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UAE-Based Investors Reveal Outlook for Bitcoin Markets

Gulf News has published an interview it conducted with a number of UAE-based bitcoin investors. The interview reveals insight into the diverse avenues through which the investors entered the bitcoin markets, discusses what risks are perceived to be associated with bitcoin and cryptocurrency investments, and explores the expectations of investors for what bitcoin’s future may hold.

The Featured Investors Predominantly Come From a Background in Finance
The investors became involved with bitcoin through a variety of avenues, and include both veterans and new entrants into the cryptocurrency markets.

Dubai-based finance professional, Rohan Advani, states that he was first inspired to enter the bitcoin markets by his “son-in-law [who] was trading in bitcoins in Australia” earlier this year. Mr. Advani states that he first “purchased bitcoins in June, and [is] now sitting on decent money.” Mankesh Walia, a motivational speaker based in Sharjah, recounts having been “guided” by “somebody” in his decision to invest in bitcoin during its infancy. Mr. Walia states that he “invested in Bitcoin and… came out in profit of 90 per cent in 2011”, adding that “people who bought Bitcoins earlier are minting money.”

Differing Expectations for Bitcoin’s Future
Henry Carvalho, a finance executive based in Abu Dhabi, states that he “followed bitcoin for few years before deciding that [bitcoin] is the future.” Mr. Advani predicts “a good future in it at least in the short-term” for bitcoin, adding, however, that “we may see a correction in the next 15 days or so. If liquidity permit[s] I will invest more.”

Mr. Carvalho now believes that bitcoin offers the “best [return on investment] for retirement,” and expects that “more and more countries which will accept it even though there is resistance for now.” Mr. Carvalho predicts that ”within 15 years the price will hit more than $500,000 per Bitcoin,” adding “based on the demand and supply it can break that barrier too.”

Many of the Earlier Market Participants Hold a More Cautious Outlook for Bitcoin
Hitesh Khatwani, an Abu Dhabi-based banker, states that he “expects[s] a correction and a consolidation in 6-7 months,” adding that he doubts bitcoin will “see much higher levels from this point.” Mr. Khatwani states that he entered the markets “when bitcoin was at $700… sold out everything at $5,800 levels,” and now “plan[s] to re-invest that money in Indian stocks later.”

Khawar Mahmood, a partner of Dubai International Real estate, describes the market as being “very risky now,” stating his expectation that “there might be a crash anytime.” Despite having profited in 2015 with bitcoin, Mr. Mahmood holds a cautious outlook for bitcoin’s price, stating that he “learnt [his] lessons” from getting “burnt” after “invest[ing] Dh2.5 million [approximately $400,000 USD] in 2010 in pounds, Canadian dollar and crude oil. Mr. Mahmood predicts that “prices will fall to $3,000.” Mr. Walia offers a more ominous prediction for bitcoin, stating “there is something called Newton’s Law, so if it has gone up, it will come down.”

Price Volatility Is Cited by Most Featured Investors as the Primary Risk Posed to Bitcoin Investors
Nivita Pande, a banker based in Abu Dhabi who has invested in ethereum at approximately $40 USD, has “seen immense fluctuations. If I get good profit I’ll leave,” adding “I’m not very confident on the compliance of cryptocurrencies. I had a negative opinion about it, but I told myself let me just try.” For Mr. Walia, the risk of heavy price fluctuations is an inevitable consequence of the potential gains also offered by the bitcoin markets. Mr. Walia states that “this bubble is not bursting, and everyone is piling in money into it,” however, adds that “there [is] heavy profit, it means it will have heavy risk.”

Mr. Khatwani, states that “the huge fluctuation in prices is the biggest risk. I think when the general public gets into a stock or any other asset class, it is the time to sell. The retail investors generally are the last one to enter.”

Bitcoin’s Legal Ambiguity in the UAE
In recent days, the governor of the UAE central bank, Mubarak Rashed Al Mansouri, described bitcoin trading as a “tolerated practice” in the UAE. Gulf News describes such as comprising an activity “that is legally prohibited according to the UAE Central Bank’s regulations, but one where regulators take no measures against those who practice it (i.e. those who buy or sell bitcoin and other virtual currencies).”

