurrency exchanges who handle fiat currencies (USD, EUR, Etc.), to comply with various government regulations.

5) Buy Bitcoin, Ethereum, and/or Litecoin

Lastly, it’s time to make your cryptocurrency purchase.  The price and all Coinbase fees are clearly stated at the time of placing your order.

buy bitcoin on coinbase

If you made your purchase via bank transfer, your cryptocurrency will arrive after your bank transfer has been processed.

coinbase completed purchase

Note:  This process may have changed slightly by the time you’re signing up to Coinbase.  They have continuously made small adjustments to their design and sign up process, but we’ll be sure to update any major changes.

 

Get $10 When You Open A New Coinbase Account

When you click the link below and open a new Coinbase account, you will receive $10 immediately funded into your account.

Don’t miss free cash – even $10… click the link below today to get started.

The post Coinbase Review: Is Coinbase a Safe Exchange to Buy Cryptocurrency? appeared first on CoinCentral.

Source: Coin Central

4 Coinbase Alternatives: Finding Freedom from High Fees

Coinbase has quickly become the defacto app to begin investing in cryptocurrency. Boasting 30 million users and over $150 billion in trades, it’s no surprise that the exchange has the massive visibility that it does. As someone looking to start investing in crypto, it may seem like there’s no other platform available to do so.

Well, I’ve got news for you. Not only are other platforms available, but many of these exchanges have advantages that are preferable to the high fees and limited trading options found on Coinbase.

In this article, I’m going to provide an overview of four alternatives to Coinbase and what advantages they provide. The alternatives are:

  • Gemini – More advanced trading at lower cost
  • Coinbase Pro (formerly known as GDAX) – A smooth transition from Coinbase
  • Kraken – A way to expand your altcoin portfolio
  • Bitcoin ATMs – The option for the unbanked

Coinbase Key Information

Key Information

coinbase wallet review logo

Site Type Easy Buy Methods
Beginner Friendly
Mobile App
Company Location San Francisco, CA, USA
Company Launch 2012
Buy Methods Debit Card, Bank Transfers
Sell Methods Bank Transfers, PayPal
Available Cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum, Ethereum Classic, Litecoin, +many more
Community Trust Great
Security Great
Fees Average
Customer Support Good
Site Visit Coinbase

Gemini – More advanced trading at a lower cost

Maybe you’ve gotten comfortable trading on Coinbase and want to add some advanced tactics to your investment strategy. Or maybe you’ve already got traditional investment experience, so the simplified Coinbase platform doesn’t appeal to you. Either way, Gemini is worth your attention.

Gemini is a cryptocurrency exchange where you can purchase and trade Bitcoin and Ethereum. The platform has a more complex interface than the simple design of Coinbase but is still intuitive enough for new investors to figure out.

As with most exchanges, you buy/sell coins through an order book – a different process than what you’d find in Coinbase. If you’re strategic with your order, you can oftentimes get your coins at a better price than the price set on Coinbase. You can place market and limit orders as well as set maker-or-cancel (MOC) and immediate-or-cancel (IOC) orders on Gemini.

Gemini Order Form

 

Another advantage of Gemini is the ability to do analytics on the order book chart as you place an order. Learning how to recognize generic patterns in this chart is a good way for new investors to begin studying technical analysis (TA).

Gemini Order Book Chart

 

The trading fees on Gemini range from -0.10% (a rebate with enough volume) to 0.25% – significantly less than Coinbase’s 1.49% to 3.99% fee range.

Gemini Key Information

Key Information  width=
Site Type Cryptocurrency Exchange
Beginner Friendly
Mobile App
Company Location New York
Company Launch 2015
Buy Methods Bank Transfers & Wires
Sell Methods Bank Transfers & Wires
Available Cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum
Community Trust Great
Security Great
Fees Very Low
Customer Support Good
Site Visit Gemini

 

Coinbase Pro (GDAX): A smooth transition from Coinbase

Coinbase Pro, formerly known as GDAX, is an online exchange that’s owned by the same company as Coinbase. Similar to Coinbase, you can buy/sell Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin with fiat currency. This exchange is a great option for investors who’ve enjoyed using Coinbase but aren’t pleased with its high deposit and withdrawal fees.

Investors who use Coinbase can instantaneously transfer their funds to GDAX for free. Once on the exchange, you can freely trade your coins paying a maximum trading fee of 0.25%.

Looking at the sleek interface on GDAX, it’s apparent that the exchange shares a parent company with Coinbase. The design cleanly places several important pieces of information (trade history, order book, price chart) on a single page alongside the order form. This is important for investors looking to further improve their TA skillset.