Bitcoin prevails in the UAE as a “tolerated practice” despite being formally prohibited. Sally Sfeirer-Tait, a partner at international law firm, Clyde & Co, told Gulf News that the UAE “Central Bank issued in January 2017 Stored Value Regulations, which contained a blanket prohibition of virtual currencies and transacting in virtual currencies.”
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#Bitcoin 55K USD in 5 Years

After bitcoin reached gold parity in Spring, highly cited Wall Street prophet Thomas Lee’s, A framework for valuing bitcoin as a substitute for gold, caught media fire.

In it, Mr. Lee, co-founder of Fundstrat Global Advisors (FGA), explicitly concluded “bitcoin’s value per unit could be $20,000 to $55,000 by 2022.”

Divination is nothing new in the cryptocurrency space, but Mr. Lee, former analyst for JPMorgan Chase, was the first well-known trader to dabble so flagrantly.
Taking-on the standard for value, gold, was an equally gutsy move for a vested financial guru.

That bitcoin has since nearly doubled has only buttressed his legend.

Talk Meets Walk
Cryptoassets, essentially classifying cryptocurrencies as stand-alone equities or commodities, even basket-ing them like a mutual fund, are the financial sector’s latest attempt to mainstream digital currency.

Summer of this year saw Roger Bryan’s Digital Currency Index (DCI) become essentially an industry benchmark. It weights by price, taking an average of 30 digital currencies traded on Kraken and Bittrex. Listed currencies are determined by market capitalization, and recalculated every quarter (three months).

More recently, William Mougayar announced his eponymous High Growth Cryptoassets Index (WMX). His index uses “strategic selection” to place over one dozen currencies in order of weighted rank percentage.

Both DCI and WMX are available as products.

Thomas Lee Toe Dip
Fundstrat’s Mr. Lee continues to make headline howling predictions, asserting bitcoin’s trading volume could overtake that of Apple.

Daily trading of top cryptocurrencies is getting close to 4 billion USD, surprising many finance professionals and, again, aiding in Thomas Lee’s prophetic street cred.

Trading volume of the present sort could mean there is wide interest and relative excitement.

Due to the potential of both, FGA announced its own set of research indexes, FS Crypto FX. All five would measure the market’s viability and vibrancy over time.

Think of them as crypto’s answer to the S&P 500 (FGA’s indexes add up to over 600 digital currencies).

CNBC’s intrepid reporter, Evelyn Cheng, who covers Thomas Lee extensively, was able to get a breakdown of FGA indexes:

FS Crypto 10 — tracks the 10 largest and most liquid digital currencies including bitcoin, ethereum, ripple, litecoin, dash, IOTA and monero.

FS Crypto 40 — tracks the top 11 to 50 digital currencies by market value and liquidity including NEM, bitconnect and Lisk.

FS Crypto 250 — tracks the top 51 to 300 cryptocurrencies by market value and liquidity including BitcoinDark, Singular DTV and FirstCoin.

FS Crypto 300 — tracks the 300 largest digital currencies by market value and liquidity.

FS Crypto Aggregate — tracks the performance of 630 digital currencies.

For all his seeming bravado, this is but a toe dip for Mr. Lee. None of FGA’s indexes are purchasable.

More importantly, institutional investor service providers such as Mr. Lee’s company are an important first step for Wall Street to formally enter the bitcoin ecosystem in a big way.:
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Fundstrat Global Advisors Create #Bitcoin Indexes

Bitcoin bull and independent research boutique, Fundstrat, reveals its new five indexes to monitor cryptocurrencies. Aimed at institutional investors, FS Crypto FX indexes are the most recent and prominent speculation instruments and a first for Wall Street insiders.
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Car Sharing Firm Gets $10 Million, Adds #Bitcoin Payments

The firm’s CEO, Ashwarya Singh, told Econotimes they had just begun accepting bitcoin payments. He said, “We have started accepting cryptocurrency such as bitcoin for transactions on our platform. We have seen 150-160 transactions through that mode so far.“

Drivezy plans on using its fundraising to further streamline the bitcoin acceptance process for their ride sharing software.

Partnership with Unocoin to Enable Bitcoin Payments
The company has partnered with Unocoin to help make the bitcoin transactions streamlined. The company also launched an initial coin offering for Drivezy. Their own cryptographic tokens allow people to own stake in the company and possess part of their vehicle fleet.

Drivezy has partnered with Unocoin to enable bitcoin transactions and has also launched its Initial Coin Offering (ICO) to enable ownership of vehicles on its platform across the globe through bitcoins. The offering will allow individuals to buy or invest in the cars and purchase cryptographic tokens entitling them to a share of the revenue generated by rental transactions on the platform.
A Societal Shift to Bitcoin Payments; Drivezy Future Plans
This move to accept bitcoin payments as the company grows represents a shift to bitcoin acceptance with many car-related startups. For instance, Uber just brought on a pro-bitcoin CEO who previously worked for Expedia, and got the company deeply involved with Car Sharing Firm Gets $10 Million, Adds Bitcoin Paymentsaccepting bitcoin payments. It is possible Uber could eventually bring on bitcoin as payment option as well. Independent Uber drivers are already exploring this option.

In this regard, Drivezy is already in the bitcoin acceptance fast lane. The company is taking initiatives to widen its base of operation in India. They are going to be launching new cycle rentals next month, as well as operations for all vehicles. Singh said, “We will be launching cycle rentals in Bengaluru next month. We are also looking to launch operations (for cars and bikes) in Kochi, Udaipur, Chennai and Hyderabad next.“

In terms of spreading bitcoin usage and adoption, the young car sharing firm is making headwind and setting the stage for more mainstream adoption in India.

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Car Sharing Firm Gets $10 Million, Adds #Bitcoin Payments

The India-based, Y-Combinator-backed car sharing firm, Drivezy, just raised Rs 65 crore ($10 million). The company has used the funds partly to begin accepting bitcoin payments on their platform. In all, the company has raised a total of $16.5 million (Rs 107 crore) from a variety of different sources. An equity investment totaling $5 million has been made by Japanese and American firms.
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Novosibirsk’s Ten Bitcoin ATMs

In Russia’s third most populous city, Novosibirsk, ten one-way bitcoin ATMs were recently installed by a local startup BBFpro, according to RBC. The machines were placed in five districts of the city; Kalininsky, Zheleznodorozhny, Oktyabrsky, Leninsky and Kirovsky districts, detailed the company’s director, Anton Friedel.

Most of the terminals are located in stores selling bottled beverages, he told the publication. “All ten devices are located in such a way that each resident of the city has the opportunity to quickly and easily reach the point of sale of bitcoins,” he was quoted. His team originally wanted to place them in the city’s large shopping centers, but the rent is too high, he elaborated, noting that:

Large shopping centers requested a rent which is almost impossible for us as a startup. The amount for one place reached 15-20,000 rubles, while in beer shops we pay 2,000 rubles for each place.

He also revealed that it took his team about three months to develop software and install the terminals, adding that the project cost about two million rubles. The machines charge a commission of 6%. “We made such a small percentage because we are counting on a large flow of customers,” RBC quoted him saying. According to him, BBFpro currently has no competitors in Novosibirsk.

In the near future, Friedel said he plans to expand his network of cryptocurrency ATMs in Novosibirsk as well as to neighboring areas. He specifically named Kemerovo, Krasnoyarsk, Barnaul, and Irkutsk. In addition, “we are developing a terminal that will not only sell but also buy cryptocurrency,” he explained, adding that they also plan to start selling other cryptocurrencies.

100 Crypto ATMs Coming to Moscow
Last week, Rambler News reported that approximately 100 one-way cryptocurrency ATMs will be coming to Moscow between this month and the year’s end. They will be installed by Investcoin24 throughout the city center such as in hotels, according to the company’s co-owner, Pavel Panova. In addition, he added that negotiations are currently underway with airport owners for some units to be installed in their departure and arrival areas.

The machines can be programmed to sell four cryptocurrencies, Panova explained, adding that they can also sell Initial Coin Offering (ICO) tokens. Initially, the commission will be 4%, he told Innov publication.

Last month, Investcoin24 installed a one-way bitcoin ATM at the Moscow restaurant “Vintage77,” according to an Instagram post by the founder of Iventurer Foundation, Alexey Olin.

Another restaurant in Moscow, Valenok, which started accepting bitcoin payments in June also said that they have plans to install a bitcoin ATM if there is demand from customers, according to RIA Novosti.

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#Bitcoin ATMs On the Rise in Russia

The number of bitcoin ATMs is on the rise in Russia. Ten of them were recently installed in five districts of Novosibirsk by a local startup. Last week, a different company announced their plans to install a hundred cryptocurrency ATMs in Moscow hotels and airport terminals starting this month. Meanwhile, the regulators have said that they will not legalize cryptocurrencies anytime soon.