GDAX Chart

You’re able to place market, limit, and stop-loss orders on GDAX as well as trade on margin. Although, unless you’re an experienced investor, I recommend that you avoid margin trading due to the high-risk nature and volatility of cryptocurrency investments.

GDAX Order Form

GDAX Key Information

Key Information
Site Type Cryptocurrency Exchange
Beginner Friendly
Mobile App
Company Location San Francisco, CA, USA
Company Launch 2012
Fiat Deposit Methods Bank Transfer
Fiat Withdrawal Methods Bank Transfer
Available Cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin
Community Trust Great
Security Great
Fees Very Low
Customer Support Good
Site

Visit GDAX

Kraken – Expand your altcoin portfolio

Coinbase is ideal to get your first taste of crypto, but after some time, three coins just might not be enough for you. If you’re looking to expand your portfolio with the addition of new coins, you should check out Kraken.

It’s important to note that Kraken can be overwhelming to new investors. The platform has over 15 coins that you can trade through numerous pairings, and there are a number of tabs containing trade, market, and account information. Unlike Gemini and GDAX, the price and order book charts are on a separate page from where you place your order which makes analyzing the data inconvenient at times.

Kraken XBT/USD Chart

 

To support new investors, Kraken provides a comprehensive support center with a large list of FAQs. The company has also created a trading guide to further help you become a better investor.

Kraken conveniently provides three interfaces for you to make trades: Simple, Intermediate, and Advanced. The Simple tab has more than enough features for the casual investor who’s only interested in adding a few different coins to his/her portfolio.

Kraken Bitcoin Dashboard with Simple Tab SelectedAlthough there are several other exchanges where you can purchase altcoins, Kraken is one of the few and most trusted ones that allows you to purchase coins with fiat.  

Kraken Key Information

Key Information
Site Type Cryptocurrency Exchange
Beginner Friendly
Mobile App
Company Location San Francisco, CA, USA
Company Launch 2011
Deposit Methods Bank Transfer, Cryptocurrency
Withdrawal Methods Bank Transfer, Cryptocurrency
Available Cryptocurrencies Bitcoin, Ethereum, Litecoin,

and 14+ More

Community Trust Great
Security Good
Fees Very Low
Customer Support Okay
Site Visit Kraken

Bitcoin ATMs – The option for the unbanked

Bitcoin ATMs have been growing in popularity lately and will continue to become commonplace as cryptocurrency achieves market adoption. People without access to a reliable banking system or those trying to cut ties with the traditional banking industry consider these to fund their cryptocurrency needs.

Bitcoin ATMs look and operate similar to typical ATMs but only accept cash in exchange for Bitcoin (or other altcoins at some ATMs). These ATMs are one of the few ways that you can purchase cryptocurrency without a credit or debit card.

There are some significant downsides to using an ATM to purchase to crypto, though. For most ATMs, you need to provide a photo ID and take a selfie to make a purchase. This could be a deterrent if privacy is one of your concerns.

However, the biggest drawbacks are the insanely high fees and rates attached to your transaction. Fees can range anywhere from 3-5% and the exchange rates are almost always worse than the market rate.

At the time of this writing, Bitcoin had a price of ~$5,970 according to coinmarketcap.com.

Bitcoin on Coinmarketcap

 

The exchange rate at the nearest ATM to me listed Bitcoin at the price of $6818.92. That’s a markup of over 14%.

Bitcoin ATM

These fees and poor exchange rates aren’t likely to decrease until more ATMs are on the market and cryptocurrency has wider adoption. For now, though, they’re still a good option for people outside of the banking system or travelers who often pay similar fees to exchange currency outside of their country.

You can find a map of ATMs around the world here.

Conclusion

There are numerous reasons why Coinbase is so popular among new investors, but, as you can see, alternatives exist that may be better suited for your needs.

Gemini has more advanced trading options and lower fees than Coinbase without being too complex for new investors.

GDAX is a clear next step beyond Coinbase and provides instantaneous, free fund transfers for Coinbase users. Like Gemini, GDAX has low trading fees and displays numerous charts to help with analysis.

Kraken should be your exchange if you want to buy more than just Bitcoin, Ethereum, and Litecoin. The platform has comparatively low fees and includes different interfaces appropriate for each type of trader.

Bitcoin ATMs have ridiculously high fees but give the convenience of being able to purchase cryptocurrency easily without a bank account.

The post 4 Coinbase Alternatives: Finding Freedom from High Fees appeared first on CoinCentral.

Source: Coin Central