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Music Streaming Service Arena Pays Royalties in #Bitcoin to Eliminate Industry Black Box

Arena Music attempts to right the fallen music industry. As a loss leader streaming service pointing users to artist merchandise, it is also taking the radical step of paying royalties in bitcoin.

Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!
Phoenix, Arizona streaming service Arena Music announced it would pay royalties in bitcoin. The independent site boasts a wide variety of musical content, including do-it-yourself punk bands.

It uses the loss leader model, effectively streaming an artist’s music for free while linking fans to exclusive merchandise offers.

Pay for the shirt, basically, get the music gratis. Arena Music uses its model as a brand identifier, often in moral terms, as it evangelizes taking care of artists and customers.

… taking payment in bitcoin essentially annihilates the “black box” accounting subscription services major labels rely on …
All the advantages of bitcoin’s peer-to-peer infrastructure make it ripe to help take the sagging music industry out of financial purgatory.

Cumbersome contracts filled with legalease can be muted. Notorious label accounting tricks become transparent.

And, for the first time in the industry’s history, artist royalties might actually appreciate in value — all without a central authority’s permission.

Now that’s punk rock.

CEO and Founder Damon Evans
Damon Evans (DE) is one driven dude. He’s on a crusade to make for-profit music great again. Only this time, his vision includes the bands and artists too. News (BN) snagged a few minutes with Mr. Evans to catch-up readers on Arena Music’s nearly year-old experiment in bitcoin.
BN: What made Arena Music decide to pay royalties in bitcoin?
DE: More and more, content and label owners are understanding that bitcoin forces a level of transparency and fairness in reporting and payouts for each person who has contributed to a specific work. That is lacking from all paid subscription music streaming services in particular.
How is working with bitcoin going?
– While our international clients are experienced with bitcoin, US clients are just starting to understand what it is and how it works. We believe that by being the only commercial streaming service allowed to offer payout in bitcoin (wholly because Arena Music is the last and only commercial streaming service not financed by or partnered with the major labels), Arena will truly be able to define itself as the industry alternative for independent artists. We intend to make bitcoin a major part of our artist offering.
Music Industry Punks Get Bitcoin
Damon Evans, CEO and founder of Arena Music
Have any bands balked at bitcoin payment?
– No one has balked, especially when we are able to explain the benefits that come with the cryptocurrency. There is still some hesitation from US based artists to fully trust in receiving 100% of their royalties through bitcoin, but more and more, artists are open to receiving a percentage of their payments in the currency. We explain taking payment in bitcoin essentially annihilates the “black box” accounting subscription services major labels rely on to leverage maximum profits between stream payouts and paying subscribers. This detail also explains why the world’s most known subscription services will never be allowed to offer payouts in bitcoin. It essentially removes the ability to fully control the music industry from those who have historically been able to keep the system broken.
Is the Phoenix area/scene comfortable with bitcoin?
– Absolutely! We are seeing more and more interest in artists wanting to understand how it works which will ultimately translate into adoption. The market tests we’ve done in Atlanta have also been well received. Currently, 30% of our artist clients have, or are, accepting payments through bitcoin and we expect that number to grow the more we market and promote the option. Bitcoin will be prominently featured in the crowdfunding campaign Arena Music is launching through next month.

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Four Things That Could Take #Bitcoin Prices Above $5000

After rallying from recent lows, Bitcoin prices have been stuck in the $4000-$4500 range for a couple of weeks. What will it take for the digital currency to head back to $5000 and beyond?

The return of buzz, which will bring buyers back to the market. And that will take a catalyst, like the rollback of China’s ban on Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, which killed Bitcoin’s buzz in the first place.

The ban may be temporary, to appease international agencies and hardcore communist members ahead of the upcoming Communist Party convention,

Another catalyst could be a financial crisis which could make Bitcoin the “safe heaven” asset, as investors flee financial assets. Like the 2008-9 financial crisis that extended across almost every asset category. Or a sovereign debt crisis.

Then there’s the prospect of a regional war, beginning either in North Korea or the South China Sea, which would disrupt global trade; or in the Middle East, where Saudi Arabia and Iran are moving closer to an open war.

And there’s the prospect of an endorsement by a major Wall Street institution, which wouled increase awareness among investors, helping the demand for Bitcoin cross the “tipping point” and reach cascade.

How likely is it that any of these catalysts will materialize? They are all likely, but it takes time.

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